Friends and Fans Celebrate as Prasanta Patnaik becomes 72

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

For the first time, perhaps, a birthday is celebrated in Bhubaneswar in a public place in such a very unique and memorable manner.

The venue is a tea stall in the old Bus Stand which now houses books shops and magazine stalls. It is named Khati by its patrons. Khati stands typically for a meeting place of friends indulging in light talks. But, here, a good many numbers of journalists, authors, social workers, progressive thinkers and radical intellectuals congregate every morning; and, over cups of tea discuss burning issues with alert inputs and renew their camaraderie and commitment, as mutual affection and respect for each other effervesce with humor and liveliness.

Here, this morning, to intimate friends and fans, eminent journalist Prasanta Patnaik emerged a young man of 72. Almost all the daily visitors to the Khati and fans of Patnaik greeted him with wishes for continuance of his ever brilliant innings as sentinel of public interest.

The birthday was formally celebrated by his family in the evening at his residence.


Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The multi-edition daily newspaper ‘Khabara’ run by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s estranged guide Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, is having illegitimate editions since two weeks as Prof. Biswaranjan whom the paper is showing as its Editor has relinquished the post since July 1.

Registration of Press and Books Act and Rules thereunder stipulate that a newspaper, in order to be legitimate, must have an editor. And, the publisher of the newspaper is bound to declare the name of the editor before the authority designated by the Registrar of Newspapers of India. Thus, sans an editor, publication of a newspaper is not legitimate and is punishable.

Sri Mohapatra, MP in Rajyasabha, was not only an IAS officer, but also had acted as the designated authority under the Act, knows the law. Yet, he has been running the newspaper by wrongfully using the name of Prof. Biswaranjan as editor, though he has resigned since July 1.

Prof. Biswaranjan had to relinquish his post because he was informed by the management of their choice of a different person as editor. This was necessary to configure the editorial rhythm of the paper with the need of its sustenance after Mohapatra’s estrangement with Naveen, which is bound to be aggressive editorial stratagem for fund raising that Prof. Biswaranjan could never have performed. What a gentleman should have done in such a situation, he did. He resigned.

But, as his name is yet being used as editor, worried over the misuse of his name, he has issued a statement to the Press, informing the public of his resignation. I got it through Sambad.

Besides being illegal, it is unethical on part of the management of Khabar to continue with printing Prof. Biswaranjan’s name as editor.

Prof. Biswaranjan, after his superannuation in State’s Higher Education Service, was approached by Mohapatra, a former Education Secretary of Orissa, to join as editor of Khabara, which he was proposing to publish.

Being a highly creative person, who, while even serving under the government had a great constituency of readers as an accomplished columnist contributing regularly to Orissa’s mainstream broadsheets, he was carefully considered for the post, because the management was sure that , Prof. Biswaranjan’s name as Editor, would launch the paper into massive public attention. Writing for newspapers being the Professor’s hobby and habit, he had agreed and thus the Khaabar had hit the news rack on 1 June 2008 with him as its funder editor and in sputnik speed it had emerged in multi-editions, from different nerve centers of Orissa like Jaypore and Sambalpur and even from outside Orissa with heavy presence of Oriyas like Surat of Gujrat.

Many noted names from amongst professors and writers of Orissa are being used by investors in newspapers to capture readers’ attention. But, these intellectuals are in reality not the men who matter in transaction of what newspapers are meant for. Media management in Orissa looks murkier day by day.