Marathi language committee chairman, four members of literary board quit in protest.
Days after the Maharashtra government withdrew an award for the Marathi translation of Kobad Ghandy’s memoir, the chairman of the Marathi language committee and four members of the literary board have reportedly resigned in protest.
The book – Fractured Freedom: A Prison Memoir – by Ghandy was an account of his experience in jail, where he spent a decade after being accused of being a Maoist ideologue. On December 6, the government's Marathi language department announced the Late Yashwantrao Chavan Literature Award 2021 to Anagha Lele for her translation of the book, but the move was criticised on social media over accusations against Ghandy.
Ghandy had released the book nearly 18 months after he came out of prison. Watch this session moderated by Abhinandan Sekhri to hear the activist talk about the memoir, which details his long incarceration, his fellow prisoners, and why he chose the path of activism instead of corporate finance.
The decision by the Maharashtra government to withdraw the recent award to the book and scrap the selection committee has now triggered disquiet in literary circles.
According to PTI, author and former IAS officer Laxmikant Deshmukh announced his decision to step down as chairman of the language advisory committee in a letter to Maharashtra minister for Marathi language Deepak Kesarkar. “Maharashtra had never witnessed political interference in literary awards, except in 1981 when Vinay Hardikar's book was similarly rejected by the then state government that later faced severe backlash. This government also took a one-sided decision and as a protest, I am quitting from the post of chairman of the language advisory committee of the state government… Ghandy’s book does not sympathise or promote violence of Naxalism, still the state government took a one-sided decision.”
Deshmukh’s announcement came after four members of the award selection panel also quit, including authors Dr Pradnya Daya Pawar, Neeraja, and Heramb Kulkarni and Sadhana editor Vinod Shirsath.
According to PTI, the government order issued on Monday cited “administrative reasons” behind the move to scrap the award.
“Ghandy's book is not even banned, still the Maharashtra government back-tracked its own decision to award the translated version of it. This kind of treatment by the government will discourage people in future to be part of such processes. If the board is not going to support us, then I better quit. Please accept my resignation,” said Kulkarni, according to the news agency.
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