(India International Centre Annexe, New Delhi, April 26, 2016)
It is a high privilege for me to address this distinguished audience on a very pleasant occasion marking the release of a new book by my close personal friend Mrs Achala Moulik.
There is no need to introduce Mrs Moulik. For nearly forty years, she has served as Indian Administrative Service officer. An author of more than thirty books, studies and monographs, she was the Education Secretary to the Government of India and Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India.
What is remarkable indeed – Achala’s brilliant professional carrier, literary and research works have been highly acknowledged not only in India but in my country as well. For many decades she has been in love with Russia and has been carrying this affection through her entire life. Her first work devoted to Russian literature was titled “The Silhouettes of Russian Literature: From Pushkin to Evtushenko”. Since then she has written many books about Russia, its culture, literature and history. We all know her brilliant research paper “One hundred years of Tolstoy from the Indian perspective” and her play “Pushkin’s last poem”, which was staged in Moscow and Saint Petersburg in 2009, during the Year of India in Russia.
In 2011, the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev awarded Mrs Moulik the Pushkin Medal, one of the highest state awards presented to foreign citizens for their contribution to strengthening friendship, cooperation and cultural ties with Russia. In 2013, Mrs Moulik who has also translated many works by Russian writers into Bengali, won the Sergey Yesenin Prize for promoting Russian literature.
Taking this opportunity I express my sincere my gratitude to the esteemed author for her selfless affection for Russia. The latest novel of Mrs Moulik clearly excels what she wrote before. I had the privilege to look through the book “Dangerous Dispatches” before its release and I am convinced that it will become an important landmark in literature not only in India and Russia.
Going through the history of the late 20th century, the author skillfully interweaves different but equally fascinating and dramatic stories of the Indian, Russian, Afghan and English characters into the historical context. Through Iran, Afghanistan, India, Bosnia and Russia their fates reflect the major global upheavals in the second half of the 20th century. Mrs Achala Moulik touched upon the most vital and burning issues of human life. The idea of universal values like affection, friendship, mutual respect and support notwithstanding any boundaries, runs through the whole novel. According to the author, human nature is the same all over the world, whether in the Indian subcontinent or in Russia.
It is essential that while narrating the situation in Afghanistan in the early 1980’s when the Soviet troops were called to support the government of that country, the author could apprehend the threat of rampant international extremism and terrorism, whose black clouds hang over the whole world nowadays. Brutality, death and destruction brought by the ISIS fighters to Syria and other countries are the tragic confirmation of those prophetic foresights that found reflection in the book. The novel is a result of thoughtful research of the archival documents of that epoch, analysis of the historical facts beyond the knowledge of the general public. These allows the readers to understand deeper the origins and the consequences of the events that substantially influenced the global political situation in the late 20th century.
The novel’s plot is closely connected with Mrs Achala Moulik’s personal experience and feelings. She pays tribute to all professional journalists who devoted their lives to high ideals of historical truth and justice, working in the foreground of all the existing trouble spots.
Undoubtedly, readers both in India and abroad will duly appreciate this novel by Mrs Achala Moulik. My dear friend Achala, please accept my warmest congratulation on yet another remarkable achievement in your literary pursuits.
I wish success to your novel, sound health and endless creativity to you, dear Achala ji!