Good News to Share // my suggested amendment to Orissa Official Language Act slated for legislation

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

If it is not subjected to subterfuge, the amendment to Orissa Official Language Act, 1954 that I have suggested and which is placed in the official website on governance of Orissa in Oriya, will be placed before the Legislative Assembly in the coming session and would be adopted with the strength of legislative wisdom.

Fast-on-to-death strike by poet Gajanan Mishra and creation of the apex organization of all language activists of Orissa under the banner of Oriya Bhasa Sangram Samiti and our unperturbed dedicated battle for governance of our motherland in our mother tongue, forced the government to come to an agreement with this Sangram Samiti to implement the Act as per its advice.

On the basis of this agreement, Gajanan Mishra broke his fast along with all of us who were in sympathy fast with him.

Advisory Committee prweambleAccording to this agreement with the Sangram Samiti, an advisory committee for implementation of the Act was constituted with five ministers and seven representatives of the Sangram Samiti. The first meeting unanimously accepted our advice to create a website in Oriya, dedicated to the cause and to request eminent Linguist Dr. Debi Prasanna Pattanayak to draft a language policy to help the implementation. Then it was resolved that members of the Committee may make any other suggestion they deem proper for implementation of the Act.

The Act was enacted in 1954, stipulating that “Oriya shall be the language to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the State of Orissa” with the mandate that “the Act shall come into force at once”. Since then, on different dates and from different departments as many as 25 circulars and notifications were issued for strict implementation of the Act.

But, the Act was never implemented and was continuously contravened.
Why? True, Biju Patnaik had sabotaged the Act in 1963. But, J.B.Patnaik had sincerely tried to implement it. Why then it was not implemented. Why?

As I cogitated on this question, I found, the Act was not equipped with any Rule to ensure its implementation. I found that there was no provision in the Act to allow framing of the necessary Rules. Therefore, I drafted an amendment to the Act with suggestion to add a new section, which would provide for creation of Rules and also made a draft Rules to suggest to the Committee.

In the 2nd meeting of the Committee, it was resolved that the draft language policy submitted by Dr. Debi Prasanna Pattanayak and the draft amendment to the Act and the draft Rules I had submitted would be placed in the website and the Principal Secretary of Law would be asked to vet the draft legislation I had submitted. In the last session of the Assembly, the Chief Minister has hinted to this legislation.

It is a matter of positive progress that the Law Secretary has vetted the draft I have submitted for legislation and the GA department is going to put it in form of a Bill for adoption in the coming session of the Assembly.

Ruling party MP Baishnav Parida, who has been trying to derail the proceedings of the government with the Oriya Bhasa Sangram Samiti, has also supported the legislation proposed by me and in the meantime, he has stated that a day in the coming session of the Assembly should be devoted to this legislation.

Besides Dr. Debi Prasanna Pattanayak, Convener of our movement Poet Sankarshan Parida, Poet Gajanan Mishra, Prof. Natabar Satpathy, Dr.Subrat Kumar Prusty who have been leading the Sangram Samiti directly and Sambad editor Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, Subartta editor Pradyumna Satpathy, Columnist Tusarkanta Satpathy, Media consultant Pabitra Maharatha, poet Umakanta Raut et al who have been contributing their might indirectly are the real factors that have created a positive climate for the political leadership and the executive government to agree to accept and prepare my draft for the necessary legislation.

Once the Act is amended, the Rules I have also submitted will be taken up and once the Rules become law, no official or official functionary shall dare to deny governance of Orissa in Oriya as the contravention shall attract stringent punishment.

Days are no more distant when Orissa shall be governed in Oriya. Then I shall thanks, besides Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, his five colleagues in the cabinet – Debi Prasad Mishra (Chairman of the Ministerial Committee, Arun Kumar Sahu, Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak, Bikram Keshari Arukh and Pranab Prakash Das for the positive steps taken in this regard.

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