AHMEDABAD: Veteran Gujarati litterateur Raghuveer Chaudhary, chosen for the prestigious Jnanpith Award for 2015, has termed as an "immature step" the returning of awards by some eminent writers and said their way of protest was "not proper".
Chaudhary also said that writers could have used other ways to protest against government rather than returning their awards as today's situation is not that of Emergency. "I firmly believe that returning of awards was an immature step by writers. Though these writers remained successful in attracting attention, it is not proper to give hype to an issue and register protest in this manner. There are many other ways available with a writer than to indulge in award wapsi," the 77-year-old told PTI today.
A slew of writers have returned their awards in protest against what they called 'growing intolerance' in the country in the wake of killings of some rationalists. Chaudhary became the fourth Gujarati writer to receive the country's highest literary award. He was also recipient ofSahitya Akademi award for his novel trilogy 'Uparvaas' in 1977. Chaudhary said a writer can still register his protest by other means, instead of challenging the rightfully elected government.
"Writers can definitely criticise government. They can also face arrest like many of us did in the past. But, today's situation is not of Emergency. In democracy, we must allow elected leaders to complete their term, instead of asking them to step down," he said. On the Sahitya Akademi's role in the wake of killings of some writers and rationalists, the novelist and poet said the literary body never hesitated in expressing its condolence. "Those who announced to return their Akademi awards shouldknow that the Akademi does not run the country. Further, the Akademi also played it's part by expressing grief over the deaths. It should be also noted that there is no provision in the Constitution about returning awards," said Chaudhary.
Jnanpith Selection Board yesterday announced Chaudhary's selection as the recipient of the 51st Jnanpith Award. His literary works have received numerous honours in the past including 'Sahitya Akademi Award', 'Kumar Chandrak' for poetry, 'Uma-Sneharashmi Prize' and 'Ranjitram Gold Medal' for creative writing. "Chaudhary's name has been announced after the Board meeting yesterday. We have conveyed to Chaudhary about the award. He will be conferred the award in a ceremony in due course," said D Goswami, an official of Bharatiya Jnanpith.
Chaudhary said one's mother tongue should not be ignored and it must be taught along with English in schools. "In my view, education till SSC must be given only in Gujarati, so that the young generation knows what is our culture and values. Later, English can be introduced as per the needs," he said. "Even in English medium schools, mother tongue should be made compulsory. In Tamil Nadu, it is compulsory to give education in both English and Tamil languages till HSC. Such (a step) should also be introduced here as people are moving away from their mother tongue and embracing only English as a medium of instruction," he said.
Chaudhary is at present busy writing a novel based on mythological characters, with the message of non-violence. "It is based on a mythological character called Bahubali, who embraced non-violence. I am trying to make it more relevant for today's generation. Through this novel, I will try to give a message that violence can never be the solution to any problem," said Chaudhary.