Oriya as Official Language: Know the Real Saboteur

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The question that hunts Orissa at the moment is: Who has sabotaged Oriya as official language of Orissa. My answer is:None but Biju Patnaik has sabotaged official use of Oriya Language.

In my column SINGHAVALOKANA in daily Sambad,  I had discussed the issue on March 14, 1996. It is available in my book of the same caption at pp. 211-217 for anyone of the blind supporters of Biju to revisit and react, if they dare.

Biju was a hypocrite and a political mafia who had created a gang of sycophants and BHATAs (bards) amongst politicians and journalists whose principal work was to project him as the personification of Oriya nationalism and thereby trap the gullible people to vote for him. But his Oriya nationalism was such a filthy junk that even today that is making grimace at us when we see that he had not taught even a single alphabet of Oriya to his children, as we watch his son Naveen Patnaik.

However, for ready reference for friends who have been wondering who is responsible for abandonment of Oriya as official language of Orissa, I deem it my duty to render in English the crux of my observation in Oriya around two decades ago. When Biju sycophants are ruling the roost, I do not know if it would be seen that the present Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is only following his father’s footprints in offending Oriya language. Yet, the people have a right to know. Hence it is here:

Biju had Sabotaged Oriya

Naveen’s father Biju Patnaik had sabotaged the Orissa Official Languages Act by inserting a provision that in the Assembly, English would be official language along with Oriya.

The Official Language Act, 1954 had stipulated that Oriya was “to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the State of Orissa”, but Biju Patnaik damaged this stipulation by amending the Act in 1963 providing for use of English “in addition to Oriya for transaction of business in Legislature of the State of Orissa”. This shrewd insertion subjected Orissa administration to predominance of English and ruined the utility of Oriya as a language.

Even when, in 1985, the then Chief Minister J. B. Patnaik fixed April 1, 1985 to be the day from which use of Oriya in all official work would be “compulsory”, and it was decided to enforce use of Oriya as the only official language by strengthening the 1954 Act with necessary amendments, and accordingly the Official Language (Amendment) Act, 1985 was taken up in the Assembly, it was Biju Patnaik, who opposed the proposal and refused to support the amendment. “We can progress further if we have international (English) language” (as the official language), he had said. He had ridiculed the idea of making Oriya the official language and had gone on elaborating, “If you go to Andhra, you will find DHUD DHUD, if you go to Karnatak, you will find FUD FUD ! Nothing you will understand there. So many languages there in our country. This is not a country at all”.

Biju was so very bitterly averse to Oriya that the PRASASANIKA SHABDAKOSHA which was ready to be published by the Law department of Orissa was thrown into the dusts on the racks of the department the moment he had taken over the chief minister’s chair, where it was kept buried from May 7, 1991 to March 16, 1995.

When J. B. Pattnaik led the people to end Biju Patnaik’s misrule and took oath again as the new Chief Minister, the Secretary of Law ordered, “Now it may be published immediately”.

But the concerned Deputy Secretary’s note on which the Law secretary passed the above order is mot speaking.

At page 126 of the concerned file the Deputy Secretary notes,

“By the time the chairman of the Shabdakosha Committee Prof. Khageswar Mohapatra submitted his report on completion of the work, the Government has changed. Language Policy of the new Government (of Biju Patnaik) was not only not clear, but also it was averse to use of Oriya language as Official Language. The then law minister (who was to carry Biju babu’s instructions) gave such orders in the file, the evil effect of which forced the Orissa Official Language Dictionary had to stay abandoned for so many years in the cold storage of official junks and as the new government has been formed by J.B.Patnaik, steps should be taken to publish the same”.

After Naveen Patnaik emerged as the Chief Minister, the said dictionary has been allowed to be misappropriated by a lady who has privately published it and charging heavy price to whosoever wants a copy thereof. Nothing else could have been done when compradors rule.

Classical Status threatened by Naveen’s apathy

The long overdue recognition of Oriya’s classical status has been achieved in spite of attempts of a few private persons and politicians trying to sabotage the endeavor of Odia Bhasa Pratisthan.

But this status is now threatened. Naveen babu has not addressed himself to this glorious achievement. To claim credit for it, he had engaged the entire administration to organize State funded celebrations after recognition of Oriya’s Classical status. But, when a case has been instituted in Madras High Court challenging this status, the State Government has not countered the case as yet, as per sources in administration.

He neither says Oriya, nor writes in Oriya nor rules in Oriya. Yet he is in power; because, under his irresponsible administration, Orissa is over-saturated with mindless but self-centric sycophants in politics and public offices, and in Journalism.

To save Oriya language, we are to struggle hard.

And, we shall have to struggle, because, Orissa, our Mother is perishing.

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  1. There are 2 main reasons of degradation of all Indian languages, not only Oriya. We study all knowledge in English medium and local language is used mainly for abuse. Even in English, Britishers had tried hard to read sanskrit and translate it, with deliberate and in-advertant mistakes. But Indian followers choose easy path and just copy British version without seeing own language or society. We do not care whether such meaning can be possible in any era. One famous literary figure was writing both original and translated literature in Oriya. He sat in my neighbouring room and every evening asked me Oriya words for 5-10 English words. Many times, I just stated rural words of Varanasi region and they matched with rural Oriya words which are mostly forgotten. Even my mother was at ease with Oriya specially of western Orissa, though she could never talk in Hindi-so called mother tongue. Many Oriya uses are crude translations of English usage. Some examples-Facing great difficulties= ଅସୁଵିଧା ର ସମ୍ମୁଖୀନ, Mushroom growth = ଛତୁ ଫୂଟିଲା ଭଲିୟା ଵୃଦ୍ଧି, Sun-stroke = ଅଂଶୁ ଘାତ (ଖରା ମାରି ଦେଲା)

  2. Struggle ( in any field ) is the name of GAME / LIFE in our beautiful Country (look back from the days of Mahabharat …… Ramayana …….. & ………..);
    so the struggle is on and must continue and that should be the driving FORCE for the time being.

    Thanks orissamatters to remind us of the situation and keeping alive the issue.

    By the way; like history repeats itself, saboteurs are always from within always ……….. but with different shades of faces, names, shapes, sizes, and in all sorts of backgrounds …….. may be …………….. ultimately it’s always some one from within us or the establishment only to give way to foreign RULE to destruction of families and individuals ……………. WHAT AN IRONY …………………. ??? ?? ?

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