G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

How About Comic Books on India’s Partition and The Great Bengal Famine?

I subscribe to Economic & Political weekly and Samaj Prabodhan Patrika समाज प्रबोधन पत्रिका. (p.s. As of October 2012, I don't). I respect them a lot but most writing there, alas, remains arcane to a commoner like me. These publications also remain committed to “isms” and hence don’t want to consider any other view inconsistent with their own.

What can be done?

Ivory tower intellectuals don’t even wish to engage in such a dialogue. They write for fellow intellectuals.

I recently wrote about the power of comic books after reading NYT editorial of January 3, 2008- “Comic Books in the Classroom”.

Looks like comic books can come handy to teach even touchy and sensitive historical topics.

Business Line February 3, 2008 reported:

German schools will launch a comic book next week that aims to teach above all underprivileged children about the Nazi era and the Holocaust.

Although German schools already make a big effort to give pupils a thorough education about the Nazi era, racist violence remains a problem, and the revival of Germany's Jewish community has brought a rise in anti-Semitism with it.

The Tintin-style comic book is called "The Search," and tells the story of Esther, a fictional Jewish survivor of the Holocaust.

… The book, based on fact, describes how Jews in Germany and the Nazi-occupied Netherlands experienced the genocidal Nazi persecution that took the lives of 6 million European Jews.

It includes the Night of Broken Glass in November 1938, when Jews were beaten and their homes, businesses and synagogues were ransacked and, later on, the deportations to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Through pictures and realistic dialogue, the book depicts the suffering and humiliation that Jews endured as they were stripped of their livelihoods, ostracized and, finally, sent to camps to be worked to death or gassed…”.

India saw on its soil two holocausts in 20th century- the great Bengal famine of 1943 (estimated 1.5-3 million people-largely poor-dead) and the partition of 1947 (estimated 1 million people dead).

As a child I was not taught severity of either of the events. My 13-year-old son still doesn’t know enough about either of them.

So why not comic books?


2 comments:

marathepa said...

wish we had nice history like this :). i would have remembered that torna was the first fort captured by "Shivaji". I had to do google after we tracked there.

Yogesh Jayant Khandke said...

I always use the term German government in the 1930s and 1940s and not National Socialists. The atrocities were perpetrated by Germans of a particular ideology. The ideology is no longer in power, the Germans are still there. (I hope my point is understood)

Roma are a people of Indian origin who have been living in Europe for over one thousand years. They number between 10 to 20 million and are considered Europe's largest ethnic minority.

The German government of the 1930s and 1940s killed proportionately more Roma than even the Jews. Worse, they received no compensation from subsequent governments like the Jews. They continue to be very badly discriminated in Europe to this date, and are third world islands in the seas of first world prosperity.

(If you check the New York Holocaust museum's web site you would find two survivour account video, one is of a Roma. Like the Hebrew word Shoah to describe the Holocaust the Roma use the words Porrajamos or Samudaripen, the Roma alphabet has many words similar to modern Indian languages, for example they use the word that sounds like माखला for getting dirtied. I do not know any other Indian language that uses this word)