HINDUSTAN TIMES HAS BECOME A SANCTUARY OF SCOUNDRELS

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Clarification” of Hindustan Times on the obnoxious “opinion piece” it had published on 24th July under the caption “Oof! Rashtropoti Bhobon!”, makes one suspect that it has become a sanctuary of scoundrels.

If not, it would have apologized directly to the people of Orissa against whom it had published that piece of dirty diatribe; it would have removed the filthy piece from the web by inserting there the reason thereof; it would have removed Hazra from its employment and handed him over to the police for the offensive use of its space in anti-national propaganda hyped with words like “Bengalis can finally forgive Indians”, because Pranab has become the President.

The Hindustan Times has not taken any such step. Rather by way of clarification, it has confirmed that it supports whatever Hazra has vomited.

The paper’s support to Hazra prompts me to ask: What is there in Pranab’s election as President which makes the howling Hazra feel that “Bengalis can finally forgive the Indians”? Is there anything noteworthy in his election, when in the political chaos that the country has been pushed into, any dog planted by the widow of Rajiv Gandhi could have become the President?

Criminal vitriol against the Oriyas, sic passim in Hazra’s article, has been authenticated by Hindustan Times, not only by its publication, but also by projection of the author under its own e-address given at the end of the nasty piece. Therefore, we reject its explanation that the article is a piece of “individual opinion of the author”.

Sham has so engulfed the HT that it has not felt ashamed of describing Hazra’s vomit as “an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding the recent Presidential election in India”. Is there a single line in the article of Hazra that raises a debate on Presidential election? Is there any ingredient of debate on Presidential election in what he has said? Which portion of the article of Hazra is a contribution to the debate on presidential election that the HT speaks of? Will the clarifier show us the same?

In its clarification, HT has asserted that, “Neither the publication nor the author had any intention to violate or hurt the feelings of, or to express any disrespect towards, any section of society”. Were these words juxtaposed with what Hazra has written to arrive at this conclusion? Let us see what Hazra has written in the nonsensical piece. It begins with these words:

“No one’s really noticed, but the Oriyas are really upset. Again. There was a chance that one of their own would finally become the president of India this time round. But no one from Orissa even made the grade as any political party’s presidential candidate. To add insult to injury, the 13th President is a Bengali and the outbreak of celebrations in the state next door has been keeping neighbours in Orissa awake at night”.

Are not these words willfully coined with the “intention to violate or hurt the feelings of, or to express disrespect towards” the Oriyas?

How could the HT claim that there was no “intention to violate or hurt the feelings of, or to express any disrespect towards, any section of society”? Is it now infested with fellows, who failed to understand the words they use?

And, how does the HT interpret the streamer: “With Pranab becoming president tomorrow, Bengalis can finally forgive Indians”?

Whose language is this? Hazra’s? Or of the editor-in-chief? Who has created this streamer?

Bengalis are who to forgive the Indians?

The old paper has certainly metamorphosed to a sanctuary of scoundrels, as otherwise its editorial page could not have thus become a junkyard of a particular Bengali’s braggadocios. I repeat, a particular Bengali, because most of the critics of Hazra’s article are Bengalis, who have castigated him for what he has written.

This is Just for Hazra and his likes
who need to know the Oriyas

It seems, the howling Hazra and his likes in Hindustan Times and elsewhere, if any, are in dire deficiency in knowledge on Orissa and her people.

Because Hazra has ventured his vitriol against Oriyas in the context of his imagined victory of Bengalis in presidential election, I would like to cite only a few pages from recorded history to help them know what the Oriyas are vis-a-vis the Bengalis, without any prejudice against the Bengalis as such, amongst whom I have many close relations and dearest of dear friends and of whom I am personally an admirer and to me, who are persons of magnificent culture, brotherhood, magnanimity and humanitarianism.

So, for only the Hazras and HTs, let us now enter into a few pages of history.

The first independence struggle against the British

When Bengalis were priding in becoming the servants of the British, it is the Oriyas that had raised the first battle in whole of India in 1817 to expel the British from their soil. In the book – A SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF ORISSA , the British historian G. Toynbee has narrated,

“It was not long, however, before we had to encounter a storm which burst with so sudden fury as to threaten our expulsion, if not from the whole of Orissa, at least from the territory of Khurda”.

Mother of non-co-operation movement

Begun with the 1804 war against the British, the battle of 1817 was a unique movement inasmuch as it not only had forced the British to bend its head, but also had given birth to the first non-co-operation movement in India at Khurda, which, after a hundred years, Gandhiji had adopted and used in our struggle for freedom.

The Khurda non-co-operation movement was of such impact that in his report to Commissioner Robert Ker dated the 9th September 1818, Joint Magistrate of Khurda W. Forrester had informed that, it had “completely put a stop to the collection of revenue” and “the nature of the country and disposition of its inhabitants will always present formidable obstacle to the suppression of these disturbances either by military or police”. That had forced the British to come to a compromise with the General of Orissa, Buxi Jagabandhu, who had led the non-co-operation movement.
But before the compromise was arrived at, many a Muslim leaders of the movement had sacrificed their lives and properties in that movement against the British.

As for example, from Robert Ker’s report to W.B.Bayley (Secretary to Government) dated 14 december 1818, it transpires that Mir Hyder Ali whom the British was unable to apprehend, had to breath his last in a condition of pauperization, the entire of his properties confiscated.

It was so much essential for the British administration to intimidate the people, that its chief executive in India had to put pressure on the Court to execute the punishment announced against the movement’s Muslim leaders like Sardar Khan and Nasrulla etc. (Letter of W.B.Bayley to the Registrar of Nizamut Adalat, W. Dorin, dated the 1st January 1819).

Aware of this unique non-co-operation movement conceived and successfully experimented in Orissa wherein many eminent Muslims had made their supreme sacrifices, and which had forced the British to compromise with the Orissa leader Buxi Jagabandhu as “the suppression (thereof) either by military or police” was found impossible, the Muslim leaders of India comprising the Khilafat Committee, had, on 23 November 1919, a hundred years after the Orissa experimentation, stressed on the necessity of a non-co-operation movement if the fight for freedom was to succeed.

Gandhiji was initially unable to grasp the significance of such a movement. His best biographer D.G.Tendulkar has written, “Gandhi was handicapped for want of suitable Hindi or Urdu words for the new idea. At last, he described it by the word ’non-cooperation’, an expression that he used for the first time on this occasion” (Mahatma Vol I, p.274).

Not in any part of Hindustan

Earlier when Bengalis were the docile subjects of the Muslims, and with them in its army, the Muslim ruler had dared to invade Orissa, the Oriyas had smashed that invasion completely and the enemy was, as admitted by the Muslim historian Minhaj-i-Siraj, who himself had joined that war, out-generaled. In THE HISTORY OF BENGAL (MUSLIM PERIOD), eminent historian Dr. R. N. Quanungo, has quoted Minhaj-i-Siraj who said,

“A greater disaster had not till then befallen the Muslims in any part of Hindustan”.

In the world of language

Language is the gateway to people’s dignity and civilization. India is a country of many languages.

In LINGUISTIC SURVEY OF INDIA, the famous linguist and researcher, G.A.Grierson has clearly said, “The Oriya language can boast of a rich vocabulary in which respect neither Bengali nor Hindi nor Telugu can vie with it”.

And, the great Bengali linguist Suniti Kumar Chatterjee says that “it may be said without travesty of linguistic truth” that Oriya language is much senior to Bengali and has shown the honesty in pointing out that Oriya is Bengali’s elder sister (I.H.Q.Vol.XXIII,1947,P.337).

It is better for the Hazras and the HTs to study a State first, before indulging in luxuries of nefariousness against its position and people.

SUBHAS PATTANAYAK: FOURTH ESTATE NEEDS TO BE SALVAGED FROM GRIP OF TRADERS

Subservience of people’s interest to commercial interest in the Fourth Estate must stop, if democracy is to be salvaged from the pernicious grip of plutocracy, emphasized veteran journalist Subhas Chandra Pattanayak while inaugurating the annual function of Athgarh Prahari.

Athgarh Prahari, a rural newspaper published from Athgarh in the district of Cuttack celebrated its sixth anniversary on the day of Makara Samkranti, observed in Orissa as a day of solidarity amongst agro-based communities.

Enkindling the ceremonial candle, Sri Pattanayak called upon the working journalists to consolidate their class strength to retrieve their lost freedom from the fiefdom of the media merchants.

Capitalists who need freedom to multiply their profits by using newspapers and audio-visual networks that they own, must no more be allowed to project that freedom as ‘Freedom of Press’, he said.

Rare Chapter of Journalism in Orissa

Felicitating posthumously the legendary journalist Surit Ranjan Pattnaik, who was born in Athgarh, Sri Pattanayak dwelt on a rare chapter of journalism in Orissa that may be termed as the single most remarkable battle of Press for freedom from owner’s fiefdom.

In a flashback he said: Surit Pattnaik was reporter of the daily Kalinga, founded and possessed by Biju Patnaik, the first mafia then in rise in Indian politics, who was using his chief-ministerial position to further his fortune from trade and industry in the early sixties, last century. One of Surit’s reports went against TATAs. Biju summoned him to his chamber and rebuked him for having written against TATAs and demanded an explanation on why had he written the story that may mar his rapport with the industrial tycoon. In utter wrath Biju further asked Surit to file a fresh story depicting the one he had published as a product of misconception and to remember not to write against TATAs in future.

Slap on Biju’s Face

Surit paid Biju Patnaik a patient ear as an employee ought to pay to his employer and then told Biju the like of which had never been told in India to any newspaper owner by any working journalist till then.

He told Biju in no uncertain terms that as owner of the paper he was a trade operator when as a reporter he was a conscience-keeper of the society. He made it clear that he was a working journalist and under the working journalists(Condition of Services and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, he was answerable only to his editor, not and never to the owner.

He also told Biju that as a journalist he was a sentinel of Freedom of Press which he cannot allow to be diminished under Press owner’s over-lordship. It was a sharp slap on Biju’s face.

Man Mohan Mishra’s uniqueness as Editor

This enraged Biju so much that he summoned the manager and ordered him to dismiss Surit summarily under charges of insubordination. Editor Man Mohan Mishra supported Surit and condemned managerial intervention in the matter of reporting and Biju got such a thrash that he preferred to pretend to have accepted the norm of Press Freedom by desisting from taking any action against Surit. But the issue did not die; it went on simmering, till at last Kalinga was closed down by Biju Patnaik and beyond, till the owners in mainstream media succeeded in misappropriating Press Freedom donning editors’ robe, as in Hindustan Times K.K.Birla replacing B.G.Verghese.

Profit motive of media merchants ruins the Press

Dwelling on how subservience of public interest to profit motive of media merchants has spread since those days, Sri Pattanayak bared the tricks the Press owners play against Free Press. One such trick is obliterating or dismantling the designation and status of journalists as envisaged in and defined under the Working Journalists Act. Sudden and arbitrary change of Nalapat’s designation from Chief of Bureau (a category of working journalist defined under the Law) at Delhi to that of Political Analyst (not at all defined under the Law) by the Times of India is an instance, he said. He pointed out how for having refused to render extra-professional help in securing release of Asok Jain, chairman of the Times of India group arrested then for FERA offences, H.K.Dua, the celebrated editor had to be summarily dismissed in 1998 by use of an offending method of replacement of his name with that of Executive Director Ramesh Chandra showing him as in additional charge of Managing Editor in the print-line of the paper. This trick of obliterating law-defined categories of working journalists and creation of undefined desks in editorial wing is not only playing havoc with editorial independence but also subjugating journalism to business. And such a situation is helping plutocracy to consolidate, he alleged.

Pointing out that the recent Supreme Court Judgment in the matter of Laws put under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution of India has failed to stir public mind because a plutocratic Press is not showing due diligence in weighing the judgment on the matrix of the necessities of the poor, deprived and disadvantaged people, Sri Pattanayak called upon the working journalists to change this scenario. People have a right to know every aspect of every act of management of their Country and therefore, the Press must be salvaged from the grip of plutocracy and restored back as people’s Press. When a Plutocratic Press reduces people’s right to a non-entity and transforms information to a commercial commodity, which is happening in India, Pattanayak pointed out that a People’s Press educates the people in the matter of how best to manage their affairs through their informed participation in democracy.

Surit Pattanayak the unseen Polestar

When K.K.Birla snatched away for himself the robe of editor of Hindustan Times from B.G.Verghese in the seventies because he refused to compromise with editorial independence or when H.K.Dua was summarily dismissed in the late nineties because he did not agree to misuse his journalistic position for securing release of the times of India Chairman from FERA prison or earlier when Dilip Padgaonkar had to relinquish the position of Editor in Times of India in early nineties in favor of the management man Gautam Adhikari taking over as Executive Editor, or when a principled person like Nalapat was dismantled from the position of Chief of Bureau to be stashed in a out-of-category post of political analyst, had the working Journalists defended Press Freedom like Surit Pattanayak had done defying Biju Patnaik, the situation would not have been such precarious, Pattanayak said.

Rural Press must coalesce with rural people

In the prevailing climate, as people in the unorganized sector like the victims of Kalinga Nagar land grab have been making their supreme sacrifices to safeguard their collective interest, working journalists must unite to thwart away the plutocratic over-lordship on Freedom of Press, he said, putting emphasis on rural people making a coalition with rural newspapers run by rural journalists whom corporate culture has not yet corrupted. People must help rural newspapers in building up a People’s Press so that their own interest does no more suffer a blackout, and the Country is saved, told Sri Pattanayak while calling upon the local intelligentsia that predominated the audience to take leadership in this regard.

Prahari reaching more people: Narayan Das

Sri Narayan Das, self-employed Editor of Athgarh Prahari (AP), in his welcome address, presented a detail picture of how local interest has been best served by his paper and how for that reasons only, its popularity has spread beyond Athgarh. The AP has its circulation in 13 out of the 30 districts of Orissa and day by day its circulation is increasing and he said, he was sure, his paper will reach the rest of Orissa within two years.

Closer to the people

Ratnakar Beura who has been representing Orissa’s premier newspaper Samaja at Athgarh for last three decades, told the audience that AP is closer to the hearts of the people of the locality than the mainstream papers of Orissa because people find “their news” more accurately and elaborately in its pages than in their’s.

Mainstrem media hand-in-glove with money-grabbers

Veteran social worker Biswanath Sahu alleged that the funds provided for development in budgets are being looted by the executive. Mainstream media being hand-in-glove with the money-grabbers, the modus operandi of the executive is kept willfully secret from the people. Rural newspapers like AP run by self-employed journalist are therefore the only forum available to the people through which they can develop their collective barricades against corruption and save the country.

Social activist Basanta Kumar Sahani warned people of impending danger from mega as well as minor industries to rural environment. Rural newspapers free from influence of the industrialists as they mostly are, are the best weapons available to people to safeguard their interests, he stressed.

Posthumous Honor to Surit Pattanayak

Chief Guest Sri Pattanayak presented the citation of posthumous honor to Surit Ranjan Pattanayak, which the daughter of the late scribe Ms. Jayanti Pattanayak received. Surit Ranjan had breathed his last on 21 December 2005.

Felicitations were also given to educationist Narayan Panda for poetry, advocate Bimbadhar Raut for essay, Journalists Partha Sarathi Patnaik and Sujit Rashmi Mohanty for rural reporting. Ms. Babita Pattnaik read out the citations.

Journalist Satchidananda Panda presided.