New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday asked schools and colleges to encourage more reading of prose and verse published in vernacular languages saying this will make the youth of the country more sensitive to social, religious and cultural diversities.
He was speaking after conferring the 47th Jnanpith Award for 2011 on leading Oriya novelist and academician Pratibha Ray, who has over 40 novels, travelogues and short stories to her credit.
"We honour an eminent Oriya litterateur, fiction writer, and educationist for her outstanding contribution to the enrichment of Indian literature.
"I would like to see our schools and colleges encourage the reading of the abundant prose and verse that has been published in our vernacular languages.
"This would educate our young about distant regions that they may not be aware of - and make them more sensitive to the social, religious and cultural diversities of our country," the President said.
He complimented Bharatiya Jnanpith Trust founded by the Sahu Jain family and said the this prestigious award has come to symbolise the comprehensive vision of Indian literature.
"Initiatives like these are commendable as they support the role of the State in facilitating and promoting our cultural heritage. The blossoming of Indian literary talent owes much to the efforts of such philanthropists and patrons of the arts," he said.
The award carries a cash prize of Rs seven lakh and a citation. Ray is the 47th author to be bestowed with the honour.