Entrusted with the task of promoting literature in the different languages of India, the Sahitya Akademi has announced the winners of the prestigious Bhasha Samman, which is awarded for contribution to literature in various Indian languages.
To be presented in the coming months, the recipients of the award are K Meenakshi Sundaram for contribution to Classical and Medieval Literature (Southern) for 2013 and Munishwar Jha for Classical and Medieval Literature (Eastern) for 2014. Charu Chandra Pande and Mathura Dutt Mathpal have also been jointly recognised for their work towards the enrichment of Kumauni, a language reportedly not recognised by the Akademi till now.
“I am grateful for the award. People should learn as many languages as possible. There will always be instinctive attachment to one’s mother tongue, but one should love other languages as well,” said Jha. The 88-year-old Patna-based scholar and educationist is a former Calcutta University linguistics professor and vice-chancellor of Bihar’s Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University. He was honoured with the Presidential Award in 2006 for his contribution to Sanskrit literature. He has authored books in Hindi, English, Maithili and Sanskrit, and worked on a project on the evolution and reconstruction of Maithili language.
Ramnagar-based Mathura Dutt Mathpal, who is a poet, a teacher and a Kumauni scholar, said: “Until now, no one has got this award for the Kumauni language. It will certainly attract interest in Kumauni literature and that is much-needed.”
The 75-year-old has previously received the Sumitranandan Pant Award by the Uttar Pradesh government and has published four books featuring his poems in Kumauni.
Having done extensive work in Kumauni, Nainital-based Charu Chandra Pande has previously received several awards, including the Umesh Dhobhal Smriti Samman and UP Hindi Sansthan Award.
Coimbatore-based K Meenakshi Sundaram, meanwhile, is the founder-director of International Institute of Tamil Studies and an authority on Cilappatikaram, an ancient Tamil epic. The Bhasha Samman was instituted in 1996 to be given to writers, scholars, editors, collectors, performers or translators who have made considerable contribution to the propagation, modernisation or enrichment of the languages concerned.
The Bhasha Samman carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, an inscribed copper plaque and a citation. The Akademi has also announced the Bal Sahitya Puraskar and Yuva Puraskar.
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