Growth of socio-political Associations and Growth of Public Associations in 19th Century Odisha

In Odisha, the nineteenth century saw the growth of sociopolitical and public associations. Like its counterparts elsewhere, the educated middle class that emerged in Odisha following the famine expressed its ideas, views, and aspirations through the press, meetings, and associations. In the post-famine period, a number of socio-political associations and public associations were formed with a variety of objectives, including the development of Odia language and literature, the protection of Odia interests, social reform, the promotion of education, and intellectual and literary discussions. The initiative in this field was taken by a group of Englishmen who formed the Mutual Improvement Society in Cuttack in 1859.

These Englishmen used to engage in lively debates about social issues. Following that, the following associations were formed –

Utkal Bhasa Unnati Bidhayini Sabha (Association for the development of Odia language), Balasore, 1867; Utkal Bhasa Uddipani Samaj (Association for Odia Linguistic Awakening), Cuttack, 1867; Utkalollasini Sabha (Association for awakening the Odias), Cuttack, 1868; Cuttack Debating Club, 1868; Cuttack Young men’s Association, 1869; Utkal Brahmo Samaj; 1869; Puri , Society, 1870; Ganjam, Utkal Hitabadini Sabha (Ganjam Association for the promotion of welfare of Odisha), Berhampur, 1872; Bhadrak Desha Hiaishini Sabha (Bhadrak Association for the welfare of the country), 1874; Ganjam Nisha Nishedhini Sabha (Ganjam Association for prohibition), 1875; Utkal Sabha, Cuttack, 1877; Balasore National Society, 1878; Madak Seban Nibarini Sabha (Association for the prohibition of wine drinking), 1879; Shiksha Bidhayini Sabha (Association for the Promotion of Education),1881; Utkal Sabha or Odisha People’s Association, 1882; Anti-Corruption and Prohibition Sabha, Cuttack, 1884; Odisha Graduate and Undergraduate Association, 1888; Utkal Sahitya Sammilani (Odia Literary Association), Cuttack, 1886; Balasore Zilla School Reading Club; 1896; and Alochana ,Sabha ,of Cuttack Secondary Training School, 1893.

There were several communal and caste-based organisations, such as the Karan Sabha, Odisha Islam Association, founded in 1875, and the Odisha Christian Association, founded in 1896 in Cuttack. The educated elites of Odisha, like the elites elsewhere in India, sought to reform social life through measures such as education promotion and women’s empowerment and emancipation. They were also influenced and inspired by other parts of India’s social reform movements. However, education’s slow progress and the absence of a strong intellectual elite slowed the process of social regeneration.