Pasunoori Ravinder, a Post-Doctoral Fellow from University of Hyderabad (UoH) has been selected for the prestigious Sahitya Akademi’s Yuva Puraskar for the year 2015 for his collection of stories titled Out of Coverage Area in the Telugu language category.
Ravinder, a doctorate in Telugu literature from the Department of Telugu, UoH, dealt with the nuances of the caste system. He is a native of Warangal district in Telangana.
The annual yuva puraskar is given to writers aged below 35, in 23 languages. A jury of eminent writers in each language selects the winners. Ravinder will receive a casket containing an engraved copper-plaque and a cheque of Rs 50,000 at a special ceremony to be announced soon.
In an interview to UoH Herald, Ravinder pours out his heart on the circumstances in which he has written the stories and shares his life experiences……..
UH: Would you talk a bit about your award?
PR: The Sahitya Akademi Award is the most prestigious one after the Jnanpith Award, which is the highest honour for contribution to Indian literature. With the sole aim of encouraging new talent the Sahitya Akademi has constituted the Yuva Puraskar. Young littérateurs are selected from say twenty three languages. I feel greatly honoured to have been selected from the two Telugu speaking states in the country.
UH: Tell us something about your latest book Out of Coverage Area?
PR: The title itself denotes that it deals with people and incidents that are remote to the mainstream. The sufferings of the marginalized have been depicted in this collection of stories. The travails I had to undergo for being a Dalit and the widespread discrimination in a modern and liberal society provided fuel to come up with this novella. Caste is undergoing subtle changes these days which are highly complex given the rampant globalization as a context. We, in India, have developed science and technology to the extent that it is now possible to take up expedition to Mars. In contrast the Indian society looks down upon the dalits in a disgusting way. Caste has now moved to the metropolis in the form of real estate ventures. This state of post-untouchability forms the major theme in my stories.
UH: What challenges and opportunities do you see for young authors interested in writing on social issues?
PR: Writing is a social responsibility and the youth needs to understand this clearly. Society is unjust and inequitable. Young writers have to come forward to break this vicious cycle. Now what we have is a career minded youth who lack fundamental awareness on social reality. Therefore, they tend become doctors and engineers rather than writers. Writing is all about creativity and unless you have zeal and passion words do not flow out. The opportunities that we have now for publishing literary works are limited. In such a situation young writers and poets cannot persist. There are many factors that impact our thought process; it is not easy for the young writers to walk studiously.
UH: How was your stay at the University of Hyderabad and why did you chose to study here?
PR: While at the university I was known more as a student leader than anything else. I was very active during the movement for separate Telangana. Prior to that, I waged a relentless battle to protect university lands that endeared me to all. One of my friends is a faculty at JNU. At the inauguration of the book “Out of Coverage Area” at New Delhi, he reminded the audience about my struggle to protect university lands. That really dazzled me. I am a gold medalist in MA at Kakatiya University and strongly believed that I should take up research on Telugu literature. Some of my colleagues there suggested that I join a central university where the scope for research is wide. That’s when I landed up in Central University. After M.Phil and Ph.D., I am now pursing post-doctoral research.
UH: Tell us something about your childhood and your education?
PR: My early life has not been a bed of roses. Financial woes and caste discrimination hampered my childhood days. My father Veeraswamy was a rickshaw puller and my mother Varavva worked as a coolie in Warangal grain market. I have three siblings and all the four of us persevered with education despite odds. I spent my entire childhood in the dingy Shivanagar adjacent to Warangal railway station. I did my primary education from Nethaji Vidya Nikethan, matriculation from the government high school in Shivanagar, Plus Two from Rangasaipet Government Junior College and graduation from Mahabubia Panjatan Degree College.
UH: What influence has your family played in your life so far?
PR: The values inculcated by my parents were crucial in bringing me up to this position. The company you keep shapes your outlook; one should be very careful in choosing friends. This was the main moral that my mother taught me. Education is the only asset that we can amass, my mother said often. I am relatively happy that my brothers too have followed my path.
UH: Who is your inspiration?
PR: Phule and Ambedkar were the two real fighters who waged a relentless war against social inequalities and dreamed of an egalitarian society. They taught us that education was the only weapon with which the marginalized can get on to their lives. They lived their lives selflessly and simultaneously fought for social reforms. These two icons inspired my life in ways more than one. When it comes to being a writer, I am truly inspired by the grit and determination of Gurram Jashua.
UH: What is your advice to the young aspiring writers?
PR: The way you live your life inspires you. Being a writer one manifests the highest ideal of humanism. Only when you live true to yourself you will sustain as a writer. Social responsibility must be the guiding principle when you feel like writing something; not name and fame. Your writings should serve as the voice of the downtrodden that include women, dalits, adivasis, bahujans and minorities. Your works should reflect their aspirations. For this to happen, a writer should have the right perspective. A critical appraisal of the historical progression of Telugu literature and an understanding of the current trends can help in determining your outlook and plan of action. You cannot understand the present without grasping the past and without a proper perspective of the present you cannot imagine the future. This is my message to the aspiring writers.
-Dr. Pasunoori Ravinder
Poet & Writer
Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar-2015 Winner
Post Doctoral Fellow,
Department of Telugu
University of Hyderabad
Mobile: 77026 48825