Toronto literary meet sparks debate among Marathi litterateurs

The upcoming fourth Vishwa Sahitya Sammelan to be held in Toronto later this year has sparked a debate among Marathi litterateurs on who should be given a chance to attend the literary meet. Those who will be missing the flight to Toronto have strongly objected to the “same set of people” being given the chance to attend literary meets abroad every time.

Dr VB Deshpande (in pink) with Dr Madhavi Vaidya and Milind Joshi (in blue) before leaving for San Jose, US, to attend the first Vishwa Sahitya Sammelan in 2009

Dr V B Deshpande, former executive president of the Maharashtra Sahitya Parishad (MSP), has said upcoming writers should be given the chance to attend the fourth Vishwa Sahitya Sammelan in Toronto, Canada, from August 31 to September 2.

“How can the same people go again and again for such a prestigious world literary meet?” he said. Many writers and poets have been selected by the MSP and the organising body Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal (ABMSM) for the Toronto sammelan.

From the city, the writers and poets whose names were finalised include Anil Avachat, Anand Hardikar, Mangala Athalekar, Ramdas Phutane and Anjali Kulkarni. On behalf of the MSP, Dr Madhavi Vaidya, Milind Joshi and Kisan Patil, who are all members of the ABMSM also, will be attending the sammelan.

Deshpande, who is a former executive president of the MSP, has attended three such sammelans, at San José (US), Dubai and Singapore. Deshpande has raised strong objections to the inclusion of the names of executive members of the MSP and the ABMSM in the list of those who will get to attend the Toronto sammelan.

“Instead of naming the same people, they should have given a chance to new faces as people settled abroad are keen on interacting with upcoming talent in the Marathi literary world,” Deshpande said. “New writers’ literature is being read by the non-resident Indians (NRIs), but we are sending the same people and half of them are from the ABMSM executive body. Is it worth it to spend Rs 1 lakh each on those going to Toronto?”

Deshpande did not name the writers he felt should be given a chance to go to Toronto. Vaidya refused to comment on Deshpande’s remarks, only saying Deshpande knew the rules about literary meets organised abroad.

“He (Deshpande) knows the rules set by the ABMSM and we are eligible to go to any such sammelan as we are also representing the ABMSM executive body,” Vaidya said. “As a rule, all the members from the executive body are entitled to visit such sammelans organised abroad.”

Defending the selection of litterateurs from the city, Vaidya said they were established names in Marathi literature. “All are good, well known and renowned names in Marathi (literature) and on behalf of MSP and ABMSM they are going for the first time to Toronto,” Vaidya said.

MSP secretary Joshi said, “Deshpande had attended the last, Singapore Sammelan even though he was not in the executive body of the MSP and the ABMSM. I don’t want to comment any further on the controversy raised by him (Deshpande).”

Sukumar Kulkarni, a young writer, said, “The MSP and the ABMSM consists of people who quarrel more than work cohesively. Deshpande was one of them till his last tenure as MSP executive president. He should make his statements with responsibility and maintain the dignity of these literature bodies.”

42 going Toronto
THE list of those flying to Toronto has a total of 42 names, from writers and poets to critics and members of the ABMSM. Usha Tambe, president, ABMSM, said, “Nobody should object to the names that have been finalised by us in consultation with the Toronto-based convener group Marathi Bhashik Mandal.”

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