An essay on Mugalbandi vs Gadjat and Development vs Underdevelopment

December 5, 2009 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

Following is a report from

Petition: Rethinking on the Merger of Princely States with Orissa Province 1948

Mr. Naveen Patnaik, The Honorable Chief Minister of Odisha,

Smt Patil, Honorable President of India
Dr. Singh, Honorable Prime Minister of India
Members of Parliament from Odisha

Dear honorable chief minister, Mr. Patnaik,

It is said that on linguistic affinity the demand of a separate Orissa province was mooted before the British Government.. Orissa province was created in 1936. While the movement for a separate state was going on, the then British Government appointed Atlee sub-committee to examine and recommend to the Government, the feasibility of a separate province or a separate Oriya state. The committee submitted its report in 1930 where among other recommendations it is also pointed out that unless the Oriya speaking princely states would be amalgamated with the Orissa province, economically the said province would not be viable. This point caught the imagination of Harekrusna Mahatab and he started planning how to bring the princely states within the fold of Orissa province and thereby to strengthen the economy of the new province, as these princely states were repository of mineral and forest resources. But the outbreak of Second World War could not afford opportunity to Mahatab to execute his plan.

There were 26 princely states where Oriya language with regional variation was spoken. These princely states were not under direct British administration unlike Balasore, Cuttack, Puri, Khurdha, Ganjam, Sambalpur and Koraput. The regions under direct British administration were then called Mugalbandi or British Orissa and the localities under kings and princes were called Gadjats or Princely States.

Besides, in Chhatisgarh there were 16 States under the rulers. 23 out of the 26 Oriya speaking states of Orissa and 16 states of present Chhatisgarh did not want to join with Orissa province or Madhya Pradesh. There was an apocalyptic fear among the peoples that in the event of their merger with Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, there interest would be jeopardized and there locality would be lagged behind during post- independence time in view of the fact that freedom struggle could not gain momentum in these princely states unlike their counterpart British administered states. Thus, they wanted to form a separate province under Indian Federation or Dominion. Just after independence, almost all princes conceded their accession with the Indian Dominion, but they too wanted separate state.. Thus, the people and rulers of these 39 Princely States started Eastern States Union, a province under Indian Dominion. Raipur was selected for its capital and High Court started to function their.

Eastern States Union immediately took the cause of Indravati Dam Project in Kalahandi. As Indravati is an inter-state river, the state union appealed to the Indian Government for clearance. Nevertheless, the recognition of Indian dominion to the eastern States Union as separate province was wanting. Just at that time, Prajamandala Movement broke out in many Oriya speaking states except Kalahandi and few small states, under the direct instigation of the then Congress led Government of Orissa or Harekrushna Mahatab, the then chief minister of Orissa. The leaders of Prajamandala movement were impressed upon by H. K Mahatab and Congress party that their movement is primarily designed to obtained democratic right, self- determination and people’s representative form of Govt. from their rulers. Princely states like Nilgiri, Dhenkanal, Talcher, Ranapur, Nayagarh, Bonai, Sonepur and Mayurbhanja witnessed the outbreak of this movement and the problem of law and order aroused in these states. This became a plea for H. K. Mahatab to argue and impress upon the Indian Government to take way the administration of these princely states and merge them with Orissa province and not to recognize eastern states union as separate province. At his request, Sardar Patel and home secretary, V.P Menon arrived at Cuttack on 13th December 1947 and then called the meeting of 26 Oriya rulers at Cuttack. In the meeting held on 14th December, when Patel and Menon appealed to the kings to join with the Orissa province, the response from the side of the rulers was less. On the next day, Orissa military was prepared to meet any eventuality.

P.K Deo, ruler of Kalahandi openly said that since the legislative Assembly of Kalahandi has passed a resolution to join with the Eastern States Union, it is difficult on his part to agree to join with the Orissa province. On the next day DIG of Orissa Police was ordered to proceed and forcibly occupy the princely state which would not join with the Orissa province. Then one by one all rulers put their signature on the merger document. P.K Deo, then Maharaja of Kalahandi, was last to sign it. Under intimidation and threatening to people and rulers, Mahatab achieved his objective. The leaders of Prajamandala Movement met Mahatab on the next day and condemned him for betraying to the cause of self – determination of the people for which Prajamandala Movement was working. Mahatab threatened to one of the leader of Prajamandala Movement Pabitra Mohan Pradhan of Talcher in the words, “…. you would be the first person to be shot at in this  merger drama ….” .

Immediately after the merger, spontaneous reaction of the people against the merger started in Mayurbhanj, Kalahandi, Baudh- Sonepur and some other places. There was lathi charge and arrest at Bhawanipatna and Madanpur Rampur in Kalahandi. People were giving slogan “Orissa Govt, get out, we want separate state. There was firing at Bamanghati of Mayurbhanj and some people were killed.

According to the rearrangement of Orissa province, the princely states and the British administered localities (Orissa province before 1948) were grouped under 13 districts.

Even the selection of Bhubaneswar as capital was wrong in view of the fact that capital should be located in the centre of the State. It should be located in central Orissa – Athmallik- Baud. This suggestion was also put forth to the Indian Govt. But Mahatab exploited the situation in favor of Bhubaneswar to safeguard the interest of coastal peoples. Today Bhubaneswar is always in advantages sides and these princely states Athmallik, Baud, Kalahandi etc are at the receiving end.

Though Kalahandi is infamous for poverty in present days Orissa, the general condition of these princely states was not so miserable before their merger with Orissa province. There was no scarcity of food in these states. During Bengal famine of 1942, Kalahandi alone had supplied One Lakh Tonnes of rice to Bengal. On the other hand, British administered coastal Orissa including Sambalpur and Koraput were poverty stricken due to flood and scanty rainfall in every year. However, western education first entered into the British administered territories as the establishment of Colleges shows.

Suddenly after the merger of Princely states, these British administered areas or previous Orissa province started to develop. The Government of Orissa and Govt. of India started to build all necessary infrastructures, and the princely states were sidelined. This policy continues until now by Orissa Government. This is just like the apartheid policy pursued by the White minority Govt. of South Africa over the black majority.

There are so many examples also that whenever any issue relating to two different zones arises; Orissa Government favors former British ruled area. The example of Indravati project in Kalahandi and Hirakud project in Sambalpur may be cited as first instance. The idea of Indravati dam project goes to the period of P.K Deo’s rule [1939- 1947] in Kalahandi. The idea of Hirakud Dam project was a later development, but Hirakud Dam project was executed by the Govt. immediately and the Indravati dam project was suppressed till 1978. Indravati irrigation project is not yet 40% completed. Similarly, when Sambalpur University, University College of Engineering Burla and VSS medical college were established at Sambalpur, Govt. did not adopted distributive system among Bolangir, Kalahandi (Princely States) and Sambalpur. Another recent example – the people of Mayurbhanj struggled more than a decade to get a University from the govt. But we don’t have any such information about the struggle of Balasore for the cause of a University unlike Mayurbhanj. But when Orissa Govt. was compelled to establish a University at Mayurbhanj, automatically the Govt. favored Balasore too. The last example may be the establishment of the Central University at Koraput instead of Kalahandi despite Kalahandi is centrally located in KBK districts and Kalahandi is struggling for a Central University since past two decades. Public sector industries like NALCO, VAL etc were established in Koraput. Paper mill was initially proposed in Kalahandi but shifted to undivided Koraput.

Kalahandi is always at the receiving end by Orissa Government since it merged with Orissa province. Joining Orissa province costs Kalahandi in development. This must be addressed.

Thank you

With best regards

Digambara Patra

Table 1: The Princely States before 1947-48

SL, No Name of the State Area in sq.miles Population[Census 1911]
1. Athagada 168 43784
2. Athmalik 730 40753
3. Bamra 1988 123378
4. Baramba 134 38260
5. Baud 1264 88250
6. Bonai 1296 38277
7. Daspalla 568 51987
8. Dhenkanal 1463 239996
9. Gangpur 2492 238896
10. Hindol 312 47180
11. Kalahandi 3745 350529
12. Keonjhar 3096 285758
13. Khandpara 244 69450
14. Mayurbhanj 4243 610383
15 Narasinghpur 199 39613
16. Nilgiri 278 66460
17.. Nayagarh 588 140799
18. Pal lahara 452 22351
19. Patna 2399 277748
20. Rairkol 833 26888
21. Ranpur 203 46075
22 Sonepur 906 169877
23. Talcher 399 60432
24. Tigiria 46 22628
25 & 26. Saraikela & Kharswan [did not join with orissa province] 449,153 109794,38852

Total area 28648               Total  3945209

Acknowledgement: I thank my teachers for supporting me with facts and figures.

Digambara Patra, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry
American University of Beirut
Beirut, Lebanon

Entry filed under: Athmallik, Balangir, Boudh, History of Koshal, Mugalbandi and Gadjat, Subarnapur.

Govt. will initiate steps to fill up 146 academician posts in Utkal, Sambalpur and Berhermpur University Odisha govt. unable to utilize central govt. grant for NREGS and Indira awas

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