Understanding Odia Movement

Odisha, a nation whose territory stretched from the Ganga to the Godavari, disintegrated over time. The disintegration began with Mukundadeva’s death and continued until 1936. Due to dismemberment, the Odia-speaking territories were virtually annexed by four provinces – Bengal, Madras, Central Provinces, and Bihar – and relegated to the status of linguistic minorities in each of these provinces. The Odias felt neglected and oppressed by linguistic majorities, and were particularly distressed by deliberate efforts to eradicate Odia. The emerging new elite in Odisha in the latter half of the nineteenth century advocated for the unification of Odia-speaking areas in order to safeguard Odias’ legitimate interests and to preserve and develop the Odia language and culture. It is worth noting that some British officials recognised the injustice of dividing the Odias into separate provinces. As early as 1855, Commissioner of Odisha Division Henry Ricketts proposed that Sambalpur be merged with Odisha Division. Sir Stafford Northcote, the Secretary of State for India in 1868, advocated for the consolidation of Odia-speaking areas into a single administrative unit for the sake of improved administration.

1. Growth of socio-political Associations and Growth of Public Associations in 19th Century Odisha
2. Role of Utkala Sammilani in Odia Movement

Thus, the Odia movement fostered the growth of sociopolitical organisations and public organisations in nineteenth-century Odisha. The new Odia elite’s political consciousness manifested itself in two ways.

It first championed the cause of Odias dispersed throughout the provinces, and then lobbied for the consolidation of Odia-speaking areas.

Second, it contributed to national political consciousness on issues such as the Vernacular Press Act controversy, the introduction of local self-government by the Lord Ripon Government, and the formation of the Indian National Congress, among others.