ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women and Health Meeting

Credential-Mongering ONE could have very well ignored Ashok Rudra's vituperative piece "Spitting Upwards at the Stars" (EPW, September 20-27) had it not been written specifically for the international reader with a view to appraising him of the damage caused by AM to the intellectual respectability of Indian writers! It is true that AM had made certain strong observations in his Calcutta Diary about Simone de Beauvoir's contributions (EPW, April 26). Instead of criticising those points which he finds difficult to agree with, Rudra seems to be engaging himself in personal vilification. He has all the right, indeed, to demolish AM's arguments, but only it should be in a manner befitting gentlemen. Instead he goes about rejecting the "credentials" of AM which, to say the least, is sheer nonsense. He pooh poohs AM for not being an "eminent economist", as if one has to be one to be a column writer. If Rudra's line of reasoning (if at all one could call it reasoning) is, for a change, directed towards himself, one might well feel that the same 'lack of eminence' suits Rudra too in a no less significant manner! Rudra finds fault with AM for criticising de Beauvoir for having not produced any creative work after Sartre's demise. This is well taken. But what is not in good taste is the way he lashes out at AM for not having produced any creative work himself. This prompts one to pose a question: is it necessary that one should have produced creative work to qualify oneself to criticise the creative work produced by others? If this is the criterion, one can as well ask, how many among Tagore's critics are competent to do the job? Furthermore, one can even pause for a moment and ask very pointed questions about Rudra's own competence to evaluate de Beauvoir, if one has ever gone through his pieces on art, literature, etc, that have appeared in Frontier from time to time.

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