36th Annual Conference and Literary Festival of All India Santali Writers’ Association at Baripada, Odisha

 The President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu graced the inaugural session of the 36th Annual Conference and Literary Festival of All India Santali Writers’ Association at Baripada, Odisha today (November 20, 2023). 

Speaking on the occasion, the President appreciated writers and researchers who are contributing to the Santhali language and literature. She appreciated that All India Santali Writers' Association has been promoting Santhali language since its establishment in 1988. She noted that use of Santhali language has been increased in government and non-government sectors, after its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution on 22 December, 2003. She remembered former Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on the occasion, during whose tenure Santhali language was included in the Eighth Schedule.  

The President said that most of the Santhali literature was available in the oral tradition. Pandit Raghunath Murmu has not only invented the Ol Chiki script, but he has also further enriched the Santhali language by composing plays like 'Bidu Chandan', 'Kherwal Bir', 'Darege Dhan', 'Sido- Kanhu - Santhal Hool'. She highlighted that many Santhali writers are enriching Santhali literature with their works. She said that it is a matter of pride that Damayanti Besra and Kali Pada Saren - popularly known as Kherwal Saren - have been honoured with Padma Shri in 2020 and 2022 respectively for education and literature. 

The President said that authors are vigilant watchdogs of society. They make society aware and guide it through their work. Many litterateurs showed path to our national movement during the freedom struggle. She urged writers to continuously create awareness in the society through their writings. She stressed that creating awareness among the people of tribal communities is an important task. She said that building a strong and vigilant society is possible only through continuous awareness. 

The President said that literature is a mirror of the culture of a community. She said that natural co-existence of humans with nature is seen in the tribal lifestyle. She added that the tribal communities believe that the forest does not belong to them but they belong to the forest. She highlighted that today climate change is a huge problem and nature-friendly living is very important to tackle this issue. She urged writers to write about the lifestyles of tribal communities so that other people could know about the life values of tribal society. 

The President said that India is a beautiful garden of different languages and literatures. She added that language and literature are the subtle threads that bind the nation together and literature is enriched by extensive exchange between different languages which is possible through translations. She said that readers of Santhali language should also be introduced to the literature of other languages through translation. She underlined the need for similar efforts to make Santhali literature reach the readers of other languages. 

The President said that there is a need to keep children engaged in self-study right from the beginning. She added that that anyone can become a good reader by doing self-study since childhood. She highlighted the need to create entertaining and comprehensible children's literature. She stated that emphasis should be laid on creating interesting children's literature not only in Santhali literature but in all Indian languages.