Thursday, July 14, 2016

A tweet by tweet summary of the live-tweet event hashtagged #TGDLaunch in India on July 19 with Dr. Amitav Ghosh on stage with Ms. Sunita Narain

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 in the Anthrocene

[*** PREVIOUS:  THUMBS UP PREVIEW: Indian climate activist Amitav Ghosh ponders the 'unthinkable' in new grand essay on climate change]

A tweet by tweet summary of the live-tweet event hashtagged #TGDLaunch in India on July 19 with Dr. Amitav Ghosh on stage with Ms. Sunita Narain

A tweet by tweet summary of the live-tweet event hashtagged #TGDLaunch in India on July 19 with novelist and essayist Amitav Ghosh on stage with Indian journalist Sunita Narain

peelibilli (@peelibilli) tweeted at 8:58 AM on Wed, Jul 20, 2016:
@sunitanar @ipshita77 @GhoshAmitav @PenguinIndia Will you make this available online for those who missed it? [ASKS THE ABOVE TWEET. HERE IS PART OF IT.]

It is apparent that Dr Ghosh has one message for audiences inside India, especially in regard to how he feels modern novelists in India are NOT writing about climate change themes even when climate change impacts event are right outside their doors and he asks why and chastises them gently for being lazy apethetic writers ... while his message (for the same book of essays) when he goes to America in September for the USA launch there will be to congratulate Western novelists like Nathaniel Rich and Kim Stanley Robinson and Barbara Kingsolver and Meg Little Reilly and Sarah Holding and Paolo Bacigalpi and hundreds more in the UK and Australia as well for tackling climate change themes in their current novels. So Dr Ghosh is speaking to two audiences: one in India and one in the West. He has to tailor his remarks for each author in a sensitive way. This twitter event below was in India so he still says there are no climate theme novels in the literary world, when in fact, he knows full well by now that the cli-fi genre has taken the US and the UK and Australia by storm. But he cannot say that inside India for some reason. Read on:

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 9:30 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
A few minutes from now, Ms. @Sunitanar will be in conversation with Mr. @GhoshAmitav about his new book of essays on climate. Live updates #TGDlaunch


A tweet by tweet summary of the live-tweet event hashtagged #TGDLaunch in India on July 19 with novelist and essayist Amitav Ghosh on stage with Indian journalist Sunita Narain


NOTE: There *are* 'cli-fi' novels in India,e ven thouh Dr Ghosh says there are non an that writers in the West and the East have not responded to the climate change with their novels. But he is so wrong, and wait till he lands in NYC, the critics will clobber him. See Nilesh Chople debut novel here with details 1 minute video: -


Joanna Lobo (@djoiiii) tweeted at 10:55 PM on Wed, Jul 20, 2016:
A man in the audience who's written a book (love story) on the Bombay floods. 'Sir I want to give you the book, complimentary.' #amitavghosh

CSEINDIA (@CSEINDIA) tweeted at 9:48 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
All set for #tgdlaunch with @GhoshAmitav and Sunita Narain #climatechange #books

CSEINDIA (@CSEINDIA) tweeted at 9:53 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
@sunitanar and @GhoshAmitav arrive now for the book launch event #tgdlaunch @down2earthindia

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 9:58 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
How is it that literature is not talking about #climate change?  asks @GhoshAmitav  at the launch of The Great Derangement. #TGDlaunch

CSEINDIA (@CSEINDIA) tweeted at 10:00 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
Today we are powerless because we are not asking our leaders to take action says @sunitanar @GhoshAmitav #tgdlaunch

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 10:02 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
Dealing with climate issues is considered fringe activity, @GhoshAmitav tells @sunitanar at #TGDLaunch

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 10:04 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
There's complete silence in imaginative discourse when it comes to #climatechange issues, says author @GhoshAmitav #TGDlaunch

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 10:10 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
Systematically, we have turned away from imagining #climatechange impacts, says Amitav Ghosh in conversation with Sunita Narain #TGDlaunch

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 10:11 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
When the cyclone comes for you, it is not going to pick between rich and poor - @GhoshAmitav at #TGDLaunch

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 10:15 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
We are beginning to close the circles of conversations when it comes to #climatechange, says  @sunitanar #TGDlaunch

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 10:17 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
The systematic silencing of non-partisan voices on #climatechange is a reality, says @GhoshAmitav in conversation with @sunitanar #TGDlaunch

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 10:20 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
People don't realise how much does Paris Climate talks move away from climate justice issue, says @GhoshAmitav  #TGDlaunch

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 10:31 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
We have universalised a model of lifestyle that cannot work for the majority in the face of #climatechange, says @GhoshAmitav  #TGDlaunch

दि लास्ट पफ् (@DesiUvach) tweeted at 10:33 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
@down2earthindia Elites weren't worried when that lifestyle was restricted to few. Now that all demand it, elites sermonize us @GhoshAmitav

Dan Bloom (@do_you_cli_fi_) tweeted at 10:39 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
@down2earthindia Dr Ghosh is wrong here. Maybe in his native India but in the West there is a vibrant ''cli-fi'' genre

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 10:42 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
#climatechange has started making its way into political discourse of India, says @sunitanar #TGDlaunch

Down To Earth (@down2earthindia) tweeted at 10:59 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
Scientists have to work with society and explain extreme weather events to sensitise people about #climatechange says @sunitanar  #TGDlaunch

Jon Queen (@jonmckeequeen) tweeted at 11:46 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
Climate Change Is This Generation's Biggest Threat: Amitav Ghosh - The Quint: The QuintClimate Change Is This...

Penguin Books India (@PenguinIndia) tweeted at 10:18 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
If the Americans are saying they are controlling climate change, I live on a different planet.
[SAYS Sunita Narain ] WTF? [Do I detect an anti-America prejudice/hatred there?]

Vaishali Mathur (@mathur_vaishali) tweeted at 10:16 PM on Tue, Jul 19, 2016:
Amitav Ghosh and Sunita Narain talk about the greatest derangement stares us in the face #environment @PenguinIndia

Sanjay Sipahimalani (@SanSip) tweeted at 1:09 AM on Wed, Jul 20, 2016:
In #TheGreatDerangement, @GhoshAmitav mentions two novels that deal with climate change: McEwan's ''Solar'' from UK and B Kingsolver's ''Flight Behaviour'' from USA

Ipshita Mitra (@ipshita77) tweeted at 2:36 AM on Wed, Jul 20, 2016:
Literature is moving away from nature. @GhoshAmitav on climate change and justice with @sunitanar @PenguinIndia

Authors are part of the climate change problem

WHY AMITIV GHOSH IS DEAD WRONG WHEN HE SAYS WRITERS IN THE WEST ARE NOT WRITING ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE, NEITHER NOVELISTS OR JOURNALISTS OR POETS. OKAY IN INDIA, HIS NATIVE LAND, YES, and even Ghosh himself has shown himself afraid to tackle climate change in a novel even though he criticizes -- incorrectly in turns out -- other novelists for not tackling climate issues in their novels. Indians don't care that's care, and evem Ghosh himself does not care. If he did, he could off his 60 year old tuches and write a climate-themed novel for 2018 or 2020. But he won't.  SEE BELOW, another silly article from the LAZY INDIAN PRESS:

In The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh has asked why one of the major issues of our time — climate change — has been neglected by the INDIAN literary community of which he is a part.  HE KNOWS THAT NOVELISTS IN THE WEST HAVE FACED CLIMATE CHANGE IN DOZENS, HUNDREDS OF NOVELS, BUT HE WON"T ADMIT IT IN INDIA BECAUSE THAT WOULD SHOW THAT THE WEST IS MORE ADVANCED THAN INDIA AND GHOSH CANNOT HAVE ANY OF THAT, OH NO NO NO.

In South Asia, the answer is easy to see. By catering to an urban, prosperous and global community, INDIAN authors and publishers produce books that allow us INDIANs to ignore the damage taking place in the lives of the marginalised.

The INDIAN literary community is not innocently unaware, but actively complicit in a process that allows us INDIANs to ignore the damage that climate change is doing to the lives of the poor.

Let us be clear as to what the problem is. Pollution is a classic example of market failure, where the true cost of a process is not caught in the price attached to it. The carbon dioxide generated by transport, deforestation to make way for roads, the costs of the plastic wrapping when it is disposed off, all of these are not part of the price in the cherries imported from Australia that you pick up at a grocery store.

These are what economists call externalities — costs or benefits paid by somebody who did not choose to be part of the transaction. And somebody does pay the cost of these externalities, whether it is a beautiful village in Sikkim threatened by a glacial lake or an influx of mosquitoes, or it is villagers in West Bengal suffering from arsenic poisoning.

Frankly, you do not even have to go so far. The heatwaves, which become more extreme every year, claim the lives of people living in the cities of South Asia all the time. See: Glacial lake threatens Sikkim’s heritage village, Climate change worsens arsenic poisoning, India’s killer heat wave linked to climate change

The striking similarity of all who pay the costs of these problems is that they are the poor, the people living in villages and the outer periphery. They are the marginal people of the countries – precisely the people that much of the INDIAN literary community is not only divorced from, but is actively running away from. This is true across Asia, with very few books even touching on the subject of water. EVEN INDIAN  MASTER GHOSH DARES NOT WRITE ABOUT CLIMATE ISSUES IN A NEW NOVEL.

See: Water speaks in Asian literature

The production of INDIAN literature is measured by three main things: numbers of books sold, awards, and recognition both locally and globally through speaking activities at book festivals and the like. All of these, in one form or the other, exclude the participation of the very people most affected by climate change.

Myth of an aspirational readership in INDIA

Working at one of India’s most widely read news magazines, I would often be frustrated when my editor shot down one story idea or other by saying, “This is not what our readers want.” In his mind, there was this mythical magazine reader that could afford to pay the INR 30 for the weekly shot of news we provided. This reader was not interested in what happened to the small town boys that became criminal dons in Bombay, nor was this interested in the lives of neglect most of India’s sportsmen lived in, no matter how many awards they had won – unless they were cricketers, of course.

These mythical readers were interested, though, in the new Rolls Royce just launched in India, priced at about INR 40 million, or just about USD 1 million at that time, in 2007.

These mythical readers are also who the literary publishers cater to – aspiration, middle class consumers who are far more interested in wasteful spending, even if only in their imagination, than in sustainable living. The grim challenges – or even small victories such as Chhewang Norphel’s artificial glaciers in Ladakh or a technological breakthrough to create a new arsenic filter – related to climate change are not the stuff of novels that publishers feel will sell. It may be that they are right, but if these stories are not commissioned in INDIA , if they are not published and promoted, how will we ever cultivate the INDIAN authors that can tease out  the complexities of life in this increasingly fragile environment? See: The iceman of Ladakh, Indian scientists develop low-cost arsenic filter

Problem with literary awards

Beyond publication are the awards, and the major problem with these are that they are hardly any important ones within small countries. The big names of Indian fiction (and many of these are Indian only in origin, not by citizenship) – whether they are Salman Rushdie, VS Naipaul, Arundhati Roy, Aravind Adiga, Jhumpa Lahiri or even Amitav Ghosh – have largely won awards out of the country.

 It is hard enough to translate the difference between the poor, or the rural to the rich and urban within India, to make the jump and be able to explain these issues to a global audience is nigh on to impossible.

It is little surprise that Naipaul is unable to explain, or even comprehend, the rural areas he describes in his Area of Darkness. Adiga’s Booker Prize winning The White Tiger does not even try, and calls the village from which the protagonist fled merely “the darkness”.

Roy’s and Ghosh’s books have local dynamics. In particular Ghosh’s earlier books such as the sci fi Calcutta Chromosome, The Shadow Lines, and cli-fi The Hungry Tide, may pave the way to highlight the value of local dynamics, but for most new INDIAN writers wishing to walk in the footsteps of the INDIAN literary greats is to walk away, to the urban and the global. Cossetted in air-conditioned spaces which keep the rising heat at bay, INDIANS write for an audience similarly cosseted, and both ignore the slow tragedy unfolding outside. Including Ghosh!

Voices in the margins

The success of one type of fiction to directly address this issue – the ironic graphic novel, All Quiet in Vikaspuri by Sarnath Banerjee, is the exception that proves the point.

A tongue-in-cheek telling of a Delhi scarred by water wars, as the capital of India dries out and various middle class and upper middle class housing colonies face off in combat works because of how ludicrous it seems. The residents of these colonies do not have to look for water. They can imagine a scenario of travelling kilometres for the precious liquid only as satire.

Another type of fiction, undertaken in local languages, too shows promise. The work of Mahashweta Devi, one of the great Bengali authors, has consistently looked at the issues involving tribal communities and the marginalised poor.

But even this type of literature – often called regional literature, is often urban in nature, hiding the true costs of climate change playing out, in the dry fields, and the floods that hit the rural areas the worst.

INDIAN Literary festivals and problematic INDIAN funders

There is the last refuge, of INDIAN book festivals and INDIAN book launches, where authors meet a wider public (often trying to sell or publicise their books). These are paradoxical spaces, as they are at the intersection of the privileged and (theoretically) all the people who want to attend. While it is possible that uncomfortable questions are raised at such venues, it is also clear that such events need funds.

When they turn to the very companies and enterprises responsible for polluting, and blatant destruction of habitat, it becomes hard to believe that the platform will criticise such practices. An ode to uninhibited consumption is unlikely to lead to stories of caution and restraint.

These structures incentivise the creation of a literature that discourages the exploration of the issues of climate change. They can change – just as feminist literature, once a marginal subject, became a part of mainstream literature. But they will change only when we recognise the problems, not just as the choice that individuals make, but also the incentive structures that help nudge literature in this direction.

It is only then that we INDIANs will be able to confront and change the terms of debate in INDIA and learn from the West. What a background country we still are!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

discovered that there *are* cli-fi novels in India! A debut novelist named Nilesh Chogle wrote a cli-fi novel in 2015 and avail now at for 199 Rs, titled ''Together with You Forever'' set during the 2005 Mumbai floods. This contradicts essayist Amitav Ghosh who maintains in his new book "The Great Derangement" out now in India and due to be released in USA in September that arists and novelists have *not* responded to the climate emergency we are in, either in the West or in the East, and Dr Ghosh, despite his expertise on all things literary, is so wrong. See Nilesh Chogle book details via Google: