Address by Governor at the presentation of Priyadarshni Academy’s 34th Anniversary Literary Awards & Educational Scholarships in Mumbai
Address by Shri Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the presentation of Priyadarshni Academy’s 34th Anniversary Literary Awards & Educational Scholarships at Walchand Hirachand Hall, 4th Floor, Indian Merchants’ Chamber, Churchgate, Mumbai 400020 at 5.00 pm on Wednesday, 14th March 2018
Shri Niranjan Hiranandani, Chairman, Priyadarshni Academy, Shri Nanik Rupani, Chairman-Emeritus, Smt Shilpa Karia, Founder, BFIT Training Centre, Ms Nayantara Jain, President, IMC Ladies’ Wing, Dr Mohan Patel, Member, Global Awards Advisory Committee, Shri Chander Manghnani, Treasurer, Vice Chairman and Members of Managing Committee of the Priyadarshni Academy, distinguished Chairpersons and Members of the Literary Awards Committee and Scholarship Committee, Shri Hastimal Hasti, Ms Maya Rahi, Dr Pravin Darji – all eminent recipients of Literary Awards in Hindi, Marathi, Sindhi and Gujarati languages, student – recipients of scholarships, philanthropists, ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening and greetings to all of you.
I am indeed delighted to associate myself, once again – after a gap of 3 years, with the presentation of the 34th Anniversary Literary Awards instituted by the Priyadarshni Academy which recognizes excellence in literature in four languages.
I am particularly happy that nearly 300 scholarships instituted by various organizations and philanthropists under the aegis of the Academy are being distributed to deserving students and researchers in various fields.
I congratulate the Priyadarshni Academy for instituting the Literary Awards and declaring scholarships and, most importantly, for sustaining the commendable initiative for more than three decades.
I convey my appreciation and felicitations to Chairman Shri Niranjan Hiranandani and Chairman Emeritus Shri Nanik Rupani for the good work of the Academy. The gesture of presenting scholarships to deserving students is extremely commendable at it reflects the care and concern of the entire society to facilitate the higher education of poor and deserving students.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Maharashtra has had a very rich tradition of literary writings. The Saint – poets of Maharashtra such as Jnaneshwar, Namdeo, Chakradhar Swami, Eknath, Tukaram and many others, have enriched the public discourse of society through their writings and poetry.
Their thoughts and words have cast deepest influence on the lives of people of Maharashtra.
Apart from Saint – Poets, Maharashtra also gave the nation a legion of pioneering social reformers who used the might of their writing and speeches to enlighten society and remove ignorance and superstition.
In this respect, one has to acknowledge the magnificent work done by leaders like Mahatma Phule, Savitribai Phule, Lokmanya Tilak, Agarkar, Maharshi Karve, Dr B R Ambedkar, Vitthal Ramji Shinde, Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil and others.
India owes its freedom to many of our leaders, who through their literary works, inspired society, upheld moral and ethical values and instilled a sense of patriotism among people.
Writers and poets are truly the jewels of a society and we are truly proud of them. By honouring eminent writers in four languages, we are honouring these languages while also acknowledging creative endeavours of the awardees.
Ladies and gentlemen,
According to the 2017 edition of Ethnologue, a language reference published in the United States, there are 25 languages spoken by 50 million or more people in the world. It is a matter of immense pride that six of these 25 languages are Indian languages. These are Hindustani or Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil and Marathi. Every language has its own dialects. I understand that Marathi alone has 60 different dialects ! This is the beauty of the language. It should be our collective endeavor, not only to preserve our languages, but also to preserve every dialect.
Language is like a River. It flows through time from its earliest sources, picking up new meanings at each confluence.
Indian languages are repositories of our rich literature, customs and traditions, culture, art and heritage. When we preserve our language, we preserve our own cultural heritage.
Research has shown that education in mother tongue improves the understanding and cognitive skills of children. UNESCO has consistently encouraged mother tongue instruction in primary education. It has been observed that children having their primary education in mother tongue are more likely to enroll, continue education and succeed in school. Another study shows that children in multilingual education tend to develop better thinking skills compared to their monolingual counterparts.
It is said that former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao knew 17 languages including foreign languages such as French, Spanish and Persian. Narasimha Rao ji had his primary education in the Urdu medium. This grounding helped him to learn many languages. In fact, Narasimha Rao went on to publish the book ‘Sahasra Phani’, a Hindi translation of Jnanapith awardee late Shri Viswanatha Satyanarayana’s famous Telugu Novel. He had also translated many other books and articles from Marathi to Telugu and Hindi.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For a language to grow, it must be adopted by society, especially by the young generation, by students, teachers, academicians, business leaders, writers and so on. It must be enriched by its writers. This will happen, when we create a sense of pride about our language in the minds of people, especially among children and the young generation.
I dream of a day when a tribal in the remote village of Nandurbar or Gadchiroli will be able to read school books in his own dialect.
In the years to come, preserving different scripts will also become a major challenge. Already we are using the roman script to write short messages and whatsapp messages even for our regional languages. I will appeal to writers and poets to suggest ways and means to preserve our languages, dialects and scripts.
We need to think how advancements in technology can help us to reach out to the new generation.
According to the ‘UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger’, there are a record 197 Indian languages and dialects that are endangered severely or critically or are on the verge of extinction. Today there is a movement to save our rivers. Likewise there is a need to save our languages and dialects, which are rivers of our cultural knowledge and wisdom. When a language dies, the loss is irreversible.
The literary awards in Hindi, Marathi, Sindhi and Gujarati languages presented to well-known writers in these languages shows that the Academy is doing its best to promote writing in regional languages. I will call upon the Academy to actively encourage and facilitate translation of good works from one language to another and also honour the translators. I will also appeal to the Academy to encourage children’s writings and writings for children. The academy must support endeavors to document all dialects and rare languages.
I congratulate all the recipients of the Literary Awards for this year, and I convey my appreciation to the Chairman and Members of the Literary Awards Committee for selecting the best writers.
Before I conclude, I wish to applaud all the donors and donor organizations who have instituted scholarships to help the deserving students to pursue higher education. I also congratulate the students and researchers who have been awarded scholarships by the Academy.
I congratulate the Priyadarshni Academy once again and wish it success in its future endeavours.
Jai Hind ! Jai Maharashtra !!