Kalinga Literary Festival hosted author, entrepreneur, Chairman of Odisha Skill Development Authority, Subroto Bagchi at KLF Bhava Samvad

Bhubaneswar: On Sunday 26 July, 2020, KLF Bhava Samvad hosted the author entrepreneur, Chairman of Odisha Skill Development Authority Subroto Bagchi on the panel. The session was brilliantly moderated by writer & journalist Kedar Mishra.

Starting the session with speaking about the Covid 19 crisis, Bagchi says that sometimes we feel that we are going through what people are hastily concluding as the biggest crisis faced by humanity. “Its a matter of perspective. We are in difficult times but certainly not in the biggest crisis ever faced by humankind. If compared to 14th century ‘Black Death’ plague in which 25 million people in Europe died, and H1N1 in 1918 where 50 million people died, Covid situation has not worsen to that extent. It is definitely serious but not the biggest crisis. That is why we need to have resilience and hope,” he says.

He also adds that the crisis looks huge when we aggregate it. But we need to understand that there may be an unusual crisis in an individual’s life bigger than this entire thing. As humans, we need to be mindful that anger and fear are first cousins. When one is there, another shows up. Many of the old and unresolved issues should not be triggered due to the suddenness of fear and anger.
Opining on this he says, “Its a difficult setback as most of us are experiencing this for the first time. So rather than overreacting, it has to be acknowledged that even if we are confined, yet we are connected by the grace of technology. Food, water, power, medicines etc., none of the essential supplies have stopped.”

India faced a huge setback when the working class people or migrant workers suffered the severity. “There are two major things responsible for it. The workers in our country are paid in a complete exploitative way. Secondly, the issue of worker housing has totally been unaddressed. This is a gigantic social and governmental failure that created migrant workers crisis. Most of the enterprises in India are not emotionally involved with their employees. This is a crisis of conscience. Middleclass section can still survive on minimal requirements. But if looked at Odisha, out of 4.5 crore Odias, 3.3 crores in the state still depend on the public distribution system for their daily food. So we have to think about these people at the bottom of the pyramid,” expresses Bagchi.

In order to elaborate the connection of confinement in lockdown with natural phenomenon, Bagchi connects it with hibernation. “Many animals hibernate as it is a part of their life cycle. This period is teaching us to reduce the unnecessary requirements of life and move towards a healthy sustainability. Our ability to deal with pain is inversely proportional to see pain elsewhere. Everything has a time and a place and we have to wait for it to come back again. But it will not come back to where we had left it, but rather where it had left us.”

Apart from being a tech innovator, mentor, and public figure, Bagchi has a portion of life devoted to writing. “I have my fair share of love and anger. My writings used to get published in many regional magazines, booklets back then in Odia and later columns etc., in English. In 1999, When Mindtree was a tiny startup, lot of people said that they wanted the voice of an entrepreneur. That is how the book ‘The High Performance Entrepreneur’ came up. Little did I realise that the book will be a bestseller. My second book also happened by chance. One of my speeches at IIM Bangalore about my life lessons went viral over internet. My publisher told me to write a book for them titled ‘Go Kiss The World’.”

Recollecting the memories Bagchi says , “From a 10-15 year old boy writing poems to a columnist in national magazines and newspapers, and then eventually becoming an author of two books is like a journey where windows are opening one after another. But as I am a non-fiction writer, I believe that fictional writers are the true creative people. When eventually my books were well recognised and became bestsellers, I wondered what made it possible. My publisher told me an interesting thing that I make things accessible for common public to understand. One might be having a towering personality profound with wisdom, but if the average person cannot open the lock then it has a little consequence. You make things accessible to people when you choose simplicity over sophistication. I would rather be loved than admired.”

Being a technology innovator and a public servant at a later point of life, Bagchi puts his journey by saying, “Once I was asked how I contrast my forty years of corporate life to the four years of public service, and would I give up those forty years for the sake of the latter. I wouldn’t do any of these. Those forty years of corporate life have been really successful for me in nurturing a dream. On the other hand, serving the people of Odisha can be put in a very simple way. Because Odisha is the most civilised state in the country. You can go anywhere, but at most places you can’t feel that you are with good and kind people. In a world, where civility is lost in last 20-30 years, its a privilege to work for a state where it still exists.”

He concludes saying about the overwhelming love and affection of Odisha people for him. “We love Odisha, we speak Odia, we live amongst Odia. In last few years, the kind of love and affection me and wife Sushmita have received from the people of Odisha is incomparable. The job I am in right now serving the motherland, it is the greatest feeling one can ever have.”

KLF Bhava Samvad is a small step to regenerate the literary spirit at the time of disillusionment and new normal.