Spotlight on translators

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 24, 2012

M.A. Sikandar, Director of the National Book Trust of India, with his colleague Bipan Chandra, Chairman, and Farida M. Naik, Joint Director, at a press conference to announce the 20th World Book Fair 2012 in New Delhi on Thursday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar.

Literature and Indian cinema, children’s books, Tagore and 100 years of Delhi other key themes

For the first time in 20 years, the World Book Fair, which opens here on February 25, is according some recognition to role of translators in promoting Indian literature.

"Translation is a great creative tradition. It is as important as creative literature. But it is sad that they are not getting due recognition. Some private sector publishers do not even print the name of translators, leave alone paying them," a National Book Trust (NBT) official said.

At a press conference here on Thursday, NBT, the organiser of the World Book Fair, said it was trying its bit to highlight the important role of translators in a diverse country like India, "where a shared past of literary pursuit was essentially translation – be it of thought, oral tradition, epics etc."

A two-day session will be held during the Fair, along with Delhi University’s Modern Indian Languages Department, devoted to "Cross Translation among Indian Languages", with participation from almost all regions.

NBT says it is because of translators that we are aware today of the diverse world of Indian tradition. The skill, sensibility and cultural awareness of translators has opened before readers the rich literature of all regional languages.

Indian publishers need to learn from their Western counterparts, who take great care to accord equal weightage to translators and authors, at least in print.

"In India, Government publishers, such as NBT and Sahitya Akademi, have one the best payment rates and print the names of translators prominently in books,’ said the official.

Admitting the need for skill upgradation of Indian translators, especially at a time when everyone wants to be seen and heard in English, the World Book Fair is aiming to discover a "national hidden literature", that "one Indian literature written in many languages", as Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishanan said.

The Fair, on till March 5, will showcase 1,200 Indian and foreign publishers from countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Nepal, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bangledesh etc. Among the other themes are: 100 years of Indian Cinema and the contribution of literature, 100 years of Delhi and Rabindranath Tagore’s 150 year celebrations.

Published on February 23, 2012

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