Writers International Edition

Dr Shalini Yadav

Choosing Off-track Careers and breaking Stereotypes: New Woman’s Ride of Self-discovery

Nothing is impossible in this world. Firm Determination, it is said, can move heaven and earth. Things appear far beyond one’s power, because one cannot set heart on any arduous project due to want of strong will.
-Yamamoto Tsunetomo

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the number of women choosing to pursue off-track careers. Many groundbreaking women have been breaking stereotypes and following their inner voice, steering away from traditional career paths and blazing their own trails. This empowering trend is shaking up society’s expectations and encouraging more women to listen to their inner voices and embrace unconventional career choices.

For decades, women have faced societal pressure to conform to certain expectations. Society has often dictated that women should pursue careers in fields such as teaching, nursing, or administrative roles, reinforcing traditional gender roles. This limitation has perpetuated stereotypes and hindered women from exploring their true passions and potential in alternative professions.

Embarking on adventurous journeys or choosing off-track career options is an authentic approach to breaking stereotypes, listening to inner call and discovering ‘Self’. For example, when we think of a biker, an image comes to mind of a macho man like Hrithik Roshan, John Abraham or Salman Khan with a cool bike stealing the hearts of girls.

Contrarily, to reject such a stereotype, the Movie ‘Dhak Dhak’ stages such a story of four ordinary women who as bikers decide to reach Khardung La Pass in the Leh district of the Indian union Territory of Ladakh which is famous as the highest motorable pass and a favourite spot among bike riders and override social schema showcasing their passion and determination.

In the show, Fatima Sana Shaikh as Sky, a motorcycle reviewer and influencer, aims to break free from her scandalous social media image and shines as a strong-willed woman battling her inner demons and fighting chauvinism. She gathers all other three bikers to embark on a transformative journey that is inspirational in many ways to chase their own adventures and follow their hearts overcoming all hurdles though many called it an overdose of feminism.

In the role of Mahi, a loving and mischievous Punjabi grandmother, Ratna Pathak Shah seeks appreciation and recognition from her family and wants to prove her, does a commendable job. While Dia Mirza as Muslim woman Uzma, a housewife and mother of a teenage daughter and a resourceful mechanic with suppressed dreams feels unappreciated in her own home and makes many women her story as their own. Manjari’s mother forces her, who is a clumsy young girl from Mathura and an ardent devotee to Radha-Krishna, into an arranged marriage being over-protective for her and unfortunately she is not able to deny it.

‘Dhak Dhak’ takes the audience to crisscross a medley of sub-narratives woven into the main story, each a unique brushstroke that shades the struggle, agony and audacity of these lady bikers who have come from different backgrounds yet ready to shatter stereotypes, to raise voice against patriarchy and to speak for ‘Self’. It revolves around their experiences, misadventures, and the bond they form as they embark on a life-changing journey.

The prejudices are highlighted against female drivers and the lack of safety for women, however we progress, the issue of women safety is yet a big shark in the society driven by males who are not ready to change their mindset as it is favourable to them in many ways. Yet as exception, a truck driver when finds Manjari in problem, encourages her and offers the advice of becoming a good neighbor of herself.

Reel versus real life heroines if we take for example, Neharika Yadav, a dentist by profession, have raced at the JK Tyre Superbike Championships. On the other hand, the Author of ‘Road to the Mekong’, Piya Bahadur says- “It all starts from within, you have to decide your destiny and that comes with your inner confidence. There are multiple things to hold you back, it’s you who needs to evaluate and reprioritize yourself.”

Rightly advised by Bahadur to listen to one’s inner voice, since it is one of the most pivotal factors in women opting for off-track careers. Society often dictates that women should prioritize nurturing and caring roles over their ambitions. They lack the confidence to express what they desire and wish to do. Shilpa Shetty through her role as Sukhpreet in the movie ‘Sukhee’ exerted to deliver a message that this culture of self-sacrifice and conforming to societal norms has forced many women to suppress their own desires and aspirations.

However, empowered women have now realized the importance of following their inner voice and pursuing careers that align with their true passions. The decision to pursue an off-track career requires immense courage, determination, and resilience. Women who choose this path often face an uphill battle, encountering scepticism and doubters along the way. However, by breaking stereotypes and achieving success in areas traditionally dominated by men, these women become beacons of inspiration for future generations.

The impact of women embracing off-track careers reaches far beyond the individual. By challenging stereotypes, they are eroding societal limitations for all women. They are paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable society where opportunities are not dictated by gender but rather by talent and passion. To illustrate, Founder of ‘Biking Queen’, a Women’s Biking Club in Surat, Sarika Mehta entered the world of this due to someone making a nasty comment on women riding bikes and took it as a challenge to learn and make other women learn.

Rubbernecking female biker delineates prevailing sexism yet has not been able to stop women to ride bikes. Additionally, when women choose such off-track careers, they bring their unique perspectives and strengths to traditionally male-dominated industries fostering innovation and driving progress but males are not mentally ready to accept that and it takes time and more energy of women for establishment in such arenas.

However, in recent years, either it is reel life or real one, there has been a notable rise in women playing bold roles coming out of conventional shell, challenging these stereotypes and opting for off-track careers. We are witnessing a surge of women choosing careers in fields, which were earlier dominated by men such as spying, bike racing, wrestling and even as mafia leaders or it is about talking about their sexuality or desires.

Acclaimed Authors and hosts of podcast ‘Not Your Aunty’ Kiran Manral and Shunali Khullar Shroff become loud enough to shun the sexist remarks with their puns and punches picking up new and trending issues in their episodes. On the other hand, Seema Anand, a mythologist, sexual health influencer and author of ‘The Art of Seduction’ speaks boldly about doubts and taboos prevailing in the social amphitheater related to sexuality and sex. By making these bold choices, women are shattering societal boundaries and proving that talent, dedication, and ambition surpass gender norms.

Moreover, to instill audacity, feminist approach has been a trend in contemporary Indian Cinema, which accentuates and discovers those aspects that have hitherto been overlooked. ‘P.I. Meena’ and ‘Kaala Paani’ are also such web series that unsheathe the layers of patriarchal mindset with strong witty female lead characters and the intricate threads that make up the fabric of human struggle for survival and existence.

In ‘P.I. Meena’, a complex narrative and gripping mystery, Tanya Maniktala as a young female detective, exerts to fathom the unfathomable with her will and wit though goes through unfavourable course being a female detective. On the other hand, in ‘Kaala Paani’, a survival thriller Netflix series, Mona Singh, Arushi Sharma and Radhika Mehrotra as medical practitioners with their sharp intellect, strong will power and firm determination discard patriarchy to safeguard humanity from nature’s wrath.

Different shades of new women are portrayed through shows like ‘The Trial: Pyaar Kanoon Dhokha’, ‘The Night Manager’, ‘Saas Bahu aur Flamingo’ and ‘Scoop’ where Kajol acted as a lawyer and mother, Tilotama Shome played the role of RAW Officer, Dimple Kapadia as Savitri who runs a drug cartel and Karishma Tanna as journalist Jigna Vora where they utterly discarded patriarchal codes and led as powerful and stimulating women.

Likewise, the women who opt for off-track careers serve as role models for future generations of young girls who may have been hesitant to explore their ambitions fully. And no doubt, actresses in these shows have encouraged for the same drilling nerve. By observing successful women in various fields, young girls are encouraged to follow their passions without the fear of societal judgment.

Thus, the rise of women pursuing off-track careers is a powerful movement that breaks stereotypes and encourages women to listen to their inner voice. By deviating from traditional career paths, women are challenging societal expectations and empowering themselves and others who come after them. These women exemplify the importance of following one’s passion, regardless of gender or societal norms. Their accomplishments leave an indelible mark on society, creating a world where talent, ambition, and dedication replace gender biases in the professional realm.

Dr Shalini Yadav
Professor & Author

Educating for Green: New Ethic for Universal Consciousness and Happiness

Orientation with the global economic development trend is just a piecemeal if green education is not applied in the education sector hence it’s the major revolutionary thingamajig and the need of hour due to several eschewed issues that are mandatory to take into consideration such as harmful climate change and avalanche in the psychological and mental health glitches in youth.

Unfortunately, deteriorated psychological and mental health leads to the frequent suicides cases heard hither and thither in various esteemed schools, institutions, and universities such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) at Bombay and Madras and in the cities like which are called educational hubs such as Kota and Delhi force us to be solicitous and enact. Pressure by parents, peers and teachers lead young learners towards anxiety, fear, stress and depression and further drastic action of killing themselves where they are suppose to live a happy life. Consequently it is a wake-up call about the solemn crisis that Indian youth faces.

The frightening regularity of suicides by youth portrays an austere veracity. The data stated by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) underlined that a student died by suicide every 42 minutes in 2020. According to the reports, student suicides were at a five-year high with more than 13,000 students dying by suicide in that year, an uptick from 12,500 in the previous year.

Though the statistics provided by NCRB were 37 per cent lower than the rates reported by Global Burden of Disease, denotation that only 63% cases are presented by NCRB data for every 100.

In an article entitled ‘The Mystery Behind Japan’s High Suicide Rates Among Kids’, Stephanie Lu writes that problems related to educational system are the main cause behind suicides and depression. It has also been noted in many countries like South Korea, UK, United States, China etc.

Education and Human Life

“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead. Let life be like music. And death a note unsaid.” –
Langston Hughes

As we all know human life is extremely precious and we do need to understand human nature. In ‘The Art of Being’, Erich Fromm asks- “Can we not speak of a “nature of man,” and if so, does not an objectively definable nature of man lead to the assumption that its aim is the same as that of all living beings, namely, its most perfect functioning and the fullest realization of its potentialities?”

In the continuation, there are questions to ponder over- “If we had the power to mold our children into anything we want them to be, what top five qualities would we like to see in them by the age of 40? Would happiness be one of the top five qualities that you would like your children to have by the time they are adults? Why do we educate them? Is our educational system designed to teach our children to become happier people?”

Erich Fromm in his book ‘The Sane Society’ (1955) states- “high schools and colleges generally fail to imbue their students with character traits which correspond to the professed ideals of our civilization.”

Human-centered Education

In India, in ancient times, guru-chela concept (teacher-pupil) in Gurukulas and Ashrams was also targeted at uppermost progress of human potential resulting in Moksha or liberation from earthly sorrows and cycle of birth. The teaching of Buddha was based on ending sorrow and attaining joyful state. In times of Plato and Aristotle, goal of education was virtue and happiness. Educational philosophies and approaches of Montessori, Theosophy, Waldorf, Summerhill, and Krishnamurti were also based on understanding of human nature as well as the purpose and meaning of human life.

Gradually schools and institutions started positioning materialistic success at the top keeping aside true happiness. Regrettably academic organizations do not educate children/youth to become the well-rounded, mature persons. These aim to prepare young people for jobs, careers, and accumulation of wealth and physical facilities with a narrow view of life and education using methods that produce fear, resentment and stress in the young; cause unhappiness and neurosis; give rise to the rat race and the dog-eat-dog mentality (responsible for many social maladies); fail in the essential task of nurturing a wholesome personality and good character.

One of the cardinal sins is reductionism. Modern Education System reduces the integrity of the noble sector at all levels- vision, policy, planning, programming, delivery, assessment, outcome etc. It compromises the integrity of seats of learning, lower the expectations of the givers and the receivers and cheapens learning and does disservice to learner and to life.

Educators mainly focus on 3Rs—reading, riting (writing) and rithmetic (arithmetic) and don’t focus on teaching young generation to be happier and stress free. Educators must think of what the purpose of educating really is. Abraham Maslow (1993) in his book ‘The farther reaches of human nature’ states the purpose of education- “the function of education, the goal of education- the human goal, the humanistic goal, the goal so far as human beings are concerned- is ultimately the “self-actualization” of a person, the becoming fully human, the development of the fullest height that the human species can stand up to or that the particular individual can come to.”

“The state of any society is the reflection of the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of how the previous generation has brought up its children ethically. Crime, drugs, wars, injustice, interracial and inter-religious hostilities-these are but the symptoms of such deep-rooted inadequacies in education,” says Vicente Hao Chin Jr. in his book ‘Education Without Fear and Comparison’.

Diana Dunningham Chapotin, Former International Secretary, Theosophical Order of Service said that it would be wonderful for children and youth to be able to go through an education system that makes them into confident, serene, resilient adults- socially responsible and above all happy.

The objective of United States: “Our mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” The Goal of UN: “By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs, and entrepreneurship…”

But there are several high happiness index countries in the world, including Norway, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, and Canada who have ensured happiness of youth through various measures such as high-quality education, affordable healthcare and mental health services, and support for youth with disabilities, social support for families and individuals in need, engagement of youth in their communities through various programs and initiatives, promotion of social connection, civic engagement, and sense of purpose, improvement in green spaces including water and air and focus on equity and inclusion creating a favorable ecosystem for all youth, regardless of their identity or background.

Norway is known for its high level of happiness and well-being among its citizens. The country has implemented various policies and initiatives that aim to foster a sense of community, equity, and opportunity for all its citizens and works to promote happiness and holistic growth including social welfare programs, work-life balance, good education, nature and outdoor activities.

Bhutan is also such an exemplar country that set its goals as Gross National Happiness rather than Gross National Product. King Jigme Singye Wangchuck enshrined it in the constitution- “The state shall strive to promote those conditions that will enable the pursuit of Gross National Happiness.”

Steps taken in India

India, a country known for diverse and rich cultural heritage is taking noteworthy steps towards holistic growth of youth and increase in the happiness index, including initiatives like Bharat Nirmaan, MGNREGA, and Ayushman Bharat. However, continued investment in these areas and the implementation of new policies that focus on sustainable development, community building, and access to healthcare and education is crucial for high happiness index and holistic growth of youth.

Few months back Education minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi had introduced the state’s first green school in Tiruvarur and Thanjavur and motivated to start various green actions including creation of vegetable gardens, acclimatizing rainwater harvesting and reutilizing wastewater at their schools doing it as a team delivering a message for others too to follow.

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India in line with Skill India Mission also initiated a ‘Green Skill Development Programme’. Other major initiatives that have been taken by Indian Government in recent years are Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Namai Gange Programme, Jal Jeevan Mission, National Clean Air Programme and Bhujal Atal Yojana etc.

National Education Policy (NEP-2020) stresses upon “recognizing, identifying, and fostering the unique capabilities of each student, by sensitizing teachers as well as parents to promote each student’s holistic development in both academic and non-academic spheres”.

National Education Policy (NEP 2020) also focuses on environmental awareness highlighting that in today’s rapidly changing world, specific subjects, skills, and capacities should be a part and parcel of curricula for the learners to become good, successful, innovative, adaptable, and productive human beings. NEP 2020 emphasizes on ‘the implementation of approaches and solutions that are not only informed by top-notch science and technology but are also rooted in a deep understanding of the social sciences and humanities and the various socio-cultural and environmental dimensions of the nation’. It emphasizes upon applicable integration of eco-friendly responsiveness and thoughtfulness towards its preservation and sustainable development.

Curricula and educational Objectives should be set and designed to meet national goals, be they economic development or nationalism. Therefore, in National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCF), throughout the school education curriculum, emergent sensitivity for the green life and environment is a dominant leitmotif for sustainability and happiness. Additionally, NCERT has introduced the process of development of National Curriculum Frameworks where various stakeholders including various Ministries/Departments, States and UTs would be working for the best outputs squiggling from grass root levels.

Programmes such as Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) have been driven, which focus on sensible and meditative consumption of natural resources and promote sustainable lifestyles. As part of the activities undertaken in this Mission, CBSE and NCERT are conducting numerous events for young learners including quizzes, exhibitions, seminars, workshops and expert talks, poster/painting contests, and webinars, celebrating various important events such as World Environment Day, World Water Day, Earth Day, International Day of Forest, etc.  In various PM e-Vidya channels, LiFE Sessions are telecasted Live for spreading awareness.

Green School: A New Ethic of Education for Happiness

In today’s context green being a primary colour of nature and as a metaphor assumes a critical significance when sustainability of life has become a global concern; when youth is submerged in depression and stress and don’t know how to de-stress them. Green is also the organizing principle as we develop our cities, build our homes and offices and raise significance.

Thakur S Powdyel, in the book ‘My Green School: An Outline’ (2014) says: “My green school is green in more than colour. It is green because it begins with the love of life. My school affirms the primacy and preciousness of life. I am more than a pupil here- prized for my mental abilities and slotted into a performance category by what I produce at an examination, as important as it might be. This school takes as an entire, integral, complex being that I am and creates the necessary space for me to bloom to my fullness.”

Green Education may assist learners to discover nature’s beauty and take pride, ownership and responsibility for its care. Students naturally observe and explore things and various processes around them, and this will build on that natural ability and interest. This also helps to develops specific values e.g., dignity, appreciating diversity, respect for all living beings, respect for resources and their use, equitable distribution of available resources. While it is important that students acquire a conceptual understanding of environmental issues and challenges, as well as an appreciation of the magnitude of the problem, it is equally important to ensure they do not get discouraged or become sad for their future.

Contemporary education system being more inclined towards mechanical or technical skills for better employment opportunities rather than values, ‘soft’ or ‘green skills’ forgot about the main goal of life and paid less attention towards it. When an academic institution adopts green practices, it creates a ripple effect on Individual behaviour. Students are inspired to be more conscious of their environmental impact, and they become more proactive towards environmental sustainability which assists in de-stressing in their lives from the pressure of excelling in academics and grabbing jobs in MNCs. Consequently, students embrace eco-friendly practices into their daily lives and extend this consciousness beyond the academic environment.

In the Annual Seminar Bhutan 2023, on the theme ‘Transformative Education Post COVID-19 Pandemic: From Self-healing to Social Transformation’, Dr Craig Elevitch, Co-lead Developer for the Agroforestry Design Tool from Hawaii elaborated about ‘Regenerative Education’ saying that- “Human beings have an innate ability to connect with nature world physically, perceptually, emotionally and spiritually. We all know intuitively that wholesome connections with nature formed during childhood help create a foundation for happy, healthy humans.”

Jamyang Dolma, President, Academy of Himalayan Art and Children Development and Co-founder, Mama Food Forest said that healthy children come from healthy mothers including Mother Earth and they are exhausted being multi-tasking. She raised the questions- “How could a depleted land grow high quality food? How can an exhausted and unhappy mother bring up a healthy and happy child? The same situation in our schools, how could exhausted and unhappy teachers nurture and inspire our children who were entrusted to them by their families?” She further adds- “with deeper understanding of the true needs of nourishment to ourselves, our children and nature, we will be able to design our life and education to support the holistic development of our children.“

The world is changing and so is the way we do things. With the frequent and alarming climatic changes, it is essential that we take a step towards a greener future. Green academia is the way forward. It is the education and implementation of sustainable practices in academics. Thus green academia is also essential for the overall well-being and happiness of individuals. We tend to be happier when we engage in activities that reduce our environmental impact. Such activities involve being in a natural environment, reducing waste, and adopting eco-friendly practices.

Preeth Nambiar, President and CEO, Writers Capital Foundation and an excellent educationist, journalist and acclaimed author says – “Academia especially green academia, plays a crucial role in promoting holistic growth and ensuring the happiness of youth. By emphasizing interdisciplinary learning, sustainable practices, and personal well-being, academia creates an environment conducive to overall development. It provides opportunities for intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and skill-building, which empower youth to explore their passions and develop a sense of purpose.”

He further adds- “Green academia specifically integrates environmental awareness and sustainability into the curriculum, fostering a sense of responsibility towards the planet. Additionally, academia can offer support systems such as counseling services and mentorship programs, addressing the mental health needs of students. By nurturing well-rounded individuals and fostering a sustainable mindset, academia contributes significantly to the holistic growth and happiness of youth.”

Green academia should be an essential part of our educational system. It is not just about implementing sustainable practices; it is about fostering a broader perspective on the relationship between humans and the environment. Such a perspective will ensure that future generations inherit a planet that is not only habitable but also healthy and sustainable. Thus, all academic institutions should prioritize green initiatives for holistic growth and happiness.

Need of the Hour: Sherig Mandala

In Hinduism, people who had attained highest level of happiness are called Mahatmas, Jivanmuktas or Rishi-Munis. In Buddhism such refined individuals are called Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or Arhats. Sigmund Freud called it ‘Oceanic Feeling’ and Abraham Maslow referred it as “peak experiences” or “self-transcendence”. When you are in happy and contented state leaving all materialism behind.

Now, to explore our ‘self’, consider what makes us who we are and to be happy is the need of the hour. Sherig Mandala is a good thing for the youth to know life better and to learn to be happy. Elements of learning included in it to ensure holistic growth and happiness of youth are- Natural Greenery, Social Greenery, Cultural Greenery, Intellectual Greenery, Academic Greenery, Aesthetic Greenery, Spiritual Greenery, and Moral Greenery.

Green is the colour of life and secret of our survival and Mother Earth both. We should make our earth plastic-free, drug-free, rubbish-free, junk-free, graffiti-free to ensure our true happiness.

Hence, green is symbolic for life therefore green education has many benefits to count but major benefits are: ensuring happiness and survival of humanity, sustainability, universal consciousness, and various environmental benefits.

Education for green from within and outside should be the slogan of the educational institutions, academicians, administrators, and students must adapt and use the methods and approaches, as well as eco-friendly construction and equipment in the teaching-learning process.

While the whole world went through environmental disasters and yet not recovered from the ordeal and debris of COVID-19, encouraging and educating youth to construct an understanding of the environment, cultivate sensitivity towards ensuring green in the surroundings and minds and discover techniques to express carefulness about nature is an extremely momentous responsibility for academia, parents, society and country to ensure happiness in true sense.

Dr Shalini Yadav
Writer, Editor & Professor

Imparting Ethics through Poetry for Harmony and Prosperity Article by Dr Shalini Yadav


In this digitalized era where every learner is learning through apps and gadgets, the crisis of human values is intensifying in contemporary society and casting its evil shadow in all walks of life without any boundaries in between of caste, creed, age, religion and ethnicity. The dream of ensuring harmony, happiness and prosperity seems to be just a dream that can never be fulfilled if no action is being taken in the direction with immediate effect to inculcate and impart values in young generation, which is completely engrossed in, and have become the puppet of technology including various social media platforms. This paper makes an attempt to explore what universal values are needed to be instilled in youth for a better society and their own holistic growth and how through poetry, values can be transferred in learners to ensure harmony and happiness, moreover to turn them in civilized professionals with suffice ethics.

Keywords: digitalized; harmony; prosperity; universal values; society.

For any society to flourish human values are substantially foundational. Values are “the principles, ideals, fundamental convictions and standard of behaviour that help in one’s judgment of what is important in life” (Sharma and Setia). If good core values are inculcated in the citizens of a society, the society moves towards the creation of a just, happy and good society. 

Unfortunately, the promises we make to meet our destiny and the dreams we see to have prosperity, social well-being and human happiness prove to be false due to the absence of values in the people at present time; due to more inclination towards technology and secluded life rather than focus on rationality in thoughts and expressions without being selfish. This lacuna or value crisis prevails in different spheres of people’s life categorizing these into individual, societal, intellectual or cultural and nature levels. 

Individualism has been rooted in people deeply and turning them towards attaining personal success or worldly success defined in merely materialistic terms as the acquirement of wealth, supremacy and status in society. A. N. Tripathi says: 

“The rat race to this success commands the enthusiastic support of the powerful middle and elite classes. Their upbringing and enculturation have tuned them to the single-minded pursuit of career growth and economic success. All other life values, which give meaning, worth, and fullness to human existence, are seen as roadblocks and unnecessary diversions from the high road to material success.” (3)

Consequently, the perception of a good life is misunderstood as “with unrestricted enjoyment of sensuous pleasures and fulfilment of unlimited desires” which is a “consumeristic haven filled with all kinds of artefacts for comfort and luxury” (Tripathi 3). On the other hand, criticizing commonly accepted notions of success and the good life does not mean looking down upon the usual human preferences for monetary benefit, physical facilities and enjoyment of life’s pleasures. There is no doubt these things are important for life but are they the only things which are important for a good life? The question is what are the real goals of a human endeavouring for happiness and harmony? At present this crisis of values is basically due to excessive focus on the accumulation of materialistic things rather than paying attention to inculcating and implementing life values such as love, affection, empathy, respect, trust etc. According to A. N. Tripathi writes in his book Human Values about the dimensions of increased crisis of values may be due to increasing respectability of selfish individualism; rise in rights-consciousness and decline in duty-consciousness, and the mentality of adopting double standards of value judgment. (4-5)

Mainly there are two categories of people in society. On one side people who are self-seeking, career-oriented and people who just think about their personal advancement without paying much heed to human relations. In the contrast, there is another kind of 

“individualistic personality; of those who refuse to submerge their individual identity in the tide of social and behavioural fashions of the day, who do not sacrifice their principles and values for pecuniary gains, and who are able to withstand unethical allurements of the work life and the psychological pressures of being the odd-man out.” (Tripathi 4)

This is a breed that is disappearing and another one is creating a crisis situation of human values in mushrooming youth. Therefore the youth should be educated to develop social consciousness, sovereign temper and communitarian outlooks to remove social inequalities, disharmonies and lack of social cohesiveness. Youth should be directed towards making society an enlightened and egalitarian society with better humans in it instead of focusing and utilizing all their energy on attaining physical facilities and achieving high status. It creates a dire need for the nurturance of human values in the youth of the country so that via implementing these values with the right understanding in them they serve the nation establishing harmony at various levels including individual, family, society and nature.

Imbibing basic human values and creating a deeper insight towards humanity can be actualized through value education in teenagers and young learners at the school and college levels. Hence “value education aims at developing deeper concerns amongst the individuals for the well-being of the society while being selfless,” it can assist in enhancing values in an individual, which “often gets overlooked due to the modern information-oriented education” and required to shape the personality (Jain 2). 

A rich cultural heritage with saints, philosophers and many writers and poets are perfect illustrations who talked about the foundational values such as honesty, discipline, love, compassion, frugality, cleanliness, non-violence, courage, integrity, respect etc. These are the values which one needs to understand and express through one’s behaviour with the right understanding. Kshitiz Jain has communicated-

“The family and society act as constant teachers who keep on nurturing these values from time to time. They make an individual realize the true worth of these values. At times, they act as reflectors of human values. They strengthen the sense of differentiation between right and wrong. Both the family and the society explain that the values are universal in nature.” (7)

Values help in building social cohesion, harmony, peace and global integration and ideal humanity leading towards the dream of creating an ‘Akhand Samaj’. Via the process of exploring one’s ‘Self’ through either ‘experiential validation’ or ‘natural acceptance’ of values and understanding the needs of a human being differentiating animal consciousness from human consciousness, one can lead to a path of right living. The inculcation of values assists human in various ways as follows:

  • It leads to a happy and healthy life fulfilling all aspirations and objectives of one’s life.
  • It assists in deciding aspirations and aims for what one really wants via the process of self-exploration.
  • It promotes tolerance and understanding for people across the world breaking all boundaries and eliminating barriers for making the world a global world.
  • It enhances the decision-making power of a human differing right and wrong deeds to perform without hurting others moreover, assisting others to fulfil their goals too.
  • It encourages keenness, and grows the right attitude and capability to deliberate and judge oneself.
  • It helps in developing professional ethics in oneself to create and work in a better work environment.
  • It triggers humans to make a balance between all four orders of nature including material, bio, plant and animal order.

Therefore the youth needs to act according to ethical human conduct for the holistic growth of oneself and the society including nature in it. The participation of an individual to ensure harmony at various levels includes accountability (jimmedari), right understanding (samajhdaari), honesty (imaandari), and participation (bhagidaari).  

Subsequently, poetry is “one of the powerful instructional tools and an important art to study at any age and most universal vehicle of human expression” to spread harmony in society and to inculcate human values in the learners via good poems which are written by great poets whole over the world. (Anupama et al.)

Poetry being an aesthetic and expressive medium of communication touches the hearts of readers instilling fundamental core values in them. Moreover, poems have always been an excellent way in which depth of emotions is realized via its language’s richness. The purpose of writing poems by various poets may be different but many of them are written on diverse humanitarian issues and related to cherishing the beauty of nature which can be chosen for imparting and implementing of values in the young generation as these have the most intense and long-lasting impact on readers and listeners’ minds and hearts.

James Kirkup’s poem ‘No Men are Foreign’ is one of the upright exemplars to teach the value of universal brotherhood, non-violence and equality to create a harmonious environment in the world. He tried to make everyone remember that no man is a stranger and no country is a foreign country by the lines-

“Remember, no men are strange, no countries foreign
Beneath all uniforms, a single body breathes
Like ours: the land our brothers walk upon
Is earth like this, in which we all shall lie.”


Further, the poet gives evidence of the unity of man how all the people of the world are nurtured equally by natural resources like ‘sun and air and water’ and they all are “fed by peaceful harvests, by war’s long winter starv’d” (Kirkup). It can be instilled in the youngsters that everyone toils to earn livelihood and others’ destiny is also similar to ours. The poem teaches that whatever is told to us by leaders or rulers to hate or exploit the people of other countries or societies, “it should be remembered well that it is ourselves/That we shall dispossess, betray, condemn” (Kirkup). It clearly states that hatred and wars would deprive us of the bliss of universal brotherhood hence it is a form of self-destruction and we would doom ourselves to a life of animosity and eccentricity. Therefore everyone especially the youth of the country needs to understand that all are equal on the earth and we must live a valued life with universal core values such as love, respect and trust spreading harmony in the aura. 

Our lifestyle, culture, gender economic or literacy status may vary but we all are the same as we all have some type of body with in which one’s ‘self’ resides and our heart breathes. Thus the poem can be taken for deliberation and facilitation of values in the youth to get rid of their minds of xenophobia and to treat the people of this world with a feeling of universal brotherhood as one. In the poem ‘Mending Wall’ Robert Frost also initiates by saying that there is something “that doesn’t love a wall” even though in the same poem he suggested that ‘Good fences make good neighbours’ (Frost).

An Indian-born Canadian poet Rupi Kaur talks about gender equality in her poems to create awareness in relation to equal human rights for women can be chosen to elaborate and impart value education in youngsters so that in our patriarchal society especially young boys and men understand it and change their mindset towards women and girls. Considering all equal, everyone should practice the value of love in him or her that she expresses through one of her poems – 

“to hate
is an easy lazy thing
but to love
takes strength
everyone has
but not all are
willing to practice.”


‘Viswa Kavi’ or poet of the world Rabindra Nath Tagore also advocated the idea of global uprightness due to his universal ideology.  His poem “Where the Mind is Without Fear” is “a hymn to inspire all mankind” where he wanted India to be a fearless country post-independence following the ideology of peace, fearlessness and universal brotherhood. (Hasan) Badrul Hasan says-

“The verse continues to exhort people—particularly in conflict zones across the world—to seek fearless truth, progressive thoughts and actions, and to stand up and see the world as one, undivided by borders or “narrow domestic walls.”


Beyond racism and discrimination, Maya Angelou’s poems also try to empower humanity for making the world an integrated one spreading harmony at all levels without any boundary lines. There are many famous poets who have exerted through their poems to spread awareness and inculcate values in the readers and quoted by people frequently. Therefore poetry 

“emphasizes the role of the senses, calling to mind memories and feelings and an excellent tool for encouraging students’ creativity and for exposing the aesthetically elastic boundaries of language. Poetry encourages students to develop empathy and understanding to view the complexities of the world in new ways.” (Anupama)

Having an important place in lives of people with excellent and rhythmical language used in poems, these poems not only attract people for the sake of attaining pleasure but also influence by the lexis and aesthetic qualities and shots of values to implement in their lives. They need to read or listen poetry with a mindset to explore the ‘self’ and to awaken the ‘sense’ and to connect with rest of the nature and society ensuring harmony and making a balance between the use of technology and ethics. Thus it can be said that a good literary piece of writing 

“can be vital to language development and competence; conflict resolution; and cultural assimilation; emotional development and stability; development of positive and good oriented attitudes of life.” (Anupama et al.)

Works Cited

  • Anupama, V. et al. “Role of English Literature to Inculcate Human Values”. Tejasvi Astitva- Multi-lingual Multi Disciplinary Research Journal.
  • Frost, Robert. ‘Mending Wall.’ https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44266/mending-wall
  • Hasan, Badrul. A Hymn For All Mankind: Where The Mind Is Without Fear. https://www.readersdigest.in/conversations/story-a-hymn-for-all-mankind-where-the-mind-is-without-fear-…-125689
  • Kaur, Rupi. https://www.littleinfinite.com/20-of-rupi-kaurs-best-poems/
  • Kirkup, James. ‘No Men Are Foreign.’ http://www.english-for-students.com/no-men-are-foreign.html
  • Jain, Kshitiz. Human Values. Neelkanth Publishers, 2014.
  • Sharma, Priyanka and Rajni Setia. Human Values. Genius publications, Jaipur, 2017.
  • Tripathi, A. N. Human Values. New Age International Publishers, 2014.

About the author

An avid poet, writer, humanitarian, ambassador of peace and professor, Dr Shalini Yadav holds a PhD in Post-colonial Literature and M. Phil in English Language Teaching (ELT) from the University of Rajasthan, India and a course in Advanced Creative Writing from the University of Oxford, UK. During her tenure as an educator in India, Libya and Saudi Arabia, she has participated and presented papers at conferences and seminars, chaired sessions and delivered lectures. She keeps reading her poems and short stories at various National and International poetry carnivals. She has meticulously written and also reviewed a large number of scholarly research articles for various National and International refereed journals and edited volumes. She is Public Relation Officer at iSPELL India, Administrator and Star Poetry Publisher at The Passion of Poetry and member of various literary societies including prestigious Writers Capital Foundation, ICERT, PLCS, AINET etc. She is Chief Editor for the International Forum of The Internal News. The editor of Open Page in Writers International Edition, she is also an efficacious member of the editorial boards of various qualitative journals of many countries. She has authored and edited 10 books till now and working on her next project entitled Contemporary African Women Writers . Her major books include Reconnoitering Postcolonial Literature , Emerging Psyche of Women: A Feminist Perspective , On the Wings of Life: Women Writing Womanhood , Postcolonial Transition and Cultural Dialectics , and Communication Techniques . Besides, her poetry books includes Across the Seas , Floating Haiku , Kinship With You: A Collection of Poems , Till the End of Her Subsistence: An Anthology of Poems , and one in Hindi Kshitiz Ke Us Paar . Many of her short stories and poems are published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and anthologies. She is recipient of Savitribai Phule Excellence Award-2023, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award-2023 and Global Women Icon Award-2023.

Portrayal of Post Independence and Partition Struggle through Indian English Literature


The soul cum quintessence of patriotism is alive and flexing intensely in the hearts of millions of proud Indians. The 75th year of independence that is widely evident in a new India with a breed of youngsters, pragmatic and sensible representatives who are looking for new horizons to touch upon, need to realize and remember always how the country broke age old shackles of colonialism, got freedom and came out of post independence’ tear-jerking and heart-rendering traumatic experiences of horrendous partition where every person of the country was angst-ridden directly or indirectly. The independence got after almost two hundred years heaved under the yoke of British colonial rule has been documented in the historical chronicles but with mere facts and details of the deaths happened due to massacres and number of people who crossed the borders. Therefore it was literature only and literary writers such as Khushwant Singh, Ismat Chugtai, Amrita Pritam, Rajendra Singh Bedi, Saadat Hasan Manto, Sardar Singh Duggal, Bhishma Sahani and many more who described gut-wrenching scenes of devastating partition in their works and portrayed how humanity tattered into pieces and survived during hard times with a ray of hope for better future. This paper is an attempt to explore how Indian English Literature proved to be a canvas for the portrayal of struggle during partition time and till date, leaving imprints on upcoming generations via reading of outstanding literary texts to value the freedom got by ancestors’ efforts invoking nationalistic feelings inside for country’s all-inclusive growth.

Keywords: Independence; nationalism; partition; traumatic; canvas; literature; humanity.

Portrayal of Post Independence and Partition Struggle through Indian English Literature

Indian Writings in English is a product of historical confront between two cultures including Indian and Western Culture. It refers to the body of the works by authors in India who write in English and whose native or co-native language could be one of the numerous languages of India (Wikipedia). Moreover Indian English Literature is defined as “literature written originally in English by authors, Indian by birth, ancestry or nationality” (Naik).

Indian Literature in English deals with Indian subjects and backgrounds/ settings that can be rural or urban. Diversified culture of India is portrayed in the works using Indianized English and Indian feelings. Many works from regional languages have also been translated into English for the worldwide readers to know about Indian culture and issues. Indian English Literature

  • was initiated due to colonial encounter of India and Britain;
  • exchanged the culture, language and literature with Britishers;
  • opened new doors of knowledge, power and freedom to Indians;
  • led to literary renaissance in the country;
  • influenced the language of thinkers, philosophers, and reformers, and
  • assisted in resisting orthodoxy, superstitions and rituals, ill practices prevailing in the society. 

In Pre Independence era, Sake Dean Mahomed was the first one who had got his book published The Travels of Dean Mahomet in English adopting epistolary form. It was written in the form of thirty-eight letters. At the age of 11, Dean Mahomed had started working at the East India Company’s Bengal Army as a camp follower and he travelled all over the Gangetic plain, from Delhi to Dhaka over the period of next fifteen years. In 1996 a historian, Michael H. Fisher, talked about Sake Dean Mahomed’s work in his own scholarly work, The First Indian Author in English: Dean Mahomed (1795-1851). Though he is chronologically the first, yet it is not proven that Dean Mahomet’s work is the first one in the history of Indian English writing,

Raja Rammohan Roy’s essay “A Defense of Hindu Theism” is counted as the first original publication in expository prose form in the history of Indian writing in English. Raja Rammohan Roy was a great scholar and knew many languages including Bengali, Persian, Sanskrit, Arabic and English, moreover, he had read the Bible in Hebrew and Latin. Being a great social, religious and cultural reformer of the period, he founded the Brahmo Samaj in 1828. He is known in the country for fighting for women’s rights and leading a drive against the prevailing practice of sati. Knowing the importance of English, he wrote articles such as “practice of burning widows alive” and “Address to Lord William Bentinck” in English and wished to modernize the country.

Following the footsteps of Raja Rammohan Roy, in the pre-independence period, many poets and writers came into light and wrote in English or their work got translated into English from regional languages. Toru Dutt wrote poetry in both languages English and French whereas Nightingale of India Sarojini Naidua portrayed the festivals, occupations and life of the Indian. 

Indian Jewish poet Nissim Ezekiel has been considered as a pioneering figure who enriched the poetry with modernist innovations and techniques. Additionally Aurbindo Ghosh, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhay, Mulk Raj Anand and R K Narayan exhibited imperialism and Indian Culture in their works.

‘Viswa Kavi’ and visionary spirit Rabindranath Tagore revolutionized education and literature in India and was the first non-European to receive Nobel Prize in literature in 1913. He enriched literature and contributed to the freedom struggle in pre-Independence India by his incredible social reforms that assisted in uniting Bengal. His famous song Banglar Mati Banglar Jol (Soil of Bengal, Water of Bengal) helped in uniting the Bengali population. 

Further Tagore being against conventional classroom education, remodeled education as a holistic development process where teachers would be more like mentors, guiding students towards emotional, intellectual and spiritual upliftment, moreover he laid the foundation stone of Visva Bharati University. Tagore believed in the universality of man. The identity of India after independence was closely based on Tagore’s ideology of peace and universal brotherhood and he expressed his feelings through a poem ‘Where the Mind is Without Fear’. He wanted a country after independence where everybody could have a right to express without fear.

Many nationalist leaders like Mahadev Govind Ranade, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, C Rajagopalachari, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were excellent orators of English. All of them had good command over the language and promoted the learning of language in India in pre independence and post independence period.

Initially post independence literature faced some issues hence the writers and poets were struggling and going through identity crisis and the age was reflected as the painstaking age of ‘dark modernism’. Consequently the writings presented the clashes between traditional cultures and western modernity. Under the western influence, the concept of experimentation was also developed and literature of India that time perceived several key changes in terms of literary writings. Independence of India from British Rule was a turning historic episode with its socio-political significance that no one can deny till now. This happening of freedom struggle, attaining independence and partition struggle not only had an outstanding impact on the literary works done in various regional languages but also on Indian English Literature. 

Before independence, the whole nation was dreaming and struggling for achieving independence with mixed emotions of anguish and hope. But after attaining freedom from colonial power with an unusual condition of partition followed with riots in whole country, the whole nation was in double and mixed expression state. Happiness and hopefulness of better future at one side where social and economical growth were a part of its credo, and destruction, despair and blood shed due to partition were there to let everyone down on other side. 

The epitome of human sufferings was witnessed in various forms during the cataclysmic partition of India in 1947. Massacres and mutilation of human bodies were going on parallel with migration and uprootedness. Sexual assaults became quite common experience belilttling and terrifying women of that period, moreover loss of honour, property, relations, mental peace, sense of security, nationality, identity etc everything was on stake. The sentiments of the people who suffered at that time of partition have not been expressed in history books and chronicles hence these books have just collected the data and facts related to the procedure of partition. The real sufferings faced by people were portrayed through literature in most obvious way. Literaure has expressed and told the next generations of the country how people of that period suffered and no doubt it has left never ending impression on the hearts, minds and souls of the people. 

In the works of writers such as Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, Krishan Chandra, Rajendra Singh Bedi, Saadat Hasan Manto, Sardar Singh Duggal, Bhishma Sahani, B. Rajan, Amrita Pritam, Nanak Singh, Ismat Chugtai, Chaman Nahal, Yashpal, Kamleshwar and Khushwant Singh, there are some very emotional and heart-rending delineations about catastrophic and horrified partition which became more about despair than hope after the division. Their works are full of overwhelming and gut-wrenching scenes of devastating partition and description of the inner psychology of the characters who struggled and managed to live during hard times. That unbearable suffering was such a mental-physical state which caught the psyche of people in such a way that it can’t be cured with passing years and keeps bringing never-ending problems to society. 

“Today the legacy of 1947 looms larger than ever before on the subcontinent. Partition has actually proved to be a trauma from which the subcontinent has never fully recovered. But sadly, this is not reflected in its history writings, a fact that is lamented by many” (Roy 18). 

Many poets of that period lamented the bloodshed through their poetry. Few of such works are Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s ‘Subh-e-Azaadi’, Annada Shankar Ray’s ‘Khoka O Khuku’, Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s ‘Dudh Da Qatl’, Amrita Pritam’s ‘Waris Shah’, Agha Shahid Ali’s ‘By the Waters of Sind’ and Mehjoor’s ‘Azadee’ etc. which are translated in English too. Amrita Pritam’s poem ‘Waris Shah’ is one of the best illustrations to understand the disastrous condition of that time. She wrote the poem when she was going from Delhi to Dehradun through a train as a refugee and prayed through the following lines-

Today Waris Shah I call out to you

To speak out from the graves
Rise today and open a new page

0f the immortal book of love
A daughter of Punjab once wept

And you wrote many a dirge
A million daughters weep today

and look up at you for solace
Rise o beloved of the aggrieved

just look at your Punjab
Today corpses haunt the woods

Chenab river overflows with blood

Some one has mixed poison

In the Five Rivers of Punjab…


In India post independence people became more aware in terms of reading our own languages’ literature and beyond the boundaries started reading the literature of richer languages too. Translation work was initiated a lot and writers started publicizing their works stimulating a literary atmosphere. In addition technological advancement gradually left an impact on Indian literature but still partition time literature due to tragic setting is counted in the best including these novels such as Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan (1956), B. Rajan’s The Dark Dancer (1959), Attia Hosain’s Sunlight on a Broken Column (1961), Manohar Malgaonkar’s A Bend in the Ganges (1964), Amrita Pritam’s Pinjar (1956) and short stories like “Of Ram and Rahim” by Mahasweta Devi, “Toba Tek Singh” by Saadat Hassan Manto and “The Crossing” by Jotirmoyee Devi and many more.

The independence of India from British rule took its own price in the form of partition of the countries into two countries- India and Pakistan. The hearts and souls who became happy and cheerful with a thought of attaining freedom out of sudden became very sad and gloomy due to partition. The country was parted on religious parameters hence Pakistan turned into a Muslim state and India continued to be a secular country. The religious identities of the people became troublesome for them over nights and created chaos everywhere in the whole country espeacially in Punjab area. The divide and hatred between the communities of Hindus and Muslims grew wider and more grave. The partition smeared, smashed and turned the feeling of the light and brightness of freedom into darkness and gloom. The riots aroused on both sides of the border led to extreme destruction, mournfulness, and killing spree. The whole Indian society had got a set back by such diastrous condition of the country which was completely out of control. 

The tragic memories are still haunting people who were wounded, fractured and survived in that period.  Those terrifying scenes are well portrayed and depicted in the literature by writers and poets who suffered mentally and physically. How people suffered, struggled, migrated, became homeless, without a penny and food in that period can never be forgotten. More than eight million migrated and around one million were either killed or died. Our historical documentation doesn’t decribe in detail all that trauma faced by people and just calculates the numbers of migrated people and killed ones. The impression it left on people’s souls and psyche can never be erased.

Literature either English Literature or regional such as Punjabi, Hindu, Urdu, Bengali and English, in both type of, writers and poets have tried to describe the heinousness and havoc of tragic partition through characters and settings portrayed in the literary pieces touching the hearts of the readers to realize utmost what people exactly suffered. The terror overpowered their souls and body, the fear of losing everything, the insecurities, the pain to leave the roots behind, and the lose of reverence and homelessness everything has been skillfully portrayed and narrated in the stories in literature to reach the unreach.  

Everyone including normal populace to great leaders of the country experienced the same. Intensity could be little less or more but people of all states and religion suffered mentally, physically, psychologically as the mother earth was full of bloodshed and dead bodies. People were at one side filled with anxiety and fear, and another side with hope of upliftment of the country. Tahira Naqvi talks about what Ismat Chugtai
has written in her essay “Communal Violence and Literature”:

“The flood of communal violence came and went with all its evils, but it left a pile of living, dead and gasping corpses in its wake. It wasn’t only that the country was split into two bodies and minds were also divided. Moral beliefs were tossed aside and humanity was in shreds” (Naqvi 3).

Khushwant Singh’s most famous novel Train To Pakistan (1956) is a historical novel which is based on partition of India in 1947 and how the country was splitted by Britain- Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. It narrates how social and religious groups were rearranged and clashed violently. A human dimension is exhibitly meticulously by Khushwant Singh which brings to the event a sense of reality, horror, and believability. Train to Pakistan explored the themes of heart-throbbing ravages of war, cultural and social perception of partition time and religious practices etc. Depicting the moral paradox, Khushwant Singh says, “The bullet is neutral. It hits the good and the bad, the important and the insignificant, without distinction” (Singh 170).

A movie was also directed by Pamela Rooks, based on the novel given the same title Train to Pakistan. It was released in 1998 and nominated in Cinequest Film Festival, 1999 in the best feature film category.  The first chapter “Dacoity” of the novel was staged in the form of a play named ‘Train to Pakistan’ at Lamakaan- an open cultural space in Hyderabad, India that was adapted and directed by Krishna Shukla.

Amrita Pritam’s Pinjar narrated the gendered experience of the trauma, exploitation, sacrifices and sufferings of partition. It is an extraordinary saga that depicted the issues of displacement, marginalization, abduction, dual identity and powerlessness moreover, different dimensions of violence against women on religious, social and most prominently physical and mental levels. Further via the portrayal of character of Puro, Pritam brought forth the fact that women have been the prime victims in every communal strife, riots and wars. She highlighted that women are considered merely bodies and nothing more than bodies. The heart-breaking story symbolized the fate of thousands of women at the time of partition whose voices were silenced (Arora). Moreover Pinjar is a story which detailed how women were mutilated, sexually assaulted, raped, rotated naked in the surroundings, impregnated and fetus killed in the womb during the tremulous time of partition. Double yoke of patriarchy and dislocation oppressed them. In addition they were questioned in terms of chastity, purity and dignity though there was no fault of them.

The fifth novel of Khushwant Singh, Burial at Sea took the psychedelic insight into an individual’s life and the freedom struggle of India. The title sounds little spiritual but mundane affairs like societal, political and individual’s struggle are at prior. It’s a saga of an individual named Victor Jai Bhagwan who is made legendary in the novel because of his actions and economical support he provided to the country by industrialization while struggling for freedom. He took his first breath in slave India but he was determined to make India economically stronger and independent. ‘Modernize or perish’ was the slogan he gave to Indian industrialists to be a free and developed country. On the other hand, Gandhi and his followers were working to throw the Britishers out of the country. Khushwant Singh basically portrayed the two different kinds of strata of freedom fighters in the novel. 

In colonized India whereas one side people were fighting for freedom following Mahatma Gandhi credo of non-violence, celibacy and the boycott of everything foreign, some people with good fortune and reputation wanted their kids to study English to tell the British to their faces that it is time to buzz off from India and let Indians handle their own affairs. They found it the other way of bringing India honor and self-respect by worsening the British in their own law. 

Khushwant Singh’s different kind of representation supporting those who had been in guilt for being a slave to English custom by anglicizing their children is utterly an illustration of his sharp intellect. Krishan Lal hired a nanny governess Valerie Bottomley from London who changes Jai Bhagwan into Victor “the son of an English county gentleman: cravat, waistcoat, and stripped trousers… impeccable manners” (Singh 12). Later on because of her immense efforts, Victor got admission in Eton and went England to finish his higher education from there. He came back after finishing his studies and tried to industrialize the country but Gandhi was not in the favour of that.

Mahatma Gandhi strongly objected on the use of machinery, since in his time machines typically led to “the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a few, extremely rich people” (Iyer 348). Today, of course, the situation is not like that. For example, information technology has led to decentralization of power, rather than centralization of it. But in that phase where colonial India was struggling for freedom, Gandhiji felt that industrialization will increase the problem of economic equality in the country later on. In K Kripalani’s book All Men Are Brothers, Mahatma Gandhi says,

“I cannot picture to myself a time when no man shall be richer than another. But I do picture a time when the rich will spurn to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and the poor will cease to envy the rich. Even in a most perfect world, we shall fail to avoid inequalities, but we can and must avoid strife and bitterness.” (Kriplani 136) 

Gandhi supported an economic theory of simple living and self-sufficiency/import substitution. He envisioned for a more agrarian India after independence with a focal point to meet the material needs of its public prior to generating riches and industrializing. After Nehru, Victor Jai Bhagwan was Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite Indian- a brilliant young man with the temperament of a leader and fiercely committed to his country. Though Victor adored and respected Gandhi, he disagreed with the Mahatma’s vision for the future of India and moreover, he 

“…contradicted everything Gandhi stood for: handspun cloth, self-sufficient villages, very basic education…wanted to see an India which had modern textile mills, steel plants, automobile factories, huge dams and thousands of miles of canals, every village connected by road, more schools, colleges and hospitals.” (Singh 16) 

According to Gandhi, people “might achieve these material ambitions but in the process lose their souls and their Indianness” (Singh 19). He was also decisive about industrialization calling it an indefinite multiplication of wants. He said that the reliance on machinery will destroy man’s inseparable relationship with nature; moreover, this overdependence on machinery may demolish the stable and long-established agrarian village communities which are environment-friendly and which for him constituted the core of the nation’s strength, not just material, but ethical and spiritual. For Victor “it was more important to industrialize India, to make it economically strong. Because what freedom could there be without that?” (Singh 61)

People were in dilemma either to celebrate or to sing gloomy songs due to partition. It has been well portrayed in the novel by Khushwant Singh the way he described that Victor didn’t take part in the independence celebrations going on in Delhi though “the city was in festive mood with the Indian flag flying on all buildings and processions marching down the streets shouting slogans” (Singh 76). He was not happy thinking about future prospect he was looking at for the country and was completely disturbed by partition. The only one who looked happy at his home was his “little daughter, who went around Shanti Bhawan marching like a soldier carrying the tricoloured flag of Independent India and shouting ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ (Long Live Mother India!)..” (Singh 75) 

Khushwant Singh has depicted the after effects of partition with excellent rhythmic gait and a sense of believability, horror and human emotions’ dimensions. He describes through the character of Victor that people had not dreamt for such freedom like Victor also didn’t in his younger days. The whole country was burning in the fire of partition, which Khushwant Singh has depicted with his in-depth knowledge about the after effects of partition- 

“Fratricidal war erupted on the subcontinent between Hindus and… Muslims…slitting each other’s throats from the banks of the Indus to beyond the Hooghly…the city was flooded with Hindu and Sikh refugees who had fled from Pakistan…they were living in ancient monuments, on footpaths and roundabouts.” (Singh 75) 

Victor felt too secluded than ever before because the British, the Congress and the Muslim League had distorted the country into something terribly unrecognizable. Khushwant Singh’s architectonic skills and profound critical insight into human emotions are extremely exceptional how he expressed the sufferings through the character of Victor in the story. 

Imprints and marks of partition memories on the hearts and minds of people are alive due to literature that can never be faded away. The startling narratives of many writers from the time of partition till today mention this catastrophic episode. In Borders and Boundaries: How Women Experienced the Partition of India Ritu Menon says, “The rending of the social and emotional fabric that took place in 1947 is still far from mended” (Menon 91). Though the suffering is Unsalvaged after the subcontinent was blooded, yet survived and colonizer or partition riots could not kill the spirit of the country.   

Henceforth post independence Indian English Literature is virtually synonymous with Post-colonial Indian English Literature. It continues to evoke colonial legacies in the contemporary society. It seeks to compete with English language fiction for International prizes like the Commonwealth Fiction Prize, and the Booker Prize, etc. Post-Independence Indian English fiction is rich in thematic content. Many writers such as Kamala Markandaya, Arundhati Roy, Nayantara Sehgal, Shashi Deshpande, Shobha De, Kamala Das, Vikram Seth, Amitav Ghosh, Bharati Mukherjee, Rohinton Mistry, Salman Rushdie, Shiv K. Kumar, Upmanyu Chatterjee and Manju Kapur and many more have contributed to the growth of Indian English Literature and popularized it in the country and abroad. Area of Indian English Literature is also broaden up by including Dalit issues, Feminist movements and LGBTQ writings in it and still continued to embrace new perspectives.

Dr Shalini Yadav
Professor, Department of English
Compucom Institute of Technology and Management
Jaipur, Rajasthan

Works Cited

  1. Arora, Rachna & Smita Jha. “Women’s Body as the site of Encroachment: A Critical Study of Amrita Pritam’s Novel Pinjar.” Social Science Review. Volume 2, Issue 2, December 2016. 
  2. en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Indian_English_literature
  3. http://literaryvista.blogspot.com/2013/05/trends-in-indian-novels-in-english-in.html
  4. https://thewire.in/books/amrita-pritam-centenary
  5. Iyer, Raghavan. The Essential Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Ed. (Oxford: Oxford Univeristy Press, 1990), 348-402. 
  6. Kripalani, K. All Men Are Brothers: Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as Told in His Own Words. Ed. (Paris: UNESCO, 1969), 129-136. 
  7. Menon, Ritu. Borders and Boundaries: How Women Experienced the Partition of India. New Jersey: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1998.
  8. Naik, M. K. A History of English Literature. Sahitya Akademi, 2009.
  9. Naqvi, Tahira. (Trans.) Ismat Chugtai’s My Friend, My Enemy: Essays, Reminiscences, Portraits. New Delhi: Kali for Women, 2001.
  10. Roy, Rituparna. South Asian Partition Fiction in English: From Khushwant Singh to Amitav Ghosh. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2010.
  11. Singh, Khushwant. Burial at Sea. Penguin Books India, 2004. 
  12. Singh, Khushwant.Train to Pakistan. 1956.

Walking on the Trails: Poem by Dr Shalini Yadav

Real or Surreal
Deceptive or True
It seems vice versa
Whenever I think of a Walk
On the trails of Muir Woods…

Sunshine reaches
To brown humus-rich gravel loam
Making its way through Redwood trees
And my heart delights
The serenity of Woods…

Burnt by fire and wind
Chopped by deceiving human
Yet standing still like my little heart
With all its grandeur
Being ancient and tallest in all…

Healing the beauty of Woods
Exoticizing my Soul
Surpassing all draughts and diseases
Thousands of tempests, floods and avalanches
A survivor in all…

I wish to walk with You
For the joy of mesmeric Woods;
Where you sing some musical strings
Dwelling me deep in your love-lexis…

Poem by
Dr Shalini Yadav
© Shalini Yadav 2023

Dr Shalini Yadav holds a PhD in Post-colonial Literature and M. Phil in English Language Teaching (ELT) from the University of Rajasthan, India. Additionally, she has done a course in Advanced Creative Writing from the University of Oxford, UK. She has progressive teaching experience of 16 years at the University level in India, Libya and Saudi Arabia. She has participated and presented papers in many conferences and seminars, chaired sessions and delivered lectures across the tenure. She has edited and authored various books including Reconnoitring Postcolonial Literature, Emerging Psyche of Women: A Feminist Perspective, On the Wings of Life: Women Writing Womanhood, Postcolonial Transition and Cultural Dialectics, Communication Techniques and A Text Book of English for Engineers. Besides, she is a freelance writer whose creative writing publications include three poetry books in English Floating Haiku, Kinship With You: A Collection of Poems, Till the End of Her Subsistence: An Anthology of Poems, and one in Hindi language entitled Kshitiz Ke Us Paar. She has recently edited an anthology of poetry titled Across the Seas. Many of her short stories and poems are published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and anthologies; besides, she is member of various virtual poetry and literary societies. She keeps reading her poems and short stories at various national and international poetry carnivals. She has meticulously written and also reviewed a big number of scholarly research articles for various National and International refereed journals and edited volumes. She is also an efficacious member of the editorial boards of various qualitative journals of various countries. She is the editor of the open page at Writers International Edition.

Altered Connotation of Love in Netizens’ World: Sagas from Shalini Mullick’s ‘Stars from the Borderless Sea’

Since time immemorial, human culture is meant for frequent change and undoubtedly norms, impulses and ways of dealing keep changing and swinging like a pendulum generation after generation and the vicious cycle goes on. Though we think that there is no change in emotions, how people express themselves and use sentiments, is the same. But to note, when changes are taking place due to an upsurge in the usage of gizmos and gadgets, where life is more about being active on social media rather than taking care of real relations back at home and ground level, the kind of love ‘a deep-rooted emotion’ in humans, unfortunately, can be perceived, no more exist the same way on earth the way it used to be since folks instantaneously change and discard partners and loved ones like clothes and other materialistic stuff every third month or keep many parallel promoting polygamy. Where are Heer-Ranjha, Laila-Majnu and Romeo-Juliet kind of sagas lost in the world of social media?

The same deep-rooted emotion of love, which seems missing in relationships, has found its abode in the sagas of Shalini Mullick’s Stars from the Borderless Sea. The article reconnoitres the intensity of emotions expressed through the characters, leading to productive discourse in the context of the altered connotations of love in the present era. The impermanence and feeling of insecurity the way people have in relations can be slackened if we feel the gravity and worth of relations beyond materialism. Understanding love and providing support beyond vested interests can assist in balancing and maintaining good relations for long.

Hence love is not just an emotion or sentiment for exchange or reciprocation or dealing like we do in business, it’s the core of one’s being flowing boisterously and required to handle delicately and with sensibility. Since it’s the source of immense energy and inner power, one needs to store and reserve it well being thoughtful and harmonizing one’s sentiments. Consequently, after reading Shalini Mullick’s stories, I felt it’s a perfect take to understand love beyond benefits and avarice or sexual wants.

Shalini Mullick’s Stars from the Borderless Sea

The sagas Humsafar, Sayonee and Humraaz reminded me of movies like Pakeezah in which Raj Kumar stares at sleeping Meena Kumari and leaves a note near her feet requesting not to place her feet on the ground as they would be dirty; and Veer-Zaara, a story of an Indian pilot and a Pakistani girl who beyond different ethnicity and religions, devote their lives to each other with commitment. In the era of netizens, where phone sex or real escorts are easily available everywhere who cares about commitment, honesty and integrity. Youth today has different connotations of love, as frequent friend-unfriend, follow-unfollow, like-dislike and block-unblock on social media are part and parcel of their lives and showcase the frivolity in their relationships.

Thus reading stories from the book of Shalini Mullick would surely give a different dimension to the prevailing concept of love recalling the times of retro or classics amalgamating them with present setting and her true-to-life characters. Although the protagonists go through the phase of separation or any financial crisis or bad marriage trauma and suffering, yet they stand together emotionally in all odds even without uttering a dialogue and with their silent inner and soulful support.

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare says- “the course of true love never did run smooth.” Therefore, retaining love and reframing it in a positive form is a much-needed thing with other important values including tolerance, forgiveness, compassion, understanding, and acceptance which youth seems to lack somehow. Love needs to be taken as a power weapon shifting it from jealousy, hatred or an insulting tool to motivate, inspire, enthuse and improve.
What these stories epitomize, I would like to sum up that with a quote from 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi Mystic Rumi- “I love you neither with my heart, nor with my mind. My heart might stop and my mind can forget. I love you with my soul because my soul never stops or forgets.”

Channelling love in the right direction can make a person a better human being and leads toward success and the stories reveal the same kind of intense feeling. A must-read book in lucid language with a profundity of emotions to channelise your feelings and make your heart a golden heart!

Dr Shalini Yadav
Compucom Institute of Technology and Management
Jaipur, India

Dr Shalini Yadav holds a PhD in Post-colonial Literature and M. Phil in English Language Teaching (ELT) from the University of Rajasthan, India. Additionally, she has done a course in Advanced Creative Writing from the University of Oxford, UK. She has progressive teaching experience of 16 years at the University level in India, Libya and Saudi Arabia. She has participated and presented papers in many conferences and seminars, chaired sessions and delivered lectures across the tenure. She has edited and authored various books including Reconnoitring Postcolonial Literature, Emerging Psyche of Women: A Feminist Perspective, On the Wings of Life: Women Writing Womanhood, Postcolonial Transition and Cultural Dialectics, Communication Techniques and A Text Book of English for Engineers. Besides, she is a freelance writer whose creative writing publications include three poetry books in English Floating Haiku, Kinship With You: A Collection of Poems, Till the End of Her Subsistence: An Anthology of Poems, and one in Hindi language entitled Kshitiz Ke Us Paar. She has recently edited an anthology of poetry titled Across the Seas. Many of her short stories and poems are published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and anthologies; besides, she is member of various virtual poetry and literary societies. She keeps reading her poems and short stories at various national and international poetry carnivals. She has meticulously written and also reviewed a big number of scholarly research articles for various National and International refereed journals and edited volumes. She is also an efficacious member of the editorial boards of various qualitative journals of various countries. She is editor of open page at Writers International Edition.