All posts filed under: Personal


Pete Seeger: UnAmerican, Communist, and a People’s Songster

By Saswat Pattanayak  Pete Seeger was not the “American conscience”, as he is being now crowned by the corporate media after his demise. In reality, he was the UnAmerican conscience. And to understand this, it is important to underscore the extent of his internationalism, his commitment towards humanity, his selfless unpatriotic journey as a fervent communist, his lifelong quest against American militarism, adventurism and exceptionalism. Most importantly, to use history as a weapon in the class struggle, as Pete used music as his tool, it is pivotal to not let go of the “unAmerican” label that was imposed upon him by the American power, because he was perceived to be a communist, when in August 1955, he was summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and he refused to testify against his comrades or to pass on any information regarding the Communist Party that could help implicate any office-bearer of the party. Saswat Pattanayak with Pete Seeger (Photo: Amrita Misra) Unlike many entertainers and intellectuals who gave in to the peer pressures or social benefits, …

Orissa Killer Cyclone 1999: Recollections & Some Lessons for Phailin


Cyclone Phailin is not over yet, and Orissa is not all about Bhubaneswar. If lessons be learnt from 1999, there’s an enormous amount of work to be done, beginning with the administration ending its premature jubilation. Even as this cyclone did not prove to be as catastrophic as the ’99 one, we must not undermine the challenges that are ahead of us. Evacuation is not enough, rehabilitation is the key. Farmers, fishers and the poor in the vulnerable coastal belts devoid of ecological balances, wrought upon them through corporate greed – are the sections of population that will be the worst sufferers. 500,000 hectares of crops have been damaged and the already impoverished state of Orissa has been relegated further down. 

I am sharing with you all my journey as a reporter during the 1999 “super cyclone” when the team of Asian Age covered it extensively. Some of it are pure nostalgia, but many are pointers to what may lie ahead.

To the One

To the One – full of life – then now and forever To the One – ever forgiving – and always the giver To the One – spring of love – source of boundless joys  To the One – guiding torch – in my meaningful voyage   To the One – keeper of truth – unflinching dedication To the One – selfless seeker – humbly serving nation To the One – the conscience – exemplifying values To the One – guardian angel – your blessing accrues   To the One – beloved Father – in you my life resides Wishing you now – and as every moment comes alive   – Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet  

For you, My love

Some say my love, there’s a time for love  An occasion to assert, and to proclaim For me, my love, there’s none to resolve Nothing to validate, or rename   Friendship distinct, values progressive Your trust not for selfish pursuits World I question, in you I believe Absorbed in you, my life renews   Opposed you are to unjust strictures Unyielding your principled stands Averse to imperialism, oppressions You endorse free people and lands        My friend forever, my teacher you are You inspire me in times good and rough Lending me strength, whether near or far Unflinching courage, determination tough    For some my love, we picture perfect  For me love grows, an evolving frame Some may say, we reposeful, content For you my love, may I not be in vain…   – Saswat Pattanayak, Peoples’ Poet