Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch Monday said the government was focussed on archiving for better documentation, cataloguing and accessibility to literature in libraries to ensure "better education" in the country.
"How can we ensure better education without libraries. In today's system of education, libraries are not paid importance. We are focusing on modernisation of libraries," Katoch said at an exhibition of text art she inaugurated at the Rabindranath Bhavan lawns of the Meghdoot cultural complex in the capital Monday.
She also announced the winners of this year's Sahitya Akademi awards at the exhibition that showcased literary careers of the 23 awardees.
"To carry Indian literature to the grassroots, we have to concentrate on housewives in the rural areas who make up the bulk of the vernacular readership," K. Srinivasa Rao, secretary of Sahitya Akademi, told IANS.
Library plays an important role to take books to villages, he said. "Till 30 years ago, libraries were in use for reading newspapers and to borrow books, especially in villages. But the motivation to use libraries has waned with the modern system of education and the arrival of the internet.
"Libraries will have to be developed with public-private partnerships to revive the culture of reading in archives," Rao said.
The Akademi has increased the pace and the quality of its translation activity as well, Rao added.
"Right now, we are translating across the languages for readers within the country. We have been building a body of new translators with translation workshops. Quality translations and quality translators are difficult to get. Translating across Indian languages is a very big and difficult task," Rao said.
Explaining the process of inter-language translation, he said: "The books had to be first translated into link languages of English or Hindi before being translated into the target language."
"Translators with good command over English and Hindi are difficult to come by," he said.
Rao said this year, the Sahitya Akademi wanted to reach out to the maximum number of people to raise awareness about regional writing with an exhibition.
The exhibition displaying Sahitya Akademi books, book art installations and visual panels about the award-winning writers drew large crowd.
This year's Sahitya Akademi awardees include Chandana Goswami (Assamese), Subrata Mukhopadhyay (Bengali), Guneswar Musahary (Bodo), Bal Krishan Bhaura (Dogri), Jeet Thayil (English), Chandrakant Amritlal Topiwala (Gujarati), Chandrakant Devtale (Hindi), H.S. Shiva Prakash (Kannada), Makhan Lal Kanwal (Kashmiri), Kashinath Shamba Lolyekar (Konkani) and Shefalika Verma (Maithili).
The list also includes K. Satchidanandan (Malayalam) and Jodha Chandra Sanasam (Manipuri), Jayant Pawar (Marathi), Udai Thulung (Nepali), Gourahari Das (Odia), Darshan Buttar (Punjabi), Aidan Singh Bhati (Rajasthani),Ramjee Thakur (Sanskrit), Gangadhar Hansda (Santhali),(late) Indra Vaswani (Sindhi), D. Selvaraj (Tamil) Peddibhotla Subbaramaiah (Telugu) and Krishan Kumar Toor (Urdu).
The Sahitya Akademi is the literary wing of the union ministry of culture and its prestigious award is given across genres to Indian language writers and poets. It carries a purse of Rs. 100,000 and a citation.
The Akademi on Monday also inaugurated the five-day "Festival of Letters", an annual Indian literary extravaganza.
The festival will feature "Festival and Other Arts", the institution's annual seminar, besides programmes like Writers' Meet, Samvatsar Lectures, Spin a Tale, Young Poets' Meet, Poetry on Canvas and live performances.