Naipaul is a literary figure who has long been on our horizons and it (the festival) shouldn’t be allowed to go with just the award on the first day. There is much to be said about the phenomenon of Naipaul, and the questions the award evokes.
It is true to say, I think, that in the entire history of India, music has never been as resonant, rich and diverse as in our era. It has produced so many people; it has reflected everything. Most Indians are defined by the musical leer.
Given then that music defines our daily existence, you would expect an exploration of India to comment on that. Mr Naipaul has written three books on India, very big books, and if you read them, you will find that not one of them contains any reference to music. Now, I think that this only means that he is tone deaf. That’s my reading of the situation but then there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be tone deaf. It is a constitutional right we all have.
He has no music, and therefore, no conception of what the Muslims contributed to our history. It is also interesting to see what he has to say about architecture, about which he writes a lot. What he says is predictable, that the Muslims destroyed Indian architecture. They were the raiders, they were the destroyers, and you have to look at any building to see what happened during the Muslim regime. Here is what he has to say about the Taj.
“The Taj is so wasteful, so decadent and in the end, so cruel, that I found it painful to be there for very long. This is an extravagance that speaks about the blood of the people.”
That’s why you get a Nobel Prize, you know. None of us, if we were at the Taj, would think of the extravagance that speaks about the blood of the people!