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Novels society and history: Pol. Science

Question: Describe the ways in which the novels in India attempted to create a sense of pan- Indian belonging.
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“Leading Indian novelists of the 19th century wrote for a National cause”. Do you agree with the statement? Justify your answer.
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How did novels fulfill the task of nation building in India ? Explain. Or
How did the novels in India encourage nationalism? Explain any three points.

Answer:

  1. To create a sense of equality: Colonial rulers regarded the contemporary culture of India as inferior, On the other hand, Indian novelist wrote to develop a modern literature of the country that could produce a sense of national belonging and cultural equality with their colonial masters.
  2. To protect values of India’s tradition and culture: Many novelist like that of Srinivas Das had expressed their fear and anger about the intermining of Indian and Western culture. The world of colonial modernity seems to be both frightening and irresistible to the characters. The novel tries to teach the reader the ‘right way’ to live and expects all ‘sensible men’ to be worldly- wise and practical, to remain rooted in the values of their own tradition and culture, and to live with dignity and honour.
  3. Women novelists: But women did not remain mere readers of stories written by men; soon they also began to write novels. In some languages, the early creations of women were poems, essays or autobiographical pieces. In the early decades of the twentieth century, women in south India also began writing novels and short stories. A reason for the popularity of novels among women was that it allowed for a new conception of womanhood. Stories of love – which was a staple theme of many novels – showed women who could choose or refuse their partners and relationships. It showed women who could to some extent control their lives. Some women authors also wrote about women who changed the world of both men and women.
  4. Novels for low castes and peasants: From the 1920s, in Bengal too a new kind of novel emerged that depicted the lives of peasants and ‘low’ castes. Advaita Malla Burman’s (1914-51) Titash Ekti Nadir Naam (1956) is an epic about the Mallas, a community of fisherfolk who live off fishing in the river Titash. The novel is about three generations of the Mallas, about their recurring tragedies and the story of Ananta, a child born of parents who were tragically separated after their wedding night. Ananta leaves the community to get educated in the city. The novel describes the community life of the Mallas in great detail, their Holi and Kali Puja festivals, boat races, bhatiali songs, their relationships of friendship and animosity with the peasants and the oppression of the upper castes.
  5. The novel and nation making: Many novelists wrote about Marathas and Rajputs. These novels produced sense of a pan Indian belonging. The imagined nation of the novel was so powerful that it could inspire actual political movements. Bankim’s Anandamath (1882) is a novel about a secret Hindu militia that fights Muslims to establish a Hindu kingdom. It was a novel that inspired many kinds of freedom fighters.

Question: Explain the contribution of Premchand in Hindi novels.
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Which is the most popular novel written by Premchand? When was it published ? Write its theme.
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“It was with the writings of Premchand that Hindi novel achieved excellence”. Justify the statement.

Answer:

  1. Munshi Premchand was one of the greatest literary figures of the modern Hindi and Urdu literature. It was with the writing of Premchand that the Hindi novel matured into greatness.
  2. He began writing in Urdu, and then shifted to Hindi. Premchand drew on the traditional art of kissa-goi (story telling).
  3. Before Munshi Premchand, the Hindi literature was confined to the tales, the stories of magical powers and other such escapist fantasies. His novel, Sewasadan (The Abode of Service), published in 1916, lifted the Hindi novel from the realm of fantasy. Sewasadan deals mainly with the poor condition of women in the society.
  4. Premchand wrote on the realistic issues of the day, i.e., communalism, corruption, zamindari, debt, poverty, colonialism, etc.,

Question: “Premchand’s novels are filled with all kinds of powerful characters drawn from all levels of the society.” Support the statement by giving suitable examples.
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Why is Godan considered an epic on Indian peasantry ? Explain.
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Briefly explain the theme of the novel ‘Godan’ written by Munshi Premchand.
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Drawn from various strata of society, Prem Chand’s characters create a community based on democratic value(s), substantiate the above statement with examples from any of his novels.

Answer:

  1. Sewasadan: In his novel Sewasadan, Munshi Premchand deals mainly with the poor condition of the Indian women in the society. He also exposes the double standards of the upper class of the era.
  2. Rangbhoomi: His novel, Rangbhoomi centring around the exploitation of peasants of India during the British rule brings out the suffering of ordinary farmers and depicts the inhumanity of the colonial rule. The novel is not only valuable for its literary worth but also for the representation of the social and economic conditions of the underprivileged sections of the society. He has chosen Surdas, a visually impaired beggar from a so-called ‘untouchable’ caste as his hero which is very significant. While dealing with the pain and agony of common people under foreign rule, it focuses attention on the powerful current of nationalism which eventually shook the foundation of the British empire and brought us our independence.
  3. Godan: Godan (The gift of cow), published in 1936, is considered the greatest Hindi novel of modern Indian literature. The novel’s theme revolves around the socio-economic condition of the Indian peasantry. Landlords, moneylenders, priests and colonial bureaucrats – all those who hold power in society form a network of oppression to exploit the poor peasants. The protagonist, Hori, a poor peasant, desperately longs for a cow, a symbol of wealth and prestige in rural India. Hori gets a cow but pays with his life for it. After his death, the village priests demand a cow from his widow to bring his soul to peace.

Question: Explain how the writings of Munshi Premchand promoted the sense of nationalism among the Indins.
Or
How did the novels of Munshi Premchand promote the feeling of nationalism? Explain.

Answer:

  1. Munshi Premchand’s novels are filled with all kinds of powerful characters drawn from all levels of the society. In his novels, one can meet aristocrats and landlords, middle- level peasants and landless labourers, middle-class professionals, and people from all the sections of the society.
  2. The women characters are strong individuals, especially those who come from the lower classes, and are not modernised.
  3. Premchand’s novels look towards the future without forgetting the importance of the past.
  4. Drawn from various stratas of the society, Premchand’s characters create a community based on democratic values. The central character of his novel Rangbhoomi (The Arena), Surdas, is a visually impaired beggar from a so-called ‘untouchable’ caste. One can see Surdas struggling against the forcible takeover of his land for establishing a tobacco factory.
  5. Godan (The Gift of Cow), published in 1936, remains Premchand’s best-known work. It is an epic of the Indian peasantry. The novel tells the moving story of Hori, and his wife, Dhania, a peasant couple, who fought against landlords, moneylenders, priests and the colonial bureaucrats.

Question: What are the main features of novel ‘Sewasadan’ written by Munshi Premchand? Mention any three.

Answer:

  1. The Sewasadan (The Abode of Service), published in 1916, lifted the Hindi novel from the realm of fantasy, moralising and simple entertainment to a serious reflection on the lives of ordinary people and social issues.
  2. Sewasadan deals mainly with the poor condition of women in society.
  3. Issues like child marriage and dowry are woven into the story of the novel.
  4. It also tells us about the ways in which the Indian upper classes used whatever little opportunities they got from colonial authorities to govern themselves.

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