New Delhi: Writer Amitav Ghosh should consider using his pen to warn Indians about the "inflammability of hatred among communities" in the country, the way he did with global warming in his 2018 book "The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable", said former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.
Gandhi, who presented the 54th Jnanpith award to the eminent novelist at the India Habitat Centre here on Wednesday, urged Ghosh to "save the India of Gautam Buddha and Vardhaman Mahavir from hate".
Ghosh is the first English author to win the award.
"I would urge him (Ghosh) to please consider administering to us yet another warning -- dread and unmistakable -- about the inflammability of hatred among communities which translate into mutually terrorising neighbours in the mohallas that you (Ghosh) know well and have so well described -- nations as well."
"... We are balanced on a powder keg of mutually annihilating fears, threats. Please save the India of Gautam Buddha and Vardhaman Mahavir from hate," he said to a thundering applause from packed audience.
In "The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable", Ghosh examined and manifested the limits of human thought when it comes to the spectre of environmental catastrophe.
Delivering his address as the chief guest, Gandhi didn't pull any punches when he described today's times as one where people are living in the environment of "violence", "anger" and "war".
And the former diplomat was at its poetic best when he said it in Hindi. "Shaastron mein ahimsa ki baat hai par aaj shaastron mein nahi shastro mein hume romanch dikhta hai (Scriptures preach non-violence, but in today's day and age we are thrilled by the idea of weapons)," he said using the choicest of words in Hindi.
All praises about the awardee author Ghosh, who he described as no less than "phenomenal" when it comes to fiction and "sailor among novelist" whose novels are like "boats" travelling in oceans in attempt to reach to the shores of continents.
"His books are rich in what can only be called minerals -- the result of patient excavation, not a chance of discovery," Gandhi remarked.
He said the Jnanpith award was a "samaj samman" (award given by society), which gets you the much longed for "public gratitude" and not "shabashi" (praise) or "elevation of status" that one generally gets with "raj samman" (state award).
Gandhi also said that it was India's good fortune to have writers like Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth, who he called contemporary counterparts of yesteryear's "Tansen and Baiju Bawra" in the English court of today's India.
"The only tough part here is to decide whether Amitav (Ghosh) is Tansen and Vikram (Seth) is Baiju Bawra or it is the other way around," he said laughing.