This is a bibliography by a member of the Bihar Assembly in which she describes the ?invisible India? to draw back the dark curtain drawn around the people and lands of the north-east. This book, by listing the Vanvasi writers of the north-eastern states of India, will help them to reveal their identity and greatly contribute to the enrichment of Indian languages and literature.
India is a land of cultural diversities and rich linguistic and social history, but a land whose people are often neglected by the ?mainstream? Indian national culture, so much so that many of us have come to look upon the north-east as the ?invisible India?.
The languages of the north-east have survived after remaining in wilderness for long. The Lepcha language of Sikkim is believed to be even older than Sanskrit, but a written script came into being only when Reverend William Stuart started a school for Lepcha language and culture in 1841.
An interesting folktale tells the story of how the spirits presented a script to the Mizos on a piece of leather, but due to negligence, the script was eaten by a dog. Thus the Mizos had to wait till 1894 for Reverends F.W. Savage and J.H. Lawrence to create a script based on the vowel sounds of the language used by hunters and which came to be known as the Hunterian system in Mizoram. B. Lalthangliana, J. Malsawna, R. Thungvunga, and others find mention in this bibliography.
Bodo language is considered to be so rich that many Indian languages are based on it. It is claimed that the Bodos came to India even before the Aryans. Madhu Ram Bodo says that during the regime of the Bodo kings, Devdhai script was in vogue and is engraved on the remnants of the Royal Gate at Deemapur. Hence Bodos had a written script during the Ahom dynasty. It was in 1895 that a Welshman named Thomas Jones created the first script for the Bodos.
The writers listed in the bibliography do not simply write but they ?are linguistic, dealing with social and cultural activities and fighting for the life of their own native tongues.? The writers have not only written creative literature, but have also codified grammar of their native languages. While some of the writers of the north-east have produced histories of their communities stretching beyond recorded nationalised histories, many of them have written educational books for children and adult readers besides translating national and international works of literature and history into their local languages. These include classics written by Shakespeare, Tagore and the Hindu epics.
Though not all the Vanvasi writers of the north-east could be included, each entry of more than 90 writers covered in this volume gives personal dates, lists of publications, and a window into the writer'sculture and the various ways that each of them has used to preserve and promote his or her language. This volume under review is the first in the series to be published with the next one to follow on Vanvasi writers of Orissa, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Bihar. This is a small but commendable effort to bring information about the Vanvasis to the mainland population and who inhabit distant regions having suffered neglect and anonymity for long.
(Concept Publishing Company, A/15-16 Commercial Block, Mohan Garden, New Delhi-110059.)