Prolific Odisha writer Pratibha Ray has received the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian award, on Tuesday, January 25, for her contribution to literature and education. Ray is among the most creative women writers of the country whose novels and short stories portray the tension of modern life, corruption and degeneration of values in every sphere while questioning the religious and caste discriminations.
Six others from Odisha have been selected for Padma Shri, the Centre announced.
"I am happy to receive the award as my state is delighted and my readers are happy. I am pleased that the Centre recognises works in my language, which is a classical language. I have never disconnected myself from writing. The award will certainly increase my responsibility," said Ray, according to The Times of India.
Boldest Writers In India
The 78-year-old writer, who has earlier bagged prestigious awards like Jnanpith, Moortidevi and Saptarshi for her literary exploits, is among the boldest writers in India whose writings in the Odia language bring out her desire for a social order based on equality, peace, love, non-violence and emotional integration. Daughter of a school principal, Ray caught the attention with her first novel Barsha Basanta Baishakha (Rain, spring and summer) in 1974, set in a rural ambience, Hindustan Times reported.
By mid-eighties she was already established as a prominent writer in Odia with novels like Parichaya (An identity – 1978), Punyatoya (The Hallowed River – 1978), Asabari (The rhythm asabari, 1980), Nilatrushna (The Blue Thirst, 1981), Sila Padma (The Stone Lotus, 1983), Uttarmarga (The Salvation Way-1988) and Adibhumi (The Primal Land / The Primitive Land – 1993). She first worked as a headmistress of a tribal school and then a college professor. She churned out 21 novels, 24 short story collections, 10 travelogues, two books of thought-provoking essays and an autobiography titled "Amrit Anwesha" (In search of Nectar).
Although her literary focus is on psycho-social analysis of people, tribes and characters, Pratibha Ray grapples with issues of contemporary relevance, overpowering tension of modern life, oppressive surroundings, corruption and degeneration of values in every sphere, a growing hedonism and the alienation of the individual in a complex modern world.
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