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Indian English Literature

Indian English Literature pertains to that body of work by writers from India, who pen strictly in the English language and whose native or co-native language could be one of the numerous regional and indigenous languages of India. English literature in India is also intimately linked with the works of associates of the Indian diaspora, especially with people like Salman Rushdie who was born in Indian but presently resides elsewhere.

Development of Indian English Literature
Indian English literature precisely conforming to its gradual evolution had all begun in the summers of 1608 when Emperor Jahangir, in the court of the Mughals, had welcomed Captain William Hawkins, Commander of British Naval Expedition Hector, in a gallant manner. Though India was under the British rule, still, English was adopted by the Indians as a language of understanding and awareness, education and literary expression with an important means of communication amongst various people of dissimilar religions.

Indian English literature, quite understandably, spurs attention from every quarter of the country, making the genre admired in its own right. Creative writing in English is looked at as an integral part of the literary traditions in the Indian perspective of fine arts. In early times of British rule, the novelistic writing, indeed the Indian English dramas and Indian English poetry, had tremendously arrested attention of the native masses. Every possible regional author was dedicated in their intelligence to deliver in the `British mother tongue`, highly erudite and learned as they were even in such periods. The man that comes to surface more than once in all the genres of Indian English literature is Rabindranath Tagore, who possibly was an unending ocean of knowledge and intellect, still researched as an institution in him.

The truthfulness and honesty of the writers writing in English is often made a theme of suspect in their own country and in other English-speaking countries they are indeed addressed as `marginal` to the mainstream of English literature. Indian English literature writers are sometimes incriminated of forsaking the national or regional language and penning in a western, "alien" language; their dedication to the nation is considered in much suspicion, a rather unfortunate sensibility for such intelligent and cultured wonders.

Indian literature in English dates back to the 1830s, to Kashiprasad Ghosh, who is considered the first Indian poet writing in English. Sochee Chunder Dutt was the first writer of fiction, thus bringing in the tremendous attraction and brilliancy of admiration of Indian English novels. In the beginning, however, political writing in the novel or essay format was dominant, as can be seen in Raja Ram Mohan Roy and his extraordinary output. He had written and dedicated pages about social reform and religion in India, solely in the medium of English.

Style of Indian English Literature
`Stylistic influence` from the local languages appears to be an exceptional feature of much of the Indian literature in English - the local language construction and system is very much reflected in the illustrations, as is mirrored in the literal translation of local idioms. Yet one more breathtaking and praiseworthy feature of these English Indian writers is that they have not only `nativised` the `British mother tongue` in terms of stylistic features, but, they have also acculturated English in terms of the `Indianised context`. A broad view that the mother tongue is the primary means of literary creativity is still generally held across cultural diversity. Creativeness in another tongue is often measured as a deviation from this strict norm. The native language is considered `pure`, it is addressed as a standard model of comparison. This however have caused difficulties for non-native writers of Indian English literature and it is more than infrequently that they have to guard themselves writing again, in English.

Writers of Indian English literature
Besides the legendary and hugely venerated Indian English literary personalities like Rabindranath Tagore (Sadhana) or R K Narayan ( Malgudi days), later novelists like Kamala Markandaya (Nectar in a Sieve, Some Inner Fury, A Silence of Desire, Two Virgins), Manohar Malgaonkar (Distant Drum, Combat of Shadows, The Princes, A Bend in the Ganges and The Devil`s Wind), Anita Desai (Clear Light of Day, The Accompanist, Fire on the Mountain, Games at Twilight) and Nayantara Sehgal, have ceaselessly captured the spirit of an independent India struggling to break away from the British and traditional Indian cultures and establish a distinct identity.

Dur ing the 1980`s and 90`s, India had emerged as a major literary nation. Salman Rushdie`s `Midnight`s Children` had become a rage around the world, even winning the Booker Prize. The worldwide success of Vikram Seth`s ` Midnight`s Children ` made him the first writer of the Indian Diaspora to enter the sphere of elite international writers and leave an indelible mark on the global literary scene. Other Indian English literature Novelists of repute of the contemporary times include - V.S. Naipaul, Shobha De (Selective Memory), G.V. Desani, M Ananthanarayanan, Bhadani Bhattacharya, Arun Joshi, Khushwant Singh, O.V. Vijayan, Allan Sealy (The Trotternama), Sashi Tharoor (Show Business, The Great Indian Novel), Amitav Ghosh (Circle of Reason, Shadow Lines) and others.

The writer in the genre of Indian English literature, who took the world with a storm, was Arundhati Roy, whose `The God of Small Things` won the 1997 Booker Prize and became an international best-seller overnight. Rohinton Mistry, Firdaus Kanga, Kiran Desai (Strange Happenings in the Guava Orchard), Sudhir Kakar (The Ascetic of Desire), Ardeshir Vakil (Beach Boy) and Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies) are some other renowned writers of Indian origin. Former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao`s The Insider; Satish Gujral`s A Brush with Life; R.K. Laxman`s The Tunnel of Time, Prof. Bipin Chandra`s India After Independence, Sunil Khilnani`s The Idea of India, J.N. Dixit`s Fifty Years of India`s Foreign Policy, Yogesh Chadha`s Rediscovering Gandhi and Pavan K.Varma`s The Great Indian Middle Class, are also outstanding works of the recent times.

The mid-20th century Indian literature in English had witnessed the emergence of poets such as Nissim Ezekiel (The Unfurnished Man), P Lal, A K Ramanujan (The Striders, Relations, Second Sight, Selected Poems), Dom Moraes (A Beginning), Keki .N . Daruwalla, Geive Patel were profoundly influenced by literary movements taking place in the West, like Symbolism, Surrealism, Existentialism, Absurdism and Confessional Poetry. These authors heavily had made use of Indian phrases alongside English words and had tried to reproduce a blend of the Indian and the Western cultures.

Indian English literature is an honest enterprise to demonstrate the ever rare gems of Indian writing in English. From being a singular and exceptional, rather gradual native flare-up of geniuses, Indian English has turned out to be a new form of Indian culture and voice in which India converses regularly. While Indian authors - poets, novelists, essayists, dramatists - have been making momentous and considerable contributions to world literature since the pre-Independence era, the past few years have witnessed a gigantic prospering and thriving of Indian English writing in the global market. Not only are the works of Indian authors writing in English surging on the best-seller list, they are also incurring and earning an immense amount of critical acclamation. Commencing from Mulk Raj Anand, R. K. Narayan, Anita Desai, Sarojini Naidu, Toru Dutt to Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Allan Sealy, Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee, Arundhati Roy, Vikram Chandra - the panache of fine Indian writers is long and much augmented.

21 comments:

  1. wonderful job that u have done .... congrats

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  2. Beautifully written. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

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  3. I used to read English books online but your article gave me another choice of reading Aricle..Nice work of your..Great!!

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  4. Such a wonderful information you have given us . Thank you so much

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  5. Such a wonderful information you have given us . Thank you so much

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. Thankyou sir for an awesome information....

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  8. There is nothing as that to say Indian English literature and Indian English language. Everything but hinges on the base of nativity and interconnection, the exchange of thoughts and ideas.Indian English poetry though a misnomer struggled to come out from a vast jargon and juggle of linguistic terms, Anglo-Indian, Indo-English, Indo-Anglican, Indo-Anglian and so on. Actually, we have forgotten our base and that was of Indology, Asiatic researches and Oriental studies. Even now we do not know much about who popularized Indian thought and culture in the West. How were Sanskrit departments opened and who initiated the move? Just the Indians cannot be given full points as for Indianization and it is but the theme of Indianness which imparts a shape to Indian English literature. The westerners read the Indian English novels as for culling data for sociology and other studies too. Had Yeats not read and recommended Tagore's Gitanjali, he would not have what he is today. To talk of Indian English poetry is not to give the credit to the ramshackle Indian English poets and poetesses. Matthew Arnold himself had been under the influence of the Bhagavadgita, T.S.Eliot under the Upanishads, Yeats too underwent a course. Aldous Huxley once visited India and wrote pieces on Benares; Kipling dwelt upon Buddha and Buddhism through a narrative framework in the novel Kim . Shelley in the poem The Cloud borrows from the 'Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara' concept.
    Indian English poets are not English poets and poetesses as there is nothing like Indian English like the Canadian variety or the Caribbean; Indian Indian, English English. Had there been a feeder dialect, we would have definitely and it is but Indian poetry in English.
    Apart from reading, poets are made or in the making, not born, the derivative and imitative stuffs, parodying others, their slender texts and substandard verses, we should try to read Surdas, Mirabai, Rashkhan, Jayaysi and Kabir in English, putting them for a wider audience. We could at least read Jayshankar Prasad's Kamayani.
    As for the Raj days, English came to the Indians as a translator's language; an interpreter's exchange and understanding and it was good to an India so vast and varied, widely differing, exotic and alien. A multi-lingual, multi-racial and multi-ethnic nation, it exasperated the all, the looker and the reader of it all in their wonder and astonishment. It was but the English and the Europeans who recognized Mahatma Gandhi, Vivekananda and Tagore.

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  9. Call it the parody and irony of Indian English poetry, whatever be that, Indian English verse is but a study in minor voices and slender works. The history and legacy of the writers is as such that you cannot dismiss them nor can abandon. The practitioners too had not been good and the other thing was this that the times too were not in their favour. Even today we read Indian English verse writers under pressure, not spontaneously. Had they not prescribed in courses of studies, had the Ph.D. programmes been not made compulsory for career advancement, had they not started giving Sahitya Akademi award to the poets from 1981, we would not have the Indian English poets at last. Why be she not Sarojini Naidu who too is lost in the jungle of loose sentimentality and emotional overflows and she remained a poetess till her love affair with Dr. Naidu and after that of the joining of politics, the poetess in he left away the body? Initially, the researches done on Indian English literature were nothing but the third-rate works. The classic-read scholars and old teachers used to frown upon while reading the anthologies of Indian English verse. It was enough to be asked as a literary essay in English or M.A. in English. In Indian English poetry, some have got the press and some have not.P.Lal’s Writers Workshop is a factory of poets, more specially Indian English verse practitioners. Vikram Seth too came out from his press initially. If one comes across Lal’s poetry anthologies, one will startle to find it that even twenty to thirty pages can lead to the producing of books. In the realm of Indian English poetry, there are the writers of one book; a few poems. The first poem-writers too claim here as for to be poets and poetesses. We did more Ph.Ds. on Kamala Das’ sexual poetry than her own works, uselessly laundering money, personal or be that of the U.G.C.’s fellowship programme, as for the works of a woman gone into hysterics and she was none but a Rajneeshite disciple with a rudrakshamala into the hands meditating in her own way. Today we start the beginning of modernism in Indian English poetry with references from Ezekiel which is not correct at all to say it. In the fifties, he had been nowhere, was just beginning to write and to make a way into the realms of it.

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  10. It is difficult to charter and undertake an in-depth study of the origin, growth and development of Indian English poetry right from the initial days of its inception, going back to, delving deep in, highlighting the background study and the neglected sides with a spectrum of its own, but instead of, something still lies it to be perused and scrutinized in detail. We have neglected in Indology, Asiatic researches, Oriental studies and translation studies which definitely have the bearings and legacy of their own to be stated and known.
    There were writers of verse even before Nissim Ezekiel whom we suppose to have forgotten and prescribe not their poems in our courses of study. A large body of it still remains unassessed and unexamined. Though P.Lal and his compatriots may refuse the acknowledge Maharshi Aurobindo, but his Savitri cannot be dismissed, whatever say they or their statement is in this regard. Savitri is Savitri, a source of illumination and enlightenment; spiritual elevation to be felt within. The Pondicherry School of Poerty Writing too needs to be studied deeply which we have not. K. D. Sethna as a poet and a critic is no less than, but we have not prescribed his poems and papers of criticism. Nissim Ezekiel, Jayanta Mahapatra, Purshottam Lal, Keki N.Daruwalla, Dilip Chitre, Arun Kolatkar, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, Adil Jussawalla, Pritish Nandy, A.K.Ramanujan, R.Parthasarathy, Gieve Patel, Shiv K. Kumar, Kamala Das, Keshav Malik, Agha Shahid Ali and others are the poets of the modern age. Nissim as a poet is an alien insider, lives in India, but thinks and dreams, like a Westerner. Indian thought, culture and philosophy cannot lure him nor has he striven to understand them. The modern Indian English poets are the writers of the urban space and city centres and their minds cannot dwell anywhere barring these. Kamala Das is mad after sex and sexuality and hers is a persona gone into hysterics. For her, the husband is the root of all troubles and but that she is Sati-Savitri; not so, but a woman of loose character. The nautanki of Kamala many have failed to understand it. Adil Jussawalla is resurfacing after a shipwreck; a break of some thirty-five years, again back to poetry, which is but a good news, but where had he been disturbs the new-practising critic? We have started to talk about Meena Alexander, but is silent about Anna Sujatha Mathai. But apart from, there are some whose names we can hear on the sidelines. K.V.S. Murti, R.R.Menon, Narenderpal Singh, M.N.Sharma, D.H.Kabadi, Romen Basu, Kulwant Sigh Gill, Sarbeswar Samal, Pronab Kumar Majumder, Hazara Singh, T.V.Reddy, P.C.Katoch, R.K.Singh, O.N.Gupta, I.H.Rizvi, Charu Sheel Singh, Simanchal Patnaik, Kedar Nath Sharma, Vijay Vishal, H.S.Bhatia, Stephen Gill, Har Prasad Sharma, Kadar Nath Shrma, Amarendra Kumar, P.K.Joy, etc. are the poets of the contemporary times whether one accepts it or not. The names of O.P.Bhatnagar, R.R.Menon and K.V.S.Murti can still be found in in the historical surveys of Naik and Iyengar. People talk about Keki N. Daruwalla, Gieve Patel and Adil jussawalla, but leave it behind K.D.Katrak who is not less than. I do not understand their politics, the politics of poetry and of poets as politicians, letting not them come out, trying utmost best to suppress talent and genius, where be it dying in harness. The other thing which is most deplorable is this that the small poets as editors like to bring out their own poetry and the subscribing readers too like to cringe them to full.

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  11. Indian English literature is a large body of writings to be affixed to one genre rather than a common term for all that has been written, inclusive of prose and poetry, fictional and non-fictional works, history, art, culture, political science and philosophy, constituent assembly debates to so on. But to see in the strictest literary jargon of meaning, we may talk of poems, nIovels, short stories, essays, letters, travel books, biographies, autobiographies and dramas. Everything has but been written under the impact of the colonial hang-over, the Raj Days. Today too our administration hinges on the same legacy of theirs.
    As for Indian English poetry, there are some four types of poets, the journal publishing, the newspaper-appearing, independently-published and Writers Workshop, Calcutta brought out poets in the realm of it. still now we have not introduced our lost and forgotten poets who authored one or two volumes before the independence of India.Whose burden is this? The govt. too is unaware of it. The U.G.C. is giving funds as for minor research projects and major projects and fellowships just for money-laundering. None strives to carry it forward; search the old stock lying dust-laden in some older library racks.
    Adil Jussawalla as the missing man of Indian English poetry has resurfaced after a thirty-five year break and the media is welcoming the move. P.Lal had been a promoter of it. Keshav Malik too like Arun Kolatkar is turning to poetry artistically and we fear poetry may change over to art and fashion designing. Some fashionistas too are trying to contribute to.
    As Pope says in An Epistle To Dr.Arbuthnot, similar is the case with Indian English poetry. Even if he is confided in his bungalow, the poetasters and rhymers will search him out.
    God, save us from Indian English poets and poetesses, all calling themselves poets, great poets, not of India, but of England, one keeps praising another, making it a thing of mutual praise and admiration and even readers as for to be professors and professors as for to be deans of studies keep oiling the small editors as for paper publication and paper presentation and the editors can be pleased only then if the papers are written on their trivial and petty verses and research works registered on.

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  12. The poetic space of Daruwalla is grotesque and bizarre, peopled with hyenas, wolves and tigers.The physical beauties of the wolf mythicized and pictured before take us by strike and he has used in beautiful words to describe the animal, the brute and beast of the forest when he relates to as per the narration of his mother. But with the change in times and situations, the wild is already on the path of destruction and it is already the cause of our worries. But we are lucky enough to have a poet of his stature, with the imagery and penetration of his own. His vision is an unsentimental vision of life and the world as it was, as it will continue to be in near future. Nature is nature, as envisaged by Wordsworth and Shelley, marked in the movement of the sly and wily fox as Lawrence sees it differently in the novella The Fox and Ted Hughes in his poems laced with animal imagery. The bloody and brutal tiger of God sighted and described by Blake is wildly savage and bestial with the dangerous paws and symmetry of its own, and to mesmerize with irony and parody, the poet Daruwalla with those from the Scotland Yard, taking a purview of the wilds in their full exotic scenery, seconded by the approach and imprint of the bloody and bestial in-dwellers. To read him is be remembered of the great hunters and shooters of India, the Sherpas and the Himalayan hazards. In the Gangetic plains, once upon a time hyenas and wolves used to wreak havoc and the hunters with the machans, makeshift platforms used to try to sight them as for a trap or shooting. To read him is to move to Dinkar’s heights of the lofty Himalayas and to flow into the river waters of tranquil silence of Ageya, sometimes mountaineering and expedition and sometimes the Ganga ghats with the sadhus take him for a perusal. Daruwalla, believe you or not, is our Ted Hughes or Robert Browning. The Chillum as a poem is one dealing with the high land people and their chillum-taking, the ecstasy of smoking from a clay pipe and full smiling. Daruwalla as a poet is of different climes and conditions and he talks of different cultures and psyches, cultural spaces and consciousness which is really incomprehensible even though one can understand poetry. It is really difficult to read and explore him, the poetry of his stuff and to break the cultural ice of his space.

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  13. There are different modes and types of taking to Indian English poetry language and to owe allegiance to it and it varies from writer to writer, a tryst with Indianness and Englishness and the poem has born out of this of this assimilation, as how to put it to use. The Mistress as a poem actually is from The Keeper of the Dead collection of poems and it is one which deal with his use and application of the Indian English language though there is nothing like Indian English, nor does it have a feeder dialect of its own, spoken in anywhere in India in the homes. The problem is this that it is a hybrid combination, the language is alien, but the user is Indian. But it has a legacy and a past of its own. The story of the exchange system is strange. In the India of exotic flora and fauna, bearing the heat and dust and humid conditions, they struggled to clutch it along. The English-speaking memsahib of Daruwalla is as such as for her lineage may be of a mixed origin. In the land of the rajahs and raanis, the zaminidari system, the purdah and untouchability, how the things could come closer to is the thing of deliberation here. How would it have been when the English came to India and wanted to stay longer! How would it have been the butt of interaction!
    The poet, Keki N.Daruwalla, while beginning the poem says it that his mistress may be a half-caste genealogically, with the maximum possibilities of a hybrid combination all that he shows to be. Somewhere the origin may be as a Goan cook and somewhere as a Muslim midwife. The genetics and hereditary elements mix a bit more when the relationship grows in more for a short stint with the Indian babus and professors of English and it gets distorted more genealogically. With the White sahib she has to resort to a sahebi style of living, thinking and dreaming and when in the Indian homes, she transgressing to the purdah is the case with and sometimes a mix of all that, with the heels, bangles and henna going her way. When she walks into the streets, people hiss on looking.
    Perhaps Daruwalla too is proud of having got such a mistress who is not the hidden dark lady of Shakespeare. The way she uses consonants and the things of her stock, sometimes take to the use of classical vocabulary. Daruwalla’s mistress is his love of the language; the one in which he is contributing his poems in. Bur where has he got his love for bombastic words?
    A poem of some five stanzas, it is a poem of mutual understanding and compromise; exchange and compilation; a development out of the assimilation of the native and foreign stuffs. The English and gene of the midwife and the nurse are the things of discussion here.

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  14. Keki N.Daruwalla here is taking a stock of the brown sahib’s English. How does he pronounce and use in? Daruwalla’s English is like the white sahib speaking with the zamindars or an Englishman taking salad and sauce and Indian chutney and sherbet to adjust with the food-habit and the conditions prevailing in India. The White memsahib speaking with the Indian orderly may also be the case here. The black lady who used to nurse and work as a baby-sitter for George Orwell at Champaran too would have been as such. The things, those of the likes and whims which he expresses and counts are those which one can experience it in the people of Goa and Pondicherry. Te poem reminds us of Toru Dutt and their conversion to Christanity and the resultant fusion seen in the writing of the poems of Savitri, Dhruva, Sita and so on.
    None but Nissim Ezekiel himself is the protagonist of the poem named The Professor, that Geography department teacher using broken English and even in Goodbye Party for Miss Pushpa T.S., he keeps hiding the facts, how regaled and entertained Pusha at the airport seeing her off, a foreign returnee giving tips in as for how to travel and tour foreign and Pushpa the Gujarati girl taking lessons from as for her visit.
    Nissim’s matter is one of the linguistic lab, a spoken English centre, ‘Learning to Write’ like Somerset Maugham, we the Indians learning to acquire and speak in a forced way, nay a spontaneous expression at all, a dictionary-consulting link language it is indeed, which but the butt of his joke and caricature.
    The poem titled The Patriot is actually from Nissim’s Very Indian Poems in Indian English section of Latter-Day Psalms (1982) and is an exercise in humour and articulation. Nissim very often likes to chuckle and grin and is critical enough to mark etiquette, manner and behaviour. The otherwise read patriot is none but an Indian freedom fighter just dressed in whites, khadi kurata, dhoti and a cap and with a lathi into the hands struggling to speak in English as for driving the Angrez and their Angrezi as for a swaraj and home rule is the picture before. To see it otherwise, the patriot’s English may be as that of Anna Hazare’s. A little-read, just after a tryst with the three R’s, he is showing his Gandhism and voluntary service. Again, to see it in a different context, Nissim’s patriot is like the ragged man of The Rising of the Moon one-act play of Lady Gregory. It is but the fool’s English, the villager’s which but he is caricaturing together with a mix of Gandhism. Gandhi’s pagletgiri too is a question of doubt and or raising suspicion. Nissim himself even after living in India fails to comprehend its ancient thought and traditions and what can be more painful than this? His is a minorityism seen through the texts completely, hollow and shallow urbanity expressed through the lines, a mirage after false modernity. A Gandhist will like to lassi and sherbet, not cold drinks, is also a fact. Many of them without going to jail as for India’s freedom will like to draw the pension as per false papers of participation. As Nissim is in poetry applying wit and humour, irony and caricature in poetry so was Gandhi too, a politician of some sort with the banars of his, but not like the black-mouthed hanumans of Jayprakash.

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  15. Among the journal poets of the contemporary times, one may take up Simanchal Patnaik who has Poetry of Himalayan Wisdom, Queen of English Poetry, Gems of English Poetry, Sonnets & Other Poems, Delightful World of Poems and others as his solid collections of poems.Call him a minor or a major, but he has tried to contribute to as most of the poets and poetesses are into the domain of Indian poetry in English. The hidden truth is this that most of the poetry writers are the self-published authors. To rhyme is the flair for; the forte of his. Sometimes he lapses into to be called a poetaster and his poems doggerels, but instead of it there lies in the verve and vigour of his writing. An old-timer, he is a conventionalist; a traditionalist. Simanchal, born in 1928, hailed from Berhampur, Orissa.

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