Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
I was interviewed by the Telegraph in September 2017 in the matter of our movement for governance of Orissa in Oriya Language, which is our State Language. The esteemed paper had given the interview an apt caption “I AM FIGHTING FOR ODIA PEOPLE & PRIDE”.
This interview is relevant to scholars that keep in mind the history of the fight of the “Fine Race of the Oriyas” to achieve its language-right.
We the people of Orissa had been fighting for a separate State where administration and business would run in Oriya, our mother tongue.
In whole of India, we the Oriyas alone had overwhelmed the invader British to such extent that they had to admit in the words of W. Forrester that the “nature of the Country and the disposition of the inhabitants will always present formidable obstacles to their suppression either by military or police”
They had, therefore, under the power of advanced war weapons, divided Oriya speaking tracts to four parts and by clubbing the divided parts to neighboring provinces of rival tongues had reduced us to linguistic minorities in those envious soils.
Gandhiji, in Young India had written on 18 February 1920, “This fine race cannot possibly make the natural advance which is its due, if it is split up into four divisions for no sound reason.”
We were not to remain silent. We raised our voice for amalgamation of all the Oriya speaking areas. In the world’s first peaceful movement, we forced the same British to bow down to our demand that allowed Orissa to emerge in 1936.
But, despite that, and despite a law having made our language the State language in 1954, we are yet to achieve our language-right.
The interview is of utmost relevance to how have we been dealing with the issue.
As I revisit the Telegraph page, the last question dear ace reporter Subhashish Mohanty had asked me, calls to note. He had asked, “What would you have been, had you not been in journalism?”
And, my instant answer was: I would have worked for the spread of Communism.
Now, friends, I feel, that would remain my last dream!