Cash prize for best book award to be increased to Rs 1 lakh

CM Inaugurates exhibition of rare Quranic Manuscripts

Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti today said the award money for best local language book given by Cultural Academy would be increased from present Rs 51000 to Rs 1 lakh. She also called for safeguarding the local languages from the onslaught of modernity.

“This award ceremony is in a real sense the celebration of J&K’s distinct cultural and linguistic diversity,” the Chief Minister said while addressing a function organized by J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages at Tagore Hall here to confer best book awards in various local languages.

Ms Mehbooba, who is also the President of the Cultural Academy, presented the best book award for Dogri to Mr Om Goswami for his book Rang Bakhrey Bakhrey, for Gojri the best book award was presented to Sheikh Azad Ahmad Azad for his book Tatloos, for Hindi the best book award was presented to Kavita: Swabhav Sameeksha, for Kashmiri the best book award was presented to Mushtaq Ahmad Mushtaq for his book Aakh, for Ladakhi the best book award was presented to Khanpo Konchok Phandey for his book Thommiyi gSun-r Tags-La-dpyadpa, for Pahari the best book award was given to Nisar Rahi for his book Tundh, for Paunjabi the best book award was given to Rajinder Singh Rajan for his book Taja Bawari and for Urdu the best book award was given to Shyam Sunder Anand Lehar for his book Naamdev.

The Best Book Award comprises a cash reward of Rs 51000, a shawl, a citation and memento. 

The Chief Minister called for preserving and promoting local languages which constitute a part and parcel of the State’s distinct cultural identity and heritage. “Government alone can’t do much in growth and development of the local languages and culture in the State,” she said and added that development of a language begins at the family from the parents. “I feel no qualms in saying that the biggest enemies of the local languages are the people of Jammu and Kashmir themselves,” she said and added that in most of the families today the parents prefer to teach their children to speak in Hindi, Urdu and English instead of their mother tongue including Kashmiri, Dogri, Bodhi etc. “This trend has to be reversed, sooner the better,” she said.

The Chief Minister said languages are an important part of any culture, as these enable people to communicate and express themselves. “When a language dies out, future generations lose a vital part of the culture that is necessary to completely understand it,” she said and added this makes language a vulnerable aspect of cultural heritage, and it becomes especially important to preserve it and save it from the onslaught of modernity. 

Felicitating the Best Book awardees, the Chief Minister said they should become the role model for our youth. She said the school-going boys and girls should be invited by the Cultural Academy for such events regularly so that they know about J&K’s intellectual pride. 

Ms Mehbooba said Jammu and Kashmir is the fountainhead of secularism and amity, “and those age-old and unique traditions of brotherhood and religious tolerance have to be revived and passed on to the posterity so that the State continues to live and celebrate its diversity of continental proportions.” 

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Finance and Culture, Dr Haseeb Drabu said the Government is in the process of formulating the maiden Cultural Policy for Jammu and Kashmir, which would take care of the issues related to the preservation and promotion of the State’s unique culture. 

He said to treat the local writers with dignity and honour, the Academy has been asked to do away with the practice of inviting applications for the best book awards. “Instead the Cultural Academy should get all the local language literary works on its own, and evaluate the same through a jury to select the books for Best Book Award,” he said and added that the Cultural Academy shouldn’t limit its role to just presenting the Best Book Awards, it should work for propagation of these books as well in educational and academic circles to make the authors known to the world outside. 

The Minister also called for cataloguing of the rare artifacts and manuscripts in the State, both in the government and the private sector. He said the Cultural Academy should also earmark a dedicated space for the decent display of the artifacts and manuscripts by the private collectors. He assured full financial support to the Academy in its endeavor for promotion and development of J&K’s culture. 

Addressing the gathering, Minister of State for Education, Tourism and Culture, Ms Priya Sethi called for promoting the culture of book reading in the State. 

Secretary, J&K Academy of Art, Culture and languages, Dr Aziz Hajini also addressed the gathering and welcomed the guests.

Earlier, the Chief Minister inaugurated an Exhibition of the Rare Quranic Manuscripts in the lawns of the Tagore Hall. 

Some of the rarest of the rare Quranic manuscripts are being displayed at the 3-day exhibition organized by the Cultural Academy in association with Department of Archaeology and Museums, Directorate of Libraries and private collectors Meeras Mahal Sopore and Qazi Borthers. 

The Chief Minister was highly impressed by the rare Quranic and other Islamic Manuscripts that are being displayed at the 3-Day exhibition. She especially hailed the effort of Ms Ateeqa Bano for preserving rarest manuscripts and artifacts in Meeras Mahal Sopore, some of which have been put on display at the ongoing Exhibition. 

Secretary Culture, Dilshad Khan, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Dr Farooq Ahmad Lone, Director Libraries, Mukhtar-ul-Aziz, SSP Srinagar, Amit Kumar and other officers of the Department of Culture and Libraries were present on the occasion.