Indian-Origin Novelist Meira Chand Honored with Singapore's Cultural Medallion

Rozana Spokesman  | Amanat Thaper


President Tharman Shanmugaratnam presented the esteemed award

Novelist Meira Chand News

Novelist Meira Chand News: In a distinguished ceremony at the Istana on Tuesday, 81-year-old Indian-origin writer Meira Chand was bestowed with Singapore's highest arts accolade, the Cultural Medallion. Alongside fellow novelist Suchen Christine Lim and Malay dance veteran Osman Abdul Hamid, Chand was recognized for her outstanding artistic contributions that have significantly enriched the cultural landscape of Singapore.

Meira Chand, a Singaporean of Swiss-Indian parentage, stands out as a trailblazer, being the first English-language female writer to receive the Cultural Medallion since Ho Minfong in 1997. Renowned for her award-winning novels capturing the essence of multicultural societies, Chand's notable work includes 'The Painted Cage' (1986), which was longlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize.

Presidential Recognition and Support

President Tharman Shanmugaratnam presented the esteemed award, which comes with a grant of SGD 80,000 (approximately ? 49 lakh) for each recipient, aimed at fostering their artistic endeavors. Speaking about the laureates, President Tharman stated, "Each of our three new Cultural Medallion recipients is being recognized for their explorations through life and for inspiring many others, not least the next generation of artists."

Meira Chand's Literary Journey

Meira Chand's literary journey spans continents, reflecting her life experiences from England to Japan, India to Singapore. Born in London to a Swiss mother and Indian father, she spent her formative years in the UK. In 1962, she ventured to Japan with her Indian husband, teaching art at an international school. Her transformative years in India from 1971 were pivotal, marking the beginning of her writing career.

Calling her time in India a "life-changing experience," Chand expressed, "For the first time in my life, I met a half of myself I had never known. There was simply no way I could understand that experience but through writing," as per her website.

The Significance of the Cultural Medallion

Instituted in 1979 by the late President and then Minister of Culture Ong Teng Cheong, the Cultural Medallion stands as Singapore's highest arts honor. It recognizes individuals whose artistic excellence and commitment have significantly contributed to the enrichment and distinction of Singapore's arts and culture scene. Over the years, the award has been conferred upon 132 artists across various fields, including film, literary arts, performing arts, and visual arts. Last year, the prestigious Cultural Medallion was awarded to 56-year-old Tamilian Hindu Aravinth Kumarasamy.

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