Published: 19th October 2018
Meet the Paperboy of Odisha, a man who collects newspapers from across the globe
Out of curiosity, Shashanka Sekhar Dash learnt about printing, publishing and the distribution of newspapers and started collecting Odia newspapers
We've all come across various kinds of records that have been set, some interesting, others downright absurd. But one of the most fascinating records that we came across recently was set by Shashanka Sekhar Dash. The tale of how this record came to be is equally fascinating.
I want to start a museum in the name of my father and display the newspapers I have collected
Shashanka Sekhar Dash, Paperboy of Odisha
Shashanka, who is from a village called Arangabad in the Jajpur district of Odisha, used to work with a newspaper in 2001. Out of curiosity, he learnt about the printing, publishing and the distribution of newspapers and started collecting Odia newspapers. Everyone asked, why not other language newspapers? So he started collecting other language newspapers — English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu and more. “I thought it would be a great idea to collect and preserve these papers for research,” says the former journalist. Little did he know that this was the start of something big.
Shashanka, till date, has collected 4,012 newspapers so far in 78 languages and they are from 87 countries
On the other side, Shashanka started gaining popularity for his quest and he continued gathering newspapers with gusto. Many people came forward to help him, from the MP of Cuttack, who got him six newspapers from the US to a dignitary from London who was at an event Shashanka was covering. Several acquaintances and close ones alike, came forward. But his random collection got a clear direction when he contacted Limca Book of Records. He received the clarity that collecting newspapers in itself can’t be a record, but collecting newspapers of a particular date could be. So the date was set – January 26, 2012 and he had 12 days. He emailed several national and international newspapers, got in touch with everyone from his network and managed to collect 392 newspapers from 47 cities, 20 states and three union territories in India, and one from Israel (Jerusalem Post). Needless to say, he set the record and now exhibits the newspapers at various places. He has already done so at Birla Global University, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Baripada municipality and other places. He even takes great care of them — wrapping them in plastic polyethene bags with a sticky note on top with the details of the newspaper. “I even maintain an excel sheet of all the newspapers I have,” shares the paperboy, who works in the eco-tourism wing of Indian Grameen Services under the Basix Social Enterprise Group.
On display: At one of the exhibitions of Shashanka's collection of newspapers
Now, Shashanka, who is in his 40s, has a vision of starting a museum in his own village, Arangabad which is 25 km from the highway and is close to Ratnagiri, the famous Buddhist site. “Imagine, the tourist who comes to visit Ratnagiri will come to our village too. That way, it will help the economy of the village. They will also get to know my village,” says Shashanka with earnest. And right before we sign off, he asks us to request all the readers on his behalf that he be contacted in case anyone wants to send him newspapers. So, what are you waiting for?
Stories behind some of Shashanka's priceless possessions
- Khabar Lahariya
A newspaper published by an NGO in Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh. The newspaper focuses on gender and education and is run by an all-girls team. It even won the King Sejong Literacy Prize conferred by UNESCO. Several emails were exchanged before they finally agreed to send Shashanka the paper
This newspaper run by street children of New Delhi features reports about the issues they and their community face. Shashanka went through a lot of trouble acquiring these as well
- Daily Jung
This is a newspaper from Pakistan. He had been mailing them since 2011 but it was only in 2016 that he received a response. The Chief Editor himself responded, connected him to the right people and after a thorough inquiry that this was not for any dubious purpose, the paper was sent to Shashanka at long last
Started by Former CM of Odisha, Biju Patnaik, Shashanka happened to have a copy of the paper. The son of a former editor of the paper contacted him and requested him for the copy
For more on him, click on facebook.com/sekhardash