Tuesday November 13, 2018

Spat between HRD minister’s adviser and country’s only Sanskrit newspaper over language quality

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New Delhi: At a time when the need of the hour is to promote Indian languages and culture, the Human Resources Minister Smriti Irani’s adviser on Sanskrit, Chamu Krishna Shastry, has allegedly threatened to close down the country’s only regularly published Sanskrit newspaper Sajal Sandesh, following a spat with its editors over quality of the content published in the weekly.

According to reports, the newspaper’s editors have shot off complaint letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I&B and HRD ministries, alleging that Chamu Shastry was trying to divide the Sanskrit community into north and south.

Sajal Sandesh, set up two years ago, is edited by Rakesh Mishra and published from Delhi with a circulation of 27,000. The decision to launch it was reportedly taken when the Kendriya Vidyalayas decided to remove the language from the list of optional subjects.

ALSO READ: ‘India can’t progress without promoting Indian languages’

Shastry has reportedly raised questions over the quality of language used in the weekly, however, the editors alleged that the former was playing regional politics and had threatened them with closure.

Denying the allegation, Shastry told the Economic Times, “There is no such issue there. We should work unitedly for the cause of Sanskrit. They are also good people. I have no personal issues against them. An opinion of quality can differ and it was an exchange at a personal level – not for the public.”

The HRD ministry’s spokesperson, Ghanshyam Goel, went a step further accusing the newspaper of attempting to “extort financial support” from the ministry.

The newspaper’s editor shot back.

“These are absolutely baseless and we reject these allegations. Chamu Shastry is trying to divide the Sanskrit community into north and south.” 

This is a sad state of affairs. Indian languages are already struggling hard to survive the onslaught of English and such public bickering over Sanskrit which needs to be resurrected and restored to its ancient glory is appalling to say the least. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s penchant for Sanskrit, the link between various regional India languages, is well known. Therefore, it was expected that under his leadership the Centre will take concrete actions in this regard.

However, the alleged threat to close down the only Sanskrit newspaper bodes ill for the future and the cause of the ancient language.

Reacting to the story, Dr Joga Singh, Professor and Former Head of Department of Linguistics in Punjabi University, Patiala told NewsGram that the alleged threat to close down the only Sanskrit newspaper was unfortunate and should be condemned as such initiatives needed government’s proactive aid.

“However, I believe Sanskrit is getting preferential treatment from the government when there is a need to equally promote all Indian languages. While more than sufficient funds are being allocated for Sanskrit, the apathy towards other Indian languages by the powers-that-be is appalling. Why should one language get all the support at the cost of others?” the Professor asked.

In an exclusive interview with NewsGram, Deven S Khatri, co-editor and one of the founding members of Sajal Sandesh, had shared his experiences in running Sajal Sandesh in July this year.

We have accepted the challenge to revive and rejuvenate Sanskrit so that it becomes a language of the common man, and we can restore India to its place of Vishwa-Guru (world-teacher),” Khatri said.

ALSO READ: Deven S Khatri: Meet the man who is on a quest to revive Sanskrit readership in India

 

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Amidst Controversy, President Distributed 65th National Film Awards

Irani also hailed the noticeable presence of regional cinema and talent and also drew attention to how over 20 women were honoured at the stage.

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Iconic actress Sridevi was posthumously honoured at the 71st Cannes Film Festival. Filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who received the award on her behalf, says he felt honoured.
Sridevi gotthe TITAN Reginald F. Lewis Film Icon Award at 71st Cannes Film Festival. Wikimedia commons

Controversy marred the 65th National Film Awards ceremony here on Thursday with several awardees protesting against the whittling down of the number of those to be honoured by the President to a select 11.

Upset over breaking from the long-held tradition of the President giving away all the awards, around 60 awardees wrote to the Directorate of Film Festivals, President’s office and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, over the “discrimination”.

The name plates of the absentee winners were placed facing down at the Vigyan Bhawan, where several others from across the length and breadth of the country congregated to celebrate the diversity of India and Indian cinema.

Celebrated names like K.J. Yesudas and A.R. Rahman, apart from actors Riddhi Sen, Divya Dutta and Pankaj Tripathi and a host of others attended the gala.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore handed out the remainder of the 125 awards at the event, which was also devoid of a musical performance unlike every year.

Another posthumous honour went to Sridevi, whose powerful performance in her last film "Mom" fetched her the Best Actress Award. Her husband Boney Kapoor and two daughters -- Jahnvi and Khushi -- took the stage together to receive what was Sridevi's first National Award in a career of 50 years.
Boney Kapoor and daughter receiving Sridevi’s award from President, BollywoodCountry

The prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award — the country’s highest cinema honour — was given posthumously to Vinod Khanna, whose wife Kavita Khanna and son Akshaye Khanna received it. It was an “emotional and proud moment,” Akshaye said.

Another posthumous honour went to Sridevi, whose powerful performance in her last film “Mom” fetched her the Best Actress Award. Her husband Boney Kapoor and two daughters — Jahnvi and Khushi — took the stage together to receive what was Sridevi’s first National Award in a career of 50 years.

President Ram Nath Kovind, who joined the ceremony in the latter half, said: “We will miss them forever… More than just box office successes, they tugged at our hearts and captured our emotions.”

He said India’s strength lies in its diversity, and cinema celebrates it by having a unifying voice which transcends regions. He spoke about the “transformational times for cinema” and how “India is gaining traction as a filmmaking destination”.

Irani also hailed the noticeable presence of regional cinema and talent and also drew attention to how over 20 women were honoured at the stage.

All the officials who took to the mike thanked the President for his presence. However, the question many were left with after this edition of the ceremony, is why all the winners were not felicitated by the President.

In the letter, the protesting awardees said they felt “dejected rather than honoured” for their work.

It was on Wednesday that the awardees were informed that a large segment of the awards will not be presented by the President. They discussed the matter with Irani the same evening and were promised a reply.

"...We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us."
Smriti Irani, Information and Broadcasting Minister- wikimedia commons

“In the circumstance of not receiving a response for our grievance, we are left with no option but to be absent for the ceremony. We do not intend to boycott the award, but are not attending the ceremony to convey our discontent…

“It feels like a breach of trust when an institution/ceremony that abides by extreme protocol, fails to inform of such a vital aspect of the ceremony with prior notice. It seems unfortunate that 65 years of tradition are being overturned in a jiffy.

“…We are disheartened to know that we will be deprived of the honour of this appreciation of a once-in-a-lifetime moment of pride and glory that the National Film Awards had promised us.”

Also Read: Akshay Talks About Building a ‘Society’ 

The President handed over the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, Nargis Dutt Award for Feature Films on National Integration, Best Book on Cinema, Best Direction (non-feature film), Best Jasari Film, Best Male Playback Singer, Best Music Direction (songs and background music), Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Direction (feature film), Best Feature Film and Best Editing.

Singer Shashaa Tirupati felt “terribly disrespected”.

Shashaa, who bagged the Best Female Playback Singer for “Vaan varuvaan” from “Kaatru Veliyidai”, told IANS: “It’s like the thrill of it is gone now… National Awards and the President go hand-in-hand. For 64 years, they have been given by the President. When you speak of the National Award, automatically people visualise the President handing over the award to the recipient.”

Riddhi Sen, the Best Actor winner for the film “Nagarkirtan”, received the honour from the President. But he found the decision for others unfair.

“This is discrimination and this is absolutely unfair.” (BollywoodCountry)