Binode Kanungo Epitomized Quest with Conscience, Letters with Science: Speakers in Birth Centenary

As Orissa Academy of letters observed the birth centenary of Binode Kanungo, the venue at Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya witnessed who’s who of Bhubaneswar based intellectuals hear with rapt attention eminent men of letters paying glowing tributes to the famous freedom fighter who after independence, instead of running after power like others, devoted his entire life for real emancipation of people that he thought could come only through the strength of knowledge. The 40 volumes of Gyanamandala(encyclopedia) and the three volumes of Shishu Gyanamandala (children’s encyclopedia) and the 53 other titles he authored on various science-centric, intricate but inspiring subjects were therefore written in his mother tongue Oriya in lucid and simple words.

He personified quest and conscience, said eminent author Das Benhur, speaking on the occasion as the chief speaker.

After the Academy Secretary Bijaya Nayak presented a scholarly introduction interlacing it with quest culture of Orissa spanning from Sarala Das to Gopal Praharaj to Binode Kanungo, Das Benhur discussed Kanungo from a hitherto unknown perspective. Depicting his days under the strict guidance of his maternal uncle Prof. Artaballav Mohanty, he dwelt on how his teacher, the great Gandhian Alekh Prasad Das had inspired him into the mission of knowledge. Das had tried to author an encyclopedia, which had failed to fetch a sponsorship, because to the high net worth publishers of the day, his academic qualifications were too meager to host him as an encyclopedia author. Kanungo knew that his teacher’s endeavor to write an encyclopedia was driven by his desire to enrich the common man with modern knowledge to help him evolve to a worthy citizen. This was, perhaps, Benhur said, the undisclosed inspiration behind Kanungo’s decision not to depend on commercial publishers for the encyclopedia he authored. So his consciousness that a knowledgeable society can beget a desirable democracy not only led him into the world of quest, but also made him follow his conscience in discarding political ambitions for creation of the necessary storehouse of knowledge for his fellow beings. As such, Binode Babu was an epitome of quest with conscience, he said.

Addressing the audience, chief guest Santanu Kumar Acharya held that Kanungo had epitomized letters and science, a unique quality that he alone had developed, in the process of his determination to share knowledge with his fellow beings. When the state government had killed the Utkal University project of encyclopedia, it is Kanungo, who defeated all odds to produce the Gyanamandala, the people of Orissa are so proud of.

Sahadev Sahu, former chief secretary of Orissa inaugurated the special edition of the Academy’s journal Konarka on Kanungo, the immortal seeker and sharer of knowledge. He was consciously contributing to democracy through his mission of distribution of knowledge, in people’s own language, he said.

Presiding over the function, Academy President Ramachandra Behera described him as personification og endless quest for knowledge and more knowledge while committed and eager to transmit whatever knowledge he was acquiring to the people of his state.

The State Government has sanctioned a sum of Rs. 2 crores to proceed with the unfinished works of Kanungo.

The SOVEREIGN FOREST open for public at Samadrusti campus in Bhubaneswar

The Sovereign Forest by noted Film Maker Amar Kanwar in collaboration with the Independent Media Group –The Samadrusti is an exhibition that attempts to reopen discussion and initiate a creative response to our understanding of crime, politics, human rights and ecology. The validity of poetry as evidence in a trial, the discourse on seeing, on understanding, on compassion, on issues of justice, sovereignty and the determination of the self – all come together in a constellation of moving and still images, texts, books, pamphlets, albums, music, objects, seeds, events and processes.

The Sovereign Forest has overlapping identities. It continuously reincarnates as an art installation, an exhibition, a library, a memorial, a public trial, an open call for the collection of more ‘evidence’, an archive and also a proposition for a space that engages with political issues as well as with art.

The Sovereign Forest is inspired by a search for the possible answers to the questions: How to understand the conflict around us? How to understand crime? Who defines evidence? Is legally valid evidence adequate to understand the meaning and extent of a crime? Can ‘poetry’ be presented as ‘evidence’ in a criminal or political trial? What is the validity of such evidence? Can it create a new and valuable perspective about the crime? What is the vocabulary of a language that can talk about a series of simultaneous disappearances occurring across multiple dimensions of our lives? How to see, know, understand and remember these disappearances? How to look again?

The central film, titled The Scene of Crime offers an experience of landscape just prior to erasure as territories marked for acquisition by industries. Almost every image in this film lies within specific territories that are proposed industrial sites and are in the process of being acquired by government and corporations in Orissa. Every location, every blade of grass, every water source, every tree that is seen in the film is now meant to not exist anymore. The Scene of Crime is an experience of ‘looking’ at the terrain of this conflict and the personal lives that exist within this natural landscape.

The Sovereign Forest invites visitors to contribute a photograph, a film, a document, a text, an object, seed, cloth, pattern, drawing, or any ‘evidence’ in any form to the constellation of evidence presented. The exhibition will continue for a few months as more parts are added to it.

Samadrusti Campus, Behind Trident Academy, Opposite Infocity, Sailashree Vihar, Bhunaneswar – 751021, Orissa, India
Contact numbers: 0674-6529485, 9853456083 and 9178182820