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Encourage young talent rather than instituting awards: writer

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Another honour: Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde presenting the Masti Venkatesh Iyengar Award to poet N.S. Lakshminarayana Bhat in Bangalore on Sunday.
Another honour: Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde presenting the Masti Venkatesh Iyengar Award to poet N.S. Lakshminarayana Bhat in Bangalore on Sunday.

Special Correspondent

Bangalore: Literary organisations should focus their energies on recognising and nurturing fresh talent rather than institute awards to honour senior writers, well-known novelist S.L. Bhyrappa said here on Sunday.

Delivering the presidential address at a function organised to confer Masti Award on poet and translator N.S. Lakshminarayana Bhat, he said young writers should be identified and given guidance by senior writers and critics.

Dr. Bhyrappa said that awards lose their value when selection of writers was done without a sense of moral responsibility. Considerations of caste, gender and region often become deciding criteria for selection rather than merit, he added.

Poet H.S. Venkatesh Murthy described Dr. Bhat as a “scholar-poet” widely read in Kannada, English and Sanskrit literature. Speaking about Masti Venkatesh Iyengar — Jnanpith award winner and the pioneer of short story tradition in Kannada in whose memory the award is instituted — he said the late writer infused a wonderful poetic sensibility in his prose writings.

He refused to make distinction between the “popular” and the “literary” and advocated a style that reaches most people, he added.

Dr. Bhat said that Masti was among those writers who fearlessly forged their own literary path without being cowed down by criticism. Early short stories of Masti were not seen as serious writing, he added. Pioneers such as B.M. Srikantiah and Gopalakrishna Adiga had faced similar criticism, he recalled.

I.M. Vittal Murthy, Secretary of the Department of Kannada and Culture, who inaugurated the function, suggested that an annual novel writing contest be started to encourage young talent.

Mavinakere Ranganath of the committee later announced that such a contest will be held from the coming year.

The award was given away by Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde.

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