Romanele care au adus-o în atenţia publicului internaţional au fost : A Breath of Fresh Air (Penguin Books, 2002) şi The Mango Season (Ballantine Books, 2003), ultimul tradus şi în română ca Anotimpul fructelor de mango (traducere Liviana Tane, Editura Leda, 2010).
In the summer of 2014 Mrs. Amulya Malladi, world-renomed writer has been more than kind to accept an interview through email for Politica la Est. Born in 1974 in the city of Sagar, India to an Army officer, Amulya Malladi graduated engineering from Osmania University, Hyderabad, and then afterwards an MA in journalism at the University of Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America. She has worked for a while as editor for an online publishing house in San Francisco and also as marketing manager in Silicon Valley. Nowadays she lives with her family in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The novels which brought here to the international public are : A Breath of Fresh Air (Penguin Books, 2002) and The Mango Season (Ballantine Books, 2003), the latter also translated in Romanian: Anotimpul fructelor de mango (translation Liviana Tane, Leda Publishing House, 2010).
Conţinutul interviului este redat mai jos:
The content of the interview can be read bellow:
Amulya Malladi: I must admit that because I have now not lived in India for nearly two decades and traveled back just twice – I’m not in a position to discuss the Indian elite or Ramachandra Guha.
I think no country should neglect domestic and social issues in pursuit of military strength. North Korea is not a poster child for prosperity, are they?
India spends about 2.5% of its GDP on military (according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) and is in the top 10 big money military spenders. India has boosted its military spending by 12 percent for 2014-15 compared to the previous year. Would that money be served better elsewhere? I can’t say. India has hostile neighbors and just fifteen years ago the Kargil war took place. China doesn’t always behave like a responsible world leader – and sometimes can be a nasty bully, case in point, the South China Sea dispute.
I’m an India Army officer’s daughter – and I’m doggedly antiwar. I would love to see South East Asia be like Europe is today with an EU. But it took Europe many wars and a lot of time to get here. I hope India and other Asian countries can get there without the many wars. There are no easy answers.
Politica la Est: How would you assess Indian role in South Asia, especially regarding Delhi relationship with smaller neighbors? Is it a regional full-fledged hegemon or a reluctant one? While some Indian scholar voices say that India does not do enough to behave as the region’s primus inter pares, the press or bloggers from Nepal or Sri Lanka, not to mention Pakistan itself, often deplore Indian imperialism!
With China and India vying for super power status – these two Asian juggernauts are charged with behaving like responsible world leaders. Do they? I don’t know enough to comment – but the bigger country will always be seen as a hegemon to some extent. Despite the success of EU – Danes still are not ready and have always voted against the Euro. They believe that by embracing the Euro, Germany will dictate their fiscal policies and they don’t want that.
However, if Asia will find a way through organizations such as SAARC and ASEAN – we can do away with full-fledged and/or reluctant hegemony and find a way for all of Asia to be prosperous.
Politica la Est: What do you think are going to be the major changes between Narendra Modi’s government by comparison with Manmohan Singh’s decade?
Amulya Malladi: Is it fair to call it the Manmohan Singh decade? Or should we call it the Congress decade? Since I wasn’t in India during that decade it’s hard for me to talk about what happened to India during this time. The economy has struggled. Corruption is sky high. Women are being raped every 22 minutes. Is this Manmohan Singh’s fault? Well, the buck has to stop somewhere and he was the PM so he’s it. Will a new government change the picture? I hope so. But I can’t speak much about Narendra Modi. I know of him only from the Gujarat massacre and that’s not much of an endorsement. What I know him makes it clear that his values are very far from mine.
On the world stage, India recently has received ire due to its refusal to ratify a key WTO deal that it agreed to in December 2013. India refused to sign the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) if it did not receive further concessions on another parallel pact. This means the deal cannot be ratified – however, many other countries will participate in this deal and India will be excluded from it. And for the near future, “India will not be invited to the table for regional trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP),” according to Gary Hufbauer, an international trade expert at the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.
What does this mean? Does it mean anything beyond the TFA? Time will tell.
Politica la Est: You live in Denmark for many years? How is India seen by European eyes?
Amulya Malladi: It’s difficult to generalize. There are people who know India well (better than I do sometimes) and in some cases they are completely ignorant. I think Danes casually think of India as a high growth market that struggles with corruption and rape – and has very smart engineers. It’s the clichéd perception of India.
Denmark is a very homogeneous society – and sometimes even quite xenophobic. I’m not sure what they really think of India but here is a taste of what some of them may think of Indians.
A senior director of a company (that I have now left) told me, “I don’t have a problem with whichever country you’re from – it’s just that you’re not Danish that’s the problem. You were not raised like us – you’re not like us and if you’re in my team, you’ll cause conflict because you’re different.”
Politica la Est: It has been a cliché for so much time to speak about the Western materialism contrasting Oriental spirituality and detachment from the allurement of this world. Is such image valid any more (assuming it was ever true)- one can think of American cities like Detroit or Baltimore remain only shadows of their former industrial self, European nations struggle with youth unemployment while Asian cities like Bangalore, Karachi, Shanghai, Taiwan chart the lights for XXI century?
Amulya Malladi: I am tired of this “high growth market” propaganda. Detroit is dying but Bangalore is a shining light? And how about Shanghai? All that prosperity – if only the pollution fog would clear, we could then see the lights clearly.
Indians are just as materialistic as anyone else. This notion that Westerners own materialism while Indians are sitting meditating under a banyan tree waiting for nirvana is bull….
Asian cities struggle with unemployment as well. As the US economy is turning around – the Indian economy is falling apart. These things are cyclical – I don’t think spirituality has much to do with it.
Politica la Est: India has a global diaspora you being a part of it. Is it hard to go home for those Indians who have lived their lives all across the globe and especially in the West to resettle on the Asian subcontinent? (of course I have in mind Prya’s trip back home in the Mango Season)
Amulya Malladi: I can’t speak for others of course. I have friends who love India. Who think of India as home and cannot wait to go back – and dream of living there. My sister is living in India right and even after more two decades in the US and especially Los Angeles, she still feels more at home in India than anywhere else.
I have been to India twice in two decades. I don’t have any sense of home there – my home is where my husband and kids are; where my life is. It would very hard for me to move to India – live there. But if my husband and kids were with me, I think it wouldn’t matter – I would be home with them. However, I have no plans of moving to India. I don’t think of it as home.
Politica la Est: Related to the above question: Edward Said cemented the idea of Orientalism as mindframe/Weltanschauung through which Westerners and non-Westerners see each other. Being an Indian based in Denmark, how to you regard the matter?
Amulya Malladi: Edward Said wrote Orientalism in 1978 – I think things have changed since then. I don’t think the Western world looks at the East with disdain and a wrinkle in the nose – but as a partner for prosperity; a way to make money. In this age of social media where we are all drawn to each other from around the world and are able to understand one another in ways we couldn’t before – the many myths of the East and West are slowly collapsing.
Politica la Est: Many Europeans are fascinated about India more than perhaps by any other non-Caucasian continent. One might even say that India has been the Other par excellence since the times of Alexander the Great to Max Müller or Mircea Eliade. What do you think is the cause? What do Westerners lack and like to discover or believe to discover in Indian cosmos?
Amulya Malladi: The same thing we Indians want to discover in a European cosmos. Human beings are curious. We travel to seek more knowledge and information. I think I’m just as fascinated with Venice and Verona, the Northern Lights and American football as Westerners are about India. I think it’s fair to say that no one, not any more, sees India as a cannabis-smoking nation singing Hare Rama, Hare Krishna – nor as a huge slum area a la Slumdog Millionaire. India is a tapestry filled with sights and sounds and color – so is France, Australia, Japan, Italy and Spain and … so is the whole world.