Sunday, March 7, 2010
Muniba Sami's book Postmodern Gandhi in Life and Literature.
On February 28, 2010, Supreme Court Judge, Hon'ble Mr. Justice Aftab Alam released this P.U. academic's book at an impressive function at the Takshila Art Gallery, College of Arts and Crafts, Patna.
Justice Alam,TOI reports praised the book for' providing an insight into different aspects of Gandhi's thoughts and providing new perspectives on Gandhi'.
The book was critiqued by Shaileshwar Sati Prasad. He lauded the brevity and clarity of the book while dwelling on Gandhi's lifelong commitment to social justice and human dignity. 'Gandhi is a person of all centuries, he cannot belong to one age, he said. The venerable Gandhian Razi Ahmad spoke on the aspects of the book that ought to be read by scholars and lay-people alike.
Muniba Sami explained the title of the book 'To speak of a ‘Postmodern Gandhi’ raises the question of Gandhi’s relationship with the term ‘modern’. Generally the modern era is associated with the European Enlightenment, which begins roughly in the middle of the 18th century. One of its basic ideas is that knowledge produced by science is universally true and will always lead toward progress and perfection and free humanity from misery, superstitions, irrational behaviour and unfounded belief. But where did Science, Reason and Progress get the western world after all?
The 20th century saw two World Wars, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, ecological disaster, all in the name of Enlightenment values of science, reason, liberation, freedom and progress. Gandhi challenged this view of progress. He refused to surrender his freedom by entering the iron prison of reason. He also refused to accept the universality of modernity characterized by the values of science, reason and logic as these values fell apart and the centre could not hold in the modern era.
The Grand narratives in the West, incapable of embracing difference have been replaced by little narratives. Gandhi is in this sense a postmodernist because he believed not in one truth but many different truths, embracing the world of differences in an increasingly pluralistic world. In his refusal to privilege modernism’s commitment to the epistemology of universal truths, objective knowledge and grand narratives, Gandhi’s thought foreshadowed in a number of ways the spirit of the postmodern world'.
Also speaking on the occasion, the Pro-Vice- Chancellor of Patna University said that it was a matter of great pride that an academician from Patna University had written such a well-researched book. Radha Mohan Singh, Head Department of English, Patna University had earlier introduced the author mentioning that she had set high standards in the academia and the author's daughter, Tara Sami Dutt compered the programme with rare elan. She referred to her mother with ascetic simplicity when she merely said' I'm proud of you.' The Principal, College of Arts and Craft, Dr. Anunaya Chaubey gave a candid vote of thanks, very matter of fact, laced with a tot of humour. The event was superbly organised by Mr. Khurshid Ahmad, media professional and now an educational entrepreneur.