Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Sad, the Orissa Assembly is adjourned again due to the Government’s adamancy to impose English over the primacy of Oriya language in the Legislative Assembly.
After creating the cause for unrelenting ruckus in the House, the Government has architected passage of several Bill without discussion, even though they were blatantly violative of the Orissa Official Language Act.
In this, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has given a culminating effect to the act of subterfuge his father Biju Patnaik had devised to render the mother tongue of Orissa officially useless. It was one of the reasons of mass upsurge against Biju that had forced him out of power in 1963. After 50 years of Biju’s anti-Oriya foul play, his son Naveen has given Oriya language a deadly blow by bringing in Bills only in English, not in Oriya, and getting them passed beneath the whipped up hubbub.
The people of Orissa are the creators of the era of linguistic States in India and Orissa was the first State to have made administration to run in the mother tongue of the people – Oriya.
While celebrating the first Utkal Divas after independence, on 1st April, 1948, the Orissa Assembly, awaiting adoption of the Constitution, had to face a resolution moved by Pt. Laxminarayan Mishra (Bargarh-East)that required the Assembly to make Oriya the Official language of the State by enacting a Law to that extent; and in the spirit thereof, the first Assembly enacted ‘The Orissa Official Language Act, 1954’. This Act stipulated that Oriya was “to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the State of Orissa”.
But, the administrative officers, in order to keep them as a separate distinguished class, ignored this Act and went on managing their files in English.
When a fellow like Biju Patnaik grabbed the Chief Minister chair, he pampered and patronized whosoever was priding in being elite.
In his vested interest administration wherein non-Oriya officers and favor-seekers were dazzling as the Chief Minister’s inner associates, the Official Language Act, 1954 was relegated to insignificance and English reemerged as the language of administration through a blatantly illegal amendment in 1963; and thus, Oriya language was rendered officially useless by Biju Patnaik. His was a design to make Oriya language bereft of its primacy in administration.
When the British had made non-Oriya languages the official languages in Oriya speaking tracks, the people of Orissa had woke up against the design and forced the British to amalgamate all the Oriya speaking areas to a separate province where they can use their mother tongue in offices.
But Biju Patnaik, the most hypocrite virus post-independence politics had ever produced, sabotaged this primacy of Oriya language by inserting a provision in the Official Language (Amendment) Act, 1963 to the effect that, English shall be used “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.
By creating the Bills only in English language now, Naveen Patnaik has given finality to the act of subterfuge designed against Oriya language 50 years ago by his father Biju Patnaik. In his latest action, the concept “in addition to” penned in the 1963 amendment has also been discarded. It is a shame that there are sycophants who support non-framing of Bills in Oriya.