Thursday, September 25, 2008

Added Information : All India PEN center

In response to my earlier post secretary Ranjit Hoskote has added the matter( as it is ) below:
Dear Albert Ashok,
Thank you for your email and for the link to your post. Since you have copied your mail to a wide array of recipients, I have addressed this response to them as well -- and apologise to those on the list who might quite justifiably regard this exchange as unsolicited mail.
We at the PEN All-India Centre, located in Bombay, have recently begun to sort through our large collection of files -- including records, correspondence, and PEN All-India Centre annual conference proceedings -- which date back to the early 1930s. An American researcher, who is working towards a PhD in the area of late-colonial Indian history, has offered us invaluable support in this endeavour. She regards our material as vital and even impressive: an opinion that vindicates the constancy with which we have held on to our files through the vagaries of shifting, lack of financial support, and other difficulties.
With some luck, time and support, we should soon be able to organise them into a proper and coherent archive -- this would go a long way towards addressing the lacunae that you have indicated in your post.
While many of the details that you have put together in your post are common knowledge to PEN members in Bombay, Lucknow, Chennai and elsewhere, I can well imagine how you must feel to be so cut away from this lineage in the West Bengal Branch. I also sympathise with the fact that you have suffered because of a problem of transmission between generations, and perhaps you were not as fortunate as us in Bombay, who have had the privilege of inheriting a clear succession from Madame Sophia Wadia through Nissim Ezekiel and Ramesh Sirkar.
At the same time, I would most collegially request you to avoid a persistent solipsism in your account of your situation -- in your post, and on previous occasions, you have resorted to the suggestion that, since you did not hear from the PEN All-India Centre in Bombay for many years, it is somehow defunct or non-existent. Unfortunately for your line of argument, the PEN All-India Centre is not only alive and well, but has been flourishing. It has rebuilt a network of contacts, exchanges and discussions across India, while also opening up a range of conversations with colleagues and institutions internationally. Given the difficulties that we faced in the late 1990s and the early years of the 21st century, this has been a demanding and onerous, but ultimately productive task.
Since this matter has arisen before, let me re-state my position on it clearly: If you wish to establish your own separate PEN Centre in West Bengal, please do so by all means, and good luck to you.
However, I will add a note of caution that I have refrained from sounding before, despite your repeated provocations: Please establish your Centre on your own merit, and not by trying to discredit the activities of a flourishing literary community in another part of the country, and of individuals who put in an enormous amount of work on a completely voluntary basis to sustain it.
With very best wishes,
Ranjit Hoskote
Secretary- TreasurerThe PEN All-India Centre
For better understanding and co operation the mail has been posted here. I hope as long as we live we shall extend our help and co operation to any writer in land and abroad and support their freedom of expression.
---Albert Ashok

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