Mahapatra’s wish to return Padma Shri evokes mixed reactions

A day after poet Jayant Mahapatra expressed a desire to return his Padma Shri award over growing “moral asymmetry” in the country, it evoked mixed reactions from politicians and litterateurs on Monday.

Mahapatra has written a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee expressing his desire to return his Padma Shri award in protest against the growing “moral asymmetry” in the country.

“I would like to thank Jayanta Mahapatra for his decision and protesting against intolerance in the country,” said Food Supply and Consumer Welfare Minister Sanjay Dasburma while addressing a Biju Chhatra Janata Dal (BCJD) rally attended by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here on Monday.

His party MP Bhatruhari Mahatab, however, said it was not right for a person to return the award given by the nation.

“I believe a person bestowed with such a coveted award should uphold its significance as he has been honoured by the nation. And in my opinion, such a decision is not right,” said Mahatab.

Novelist Bibhuti Patnaik said Mahapatra should vent his views through his writings and discussions at appropriate platforms.

“Intolerance is not a new thing. Not only India, it is happening across the world. Especially, communal intolerance is happening in the world. So, only returning the award is not the way out,” Bibhuti Patnaik said.

Mahapatra, 88, who received the award in 2009 had donated his Padma Shri award, his Sahitya Akademi award, and several state literary awards to the heritage library of Fakir Mohan University in Balasore district, where he served as a professor of physics.