Opinion

Should India have poet laureates?


Should India have a poet laureate? In times of national tragedy, hardship as well as glory and celebration, nothing works better than a rouser of words.

This being India, that function has been, unfortunately, outsourced to politicians. Plus, there is bound to be much kerfuffle over the language in which such a poet will devise her or his verbal output when duty calls.

So, what about a poet laureate for each state – and not dead poets who get aired only in budget or other official speeches, but living ones?

Political lobbying is likely to destroy the value of such a functionary even in individual states. Which is why it would be essential to keep politicians – no matter how closely acquainted they may be with the Muse – out of the ring.

It is now, upon coming to the second paragraph, that we feel a tinge of jealousy for countries that have one language. On May 24, 1971, the great poet Nazrul Islam – whose birth anniversary falls today, according to the Bengali calendar – was ‘borrowed’ from India to become the newly created Bangladesh‘s national poet.

His anointment was celebrated in that country that was formed on the very basis of the Bengali language. For India, even after rotating poets in all our states, there may be other problems of ‘identity’. So, here’s our verdict: India should not have poet laureates.



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