Born in Babai village in the Hoshangabad district of present Madhya Pradesh in the year 1889, Pandit Makhanlal Chaturvedi was a writer, essayist, poet, playwright and journalist. He was an exceptional child, so much so that he became a school teacher when he was as young as 16 years. He grew on to become the editor of Prabha, Pratap and Karmaveer, which were all nationalist journals. As a journalist in the British era, and even in the post-independence era, Panditji – as he was fondly called – kept using his pen to fight against exploitation and for an equal society. Among his popular works are Deep Se Deep Jale, Sahitya Devata, Yug Charan, Kaisa Chhand Banaa Deti Hai, as well as many more. Him Taringini won him the first ever Sahitya Akademi Award for Hindi writing, in the year 1955. He was also awarded a Padma Bhushan in the year 1963. In the capital city of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal, the journalism college has been named in his honour. Also in his honour, the Madhya Pradesh Cultural Council (Madhya Pradesh Sahitya Akademi) hosts an annual program called Makhanlal Chaturvedi Samaroh since the year 1987. Poets are awarded for their excellence in poetry and conferred the Makhanlal Chaturvedi Puraskar. Panditji breathed his last in 1968 at the age of 78.
Born in Gwalior on December 25 1921, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the 10th Prime Minister of India. He held office twice, once for 13 days in 1996 and then from 1998 to 2004. He was also the first prime minister to serve full term, not being a part of the INC. A parliamentarian for most of his life, Vajpayee is known more for his love for literature and his skills in the art. He has numerous social and political works in his name, including Bindu-bindu vicara (1997), Decisive Days (1999), and Heal the Wounds: Vajpayee’s Appeal on Assam Tragedy to the Parliament (1983). He has authored four books – India’s foreign policy: New dimensions (1977), Assam problem: Repression no solution (1981), Atal Bihari Vaj mem tina dasaka (1992), Pradhanamantri Atala Bihari Vajapeyi, chune hue bhashana (2000) and Values, vision & verses of Vajpayee: India’s man of destiny (2001). He has also always been passionate about poetry and his poems are widely appreciated. There are seven books of poetry by Vajpayee, two of which – Nayi Disha and Samvedna – were converted into albums by Late Jagjit Singh. He is extremely well-loved throughout the country and his accomplishments both in literature as well as politics are unparalleled.
A famous Urdu poet and a well established Bollywood lyricist, Rahat Indori was born in Indore in 1950. Born to a cloth mill worker, Rahat Indori went on to complete his MA in Urdu from Barkatullah University in Bhopal. 10 years later, he gained his PhD in Urdu literature in 1985. He started his career as a professor and went on to be involved with Mushairas. for which he went on to become famous in India and abroad. Rahat Indori has written the lyrics for some of Bollywood’s bests such as Meenaxi, Mission Kashmir, Sir, Munnabhai MBBS, Ishq, and many more. Some of his songs have left deep impressions on Indian culture, like Dil ko hazaar baar roka (Murder), M bole toh (Munna Bhai MBBS) Chori Chori Jab Nazrein Mili (Kareeb) and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai (Meenaxi). He has a host of awards which he had won at national as well as international levels.
Born in 1935, in the Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh, Bhagwan Datt Sharma is one of the foremost literary translators of international literature into Hindi. As a PhD in Philosophy and comparative languages, Sharma has translated English poetry, and has worked with Latin American and Scandinavian texts as well. He is also the founder of the Rema Socialist Party and avowed advocate for education reform.
Born in Gwalior in the year 1938, Nida Fazli’s full name is Muqtida Hasan Nida Fazli. He is a profecient and very well-known Hindi & Urdu poet. His parents migrated to Pakistan after partition, but he chose to stay back in India. Apart from poetry, Fazli also wrote for Blitz and Dharmayug magazines. He wrote many famous songs for Bollywood of which Tu is tarah se meri zindagi mein and Hosh waalon ko khabar kya deserve special mention. There are innumerable songs for which he has written the lyrics, both in films and in television serials. Very recently, he used to write for BBC’s Hindi website.
A great satirist and a Sahitya Akademi Award winner, Harishankar Parsai was born in the Hoshangabad district in 1924. He won the Sahitya Akademi award for his poem Viklaang Shraddha ka daur which was a satire. Apni apni beemari, Aisa bhi socha jata hai, Aawara bheed ke khatre, Pagdandiyon Ka Zamana, Inspector Matadeen on the Moon: Selected Satires, Premacanda ke phaṭe jūte, and Jaise unke din fire are the titles of some of his books.