'Loss of respect for tribal lives': Adivasi journalist-poet refuses to accept award from India Today Group

“When the tribals of Manipur were losing respect for their lives, the mainstream media remained indifferent towards them. Only by standing with their struggle will we be able to feel respected.”
Renowned Adivasi poet and independent journalist Jacinta Kerketta (Twitter)
Renowned Adivasi poet and independent journalist Jacinta Kerketta (Twitter)

Renowned Adivasi poet and independent journalist Jacinta Kerketta recently declined the ‘Aaj Tak Sahitya Jagriti Udyman Pratibha Samman’, a literary accolade given by the India Today Group.

Highlighting the situation of the tribals of Manipur, in central India and other parts of India as the reason behind her decision, she told East Mojo, “I am not feeling any thrill or happiness from the news of this honour. Because respect for life is missing from the lives of many people.” 

Kerketta added to East Mojo, “When the tribals of Manipur were losing respect for their lives, the mainstream media remained indifferent towards them. Only by standing with their struggle will we be able to feel respected.”

Additionally, she told Newslaundry: "Mainstream media has never tried to bring to light the plight of Adivasis in a respectful manner. It’s not just about one media house, but any decision I take will definitely be influenced by how the so-called mainstream media of the country plays its role towards marginalised people.”

On November 23, Kerketta had tweeted on X: “At a time when there’s loss of respect for the lives of tribals in the country, tribals of central India and Manipur have no dignity of life and the lives of people and children of other communities are under continuous attack, how can any honor thrill a poet or writer?” 

Kerketta was selected for the Rs. 50,000 prize for her Hindi-language poetry collection Ishwar aur Bazaar (2022) which explores the grassroots struggles of tribals. The award ceremony is scheduled to take place in New Delhi on 26th November. 

India Today Group representatives have reportedly acknowledged and respected Kerketta’s decision. “Every civilised society and sensitive human being feels the same way," they said while commending her work.

Jacinta Kerketta was born in 1983 in a village in the West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand. She belongs to the Oraon Adivasi community.

A freelance writer, journalist and poet, her work explores several injustices faced by tribals. She writes in Hindi.

She also teaches tribal youngsters gender, culture and their histories. 

She has received several honours for her work which has been translated to foreign languages as well.

She was named one of India's top 20 Self-Made Women in 2022 by Forbes India.

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