News Brief

Odisha: New BJP Government Announces Series Of Steps To Promote Odiya And State’s ‘Asmita’

Swarajya Staff

Jul 06, 2024, 11:37 AM | Updated 11:36 AM IST

Odisha Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi
Odisha Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi

The new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Odisha has announced a series of measures to promote Odiya language and preserve the state’s asmita (pride), which was the party’s major campaign plank. 

Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi has ordered that all official work in the state will henceforth be conducted in Odiya. All files will have to be drafted in Odiya, and the Odisha Official Language Act 1954 “will be implemented in letter and spirit.” 

If necessary, the 1954 law will be amended to strengthen it. Though the previous Naveen Patnaik government had framed the rules to implement the Act in 2016, those rules were never implemented seriously. 

Three institutions — Odisha Sahitya Akademi, Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi, and Odisha Lalit Kala Akademi — will be restructured and strengthened to augment their capacities, Majhi said.

The functioning of the Odissi Research Centre will be streamlined to improve its efficiency. The library movement in the state will be strengthened to encourage people to read Odiya literature, he said. 

Majhi announced the setting up of a Language Commission and the reconstitution of the Odiya Bhasa Pratishthan to spur the growth of the Odiya language, which is one of the six classical languages of India. 

The state government has also initiated steps to provide medical education in Odiya. A 22-member committee, headed by the Vice Chancellor of Odisha University of Health Sciences, Manash Ranjan Sahoo, has been constituted to identify essential textbooks for MBBS education that will then be translated into Odiya.

This committee will work out timelines and budgetary requirements and has been asked to submit its report to the state government in 15 days. The other members of the committee are senior medical specialists from top-tier medical institutions in the state.

The Chief Minister also announced the establishment of a translation academy that will translate books of literary merit in English and Indian languages to Odiya. The academy has been tasked with developing easy-to-use and accessible technology to translate books and articles in Indian languages and English to Odiya. 

Also, an Odiya Asmita Bhawan will be constructed to house Odiya books and manuscripts and showcase Odisha’s rich culture and heritage. 

The BJP had made preservation of Odiya asmita a major campaign issue, targeting Patnaik’s perceived successor, the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer-turned-politician V K Pandian, who is a Tamil.

Pandian’s overwhelming influence over the state government and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) was made into a huge issue and is one of the reasons the BJD lost power in the state.

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