Sunday, Sep 19, 2021
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'Sir Vidia Gets It Badly Wrong'

William Dalrymple grants Naipaul his eminence, but challenges his jaundiced notions of Indian history

'Sir Vidia Gets It Badly Wrong'
'Sir Vidia Gets It Badly Wrong'
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

There was some surprise when Sir Vidia and Lady Naipaul turned up at the BJP office last week and gave what many in the press took to be a pre-election endorsement not just of the party but the entire Sangh parivar programme. India was indeed shining, the Nobel laureate was quoted as saying, and yes he was quite happy being "appropriated" by the BJP.

More striking was the quote attributed to Naipaul about the violent destruction of the Babri Masjid: "Ayodhya is a sort of passion," he said. "Any passion is to be encouraged. Passion leads to creativity." For a man whose work contains many eloquent warnings of the dangers of misplaced political passions—such as the Islamic Revolution in Iran—this might appear to be a surprising volte-face. Indeed, it led one commentator in the Times to wonder if Sir Vidia was not being misquoted or at least misunderstood.

Yet the quotes, especially Sir Vidia's remarks that Babar's invasion of India "left a deep wound", are consistent with ideas Naipaul has been airing...

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