The year 2019 will be remembered as the one in which a misconstrued constitutional provision was set aside by the resolute leadership. Abrogation of Article 370 not only put an end to the post-Partition narrative of separatism but cleared way for total integration of J&K within nation’s federal system. It is hoped that the recently constituted union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir are all set for a political, socio-economic and cultural renaissance.
In the light of fast changing political developments, the cultural scenario at Jammu, the winter capital, barring a few exceptional achievements of individuals and events organized by NGO was more or less a run of the mill affair.
Before taking up this year’s highlights, let us remember the well known personalities who bid to goodbye to this mortal world. These include Urdu poet Pandit Vidya Rattan Aasi, Punjabi writer/scholar Prof. Sewa Singh, Dogri writer and Radio/ TV Programmer Joginder Chh
atrapal and sculptors Amrik Singh Namdhari and Jagpal Singh Bandral.
AWARDS & HOUNOURS
Octogenarian Narsingh Dev Jamwal, Dogri writer, playwright & poet, received nation’s fourth highest civilian award Padma Shri for his contribution in the field of literature and education. Eminent Dogri poetess and writer Padma Sachdev was conferred the highest honour of Sahitya Akademi Fellowship for her contributions in the field of literature particularly her mother tongue Dogri She became the eighth Indian writer to receive this honour. Om Sharma Jandriari was honoured posthumously with Sahitya Akademi Award, the national award for literature, for his Dogri book of essays ‘Bandralta Darpan’. Sunil Kumar was conferred Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar for short stories collection in Dogri, Sees while Vijay Sharma bagged the Sahitya Akademi’s Bal Sahitya Puraskar for Dogri poetry collection Larjaan.
Veteran Dogri writer Ashok Dutta was hon
ored with Prof Ram Nath Shashtri Smriti Puruskar year for his Dogri novel. Dinu Bhai Pant Life Time Achievement Award was awarded to Narsingh Dev Jamwal for his overall outstanding contribution towards Dogri literature. He was also awarded Sahitya Akademi Award for Translation.
The Republic Day Awards for achievements in the field of literature, theatre, performing arts, art & craft and life-time achievement were given respectively to Shiv Dev Singh Sushil (Dogri Writer), Makhan Lal Saraf, Darmesh Nargotra and Dr Jatinder Udhampuri. The second Kavi Rattan Rang Samman was presented to Jammu’s Gurmeet Kaur the talented theatre director/actor. Kunwar Viyogi Sahitya Kala Samman, presented annually by the Kunwar Vijogi Trust and Dogri Sanstha, Jammu to Dogri artist for their “outstanding contribution towards Dogri language, literature and its varied art forms was bestowed upon well known modern Dogri writer Chhatrapal Saraf (posthumously). While the third Kunwar Viyogi Sahitya Puruskar for the maiden book of a Dogri writer below 42 years old was given to young writer Roshan Lal Bral for his collection of Dogri poems Sheesha. Yash Pal Nirmal, author of Chhuttian-a children novel and Makhan Makhane-Children Poetry, and editor of literary journals Soch Sadhana and Sarv Bhasha Patrika was honored and awarded by various local and outside NGO’s and organizations.
Balwant Thakur: Considered to be the highest ever elevation of any cultural personality of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, Balwant Thakur, was appointed by Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India as the Cultural Diplomat of India to South Africa. He is heading the ICCR’s Swami Vivekanand Cultural Centre, Johannesburg (South Africa) as head of the Centre/ Director for a period of three years.
Pride of Jammu, Amit Dutta, the acclaimed exponent of experimental cinema continued his creative foray with a documentary entitled Notes on Guler. Produced for Public Service Broadcasting Trust and shown on Doordarshan, the documentary is on the ancient artistic and cultural centre of Guler which stands submerged under a dam today. Dutta, also a well known creative writer, published his stories in the children magazine Cycle. Rahat Qazami, son of the soil, who as producer/director has won accolades in national and international film festivals for making offbeat films, in 2019 produced and co-produced films like County of Blind, Oxygen, Lihaaf, My Angel, My Teacher, Band Radio and Code Blue. An International Film Festival was organized by ‘Vometh’ at Abhinav theatre, Jammu during September, 2019, in which 37 short and documentary films from 11 countries were screened.
Established with mandate to promote art, culture and languages of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, J&K Cultural Academy surely has lost its plot under the bureaucratic control of the Department of Culture. With its Governing Body, General Council and various Advisory Committees in limo, the Central Office of the Academy run by makeshift in-charge Secretary since last March, is more like a rudderless ship. With the result Academy has failed to organize its flagship annual events like art exhibition, drama festival, film and documentary festival and literary conference in different schedule languages. Along with non-holding annual events that have come to symbolize the practice of contemporary arts in Jammu and Kashmir, the Academy has thwarted the regular activities of its Jammu office by not-releasing requisite budget. The listless working of Academy is also further reflected by the fact of it is yet to announce State-Level annual literary awards for Best book, and Best Play Scripts and State awards in the fields of Visual Arts, Drama and Films. Only good news is that the building of Jammu writers club in Academy’s premises at Canal Road is near completion.
With focus on sarkari programs, Academy did hold All India Urdu Mushaira, National level Purvottar Dhara, the North-East Folk Dance & Music Festival in collaboration with Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi. Academy’s Jammu sub office and district offices at Kathua, Doda and Rajouri organized number of literary and cultural programs in different parts of the region.
Celebrating its Platinum year celebrations, Sanstha, the oldest literary organization in Jammu and Kashmir, launched its website. The Dogri Bhavan at Jammu was equipped with an auditorium which was completed with support from Kunwar Viyogi Trust. Sanstha’s activity calendar included honouring of main Sahitya Akademi awardees in Dogri (2014-2018). Sahitya Akademi Translation Awardees (2013-2018), KAS examination qualifiers with Dogri as one subject and teachers of Higher Secondary schools for promoting the Dogri Language. It also organized seminars and music programs and released books such as Ashok Angurana’s poetry anthology Mokla Gaas Uchchi Doari, Ashok Dutta’s short stories Soachen Di Reel and Soch Samundar, Santosh Sangra’s plays Doorai Da Rishta , five books by Nirmal Vinod which include Nirmal Hazara, As Te Aan Aam Lok; both original poetry works and Dehra Ch Ajj Bi Ugde N Sarhe Buhte, Vitasta Da Triya Kanda and Vah Bhi Din: all three works of translation, Narinder Bhasin’s collection of travelogues Astha de Rattandeep, Jagdeep Dubey’s anthology of short stories Nakhassmi Zameen, Inderjeet Kesar’s book of short stories Dosh and Ashok Amber’s collection of Dogri Gazals. Sanstha’s president Lalit Magotra had the honour of reading the keynote address at Koraput Literary festival in Orissa.
With Darshan Darshi, as Convener Advisory Board for Dogri, the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi’s literary activities for 2019 included literary functions organized with special focus of taking Sihitya Akademi programs to rural Duggar. These were Gramlok, the rural poetic meets at remote villages of Marchola, Taplal, Lehar,Sungal, Laiter and border villages Gudwal, and Jourian. Symposia on topics such as An Assessment of Dogri Gazal; Dogri Nukud Natak and its impact on Dogri Sahitya and Samaj, Remembering great Dogri Poet K.S.Madhukar, Kavi Sandhis with veteran poet N.D.Jamwal and Shivdev Sushil of Tehsil Billawar, Vijay Sharma of Kathua and Shambu Ram Pyasa of Samba, Workshop on Creative Writing in Dogri for students at H.S.S Jourian in collaboration with Dogri Academy, Jourian, Literary Forums, at Jammu and Udhampur, Yuvasayhiti, Kavi Anuvadak “Through my Window” were also organized.
Other NGO’s dediacted to the development of Dogri and culture in general such as Duggar Manch under Mohan Singh, Kunwar Viyogi Trust and Nami Dogri Sanstha, organized poetic symposia, book release functions, felicitation events, musical evenings etc. Om Goswami, the veteran Dogri scholar and writer added to his literary corpus with his latest books; Zindagi Kinni Khoobsoorat Ai-select short stories, Dogra Sanskrit Ch Anushthan Prampara. He also edited Namuliyaan Seeraan, an anthology of rare poems of important Dogri poets from his archives. Other prolific writer Shiv Nirmohi also authored books such as Duggar Ke Shahidi Smarak, Duggar Ki Itihasik Samdhiyan, Duggar Ke Sar and Dugger Ke Talab. His book Duggar Ka Itihas was also reprinted on popular demand. Veena Gupta contributed with a collection of Radio plays namely Chhe Roopak in Dogri.
Internationally acclaimed performance artist Nikhil Chopra paying a quite visit to his native town Jammu, the talented painter Sunanda Khajuria won many accolades. Presently in China under a fellowship, she has won many awards for her creative paintings in China including Suzhou International Art Award, One Road One Belt” Anhui, Art Award, and excellent Art Research Award, WHUT, China. She also attended International Symposium, Workshop, and exhibitions in Japan, Denmark and China.
Hailing from Udhapmur, Madhavi Sharma, a post graduate in design from NID, Ahmadabad, is an prolific artist whose illustration and paintings on local issues and especially series on character Bobo ji, has come as fresh gush of air as a creative take on how tradition and modernity can go together in contemporary Dogra society.
The local individual artists who continued to create, exhibit their works and win accolades albeit outside the state were Rajinder Tikku and S uman Gupta. Others who also remained active include Harsh Vardhan, Milan Sharma and K.K. Gandhi. Ravinder Singh Jamwal adorned Jammu’s landscape with bronze statues of Shayam Prasad Mukerjee, Gulab Singh and the bust of Brig. Rajendra Singh.
The NGOs Viraj Kala Kendra and JK Creative Centre for Arts contributed by holding art exhibitions, camps and workshops. IMFA, Jammu organized interaction- cum- demonstration programme of senior artist Bhushan Kaul, and Portrait of Nation- an integration programme by artists from Tamil Naidu, Andhra Pradesh and South America and also Lithography workshop with invited artist from Gujrat.
Thanks to Jammu Municipal Corporation’s initiative to aesthetically decorate city’s flyovers and other public spaces and which promoted by Commissioner Pankaj Magotra, has started showing results. Large scale wall paintings depicting Jammu’s age old pluralistic culture as well as the markers of the heritage in making has certainly beautified the otherwise non-descript spaces. Hope the JMC’s Mayor and his team of Carporators with their active involvement in beautifying the winter capital will also set an examples for such beautification of other major towns and cities.
Hindi Bhasha Prachar Samiti with Dr. Bharat Bhushan as president released new books such as Chand Deepika’s two novels Dhoop Chhaon, and Parijat. Dr. Bharat Bhushan’s anthology of poems Abhivyakti was also released. Yuva Hindi Lekhak Sangh and Hindi Sahitya Mandal also held literary programs.
Punjabi: Other than regular publications of Cultural Academy’s Punjabi section, the literary scene of Punjabi was also enriched by the activities of NGOs like Punjabi Lekhak Sabha, Jammu, Punjabi Sahitik Sabha, R S Pura and J&K Punjabi Sahit Sangam, Jammu. Swami Anternirav had the honour of being the only Poet from J&K to recite his Punjabi poems in Guru Nanak Dev Mega Literary Festivals at Dera Baba Nanak and Sultanpur Lodhi.
The highlight of contemporary Pahari literature was release of Pahari poet Swami Anternirav’s poetry anthology “Kujh Baaqi Hai”. Which published as part of Punjabi main stream literature also succeeded in creating a space for Pahari poetry during a literary conference at Patiala. JKAACL’s Pahari section enriched modern Pahari literature with publications such as Asta adab Novel Number, Sauch Samunder poetry collection of Fida Rajouri, Pahari translation of Tareekh ea Hassan, speacial Sheraja numbers of Hamad, Tanghaan-poetry of Late Qari Mohammad Ashraf, i Lok Geet and Lok kahaniyan. The section also organized literary & cultural programmes.
Academy’s Gojari Section, as a routine brought out special numbers of Sheerza in Gojri on various topics and also held annual Gojari conference.
Urdu: Jammu University’s Post-Graduate Department of Urdu under the leadership of Shoaib Malik galvanized the literary scene of Urdu language. Some of the notable programs included “Jashan-e Gulzar”, world Urdu Mushira, Two Day World Urdu Conference on “Depiction of Regional Culture and Tradition in Urdu Literature” and seminar on “The Contribution of Non-Muslim poets of Jammu and Kashmir in the development of Urdu Language and literature” and 4th Manzer Azmi Memeorial Lecture.
With senior most poets like Arsh Sehbai along with Amin Banhali, Liaqat Jafri, Pervaiz Malik, Sunita Raina, Touseef Tabish, Betab Jaipuri , Pritpal Singh Betab and continuing to enrich Urdu poetic scene of Jammu, number of poetic symposia were held in Jammu. Liaqat Jafari, talented Urdu poet from Poonch, participated in international mushairas in Kuwait, Delhi, Rampur, Jamia Miliya, Luckhnow, Barabanki and Bhopal and also at many places in Punjab in connection with Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th Prakash Utsav. Zafari’s has finally etched his place in Bollywood as a song writer. His had pen down songs for many upcoming Bollywood films. NGOs Faroog-e-Urdu also held release book by Payasa Anjum.
Yayavar, a literary festival was organised by author, playwright and director Nupur Sandhu in collaboration with the English department of Central University Jammu. The prominent speakers included IPS Danesh Rana, VC Prof Ashok Aima, Commodore DS Sodhi, Neil D’Silva, Dr Kanwalpreet, Utkarsh Patel, IG Retd Johnny Williams, Dr Vandana Sharma, Anirban Bhattacharya, David Devadas, Abhirup Dhar, Aarti Tikoo, Minal Arora, Anuj Dhar, O P Vidyarthi, Dr Sudeep Ranjan Sarkar, Dr Jas Kohli, Ashish Khumbre, Runjhun Nupoor, Vinayak Pattar, Ayushman Jamwal, Payal Jain, Bashir Assad, Dr Sandeep Didi and Jasbeer Singh.
Mahesh Kaul’s book ‘Jammu and Kashmir Breaking the Subversive Web and A Way Forward’ was hailed as a scholarly work documenting the Jihadi challenge being faced by the nationalists in Jammu and Kashmir.
Manoj Chopra ‘s entry was adjudged first in National Level Cartoon contest organised by Cartoon Watch, Chhattisgarh. He cartoon was also awarded in 9th Jiaxing International cartoon Biennale China and honorable mention in 4th International Cartoon Exhibition, Croatia and also by Kerala Media Academy. The other talented cartoonist Chander Shekhar Bunti remained busy in organizing in international cartoon exhibition.
With more than 100 shows in the year 2019, Natrang Theatre Group also set a record by organizing a 4 day theatre festival every month since May, 2018 till May, 2019. In the festival 42 different plays by the same group in twelve months were staged under the direction of Balwant Thakur, Adil Hussain, Anil Tickoo, Harish Khanna, Neeraj Kant, Sumeet Sharma, Aarushi Thakur Rana and Rahul Singh. Natrang’s actors such as Sunil Palwal was conferred with National Bismillah Khan Yuva Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in the field of Acting, Mohd. Yaseen was awarded Junior Fellowship in Theater and Asheish Nijhawan, an alumnus of London International School of Performing Arts and National School of Drama, New Delhi, was chosen for the first ever Shahrukh Khan produced Netflix series Bard of Blood. Amateur Theatre Group: With Mushtaq Kak as its mentor, the ATG emerged as ambassador of J&K theatre in staging of Urdu plays in important national festivals. Samooh Theatre also staged number of Nukkad Nataks and plays in Jammu and outside. Rangyug Theatre Group kept its calendar ticking by staging number of Nukkad Nataks on various social issues. Vomedh Rangmanch staged plays and cultural programs. Nav Durga Kala Manch staged Bhayankar Bhool and Sas Puran written and directed by Shashi Bhushan, Manoranjan Kala Kendra also staged sporadic performances in Panjabi.
Vijay Malla, with his Monday Theatre series regularly staged street plays in different parts of the region. Rajneesh Gupta, playwright/ director, participated in Theatre Festival at Patna, Bihar, with his play ‘Taandav’. His other plays staged at different venues included Vivekananda’, ‘Syalkot and ‘Adaalat Mein Gandhi’. His play ‘Ek Panna Gumnaam’ was adjudged best play at 6th Shahjahanpur Rang Mahotsava, in which Rajneesh Gupta got best playwright award, best male actor award went to Balwinder Singh and 2nd best supporting artist award to Janak Khajuria. Dilshad Sazi, directed and acted in plays like Chup kar, Watan Fry. His group also performed more than 200 nukkad nataks in different parts of the Union Territory on various topics.
Vikram Sharma’s play ‘Antanavarn’ produced by The Kalakaar’s was staged in ‘Rangleela Natya Utsav-2019′ while his other awarded play ” Ardhkaavya’ selected by Sahitya Kala Parishad , New Delhi as one of the six best plays was produced at Bhartendu Natya Utsav on Dec 13 at LTG , New Delhi. Other NGO’s which also contributed in the art & cultural activities of Jammu and its adjoining areas were Kalakars, Hill Thepsians, Chabder Bhaga Sanskriti Manch, Akhnoor, Dogri Bhasha Akademi, Jammu, Verman Cultural Celebrations, Saraswati Sangeet Kala Mandir, ICCR, Sanskar Bharti, Nrityanjali, Athrot, Natshalla, Rashtriya Kavi Sangam etc.
Other than the recital by local maestro Priya Dutta and her students, a recital by Kathak Maestro Pt. Jaikrishan Maharaj, held at University of Jammu was the cultural highlight of the year.
Radio: With the creation of Union Territory of Jammu Kashmir, Radio Kashmir Jammu was rechristened as All INDIA RADIO JAMMU in conformity with all other AIR Stations of the country. AIR Jammu bagged prestigious Public Service Award -2019, for its Documentary Feature “SHANTIDOOT – RADIO”. Produced by Sanjeev Sharma, Programme Executive, the documentary highlighted Radio’s role in communicating factual information about the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A and the assured benefits which are to flow to the common citizens. Dr. Agnishekhar, renowned Hindi poet, author and political activist, in AIR Jammu’s Lal Ded Memorial Lecture Series, elaborated on how the 14th century Poet Lal Ded’s mystic musings continue to have deep impact on the psyche of Kashmiris. Other highlight were inauguration of the AIR FM Station in Udhampur.
Om Vidyarathi, continued his eight year old laudable mission of spreading tree consciousness amongst different section of civil society with his The Tree Talk’. He has been instrumental in successfully raising awareness amongst students , citizens, villagers and even foresters, about trees in city gardens, forest locations, wetlands ,educational institutions, sacred groves, rare, endangered and threatened Taxa. He is working continually to highlight tree associated Traditions, biodiversity components, Tree Folklore ,vernacular nomenclature , revival of Ayurvedic knowledge along with utilization, value addition, distribution, conservation ,ecological concerns, ex-situ conservation in wildlife areas and insitu conservation in parks & gardens. and nature interpretation.