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The Rediff Interview/Kanaksen Deka

February 14, 2005

Kanaksen Deka, owner-editor of Dainik Agradoot, a leading Assamese newspaper, hit the headlines recently for refusing to accept the Padma Shri conferred on him by the government this Republic Day.

The veteran editor, who has been a strong critic of the mindless militancy in Assam, has recently been elected as president of the state's largest socio-literary organisation, the Asom Sahitya Sabha. He spoke to Contributing Special Correspondent G Vinayak in Guwahati.

Why did you refuse to accept the Padma Shri?

Let me make it clear before I answer your question that I have the highest regard for the Padma awards and the government. I am, in fact, thankful to the authorities for having chosen me for the award, but there are compelling reasons why I declined to receive it. The reality is I have more respect and regard for the love of the people. I consider their love as more valuable.

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But you have received so many awards in the past, how would a Padma award have made any difference?

Precisely. In my over four-decade long career as a journalist and writer, I have been fortunate to receive innumerable awards from the people. For instance, I have been conferred with Sangbad Jyoti Award, Sangbad Samart, Sangbad Mukut award to name a few by the people of Assam. Therefore, I did not want to devalue the people's support to me by accepting what is essentially a government award.

How has people's support helped you in your career?

It is only because of the people's support that I have been given the recognition and honour by different organisations even at the national level in the past. For my consistent and trenchant criticism of terrorism in Assam, I was conferred the Ram Manohar Lohia National Award. This award came at a time when many people were glorifying the militants in Assam but I was writing against their activities. Similarly, in 1996, I received the National Citizens award for my writings against terrorism. This award was, in fact, given away by none other than Mother Teresa.

On top of everything, the people of Assam have now elected me as the president of the Asom Sahitya Sabha, the largest literally and socio-political body of the state, if not entire India. The people have thus shown tremendous love and respect for me and my work.

Against this background, I could not accept any Padma award because for me the people's sentiments and love are more precious than any government recognition. It would have been insulting for the people if I had accepted the Padma Shree offered to me. That is the only reason why I have chosen not to accept the Padma Shree. Utimately, for me, the people's love and blessings is much more valuable than any government award.

Image: Uday Kuckian

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Number of User Comments: 1

Sub: Really ??

I think this is another publicity stunt. If they have real sentiment for people why are they not using it for people of india instead ...

Posted by Indian


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