Dr Nagendra Kumar

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Dr Nagendra Kumar is a Professor of English in the Department of Humanities & Social Sciences at IIT Roorkee. A doctorate on Bharati Mukherjee, Professor Kumar is a Salzburg Fellow and a recipient of ‘Outstanding Teacher Award’ of IIT Roorkee. Besides publishing a widely reviewed book on Bharati Mukherjee, he has contributed his research papers to reputed national and international journals mainly in the areas of Indian Diaspora and Communication Studies.

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GARHWAL POST INTERVIEW

Please share with us how you gravitated towards literature.

Right since my childhood I was fascinated by the stories and used to read a lot of stories. This interest in stories fuelled my imagination so much so that I started penning down my own little stories. I did not know then that one day I will earn my living out of literature by pursuing a career in teaching. I strongly believe that reading of literature can save this world by arousing finer sensibilities in human beings and broadening their mental horizons, that are, otherwise, captivated by brazenness of materialistic considerations.

What do you feel about the reading culture in the country?

Well, the reading culture is still one of the prominent preoccupations of people in our country. The taste of readers has certainly changed from something really serious to something light in the changing globalised scenario.

What would be the top 5 books that you would recommend to our readers?

In my opinion there are certain books that must be read by people of all generations, namely, The Bhagvad Gita, Tagore’s Gitanjali, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Doestovsky’s Crime and Punishment, and V.S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas.

You have authored so many literary papers over the years. Do you feel that literature has taken a back seat for the younger generation with the advent of internet?

If you ask me in the traditional sense of the term, yes. But literature has re-invented itself in digital/popular form. Reading of blogs, cyberpunk, online posts and such innovative ways of artistic/creative expressions have changed the reading habits of our youngsters.

What are the activities that the IITs undertake to promote literature?

IITs have a very important component of the teaching of humanities and social sciences courses as they aim at the overall development of their students. Students are offered elective courses in literature to inculcate literary culture in them. The institute has also formed Literary Circles and brings eminent literary personalities for promotion of literature.

With a slew of Literature Festivals cropping up in India how does a festival create a niche for itself?

Every festival is unique in itself. A literature festival is a place where people of all classes and age groups visit with a hope that there will be something on offer. Reading of excerpts from recently launched books, interaction with authors, deliberations on creative process, talk on recent developments in literature around the world etc. provide a unique experience to the attendees. Hence in my opinion a festival of this kind should be a celebration of literature creation and its reception.

What are you looking forward to at the Valley of Words festival in Dehradun?

I am really excited about the Valley of Words as it will give me an opportunity to meet and interact with literary giants in person which is otherwise not possible in one single place. The deliberations will give me enough food for thought for my future research. I am eagerly awaiting this all important event for literature enthusiasts like me and wish its organizers a grand success.


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