Among the women prose writers who have made a major contribution to the 20th century Bengali literature are Ashapurna Devi, Mahasweta Devi, Moitreyi Devi, and Lila Majumdar. Mahasweta Devi, or didi, as tribes and Harijanas address her, who passed away on Thursday afternoon at a private hospital in Kolkata, was a prolific and best selling author in Bengali of short fiction and novels. She was, perhaps, among the most feted writers in the world today, who fought against class, caste and gender based oppression. The focus of her work is different from the contemporary fiction, as she wrote with a mission who revolves around the travails and triumphs of the urban middle class. Her down to earth description of events and characters, which structured in the circle of the rich and poor, the oppressor and the oppressed, simple innocence and cultured opportunism, has set her apart among writers. Her writings are recognized for giving “voices to the voiceless section of the Indian society”.
Though she was a creator of exemplary and powerful women characters, but Mahasweta asserted that her text is part of the discourse of class rather than gender. Her works are, often, based up on meticulous research, conducted sometimes via unconventional means, such as oral history, into the history of the peoples she wrote about. Exposing the exploitation and domination in the post colonial state her writings are different from the literature of diasporic nostalgia for the place left behind. She was inspired by the 16th century poet of Bengal, Kankan Mukundaram Chakraborthy, who gave Mahasweta an insight into the life of the common man, and his work Chandika Panahali remains a source of inspiration for her even now.
In her own words, “Mukundaram awakened my interest in the common people who later became a part of my life. Now I can write about the tribes from first hand knowledge. That the tribal world remains unexplored is a loss to literature”. Thus, for cause of tribes and marginalized communities with a single-minded devotion, she has brought out the rebellious spirit of the tortured people in modern Indian life through the figures and narratives of the tribal people of India: the Kheria Sabaras of Purulia, the Lodhas of Medinipur,
and bonded laborers of Palamau and several others.
K. Satchidanandan, a poet-critic, says, “Mahasweta writes her fiction only after thorough historical research reflects her commitment to the reality-effect of her writing. Her representations in some sense embody modalities of negotiation between factual and fictive events”. Her creative works, however, are characterized by a flair for authentic documentation of the spirit and passions of the time without any touch of sentimental romanticism.
Lamenting the lack of sensitivity amongst the sophisticated and well placed in the society towards the contribution of tribes and their present predicament, Mahasweta said, “A creative writer should have a social consciousness… a duty towards society. He or she has to be totally committed to the problems and miseries of the people and should make an attempt to focus them in the right earnest and, as far as possible”. She was not a social activist by design but when she was extensively travelling in the tribal villages she reacted to their miserable plight. Life, as she knows through her close contact with the indigent class, is hard, cruel and merciless. In her introduction to Agnigarva (The Womb of Fire, 1979) she writes, “in these thirty-one years after independence, I have not seen our people attaining true independence in anything in food, water, land, loan or bonded labor. A pure, white and sun silk rage against the system that has made this independence impossible is the inspiration behind all my work. I believe that all parties, right or left, have failed to keep their promises to the common people. I have no hopes of this conviction being shaken during my lifetime. Thus I have written only about humanity to the best of my ability so that I do not have to feel ashamed to face myself”.
Regarded as a ‘committed’ writer, her trenchant, powerful, satiric fiction has won her several awards and honors including Amrita Puraskar (1968), Bharati Sangha Award, Vartika Puraskar, Bhubaneswari Medal, Lila Award of Calcutta University (1978), Sahitya Akademi Award (1979), Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay Memorial Medal of Calcutta University (1978), Tarashankar Smriti Parishad Puraskar (1977), Medal from Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan (1981), Shefalika Gold Medal of Sahitya Parishad, Jagattarini Gold Medal of Calcutta University (1989), Bhuban Mohini Dasi Medal of Calcutta University (1983), Bibhuti Bhushan Smriti Samsad Award (1990), Roman Magsaysay Award (1996), and the Jnanpith (1997). Mahasweta was also conferred ‘Padma Shri’ in 1986 by Government of India for her social work in the tribal areas of the three neighboring states of West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, especially in the districts of Medinipur, Purulia, Singhbhum and Mayurbhanj. Mahasweta selected Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration (2004), which was conferred on 31 October 2005. The Government of India awarded her ‘Padma Vibhushan’ (2006), the highest civilian award of the country, for her writing as well as for her activism for tribal welfare and the rural dispossessed. In 2004, she also awarded the French Legion de Honour, created in May 19, 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, given by the French Republic for outstanding service to France, regardless of the social status or nationality of the recipients, in recognition of the cultural diversity in France and India.
Besides, she was one among the fourteen contenders from twelve different countries for the 3rd Man Booker International Prize (2009). Very recently, in March 2010, she has been selected for MTR National Literary Award for the lifetime achievement in creative writing, exposing the cause of marginalized sections, including dalits and tribes. Mahasweta, though, has received many an accolade for her works, the Legion de Honour, which she received from Dominique Guard, Ambassador of France to India, on behalf of the French government, came as one of the important feather to her cap. Receiving the award Mahasweta said, “at 78 it does not really matter whether one gets any special award or not, but an honour offers inspiration. Earlier I had received the Akademi Award and then Magsaysay Award. Now it is Legion de Honour the biggest one. Some of my short stories are also being translated into French. Two years ago my Hajar Chaurashir Ma was translated into French. Now it is a collection of short stories”.
Mahasweta, a woman of untiring energy, was born on 14 January 1926 in Dhaka in a family of artistic achievers – her father Manish Ghatak, a Kallol generation novelist and poet; mother Dharitri Devi, a writer and a devoted social worker; Ritwik Ghatak, her paternal uncle, her father’s younger brother, a film director; her mother’s elder brother Sachin Choudhuri the founder editor of Economic and Political Weekly; and another maternal uncle, Sankho Choudhuri, a well known sculptor. She grew up in an environment of art and literature, and was influenced by her early association with Gananatya, a group that attempted to bring social and political theatre to rural villages in Bengal. She might have shaped into as the inheritor of some family tradition in literature, painting or filmmaking but she chose to be her own self. A self made woman of letters, she ventured into the area of social activism, which had not been attempted by any family member before. She is the first woman from her family to have discovered the human territory known as Indian tribes.
Writing was something, which was natural to her, and as she grew up literature became part of her life. She goes on to say, “I write whenever I get time, especially when I am under pressure. Sometimes I go to remote places to enrich my experiences and capture the life of people in my writing. I go on writing to the best of my abilities about the people, so that I can face myself without any guilt or shame”. Her work, both social and literary, for the bonded laborers has won her admirers everywhere. Mahasweta started her literary career under the pen name Sumitra Devi at the very tender age of thirteen in a popular weekly of those days, Sachitra Bharat. Her work Rabindranather Chhelebela appeared in the juvenile journal, Rangamashal, when she was in class VIII. In this phase, at the request of Sagarmoy Ghosh, the legendary editor of Desh, who was a friend of her first husband, Bijan Bhattacharya, she had written two romantic stories ‘Padmini’ and ‘Jashowanti’.
Over the years, she had to her credit, more than a hundred works of fiction, fifteen collections of short stories, a collection of plays, books for children, primarily in her native language, Bengali, one socio economic survey on bonded labor in Hindi entitled Bharat mein Bandhua Majdoor, and thirty textbooks in Bengali for school students. She has edited three books including Jim Corbett Omnibus in Bengali. The Library of Congress has in its collection 68 titles by her including translations and 4 titles on her work.
However, Jhansir Rani (The Queen of Jhansi), Mahasweta’s first major work, serialized in Desh, dedicated to memory of Govindram Chintamani Tambe, the nephew of Jhansi Rani, a meticulously researched fictional reconstruction of life of the warrior queen Laxmibai, who fought for her rights on horse back in the battlefield against the British Army bent on annexing her little kingdom, and died fighting, came out in 1956. It was followed the next year by a novel Nati, her first novel, also published in Desh in 1957 and thereafter Ki Basante ki Sarate, a collection of short stories, in 1958. In her ‘Preface’ to Jhansir Rani Mahasweta writes, “when I was a child my grandmother told me the story of Rani of Jhansi. Heard in her gentle voice by the dim light of a lantern, it did indeed seem like the most amazing fairy tale just like those times, the teller of that tale is gone, and the fairy tales went with her. But the tale of the Queen has remained bright in my mind ever since. Later, after I required an education and a consciousness of history, my curiosity about our national life increased and wish arose to write an entire book about Jhansi Queen”.
Before writing the book she had done extensive research on the Indian War of Independence of 1857 and travelled to all those places—Banda, Gwalior, Hamidpur, Laltpur, Urcha where Rani Jhasi fought with the British imperial power and gathered a lot from the oral tradition; recorded the folk songs in praise of Laxmibai and included those in the biography. The oral tradition is a vital source of Indian history. Mahasweta acknowledged that it ought to be preserved as a historical document. The book defies the categories: simultaneously a history, a biography, and a personal statement that says as much about the author as it does about her subject. It is a valuable contribution to the reclamation of history, and historiography, by feminist writers.
With the publication of Hajar Chaurasir Ma (Mother of 1084, 1974) Mahasweta shot into fame. Before published as an enlarged version as a book, it appeared in October 1973 in the special autumn festival issue of Prasad. Here she turned to the Naxalite movement in West Bengal and departed from her historical and domestic writing. According to Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak, “all the novels of Mahasweta up to Hajar Chaurasir Ma remain within the excessively sentimental idiom of the Bengali novel of the last twenty odd centuries”. For the first time she showed her interest in the Naxalite movement. It is perhaps the only possible mode of revolt of the peasant community committed to the Naxalite cause. It became for her a true vocation.
The novel created and continues to create waves for its unsentimental yet profoundly moving story of a mother’s discovery of how and why her son lies dead in a police morgue. The story reveals the solitary grief of the protagonist, Sujata, an apolitical mother, who has been a witness to the horrifying situation during the suppression of the Naxalite uprising in which her son Brati, the corpse number 1084, took part and became a martyr. Keeping out of view the economic and social exploitation in rural Bengal that had drawn landless peasants and tribes to the Naxalite movement, she concentrates on the reactions of a cross-section of the survivors, both those who bear the scars and wounds of those horrible days, and those who had lived through the days of violence in simulated insularity. Later on Hazar Chaurasir Ma was dramatized and created a stir among the reader in and outside Bengal. Govind Nihalani, the famed director, has also made the book into a Hindi movie as ‘Hazar Chaurasi ki Ma’.
With her deep insights and force of narration she sought the roots of the insurrectionary fervor of the revolutionaries of the seventies in their disillusion with the corrupt and insensitive existing system, both in the family and in the stage. With Aranyer Adhikar (Rights over the Forest, 1975), based on her usual in depth research work, Mahasweta established herself as one of the most powerful novelists in India. It is based on the life of Birsa Munda, the tribal leader, who asserts the tribal’s claim to the ownership of the forest. “Here Mahasweta begins putting together a prose that is a collage of literary Bengali, street Bengali, bureaucratic Bengali, tribal Bengali, and the language of the tribes”, says Gayatri Spivak (In Other Worlds, 1989).
Starting with the death of the Munda rebellion leader Birsa Munda in Ranchi on June 9, 1900, Aranyer Adhikar goes back to Birsa Munda’s past life and the making of him as a leader. Based on historical document, she provides the backdrop of Birsa’s rise as a leader through his associates Dhani Munda and Bharmi Munda who were also in jail with Birsa. “The thrill of the story with its tensed up characters with all their individualities and die hard rebel’s fight to the last make the novel a really tragic story where the failure of human effort becomes the springboard for further action with stronger thrust”, says Ujjal Kumar Majumdar. The most important achievement of the novel is to uncover the real reason for the Munda insurrection. Her portrayal of the character of Birsa leads her to exploration of the origins of myth and religion. A new myth and a new faith are born among the Mundas when they accept the godhead of Birsa and renounce their earlier faith. Mahasweta here portrays a primitive society in the process of change. For its intellectual quality, sense of history, freshness, powerful narration enriched with the raciness of local dialects and vivid revelation of inner life of these rustic folk, Aranyer Adhikar was accepted as a masterpiece of Indian fiction which won her Sahitya Akademi Award in 1979.
The same year, Jagat Shankhdhar translated Aranyer Adhikar into Hindi as Jungle Ke Davedar. Mahasweta in the ‘Preface’ writes that the inspiration for the novel came from a work by Kumar Suresh Singh, the noted social scientist and anthropologist. His book entitled Dust Storm and Hanging Mist: Story of Birsa Munda and His Movements narrates a detail account of the history, the socio-cultural and the political dimensions of the Munda movement during 1878 1901. Mahasweta acknowledges the influence of the text on her novel and dedicated Aranyer Adiker to Singh. In the ‘Preface’ in the revised edition of Singh’s book, published under another title Birsa Munda and His movement… in 1983 he acknowledges his debt to Mahasweta for being instrumental in the publication of the revised edition.
In Agnigarva (The Womb of Fire, 1979) we come across the striking picture of the tribes and aboriginals who are depicted as rising in revolt in her latest phase of writing. She writes with fierce courage about those who have scarified their lives for the cause of greater social justice. It is a firsthand study of an historical situation. The novel is a scorching commentary of representation of armed struggle between East and West Pakistan in India, where deep rage and suffering seem to have cleansed vision and given a new glistening edge to her social criticism.
Her other notable works are Amrita Sanchay, Andhar Manik, Subhoga Basanta, Noirite Megh, Ghare Phera, Kabi Bandyoghati Ganyir Jivan o Mrityu, Chotti Munda Ebong Bharatiya, Vivek Bidaypala, Ganesh Mahima, Eiter Pore Eit, Salngirar Dake, etc. As a novelist, Mahasweta is at her most characteristic when she re creates a span of history, allowing individuals to evolve their interactions with a historical process, as in her novels Amrita Sanchay and Andarmanik, “imagined into fiction” set in the period that saw the British colonization of India, and Chotti Munda, recording the first seven decades of the present century in the history of one of the tribes of eastern India. In Kavi Bandyo Ghati Ganyir Man o Mrityu she has portrayed the life of a young man hailing from the ‘Chuad’ tribe in the 16th century Bengali. The totem and taboos, inhibitions and mental reservations on the ‘Chuad’ community along with archetype myth form the backdrop of the fiction. We get a henchman, contemporary to Sri Chaitanya Dev, in Vivek Viday Pala, who tries to come up but has to accept an inglorious defeat.
In all her novels, she wields her pen for the downtrodden that try to come up in rebellion but meet either a violent death or an inglorious defeat, yet they are never vanquished. Her novels reveal two important facets of her social criticism one is deep distrust of the privileged upper classes who are either directly taking part in the oppressive dynamics of Indian society, or living in ivory towers, preferring to ignore its ugly realities, in the other one she expresses her heartfelt respect for the uneducated poor villagers with their solid goodness, unquivering fortitude and backs that refuses to be broken by centuries of oppression.
Like her novels, her short stories, especially Draupadi and Standayini, speak of the plight of the poor. Standayini (Wet Nurses, 1979) narrates the tragic tale of a sweeper woman Jasoda, who acts as the foster mother of a landlord neglecting her own son. When she dies the landlord takes care of her orphan son but the landlord’s son, fed on the sweeper’s milk, treats the orphan contemptuously. This is the price of her mother’s milk. In Draupadi, Mahasweta is in her extremely provocative short fiction and political narrative. It has given an altogether new dimension to the theme of Draupadi, an example of the Indian sense of guilt and pain around the incident of the rape of Draupadi. Draupadi, the protagonist, is an exceptionally beautiful Santhal woman actively engaged in the Naxalite movement. After a mass rape at the police station for hours, there has been no benevolent God to save her as He who saved Draupadi in the Mahabharata. At the end Draupadi rises above her humiliation and questions this world where man is free to exploit a woman and still call himself a man.
Besides, her most powerful stories ‘Salt’, ‘Seed’, ‘The Witch’ and ‘little ones’ are, in her own words, amongst the most important of her prolific writing career. All set in Palamau, the tribal intensive region, Mahasweta’s works, written in the eighties, are resonant with anger against the exploitation she witnessed firsthand, and the complacent hypocrisy of the upper castes and classes. ‘Jawl’ is the story of a teacher, who is an honest and conscientious Congressite. In Mw banam Lakinda, the agitation of the agricultural laborers is led by the CPI, whereas in Operation Bhasai Tudu, the political activist, Kali Santra, belongs to the CPI (M) and above all stands somewhere beyond the Naxalites.
Unlike her earlier works Aranyer Adhikar and Hazaar Churasir Ma where Mahasweta makes fiction out of history, in Operation Bashai Tudu she weaves a myth out of real life. She takes pains to document authentically the life she knows best. However, her highly acclaimed short story was Rudali, the concept which till recently was an unknown phenomenon. The story centers on the professional women mourners who are paid to lament and sing in praise of the dead, a custom still practiced in Bihar, Punjab, and Rajasthan and in some other states. It is the prostitutes and low caste women who perform this function in Bihar, and elsewhere. The Rudalis hail from a different social class. They could be housewife as is prevalent in Punjab. The widows who are otherwise not entitled to attain any sacred social ceremonies such as weddings, but as Rudali such women are welcome. Though it is a powerful women’s story but Mahasweta asserts that her text is part of the discourse of class rather than gender. Rudali was adopted into a play and a film by Kalpana Lajmi, which bagged several national and international awards.
Bayer, however, presents a powerful tale of harsh reality of a woman’s life in rural India. The protagonist, Chandidasi Gangadasi, a professional gravedigger, is put against a powerful exploitative mechanism that is in force in the rural world. Chandidasi, the innocent mother, who is branded as a witch, has been separated from her son and family and gets killed while averting a train accident. At the end her son acknowledges her as his mother by defying age-old feudal values. Besides, her Chhoti Munda and Master Saabs are the products of exploitation, and inhuman. Mahasweta chose slightly different forms, with songs and rituals and evocations providing a historical field for the action, in her short stories: Aajir, Bayer, Urvashi o Johnny and Jal. In Aajir, she deals with the decadent social values and their effects on the illiterate people in the rural areas. Urvashi O Johnny, a story set in the Emergency, tells about the love affair of Johnny and Urvashi a talking doll. Several stories by Mahasweta have been dramatized and performed by non professional theatre groups, mostly in her own state, West Bengal, both in Bengali and Hindi. Many of her works have been translated into English and other Indian languages: Gujarati, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Oriya, Kannada, and Telugu.
In addition to being a revered author, Mahasweta was a social activist who has supported the causes of tribal development and helped in the socio-economic betterment of the underprivileged class. She has presented a number of papers on labor and the tribes in seminars organized by the Planning Commission and the Ministry of Labor. Last year in Delhi at the Indian Habitat Centre, she spoke on the Words of Women Series, a series that features eminent women writers of the country who speak on issues close to their heart. In ‘Meet the Author’ program organized by Sahitya Akademi in 1991, she said, “women have to assert themselves. They have to break the shackles of male chauvinism and get going to help make India brighter and prosperous”. Her articles have appeared regularly in the Economic and Political Weekly, Frontier and other journals: Anik, Anstup, Bartaman, Basumati, Business Standard, Desh, Jugantar, Satyajug, and Sunday. In the late eighties she had been a weekly colomunist for Bartoman, a Bengali daily. During 1982 83 she was associated with the Bengali daily, Yugantar. She has been the editor of a Bengali quarterly Bortika, devoted to the tribes and marginalized people. Presently she is the Editor advisor for a newsletter Budhan, one of the many journals which attempt to offer a platform to the members of marginalized social group, published by the Denotified and Nomadic Tribes Rights Action Group. It is named after Budhan Sabar who was brutally killed in March 1998.
Her writing is not confined only to the suffering tribes, the most downtrodden in the Indian society. She has provided active support to all efforts directed towards the uplift of the poor and needy, especially among the tribal people. Previously she had involved herself in the struggles of municipal workers of her hometown Berhampur and initiated the ‘Bonded Labour Liberation Organization’ in Palamau district of south Bihar and neighboring districts in West Bengal. Mahasweta has been spearheading the movement against the industrial policy of the West Bengal government, her state domicile. She stridently criticized confiscation of large tracts of fertile agricultural land from farmers and ceding the land to industrial house at throughway prices. Her lead resulted in a number of intellectuals, writers and theatre workers join in protesting the controversial policy and particularly its implementation in Singur and Nandigram.
Besides, she was the President, West Bengal Kheria Shabar Kalyan Samiti, devoted to the welfare of Lodha Sabar and Kheria Sabar, the tribes of Medinipur and Purulia. She was also the President, Tribal Unity Forum. This apart, she was associated with many tribal organizations Dalitjan Mukti Sangathan; Paschim Banga Munda Samaj; Paschim Banga Bhumij Kalyan Samiti; and Paschim Banga Sahis Jati Kalyan Samiti. Her connection and involvement with so many different organizations bring her face to face with varied lifestyles, and problems of different communities. She uses her experience to great effect in her writing. Totally committed to their cause, she has donated the entire Prize money of Magsaysay and Jnanpith to the organizations she has set up for the tribes.
Mahasweta travelled extensively in the forest regions and remote villages to collect information about peoples’ sufferings, political pressures, exploitations by the moneylenders, their protest against the deforestation and she writes about all these plights. She has travelled not only in rural Bihar, Orissa and Bengal but also abroad. In 1985 she visited France through the Cultural Exchange Program of Government of India; England in 1986; America in 1968 on invitation of the Marxist Study Circle of Pittsburg University. She also visited eight Universities of America as a Distinguished Fulbright Lecturer in 1990. She was in France for a short while to participate in a Writers’ Conference along with some other Indian writers in 2004. Mahasweta made an impassioned inaugural speech at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2006, when India was the first country to be the Fair’s second time guest nation, wherein she moved the audience to tears with her lines taken from the famous film song by Raj Kapoor: “This is true the age where Joota (Shoe) is Japani (Japanese), Patloon (Pant) is Englistani (British), the Topi (Hat) is Roosi (Russian), but the Dil (Heart) is always Hindustani (Indian)… my country, torn, tattered, proud, beautiful, hot, humid, cold, sandy, shinning India. My country…”
Such a rare writer was born when the national movement was at its height. Her first schooling was in Dhaka, but she moved to West Bengal in India after Partition. After schooling at the Eden Monastery and Midnapur Mission School, Mahasweta passed her matriculation from Beltala School, Kolkata in 1942. After seventeen years of her graduation in English Honours from Shantiniketan, the brainchild of Rabindranath, obtained her Master’s degree in English literature from Calcutta University in 1963. Even as a student of the Intermediate class she joined Girls Students Association and took active part in the relief work for the victims of the Bengal famine of 1943. During her graduation, the country was passing through great political uprising and change. The Tehbaga Movement was at its heights and soon the communal riots broke out in Kolkata. She married Bijon Bhattacharya, the veteran actor, playwright, and the founder member of IPTA in 1947. After a brief stint as an English teacher in the girls’ section of the Padma Pukur Boys School, Mahasweta joined the postal department as UDC in 1950. She was sacked a year later on suspicion of communist activities.
She has tried her hand at several odd jobs including selling soap dyes and exporting monkeys to United States. In 1957, she joined Sir Ramesh Mitra Girls High School as an English teacher. Her first marriage lasted for 18 years. She divorced Bijon Bhatacharya in 1962 and got married a second time to writer Ashit Gupta in 1965 but led a barren life till she began working with the tribes. After her Master’s degree she took up teaching job as lecturer in Bijoygarh Jyotish Ray College, in 1964, an institution for working class women students. She resigned in 1984 when she received a call to serve the suffering humanity at large.
Her rich and diverse experience of life comes from many different quarters: her career as a teacher, brief stint in the office of the Deputy Accountant General of the Post and Telegraph, her editorial assignments, her close encounters with the rural reality in the capacity of a travelling village reporter of Yugantar. In fact, she was a witness to several people’s movements before she became a writer. All these factors shaped her cultured personality and terrific creativity. Later on she spent the better part of her life studying and working among the bonded and landless laborers, the exploited tribal communities’ languishing in ignorance and apathy. She writes, in the ‘Preface’ to Shrestha Galpa, “It is my conviction that a story writer should be motivated by a sense of history… I have found authentic documentation to be the best medium of protest against injustice”. Presently Mahasweta is reworking on her autobiography, and rewriting parts of the Mahabharata, giving it a tribal twist. She also plans to resume work on her autobiography. In response to a question, what you would like to do for the rest of your life, she once observed, “fight for the tribes, downtrodden, underprivileged and write creatively if and when I find time. A lot of work needs to be done to improve the plight of the dispossessed and the downtrodden . . .” who had spent most of her life projecting the plight of the tribes and promoting their legitimate rights. Her death is a invariable loss for the ‘voiceless’ mass of Indian society.
Dr. Ashok K. Choudhury, a lit critic & postdoctoral scholar, is with Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi

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