• Film ‘Anvesan’ on the life & works of Fakir Mohan Senapati was telecast on DD Bharti in January, 2012 following the cultural event of Fakir Mohan Foundation held on 4th January, 2012 at Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.
• Film ‘Anvesan’ directed by Dr. Monica Das was screened at the J.D. (Padma Bhushan Jatin Das) Centre, Bhubaneswar, Odisha in January, 2012.
• A Fakir Mohan Senapati award was instituted by Odisha Peoples Unity Council , New Delhi. This is headed by the Prof Ajay Patnaik of JNU. The working president is advocate of Delhi High court Mr Santosh Km Sahu. On the 31st January, 2012 at a function organized in the Contitution Club, Rafi Marg, New Delhi, the award was given posthumously to Shri Gauri Shankar Rai who was a towering personality of Odisha – a worthy son of the soil. He made tremendous contribution to the state of Odisha.
• The keynote address for the occasion was given by Shri Namvar Singh the Pre-Eminent Hindi scholar writer and thinker, who reminded the audience that Fakir Mohan Senapati is acknowledged as the pioneer novelist (social realism) and short story writer of Indian literature. The Hon’ble Justice of Supreme Court also addressed the gathering on the occasion and came out with thought provoking and insightful comments on Vyasya Kavi Fakir Mohan Senapati.
• Padmashree P. S. Parikh, President Bar Association, Supreme Court, also graced the occasion and expressed his support for the organization and addressed the gathering.
• Shri Ram Ch Khuntia., member of parliament, also spoke at length and he alongwith Professor Namvar Singh and others congratulated Dr. Monica Das on instituting the Fakir Mohan Foundation. She was felicitated on that occasion.
( In view of the dying use of the regional language amongst the younger generation in particular, FMF wishes to launch a movement to encourage children to
take more interest in the Odiya language –their mother tongue).
We in India might be boasting about our Economic growth rates and geopolitical rise, but have lost sight of the deep weaknesses that plague our society and one of them is the education system. Let's face it, our school system, vocational system, colleges and universities are in shambles. Most alarming is the fact of the dying use of regional languages and above all one's own mother tongue amongst the youth of today. This is in view of the increasing use of English and Hindi. All this is market driven which has its own importance but the question is why should it be at the cost of one's own language. After all language is synchretic. Many languages can be handled simultaneously.
World statistics states that every fortnight one language goes extinct. As for Odisha, a survey conducted by ACER reveals that only 33% of students in Odisha use their mother tongue in the course of their education. Now coming to the issue of culture which is inextricably linked to education, it is but common knowledge that in order to understand our culture we need to understand our own language. It is only our own language that helps us to appreciate the richness and the subtle nuances of our culture and tradition. Saving the language is part of our cultural survival. Besides it is a community and heritage issue.
Fakir Mohan Senapati as all Odiyas know in one who saved the Odiya language from extinction. Had it not been for his untiring efforts against all odds, we Odiyas today, perhaps, would not have had our separate and unique identities (all this is portrayed in the 5min clipping from my film ANVESAN made on FM Senapati which I would be presenting today for your benefit). Many other luminaries of Odissa later joined the movement and made their contributions and sustained it. Our special tribute to all those noble souls.
Fakir Mohan Foundation(FMF), is trying to carry this legacy forward, because we are now placed in that kind of a juncture where the mother tongue is facing a serious threat once again. So it is but imperative for us to address this issue and promote, protect and preserve the use of the language with all earnestness. This is what FMF is striving for. It seeks the co-operation of OSA and such other esteemed organizations and urges them to come forward, join the movement and help. We have worked out various steps (We have Fakir Mohan University, Balasore, the Odisha Govt and in due course maybe Unesco to help us in our venture). The prepared module and logistics is proposed to be discussed in the course of my presentation.
To put the whole matter in context and additionally to give it an expert perspective, I would like to quote "A language is not just words it is a culture, a tradition, unification of a community, a whole history that creates what a community is. Its all embodied in a language" Noam Chomsky.
Then as a tribute to our forefathers, especially here in this context of Fakir Mohan Senapati, i would like to quote- "To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors, by records of history".-Cicero, Quator(46BC).
The use of language in Odisha is in a very deplorable state. Statistics reveals that only 33% of students use the language in their formal education . Besides, linked to the language issue is the economic issue. Infact many of the Economic policy practitioners in International financial institutions like the World bank and the IMF have begun to look towards cultural factors as key variables explaining successful transition strategies. Language is Synchretic and is more than just words. So the language movement is from all aspects a viable proposition .
The module that we have in mind is as follows. 1/We have thought of working on language related activities as an integral part of the various local religious festivals.2/ Organise games and competitions woven around the mother tongue regional language for children (age group – 7 to 15) during the local festivities and otherwise.3/ Hold workshops periodically in schools and colleges with participation from retired professors and teachers on a voluntary basis.4/ Gram Baithaks (language sessions in rural areas).5/ Lec Dems through cultural programs can be organized using dance & the local music.6/ Social marketing can also be resorted to with the help of street plays & jatras.7/ Providing mobile libraries would definitely go a long way in promoting and sustaining the use of the languages. 8/ The cause of retired /senior citizens occupational issue can also be integrated with the language issue. This group could be meaningfully engaged by way of providing language training or even conducting story telling sessions for children. This can be highly cost effective.9/Volunteers can be mobilized to generate interest in the language by giving lectures in different schools on various topics.10/ FMF’s agenda of imparting exposing children to the Odiya language and popularizing reading Of Odiya literature can be woven with the developmental work of interested NGO’s. One NGO that we have in mind is CYSD of Bhubaneswar. This can have special application in the rural and far flung areas of Odisha.
FMF also proposes to have at higher level (University level) indepth studies on comparative Indian literature. Sahitya Akademi also has offered to support us in this venture. We have already spoken to some Vcs as well as leading publishing houses in Delhi for organizing projects based on these.
The intertextuality of fiction and life is sought to be explored through the envisaged Book Readings on the myriad genre of Fakir Mohan Senapati’s works.
The complex nature of issues dealt with in Fakir Mohan Senapati‘s works, is going to be explored by FMF through interactive panel discussions, especially in the context of : • Intersection of Caste and Class • Representation of Women • Other– Vernacular Texts
FMF also intends to have workshops on writing skills by deconstructing the myriad nature of Fakir Mohan Senapati’s plays, essays, short stories, novels etc. These activities are being planned in collaboration with universities in Delhi; Sarojini Naidu Centre for Women’s Studies, Jamia Milllia Islamia, New Delhi, Delhi University (and its various Colleges) Literature and Languages Departments, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Guru Gobind Singh University & IGNOU amongst others to explore the gender quotient in academics.
We have already put in our appeal to the post & telegraphs department Government of India for bringing out a stamp on Manav Dharma with Fakir Mohan’s picture and name.
Somebody rightly remarked “Religion does not seem an infallible way of finding either wisdom or solace but I think it’s a great way of finding humility & realising how small you are in the larger scheme of things and how much lies far beyond one’s understanding.
It’s a training at least in traditions in mystery and remembering how little you know.”
But the ‘Religion of Humanism’-MANAV DHARM, is perhaps the call of the day.Promoting ‘Manav Dharma’ (The religion of humanism) figures majorly in FMF’s agenda. We have already put in our appeal to the post & telegraphs department Government of India for bringing out a stamp on Manav Dharma with Fakir Mohan’s picture and name. This is under process & would need your patronage for it to happen. We have a logo prepared on the theme and we would be treating it as our event logo hereafter for all our events, besides using the main FMF logo.
Fakir Mohan Senapati stood for religious unity and he practiced what he preached. He embraced Christianity and Brahmoism, his strong beliefs in Hinduism notwithstanding. He along with Madhusudan Das & Radhanath Ray decided to adopt Christianity. He had a liberal outlook so much so that he chose a Brahmo Bengali girl (Hiran Prabha) as a daughter-in-law for his only son Mohini Mohan Senapati.
The ‘Sarva Dharma Samanya Sthambh’ with representations of all religions, Hinduism, Islam and the rest, built by Fakir Mohan stands tall even to this day at his native place in Balasore in the garden called ‘Shanti kanan.’ In fact this is the need of the hour. There should be a clarion call for Manav Dharma- the religion of Humanism. Praise be to Fakir Mohan, who professed it long back maybe with the thought that some day we would need it for sheer survival.
This is one issue about which I feel very strongly about and since I have done considerable work(Including books) on the issue ,I wish to take it up in Odisha in a concerted manner. If nothing atleast generating conscouisness regarding the matter and
sensitizing the general public about the issue would strongly feature on our agenda. Incidentally we have already carried out programs on river water pollution and environmental protection. All this will be borne out from the report given
on our website( www.fakirmohanfoundation.com).
The issue of rising underage marriages and its concomitant bigamy, both of which have an adverse effect on socio-economic factors and eventually in some way on the Human Development Index (HDI) and Gender Development Index (GDI) is also sought to be explored. Questions and studies on this have already been presented by the author at various forums, both national and international.
Now coming back to the language issue,Odisha incidentally is the first state to have been established on the basis of language. In view of the above and in view of the impending peril that is looking us in the face, we solicit your organization’s support & encouragement in furthering the cause & carrying forward our mission.
Economic Development has a cultural dimension which needs to be reckoned with. We hope your esteemed organization would come forward & support the cause upheld by the Fakir Mohan Foundation, New Delhi.
I hereby wish to thank all those assembled here as well as all members of OSA to have given me a patient hearing . I also wish to thank them for their support and encouragement. I specially wish to thank Dr Annapurna Pandey the president of OSA, Dr Bigyani Das Smt Kuku Das and many others for their kind words and endorsement so far as the FMF agenda is concerned. I wish to acknowledge their deep involvement with Odiya culture and development . It is indeed a highly commendable effort on their part. I wish them all success.
(The author on request has prepared and put up a feature for OSA members and all prabasi Odiyas a ‘FUN FEATURE ON LANGUGE’, based on Odiya Dhaga Dhamali and Odiya Prabada and Lokukti.) This should be available on the OSA Website as well as on Utkarsha the online magazine.)
An event on Interfaith Dialogue titled ‘Manav Dharma’ was held on 3rd April, 2013 at the Tagore Hall, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, under the auspices of Fakir Mohan Foundation in collaboration with Sarojini Naidu Women’s Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia.
It was extremely well received by the audience & proved to be a grand success. The session opened with a dance on the concept of ‘Manav Dharm’ presented by Malti Shyam, the eminent Kathak dancer. The lyrics of the accompanying music was by
the sufi writer Baba Fareed. ICCR President Dr. Karan Singh presided over the function & delivered the keynote address. He commended Fakir Mohan Foundation’s efforts at promoting the concept of Manav Dharm amongst the youth. He also said that
Sarojini Naidu after whom the SNWC of Jamia has been named and Fakir Mohan Senapati after whom Fakir Mohan Foundation has been named are both great icons of India and we are truly proud of them.
Dr. S.Y. Quraishi, former Chief Election Commissioner spoke on the composite culture of Delhi & talked eloquently about inter religious harmony & the negative impact that the absence of it can have on young minds.He spoke about Fakir Mohan Senapati’s great contribution to Odiya literature as well as Indian literature & referred to him as Ghalib of Odisha & commended on the pioneering effort that Fakir Mohan Foundation is taking in sensitizing the youth on humanism.
The hall mark of Fakir Mohan Senapati was his secular stand. The very name Fakir Mohan speaks for itself & apart from keeping human values and interfaith respect central to his writings, had built the ‘Sarva Dharma Samnya Sthambh’ which stands tall even till date, in his birth place Balasore and stands as testimony of his secular beliefs. Fakir Mohan Senapati predates Premchand & Rabindra Nath Tagore and was the pioneer novel writer on social realism. His novel ‘Chhamana Atha Guntha’ ( in English ‘Six Acres a Third’ – Penguin publishers) is acclaimed as the first milestone novel in India on literature relating to the less privileged and the exploited. This is borne out from Prof. Sisir Das’s ‘History of Indian Literature’ (Sahitya Akademy, Delhi, publication).
The session on interfaith dialogue was chaired by Prof. T.K. Oommen, the eminent sociologist and Padma Bhushan recipient. Five religious heads Ven. Bhikku Sangasena (Buddhism), Fr. Emmanuel Dominic (Christianity), Mr. Pravrajika Subhavrataprana (Hinduism), Mr. Imam Ilyasi (Islam), Prof. Amrit Kaur Basra (Sikhism). It was an extremely vibrant session where the audience also participated. Many useful suggestions emerged from the panel discussion, for breeding interfaith amity & peace in society. The future agenda is to reach out to the youth on this, in different universities & educational institutions. The religious leaders expressed their desire to be proactive in the matter. Sarojini Naidu Women’s Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia hosted the function & that was a big support for Fakir Mohan Foundation. The event was also partnered by Sammutthan Foundation. Dr. Ranjana Mukhopadhyay faculty Delhi University and Dr. Alka Saikia to active part. Dr. Bulbul Dhar, Director Sarojini Naidu Women Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia delivered the welcome address & Dr. Monica Das Managing Trustee, FMF presented the concept note on Manav Dharm and helped set the tone for the entire session.