By Suparno Satpathy*
‘Award Wapasi’ the recent day phenomenon of awards being returned by eminent personalities in protest of growing intolerance in the nation is an individual choice. I feel everyone has the right to protest till the time it’s non-violent. #AwardWapasi has been hogging media space and it is being widely discussed. Thus I feel the objective of the few individuals who decided to protest in the said manner has well been achieved.
Many have been attributing ‘Award Wapasi’ as one of the main reasons for the maverick act pulled off by Lalu-Nitish in winning the 2015 Bihar Assembly polls. The trend was first begun by none other than Nayantara Sehgal (niece of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru). I am told that the Dadari lynch incident prompted her to do so. A man brutally murdered by a mob for allegedly eating beef is certainly a matter of shame for the nation. This is not the first or last incident when one ate beef on Indian soil. Dadari is in UP yet every one targeted PM Narendra Modi for the killing.
From Odisha to jump into this hoard of award returnees is our very eminent and highly respected Padma Shri Dr. Jayanta Mahapatra . I admire his style of writing. It is his personal choice to protest against the growing intolerance faced by him. I have had the chance to read his letter to the President of India, in which he has stated the reasons for returning the ‘Padma Shri’ award which was conferred on him in year 2009. I fully respect his viewpoints and even agree with most of them. However, I fail to understand that why is it that only what the Nation has decorated on him must be returned and not what the state of Odisha has decorated him with? After all, Dr. Jayanta Mahapatra lives in Odisha and he faces the ugly side of intolerance right here. Thus, I feel besides ‘Padma Shri’ he should also consider returning the ‘Honorary Doctorate’ which was conferred on him in year 2007 by the Government of Odisha.
*The author Shri. Suparno Satpathy is a noted socio-political leader and the Chairman of SNSMT.