Mrunal Manmay Dash

No job is menial or too small, the saying has been proven true many times in the past by many great personalities. But when you are Dr Haldhar Nag, the proverb acquires a whole new meaning.

The embodiment of ‘Plain living and high thinking’, Padma Shri Dr Haldhar Nag was born in 1950 to a Bhens family in Bargarh district. He lost his parents at the tender age of 10. He had to leave his studies in class 3 and spent several years at a dhaba serving the customers.

In 1990, he wrote his first poem 'Dhodo Bargach' (The Old Banyan Tree). He shared a number of his poems with a local magazine and his compositions were soon published. He is renowned for his work ‘Kavyanjali’, an anthology of English translation of his selected poetry.

He was recently witnessed selling ‘Raga chana’ (Spicy chickpeas) during Rath Yatra in his village in Bargarh. No aversions whatsoever to any job, he is quite proud earning himself some money despite being a famous poet honoured with the Country’s fourth-highest civilian award.

As he says, I do not consider anything small as long as it is not illegal or unethical. Selling chana isn’t a new thing for him though. In fact, he sells them every year during Rath Yatra in his village. And his ‘Raga Chana’ is a favourite among the visitors and devotees who come to witness the Rath Yatra every year.

When OTV asked him about his business, Nag said, “This is my occupation, my livelihood. How can I leave it, just because I was awarded with Padma Shri. I have been selling it since my youth days. And the locals love it.?”

“As far as my earnings and expenses are concerned, I donate the Padma Shri allowance of Rs 10,000 to the orphanage I run. Apart from that, I am erecting a Temple of Baghdevi. So I have to spend some money on that head too,” Nag said.

Nag’s simplicity and down-to-earth personality can be gauged when he received a call about his nomination for Padma Shri. “Sahib! I do not have money to come to Delhi, please send the award (Padma Shri) by post,” Nag had said over the phone before receiving the award from the Government of India in the year 2016 for his contribution in the field of literature.

Nag had grabbed the media attention when he came barefoot to receive the Padma Shri from President Pranab Mukherjee wearing a white dhoti, gamcha and vest.

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