Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
In reply to a question, i.e. UDAQ No. 2325 from Member Nabakishore Das, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has told the Assembly on 14th December that the government is now finalizing the Rules to make it a must for the authorities to use Oriya as the Official Language.
The Chief Minister has almost admitted that notwithstanding enactment and instant enforcement of Orissa Official Language Act in 1954, which had stipulated that “Oriya shall be the language to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the State of Orissa”, the administration is not running in Oriya.
We had, in our meetings with the ministers, submitted various departmental circulars that had directed the departmental officers to work in Oriya language. These circulars were not traceable in headquarters. We had collected them – credit goes certainly to Joint Convener of Odia Bhasa Sangram Samiti Dr. Subrat Kumar Prusty – from the guard files of field offices at great pain and given copies thereof to the government to show how the Act was not functioning. In his reply referred to above, the Chief Minister has cited those circulars. Despite such circulars, the officers are not using Oriya language for official purpose.
In course of my investigation I stumbled upon the order of Chief Minister J. B. Patnaik, as he then was, directing all offices to use Oriya as the language of administration. This was a mandatory order from the Chief Minister of the constitutional government.
It is surprising that despite such clear orders from the Chief Minister himself, officers did not care to use Oriya.
In the regime of the present Chief Minister, various orders have also been issued for administration in Oriya; such as GA Department letter No.10552 of 17/4/2013. Another instance is letter No. 16086 of 12/6/2013 of the same department that controls all other departments. Yet, the officers did not use Oriya as official language.
What could be the reasons of this?
On research I found, there were no Rules to drive the Act ahead. The contraveners of the Act should have been subjected to disciplinary action; but there was no provision to administer discipline, including necessary prosecution for offense against the State. I found the Act itself had no provision for framing of the Rules. The Officers knew this lacuna and knew that they should be enjoying immunity under the shade of the deficient Act even if they continue to contravene it.
To eradicate this lacuna, I submitted the draft of proposed amendment to the Act of 1954 along with a draft of the proposed Rules to the Chairman of Official Language Advisory Committee Hon’ble Minister Sri Debi Prasad Mishra. Behind this was the collective wisdom and support of the entire leadership of the Odia Bhasa Sangram Samiti led by eminent poet Shankarshan Parida and fortunately for the State of Orissa, the Chairman and members of the ministerial committee formed by the Chief Minister wholeheartedly appreciated the initiative. The same has officially been posted in the dedicated website for public suggestions if any.
We are most happy to note that the Chief Minister has approved the website titled ODIARE SHASANA entirely dedicated to our demand for governance of Orissa in Oriya. On his behalf, Minister Debi Prasad Mishra who heads the Official Language Advisory Committee (formerly the Joint Action Committee) has launched this site in the presence of all the Ministers and representatives of the Odia Bhasa Sangram Samiti, that constitute the Committee and author of the proposed Language Policy Dr. Debi Prasanna Pattanayak.
We congratulate the Chief Minister for having informed the House as noted supra that the Rules are currently under active consideration of the Government for adoption.
Once the Act is amended and Rules adopted, no Officer, whatsoever be his / her rank and status, would dare to play mischief with our people’s right to get governance of our State in our mother tongue Oriya.
We put below the Assembly document carrying the question and the CM’s answer as a matter of documentation.