Controversy over Vishnu Wagh’s book behind move; Committee to centralise all the literary awards to be constituted
PANJIM: In an unprecedented move, the government has cancelled all 32 undeclared awards of the last two years by Goa Konkani Academy (GKA), following the recent controversy over the award to Vishnu Wagh’s book ‘Sudirsukt’, the Goa government
To put an end to such activities in the future the government has decided to formulate a committee to centralise all the literary awards to be constituted by organisations as Goa Konkani Academy (GKA), Gomantak Marathi Academy (GMA) and Directorate of Art and Culture.
‘Sudhirsukt’, a collection of Wagh’s Konkani poems, went unseen when it was published in 2013. However, recent efforts by Wagh’s supporters to get the book selected for the annual poetry award by the GKA brought the book into the limelight after it sparked anger among Goa’s elite castes, the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB), due to purported derogatory references. Wagh who has been ailing for over a year has been a literary giant of Goa,part from his political avatar and a fervent representative of bhandari community
While the awards were yet to be announced, the murmur was that the controversial book had been selected for this year’s awards for Konkani literature.
Speaking to Herald, sources from the government said, “One of the reasons that was observed is that the members of the short-listing committee of the books to recommend awards for eight different categories, had recommended their own book for the award in one of the category which is a clear indication of conflict of interest”.
“Secondly, another reason was that a public disclosure that the jury of the Konkani Academy Committee, in its confidential deliberation, selected Vishnu Wagh’s ‘Sudirsukt’, a poetry book published in 2013, for an award, by a member. So in view of these two incidents the government decided to make the undeclared awards null and void,” he said on the basis of anonymity.
Later, as the book came to limelight, one of the members of the short-listing committee, Sanjeev Verenkar, used social media to openly accuse the book as being communal. Similarly a group of women also filed a police complaint against the author along with the publisher as they claimed the book contained offensive comments about women. Wagh’s ill health prevented him from reacting to any of these developments.
Meanwhile, GKA, former President, Madhav Borkar said “With this controversy the GKA stands defamed. It is a complete loss to the academy as a whole”.