The fourth meeting of the Ministerial Committee on governance of Orissa in Oriya was held at 4 pm on Tuesday in the 2nd floor conference hall of the Secretariat under chairmanship of Minister Debi Prasad Mishra. Sri Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak was the only minister besides Sri Mishra who represented the five member team of Ministerial Committee. From the nominated members, Sankar Parida, Gajanan Mishra, Subhas Chandra Pattanayak, Prof. Natabar Satpathy and Dr. Subrat Kumar Prusti attended besides Dr. Debi Prasanna Pattanayak and Baisnav Parida.
Not only three ministers were absent, but also most of the officers, who were required to be present and apprise the committee of action taken on the Chief Minister’s post-Assembly declaration of 14 point decision as advancement towards governance of Orissa in Oriya, were conspicuous by their absence. As a result of this, only two items out of the 14 could be touched upon.
The CM has declared that an Oriya Open University would be established. On query from members it was seen that the officials are in utter confusion on this. It was decided to take up this matter in subsequent session. The 2nd item was item No.9 in the list of 14. It carries the CM’s decision to award cash assistance for excellence in Oriya language “for research in Oriya language”. The officials of Higher Education Department informed the Committee that, students who shall be fetching 90% marks in Oriya in +2 course, shall be awarded with one-time cash prize worth Rs.20 thousand under this item. It clearly indicated that the officials have either misread the CM’s order or have misled the CM to announce such a decision without application of mind to the real issue. When the announcement is unambiguous that the Government shall give cash assistance to scholars of excellence in Oriya “for research in Oriya language”, wherefrom the officials got the idea that this announcement means lifetime cash assistance of Rs. 20 thousand to +2 students who obtain 90% marks in their final examination? There was no answer to members’ query excepting conundrums hurled from the authorities. Except these two items from the CM’s 14 point announcement, nothing was even mentioned of. Before the formal meeting, higher education officials had informed that steps are being taken to fill up 170 junior teacher posts in Oriya in aided/nongovernment junior colleges. There was no answer to total number of existing vacancies in Oriya department of the higher education institutes, particularly in government colleges and universities. To a suggestion that all the colleges and universities should be equipped with department of Oriya language, officials kept mum.
Members wanted to know as to how ‘Sirisa Sarasa’ an exhibition funded and run by Panchayat Raj Department is having all its display boards in English when item number 4 and 5 of the CM’s announcement asserts that only Oriya shall be the language of display in such functions. The Information and Public Relations department as well as Labour and Employment departments were earmarked to speak on these two items. They were absent.
Dr. Debi Prasanna Pattanayak had circulated in the meeting some suggestions including how to promote Oriya language at School level. The same was not taken cognizance of.
Member Gajanan Mishra raised the issue of use of Oriya language in lower courts dealing with CPC and CrPC and suggested that the government should make no delay in asking the lower courts to transact their business in Oriya, as the said two codes specifically provide for that. The law department was not present to throw any light on it. On the other hand, education department officials stated that the Orissa Official Language Act has been amended in 1985 putting a ban on use of Oriya in lower courts. Member Subhas Chandra Pattanayak challenged the veracity of this statement and pointed out that, the Act was amended only to accommodate “international for of Indian numerals” in Oriya typewriters. He, however, condemned the official disobedience to the “Notification” of 1985 that was promulgated to use Oriya in offices of all departments. He questioned as to why the amendment of the Official Language Act including framing of Rules, the draft of which he had given, basing on which the CM had told the Assembly on December 14 that the Act would be amended after vetting by the Law department, has not been placed in the agenda for stocktaking in the Committee. There was no answer to that.
Member Sankar Parida, Baishnab Parida, Gajanan Mishra and language adviser Dr. Debi Prasanna Pattanayak insisted that, pending suggested amendment of the Act, official communications from the higher offices to lower offices and vice versa should be in Oriya language sans any delay.
Sensing the predicament caused by lack of official preparedness, chairman of the ministerial Committee asked the Principal secretary of GA department to take up the matter with the Chief Secretary who must call the secretaries of all the departments soon a day this month to prepare a faithful progress report on the CM’s 14 point announcement and assured to ensure the final vetting of the draft of amendment to the Act and draft Rules submitted by Subhas Chandra Pattanayak for legislation in the coming session of the Assembly.