Indian English poet Jayant Mohapatra has written to the President expressing his desire to return the Padma Shri award he received from the then President in April, 2009.
“Due to the growing asymmetry in society, particularly in recent days, I have decided to return the prestigious civilian award as part of small voice of dissent”, Mohapatra told this correspondent on Sunday.
When asked whether he was planning to return his Sahitya Akademi Award as well that he received in 1981, the 88- year-old poet said “no”, adding that the award was given to him by the Akademi and not by the government.
Known as a multi-cultural poet of the country, the former physics teacher said he personally witnessed massive moral degradation of human values in his neighbourhood in recent days.
“Since I am from a minority community surrounded by a majority community in my locality, I am unable to concentrate on my writings as I am apprehensive as to how my neighbourhood reacts to my writings”, Mr. Mohapatra said, adding that his decision to return the award should not be viewed as a disrespect to the nation.