The need for opening up space for questioning, interrogation and dialogue in Indian literature was stressed at the first SOA Literary Festival which kicked off at the SOA Deemed to be University here on Saturday.
“Events around us show that the space is getting squeezed. What is the crisis of our times? What is the crisis any author of substance will face?” Dr. Sitanshu Yashaschandra, eminent Gujarati poet, said while speaking at the inauguration of the two-day festival here.
“What is ‘attractive’ is masquerading as ‘authentic’,” he said adding what looked ‘splendid’ and ‘spectacular’ was often not ‘sensible’ and ‘significant’.
“How best can Indian literature and language, together address this crisis,” he asked.
The inaugural function was also addressed by Dr. Vasdev Mohi, eminent Sindhi poet who has been nominated for the prestigious Saraswati Samman this year, and Dr. Dnyaneshwar Mulay, eminent writer and diplomat.
The literary fiesta, spanning 27 sessions over two days, has been organised by the SOA Centre for Preservation, Propagation and Restoration of Ancient Culture and Heritage of India (PPRACHIN), an initiative of the university. The event has attracted around 100 eminent writers, poets, commentators, translators and critics from different parts of the country.
Prof. R.K.Chauhan, Vice-Chancellor of SOA, presided over the programme while Dr. Gayatribala Panda, Head, PPRACHIN, welcomed the guests.
Referring to Chilika lake, known for its blue waters, Dr. Yashaschandra said eminent Odia poet Radhanath Ray had described the nature’s gift as ‘Nilambu Chilika’.
He said the waters of Indian languages, the ‘Chilika of each region’, had been dirtied by negative, political, religious and selfish economic forces. The scenario was similar across South Asia but literature should become a force and clean like Chilika, he added.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event later, Dr. Yashaschandra expressed concern over the young generation’s lack of interest in literature.
“The young generation is not taking interest in literature and that has been causing the reduction in its space. The young should come forward and enrich literature in their own language,” he said.
Dr. Mohi said though literature was often referred to as the mirror of the society, it was not so in reality. The mirror reflected the truth while literature was a mixture of reality and imagination, he said adding it was for the writer to strike a balance between the two.
Odia literature, he said, was rich and the state had a lot of love for literature.
Dr. Mulay, also an eminent diplomat, said literature should take advantage of the advancement in technology to take language to every corner. “Now we have the software for every Indian language which has to be put to use,” he said while regretting that the television had now replaced the book shelves in most houses.
“We need a culture of books, we need to create a library in every home,” he said.
Two eminent writers, Tarun Kanti Mishra, and Kali Charan Hembram, who have been nominated for the Kendriya Sahitya Akademi awards this year, were felicitated on the occasion by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Chauhan.
Mr.Mishra, who was Odisha’s former chief secretary, has been chosen for the Sahitya Akademi Award for his book ‘Bhaswati’ while Hembram, who writes in Santali language, was chosen for his work ‘Sisirjali.