Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Writing is a bit like falling from a height"....

Interview: Manu Joseph, author, Serious Men


Ayyan Mani appears to be just another man in Mumbai, stranded in the rot of a good marriage, an unremarkable life and a dead-end job as personal assistant to an insufferable astronomer called Arvind Acharya at the Institute of Theory and Research. To entertain himself and to give his wife the hope that they are heading towards a spectacular future, Ayyan embarks upon a secret game, weaving an outrageous fiction around his ten-yearold son. As he builds the small plots to promote the myth, he sets in motion a chain of events that soon threatens to overtake him. When the formidable reputation of Arvind Acharya, who is obsessed with the theory that microscopic extraterrestrials are falling on Earth all the time, plummets after a major scandal, and he is rocked by the vicious office politics in the institute, Ayyan sees in the crisis an opportunity to further his own game and make his son a national celebrity. But in the exhilaration of the game lurks danger Alternately funny and poignant, Serious Men is a savage satire on class, love, relationships, and our veneration of science...

 What was the genesis of the novel?

I always wanted to write a novel and I was very sure that it will not be autobiographical.
For a few years, there were two stories I was itching to tell. One was inspired by the many little stories we see inthe inside pages of a newspaper very often - the boy genius story, "boy genius invited by Nasa". It was always Nasa inviting weird Indian geniuses as if Nasa has nothing better to do. I slowly became fascinated with the idea of a man who would promote his son as a genius, and create this myth not for any larger ruse than to just have
some fun and entertain his wife. The second story I wanted to tell was about sexy science - the hilarious deceit of multi-dimensions, time travel, search for ET etc.
Finally, I decided to blend these two stories into a single novel.

The novel is about many things; it has many layers. What was it like weaving the underdog story into the workings of caste, science and relationships?
Most of the time when we learn things, when we read, we think we are taking in information. But the truth is what we are consuming is someone’s interpretation of a fact or a situation. The idea of interpretation as a form of fact always interested me. And I thought how interesting it will be if a guy who is not supposed to interpret something begins to interpret it. That’s what Ayyan does. So weaving Ayyan into situations was not an effort —
in fact, Ayyan passing through a situation, any situation, became the very basis of the novel.

While the novel is about the two different worlds of Aravind Acharya and Ayyan Mani, it seems Ayyan is a greater puppeteer. Do you think he is more central to the story?
It is very interesting that you ask this. Some people think Acharya is the central character. Some people think Ayyan is the central character. I am now sitting back and accepting all views.

How important was the setting? Did you at all think about it as a Mumbai novel?
I always thought Bombay (he refrains from calling the city by its "new" name) is a great setting for a warm sharp story, which was my aspiration. Also Bombay is the city I know best.

Acharya’s is an intersting character and the readers empathise with him a lot. Do you see his concernsin the novel about the future of science echoing in the real life too? Did the science bits entail any research?
Yes, all of Acharya’s concerns, chiefly regarding the populist aspect of science, how corny and esoteric it hasbecome, is a concern some old-fashioned endearing scientists have. I have always read up a lot about science as I am very curious about its place as a form of philosophy. My research for the book was largely derived from my regular reading material and from my experiences while doing science stories.

It’s the tone of the novel which will definitely find favour with many. Did you have to work a lot on its humour and wit?
No. That is how I write, and honestly most of the time I don’t mean to be funny at all. I think writing is a bit like falling from a height - no matter what you try, you fall the way you are meant to fall.

Some would say that your two female characters — Oparna and Oja (Ayyan's wife) — get a little overshadowed. How would you react to that?
I have read about this in some reviews and several readers have told me this. Many of them like Oparna’scharacter and they want to know her future. It is true that the women in the novel are somewhat overshadowed by the men, but then the novel is about men and how they react when things happen to them. But the important thing here is that the men are largely reacting to the women they love. So, in a way, if at all there is a puppeteer in the story that puppeteer is a woman.

Do you see the novel in the tradition of the great Indian underdog story made popular by Aravind Adiga’s White Tiger? Was the "darker" India at all on your mind when you set out to write this? What do you make of the parallels with Adiga? How interested are you in writing about the "two Indias"?
I have a lot of respect for what Adiga has achieved, but honestly I don’t like the comparisons with White Tiger. I imagine Serious Men as a creation of my own way of storytelling, and I was well into writing the novel when The White Tiger was launched. Is there really a tradition of the great Indian underdog story? I don’t know.
And this thing about the "two Indias" I am not interested in it at all. I find it very boring. Also, I do not likenovels that try to be social commentary. Only social commentary should be social commentary, not novels.

People keep talking about the dumbing down of journalistic writing. As a journalist, do you see share these concerns?
That reminds me of a funny cartoon titled The Great Editor (I think): Moses is holding the ten commandments and looking up at an illuminated sky and saying, "Look, I can’t dumb this down anymore." To answer your question, there is space for dumb stories and very smart stories. A reporter or a feature writer can always sell smart or well-done stories. It is my belief that journalism is really an extraordinary form of literature and journalists should not lose heart when their work is chopped down or diluted. We should fight for our ways of telling stories and I believe we can win this battle. Increasingly, the only way a publication today can distinguish itself is through quality and quality writers and reporters are going to be very important in the near future.

This is your first novel, but is being published in many countries and being translated into many other languages. That must be quite heartening, isn’t it?
It is, really. I feel very lucky.

What do critics mean to you? Do you think we still have a long way to go when it comes to healthyliterary criticism?
After reading the first-ever Indian review of my novel, I started laughing because the review was so badly written. I thought I am going to be a victim of the mediocrity of Indian journalism. But then other reviews began to appear, some of them made observations which were intelligent and even useful to me as a writer, and I told myself even though generalisations are delicious I should not make sweeping statements about reviewers.
But yes, what is happening is this. Some new novelists are really beginning to change Indian writing in Englishand some reviewers commissioned by important publications sadly do not have the maturity or the intelligence to analyse such novels. Ultimately, the role of a book editor is important. He or she should have the sense to know who to send a novel to review.

Any literary influences?
Honestly, there is nobody who has influenced me. But I do love Gabriel Garcia Marquez, J.M. Coetzee, Truman Capote, Alice Munro, Milan Kundera, Anne Tyler and a few others.

Ranjitha writing tell-all book on Nithyananda sex scandal

Actress Ranjitha, who had been in the news for all the wrong reasons, has once again hit the headlines after she said that she would write tell-all book on her scandalous sex tape with Swami Paramahamsa Nithyananda. It is said that the actress has planned to write two books on her personal life and a fictional story.

The scandal-hit actress has recently confessed to a Tamil daily that she is writing a book on how to handle scandals and contoversies. The book is titled How to Survive a Scandal. It is inspired by her recent personal grief, where she was linked with Swami Nithyananda in a sex scandal.

Ranjitha says that media has portrayed her in a poor taste and last six months have been turbulent times of her life. She feels that the book will help the people to deal with personal problems. She also thanked her family for continuous support to her. The second book will be a fictonal one which will give a message to younger generation.

Full report here Oneindia

Bengal panel moves to restore Tagore legacy

Dismayed at the dilapidated state of Rabindranath Tagore’s dilapidated ancestral house in a remote village of Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district, a Kolkata-based socio-cultural organisation has shot off an SOS to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention for conservation of great poet’s house.

“As the country celebrates Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore's 150th birth anniversary, the Nobel laureate remains unsung and unrecognised in Pandua village in coastal Odisha which once was his home.

“Last Sunday a six-member team paid a visit to the village and we were shocked to find the governmental insensitivity and neglect meted out to Tagore’s house”, said Utpal Roy, secretary of ‘Diganta’, a Kolkata-based organisation.

The bard’s ancestral house at the village under Kujang tehsil in Jagatsinghpur faces the imminent threat of being reduced to rubble in the absence of any conservation effort, he said.

Full report here Kalinga Times

Sabha to put Assamese classics on Internet

In a bid to attract a larger audience, including Assamese living away from the state, the Asam Sahitya Sabha is all set to make a significant presence on the Internet.

Well-placed Sabha officials confirmed that a project is underway that would put a selection of Assamese classics on the World Wide Web, allowing readers in any part of the globe to access those. The collaborative effort involves the Sabha and the Computer Science Department of Guwahati University.

Side by side, the apex literary body of Assam is also creating modules which would be useful for new learners to pick up the language within a short term. The web-based programme is likely to be launched in the next few months, and will give the Assamese language a much needed boost especially in areas where there is absence of teachers or textbooks.

Full report here Assam Tribune 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

'I'm finally back to playing a man'

SAB channel's new show Papad Pol - Shahbuddin Rathod Ki Rangeen Duniya is based on the writings of Gujarat's legendary writer, comedian and humorist Shahbuddin Rathod.

It stars Swapnil Joshi and Ami Trivedi in lead roles.

Papad Pol -- Shahbuddin Rathod Ki Rangeen Duniya is a show based on story of the imaginary world of characters created by Shahbuddin Rathod like Vinaychand, Kokila and Jayantilal etc.

The story revolves around the Parikh family who, are searching for a perfect match for their 32-year-old son Vinaychand, who is a school dropout and the apple of his mother's eyes.

There are several families who stay near the Parikhs. They all stay together like one big extended family. The show begins with the entire community of the Pol coming together to search for a perfect bridre for their beloved Vinaychand.

Full report here Rediff

Lost in translation

Scholars from around the world have been discussing the glory of Tamil this week. Chief minister Karunanidhi has said that all Tamil literary treasures should be translated. Though people translating from Tamil are in the spotlight, the quiet men and women who take masterpieces from other languages and render them in Tamil say there isn't much support for their kind of work.

There are few takers for the idea that a language keeps evolving if enriched by thought from other cultures. "Most people who translate from other languages into Tamil are doing it for the pure love of it. There isn't any recognition, local government support or monetary gain," says E Sriram, former president of Alliance Francaise de Madras who has been translating French books into Tamil from 1980. His repertoire includes works of Albert Camus, Alexandre Dumas, Guy de Maupassant, Jean-Paul Sartre and Moliere.

Full report here Times of India

Sahitya Sabha research centre at Kolkata

Breaking new grounds in promoting Assamese language and literature, the Asam Sahitya Sabha is all set to establish a new research centre at Kolkata. The facility named Jonaki Language-Literature-Culture Centre, would bring into focus the literary and cultural rejuvenation that was brought about by the journal Jonaki way back in the 19th century.

At a press meet held at the Bhagawati Prasad Baruah Bhawan, in Guwahati, Sabha president Rongbong Terang revealed that a scheme detailing the centre has been handed over to West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya, who has appreciated the initiative and assured the Sabha of his support.

The centre would serve the interest of researchers who would like to study various aspects of the Jonaki period, including the works of noted litterateurs who were intrinsic to the movement that gave Assamese literature a new dimension.

Full report here Assam Tribune

Monday, June 28, 2010

Making language relevant

Greater exposure to the outside world has enabled Kashmiris to broaden their perspectives and to challenge beliefs and stereotypes about their own culture and identity. Many of these beliefs and stereotypes were imprinted on the Kashmiri psyche by centuries of oppression. By observing the nature of society in other places – whether they are other states of India or foreign countries – Kashmiris have noticed the pride and commitment with which the various nations and ethnic groups of the world adhere to their cultures and languages. This has made the Kashmiri people think about the neglect and inferiority complex that has surrounded their relationship with their mother tongue.

Since the resumption of elected government in Kashmir in 1997, activists and organisations have sprouted championing the cause of the Kashmiri language. Due to their efforts, the J&K Government has introduced Kashmiri as a compulsory subject in schools. Yet, even though the decision was taken in 2000, it has taken nearly a decade to implement it, and even now there are still many wrinkles to be ironed out.

Full report here Greater Kashmir

94% primary students in India cannot recognise English

For 94% of the primary students in India, English is an alien language. And this is official.

A study conducted by the Programme Evaluation Organisation (PEO) of the Planning Commission has revealed that 94 per cent of the students in primary schools across the country cannot recognise the English alphabets. This reality check is major setback for prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s UPA government that has embarked on a major initiative to universalise primary education, and grant the right to education.

The ‘Programme Evaluation Organization’ (PEO) headed by deputychairman Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia has come out with this data through an evaluation study of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in order to assess its impact.

Full report here DNA

Sunday, June 27, 2010

613th birth anniversary of Kabir celebrated

More than 2,000 Kabirpanthis, followers of 15th century devotional poet Kabir Das, gathered here Saturday to celebrate his 613th birth anniversary or 'praktyotsava (appearance in human form)' of the saint.

The one-day event at the Soor Sadan auditorium here included a satsang and recital of his 'dohe (couplets)' to the accompaniment of Kabiri musical instruments like 'Khanjri', 'dholak', 'chimta', 'manjeera', 'jhanjh', 'harmonium' and 'tamboora'.

According to Rajendra Prasad, president of the organising committee, the followers of Kabir are both Hindus and Muslims and follow different life-styles and traditions.

'Kabir criticised the dogmatic follies associated with religions, hitting out against kings and caste leaders of his time,' Prasad said.

Kabir's 'dohe' have survived as traditional wisdom for more than 500 years, producing music in countless local dialects and regional styles, he said.

Full report here Sify

NSP to confer Bhanu Purashkar to Sikkim CM

Chief Minister of Sikkim Pawan Chamling will be conferred with the prestigious Bhanu Purashkar by Nepali Sahitya Parishad during the Bhanu Jayanti celebration on July 13.

The award is being conferred to Pawan Chamling ‘Kiran’ for his outstanding contribution in the promotion and development of Nepali literature, informs a press release issued by Nepali Sahitya Parishad.

Poet ‘Kiran’ started writing at the early age of 17 including ‘Vir ko Parichay’ and several others. Some of his writings are Antaheen Sapna Mero Bipana, Mo ko Hun, Mero Sapana ko Sikkim, Damthang Hijo Aja and others.

Established in 1985, the Nepali Sahitya Parishad has been conferring this award to encourage writers who have contributed for the promotion of Nepali language and literature. About 24 literary figures have received the award so far.

Full report here Voice of Sikkim

Kerala institute willing to translate Tamil literary works

The International Institute of Dravidian Linguistics in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala is willing to translate Tamil literary works into Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam, said Puthusseri Ramachandran, honorary professor of the Institute, here on Friday.

Speaking to TheHindu on the sidelines of the World Classical Tamil Conference (WCTC), he explained: “This is in response to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi's call on Thursday for translating Tamil literary works into other languages.”

A poet and writer, Mr. Ramachandran has done extensive research on the evolution of the Dravidian languages. “We have the expertise and the infrastructure to carry out the translation. This will be discussed by the institute's board and a formal proposal will be sent to the Tamil Nadu government,” he said.

Translation was important to enable each linguistic section understand the language and culture of the other. As a first step, at least the States in South India, which was the cradle of the Dravidian culture, should know each other through their literary works.

Full report here Hindu

History of Gujarati publishing, now in a book

The first printed book in Gujarati was written by a surgeon 200 years ago. Interestingly, it was written not by a Gujarati but an Englishman Dr Robert Drummond. In 1808, he wrote "Illustrations of the grammatical parts of the Guzerattee, Mahratta & English language," which is known as the first printed Gujarati book.

This and much more trivia about Gujarati publishing history is contained in Deepak Mehta's recently published book, Oganishmi Sadi Gujarati granth samrudhhi'. The book deals in interesting aspects of Gujarati books and men of letters. This well-researched work has colourful insights and inside stories on Gujarati books.

Not much is known about Drummond, except that he was appointed to the Bombay medical establishment in 1796. He was residency surgeon, Baroda and surgeon to the judge of appeal and circuit in Gujarat, and was struck off the rolls of the Bombay army on March 14, 1809, after getting lost at sea on his way home.

While in Gujarat, he learnt Gujarati. The 142-page book, separated into chapters, mainly contains glossary. Though the book was written in three languages, most of it was in Gujarati language.

Full report here Times of India 

Manipuri scholar translated Thirukural

A Manipuri woman scholar, Devi Soibcon Rebikka Devioted to Tamil has translated the ancient Tamil work Thirukkural in Manipuri language and her work is slated to be released soon.
Ms Devi, who was in Coimbatore to attend the World Classical Tamil Conference (WCTC) said she had the opportunity to hear Tamil stories at an early age from her neighbors, who happened to be Tamilians.
Later, she became interested in learning Tamil language.
When she studied ''Thirukkural'' along with the meaning, she thought of translating the two line couplets into Manipuri.
Full report here Assam Tribune

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sabha confers Sahityacharya on three litterateurs

The Asam Sahitya Sabha has decided to confer the coveted ‘Sahityacharya’ honour on three senior litterateurs of the state. According to a statement from the Sabha, noted scholar and essayist Dr Pramod Chandra Bhattacharya, well-known writer Dr Amalendu Guha and distinguished poet and writer Nalinidhar Bhattacharya would be given the awards.

Senior scholar Pratapchandra Choudhury would also be given the ‘Sadasya Mahiyan’ honour, the statement added.

In another statement, Sabha general secretary Paramananda Rajbongshi stated that the Bishnu Rabha Diwas was observed for the first time in Kolkata under the aegis of the Sahitya Sabha. The programme was organized in association with the historic ASL Club and the Kolkata Sahitya Chora at Assam Bhawan. The Sabha flag was hoisted by its president Rang Bong Terang.

Full report here Assam Tribune

Give Rabha his due: Bodo Sahitya Sabha

Cultural doyen Kalaguru Bishnu Rabha did not get his due, the president of Bodo Sahitya Sabha, Kameswar Brahma, said on June 25.

Inaugurating a programme on the occasion of Bishnu Rabha Divas at the Basic Training Centre Auditorium at Kokrajhar, Brahma rued that the state government had not done enough to preserve Rabha’s works and said it was regrettable.The programme was organised by the Kokrajhar district unit of the Asam Sahitya Sabha.

The contribution of the legendary poet-painter-actor to Assamese literature and society is commendable, according to Brahma. “Some of his literary creations are not being properly preserved and are lying scattered here and there. The government should take steps to preserve the works done by him,” Brahma said.

Full report here Telegraph

Friday, June 25, 2010

Modern Hindi is 135 years old

It is a fascinating tale of how the British manufactured history and actually created a language for the Hindus–to give them identity and make them the so called owners of the land. The culprits were John Borthwick Gilchrist (June 1759 – 1841) was a noted British Indologist like Sir James Princep. The other partners in crime were Sr. Mortimer, Sir William Jones, Pandit Radhakantta, Sadal Misr, and Sir James Princep. They worked in unison, and conjured up Ashoka. Sr. Jones came up with false artifacts most of which have been discredited–even by Bharati sources. Dr. Glicrist created a Sanskritized version of Hindu Hindi with the help of a Brahmin of Gujarat, Lallu Lai who translated several books into pure Sanskritized “Hindi” from Persian or Persianized Urdu. According to RS McGregor Lallu Ji Lai and his colleagues produced numbers of translations and adaptations of … of the Sanskrit Bhdgavata Purdna, at the order of John Gilchrist.

John Glicrist wrote a dictionary of Urdu but he called it Hindustani.

Lallu Lal, under the inspiration of Dr. Gilchrist, changed all that by writing the famous Prem Sagar, whose prose portions are on the whole Urdu, from which Persian words have been throughout replaced by Indo-Aryan words. . . . The new dialect gave a lingua franca to the Hindus.)

Some recent Hindi writers have protested against this account of the origin of Modern Hindi, but so far as I can see, their protests do not seem to hold much water.

Full report here Rupeenews

Growth of Tamil publishing industry

As on date 1,000 publishers – big and small – are in the field, says T. Stalin Gunasekaran

The rich, vibrant and vivacious Tamil publishing industry is one of the oldest in the country. Thanks to Christian missionaries, the first Tamil book was published in the 16th Century. Then on, it has passed through various phases. As on date 1,000 publishers – big and small – are in the field.

Almost 50 per cent of those are small players who operate on a limited scale. Around 400 publishers are active and of those 200 are have publishing as their full-time business. And most of these are less than 20 years old.

According to The Book Sellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI) the publishers come up with about 6,000 Tamil books a year, of which 1,000 are re-prints. This means 5,000 new Tamil books enter the market. The publishers can be classified as those who bring out text books, all genres of books, literary and philosophical books, research books meant mostly for libraries, translated works, only astrological books and religious and children's books.

Full report here Hindu

Wikipedia English read the most

Wikipedia English has beaten other languagesin terms of the number of articles, but faces threat from other languages in terms of growth rate, which shows a negative trend.

The site has recently launched the mobile version of the page, making more people say “I can read Wikipedia”.
According to the Wikipedia statistics on multilingual ranking as of December 2009, English is the only language to reach 3 million article mark. Other languages such as German and French are joining the million bandwagon soon. The English version has a total of 3,138,116 articles, 355,619,017 users and 11,270,806 active users. Understandably, a larger chunk of people who read Wikipedia know English.

According to the same statistics, the total number of articles on Wikipedia is 14,635,028, with 21,125,164 users.

Full report here Ciol

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Noted scholar bags literary award

The Anundoram Borooah Award Committee of the Anundoram Borooah Institute of Language Art & Culture (ABILAC) Assam has decided to confer the Anundoram Borooah Award for the year 2007 on Dr Pramod Chandra Bhattacharyya, the noted scholar in the field of language and folklore, informed a press release.

The award was instituted by the Anundoram Borooah Institute of Language Art & Culture (ABILAC) Assam in the year 1991 to perpetuate the hallowed memory of Anundoram Borooah the great Sanskrit scholar and civil servant, to be bestowed every year on a scholar who set high standards of excellence in the sphere of scholarship, especially in the fields of Sanskrit and allied Indological studies, literary and linguistic studies and studies in art and culture.

Full report here Assam Tribune 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

‘I Am An Assamese, A Bengali And A Sylheti. What Exactly Am I?’

I COME FROM a small town, Karimganj, tucked away like an inconvenient problem on the southernmost fringes of the Indo-Bangladesh border. The widely-spoken languages here are Bengali and Sylheti — I never spoke Assamese until I joined Cotton College in Guwahati. My mother, for instance, spoke Sylheti at home, to haggle with the vendors in her tongue. She taught Bengali at the neighbourhood school in town.

As a young child, I had asked my mother if we were Sylhetis or Bengalis. She had told me a story — my grandmother’s extended family’s roots originated in Sylhet, in what is now Bangladesh. As communal unrest grew in the pro vinces, they fled to the relative safety of Karimganj. Many Bengali Hindus who had fled their erstwhile homes sought refuge in this land. In course of time, they made it their own little paradise, picking up the pieces of their erstwhile memories. Nostalgia pervaded every aspect of their daily existence. I understood while growing up that Barak Valley was never going to be a part of Assam as was being demanded.

Full report here Tehelka 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Truth about fiction

Manu Joseph, debut novelist, says that journalism is a high form of literature

You might put it all down to attitude. When journalist Manu Joseph moved to Bombay (now Mumbai), having been promised office accommodation, and found himself living in a chawl, he might have grumbled a bit. He doesn't say so. But he obviously put his experience there to good use. And now that his debut novel, Serious Men — brought out by Fourth Estate — whose protagonist is a chawl dweller, has simultaneously been published in the U.S., Britain and India, translated into a number of languages, including French, Danish, Serbian and German, and received critical acclaim, he might just be glad for the opportunity to observe life close-up in one of the beehives Mumbai is famous for housing its lesser privileged multitudes in.

It seems more and more noted journalists are turning to fiction. Joseph points out that writing the novel “was not an escalation” for him, because “journalistic writing is very challenging,” and is affronted when people consider journalism to be less of an art than, say, fiction writing. “I think it's very unfair that journalism is not considered literature,” remarks the author, who has held senior positions in the features sections of leading Indian newspapers and journals. “I believe that journalism, when done well, is a very high form of literature, especially feature writing.”

Full report here Hindu

Tamil saw its first book in 1578

The history of publishing and printing in Tamil is as interesting and rich as the language itself.

The first book dates back to October 20, 1578. On the eventful day, Portuguese missionary Henrique Henriques (also Anrique Anriquez) published ‘Thambiraan Vanakkam' with paper imported from China.

Tamil historian Pulavar S. Raju says the 10x14 cm book had 16 pages of 24 lines each and had the very Tamil font that was then used on palm leaves and stones.

The book was a translation of the Portuguese Doctrina Christam, authored by Francis Xavier. Mr. Raju says the book was published as a result of Father Henriques' efforts to have a prayer book in Tamil.

The book was printed in Kollam using a printing machine imported from Portugal in 1556. “This was the first book to be published in an Indian language,” he points out.

That was the age when Vijayanagar Empire King Sriranga Rayar the first (1578-1586), Mysore ruler Raja Woodayar (1578-1617), Madurai ruler Veerappa Nayakar (1572-1595) and Thanjavur's Achuthappa Nayakar (1572-1614) were still using copper plates and stones for disseminating information.

Full report here Hindu

Maiden tryst with Kalaguru

Bishnu Rabha Divas was observed in Kolkata — the country’s cultural capital — over the past two days with a call to build cultural bridges, break barriers of language and strengthen the bond of humanity.

Asam Sahitya Sabha, in collaboration with Sahitya Akademi, organised a literary forum to observe the death anniversary of Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha at the Sahitya Akademi auditorium here this evening. A documentary on Rabha was also screened.

Last evening, Kolkata Sahitya Chora and Assam Socio Literary (ASL) Club observed Rabha Divas at Assam Bhawan, for the first time in the city, to reminisce the contributions of the cultural doyen.

Full report here Telegraph