The recent GR (Government Resolution) on the introduction of an award, exclusively for the work done in the field of tribal literature, has been welcomed by writers, researchers and poets associated with the field, who feel that their works will finally be recognised. The GR was issued by the Maharashtra State Literature and Culture Mandal’s Marathi Language Department over a week ago.
Instituted in the name of renowned tribal writer Govind Gare, the award will be distributed from next year and carries a prize money of Rs 1 lakh. The award is added to the 22 existing awards given by the department.
City-based Kundalik Kedari of Lalit Rangbhoomi said he has been writing to the government authorities since 2013, demanding an independent award that recognises tribal literature writers. He said, “In 1967, the tribal department was started by the government especially to cater to the tribals. If there is a separate department for tribals, there should be an independent award for those who have been working in the field of tribal literature. So far, the tribal literature was considered a part of Dalit literature, though the two are different categories. Thus, I had been following up with the department for a fair due for tribal litterateurs through various letters and RTIs.”
Bhaumik Deshmukh, a professor at Pune University who has done research on issues faced by the tribal community, said many writers from the community have produced exceptionally-good literature, based on extensive research, without expecting anything. “Such genuine people need to be recognised and honoured. Although I don’t want to sound cynical, in our country, most of the awards by the government are politically-influenced and thus those do genuine work, do not get recognition. I hope it doesn’t happen with the tribal literature award too,” he added.
Author of 18 books on the lifestyle of tribal community and the issues they face, writer Vinayak Samba Tumram while hailed the decision but said the award should not be partial towards writers of a particular area. “The tribes and sub-tribes in the state are spread in Gondwana, Sahyadri and Satpuda. It shouldn’t happen that the writers of one region are favoured and the rest are ignored. While selecting a candidate, things like the thought process of the writer, quality of his works and his overall contribution to the field in the tribal literature should be considered,” he said.
Tumram was the first person in the state to pursue a PhD on tribal literature and had organised the first Adiwasi Sahitya Sammelan in Bhadravati, Chandrapur, in 1979.
According to Pune-based professor Tukaram Rongate, who heads the Marathi department in Pune University, the decision, though good, has come a bit late. “There are many writers who have been working in this field for several decades. They needed some recognition from the government. Now that the decision has been taken, I feel more people will come forward with interesting work,” he added. Rongate has penned nearly 10 books on tribal literature.