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Arnab Jan Deka

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Name  Arnab Deka

Role  Novelist
Arnab Jan Deka wearing gray coat, light blue long sleeves and neck tie
Occupation  Litterateur, Author, Novelist, Short story writer, Poet, Playwright, Columnist, Screenwriter, Television actor, Documentary Film Director, River Engineer, Jurist, Eco-Technocrat
Notable awards  Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray Award, 2010, Calcutta;Assam Government Publication Board Golden Jubilee Novel Award, 2006;Katha-Goriyoshi Short Story Award, 2003, at Katha International Short Story Festival, New Delhi

Hajong Conference Kalakshetra Guwahati Speech Writer Mr. Arnab Jan Deka


Arnab Jan Deka is a novelist, short story writer, poet, playwright, screenwriter, documentary film director, columnist, TV actor, jurist, river engineer and eco-technocrat. He authored 131 fiction and non-fiction books (two of them being co-authored with British and American authors respectively) and edited 14 more books in English, Assamese, Hindi and Bengali. He was also editor of a journal and a newspaper. India Government's official Academy of Letters Sahitya Academy incorporated his biography as one among the top Indian writers of the 20th Century in the End Century Edition of Who's Who of Indian Writers 1999. 'NE Live' listed him as one of the "Top 5 Contemporary Writers from Assam who have made it big outside the state also" which include such other literary stalwarts like Dr Indira Goswami, Homen Borgohain and Nirupama Borgohain, who "have not only contributed to the literary wealth of the state, they have also enlightened the world about the life and culture of Assam through their writing." In a critical literary essay 'New generation of storytellers' he has been described as one among "the bunch of most powerful storytellers" who "delved deep into the spiritual and intellectual heritage along the Brahmaputra valley, and also highlighted its environmental fragility."

Contents

He is the recipient of Assam Government's Publication Board Golden Jubilee Novel Award in 2006 for his classical novel Bhaba Ananda Sambad ('Tales of Bhabananda'). Katha International Short Story Festival held in New Delhi in January, 2004, awarded him with the Katha-Goriyoshi Award for his short-story Himalayan Mystic Meeting. He is also recipient of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray Memorial Award (Smarak Samman) 2010 in Calcutta, conferred upon him in recognition of his lifetime contributions to literature, art and scientific research.

He is the international chairman of the Indo-British environmental project Save the Brahmaputra River.

He was the youngest Indian radio playwright. His first radio-play Mukti('Freedom') was broadcast by All India Radio in 1981 while he was a school student. His first authored book Ephanki Rhode ('A Stanza of Sunlight') was published in 1983.

His documentary film on saint-artist-littérateur Srimanta Sankardev had been publicly screened in several countries.

Principal Bhabananda Deka Nalini Prava Deka Lecture by Arnab Jan Deka


First Assamese co-author of Indo-British book of poetry

Arnab Jan Deka is the first creative writer in Assamese to have co-authored an Indo-British book of poetry with British poet and novelist Tess Joyce in 2009 entitled A Stanza of Sunlight on the Banks of Brahmaputra. The book received wider international success, as many leading newspapers carried exclusive coverage on this publication. In a major critical writing in The Book Review journal, literary critic and poet N Kalyani describes its poetry in these words- "Poems have a spatial and temporal location and context and relevant and significant to that, yet they are also universal in their theme and substance and not restricted to a period of time making them obsolete or decrepit for another or a future time period." In the same essay, the critic's admiration of Arnab Jan Deka's poetry has been evident, when she describes- "And in These Small Thoughts Deka reveals what Umananda is, A tiny river island amidst the mighty river Brahmaputra near the prehistoric city of Pragjyotishpur, known by its modern name Guwahati now, in a way that brings the image so alive: The tiny rivulet reflect a myriad of colour/The distant Umananda--a majestic aloof lily pad/The blackish riverbank with flowing wind/The cities dreaming of fleeced nomad/Besides the tidal marina." This book found a place of pride in the prestigious London Poetry Library, which is the first official recognition to an Assamese poet by the famous British institution devoted to poetry.
His first book Ephanki Rhode ('A Stanza of Sunlight'), published in 1983 while he was a minor school student of 10th standard, established him as a major poet and author in Assamese language. Jnanpeeth Award winner top Indian littérateur and Sahitya Academy President Dr Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya discovered this budding literary talent and officially brought the school-going teen-aged author into intellectual limelight by writing a generous Review of his first book and later days' creations.
British poet Tess Joyce wrote an evocative essay on his poetry in the literary journal published from London Luit to Thames, whose edited form was also republished by Barcelona,Spain, based journal Art of Living Guide. In her writing Joyce states as follows-- "Written during his high school years, Arnab’s poems plunged the reader into further depths – into the midst of the universe itself and the riverine landscapes only served to increase the levels of complexity the narrator saw; we are left to realise that no-one is big enough to hold the universe and so: Yet with no empty space left on the boat/the Universe sat quietly beside the reeds. Imbibed with a sense of awe, the narrator’s desires for explanations disappeared – it was the poetry that satisfied him, hence: On the bald head of the dusty earth/Ashwaklanta bestowed a stanza of sunlight."

Short story writer

Arnab Jan Deka is a short story writer. His short stories regularly appear in Prantik and Goriyoshi and have been translated into English, Spanish, Bengali, Bodo and many other languages and published in literary journals and newspapers.

His well-known short stories include: Prem Asambhav ('Love Impossible), Hridoybotir Sondhan ('Quest for Large-Hearted Magnanimity'), Naareebaadar Narak ('Hell of Feminism'), Tumi Rituporna Tai Malala ('She is Malala'), Tinijoni Gawoliya Sowali ('Three Village Girls'), Katha-Goriyoshi Award-winning short story Himalayar Duporiya : Ankur-Tapaswi-Swarnakeshinee('Himalayan Mystic Meeting'), Mor Shohorot Dujon Spaniard('Two Spaniards in My City'), Nixiddho Nogorit Mei Lang('Mei Lang in the Forbidden City'), Mexico Shohorot Ejoni Premika('A Sweetheart in Mexico City'), Ejoni American Matri('An American Mother'), Samudrik Akangkhat Ronga Nodi Neela Pahar('Oceanic Aspirations of Red River Blue Hill').

His short-story collections include Prem Asambhav('Love Impossible')(2013), Akasmat Ek Aabeli('Suddenly An Afternoon')(2004), Naareebaadar Narak('Hell of Feminism')(1999) and Mexico Shohore Ekjon Premika Abong Koyekta Golpo('A Sweetheart in Mexico & other stories')(2009). Leading English daily The Assam Tribune in its issue dated 28 January 2000 described Arnab Jan Deka's first story-book Naareebaadar Narak as follows- “Whatever be the history and definition of feminism, Arnab Jan Deka has portrayed feminism in his latest book ‘Naareebaadar Narak’ (The Hell of Feminism) in a very unique way. Arnab Jan Deka writes as if he has already gone through the experiences of a woman. He has perhaps experienced the so called ‘feminist world’ more closely." According to a widely circulated Assamese daily Asomiya Khabar, this storybook was the bestseller among Assamese books in the year 1999.

As a Novelist

Arnab Jan Deka also earned laurels as a novelist. His classical novel Bhaba Ananda Sambad('Tales of Bhabananda')(2007) won him the prestigious Assam Government Publication Board Golden Jubilee Novel Award in 2006. His another novel Childhood Dreams(2010) was a strong protest against the sub-human practice of Child-Slavery prevalent in many countries and, at the same time, it also advocated Child-Right to Education. This novel had been adapted in 2011 into a mini TV-series entitled Soisobote Dhemalite and telecast over India Government-owned TV-channel Doordarshan. This televised version of his novel was produced by veteran film producer and actor Late Pramod Baruah and directed by Indian superstar film actor & director Brojen Borah.
His award-winning novel Bhaba Ananda Sambad on the backdrop of the educational and intellectual scenario of the post-independence Assam of 1950s and 1960s was loosely based on the eventful life of the legendary pioneer Assam Economist and Awahon-Ramdhenu Era littérateur Principal Bhabananda Deka. The novel depicted the highpoints of his life, which include establishments of Assamese Departments in the Indian Constitutional body Union Public Service Commission(UPSC) and Delhi University in the capital city of India in the late 1960s, apart from illustrating his lifelong mission of spreading the fruits of higher education amidst the poor toiling millions of village dwellers in the entire Brahmaputra valley. This novel has been a subject of Doctoral Research for PhD in Assamese Department of Dibrugarh University.
His other published novels include Noisoclubot Bigotojoubona('A Post-youth Vamp in the Night Club')(2000), Astarambha Premor Biyoli Joubon('Sun-setting Youth of Superficial Love')(1999), Hridoyor Dinlipi('The Heart's Diary')(2004) and Bhai Bhai('Band of Brothers')(children's novel)(2005).

Columnist & Essayist

Daily newspapers Dainik Asam, Dainik Janambhumi, The Assam Tribune, Natun Dainik, Aji Assamese Daily, Dainik Batori Kakot, Amar Asom, Edinor Sangbad, News 30, Ami Asomor Janagan and weeklies-periodicals like Asam Bani, Sadin, Notun Samay, Agradoot, Prantik and Goriyoshi have been regularly publishing essays and columns of Arnab Jan Deka from early 1990s till 2016 on many issues of topical interest. His weekly column Dharabhasya ('Sayings of the Times') published in the oldest Assamese daily 'Dainik Asam' had been acknowledged as the series of important essays on modern world's social issues giving new directions to public opinions. This popular Column started appearing in Sunday issues of 'Dainik Asam' from 2 August 1998 onward. Title of the first instalment essay of this Column was Ratnakarar Pitri-Matri aru Ajir Samaj('Ratnakar's Parents & Today's Society'), which illustrates the eternal conflict between materialism and morality. His other columns include Satyar Xipithi('Other side of the Truth') in 'Natun Samay', Ajir Chinta('Today's Thoughts') in 'Dainik Janambhumi', Adhiboktar Diary('Advocate's Diary') in 'Aji' and Sangskriti Kotha('Talk about Culture') in 'Dainik Asam'.
His penultimate weekly column Hridoyor Xonglap ('Dialogues of the Heart') was published in a newly launched Assamese daily 'Dainik Batori Kakot' in 2006.
His articles and research papers are regularly published in journals like Prantik, Goriyoshi and Assam Sahitya Sabha Patrika.

First Assamese co-author of Indo-American joint memoir book

In 2016 Arnab Jan Deka collaborated with American author, healthcare professional, chiropractic practitioner, psychiatric social worker, health promotion consultant, corporate wellness fitness instructor, employee assistance training specialist, scrapbooking consultant and natural health management professional Barbara Ann King on a memoir book project on talented American artist Sheryl Ann King, who passed away untimely in a fatal accident that took place on 30 April 2015. The project succeeded in the shape of a book as the final outcome entitled 'Our Sherry : A Tribute to Sheryl Ann King' which was published on 30 April 2016 commemorating 1st death anniversary of the departed artist. It was the first creative book collaboration between an Assamese and an American writer in the genre of Indo-American literature.

Film Director & Screenwriter

Arnab Jan Deka directed several documentary films including Golden Jubilee of Assam Economics Research & Pioneer Assam Economist-Littérateur (2014) on the academic and research-oriented works of the pioneer Assam economist and literary stalwart Principal Bhabananda Deka. Creative personalities from three Continents Asia, Europe and North America joined hands in the making of this historic film. Indonesia-based British author Tess Joyce was the Co-Screenwriter and Narrator of the film. Hollywood screenwriter from Spain Claire Elizabeth Terry and American researcher Terri Stiffler also collaborated in finalising the Screenplay of the film.
He is the Screenwriter and Co-Director along with Late Waesqurni Bora of an under-production full-length docu-feature biopic film on the legendary singer-musician-filmmaker Dr Bhupen Hazarika titled Moi Eti Zazabor. He was the Director of the first ever one-hour-long documentary film on medieval Assamese saint-philosopher-artist-littérateur Srimanta Sankardev made in the year 1996, which was screened in the USA and many other countries.
Apart from writing the entire scripts of his own documentary films including Assam Sahitya Sabha, Srimanta Sankardev, Golden Jubilee of Assam Economics Research & Pioneer Assam Economist-Litterateur, he also collaborated in screen-writing for several popular TV-series including Gauri Barman directed Chakrabehu(1996), Waesqurni Bora directed Kolijar Amothu(2008) and Brajen Borah directed Soisobote Dhemalite(2011).

Playwright

He is also a playwright of several radio and stage plays. His first radio play Mukti('Freedom') was broadcast by All India Radio, Guwahati Centre, in 1981, when he was a 9th standard school student. Mowamoriya Bidroh('Uprising of Mowamoriya Clan') was his only historical play based on a very critical phase of 18th century Kingdom of Kamrup or Assam. He wrote this drama in 1980 while he was a minor school student of 8th standard.

Actor in films, tv, stage & radio

He has also acted in several Assamese and English language TV-series, stage plays, radio plays and short films including Character of an Artist based on a novel by Dr Mamoni Raisom Goswami(Indira Goswami). He enacted major roles in the TV-series Kolijar Amothu, Soisobote Dhemalite and several others. He worked under film directors like Waesqurni Bora, Gauri Barman and Brojen Borah.

Radio programmer

He was a regular radio personality on All India Radio(AIR) during his childhood and adolescent years. He started his radio career in 1978 enacting the role of a language-student in India's longest-running language teaching radio-play series Hindi Sikshar Paath, and continued performing that role for eight years till 1985. In 1985, AIR offered him the first live broadcast opportunity of world news round-up called Biswa Sangbad for which he was a Radio Journalist collecting world news, News Editor compiling and editing the news items and News Reader. He also conducted a village field-research based rural documentary programme for radio titled Gaawe Gaawe in 1986, for which he had to travel around rural India to collect interviews of village-dwellers and also discovered rural musical talents like folk-singers and gave them a national audience by recording and broadcasting their music. He also regularly took part in radio talk shows and discussions on contemporary youth and young-adult related issues at several radio stations in Guwahati and Jorhat. Apart from writing his first radio-play Mukti('Freedom') as a ninth standard school student, which was first broadcast over radio in 1981, he was also a regular actor of many popular radio-plays in several languages including Assamese, Urdu and Hindi in 1970s and 1980s. Some of his radio acting credits include Pratham Sakhyatkaar ('First Meet'), Kabach ('The Protective Body Shield Garment'), Mukti ('Freedom'), Maitree ('The Harmony'), Idd Mubaraq ('Greetings of Islamic festival Idd').

River engineer of Indo-British environmental project

He is a river engineer engaged in the research on the environmental aspects of Brahmaputra River, and presently heads the Indo-British campaign project Save the Brahmaputra River as its International Chairman. Through this international project, he, together with his international coordinator Tess Joyce, had been highlighting the various environmental threats encountered by the river. He was the first river engineer in Assam to have exposed the plan of China to divert the course of Brahmaputra river by building nine massive Dams over it in Tibet. He has been working in research on Brahmaputra river with guidance and support from river engineers, hydraulics experts, eco-technocrats, geo-scientists, environmentalists and scholars like Dr Constantin Aurel Stere(The Netherlands), Dr Wolfgang-Albert Fluegel(Germany), Dr Tue Kel Nielsen(Denmark), Natsuko Totsuka(Asian Development Bank, Japan), Gerrit Klaassen(The Netherlands) and Dr Yoshiyuki Imamura(UNESCO, Switzerland). His research collaborations for Brahmaputra river engineering and environmental impact study have received worldwide media support.

Eco-technocrat of Indo-American partnership project

He collaborated with American eco-technocrat Gwyndaf Jones from Mechanical Engineering Department of the iconic Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA, to develop carbon-neutral eco-friendly technology for the benefit of working-class people. They have successfully developed a 3-Sprocket Chain System enhancing the capacity and efficiency of carbon-neutral tricycle-based eco-friendly passenger vehicles. Both Jones and Deka jointly conducted field trial of their prototype model with support from daily wage-earners, and received very positive feedback underlining the successful conclusion of this historic first project on eco-technology development between USA and India. This vehicle is targeted as a mass people-oriented public transport vehicle with zero carbon emission to lessen the day-to-day hardship of working-class people all over the world. London-based journal Luit to Thames highlighted this Indo-American partnership success story in its 2013 annual issue.

Journal & Newspaper Editor

He was the Editor of an Assamese journal Gandhaar devoted to art, culture and poetry, while he was an undergraduate student of New Delhi's Sri Ram College of Commerce under Delhi University. The President of India Government's top literary body Sahitya Academy Dr Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya(winner of India's top literary award Jnanpith) and Chairman of India Government's top cultural body Sangeet Natak Academy Dr Bhupen Hazarika(winner of India's top movie award Dada Saheb Phalke) were the major literary contributors of Gandhaar from its inaugural issue published on India's Independence Day on 15 August 1987.
He was also the Founder Editor of the first ever campus newspaper of North-East India entitled JEC News published from Jorhat in 1989. This bilingual newspaper was published in English and Assamese. Till the publication of this newspaper, no other University or academic institution in the entire Northeast India ever published any campus newspaper. Arnab Jan Deka's pioneering role as the first Editor of a campus newspaper in the whole NE India was officially recognised during the golden jubilee of Assam Government-owned Jorhat Engineering College in 2010. As acknowledgement, JEC authorities honoured him by reviving his campus newspaper again after almost two decades in a new avatar with full official patronage.

Academic and research works

Arnab Jan Deka had successfully undertaken several important academic and research works, some of the most important works are as follows:

(1) He collaborated with Netherlands' Principal Prince Claus Laureate Dr Mamoni Raisom Goswami alias Indira Goswami and her mentor and founder of Assamese Department within the Modern Indian Languages Department of Delhi University Principal Bhabananda Deka in a historic academic mission to set up the Srimanta Sankardev Chair in that India Government's centrally-funded University. They managed to convince Delhi University authorities to agree to set up the Chair in the name of littérateur-philosopher-artist of Medieval Assam in its Modern Indian Languages(MIL) Department, and also persuaded the Chief Minister of Assam to announce a Corpus Fund for the Chair of a million Rupees. However, neither Principal Deka not Dr Goswami could see their joint dream of setting up the chair fulfilled during their lifetime. After the untimely death of both the towering Assamese literary stalwarts, Arnab Jan Deka has been single-handedly working through his charity foundations Axom Ratna Principal Bhabananda Deka Foundation, Srimanta Sankardev Antarjatik Pratisthan (International Foundation) and Arnab Jan Deka Foundation to fulfil the dreams of both the departed litterateurs. Top Indian daily newspaper The Times of India repeatedly interviewed him regarding his persistent singular efforts at establishing Sankardev Chair in Delhi University.
(2)He was nominated as Chief Editor of Katha Guru Charit English translation project by the Speaker of Assam Legislative Assembly in 1998. The project was envisioned to project the entire life and intellectual works of Assamese Medieval-age Saint-Philosopher-Poet-Littérateur-Artist Srimanta Sankardev in a comprehensive manner to the world academia;
(3)He also conducted Research on medieval age saint-littérateur-philosopher of Assam, India, Srimanta Sankardev's pioneering works on propagating ideas of Democracy, Fraternity and Equality, and authorship and enactment of several full-length Dramas in Assamese language in the 15th Century world, which may eventually establish him as one of the first few propagators of these modern concepts and first few Dramatists-contemporaries of William Shakespeare. He successfully edited the English biographical book Sreemanta Sankaradeva originally authored by renowned scholar Principal Bhabananda Deka, which incorporates invaluable English translations of some of Sankardev's major literary works including Kirtan Ghoxa and Borgeet. Second Edition of this valuable book is published in 2015, and critically acclaimed worldwide;
(4)He jointly undertook an Indo-British environmental project Save the Brahmaputra River in order to conduct extensive research and environmental audit on the serious environmental threats faced by this one of the world's mightiest rivers.
(5)He collaborated with MIT, Boston, faculty-trainer Gwyndaf Jones in the first successfully executed Indo-American eco-friendly technology development project of 3 Sprocket Chain System for Tricycles in order to enhance the efficiency of carbon-neutral vehicles, in order to reduce global carbon footprint;
(6)He discovered an unheralded silent innovator Uddhab Bharali from Lakhimpur town in Assam, India, who invented many cheap Machines for handy domestic and commercial use including, Paddy Thrashing Machine, Mini Tea Processing Plant, Pomegranate Deseeder Machine, Artificial Workable Limbs for Accident Victims, Grass Cutting Machines etc.; and brought him and his innovations to the limelight for the very first time by writing about him both in Assamese and English in prominent daily newspapers Dainik Asam and Assam Express in 1995;
(7)He discovered and established the fact that pioneer Assamese filmmaker Jyotiprasad Agarwala is also the First Indian Filmmaker to have introduced and successfully used Dubbing Technology in his magnum opus first movie Joymoti (1935 film);
(8)He conducted research on Life and Works of several Assamese legendary literary and cultural stalwarts including Dr Bhupen Hazarika, Principal Bhabananda Deka and Pradip Chaliha;
(9)He has conducted extensive research on the trail of first pioneering formal research, documentation and publication of books on the Economic Condition of Kingdom of Kamrup, Pragjyotisha and Assam, which eventually became a state in the Republic of India in the mid-20th Century, and also edited a book Ancient Heritage of Assam compiling research papers of several top scholars;
(10)He recovered, edited and published the historic first English book on Assamese language and literature meant for common readers of the world, which was originally authored by Principal Bhabananda Deka with his associates and officially released by the President of India Dr Zakir Hussain in New Delhi on 24 November 1968 on the occasion of the birth centenary of Assamese literary legend Sahityarathi Lakshminath Bezbaroa.

Awards and honours

He is the recipient of Assam Government's Publication Board Golden Jubilee Novel Award in 2006 for his classic novel Bhaba Ananda Sambad('Tales of Bhabananda'). This one-time prestigious Award was announced by the Education Minister of Assam on 31 December 2006, and subsequently handed over to him at a public ceremony at the Guwahati Book Fair on 10 January 2007.
Katha International Short Story Festival held in New Delhi in January, 2004, awarded him with Katha-Goriyoshi Award for his epoch-making short-story Himalayan Mystic Meeting for its skilful depiction of the essence of Indian heritage and how it blended with universal philosophy of life.
He was also honoured with the prestigious Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray Memorial Award in 2010 in the City of Joy Calcutta in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the world of literature, art and scientific research for over 35 years.

India Government's official Academy of Letters Sahitya Academy recognized him as one of the top Indian writers of the 20th Century by incorporating his literary biography in the End Century Edition of the publication Who's Who of Indian Writers 1999. Age-wise, he was the youngest writer to be honoured by the top Indian literary body in the 20th century.

Internationally renowned river scientist, author and hydraulics engineer Prof.(Dr.) Constantin Aurel Stere publicly acknowledged the global standing and repute earned by Arnab Jan Deka through his monumental works, in a speech delivered before a galaxy of intellectuals and media-persons at Guwahati Press Club. At the same programme held on 28 February 2015, Dr Stere officially launched Arnab Jan Deka's two latest English books Brahmaputra and Beyond: Linking Assam to the World and An Extraordinary Assamese Couple.

Poet Jitendra Deka eulogized about him in a poem Ink and Jan (published in an e-magazine orunodoi.com) focussing on his multi-hued contributions in areas of extreme opposites like literature and technology in order to propagate the brighter side of his native land and native people of Assam to the outside world, and how he has become a shining flag-bearer for all the aspiring juniors to follow and emulate.

References

Arnab Jan Deka Wikipedia


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