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Indian-Origin Novelist Meira Chand Receives Singapore’s Highest Arts Award

Singapore recently bestowed its prestigious Cultural Medallion upon three distinguished individuals, recognizing their artistic excellence and significant contributions to the nation’s rich arts and culture. Among them, Meira Chand, an eighty-one-year-old Indian-origin writer, shares this esteemed accolade with novelist Suchen Christine Lim and Malay dance veteran Osman Abdul Hamid.

Details of the Ceremony:

President Tharman Shanmugaratnam presented the Cultural Medallion to the recipients in a ceremony held at the Istana. The award, the city-state’s highest arts honor, is accompanied by an SGD 80,000 grant for each awardee, supporting their continued artistic endeavors.

Meira Chand: A Literary Trailblazer:

  • Multicultural Novelist: Meira Chand, of Swiss-Indian parentage, is renowned for her award-winning novels depicting multicultural societies. Her notable work, ‘The Painted Cage’ (1986), was longlisted for the Booker Prize.
  • Historic Recognition: Alongside Lim, Meira Chand is the first English-language female writer to receive the Cultural Medallion since Ho Minfong in 1997.
  • Life and Journey: Born in London to a Swiss mother and Indian father, Meira Chand’s literary journey was influenced by her experiences in Japan, where she taught art, and her five years in India, which she describes as a “life-changing experience.” Her writing reflects her exploration of identity and cultural richness.

Cultural Medallion: A Prestigious Honor:

  • Establishment: Instituted in 1979 by the late President and then Minister of Culture Ong Teng Cheong, the Cultural Medallion is Singapore’s highest arts accolade.
  • Criteria: Awarded to individuals who have demonstrated artistic excellence, made substantial contributions, and shown commitment to enriching Singapore’s arts and culture scene.
  • Recognition Across Fields: The award has been bestowed upon 132 artists in diverse fields, including film, literary arts, performing arts, and visual arts.

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