Cuttack: Professor Sura P. Rath of University of North-Texas-Dallas, US, delivered a talk on “Politics of/in Society and Literature” in a seminar organized by the Department of Political Science of Ravenshaw University on 19th January. Prof. Rath said that literature serves as a mirror of society and politics is long lasting and has perennial value and even more important than history itself. However, he cautioned that literature must be read with a discerning lens. With regard to western literature including that of Shakespeare which is read all over the world, he said how many of his plays are biased against the non-western people. The great plays of Shakespeare are anglo-centric, and biased even against other European countries such as France. He asked that English and American literature should be taught in India as a comparative tool, bringing to wider public attention the merits of Odia and other indigenous literatures, because partly because of India’s colonial history the native authors have remained unrecognized among the general readers and even literary scholars. He advised the students and faculty at universities to initiate this important project to highlight the native authors, assessing their value in a global context rather than blindly re-producing studies on western authors. Theses and dissertations on vernacular authors can reveal to a world audience the richness of Indian thought, ideas, and principles. It is incumbent upon Indian academics to break open the walls that separate disciplines and to allow transfer of knowledge from one to the other, enabling young scholars to produce valuable new research on old Indian authors. He drew attention to Said’s collection of two books, Orientalism and “Culture and Imperialism” where Said exposes the political manipulation by mainstream British culture to perpetuate the hegemony of the west over the east. Literature has always served as powerful political tool employed by the West in supporting and validating colonialism and imperialism which undervalued and underrated non-western culture. His lecture was followed by a questions and answer session.
Head of the department of Political Science Dr. Asima Sahu introduced Prof. Rath and thanked him for his initiative of instituting some scholarships for Ravenshaw Students for higher studies in US University through newly created “Tara & Govind Rath (TGR) Education Fund”. Dr. Netajee Abhinandan gave a vote of thanks to the invited guest-speaker at the end of discussion. While Prof Niranjan Barik presided over the meeting and conducted the proceedings, among others Dr. Jajneswar Sethi, Dr. Gyanranjan Swain, Dr. Omkar Rout and Dr. Himansh S Mishra also took part in the deliberations. There was large number of students from Political Science, International Studies and other departments who had attended the meeting and took part in the discussion.