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[120th Anniversary Special] Dr. Kailash Narayan Tiwari: a Hindi Practitioner

MAY . 21 2018
Peking University, May 21, 2018: In February 2017, Dr. Kailash Narayan Tiwari of University of Delhi, researching on Hindi literature in perspective of its national, historical, and social values, was sent to Peking University by Indian Council for Culture Relations. Since then, he has become a member of the Southeast Asian Languages Department and been teaching undergraduates of Hindi specialty. 

Professor Kailash Narayan Tiwari

Teaching Hindi

At Peking University, professor Tiwari’s main job is to teach the undergraduates Hindi Literature. Although the fully-established curricula don’t leave much freedom for him, he manages to try different teaching approaches. In classes, he prefers to have dialogues with students, which makes students more active and the class more effective. What’s more, he encourages students to use Hindi rather than English to communicate with him. Whatever the topic they talk about and the form they adopt, the only aim is to use Hindi and practice Hindi.

In terms of the Hindi textbooks, professor Tiwari highly appraises them. He considers that some stories and passages are closely related to Indian culture and Indian social and historical problems, thus illustrating a vivid India. However, he also says that some passages based on the last centuries’ India should be replaced: “Now India, every day he is changing himself.” It is gratifying that teachers from the Hindi section are now busy editing the new version of textbooks, and it is hopeful that maybe next year, the new one will come out. 

Professor Tiwari believes that as a teacher, patience is important, and ambition is needed. He believes that if one man has ambition, then he will be successful. However, he also emphasizes, “But not too much ambition. If you have too much ambition, suppose that you are not successful, then your inner world will turn bad”, which reflects a unique point of view of Indian people.  

Getting along with students

When talking about his Chinese students, Dr. Tiwari gave a big smile, obviously satisfied with them. He had been a Hindi teacher in several universities in Poland and Turkey, but he still likes Chinese students and Chinese teachers the best. For Chinese students, Hindi language is very difficult, but “Here students speak very good Hindi and here they tried to speak Hindi.” He says that now his third-year students can already speak Hindi very fluently.

However, he observes that Chinese students are under too much pressure and too busy. “I think students should have pressure for their study, but not too much. Too much is not good. I think the pressure of Indian students is just Ok.” If they are always busy, then they don’t have time think openly and creatively  

Professor Tiwari also gives suggestions to his students. He believes that students learning Hindi should go to India at least once to see India closely. The best time for them to visit India, according to Tiwari, is after two years of Hindi learning. At that time, students have already mastered Hindi, so that they can really practice Hindi and fully enjoy the India society. He mentioned that both Indian and Chinese governments provide scholarship for overseas study, therefore studying in India will not cost Chinese students too much. 

Living in China

As an Indian professor, Dr. Tiwari does not know about Chinese. It is a big problem for his life. “Because very few people can speak English in China, it is very difficult to make friends with Chinese people.” Therefore, he is always struck in difficulties when he goes to the supermarket or somewhere outside the university. However, he believes “this is a normal process” to fit in a new environment and “People here are very nice.”

Because of his few knowledge of Chinese, professor Tiwari doesn’t have many friends here. “Only I talk with my students and my students talk with me. Sometimes I feel very sad.” However, he can always gain comfort and enthusiasm from his teaching life. Whenever he takes the classes with his students, he feels free and happy. 

Additionally, there exist big differences between Chinese’ habits and Indian’s. Although he believes both Chinese students and teachers and Indian students and teachers understand their responsibilities, in India, some people pay so little attention to punctuality that sometimes professor and students fail to meet in class because either of them miss the class. However, in China, it is impossible. “Every day the class is on time. Every student will be on time. It is a very good thing”, he nodded with acknowledgement

Although discrepancy does exist, Professor Tiwari agrees that China and India are the same in many fields. For example, both China and India have very rich culture and history. What’s more, both Chinese and Indians are aware of and believe in their culture.  

Writing in Hindi

“Basically, I am a writer.” Professor Tiwari says firmly. Though he has also published some criticism books, he prefers to share his prose, poetry and novels. “I think about Indian society and problems Indian society has. I think about the responsibility of that society so that I can explain all of these things in my poetry, in my novel. Because I am not a leader, how can I explain my feelings to people? So this is the manner. Poetry, novel story, all of these things, through that you can explain.” 

“My first novel Birale Dost Kabeer ke is famous in India”, Professor Tiwari says proudly. He prefers to write from the historical point of view. Therefore his novel is always based on some historical figures, such as Gandhi and Kabeer. He also underscores that “without study you cannot write historical novel”. When he was about to write a novel about Gandhi, his responsibility was firstly to study Gandhi. “History, only you see and you think, then you can write.”

Apart from society and history, professor Tiwari’s works also concentrates on women. He believes that women are not free in our life due to our culture and many other reasons. He watches and writes what happens in India and what happens in India to women.

During these days in China, he spends a lot of time writing prose and poetry. Now that he can’t always hang out and he has few friends, he utilizes this free time to write. Thanks to that, his second novel Uttar Kabeer Nanga Phkeer and a poetry based on a lady’s life are nearly finished. It is possible that these two books will be published within one year. 

Furthermore, Professor Tiwari regards teaching and writing same important in his life. When he is alone, he needs writing, while he also needs teaching since “students are the power for the teacher”. “They are separated life.” Professor Tiwari thinks that there exist differences between writing and teaching. He says that he can imagine in writing, while he has to teach according to the facts. “2 plus 2 equals 4. But in the writing sometimes you can say 3 plus 1 equals 4.” Writing is based on the truth, but you can add imaginations. Whereas, he also agrees that these two different lives can promote each other, for example, he can always derive inspiration from teaching. 

He also hopes that one day his works can be translated into Chinese by his students. However, in terms of insufficient translation between Hindi and Chinese, it is quite hard. He believes firstly that’s because this work can only be done by certain people who know Hindi and Chinese both. Secondly, because of low payment. Nevertheless, he also said, “But if you have in your mind, your aim, what is your aim, what is your thinking, then you can do.”

Reported by: Wang Xiaokun
Edited by: Yan Shengnan & Zhang Jiang