For civilisations to survive, the sanctity of the word will have to be upheld and any attempts to suppress it must be thwarted, former president Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday while giving away awards for literary works in regional languages.
His statement came in the backdrop of the recent arrests of activists, among them writers and poets, which had drawn sharp criticism.
"I would like to underline the power of the written and spoken words. For millennium this word has expressed the musings of millions. It has on many occasions sought to be put down by the powers that be. Indeed for civilizations to survive the sanctity of words will have to be upheld.
"Attempts to suppress it must be thwarted," said Mr Mukherjee at the Amar Ujala Shabd Samman.
He gave away lifetime awards to noted Kannada writer Girish Karnad and Hindi writer Namvar Singh. Awards were also given away in five other categories.
Mr Mukherjee also said that he was most happy with the category in which an award was given for the translation of works within two Indian languages.
"The need of the hour is a multi-dimensional and multi-stakeholder discussion on literature. It should surpass the boundaries of the mother tongue," he said, adding that the translation of works in different Indian languages leads to the sharing of "collective wisdom".
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