Exhibition showcases stories of Na’Anka Durbhikshya

Odisha Uncategorized
Bhubaneswar, March 26, 2018: 
An exhibition of photographs, sketches and newspaper reports on the
Great Orissa Famine of 1866 was inaugurated by Culture Minister Ashok Panda at
the State Archives on Monday. 
The exhibition is being organised by The Indian National
Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and Odisha State Archives. The
exhibition will remain open from 10 am to 5 pm till April 6.
On display are newspaper reports published in the overseas
press of the 1866-68 periods along with sketches, cartoons, drawings and
photographs. These shed new light of the conditions and the suffering of the
Speaking on the occasion, Panda said that the Na’Anka
Durbhikshya was a dark forgotten chapter of Odisha’s history. Even though the
events that happened have been pushed to one corner of history, it has been a
part of Odia consciousness and  
subconscious ever since.
S.K.B.Narayan, Convener of INTACH said that even today, 150
years after the Great Famine, Odisha faces regular threats of calamities like
droughts, floods and cyclones, and crop failures. He said that the exhibition
would be taken to the other INTACH chapters of Bhadrak, Balasore & Baripada
Anil Dhir, who has curated the exhibition, said that a
suitable memorial of the Great Famine should be set up in memory of the million
and a half who had perished. He said that the Famine was not an accident of
nature. It was not providence; rather it was a series of mistakes. For many
decades after the great famine, it was simply a dark and even humiliating
experience which the survivors, and the survivors of the survivors, had little
wish to recall, the anguish of a past in which men and women barely survived.
Dhir said that we owe the dead as much respect and honour as
we give to any brave action or any other defining moment of our history. The
Great Famine was a cataclysm on a scale never witnessed in this nation before.
And yet people endured, survived, emigrated and above all remembered. The
Na’Anka should have been a wakeup call; several lessons should have been
learnt. Every regime of Odisha has been discussing the eradication of poverty
and backwardness since 1866. We are still one of the most poverty ridden
states, with our marginalised small farmers bearing the brunt of misery. Crop
failures still result in suicides,  abd
there is rampant malnutrition and at times starvation deaths too.
Ramesh Mohapatro, Convener of the Pipili Sanskrutika Parishad
said that a suitable memorial will be set up in Pipili in memory of the millions
who perished in the Famine. He said that even today, the scenario is not much
different from the pre-famines years. The growth of population, deforestation,
large dams, greenhouse effects, pollution, climate aberration, displacement and
water scarcity are some of the triggers that are keeping Odisha poor.
Amiya Bhusan Tripathy, State Convener of INTACH is of the
opinion that a correct history of the Famine and the post Famine years should
be written.
There was not a single narrative of the Great Orissa Famine
available. For many years, the Famine was something to which we could not give
a name; it was named as the Na’Anka. It was something with which we were not
able to engage. It was something that generated a great silence.
He said that valuable information can be collected from
various sources in India and abroad. The newspaper reports of the period, which
are displayed in the exhibition, give a horrific account. The British
Parliamentary Debates, the Famine Commission Report and contemporary writings
of the time should be studied. The suffering of the victims has found place in
the history and folklore of the State, being passed on from generation to
Shashanka Sekhar Das, the Limca Book of Record holder for the
largest collection of newspapers in India was felicitated on the occasion.

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