Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

My friend Barendra Krishna Dhal is not an ordinary man; he is extraordinary. Ask any conscious citizen of this part of the Country, he shall never say that he has not known him.

In formative days he had made a mark in sports; in sexagenarian days he has been heading the State’s premier organization of martial arts. In between, he has made lasting contributions to human pastime as a sports reporter and cine-critic. He co-founded Orissa Union of Journalists and headed the National Union of Journalists of India. An author of repute, he has received the Central Sahitya Academy Award and has been the most acclaimed organizer of men of letters in Orissa as the founder-secretary of ‘Lekhaka Samukhya’. His contribution to the socio-educational cause of Orissa is unique. The State is now witnessing book fairs in every corner of its boundary. But it is only he who has given birth to this splendid scenario. Against all odds, he had started the Bhubaneswar Book Fair with a handpicked number of friends dedicated to letters. Come February 26, the Capital City of Orissa rises with utmost warmth to celebrate the festival of books, an event to be seen to believe. A columnist par excellence, he has stood as the conscience keeper of Orissa and has set a trend in dealing with matters of public importance.

Keeping all this in view, I have been urging upon the authorities to honour this unique man of Orissa with a ‘Padma’ award. As we know, this national award was created to honor extraordinary Indians whose contributions to society in their respective sphere can be cited as unique and exemplary. In this yardstick, Barendrababu deserves this honour more than the contemporaries. But where is he? Why has he not been selected?

A mainstream newspaper of the Country has editorially reacted against the “blatant lobbying” behind the selection. “The tendency of every political dispensation to utilize these awards to reward those who proved loyal and cultivate those less so”, as observed by the ‘New Indian Express’ on January 24,2003, is possibly the reason of individuals like Barendrababu staying out of the zone of consideration for this award. According to this paper, Union Minister of Communication, Mr. Pramod Mahajan, is on records for having stated that such awards invariably end up being given to various ‘gaanewaley, bajaanewaley aur khaanewaley’.

Failure in picking up people like Barendra Krishna Dhal for the Padma award makes one really conscious of the devolution of this national honour in the hands of people who are managing the affaires of our nation. We insist that the machinery that selects the persons for this coveted award be addressed to see beyond the ‘gaanewaley, bajaanewaley and khaanewaley’ circle and to defeat the lobbyers.

Beyond perception of Mahajan, some really deserving individuals like Sonal Manasinh have of course been selected. Had there been no lobby, they would have got it earlier. Had there been no lobby, Barendrababu would also have got it this year. Be it noted.

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