Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cultural Diversity, Linguistic Plurality & Literary Traditions in India

Attaching house exam paper as i dont have the earlier samples in soft copy. but as my friend went through all the Quetion papers since the course first got offered- which is not very long ago and the basic instructions and paper structure has been the same throughout.

special thanks to a friend of mine, Radhika Baruah (Guest Faculty, IP college) for her efforts to put this material together

the annual exam instructions to the candidates regarding word limit and choice has been retained as is in the paper i m sending you.

unit 1 compulsory other units are optional and within them are internal options.

In a normal annual paper,

unit 1 is as is it is.

in the other units the internal structure is: students have to answer two questions from their chosen unit, the two questions being

a) a reference to context from the poems (two choices are provided n the questions are in 2+2+2 division)

b) an essay type answer (again with an internal choice) from the prose parts of that unit for 4 marks

at times, there can be questions on
1. verses from the lessons for Reference to the Context
2. Essay type questions on the poetry section 
3. There can inter unit choices instead of from the accompanying prose 

 but otherwise the 7 remaining sections in the question paper correspond to the 7 remaining units in the course. there is no inter-unit choice within the subsections.
i am also attaching the mid term paper so to give you a broad idea..

B.A. / B.Com (Hons) Programme


Discipline Centred Concurrent Course


(Cultural Diversity, Linguistic Plurality and Literary Traditions in India)

Time: 2 Hours Maximum Marks: 50

Attempt Four questions in all.

Question no. 1 is compulsory.

Attempt any three questions from the rest.

Note: - Questions carrying 3 marks must be answered in not more than 50 words and those carrying 5-5.5 marks in not more than 100 words.

1. Attempt any two of the following:

(a) Trace the passage of any two literary forms as they moved from their original languages and regional locations within India.

(b) Should a literary historian of Indian literature concern herself only with works in our particular language? Give reasons for your answer.

(c) Why is it incorrect to assess Tulsidas primarily as Hindi poet?

(d) “The author is not a divine creator,” says Sujit Mukherjee. Comment.

(e) What does Sujit Mukherjee mean by ‘the Ramayana tradition’? Give at least two examples to support your answer. (5.5 +5.5= 11)

2. (a) Is the reaching the shore a greater prize than losing myself with you?

If you are only the haven, as they say, then what is the sea?

(i) In which language has the poem been composed?

(ii) Explain the metaphor of the boatman and the sea.

(iii) How is losing oneself a greater prize than reaching the safety of the shore? (2+3+3= 8)

(b) Write a short note on Baul as an expression of Bhakti. (5)

3. (a) Long as tresses the night of parting.

The day of love is short as life,

If i see not my love, O friend,

How can I spend the dark nights of grief?

(i) Identify the poet and the original language of the poem.

(ii) Who is the friend that the poet is referring to?

(iii) Why is the period of separation from the beloved considered longer than span of life? (2+3+3=8)

(b) Write a short note on Tuti-i Hind. (5)

4. (a) I am neither a believer going to a mosque,

Nor am I given to non-believers, [sic] ways.

I am neither clean nor unclean.

Neither a Moses nor a Pharaoh.

I know not who I am.

(i) Identify the poet and the original language of the poem.

(ii) How is someone neither clean and nor unclean?

(iv) Explain the story of Moses and Pharaoh? (2+3+3=8)

(b) Write a short note on Sufi tradition. (5)

5. (a) All the time I went to work for the Naikers, I knew I should not touch their goods or chattels; I should never come close to where they were, I should always stand away to one side.

(i) Identify the author.

(ii) Give the name of this work and the original language in which it was written.

(iv) Who are Naikers and why was the speaker supposed to stay away from them? (2+3+3=8)

(b) Do you agree with the view that Dalit narrative is not just about identity oppression, but something more? Discuss with reference to “Karukku”. (5)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cultural Diversity, Linguistic Plurality & Literary Traditions in India


Lesson 1. Diversity, Plurality and Literary Cultures in India

Lesson 1 : Diversity, Plurality and Literary Cultures in India


1. Cultural Diversity

2. Linguistic Plurality

3. Literary Traditions : Significance of the Oral

4. Glimpsing the Oral

5. Ancient Palm Leaf Manuscripts

6. Heterogeneous Character of Literature

7. Prolific Literary Production

8. Constitution of India

9. Threats to Diversity

10. Respect for Difference

11. Questions

• India has a rich cultural diversity. But do we know adequately about our cultures? Let us move out of the trappings of the mindset that taught us to look at ourselves through a mono cultural/monolingual lens handed down to us by the colonial masters. A concerted effort to study our cultural diversity is indeed called for.
Linguistic Plurality

How many scripts and languages do you see on the

currency note of India:

• The linguistic plurality of India is extraordinary: The 1991 census tells us that India has 1,576 mother tongues! The maintenance of such enormity of language vitality is challenging. Multilingualism is both, an asset to celebrate as well as a feature to reckon with. Multilingualism feeds cultural diversity, which in turn is sustained by it.

• Significance of the Oral:


The cultural diversity and linguistic plurality of India get effectively expressed in the literary traditions prevalent over time in this country. Oral traditions have been popular since time immemorial. It is important to access these traditions to cognisize the variety of creative expression in India.

WHILE India's literary tradition is about 3,500 years old, the practice of bringing out literary texts in print is barely 200 years old. India learnt about printing from the Portuguese in the 17th Century; but it was not until the British colonials started using printing for production of texts during the 19th Century that Indian literature was influenced by the new technology. The principal mode of literary

transmission prior to the 19th Century was oral. This is not to say that all compositions were entirely oral. Scripts had been used in India for recording literary and non-literary texts at least from the fifth Century B.C. Poets recorded their texts, using the known scripts, on strips of bark or palm leaves. Scholars, who studied and used these texts for teaching in schools and universities, reproduced them periodically so as to keep the written word alive. India learnt about paper technology in the 12th Century; and paper was used widely for the purpose of recording compositions. Multiple copies of such compositions were made using paper. And yet, the oral tradition was never completely replaced by the tradition of written literature.

G.N. Devy



Restorers from New York's Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) are working on Sarvamoola Grantha …This priceless collection of 36 erudite commentaries was written in Sanskrit by Sri Madvacharya (1238-1317 AD), one of India's greatest theologians… He analyzed all aspects of some holy texts and showed the structure of the spiritual world that serves as a backbone of the world's diversities…

These manuscripts were stored at Phalimaru Matha (a monastic establishment of the Hindu tradition) near the coastal town o f Udupi in the southern Indian state of Karnataka… Over time, many of the original manuscripts were lost or were badly damaged due to deterioration of the palm leaves …

The team also plans to image some 800 more palm leaf manuscripts written since the time of Sri Madvacharya.

Scientists from the US are using modern imaging techniques to digitally restore a rare 700-year-old Indian palm leaf manuscript on Hinduism.

• The heterogeneous character of Indian cultures is amply reflected in the varied literary traditions of different languages here. To study these traditions is a significant way of accessing the cultural diversity of the country.

Amiya Dev:

“Indian literature is not an entity but an interliterary condition in the widest possible sense of the concept which is related to Goethe's original idea of Weltliteratur and its use by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto. The interliterary condition of India, we should remember, reaches back much farther than its manuscript or print culture. For instance, bhakti – a popular religious movement as both theme and social issue (stretching from the eighth to the eighteenth century) -- had a variety of textual manifestations in various Indian languages. There are many other similar literary and cultural textualities in India whose nature, while manifest in different other systems of a similar nature are based primarily on themes or genres, forms and structures observable in historiography.”


(Viewed on 08 June 2009, at 11:03 am)

• The Constitution of India acknowledges and protects cultural diversity as an asset. In education, what role can we play to help understand and then manage this diversity, minimize the threat of cultural assimilation and discrimination? Will a better understanding of cultural ‘difference’ help?

• The cultural diversity and linguistic plurality evolving over centuries in India have been threatened in the past by the British colonization and its policies; at present the same stands threatened by American/Western cultural imperialism and indeed, by the recent forces of Globalization …

• Respecting cultural difference seeks understanding and engagement with the ‘other’, and a demolition of stereotypes.

“The mainstream, is this something that we determine? Who has said that we are the hinterland, we the Delhiwallahs, and Manipur which is my adopted home, is not mainstream? And our height of political, cultural as also social demeanour is that we are striving to bring all these people in to

the mainstream. What mainstream? I mean I’m hearing it all the time... ”

- Kapila Vatsyayan

Social conditioning, State policies, ideological frames create prejudices and notions that go into also creating stereotypes


Stereotypes in turn raise: Suspicion, Doubt, Prejudice, Pre-determined notions, Unnatural expectations and Frustration in Relationships !!

To sustain cultural diversity, it is important to respect the difference in the other without any prejudice and sense of inequality.

• ‘A multicultural democracy requires for its sustenance not isolated islands and multiple solitudes but communities living together and participating as equal partners in the national political life.’ – Gurpreet Mahajan

For the complete article, see:

(http://books.google.com/books?id=ikI3n5SzvB8C&pg=PA293&lpg=PA293&dq=constitution+and+cultural+diversity+of+india&source=web&ots=DjFll2F0nF&sig=8S0oRpYYcLwYXprUhs7vdnG9wXw&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=9&ct=result#PPA313,M1 )

(Viewed on 10 June 2009 at 11:03 am)

Mark Twain :

“India is the cradle of human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most artistic materials in the history of man is treasured up in India only!


1. What do you think has prevented us from seriously looking at our cultural diversity and understanding it academically?

2. Should we approach the study of our society through the lens of the colonial masters? Give reasons for your answer.

3. How would you define “this colonial lens” ?

4. Why do you think there are so many languages represented on the currency note of India?

5. How many languages do you count on the currency not of India?

6. How many languages are declared as “mother tongues” according to the 1991 census report in India?

7. Are all of them “scheduled” languages ?

8. How do you think is multilingualism an asset to be celebrated ?

9. How many scripts do you recognize from the image given? Identify the languages that they represent?

10. How ancient is India’s oral tradition? And how old is the history of the printed literary scripts?

11. How was literature generally transmitted before the print mode came into being?

12. Since when have scripts been used for literary and non-literary texts?

13. When did paper come of use for this purpose?

14. Did oral traditions die out with the coming of the written text or the print media?

15. Name any 5 examples of living oral traditions of India.

16. Why do you think ancient palm leaf manuscripts are being restored and imaged?

17. Write a note on the parallel existence of oral traditions and scripted/written literature in India from ancient times to the present day.

18. How do you think the heterogeneous character of Indian cultures gets demonstrated by varied literary traditions?

19. Comment on the interliterary condition of Indian literature through the example of Bhakti tradition.

20. Do you think that the Constitution of India acknowledges the multilinguality and cultural diversity in the country?

21. How do you think was linguistic plurality in India under threat in the colonial times?

22. Do the forces of Globalization too threaten cultural diversity in this country? How?

23. What measures should be taken to sustain and manage cultural diversity?

24. Explain how demolition of stereotypes may help the containment of difference.

25. Do you think what Mark Twain said about India so long ago holds true today? And will a conscious study of cultural diversity help us in working out strategies for its survival?

(Special thanks to Sukrita Paul Kumar, Institute of Life-Long Learning, University of Delhi, New Delhi)

NB:- this is a low resolution and bit version of the material prepared by ILLL, DU to cater the needs of students, who have slower internet connections...

Cultural Diversity, Linguistic Plurality & Literary Traditions in India


Unit I: Overview

“Propositions”: Some Positions on a Literary Sujit Mukherjee

History of India

Unit II: Linguistic Plurality within Sufi and Bhakti Traditions

1. “The Mad Lover” (essay) Sisir Kumar Das

2.“Kafi 7" (song) Bulleh Shah

3.“Vachana" (song) Mahadeviyakka

4.“Baul" (song) Anonymous

Unit III: Linguistic Plurality: Hindi and Urdu

1. “Introduction: A Conspectus" A House Divided: Amrit Rai

The Origin and Development of Hindi/Hindavi (essay)

2.“Ghazal" (song) Amir Khusrau

3.“Lajwanti" (short story) Rajinder Singh Bedi

4.“Hindi" (poem) Raghuvir Sahay

Unit IV: Tribal Verse

1. “Introduction: Painted Words:" G.N. Devy

An Anthology of Tribal Literature (essay)

2. Songs of Birth and death

(i) A Mundari Song

(ii) A Kondh Song

(iii) Adi Song for the Recovery of Lost Health

Unit V: Dalit Voices

1. “Introduction, Dalit Sahitya: The Historical Background Eleanor Zelliot

An Anthology of Dalit Literature (essay)

2.“Habit" (poem) F.M. Shinde

3."Untitled Poem" N.T. Rajkumar

4. Extract from Karukku (novel) Bama

Unit VI: Writing in English

1. “Indian Pride and Indian Prejudice: Reflections M.K. Naik

on the Relationship between Regional Indian Literatres

and Indian Writing in English" (essay)

2.“Mother Tongue" (poem) Padma Sachdev

3.Extract from Kanthapura (novel) Raja Rao

4."Passage to America" (poem) K. Ayyappa Paniker

Unit VII: Womenspeak: Example from Kannada and Bangla

1. “A Flowering Tree": AWoman's Tale A.K. Ramanujan

2.“A Woman's Re-telling of the Rama-Tale: Nabaneeta Deb Sen

Narrative Strategies in "Chandrabati Ramayana"

Unit VIII: Literary Cultures: Sindhi and Gujarati

1. “From Hemachandra to Hind Svaraj: Sitamshu Yashaschandra

Region and Power in Gujarati Literary Culture"

2.“At the Crossroads of Indic and the Iranian Ali S. Asani

Civilizations: Sindhi Literary Culture"