"Ganesh Puja” to be celebrated by Lucknow Oriya Samaj on 13th September 2018

Untitled Document


Gopabandhu Pattanaik

Poverty and Poetry Go Together!

A journalist friend of mine recently gave me this piece of information, which I have yet not verified: the maximum number of literary work is published in Odia; neither in Hindi nor in Bengali! Unbelievable! Certainly, it is a matter of great pride, if it is true. On the other hand, according to all development indicators, Odisha unfailingly, finds a place towards the bottom year after year. Despite its huge natural resources, we are one of the poorest states in the country. It seems poverty and poetry go together!

In the 21st century, which is hailed as the century of knowledge, such situation is unacceptable. Knowledge based activities, such as information technology, have become the great wealth creator of our time. In such backdrop, Odisha’s poverty is a shame and while we rejoice our achievement in the literary field, we must apply ourselves to the vexing problem of such a high percentage of people living below the poverty line.

I am not qualified to suggest the reasons of our poverty, but my frequent visits to Odisha leave me baffled. In Cuttack and Bhubaneswar when I am in attendance in marriages and other social get-togethers, the spread on the table does not suggest that we are a poor people. Rather I have a feeling that we are becoming hedonists! I am bewildered at the unending get-togethers. Marriages have become gross ostentatious affairs. Mundane occasions, such as a ‘mundan’ ceremony of a child, is also celebrated in 5 star hotel! In Odisha one does not have time to do anything else. I hop from one feast to another during my sojourn here. Sociologists and economists would do well to find an explanation for our poverty in this unending procession of mindless spending.

When we are round the corner for celebration of ‘Utkal Divas’, definitely such introspection would not be misplaced. Let us rejoice that Odia literature is prospering and let us also take pledge to rededicate ourselves to make Odisha find its rightful place in the country.

Jai Utkal. Jai Hind.

(Posted on 1st April 2015)

Let's Live the Language

The year 2014 would remain inscribed in golden letters in the cultural history of Odisha. Government of India is going to formally recognize Odia as the sixth classical language of the country. In 2005, Sanskrit was given 'classical' status followed by four Dravidian languages, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Odia becomes the first north Indian language to be accorded this recognition. Odia scholars established beyond doubt its antiquity, a language which is more than 2500 years old with its own unique script.

Language is not only the medium of communication. It is the carrier of the culture of a people. The idea of a nation remains nascent in its language. The creation of Odisha as a separate province became a reality in 1936 only because the language remained alive, while for centuries the region was dismembered and amalgamated with other provinces of the country - the southern part went to the Qutub Sahi dynasty which subsequently came under Madras Presidency. The western parts were taken by the Mughals followed by the Marathas and became part of the central provinces. The northern part formed part of Mansabdari of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. After a long and peaceful movement, present day Odisha was created as a separate province on 1st April, 1936 on the basis of language. Odia speaking people who were cut off from the main land could come together.

It is a matter of great pride as well as a time for deep introspection. Recognition of the language as a classical language would go in vain, if the language ceases to remain a living language. The love for our language, the pride and self-respect it generated, aroused Odia nationality in the last century when Odias got united to fight for a separate state. Today, Odia is becoming the 'second' language in the state. A language is not a means to earn livelihood alone. It is the foundation of a nation; it is the cradle of its culture. So classical status is not going to change the future of our language, nor going to decide the future course of our culture unless we Odias, wherever we are, make it a point to enrich it, love it and live it.
Jai Odia, Jai Odisha, Jai Hind.

(Posted on 1st April 2014)

Time to Shed the Inertia

Orissa is poor. This statement is a truism – not open to any dispute. But why Orissa is poor? – evokes myriad responses. Perhaps, most students of Orissa who have ever appeared in any competitive examination must have tried to satisfactorily explain the enigma – a state endowed with vast natural resources, a state which excelled in every field of arts, languishing miserably in the present state.

Poverty is a relative term. One may be rich, but at the same time poor compared to somebody else – rich at a point of time but poor in a different time zone. Orissa lives in past. A miniscule part of Orissa finds itself in the 21st century; but majority live in a time warp. Go to the Knodhmals – to the Bonda Hills, you will be traumatized to see the real Orissa! Most of the people do not live on real time activities of today – which can bring them an honorable income. If that be so, how can the state be prosperous? Any visitor to the state is stunned by its idyllic beauty – is also appalled by its abject poverty, is equally affected by the unaffected, contented people of the State! But let us not confuse between happiness and poverty. Abject poverty militates against human dignity and cannot be eulogized. Orissa must wake up to the realities and to its potential.

The present inertia can only be changed by external force. Who else can provide this external force, but the Oriya diaspora spread in different corners of the world? All of them living outside the state carry a part of Orissa in some corner of their hearts – still pining to come back to the promised land! I beseech Oriyas – wherever they are, to become that critical mass – to become the change agent and make Orissa achieve its full potential. Jai Hind.

(Posted on 1st April 2013)

The Changing Skyline of Bhubaneswar

My visit to Orissa, friends of late correct me - 'Odisha', has become more frequent. I am always left a bit dazed to witness the fast changing skyline of Bhubaneswar. When I left Bhubaneswar more than three decades back, it was a beautiful village, with wide roads, few vehicles and fresh breeze blowing throughout the year. Now it is a much crowded city, with multi-storied buildings all around. My query as to the occupants of such myriad flats, elicit that many of them are owned by NROs – any Oriya anywhere in the planet wants to have a nest in Bhubaneswar !

During such sojourn, I meet many who migrated outside for studies or for a living and have returned after decades. Most of them have made a mark in their lives outside and are back with dreams in their eyes, hope in their heart and a song on their lips; but find themselves in a quandry, their dreams shattered. Seemingly, they are torn between a life style more leisurely, inward looking and inclusive and the pace of development and happenings all around a bit slow and listless. At times, it seems as if there is a clash of two cultures ! Dreams do not take much time to turn sour. Society back home has to find out answer to such emerging paradigm so that the 'prodigals' on return find Odisha not a graveyard of their aspirations and dreams but a haven for adventurous souls; to which they can contribute more positively. This is a challenge for all of us and we must take the call.

(Posted on 1 April 2012)
The Devastating Floods and Our Shining Sportswomen
Two recent happenings concerning Orissa demand attention. One is the news which brought Orissa to the front page of national papers and the TV screens - news of despair, of human misery, of helplessness against nature's fury; the apocalyptic floods. This also highlights the irony of Orissa. A month back, Government of Orissa declared 15 districts as drought hit because of scant rainfall. The vision of parched paddy fields, emaciated cattle roaming in fields munching whatever is left of the decaying, nonexistent stumps of paddy crop flashed before one's minds eye. And in this backdrop, last fortnight a devastating flash flood inundated 1000 villages, marooned more than 10 lac people. The present flood is the severest in recent memory. Perhaps after the 1982 floods and the super cyclone of 1999, the state has not been ravaged so badly. It is a pity that year after year, the state reels under flood and drought simultaneously and no permanent solution has been found so far. Relief and rehabilitation are not the answer, one must admit.

I recall the massive relief work the members of Lucknow Oriya Samaj undertook after the 1999 cyclone with generous help we received from the people of Uttar Pradesh, particularly that of Lucknow. It does not give me any satisfaction that more then 300 truck loads of relief material were collected and distributed. The 39 school –cum-flood shelters we built might have saved many lives in recent floods but that is no cause of satisfaction. What we must search and find is to have some permanent answer to the annual scourge.

Another news which did not occupy much space in the national newspapers cheered my dampened spirit. It is news to rejoice - to feel proud of. The recent Indian Women's Football team which was announced to play international matches is headed by a girl Ms. Sushmita Mallick from a remote village of Orissa. Not only the captain of the team, but eight more players of the women team are from Orissa! I always feel and mention that the so called 'backward and traditional' society of Orissa is more gender friendly. This also shows that the last six decades are not lost. A couple of decade back, it was unthinkable for a girl to be seen in shorts in public. Now the barrier is broken and new frontiers are explored. Let the spirit soar and wings spread to reach new and distant horizons. I am sure all Oriyas wherever they are would join me to wish Sushmita and her intrepid mates to succeed and bring laurels to the country.

(Posted on 29 September 2011)
Woman Achievers Bring Cheers

Few days back I was looking for a reference in old news papers. I would like to share what drew my attention.

A male bastion was demolished some years back when the Indian Army allowed women to join the Army. Recently Indian Army selected its first woman officer to be decorated with ‘gallantry award'. The lady officer showed exemplary courage, firm determination and valour beyond the call of duty during the attack on Indian Embassy in Kabul. The officer concerned was Major Mitali Madhumita.

If you are overwhelmed on account of traffic chaos in your city and looking sky(space)wards, it won't be out of place to contact this diminutive, bespectacled space entrepreneur who may assure you that "it is faster to get to earth orbit than to get to your office in Mumbai". India's first space entrepreneur is busy designing futuristic systems for human habitation and transportation to the moon and space. Dr. Sushmita Mohanty who worked with NASA is a consultant to many aerospace companies world over.

Readers of the same news paper look forward eagerly week after week to read Ila Patnaik, an economist who can engage the attention of the best and the brilliant by her sharp critique on our economy.

All these three women represent the modern face of our country and have created space for themselves in a very competitive world. And what is common in them? All the three come from Orissa.

From a superficial observation, Orissa looks a placid, conservative, tradition ridden State. It is a 'poor' State - a 'non happening' place! We forget to see the richness of its culture - we fail to applaud the harmonious atmosphere where people of different religions live. The most ardent devotee of Lord Jagannath was Salabeg, a Muslim. This is the richness of Orissa - this is the land which enabled Mitali Madhumita, Sushmita Mohanty or Ila Patnaik to find their feet in the world.

Let us allow our children to grow as world citizens. Let us give them wings to fly with their roots firm on the ground.

(Posted on 1 April 2011)