I read the item again and was surprised that all the names, not just (that of) Volga, mentioned as judges of the novel were wrong. None of those mentioned in the report acted as a judge. I said that Volga was not a judge at the meeting as well but that apparently went unregistered.
I also did not say (many of) the words attributed to me (in quotes). The judges were Abburi Chaya Devi, Ketu Viswanatha Reddy and one other whose name escapes my memory now. At this end, Chowdary Jampala, Kanaka Prasad and myself acted as judges in the final selection. I stand by our judgement that the novel was a good one, and was the best in the submissions received at the time. We did not find in the novel the motives being attributed by its castigators. We still do not. There was no attempt to treat one culture as being inferior to another (even though such notions are not always absent from the minds of everyday people everywhere. Differences in language and tradition often become visible symbols of cultural sophistication or a lack thereof and this is so universal as to be one of understandable human frailties, not human venality.. As I said at the exchange, it(the human drama depicted in the novel) was part of the life experience and history of a people and was protrayed as such. If that was hurtful to one side in retrospect and in the judgement of a subsequent generation of the people feeling exploited or slighted, that can be recognized as such in retrospect, but the facts of history as they unfolded cannot themselves be altered. I also said that I came to know the writer later, and I cannot believe that she meant the novel in the way in which it was being held up. The reporter has committed many factual and interpretational errors in writing the report. It was a fact that the exchange got very testy at times, and much that was constructive and useful got lost in the din of resentments expressed by those that disagreed with each other. It was nevertheless a very useful exercise for all concerned, and I myself took it to be time wellspent.
Lastly, it is a fact that those of us active in the literary area (abroad)are quite engaged with the current scene in the Telugu land, and are certainly capable of coming to good judgements. This is not meant to say that others with particularist interests, identities, and agendas will not disagree with those judgements. The selections made by us in the past five years are ample testimony to the diversity of styles, content and regions that have been recognized. Our attempts are eclectic and not particularist. And that will certainly not be acceptable to the particularist groups. A question asked at the meeting was if there will ever be a Telugu writer of the eminence of an Arundhati Roy or Vikram Seth or some such other literary figure and my answer which was lost in the noise sorrounding RegadiVittulu was that it might happen soon but only if Telugu writers do not feel constrained to frame their writing within a single analytical or idealogical approach. Sooner or later, someone of talent will write (or translate an existing one) without idealogical blinders and the world will recognize it as a powerful portrayal of life as it is lived. Like religion, other preferred worldviews could also act as opiates, and opiation is not conducive to producing great writing.
While I am in the business of correcting the report, may I also say that with regard to Veluri, all I said was that he chooses words differently than I do and in any case, I do not read what is said on Rachabanda and I also do not participate in those exchanges. I have no stomach for polemics.
To reiterate a point I made at the meeting a couple of times, the intention in offering the rather large awards for novels was to challenge the local literary establishments into paying attention to serious writing as well, and to reward the writers handsomely. What we are able to do is rather small, and poses no threat of an imperialist take over of Telugu literature. As for myself, I am pathologically incapable of being an imperialist. I am too lazy for that.
Finally, I wish there were a tape recorder at the meeting so everything everybody said could have been carefully reproduced in preparing the report, rather than relying on the invariably fallible recall of every participant.