Friday, March 28, 2014




Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi invites writers residing or working in Chandigarh to submit PRINTED BOOKS in Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, or English (Poetry, Fiction, Plays) published in 2013.

Three copies of each book should be sent to the CSA office (1st Floor, State Library, Sector 34, Chandigarh), by APRIL 4, 2014.

Edited books and those published with financial help from CSA or from another agency will not be considered.

Manju Jaidka
Chairperson, CSA

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Poetry Session with Rukmini Bhaya Nair

Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi seems to have its plate full all the time and everytime. If it is not hosting outstanding writers from outside the region, it is busy with its local talent, giving it a suitable platform, encouraging new voices to emerge from the cocoon and be heard. If is isn't a mega event like a Festival of Letters being organized, there is something else in the offing -- like a kahani utsav or a kavya mehfil or an announcement of awards for published or unpublished books, or competitions for the younger generation.  Truly, the Akademi is busy all year round and even before one can recover from one Akademi event comes an invitation for another and yet another.

This evening, at the UT Guest House there was a blend of several voices: six selected poets of the city presented their work-in-progress in the presence of an established poet from Delhi. 

The chief guest of the day was Rukmini Bhaya Nair, an eminent linguist, award winning poet, writer and critic. She is a Professor of Linguistics and English at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, internationally recognized for her work in the areas of linguistics, cognition and literary theory. She is also the acclaimed author of poetry collections includingYellow HibiscusThe Ayodhya Cantos and The Hyoid Bone, along with several academic publications. As the editor of Biblio, India's leading literary and cultural journal, she is also part of the Australian ABC Radio's panel of experts for its well-known program 'The Book Show'. In addition, she contributes to all major national dailies and magazines and is a frequent panelist on Mark Tully's BBC broadcast 'Something Understood'. Rukmini's writings, both creative and critical, are taught on courses at universities such as Chicago, Toronto Kent, Oxford and Washington, and she contends that she writes poetry for the same reason that she does research in cognitive linguistics - to discover the limits of language. Her great ambition is simply to continue to write and research. This evening she presided over the poetry session, read some of her  poems, and also engaged the audience in an animated discussion of poetry and poetics.

Among the local voices, Kailash Ahluwalia, an established senior poet who has formerly taught at a local college, was the first to read his poems. He  writes in English and in Hindi and he has earlier received a life-time achievement award from the CSA. Jasbir Kaur regaled the audience with her witty poems dedicated to the spirit of woman. Reenu Talwar, a free lance writer and translator, read several of her short pieces, each poem packed with profound thought.  Maniinder Bains, artist and poet, recited poetry that was evocative and sensuous. For Archana R. Singh, who is from media studies, it was a maiden attempt at poetry recitation; her mature, controlled poems in Hindi were much appreciated.Vijaya Singh, who has earlier composed poetry in English, surprised the audience with her well-crafted thought-provoking poems on subjects as unusual as a razai or an aaloo.

The two-hour programme was a celebration of womanhood, March being a month dedicated to the cause. A society is invariably judged by the way its women are treated. CSA, believing that all women should have a voice and should "make a difference", endeavours to give women writers and women's issues a space and platform. These endeavours are  apparently successful, judging from the fact that almost half the audience today comprised male members who did not simply agree with the views that are presented, but also lend continued support to the initiatives of the CSA. 

The Chairperson Manju Jaidka, Vice-Chairman Anil Raina, and Secretary Madhav Kaushik, working in tandem together, have  certainly carved a niche for the CSA in the City Beautiful, bringing together events that one waits for with great expectations!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Final Day of Festival 2014

The 5th Annual Festival of Letters organized by the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi concluded today at the Panjab University. It was a grande finale with a large number of youngsters participating in a Literary Quiz followed by the prize distribution.
Today the audience comprised mainly youngsters from the campus who took a keen interest in two morning sessions, the first a ru-ba-ru with the Punjabi writer Manmohan Singh, followed by a reading and Q and A with Geetanjali Shree who writes in Hindi.
Punjabi poet and critic Manmohan's debut Punjabi novel Nirvaan has won this year's Sahitya Akademi Award. An Indian Police Services (IPS) of Bihar cadre, he is now the inspector general, police, with Intelligence Bureau at Chandigarh. In a highly charged personal interaction with the audience he shared his life experiences that have shaped his writings.
Geetanjali Shree, the author of the award winning novel Mai writes fiction in Hindi and non-fiction in both Hindi and English. She engaged the audience with varied themes related to her work, such as Hindu-Muslim relations, terrorist violence, women's friendships and loves and lives. 
The post-lunch session witnessed a Literary Quiz conducted by Anil Raina. There were 17 teams that participated. The winning team was Nishtha Saxena and Rohit Sharma from the English dept. Second in position came Shantanu from Psychology and Aditya from the Dept of Chinese. The third prize went to Gursheen from PEC and Ruchi from the Dept of English. 
Shri KK Sharma, Adviser to the Administrator, gave away the prizes to the winners. Addressing the young students he encouraged them to take part in literary activities that are regularly organized in the city. 

Prizes were also given to students who successfully participated in competitions at the school level and college level. University students who won prizes in competitions held last month were also awarded prizes.
This marked the conclusion of the 3-day Festival of Letters. Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi has, within these three days given the city a brief glimpse of the totality of its activities, catering to the needs of the young and the old.  
Photographs of todays events are accessible from the Facebook page of Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 2 for festival 2014

Day 2 of Festival of Letters:  CSA's encounter with royalty, jewish history, Palestine, journalism and poetry:

Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi is caught a strange situation that is more amusing than annoying. Of late it has been getting phone calls from several curious people asking what kind of letters are being composed  by invited award-winning writers. 
At first the questions were perplexing and confusion became more confounded when some local dailies announced that CSA was holding a "chitthiyan da vela" or a "Patra Mahotsav".  And then the realization dawned that Festival of Letters was being interpreted as "Letters" as in love-letters or formal letters or resignation letters or their like.  The mystery cleared, CSA would like to inform all concerned that Festival of Letters has nothing to do with letter-writing: it is concerned with words or 'akshara' or 'shabd', all of which go into the making of 'sahitya' or literature. And literature is the subject of our story!

So, putting this preamble behind, here is a sum-up of today's events that were held at the UT Guest House. 

The morning began with Githa Hariharan who has written novels, short stories, essays and newspaper columns. Hariharan’s first novel, The Thousand Faces of Night, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book. Her work since then includes the short story collection The Art of Dying, and the novels The Ghosts of Vasu Master, When Dreams Travel, In Times of Siege, and Fugitive Histories. This morning she read from some of her works and spoke at length of her latest book which came out just a fortnight back, a collection of non-fictional on Palestine titled From  India to Palestine: Essays in Solidarity

The speaker of the second session was Imam Mir Jaffar who is a social scientist specializing in human relations and industrial communications. He has a passion for history, Urdu and Persian poetry.  He is a scion of the erstwhile ruling families of Surat and Kamadhia in Gujarat. He is the author of “Mirza Ghalib and the Mirs of Gujarat” and “For the Love of Mahatma” both published by Rupa Publications. At present he is working on a book on Rumi titled, “Sufism through  Rumi’s poems” and a book on Lord Shiva titled: “Lord Shiva – The Cosmic Energy”. A person deeply influenced by Sufism, he hails from the Sufi Chisty Order. He spoke on the poetry of Rumi and his talk was moderated by Vijai Vardhan, a civil servant and poet in his own right.

Esther David, is of Jewish origins. She lives in Gujarat and is interested in recovering the history of Jews in India, a subject that has been neglected so far. Esther David won the national Sahitya Akademi award in 2010 for English literature.  She is the author of The Walled City, By The Sabarmati, Book Of Esther, Book Of Rachel; My Father’s Zoo, Shalom India Housing Society, The Man With Enormous Wings and has co-authored a book on India’s Jewish Heritage, Ritual, Art And Life Cycle.  She received the Hadassah Brandeis Research award 2011-2012 to work on a book on Bene Israel Jewish women of Ahmedabad with photographer Bindi Sheth. Today's talk related to her personal experiences, revolving around what it is like to be a Jew in India.

Rahul Singh, the son of the celebrated Khushwant Singh, was in conversation with Rani  Balbir, a session that was free-wheeling, touching upon several aspects of the grand old man's personality, writings, and the influence he has had on Indian writing in English. The session was, predictably, punctuated with personal anecdotes and reminiscences. No doubt Khushwant Singh ji who has delighted in cultivating a bohemian mask all his life,  is a remarkable man, but it is not hard to see traces of the old man's sense of humour in his son. Rahul Singh comes across as a very pleasant, likeable, self-effasive person.

Jitendra Srivastava is a poet who also an academician, teaching at IGNOU in Delhi.  Although he was the last speaker of the day, he mesmerized the audience with his powerful poetry, a lot of which is concerned with life on campus, which is not surprising. Being a sensitive soul, he is distressed at the degradation of values and the lack of commitment in academic today. Srivastava, a winner of several Akademi awards, speaks strongly in favour of women, of the girl child and the ills of society. Much appreciated by the audience was his love poetry which got him the maximum applause.

Truly, it was a full day for the Akademi but the Festival of Letters is not over yet.  Another day to go

TOMORROW'S EVENTS beginning 1030, will be held at the English Auditorium in Panjab University.  The speakers are Manmohan Singh (Punjabi writer) and Geetanjali Shree (Hindi writer), both very well-known, both award-winning.

Post lunch tomorrow will be a QUIZ CONTEST open to all, followed by DISTRIBUTION OF PRIZES to winners of competitions for school, college and university students. These competitions were held last month.

Manju Jaidka
Chairperson CSA

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Day 1 of Festival of Letters 2014

Day 1 of Festival of Letters

Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi Festival of Letters began this morning. This is the fifth consecutive year that the festival is being held. Although literary events are spaced regularly through the year, come February and the Akademi presents a bonanza of sorts, putting together an interesting array of writers from different parts of the country. 

This is also the time of the year when annual awards are given to senior writers of the city and when youngsters get prizes for their literary debuts.

This morning the Inaugural session at the English Auditorium saw a select gathering of literature lovers gather together to hear the keynote address of the chief guest, Sh. Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari, President of the National Sahitya Akademi and to cheer for the selected septuagenarians and octogenarians at the felicitations ceremony. Gracing the occasion was the Adviser to the Administrator, Sh. KK Sharma.

In the limelight today for their lifetime achievement in the field of letters were the following seniors who have devoted their lives to the promotion of literature:
1.   Krishan Gautam (Urdu)
2.   Rajinder Nishesh (Hi)
3.   Jia Lal Handu (Hi) 
4.  Sharanjeet Kaur (Pbi)
5. Jung Bahadur Goyal (Pbi)

Shri Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari, in his keynote address raised valid questions pertaining to literature. He stressed on the fact that literature is a means whereby all that is positive in the world may survive. It has a civilizing effect on the human race and it should be a high-priority item in the state's governance.  A writer has no country or religion; he (or she) is the voice of the truth that should not be gagged. 

Other invited speakers of the day were Dhwanil Parikh from Gujarat, Alka Saraogi who writes in Hindi and lives in Kolkata, and Rattan Lal Shant from Jammu.

An academician with a doctoral degree in literature, Dhwanil Parekh has a keen interest in mythic traditions in drama. In particular, he has studied works based on the epic the Mahabharat.  He is the recipient of the 'Yuva gaurav puraskar'-2008 from Gujarat Sahitya Akademi, and the Ýuva Puraskar -2011 from the National Sahitya Akademi, Delhi, for his playAntim Yuddh.

Alka Saraogi's first novel Kalikatha via Bypass won the Sahitya Akademi award in 2001. She has published three more novels and has two collections of short stories. She is translated into many European languages and regional languages. 

Rattan Lal Shant writes in Urdu, English and Hindi. He has authored short story collections, critical books, monographs, and poetry collections.  His awards include the 2007 Sahitya akademi Award, CIIL’s Bhasha Bharati and the Soviet Land Nehru Award for his translation, and J&K Cultural Akademi Award for his Poetry.

The speakers spoke of their sources of inspiration and how they evolved as creative writers in sessions moderated by Sudhir Kumar, Vandana R. Singh and Kamal Arora. Altogether the day was intellectually stimulating and covered literature from diverse regions.

Tomorrow, i.e., on 9th Feb 2014, the sessions will be held at the UT Guest House, beginning at 1030 in the morning. Speakers listed for the day are Githa Hariharan, Imam Mir Jaffar, Esther David, Rahul Singh, and Jitendra Srivastava. 

All are cordially invited.

 A group photo of the recipients of the Awards of recognition (along with CSA office bearers and the Adviser) is attached. Also a photo of Sh Tiwari.

Monday, February 3, 2014




Hindi Poetry:
1. Karan Tewari (Dept of Defence Studies) and Nikhil Kaushik (UILS)
2. Priyanka Sharma (Hindi Dept)
3. Anant Ram (Hindi Dept), Shweta Mittal (Laws), and Ravinder Kaur (Economics)
Consolation Prizes: Shuchita  (Physics),  and Vinam Mehta (Physics)

Hindi Short Story:
1. Priyanka Sharma (Hindi)
2. Karan Tewari (Defence Studies)
3. Ritu Saini (Physics)
Consolation: Shuchita (Physics), Nikhil Kaushik (UILS)

English Short Story:
1. Pawan Puneet (English)
2. Shantanu Sharma (Psychology)
3. Ruchika Singh (English)

English Poetry:
Consolation Prize: Sheena Vermani  (English Dept)

Punjabi Poetry:
Consolation Prize: Kiranjot (Physics)

Punjabi Short Story:
Consolation Prize: Kiranjot (Physics)

1. Gurleen  (Dept of English)
2. Vinny Verma (Dept of English)
3. Shantanu (Dept of Psychology)


Saturday, February 1, 2014


Dear Friends, lovers of literature and CSA supporters

As the winter shows signs of slowing down (it doesn, doesn't it? with Basant Panchami at our doorstep?) Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi gears up for its 5th Annual Festival of Letters.

As you may be aware, CSA has been holding regular events to which you all have been invited time and again. Your support and appreciation is the wind beneath our wings and we continue to fly above cloud 9!  Stay with us, dear Chandigarh residents, we value your good will.

And now, from the 8th to the 10th of February 2014 CSA proudly presents its Festival of Letters. The event is being held for the 5th consecutive year.

We would also like to inform you that several events have already been held in the city, leading up to the Festival. Creative Writing Competitions have been held for school children, for college students and also for university students. An Elocution Contest was also held for students  of the university. Prizes and certificates will be given on the final day of the Festival, ie, the 10th of Feb.

Just to give you an idea of the level at which the CSA operates, the speakers invited this time are ALL award-winning writers who have made a mark in their respective fields. Shri Vishwanath Prasad Tewari, President of the National Sahitya Akademi, will give the Keynote Address. Other invited speakers include Alka Saraogi, Dhwanil Parekh, Esther David, Geetanjali Shree, Githa Hariharan, Imam Mir Jaffar, Jitendra Shrivastava, Manmohan Singh, Rattan Lal Shant, and Rahul Singh.  

Local writers interacting with them include Aradhika Sharma, Atamjit, Vandana Rakesh, Vijai Vardhan, and Vivek Atray

Our activities are sponsored by the Chandigarh Administration and we are grateful to the Adviser to the Administrator, Shri KK Sharma, who has always been a pillar of support to the CSA. We also look forward to the august presence of the PU Vice-Chancellor, Prof Arun Grover, at the inauguration. 

A Literary Quiz (open to the public) will be held on 10th Feb at 2.00 PM.
Awards of Recognition will be given to senior writers of the city.
All this and much more. Do join us in our annual celebrations.  See you there!

On Feb 8 and 10th the venue will be the English Auditorium of Panjab University.
On 9th Feb the venue will be the usual UT Guest House. 

Manju Jaidka
Chairperson, CSA

Manju Jaidka
Chairperson, Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi
Professor of English
Panjab University