Article

A Small FlashBack Story

A Culture and a Classroom

A culturally inclusive classroom is one where students and staff alike recognize, appreciate and capitalize on diversity so as to enrich the overall learning experience. Fostering a culturally inclusive learning environment encourages all individuals – regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or political beliefs – to develop personal contacts and effective intercultural skills.

In a diverse environment where students of different cultural backgrounds are present, teaching can become challenging as all students may not be equal receptors of educational content. Culturally inclusive teaching links the content with students’ cultures. As a teacher, start by knowing your students, their cultural background, and about brief information of their culture. Then try to link your study content with their culture through examples and exercise. This way they learn better.

No language in India is inferior to the other. All Indian languages originated from Sanskrit are classical in nature and are at least 1500 years old.

Invariably, each Indian Language should be equally financially supported and promoted as a Classical Language without any political bias.

Language and Literature are the basic essence of Indian culture. Literature should show a bright future for the humanity. As felt by Ruskin Bond,an eminent Indian English author of the twentieth century, “I can’t really look into the future and I can’t even be certain that I would even have a legacy. So many writers are forgotten. Sometimes even good writers. And sometimes, writers we don’t expect to be remembered, continue to have a sense of existence. I have mostly written to please myself and the few who enjoy my writing. If people continue to read my books in the years to come, that’s fine. And if they don’t, that’s fine too. It’s not really in our hands!”

But, creativity is no more a natural extension of our enthusiasm as it has become state controlled ! That is the most painful part of our socio political cultural existence today.

Many of our language champions don’t know that most of our tribal languages are older than our so called Indian classical languages. I have extensively traveled the whole country to discover this truth. Massive urbanisation with fanatic political religious patronage has killed most of our tribal languages in the last few years along with simplicity of our tribal culture.

In the recent period, science has improved to such an extent that you can decide your own space. But, our authors are not moving out of their limited space.

Why there is a huge gap in CBSE and State Boards so far as syllabus or type of texts available.Even,language proficiency is a matter.Examinations like NEET and JEE are confirming to CBSE standard.India is a country with over 80 % students from non CBSE schools from rural or semi urban background.

Why the question pattern and language of the examination can’t confirm to this reality ? Don’t we want our doctors and engineers to address to the requirements of the country ?

About books, libraries and good people

A Book Fair began at Bhubaneswar yesterday. These days nobody invites me for any event at Bhubaneswar though people were running after me with invitations to attend their events at one point of time. But, I have maintained my love for promoting good books and sustainable reading.Positions are temporary, but love is permanent. Incidentally, I did the first National Book Fair at Exhibition Ground, Bhubaneswar when nobody was daring to do an event there three decades ago.That is now history.

Our home library has over 10000 books in Odia, English, Hindi, Bangla, Asomiya and Urdu written, got as gift, bought or procured by my wife and me in the last four decades.A floor in our house has been dedicated for the library with a small arrangement for literary meetings. We have also been gifting our surplus books to various voluntary organisations for setting up new libraries in the last four decades throughout the country.

Being traditional scholars, my family is full of people connected with knowledge world. My uncle Sarat Chandra Mahapatra was an author and had the habit of making libraries. It so happened that half a century ago he told me his plan of setting up a home library and instructed me to make a list of books with us. I went a step ahead and in addition to making a list I began issuing books. He expressed his displeasure and instructed me to get back the books issued immediately.

Time has changed. People connected with knowledge have become more focused on getting awards. Library has become a fashion or business for self promotion.

My society, state and country need more dogs than human beings as I have understood by now. At times it appears that the whole state has migrated to its capital city full of touts.

Some known crooks have decided to hijack the awards by offering fabulous commission to the Managers. Whether big or small, all awards and honours these days are stage managed on commission basis. Bastards can manage everything from Cuttack to Bhubaneswar to Delhi.

I am suffocated in this crowd.

Being a follower of Chittabhai I strongly feel that our Education System is polluted by so called planners while teachers, students and parents are completely out in the planning.

As written by Sister Nivedita, “The whole history of the world shows that the Indian intellect is second to none. This must be proved by the performance of a task beyond the power of others, the seizing of the first place in the intellectual advance of the world. Is there any inherent weakness that would make it impossible for us to do this? Are the countrymen of Bhaskaracharya and Shankaracharya inferior to the countrymen of Newton and Darwin? We trust not. It is for us, by the power of our thought, to break down the iron walls of opposition that confront us, and to seize and enjoy the intellectual sovereignty of the world.”

Remembering Sister Nivedita on her birth anniversary. She was a true champion of the idea of India and Indianness. India will never forget her service and sacrifice.

After reading scriptures of all religions I have understood that,Secularism never compels me to become an Atheist ! Search for beauty in ugliness and pleasure in pain is an act of wisdom. There is no alternative of books and libraries.

We have learnt from Ramayan not to believe a demon in the disguise of a saint, and given a chance animals can fight a war, reptiles can construct a dam ! A mighty can be destroyed.

Is the new corporate funded Ram Mandir opening at Ayodhya in January 2024 keeping the general election 2024 in view ? People should act as per the learning from Ramayan described in the first paragraph above.

All that glitters is not gold !

There was a time when great poets like Ahmed Faraz were coming from Pakistan to India for cultural exchange. Rahat Fateh Ali Khan was also doing his concert regularly at Delhi and Mumbai. I spent three days with Ahmed Saab in an international seminar and witnessed a Rahat Fateh Ali Khan concert at Gurgaon. We were often discussing on art and culture in both the countries. I wrote on my experience of spending quality time with Ahmed Faraz. Now, people in both the countries speak about rivalry, cricket clash and punishment to Imran Khan. What a downfall of ethics and values !

I was listening to Ghulam Ali today and he was presenting a song based on lyrics by Ahmed Faraz. Simply outstanding.

Where is light !

Deepavali is the day of illumination for growth in a graceful manner. My daughter used to be with me on this day. This year she is at Delhi. I call it this day the day of illuminating dreams.

But, in order to see the cherished dream one may have to sacrifice a lot. My daughter was once selected to study in Saint Stephens College, Delhi University. It was Sanskrit Honours, but she was more interested to study History Honours. Hindu College had a funny rule that for studying BA there, one should have 60 percent marks in English in Higher Secondary. She had 2 marks less. She got History Honours in Ramjas College and studied there . Saint Stephens College was then in the first 3 Colleges of the country ! But, she preferred to see the cherished dream than running after a brand name.

Yesterday I was in a meeting for paying tributes to Bhagbati Charan Panigrahi, one of the pioneers of Progressive Thinking in the country in the field of literature a century ago. He preferred to serve the people independently than work as a officer under British Ruled India Government. He was a brilliant student and a post graduate in Economics from Patna University.

My daughter was keen to specialise in Ancient History of India for reading the script used by people of Indus Valley Civilisation. In due course she understood that working for people is more required than doing research. She worked with Medha Patekar as Coordinator of NAPM before Medha fought election which she didn’t like. She did her MA in Public Policy and Governance from Azim Premji University, Bangalore. The scope was adequate to work for people, but Modi and Co suddenly pledged the country to corporates and created a mass of jobless people.

I am not writing this piece to highlight the dreams cherished by my daughter. That is a personal issue. Working for people is a different matter. One doesn’t have to join a job or politics for working for people. Gandhiji was never a government servant nor a political leader. He was an activist. Service of an activist is greater than the service of a bureaucrat or a politician.

Once you work for the common people in some way or the other , you will see a lot of dreams for them and that is the ultimate goal of life. My young friends, be illuminated and don’t run after a mere brand. Have a perfect mission. Always have a big goal, for whatever big a goal maybe, it’s achievable.

In this moment I remember the saying of poet Jayanta Mahapatra on poetry:

‘What is the poet’s freedom? Is it the path through unknown places of the heart, a path that is both unreal and of a transcendent nature and yet is something that foresees the event of death? Is it like a moment when one hears faraway waves, falling breakers turn into some miraculous drug which can keep away the knowledge of death?

Whatever this freedom is, it cannot be denied that the process of the writing of poetry fulfills a certain inner need, which takes the poet past himself, as a part of him tries to fight the dominance of a world within him.

Call it freedom. For what we dream can well enter the realm of undream, causing something to come out of it, something like a quiet self-discovery or even prayer, that brings a joy in the recognition of ourselves against the fear of time. Call it freedom.

So maybe the need to be human is more important in a poet than in anyone else, worse in a poet because a poet’s business is to see — which he should do, listening to the voice of his inner self. Let the poet not bother about the conscience of the world — simply be the water that flows, finding its own level, even if it is soaked away by the earth, with no trace left behind. In this, in such a poetry of today, committed to the many worlds we live and believe in — the human, the historical and the moral — can one touch the heart of freedom.

Where is light ? And,are we free??

In this Festival of Light, I remember the Festival of Reading once I coined two decades ago and began organising throughout the country involving millions of children, parents and teachers while heading the National Centre for Children’s Literature. That’s now history and I am craving for Light as this government is not interested to create an autonomous Indian Council of Children’s Literature with me as its Chairman. Most unfortunately, some saffron politicians and their followers are now heading the specialised organisations in India and I can’t be with them.

Freedom is just a slogan in India. Merit too.Creativity is a dream now.

I was talking to Siddarth Ramanuj, artist from Ahmedabad this morning. The whole country is worried about Gandhiji’s home state Gujarat. Unfortunately, it’s also home state of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Ambani, Adani and TATA. A rapist and a saviour of rapists are the same. If a democratically elected government sets rapists free, it’s a criminal government. But, nobody bothers, non from Press.

Media education is useless now in India. People are tired of the news about PM in Radio and TV. Newspapers are already servants of the government due to excessive advertisements. Worst ever phase in India. Wish, it ends soon. Politicians should know that over exposure to media is counter productive.

It’s not that poor people are after government for rice free or at subsidised price. Beggars are always beggars irrespective of class, creed, religion and position. Most of the noted authors in Hindi and English are after NBT, Sahitya Akademi and Publication Division only for royalty these days as government buys its own publications in a big way and kills Indian language publishing.

Rahul: The crusader of Indian democracy…

Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo is a great step for restoration of National Integration lost in the last eight years.He should be aggressive.

Those from Godi Media who publicise that the new President of Congress will be a rubber stamp, are not aware that the so called BJP President is a steel stamp only. That which glitters is not gold !

Congratulation Mallikarjun Kharge, the new democratically elected President of Indian National Congress. Now, bad days are over. BJP will bite the dust in 2024.

The new president will discharge his responsibility efficiently to bring the Congress party its lost glory. Those who do not know his political career are undermining him.

In the new time, let Congress get back its old faces who have left in the last few years, and enrol new members in a massive way.

America was defeated in Vietnam. Russia may also concede a similar defeat in Ukraine.British PM has resigned as she could not fulfill the election promises. When is our PM resigning as he has similarly failed ?

The next Nobel Laureate in Economics will be from India. She has spent more years in Sangh paribar than JNU… Especially after leaving JNU, things change. As such, she is not aware of what kind of obnoxious statement Gujrat CM Modi once gave on dollar vrs rupee while Dr Manmohan Singh was the PM. What she meant was- ₹ is not depreciating against any currency except $. Rupees value not decreasing,it’s dollar value is increasing …new economic theory for Nobel prize !

What is the formula for writing a powerful poem ? Many friends feel that they have not come across a powerful poem composed by me. True, I have always tried to compose good poems and never sprayed power through a poem ! Still, waiting for Godot !!

Empowerment of women should not end at turture of men. Every bright result is welcome.

A 6 year old Facebook post, still holds good.

I was in a session at IIM,Shillong today.There I met a number of youngsters ,some are of my son’s age.I also wanted my son to study in IIM,but he did not succeed.While interacting,it was always coming to my mind as if I am talking to my son,and I enjoyed it.Very soon I will be a visiting faculty there and it will give me more such opportunities.

Our journey is very short. As such, I don’t bother if you hit me or ignore. All the best.

A nice person will always be in Memory. A better will always be in Dream. But a sincere will always be in Heart.All roads lead to Heaven.

Every departure is painful, untimely too. It’s not so easy to fight against time. RIP Swastika, the doyen of Rabindra Sangeet.

This is about Rishi Sonuk, the new PM of England.

He is a Christian, but Hinduism is his faith. His root expands from Asia to Africa. His mother land is different than his work place. His nexus is claimed by many countries. He worships cow and his favourite food is beef.He is an Indian bride groom.

He travelled to the palace in his personal car to collect his appointment letter from his Majesty. Back to office in govt car. Once that country ruled over our country. He is rich a rich man.

Our PM Narendra Modi is poor man. He travels in a plane throughout the country to claim that he is a poor man, once a tea selling boy. He has tripled prices of all the essentials in a corporate driven economy .

What a hypocrisy ! The more you speak (lie) the higher you go in politics.

So far as Kohinoor diamond is concerned, Pakistan has an equal claim like India. It was kept in the treasury of Maharaja Ranjit Singh at Lahore, the capital of Maharaja Ranjit Singh empire of Punjab, now in Pakistan. Total geopolitics. Every time and place have their own politics, all run after power.

Oh,Calcutta

I have been listening to Rabindra Sangeet for last half a century and is aware that Rabindranath Tagore is the best creative artist India has ever produced.

I came to Kolkata,the birth place of Rabindranath Tagore then known as Calcutta for the first time in the year 1981 to appear for interview for the post of West Bengal Government’s new Information Officer at Cuttack.The expert was an Odia Information Service or Tourism Service officer and he after the interview appreciated my performance as well as hoped that I should get the post .

My arrival at Kolkata Railway Station was memorable.New Platforms were not there.Passengers were to come through a mini tunnel to Bus Stand .We were moving,suddenly two people came close to another person and literally moved with him closely as friends.About 100 metres after they separated and went to another direction.Once we reached the Bus Stand the person cried loudly,his money Twenty Thousand Rupees that he brought to buy textiles for selling in his village shop was looted by those two people.Such incidences were happening regularly in Howrah Station in 1980s.

We had a lady living with us.She came as a maid,but later became a family member and lived with us in our bad days .We affectionately used to call her ‘Baniani Nani.Her son Rabi Bhai used to stay in Bhawanipur and she gave me his address.I was also given the bus number.

I reached Bhawanipur.A small Lane was there where a lot of poor Odia,Bengali and Bihari people were leaving in huts or shared accommodations. Rabi Bhai was a taxi driver,he introduced me to his friends.A girl came.She took care of me,was affectionate to the best as if she is taking care of a family member.Later I came to know that she was in love with Rabi Bhai. But our crude caste system did not allow them to marry.

Rabi Bhai took an off from his work that day.He took me to Writers Building where I had to appear for my interview.It was the Secretariat of the then West Bengal Government.I appeared for the interview.

And,the officer appreciated my performance,but I was not involved with SFI or any other Communist Organisation.Somebody with the reference of Shivaji Pattanik,the then CPM leader and once MP got it.I wrote to Government of West Bengal for a fair deal and was replied that the recruitment has been done with full transparency and fairness !

Rabi Bhai introduced the ever charming Kolkata to me.He took me to Maidan,Kalighat,Dalhousie ,etc etc and finally,saw off at Howrah Station. I didn’t have a confirmed reservation.A Coolie was his friend and he arranged a seat for me for Rs 5/-.

I came back to Puri.I don’t recall if my elder sister had joined Bhadrak Women’s College by then.If she was,I may have then got down at Bhadrak.And,if she was there,I was then at Cuttack working as Sub Editor in J Mahapatra & Co and may have come to Cuttack.But these minute details I fail to recollect from memory.

Baniani Nani passed away a few years ago.I have not met Rabi Bhai for years…….Don’t know where he is these days !

Looking back and forward

Doing a Literature Festival or a Book Fair has now become a business or political circus.But it was not there when I entered to the field of Book Publishing over three decades back.I did the first ever National Book Fair at the Exhibition Ground,Bhubaneswar way back in 1992.I was also the part of the first ever ‘Pustak Parikrama'( Books on Wheels) in Bihar the same year.

How I became a part of the first ever Books on Wheels show is an interesting story.Shri Anand Swaroop was Chairman of National Book Trust in 1990 when I joined.He was a dreamer.He was the person behind National Policy on Education ,National Centre for Children’s Literature and many others.His dream was,books should reach villages,say each door steps. NBT bought several Book Vans during his tenure.His able deputy was Arvind Kumar ,the then Director.

So,the first ever Books on Wheels was planned.It was at two parts of the country,south and north.If I correctly recollect,the south one began at Chennai and the north one at Varanasi.The north one covered U P and Bihar and the South one Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh.Jharkhand ,Uttarakhand and Telengana were not separate provinces at that time.

Bur willing manpower was not available as normally happens in Government Organisations.In one of the staff meetings ,Arvind Kumar requested all to volunteer.Out of the 200 + employees of NBT he got only one,that is me.He was not very happy with me,but he appreciated my action and deputed me to lead a team for the exhibition in Bihar.

Inspired by the Bihar experience.I proposed a similar exhibition in Odisha.The Odisha Publishers and Booksellers Association led by Shri Pitamber Mishra whole stood by me.The other partner was Odisha Sahitya Akademi of which Shri Rajkishore Mishra was then Secretary.

We had a dilemma ,if to begin it from Puri or some other part of Odisha.Since I worked in Koraput district and is from Puri,everybody expected that I will like to begin from any of these.But I had a different take.During my tenure in NCERT ,I used to visit Sambalpur and Bolangir very often.I had a nostalgic touch,I did a few months schooling in my class 2 at Sambalpur.

‘How shall it be if we begin at Bargarh ?’I asked all.They were all surprised. Bargarh had no reputation as a market for books at that time.There was a Gandhi Pathagar,ablock called Atabira where my friend and brother Aswini Kumar Mishra was BDO.a place called Larambha where my favourite actor and the first super hero of Odia films Sarat Pujari was Principal in a College..and Bargarh had a renowned author Dayalal Joshi,these were the only that I had in mind.

But all approved my plan to go ahead .Our mobile van reached Cuttack with two drivers Dharam Pal and Pandey on one fine morning.It was not possible for the vehicle to enter to Balubazar.We parked our van near Sunshine Field.All the publishers came there with their book bundles.We took the books and went to Bhubaneswar to pick up books from the publishers there at Odisha Sahitya Akademi campus.

Our van left Bhubaneswar at 8 pm.We had to go to Bargarh.Next day was the inauguration of our Book Exhibition.We crossed Chowdwar,and reached Nachuni,where we planned to have our dinner in a dhaba.Apart from the two drivers,we had Chinmaya Vivek,the young poet as pilot,two clerk cum counter sales people ,a cleaner and me.

‘But I can’t see in the night’,Pandey,one of the drivers said.What to do ….I asked Dharam Pal.’Sir,you sit in front seat don’t sleep .Pandey and I will sip pegs of whisky at times or take tea at places.Let us see if by tomorrow morning we can reach Sambalpur.’Dharam Pal said to give me hope..Sambalpur was about 350 kms and the van was fitted with glasses.

The journey was adventurous. We took tea at Redhalkol.Next morning at 8 am we reached Sambalpur.Dharam Pal had to catch the train from there to return to Delhi.

We reached Baragarh at 9.30 am.Shri Hota,then President of Gandhi Smruti Pathagar and Lecturer in a local college was eagerly waiting.There were no mobiles then,nor PCOs.He did not tell Sarat Pujari to come and inaugurate as he was not sure if we can reach there in time.Bargarh did not have a hotel that time ,but a decent Marwari Dharamshala.Our only hope was Dayalal Joshi.We met him and he gladly accepted our invitation to inaugurate the exhibition at 5 pm.

We sold books worth over 55 thousand INR in that Book Exhibition ,the highest those days in India in such an exhibition of 4 days.Rest is part of History.

This is the journey of Indian Publishing and how the first ever Mobile Book Exhibition in Odisha at Bargarh,then a sub division of Odisha took place.But alas,the new generation of Book Fair Organisers at Bargarh are possibly not aware of their glorious past in the history of Indian Book Industry !

People have also forgotten that I did four National Book Festivals in Odisha at Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, Brahmapur and Puri besides ten more in the North Eastern Region and twenty World Book Fairs. I was the only Odia who was Adviser to National Book Development Council, Singapore and Director, Art and Culture of North Eastern Region. That’s now history. If I tell the truth, people feel that I am beating my own drum . But,how long can I remain silent ? I have been in a festival of memories for the last two and half years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button