Saturday, Aug 20, 2022
×
Outlook.com
×
Uttar Pradesh

And Unquiet Flows The Yamuna

Caught between a rapidly changing socio-political environment and cultural atrophy, literature in Uttar Pradesh is in limbo

Spun in words A weaver in Varanasi
Spun in words A weaver in Varanasi Photograph: Tribhuvan Tiwari

Uttar Pradesh has been the epicentre of art and literature of the Hindi-­speaking world. It has produced several litterateurs in Hindi and Urdu, including the likes of Prem­ch­and, Jaishan­kar Prasad and Firaq Gorakhpuri. Those who were born and lived here, and bre­a­thed in its socio-political atmosphere, depicted these in their poetry, short stories and novels. Over the last decades, the most significant cha­nge in these parts is migration. This doesn’t just apply to UP, but alm­ost all states. A big section of youth who were born there has moved to Del­hi. It’s not a new phenomenon, though. Even before Independence, most peo­ple from UP and Bihar would go to Calcutta in search of employment. After some time, Bombay (Mumbai) eme­­rged as the most alluring destination to peo­ple looking for a livelihood. Today, it is Delhi that has acquired the distinction of the city that attracts hundreds and thousands of people—not just for their bread and butter, but also for edu­cation and politics.

Even though UP itself has some good old seats of learning, like Allahabad University, Banaras Hin­du University and Aligarh Muslim Univer­s­ity,  they no longer have the charm they once held. Those who want to get a better education or a foo­thold in politics make a beeline for Del­hi. Hun­dr­eds of Hindi and Urdu poets and writers from UP have landed up in the capital for better prospects. Living here, they have been removed from the eve­ryday realities of the land they write about. How can they portray its soc­ial milieu in the way writers like Rahi Masoom Raza did, if they are not experiencing or observing the rhy­thm of life the­re? For writing to be roo­ted in the soil, it is important that the writer gets himself immersed in the throb of its cult­ure. But in reality, the migration of writers from UP to the metros—one could call it a brain dra­in—has ensured that there are few left in the state who can carry on this tradition.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement