Indian science fiction — past and present

India's Tehelka has an excellent article on the history and state of Indian science fiction:

It all began in 19th century Bengal. The first example of modern Indian SF was probably a Bengali story, Shukra Bhraman or 'Travels to Venus', by Jagananda Roy in 1879. Or, depending on your perspective, much before that. "Science Fiction has been a part of Indian literature since the Puranas and the Mahabharata," says MH Srinarahari, General Secretary of the Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies (IASFS). "There was the palace of wax made by the Kauravas and Ram faced Mrigmarichika, which was nothing but an illusion."…

INDIAN SF also often comes with a moral message. "It should have a social purpose," says Srinarahari. "If a writer is speaking of an imaginary world or change in his environ, how can he cope with it? Reading about it will educate a person." Deshpande agrees. "There has to be a mission," he says. In his story, the protagonist dreams that a bacteria is speaking to him, saying that increasingly powerful antibiotics are not the way to get rid of pathogenic bacteria. Peaceful coexistence between humans and the bacteria is the need of the hour. The subtext here, says Deshpande, is about nuclear weapons and terrorists.


(Thanks, Partha!)