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'Writers can't be blind to changes affecting society'

Posted on Mar 11 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, March 11 : When Bengali poet Subodh Sarkar wrote poems on rape, he wondered whether they would ever get published. Thankfully they did, and his conviction of the responsibility of writers towards mirroring social evils through literature was reaffirmed.

Speaking at the ongoing "Festivals of Letters 2014", organised by the Sahitya Akademi Tuesday, the recipient of the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award in 2013 for his collection of poems "Dwajpayan Harder Dhare", Sarkar admitted a writer has to have a response towards social changes.

"A writer has to question and write about incidents that are corroding society. He can't turn a blind eye to these changes and choose not to write about these issues for the fear of anti-social elements stifling his freedom of speech," Sarkar said in response to a question.

"For the last 20 years, I have been writing poems against the icons of philosophy and economic changes. Recently, I wrote poems on rapes that are crippling the state of West Bengal. Rape has become an icon of power. What is happening to the country?" he asked.

While literature has always been seen as a tool that reflects anguish, sentiments and developments of the society, the conglomeration of writers assembled in the capital from various parts of India to receive the 2013 Sahitya Akademi award for their writings in 24 Indian languages, felt that a writer should be fearless.

Regional writings in India have always weaved stories of changes affecting social, economic and human relationships.

Stories of injustice, prejudice and caste system have been portrayed well in regional writings.

"If you are afraid of expressing yourself through your writings, then you should choose some other profession," said Hindi writer Mridula Garg, who won the award for her novel "Miljul Mann".

"If a writer doesn't get over his own fear, he shouldn't be a writer," she added.

But Tamilian writer R.N. Joe D'Cruz admitted it was not easy to be a writer as his writings could attract threats from anti-social elements.

"It isn't easy to be a writer. We are standing against the brigade of anti-social elements, and there is always a threat to life if your writings are speaking about injustice and reality of the society," said D'Cruz who won the award for his novel "Korkkai".

"Your family and children are in threat, but because of the responsibilities you have as a writer, and as it is our duty to serve humankind, mankind and society... such incidents intimidate a writer, but never scare him enough to stifle his independent thoughts," he added.

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