Translation in Contemporary India

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSOL2EN3334

Semester and Year Offered: I and III

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Sanju Thomas

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Ability to read in an Indian language other than English

Aim: The course will highlight the role translation played in nation building by reinforcing the idea of a single nation and nationhood. The course would trace the history of translation in India, and its role in the awakening and building up of a new nation. It will look into the process and politics of translation through theory and practice. It also would look into the some translation strategies and how translation can also be a political act especially with regard to colonialism, language hierarchy, gender and caste.

Course Outcomes: At the end of the course students would be able to:

  1. Appreciate the process of translation
  2. Begin translating from one language to another
  3. Know the politics of translation
  4. Learn skills of translation that may help them become translators later on
  5. Will promote self-learning as students will have to immerse themselves in doing translations on their own
  6. Will promote self-reflective thinking as students get hands-on experience in translation, will revisit it and also make a presentation on it in class explaining the process of translation
  7. Appreciate diverse writings and cultures which will enable them to connect with these cultures in a diverse country like India and become socially aware citizens

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Introduction: History of Translation in India

The module provides a brief history of translation in India from the earlier times to the contemporary times. The objective is to make students aware that translation in India was a different concept and how the idea of translation itself changed with colonialism.

  • “In Our Own Time, On Our Own Terms: ‘Translation in India’”. Translating Others I. 102-119. Print.
  • Bassnett, Susan and Trivedi, Harish. Post Colonial Translation: Theory and Practice. London: Routledge 1999. Print.
  • Devy. G.N. “Translation and Literary History.” Post-colonial Translation. Eds. Susan Bassnett and Harish Trivedi. London: Routledge, 1999. 182-188. Print.

Module 2

Translation and the making of the Indian Nation

This module addresses the language issue in India, and how the new independent nation tried to grapple with the many concerns that a multilingual nation raised.

  • Asaduddin, M. “Translation and Indian Literature: Some Reflections” Translation Today, 3:1&2. 2006. 1-19. Print.
  • Guha, Ramachandra. The Rise and Fall of the Bilingual Intellectual. Economic and Political Weekly. 44: 33 (AUGUST 15-21, 2009), 36-42. Print.
  • Pattanayak, DP. Multilingualism and Language Politics in India. International Centre Quarterly. 11:2, LANGUAGE (JUNE 1984). 125- 131. Print
  • Rai, Alok. The Persistence of Hindustani: India International Centre Quarterly.29: 3/4, India: A National Culture? ( WINTER 2002-SPRING 2003). 70-79. Print.
  • George, Rosemary Marangoly. “The Sahitya Akademi and National Literature.” Indian English and the Fiction of National Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2013. Print.
  • Selections from Middle India. Bhisham Sahni
  • ‘Me Grandad’ ad an Elephant. Vaikom Muhammad Basheer

Module 3

The Process of Translation

Translation is not just a linguistic transfer but it’s also about mediating between cultures. Translators use different strategies to negotiate between languages, cultures, time periods and ideologies. This section will look at certain translation strategies employed by translators. The texts will be read along with the translator’s note to have a better understanding of the way a translator approaches a translation issue.

  • Dharwadker, Vinay. “Translating the Millennium: Indian Literature in the Global Market: Ramanujan’s Theory and Practice.”Indian Literature. 52:4 (246) (July-August 2008), 133-146. Print.
  • Ramanujan, A.K. Selections from Poems of Love and War.
  • Prasad, Kashi. “Translating Premchand.”Indian Literature. 25:5 (September-October 1982), 86-97. Print.
  • Premchand. Kafan (Three different translations)

Module 4

The Politics of Translation

It is said that translation is seldom an innocent activity. A translator can alter a text in subtle and even in blatant ways to accommodate a different reading. This module will look into some interesting ways in which a text can be changed while translating it to respond to different demands of the times.

Ramanujan, A.K. “Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation.” The Collected Essays of A.K. Ramanujan, ed. Vinay Dharwadker. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999. 131-160. Print.

Mukherjee, Sujit. “Translation as Patriotism.” Translation as Discovery. New Delhi: Allied Publishers Private Limited, 1981. Print.

Kumar, Akshaya. “Translating Bhakti: Versions of Kabir in Colonial/Early Nationalist Period Indian Literature”. 50:1 (231) (January-February 2006), 149-165. Print.

Niranjana, Tejaswini. “Translation as Disruption”. Siting Translation: History, Post-structuralism, and the Colonial Context. Berkely: University of California Press, 1992. Print

Bhalla, Alok. “The Politics of Translation: Manto's Partition Stories and Khalid Hasan's English Version”. Social Scientist, Vol. 29, No. 7/8 (Jul. - Aug., 2001), pp. 19-38

Selections from Manto

Excerpts from Chemmeen. (Tranlsation by NarayanaMenon (1962) and Anita Nair (2011))

Module 5

Translating Gender and Caste

module will look at the question of caste and gender in translation. Translating caste and gender demands a very nuanced understanding of the process and politics of translation. From the choice of the texts to the negotiation of cultural and aesthetic terms associated with gender and caste, translation here becomes a very significant and empowering activity. The module besides reading translator’s notes and theories around these, will also read gender and caste in translation.

  • Kamala.N. “Translation and/in gender.” Translation: Poetics and Practice. Ed. Anisur Rehman. New Delhi: Creative Books. 2002.
  • Spivak, GayatriChakravarty. “The Politics of Translation.”Outside the Teaching Machine. New York: Routledge, 1993.
  • Godard, Mukherjee Alok, Mukherjee, Arun. “Translating Minoritized Cultures: Issues of Caste, Class and Gender”. Postcolonial Text. 2:3. 2006. 1-21.
  • Devi, Mahasweta. “Draupadi”. Critical Inquiry. 8:2. Writing and Sexual Difference. 1981. 381-402.
  • Bama. Sangati. OUP. 2009.

Assessment Details with weights:



Date/period in which Assessment will take place
















Early December