For a country as vast as India, I find few authors of merit, especially in the children’s genre. In fact, after R.K.Narayan, I can think of few others who I can genuinely claim I enjoy. This for a country with the second largest population in the world, and probably the largest English speaking population in the world!
Why the disconnect? Do we lack imagination – I think not! Do we as a people still feel that books are best written by a different race, or is it that we don’t see books as a valuable source of income? It is the latter I would guess. The copyright laws that are in effect in India as as effective as a dog told not to scratch his you-know-what on the side wall! The moment a book is out, and it shows any promise of being a partial success, we have printing presses queueing up to churn out cheap copies. It is no doubt then, folks prefer to bottle up their creativity with a hard cork screw than to let their family go hungry and stand outside restaurants waiting for scrap food!
If J.K.Rowling were born in India and tried an Indian publisher, I don’t think she’d be living in any 5 bedroom mansion anywhere! More importantly, I don’t think she would have taken the step of being jobless for a year to churn out a book. There are no social security payouts to carry one through lean times. Pretty much relatives, who would make sure they run in with a vigour of a Kerala-style oil massage what a thorough waste of time it is to frivolously indulge in creative writing!
On a serious note, I recently read several Indian authors, including Booker Prize winning authors and remain unimpressed. I realise it takes a long time for an occupation to mature, and it is slowly but surely getting to a point when people don’t think of Engg & Medicine alone as viable careers.