Here's a reading list for some of Chetan Bhagat's philosophical dilemmas

What do historians do and other gems from Chetan Bhagat
Blog Friday, October 30, 2015 - 20:03

If Chetan Bhagat was just an engineer from one of his books, one might have forgiven him for saying what he did. But he went to an IIT. And they do have high academic standards. 

On Thursday Twitteratti and Facebookers had a field day. Amid the avalanche of writers, academics, sociologists, scientists, linguists, filmmakers and god knows how many others returning awards etc left, right and centre, Chetan Bhagat wondered aloud, what do historians do? So, we decided to compile a reading list for Chetan Bhagat. But it would be more of a "suggested reading" list, given he's a mass-writer and all.

(We dug out some older gems too)

"What do historians do? I am genuinely curious. This happened. Then this happened. Then this. Ok work done for the day”

Here’s an exmple of what historians do. Some of them also happen to be great story-tellers. One person that comes immediately to mind would be British historian Eric Hobsbawm, who wrote about the purpose of a historian, in the first chapter of A People’s History of the United States which, by the way, is history filled with the impact of dates and events on people.

An excerpt:

“My point is not to grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners. Those tears, that anger, cast into the past, deplete our moral energy for the present... Still, understanding the complexities, this book will be skeptical of governments and their attempts, through politics and culture, to ensnare ordinary people in a giant web of nationhood pretending to a common interest. I will try not to overlook the cruelties that victims inflict on one another as they are jammed together in the boxcars of the system. I don't want to romanticize them. But I do remember (in rough paraphrase) a statement I once read: "The cry of the poor is not always just, but if you don't listen to it, you will never know what justice is."

A sample of the reactions to this tweet, and Chetan Bhagat's counter-response.

 

“Ok so am I supposed to return my Sahitya Academy award?Oh wait. Haven’nt got it yet.

Is Chetan Bhagat fishing for an award? Well, for someone who describes himself as a mass writer, he should know that good literature can be found in all kinds of places, even Twitter, as these Terribly Tiny Tales @terriblytiny show.

Here’s one by Amrit Paul:

 “Maa insists. Helpless, I nod. Astrologer smiles. I wear the ring. But it is she who feels safe.”

 

“If I offer to help fix the education system, will b labeled a) publicity seeker, b) politically motivated, c) rss agent. Hence, sit. Watch.”

Multiple choice questions are part of the problem with India’s education system and fixing it is going to take more than self-help book psychology. But if he’s serious, here’s an example of a writer who did influence education. Nigerian author Chinua Achebe was instrumental in introducing a new branch of literary studies to the world – post colonial studies – with his novel Things Fall Apart. He wrote that as a literature student after he read Heart of Darkness. Political beliefs are an aspect of change. There would be no Independence without it.

 

Signing off with James Bond-style comment: “If you don’t follow CB, you don’t follow CB”

We’re sure Chetan Bhagat has a lot of India’s problems to solve. As for not following CB, who switches off an entertainment channel? 

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