2nd SOA Lit Fest Gets Underway With Call For Inclusive Society, Social Cohesion

Bhubaneswar: The 2nd SOA Literary Festival got underway here on Friday with eminent Odia writer Dr Pratibha Ray stressing on the need to strive for an inclusive society where every citizen can contribute and flourish.

“The quest for economic progress and individual success should not come at the cost of social cohesion and we must address the disparities that persist while striving for an inclusive society,” Dr Ray said in her inaugural address.

The three-day Lit Fest, which has brought together around 250 eminent writers, poets, historians, critics and artistes from across the country, has been organised by the SOA Centre for Preservation, Propagation and Restoration of Ancient Culture and Heritage of India (PPRACHIN), Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan Deemed to be University’s arm for conservation.

PPRACHIN’s Head and eminent writer Dr Gayatribala Panda announced that the university will be launching the ‘SOA Sahitya Samman’ at the national level from next year.

A national jury will choose an eminent litterateur as recipient of the award, which will carry a purse of Rs 7 lakh.

Among other eminent personalities who addressed the inaugural session were social theorist and critic Prof. Ashis Nandy, author and Sahitya Akademi president Madhav Kaushik, writer and Sahitya Akademi secretary Dr K. Sreenivasarao and actress & author Divya Dutta.

Four Odia books of Dr Panda, translated into different Indian languages, were released on Friday. Her award-winning book ‘Dayanadi’ has been published by Kendra Sahitya Akademi in Punjabi and Sanskrit, while the other books included ‘Bagha Upakhyan’ in Hindi, selected poems titled ‘Asaan Nahin Itihas Likhna’ in Hindi and selected short stories translated into English titled ‘My Truth, My Story’.

Another book titled ‘Sarola Das Mahabharatha Sampadana Prastab — Bhabishyat, Atita O Bartaman’ published by PPRACHIN was also released on the occasion.

Dr Ray, a Jnanpith Award-winning novelist, said Indian culture has been a source of pride and inspiration for the world with its inclusivity, tolerance and spirituality.

“However, the contemporary landscape poses challenges that demand our thoughtful consideration. Rapid globalisation, technological advancements and confluence of diverse influences had the potential to reshape contours of our cultural identity,” she said.

“As we navigate this complex terrain, the preservation and promotion of our cultural heritage become paramount. It is imperative that we strike a delicate balance between embracing the opportunities presented by globalisation and safeguarding the essence of our identity,” she remarked, praising SOA for organising a literary conference of such scale and providing a boost to literature.

Prof. Nandy spoke on the creativity of literary persons, observing that litterateurs often don’t realise what they have created.

Prof. Nandy cited the example of eminent Indian mathematician Srinivasan Ramanujan, saying that he had made mathematical discoveries without having any formal training in the subject or access to library. His findings, after being rejected at the global level, were scrutinised by another mathematician GH Hardy of London’s Trinity College, Prof. Nandy pointed out.

Hardy realised that Ramanujan’s findings were rediscoveries and thought that ‘the man must either be a genius or a brilliant scamster’. Ramanujan’s humble background instilled in him the insecurity for which he could not even own what he had achieved, Prof. Nandy said.

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