Assam’s literary gems

It is great news that seven writers from Assam have bagged the Sahitya Akademi awards in various categories for 2021. While noted journalist and author writer Anuradha Sarma Pujari got the Akademi award for her Assamese novel “Iyat Ekhon Aranya Asil”, Mwdai Gahai has been named for his poetry collection “Khoro Sayao Arw Himalaya” for the Akademi award for the Bodo language, and Chhabilal Upadhayaya got the award in the Nepali language for his epic poetry “Usha-Anirudha”. These apart, in the Yuva Puraskar category, Abhijit Bora got the award for his Assamese short story collection “Deuka Kobai Jai” and Gautam Daimary for his Bodo poetry collection “Jiu Gwnang Soho”. In the Bal Sahitya Puraskar category, Mrinal Chandra Kalita was chosen for the award for his Assamese novel “Bokul Phular Dare” and Ratneswar Narzary for his Bodo folk tales “Dikhura Solobatha.” Assam has two of its major languages – Assamese and Bodo – included in the Eighth Schedule, for both of which there is provision for Sahitya Akademi awards. Additionally, Assam being also home to a sizable Nepali-speaking population, also often gets the Sahitya Akademi award for the Nepali language category, while the Sahitya Akademi award for the Sanskrit language too has come to authors of Assam on a few occasions in the past. Authors from Assam also stand the chance of winning the Sahitya Akademi award in the English, Hindi and Bengali language categories too. The most prestigious Jnanpith Award, the highest literary award of the country has also come to Assam in 2021, being bagged by veteran poet Nilamani Phukan. He is the third writer from Assam after Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya and Indira (Mamoni Ransom) Goswami to have been chosen for this highest award. While literary works in the Assamese, Bodo, Nepali and other languages of Assam are quite rich, the fact however remains that there has been very little translation done of the literary works of Assam into other languages. The result is that readers outside are deprived of the rich literature of Assam. In this respect, the Axam Xahitya Xabha and Bodo Sahitya Sabha have very crucial roles to play. These two Xabhas can probably take up a project to translate ten books of the Assamese and Bodo languages every year into at least English, Hindi, Bengali, and if possible into Malayalam, Tamil and Marathi. The present Government of Assam, which has introduced a few very good schemes to encourage the writers of the state, can definitely provide the much-needed funds to the two Xabhas exclusively for such a project. Only then will the world outside understand and appreciate the literary gems of Assam.

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