Sahitya Akademi Row: Odisha litterateurs to retain their awards

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Oct 29:

There are bound to be two sides to the same coin. While over 35 writers have chosen to return their awards to defend the rights of writers on the recent Sahitya Akademi controversy, most laureates in Odisha beg to differ.

Here we bring you the reactions of some of the most eminent litterateurs of Odisha, who, going against the tide, argued logically in favor of retaining the awards.

Pic Courtesy:
Pic Courtesy:

Ramakant Rath, Eminent Poet

First of all, Sahitya Academy is not a part of the government. This is an autonomous organisation. Everyone has the right to protest against any government decision. But it can be done in different ways. There is no justification behind returning Academy Awards. Award is for literature not for the writers. So returning the awards is dishonouring literature.

Sitakant Mohapatra, Eminent Poet

Not receiving an award and returning an Award is almost same thing. Now this is a complicated subject. This can leave an impact over a period of time. I think every writer should protest by their creativity.

Haraprasad Das, Famous Poet and Philosopher

Returning Academy Awards look like a protest, but it actually is not. If we observe the entire happening and think deeply, then it can be realised as a politically motivated protest. In my opinion, returning awards can’t be a protest. And there is no justification behind returning it after 20-30 years. This is unethical and obscene. If writers want, they can translate and spread creation of rationalists.

Prativa Ray, Jnanapitha Awardee

This is their personal way to protest. This is true that attack has been made on fundamental rights. Not only writers, everyone should stand against it. But writers should not return their awards because the Central Government does not give them. Those who select awardees are established writers. The award I have received is honour to my land and mother tongue. There is no meaning behind returning these.

Bijay Mishra, Writer

This is a personal decision. Those who think it the right way, they have done this. I don’t consider this to be the right way. There are many ways to protest. It is unfair to return an award after 10 years.

Gourahari Das, Novelist and Short Story Writer

Ever since Modi Government has assumed charge in Centre, there is a perception that general tolerance level has gone down. Irresponsible comments of Culture Minister Mr Mahesh Sharma and other BJP members have attributed to the feelings that fundamentalist have patronage from the top. Murder of Prof MM Kalbugi in Karnataka and lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh have added to this perception. These are unfortunate and most disturbing. However, returning National Awards like Sahitya Akademi award is no answer to this. First, it has not been given by the Government. A jury of writers have awarded the book.

Sahitya Akademi which is an organization of the writers and by the writers cannot be blamed for law and order situation in Karnataka or UP. As a writer I have other methods to register my protest. I can make use of my pen for this. That is my job.

Sahitya Akademi has in its special Executive Board meeting on last  23rd has come out with a strongly worded resolution which is first of its kind and has been hailed by most of the eminent writers of India. It has condemned the murders and atrocities against any writer anywhere in India. I have reasons to believe that some writers who are opposed to Modi and had appealed general public not to vote for BJP before last General election want to make this a political issue. They have divided the writer fraternity.  No government is above the board. Taslima Nasrin was forced to leave India during UPA rule. Mr Rabindra Prasad Panda, a writer of my Odia language was put behind bars by Naveen Patnaik Government, which claims to be secular. There are several instances. I need not elaborate them.

While I condemn the assassination and intolerance which threaten the spirit of plurality in India, I cannot approve the idea of returning awards which could be treated as a political recourse.


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