Dr. Arjun Purohit’s rebuttal to Dr. Debi P.Patnaik’s article on Koshali language

March 30, 2014 at 3:49 am Leave a comment

Following message was sent to us by Dr. Arjun Purohit:

When I learnt that Odia got classical status, I was glad. Within two weeks of this announcement learnt that Koshali has been recommended by Odisha government to be included in the eigth schedule, I was elated.Koshalis have been asking for their language to be recognised for very practical purposes for a long time. I remember my early childhood days when for umpteenth number of times I had to stand on my stool because I spoke Koshali in my class. Koshali students always were disadvantaged compared to kids from coastal area in both written and verbal expression of school subjects even though their knowledge of matter was not any worse. I know of many of my class mates failing again and again in Odia though their marks in other subjects was okay, and became dropouts.

Non-recognition of Koshali has other important consequences. Interestingly, it has influenced the migratory pattern within Odisha. You will find numerous migrants from coastal Odisha in teaching, clerical and other lower level civil service in all parts of Koshal but you won’t find migration in the same scale from Koshal to coastal Odisha. Kosholis are moving west to Chhattisgagh and Madhya Pradesh.Non-recognition of Koshali has made Koshalis feel alien in their own land. Therefore I am so happy that this major irritant is about to be removed. In my humble opinion,the social impact of recognition of Koshali is far more profound than recognition of Odia as a classical language.

The other benefits will also accrue. Koshali is as rich and sweet as Awadhi, which is the language of Tulsidas Ramayana. Koshal’s poetic genius, such as Gangadhar Meher and Bhimabhoi have embellished Odia literature over the last century. Now I see the renaissance which has started in enrichment of Koshali literature with little or no government support for the last fifty year or so will get be further encouragement. A new generation of Koshali poets, playwrights, storytellers, film-makers, artists and creative folks are pouring in their creations. It is as if the dammed up creativity has been unleashed. This will lead to de facto recognition of Odisha as a state with two major languages in addition to many smaller tribal languages. One of my students, Dr.Ajit Mohanty recently wrote that experiments in teaching some tribal kids in their own language has been found very successful in Odisha. This confirms my conviction that mother tongue is the most efficient mode for teaching young kids. Therefore Odisha government must be congratulated for this step which should have been taken long time ago.

This is why I was shocked to see the comments of Dr.DebiP.Patnaik in The Telegraph, where he says,

“On February 20, I was delighted to learn that the Union Cabinet had given its nod to grant classical tag to Odia.Nine days later I was suffered immense pain when I came to know that our chief minister Naveen Patnaik had written a letter to the Centre for including languages such as Sambalpuri/ Koshali and Ho in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.”

Though I have great respect for Dr.Patnaik as one academic to another and for the way he stick- handled the acceptance of Odia as a classical language, I find such outburst as irresponsible, unwise and incendiary. It is reminiscent of “Odia swatantra bhasha noi” slogan of Kantilal Bhattacharya in 1870 when Odia speakers were trying to proclaim Odia as a separate language in its own right, not an apabhransha of Bengali.I do not understand what makes him so hostile towards Koshalis ? What harm have we caused to him or Odisha ? Why does he want to perpetuate an unvarnished colonial attitude towards Koshal ? What could have been a win win situation, he made it into lose-lose situation because he just ignited the perennial conflict between Koshalis and coastal Odishans.Does he want to recreate a pan-Odia empire(it was called Kalingan empire in his submission for classical status of Odia)from Ganga to Godavari erasing all the cultural and linguistic heritages of all people within his field of dream ?. Really !! Dr.Patnaik has become an nineteenth century pan-Bengali nationalist(such as Dr.Rajendra Lal Mitra and Kantilal Bhattacharya) this time in Odia garb.

It seems Dr.Patnaik does not like the idea of recognising any language in the eighth schedule,. If so he should take his fight with the central government which has got this frame work, not Odisha government, which is following the guide line in place.

More recently four more languages have been included in the 8th schedule. Ironically, according to one of his recent essays, he was an advisor to the Bodo group whose language was recognised under 8th schedule as to script they should use.For his effort, he got his Padmashree. What is so special about Bodo,Santhali,Maithili and Dongri; what they have which Koshali does not ? Why is it alright to enjoy a warm feeling of worth because Odia got classical status and is so painful to bear the thought that Koshali might be included in the eighth schedule ? If Dr.Patnaik thinks that by raising objection to Odisha government’s endorsement to Koshali,he can somehow derail the process of inclusion in the 8th schedule, he better think of the consequence. Recently our survey indicates that all leaders irrespective of all political affiliations are completely committed to the cause of Koshali language just as strongly the general population is. This is not a negotiable subject matter any more. Any tempering with the process will result in consequences which will have profound effect on the very integrity of the state.

There is genuine fear among the coastal intelligentsia that recognition of Koshali will eventually lead to separation.For fear of separation, coastal intelligentsia objected when, Sambalpur and Berhampur universities were created, when Burla Engineering college was established in Burla and when Regional Engineering college was established in Rourkela. History proves this thesis to be wrong; if anything these attempts softened the demand for separation. Debi Babu’s solution is to strengthen Odia language and that will prevent any sentiment of separation. He has been demanding five hundred crores from the government to create an Odia university , where ALL subjects would be taught in Odia right upto post-graduate level. In addition seven or so other Indian languages would be taught.

If anybody has bothered to look at the condition of state universities in Odisha, he will find that more than half of the academic positions are vacant because state government can not afford to pay the salary of these profs. Some of the hardest hit are Odia departments because graduates can not find any employment after graduation. In the mean time state government is announcing creation of more universities and medical colleges. So acceding to Debi Babu’s proposal, which is a colourful dream of a linguist, may end up being very costly without much of tangible benefits ! But the idea that language alone will hold a state together is passé. It did not prevent formation of Telengana. It did not prevent formation of Chhattisgarh or Uttarakhand either. If Mayavati will have her way, U.P. would be split into four provinces ! What binds the population together are good governance, a sense in the population that that the state government provides equal access to all the resources of the state irrespective of location or cultural/linguistic or religious affiliation, a sense of fair play when it comes dealing with grivances and an ambiance of good relationship between government and governed, among others.

Ever since the inception of the state, intelligentsia and bureaucrats from coastal Odisha have been suppressing the development of Koshal area some times bluntly and often surreptitiously with excuses that such development will stimulate separatist feelings. Objections, similar to the one Debi Babu just raised, had been raised, when Sambalpur university was established, when Burla Engineering college was established in Burla, when Regional Engineering college was established in Rourkela, and when a Diploma course in Koshali was instituted in Sambalpur University.

During the five years or so, Odishans from all quarters of the state campaigned for central educational institutions at the tertiary levels showing that Odisha has been neglected. Central government agreed and tried to correct the situation and granted IIT,NISER,AIIMS,Central Univerity of Law,Post Graduate University of Public Health,EISC medical college and a central University. Not a single one of these institutions were established in Koshal area. Koshal has become the heartland of industrialisation, but there has not been matching growth in human resource development. All these institutions,except the central university went to the sixty mile zone coastal area.

Recently, entire Koshal area agitated in unison to have a branch of High Court so that Koshalis can a little better access to jurisprudence. What seems to be good for the province was actively opposed by the lawyers of High Court in Cuttack, by having a strike ! How dare the Koshalis even think that they would have access to legal remedy in a High Court without going through Cuttack, they argued. All such manuevres are perpetrated against Koshalis because apparently if Koshalis become better educated and have easier access to services, they may want a separate state. So I am not surprised by Debi Babu’s outburst against Koshalis. This is one of many indignities we have learnt to endure, but remarks contained in his comments is below the belt, and crosses the line. Such overt attack is not a banter due to sibling rivalry but sounds like fratricidal battle cry. Debi Babu wants Koshalis to remain as second class citizen for ever. So ever wonder, why Koshalis want a separate state ?


Entry filed under: Athmallik, Balangir, Bargarh, Boudh, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Kalahandi, Kosli language and literature, Language, Nuapada, Region watch, Sambalpur, Subarnapur, Sundergarh.

Move on Kosli language hailed NaMo is aware of the Koshal state issue

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