Oriya Language Movement is Movement for Orissa’s Emancipation

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

I can say for sure that, Orissa’s emancipation lies in the success of the Silent Black-Flag Rally, which is going on for last one month at Bhubaneswar demanding stoppage of official contravention of Orissa Official Language Act, 1954 and for necessary amendments to the Act to remove all obstacles from implementation thereof in keeping with the dreams of founding fathers of the State.

As a member of the Ministerial Committee, I had located the lacunae in the Act and given the drafts for its amendment and Rules to drive it ahead. The Chief Minister played tricks, as in my proposal and the draft of the proposed amendment, I had made provisions for punishment to whosoever contravenes the Act, vesting the power of prosecution even in the general public.

CM Naveen Patnaik, despite having told the Assembly on December 14, 2015, to bring in the amendment, dramatically drifted away and on December 17, 2015, took mischievous steps to render the Committee inconsequential. I had to invoke my tested method of social movement – The Silent Black Flag Rally – to wake up the sleeping masses to the great danger the official mischief has exposed our “fine race” (Mahatma Gandhi, Young India, Feb.18,1920) to, which, as is being witnessed by all in Orissa, is creating discernible impact.

Silent Black Flag Rally as a Social Weapon

I had invented and used this method as a powerful weapon of social movement long back in the early 1980s.

When Sri Janaki Ballav Patnaik was the Chief Minister, my own place Tigiria and Athgarh, from where he had come to Assembly by way of bi-election to retain his Chair, had plunged into rampant corruption and political favoritism in every sphere of administration. In his presence, at the time of filing the nomination papers, his protege Basanta Biswal had declared that the moment the election result is declared and JB gets confirmed in his position, the Gopabandhu Science College established by the local people as a private College shall be taken over by the Government. Present on the spot, I had objected to this uncalled-for false promise, citing many senior private colleges, which, unless taken over, it would never be possible for the State to take it over. JB had intervened and declared that he would use the CM’s prerogative to do this. He did not. So, to make our people woke up to reality, I had to spend many days in deep cogitation.

Being a peace loving person by birth, I had studied Gandhiji’s method meticulously. Despite Communism being my creed, the Gandhian non-violence was the method of my preference for mass awakening. I mixed a tint of Malcolm X with the Mahatma and refurbished the same with the age-old wisdom of ancient Oriyas, learned from my father, which says, “DHIRA PANI PATHARA KATE” (a slow but regular flow of water can lacerate a strong stone). And, it had helped me invent a new method of public awakening by giving the people a shock treatment with a silent march from a specific point to a specific point at a particular time every day with a placard carrying the message of the movement and a flag of unusual color to attract people’s attention. The silent rally would be entirely nonviolent while the placard would be silently inducing the onlookers into the message of the mission, which would acquire more and more credibility day by day with the daily regular repetition. I had chosen the flag of black color deliberately for three reasons: firstly because, I, a native of ex-State Tigiria,born to the family of Rautaraya Pattanayak, have an emotional attachment to Black Flag, which my family hereditarily honors as the Flag of victory; secondly, the black color is generally perceived in Orissa as a color of fearlessness and thirdly, the supreme lord of Orissa SriJagannath, revered for having fought at Kanchi to rescue the mana of our people, is of the black color. So, the silent Black Flag campaign had worked perfectly and the all-powerful political set-up of those days had to bend to a discernible extent.

After extinguishing people’s fear for power, I had left Athgarh in pursuit of my profession, as Orissa High Court had directed me to join my job as a journalist, which I had lost under the Emergency, being a sharp reporter against blatant misrule.

This method is now guiding the unique Black Flag campaign, we, in Bhasha Andolan, are leading for our mother tongue.

Our mother tongue Oriya is the creator of our province called Orissa.

Our founding fathers had fought against all odds and had succeeded in creating this State only for the purpose of the conductance of every official work in Oriya.

This purpose is lost, as we are being administered in English in total violation of Orissa Official Language Act, created and promulgated by the first elected Assembly of our State.

I had found that nobody was honoring the Act, as there was no provision of punishment for violation thereof. Therefore, as a member of the Ministerial Committee on working of the Act, I had suggested that, stringent penal action be provided for against contravention thereof and had also equipped my suggestion with drafts of amendment of the Act and a set of Rules for administration of the Act.

I have not left the power of prosecution at the mercy of the officials reluctant to work in Oriya. Under Sub-Rule (i) of Rule 11, I have provided for a legal apparatus in the following words: There shall be a Committee consisting of three members to be constituted by the Chief Secretary of Odisha, of which, the Principal Secretary in charge of the department of Culture shall be the ex-officio Chairman, a judicial officer of the State not below the rank of an Assistant Sessions Judge and an educationist in the field of Odia language not below the rank of a Professor of any University of Odisha shall be the members. The Committee shall the named as the Language Committee, Odisha.

Power to initiate the prosecution is given to every Oriya under Sub-Rule (ii) of this Rule in the following words: The Committee shall, on the complaint of any person or institution, or suo motu , take up matters of violation of the provisions of the Act or these Rules for adjudication and decide the same by majority of opinion, keeping in view the principles of natural justice. 

The Silent Black Flag Rally, now known as Bhasha Andolan, is espousing this my proposed legislation.  Its success will emancipate Orissa, because, every Oriya would be equipped with the necessary legal power to initiate prosecution against any functionary that indulges in defeating the very purpose for which Orissa was created. The Oriya race shall not suffer the ignominy of being administered in English to have the freedom from which our State had given so many martyrs including the youngest martyr in Baji Raut to India.

But sadly, the Chief Minister is hand-in-glove with a gang of non-Oriya IAS officers who have been trying to defeat our campaign for the suggested amendment of the Act. We shall have to defeat their evil design and to ensure that our movement succeeds; because, this movement is a movement for Orissa’s emancipation.

(Updated by the author with the necessary input)

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