The PM-YUVA scheme is a brainchild of the Prime Minister and was launched with the specific aim of mentoring budding young authors.
New Delhi: Of the major attractions at the New Delhi World Book Fair 2023, held in-person after a gap of two years owing to the pandemic, was the launch of books produced under the PM-YUVA scheme and published by the National Book Trust, India. Largest of its kind in the Afro-Asian region, this year’s fair provided a platform for the 75 young authors shortlisted from amongst 16000 proposals submitted in the 22 official languages and English, for consideration for publication under the PM YUVA, to showcase their works on unsung heroes from India’s freedom movement and get the same ones launched by the 2022 Nobel Laureate for Literature, Madam Annie Ernaux. Other dignitaries who attended the launch event on the 25th of February, 2023, included Dr. Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, the Hon’ble MoS for Education and External Affairs and His Excellency Emmanuel Lenain, the Hon’ble Ambassador of France to India.
The PM-YUVA scheme is a brainchild of the Prime Minister and was launched in 2021 with the specific aim of mentoring budding young authors and getting them to commemorate the substantial contributions of unsung freedom fighters in India’s freedom struggle through the medium of literature. Part of the broader Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations, launched by the Ministry of Culture, to celebrate India’s 75th anniversary of Independence, the YUVA scheme endeavours to portray India’s versatile prowess, diversity, and rich culture through the works produced by these young and promising authors, who hail from different regions across India and have authored their works in various genres. Launch of the books under the YUVA scheme at the New Delhi World Book Fair 2023 was a resounding success. YUVA authors who had their books published lauded the mentorship segment of the scheme and also the launch that offered them exposure to the industry.
Speaking about her debut, G. Aarthi, writer of ‘The Least in the Company’, a historical fiction set against the backdrop of Madras province in the 1900s, said, “My novella explores the mind of Vanchi Iyer, a 26-year-old layman responsible for the only assassination-suicide of the Independence Movement. The title of the work is taken from his suicide note where he identifies himself as a mere footsoldier doing his bit for the larger cause. PM-YUVA provided me with the much needed platform and exposure”
“Being a part of PM-YUVA has been a phenomenal experience. We were offered mentorship by several esteemed writers, and granted a stipend that has been instrumental in bringing my work to fruition,” said Souhardya De, author of ‘Pratap Jung: The Ultimate Sacrifice’.
“Through my work, I endeavour to vividly depict the pivotal role played by Lal Pratap Singh, an unsung prince from Kalakankar, in the cause of Oudh during the First War of Indian Independence, alongside the contingent he led and his compatriots.
That stories so inspiring as this are being brought out and given exposure by NBT is very appreciable!”, he added. Reiterating these was Aashisha Chakraborty, author of ‘The 13-year Old Queen and Her Inherited Destiny’. Aashisha, whose previous works include “Mis(s)adventures of a Salesgirl” from Rupa, felt that writing the PM-YUVA work made her dig deep into the history of valiant women freedom fighters. “I have always looked up to strong female figures, so when I researched movements in the north-east, the story of Rani Gaidinliu particularly stood out. Her fierce dedication and commitment, despite the odds, made me want to bring her story out to the world. I sincerely hope it inspires more women to storm male bastions and do their bit to uphold the integrity of our nation.” Tejas H Badala, who authored his book Aranyani in the Kannada language opined that the PM-YUVA was a blessing for vernacular writers. “The very thought that my debut novel was being released in Asia’s largest book fair gave me goosebumps,” he said. “It revolves around a trio from a tribal village in the Western Ghats and their efforts to save their home when mysterious invaders threaten their way of life. With the help of Acharya and the ancient art of Kalaripayattu, their fight to protect their forest and their temple forms the crux of the story.”
As in the authors and languages onboard, characters featuring in the PM-YUVA works hail from different parts of the subcontinent. Mithun Murali’s book ‘Knight of the Sea: The Saga of Kunjali Marakkar IV’, for instance, features an admiral from the South-Indian Kingdom of Calicut and his campaign against the Portuguese Empire in the 16th century. “The Marakkars were the first admirals in Asia to challenge the superiority of a European naval power,” says Mithun. “My novel is a historical fantasy, a subgenre of historical fiction in which a historical setting is mixed with a tinge of magic and fantasy.”
For MS Meenakshi, whose primary character Kunjukutti Thampuratti is similarly an unsung woman from Kerala, the research part was a little heavy. “I noticed houses in the Kodungallur district of Kerala that sing in her name till date – old as well as the current generation.
But beyond that, people do not seem to know about her as women’s contributions were seldom documented. With further research, I realised how Kunjukutti had contributed to educational, gender, social, and cultural reforms in the place and felt the need to document her story”, said the author of “Kunjukutti Thampuratti: The Voice of the Masses”.