children's literature

Topics: English language, Languages of India, India Pages: 14 (4435 words) Published: January 11, 2014

Indian English Children’s Literature:
The Context of Salman Rushdie,
Ruskin Bond and Arup Kumar Dutta
Rizia Begum Laskar
M.D.K. Girls’ College, Assam, India

Indian English children’s literature as a distinct branch of literature struggled to find its footing in India. The struggle is interconnected to the problem of the English language itself and the dominance of western children’s literature in India. At the same time, the publishing scenario plays a significant role in the development of the literature. Prominent authors like Rushdie have taken up the cudgels of bringing this literature to the forefront and focus on the realization and reflection of India in their works. The concept of Indianness forms an integral part of the probe that these authors put up in their works and how the idea of India immerses and emerges in their works forms the basis of this paper.

Keywords: Children’s literature, Indian English, Publishing Scenario, India

BARNOLIPI - An Interdisciplinary Journal - Volume - II. Issue – III. ISSN 2249 –2666
© REFLECTION Mentoring Services


Anything concerned with Indian English, be it children’s literature or any other literature, has to trace its origin to the beginning of Indian English writings in the country. At this juncture it would be appropriate to call it simply English since the Indianization took place much later. The roots of English in India have its origin in the days of the missionaries, then came Macaulay’s Minute and Bentick’s subsequent educational policy. The establishment of various schools and colleges and educational reforms added to the momentum English was gathering as a language in India. By 1917, English has almost won the race against the classical and modern languages. Initially, it was more a language of the elite rather than the common masses and only the affluent upper class Indians were the ones who had access to the English language. It was only a gradual process where the Indianization of the language took place. In order to convey the Indian experience with its original Indian flavour, the English language underwent a process of change which through the rise in literacy and English reading population manifested itself in writing too. Thereby Indian English writings or literature began its growth. It is necessary at this juncture to understand that children’s literature as a separate branch of literature will necessarily take a long time to develop in a language that itself is in a struggling phase to constitute its identity. The growth was stunted as western influence was predominant and retellings and adaptations were the fare of the day. In order to understand its development as a discrete branch of literature, we have to understand that even today Indian English children’s literature remains a poorer relation of the much flourishing Indian English literature. It is also necessary to delve into the various social and political circumstances that led to the growth of English language and subsequently an English reading population. The Indian English literature is primarily aimed at this population which is a handful

BARNOLIPI - An Interdisciplinary Journal - Volume - II. Issue – III. ISSN 2249 –2666
© REFLECTION Mentoring Services


few and so Indian English children’s literature has got a very marginal readership. These factors contributed in a large way to its neglect and deterioration as also the fact that the western children’s literature suffices the reading tastes to a large extent. It is very recently that the need for a children’s literature in English which upholds the indigenous picture was felt. Let us now understand the complex scenario that led not only to the birth of Indian English literature but more importantly the birth of Indian English children’s literature.

The Pre-Independence Period
It is an accepted fact that oral...

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