An Odia’s rant against Odia(s)

Well how much of Odia is left within us? How much of Odisha do we know that we want to defend ourselves? Well this blog has nothing to do with what Mr. Markandey Katju said, but it certainly has to do with everyone who consider themselves to be an Odia suddenly and had that surge of love for the motherland to give vent to their rant and ire. Since many years, every now and then I have come across articles and write ups where how beautifully we talk about our ‘past’ glory and try to show pity on people who have no idea of what Odisha is or where it lies in the geographical map. I have attended seminars and lectures and if those had anything to do with art, literature or culture it starts with the same alaap of ‘past’ glory of Odisha and ends with that.

To hell with those who have such poor knowledge of India’s geography to consider Odisha as a place in Bengal or whatever. And to hell with those thinkers who live in the “past” glory of Odisha and wear it on their sleeves, rolled inside out.

Amongst all the social media rants a gentleman wrote his first open letter to Mr. Markandey Katju where he made it clear to Mr. Katju that how our brave warriors brought back the then “past” glory post Kalinga war. But what about today my dear friend. We are being thrashed because of our own people in all departments. Lets not get hyper by mere usage of tough words. Think over it. If one speaks about Nandita Das, Nila Madhab Panda as Odisha’s contribution – (with all due respect to them) what do they have to do about being Odia or for Odisha? They have nothing to do with this state. Just having an association with Odisha because of hereditary lineage should not make us all the more excited. Lets figure out what is happening for Odisha by people residing here. I am also proud of Nandita Das garnering all the accolades both nationally or internationally but then that’s totally on a different aspect. If one talks about Haldar Nag – I admit I have not read his poems and I am ashamed of myself. But how many who have been ranting in defense of Odisha have read his work? A deserving icon of Odisha but talk this to the teenage children in good schools and they will draw a blank face. And of course we have an ‘intelligent’ king who without being there is there for almost 20 years.

I strongly believe it is “us” more than “them” whom are to be blamed. Take for example the reporters from Odisha (I know there are some who do the tough job with all sincerity but they are again countable) – one interaction and you know how ill-educated they are – not in terms of qualification but qualitatively. They come to cover a film festival and they ask anyone roaming outside a few details, take a screenshot of the banner hanging outside and the next day the article is out. How many reviews are being written about books, films and other so called creative pieces of work from the state? Why is the mainstream media not screaming like hell on the intellectually hollow outputs by citing our “past” glory?

Take the example of our education system here – with the govt schools performing below par with the private ones. And the so called middle class who have always looked towards foreign language/foreign learnings (read here english and anything that is western generally) to be the first steps towards their child’s success. What will poor Odia do then in spite of being given the title of a classical language? What exactly we and the government have done for its promotion – large scale acceptance and development. Simply stating the fact that Odia is a classical language is not going to gain us new grounds. The poets, the writers, the creative filmmakers are all buried in past. There are no new icons of Odisha, and whoever here is doing their bit are struggling. You speak to the publishers they say there are no readers and hence no more Odia writers. Look at the student community and observe what are the things that they keep themselves engaged with generally and you would know we are not staring at a bright future for the state.

Look at the quality of films we make even after a golden period of 80’s and early 90’s. Makers say there are no good quality viewers. You go and open any Odia TV channel – soaps or reality shows and if you pass 5 seconds without screaming, you should win the Nobel Intellectual Prize. The cheapness and sleaze that has cropped into our songs, cinema and attitude is certainly laughable and we expect Odia should be loved as a classical language when we are only demeaning it.

Where are our icons for next generation, be it in literature, science, medicine, art, dance, music sculpting, painting, film making,sports? Someone with world class qualitative abilities yet belonging to this very land in life and spirit. Someone like Sudarshan Patnaik but unfortunately he is a lesser know personality than say an anchor from any popular Odia reality show. Other names we come up is far and between? They (like Dutee Chand, Padmini Rout) are doing their best but are we really identifying with them. Are our children considering them as role models or someone else from Bollywood? We are so happy with an Odia’s success outside – what about our own success stories for this land? When it comes to singing we identify with Bollywood songs, when it comes to dance we identify with bollywood dance. How much of our roots have we explored? Where is our origin, who am I in this vast land of mountains and temples?

Anyone who have acquired education or success elsewhere are unwilling to return back here (well nothing personal as it is an individual’s aspiration). But there is hardly an urge for questioning, debating or discussing. You prod people to speak up on issues and they will find this new proposal to be an alien subject. There is a film society that screen films from across the globe round the year for a mere 800 INR annual fees, yet 10 – 15 people will what turn up. If the people are not open to new ideas, to new concepts or new thoughts then how shall a state evolve. The people merely love with whatever they have with no desire to push the boundaries. A nap in the afternoon is all we need.

There is a serious need to groom a culture here. I wonder who all are willing to take this responsibility. 

In a general euphoria we talk with over enthusiasm for our state. However it is important though to reflect within ourselves and respond to Mr. Katju’s comments and people with similar thoughts by our work than anything else. And it is essential that we come forward as individuals to support original creations, honest creators and become collaborators with them irrespective of any external acknowledgement.

Until we become more of an Odia – loving, promoting and working for Odisha, we can fight and rant as much as we want to shed away the images of being a poor cousin of someone or being geographically placed in some unfortunate corner or making someone apologize who may have just shown us the mirror.

P.S.

1. No apologies to anyone who may have been hurt; its my interpretation of facts.

2. People who are working hard here would surely understand the satires.

3. There are too many aspects to be talked about that could not be accomodated.

4. Yes, there are many good things about “my” Odisha – but I feel its important first to attend to the things that are not right.

5. This blog is meant for ‘matured’ audience.

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