Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

img

IAS Jagannath Prasad Das, the famous Odia poet and playwright, was the collector of Kalahandi in 1966, when the district was affected by unprecedented famine and drought. Here, he captures the human pain Kalahandi experienced,

Kalahandi

Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

Put away the road maps now.
To go there.
You do not need helicopters any more:
wherever there is hunger, Kalahandi is there.
The god of rain turned away his face.
There was not one green leaf left on trees to eat.
The whole village a graveyard
The ground, cracked 
River sand, dried up.
All plans failed;
the poverty line receded further.
Wherever you look,There is a Kalahandi:
In the sunken eyes of living skeletons,
in rags which do not cover frail bodies,
in utensils pawned off for food,
in the crumbling hutswith un thatched roofs,
in the exclusive prosperity
of having owned two earthen pots.
Kalahandi is everywhere:
in the gathering of famished crowds before charity kitchens,
in market places where children are auctioned off, 
in the sigh of young girls sold to brothels,
in the silent processions of helpless people leaving their hearth and home.
Come, look at Kalahandi closer:
In the crocodile tears 
Of false press statements, 
in the exaggerated statistics 
Of computer print-outs,
in the cheap sympathies 
doled out at conferences, 
in the false assurances presented by planners.
Kalahandi is very close to us:
In the occasional contrition of our souls,
in the unexpected nagging of conscience,
in the rare repentance of the inner self.
In the nightmares 
appearing through sound sleep,
in disease,
in hunger,
in helplessness,
in the abject fear
of an impending bloodshed.
How could we then walk
Into celebrated portals 
of the twenty-first century,
leaving Kalahandi behind?

Read More
After Gujarat

Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

After Gujarat,
Will there be poetry?
Could poets write
after Alexandria was razed?
Hiroshima and Vietnam;
after the Emergency;
after Babri Masjid,
9/11 and Iraq?
Poetry cannot be banished.
It returns at will
to Plato’s Republic,
to Stalin’s Siberia,
to Pokhran and to Kalahandi,
following in the footprints.
of violence
as it chronicles
the descent of man.
As with history, for poetry
there is no end.
Poetry will be written
despite fatwas and bans.
Poetry will defy the Gulag;
it will ignore the censor’s blue pencil
and the fundamentalist’s frown.
Poetry will be written
even as books
are being burnt.
After Gujarat
Poetry will be written
about Gujarat itself,
beginning with
the shame of Ayodhya
and following the bloody trail
to Godhra, to Gujarat
and on to Mumbai.
When Babri rises
poetry will affirm
that temples are made
not with blood-scribed bricks
or stones carved in hate,
that they, like poetry,
are founded on imagination and faith
in the hearts of men.
After Gujarat
poems will be written
to affirm the truth
that there is no Ayodhya
outside the poet’s
epic imagination.

Read More
Kalahandi

Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

Put away the road maps now.
To go there.
You do not need helicopters any more:
wherever there is hunger, Kalahandi is there.
The god of rain turned away his face.
There was not one green leaf left on trees to eat.
The whole village a graveyard
The ground, cracked 
River sand, dried up.
All plans failed;
the poverty line receded further.
Wherever you look,There is a Kalahandi:
In the sunken eyes of living skeletons,
in rags which do not cover frail bodies,
in utensils pawned off for food,
in the crumbling hutswith un thatched roofs,
in the exclusive prosperity
of having owned two earthen pots.
Kalahandi is everywhere:
in the gathering of famished crowds before charity kitchens,
in market places where children are auctioned off, 
in the sigh of young girls sold to brothels,
in the silent processions of helpless people leaving their hearth and home.
Come, look at Kalahandi closer:
In the crocodile tears 
Of false press statements, 
in the exaggerated statistics 
Of computer print-outs,
in the cheap sympathies 
doled out at conferences, 
in the false assurances presented by planners.
Kalahandi is very close to us:
In the occasional contrition of our souls,
in the unexpected nagging of conscience,
in the rare repentance of the inner self.
In the nightmares 
appearing through sound sleep,
in disease,
in hunger,
in helplessness,
in the abject fear
of an impending bloodshed.
How could we then walk
Into celebrated portals 
of the twenty-first century,
leaving Kalahandi behind?

Read More
After Gujarat

Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

After Gujarat,
Will there be poetry?
Could poets write
after Alexandria was razed?
Hiroshima and Vietnam;
after the Emergency;
after Babri Masjid,
9/11 and Iraq?
Poetry cannot be banished.
It returns at will
to Plato’s Republic,
to Stalin’s Siberia,
to Pokhran and to Kalahandi,
following in the footprints.
of violence
as it chronicles
the descent of man.
As with history, for poetry
there is no end.
Poetry will be written
despite fatwas and bans.
Poetry will defy the Gulag;
it will ignore the censor’s blue pencil
and the fundamentalist’s frown.
Poetry will be written
even as books
are being burnt.
After Gujarat
Poetry will be written
about Gujarat itself,
beginning with
the shame of Ayodhya
and following the bloody trail
to Godhra, to Gujarat
and on to Mumbai.
When Babri rises
poetry will affirm
that temples are made
not with blood-scribed bricks
or stones carved in hate,
that they, like poetry,
are founded on imagination and faith
in the hearts of men.
After Gujarat
poems will be written
to affirm the truth
that there is no Ayodhya
outside the poet’s
epic imagination.

Read More
Kalahandi

Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

Put away the road maps now.
To go there.
You do not need helicopters any more:
wherever there is hunger, Kalahandi is there.
The god of rain turned away his face.
There was not one green leaf left on trees to eat.
The whole village a graveyard
The ground, cracked 
River sand, dried up.
All plans failed;
the poverty line receded further.
Wherever you look,There is a Kalahandi:
In the sunken eyes of living skeletons,
in rags which do not cover frail bodies,
in utensils pawned off for food,
in the crumbling hutswith un thatched roofs,
in the exclusive prosperity
of having owned two earthen pots.
Kalahandi is everywhere:
in the gathering of famished crowds before charity kitchens,
in market places where children are auctioned off, 
in the sigh of young girls sold to brothels,
in the silent processions of helpless people leaving their hearth and home.
Come, look at Kalahandi closer:
In the crocodile tears 
Of false press statements, 
in the exaggerated statistics 
Of computer print-outs,
in the cheap sympathies 
doled out at conferences, 
in the false assurances presented by planners.
Kalahandi is very close to us:
In the occasional contrition of our souls,
in the unexpected nagging of conscience,
in the rare repentance of the inner self.
In the nightmares 
appearing through sound sleep,
in disease,
in hunger,
in helplessness,
in the abject fear
of an impending bloodshed.
How could we then walk
Into celebrated portals 
of the twenty-first century,
leaving Kalahandi behind?

Read More
After Gujarat

Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

After Gujarat,
Will there be poetry?
Could poets write
after Alexandria was razed?
Hiroshima and Vietnam;
after the Emergency;
after Babri Masjid,
9/11 and Iraq?
Poetry cannot be banished.
It returns at will
to Plato’s Republic,
to Stalin’s Siberia,
to Pokhran and to Kalahandi,
following in the footprints.
of violence
as it chronicles
the descent of man.
As with history, for poetry
there is no end.
Poetry will be written
despite fatwas and bans.
Poetry will defy the Gulag;
it will ignore the censor’s blue pencil
and the fundamentalist’s frown.
Poetry will be written
even as books
are being burnt.
After Gujarat
Poetry will be written
about Gujarat itself,
beginning with
the shame of Ayodhya
and following the bloody trail
to Godhra, to Gujarat
and on to Mumbai.
When Babri rises
poetry will affirm
that temples are made
not with blood-scribed bricks
or stones carved in hate,
that they, like poetry,
are founded on imagination and faith
in the hearts of men.
After Gujarat
poems will be written
to affirm the truth
that there is no Ayodhya
outside the poet’s
epic imagination.

Read More
Kalahandi

Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

Put away the road maps now.
To go there.
You do not need helicopters any more:
wherever there is hunger, Kalahandi is there.
The god of rain turned away his face.
There was not one green leaf left on trees to eat.
The whole village a graveyard
The ground, cracked 
River sand, dried up.
All plans failed;
the poverty line receded further.
Wherever you look,There is a Kalahandi:
In the sunken eyes of living skeletons,
in rags which do not cover frail bodies,
in utensils pawned off for food,
in the crumbling hutswith un thatched roofs,
in the exclusive prosperity
of having owned two earthen pots.
Kalahandi is everywhere:
in the gathering of famished crowds before charity kitchens,
in market places where children are auctioned off, 
in the sigh of young girls sold to brothels,
in the silent processions of helpless people leaving their hearth and home.
Come, look at Kalahandi closer:
In the crocodile tears 
Of false press statements, 
in the exaggerated statistics 
Of computer print-outs,
in the cheap sympathies 
doled out at conferences, 
in the false assurances presented by planners.
Kalahandi is very close to us:
In the occasional contrition of our souls,
in the unexpected nagging of conscience,
in the rare repentance of the inner self.
In the nightmares 
appearing through sound sleep,
in disease,
in hunger,
in helplessness,
in the abject fear
of an impending bloodshed.
How could we then walk
Into celebrated portals 
of the twenty-first century,
leaving Kalahandi behind?

Read More
After Gujarat

Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

After Gujarat,
Will there be poetry?
Could poets write
after Alexandria was razed?
Hiroshima and Vietnam;
after the Emergency;
after Babri Masjid,
9/11 and Iraq?
Poetry cannot be banished.
It returns at will
to Plato’s Republic,
to Stalin’s Siberia,
to Pokhran and to Kalahandi,
following in the footprints.
of violence
as it chronicles
the descent of man.
As with history, for poetry
there is no end.
Poetry will be written
despite fatwas and bans.
Poetry will defy the Gulag;
it will ignore the censor’s blue pencil
and the fundamentalist’s frown.
Poetry will be written
even as books
are being burnt.
After Gujarat
Poetry will be written
about Gujarat itself,
beginning with
the shame of Ayodhya
and following the bloody trail
to Godhra, to Gujarat
and on to Mumbai.
When Babri rises
poetry will affirm
that temples are made
not with blood-scribed bricks
or stones carved in hate,
that they, like poetry,
are founded on imagination and faith
in the hearts of men.
After Gujarat
poems will be written
to affirm the truth
that there is no Ayodhya
outside the poet’s
epic imagination.

Read More
Kalahandi

Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

Put away the road maps now.
To go there.
You do not need helicopters any more:
wherever there is hunger, Kalahandi is there.
The god of rain turned away his face.
There was not one green leaf left on trees to eat.
The whole village a graveyard
The ground, cracked 
River sand, dried up.
All plans failed;
the poverty line receded further.
Wherever you look,There is a Kalahandi:
In the sunken eyes of living skeletons,
in rags which do not cover frail bodies,
in utensils pawned off for food,
in the crumbling hutswith un thatched roofs,
in the exclusive prosperity
of having owned two earthen pots.
Kalahandi is everywhere:
in the gathering of famished crowds before charity kitchens,
in market places where children are auctioned off, 
in the sigh of young girls sold to brothels,
in the silent processions of helpless people leaving their hearth and home.
Come, look at Kalahandi closer:
In the crocodile tears 
Of false press statements, 
in the exaggerated statistics 
Of computer print-outs,
in the cheap sympathies 
doled out at conferences, 
in the false assurances presented by planners.
Kalahandi is very close to us:
In the occasional contrition of our souls,
in the unexpected nagging of conscience,
in the rare repentance of the inner self.
In the nightmares 
appearing through sound sleep,
in disease,
in hunger,
in helplessness,
in the abject fear
of an impending bloodshed.
How could we then walk
Into celebrated portals 
of the twenty-first century,
leaving Kalahandi behind?

Read More
After Gujarat

Dr. Jagannath Prasad Das

After Gujarat,
Will there be poetry?
Could poets write
after Alexandria was razed?
Hiroshima and Vietnam;
after the Emergency;
after Babri Masjid,
9/11 and Iraq?
Poetry cannot be banished.
It returns at will
to Plato’s Republic,
to Stalin’s Siberia,
to Pokhran and to Kalahandi,
following in the footprints.
of violence
as it chronicles
the descent of man.
As with history, for poetry
there is no end.
Poetry will be written
despite fatwas and bans.
Poetry will defy the Gulag;
it will ignore the censor’s blue pencil
and the fundamentalist’s frown.
Poetry will be written
even as books
are being burnt.
After Gujarat
Poetry will be written
about Gujarat itself,
beginning with
the shame of Ayodhya
and following the bloody trail
to Godhra, to Gujarat
and on to Mumbai.
When Babri rises
poetry will affirm
that temples are made
not with blood-scribed bricks
or stones carved in hate,
that they, like poetry,
are founded on imagination and faith
in the hearts of men.
After Gujarat
poems will be written
to affirm the truth
that there is no Ayodhya
outside the poet’s
epic imagination.

Read More
For literature, event updates, and literary content in multiple Indian Languages