Manas Ranjan Mahapatra

I sent a postcard letter way back in 1981 to Dr Bansidhar Panda , the first known industrialist of international fame from Odisha seeking an appointment. He was the first highest qualified Metallurgy Expert from Odisha.He was then Chairman, IMFA Group of Companies. I was not hoping for a reply as many such letters to many people remained unanswered by then.

A week later I got a reply from the then Manager, Public Relations of IMFA to come for a personal talk to IMFA office at Bomikhal, Bhubaneswar on a specified date and time. The letter was signed by none other than Dr Panda.

The date approached. I reached the IMFA office.

I was asked to sit in a room. Then, somebody came with a cup of tea.

After a few minutes I was asked to go to a specific room.It was the room of Manager, Public Relations.

– ‘So, you wrote to Dr Panda ‘, the gentleman asked.

– Yes Sir.

He looked at me with affection and said, ‘You look to be very young. How old are you?’

-‘ I am 20 Sir’, I said.

– Then you are under age . Minimum age for a job is 21 now.( It was till Rajiv Gandhi made it 18 in 1986)

By that time I understood that they were considering me for a job in IMFA.I gave him my CV.

Dr Bansidhar Panda

Then he said,’ Your qualification is just graduation and you are under age. But I found from your CV that you will be 21 next month. We can then appoint you as a clerk in our PR Department.’

– Clerk? I am already an Editor in a Publishing House .

I bluntly refused and came back. Later I came to know that he wanted to appoint his brother-in-law there.

Dr Panda was in their plant site at Therubali. I came back. Since my post card was to appreciate him and not for a job , I was not disturbed at all.

Some days after I met Dr Panda in a meeting at Bhubaneswar.

– ‘So, are you joining us,’ he asked.

– No Sir, I don’t want to be a clerk.

Then I told him, ’Sir, please do something to promote Odia Literature and Culture.I wrote you a Postcard for that.’

Dr Nityananda Satpathy 

In due course IMFA instituted an award for promotion of Odia Literature and nominated Dr Nityananda Satpathy as its Secretary. I joined Odisha Education Service and later NCERT from where I came to NBT.My uncle Sarat Chandra Mahapatra had edited a book and the first copy was to be presented to the then President of India Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma . A function at Rashtrapati Bhawan was organized for the purpose. I was sent by my uncle to invite Dr Panda who had a suite in Qutub Hotel to attend this programme.

He saw my card and looked at me with an affectionate eye.

– ‘You are the same boy.What are you doing in Delhi ?’ Dr Panda asked.

-‘ I am now an Editor with NBT Sir,’ I replied.

‘Our Manager, Public Relations has retired. Why don’t you join us ‘, Dr Panda said.

‘Thank you Sir. But, time has brought me to a great height. My father was an Editor and I always wanted to be that. It is not possible for me to accept your offer. Had it been in 1981 it could have been different ,’ I said politely.

Manas Ranjan Mahapatra

(First of a series by Manas Ranjan Mahapatra,former editor of National Book Trust, New Delhi.Views are personal)