Chief Minister is ruining Oriya Language and torturing language activists

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The splendid mother tongue of the people of Orissa that had given birth to India’s first linguistic State is in the ruins, as the State’s Chief Minister Mr. Naveen Patnaik, born to a non-Oriya mother, has been playing havoc with Oriya language.

His father Biju Patnaik had rendered the Orissa Official Language Act 1954 de facto inconsequential by amending the same in 1963 in favor of English. With promulgation of Oriya as Official Language in 1954, as per the Constitution, English had no legitimacy to continue in official business. With Orissa Official Language Act in force, under no circumstances, English was to continue as official language after 15 years of commencement of the Constitution, i.e. after January 26, 1965. But Biju shrewdly sabotaged this Constitutional stipulation. Taking advantage of majority of the Assembly seats gone to his sycophants, he had inserted Section 3-A in Orissa Official Language Act that reads as follows:

“Notwithstanding the expiration of the period of fifteen years from the commencement of the Constitution of India, the English language may, as from the 26th day of January 1965, continue to be used, in addition to Oriya for the transaction of business in Legislature of the State of Orissa.”

Had he made it on the body of the amendment Bill that, English shall be used for “all or any” official business, as the Original Act stipulates, even his docile followers in the Assembly would not have supported the Bill. They would certainly have revolted and the amendment could not have been carried through. Hence he deliberately made it limited to “business in Legislature” only. Once the hoodwinked Assembly adopted it, he made English the “official language” for administration, as the administration in its entirety was answerable to the Legislature.

This subterfuge against Oriya language was a major cause of my support to the students’ uprising against him that had ejected him out of office two years ahead of completion of his term as the Chief Minister. The students and the youth had revolted against his corrupt practices.

Biju’s hatred for Oriya language was not only reflected in this particular amendment in 1963, but also was discernible in his speech on the 1985 amendment Bill that was brought to facilitate use of Oriya in official business. “We can progress further, if we have international language” he had said, while condemning the importance given to Oriya language. “So many languages there in our country. This is not a country at all”, he had thundered in disgust, as J.B.Patnaik, then the Chief Minister, was enforcing Oriya as the language of administration. His hatred for Oriya language is evidenced in the very fact that, he had not made his children learn even the alphabets of Oriya language.

Coming from this background, Naveen Patnaik hates the Oriya language and makes a farce of it by wrongfully uttering Oriya, when he reads out his written speech typed in Roman scripts.

He has destroyed the era of administration in Oriya, which late lamented Chief Minister J. B. Patnaik had forced the bureaucracy to adopt; and has subjected the State completely to the supremacy of English language in order to keep 80% of the Oriyas, who do not know English, intimidated, so as to hijack their inane votes to stay in power and pose the most popular.

He is so very aggressively against the Oriya language that when schools meant for the children of at least 90% of the Oriya population have no required numbers of class rooms, no roof, no infrastructure; and are unable to impart proper education because of the majority of teaching posts are lying vacant, over and above having no teacher in Oriya subject, his government is establishing English medium modern schools in every Panchayat Samiti area, just to show that, the ongoing movement for restoration of the primacy and paramountcy of Oriya language in management of Orissa carries no importance for him.

The situation has become worse than the condition of Oriya speaking population in the British Raj.

Naveen Patnaik is enjoying this predicament of the Oriya population.

He wants the Oriyas to remain a subjugated people and therefore, he is torturing the language activists, who are supporting the Bhasha Andolan in demanding an amendment in the Orissa Official Language Act, 1954 to provide for punishment to whosoever contravenes the said Act and does not conduct official work in Oriya.

We have earlier shown how eminent persons including freedom fighters have been detained on the road, even in inclement weather, by the police under the instructions from from his office, under the plea of CM’s security, although the Bhasha Andolan’s black flag march is a matchless movement of entirely peaceful, non-violent public penance to atone for the negligence shown to mother tongue Oriya, which has no comparison in the history of public interest agitations in whole of the world.

A few more pictures are posted here to help you know, how the State’s Chief Minister is harassing esteemed citizens as they are demanding for governance of Orissa in Oriya and for non-contravention of Orissa Official Language Act, which their representatives in the first Assembly of Orissa had created in 1954.

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