By: Dr Ratan Bhattacharjee
John Ruskin rightly said, “Great men do not play stage tricks with the doctrines of life and death: only little men do that.” With the victory of famous litterateur, journalist, songwriter, poet, filmmaker, publisher, and educationist Dr. Surjya Hazarika as the new President of Asom Sahitya Sabha in a memorable contest with Padma Yeshe Thongchee Dorjee of Arunachal Pradesh, the ‘Big Day of Victory for the Assamese Literature came. Dr. Surjyakanta Hazarika is also a Padma Shri Awardee, receiving the honour for Literature and Education in 2008 from then-Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil. There were 734 ballots in Asam Sahitya Sabha voting boxes and he had a thumping victory. It may be mentioned that the election committee was convened on September 27 by former Assam State Election Commission Commissioner Harendra Nath Bora and Gauhati High Court lawyers Nilanjan Deka and Jitan Payeng. The Asom Sahitya Sabha that started functioning in 1917 had recently lost its earlier glory. During the pandemic years the activities were at low ebb. Now all are hopeful of better days for the organization.
Surjyakanta Hazarika was born in Dibrugarh on May 31, 1956. His father’s name is Chandrakant Hazarika, and he is the creator of the well-known ‘Bani Mandir’ in Dibrugarh. Chandrakanta Hazarika established the ‘Bani Mandir’ publishing firm in Dibrugarh in 1949. Suryakanta Hazarika’s wife Eva Hazarika mother to three boys, Sudipta, Aditya, and Udipta, and they are all successful in their different fields. He completed his matriculation from Vivekananda School Digboi and graduation from Kanoi College Dibrugarh. He grew up as a serious student of Assamese culture during his post graduation from Dibrugarh University. As Magazine secretary in Kanoi College he proved his creative funda. He was so impressed by the multifaceted activities of Srimanta Sankardeva in bringing Renaissance to Assamese thinking that he started profound musing on this great man. Assam was his focus and he did his Ph.D on Nineteenth Century Publication of Books Related to Assam and he had his debut book in 1976. He became the Life member of Asam Sahitya Sabha in 1979.
As early as 2008 while Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Dilip Sardesai won Padma Shri award for Journalism, Surjya Kanta Hazarika won it for ‘Literature and Education’ along with Dr. Vellayani Arjunan and Mohammad Yousuf Taing. Indian born astronaut Sunita Williams that year got Padma Bhusan for astronautics. He edited ‘Bahniman’ (fortnightly newspaper), published from Dibrugarh since 1980. He was the Assistant Editor of ’Echo’ (Literary Journal), published from Dibrugarh and Guwahati (1986-90). He published ‘New Daily’ (newspaper), from Guwahati (1988-2002). He was immensely successful as the Editor of ‘New Daily’ (Newspaper), Guwahati, 1993-94, 1997-98 and 2000-2002 and of the ‘Evening News’, published from Guwahati, 1990-2001 ‘Chitra Sangbad’ (Cine Weekly), published from Guwahati, 1990-2002 also Editor of ’Khel Samachar’ (fortnightly sports paper), published from Guwahati since 1998 and as Editor of ’Asom Sahitya Sabha Samachar’ published by Asom Sahitya Sabha, Jorhat, Guwahati, 1992 and also edited ‘Asom Sahitya Sabha Patrika’ (Encyclopedia Issue) published by Asom Sahitya Sabha, Jorhat, Guwahati, 2003. He also served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bani Mandir, a renowned publishing business in North-East India. He was the chairman and managing director of the new daily newspaper organisation from 1988 to 2002. He is also the Organizer and Founder Chandrakanta Press Private Limited. He candidly confessed that this day was his lifelong dream for him.
He is taking great interest in creating a group of translators for taking Assamese literature to the global arena. He is worried of the negative aspects of the media and feels that we should take more care of the digitalized media rather than the temporary impact of the Facebook or Twitter. He is also worried about the lesser interest in book reading but at the same time he is hopeful of the power of the pen. Besides these great ideals, he is also sympathetic towards the salary payment of the employees of the Asom Sahitya Sabha. He is trying to realize the proposal of the Nalbari conference for payment of the salary by transferring the fund which reveals his realistic attitude. Regarding the politicization of the Asom Sahitya Sabha he is careful as this organization is not political though patronization of the government is desirable as the government is also elected by the people. There is no contradiction in accepting support from the government if they give any such proposal.
He felt the need for raising the quality of TV productions and committed himself to the mission of being a director of the TV serials. He mingled the education and entertainment in the TV serials such as Nirmal Bhakat (1993) which ran for 5 Episodes in Hindi on Assam History Story by legendary novelist Rajanikanta Bordoloi. His direction in Dhanya Nara Tanu Bhal (2004) was so popular that he had to present 8 Episodes in Hindi based on the Legendary Srimanta Sankardeva’s Life and Activities. It is interesting to note that he made deep research in preparing these serials and the fidelity to facts was amazing. Tore More Aalokore Jatra (2004) directed by this living legend for the TV viewers had 8 Episodes in Assamese based on Life and Activities of Cultural Icon Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla. To work on Jyoti Prasad on TV screen where people wait for light entertainment especially in the serials, was a mammoth task. But for the genius these are challenges all through. In 2005 he edited Maharathi which had 8 episodes in Hindi based on Karna a character of the Mahabharata Sometimes this literary minded man focused on the genre of the cultural fiction and in Noi Boi Jai his story was based on the fiction of Dr Lila Gogoi. In this serial of 2011 he won the heart of the Assamese people. Even when he comes to the world of academic research he showed his excellence and intellectual calibre. The 523 page book, Dr. Bhupen Hazarikar geet samagra edited by Dr. Surjya Kanta Hazarika ran its 3rd edition. Published from Guwahati by S.H. Educational Trust, 2010 which is now available also in Tezpur University archive for public reading. As a human being his politeness, suave elegance and passionate understanding may justify his magical charisma as a writer, editor and director as his main task is to mobilize highly intelligent human resource. He never regards any China Wall as invincible. In such hands intellectuals and thinkers like Dr. Hazarika, the light of communal harmony will glow brighter and the state will get motivation for preserving its melting pot of cultural diversity. James Rollins once wrote, “In the face of inhumanity, a good man reacts, but a great one acts” Dr. Surjyo Kanta Hazarika is a man of action that Asom Sahitya Sabha needs for a long time to take Assamese literature to the global arena. (The author is a former international visiting faculty USA, a senior academician and trilingual writer cum poet. He may be reached at email@example.com)