The great thinker Voltaire put it beautifully “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” It is the expression of appreciation that helps art and literature flourish and is cherished more than monetary compensation. Dedicated to the cause of the Telugu language and showering appreciation on stalwarts in the field of literature, fine arts and theatre, the New Jersey-based Ajo- Vibho – Kandalam Foundation known as AVK Foundation reaches a milestone this year.
The celebration at a glittering three-day function in Guntur in the first week of January is the twenty-fifth since the organisation was established in 1993. As is the norm every year, there is a bouquet of literary events that include the staging of award-winning plays from competitions conducted specially for the event and awards to literary personalities, artistes and those working for social causes with the founders emphasising that their journey has been enjoyable every step of the way. The foundation has honoured many eminent scholars beginning with Dhara Ramanadha Shastri and its long list of stalwarts includes the former scholar Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.
The founder President of AVK Prof. Appajosyula Satyanarayana reiterates that preservation and promotion of Telugu language and culture is the sole aim of the foundation formed with the intention of inspiring voluntary initiative in this direction. The Computer Science Professor Emeritus from the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey says that governments have limitations and it is a voluntary initiative that provides a fillip to art and culture even in a country like America.
“The large network of local organisations and literary talent that we have built during annual celebrations at different venues is what we cherish with every year adding to our list of unforgettable experiences. We hope to inspire more organisations to promote our great language and culture,” he adds.
An important initiative of the foundation is the AVK Book links sponsored by it which provide a wide repertoire of Telugu books online. Epics and revolutionary writings, classics and contemporary works, novels, short stories, fiction and non-fiction with brief introductions help Telugu lovers access a wide range of books here. Several books have been shipped to book lovers in different countries like Australia, London, Germany, UK, America and Turkey ever since it began operations in 2004.
The Bapatla born Professor is however dismayed that there is a dearth of translations of great literary works and academic books from other languages into Telugu. While conceding that Telugu works have to be introduced to the world, he feels it is more important for Telugu readers to be exposed to books of high literary and academic value from other Indian and foreign languages. “I have seen Chinese translations of books on computer science published in English done with lightning speed.
Similarly, translations of academic and literary books into German, Spanish and French are done within a short time of the original hitting the bookshelves. Unfortunately, there is no such effort in Telugu; a language that is spoken by a large number of people across the world and occupying the 12th place among world languages,” he laments.
Does he agree with the concerns expressed over purity and borrowing words from other languages? “They are totally misplaced. A language exists only as long as it remains relevant. Over time many words and phrases become outdated and redundant. Borrowing words and phrases whether they are from Sanskrit, English or any other language have only enriched Telugu as the changing form makes it dynamic like an ever-flowing river,” he adds.
It is also quite natural for certain words becoming antiquated with time as in the case of Victorian English, which slowly disappeared from public parlance. Anything that stays relevant remains and needs no special effort to ensure continuance he avers citing Pothana’s ‘Bhagavatham’ and several classics that have proved to be timeless and enduring. While the impact of literature cannot be denied, it is the ordinary folk, who can read and write more than those with a literary flourish, who keep the language alive according to him.
Instilling pride in one’s mother tongue remains a great challenge in times where language studies don’t rank high on the employability list says Prof. Satyanarayana. Literary sessions discussing poetry and prose, a theatre that depicts social conflict and appreciation of eminent scholars, thinkers and artistes that are at the core of the AVK Foundation, reflect the unflinching commitment and unwavering spirit.
As its network is strengthened through shared concern the foundation serves to infuse a love for Telugu in the hearts of people within the country and those miles away from their land of birth and yet craving for it. #KhabarLive