Kashmiri poet Rahman Rahi receives Jnanpith Award

November 6th, 2008 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Nov 6 (IANS) Eminent Kashmiri poet Rahman Rahi was Thursday conferred the Jnanpith Award - becoming the first Kashmiri to get India’s highest literary honour. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presented the award at a function here.Describing Rahi as having made a profound contribution to the Kashmiri language and Indian literature, Manmohan Singh said “this is the first time that this recognition has come to literature in the Kashmiri language, which finds its earliest expression in the mystical work of Lalleshwari or Laldyad/Lal Ded almost 700 years ago.”

Rahi began his career as a clerk in the government and was associated with the Progressive Writers’ Association, of which he became the general secretary.

The prime minister, while giving away the award, said literature and poetry gave “freedom to our imagination” and also liberated us “from stereotypes and narrow thinking”, helping people come “face to face with the human condition”.

“Literature and poetry give freedom to our imagination, they liberate us from stereotypes and narrow thinking. They tell us more about our lives, our joys and our woes, and about ourselves than analysis and investigation alone can. Through literature we come face to face with the human condition,” he said.

“The impact of literature may not be immediate or direct, but it is far more enduring: literature has long been an agent of momentous change. It has moved societies, sparked revolutions, and lit the light of knowledge,” he said.

The prime minister also said schools and colleges must do more to promote the study of humanities.

“Sometimes I believe we do not pay enough attention to the humanities that, as the word implies, will help them grow up as better human beings.”

“We should ensure that even as our youth learn skills and equip themselves for employment, they are not deprived of access to literature and poetry, and indeed to history, the visual and performing arts and to other forms of creativity. This would make their education more complete.”

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