Reawakening Kosali and Coastal Conspiracy
Saket Sreebhushan Sahu
Kosali language as a separate language, and recognising its relevance and identity are opposed by coastal Odisha intellectuals. They are vehemently arguing about unilateral linguistic character of Odisha. Odisha is multi-lingual state, with two major languages, Odia and Kosali, and Odisha should provide education through the languages prevalent in the state. In a hypocritical step the Odisha government is providing instruction in elementary education through some of the Adivasi languages of the state. But it is mere a political gimmick to lure sympathy of Adivasi and their votes. In the Binjhal caste affluent Bargarh district, the state government has appointed 28 Binjhal language teachers; it is true, at a time Binjhal language was existing, but many a generations have passed and Binjhal tribes have adopted the mainstream Kosali language of the region; but no Binjhal language exists now.
When vigorous movement demanding recommendation of Kosali language is going on, to pacify the agitation tactically, the government t wrote letter to the centre government but to show-off the common folks and brutally made blunders, misrepresented about Kosali to the centre. The committee chaired by an Odia poet played with the sentiments of 2 crore Kosalis. The Coastal lobbies in a deliberate conspiracy with the full support of state machineries lauded with funds and power, one-by-one, step-by-step, hatch to butcher the Kosali movement; felicitated Kosalis poets as Odia poet, employed writers groups to Christianized Kosali to Odia, funded pro-Kosali organizations to hold Odia meetings, hired activist from Kosal region to stage fast unto death dharna and what not?
As to why Odisha government is reticent in recognition of Kosali as a language in its own right is beyond me. This as you can imagine has caused severe bitterness in Kosal or Western Odisha region.
As you know when in 1993 High level Commission was established, Indian government specifically asked the commission to exclude Bodo from deliberation because it had already promised Bodo people that Bodo would be included in the 8th schedule to quell the agitation of the students of the area. In the words of the Parliamentary committee, however, in the light of the Bodo Accord signed between the Government of India on the one hand and All Bodo Students Union and Bodo People’s Action Committee on the other on 20 February, 1993, the Government decided to delink the matter of inclusion of Bodo language in the Eighth Schedule from the issue of setting up of High Powered Body for evolving criteria for inclusion of more languages in the Eighth Schedule. Eventually Bodo along with Maithili, Dogri and Santhali were included in the 8th schedule. So what one expects the Kosalis to do ? Become militant ? Violent ? Rasta Roko, Rail Roko? Learn a few pointers from Naxalites ? Is that the only way ? In what way, claims of these languages are any better than Kosali ? Is not the government indirectly encouraging Kosalis to go the way Bodo people took?
So far Kosalis are going through all the civil channels, such as, writing memorandums, providing documents of authenticity of our claim, producing literature, making movies, conducting seminars, engaging in debates, launching newspapers and periodicals, presenting about Kosali at national platforms and everything imaginable but to no effect.
As it stands now, aggressive Odianisation with a missionary zeal has resulted in putting huge part of population in a disadvantage in education and consequent huge drop-out rate in schools. Many states have more than one recognised language, and such measure enhances the cultural mix because of mutual respect between the language groups. Behind the opposition to recognition of Kosali, there is an oft repeated assertion that Kosali is nothing but a dialect of Odia. This is patently not true, and worse, it is paternalistic. Most coastal Odishans can’t speak Kosali, nor are they familiar with any Kosali literature. They are much more familiar with Bengali in northern coastal area and with Telegu in southern area. So why this pretence? Why not celebrate the linguistic diversity in Odisha instead ?
Author Comments on Politics and Culture. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.