Baripada: President Droupadi Murmu graced the opening of the 36th Annual Conference and Literary Festival of the All India Santali Writers’ Association in Baripada. Commending the writers and researchers contributing to the Santali language and literature, she acknowledged the association’s efforts in promoting Santali since its establishment in 1988.
Highlighting the increased use of Santali in both government and non-government sectors since its inclusion in the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule in 2003, President Murmu remembered former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, under whose tenure Santali was included. She emphasized the oral tradition of Santali literature and praised Pandit Raghunath Murmu for inventing the Ol Chiki script and contributing plays like ‘Bidu Chandan’ and ‘Kherwal Bir’.
Acknowledging the honours received by Damayanti Besra and Kali Pada Saren (Kherwal Saren) with Padma Shri in 2020 and 2022, respectively, for their contributions to education and literature, the President highlighted the societal role of authors as vigilant watchdogs. Encouraging writers to raise awareness, she stressed the importance of promoting awareness among tribal communities for building a strong and vigilant society.
President Murmu viewed literature as a mirror reflecting a community’s culture, emphasizing the natural co-existence of tribal communities with nature. Connecting literature to climate change, she urged writers to showcase tribal lifestyles to promote nature-friendly living. Stressing the diversity of India’s languages and literature, she called for efforts to introduce Santali readers to literature in other languages through translation.
The President underscored the importance of engaging children in self-study from an early age, promoting the creation of entertaining and comprehensible children’s literature in Santali and other Indian languages.