‘Media mum’ on Tribal Plight: Globally Renowned Adivasi Writer Declines India Today Award
Jacinta Kerketta. Image Courtesy: Twitter/@JacintaKerkett2
Globally renowned Hindi poet, writer and independent journalist Jacinta Kerketta has declined the India Today Group’s Aaj Tak Sahitya Jagriti Udyman Pratibha Samman due to the “plight of tribals in Manipur, central India and the global community”.
Kerketta’s book Ishwar aur Bazaar (2022), focusing on religion, power and grassroot struggles of tribals, was selected in one of the eight categories in the award, which promote and honour Indian language and literature.
The award, carrying a prize of Rs 50,000, was scheduled to be conferred in a three-day ceremony starting in New Delhi on Saturday.
The awards will be held at the National Stadium in New Delhi for three days, starting today. The book Ishwar aur bazar
“At a time when there’s loss of respect for the lives of tribals in the country, tribals of central India and Manipur have no dignity of life and the lives of people and children of other communities are under continuous attack, how can any honor thrill a poet or writer?” Kerketta, renowned for her poignant writings addressing injustices faced by Adivasis, tweeted.
ऐसे समय में जब देश में आदिवासियों के जीवन का सम्मान खो रहा है. मणिपुर सहित पूरे मध्य भारत के आदिवासियों के जीवन से गरिमामय जीवन गायब हो रहा है. वैश्विक स्तर पर दूसरे समुदाय के लोगों, बच्चों के जीवन पर लगातार हमला हो रहा है. किसी कवि, लेखक को कोई सम्मान कैसे रोमांचित कर सकता है? pic.twitter.com/fuU7escKjT
— Jacinta Kerketta (@JacintaKerkett2) November 23, 2023
Expressing her lack of enthusiasm in a message conveyed to EastMojo, Kerketta said, “I am not thrilled or happy by this news because respect for life is missing from the lives of many people.”
Underscoring the plight of tribals in Manipur, central India and the global community and the lack of acknowledgment for the wrongs committed against them, she added, “My heart remains troubled. This is a prestigious honour. But I have decided not to receive it,” she added.
“The mainstream media remained indifferent towards the tribals of Manipur. Only by standing with their struggle, we will feel respected,” said, Kerketta, a member of the Oraon Adivasi community in West Singhbhum district, Jharkhand.
Representatives from the India Today Group acknowledged and respected Kerketta’s stance. “Every civilised society and sensitive human being feels the same way.” The Group also commended her writings for consistently advocating justice and humanity.
Kerketta poetry collections, like Angor (2016) and Jadon ki Zamin (2018), shed light on the injustices faced by Adivasi communities. Notably, her work transcends language barrier and has been translated into German, Italian, and French.
Kerketta has audiences in several countries, including the US, England, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Costa Rica, where she has recited poems shedding light on the condition of India’s tribal communities. Her poems are widely read and studied in various countries.
Kerketta was honoured with the Voice of Asia Recognition Award by the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Thailand, in 2014. In 2022, Forbes India selected her as one of the 22 self-made women of India, cementing her place as a prominent voice for the marginalised and unheard.
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