When I read Five Point Someone I had no idea who Chetan Bhagat is. It was a long time ago and a kind of story that wasn’t compelling enough to stick in my memory but I suppose it was one of those books I just read without straining my bird brain much. It was enjoyable felt like reading a blog, written in a very casual style, (like most of Rupa Publications books I guess).
Little did I know about his strong (Army Public School, IIT, IIM) educational background, he wasn’t the stereotypical investment banker, from whom we’d expect NYU Stern Prof.Aswath Damodaran like advices (whom I greatly admire by the way), instead he was always hogging the limelight for justifying bad grammar and fighting for story credits (seems reasonable though).
In his article in Times of India, he writes, “The advent of computers and SMS communication has led to the traditional rules being dropped, broken or simplified. What works today is articulation, rather than eloquence.”
Chetan Bhagat’s most prominent USP is that he writes in simple English and that according to him, is the highest standard of English that most Indians can comprehend and most prominent defense is that his books sell more than any other Indian author.
In any language, “Ilakanam”(aka “grammar) is important, just because Sadhana Sargam can make a “Kolaveri” of Tamil and still her songs are a hit, doesn’t mean Ilakanam rules don’t apply anymore ‘cause we can understand what she is singing. I am sorry, in any language, grammar and good diction are only the virtues and not how much the book sells.
Going off tangent the topic, I remember when the CPT scheme came out, some of the veteran Chartered Accountants commented that there was going to be drop in the quality of English in the CA students as CPT didn’t test writing skills. It’s undeniable that language is important especially in a course where subjects are mostly based on law and we work in environments where we have to be politically correct.
Nevertheless, it’s okay to bastardize a language. I love it when it’s used creatively. But to promote it as a virtue, justifying and defending it saying “It’s okay if you don’t like my book, there are 50,000 other people who are reading my book.” (And several millions who read the pirated versions, if I may add to his credit) does not speak well of a national icon with such significant influence on the youth of the country.
As much as I enjoyed his humorous critique of Thamizh people in Two States, I appreciate the way Chetan Bhagat stands up for the masses and brings English Novels (I wouldn’t call his books as literature, because my mind categorizes books that way and how it works is none of anyone’s business) to the aam-janta, I doubt Bhagat has little respect for the contribution of other people in the society.
The worst, being his condescending comments against N R Narayana Murthy for the latter’s comment that there is declining quality of IIT graduates.
Just because he is an IIT alumnus and is flustered by his own success of being the at the helm of Only-Bad-English-is-Good-LLC, he says,
“It is ironic when someone who runs a body shopping company and calls it hi-tech, makes sweeping comments on the quality of IIT students,”
Who has seen more of Indian talent, given more to India and who has a right to comment about quality for the future of our nation?
Narayana Murthy Vs. Bhagat?
I rest my case.