New Delhi, Feb 16 (PTI) Twenty-four eminent authors writing in as many Indian languages were felicitated today by the Sahitya Akademi at its annual Festival of Letters.
The recipients were awarded a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh each for their "outstanding books of literary merit".
Urging authors from across the country to write extensively in various regional languages, Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari said that Indian writing faces a threat from the effect of colonial thinking.
"Indian literature is under threat. Colonial thinking has belittled our literature and languages and we have come to believe in that," Tiwari said at the award ceremony.
The awarded literary works have been written in 24 Indian languages, including English, Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Sanskrit, Bodo, Kashmiri, Manipuri, Nepali among others.
Pointing out how British historian Thomas Macaulay quantified Indian literature to a handful of books that would fit into a single drawer, Tiwari emphasised that the country's literature is vast and has been denied its due importance.
"India has a vast store of its own literature but the media and other countries that are considered superior to us have not given it the importance it deserves," he said.
He also said that Indian literature has perennially been written under the fearful shadow of western literature.
"All literature in Indian languages has been written under the fear of T S Eliot and Sigmund Freud. And this fear surfaces in the writing as well," he said.
Encouraging the authors, Tiwari said it was imperative for writers to free themselves from the fear of "colonial thinking" and write uninhibitedly in their respective languages.
"We need to be free from this feeling and we should write without any fear," he said.