Ruskin Bond, one of India’s most cherished authors, has been conferred the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award for 2020. Mr. Bond has a substantial body of work – close to 100 books – across genres for children and adults. His writing has charmed both categories of readers into lifelong love and admiration. Mr. Bond has been recognised by the Indian Council of Child Education for his contribution to the growth of children’s literature in India. He has also been conferred the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan.
Born in India to British parents, and sent to the UK as a young adult, Mr. Bond used the proceeds of his first published book to buy a passage back home to India and never left. His books reflect his deep affection for, and rootedness in India.
Mr. Bond’s celebration of nature all through his writings made him one of India’s first literary “eco warriors” much before the phrase was coined and acquires increasing relevance during the current pandemic which had its roots in the depredation of nature.
Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra, for which he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award and his other semi – autobiographical work With Love from the Hills reflect his profound connection to both India and nature.
On receiving news of the Award, Mr. Ruskin Bond said, “I am delighted to accept the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award. It is very thoughtful of you to recognise my very long literary life of almost seventy years, going back to the 1950s when I published my first stories in various Indian newspapers and magazines, and my first novel in 1956. I have written a lot about childhood and for children, and as the years have gone by, I have become close to nature and the world of nature has become an intrinsic part of my writing. I would also like to say that I am still writing, in fact more than usual, during this pandemic period, and have written a dozen short stories which I hope will come out next year. While I will be given the Award virtually because of the current situation, I hope that maybe next year I will be able to be with you in person to celebrate the Festival.”
Festival Founder-Director Anil Dharker said, “It is truly a delight and pleasure to pay tribute to Ruskin Bond through the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Bond has made an outstanding contribution to literature in India, especially Children’s Literature. It is in childhood that the reading habit is inculcated; therefore, good and imaginative writing for children is a very important genre. Generations of young Indian readers have grown up with Mr. Bond’s books and retained that love of reading. His simple and accessible style conveys unforgettable truths especially about the wonder and sanctity of nature”.
Harish Bhat, Brand Custodian, Tata Sons said, “It is an honour and privilege to present the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award to one of India’s most loved children’s writers, Mr. Ruskin Bond. He is a legend to so many of us, who have grown up with his books, which are full of vivid imagination, great joy and beautiful nature. An Indian author of British descent, Mr. Bond has contributed immensely to the development and reach of children’s literature in India. His vast repertoire of work, created over seven decades, has established him as one of the best loved writers of our country.”
Past recipients of the Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award include Shanta Gokhale, Sir Mark Tully, Girish Karnad, Amitav Ghosh, Kiran Nagarkar, MT Vasudevan Nair, Khushwant Singh, Sir VS Naipaul, Mahashweta Devi.