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From Struggle for Survival to Survival with Dignity: Dr. Jernail Singh Anand


From Struggle for Survival to Survival with Dignity: Dr. Jernail Singh Anand

Randhir Gautam

Assistant Professor

ITM University

Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India


About Dr. Jernail Singh Anand: 

Dr. Jernail Singh Anand is the only Indian author after Rabindranath Tagore to become an Honorary Member of the Association of Serbian Writers. He is Prof. Emeritus in Indian Literature at The European Institute of the Roma Studies and Research Belgrade.  Dr. Anand has authored more than 150 books in English poetry, fiction, non-fiction, spirituality and philosophy. He is credited with the theory of Bio-text in critical theory. His work has been translated into more than twenty world languages. Author of 9 epics which are regarded as modern classics, Anand has organized 4 International Literary Conferences, latest of them, in Chandigarh. He was conferred Franz Kafka Laureateship, 2022 and International Aco Karamanov Poetry Award, 2022 (Mecedonia).


Hailing from Punjab, India, Dr. Anand is recipient of prestigious   Naji Naaman Literary Award 2020, Cross of Literature and Cross of Peace from World Union of Poets, Italy. He was appointed Secretary General, World Union of Poets, Italy and  Chairman of Board of Directors, World Institute of Peace, Nigeria. University of Neyshabur, Iran has published a Research Project Comparing the Poetry of J.S. Anand with Sohrab Sepehri and Furogh Farrokhzad under Chief Coordinator, Dr Roghayeh Farsi, who was instrumental in articulation of Dr. Anand's Theory of  Bio-text. His 4 books have been translated into Persian by Iranian scholars.


Dr. Anand's reputation as an author  rests mainly on his scintillating work in critical theory:' 21st Century Critical Thought' in  4 volumes, and Postmodern Voices in 7 volumes, and his latest The Mahakaal Trilogy and the creation of the Corporate Monster Lustus.


Dr. Anand is Chairman of Aazaad Foundation (Regd.) and World Literature India. Global Literary Icon Dr. Maja Herman Sekulic (Princeton Ph. D.) has compared Dr. Anand with Daniel Defoe (as a great satirist of our times). She considers him the greatest philosopher among poets, and the greatest poet among philosophers. His contemporaries call him Dr. Jernail Orwell Anand and compare his work with William Faulkner. 


Text of the interview:

Randhir Gautam: Dr. Anand, universities are side-tracking literature and some don’t have Literature at all in their Courses. How do you look at this development?

Jernail Singh Anand: Dangerous I would say. I think the on-rush of technical courses has displaced humanities from the central importance they enjoyed till thirty years back. With the increase in population, and pressure on jobs, the focus on finer aspects of life has given way to stiff competition for jobs which are essential for survival. The greatest impulse which works with the living species is the impulse for survival. From here, we can go on to build on the idea of ‘survival with dignity’. Along the way, we started believing that job, wealth, successes are the essential ingredients of happiness. Subjects that slowed down the pace of development, - literature, arts, humanities, - all were pushed into the background. This is how we responded to the emerging situations. But it has boom-ranged on us. We have bargained for a crude way of living, and left behind the finer aspects of life. Literature is the best thing for a young man to spend his time with. We have snatched books from him, and handed him tablets, and forced him into the jungle of cyberspace and internet. From here, only his bones will return, if we do not re-cast our priorities and bring literature to the centre of education.

Randhir Gautam: Do you think that making students capable of jobs is the basic function of a university? How can you make a distinction between education, training and learning?

Jernail Singh Anand: This is not an absolute fact. We should learn to distinguish between education, training and learning. Education means the information that we require, [mental equipment] training is how it can be applied [jobs] and learning is the real component of education, the awakening that comes to man, about himself, about the universe, and about his role in the schemata. The real issue is: Is education making us capable of ploughing the fields, [like animals] or does it impart us an awakening of our role as a human being?  [super consciousness]. We have downgraded a highly sensitive Institution to a state of physical beasting. Those who emerge from Universities are thirsting for jobs, and once they are in a job, they start upon their career with a vengeance, to suck the blood of the society, and fill their own coffers. And those who don’t get jobs, come to the roads, to raise slogans. It all shows how a system has touched the nadir and finally failed.

Randhir Gautam: Films are also a visualised version of literature. Have films helped in transforming our society?

Jernail Singh Anand: I am reminded of platform thrillers, which help the people to make their travel delectable. Most of the films are like those platform thrillers, which are meant to ‘kill time’. A decent name for which is  ‘entertainment’. Very few films can be treated as good literature. In seventies, some films like ‘Dushman’ came with a great social message on the idea of crime and punishment. However, very soon, the industry shifted entirely to entertainment, crime, angry young man, megabucks, and grossing of millions. Now, films concentrate on crime, thrillers, nudity, horror – and rightly too, they represent the society from which they spring up, but they leave the job half-done. Entertainment alone is not what is expected from good artists. No doubt, money is a big consideration. But, is money the only consideration? Have the film makers no social commitment? There have been great film makers like ShyamBenegal, and Guru Dutt whose films carried a lot more than mere entertainment. In fact, success has drained all idealism out of our blood. Nudity, sex, violence pass for high perfection.  Film Censor Board should have a better nomenclature.  We need to move beyond money, success, wealth, and entertainment, towards socially committed cinema. Good books need to be filmed for the benefit of the young and old.

Randhir Gautam: What are the parameters on the basis of which we can measure the wellness or worseness of our society?

Jernail Singh Anand: What we eat, dress up, do, and think – these are apparently the parameters on the basis of which we can measure the wellness or otherwise of a people. Eating and the dressing sense of the modern generations are beyond question. Home food has become history. Replaced with fast food. Parties. And, so far as dress sense is concerned, it is awesome. Designer dresses eat up thousands from poor pockets. Yet, that is the vogue. Where we really flounder is what we are doing, and what we are thinking.

Doing: most of the people have nothing to do. No jobs. [I wonder why they are craving for jobs. Why our education does not train them to learn the job they are best at? Why we force students to take to BA and MA and waste the nation’s time? More importantly,every child grows up with a passion to one day join service. No one grows up with a determination to do something individual. We have never advised them, or encouraged them to go in for start-ups, for business, for their own ventures. We are creating an army of job hunters. We need to discourage this trend. Better, we stop the students at plus two level, and send them to different trades. The best minds can be given govt scholarships to pursue their talents. And only students who CAN study further, should be allowed college education.

Thinking: Educationteaches the student three Rs: Reading, [W]riting and [A]rithmatic.But we overlook the 4th factor. Thinking. We teach them rote learning. Here our education system has failed. We think but only of ourselves. And most of the time, our march into the future is blind.

My overall estimate of the present day society is: materialistic, self-centred, clumsy, irrational, steeped in mental and emotional poverty, lacking balanced thinking, and finally, deprived of ‘survival with dignity’.

Randhir Gautam: Dr. Anand, you have mentioned ‘survival with dignity’. Could you elaborate this idea a little further?

Jernail Singh Anand: Every object of nature lives with a certain dignity. Look at a buffalo. It eats the fodder we provide, and then, calmly gives us the milk. Without murmur. In the same way, a dog whom we feed, never falters in his loyalty to his master. Whenever there is something amiss, or someone amiss, it gives out a bark. In the same way, look at the calm dignity of the trees. If there is sun, and you go to them for shade, will they say, No? Or will they shirk from their duty? Never. Send any seed into the earth, it will sprout up.  If it is the seed of an apple, only an apply will grow. Never an orange. This is how, waters flow with dignity. Winds blow with dignity. And look at the majesty of the mountains.

What I want to underline here is that EVERY OBJECT OF NATURE IS DOING ITS DUTY WITHOUT MURMUR, and they never deviate from it. That is the reason of their Dignity. Now, come to man. You cannot trust him with anything. He is smart, and can play the game with you anytime. Moreover, he is never adequately performing his duty. And in this universe, those who do not perform their duties well, lead UNDIGNIFIED LIVES. We are among those discredited species of mankind.

Jernail Singh Anand: Randhir Gautam: How do you look at the increased interest in culture and the past. Can it help in our forward march into future?

Yes, we find a great emphasis on reliving the past, and bringing up the old culture. The students in Youth Welfare departments in Universities are busy preparing for folk dances, and a whole emphasis is laid on reviving the old arts. Was past really good? Why it did not remain present and slipped into the past? One thing we often disregard is the fact that A THING BECOMES PAST WHEN IT LOSES ITS PRESENTNESS. This process is very fast. But things which have relevance, do not slip into past easily. Once they turn over, it means THEY ARE NOT PRESENT-ABLE. But, we do not believe in letting the PAST REST IN ITS SILENCE. We invite the past to stand before our Present, and in this, we ensure that it CLOUDS OUR FUTURE TOO. I believe that in our lives, the role of the past should be only to CONNECT WITH THE FLOW and not to AFFECT IT. Our PRESENT must be decided by KEEPING THE FUTURE IN MIND, NOT THE PAST. No doubt, past is built on our experience, but we should also remember that Past is built on our failures. Forcing nations into ancient past, while moving forward,  is a self-defeating exercise. The good that accrues from the study of the past should colour, not cloud our perceptions of an unknown future. The wisdom that flows from behind is welcome, not the follies which have afflicted mankind.

Randhir Gautam: What are the problems with our youth? Can you suggest any remedy for the disturbed young minds?

Jernail Singh Anand: Going by newspaper reports, youth is restive because they do not get jobs. So, they are turning to foreign lands. Joblessness is a big issue with our nation. But, if we look at the world, youth remain a disturbed lot. The reason again here is: Lack of Proper Orientation. Education is job-centric, and develops the intellectual capabilities of the students, whereas life needs living faculties to be developed, which means: the human aspect of one’s personality. What is the human aspect? It is to be good, to be kind, to be considerate, to be humane, to connect with flow, to have a feeling of being a part of the divine schemata. Not necessarily any religious inclination, but an ethical orientation is required, so that the student understands how much wealth is required to keep alive, and how much rest is in place. If you are flooded with wealth, why not share it with the society? We need a strong component of Ethical Studies to become a part of our education, to refocus the priorities of human mind. It can settle the minds of the Youth.

Randhir Gautam: After job, I think love and marriage are also major issues for the youth. What do you think?

Jernail Singh Anand: You are right.  The other major issue with young minds is Love and Marriage. No wonder, every film has a female interest, and the hero wants to marry her. The marriage cannot take place, and there is weeping in crying all through the life. This is how we have set our standards. After love, the people must marry. If the parents protest, part them away, and let them cry for the rest of their lives. I sometimes start wondering, were they born simply to be wasted like this? I wrote a book: Home, Love and Marriage which throws light on these issues. In fact, what I see is that Indian youth in particular cannot get out of this family syndrome up to the age of 40. We should not forget from 16 to 40 is the most creative period of life. But the idea of love and marriage keeps bugging them,  and I don’t find more than one or two percent settled in their families. And, then, there are problems of adjustment with unknown partners. I wonder if this is the right model of living, and I also wonder, when we see marriage has failed as an Institution,  our intellectual and civil society leaders have not come up with alternative modes of living. Live-in has proved to be a disaster with recent killings of partners. This is a common way of life in Bollywood too, and catching up fast in metros. Even in small places, marriage has never been a happy union. In fact, marriage was a social necessity when woman was insecure. Now that woman is not insecure, and she has left the kitchen, sometimes I start wondering is home really needed in this set up? We are concerned about kids. When both are working, how will they grow in a congenial atmosphere. Can Day Care Centres supply what a child needs in growing years? The situation is mind blowing and needs calm meditation. We are face to face with the necessity to look for an alternative to marriage which is socially acceptable. Which lends stability to our youth, rather than wasting them in courts.

Randhir Gautam: Do you think the present society has a healthy approach towards nature? What is needed for man to be in harmony with cosmic forces?

Jernail Singh Anand: Man is a part of nature, but unfortunately, he is now ranged against nature, stripping it of its mysteries, as well as its beauty. The most dangerous aspect of human approach towards nature is: absolute callousness towards the boons of nature, and a feeling of thanklessness. In fact, we should be thankful to gods, who created nature to support us. Earth, winds, waters, mountains, birds, animals, insects, - everything is a part of the kind schemata, but man has departed from the kindly race, by being the only part which is destroying the whole. There was a tradition of worshipping trees, like Peepul and Tulsi. Clouds, rains, - every natural phenomenon was conceived as some or the other god. At least, we should be thankful. The most important trait of Vanaspati [vegetation] is to provide support to mankind. Man too should learn to give himself away in support of the great order. The nature’s beings, as I have said earlier, live with dignity. Man should also learn to live in dignity, by doing his duties dutifully. Another great aspect of nature is its comparative calm and peace. You would never see an animal die of sexual starvation, or even lack of food. And you can see the astronomical scale of these issues in the world of men. We play with our natural passions, which, then rise to our head, and cause turmoil within, disturbing our mental balance, and making us do things which are not expected from normal beings. We need to learn poise from them, a calm dignity, and the greatest thing: not to try to demystify the mother nature and cause alarm to gods.

Randhir Gautam: Finally, Dr. Anand, can you define what is happiness? Is it attainable in our lives?

Jernail Singh Anand: Honour is the subject of my story. Living honourably and with dignity. So far as happiness is concerned, it is not something to be acquired like a possession. It is a mental state. If you are prepared to receive happiness, it is just like having a wish to have flowers in your courtyard. Plant them, and they will give you a whole new world of joy. In the same manner, try to make people around you happy. Mother wants your attention. Kiss her. Sister wants her brother’s love. Give it to her. Your wife needs some special treatment. Grant it to her. Now, if you still feel unhappy, let us cross over to our neighbours. Being kind costs nothing. Love costs nothing. We can operate in this NO COST environment, making huge investments with a smile. At the work place, so many people are in need of small favours. A smile can do what a hundred frowns cannot accomplish. If you learn the art of giving, you will stop riding over the foreign territories or even wealth which does not belong to you. In fact, when we try to get things which we do not need, and which do not belong to us, the erosion of happiness gets underway. We need to be careful at this point. Not to give way to temptations. To know where to stop. Control our passions. Self-Centricism should give way to Other-Centricism. When we start praying for others, for the destitute, for the less privileged, we shall be on the right track, and blessed with the most precious boon: Happiness.