Souhardya De, 16, has been awarded with the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakti Puraskar. For The Sunday Guardian, he has taken up topics that include unheard and less talked about tales and events from India’s glorious past.
Thirty-two children from across the nation have been honoured with the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Shakti Puraskar, the highest civilian honour bestowed upon exceptional achievers under the age of 18, this year.
Souhardya De, author, FRAS and art and culture columnist for The Sunday Guardian has also been conferred upon this award for his contributions to the empowerment of Indian art, culture, history and heritage.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a virtual interaction, with the awardees on 25th January, congratulated them on receiving this exemplary award and asking them to vow to themselves so as to help them propel forward, also noted that their achievements and accomplishments during the COVID period was noteworthy and that he would like to see them move forward in the similar manner.
Talking specifically about Souhardya, the Prime Minister quoted in his statement, “This conversation and the award that you have all received, make it clear that when a small idea connects with the right action, it leads to impressive results. What a great example of this, all of you are. Your achievements today must have started with an idea. For example, Souhardya De from West Bengal! He writes about mythology and the glorious history of the country. When it first came to his mind that he had to move in this direction and write, he did not just sit idle after glossing over it. He took the right action, started writing, and today we are seeing the result.”
Souhardya’s works encompasses the various dimensions of Indian heritage. For the Sunday Guardian, he has taken up topics that include unheard and less talked about tales and events from India’s glorious past. His notable columns include one on Vajrayana Buddhism, Amb Sharif temples of the Hindu Shahis, Indian elements in the Lahore Fort in Pakistan, Gandhara Art, amongst many others.
Besides writing about events, monuments and tales of history, De has also, at times, written articles on cultural tourism on places that include but are not limited to Bishnupur, Malda, Mewar, Konark amongst others.
In a statement to the Press Bureau of India, De expressed his gratifications towards his parents and grandparents for developing his love towards history and mythology, something that enticed him to move forward in this particular field. “My parents are both into the teaching profession with history as a common subject. My father is an Assistant Professor of History at Midnapore College (Autonomous) and my mother is a teacher at the Pirakata High School, both of whom used to tell me the historical facts in the form of fictional tales, something that attracted me ever since I was a child’, said Souhardya, a student of class XI studying at Vidyasagar Shishu Niketan in the Paschim Medinipur district of West Bengal.
Souhardya also received the India Book of Records in 2019, for being the first to author a book entitled “The Chronicles of Suryavansh”, on the Suryavanshi ancestors, in English, in the drama format. For his intricate portrayal of Asiatic culture and heritage through his works, De was also elected as the youngest ever Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of London, the same year. Presently, Souhardya also hosts a podcast entitled, “Cosmographia: the Graeco-Romans, the Egyptians and Us”, the primary aim of which is to connect the various legends present in the Indian mythology with the legendary tales and epics that are prevalent in civilisations like Greece, Rome, Egypt and Mesopotamia.
As someone who’s been inspired by authors like Devdutt Pattanaik and Amish Tripathi, Souhardya wishes to continue reinvigorating the heritage and history and take India to greater heights tomorrow. He also informed the PIB that a new book tentatively named, ‘A Dynastic Decimation: When lust destroyed a Sultanate’ will be out from Rupa Publications India soon and here the story will revolve around tales of the Mughal Empire under Akbar.
While commending the young achievers, the Hon’ble President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind has stated in a message that “I am hopeful that Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar, 2021 would not only motivate the winners but will also encourage millions of other young children to dream, aspire and stretch their limits. Let us all do our personal best to take our nation to new zenith of success and prosperity.”