NEW DELHI, 24 Sept: Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, organized a seminar on Tea Garden Literature here at the Rabindra Bhawan Hall yesterday.
A total of eight papers were presented at the seminar by Nepali language litterateurs. The speakers shed light on the uniqueness of Tea Garden Literature and its significance in the struggle for identity among the Indian Gorkhas. The speakers emphasized the need to continue this effort with deeper research and study on Tea Garden Literature.
In the inaugural session, Sahitya Akademi Secretary KS Rao informed that the Sahitya Akademi had organized the seminar in consultation with the Nepali Advisory Board and called this seminar, a first on the said theme, an important milestone.
82 years old Sahitya Akademi awardee, KS Moktan, delivered the keynote address and spoke extensively about Darjeeling tea and the well known writers and litterateurs from the tea gardens there. Mr. Moktan expressed that since the Dooars and Darjeeling tea gardens constitute an integral part where the identity of the people living there is concerned, the need for deliberation and discussion on this topic is equally important and relevant.
The Sahitya Akademi Nepali Advisory Board Convener Dr. Jiwan Namdung, speaking on the decision to conduct a seminar on Tea Garden Literature, said that Tea Garden Literature was the base of Indian Gorkhas and informed that this was the very first initiative towards its documentation and study.
The second session was chaired by Professor NB Rai from Shillong and had Dr. Rinji Eden Wangdi make a power-point presentation on the social life of the tea gardens. Representing Darjeeling, Prem Pradhan gave an overview to the historical aspect of tea gardens in relation to the social and literary developments.
Similarly, Yogbir Shakya, representing Kalimpong, spoke about the corpus of poetry which makes up Tea Garden Literature and also presented a reading of select poems.
The next session was chaired by Durga Prasad Shrestha and had eminent playwright and writer Laxman Shrimal speak works written on the tea gardens.
Similarly, in her deeply researched paper, research scholar Garima Rai spoke on the reflections of tea garden lifestyles in Nepali fiction that showed the role of Gorkhas in Darjeeling and Dooars and their contribution in the economic and cultural fronts of the country. Indra Sundas through her talk showed the important role played by women in the making of tea gardens.
The last session was chaired by the poet and writer Shanker Deo Dhakal. Emerging writer Terence Mukhia made a presentation on the present condition and mindset in the tea gardens, the opinion of youth in the modern times and highlighted the shortcomings of the managements.
Seventy year old folklore enthusiast, Dhanahang Subba, in turn, presented a paper on he historical basis of the story ‘Naya Sainli’ where he presented the relation between white Manager and the native labor woman. With reference to the journals published in the 60s, poet, writer and journalist Bijay Banatawa spoke about the exploitation and oppression of workers in the tea gardens and traced the rise of many poets like Agamsingh Giri after the Maragret’s Hope firing incident in the post independence phase and expressed the fact the problems and identity of the tea gardens have become the marker of national identity of Gorkhas.
In his observations as the chairperson of the session, Shanker Deo Dhakal said that the problems of the tea garden were problems of the nation and now the workers themselves should look for a solution with the formation of co-operatives and self management groups.
The Deputy Secretary of Sahitya Akademi J. Ponnudurai declared the publication of these papers in an edited volume with relevant additions in English within a period of six months. The sub-editor of Sahitya Akademi, Dr. Devendra Kumar Deves said that we should recognize the historical importance of this seminar since he had not come across any references to Tea Garden Literature in the world.
Source: Sikkim Now