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Date(s) - 20/08/2020
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Seminar Hall


Abstract (First Presentation)
Ecological Concerns in Select Punjabi Fiction

Dr. Sumandeep Kaur
Fellow, IIAS, Shimla

The monograph explores that the literature written in Punjabi during the late 1990s and Post-2000 marks the development of “ecological conscience” and how the new modes of ecological meditations and an understanding of ecological changes in Punjab have been aided by the fictional representations. For this purpose, Jasbeer Mand’s Aakhri Pind Di Katha (The Story of the Last Village, 1993) and Aakhri Babe (Last Elders, 2019), Gurnam Singh Grewal’s Dharatstan (The Planet Earth, 2009), Balbir Parwana’s Gehr Chadhi Asmaan (Fog Engulfing the Sky, 2010), and Katha Is Yug Di (The Story of this Era, 2011) and Jasvir Rana’s Ethon Registan Disda Hai (Desert is Visible from Here, 2018) have been selected.
Ecocriticism provides the project’s theoretical basis; however, I have also explored the limitations of this theoretical model marking out the cultural specificities of the region. This project interrogates that the ecological concerns are deeply associated with the agrarian changes and “the erosion of social structures” which have been discussed in the backdrop of the Green Revolution characterized by large-scale mechanization and commercialization of agriculture, the river water dispute, and the liberal economic policies. A lot has been written on exploring the economic, social, and technological dimensions of the Green Revolutions. I have argued that the abundance of statistical data and the figures depicted in tabular format render individuals invisible. Here literature becomes a potent medium for opening new avenues hitherto unexplored.
Along with the theoretical introduction, I shall also focus on Jasbeer Mand’s novels. Aakhri Pind Di Katha is a story of a village being devastated by urbanization and industrialization which deeply affect its form and culture. Aakhri Babe is a tale of three generations of Punjab, representing the pre-Green Revolution, Green Revolution, and Post-Green Revolution period. It is a philosophical meditation on the peasantry of Punjab physically, psychologically, and culturally displaced from its environment and land. Mand’s works depict that the erosion of the physical environment is also an erosion of the human subject’s conscious and material access to everything around him. He explores the clash between the old and the new generation, the initial eulogization of the mechanization of the agriculture and the disillusionment and frustration erupting out of it that gives birth to varied social, economic, ethnic and cultural problems with such fineness that his works become a cultural and literary document of the three decades following the Green Revolution. The focus of his novels is not on events, but on the impact of these events. The narrative becomes quite complicated and subtle like modern art. Consequently, Mand cannot be considered in the category of traditional novelists focusing on Katha rasa.