Ranchi: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s No One Writes to the Colonel can now be an epitaph for letter-writing as a whole.
At an age where emails, chatboxes, inboxes and WhatsApp have made pen-and-paper letters almost museum pieces, India Post is hosting a nationwide contest, Dhai Akhar, to revive this form of communication.
On Sunday, Ranchi GPO under India Post held a letter writing contest on its premises near Albert Ekka Chowk in which 30 students from various city schools took part.
Senior superintendent of Ranchi circle K.D. Singh said the contest was organised under the aegis of the national event, on from June 15 till September 30. The theme of the contest is “letter to my motherland” inspired by Rabindranath Tagore’s song O Amar Desher Mati. Letters can be written in Hindi, English or a local language by people in two age group categories, Under 18 and Over 18. In both age groups, there are two format categories, inland letter (500 words) and envelope (1,000 words).
In both age groups and for both formats, prizes would be awarded separately. The circle level competition awards prizes of Rs 25,000, Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000. At the national level, the quantum of prizes are Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000.
A GPO office assistant, Basant Singh, who was on invigilation duty on Sunday as children wrote their letters, said interested contestants could send them letters directly too. The best entries at the circle level would be sent to the national level. The letters will be assessed under chief post master general Shashi Shalini Kujur, who is the competition’s chairperson for Jharkhand circle.
“In order to participate from Ranchi circle that covers Ranchi, Khunti, Simdega, Gumla and Lohardaga, an interested person can post his or her letter on the theme addressed to Shashi Shalini Kujur, chief post master general, Meghdut Bhavan, Doranda, Ranchi 834002,” he said.
Teenagers such as Avi, a Class X student of Kairali School, and Class XI girl Ashima Singh from Delhi Public School, who have grown up in an age of electronic communication and social media overload, said they loved writing letters using pen and paper. “Letter writing has been completely forgotten in the age of WhatsApp and Facebook,” Ashima said.
Sriwani, a Class IX student of Kairali School, got philosophical. “Online words seem devoid of feelings,” said the girl. “I loved writing the letter as it was in my handwriting and had a human touch.”