CM mandates Odia for all government work, may amend Language Act

The Orissa Official Language Act came into force on October 15, 1954, mandating that Odia shall be the language to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the state.
Odisha's Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi
Odisha's Chief Minister Mohan Charan MajhiPhoto | Express

BHUBANESWAR: Odia is yet to be used as the language of administration in Odisha which achieved statehood in 1936 on the basis of language. Seven decades have passed since The Odisha Official Language Act was enacted for use of Odia language at the official level. Yet, when it comes to government work, officials continue to use English along with Odia.

This prompted Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi to announce on Thursday that all government works will be done in Odia language from now on. If necessary, the Act will be amended to widen the use of Odia language at the official level.

The Orissa Official Language Act came into force on October 15, 1954, mandating that Odia shall be the language to be used for all or any of the official purposes of the state. Since then, the Act was amended five times, including in 1963 and 1985, which made provision for continuation of English in addition to Odia for transaction of business in state legislature and use of ‘international form of Indian numerals’ in place of Odia numerals for official purposes respectively.

“Since the 1963 amendment allowed use of English in addition to Odia, it occupied the dominant place in administrative work. After language experts raised a hue and cry over this, the Act was amended again in 2018,” said Subrat Prusty, member secretary of city-based Institute of Odia Studies and Research.

In 2018, under section 4, a new sub-section (section 4A) was inserted making penal provisions for non-compliance and rewards for extensive use of Odia by state government officials in official communications. A year later, the then BJD government came up with Odisha Official Language Rules which called for rewarding officials who extensively use Odia for official purposes and action under Odisha Civil Services Rules, 1962, against erring officials who fail to do so. The rule also applied to officials of All India Services and Central Civil Services working under the state government.

Language experts said serious attempts were never made by successive governments to implement it in the letter and spirit. “Unlike states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala where regional languages are the language of administration, in Odisha, the Act has been a mere lip service,” said convenor of Odia Advisory Board, Sahitya Akademi Gourahari Das.

“Publication of Prasasan Sabdakosha, a glossary of administrative terms in Odia, by Odia Bhasa Pratisthan has also been irregular despite the fact that new administrative words are coming up every day. There is no serious attempt to even develop a spell check in Odia,” he reasoned.

Till date, Prusty and Das pointed out, no officer or department has been punished for violating the Act and using English for official communication.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com