assembly in session // Wrong Rumblings on Panchayat Election

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

If one relies on the results of Panchayat polls in Orissa, it would look solacing that the parties, that sabotaged Indian national resolve enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution and subjected the country to the hegemony of foreign capital and Indian market exploiters, have been rejected at the grassroots. Yet, it is disturbing that the farce that kept Orissa drowned for around a month under the nasty dusts that the misruling politicians’ speeding vehicles and helicopters generated all-over the State is being called an election.

However on February 24, the Orissa Legislative Assembly had to witness a phase of rumbling in the matter of Panchayat polls.

The Opposition alleged that the ruling party’s claim of success was farcical inasmuch as the berths now in its pocket were bagged though massive use of money and misuse of power and contravention of election codes. The treasury benches dismissed the allegations as baseless, with the Panchayatiraj Minister stating that, the three-tire elections were conducted under direct supervision of the State Election Commissioner (SEC) and hence attributing BJD’s victory to money and muscle power has no merit.

To us, the rumblings were on wrong aspects. The House should have been led to know if the SEC conducted the elections as per the laws and the spirit of Panchayati Raj.

It cannot be said that the SEC conducted the elections as per the Laws and the spirit thereof. We have earlier discussed how the Chief Minister used the most focused official platform of the day for political purpose when election to Panchayats was already notified. He sloughed over the matter.

As the ruling party – to which capturing the Pnchayats at any cost was essential – was named after Biju, we had stressed on the necessity of covering the Biju statues illegally erected on public places all over the State as well as the hoardings on public parks and institutions carrying his name and to suspend all welfare programs named after him so as to save the gullible voters from being dazzled by the blitzkrieg the ruling Biju Janata Dal should be resorting to while electioneering.

He did not bother, even though he knew that the Election Commission of India had created precedences in similar circumstances by ordering to put under cover Vajapayee’s Bharat Udaya hoardings and Mayavati’s Elephant statues.

On the other hand, he arbitrarily synchronized Zilla Parisad election with the Gram Panchayat Election misleadingly marshaling the same as three-tire election.

There is no provision in the Acts to hold a three-tire Panchayat Election at a time. Rather, the Acts are such that holding the elections to the three layers of Panchayati Raj at a time would defeat the legislative intention behind the Acts.

The three layers are: (1) Grama Panchayat, (2) Panchayat Samiti and (3) Zilla Parisad. They are created respectively by three Acts: (1)The Orissa Grama Panchayat Act, 1964, (2) The Orissa Panchayat Samiti Act, 1959 and (3) The Orissa Zilla Parishad Act, 1991 and their corresponding Rules: Orissa Grama Panchayat Election Rules, 1965, Orissa Panchayat Samiti Election Rules, 1991 and Orissa Zilla Parishad Election Rules, 1994.

In view of this distinct difference in the making of these three layers, the Government of Orissa, in the Panchayati Raj department, called for their constitution under three different Notifications through three different Extraordinary Gazettes.

In Gazette No.2737 dated December 3, 2011, Notification No.S.R.O.1050/2011 of 21 December 2011 was published, calling upon “all the Grama Panchayats of the State to elect their ward members and Sarapanches” except Dhinkia G.P. under Erasama Block in Jagatsinghpur district, “in excercise of the powers conferred under sub-section (1) and (2) of Section 12 of the Orissa Grama Panchayats Act, 1964 (Orissa Act 1 of 1965) read with Rule 13 of the Orissa Grama Panchayat Election Rules, 1965”.

In Gazette No.2736 of the same date, Notification No.S.R.O. 1049/2011 of 21 December 2011 was published, calling upon “the Parishad Constituencies of all the Zilla Parishads in the State to elect members of the Parishads, in accordance with the provisions of the Orissa Zilla Parishad Act, 1991 (Orissa Act 17 of 1991) and the Rules made thereunder”.

Similarly, “in pursuance of sub-rule (1) of Rule 4 of the Orissa Panchayat Samiti Election Rules, 1991” under Notification No.S.R.O.1048/2011 of the same day published in Gazette No.2735 dated 3 December 2011, the State Government called upon “the Samiti Constituencies of all the Panchayat Samities in the State to elect their members of the Samiti in accordance with the provisions of the Orissa Panchayat Samiti Act, 1959 (Orissa Act 7 of 1960) and the Rules made thereunder”.

Thus, these three layers of the Panchayati Raj are distinctly different from each other in their constitution, under the Acts and under the Rules in recognition whereof three different Notifications under three different provisions with three different stipulations were issued by the State Government enshrined in three different Extraordinary Gazettes.

Worth noting it is that, when “all the Grama Panchayats” “except Dhinkia” were called upon to “elect their ward members and Sarapanches” simultaneously under S.R.O. No.1050/2011 (Gazette No.2737), only “the Samiti Constituencies of all the Panchayat Samities in the State” were called upon to elect their members under S.O.R. No.1048/2011 (Gazette No.2735) with no provision to hold the election simultaneously with “members and Sarpanches” of the Grama Panchayats. The same specification is also laid down under S.O.R. No. 1049/2011 (Gazette No. 2736) requiring “the Parishad Constituencies” of all the Zilla Parishads “to elect members of the Parishad”, but not simultaneously with election of either the members of Panchayat Samities or the ward members and Sarapanches of the Grama Panchayats.

Had the Laws not intended to make all these elections separate from each other, like election of “ward members and Sarapanches” election of ‘ward members, Sarapanches, Samiti members and Parishad members’ should have been the language of law.

But it was never the legislative intention to make such synchronization. Because, when the Grama Panchayats and by extension, the Panchayat Samities, are designed to be kept free of political pollution to conduct their activities in their own democratic way within the limits of Law and without being prejudiced by any political party programs, isms and influences, the Zilla Parishads are allowed to be run by political parties as an intermediary set-up between the apolitical Grama Shasan and political administration, with the heads thereof placed in ranks of Ministers of State.

The SEC was, therefore, duty bound to conduct the elections for these three separate and distinctly different layers of Panchayati Raj as required under three different sets of Acts and Rules, separately.

Provisos to relevant Rules guiding the elections to Samities and Parishads have spelt out what steps are to be taken in separate elections thereto.

But the SEC deliberately ignored this aspect, obviously under pressure of the ruling party, to confused the voters and to drown their free thinking ability under dazzling torrents of political propaganda of the ruling party in the Grama Panchayat level under the guise of campaigning for Parishad members.

Had the SEC not synchronized the Parishad elections with that of the Panchayats, the result would certainly have been different. Non-political contestants could have won in majority wards and constituencies and Panchayat positions.

Therefore, it can certainly be said that the elections were never free and fair.

Never before in any election, electoral violence had become so rampant.

The unprecedented monstrosity of electoral violence indicates only to the fact that the people were severely irritated by the injuries done to their rights to have democracy in the grassroots free of political pollution.

Synchronization of Zilla Parishad elections – that allows political flags and party symbols and party propaganda – with that of the Grama Panchayats that the Laws want to keep safe from political transgressions, was nothing but butchering the scheme of Panchayati Raj.

The SEC, a retired IAS officer appointed by the ruling Chief Minister, has obviously repaid his debt to the benefactor for the post-retirement benefits he has obtained, by helping the ruling party capture majority of Panchayat berths, by butchering democracy in the grassroots through the synchronization of Parishad elections with that of the Panchayats.

The Law making body of the State, despite in session and despite debates, has not been able to locate how shrewd and sharp was this butchering.

assembly in session // KILLER LIQUID WAS MEDICINE AVAILABLE SANS PRESCRIPTION

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The ones, that have survived the killer liquid, know that, they had consumed hooch in medicine bottles. The Chief Minister and his government also know that 40 persons have succumbed to hooch. That’s why the CM’s close friend A.U.Singhdeo, holding as he was the excise portfolio, had to resign from the cabinet and the excise commissioner had to hand over his charges. But, now, the Orissa Assembly in session, has been fed with the information that the killer liquid was not spurious liquor, but was medicine available in drug stores sans any prescription.

Surprisingly, a Congress member Sadhu Nepak had put the lead question.

His query was a statement seeking an answer.

In Balianta and Barang areas, he stated, people died by taking poisonous medicine and wanted to know as to what steps the government, in view of this, has taken to inspect regularly the medicine manufacturing units and medicine shops in the State.

He did not stay to attend to his question and had authorized another Congress member Anup Sai to handle it on his behalf.

The Minister replied that there is nothing like poisonous medicine. But there are drugs, with possibility of being spurious, to purchase which, no prescription is required under the Rules.

It is provided under the Drug and Cosmetic Rules, 1945, the Minister said, that, drugs placed under schedule H and X thereof must be sold under prescription and drugs not under these two schedules can be sold sans prescription. The State Government has no control over that.

The Minister further said, in these non-scheduled drugs, manufacturers may use alcohol as they deem necessary. But, in place of ethyl alcohol, which is permissible, if they use methyl alcohol, that may affect eye sight and may even lead to death. Yet, he said, the State Government cannot ban production thereof, as it is the Central Government, which alone is empowered to impose any such prohibition. He cited how in 1999 and 2000 the State Government’s ban order on one such killing agent used in non-prescription drugs was nullified by the Orissa High Court on the ground that the State had no jurisdiction to impose such a ban without permission of the Central Government.

The House went into a pandemonium over the issue, as the Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh came down heavily upon the CM’s politics of resignation of Ministers when he, in events like the tragedy that forms the crux of the instant question, falls in critical junctures and needs to save his skin.

But the hit of Singh’s intervention by way of supplementary question, jerked the treasury benches to their feet when what he said generated insinuations that the CM has sacrificed A.U.Singhdeo, a minister of his own camp to save his skin, while not daring to touch the Health Minister Prasanna Acharya, despite the deaths now being attributed to spurious medicine that comes under the portfolio of Health, because he belongs to the other camp headed by Pyari Mohan Mohapatra.

The pandemonium swayed away the real issue.

And, resultantly the House could not make the Minister answerable on the severest massacre of the year perpetrated by a producer of non-prescription drugs – if that’s the position pending the Judicial Commission of Inquiry – as neither the Congress nor any in the Opposition could ask, as to why the State Government had/has not sought for permission of the Central Government to ban the spurious medicine that, according to what the Minister told the House, took the toll of so many lives.

Politics, thy name is the art of hoodwinking the innocent people in a system called democracy!

assembly in session // Collectors Loot the Fund when Chief Minister Heads the Mission

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Howsoever smart be a lier, truth occasionally comes out through unattended crevices in the iron wall of secrecy.

Such a truth has come out in Orissa Assembly on February 23 that exposes how ugly is Orissa administration despite claim of honesty.

And, it has come out in the answer of mass education Minister Pratap Jena to a question on the ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ (SSA), that the Central Government principally funds to achieve the goal of Universalization of Elementary Education of Satisfactory quality within a stipulated time.

The lackluster approach to SSA coupled with corruption by Orissa officials has earlier been discussed in these pages.

But what the minister has told the House exposes to what suicidal extent the officials have corrupted it.

He has told the House that majority of District Collectors have drawn several lakhs of Rupees each towards expenses on their tour vehicles without even paying a single visit to any SSA center. They are all pampered officers of the government.

Since commencement of the scheme, Collectors have been assigned with powers to supervise, superintend, coordinate and control implementation of SSA programs in their respective districts. Taking advantage of this, Collectors have menacingly misused its fund,

The Minister’s reply reveals that out of 30 districts of the State, except only one district, i.e. Debgarh, all the other 29 Collectors have drawn massive amount of funds for their luxurious tour to SSA sites whereas 20 of them have drawn huge money on account of vehicles for their inspection of SSA units without any visit to any of them.

According to the Minister, a total of Rs.22.64 lakhs has been drawn towards rent and fuel of tour vehicle of the Collector of Koraput district, whereas the money drawn on this head by the Collector of Nayagarh is Rs.15.30 lakhs, by the Collector of Bargarh is Rs. 15.24 lakhs, by the Collector of Angul is Rs. 8.94 lakhs, by the Collector of Cuttack is Rs.12.72 lakhs, by the Collector of Dhenkanal is Rs. 11.83 lakhs, by the Collector of Ganjam is Rs. 8.17 lakhs, by the Collector of Jagatsinghpur is Rs. 11.75 lakhs, by the Collector of Jajpur is Rs.2.19 lakhs, by the Collector of Kalahandi is Rs.1.95 lakhs, by the Collector of Keonjhar is Rs.3.30 lakhs, by the Collector of Khurda is Rs. 10.28 lakhs, by the Collector of Malkangiri is Rs.13.89 lakhs, by the Collector of Mayurbhanj is Rs. 11.70 lakhs, by the Collector of Puri is Rs.9.92 lakhs, by the Collector of Rayagaga is Rs.11.04 lakhs, by the Collector of Sonepur is Rs. 7.23 lakhs and by the Collector of Sundergarh is Rs.5.94 lakhs, even though none of these Collectors have ever visited any SSA unit in their respective districts.

It is shocking that in districts like Koraput, Kalahandi, Malkangiri, Sundergarh, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Nayagarh and the Chief Minister’s home district Ganjam, where education is so marginal and poverty, linked to lack of education, is so very rampant that SSA could have emerged as a boon, the Collectors have looted the scheme by false bills on luxurious cars claimed to have been used by them for inspection of implementation of the scheme even though they have never gone to a single spot.

The other 9 district Collectors, except perhaps Bhadrak, are not also above board. The SSA projects they have visited do not justify the fabulous amount of money they have drawn on vehicle heads.

When Bhadrak Collector has inspected 1330 projects against expenditure of Rs.5.59 lakhs on vehicles, the Nawarangpur Collector has drawn Rs. 11.13 lakhs towards vehicle for visiting mere 158 projects. The scenario in other very backward districts is not different. As for instance, the Collector of Kandhamal has inspected only 125 SSA centers, but drawn Rs. 8.82 lakhs for vehicles. Collector of Nuapada has visited only 75 centers as against spending of Rs.5.90 lakhs on vehicle, whereas Kendrapada Collector has spent Rs.13.95 lakhs for tour to 108 centers and the Sambalpur Collector has drawn Rs.14.57 lakhs against visit to only 59 projects under the scheme. When Balasore Collector has visited 912 projects and drawn Rs.11.52 lakhs towards rent and fuel of his tour vehicle, Collector of Balangir has drawn 6.51 lakhs on vehicle head to tour 458 centers, but the Collector of Jharsuguda has visited only 27 centers spending 2.41 lakhs from the funds of the scheme on rented vehicles.

Sad, the Assembly has not paid due attention to this serious assault on the centrally funded scheme by the very officers under whose care and control the projects are left.

As we gather from sources under pledge of secrecy, Collectors have misappropriated this fund in nexus with leaders of the ruling party and personnels in charge of accounts in their respective offices. In some cases, Collectors have purchased sophisticated AC cars in names of relations and taken the same on higher rent for the purpose of their tours under the scheme, but have drawn the money against false bills without subjecting the vehicles to rigors of the roads.

This is a fit case for separate specific discussion in the Assembly. But with majority of members in the Chief Minister’s pocket, this may not be possible; because, if a specific debate is allowed, it is the Chief Minister, who would be most embarrassed.

Under the scheme, when the Prime Minister heads the SSA Mission in Central level, the CM heads it in the State level. It is clear, therefore, that the Orissa CM has not done his duty to the mission or has deliberately kept his eyes closed to what his blue-eyed boys in the districts have been doing, as nobody who is not in his good book is placed in charge of a district as Collector.

PEOPLE ARE TO PAY FINE FOR BEING MISRULED IN ORISSA! WHAT NEXT!

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Several of the kings in pre-independence India specifically in Orissa were so tyrant that they had imposed on the people they were torturing a tax called PITUNI KARA which was a fine in cash for being beaten. The masses ultimately woke up against such tyranny and the kings were so thrashed that they had to abdicate their thrones and merge their States in independent India.

When Congress misrule surpassed the limits, in several States in India, people refused to grant a fresh mandate to this party of the factotums of Nehru family in 1967 and thus in Orissa, one of the former kings, R.N.Singhdeo managed to form a ministry in coalition with Jan Congress, comprising Congress members opposed to Nehru family hegemony. Corruption in the state acquired elite status and defamation of political opponents and victimization of bureaucrats who did not dance to the tune of the CM’s proteges became the norms of the day. Hypocrisy stood for administration. And, as people got disillusioned, protests galore, Singhdeo with many ex-kings in his segment of the coalition, wanted PITUNI TAX to be imposed on areas where organized resistance to what he called governance, was discernible. It was strongly resented to in Orissa. Fissure in the coalition grew and the Jan Congress withdrew from the coalition. Government collapsed. People refused to give mandate to Singhdeo. Like a house of cards, his party – the Swatantra Party – also collapsed and got obliterated from political sky of India.

Emboldened by repeated return to power, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who by sheer misuse of power has reduced Orissa to a Bijudom by naming and renaming utmost majority of public institutes and welfare projects after his father Biju Patnaik with himself as its preening prince, has revived the PITUNI TAX of the kings’ concept, as informed, exploited and tortured people in rising numbers in every segment of society are demonstrating their protests against ongoing misrule.

This time, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation is being used as the medium of this punishment to still even the still small voices.

It would be wrong not to say that, in Orissa, the Governments in succession have gone against the people to please private industries and traders who prosper at the cost of the masses, as thereby, they, who run the Government, fetch fabulous financial gain.

In the process, people have been left at the mercy of exploiters and a climate of oppression and opportunism has engulfed administration pushing the entire working class – both in public and private sector – and self-employed ones – mostly in agriculture sector – into colonized condition. Naturally, people must protest.

One of the governments, run by J.B.Patnaik, sensing that protests in front of the citadel of power would obviously be by the well-informed ones and hence of immense impact, had contrived a method of obstructing all such protests against misrule and all possible campaigns for any alternative, by converting the vast open space kept by the original planners in front of the State Secretariat for such democratic activities, to a park named after Indira Gandhi after her demise. People of Orissa, after that, like they had thrown down Singhdeo to dustbin of time, thrashed the Congress out of office.

But, since the conversion of the democracy point to Indira Gandhi Park, despite the Governments’ insistence that people should express their concerns and/or protests in the Janata Maidan, away from the Secretariat, victims of government apathy and injustice were using the boulevards adjacent to the said park, spanning in front of the Sate Assembly up to the Master canteen square, to demonstrate their protests. Rallies and Dharana demonstrations were also being staged by the general public in expression of solidarity with the victims such as the ones conducted when the Naveen Patnaik Government became a butcher in Kalinga Nagar or its police became protector of the rapists in Pipili.

Naveen has now enhanced JB’s restrictive tactics against voices of mass conscience by imposing a PITUNI TAX in a different form.

Be it noted that the Government of Orissa rules from the City of Bhubaneswar. And, the City is run by Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation that lives under the pleasure of the Urban Development Department of the Government. Though managed on records by an elected body of ward representatives headed by a Mayor, the BMC is controlled by the Government through Laws enacted and enforced by it, through Government instructions and notifications leashing or unleashing its activities and through Government officers that administer it.

Now, this BMC has been used to tax the demonstrators to the tune of Rs.1000/- for staging their demonstration with the rider that the amount shall be recovered with penalty from leader(s)/organizer(s) of demonstration(s) if the tax amount is not paid in advance.

We mark that the Communist Party of India has staged a protest demonstration in front of the BMC office while demanding instant withdrawal of the new version of PITUNI TAX.

We deem it proper to warn the Government that if ventilation of people’s resentment against misrule is thus obstructed, the inevitable outburst of the tortured people’s wrath would be too sharp for the administration to overcome. From the former kings of Orissa who had imposed PITUNI KARA on their subjects to the former ruler of Balangir who in the attire of Orissa’s Chief Minister had taken steps to enforce PITUNI TAX, to a former journalist who had become the first CM to rule the State for a decade – all were thrashed to the dustbin by people of Orissa for having used devices to obstruct their voice against misrule. If Naveen fails to learn, it would be his mistake. This tax cannot be but anything other than a fine for being misruled in Orissa! It is better for Naveen to take note of it.

The Art and Craft of Cartoon in Odisha

By Dr. Mrinal Chatterjee

A cartoon is any of several forms of illustrations with varied meanings that evolved from its original meaning. In modern print media, a cartoon is a piece of art, usually humorous in intent . This usage dates from 1843 when Punch magazine applied the term to satirical drawings in its pages, particularly sketches by John Leech.

Odisha has had a long history of caricature. Humour and satire occupy an important place in Odia literature. But unfortunately, there is no documental evidence as to when cartoons first appeared in media in Odisha. It appeared that Niankhunta (Editor: Godavarish Mohapatra, 1898-1965), a satirical magazine in the line of Shankar’s Weekly first started to publish cartoons regularly. Niankhunta (The Firefling) was first published in 1938 and continued till 1964. After decades, it again started publishing from 2009 with almost the same content mix- including political and social cartoons. Samaja and Prajatantra also used to publish political cartoons occasionally in 1950s. Omkar Nath Panigrahi of Bolangir used to draw fine cartoons in 1940s.

Faturananda (Ramchandra Mishra, 1915-1995) the well-known satirist was a fine cartoonist too. He used to draw cartoons in his college magazine, when he was a student of the Medical College in Cuttack. These cartoons were published in the name of R.C.Mishra. Later he drew cartoons for his literary magazine Dagara. His cartoons were published in National Front and other newspapers. He continued to draw cartoons till his eyesight failed.

Dibakar Mishra of Talcher (founder of daily Khabar) used to draw cartoons in the Samaja in 70s and 80s. He used a penname: DKM. Satirical magazines like Niankhunta and Durmukha used to print several cartoons. In fact socio-political cartoons with highly satirical content were its major attraction. Niankhunta ceased publication long back. Durmukha continues to publish and cartoons are still its major attraction.

Though Odisha has had a long history and tradition of caricature, and cartoons have been used in newspapers and periodicals, yet cartoonists have never got the kind of opportunity to work and credit and acclaim they deserve. It is only after 1980s that cartoonists got recognition. Some of them became household names. There is a practical reason for this. Offset printing came to Odisha only in mid-80s. Before that metal blocks had to be made to print any kind of visuals. It was expensive and time taking. Hence visuals were avoided unless it was absolutely necessary. Cartoonists did not have much opportunity to get published. After the introduction of off set printing system printing visuals- both photographs and graphics (halftone and line) became easier. It required little extra cost to print ‘halftone’ photographs and no extra cost to print ‘line’ graphics. Newspapers started printing cartoons in greater number. Sambad was one of the first mainstream Odia newspapers to have introduced daily pocket cartoon. It was also one of first daily Odia newspaper to have appointed a cartoonist as its regular staff, a trend promptly followed by other major newspapers. It was in late 80s and early 90s that a bunch of young and talented cartoonists like Sudhansu Deo, Gyan Rath, Kishore Rath, Shilpi Ashok and Kesu Das emerged in the media world of Odisha. Almost all newspapers carried stand alone and daily pocket cartoons. Kishore’s daily pocket cartoon ‘Katakha’ published in Sambad became very popular. The craze for cartoons waned a bit in the next decade. One of the reasons for that could be that newspapers preferred to print photographs instead of cartoons.

It could be said that cartooning in Odisha came of age in 80s. As Sudhansu Deo, a leading cartoonist of 80s said, “Earlier there used to be mostly illustrations with exaggerated features of known figures to evoke laughter”. The emphasis was more on illustration than on the theme. It was only after the 80s that cartooning was regarded as a separate art form in Odisha.

Late 80s and 90s saw some young cartoonists maturing into excellent artists. However, the new millennium saw a decline in the quantity and quality of cartoons in mainstream print media in Odisha. This phenomenon is not exclusive to Odisha. It has been witnessed in other states too. Priya Pande writes about this : … There is also the aspect of changing habits of readers. In the earlier days, papers used to be crammed with news matter particularly on the front page, with the pocket cartoon providing the only visual relief. Today, not only has colour entered the front pages, the pictorial presentation and design gimmicks have completely edged the cartoon out to total insignificance. However, recent years have seen resurgence in cartooning, especially in new media platform.

Contemporary Cartoonists of Odisha:

Sudhansu Deo is probably the first regularly appointed cartoonist in Odia media. Before joining Sambad in 1984 he worked briefly in Prajatantra and then Samaja. He drew excellent pocket cartoons. In fact he was the first cartoonist in Odisha to draw pocket cartoons regularly. He also drew stand alone cartoons on burning issues of the time. He had a lyrical style of drawing like R.K.Laxman. Very soon, Deo became a household name. In late 1988 he left Sambad and went to Delhi and worked for several English newspapers and audio visual media. He also worked as an animation cartoonist for a Doordarshan cartoon serial project. He returned to Odisha and joined Khabar in 2007. He left Khabar in end 2009 to start an animation school. Presently he works as the principal of JBC Academy of Art and Animation.

Kishore Rath, (born 1963), is a very talented cartoonist. He is working in Sambad since late 80s. A graduate in fine arts from Khalikote Art College, Kishore has set the trend of writing short rhyming verse with pocket cartoon. Kishore has his own unique style of drawing and a sharp sense of humour. A talented satirist, he also composes humourous poems.

Shilpi Ashok (born 1958) has been drawing cartoons for the last twenty years. He used to work in Prajatantra. Since 2005 he has been drawing cartoons in the Samaja. He publishes a cartoon magazine titled Silpi Ashokanka Cartoon Saptahiki. He has also published a compilation of cartoons of noted litterateurs of Odisha, titled Lekhaka Lati.

Balasore based Kesu Das (born 1965) did his graduation in fine art from Khalikote Government Art College and masters from Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapitha, Benaras. He draws cartoons for newspapers and periodicals like Sambad, Dwani Pratidhwani, Samaja, Haribol, Durmukha. He is also an acclaimed sand artist and runs his art teaching school. As an artist he has won several awards like Odisha Lalit Kala Academy award as young artist (1987) and Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata (2000). He has published a work book on how to draw cartoons using Odia alphabets: Barnamala Saha Sahaja Cartoon Shiksha (1998). He is also actively involved in preserving the languishing folk lacquer art of Balasore, in Odisha through Baleswari Kala Kendra, of which he is the executive director.

Kamalakanta Rath drew cartoons for several mainstream newspapers and periodicals in early 90s. But gradually he shifted his focus to social issues. He is now active in drawing cartoons and illustrations in development magazines in alternate media domain.

Chudamani Das, from Balasore began to draw cartoons for newspapers and periodicals like Durmukha, Dhawni Pratidhawini from 2000 after he completed his fine arts degree from Bhadrak Art College. He joined daily Prajatantra in 2003.

Aswini Kumar Rath and Abani Kumar Rath are brothers who work together. In fact they call themselves ‘the only cartoonist brother duo in the world’. Aswini has a PhD in botany. He is working as a Lecturer in Botany in Bolangir. Abani did his M.Sc in Chemistry. He is working as an officer in insurance sector. Their first cartoon was published in 1989. Since then their cartoons have been published in several local, national and international newspapers, periodicals and web sites. They have won many awards and honours. Their cartoons have been exhibited in the prestigious ‘First International Saloon of Graphic Humor-Lima-2008, Peru’, and won Honourable Mention prize in the 15th, 16th and 17th ‘Daejeon International Cartoon Contest in Seoul, Korea in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and Special Mention prize in the ‘2nd Free Cartoons Web International Cartoonist Festival’, China, 2003.

Paresh Nath (born 1970) did his masters in English literature from Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. He had a knack for drawing and illustration from his school days. His cartoons and illustrations were being published in newspapers during his college days. He started his professional career as a cartoonist with Samaja. Later, he worked as a freelance cartoonist for The Indian Express, Delhi before joining National Herald in early 1990s as the Chief Cartoonist. Currently, Paresh Nath’s works are reproduced in publications like Bombay Samachar , the oldest Asian daily published from Mumbai, newsletters of United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), CO-OP HORIZON- a fortnightly periodical by National Co-Op Union of India, Neighbourhood Flash – published from Delhi in five different editions covering urban, metropolitan and political issues and UT Independent – a political publication from Delhi and other union territories. His funny, incisively wise, informative and never malicious cartoon pieces have touched millions of readers and have been reproduced in various newspapers and periodicals such as Financial Express, India Today, Illustrated Weekly of India, The SunZero Hour, Samayukta Karnataka, The Eastern Times, etc. He has also been associated to various online projects. Paresh has earned worldwide recognition for his work as the winner of the United Nations Correspondents Association Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Award for the year 2000 in cartoon competition. He was invited to participate in the contest among the professional political cartoonists throughout the world. He has also won the Youth Federation Award and Delhi Sahitya Kala Parishad Award in 1987 and 1991 respectively for his cartoons. He is a member of the panel of jurors for international poster contest of UNFPA in year 1992 and 2000. He is also an empanelled cartoonist of DAVP of information & Broadcasting Ministry, Government of India. Besides drawing cartoons, he writes humour columns. He is also planning to write books on yoga and mysticism in near future.

Bijayananda Biswal is not a professional cartoonist. He works as an executive in Indian Railways. Drawing cartoons is a hobby for him. However, he has won several cartoon competition including an international competition organized in November 2009 by Bangalore based Cartoon Academy.

Bichitrananda Swain (born 1987), a trained journalist is a self taught cartoonist. Besides drawing cartoons in the Odia daily Suryaprava he draws illustrations for books.

Soumyadev along with Sarashi and Santosh started a cartoonist’s group: AaltuFaltu in around 2005. They started drawing and exhibiting cartoons on political and social issues. Their cartoons appear regularly in Samadrusti from 2006.

The author is a journalist turned media academician, who presently heads the Dhenkanal campus of Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) in Odisha.

This article forms a part of his forthcoming book: ‘History of Journalism in Odisha’. He is available at:
http://www.mrinalchatterjee.in | mrinaliimc@yahoo.in

Here and Now | MOTHER LANGUAGE

By Dr. Mrinal Chatterjee

February 21 is observed as International Mother Language Day every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh. This was probably first time in history people laid their lives for their mother language.

A brief run down the pages of history will be pertinent here.

Pakistan got independence in two parts: West Pakistan (present Pakistan) and East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) on the basis of religion. As the two parts of Pakistan were far away from each other not only geographically but also culturally and linguistically, differences and disputes cropped up. The differences rose to a critical level when Pakistani government adopted a resolution in 1947 that Urdu would be the State language, even as most of the people of East Pakistan were only used to Bangla. The Pakistani Government also decided that Bangla would be abolished from all government stationeries including postage stamps. This infuriated people of East Pakistan and a movement to safeguard their language began. The movement grew in intensity with every passing year even as the West Pakistani government did not relent. Situation reached a boiling point in early 1952 and on February 21, several people including students of Dhaka University and Dhaka Medical College died in Police firing. Finally people of East Pakistan, mostly Bengalis got the right of their mother language. Historians believe that the language movement not only gave the people of East Pakistan the right to their mother language, but paved the way of liberation in 1971.

Languages are not only the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing the tangible and intangible heritage, it also forges emotional attachment among people who use them. Educationists opine that mother language is the best medium of education for the children.

Considering the importance of mother language in education Unesco has declared theme of this year’s Mother Language day as “Mother tongue instruction and inclusive education”.

All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

In a message International Mother Language Day 2012 Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO says, “The language of our thoughts and our emotions is our most valuable asset. Multilingualism is our ally in ensuring quality education for all, in promoting inclusion and in combating discrimination. ”

The author, Prof.Mrinal Chatterjee heads the Indian Institute of Mass Communications at Dhenkanal. It is his contribution on occasion of the International Mother Language Day.

People of Orissa Should be Allowed to Know What the High Court has Ordered on Sahitya Award

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Mother tongue and motherland are in Oriya concept equated with the mother. “ମାତୃଭାଷା ମାତୃଭୁମି ଉଭୟ ଜନନୀ”.

Therefore, it is natural on part of every Oriya to know of what exactly the Orissa High Court has said while allowing the presentation of Sahitya Award 2011 by India’s National Academy of Letters to ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ (ଅଚିହ୍ନା ବାସଭୁମି) despite the book being a displayer of nasty words and expression of hatred against lower castes, women and muslims.

On the plea that selection of this book as the best book in Oriya language for the national award was obtained through manipulation, a man of letters – Sricharan Pratap ‘Kaniska’ – had preferred a writ case before the High Court of Orissa, which was registered as W.P.(C) 1871 OF 2012 with a Misc Case numbering 1876/2012 that had resulted in a stay on the award. But subsequently on 14 February 2012, the Court lifted the stay and dismissed the case as not maintainable as a PIL, on the basis of which, the Academy has already presented the award to the writer of this book.

As the people of Orissa – including the NROs – are also anxious to know what the High Court has really said, currently in a foreign tour, I tried to get it for my readers through the judgment site in the internet; but it was not available. I contacted the petitioner and from him I got the information that though he has applied for an urgent copy of the order, he has not yet got it, because the members of the bench – Chief Justice V. Gpal Gowda and Justice B.N.Mohapatra – have not yet signed the verdict.

This position worsens the predicament.

Presentation of the award by the Academy of Letters on 15 February following the rejection of the petition in the High Court, when the petitioner has not even got a copy of the order because the same is not signed by the judges, has given birth to a phenomenon that makes one see how eager was the Academy to give away the award, exposed in public platforms as manufactured through manipulations.

To us, presentation of the national award to this book as the best one amongst Oriya books published in a given period of three years from 2007 to 2009 is an affront to the dignity of our language. We do not know, whether the judges have read this book or not; but we know the book is vitiated with so much obnoxious words and expression against the women, lower caste people and muslims that no sane society can vouch for it.

A few samples of filth from the book are viewable in saubhasya.com. We are not producing the same here as that should be requiring translation thereof into English and if done, that may be very embarrassing to any Oriya who prides over majestic beauty of his mother tongue.

This book in normal circumstances could never have earned national award as the most outstanding book in Oriya. But what for the High Court has cleared the book for the national award is not known to any in details as yet. Therefore the sooner the order is published or made available to the public, is better.

A Father and his Son: the Rare and the Immortal Pair in the History of our Fight for Emancipation

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In India’s freedom movement, most rare was the phenomenon when a father and his son had together staked their lives out in cause of the country and had emerged as a formidable force against not only the British, but also against the local oppressors that were in nexus with the British.

Revered revolutionary Gouranga Charan Das and his son Shashi Bhusan were such a rare pair.

When Pt. Motilal Nehru and Jawaharlal were from the highly advantaged echelon of the society, Gourang Charan, though born to an elite caste called Karana in Orissa, hailed from the most disadvantaged economic environment. Physically handicapped by birth, he was not supposed to be the man to challenge the British. But he did. And with such vigor that a like of him was not found elsewhere by his compatriots, at least in Orissa.

He epitomized the struggle for freedom and was a living spirit behind applied Gandhism in Orissa. Yet, he was beyond the political economy of Gandhism. His creed was political economy of socialism even in the days of freedom movement and howsoever misconceived might it be, he had found Gandhiji’s village reconstruction program more practically akin to socialism in Indian climate and therefore, he had addressed himself to village reconstruction than parliamentary politics. He was unopposed elected to Orissa Assembly in 1945, when the nation had addressed itself to pre-independence experience in democracy,but did not show any eagerness for election thereto in later years. In post-independence era, as it was suitable to his orientation, he headed the district board of Cuttack. But neither he hankered after power nor he lessened his priority on village reconstruction. In fact, this priority did not allow him to stay a politician in power.

He was suffocated in the climate of corruption that Prime Minister Nehru had given birth to in encouraging collection of election funds from private industries. He was shaken to the core by climate of elitism that Nehru had ushered in by distancing administration from the people. As Nehru’s daughter also went ahead with absolutizing the climate of opportunism that first Prime Minister had commenced through compromise with the rising mafia, he, under sheer force of patriotic calls against the massive misrule that had then engulfed the country, had pinned his last hope in Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, to whom Gandhiji had respected as his conscience-keeper, and joined the Swatantra Party founded by Rajaji, then appearing as the strongest opposition to Congress; but soon his last hope became a lost hope, as the ex-kings of Orissa, constituting the top brass of this party, were in no mood to cooperate with him, as for them it was impossible to forget how the people’s movement in their principalities, which had forced them to surrender their kingship, was strengthened by Gouranga Charan.

I have seen how sad was he as political pollution was tightening its grip on many a freedom fighters of the day. He was spending his time with a dream in his heart that a day will come when India shall rise again against the anti-people politicians because of whom dreams of freedom had gone disarray. But that day did not come till his last day, 19 February 1972.

But one man had stayed tuned to his dreams till the last moment. And, he was his son, his compatriot, his comrade, his fellow sufferer in freedom movement, his fellow traveller in the mission of nation reconstruction, Shashi Bhusan Das.

When a school student he had joined his father in the movement in 1935, rendered matchless assistance to fighters underground, circulated movement instructions amongst them and their camps, acted as the most alert but secret carrier of freedom messages to the wits’ end of British intelligence. The authorities had a great relief when he was arrested on 1st February 1943. He was imprisoned for 18 months; but he had refused to appeal against the imprisonment as that would have been his recognition of legitimacy of the justice system of the foreigners. And, till he breathed his last on 22 January 2011, he had not changed, though most of freedom fighters had changed into self-seekers in the mafia raj that has taken over the country after independence.

I bow to the sacred memories of both the father and the son.

Orissa Gana Samaj Dharana at Raj Bhawan Reminds the Governor of his Duties to the State

Governor Muralidhar Chandrakant Bhandare has, of course, refused to be mislead by the report of the chairperson of Orissa State Commission for Women in the matter of Pipili gang rape and has advised her to review her own work and come up with a credible one; but that is not enough, as Orissa Gana Samaj has observed.

In a Dharana at Raj Bhawan on February 18, Orissa Gana Samaj has reminded the Governor of his duties to the State in circumstances of rising oppression on the people and relentless deterioration in law and order with a police siding with the offenders.

The Gana Samaj used the occasion to thank the people of Orissa as in every nook and corner of the State they have stood with it in accepting its call to put moral pressure on the government to discipline the police which has forced the Chief Minister to issue instructions for immediate registration of every information on atrocities on women and weaker sections.

ATHGARH: RE-ELECTION ON THE ANVIL; YET FUNDAMENTAL ISSUES ARE STILL TO BE ADDRESSED

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The wrong the Election Commission of India had done to people of Athgarh by not intervening in illegal rejection of sitting member Ranendra Pratap Swain’s nomination papers by the Returning Officer in 2009 general election to Orissa Assembly has clamped a fresh election on the voters of the constituency, though the RO, for whose foul play the by-election is necessitated, is not yet punished.

Orissa High Court, on hearing of the case preferred by Swain, had declared the election of ruling party factotum Ramesh Raut null-and-void, which meant, Raut was to be unseated since the very day of his election. But, the secret agents of derailment of democracy, who in the ruling party had contrived the method of using the RO to keep Swain away from the Assembly as he was in habit of castigating the government on the floor of the House for misrule in various departments, did not allow the HC order to work and instead invested massive money in challenging the same in the Supreme Court. Ultimately they failed and therefore the by-election is now on the anvil. The EC will formally issue necessary notifications on Feb.22 and the voters will cast their votes on March 18, if no sudden change of scenario intervenes.

But the by-election is not the final solution to the issues at stake. If they are not solved, we shall have no hesitation in saying that the EC of India, the Supreme Court of India as well as the Speaker of Orissa Legislative Assembly are failing in their duties to democracy.

The Election Commission

As we have discussed in these pages, there is serious lacuna in our electoral system that allows any one who can gain over a RO to make anybody including a prime-ministerial candidate debarred from contesting by getting the officer reject his/her nomination papers on the day of finalizing the list of valid candidates, at a time, when he/she shall have no time to correct the defects, if any.

It had happened in Athgarh.

The RO had received Swain’s papers duly filed and kept them in his custody till the day of preparation of the list of valid candidates. At the time of scrutiny – the last act before preparation of the list of valid candidates – he suddenly declared that Swain’s party ticket was not original as required under the law though he had received the document in original and kept the same in his custody. Refusing to pay any heed to Swain, the RO had rejected his nomination, thereby debarring him from contesting the elections. And, the EC had refused to intervene as there was no scope to intervene.

The High Court had found the conduct of the RO erroneous and the Supreme Court also agreed with this as it rejected the appeal against the HC order.

But all these legal exercises were not necessary if the RO had not acted mischievously and arbitrarily and the EC not failed to undo the wrong order of the RO.

Therefore, we had suggested that EC should create an authority to instantly intervene in case of arbitrary rejection of nomination papers by the RO. Unless such an authority is created, an enemy nation, by gaining over a RO, can derail Indian democracy by debarring a possible Prime Minister from contesting. But the EC is failing in this regard. It should immediately create a layer over the RO to intervene and settle cases like that of Swain so as to avoid such electoral dislocations in future.

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of India has finally restored derailed democracy to its track at Athgarh by approving what the Orissa high Court had decided. But the fact that pinches is that the legal process of hearing and deciding the case has taken so much time that the people’s right to be represented through the candidate of their choice is going to be materialized only in March 2012, after long three years of the election. The delay could have been avoided to the maximum extent if both the Courts had exclusive benches to dispose of election cases, as nothing in a democracy is more clamant than settlement of election issues.

The Supreme Court has been pleased to form green benches to decide exclusively the environmental cases as expeditiously as possible. Similarly, exclusive benches to hear and decide election cases may be created, as, thereby only, finalization of election cases in utmost speed can be ensured, we had suggested. But election benches are yet to be formed.

The Speaker

On receipt of the Supreme Court verdict that approved Orissa High Court’s order declaring the Athgarh election null and void, the Speaker of Orissa Legislative Assembly has terminated Raut’s membership.

But the termination should have been done with retrospective effect.

With the Supreme Court order confirming the order of the High Court, the election of Raut being null and void, it is to be treated that Raut was not a member of the House for a day. Hence, all the salaries and allowances he has received from the Assembly as a member need be recovered from him. The Speaker has not passed any order to this effect. Non-recovery of money paid to him will mean non-nullification of his membership till termination by the Speaker, which would mean non-acceptance of the High Court order as fortified by the Supreme Court that has set the election null and void, which, in other words would also mean nullification of the orders of the Courts by the Speaker till termination of Raut’s membership. It would be totally illegal and the Speaker should not refuse to look at this point. But, it seems, the Speaker has failed to look at this.

In interest of democracy, these issues need urgent cogitation.