The Hindu Literary Prize 16 shortlist was announced yesterday in Bangalore. Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar ‘s “The Adivasi Will Not Dance” is one of the books listed for the Prize along-with four others. Here is an article I wrote few months back when he was under attack.
One seldom observes writers emulate the life and ideas of their characters or protagonists, especially if these happen to be rebellious by nature or at least involve taking a position of dissidence on crucial matters. Doing so could increase the chance of being branded an‘activist’, which in recent times has become a provocative and charged tag, and that in turn might stifle one’s literary career. Since authoring is a moonlighting profession rather than a financially viable one for most, dissidence might also put the primary source of livelihood in jeopardy, especially if the writer happens to hold down a government job. Let’s add another cog in this wheel: imagine a writer, with a government job, who is also relatively marginalized and belongs to a community that has been a victim of historical injustices.
That, in a nutshell, is Hansda Sowvendra Sekhar, a young Adivasi writer from the small town of Pakur, in the Santhal Pargana region of Jharkhand. A medical doctor by training and practice, he works as a medical officer with the government of Jharkhand. Sowvendra (for that’s how he loves to be called) rose to prominence two years ago when his debut novel, The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey was shortlisted for The Hindu Prize and the Crossword Book Award.In 2015, he won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar and published a collection of short stories, titled The Adivasi Will Not Dance. He is currently working on his second novel, which is due next year.
On May 14, 2016,Sowvendra wrote an edit page article for The Indian Express, criticising the government of Jharkhand for its new domicile policy. Last week, the Jharkhand government issued him a show cause notice, along the lines of Public Servant Conduct Rules.Now the officials are waiting for a response from the writer before further action can be taken. However, Sowvendra says he is yet to receive any such notice.
The new domicile policy was introduced on April 7, 2016, and states that those who have been living in the state and have acquired immovable assets in the last 30 years would be considered local residents of the state. Sowvendra sees it as an anti-Adivasi move because he believes it will further sideline Adivasis while outsiders (non-Adivasi) will take over the state.
To read full article click on this link : http://www.newslaundry.com/2016/06/24/can-a-government-officer-criticise-the-government/