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Are the dreams of freedom fighters fulfilled?
1st April is celebrated as Utkal Diwas in Odisha as the state had got separated from Bengal and Bihar based on linguistics, culture and tradition, but, Odia language is still being neglected.

A small state in the eastern part of India, Odisha, was carved out from Bengal and Bihar and formed as a separate state on April 1,1936 which is celebrated as Utkal Diwas. The state is full of natural resources, serene beauty, wildlife, tranquil beaches, temples, monuments, arts and festivals.

Utkal Diwas is not only celebrated in the state but also observed everywhere Odia people reside across the globe, to remember the contributions and sacrifices made by the people.

Prior to this, Odisha was the central hub of the kingdom of Kalinga. Although it was temporarily conquered by Asoka, his decline gave rise to many state-wide Hindu dynasties and their built temples. After a long resistance to Muslims in the region, it was finally conquered by Afghan invaders and passed on to the Mughals.

Mukunda Dev was the last Hindu king and lost completely political identity in 1568. In 1751, the Marathas gained control of the region, retaining it for almost half-a-decade and around 1803, the region was invaded by the British.

During British occupation of Odisha, the land was subjected to administrative negligence, miss-management and excessive taxation brought economic devastation. As a result, Odia language lost its identity. However, a big step was taken to strengthen the Odia language and culture as opposed to Hindi, Bengali and Telugu.

In 1903-05, in his statement, HH Risley, secretary of government of India said, "When the people speaking a distinct language were distributed over areas too small to constitute a substantial portion of a province, they were neglected, which laid to be the foundation stone for the leaders of the Odia movement for the demand of its own separate political identity."

Local newspapers of that time like Utkal Dipika, Samabalpur Hitaisini, Prajabandhu also instigated the local people to demand a separate state.

Another language controversy surfaced on substituting Bengali for Odia as medium with several arguments and counter-arguments involving Odia vs Bengali.

A series of administrative committee and government resolutions lead to the creation of a separate province of Odisha. In 1919, Montegue Chandra reforms gave a proposal for granting of constitution of the state. On the behalf of Odia speaking people, Krishna Chandra Gajapati, the maharaja of Paralakhemundi went to London to attend a round-table conference and presented a memorandum in favour of creating a separate state based on linguistics.

But it is unfortunate that even after 80 years of celebrating of Utkal Diwas, the dreams of the esteem haven't been fulfilled. Though the Odia language has been certified and laws been enacted for its official use, but they have remained confined within law books. The practical scenario is quite different.

Although, the Odias, in this difficult time have tried their best to save their culture and mother tongue, but today it is still neglected. In a general survey, it was found that when a child starts going to school, parent's emphases on English language rather than the mother tongue.

English language has become a parameter of intelligence, modernity and aristocracy. At many tourist places in Odisha, vendors and purohits approach the visitors with different languages even though their mother tongue is Odia. In this situation, a question that arises in my mind is, have the dreams of our freedom fighters been fulfilled? Have the scarifies made by our freedom fighters to save our culture, our language all gone down in vein?

In the era of globalization, people, consciously or unconsciously should not neglect the mother tongue. Everyone should be proud of their rich culture and mother tongue.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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