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Posted at: Feb 15, 2015, 12:21 AM; last updated: Feb 14, 2015, 11:01 PM (IST)

More of a poet than a typical politician

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Harihar Swarup writes about Uwra Gwra Brahma, winner of Sahitya Akademi Award
More of a poet than a typical politician

Few may have heard his name — Uwra Gwra Brahma, or to avoid the difficult pronunciation, simply UG Brahma. An accomplished writer and a former member of the Rajya Sabha from Assam, Brahma once headed the All-Bodo Students Union that played a vital role in getting Bodo — spoken by about 16 lakh people — included as a language in the Eighth Schedule in 2002.

Brahma, who took to writing poems purely by accident, was selected for the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award last week. He was “thrilled and surprised” when his collection of poems Return from Freedom won the award. His impromptu comment was: “I am glad that I have been elevated from a typical politician to a recognised poet.”

Established in the year 1954, the Sahitya Akademi Award comprises a plaque and a cash component of Rs 1 lakh. The award's purpose is to recognise and promote excellence in Indian writing, and also acknowledge new trends in writing.

An Independent member of the Rajya Sabha from 2002 to 2008, 51-year-old Brahma is the 12th recipient of the akademi award for Bodo language.

Brahma took to writing poetry during a particular phase of his life, when, as he says, “I begun to suffer from depression arising out of severe political turmoil in Bodo districts. There was violence and mistrust all around, and while some indulged in ethnic violence, others even took to fratricidal killings”.

Brahma has written 11 books, of which one is a collection of short stories and the rest are essays on socio-political issues. His poems mostly touch on issues arising out of violence, mistrust, moral degradation in society and also the plight of the common man faced with corruption and nepotism.

“Every person wants freedom from these evils, yet even when one achieves that goal, one doesn’t quite find anything different in them to rejoice,” he says.

Brahma was at the forefront of the Bodo movement for several years, but says, “Every death, every killing has left a deep scar in my heart. And, as a poet, I have found that people become stone-hearted even after death.”

It was Brajendra Kumar Brahma, the then president of the Bodo Sahitya Sabha and his uncle, who introduced him to Phitika, a poet’s forum in Kokrajhar. Brajendra Kumar Brahma was one of the first recipients of the Tagore Award instituted by the Sahitya Akademi in 2012.

“My uncle introduced me to Phitika, where the basic rule was that one had to compose poems or simply recite them at the fortnightly sessions. I do not remember my first poem, but I soon found that poetry was a wonderful medium to vent my anger, frustration as well as dreams and hopes,” he says. Brahma writes in Bodo, Assamese and English and regularly contributes to Assamese newspapers.

Sahitya Akademi Award is a literary honour that the Sahitya Akademi confers annually on writers of the most outstanding books of literary merit published in any of the major Indian languages recognised by the Akademi.

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