It was wrong to change Orissa to Odisha, says Prof. Panchanan Mohanty


President of the Linguistic Society of India, also Member of the Governing Council, Indian Council of Social Science Research, Government of India, Prof. Panchanan Mohanty has unambiguously stated that, it was absolutely wrong on part of the Government to change Orissa to Odisha without application of linguistic mind and sans any reading of why the English spelling of the name of the State was Orissa. This mindless official action has made the august name of the State the butt of a ridicule,as the non-Oriyas are pronouncing it differently, he has said in addressing the State from the live platform of Bhasha Andolan in Facebook on the 7th September.

From Day one, in 2008, when this mischief to tamper with the most discernible evidence of classicism of Oriya language was conceived, the sentinel of Oriya nationalism Subhas Chandra Pattanayak has been opposing the non-Oriya design.

He had written on 7.6.2008 to the Chief Minister and to all the members of the cabinet to stop considering the proposal in the Cabinet. This Letter is reproduced below:

Dear Chief Minister,
It is wrong to change Orissa to Odisha and Oriya to Odia by replacing ‘r’ with ‘d’.

The founding fathers of Orissa had built up these spellings and hence it is unethical to muss them up like this.

On the other hand, Oriya language is a language of archaic peculiarities and here lies its beauty. The Oriya alphabet ଡ has two pronunciations. When it does not occur in the beginning of a word, it is pronounced not as ‘d’ in dock, but as ‘r’ in rock. Therefore, the alphabet ଡ appearing in the midst of the words ଓଡ଼ିଆ and ଓଡ଼ିଶା cannot be changed to ‘d’, but must be preserved with ‘r’.

I am enclosing herewith a number of scanned documents from ‘Purnachandra Oriya Bhasakosa’ and from ‘ A Practical Handbook of Oriya Language’ , which, if you please peruse, may help you in understanding why the founding fathers have spelt ଓଡ଼ିଆ as Oriya and ଓଡ଼ିଶା as Orissa.

If you are not going to use the proposed spelling change as a political ploy, please halt the agenda in this respect and please do not allow your Cabinet on June 9 to be misled by shadow conspirators against Oriya heritage.
Subhas Chandra Pattanayak,
VR 32, Unit 6, Bhubaneswar 751001

ORISSA MATTERS had published this letter of immense historical importance on the day before the Cabinet under caption : THE CABINET MUST NOT MUSS UP ORISSA and many members of the Cabinet had raised their objections to the proposal on 9.6.2008. But despite that, pusillanimous they all, the Press was briefed that the decision to change Orissa to Odisha and Oriya to Odia was taken unanimously.

Pattanayak had to place the nuisance before the public under the following caption:

No written document on the Cabinet resolution was made available to the Press; but on 28.8.2008 the Assembly adopted a resolution to move the Government of India in this regard, basing on which, THE ORISSA (ALTERATION OF NAME) BILL, 2010 was placed before the Parliament and subsequently adopted.

Sri Pattanayak demanded that the Parliament should call back its decision on grounds shown in his editorial captioned: Indian Parliament Should Call Back Its Resolution: Archaic Richness of Orissa Shouldn’t be Spoiled; Spelling Change Conspiracy Must be Foiled.

As the President finally signed the Bill, the Chief Minister declared a State Holiday to celebrate this constitutional assault on the most visible classical peculiarity of Oriya Language and several crores of Rupees were squandered away in projecting how a great lover of Oriya language was Naveen Patnaik. Sri Pattanayak came down heavily on this State-sponsored euphoria that was, in reality, harmful to classical distinction of Oriya Language. His write-up was titled: Orissa Became Odisha: What Else Could Have Happened When Stupids Rule the Roost?

In fact, he was to be worried. Because it is he, who among all the Oriyas was the first to have raise the demand for the State to claim classical status for Oriya language in his editorial captioned SUPERIOR LANGUAGE ORIYA LANGUISHES DUE TO INFERIOR LEADERSHIP. And aptly he had apprehended that the motive behind spelling change game of 2008 was to have electoral gain in the 2009 Assembly election by hoodwinking the people under a false notion of Oriya nationalism and nothing else.

Prof. Mohanty in his address to Oriya nation on Facebook-live in the Bhasha Andolan program last Monday has given competent authenticity to the views cited supra and to ORISSA MATTERS decision to stick to Orissa and Oriya, notwithstanding the bad law – THE ORISSA (ALTERATION OF NAME) ACT, 2011. Here is the relevant extract of his speech, as placed in YouTube.

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