Interview with Jagadananda, former Information Commissioner of Odisha

43818The Right to Information (RTI) Act came into force in 2005 and was termed as a revolutionary act that was expected to change the governance in India. And, it did. It has exposed corruption in governance, helped people get their dues, and expedite works in government offices. Government officials now know well that people are watching them. It has revolutionized the way government offices work in India.

Jagadananda, former Information Commissioner of Odisha, had campaigned for the RTI Act and contributed in its formulation. He played a key role in making people in remote areas aware about the significance of the act. In his tenure, he held awareness camps in 30 districts, introduced circuit hearings and made available RTI related literature available in eight tribal languages and Braille script for visually impaired. In a freewheeling interview with Avisek, Jagadananda talks about his experience at the helm of affairs in the State Information Commission, aspects of his personal life and how one should use the act to improve governance. Excerpts…

It has been almost eight years that the RTI Act was enacted by the Parliament. As Information Commissioner for almost five years, what has been your experience?

I had mix experience. I was appreciated for my decision and at times, was criticised. When you are holding an adjudicatory position you cannot keep everyone happy. Since I was among the social activists who campaigned for the act and contributed in its formulation; I knew in and out of the act. My main objective during my tenure was to ensure transparency in governance and make people aware about the significance of the act. I travelled across the state with my team to spread awareness on the RTI and listen to the problems of the people.

What are your major achievements as the Information Commissioner of the state?

I ensured that all RTI queries are answered. The number of application filed under the RTI act was mere 5,000 a year when I joined but the numbers have gone up to 15,000 a year now. This could happen because I stressed on making people aware about the RTI act. The commission reached out to the people in district centres, villages and held camps and workshops. There were many government departments which were not RTI friendly such as Police, Health and Panchayat Raj department. They were facing difficulty in handling RTI queries. I discussed with their respective heads and roll out RTI training workshops for their officials. It helped them in replying to the RTI applications effectively.

The commission has taken actions against government officials and imposed penalty on them. Many citizens were given compensation too. These acts of the commission fostered a friendly relationship with citizens.

What is the basic thing one should keep in mind while filing an RTI application?

I have seen many RTI applications in which people ask for vague details. They think if they ask for everything then they will find their details too. It is a wrong approach. Filing an RTI is an art. Applicants should ask for specific data in their RTI applications. It will help in getting information faster and reduce the burden of government officials. After all, the purpose is to get information fast not to annoy public servants.

What could be the best use of the RTI act?

It is a proactive tool in the hands of the people. The act can be used for many purposes. The most important being monitoring of the public works being carried out. If there is a road being constructed in your area then you can ask for tender specifications and the sample of ‘road’. One can get the sample checked in an authorized laboratory and ensure that the work being carried out by the contractor is up to the mark. RTI applications are generally filed to redress grievances, to know information about basic amenities, entitlements, service promotions and to get policy related information. I am disappointed that few people are using the act for monitoring public works.

RTI activists are under attack across the country. Many cases of violence against the RTI activists were reported even during your tenure. Their houses, vehicles and life stocks were burnt for raising their voices against anomalies in the system. What actions did you take to put a stop on such incidents?

The Information Commission regularly heard such cases during my tenure. We ensured that victims get proper government support and criminals are punished. It is not under the ambit of commission to take action against criminals but we had taken up such issues with the government. Our initiatives acts as deterrent and sent a message across that State Information Commission takes such cases seriously.

Is RTI act being misused to settle scores or for personal gains? What is your experience in that?

Any law can be misused and the RTI is no exception. I would say that there are only a few people, may be 10 percent, who are abusing it for their personal gains or settling scores with their business or political rivals. By and large, the act has helped in improving governance and bringing transparency in the system.

The commission must have flooded with many RTI applications but did you find any that was out-of-ordinary?

One villager had filed an RTI to know how many acres of land were acquired to build Hira Kud Dam and its utilisation report. His applications threw light on the issue and brought out interesting facts. There was large land that was left abandoned after acquisition and land mafia had encroached upon it. Another interesting RTI was on utilization of audit reports. The person had asked how much is government spending on auditing and how these reports are utilised. These two RTI applications were among the good RTI applications that came my way.

Have you ever filed an RTI? What information did you seek?

During my tenure as the Information Commissioner, I did not file any. Earlier, I had filed six RTI applications to know. I had sought details to find out how government hospitals use the user charge and also asked tender specification for monitoring public works.

Is there any scope for improving the RTI Act?

I am not satisfied with the section-4 of the act that asks the government department to make their reports public. It has not been done so and even if some government department have begun uploading their reports but it is just an eye-wash. They should understand that if they make their all information public then they need not answer many RTI queries. There are government officials who think that RTI applications are nuisance.

There is a need to make the RTI Act uniform across the country. It should be simplified. By simplifying, I mean that the Odisha government seek a form that is not easily accessible in remote areas. And, the state government offices only accept treasury cheques or cash as RTI fee. However, in the central act, anyone can write an application on a white paper and submit with ten rupees note or money order.

Civil society is rallying to bring political parties under the ambit of RTI? Do you think it will help in improving governance?

Any entity whether its political party or a Non-Government Organization (NGO) should come under the ambit of the RTI Act. When anyone is dealing with transaction of funds, they should be transparent. What’s wrong in it? Many politicians are reluctant to bring political parties under the ambit of the RTI Act. Only God can save this country.

Arvind Kejriwal with whom you had worked while formulating the RTI Act has floated a political party—Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). What is your view on his crusade against corruption?

Like any other political party, his party too should be accountable to people. He has already said so that he will give importance to transparency within his party. It’s good. It will premature to comment any further.

Let us talk about your other endeavours. You have been actively involved in civil society movement. Tell our readers about your contribution in the field.

I have extensively researched on civil society legitimacy and accountability issues. I with L David Brown of The Hauser Centre for Nonprofit Organizations, John F Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University) presented a paper on ‘Civil Society Legitimacy and Accountability: Issues and Challenges’. It was published in English, French, and Spanish.

I was instrumental in forming Centre for Youth and Society Development (CYSD) that is working for the welfare of tribal youth in Odisha for almost three decades. I have been a member of State Planning Board from 2004 to 2008. I have taken up many social issues in the past and part of many national and international non-profit organizations.

I was part of Drive Against Bribe campaign of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). I was the first national convener of Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, a national campaign to hold the government accountable to its promise to end poverty, social exclusion and discrimination.

What message you would like to convey to our readers?

RTI act has empowered people and they must use it for the benefits of their community. People should be aware how to use the information they get from government departments. They must take the issue to a logical conclusion.

Reforms in water sector is biased towards favoring the rich: Ranjan Panda

Ranjan-Panda-2Ranjan Panda was crowned as the NDTV-Toyata Green hero in December 2010 for his contribution toward environment protection by way of renovation of the traditional water harvesting techniques in Western Odisha districts like Sambalpur and Bargarh. He was earlier profiled as a Climate Crusader by NDTV and is the writer of a book on Traditional Water Harvesting Practices of Western Odisha. He is the convener of Water Initiative Odisha and founder of Organsiation Manav Adhikar Seva Samiti (MASS). Panda , known as the Waterman of Odisha, speaks exclusively to Pradeep Baisakh, Senior Editor, OrissaDiary.com on the traditional water harvesting techniques, the agro-industry conflict, water distribution and the ADB promoted water reforms plan in Odisha.

Orissadiary:You have won the NDTV-TOYATA Green Hero award, a prestigious award for work on environment. What is your reaction?

Ranjan Panda: An award is a recognition and responsibility at the same time. I am happy not only because I got this first ever national green awards launched by NDTV, but also because this is where our work has been recognized by an independent group after following us and our work for several years. At a time, when many awards are in reality lobbied for, this is a recognition you get without even applying for it or knowing that you were being tracked for years. Responsibility, I say, because the work that people like us are doing is getting rare by the day. We are in a world where environmentalism is increasingly being seen in parlance with naxalism and terrorism. If you seriously talk and work for environment the entire human race, which has forgotten its root of existence and its responsibility towards the mother earth, will consider that you are actually committing a crime. If you become the voice of the alive but dumb ecology, you will be crushed in several ways. We are happy blindly urbanizing and discriminately industrializing; and in the process, eating up all other species and beings on earth. Ironically, we are eating up our own future and call ourselves educated! So, this award is a responsibility to keep on to the difficult task of siding with the environment and fighting against the deadly human race.

Orissadiary: Can you very briefly narrate us your work on water harvesting?
Ranjan Panda: In fact our work goes beyond water harvesting; towards creating water secure communities for now and future. In 1988, when I was a student of Sociology in the Sambalpur University, I got an opportunity to visit remote rural and tribal villages. I was astounded to see the rich ecological knowledge and value system that existed in these villages and the communities. They understood forests, water and food management much better than anyone I had talked or interacted so far. But they lived in abject poverty, neglected by the state and other development machineries. The invasion of external cultures and knowledge systems, all in the name of development, had made them so weak that they had lost their confidence in their own skills and traditional know-how. Thus they had turned from prospering villages, which fought drought successfully just a century ago, to perishing villages which had become dependent on external support. We tried to revert this and spent several years to make the people regain their confidence on the wonderful traditional knowledge they had; to build and manage water harvesting structures and systems. After years of persuasion and strategic efforts we achieved success in reviving water harvesting culture in several villages. People, who had abandoned their crop lands for decades and were migrating out, started returning and converting these human-made deserts into green fields again. To add to their local and traditional skills and knowledge we provided some inputs that would make locally and ecologically sustainable value additions. We motivated them to manage the water they harvested through different types and sizes of structures like Bandh, Kata, Muda, Chahala, Chua, Paenghara, etc. Once the water security was achieved, cropping systems were reworked so that food and nutrition security could be achieved through out the year. Different villages had different levels of successes depending on the resources they could mobilise and other factors. However, the culture of water and food security came back to the main agenda of the village communities and they found back the lost dignity of their traditional knowledge and technology.

Orissadiary: Drought is quite recurrent in Odisha, mostly in the western part of it. Is the state traditionally a drought prone area? And will your magic formula of water harvesting solve the problem?

Ranjan Panda: Yes, drought is now the other name of western Odisha. But this was not the same just about a century ago. The communities here were better water planners and managers than the modern day engineers. This area supplied food relief to the Bengal famine victims. Records hold it that this was agriculturally one of the most prosperous regions of the erstwhile central provinces. However, this sustainable system of water harvesting and management started decaying during the British Raj and more so after we got independence. We bet for large dams, canal irrigation and everything else that involved concrete constructions. We ignored the people and the systems that had worked for centuries. Deprived of any support, the once prosperous agrarian communities had no options but to take to what the govt. officials and engineers prescribed them. Unfortunately, the external engineering based water management systems failed miserably and hence the area got converted to a drought prone region. The need is therefore to revert to the traditional decentralized systems of water harvesting that does not only talk about structures but systems of ecological integration. Things can only improve then. The engineers and govt. departments and even civil societies should come up with solutions that can fit into the already existing systems of the people so that they can own the process and be managers of their own water. This works. We have proved it. More so, this is no magic formula. We have just learned from the people and have given it back to them with some modern day inputs. This has helped them fight drought with success, yet again.

Orissadiary: The state supplies cheap labour to other states. Is it because the agriculture has failed to meet the livelihood need of people? Shall water harvesting help on this front?

Ranjan Panda: Water harvesting alone is not the solution to all woes agriculture faces now. While agriculture has been neglected by successive governments, the process has got accelerated ever since the new economic reforms started in the early 90s. All support in the name of agriculture is benefiting the rich and industrialists; agriculture land is being indiscriminately being diverted for industries; and effective irrigation is shrinking. A cumulative result of this is reflected in the growing marginalization of the farming communities who are now gaining a new identity of ‘wage laborers’, be it in the roads, constructions, industries or even in urban areas. There is been a systematic conspiracy to weaken all support systems for the farmers and as a result, while the income of almost all other people in the country has grown by manifold (even hundreds and thousands of times), that of the farmers has actually declined drastically. As a run up to the Bali climate convention we carried out an exercise to build a people’s agenda for climate change. You would be surprised to note that most of the farmers said that they want the agriculture department to be shut down if the farmers’ plight is any concern of the govt. They said this in frustration as they feel while the agriculture department officials and ministers have grown richer, the farmers have turned paupers. This is a serious aspect and needs to be looked in with utmost urgency. Farmers have to fight against all evils like poverty, climate change and money lenders’ vagaries to grow crops for the nation and then fight on streets to fetch a ‘minimum’ support price. Even if they can get the minimum support price for some of the main products like paddy, that never comes in handy to buy a dignified life in an economy where everything including education, health care and drinking water have to be bought with cash, which keeps escalating by the day. They are being impoverished by design and are triply murdered in the way I have described above. Is it not an irony that the same farmer who grows food for us has to depend on the Rs.2 or Rs.3 kilo rice for quenching his hunger!! While water harvesting is an urgent need, there is plethora of issues to be addressed if we are serious about development of this agrarian state.

Orissadiary: Recent days have witnessed the conflict of water distribution between industries and agriculture. How real is such a conflict? Does the government have any proper plan to meet the water requirement of several industries coming in the state (State has signed 79 MoUs steel, alumina and power companies etc) without bringing pressure on agriculture?

Ranjan Panda: In my opinion the debate over water distribution has gone beyond just industries versus agriculture. Water is now being diverted for everything else for industries and urban areas and be sure we are heading towards a disaster. Our state has been proactively marketing itself as a water surplus state to attract investments and in that blind move it has completely ignored both logical and scientific principles of water resources management. We have already warned that we may in fact turn to a ‘water stressed’ state just in another five to seven years. Time is now for the state to learn the basics of water; that it is a finite ecological resource and not an abundant gift of nature that can be exploited just to attract private sector investment. We are dooming our state and ripping the people and ecology of their water future, just for profit of a few private pockets. See, even we cannot provide water to all the industries we have signed agreement with, in about a decade’s time. Take it as my word. And if we do, be sure you will witness bloody battles all around the state, I warn.

Orissadiary: Now international aid agencies like World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) are suggesting water sector reforms in the state of Odisha. How far such recommendations going to help the state’s farmers and industries?

Ranjan Panda: This is nothing new. In the neo-liberal economic era, reforms are the mantra of the elitist economists who keep pushing for it without caring about monitoring the results. And, our greedy political classes, who assume mastership of our fate as soon as they get elected, get easily swayed by the glitzy promises of the so called reforms. In reality, reforms have widened the gap between the rich and poor further. Access to water is one of the glaring indicators of this. The so called reforms agenda that is being propagated in water sector is biased towards favoring the rich. Putting a price on water is the single fundamental principle of this. So, while in the name of economic growth, you are free to push water sucking urbanization and industrialization, you propose for reforms in the management of the available water resources. You eat up the water, pollute it and alienate the people and species that are dependent on it for their survival and basic livelihood. And as water goes scarce for products of your ‘reforms’ you ask the people to behave and in the name of management you grab the remaining water resources by putting a price on it and giving entry to private entities to manage it. Neither the poor can pay the price nor can they hold private bodies accountable. So, they lose out on their survival. More farmers will end their lives in our state if such reforms continue.

Orissadiary: Water is a community property. Do you visualize a situation in any point of time in future where water is managed by the community at large? Is practically possible? Do you have any quick suggestions for it?

Ranjan Panda: We have appointed our government exactly for that. They have not been elected by the people to work at behest of the corporates. The water resources and other related departments and institutions have been created to serve the people. The people are the owners of the resources and the institutions; and instruments created in the form of such departments and bodies are to ensure that the ownership remains in the people. That is the basic sense of democracy and this is what government should be. We are going the opposite way. Rather, in the name of community participation, we are creating institutions to alienate the communities from planning and decision making. The Pani Panchayats are a case in point. It’s only when you have a good officer or committed politician that you get to find some positive things happening. Or it’s only when the farmers or people can show up their courage and power enough to exert control over such institutions. What I intend to say is, it’s very much possible if such good officers and politicians and civil society players combine to revert the trend; and make the system serve the people, not become owners of them.

Orissadiary: Finally, have you taken any initiative in persuading the government for accepting your plans of water management in the state policy; and with what results?

Ranjan Panda: Yes, if you have kept a track of what we have been doing, you can find that we have been trying to persuade the government to be people’s representatives and not that of corporates’. We have been constantly urging upon them to take the communities into confidence and give people their due right over the water and other natural resources. Its only when the people of the state are closely and constantly involved in water resources planning and management that we can ensure a better water future for ourselves. Corporate, at whose behest most of the water management planning is being done at the moment, are here only for profit and they will go away as soon as our resources are exhausted. This should be considered while taking decisions and devising management plans. We have recently objected to the inclusion of corporate representatives in proposed river basin organisations. According to us, they are at best consumers and hence can never be part of the decision making bodies in the name of stakeholder participation. The first and foremost stakeholder in water management of the state is its people. We have proposed inclusion of farmers, fisher folks, women, panchayat representatives in decision making bodies. The govt. officials and other technical bodies can provide the advisory and technical supports. Time the govt. takes serious note of it and changes its attitude and culture of alienating people from water and its management.

Exclusive interview with Young Odia IIS officer Bishal Das

40083Selected by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for the India Information Service, Bishal Das is currently appointed as Media and Communication Officer in Press Information Bureau (PIB). Simplicity and sincerity is what makes a fine blend in the personality of this young officer. In a candid interview with OdishaDiary, Das talks about his academic and professional interest and throughout the conversation his motivation and commitment to work for the country especially the underprivileged reflects.

Tell us about your educational background.

I did my schooling and graduation from Baripada, my hometown. After completing my graduation with distinction in Political Science (Hons) from MPC (A) College Baripada, I joined the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Dhenkanal, to complete my Post Graduate Diploma in English Journalism. After that I pursued my Post Graduation in International Relations (School of International Studies, SIS) from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and completed M.Phil from the Centre of Russian and Central Asian Studies.

Would you please share about your interview in the UPSC interview board ?

My interview was scheduled at 1100 am. When I entered the room, there were three members including the chair. The other two members asked questions pertaining to the media scenario of the country. Since, I worked at PTI, the board asked me to differentiate between PTI and another leading news agency of the country UNI. Some questions were also related to my M.Phil research topic. Overall, the entire interview board was very cordial and I was also satisfied with my performance.

Could you please narrate your stint in PTI?

My advise to all students who are willing to pursue a career in journalism, PTI is the best platform to learn the basic traits of journalism. I joined PTI in 2007 as a trainee journalist after qualifying in a test conducted by the news agency. While working in PTI, I was mainly confined to the foreign desk. PTI has foreign correspondents in different countries of the world like London, Washington, Islamabad, Beijing, Colombo etc. Those reporters sent stories and a desk person I used to edit those stories and release it on wires after which various newspapers carry those stories.

Any memorable experience while working with PTI?

PTI is country’s premier news agency and its working schedule is 24/7. I remember the day whenBenazir Bhutto was assassinated on 27 December 2007. Those were the days when I had just joined PTI and was completely new to the profession. PTI’s correspondent stationed at Islamabad was continuously providing latest developments and we on the desk were releasing those. It was indeed a learning experience. The next was on the ill-fated day (26/11/08) when terrorists coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai. That day we were in the office all through the night. Such events make you realise the role of a journalist at times of such emergency.

What do you think is the secret of your success?

To be very honest there is no such secrecy as far as success is concerned. As a student, it was normal on my part to stick to my syllabus to appear in the exam and score good marks. During those formative years, I made a regular habit of reading newspapers and magazines. Sometimes, if I felt strongly about an issue, I made it to express through the Letters of the Editorial columns of various newspapers. My letters got published in various English dailies like The Times of India, The Asian Age, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, Mail Today.

How do you think your achievement will contribute towards the betterment of society?

I will try to reach out to the marginalised sections of the society by making them aware of various welfare schemes initiated by the Government. The Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India has developed the concept of Bharat Nirman Public Information Campaign, a media outreach strategy to disseminate information to the targeted beneficiaries focusing on the flagship programmes of the Govt. of India. I will try to hold such campaign across the country including in the tribal dominated districts of Odisha so that such programmes reach out to the real beneficiaries.

Your advice to those students who are intending to make a career in journalism.

First of all, they should develop the habit of reading. Regular reading will definitely develop one’s thinking ability and he/she will be in a better position to comprehend any issue and put forward his viewpoint. Since a degree or diploma is required at the entry level, one should try to acquire it from the university or institute those are offering it. Lastly, sincerity will lead to achieve one’s goal if pursued in the right manner. Here I would like to quote Swami Vivekananda, who said, Arise! Awake! and stop not till the Goal is reached.

ଉଇକିପିଡ଼ିଆର ଶୁଭାଶିଷ ପାଣିଗ୍ରାହୀଙ୍କ ସହ ଓଡ଼ିଶାନର ସାକ୍ଷାତକାର

 

ଧୀରେ ଧୀରେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଭାଷା ଯେମିତି ହଜିଯିବାକୁ ବସିଲାଣି। ଏବେ ପିଲାମାନେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ସିନା କହୁଛନ୍ତି କିନ୍ତୁ ଖୁବ କମ ପିଲା ଓଡ଼ିଆ ପଢିପାରୁଛନ୍ତି। ଆଉ ଲେଖିବା ପିଲାଙ୍କ ସଂଖ୍ୟା ଆହୁରି କମ। ତେଣୁ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଭାଷାକୁ ଆମକୁ ବଞ୍ଚାଇବାକୁ ହେଲେ ଆମକୁ ସମୟ ସହ ତାଳ ଦେଇ ଚାଲିବାକୁ ପଡ଼ିବ, ବିଭିନ୍ନ ଉନ୍ନତ ଜ୍ଞାନକୌଶଳ ବ୍ୟବହାର କରି ବିଶ୍ଵଦରବାରରେ ଆମ ଭାଷାକୁ ପହଞ୍ଚାଇବାକୁ ପଡ଼ିବ । ଯେଉଁମାନେ ଆମ ଭାଷାକୁ ବିଶ୍ଵଦରବାରରେ ପହଞ୍ଚାଇବାକୁ ନିଜର ଉଦ୍ୟମ ଜାରି ରଖିଛନ୍ତି ସେମାନଙ୍କ ମଧ୍ୟରୁ ଇଣ୍ଡିଆ ପ୍ରୋଗ୍ରାମ (ଉଇକିପିଡ଼ିଆ), ନୂଆଦିଲ୍ଲୀରେ କମ୍ୟୁନିଟି ସପୋର୍ଟ କନସଲଟାଣ୍ଟ ଭାବେ କାମ କରୁଥିବା ଶୁଭାଶିଷ ପାଣିଗ୍ରାହୀ। ତାଙ୍କ ସହ କଥା ହୋଇଥିଲେ ଓଡ଼ିଶାନର ଦିଲ୍ଲୀ ପ୍ରତିନିଧି।                        

ପ୍ରଶ୍ନ: ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଉଇକିପିଡ଼ିଆର ଆରମ୍ଭ କେବେ ହୋଇଥିଲା?

୨୦୦୨ ରେଏହା ଅସମୀୟାପଞ୍ଜାବୀ ଓ ମାଲାୟାଳମ ସମେତ ପ୍ରଥମ କରି ଆରମ୍ଭ ହୋଇଥିଲା । ଏହାକୁ or.wikipedia.org ରେ ପଢ଼ିହେବ । [http://or.wikipedia.org

 ପ୍ରଶ୍ନ: ଏହାର ଲକ୍ଷ୍ୟ କଣ?

ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଉଇକିପିଡ଼ିଆ କ ଖୋଲା ଜ୍ଞାନକୋଷ । ଯଦିଓ ଏଥିରେ ୨୭୦୦ରୁ ଅଧିକ ପ୍ରସଙ୍ଗ ରହିଛି ୧୦୦୦ରୁ ଅଧିକ ପ୍ରସଙ୍ଗ ପୂର୍ଣ୍ଣାଙ୍ଗ ନୁହେଁ । ଏସବୁ ପ୍ରସଙ୍ଗକୁ ଯେକୌଣସି ଲୋକ ଅଚିରେ ସମ୍ପାଦନା କରିପାରିବ ଓ ଏଥିରେ ଅଧିକରୁ ଅଧିକ ତଥ୍ୟ ଯୋଡ଼ି ଏହାକୁ ସମୃଦ୍ଧ କରିପାରିବ । ଉଇକିପିଡ଼ିଆର ମୂଳ ଲକ୍ଷ୍ୟ ହେଲା ଜ୍ଞାନର ଖୋଲା ଓ ମାଗଣା ବିତରଣ । ଲୋକମାନଙ୍କ ଦେଇ ସେମାନଙ୍କ ଭାଷାରେ ଆମ ଚଳଣିପରମ୍ପରାଜନଜୀବନ ତଥା ବିଜ୍ଞାନସାହିତ୍ୟକଳାବାଣିଜ୍ୟ ଆଦି ବିଷୟରେ ନିରୁତା ତଥ୍ୟମୂଳକ ପ୍ରସଙ୍ଗମାନ ତିଆରି କରାଇବା ଓ ସେସବୁକୁ ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟରେ ମାଗଣାରେ ଉପଲବ୍ଧ କରାଇବା ଫଳରେ ଅନେକ ଲୋକ ଇଂରାଜୀ ଜାଣି ନଥିଲେ ମଧ୍ୟ ନିଜ ଭାଷାରେ ଜ୍ଞାନ ଆହରଣ କରିପାରନ୍ତି । ବିଶେଷ କରି ସ୍କୁଲ ପିଲାମାନେ ନିଜର ନିତିଦିନିଆ ପଢ଼ା ପାଇଁ ଉଇକିପିଡ଼ିଆ ବ୍ୟବହାର କରିପାରିବେ ।

 ପ୍ରଶ୍ନ: ଓଡ଼ିଆ ସଂପ୍ରଦାୟ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଉଇକିପିଡ଼ିଆର ଅଭିବୃଦ୍ଧି ପାଇଁ ସହଯୋଗ କରୁଛନ୍ତି କି?

ହଁନିଶ୍ଚିତ ଭାବରେ କରୁଛନ୍ତି । ସେମାନଙ୍କ ସହଯୋଗ ବିନା ଆମେ ପାଦେ ବଢ଼ିପାରନ୍ତୁ ନାହିଁ । ସବୁଠୁ ବଡ଼ କଥା ହେଲା ଓଡ଼ିଶା ବାହାରେ ଥିବା ଓଡ଼ିଆ ମାନେ ଏଥିରେ ଅଧିକ ଭାଗ ନେବାପାଇଁ ଆଗ୍ରହ ଦେଖାଉଛନ୍ତି । ଅଧୁନା ଅନେକ ଲୋକଙ୍କ ଭିତରେ ଭାଷା ପାଇଁ ଅନୁରାଗ ମରିମରି ଯାଉଥିବା ବେଳେ ଓଡ଼ିଶାର ତିନୋଟି ସହରରେ ଓ ଓଡ଼ିଶା ବାହାରେ ତଥା ବିଦେଶରୁ ଅନେକ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଏକ ମହତ କାମ ପାଇଁ ଏକାଠି ହେବା ଖୁବ ଏକ ଗୌରବର ବିଷୟ ।

 ପ୍ରଶ୍ନ: ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଉଇକିପିଡ଼ିଆ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଭାଷାର ଅଭିବୃଦ୍ଧିରେ କିପରି ସହଯୋଗ କରିବ?

ଆଜିର ଯୁଗରେ ଆମେ ଆଧୁନିକ ଶିକ୍ଷା ପଦ୍ଧତିର ଉପଯୋଗ କରିବା ନିତାନ୍ତ ଜରୁରୀଆଜିର ଶିଶୁମାନେ କମ୍ପ୍ୟୁଟର ଓ ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟର ବ୍ୟବହାର ଭଲକରି ଜାଣିଲେଣି ଓ ସେମାନଙ୍କ ଭବିଷ୍ୟତ ପାଇଁ ଏହା ଜାଣିବା ମଧ୍ୟ ଆବଶ୍ୟକ । ତେବେ ଟେକନୋଲୋଜିର ଏହି ବିକାଶରେ ମାତୃଭାଷାଟି ସମ୍ପୂର୍ଣ୍ଣ ଅବହେଳିତ ହୋଇପଡ଼ିଛି । ଅଭିଭାବକ ମାନଙ୍କ ଉଦାସୀନତା ତଥା ଅନଲାଇନରେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ବହି ବା ଅନ୍ୟାନ୍ୟ ଶିକ୍ଷା ଉପକରଣ ଇଂରାଜି ଭଳି ଉପଲବ୍ଧ ହୁଏ ନାହିଁ। ତେଣୁ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ମାଧ୍ୟମ ପିଲାମାନେ ସ୍କୁଲ ପରେ ଓଡ଼ିଆରୁ ଦୂରେଇ ଯାଆନ୍ତି ଆଉ ଇଂରାଜି ମାଧ୍ୟମ ପିଲାମାନେ ମୂଳରୁ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଛଡ଼ା ହୁଅନ୍ତି । ଏହିଭଳି ଏକ ଘଡ଼ିସନ୍ଧି କାଳରେ ଭାଷାକୁ ଟେକନୋଲୋଜିର ସହଯୋଗରେ ମାଗଣାରେ ଉପଲବ୍ଧ କରାଇଲେ ଓଡ଼ିଆରୁ ଦୂରେଇ ଯାଇଥିବା ଲୋକେ ପୁଣି ଓଡ଼ିଆମୁଖୀ ହେବେ । ତା ଛଡ଼ା ଆମ ଭାଷାର ଅନେକ ଉପାଦେୟ ବିଷୟ ଯୁଗ ଯୁଗ ପାଇଁ ଏକ ଖୋଲା ମାଧ୍ୟମରେ ଉପଲବ୍ଧ ହୋଇପାରିବ । ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟର ବ୍ୟବହାରକାରୀମାନଙ୍କ ପାଇଁ ଏହା ବହିର ବିକଳ୍ପ ହୋଇପାରିବ ଆଉ ଯେଉଁମାନେ ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟର ବ୍ୟବହାର ଜାଣନ୍ତିନାହିଁ ସେମାନେ ଏହାକୁ ପ୍ରିଣ୍ଟ କରି ପଢ଼ିପାରିବେ କିମ୍ବା ସିଡି ମାଧ୍ୟମରେ ଟିଭିରେ ଦେଖିପାରିବେ।

 ପ୍ରଶ୍ନ: ଏ ପର୍ଯ୍ୟନ୍ତ ଏଥିରେ କେତେ ଲେଖା ଅଛି?

ଏଥିରେ ଏଯାବତ ୨୭୦୦ ରୁ ଅଧିକ ପ୍ରସଙ୍ଗ ଅଛି ଓ ପ୍ରତିଦିନ ଅଧିକରୁ ଅଧିକ ପ୍ରସଙ୍ଗ ଯୋଡ଼ା ହେଉଛି ।


ପ୍ରଶ୍ନ: ଅନ୍ୟ ଭାରତୀୟ ଭାଷା ଅପେକ୍ଷା ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଭାଷା କାହିଁକି ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟରେ ଏତେ ଜନପ୍ରିୟ ହୋଇନାହିଁ
?

ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଭାଷା ଯେ ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟରେ ଜନପ୍ରିୟ ନୁହେଁ ସେକଥା ଭାବିବା ଭୁଲକେବଳ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଉଇକିପିଡ଼ିଆ ମାସକୁ ୩ ଲକ୍ଷ ୫୦ ହଜାରରୁ ଅଧିକ ପାଠକଙ୍କ ଦେଇ ପଢ଼ାହେଉଛି । ତେବେ ୩.୭ କୋଟି ଲୋକସଂଖ୍ୟା ତୁଳନାରେ ଏହା ନଗଣ୍ୟ । ଆଉ ଏକଥା ସତ ଯେ ପୁରାତନ ଭାଷା ଶ୍ରେଣୀର ଭାଷା ହୋଇବି ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଭାଷା ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟରେ ସେତେ ଜନପ୍ରିୟ ହୋଇପାରିନାହିଁଏହାର ମୂଳ କାରଣ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ମାନେ ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟରେ ଓଡ଼ିଆର ବ୍ୟବହାର କରିବାକୁ ବିମୁଖ ବା କେମିତି ବ୍ୟବହାର କରିବେ ଜାଣିନାହାନ୍ତି । ତେବେ ଆଜିର ଯୁଗରେ ମୁଁ ଏମିତି ଅନେକ ଲୋକଙ୍କୁ ଭେଟିଛି ଯେଉଁମାନେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ କମ୍ପୁଟରରେ ବ୍ୟବହାର ଜାଣିବାକ୍ଷଣି ରେଳପରି ଲେଖିବା ଆରମ୍ଭ କରିଦିଅନ୍ତିସବୁଠୁ ଆନନ୍ଦର ବିଷୟ ଏହି ଗୋଷ୍ଠିରେ ଇଂରାଜୀ ମାଧ୍ୟମ ପିଲାଏ ବି ଅଛନ୍ତି । ସଭିଏଁ ଯେ ଓଡ଼ିଆରେ ଲେଖିବେ ଏକଥା ଭାବିବା ଭୁଲତେବେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ବ୍ୟବହାର ପାଇଁ ଆଗ୍ରହୀ ଲୋକ ଅନେକ ଅଛନ୍ତିସେମାନଙ୍କ ପାଖରେ ଆଜି ଯାଏଁ କେହି ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟରେ କେମିତି ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଲେଖିବେ ତାହାର ସମାଧାନ ନେଇ ପହଞ୍ଚିନାହାନ୍ତିନହେଲେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟରେ କେତେକାଳୁ କେତେ ଆଗରେ ପହଞ୍ଚିସାରନ୍ତାଣି ।

 ପ୍ରଶ୍ନ: ଆମ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଭାଷାରେ କାହିଁକି ଫଣ୍ଟ ଓ ଜ୍ଞାନକୌଶଳର ଅଭିବୃଦ୍ଧି ହେଉନାହିଁ?

ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଫଣ୍ଟ ଓ ଟାଇପ କରିବାର ସୁବିଧା ଅନେକ କାଳୁ ଆସିଲାଣି ତଥା ଆଗରୁ ଏକ୍ସ.ପିଆଦିରେ ଯେଉଁ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ପଢ଼ିବାରେ ଅସୁବିଧା ଥିଲା ସେ ବି ଦୂର ହେଲାଣି । ତେବେ ଓଡ଼ିଶାରେ ସବୁଠୁ ବଡ଼ ଅସୁବିଧା ହେଲେ ଡିଟିପି ଓ ଖବରକାଗଜ ତଥା ପତ୍ରିକା ଆଦି ବହୁ ପୁରାତନ ଅଣ-ଇଉନିକୋଡ଼ ଫଣ୍ଟର ବ୍ୟବହାର ଆଜିବି କରୁଛନ୍ତି । ଦଶ ବର୍ଷ ତଳେ ଯେଉଁ ଟେକନୋଲୋଜିକୁ ଅଧିକାଂଶ ଭାଷାର ଖବରକାଗଜ ଫିଙ୍ଗିଦେଇ ଇଉନିକୋଡ଼ ଫଣ୍ଟକୁ ଆପଣେଇ ନେଇଥିଲେ ଆଜିବି ଆମ ପୁରୋଧା ଖବରକାଗଜମାନେ ଇଉନିକୋଡ଼ର (Unicode font) ବ୍ୟବହାର ଜାଣିଲେ ନାହିଁ । ଆପଣ ଗୁଗଲରେ ସମ୍ବାଦ କି ସମାଜର ଦି ଦିନ ଆଗର ଖବର ଖୋଜିପାରିବେ ନାହିଁ କି ତାକୁ କପି କରି ପୁନବ୍ୟବହାର କରିପାରିବେ ନାହିଁ । ଓଡ଼ିଶାରୁ ବାହାରୁଥିବା ସବୁ ଖବରକାଗଜ ଏହି ଅଣ-ଇଉନିକୋଡ଼ ଫଣ୍ଟରେ ନିଜ ଓ୍ବେବସାଇଟ ତିଆରିଛନ୍ତି । ଆଜିଯାଏଁ କେବଳ ଦି ସନଡେ ଇଣ୍ଡିଆନର ସାଇଟରେ ଇଉନିକୋଡ଼ର ବ୍ୟବହାର ଦେଖିବାକୁ ପାଇଲି ।

 ପ୍ରଶ୍ନ: ଆପଣଙ୍କ ମତର ସାମାଜିକ ମିଡ଼ିଆର ଅବଦାନ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଭାଷାର ଅଭିବୃଦ୍ଧିରେ ସହଯୋଗ କରୁଛି କି?

ହଁବହୁଭାବରେ କରୁଛି । ଆଜିକାଲି ସହଜରେ ଲୋକଙ୍କ ପାଖରେ ପହଞ୍ଚିବାରେ ଫେସବୁକବ୍ଲଗ ଆଦି ସାମାଜିକ ମିଡ଼ିଆର ଭୁମିକା ଖୁବ ଗୁରୁତ୍ବପୂର୍ଣ୍ଣ । ବ୍ୟକ୍ତିଗତ ଭାବରେ ଓଡ଼ିଆରେ ଟାଇପ କେମିତି କରିବେ ଓ ଉଇକିପିଡ଼ିଆରେ କିପରି ଲେଖିବେ ଏସବୁ କଥା ବତାଇପାରିଛି । ଆଜି ଯଦି ଏତେ ସଂଖ୍ୟକ ଲୋକ ଇଣ୍ଟରନେଟରେ ଓଡ଼ିଆରେ ଲେଖୁଛନ୍ତି ତାହାକୁ ମୁଁ ସାମାଜିକ ମିଡ଼ିଆର ଅବଦାନ ବୋଲି ମଣେ । ଯାହା ଇ-ମେଲରେ ସମ୍ଭବ ନୁହେଁ ତାହା ଫେସବୁକରେ ସହଜସମ୍ଭବ ଓ ସୁବିଧାଜନକ ।

 ପ୍ରଶ୍ନ: ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଯୁବପିଢ଼ି ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଭାଷାକୁ ଅବହେଳା କରିବାର କାରଣ କଣ?

ଦେଖନ୍ତୁକଥା ହେଲେ ମୁଁ ଆଉ ଆପଣ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ସହ ଯୋଡ଼ିହୋଇ ରହିବାର କାରଣ ଆମର ନିଜ ଭାଷା ପ୍ରତି ଥିବା ଆବେଗ । ଏଇ ଆବେଗଟିକକ କେହି କାହାରି ମନରେ ବୁଣିପାରିବ ନାହିଁ । ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଯୁବପିଢ଼ିରୁ ଅଧାରୁ ଅଧିକ ଇଂରାଜୀ ମାଧ୍ୟମ ପଢୁଆପିଲାବେଳୁ ଓଡ଼ିଆର ବ୍ୟବହାର ପାଇଁ ସ୍କୁଲରେ ଆକଟ ଆଉ ଘରେ ବାପା ବୋଉଙ୍କ ଅବହେଳା । ଏମିତି ପରିବେଶରେ ବଢୁଥିବା କୌଣସି ପିଲା ମନରେ କେବେ ବି ଭାଷା ପ୍ରତି ମମତା ଆସିବନାହି ଁତେଣୁ ଯୁବପିଢ଼ି ଦୋଷୀ ନୁହେଁାସଲ ଦୋଷୀ ହେଲେ ଅଭିଭାବକଗଣ । ପିଲା ଘରେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଶିଖିବାର ପରିବେଶ ପାଇଲା ନାହିଁଟି.ଭିଭଲ କାର୍ଟୁନ ଚାନେଲଟିଏ ଓଡ଼ିଆରେ ନାହିଁ କି ପିଲାଙ୍କ କାର୍ଯ୍ୟକ୍ରମ ସବୁ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ବଦଳରେ ହିନ୍ଦୀ କି ଇଂରାଜୀରେ ଆସୁଛି । ଏପରିକି ଓଡ଼ିଆ ସ୍କୁଲରେ ବି ସାନବେଳୁ ଶିଖାଯାଉଛି ଚାକିରି ପାଇଁ ଇଂରାଜୀମାର୍କ ପାଇଁ ସଂସ୍କୃତ ଆଉ ପଇସା ପାଇଁ ହିନ୍ଦୀ“, ଓଡ଼ିଆ ପାଇଁ ଜାଗାଟେ ବାକି ରଖିଛନ୍ତି ଆମ ଶିକ୍ଷା ପୁରୋଧାମାନେନିରେଖି ଦେଖିଲେ ଦେଖିଲେ ଜଳ ଜଳ ଦିଶେ ଯେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ପାଇଁ ରଡୁଥିବା ଲୋକଙ୍କ ପିଲେ କେବେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ କହନ୍ତି ନାହିଁ । ତେଣୁ ଦୋଷ କାହାର ସୁଧିଜନେ ବିଚାର କରିବେ!

 ପ୍ରଶ୍ନ: ଓଡ଼ିଆ ସରକାରମିଡ଼ିଆ ଓ କର୍ପୋରେଟ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଭାଷାର ବିକାଶ ପାଇଁ କଣ କରିବା ଦରକାର?

ପ୍ରଥମେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ସରକାର ଟେକନୋଲୋଜିର ଧାର ଧରୁନଥିବା ତଥାକଥିବ ଜରଦଗବ ମାନଙ୍କୁ ହଟାଇ ଶିଶୁ ମନସ୍ତତ୍ବକୁ ବୁଝୁଥିବା ଯୁବ ଭାଷାବିଦମାନଙ୍କୁ ପାଠ ଖସଡ଼ା କମିଟି ଭରନ୍ତୁ । ମିଡ଼ିଆ ଆମ ସମାଜ ଏକ ଟାଣୁଆ ଅଙ୍ଗତେଣୁ ସେମାନଙ୍କ ପରାମର୍ଶ ମଧ୍ୟ ପାଠ ଖସଡ଼ା ପାଇଁ ଏକାନ୍ତ ଲୋଡ଼ା । କୋମଳମତି ପିଲାଙ୍କୁ ୨ ୟ ଶ୍ରେଣୀରୁ ପନ୍ଦର ଗୋଟି ଭାଷା ବଦଳରେ କେବଳ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଶିଖାଯାଉ । ଶିଶୁ ନିଜ ମାତୃଭାଷାରେ ଯଦି ଦମ୍ଭିଲା ହେବ ତାକୁ ଅନ୍ୟ ଭାଷା ଆୟତ କରିବା ପାଇଁ କେବେ କଷଣ ଭୋଗିବାକୁ ପଡ଼ିବ ନାହିଁ । ମିଡ଼ିଆ ବା ଗଣମାଧ୍ୟମ ଯେଉଁ ସାଧାରଣ ଓଡ଼ିଆଙ୍କ ପାଇଁ ସମ୍ବାଦ ପ୍ରକାଶ କରୁଛନ୍ତି ସେଥିରେ ଖେଚୁଡ଼ି ଭାଷାର ବ୍ୟବହାର ନ କଲେ କଣ ସେ ସମ୍ବାଦରେ ଗଣା ହୁଅନ୍ତା ନାହିଁ । ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଶବ୍ଦର ଅଭାବରେ ଆମେ ସଭିଏଁ ଇଂରାଜୀର ବ୍ୟବହାର କରୁହେଲେ ଅଯଥାରେ ହିନ୍ଦୀ ପରି ଏକ ନବଗଠିତ ଭାଷାର ଶବ୍ଦ ଯେଉଁ ପରିମାଣରେ ଆଜିର ମିଡ଼ିଆ ବ୍ୟବହାର କରୁଛନ୍ତିଭାବନ୍ତୁ ତ ପାଞ୍ଚ ବର୍ଷ ପରର ଅବସ୍ଥା କଣ ଥିବବୋଧେ ସବୁ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଶବ୍ଦ ହଟିଯାଇ ତା ବଦଳରେ ହିନ୍ଦୀ ଶବ୍ଦ ଥିବ । ମିଡ଼ିଆର ପ୍ରଭାବ ସମାଜ ଉପରେ ସାଧାରଣ ବହି ତୁଳନାରେ ଖୁବ ଅଧିକ ପଡେ । ପିଇବା ପାଣି ଯଦି ଗୋଳିଆ ହେବ ତାହେଲେ ଆଉ କିଛି ସଜାଡ଼ି ହେବ କିଓଡ଼ିଆ ଏଫ.ଏମଚାନେଲ ଯେଉଁ ବିକୃତ ଖେଚୁଡ଼ି ହିନ୍ଦୀ-ଇଂରାଜୀରେ ଓଡ଼ିଆ ନାଁକୁ ମାତ୍ର ଛୁଙ୍କ ଦେଇ ପରସୁଛନ୍ତି ତାକୁ ଶକ୍ତ ଭାବେ ବିରୋଧ ଓ ଅବଦମନ କରାଯାଉ । କର୍ପୋରେଟମାନେ ସବୁକାଳେ ଇଂରାଜୀର ବହୁଳ ବ୍ୟବହାର କରିଥାନ୍ତିବର୍ଷେ ଆଗରୁ ମୁଁ ନିଜେ ଭୁକ୍ତଭୋଗୀ ଥିଲି । ସେମାନଙ୍କ ଭୁମିକାଠୁ ଘରପରିବାରସ୍କୁଲ ପରିବେଶ ଓ ପାଠ ଖସଡ଼ା ତଥା ମିଡ଼ିଆ ମୁଖ୍ୟତ ଟିଭି ଓ ଏଫ.ଏମପରି ଦ୍ରୁତଗାମୀ ମିଡ଼ିଆ ଏସବୁକୁ ଆଉଥରେ ବୁଝିବିଚାରି ସଜାଡ଼ିବାର ଘୋର ଆବଶ୍ୟକତା ରହିଛି । ଓଡ଼ିଆ ଭାଷାର ବିକାଶ ଜଣ ଜଣ କରି ଆମ ଭଳି ସାଧାରଣ ଲୋକଙ୍କ ଠାରୁ ଆରମ୍ଭ ହେବ । କର୍ଣ୍ଣାଟକରେ ବିନା କନ୍ନଡ଼ ସାଇନବୋର୍ଡ଼ ଭଙ୍ଗା ତଥା ମୁମ୍ବାଇ ମରାଠୀ ଭାଷାର ବୁଡ଼ନ୍ତା ନାବକୁ ବଞ୍ଚାଇବା ପାଇଁ ଯେଉଁଭଳି ଆନ୍ଦୋଳନ ତେଜିଥିଲା ଓଡ଼ିଶାରେ ସେମିତି କିଛି ହେଉଭାଷାର ଚେର ହାଣୁଥିବା ଖେଚୁଡ଼ି ପାଚକଙ୍କ ଚେତା ପଶିବ ଭାଷା-ଜନନୀର ଅବମାନନା କଲେ କି ଦଶା ହେବ । ସବୁ ଜିନିଷ ତ ଆଉ ଗେଲରେ ବୁଝାଇସୁଝାଇ କରାଯାଏନି ନାଁ!

 (ଶୁଭାଶିଷ ପାଣିଗ୍ରାହୀକମ୍ୟୁନିଟି ସପୋର୍ଟଇଣ୍ଡିଆ ପ୍ରୋଗ୍ରାମ (ଉଇକିପିଡ଼ିଆ), ନୂଆଦିଲ୍ଲୀ)