‘Award vapsi’ has gone beyond us: Sahitya Akademi president

By Preetha Nair

New Delhi : The ‘award wapsi’ has now gone beyond the Sahitya Akademi, its president, Viswanath Prasad Tiwari, said on Friday.

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“Now, it’s gone beyond the Akademi and writers. Its become a political issue and it’s the turn of the film makers to return their awards”, Tiwari told IANS on the sidelines of the All India Poetry Festival jointly organised by Sahitya Akademi and the culture ministry.

However, he stuck to his ground that writers have politicised the issue by returning their awards.

Reacting to allegations on the delayed reaction of the Akademi on the killing of Karnataka rationalist M M Kalburgi, Tiwari said that its vice president had issued a statement condemning the killing but nobody noticed it.

“(Akademi vice president) Dr. Chander Sekhar Kambar had issued a statement condemning the killing of Kalburgi immediately after the incident. It was in Karnataka and this news was not circulated in the media,” Tiwari said.

However, many renowned names were missing from the list of poets attending the Festival. When it was pointed out that poets like Ashok Vajpayee and Mangalesh Dabral were not attending the festival, one of the participants said that it was convened at short notice.

Asked about the absence from the festival of many Hindi poets who returned their awards, Tiwari said that the list was prepared two months ago.

“There was no agenda in choosing the poets for the festival. The list was prepared two months ago,” he added.

Denouncing the allegations that writers are politically motivated, one of the participants, poet Sukrita Paul Kumar, said that the debate has to rise beyond politics.

“The writers’ voice cannot be belittled in this. It is not political motivated. We have to raise the level of debate to the humanitarian gestures from controversies. It’s not that writers were not speaking before. Their voice is louder today. The voice of humanity has to stand strong,” Kumar told IANS, adding that she would have considered returning the award if she had one.

She also said that the Akademi could have reacted on Kalburgi’s killing a bit earlier. “I wish the Akademi’s statement come a bit earlier,” she said.

However, Telugu poet Voleti Parvateesam and Urdu poet Abdul Ahad Saz felt that though they support the writers, returning the awards is the not the right solution.