BHUBANESWAR:Eminent writer and former chief minister Janaki Ballabh Patnaik on Tuesday slammed the State Government for its apathy towards Odia language and literature.
Raising concern over the BJD Government’s attitude, Patnaik said Odia as a language has suffered at the hands of the current regime which is yet to implement compulsory use of Odia in official communications.
Unless literature receives financial and logistical patronage of the Government, it cannot flourish, Patnaik said while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the 31st edition of Bhubaneswar Book Fair here on Tuesday.
When the Congress was in power in the State, at least 45 per cent of official communications was in Odia. “I used to return official files, which were not in Odia, to send across the message. However, in the BJD regime, things have regressed,” the former Assam Governor said.
Patnaik said the current Government only pays lip service to promotion of Odia language through advertisements in newspapers but actually has done precious little to patronise it.
Patnaik said only 5,000 Odia books are published annually in the State and the number is not very encouraging. He urged media houses to be considerate and exempt their advertising rates for the cause of promoting book releases.Addressing the event, renowned poet Ramakant Rath said as book fairs are organised once in a year, a reader has to wait for long to buy his favourite titles. “Publishers should receive support from the Government to start franchise or branches in all districts to reach out to readers,” Rath suggested.
President of Federation of Indian Publishers Ashok Gupta used the forum to reach out to the State Governments across the country and said substantial funds should be earmarked from their annual budget towards development and maintenance of libraries.
This year, the main stage of the book fair has been dedicated to Pranabandhu Kar to mark the birth centenary year of the celebrated playwright and story-writer, said secretary of Bhubaneswar Book Fair Committee Barendra Krushna Dhal.
On the occasion, Sachchi Routray Kavita Samman for the year was presented to Dr Pratibha Satpathy, while senior IPS officer and writer Debashis Panigrahy was awarded the Bijay Krushna Mohanty Galpa Samman.
Besides, literary critic Antaryami Mishra, lyricist Ketan Narayan Padhi and writer and translator Shakuntala Baliarsingh were felicitated. The book fair will continue till February 22. This year, more than 300 publishers have participated in the 15-day event. At least 40 per cent of the publishers are from outside.