Interview of the week | No conflict between a homemaker and an author

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Interview of the week | No conflict between a homemaker and an author

Tuesday, 02 April 2024 | SUGYAN CHOUDHURY

Dr Bishupriya Padhi, a lady with a winsome personality, is seen lost in her studies, research and freelance writing, incessantly contributing articles to various national and international journals of repute including peer-reviewed ones. She had taken to her first love teaching and opened her innings to her educational career by joining as a Lecturer in Political Science. She was inspired to the profession of teaching by her grandfather late Narsingh Padhi, who was Principal of Khallikote College, Berhampur for over two decades. Having possessed a strong academic record of excellence, she earned her M. Phil., Ph. D. and D. Lit. by 2011. As a research scholar, she has extensively travelled the UK, the USA, France, Singapore and Malayasia. She has produced four monumental books to her credit and is still continuing her research on ‘South China Sea and its Impact on International Relations’. Her authoritative research on ‘Dismantling Apartheid’ has strengthened the Indo-African friendship as rightly observed by the then President of India Dr KR Narayan.

In an interview to The Pioneer, Dr Padhi spoke to Sugyan Choudhury from the precincts of the State Library, Bhubaneswar.

How could you stumble upon the idea of writing books on intriguing topics like international affairs?

The world today is gripped between cooperation and confrontation. Since we live in a globalised world, issues relating to culture, their products, diaspora studies and their role in fighting ‘Cultural Wars’ are of interest to me. The post-pandemic interdependence of the world around us is an area of research too.

Your much-talked-about book on apartheid co-authored by your husband Dr Gopabandhu Dash, D. Lit., was inaugurated by the then President of India Dr KR Narayan. Could you please share with us about your feelings then?

It was a very memorable experience as the book entitled ‘Dismantling Apartheid in South Africa’ got released at Dr Narayan’s residence on 28.10.2004. The foreword to the book was written by Mrs. Maite E. Nkoana Mashabane, High Commissioner of Republic of South Africa in India, while Deputy High Commissioner of South Africa was also present. President Dr Narayan reviewed the book and lavishly appreciated it during his illuminating speech. He underlined the importance of this publication in the year when South Africa was celebrating ten years of its freedom and democracy. The Deputy High Commissioner was so much inspired by the Presidential speech that he bought the entire stock from the publisher. This experience is unforgettable.

Could you please tell about your experience while coming in contact with diplomats and international dignitaries during your research career?

The first book, our august venture which was released by the President of India will remain as a treasure token in our heart and soul. My second book, “Voyaging across Times: Reflections on Indo-South African Cultural Relations”, was released by High Commissioner of South Africa to India on 27.09.2012 on Africa Day in Delhi. The entire function was organised by the South African Embassy. Embassy staffs, especially Dr Sarat Pradhan, Economic Advisor, deserve my thanks. Dr Pradhan was instrumental in introducing me to the High Commissioner and we had a one-on-one meeting regarding the book release function during his visit to Odisha. In that function, High Commissioners of 21 African countries were present. The South Africa High Commissioner spoke high of my book as he had gone through the book thoroughly while writing the foreword to it. I had the occasion to interact with a number of African High Commissioners who had shown interest in my book.

You are an academician and a housewife as well. How do you combine the compelling hazards of both the jobs? Does not it adversely affect the interest of your children?

I have never felt the role conflict between a homemaker and an author at my home. In fact, both are complementary to each other. Both need attention, sensitivity and empathy while dealing with the subject matter. As regards my children, my only daughter, Ipsita is a gift to me. She is a gold medallist in her B. Arch. from BPUT. She pursued her M.Sc. in Sustainable Environmental Design from A. A. School of Architecture, London, and secured Masters from Columbia University, New York in Environmental Science and Policy with SIPA scholarships. Ipsita has produced a magnum opus based on her London experience in her maiden fiction ‘Ploughing the Mirage’. Striking a balance between one’s profession and other onerous responsibilities is what life has taught me. While undertaking my journey as a researcher, I had never forgotten the maxim that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

What are your valuable suggestions for ushering in an era of qualitative research by our universities?

As regards research tips, I feel I am not competent to offer advice to budding researchers in our field. The knowledge frontier is expanding exponentially. Sources of information need to be examined carefully. Authors and source materials need to be questioned and deconstructed. Research is to do with rough diamonds stock in deep mines to catch the light. Researcher with a continuous dialogue between himself and his sources has to provide that light.

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