Renowned poet Nilamoni Phookan became the third Assamese to be conferred with the Jnanpith Award, the highest literary honour of the country.
The announcement came on December 7. While Phookan gets the 56th Jnanpith Award, Konkani author Damodar Mauzo is named for the 57th Jnanpith Award.
A pioneer of modern Assamese poetry, Nilamoni Phookan is a staunch advocate of the literary movement in Assam. Prior to him, Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya and Mamoni Raisom Goswami had received the honour.
Nilamoni Phookan, also a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award (1981) and Padma Shri (1990), is equally popular among all age group readers. His works reflect the contemporary socio-political aspects and are replete with symbolism.
Phookan was a history teacher and retired from Arya Vidyapeeth College in Guwahati in 1992.
Some of his major poetry collections include Surya Heno Nami Ahe Ei Nodiedi, Nirjonotar Sabda, Aru Ki Noisabda, Phuli Thoka Suryamukhi Phooltor Phale, Kait Aru Golap aru Kait, Golapi Jamur Lagna, Kobita, Nrityarata Prithibi, Sagartolir Sankha, Alop Agote Ami Ki Kotha Pati Asilo and others.
He is also widely respected for his other literary works and translations.
Born in 1933 in Dergaon, Nilamoni Phookan also received the Assam Valley Literary Award, emeritus fellow honour from the union ministry of culture, Sahityacharya title from Asam Sahitya Sabha, the apex literary body of Assam.
Among others, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has congratulated Phookan.
Eminent Malayalam poet, Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri was chosen for the 55th Jnanpith Award for his outstanding contribution to the Malayalam language and poetry.
In 2019, Amitav Ghosh is honoured with the 54th Jnanpith Award for his contribution to English literature and also became the 1st English language writer in the list as all previous winners of the prestigious award have been writers in Indian languages.
Jnanpith Award is a literary award presented by the Bharatiya Jnanpith organization to Indian writers every year. This was instituted in 1961 and is given only to Indian writers who write in Indian languages and English.