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Orissa History after the Na’anka Famine : Rise of Intellengtsia

Na’anka famine was a blot in the history of Orissa.However like everything that comes with both advantage and disadvantage; it proved to be a boon in disguise for the state. The British were nodoubt forced to pay attention towards the development of the area. But, the real significance of the post-Na’anka era in 19 th century was the birth of a new consciousness in the thiking minds of the rising generation who now realized the urgency of regeneration of the state from within.

Education had been completely neglected by The East India Company. At the close of its rule, Orissa possessed only three Zilla Schools in the district headquarters of Baleshwar, Cuttack and Puri having total pupil strength of of 282. A few schools were also run by the Christian missionaries and some of the vernacular schools were doing their little bit to meet the needs.No doubt, education had touched its nadir. It was just after the Famine, that the Government raised the status of the Cuttack Zilla School to that of an English High school, affiliated to Calcutta University. In 1876 its status was increased to that of a college.The introduction of English was much responsible for shaping in the thoughts of the pioneers of Oriya renaiscance. A notable product of the new education was Utkal Gourab Madhusudan Das, the first graduate of Orissa who took B.A. degree from Calcutta University in 1870, M.A. degree in 1873, and a degree in Law in subsequent years. His ideas about the regeneration of his country made him one of the foremost leaders of modern Orissa.Utkal Gaurab Madhusudan Das was instrumental in starting the movement for separate province of Orissa

The role of press in building national consciousness has been spectacular in the freedom struggle of any country.The same applied to Orissa. Christian missionaries had established the famous “Orissa Mission Press” at Cuttack in 1838.Publishing agencies came forward to publish journals and periodicals in the course of time. Utkal Dipika (1866), one of such publications, edited by Gouri Sankar Ray championed the cause of rweforms and came to influence the public opinion during the later decade of 19th century. Bodha-Dayinee and SamvadVatika were subsequently published from Baleshwar .Similarly the Sambalpur Hitaishini was being published from from Bamanda to educate the conscious people in various socio-political issues. Utkal Hitaishini (18690), another journal of considerable importance.Other notable literacy journals like Utkal Darpana (1873) and Utkal Madhupa (1878) also helped to create a spirit of literacy revival.

Another great feature of this period was the emergence of some superb writers on the horizon of Orissa literarture after years of lull to give expression to the new resurgent consiousness.Fakir Mohan Senapati (1843-1918), Radhanath ray (1848-1908), Madhusudan Das, Biswanath Kar, Ramasankar Roy, Gangadhar Meher and Nanda Kishore Bala gave a tremendous impetus to Oriya literature through their numerous works. These literacy luminaries covered a wide range of subjects to give Oriya literature its new modern shape in the perspective of the wider literacy developments all over the world.

The rise in intelligentsia was responsible for coming up of many socio-cultural organizations that worked for the development of the community,culture and language.Notable among these organizations are - The Mutual Improvement Society of Cuttack (1859), The Utkal Bhasoddipani Samaj of Cuttack (1867), The Utkal Bhasa Unnati Vidhayini Sabha of Baleshwar (1866), the Utkal Brahma Samaj (1869), the Ganjam Utkal Hitavadini Sabha of Berhampur (1872), the Utkal Sabha (1877), the National Society of Baleshwar (1878), the Utkal Hitaishini Sabha of Paralakhemundi, the Utkal Sahitya Sammilani (1886), and the Graduate and Undergraduate Association of Cuttack (1890), played noteworthy role. In the cities and towns, the educated people, usually coming from middle class families got imbibed with literacy, social, religious and political ideas.And by the time the Indian National Congress was born in 1885,Orissa was ready to promote its ideologies with full zeal.

The Oriya leaders met at Cuttack on 3 rd March 1886, weeks after the first session of Congress to chalk out their future plans in support of the Congress resolutions. In December of the same year, the Utkal Sabha and the National Society sent 7 delegates to attend the second session of the National Congress The representatives from Cuttack attended the Congress Sessions to uphold actively the cause of the National Movement every year from then on.Leaders like Madhusudan Das and Gouri Sankar Ray popularized the Congress principles among the patriotic people of Orissa during the last decade of the 19 th century, Orissa, thus, joined the main stream of the national life at the right in time.

Movement for separate Orissa

These leaders of the resurgent Orissa also led from the front in giving shape to the most arduous task of unifying the dismembered Orissa.The Oriya-speaking people had no solidarity as a people to rise to the expected height in the country’s national existence. Living in different provinces theay had completely lost their identity. These people suffered in mute resentment aginst the apathy meted out to them by the localites who spoke the language of the land.A movement in this direction thus became imperative for the makers of modern Orissa.