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Centre’s new initiative — write a letter to Bapu and win a prize

A Rare studio photograph of Mahatma Gandhi taken in London England UK at the request of Lord Irwin in 1931.

A Rare studio photograph of Mahatma Gandhi taken in London England UK at the request of Lord Irwin in 1931.   | Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

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Event assumes significance in promoting peace amid turbulent times

The Centre, as part of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi, is organising a countrywide letter-writing contest on January 21 that will let participants communicate with the Father of the Nation. Each letter must begin with the salutation, “Dear Bapu, You are immortal...”

Normally, such an exercise would pass off as routine — one of those government-conducted events that generate little interest either in the public or the media. But in turbulent times like these, when student agitations are raging across the country and when WhatsApp has emerged as the primary mode of communication — be it to stay in touch or spread rumours or even conduct mob attacks — a contest that requires putting pen to paper and writing to the apostle of non-violence assumes significance. It also comes at a time when many in the ruling party, the BJP, are openly lionising Mahatma’s assassin Nathuram Godse.

It is most likely that the event, being organised by the Department of Posts, was planned many weeks or months in advance, but now that it is going to be held in the backdrop of the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the mob attack in the JNU, the idea not only looks refreshing but can also help the Centre, if it chooses to publicise it aggressively, promote peace.

The participants will be divided into two categories, below and above 18 (for those under 18 the contest will be held in schools). They can choose to use either an an inland letter (500 words) or an envelope (1,000 words).

The event is called Dhai Akhar, and in Kolkata, the city of festivals, Postmaster General (Kolkata Circle) Amitabh Singh has decided to promote it under the banner of the Kolkata Letter Fest. It will be held in the Rotunda Hall of the handsome 1868-built General Post Office at BBD Bagh from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“It will be an open house, anybody can walk in. All they would need is pay ₹5 as registration fee. Each participant would be given a stamped envelope, paper, an India Post pen — and a cup of coffee,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu.

The letter can be written either in English, Hindi or the local language. The first prize will be ₹50,000 at the national level and ₹25,000 at the circle level. There will be three sets of prizes in both categories.

“For the Kolkata Circle, however, I intend to give away more than three prizes, maybe seven or eight, the idea being to encourage people. Letter-writing is a creative exercise, it activates the right brain. It is a habit we need to revive, it also happens to be the life-blood of the Postal department,” Mr. Singh said.

This would be the first-ever Letter Fest to be held in Kolkata — or anywhere in the country, for that matter — and if the event becomes an annual affair, then the people of Kolkata will have one more date to mark on their calendar.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 11:50:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centres-new-initiative-write-a-letter-to-bapu-and-win-a-prize/article30543870.ece

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