Monday, January 11, 2010

Interview with Music Director Bikas Sukla By Subrat Swain

Interview with MP & Orissa Youth Congress President Pradip Majhi By Subrat Swain

Feature on Hukitola By Subrat Swain

Special Report On Editor-Politician By Subrat Swain

Interview With Cine-Director Chhita Ranjan Tripathy By Subrat Swain

Interview with Music Director Sumanta Mohanty By Subrat Swain

Interview with Indian Women Football Team Captain Sradhanjali Samantarray By Subrat Swain

Interview with actor SAMRESH by Subrat Swain

Interview With Actress Prakruti Mishra By Subrat Swain

Interview With Finance Minister Of Orissa Prafulla Ghadai By Subrat Swain

Interview With senior congress Leder and Ex Minister Of Orissa Nalinikanta Mohanty By Subrat Swain

Interview With Revenue Minister of Orissa Manmohan Samal by Subrat Swain

Interview With Music Director Manmath Mishra By Subrat Swain

Interview With Popular Odissi Dancer Kavita Diwedi By Subrat Swain

Interview With Bollywood Singer KRISHNA by Subrat Swain

Interview With Agriculture Minister of Orissa Dr Damadora Rout By Subrat Swain

Interview With EX- CM of Orissa Giridhara Gamanga By Subrat Swain

Interview with Asam Governer J.B.Pattanayak By subrat Swain

Friday, January 8, 2010

Penniless Pride By Subrat Swain

He continues to remain unsung and unnoticed. Neither the present generation nor the sports policy makers might have heard this name. Seikh Babu, Orissa’s ace footballer of yesteryears, who once wove magic by dribbling past defenders in soccer field is now fighting a seemingly uneven battle both against poverty and dreaded cancer.

This man in crepuscule of life is divulged and depressed. His stint with Orissa football team was for more than a decade. He had represented Orissa in Santosh Trophy from 1964 onwards. But that did not ensure his bread and butter. With a decent job on sports quota remaining elusive, Babu in sheer desperation had taken to butchery. Many see him selling meat on the streets of Cuttack, the erstwhile capital city of Orissa. Now with throat cancer he battles against heavy odds to survive. For laurels in football field, the state government however continues to dole out a miserly sum of Rs 1,500 as monthly pension! But is it enough?

The plight of Babu, the elderly footballer, has enough ingredients to jolt human emotion. But it has failed to stir up those at the helm of sports administration in the Orissa government.

Neglect, lack of recognition and financial insecurity are perennial features that have come to stay with sports in Orissa. The sorry plight of the ailing footballer from Cuttack city is not the solitary example. There are many, both from the past and present, achievers in spheres of sports who are often meted out raw deal.

Take the case of Sashmita Mallick. The women footballer, who represented country, is now in frantic search for a job as her football career is reaching its fag end. The dalit girl hails from Aul region of Orissa’s Kendrapara district, which has churned out over a dozen of skilled women footballers. But future insecurity continues to haunt them. Yudhistir Mallik, father of Sashmita, a plumber by profession had pinned much hopes for her daughter getting a government job in return for her services to state’s women football.

Likewise the predicament of rowing champion Mina Madhuri Topo, Women Power lifter Gitarani sasmal, Men Power Lifter Purna Chandra Bidika, Boxer Hrudananda Biswal and Footballer Mamali Das, athlete Namita Kabat are more or less the same.

From being lauded on the podium to ‘penniless’ struggle against cancer or standing in serpentine queues before the PDS ration shops, Orissa presents glaring as well as a classic tale of how it preferentially treats its non cricketing sports persons. The cricket stars like Debashis Mohanty, Siba Sundar Das who represented Team India and scores of other cricketers are proud job holders both in government and corporate sectors.
“ Such instances reveals the Government’s step mother attitude towards non cricketing sports,” reacted Bhagyadhar Jagdev, a sports organizer.

Last year, Mamali Das was selected to represent India in a championship organized by the Asian football confederation in Vietnam, but failed to obtain her passport on time. The reason was pathetic. She is an orphan and therefore could not submit the required documents to obtain passport.

Although a regular player of under-13 National Women Football Team, but Mmali is in crossroads between stadium and slum. She has no shed to stay, no earnings for livelihood. But Government has not extended their helping hand for Mamali, a slum-orphan Footballer. Growing up at an orphanage of Bhubaneswar and getting trained under ace footballer Sradhanjali Samantray and coach Nanda kishore Pattanayak, inspite of all odds Mamali expresses, "I feel very sad that I did not get the love and affections of my parents. But I no more live in past and am sure I will do well in football and make my Nation proud by my hard work."

Mamali’s misery reminds those words of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, which he had lauded immediately after voted for a consecutive third term, “this victory is the impact of success of my government’s pro-poor programmes, that includes several safety-nets for the BPL population of Orissa like Two Rupee Rice Scheme, Gopabandhu Pension Yojna, and Mo Kudia Yojna (Housing scheme for poor) etc.” Though living under the nose of administration, Mamali still have no roof to stay. It really an irony.
How come the government success fails to give security to those poverty-stridden achievers who shed their lives to bring name and fame for their state and country?

Case of Purna Bidika, a silver medal winner in World Power Lifting Championship in South Africa in 2005, is also analogous. However Bidika manages to get a job of a messenger in a private bank to earn his bread and butter after several futile efforts to get a government job. A boxer of national repute, Dinabandhu Behera of Puri, who holds second position in All India Boxing Championship in 1968, died for starvation in last June. Whole town melted with sympathy. But nobody extended their helping hand to Dinabandhu while he was wandering penniless. Poverty and lack of financial support from Government forced him into begging and later he turned mad. Is this what he was deserving?

" After successful climbing of Mount Everest I met the Chief Minister and requested for a public sector job. Naveen Babu assured me and even he wrote a letter to NALCO in this regard. So far NALCO authorities have not taken any positive step. " Women mountaineer Kalpana Dash laments her experience, when asked about job opportunities for sports persons.

Can we hope for better? Would things change?

In 1985, the Government of Orissa had adopted a policy that one percent of the jobs in the Government and public sector organizations will be kept reserved for deserving sportsmen representing the State subject to their meeting the minimum educational requirements. But this policy seems to be adopted in pen and papers only. An official maintaining anonymity told TSI, ‘you may not even find a proper list of sports persons who have availed government jobs so far or applied for the job in Sports Directorate itself. When the amount of opening in government job is in double digit or less, then question of sports quota does not arise. This 1% reservation is a misnomer, just an eye wash.’ Senior Journalist and Sports Organiser Sambit Mohapatra say, “unfortunately, 30 of our sportspersons having notable achievement in international level are playing from other states or corporate houses. As government has failed to provide employment inside the state, the talents produced from Orissa have been migrated to other states which ultimately affects our performance in various sporting events.”

BJD legislator and a former sports person Subrat Tarai says, ‘ as this policy of reservation has failed to achieve its objective, government should adopt new ways to promote sports and sportsmen in the state. For instance, sportsmen can be provided facilities to become entrepreneurs through State Employment Mission. As this mission is developing specialized skills among youths to become self employed.’

Be it Footballer Sashmita Malick, Power lifter Purna Bidika or Everest winner Kalpana Dash, hundreds of sports persons who dare to think big for their country inspite of poverty, their plight remains the same. The pride that comes from winning laurels for the country soon goes bust when faced with such negligence and indifference. Their faith in the system has begun to waver.

“ Orissa has only one power centre – Naveen power centre ’’ Dr. Damodar Rout Agriculture Minister, Orissa

As the Panchayati Raj minister in Biju Patnaik and Naveen Patnaik governments, his performance was praised by all. Though Dr Damodar Rout has been accommodated in the Naveen Patnaik ministry this time too, he has not been lucky enough to get his favourite portfolio. But he has taken this in his stride, claiming that he is ready to face new challenges in the changed portfolios. In a candid discussion with SUBRAT SWAIN, the senior Orissa leader talked about his plans for the new responsibilities and his relations with who’s who in the state politics.

Q: You are quite popular as a Panchayati Raj minister throughout India. Even, central govt, while taking any decision, prefers to consult you. But in the third term Naveen Patnaik government, you did not get your favourite portfolio. What is your reaction?
Ans: I have no reaction in this matter. You know, allocation of portfolios is the prerogative of any Chief Minister. So he has done what he thought was fit to do.

Q: But you got Agriculture and Co-operative department instead of the Panchayati Raj portfolio. Some critics say that the CM has given you less important portfolios. Is it right?
Ans: Who says that Agriculture and Co-operatives portfolios are less important than others? It is true that I enjoyed substantial popularity as Panchayati Raj minister, nevertheless the Agriculture department is more important than the Panchayati Raj (portfolio). The CM has a special agenda in mind and that’s why I have been entrusted with these portfolios.
Q: So, what is the special agenda of chief minister ?
Ans: As you know, the industries are growing at a rapid pace in Orissa these days. The state is attracting massive investments. But this is also likely to create a chasm in the state because not every individual or group will benefit from this development. Just as one group will benefit from industrial growth by getting jobs or entering into businesses, there will in all likelihood be another group which won’t get any benefits from this process. This, in turn, will create the sense of injustice in their minds. So keeping this possibility in mind, the state government has decided to enhance the economic status of farmer. Orissa is agricultural state and majority of the farmers in the state are small farmers. For this reason, the CM has entrusted me with agriculture department, along with co-operatives. I think, it has a vital role to play in building a better Orissa.

Q: What are the key challenges before you after getting the agriculture berth ?
Ans: Let me clarify first, we are a paddy- surplus state in India. In current year, we have 9 lakh tonnes of surplus rice. But at the same time Orissa is suffering due to insufficient production and supply of Dal (pulses), fish and vegetables. We are always dependent on procurement of these from neighbouring state. So along with the paddy cultivation, we are giving priority now to produces more fish, dal and vegetable. We want to balance the supply of paddy on one hand and that of dal and vegetables on other hand. Now we are encouraging farmers to garden farming. Because as far as geological and environmental aspects are concerned, Orissa is the best place for garden farming.

Q: The ruling party members criticised Central government on fertilisers issue. But you didn’t share their views on this matter. Is there a difference of opinion between party members on this issue?
Ans: Did I praise the central government? I only said that we have sufficient quantity of fertilisers to fulfil our needs at present and we are only trying to get 1 Lakh tonnes of surplus fertilisers from central government. We have not been harassed by the Central govt. till date so right now we have no reason to blame them over this issue.

Q: Union Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, during his visit to Orissa, advised people to prepare Basmati rice rather than boiled rice. Why didn’t you react at that time?
Ans: Exactly. What he said is fact. We produce more boiled rice than non-boiled rice. Whereas other states produce non-boiled rice to suit their consumption pattern. Therefore , if we want to sell our rice we have to produce more non-boiled rice.

Q: Some critics say, that paddy is underpriced in the state because practically there are no takers for it due to Naveen Patnaik government’s 2 rupees/kg rice scheme. What do you have to say on this?
Ans: I don’t think there is any relation between paddy being underpriced and the state government’s rice supply scheme. But we are examining the situation and I have given order to co-operative societies and agencies to collect paddy from farmer.

Q: Most farmers are poor in Orissa. What steps have been taken by the govt. to improve their condition?
Ans: We are emphasising upon loans. We have a better understanding of the financial condition of the farmers in Orissa. If we give low-interest loans to farmers, it will help them produce more paddy.

Q: After getting the agriculture portfolio, how you will tackle the POSCO problem?
Ans: Though, POSCO project area is not covered in my new assembly constituency, but this area falls in my native place Erasama. I think there is no problem whatsoever. Some people, influenced by outside forces, are opposed to the project. But Naveen govt. is still trying to resolve the issue amicably.

Q: There are two power centres in Jagatsinghpur district. Comment.
Ans: I think there is only one power centre in orissa, that is Naveen power centre. There is no meaning of any other power centre.

Q: Some analysts believed that you won’t get party ticket during elections because of the serious differences you earlier had with BJD’s chief strategist Pyarimohan Moha-patra. What will you say ?
Ans: Quite frankly, there were no problems between us till now, nor would there be any in the future. In a political party, there is bound to be difference of opinion with your colleagues but we never allowed them to degenerate into heartburn(manantar). Both Pyari babu and myself are working hard for BJD.