SoPS has made Samaja a hub of misappropriation: An instance

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Lala Lajpat Rai’s New Delhi based Servants of the People Society (SoPS) having seized the Samaja newspaper by using a forged WILL of one of its founders Pandit Gopabandhu Das, has unleashed a reign of loot of the money that belongs to the people of Orissa, a glimpse of which forms the crux of this presentation.

It has an advertisement manager in the newspaper ‘Samaja” whose name is Priyabrata Mohanty. He is so close to the boss of SoPS that he occupies the General Manager chair, as and when possible, to create panic amongst the employees of Samaja by posing as its employer. Some of his such actions are questioned in the Labor Law forum.

We would come to that on a different day. But now, how this man is involved with money swindling by misusing his ad manager position would be focused upon, as an instance of corrupt practices going on in Samaja newspaper.

We have shown earlier in these pages that the miscreants that have seized the paper have been enjoying their clout with Orissa’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. This is giving them a congenial environment to loot the Samaja.

Nexus with the CM
helps them carry out corruption

Because the officers in the fields and various institutional heads know of the nexus of these swindlers with the Chief Minister, they do not dare to say ‘no’ to whatever these fellows ask them to do.

cancelled cheque

Mark the above picture. It is the photocopy of a cheque that was issued by the DRDA office, Bhadrak, in favor of the Samaja, Balasore, on 23.3.2011 towards payment against an advertisement bill. After a complete year, the said cheque was cancelled by the Project Director – by then a new incumbent as discernible in the body of the cancelled cheque – and a new cheque bearing No. 060616 was issued as per order dated 19.4.2012, relevant portion of which is given here.cheque to Samaja cancelled for ch.to RoyThe order reads: “The ch. No – 026834 for Rs.21,384/- in favour of Samaja, Balasore may be cancelled and a fresh cheque – 060616 for Rs. 21,384 may be issued in favour (of) Sri Pramod Ray, District Correspondent, Samaj”, And the money was thus paid to Pramod Ray vide Voucher No.11, dated 19.4.2012.

Replacing the cheque originally given in favor of the Samaja by canceling the same on production by a reporter of the paper after lapse a complete financial year with another cheque given to the said reporter by his name by the Project Director of the District is blatantly illegal. The Project Director is a senior officer of the State and by virtue of his qualification and long experience as an administrative officer, he knows that such a step was not legal. Yet he did it on the same day the reporter wanted such a favor, because he knew of the nexus of the swindlers’ network with the Chief Minister of the State. The money that should have gone to the Samaja accounts, went to the private account of its reporter Pramod Ray.

pay by nameOnce this trick clicked, the Ad Manager Priyabrata Mohanty combined with Ray to divert Samaja ad dues to his personal accounts by generating advices to the advertisers to pay against the bills through Bank Drafts favoring Ray only. The picture on the margin vouches for this subterfuge.

And the money swindled through this arrangement is monstrous.

An instance

Advertisement Bill No. SCA/12-2013/5901 dated 06/07/12 is just an instance.

dubious bill 6.7.12

It was issued by Mohanty against an all edition BW Ad of Bhadrak Institute of Engineering and Technology, Barapada, Bhadrak that consumed 96 sq.cm of the paper on July 6, 2012. The bill amount was Rs.86,400.00 with a special discount of Rs. 3000.00, thus totaling Rs. 83, 400.00. The institute was asked by Mohanty to pay for the bill by issuing the bank draft in favor of Ray only. When the bill was legally required to be paid to the Samaja accounts, why the Ad manager diverted it to the personal account of Ray? We searched for the modus operandi behind this arrangement, and we were shocked to see that the sole purpose of this arrangement was misappropriation of at least Rs. 43,560.00 out of this bill. The legitimate bill, at the rate of Rs.415/- per sq.cm as per the tariff rate of 2012-13, should have been Rs.39,840.00; not 86,400.00 or Rs. 83,400.00 after special discount. If anything, therefore, it was a misappropriation of Rs. 43,560.00, which could not have materialized had payment cheque been issued in favor of the Samaja. Obviously Mohanty and Roy have shared the loot. The man of Mohanty, who prepared the bill might have also been tipped a bit to keep the swindling secret.

Another instance

Another instance shows that the corrupt practice is going on continuously.

Dubious Bill dt. 3.6.13We site Bill No. SCA/13-2014/2465 dated 03.06.2013.

The same man that had prepared the above cited bill dated July 6, 2012, has prepared this Bill too and Mohanty as Ad Manager has issued it.

It amounts to Rs.3,25,780.00 and claims Rs.2, 99, 780.00 after special discount of Rs.26,000.00 charging the same Institute – Bhadrak Institute of Engineering and Technology, for a display in color consuming 360 sq.cm. on June 3, 2013.

As per the paper’s Tariff rate for 2013-14, the legitimate bill amount should have been Rs.1,78,200.00 only, not Rs.3,25,780.00. So, here also, in terms of the net claim after discount, there is a clear possibility of misappropriation of Rs. 1,21,580.00 by the Mohanty Ray combine.

Yet another instance

The illicit nexus with the Chief Minister well-known to government servants, the Special Officer cum Sub-Collector, Bhadrak was also asked by Mohanty to pay against Bill No. SCA/13-2014/2469 of 23/05/13 by A/C Payee Bank draft favoring Ray. The said Sub-Collector could not dare to question as to why the payment should be made to Ray in stead of the Samaja, when it was a bill against advertisement published in that paper.smj_8

More harmful than this

We shudder when we feel that there is a process in practice in the Samaja which is more harmful than this syndrome of misappropriation. And, that is: False Advertisement Bills.

The highly inflated bills must be fake bills with the numbers and dates of the genuine bills against which payments must be being taken to Samaja records to hoodwink the audit as and when conducted or normal eyes of the auxiliary staff in the ad wing or vigilant eyes of the employees association. It prods us to apprehend that Priyabrata Mohanty within full knowledge of the fellows of SoPS that have seized the Samaja, has been running a parallel economy in the organization to exploit the impact of the paper for his personal monetary benefit, as his controlling bosses – members of SoPS – who themselves are involved with rabid misappropriation of Samaja funds – are also his patrons and protectors.

People of Orissa, out of their everlasting love for Utkalmani Pandit Gopabandhu Das have contributed their might to evolution of the Samaja to such a stature that it stands synonym to newspapers as a whole. The fellows who have been swindling money in its name, have infested it with right-reactionary conservatism and nefarious corruptions.

It is natural, therefore, for the right thinking people of Orissa to start social audit on its activities. We are glad that our step is pioneering in this regard.

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What is happening in ‘The Samaja’ when illegal occupiers have seized it fraudulently?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Servants of the People Society (SoPS) has not yet been able to prove that it has not seized Orissa’s premier newspaper ‘The Samaja’ by forging a WILL of its founder Pandit Gopabandhu Das.

But on complaint from ‘Save the Samaja Forum’ (SSF), when the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI) asked the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) of Cuttack to enquire into and report on legitimacy of the claim of ownership by SoPS, the Chief Minister of Orissa was used by the illegal occupiers to create a climate for the ADM to abandon his enquiry midway and to submit a spurious report with no specific answer to the query.

SSF has written to RNI to discard the ADM’s report as spurious and to institute a fresh enquiry at his end, as the Law does not permit any newspaper to run under fake ownership; and, as any enquiry by any officer or agency of Orissa Government would not be reliable because of the illegal occupiers’ direct nexus with the Chief Minister.

A reliable document reveals that there was a deal of clandestine money amounting half a crore of rupees between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the then SoPS chief Manubhai Patel and the same illicit relationship between the both continues till date, as otherwise a huge land reserved for a very important public purpose by the State Government could never have been given to a protege of Patel for a Hotel at Bhubaneswar in the neighborhood of the State Forensic Laboratory at throwaway price and the State Government could not have sat idly so far over constitutional objection to this illegality by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

When the SOPS is in such nasty nexus with the Chief Minister of Orissa, the occupiers of the Samaja have been enjoying immunity against inhumane exploitation of workers. The workers have been kept under such intimidation that seldom they object to their exploitation. When someone prays for fair pay he gets thwarted out of his job.

Gagan ParidaLet me give you a single instance. Gagan Parida is an employee of the Samaja for last 30 years. He works through out the night to make bundles of the paper for despatch to various destinations. This is a very essential job in the establishment and consumes his time from 5 in the evening to 5 in the morning. Though he has worked for 30 years and has become old, he has not been regularized and not been put to a time scale. Thus he is debarred from Dearness Allowance, Provident Fund benefits, Health Care benefits, House rent allowance during his employment period and would be debarred from all the welfare provisions including Gratuity and Pension after his employment, which the Labor Laws and specifically the Law for newspaper employees offer.

Parida is not alone in this category of employees of the Samaja. At least 14 of his type have moved the Labor Laws Implementation Authority to intervene. Their allegation is: They all have been debarred from entering into their workplace, as they prayed the management for regularization in service with retrospective effect and for regular pay as newspaper employees are entitled to. Thus they have been de facto dismissed.

But the political clout the illegal occupiers of the Samaja have, has stood a obstacle to admission of their allegation into conciliation even.

Gopabandhu was a paragon of all humane virtues. He was a personification of pity and concern for human beings. To save people from exploitation, he had been leading mass awareness campaigns and The Samaja newspaper was established by him as a part of this campaign. In his paper, the illegal occupiers have been perpetrating such inhuman exploitation.

Sad,

Krushna was a concept of Revolution, not a God

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Krushna was not a God. He was a character conceived and created by the revolutionary poet – Muni Vyasa – in his epic Mahabharata, epitomizing his concept of revolution against tyranny and exploitation.

He was generated by Vyasa’s thinking elites – represented by Devaki and Basudev – who, because of their opposition to oppressive autocrat Kansa, were being incarcerated time and again. And in the prison, they were giving shape to their concept of revolution, which again, every time, was being crushed within the prison compounds, before reaching the public.

In fact, it is the elites – persons of erudition, knowledge, ability to analyze socio-economic phenomena – that create revolutions against oppression and exploitation, against machinations in use by rulers to keep the people suppressed and subjugated.

Devaki and Basudev, the sister and brother-in-law respectively of Kansa, were, thus, symbolic of the then elite, who had tried to create a revolution against patriarch autocracy practiced by Kansa. All their attempts to create a revolution against the oppressive system were violently crushed by the tyrant Kansa. Yet, while perishing in his prison, they were giving shape to their revolutionary concept.

Amidst the masses

After seven such attempts failed, they felt that unless the people in general were involved with the revolution of their concept, they will not succeed in their endeavor.

So they decided to take their revolutionary concept into the midst of the common toiling masses.

On the eighth attempt, they succeeded in putting their concept at the disposal of the masses, symbolically projected as the cowherds.

This concept was christened Krushna, meaning the one that attracts everybody (Akarshayati Iti Krushnah) and when this Krushna grew up, it gave birth to such a massive mass upsurge that the tyrant Kansa died in fear, absolutely unable to face the challenge.

Kansas gallore

The same practice of crushing progressive revolutions by the rabid reactionary capitalists by implicating the revolutionaries in false cases, by incarcerating them and torturing them in the prisons, is galore everywhere including India.

If emancipation is essential, one is to understand the tricks of misleading the people aboub Krushna through concocted legends, to understand what Krushna really was and and address oneself to what he stood for in Mahabharata, instead of staying misguided by exploitive machinations that willfully and mischievously project Krushna as a God.

Before that, a difference

Before understanding Krushna, it is essential to know the background of his creator.

Vyasa, the creator of Krushna, was a Muni, not a Rushi.

When a person known for the brags that he has seen the God and the Veda being delivered by the God was called a Rushi (linked to ‘Drush’ – a seer), a person who was known for his views based on deep analysis was being called a Muni (linked to ‘Manana’, literally meaning ‘deep study’).

Vyasa was a Muni

Vyasa was a Muni. He was born out of rape of his mother Satyavati belonging to boatsman tribe by a Rushi namely Parasara, while she was ferrying him across a river.

The Vedic society was patriarch and in that society, under Vedic provisions claimed to have been ordained by the Almighty, any Arya male was entitled to rape any woman he desires, to beget a son; and when a son was born, to take away that son from that woman.

So, when Vyasa was born, Parasara had taken him away from his mother and given him education in the Vedic system.

But Vyasa had never forgotten the injury caused to his mother and to his own childhood by the patriarch system perpetrated by his father – a Rushi – in the name of Vedic privileges and hence he had refused the Vedic system pivoted on and preposterously contributing to blind belief.

He had emerged as an epoch making socio-political scientist whose works and words were based on practical analysis of discernible phenomena and intelligent interpretation of ancient wise words, if any, coined by the few progressive elements even in the Vedic system. He was therefore revered as Muni Vyasa.

An epic of war against oppression

As he had never forgotten the rape of his mother by Parasara, whom the Vedic system had projected as the grand son of Brahma, the greatest of the Gods whom creation of the universe was credited to, he created his Mahabharata as an epic of extermination of patriarchy and socio-economic oppressions it had legitimized.

Begins at Nahusa

In the first event placed in his epic is the episode of Nahusa. Nahusa was a man who was chosen by the Gods to rule over them, as their king Indra had been banished from the throne for his brutality and no God was capable of ruling over the rest.

In placing this matter before the public, Vyasa showed that human beings are better than the Gods.

He then proceeded to show how power corrupts.

Nahusa was chosen by the Gods to be their king, because he was a man of all humane virtues. But after occupying the most powerful position, he became too proud not to indulge in corruption. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, as they say.

Being consecrated as the king of the Gods – Indra, Nahusa wanted the queen of the Gods – Sachi – in his bed, which Sachi refused.

Then Nahusa tried to rape her. She ran in panic and besought refuge at citadels of all leading Gods including Brahma. But none of them dared to come to her rescue in fear of Nahusa’s wrath.

Only a Muni like Vyasa – Muni Narada – came to her rescue and bravely obstructed Nahusa. He castigated the new Indra – Nahusa – for the sin he was committing and dissuaded him from chasing Sachi, saying him that he should stay away from the wife of the dethroned Indra as that would be the worst of the sins. “Nibartaya Manah Papat Para Dara Vimarsanat” is what Vyasa uttered in the mouth of Narada. And, Nahusa, understanding the mistake he was going to commit, repented and prostrated before Sachi by accepting her as a mother.

Ends at Jaduvansha

Begun from this major episode, the Mahabharata ended with extinguishment of the clan of Krushna (Jaduvansha), who acquiring privileged positions that the popularity of Krushna had given them, had plunged themselves into enjoyment of sex to the extent of fetching by force any daughter of any king they liked.

By exterminating the entire Jaduvansha, Vyasa mercilessly punished the misusers of revolution.

Class War

And, in between the Nahusa episode and the Jaduvansha episode, he depicted a class war between the patriarch Kaurava autocracy and the matriarch Pandava democracy and made the patriarch autocracy – epitomized by Dhrutarastra and his son Duryodhana – obliterated in a war called ‘Mahabharata”, wherein classes were distinctly polarized.

In what is called Bishwarupa of Krushna, he showed how his revolution called Krushna was a synonym of everything best in the Universe.

His Krushna was the society in its entirety, in whose mouth, Vyasa had called upon human beings to extricate themselves from the labyrinths of religions as every religion was an obstacle to emancipation. “Discard all the religions (Sarva Dharman Parityajya) and accept me as the final refuge” (Mamekam Sharanam Braja), he – the epitome of the society – had said.

This word “Mamekam” was not difficult to understand in the context of Krushna’s Vishwarupa. Yet, it was further annotated when the supreme projection of Matriarchy – Devi Durga – declared “Aham Rastri Sangamani” – I am the collective power of the people that form the State.

We, the people of Orissa

And, on this perception only, we the people of Orissa have rechristened the greatest son of our soil – Gurudev Buddha, the first founder of world outlook beyond all mischiefs of sectarianism – as our national deity Sri Jagannatha and equated him with Vyasa’s Krushna.

When to us, “Nilachale Jagannatha Sakshat Dakshina Kalika” (In Nilachala Puri, Jagannatha is Dakshina Kalika), we also equate Krushna with Kali the most powerful symbol of matriarchy, by saying, “Kalou Kali, Kalou Krushna, Kalou Gopala Kalika”.

So the combined force of the people – Kali, as announced in “Aham Rastri Sangamani” – is Krushna, the revolution, as annotated in “Akarshayati Iti Krushnah”, gets sharpened by being adopted by the masses in the grassroots, as symbolized by the word “Gopala”.

And, such a revolution takes birth in the pernicious prisons of oppressive rulers.

Wish, it takes birth in every prison

To us, therefore, Krushna is the revolution that a poet of India – Muni Vyasa – had conceived of, against politics of tyranny and exploitation, that had given the clarion call to discard dilly-dally in matters of class war (“Kshyudram Hrudayadaurbalyam Tyaktotishtha Parantapa”) and to fight the class enemy come what may (“Hato Ba Preapsyasi Swargam Jitwa Ba Bhokshase Mahim“) and to achieve emancipation by exterminating the enemy (“Tasmaduttishtha Kaunteya Yuddhaya Kruta Nishchayah”). Under his scheme, everybody has a right to work (“Karmanyebadhikaraste“) sans any selfish claim on the result thereof (“Ma Phalesu Kadachana”), because such claim would help individual avarice spread to the detriment of societal collectivism and defeat the cause of emancipation. Thus, Vyasa’s Krushna was for a society where everybody works to the best of his/her ability for the Society and the Society fulfills his/her essential necessities for fair living.

We, therefore, celebrate the birth of Krushna and wish this Krushna to take birth every day in every prison of tyrants in every nation.

Sabyasachian Violence is the same as Gandhian Non-Violence in the Struggle for Emancipation

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

[Sabyasachi Panda projects himself and is projected by others as a Maoist. I will, in this article, deliberately discard the words – Maoist and Maoism; because use of the name of Mao in any emancipating movement of our people would be an affront to self-respect of India in view of the blatant breach of our trust and the bloody war he had subjected us to in 1962. When radicals amongst the Communists had emerged as Naxals, the right-wing media had deliberately coined the words Maoism for Naxalism, to create a situation for the people of India to look at them askance, because of the impact of the natural aversion to Mao, so that the radicals would stay far from being acceptable to majority of Indians in the psycho-political environment. Some radicals failed to grasp this mischief and misguidedly projected themselves as Maoists. The result is: their spread is stunted. I will, therefore, in this article, use the words ‘radical Communist’ in place of ‘Maoist’ and ‘radical Communism’ in place of ‘Maoism’ and mention Sabyasachi as a symbol of radicalism.]

A very odd prerequisite

In seeking a solution to social unrest as perceived by them, nine known persons of Orissa, not all Gandhians but projected as such, have appealed radical Communist leader Sabyasachi Panda to shun violence so that they can influence the State to fulfill whatever demands he has for the Dalits and exploited people.

When the signatories are: Smt. Annapurna Maharana (Cuttack), Smt. Sumitra Choudhury (Cuttack), Smt. Krushna Mohanty (Anugul),Sri Rabi Roy (Cuttack), Md. Baji (Nawarangpur), Sri Ratan Das (Gunupur), Sri Bhabani Charan Patnaik (Bhubaneswar), Dr. Bhagaban Prakask (New Delhi) and Prof. Radhamohan (Bhubaneswar), here is the crux of their statement in its original form:

Roughly translated into English it says: We shall raise strong demands before the government for fulfillment of whatever demands you have for the Dalits and the exploited, if you and your associates accept our request to shun violent ways.

If anything, this is naked hypocrisy; because, if these ladies and gentlemen feel that there is justification in Sabyasachi’s demands for the Dalits and exploited people, why are they waiting for him to surrender? Why do they make his surrender a prerequisite to their taking up the cause of the oppressed Dalits and the exploited wretched? Why are they shying at the reality that persons like them staying silent spectators to the oppression and exploitation perpetrated and perpetuated by the State and the State-pampered / protected profit-mongers, compradors, socio-economic offenders, and looters of natural resources, is responsible for persons like Sabyasachi taking up arms at the risk to their own lives? Their admitted reluctance to press the Government for stoppage of oppression and exploitation of the Dalits and the wretched people till Sabyasachi and his associates shun violence is certainly not indicative of their genuine concern.

I do not know Sabyasachi or any of his associates personally. But perceptibly, they are using violence against official violence as a method of elimination of fear from the oppressed poor as they want end of economic inequality / social exploitation / loss of living environment / loot of natural resources / enforced displacement at the behest of private profit-mongers / lack of administrative concern for their human rights. Judging them by the yardstick of Gandhian non-violence, as is evidenced in the appeal-statement of the above named nine signatories, is misjudging Gandhi himself.

Gandhi would have preferred the violent way

Had Gandhiji been alive today, he would have certainly preferred violence to what the so-called Gandhians have been projecting as non-violence.

Every age has its own meaning for terms used in politics in specific situations. What non-violence meant in Gandhian terminology, is exactly what violence is meaning in Sabysachian terminology.

There is no difference between Gandhian non-violence and Sabyasachian violence; because both the phenomena are felt in the impact thereof in evolution of fearlessness amongst the oppressed people against the power of oppression. So, condemning Sabyasachian violence in the present context of India is also the same as condemning Gandhian non-violence in the context of pre-independence India.

Gandhi on violence

In writing in Young India on 11 August 1920 on The Doctrine of the Sword, Gandhiji dwelt on justification of violence in compelling conditions. “I do believe that where there is only one choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence” (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Vol XVIII, p.132). “Thus when my eldest son asked me what he should have done, had he been present when I was almost fatally assaulted in 1908, whether he should have run away and seen me killed or whether he should have used his physical force which he could and wanted to use, and defended me, I told him that it was his duty to defend me even by using violence”, he has said at the same time. “I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should be in a cowardly manner become and remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor” (Ibid). He has admitted with absolute honesty that whoever resorts to violent ways to save the countrymen from oppression is also a Mahatma (high-souled person). He has unambiguously noted, “The high-souled men, who are unable to suffer national humiliation any longer, will want to vent their wrath. They will take to violence” (Ibid).

Violence begets violence

Had the State not been acting violently against opponents to exploitation, people having succeeded in fetching political freedom under greater influence of non-violent method of Gandhiji, would not have thought of preferring violence to non-violence after so many decades of independence.

Significance

However it has its own significance.

Gandhiji had used non-violence to wipe out fear from the minds of the subjects of the British raj in their fight for political independence; and now the radical Communists are using violence to eliminate the accumulated fear from the minds of the people oppressed under the corporate raj in their fight for economic emancipation. Both the methods are the same in aim and similar in purpose and befitting to their respective age and condemnation of the radical Communists’ violence in Capitalist India is not different from condemnation of Gandhian non-violence in British India.

Independent India has been, sadly, siding with the capitalists and their monstrous exploitation. As long as the State uses violent methods to protect the exploiters, the victims of exploitation will naturally continue to react violently. Because, responding violently to violence is not unnatural.

The radical Communists and their method might just be contributing a philosophical support to people’s revolt against exploitation; but radical Communism is not by itself the sole definition of people’s disposition in meeting the State-led oppression and hence it is not the generator of violence that people adopt to retort the violence perpetrated by the State.

So, even if Sabyasachi switches over to Gandhian non-violence, as the appeal in question insists, it would not stop the people going violent against violent conduct of the State.

So what is the solution?

The solution

Solution lies not in converting any radical Communist to Gandhian non-violence, but in defeating plutocracy that has replaced democracy in India under cover of non-violence.

Plutocracy cannot be defeated by the so-called mainstream politics that endorses State-led violence but wants the victims thereof to stay non-violent.

Removal of plutocracy and restoration of democracy depends on class warfare and calls for people emerging fearless against the oppressive State in this war.

In this war, Sabyasachi appears to have stood so far with the poor and oppressed class that has declared “enough is enough”.

Whether or not he and/or the radical Communists in our land epitomize the ideal they vouch, is not known to me as yet. But what I know is that, these activists have made a tremendous contribution to evolution of fearlessness amongst the wretched and the exploited people against the oppressive system.

Any attempt to urge the radical Communists to renounce arms is clearly taking a position against the oppressed people who want to gnaw down the design of the rich, in their struggle for emancipation.

Election 2009: Returned Candidate’s Plea Rejected in the High Court, But Far Away is Justice for the Rejected Candidate

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

In the 2009 election for Orissa Assembly, Returning Officers were used to reject the nomination papers of candidates that were seemingly disadvantageous to the ruling party.

In only these pages, this aspect is discussed in matter of Ranendra Pratap Swain in Athgarh as an instance.

Exposed only in orissamatters.com, – no other media had touched this point – the ruling party, after defeat of its conspiracy in even the Supreme Court, in the Court caused reelection, had to make Swain its candidate again to save its face and to keep the Constituency under its clutch, as Swain was certainly to win.

North Bhubaneswar is another instance where the Returning Officer “improperly and illegally rejected” the nomination papers of promising candidate Gyanendra Kumar Tripathy as a result of which the ruling party candidate Bhagirathi Badajena could bag the seat.

Tripathy preferred an Election Petition (Election Petition No.8 of 2009) in the High Court of Orissa. Badajena adopted dilatory tactics by filing objection to its maintainability, which the Court registered as a Misc. Case (Misc. Case No.6 of 2010) and once the Misc. Case was registered, took several adjournments, though he was legally required to prove his points sans any delay. Had he not played the dilatory tactics, the Misc. Case as well as the Election Case could have been decided in 2010.

Badajena had coined his Misc. Case on false and baseless pleas; but as there were points of law, the Court could not instantly reject his objection and posted the case to hear him. he did not cooperate and continued to seek adjournments as a result of which so vast time had to elapse in deciding the Misc.Case.

Justice Indrajit Mohanty ultimately heard the Misc. Case on 12 March 2012 and has delivered his judgment on 18 April 2012.

He has rejected the pleas of Badajena (the returned candiade) in a brilliant analysis of all the points of law he had raised and the baseless allegation he had made in attempt to mislead the Court. As for example, absence of an affidavit in Form No. 25 was made a point of objection to Tripathy’s case, claiming that Section 81(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and Rule 94 of Election Rules make such affidavit in this particular Form an unavoidable must for maintenance of an Election Case. But this Form is a must only if the election dispute is raised on the ground of “corrupt practices” and not otherwise. “On a careful reading” (Para 13 of the judgment) of the election petition the Court found that “there is no specific allegation of “corrupt practice” made by the election petitioner. Justice Mohanty has clearly mentioned, “I am of the considered view that since the election petitioner has not made any allegation of corrupt practice in his election petition, there is no requirement for him to make any affidavit in Form No.25 of Election Rules, 1961”.

So, on basis of factuality and in analysis of points of laws such as on animo attestendi and “substantial compliance” of the requirement of Section 81(3) of the 1951 Act, Justice Mohanty has rejected Badajena’s questions on maintainability of the Election Despute raised by Tripathy.

So, the hindrance willfully created by the returned candidate to decision on the election dispute has been appropriately removed by the High Court of Orissa.

Justice for Tripathy should no more be delayed. The Court should now follow the precedence it has created in Athgarh case. Yet, as there is no specific election bench of the Court, we apprehend, justice for Tripathy is far away.

In this context, we again put our emphasis on the need of separate and specific Election Bench to give justice to election petitioners that are victims of the mischiefs played by the Returning Officers and other players that endanger Democracy.

THE AUGEAN STABLE OF INDIAN LETTERS

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Sahitya Akademi , hereinafter called Akademi, was created as India’s National Academy of Letters. But sadly it has become the Augean Stable of Indian letters.

We will examine only one aspect: its annual awards to the “most outstanding” books in Indian languages, which is its principal aspect; and see how in this aspect it has become the Augean Stable.

Primarily addressed to Orissa’s interests as orissamatters.com is, we will begin with and continue to examine the scenario juxtaposed with the latest Sahitya award given to a book in Oriya.

This book is a novel captioned ‘Achinha Basabhumi’.

We have exposed earlier, in these pages, how the book is a despicable one, absolutely ineligible for the award and how the selection of this book was vitiated by malpractice, manipulation, and contravention of Rules.

We are now to look at the response of the Akademi to post-selection protests to see to what extent its awards stink of corruption to make it an Augean Stable.

Corruption in selection of this book as the “most outstanding book” in Oriya language for Sahitya Award 2011 had come to the attention of Sahitya Akademi sufficient ahead of presentation of the same award. But, as the selection was deliberate, it ignored the allegation.

LAB member resigns in protest

When the award was to be given on February 14, 2012, prominent member of the Akademi’s Oriya Language Advisory Board (LAB), Barendra Krushna Dhal tendered his resignation on December 24, 2011 in protest against irregularities in selection of this book. His letter of resignation had exposed the irregularities in two fronts: (1) In selecting this book, six other eminent writers – highly creative and popular – were completely ignored and (2) As if the jury members were to sign on dotted lines, they were not given enough time for a sound selection, as they were given eleven books each to read, compare and evaluate all those books in about a week’s time which was practically impossible.

So, allegation of manipulation in selection of this book was known to the Akademi by December 24, 2011.

Protest of the preeminent
member of the Jury

There were three members in the Jury: Chandra Sekhar Rath, Srinibas Mishra and Debdas Chhotray. The Akademi had made it four membered by adding the Convener Bibhuti Pattanaik to the Jury list, and by imposing him on the Jury as its President free to intervene in works of the Jury and influence its decision by way of obstruction and permission, paving thereby the way for selection of this particular book. This apart, the convener allowed regional secretary of the Akademi to play a part in the decision of the Jury, in view of which the Jury was a de facto body of five members in place of three.

However, amongst these Jury members, only one man – Chandra Sekhar Rath -was the most distinguished and preeminent one, the primacy of whose placement in the Jury stems from the emphasis laid down by the Haksar Committee and hence, whose opinion should have counted the most.

We will come to the Haksar Committee later. This much can be said now that as the activities of the three central Akademis including Sahitya Akademi were generating constant and immense dissatisfaction, the Central Government had appointed a Committee headed by Dr. H. J. Bhabha in 1964 to review their activities. Again in 1970 another Committee was appointed under chairmanship of Justice G. D. Khosla to review their functioning including action taken on the Bhabha Committee report. As both these Committees were more ignored than honored, the Central Government had to appoint a ‘High-powered Review Committee’ (HPRC) headed by Sri P.N. Haksar in 1988 “to review the working of the three Akademis, along with their affiliates and subsidiaries and the NSD with reference to the objectives for which they were set up, and keeping in mind the recommendations of Committees set up in the past in this behalf”.

In reviewing the Awards governed and given by Sahitya Akademi, this high-powered Committee had emphasized on change of criteria in appointment of Jury. Under Para 9.48 of its report, the HPRC had stipulated that, “At least one member of the jury should be a Fellow of the Akademi or an author who had won a Sahitya Akademi Award in the past”, which the Akademi has conveyed to have accepted.

This implemented recommendation of the Haksar Committee makes it unambiguously clear that the member of the Jury who is there because of being a Fellow of the Akademi or a winner of Award of the Akademi, will be of basic and guiding importance in the Jury.

And in the Jury we are concerned with, Prof. Chandra Sekhar Rath was the only member who had won the Akademi Award in 1997 for his short story compilation ‘Sabutharu Dirgharati’. So he was the most distinguished, preeminent member.

Prof. Rath had vehemently opposed the selection of ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ till the last moment in the meeting of the Jury. When with Debdas Chhotray’s secondary support it became clear that the book was bound to be selected with majority support, he had signed on the sheet of recommendation just to save the jury from the embarrassment of being fractured.

However, there, after signing, he had cried out his protests, as admitted by the Convener and in the public, after the award was announced, he had openly divulged that the selection was fixed.

On January 3, 2012, his version came to public attention through an interview published in Sambad wherein he stated that the selection was stage-managed and he had to sign on dotted lines against his conscience. This allegation from the most distinguished member of the Jury was too serious to be ignored.

The LAB Convener Bibhuti Pattanaik who, besides being the official link between the Jury and the Akademi, had arbitrarily presided over the Jury to the extent of driving it into selection of this book, had taken cognizance of Rath’s interview in response to which he had published his comments in the same paper admitting, inter alia, that Rath had put his signature most reluctantly in the selection sheet after Chhotray’s second preference added to Mishra’s adamant preference made the selection sure for ‘Achihna Basabhumi’; after which he had also raised “strong protests” against the selection of that book.

This shows that on January 3, 2012, the Akademi was also notified of the controversy over the selection.

PIL in Orissa High Court

On February 2, 2012, the Orissa High Court, on admitting PIL case No. W.P.(C) 1871/2012, had imposed an interim injunction on presentation of the Award and issued notice to the OPs comprising (1) the Union Ministry of Tourism and Culture represented by its Secretary, (2) National Academy of Letters (Sahitya Akademi), (3) the Akademi Secretary, (4) Language Advisory Board (Odiya), (5) Bibhuti Pattanaik, convener of the Akademi, (6) Chandrasekhar Rath, Jury of the Akademi, (7) Ramkumar Mukhopadhyaya, regional secretary of the Akademi and (8) Smt. Kalpana Kumari Devi, authoress of the disputed book.

So, finally, the Akademi was notified of the irregularities in selection of this book by the High Court of Orissa on February 2, 2012 also.

Corruption all around

On being thus notified of corruption in selection of this book, it was expected of the Akademi to review the selection. But corruption was so much across it, that, instead of reviewing the cultivated recommendations of its jury for Oriya language, it defended its decision to present the award and got the stay vacated by misleading the court with suppression of vital facts as well as by taking recourse to technical grounds rather than relying on reality.

Had the Akademi reviewed the selection, it could have seen from its records that the book was selected through sheer manipulation and shrewd canvassing by its authoress through her integral part in matter of the book: the publisher, Girija Kumar Baliarsingh, who had caused insertion of this book in the list to be placed before the Jury at the last moment. The mischief of manipulation is inherent in the Annual Award Rules of the Akademi.

Rule against Rule

When Sub-Rule 1 of Rule 3 provides for enlistment of eligible books by an expert in the concerned language “strictly” conforming to the “criteria of eligibility” laid down in the Rules, Sub-Rule 3 makes the LAB members eligible not to accept the list prepared by the language expert and to recommend two books each as eligible for the award.

Yet again, under Sub-Rule 1 of Rule 4, a committee styled Preliminary Panel is created comprising ten members called ‘Referees’ , who, under Sub-Rule 3 thereof are empowered to change the list of eligible books compiled with recommendations received from the LAB members.

This is the last phase of the eligibility list for the award. Hereafter, the jury is to select the book.

Thus, the Preliminary Panel is the Final Panel for altering the list created on recommendations of the LAB members and the list created on its recommendation becomes the Final List to be placed before the Jury.

The publisher of ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ was in this Final Panel, misleadingly styled Preliminary Panel and was the only one on whose recommendation, this book which neither the language expert nor the Advisory Board members had recommended, was incorporated in the final list by the Akademi.

That the publisher of the book Girija Kumar Baliarsingh had obtained a berth in the final panel and made the book inserted in the final list by misusing his membership in that panel style ‘Preliminary Panel’ is revealed from records of the Akademi.

Asit Mohanty, an Akademi prized author and Editor of Publications (Eastern Media) had made certain queries under RTI on selection of this book. In reply to his query at Para 5 (c-viii), the Akademi has informed that, “the awarded book ‘Achinha Basabhumi’ was incorporated in the process of award at Preliminary Panel Stage” when to query at Para 5 (c-ix), it has said that, “Sri Girija Kumar Baliarsingh, one of the members of the Priliminary Panel, was (the) only (one, who) recommended the book ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ for Award.”

Award arranged through canvassing

The role of the Regional Secretary of the Akademi as well as that of the Convener in ensuring selection of this book for the award is discussed earlier in these pages. When read therewith, the role of the publisher of this book, as exposed now on the basis of records obtained from the Akademi under RTI, makes it clear that there was a meticulously calculated, canny, clever and keen canvassing for the award for ‘Achihna Basabhumi’.

The nakedness of canvassing is manifested in inclusion of the publisher of the book in the final panel.

It is up to the Akademi to reveal as to who of the Advisory Board had recommended publisher Baliarsingh for inclusion in the panel wherefrom he could insert the book in the final list.

And for this, it also should reveal, whose pressure it succumbed to in appointing this publisher as a referee and in ignoring all ethics to accommodate this particular referee’s solo recommendation at the last moment in final compilation of the eligible books for the award.

I am afraid, it will not; because the selection of this book was steered through lobbying, in sharp contravention of the rules and ethics within the knowledge of the Akademi officials and with their cooperation, participation and support.

Withdrawal of the Award is necessary

If the Akademi officials were not been involved with this offense, on receipt of Dhal’s letter of resignation from the Advisory Board on December 24, 2011, which was sent in protest against favoritism in selection, the Akademi, in order to find out if any illegality was really resorted to in selection of this book, could have immediately reviewed the entire gamut of selection, starting from the ground list to its vetting through the Advisory Board to screening thereof by referees in the final panel coined as preliminary panel and insertion of this book for the first time in the final list, beyond knowledge and jurisdiction of the Advisory Board, at the final stage on the solo recommendation of a referee who himself is the publisher of this book.

Had it been done, the clandestine canvassing by the writer could have been noticed as the publisher of a book and the writer thereof form a single unit in appearance of the book and steps could have immediately been taken to declare the book disqualified for the award.

Sub-Rule 5 of Rule 2 stipulates that, “A book shall be disqualified for the award if it is established to the satisfaction of the Executive Board that canvassing has been done by the author.”

Therefore the chief executive of the Akademi was duty bound to bring the allegation of favoritism in this book’s context to the knowledge of the Executive Board for their action against shadow canvassing by the authoress executed through her integral part in appearance of the book, the publisher.

But the chief executive of the Akademi did not do so.

The book, which is a despicable book as shown earlier in these pages and elsewhere could not be disqualified for the award before the award was presented.

After the award was presented, the role of the publisher – the integral part of the author in bringing out the book, was disclosed by the Akademi that connotes canvassing by the writer through the publisher.

Therefore the book deserves post-presentation disqualification for the award and hence the award needs to be withdrawn.

Jury members: timid or tamed?

Award to ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ could have been nullified/withdrawn had Jury member Chandra Sekhar Rath who has kept his post-announcement protests against the selection on records, been a bit honest; and if Debdas Chhotray who, in the Jury meeting, had primarily preferred another book, could have come forward to help people know the shenanigans that had preceded this selection.

There is no doubt that the Akademi officials are aggressive offenders of the very Rules, which provide for the award. But they are so very aggressive that, members of the LAB as well as of the Jury are afraid of disclosing where the shoe pinches lest that irritates the officials.

The High Court had served notices on the advisory board members through the Convener. Had they or any of them come forward to say that ‘Achihna Basabhumi’ was not in the list compiled on their recommendation, the court could not have said that the selection of this book was processed through “different expert Bodies and Committees …… formed by the National Sahitya Akademi to select the works of different authors”. And, might be, the wrong in holding this despicable book as “the most outstanding book” in Oriya language could have been corrected.

Supposing that the Convener suppressed the court notice and did not circulate the copy thereof amongst Board members, what about Chandrasekhar Rath, who had vehemently opposed the selection of this book for the award in the jury meeting itself and had, in his Sambad interview, given the impression that he had to sign on dotted lines for which his conscience was biting him bitterly and he was in deep remorse?

From the High Court verdict it transpires that he was personally notified of the case; but he did not respond.

Had he responded to the court notice and placed the facts he had divulged through the interview, the verdict of the court could certainly have not gone in favor of the Akademi and the stay on presentation of the award could not have been lifted; because the court could not have approved the illegalities resorted to in selection of this book.

Is Rath a timid fellow or was tamed by the Akademi after the Sambad interview to stay away from telling the court the truth? The answer is best known to him.

Tamed Tenacity?

It has been revealed even by the convener that when two of the members were against the awarded book, only one member of the three member jury, Srinibas Mishra, had declared at the start of the Jury meeting that he would never support any book other than ‘Achihna basabhumi’.

He is a retired person, too old for serious perusal and evaluation of so many books of so many diversities and genres in so small a time, such as a week, as LAB member Barendra Dhal has noted in his reported resignation letter.

Had he seriously read even one book, i.e. the book he so tenaciously supported, he could not have supported the book at all.

Because, a retired teacher like him could not have supported a book of filthy, insulting and obnoxious words hurled at people of lower castes, women, widows, and Muslims; a book of contempt against societal unity, against national integration and against progressive virtues.

Why he was so fixed for this particular book? Was it also an instance of tamed tenacity? This agonizing suspicion should be cleared. But, it may be clear if Mishra honestly gives a detailed account of how and why he found this book to be the “most outstanding book” of the period.

Debdas’ surprising silence

But the other member of the jury, Debdas Chhotray, who, at the beginning, had declared that none of the books in the final list was eligible for the award, had subsequently expressed his preference for a book other than ‘Achihna Basabhumi’. What happened that he helped this book with his second preference despite it being a despicable book, is a point of public interest.

Therefore I had sent him a properly explained questionnaire, which, had he answered, could have better helped in location of malpractice, if any, in selection of this book for the national award and in projection of a despicable book as “the most outstanding book” published in Oriya language. The questionnaire is perusable here. Why a man like Chhotray preferred not to cooperate is a conundrum.

Role of the Bar at India International Centre

However, a look into old files brings me into pages of Outlook India wherein well known Hindi writer Krishna Sobti was quoted to have said, “Undoubtedly, there is a literary mafia at work.”

How the mafia works? Says Sobti, “There is always a silent decision to promote someone or the other. It’s a circuit game barred to outsiders. Only a few have access to the India International Centre bar where so many things are decided.” (Outlook India, November 01, 1995)

If Jury members are gained over in bars such as at India International Centre, New Delhi, how can one expect of them any faithful adherence to Rules of the national award?

In the same discussion, Sheelbhadra, who also drew attention to the fact that a jury member had even claimed credit for ‘getting’ a particular writer his award, has said, “Personal factors obviously influence the selection of books by the language committees”.

Should we not know what Khushwant Singh has said in the same story?

In recalling his decision to quit the Sahitya Akademi’s award panel after a writer, whom he had reported for lobbying for her book, not only got the award but even declared her husband would get one the following year, Singh has said, “The kind of lobbying that goes on is shocking. In particular, there is a rampant scandal in Punjabi awards. I can’t think of a single Akademi award-winning book that has been commercially successful: they are simply unreadable.”

And, who can say, the India International Centre bar is barred to Punjabi writers?

Sanctuary of literary mafia

In their well documented write up captioned ‘Literary Mafia’ Amit Prakash and Y.P.Rajesh have exposed how award fixers are ruling the roost in the Sahitya Akademi.

“A talented Indian language writer today would need to be both influential and old, if not dead, before he is read and formally recognized by ……… the Sahitya Akademi.

“Though it is still a gentleman’s game compared to the vicious politicking, scandals and goondaism that plague the art world, the fortune and fame of many Indian writers are determined by a well-entrenched literary mafia in Delhi. A society for mutual admiration, it is a close knit group of ‘established writers’ and writer-bureaucrats who lord over vast networks of patronage. Outsiders stand little chance of breaking into this circuit and stumble in either by default or for sheer want of a favorite in a particular category or language”.(Ibid)

Exposure by Chittaranjan Das

Famous essayist and author, late Chittaranjan Das has described his experience as a member of the jury of the Akademi in Pragativadi dated June 30, 2003.

When, to avoid canvassing, it is a must for the Akademi to keep secret the names of the Jury members and this secrecy is so absolutized that no member of the Jury can know who the other members are, Das has revealed in his write-up, how he was approached by the other two members of the jury one by one and pressurized by both of them to select a particular book to ensure the award for a particular person.

Even a close friend of Das, who was not in the Jury, was used to pressurize him in support the same book, Das has said.

He has even revealed that both the other members of the Jury having decided ahead of the Jury meeting to select that particular book, his signature was formally collected by an officer of the Akademi on the sheet of paper reflecting the pre-session decision.

If Akademi officials were not involved with such award fixing, how could Das be known as a member of the Jury to others and how other two members could be gained over to have selected the book even before the Jury met?

This stripping of the Akademi by the eminent essayist, who was revered not only as a great litterateur but also as a paragon of Gandhian virtues, makes it clear that the Akademi of letters has become a sanctuary of literary mafia.

The allegation that the Convener had made

It reminds me of how in the matter of Sahitya Award-2004, in a public function of the Akademi itself at Balasore on 8 February 2010, its Convener Bibhuti Pattanaik had set the State’s literary environment ablaze by claiming that the climate of corruption prevalent in the country has also affected the nation’s highest awards for literature.

As an instance, in a conniption, he had exposed how Prafulla Mohanty had succeeded in bagging that award by bribing Jury member Manoranjan Das, with dismaying details.

It is an irony that with the same Bibhuti Pattanaik continuing as the Convener, the Award-2011 has gone to a despicable book by manipulation through illicit nexuses!

What else than the wrong practices of entertaining award-fixers in the Akademi could be responsible for this?

Awardee known
four months ahead of selection

As reported on 27 December 2007, an open appeal to the Central Culture Minister was made by eminent writers including Mahasweta Devi, Krishna Sobti, Ashok Vajpeyi, Vishnu Khare, J.P.Das, Pratibha Ray,and Ajit Cour to save the Akademi from the labyrinth of irregularities and from the grip of award fixers.

But amongst these signatories, there is one such writer who had bagged the award by manipulation!

Four months ahead of announcement of the award,former Secretary of Orissa Sahitya Akademi Dr. Hara Prasad Paricha Pattanaik had told me the name of who would get the award. And, when this particular person got the award, to what extent procurement of the award has become easier for the unscrupulous became crystal clear. In a different context, in a 2007 discussion, I have kept this information on records in these pages.

Multiple devices

“Controversies around awards in other Indian languages are not as loud as those in Hindi, which drag in all sorts of isms — cronyism, casteism, political affiliation, ideology”, says Neelabh Mishra in Outlook India of March 08, 2010.

So, not only New Delhi’s India International Centre bar, but also multiple devices like bribe, cronyism, casteism, political affiliation, ideology et cetera are in active use in selection of books for Sahitya Award.

Chronic corruption

Who but the intelligent persons can be writers and, as writers, aspire for national awards? But it also is a fact that whosoever is corrupt, is intelligent.

Like birds of the same feather, intelligent people may flock together without the risk of being easily caught for differences in avocational genre.

So in the Akademi, there is always a generic nexus between the intelligent ones with literary aspirations and the intelligent ones who thrive on corruption. Resultantly, corruption is chronic in the Akademi.

Salvaging attempts screwed up

Attempts were made to salvage the Akademi from this labyrinth in 1964 by reviewing its activities though a Committee headed by Dr. H. J. Bhabha and again in 1970 though another Committee headed by Justice G. D. Khosla. As findings thereof had no impact on the Akademi, a high-powered Committee headed by P. N. Haksar was appointed in 1988 about which we have already mentioned. This being a high-powered Committee, action on its recommendations was supposed to be sure. But mafia ruling the roost in Akademi matters screwed it up.

Parliamentary Standing Committee does a dig

With a Communist Sitaram Yechury at the helm, the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture thought it prudent to look at the functioning of the autonomous cultural bodies including the Akademi and in the process stumbled upon the Haksar Committee report ignored by the Akademi, abandoned by the Government and buried under dusts of time. It had to force the Ministry to retrieve the report, but it failed to find if any action was taken thereon; because, the concerned files were reported to be missing.

In introducing how it stumbled upon the Haksar Committe report, the Standing committee says, “The Committee had received inputs from various quarters, governmental and nongovernmental including Media, about the working of our premier cultural bodies – Sangeet Natak Akademi, Sahitya Akademi, Lalit Kala Akademi and National School of Drama. The issues ranged from their constitution, composition, mandate and mainly their general functioning. It was felt that most of these institutions were not able to live up to the original mandates set out by their founding fathers. Controversies of different kind involving these institutions that keep cropping up from time to time, had caught this Committee’s attention. Questions were also raised about the indifference and helplessness shown by the Ministry of Culture to do anything in the face of autonomy enjoyed by these institutions.(Para 23)

“In view of this, the Committee wanted to find out if these institutions set up during the initial years, were able to make the desired contribution towards enriching, promoting and preserving our arts and culture”. (para 24)

“To begin with, the Committee prepared a questionnaire and sent to the Ministry of Culture for furnishing replies, based on which it could begin its deliberations. During the deliberations, the Committee came to know that similar sentiments about the functioning and activities of these institutions had existed even during the sixties and thereafter, which is why different Committees had to be set up for going into their working”.(Para 25)

Files gone missing

The Standing Committee came to know of three different Committees constituted for the purpose in the past, the last being the Haksar Committee, which was a “High-Powered Review Committee” created for the purpose of salvaging the Akademis.

It “asked for a copy of this High-Powered Committee Report (Haksar Committee) from the Government and it was surprised to know that files relating to action taken to most of its recommendations had gone missing and the Ministry of Culture was trying to locate them. However, a copy of the Haksar Committee Report was furnished to this Committee. The recommendations/observations of this Committee (Haksar Committee), in fact, were an eye-opener to this Committee that were found to be as relevant today as they would have been more than two decades ago when it was submitted to the Govt. of India in the year 1990”, the Parliamentary Standing Committee has noted at Para 26 of in its report tabled in the Parliament on 17 August 2011.

Decision of the Standing Committee

Convinced of the relevance of the Haksar Committee report, which was produced on the basis of in-depth scrutinization of “the records of the institutions including the agenda and proceedings of their policy-making bodies, executive and academic bodies and internal committees” on the one hand; and on the other hand its interaction “across section of people active in the fields of performing and visual arts, language and literature, education and cultural administration over the country”, but was lying abandoned, the Standing Committee “felt that it would be unnecessary duplication of efforts and resources for the Parliamentary Committee to start another exercise of reviewing the working of these institutions as it had initially decided”.

Therefore, the Committee “took a decision to review the implementation of the recommendations of the Haksar Committee and report its observations/recommendations to Parliament which might sensitize the Government, Akademis, NSD and the people at large, about the significance as well as the neglect of these bodies in our nation’s life”. (Para 28-29)

Concerned as we are only with the Sahitya Akademi in this essay, we will look into the affairs only of this Akademi as mentioned in the Standing Committee Report to the extent that is relevant to the topic in our hand: the Annual Sahitya Awards.

At Para 9.46 of its report, the HPRC headed by Haksar had observed, “The Sahitya Akademi needs to take note of the general dissatisfaction regarding the present system of deciding its annual awards.” To query of the Parliamentary Committee on this point, the Akademi refused to agree to this, as there has been no objection over its present system of selection.

The Standing Commiittee has refused to accept the the version of the Akademi. It has noted, “The Committee endorses the recommendation of the HPRC and is of the view that selection process is not without any controversy. It is true about Sahitya Akademi award also. What is needed is to follow a very transparent and comprehensive selection process with least scope for favoritism, etc. The existing selection process may be re-examined accordingly and intimated to the Committee.”

The Haksar Committee had further said that, “The juries must apply the most exacting standards. If no book or author in any given language comes up to the mark, no prize need be awarded. The existing guideline to this effect should be strictly enforced.” (Para 9.51 of its report) To query of the Standing Committee on this count, the Akademi said that the recommendation has been “implemented” and the Standing Committee took note of it. But as shown in this chain of discussions in these pages, it is clear that the recommendation is observed more in violation than implementation. Corruption has engulfed the entire process.

“Our conventional wisdom says that a society bereft of art, music and literature will consist of people as good as animals with no horns and tails. The main challenge before us today is to protect and promote our tangible and intangible cultural assets at a right perspective.” The Parliamentary Standing Committee had introduced its report with this note.

Challenge remains a challenge

But the challenge has remained a challenge. The Akademi has remained the Augean Stable of Indian letters, as is established by award to ‘Achihna Basabhumi’.

It is time, the Standing Committee of the Parliament, in this context, should find time , to review the implementation of its views. And, the sooner it is done, the better.