Farmers’ cooperative IFFCO bestowed ‘Shri Lal Shukla Smiriti Sahitya Samman 2018 on a noted Hindi writer Ramdhari Singh Diwakar in a glittering function dominated by stars of the literary world at NCUI’s Auditorium in Delhi on Thursday.
A distinguished author Mridula Garg conferred the award on Diwakar who said “I am a writer of 70% of India’s where 20 crore people live below the poverty line”. He was presented with a citation, a memento and Rs 11 lakh cash prize.
While Mridula Garg was the Chief Guest, Gillian Wright credited with translating Rag Darbari in English was the special guest on the occasion. Led by Devi Prasad Tripathi the Jury comprised of Mridula Garg, Murli Manohar Prasad Singh, Prof. Rajendra Kumar, Ibbar Rabbi and Dr Dinesh Kumar Shukla.
Lauding the rigorous and yet transparent process of the Selection Committee Diwakar thanked IFFCO profusely and said that the words spoken by its MD Dr U S Awasthi that it is an award not to me but to the entire farming (kisani) community touched my hearts. I have been writing for 50 years, unknown and unsung and I find myself blessed today, he said a choked voice.
Welcoming the guests IFFCO MD Dr U S Awasthi recalled the history of the Shukla Award and narrated how it was first proposed in a Board meeting by Chairman B S Nakai. This award is in a series of activities aimed at enriching cultural and literary lives of farmers, said Awasthi who did not forget to remind the audience that IFFCO has been declared the best fertilizer cooperative globally by the World Cooperative Monitor.
B S Nakai, IFFCO Chairman also spoke in chaste Punjabi and welcomed the guests.
Gillian Wright narrated the interesting story of how she bumped into the book Rag Darbari and decided to translate it come what may. “Not an innate translator I felt compelled to translate this book as it encapsulates the life of rural India in a timeless manner” she stated.
Later, how she met Sri Lal Shukla in Lucknow and how he helped her with his suggestions about translation –all this was shared by Mrs Wright in an interesting manner.
Mridula Garg, the famed author thanked IFFCO for having given her this honour of conferring the award on Diwakar whom she compared with one of the best from the Hindi literary field. She also lauded the Selection Committee for its impartial selection. D P Tripathy, the Chairman of the Committee was conspicuous by his absence, though two past awardees- Ramdev Dhurandhar and Kumar Sanjeev were present on the occasion.
The highlight of the event was, however, a presentation of a contemporary adaptation of “Raag Darbari by dastango Mahmood Farooqui and Darain Shahidi. Dastango- an enchanting art form which had gone dead with time was revived at the IFFCO literary meet. Mahmood Farooqui and Darain Shahidi presented a scintillating program which was heard and seen by a spell-bound audience.