New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, the National Academy of Letters, Tuesday presented its annual awards to 23 eminent authors writing in different Indian languages
The recipients were awarded an engraved copper plaque, a shawl and a cheque of Rs 1 lakh on the opening day of Akademi’s annual event ‘Festival of Letters’ here.
The highlight of the event, however, was the Malayalam author K P Ramanunni’s decision to give away the award money of Rs 1 lakh to lynching victim Junaid Khan’s mother.
Junaid Khan from Haryana was lynched to death last year while he was returning home after Eid shopping.
Ramanunni, whose book ‘Daivathinte Pusthakam’ is based on the country’s communal situation, kept Rs 3 for himself and donated rest of the prize money to his mother, Saira Begum.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Chandrashekar Kambar, who was appointed the new president of Sahitya Akademi through election on Monday, said that the Akademi will continue to bring together “all the rich and diverse literatures, and cultures of the country here”.
“The Akademi believes that Indian literature is an all-encompassing idea… This occasion highlights and defines for us what we see as Indian literature today. Besides we also need to look at this idea of Indian literature in a global context,” he said.
Written in 23 languages including English, Bodo, Telugu, Hindi and Punjabi, most of the awarded books found society and social issues as the central theme.
While Afsar Ahmad’s ‘Sei Nikhonj Manushta’, written in Bengali, shows the crisis of people losing their land, Assamese author Jayanta Madhab Bora’s ‘Moriahola’ deals with issues of displaced people, their aspirations and conflicts.
Kambar also noted that despite the influence of “Euro- American modernism” Indian writers have continued to stay in touch with their native traditions.
“No doubt that our colonial past and access to English education, literature led to new trends in Indian literature, we adopted them to our own context and creative base. On the other hand, native trends still did not die out completely…Through popular culture, and cinema they are still connected to their earlier orality and myth,” he said.
While English author Mamang Dai’s ‘The Black Hill’ talks about life in the lesser-known world of the Indo-Tibetan border of Arunachal Pradesh, Autar Krishen Rahbar’s book ‘Yeli Parda Woth’ in Kashmiri covers various aspects of the facets of life in Kashmir.
The poets who were awarded are Udaya Narayana Singh (Maithili), Shrikant Deshmukh (Marathi), Bhujanga Tudu (Santali), Niranjan Mishra (Sanskrit) and T Devipriya (Telugu).
The writers awarded for their short stories are Shiv Mehta (Dogri), Gajanan Jog (Konkani), Gayatri Saraf (Odia), and Mohammed Baig Ehsas (Urdu).
Rita Baro (Bodo), K P Ramanunni (Malayalam), and Nachhatar (Punjabi) were awarded for their respective novels.
Ramesh Kuntal Megh (Hindi), T P Ashoka (Kannada), Urmi Ghanshyam Desai (Gujarati), Bina Hangkhim (Nepali), and Neeraj Daiya (Rajasthani) have been recognised for their literary criticism.
Lachhani (Sindhi) for his essays and Rajen Toijamba (Manipuri) for his play were also awarded.