The SOVEREIGN FOREST open for public at Samadrusti campus in Bhubaneswar

The Sovereign Forest by noted Film Maker Amar Kanwar in collaboration with the Independent Media Group –The Samadrusti is an exhibition that attempts to reopen discussion and initiate a creative response to our understanding of crime, politics, human rights and ecology. The validity of poetry as evidence in a trial, the discourse on seeing, on understanding, on compassion, on issues of justice, sovereignty and the determination of the self – all come together in a constellation of moving and still images, texts, books, pamphlets, albums, music, objects, seeds, events and processes.

The Sovereign Forest has overlapping identities. It continuously reincarnates as an art installation, an exhibition, a library, a memorial, a public trial, an open call for the collection of more ‘evidence’, an archive and also a proposition for a space that engages with political issues as well as with art.

The Sovereign Forest is inspired by a search for the possible answers to the questions: How to understand the conflict around us? How to understand crime? Who defines evidence? Is legally valid evidence adequate to understand the meaning and extent of a crime? Can ‘poetry’ be presented as ‘evidence’ in a criminal or political trial? What is the validity of such evidence? Can it create a new and valuable perspective about the crime? What is the vocabulary of a language that can talk about a series of simultaneous disappearances occurring across multiple dimensions of our lives? How to see, know, understand and remember these disappearances? How to look again?

The central film, titled The Scene of Crime offers an experience of landscape just prior to erasure as territories marked for acquisition by industries. Almost every image in this film lies within specific territories that are proposed industrial sites and are in the process of being acquired by government and corporations in Orissa. Every location, every blade of grass, every water source, every tree that is seen in the film is now meant to not exist anymore. The Scene of Crime is an experience of ‘looking’ at the terrain of this conflict and the personal lives that exist within this natural landscape.

The Sovereign Forest invites visitors to contribute a photograph, a film, a document, a text, an object, seed, cloth, pattern, drawing, or any ‘evidence’ in any form to the constellation of evidence presented. The exhibition will continue for a few months as more parts are added to it.

Samadrusti Campus, Behind Trident Academy, Opposite Infocity, Sailashree Vihar, Bhunaneswar – 751021, Orissa, India
Contact numbers: 0674-6529485, 9853456083 and 9178182820

Compilation of Columns are of Essential Relevance to Living History: Soumya Ranjan Patnaik

Media magnet Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, whose ‘Sambad’ tops the major broadsheets of Orissa, observed that compilations of columns are of essential relevance to living history because they try to dwell between the lines of current events. This is why, as he has been marking, columns and comments have emerged as the principal object of interest of at least 40% of the newspaper readers, he said, while launching ‘Nai O Neta’, a compilation of published articles of Dr. Netajee Abhinandan, a faculty of Political Science in the Ravenshaw University, Cuttack.

The book launching was held last evening in the conference hall of Orissa Red Cross Bhawan, Bhubaneswar, with famous poet Rajendra Kishore Panda in the chair.

Panda, also a former top officer in IAS, delivered a highly scholarly exegesis on the art of column writing, even as, to him, insight into every facet of society with ability to editorialize the findings is what makes a columnist a reader’s choice in quest for information beyond the headlines’ beaten track.

The author introduced his book while looking back on evolution of his columns.

Dr. Rajendra Narayan Das stressed on readers’ participation in promotion of publication environment, when Pradyumna Satpathy, editor of Subarta, reviewed the book.

The audience comprising eminent authors and scholars was greeted with thanks by the publisher Nrusingh Prasad Mishra of Cuttack Students Store, when Dr. Bijayanand Singh had set the event to motion by welcoming the guests to the dais. Dr. Sanjay Satpathy co-ordinated the launching ceremony.

With a note of blessings from Dr. Debi Prasanna Pattanayak, the book consists of twenty nine published pieces on personal, socio-cultural, politico-economic topics as well as on issues germane to education, literature and civilian responsibility.

Uncultured Conduct in a Hall of Culture: Whither Media Responsibility?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

With ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ buried under the dust of time, a handful of new entrants to electronic media made a farce of press privileges in a cultural event at Rabindra Mandap in the evening of August 10 by resorting to cat calls when the audience was hearing veteran singer Subha Mudgal with rapt attention.

Senior scribe Kedar Mishra urged upon them not to disturb the listeners. He was pooh-poohed.

In a communication Kedar babu has thus narrated the incident:

Sitting in the press gallery today I was carefully listening to veteran singer Subha Mudgal in Ravindra Mandap and constantly got disturbed by three gentleman sitting just in front of me. They talked, laughed and mimicked the singer so loudly that every one in the auditorium got disturbed. Being a fellow journalist, I politely requested them to keep quite. Instead of listening to me they wanted to say me that I have no business to caution them. They are press people and can do whatever they want to do. I told them that I also belong to the same community and this is not fair to shout in a classical show.

None of them cared for my words; rather they become more irritating.

I phoned their concerned news editor and  informed about the irresponsible conduct of persons representing his channel. The News Editor was polite enough and took the matter seriously, but the reporter and photographer went on making a show out side the auditorium.

Audience and common people were shocked to see such arrogance from our people. The story ends here. but the trauma goes on.

Thus saying, Kedar babu has raised an issue that calls for serious cogitation.

He has said,

In cultural programs I experience such disturbing deeds that a few members of media basking under the privilege of Press resort to almost everyday.This is because, reporters who do not understand classical music, song or dance are being deputed to cover the shows.

Kedar babu is a perfectly suave, dignified journalist who, as an editor, is highly esteemed. His love for new entrants to the profession of journalism is unquestionable, immense and absolute.

I sincerely hope, the ones who humiliated the audience as well as the performing artists and luminaries of our classical music world in the Rabindra Mandap would feel ashamed of their conduct and amend themselves.

And, I further hope that the news media organizations would take Kedar babu’s words seriously and desist from deploying in future inefficient and inexperienced hands to cover cultural events.

As we find, no media organization in Orissa is having a culture desk with the concerned staff trained in culture coverage. Even no cameraman of any media organization has any specialization in the matter of covering events of art and culture. It is time, they must take the issue seriously. The State must force the media houses to impart in-service training to reporters and cameramen to be earmarked for culture desks in coverage of cultural events; because, responsibility lies with the Government to protect the cultural environment of the State and to protect performing artists from humiliation.


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Clarification” of Hindustan Times on the obnoxious “opinion piece” it had published on 24th July under the caption “Oof! Rashtropoti Bhobon!”, makes one suspect that it has become a sanctuary of scoundrels.

If not, it would have apologized directly to the people of Orissa against whom it had published that piece of dirty diatribe; it would have removed the filthy piece from the web by inserting there the reason thereof; it would have removed Hazra from its employment and handed him over to the police for the offensive use of its space in anti-national propaganda hyped with words like “Bengalis can finally forgive Indians”, because Pranab has become the President.

The Hindustan Times has not taken any such step. Rather by way of clarification, it has confirmed that it supports whatever Hazra has vomited.

The paper’s support to Hazra prompts me to ask: What is there in Pranab’s election as President which makes the howling Hazra feel that “Bengalis can finally forgive the Indians”? Is there anything noteworthy in his election, when in the political chaos that the country has been pushed into, any dog planted by the widow of Rajiv Gandhi could have become the President?

Criminal vitriol against the Oriyas, sic passim in Hazra’s article, has been authenticated by Hindustan Times, not only by its publication, but also by projection of the author under its own e-address given at the end of the nasty piece. Therefore, we reject its explanation that the article is a piece of “individual opinion of the author”.

Sham has so engulfed the HT that it has not felt ashamed of describing Hazra’s vomit as “an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding the recent Presidential election in India”. Is there a single line in the article of Hazra that raises a debate on Presidential election? Is there any ingredient of debate on Presidential election in what he has said? Which portion of the article of Hazra is a contribution to the debate on presidential election that the HT speaks of? Will the clarifier show us the same?

In its clarification, HT has asserted that, “Neither the publication nor the author had any intention to violate or hurt the feelings of, or to express any disrespect towards, any section of society”. Were these words juxtaposed with what Hazra has written to arrive at this conclusion? Let us see what Hazra has written in the nonsensical piece. It begins with these words:

“No one’s really noticed, but the Oriyas are really upset. Again. There was a chance that one of their own would finally become the president of India this time round. But no one from Orissa even made the grade as any political party’s presidential candidate. To add insult to injury, the 13th President is a Bengali and the outbreak of celebrations in the state next door has been keeping neighbours in Orissa awake at night”.

Are not these words willfully coined with the “intention to violate or hurt the feelings of, or to express disrespect towards” the Oriyas?

How could the HT claim that there was no “intention to violate or hurt the feelings of, or to express any disrespect towards, any section of society”? Is it now infested with fellows, who failed to understand the words they use?

And, how does the HT interpret the streamer: “With Pranab becoming president tomorrow, Bengalis can finally forgive Indians”?

Whose language is this? Hazra’s? Or of the editor-in-chief? Who has created this streamer?

Bengalis are who to forgive the Indians?

The old paper has certainly metamorphosed to a sanctuary of scoundrels, as otherwise its editorial page could not have thus become a junkyard of a particular Bengali’s braggadocios. I repeat, a particular Bengali, because most of the critics of Hazra’s article are Bengalis, who have castigated him for what he has written.

This is Just for Hazra and his likes
who need to know the Oriyas

It seems, the howling Hazra and his likes in Hindustan Times and elsewhere, if any, are in dire deficiency in knowledge on Orissa and her people.

Because Hazra has ventured his vitriol against Oriyas in the context of his imagined victory of Bengalis in presidential election, I would like to cite only a few pages from recorded history to help them know what the Oriyas are vis-a-vis the Bengalis, without any prejudice against the Bengalis as such, amongst whom I have many close relations and dearest of dear friends and of whom I am personally an admirer and to me, who are persons of magnificent culture, brotherhood, magnanimity and humanitarianism.

So, for only the Hazras and HTs, let us now enter into a few pages of history.

The first independence struggle against the British

When Bengalis were priding in becoming the servants of the British, it is the Oriyas that had raised the first battle in whole of India in 1817 to expel the British from their soil. In the book – A SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF ORISSA , the British historian G. Toynbee has narrated,

“It was not long, however, before we had to encounter a storm which burst with so sudden fury as to threaten our expulsion, if not from the whole of Orissa, at least from the territory of Khurda”.

Mother of non-co-operation movement

Begun with the 1804 war against the British, the battle of 1817 was a unique movement inasmuch as it not only had forced the British to bend its head, but also had given birth to the first non-co-operation movement in India at Khurda, which, after a hundred years, Gandhiji had adopted and used in our struggle for freedom.

The Khurda non-co-operation movement was of such impact that in his report to Commissioner Robert Ker dated the 9th September 1818, Joint Magistrate of Khurda W. Forrester had informed that, it had “completely put a stop to the collection of revenue” and “the nature of the country and disposition of its inhabitants will always present formidable obstacle to the suppression of these disturbances either by military or police”. That had forced the British to come to a compromise with the General of Orissa, Buxi Jagabandhu, who had led the non-co-operation movement.
But before the compromise was arrived at, many a Muslim leaders of the movement had sacrificed their lives and properties in that movement against the British.

As for example, from Robert Ker’s report to W.B.Bayley (Secretary to Government) dated 14 december 1818, it transpires that Mir Hyder Ali whom the British was unable to apprehend, had to breath his last in a condition of pauperization, the entire of his properties confiscated.

It was so much essential for the British administration to intimidate the people, that its chief executive in India had to put pressure on the Court to execute the punishment announced against the movement’s Muslim leaders like Sardar Khan and Nasrulla etc. (Letter of W.B.Bayley to the Registrar of Nizamut Adalat, W. Dorin, dated the 1st January 1819).

Aware of this unique non-co-operation movement conceived and successfully experimented in Orissa wherein many eminent Muslims had made their supreme sacrifices, and which had forced the British to compromise with the Orissa leader Buxi Jagabandhu as “the suppression (thereof) either by military or police” was found impossible, the Muslim leaders of India comprising the Khilafat Committee, had, on 23 November 1919, a hundred years after the Orissa experimentation, stressed on the necessity of a non-co-operation movement if the fight for freedom was to succeed.

Gandhiji was initially unable to grasp the significance of such a movement. His best biographer D.G.Tendulkar has written, “Gandhi was handicapped for want of suitable Hindi or Urdu words for the new idea. At last, he described it by the word ’non-cooperation’, an expression that he used for the first time on this occasion” (Mahatma Vol I, p.274).

Not in any part of Hindustan

Earlier when Bengalis were the docile subjects of the Muslims, and with them in its army, the Muslim ruler had dared to invade Orissa, the Oriyas had smashed that invasion completely and the enemy was, as admitted by the Muslim historian Minhaj-i-Siraj, who himself had joined that war, out-generaled. In THE HISTORY OF BENGAL (MUSLIM PERIOD), eminent historian Dr. R. N. Quanungo, has quoted Minhaj-i-Siraj who said,

“A greater disaster had not till then befallen the Muslims in any part of Hindustan”.

In the world of language

Language is the gateway to people’s dignity and civilization. India is a country of many languages.

In LINGUISTIC SURVEY OF INDIA, the famous linguist and researcher, G.A.Grierson has clearly said, “The Oriya language can boast of a rich vocabulary in which respect neither Bengali nor Hindi nor Telugu can vie with it”.

And, the great Bengali linguist Suniti Kumar Chatterjee says that “it may be said without travesty of linguistic truth” that Oriya language is much senior to Bengali and has shown the honesty in pointing out that Oriya is Bengali’s elder sister (I.H.Q.Vol.XXIII,1947,P.337).

It is better for the Hazras and the HTs to study a State first, before indulging in luxuries of nefariousness against its position and people.

Mohini Mohan Makes a Marvelous Mix of Odishi and Hindustani with Folk Tunes on World Music Day

Utkal University of Culture celebrated World Music Day with legendary flutist, Prof. Mohini Mohan Pattanaik making a mix of Odishi and Hindustani with Orissa’s folk tunes in the evening of July 6 at Jaya Dev Bhawan, Bhubaneswar, to start the event. He captioned it as ‘Tridhara’ (mixure of the three streams: Odishi, Hindustani and Folk) while glossing it with a bit of western stint.

Addressed by the State’s Minister of Culture Prafulla Samal, the occasion was used to felicitate two eminent senior musicians: Pandit Bishwanath Pujapanda (Odishi vocal) and Guru Dhanurdhara Reddy (Mrudanga).

Odishi Brunda Gayana that exemplified how superb is classicality of Oriya songs was collectively performed by students of Odishi department of the University in two twin episodes. When the Raganga episode with the Madhyamadi meter in rhythm Ekatali was composed and conducted by Guru Ramahari Das, the Nrutang episode, depicting how a love-lorn heart simmers in ecstasy as earth receives the rhythms of rain, was conducted by Guru Dhiraj Mohapatra. Guru Dibakar Parida and Guru Anil Parichha were on Pakhauj.

The Hindustani vocal performed by students of the University had the instrumental support from Guru Laxmi Prasad Pattanayak (violin), Guru Upendra Kumar Swain and Guru Gadadhar Saran (Tabla) and was conducted by Guru Karunakar Nayak.

The last item was Tala Badya Bichitra, composed and directed by Guru Sandip Kumar Raut and conducted by Prof. Jagannath Kuanr. Students of the University were on Tabla (Binod Bihari Biswal), Mardal (Rashmi Ranjan Misra), Ghatam (Soumya Ranjan Nayak), Dholak (Prabhas Basantray), Dhol (Baibhav Kumar Das) and Dhumsa (Sitakant Jena. When Ms. Manisha Mishra performed Bol Padhant, Kshiti Prakash rendered the vocal support. Guru Nirmal Nayak gave the Harmonium support when Guru Laxmi Prasad Pattanayak enriched the event with Violin.


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Sahitya Akademi , hereinafter called Akademi, was created as India’s National Academy of Letters. But sadly it has become the Augean Stable of Indian letters.

We will examine only one aspect: its annual awards to the “most outstanding” books in Indian languages, which is its principal aspect; and see how in this aspect it has become the Augean Stable.

Primarily addressed to Orissa’s interests as is, we will begin with and continue to examine the scenario juxtaposed with the latest Sahitya award given to a book in Oriya.

This book is a novel captioned ‘Achinha Basabhumi’.

We have exposed earlier, in these pages, how the book is a despicable one, absolutely ineligible for the award and how the selection of this book was vitiated by malpractice, manipulation, and contravention of Rules.

We are now to look at the response of the Akademi to post-selection protests to see to what extent its awards stink of corruption to make it an Augean Stable.

Corruption in selection of this book as the “most outstanding book” in Oriya language for Sahitya Award 2011 had come to the attention of Sahitya Akademi sufficient ahead of presentation of the same award. But, as the selection was deliberate, it ignored the allegation.

LAB member resigns in protest

When the award was to be given on February 14, 2012, prominent member of the Akademi’s Oriya Language Advisory Board (LAB), Barendra Krushna Dhal tendered his resignation on December 24, 2011 in protest against irregularities in selection of this book. His letter of resignation had exposed the irregularities in two fronts: (1) In selecting this book, six other eminent writers – highly creative and popular – were completely ignored and (2) As if the jury members were to sign on dotted lines, they were not given enough time for a sound selection, as they were given eleven books each to read, compare and evaluate all those books in about a week’s time which was practically impossible.

So, allegation of manipulation in selection of this book was known to the Akademi by December 24, 2011.

Protest of the preeminent
member of the Jury

There were three members in the Jury: Chandra Sekhar Rath, Srinibas Mishra and Debdas Chhotray. The Akademi had made it four membered by adding the Convener Bibhuti Pattanaik to the Jury list, and by imposing him on the Jury as its President free to intervene in works of the Jury and influence its decision by way of obstruction and permission, paving thereby the way for selection of this particular book. This apart, the convener allowed regional secretary of the Akademi to play a part in the decision of the Jury, in view of which the Jury was a de facto body of five members in place of three.

However, amongst these Jury members, only one man – Chandra Sekhar Rath -was the most distinguished and preeminent one, the primacy of whose placement in the Jury stems from the emphasis laid down by the Haksar Committee and hence, whose opinion should have counted the most.

We will come to the Haksar Committee later. This much can be said now that as the activities of the three central Akademis including Sahitya Akademi were generating constant and immense dissatisfaction, the Central Government had appointed a Committee headed by Dr. H. J. Bhabha in 1964 to review their activities. Again in 1970 another Committee was appointed under chairmanship of Justice G. D. Khosla to review their functioning including action taken on the Bhabha Committee report. As both these Committees were more ignored than honored, the Central Government had to appoint a ‘High-powered Review Committee’ (HPRC) headed by Sri P.N. Haksar in 1988 “to review the working of the three Akademis, along with their affiliates and subsidiaries and the NSD with reference to the objectives for which they were set up, and keeping in mind the recommendations of Committees set up in the past in this behalf”.

In reviewing the Awards governed and given by Sahitya Akademi, this high-powered Committee had emphasized on change of criteria in appointment of Jury. Under Para 9.48 of its report, the HPRC had stipulated that, “At least one member of the jury should be a Fellow of the Akademi or an author who had won a Sahitya Akademi Award in the past”, which the Akademi has conveyed to have accepted.

This implemented recommendation of the Haksar Committee makes it unambiguously clear that the member of the Jury who is there because of being a Fellow of the Akademi or a winner of Award of the Akademi, will be of basic and guiding importance in the Jury.

And in the Jury we are concerned with, Prof. Chandra Sekhar Rath was the only member who had won the Akademi Award in 1997 for his short story compilation ‘Sabutharu Dirgharati’. So he was the most distinguished, preeminent member.

Prof. Rath had vehemently opposed the selection of ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ till the last moment in the meeting of the Jury. When with Debdas Chhotray’s secondary support it became clear that the book was bound to be selected with majority support, he had signed on the sheet of recommendation just to save the jury from the embarrassment of being fractured.

However, there, after signing, he had cried out his protests, as admitted by the Convener and in the public, after the award was announced, he had openly divulged that the selection was fixed.

On January 3, 2012, his version came to public attention through an interview published in Sambad wherein he stated that the selection was stage-managed and he had to sign on dotted lines against his conscience. This allegation from the most distinguished member of the Jury was too serious to be ignored.

The LAB Convener Bibhuti Pattanaik who, besides being the official link between the Jury and the Akademi, had arbitrarily presided over the Jury to the extent of driving it into selection of this book, had taken cognizance of Rath’s interview in response to which he had published his comments in the same paper admitting, inter alia, that Rath had put his signature most reluctantly in the selection sheet after Chhotray’s second preference added to Mishra’s adamant preference made the selection sure for ‘Achihna Basabhumi’; after which he had also raised “strong protests” against the selection of that book.

This shows that on January 3, 2012, the Akademi was also notified of the controversy over the selection.

PIL in Orissa High Court

On February 2, 2012, the Orissa High Court, on admitting PIL case No. W.P.(C) 1871/2012, had imposed an interim injunction on presentation of the Award and issued notice to the OPs comprising (1) the Union Ministry of Tourism and Culture represented by its Secretary, (2) National Academy of Letters (Sahitya Akademi), (3) the Akademi Secretary, (4) Language Advisory Board (Odiya), (5) Bibhuti Pattanaik, convener of the Akademi, (6) Chandrasekhar Rath, Jury of the Akademi, (7) Ramkumar Mukhopadhyaya, regional secretary of the Akademi and (8) Smt. Kalpana Kumari Devi, authoress of the disputed book.

So, finally, the Akademi was notified of the irregularities in selection of this book by the High Court of Orissa on February 2, 2012 also.

Corruption all around

On being thus notified of corruption in selection of this book, it was expected of the Akademi to review the selection. But corruption was so much across it, that, instead of reviewing the cultivated recommendations of its jury for Oriya language, it defended its decision to present the award and got the stay vacated by misleading the court with suppression of vital facts as well as by taking recourse to technical grounds rather than relying on reality.

Had the Akademi reviewed the selection, it could have seen from its records that the book was selected through sheer manipulation and shrewd canvassing by its authoress through her integral part in matter of the book: the publisher, Girija Kumar Baliarsingh, who had caused insertion of this book in the list to be placed before the Jury at the last moment. The mischief of manipulation is inherent in the Annual Award Rules of the Akademi.

Rule against Rule

When Sub-Rule 1 of Rule 3 provides for enlistment of eligible books by an expert in the concerned language “strictly” conforming to the “criteria of eligibility” laid down in the Rules, Sub-Rule 3 makes the LAB members eligible not to accept the list prepared by the language expert and to recommend two books each as eligible for the award.

Yet again, under Sub-Rule 1 of Rule 4, a committee styled Preliminary Panel is created comprising ten members called ‘Referees’ , who, under Sub-Rule 3 thereof are empowered to change the list of eligible books compiled with recommendations received from the LAB members.

This is the last phase of the eligibility list for the award. Hereafter, the jury is to select the book.

Thus, the Preliminary Panel is the Final Panel for altering the list created on recommendations of the LAB members and the list created on its recommendation becomes the Final List to be placed before the Jury.

The publisher of ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ was in this Final Panel, misleadingly styled Preliminary Panel and was the only one on whose recommendation, this book which neither the language expert nor the Advisory Board members had recommended, was incorporated in the final list by the Akademi.

That the publisher of the book Girija Kumar Baliarsingh had obtained a berth in the final panel and made the book inserted in the final list by misusing his membership in that panel style ‘Preliminary Panel’ is revealed from records of the Akademi.

Asit Mohanty, an Akademi prized author and Editor of Publications (Eastern Media) had made certain queries under RTI on selection of this book. In reply to his query at Para 5 (c-viii), the Akademi has informed that, “the awarded book ‘Achinha Basabhumi’ was incorporated in the process of award at Preliminary Panel Stage” when to query at Para 5 (c-ix), it has said that, “Sri Girija Kumar Baliarsingh, one of the members of the Priliminary Panel, was (the) only (one, who) recommended the book ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ for Award.”

Award arranged through canvassing

The role of the Regional Secretary of the Akademi as well as that of the Convener in ensuring selection of this book for the award is discussed earlier in these pages. When read therewith, the role of the publisher of this book, as exposed now on the basis of records obtained from the Akademi under RTI, makes it clear that there was a meticulously calculated, canny, clever and keen canvassing for the award for ‘Achihna Basabhumi’.

The nakedness of canvassing is manifested in inclusion of the publisher of the book in the final panel.

It is up to the Akademi to reveal as to who of the Advisory Board had recommended publisher Baliarsingh for inclusion in the panel wherefrom he could insert the book in the final list.

And for this, it also should reveal, whose pressure it succumbed to in appointing this publisher as a referee and in ignoring all ethics to accommodate this particular referee’s solo recommendation at the last moment in final compilation of the eligible books for the award.

I am afraid, it will not; because the selection of this book was steered through lobbying, in sharp contravention of the rules and ethics within the knowledge of the Akademi officials and with their cooperation, participation and support.

Withdrawal of the Award is necessary

If the Akademi officials were not been involved with this offense, on receipt of Dhal’s letter of resignation from the Advisory Board on December 24, 2011, which was sent in protest against favoritism in selection, the Akademi, in order to find out if any illegality was really resorted to in selection of this book, could have immediately reviewed the entire gamut of selection, starting from the ground list to its vetting through the Advisory Board to screening thereof by referees in the final panel coined as preliminary panel and insertion of this book for the first time in the final list, beyond knowledge and jurisdiction of the Advisory Board, at the final stage on the solo recommendation of a referee who himself is the publisher of this book.

Had it been done, the clandestine canvassing by the writer could have been noticed as the publisher of a book and the writer thereof form a single unit in appearance of the book and steps could have immediately been taken to declare the book disqualified for the award.

Sub-Rule 5 of Rule 2 stipulates that, “A book shall be disqualified for the award if it is established to the satisfaction of the Executive Board that canvassing has been done by the author.”

Therefore the chief executive of the Akademi was duty bound to bring the allegation of favoritism in this book’s context to the knowledge of the Executive Board for their action against shadow canvassing by the authoress executed through her integral part in appearance of the book, the publisher.

But the chief executive of the Akademi did not do so.

The book, which is a despicable book as shown earlier in these pages and elsewhere could not be disqualified for the award before the award was presented.

After the award was presented, the role of the publisher – the integral part of the author in bringing out the book, was disclosed by the Akademi that connotes canvassing by the writer through the publisher.

Therefore the book deserves post-presentation disqualification for the award and hence the award needs to be withdrawn.

Jury members: timid or tamed?

Award to ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ could have been nullified/withdrawn had Jury member Chandra Sekhar Rath who has kept his post-announcement protests against the selection on records, been a bit honest; and if Debdas Chhotray who, in the Jury meeting, had primarily preferred another book, could have come forward to help people know the shenanigans that had preceded this selection.

There is no doubt that the Akademi officials are aggressive offenders of the very Rules, which provide for the award. But they are so very aggressive that, members of the LAB as well as of the Jury are afraid of disclosing where the shoe pinches lest that irritates the officials.

The High Court had served notices on the advisory board members through the Convener. Had they or any of them come forward to say that ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ was not in the list compiled on their recommendation, the court could not have said that the selection of this book was processed through “different expert Bodies and Committees …… formed by the National Sahitya Akademi to select the works of different authors”. And, might be, the wrong in holding this despicable book as “the most outstanding book” in Oriya language could have been corrected.

Supposing that the Convener suppressed the court notice and did not circulate the copy thereof amongst Board members, what about Chandrasekhar Rath, who had vehemently opposed the selection of this book for the award in the jury meeting itself and had, in his Sambad interview, given the impression that he had to sign on dotted lines for which his conscience was biting him bitterly and he was in deep remorse?

From the High Court verdict it transpires that he was personally notified of the case; but he did not respond.

Had he responded to the court notice and placed the facts he had divulged through the interview, the verdict of the court could certainly have not gone in favor of the Akademi and the stay on presentation of the award could not have been lifted; because the court could not have approved the illegalities resorted to in selection of this book.

Is Rath a timid fellow or was tamed by the Akademi after the Sambad interview to stay away from telling the court the truth? The answer is best known to him.

Tamed Tenacity?

It has been revealed even by the convener that when two of the members were against the awarded book, only one member of the three member jury, Srinibas Mishra, had declared at the start of the Jury meeting that he would never support any book other than ‘Achihna basabhumi’.

He is a retired person, too old for serious perusal and evaluation of so many books of so many diversities and genres in so small a time, such as a week, as LAB member Barendra Dhal has noted in his reported resignation letter.

Had he seriously read even one book, i.e. the book he so tenaciously supported, he could not have supported the book at all.

Because, a retired teacher like him could not have supported a book of filthy, insulting and obnoxious words hurled at people of lower castes, women, widows, and Muslims; a book of contempt against societal unity, against national integration and against progressive virtues.

Why he was so fixed for this particular book? Was it also an instance of tamed tenacity? This agonizing suspicion should be cleared. But, it may be clear if Mishra honestly gives a detailed account of how and why he found this book to be the “most outstanding book” of the period.

Debdas’ surprising silence

But the other member of the jury, Debdas Chhotray, who, at the beginning, had declared that none of the books in the final list was eligible for the award, had subsequently expressed his preference for a book other than ‘Achihna Basabhumi’. What happened that he helped this book with his second preference despite it being a despicable book, is a point of public interest.

Therefore I had sent him a properly explained questionnaire, which, had he answered, could have better helped in location of malpractice, if any, in selection of this book for the national award and in projection of a despicable book as “the most outstanding book” published in Oriya language. The questionnaire is perusable here. Why a man like Chhotray preferred not to cooperate is a conundrum.

Role of the Bar at India International Centre

However, a look into old files brings me into pages of Outlook India wherein well known Hindi writer Krishna Sobti was quoted to have said, “Undoubtedly, there is a literary mafia at work.”

How the mafia works? Says Sobti, “There is always a silent decision to promote someone or the other. It’s a circuit game barred to outsiders. Only a few have access to the India International Centre bar where so many things are decided.” (Outlook India, November 01, 1995)

If Jury members are gained over in bars such as at India International Centre, New Delhi, how can one expect of them any faithful adherence to Rules of the national award?

In the same discussion, Sheelbhadra, who also drew attention to the fact that a jury member had even claimed credit for ‘getting’ a particular writer his award, has said, “Personal factors obviously influence the selection of books by the language committees”.

Should we not know what Khushwant Singh has said in the same story?

In recalling his decision to quit the Sahitya Akademi’s award panel after a writer, whom he had reported for lobbying for her book, not only got the award but even declared her husband would get one the following year, Singh has said, “The kind of lobbying that goes on is shocking. In particular, there is a rampant scandal in Punjabi awards. I can’t think of a single Akademi award-winning book that has been commercially successful: they are simply unreadable.”

And, who can say, the India International Centre bar is barred to Punjabi writers?

Sanctuary of literary mafia

In their well documented write up captioned ‘Literary Mafia’ Amit Prakash and Y.P.Rajesh have exposed how award fixers are ruling the roost in the Sahitya Akademi.

“A talented Indian language writer today would need to be both influential and old, if not dead, before he is read and formally recognized by ……… the Sahitya Akademi.

“Though it is still a gentleman’s game compared to the vicious politicking, scandals and goondaism that plague the art world, the fortune and fame of many Indian writers are determined by a well-entrenched literary mafia in Delhi. A society for mutual admiration, it is a close knit group of ‘established writers’ and writer-bureaucrats who lord over vast networks of patronage. Outsiders stand little chance of breaking into this circuit and stumble in either by default or for sheer want of a favorite in a particular category or language”.(Ibid)

Exposure by Chittaranjan Das

Famous essayist and author, late Chittaranjan Das has described his experience as a member of the jury of the Akademi in Pragativadi dated June 30, 2003.

When, to avoid canvassing, it is a must for the Akademi to keep secret the names of the Jury members and this secrecy is so absolutized that no member of the Jury can know who the other members are, Das has revealed in his write-up, how he was approached by the other two members of the jury one by one and pressurized by both of them to select a particular book to ensure the award for a particular person.

Even a close friend of Das, who was not in the Jury, was used to pressurize him in support the same book, Das has said.

He has even revealed that both the other members of the Jury having decided ahead of the Jury meeting to select that particular book, his signature was formally collected by an officer of the Akademi on the sheet of paper reflecting the pre-session decision.

If Akademi officials were not involved with such award fixing, how could Das be known as a member of the Jury to others and how other two members could be gained over to have selected the book even before the Jury met?

This stripping of the Akademi by the eminent essayist, who was revered not only as a great litterateur but also as a paragon of Gandhian virtues, makes it clear that the Akademi of letters has become a sanctuary of literary mafia.

The allegation that the Convener had made

It reminds me of how in the matter of Sahitya Award-2004, in a public function of the Akademi itself at Balasore on 8 February 2010, its Convener Bibhuti Pattanaik had set the State’s literary environment ablaze by claiming that the climate of corruption prevalent in the country has also affected the nation’s highest awards for literature.

As an instance, in a conniption, he had exposed how Prafulla Mohanty had succeeded in bagging that award by bribing Jury member Manoranjan Das, with dismaying details.

It is an irony that with the same Bibhuti Pattanaik continuing as the Convener, the Award-2011 has gone to a despicable book by manipulation through illicit nexuses!

What else than the wrong practices of entertaining award-fixers in the Akademi could be responsible for this?

Awardee known
four months ahead of selection

As reported on 27 December 2007, an open appeal to the Central Culture Minister was made by eminent writers including Mahasweta Devi, Krishna Sobti, Ashok Vajpeyi, Vishnu Khare, J.P.Das, Pratibha Ray,and Ajit Cour to save the Akademi from the labyrinth of irregularities and from the grip of award fixers.

But amongst these signatories, there is one such writer who had bagged the award by manipulation!

Four months ahead of announcement of the award,former Secretary of Orissa Sahitya Akademi Dr. Hara Prasad Paricha Pattanaik had told me the name of who would get the award. And, when this particular person got the award, to what extent procurement of the award has become easier for the unscrupulous became crystal clear. In a different context, in a 2007 discussion, I have kept this information on records in these pages.

Multiple devices

“Controversies around awards in other Indian languages are not as loud as those in Hindi, which drag in all sorts of isms — cronyism, casteism, political affiliation, ideology”, says Neelabh Mishra in Outlook India of March 08, 2010.

So, not only New Delhi’s India International Centre bar, but also multiple devices like bribe, cronyism, casteism, political affiliation, ideology et cetera are in active use in selection of books for Sahitya Award.

Chronic corruption

Who but the intelligent persons can be writers and, as writers, aspire for national awards? But it also is a fact that whosoever is corrupt, is intelligent.

Like birds of the same feather, intelligent people may flock together without the risk of being easily caught for differences in avocational genre.

So in the Akademi, there is always a generic nexus between the intelligent ones with literary aspirations and the intelligent ones who thrive on corruption. Resultantly, corruption is chronic in the Akademi.

Salvaging attempts screwed up

Attempts were made to salvage the Akademi from this labyrinth in 1964 by reviewing its activities though a Committee headed by Dr. H. J. Bhabha and again in 1970 though another Committee headed by Justice G. D. Khosla. As findings thereof had no impact on the Akademi, a high-powered Committee headed by P. N. Haksar was appointed in 1988 about which we have already mentioned. This being a high-powered Committee, action on its recommendations was supposed to be sure. But mafia ruling the roost in Akademi matters screwed it up.

Parliamentary Standing Committee does a dig

With a Communist Sitaram Yechury at the helm, the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture thought it prudent to look at the functioning of the autonomous cultural bodies including the Akademi and in the process stumbled upon the Haksar Committee report ignored by the Akademi, abandoned by the Government and buried under dusts of time. It had to force the Ministry to retrieve the report, but it failed to find if any action was taken thereon; because, the concerned files were reported to be missing.

In introducing how it stumbled upon the Haksar Committe report, the Standing committee says, “The Committee had received inputs from various quarters, governmental and nongovernmental including Media, about the working of our premier cultural bodies – Sangeet Natak Akademi, Sahitya Akademi, Lalit Kala Akademi and National School of Drama. The issues ranged from their constitution, composition, mandate and mainly their general functioning. It was felt that most of these institutions were not able to live up to the original mandates set out by their founding fathers. Controversies of different kind involving these institutions that keep cropping up from time to time, had caught this Committee’s attention. Questions were also raised about the indifference and helplessness shown by the Ministry of Culture to do anything in the face of autonomy enjoyed by these institutions.(Para 23)

“In view of this, the Committee wanted to find out if these institutions set up during the initial years, were able to make the desired contribution towards enriching, promoting and preserving our arts and culture”. (para 24)

“To begin with, the Committee prepared a questionnaire and sent to the Ministry of Culture for furnishing replies, based on which it could begin its deliberations. During the deliberations, the Committee came to know that similar sentiments about the functioning and activities of these institutions had existed even during the sixties and thereafter, which is why different Committees had to be set up for going into their working”.(Para 25)

Files gone missing

The Standing Committee came to know of three different Committees constituted for the purpose in the past, the last being the Haksar Committee, which was a “High-Powered Review Committee” created for the purpose of salvaging the Akademis.

It “asked for a copy of this High-Powered Committee Report (Haksar Committee) from the Government and it was surprised to know that files relating to action taken to most of its recommendations had gone missing and the Ministry of Culture was trying to locate them. However, a copy of the Haksar Committee Report was furnished to this Committee. The recommendations/observations of this Committee (Haksar Committee), in fact, were an eye-opener to this Committee that were found to be as relevant today as they would have been more than two decades ago when it was submitted to the Govt. of India in the year 1990”, the Parliamentary Standing Committee has noted at Para 26 of in its report tabled in the Parliament on 17 August 2011.

Decision of the Standing Committee

Convinced of the relevance of the Haksar Committee report, which was produced on the basis of in-depth scrutinization of “the records of the institutions including the agenda and proceedings of their policy-making bodies, executive and academic bodies and internal committees” on the one hand; and on the other hand its interaction “across section of people active in the fields of performing and visual arts, language and literature, education and cultural administration over the country”, but was lying abandoned, the Standing Committee “felt that it would be unnecessary duplication of efforts and resources for the Parliamentary Committee to start another exercise of reviewing the working of these institutions as it had initially decided”.

Therefore, the Committee “took a decision to review the implementation of the recommendations of the Haksar Committee and report its observations/recommendations to Parliament which might sensitize the Government, Akademis, NSD and the people at large, about the significance as well as the neglect of these bodies in our nation’s life”. (Para 28-29)

Concerned as we are only with the Sahitya Akademi in this essay, we will look into the affairs only of this Akademi as mentioned in the Standing Committee Report to the extent that is relevant to the topic in our hand: the Annual Sahitya Awards.

At Para 9.46 of its report, the HPRC headed by Haksar had observed, “The Sahitya Akademi needs to take note of the general dissatisfaction regarding the present system of deciding its annual awards.” To query of the Parliamentary Committee on this point, the Akademi refused to agree to this, as there has been no objection over its present system of selection.

The Standing Commiittee has refused to accept the the version of the Akademi. It has noted, “The Committee endorses the recommendation of the HPRC and is of the view that selection process is not without any controversy. It is true about Sahitya Akademi award also. What is needed is to follow a very transparent and comprehensive selection process with least scope for favoritism, etc. The existing selection process may be re-examined accordingly and intimated to the Committee.”

The Haksar Committee had further said that, “The juries must apply the most exacting standards. If no book or author in any given language comes up to the mark, no prize need be awarded. The existing guideline to this effect should be strictly enforced.” (Para 9.51 of its report) To query of the Standing Committee on this count, the Akademi said that the recommendation has been “implemented” and the Standing Committee took note of it. But as shown in this chain of discussions in these pages, it is clear that the recommendation is observed more in violation than implementation. Corruption has engulfed the entire process.

“Our conventional wisdom says that a society bereft of art, music and literature will consist of people as good as animals with no horns and tails. The main challenge before us today is to protect and promote our tangible and intangible cultural assets at a right perspective.” The Parliamentary Standing Committee had introduced its report with this note.

Challenge remains a challenge

But the challenge has remained a challenge. The Akademi has remained the Augean Stable of Indian letters, as is established by award to ‘Achihna Basabhumi’.

It is time, the Standing Committee of the Parliament, in this context, should find time , to review the implementation of its views. And, the sooner it is done, the better.

Orissa’s poetic tradition is oldest in India

In Orissa Sahitya Akademi’s series of Prof. Arta Ballav Mohanty Memorial Lectures this year, India’s eminent poet Ashok Vajpayi lauded Oriya language as the language that bears the country’s oldest poetic tradition.

Not only poetry had blossomed in Oriya matchlessly early, but also it had made an unique pattern of its own. The richness of lucidity, rich also in diversities in style of presentation, makes Orissa’s old poetic tradition unique. The vastness of vocabulary covering cross-referred subjects on every facet of life and society as marked in the works of Adi Kavi Sarala Das is not found even in Hindi literature of those days, said Vajpayee.

He pointed out that a poet’s strength of memory linked to empirical knowledge and societal tradition makes his work utmost relevant and of permanent value. This is seen in Sarala’s works. And, this is also reflected in works of Prof. Mohanty under whose able editorship Sarala Mahabharat could enter from the ranks of palm leave manuscripts into the modern world of print.

The memorial lecture was witnessed by Orissa’s Minister of Culture Prafulla Samal in the auditorium of Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, Bhubaneswar amongst hundreds of persons of letters and intellectuals on Sunday.

Rajasmita Won the Top Title: the State Should Now Wake-up

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa got a great moment to forget the continuous agony over the hostage issue, when her child Rajasmita Kar bagged the top title in Zee TV’s reality show -Dance India Dance.

She achieved distinction over Pradeep Gurung of Assam, Raghav Juyal of Uttarakhand, Sanam Johar of Delhi and Mohena Singh of Madhya Pradesh, who were also superb in their respective performances. Her mentor Geeta Kapur, whom, on winning the coveted honor, she offered her gratitude on the stage for all her guidances, attributed the success to Rajasmita’s talent, determination and matching hard work.

The reality show was not a show strictly of classical dances. So, the challenge was many faceted. Fetching the best dancer title was not at all easy for any top dancer. Rajasmita’s distinction, therefore, is of highest order.

As we congratulate her, we also remember the Prince Dance Group of Ganjam district that had bagged the best position in “India’s Got Talent” competition on ‘Colors’ TV channel in 2009.

The State government had announced to present the group a gift of four acres of land to build a dance academy for the rural talents and a crore of Rupees. The State’s department of culture that, under rules of business, handles the affairs of dance and music has no follow-up information.

A couple of decades ago there were being held folk dance competitions in every part of Orissa. When Odissi has remained its priority, folk dances are fading away. Be the members of the Prince Dance Group or be it Rajasmita, Oriya dancing talents are not being supported by the State in their practice. Orissa is Utkal, the land of excellence in music, dance and sculpture. If the land is mother to her people, they carry the gene to excel in arts they pursue. So it is necessary to provide the people with the infrastructure to make their artistic gene flourish unhindered. For this, rural institutes of dance and music and rural auditoriums are essential. The State government should wake up to this, so that many Rajasmitas will not go unnoticed.

Silent Spectators of Killing of Oriya Classicism are Eager to Campaign for Its Classical Status: Good News to Enjoy; But Not Without Reservations

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa became Odisha and Oriya became Odia under a very misconceived law enacted sans proper study of historicity of the concerned words and application of parliamentary wisdom thereto.

Shockingly, Orissa’s community of letters preferred to stay silent spectators, even though the two words – Orissa and Oriya – were samples of international recognition of classicality of Oriya language.

But a good news is that, Bhubaneswar Book Fair Committee (BBFC), in a meeting on Sunday has expressed interest in a campaign for classical status of Oriya.

BBFC, An Appropriate Forum

It can be said without any travesty of truth that, the BBFC is the mother of bibliophilic renaissance in Orissa. It will continue to be recognized for ever as the organization that has revolutionized people’s love for books in Orissa, where bibliophily was, till book fairs were started by this Committee, restricted only to the elites.

It is therefore quite becoming of this Committee to have started thinking of a campaign for recognition of Oriya language as a classical language.

In a meeting it held on 15th, with its President Satakadi Hota in chair, while welcoming the Oriya New Year, it has stressed on this recognition. Eminent authors such as Pramod Mohanty, Fani Mohanty, Rajendra Kishore Panda, Asit Mohanty, Sarat Chandra Mishra, Jugal Kishore Dutta, Sourindra Barik, Asutosh Parida, including former Director of Central Institute of Indian languages Dr. Debi Prasanna Pattanayak and the Committee Secretary Barendra Krushna Dhal observed that the oriya language being a very ancient language in vogue since the Puranic days deserves national distinction as a classical language.

If Oriya politicians that were and are in power, not been herds of factotums of their respective high commands and suffering incorrigibly from lack of courage due to a syndrome that has afflicted them all, which we can call the ‘supremo’ syndrome, the Government of India, when it declared Tamil as a classical language in 2004 or Kannada and Telugu in 2008, could have declared Oriya as a classical language of the country.

Juxtaposed with the apathy of Oriya politicians to Orissa’s cultural need, it should always be welcome if the State’s men of letters take up the issue and demand for declaration of Oriya as a classical language.

To me, personally, BBFC, established by Orissa’s men of letters, is an appropriate forum to raise this demand and to fetch the desired result. But, I have my reservations; because neither the Committee nor any participant in its meeting had thought it prudent to oppose the annihilation of its classicism by the Government that had used the Orissa Assembly to recommend for change of Orissa to Odisha and Oriya to Odia and steered the Bill through the Parliament till enactment and enforcement.

In these pages, I have been harping on about the classicality of Oriya language, which is evidenced by its archaic distinction and recognized by many linguists. So, nothing could be more desirable for me than a campaign for classical status for Oriya language, the ancient legacy of which needs be placed before the world.

I, therefore, most heartily welcome the BBFC and wish, its steps should be such so as to make me drop my reservations.

Legacy of Ancient Orissa

Orissa in ancient days had illuminated Indian sky of knowledge so brilliantly with its own unique luster that the Rig Veda in its tenth Mandala had to advise its followers to be cautious of Orissa where indigenous people find their object of worship in wooden logs.

A formal notification recognizing the classicality of Oriya language would be helpful in conducting in-depth researches with global input into the Protohistory of Oriya language, as Oriyas are a very prominent ancient people whose valor has been mentioned as matchless even in the Mahabharata. Though the Mahabharata is believed to be telling us of an internecine battle between the sons of two cousins – Dhrutarastra and Pandu – of Bharat clan, I am convinced that it is a Puranic depiction of the battle (described as the greatest war) that two different philosophical proponents – Patriarch: the Kauravas and Matriarch: the Pandavas – had fought on the soil of India. In this war, ancient Orissa had made a matchless mark.

Protohistoric Record

In Vishma Parva of Mahabharata, it is described that, after Bhima vanquished the great Vishma, whom his Sarathi had been able to save only by taking away his chariot from the battle field, no other Kaurav could dare to face Bhima. The war was going to be lost for the Kauravas, as Vishma was their Commander-in-Chief.

Duryodhan had to take refuge in Orissa’s king Shrutayu, who, as a proponent of Patriarchy like Vishma, had joined the Kaurava’s camp against the matriarch Pandavas.

And so, Shrutayu led the battle for Duryodhan with his distinguished army, well equipped with a regiment of war elephants. (Orissa’s king emperor is traditionally known as Gajapati – the lord of elephants).

Vyasa has described that Bhima, the victor of Vishma, failed to face Shrutayu. As the Orissa army with its unique elephant regiment wreaked havoc on the Pandav side, the emperor of Orissa, despite being very senior in age, overwhelmed Bhima to such extent that the vanquisher of Vishma that day was clearly in utter grip of death in his hands.

Arjuna, drowned under surprise and shock, wanted to rush to the rescue of Bhima and boasted to eliminate the old king of Orissa to avenge reduction of his brother’s wonderful victory over Vishma into a defeat.

Krushna, his charioteer, not only refused to proceed, but also restrained Arjuna in such words that were a matchless tribute to the king of Orissa.

“Not even can I defeat Shrutayu in a battle, Arjuna; so it is not within your prowess to face him”, he said.

But as Bhima’s chariot was smashed by Shrutayu, it was essential to save him. So, Krushna asked Satyaki to rush to the spot to offer him his chariot and the moment he boards it, to bring away the chariot as quickly as possible from the engagements with Shrutayu.

While thus arranging for Bhima a narrow escape, Krushna himself rushed to Shrutayu challenging him to test his strength against him if he dares.

Shrutayu accepted the challenge and raised his divine spear to attack Krishna; but then he found that Krushna was without any weapon.

Shrutayu had, in his younger days while obtaining the divine spear, made a promise not to use it against any unarmed person.

The Spear was Abyartha – infallible – which also meant that the user must not make it fail. Once raised, it was certainly to be used, as otherwise it would tantamount to disrespect to its divinity.

With Bhima run away from engagements, at that moment in the battlefield there was only one man who was challenging Shrutayu; and he was Krushna. And, he was not armed with any weapon! Shrutayu was clearly in the worst of predicament.

If he was using the divine spear against Krushna, he would be violating his own promise not to use it against any unarmed person. If he was not using it, he would be acting against its divine distinction.

So he decided not to go against his promise and not to render the raised spear inconsequential.

He, therefore, decided to pierce the spear into his own heart.

And, thus he died in absolute adherence to his own principles.

This is the single most distinguished episode in Mahabharata, the like of which in the epic of war is nowhere found.

So, Orissa has her due revered recognition in Mahabharata.

By that time, language of the Aryas had not reached Orissa. Language is the basis of the strength of a land. What was Orissa’s language then that had made her so strong and elevated her to such stupendous stature? To know it, study of her Protohistory language is essential and for this study, declaration of Oriya as a classical language is necessary.

On records in History

After the epics, the greatest war that history had witnessed in ancient India and which the entire world recognizes as a turning point in world civilization that made nations after nations embrace Buddhism, was the Kalinga war fought below the Dhauli Hill at Bhubaneswar of Orissa. The people of Orissa had fought back Asoka, the invader in this war and stopped the spread of his empire for all time to come.

Asoka, as history admits, had nowhere faced the resistance he faced in Orissa in this war.

To him, as he has declared, Kalinga was “unconquerable”.

In his spree of empire building, he had never found any other people than the Oriyas “unconquerable” and has never used this epithet for any other region or people.

The history written by his courtiers has noted, Orissa’s resistance was so resolutely valorous and sacrifice of the Oriyas for their motherland was so matchlessly patriotic that Asoka’s wicked heart melted in repentance by seeing the ruin he had wrought through his invasion and he changed his creed and adopted Buddhism, (the religion in original of the Oriyas) in the battlefield itself and from Chandasoka he became Dharmasoka and dedicated his life to spread of Buddhism.

But, this, despite truth to a large extent, is far from the fact.

A wicked man like Asoka had no reason to repent on his victory, if at all he had vanquished Orissa.

His heart had never melted in pity seeing the plight of the vanquished as his bards had claimed.

Had it been so, all the Oriya civilians he had taken to arrest in sudden attacks before facing the Oriya army at Dhali Hills and exported to Magadh, should have been released with their dignity and honor after the war was over and all the riches he had looted en route before reaching Dhauli, should have been returned.

This had never happened. He had never even apologized to the people of Orissa for the offenses he committed against them.

So, even though it is true that he had attacked Orissa and had converted into Buddhism in the battlefield in Orissa, he had not defeated the people of Orissa and never in his heart had metamorphosed into a true Buddhist.

The sole purpose of his attack on Orissa was to desecrate the birthplace of Lord Buddha in Kapilavastu, the land of reddish soil spread below the Dhauli Hill on river Daya and to destroy the fountainhead of Buddhism, which was the strongest obstacle to the Magadhan empire building even since the days of Ajatasattu.

Therefore he had faced the massive resistance at Dhauli hill only.

In this battle against the people of Orissa, his army was completely overwhelmed and he had no other way than accepting Buddhism as his creed to escape the wrath of the people he had attcked.

It had taken decades for him to convince the Oriyas that he had really been loyal to Buddhism and then only he had dared to visit Orissa to pay prayers to Buddha at his birthplace Kapilavastu – later converted into Kapileswar when Vedic chauvinists occupying Orissa had converted Buddhist shrines into Hindu temples – and to commission stone inscriptions highlighting his concern for the people.

I have discussed this aspect in my book ‘Sri Jaya Devanks Baisi Pahacha’ (published in 2005 by Bharata Bharati, Cuttack) in course of focusing on the background of the love lyrics complied in Geeta Govinda.

Mother tongue being the sole unifying factor and hence the basis of collective strength of the people, what was the people’s language that had made them “unconquerable” and helped them conquer the great wicked Asoka to the extent of converting him into Buddhism, their own religion and had given their land this unique distinction?

Only specific researches into the Oriya language of the concerned period will bring out the missing chapters in history in this regard. Under the prevailing legal provisions, recognition of classical status of Oriya language will facilitate such research.


The Charyagities by Chourashi Siddhacharyas present us a previous shape of modern Oriya language that linguists suggest to be Proto-Oriya.

But Pali was Proto-Charya-Oriya.

Gurudev Buddha had preached in Pali and Pali was the then Orissa’s mother tongue.

So, it is necessary to know how modern Oriya evolved from Pali.

In the post 2004 scenario, only a legal declaration of Oriya as a classical language can help us conducting this highly expensive and world encompassing research. Therefore, it is essential to obtain classical status for Oriya language.

And, therefore, it is most welcome that the BBFC has now expressed interest in campaign for this.

But I know, no campaign can be a real campaign unless the campaigners have the total commitment and adherence to the cause of their campaign.

Neither the BBFC nor the participants in its 15th April meeting have raised any voice at any point of time against annihilation of a great instance of international recognition of classicism of Oriya language caused by change of Orissa to Odisha and of Oriya to Odia. The harm this change causes to classicality of Oriya language is discussed in these pages.

Ignoring the Wrong Law is Essential

If the BBFC is serious about its proposed campaign, the campaign should begin with demands for legal restoration of the international spelling of the name of the State as Orissa and of its language as Oriya. It may look time-barred and unrealistic, specifically as the change has come through a constitutional amendment. But, Orissa’s lost classicality in this particular regard can be reclaimed by authors ignoring the wrong law that hampers the uniqueness of their language. Here in Orissa Matters, we have declared to ignore the wrong law, as to us our mother tongue is too precious to be rendered subservient to any set of law, even if that be an instrument created by the country’s constitution. We have been using Orissa and Oriya in these pages because these two English spellings of our motherland and language depict the archaical magnificence of our mother tongue; and because, no law can force anybody to change the spelling of his / her mother’s name as the stupids in power desire. Therefore, BBFC should work out how to reclaim the politically dropped two words – Orissa and Oriya – as the first step to claim classical status for Oriya language.

Otherwise, to us, its attempt would appear like a farce, that men of letters hankering after publicity often resort to.

The agents of the rich in power have already shrewdly changed India into a plutocracy.

A plutocratic government kills the character of the people. Hypocrisy becomes the software of society. It corrupts even the creative persons whereupon authors hanker after prize and publicity instead of staying committed to preservation and furtherance of their languages. In this light we would allow ourselves to interpret the BBFC endeavor if no step is taken to revive Orissa and Oriya, the two words that were the global gateway to classicality of Oriya language.

Bishuba Milan Refreshes Orissa’s Unique Feature: Devotion to Mother Tongue and Culture

In Orissa, the famous ancient soil of Buddhism and agriculture, the Mahabishuba Sankranti is celebrated as the day of dreams for a better world to live in. It is Orissa’s New Year’s Day.

Co-operation amongst social forces to face the dryness caused by the scorching sun and transform it into preparedness for cultivation of paddy – the most staple food of Oriyas – at the end of summer, gets refreshed on this day, as Panji – the Oriya annual almanac that basically carries weather forecasts relevant to agriculture and instructions on consuming agro-products as would be suitable to individuals on the basis of their respective zodiac signs – gets launched with the blessings of the most revered son of the soil- Lord Buddha, worshipped as Sri Jagannatha at Puri.

As the summer that disinfects the soil for better agriculture starts on this day, Oriyas prepare themselves for agriculture with propitiating the Mother Earth with water sweetened by treacles and fruits that they call ‘Pana’, which also is offered to the Goddesses that symbolize Mother Earth and shared and celebrated amongst all the Oriyas irrespective of caste and status in surge of brotherhood defined by their mother tongue. The significance of propitiating Mother Earth with ‘Pana’ is so huge that the day is also known in Orissa as ‘Pana Sankranti’.

Orissa was the last land of India that the British had been able to annex, but was the first soil to have raised the battle of independence against the British, which, afraid of the “disposition” of her children, had dismembered her body and yoked the divided parts with neighboring provinces that it had already occupied and was plundering. The Oriyas had raised unprecedented objection to this mischief and had got back their Motherland in a new shape, based on the uniqueness, strength and spread of their mother tongue.

So, on ‘Pana Sankranti’ day, Oriyas also celebrate their language and brotherhood.

Presentation of ‘Bishuba Sammana’ to an eminent Oriya author by ‘Prajatantra Prachara Samiti’ in its seat at Cuttack every year on this occasion is an instance.

This year, as we have informed earlier, eminent poet Pramod Mohanty has been honored on April 13 with this ‘Samman’. Along with him, ‘Jankara Puraskara’ named after ‘Jhankara’ the journal of Oriya letters, has been awarded to Ajay Kumar Mishra, Amarendra Khatua and Giri Dandasena. Other awards of the Samiti, such as ‘Minabazar Shishu Sahitya Puraskara’ has been given to Laxmikant Rath, ‘Justice Harihara Mohapatra Smaraki Natya Sahitya Puraskara’ to Rajkishore Varadwaj, ‘Ajit Anubad Bharati Puraskara’ to Binay Kumar Das, ‘Rajiv Smaraki Lalita Nibandha Puraskara’ to Niranjana Padhi and ‘Manoj Smaraki Shishu Sahitya Puraskara’ to Abhilas Bal.

The event presided over by eminent poet Sitakant Mohapatra was addressed by famous author Gangaprasad Vimal, with Saroj Ranjan Mohanty, editor of Jhankar giving the introduction.

This being Orissa’s New Year’s Day, its Capital was formally shifted from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar on this day.

Hence the Capital Foundation Day was observed with students of 49 institutes of the city participating in a commemorative parade, with the Speaker of Orissa Assembly Pradip Amat taking the salute.

The day was celebrated in different form in different places.

Such as, about a hundred families of mutual friends, Dr.Jyoti Prasad Pattnaik, Er. Sayad Suleman Ali and others celebrated ‘Mahabishuba Milana – 2012’ at hotel ‘Dalma’ in Bhubaneswar, where two books authored respectively by Sri Satyanas and Smt. Indira Mishra were formally released.

Ekamra Hat effervesced in ecstasy as Oriya housewives joined a pageant with their traditional costumes and ornaments for selection of Shrestha Odiyani (the best amongst Oriya housewives). Kadambini, a journal for women organized the pageant.

These celebrations were just samples of how happily the day was celebrated all over Orissa.


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