In a momentous event, President Droupadi Murmu graced the inaugural session of the 36th Annual Conference and Literary Festival of All India Santali Writers’ Association in Baripada, Odisha on November 20, 2023. The President’s presence added prestige to the occasion as she acknowledged the crucial role of writers and researchers in contributing to the Santali language and literature.
Promotion of Santali Language
President Murmu lauded the efforts of the All India Santali Writers’ Association in promoting the Santali language since its establishment in 1988. She recognized the increased use of Santali in both government and non-government sectors after its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution on December 22, 2003. The President paid tribute to former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, under whose tenure Santali was included in the Eighth Schedule.
Literary Contributions and Honors
Highlighting the oral tradition of most Santali literature, President Murmu acknowledged the significant contributions of Pandit Raghunath Murmu, the inventor of the Ol Chiki script. She mentioned his impactful plays like ‘Bidu Chandan,’ ‘Kherwal Bir,’ ‘Darege Dhan,’ and ‘Sido- Kanhu – Santhal Hool.’ The President expressed pride in the recognition of Damayanti Besra and Kali Pada Saren with Padma Shri awards in 2020 and 2022 for their contributions to education and literature.
Writers as Society’s Watchdogs
President Murmu emphasized the pivotal role of authors as vigilant watchdogs of society. She highlighted how literature shapes awareness and guides society, drawing parallels with the contributions of many litterateurs during the freedom struggle. Urging writers to create continuous awareness, especially among tribal communities, she stressed the importance of building a strong and vigilant society through consistent efforts.
Literature Reflecting Culture and Environmental Awareness
Describing literature as a mirror of community culture, the President underscored the natural co-existence of tribal communities with nature. She urged writers to depict the lifestyle and values of tribal societies, especially in the face of climate change. President Murmu called for literature to be a means of fostering awareness about sustainable, nature-friendly living.
Cultural Tapestry of India and Literary Exchange
President Murmu celebrated India as a diverse garden of languages and literature, emphasizing their role as threads binding the nation together. She encouraged literary exchange through translations and expressed the need for readers of Santali literature to explore works in other languages. The President called for efforts to make Santali literature accessible to readers of different languages.
Encouraging Children’s Literature
The President stressed the importance of engaging children in self-study from an early age, advocating for entertaining and comprehensible children’s literature. She emphasized the need to create interesting children’s literature not only in Santali but in all Indian languages.