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Kalahandi by Jagannath Prasad Das

Q1.What is the main impression that the poet gives us through this poem regarding
the place called Kalahandi?
Ans: Kalahandi is a real district in Orissa that has constantly faced the onslaughts of
drought and the poverty that it brings in its wake. The main impression that the poet
gives us is of a typical village unable to free itself from the misery and deprivation that
are the consequence of natural and man-made calamities that it faces.

Q2.What natural disasters have contributed to the poverty of the village?
Ans: The village had suffered a drought, that brought famine to the villagers.

Q3.Is the situation confined to Kalahandi or is it possible to see the same
circumstances in many other places?
Ans: The situation is not confined to Kalahandi alone, but one can see that the same
circumstances prevail in many villages across India and other nations as well.

Q4.According to the poet, where can one find Kalahandi?
Ans: According to the poet, Kalanandi may be found wherever there is disease and
lack, deprivation and suffering.

Q5.What are the typical circumstances that one might find in such a village as the one
described in this poem?
Ans: In such a village as the one described in the poem, one might find hunger, poverty,
suffering and death.

Q6.What is the attitude of the government officials and the press towards the
situation in Kalahandi?
Ans: The poet says that at one time Kalahandi got a lot of attention. This was because
the then PM, Indira Gandhi flew into the famine-struck village in a helicopter. At that
time, such situations were scarcely reported. It became a news item and as the PM of
the nation headed to the village, so did thousands of others. But now, the poet seems
to suggest, it does not take a map nor the leading of a helicopter. Kalahandi has
become a metaphor for the suffering that one can encounter all too commonly, for
hunger and famine are commonplace in many a village in India .

Q7.What kind of picture of the village does the poet paint in Stanza 2?
Ans: Stanza 2 gives a graphic picture of the village: Das puts it poetically- he says the
rain-god had turned his face away from this dreary disaster-prone village. Even the gods
chose to ignore the dire need. Everything in the landscape was so dry, the hungry
villagers searched in desperation for one green leaf, that they might turn it into a meal;
but they found none, no, not even one! This was the story of every villager so that the
village itself was turned into a grave-yard. People were dying everywhere. The land,
parched, cracked open in wide fissures, almost as if it were opening up to receive its
own, now dead. Where once a rushing river flowed, now there was just the dry sandy

Q8.According to t he poet, what does poverty look like?
Ans: If one wants to know what poverty looks like, one has only to look at Kalahandi:
sunken eyes, walking skeletons, bits and pieces of rags, barely affording a covering to
the bony frames of the villagers. The little that they owned- household items like
utensils, had been traded in for food. Their huts were falling apart, the roofs caving in,
affording them little shade by day or protection by night. In the abject poverty of
Kalahandi, a villager who owned two pots would be considered prosperous!

Q9.How does the poet turn Kalahandi into a metaphor?
Ans: Das sees the increasing relevance of Kalahandi as a metaphor. A metaphor is a
symbol, it is a word picture, where a word begins to represent something much larger
than its immediate meaning or context. Thus, the poet sees that Kalahandi has spread
everywhere: it is no longer confined to the geographical location of a village in Orissa,
but one can find it in innumerable other places; wherever the scenario is similar to

Q10.What are the distinguishing features of a Kalahandi-like village?
Ans: Kalahandi is where there are hungry crowds in desperate need of some food to
assuage the hunger that is eating into their bowels, as they crowd around kitchens set
up by charitable organization distributing food, there one can find Kalahandi. The
privation of the villagers is visible as they attempt to auction of their children. Living in
the relative comfort of urban India, it is hard to imagine such penury, such dire need,
that people would be constrained to sell their children! Yet, this is a commonplace
reality- children are sold every day in the remote and not so remote places of our
country and other countries of the world. At brothels, young girls are exchanged for
much-needed cash, as the people have no other means of raising money to meet their
very real felt needs.

Q11.Why does the poet ask us, the readers, to take a closer look at Kalahandi?
Ans: The poet invites us to take a closer look at Kalahandi because he feels that we
have distanced ourselves from the real pain and suffering of the people who have
experienced it. We have looked from afar and not allowed our hearts to be touched,
therefore we have remained unaffected. Or our over-exposure to such scenes in the
media have made our hearts calloused and hard. When we see the suffering of the
people, it leaves us unmoved.

Q12.In what ways do different people exploit the people of Kalahandi?
Ans: The media dwell on Kalahandi to increase their TRP ratings, the channels become
popular as they seem to be pulling on the heart-strings of the viewers.
Some leaders appear on TV, they visit the site of the natural disaster and shed tears.
The poet calls these crocodile tears. Government officials make false promises and act
as if they truly sympathize with the loss of the villagers. But the truth is that they are
only interested in gaining public support and have no interest in the destitute denizens
of Kalahandi. The sympathy they display costs them nothing because there is no loss to

Q13.What is meant by crocodile tears?
Ans: These are not tears of genuine sorrow. An ancient anecdote says that crocodiles
cry in order to lure their victims to themselves or they cry while eating them. This
seems an apt description of the many who use the situation to further their own ends:
hence the poet describes the tears of the leaders and politicians as crocodiles tears.

Q14.What effect does Kalahandi have upon us who are not a part of it?
Ans: For the most part, those of us who do not live under the shadow of poverty and
famine, are left untouched by the tragedy of Kalahandi.

Q15.What are the two responses of people to situations like the one in Kalahandi?
Ans: The two response of people to Kalahandi are:
They feel sad for a short while and then they forget all about it.
Kalahandi appears to them in their nightmares, reminding people that their less
fortunate brothers and sisters are in great suffering and pain.

Q16.What is the heart-cry of the poet, as expressed in the last few lines of the poem?
Ans: The poet strongly urges us to remember the people of poor, struggling villages. He
says that India, as a nation, cannot progress while sections of its people are held back in
deprivation and extreme poverty.