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SLOW POISONING OF KOSALI: A COASTAL CONSPIRACY

The language of western Odisha, Kosali language, as a separate language, and recognizing its relevance and identity are opposed by coastal Odisha intellectuals. They are vehemently arguing about unilateral linguistic character of Odisha. Odisha is multi-lingual state, with two major languages, Odia and Kosali, and Odisha should provide education through the languages prevalent in the state. In a hypocritical step the Odisha government is providing instruction in elementary education through some of the Adivasi languages of the state. But it is mere a political gimmick to lure sympathy of Adivasis and their vote. In the Binjhal caste affluent Bargarh district, the state government has appointed 28 Binjhal language teachers; it is true, at a time Binjhal language was existing, but many a generations have passed and Binjhal tribes have adopted the mainstream Kosali language of the region; and no Binjhal language exists now. And the state Government is teaching Odia in the name of Binjhal and other adivasi languages.

The Odisha government silently slit the vigorous Kosali movement which was demanding recommendation for its recognization. Tactically, the state government wrote letter to the Union government and show-off the common folks that it keeps sympathy for Kosali. And that was election time; a season to make false promises by political parties to win elections; even the ruling BJD party mentioned in its election agenda to include Kosali in 8th Schedule and heavily propagated in media about it to win the emotion of the folks. But brutal blunders were made by the committee chaired by an Odia poet and misrepresented about; mother tongue of 2 crore people; Kosali to the Union Govt. The coastal lobbies in a deliberate conspiracy with the full support of state machineries lauded with funds and power, one-by-one, step-by-step, hatch to butcher the Kosali movement; felicitated Kosali poets as Odia poet, employed writer groups to Christianized Kosali to Odia, funded pro-Kosali organizations to hold Odia meetings, hired activist from Kosal region to stage fast-unto-death dharna for Odia and what not?

This is something like the Union Government is trying to impose Hindi as the National language of India over other regional languages. A language is an emblem and insignia of a culture and race, if it is killed, a race is killed. We can call this phenomenon as “slow poisoning of regional languages”?

Recently, I attended a summit in Chennai called ‘Language Rights Conference’ where Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi, Kosali etc speaking people gathered to express their grievous concern from Hindi imposition and its inflict on their day-to-day life to culture. It was really sorrowful. Hindi imposition over other Indian regional languages has made us endangered species. May it be a classical language, state recognized language or a language struggling for recognisation, and preservation but if it is not used in educational institution, administration, judiciary, and in public places then consider, it is moving towards its grave.

We the Kosali folks have no hate feelings for Odisa. If Kosali is our mother then Odia is our aunty. I’ve read up to 5th standard in an Odia medium school. I love some old Odia songs. I read a few Odia authors. I subscribe Odia newspapers. Kosali and Odia can co-exist under one geographical boundary without any tussle. And why Odisha government is reticent in recognition of Kosali as a language in its own right is beyond me. This as you can imagine is causing severe bitterness in Western Odisha.

The Bodo movement of 1993 is a befitting example, where to quell the bloody agitation of the Bodoland demand jointly by the All Bodo Students Union and Bodo People Action Committee, the Government entered into a bipartite accord on 20 February, 1993, and eventually Bodo language was included in the 8th schedule. So what one expects the Kosalis to do? Is not the government indirectly encouraging Kosalis to go the way Bodo people took? Coincidently Kosal region is also demanding for a separate state.

So far Kosalis are going through all the civil channels, such as, writing memorandums, providing documents of authenticity of our claim, producing literature, making movies, conducting seminars, engaging in debates, launching newspapers and periodicals, presenting about Kosali at national platforms and everything imaginable but to no effect.

As it stands now, aggressive Odianisation with a missionary zeal has resulted in putting huge part of population in a disadvantage in education and consequent huge drop-out rate in schools. Out of 29 states more than 15 states and 6 Union territories have more than one recognised language, and such measure enhances the cultural mix because of mutual respect between the language groups. Behind the opposition to recognition of Kosali, there is an oft repeated assertion that Kosali is nothing but a dialect of Odia. This is patently not true, and worse, it is paternalistic. Most coastal Odishans can’t speak Kosali, nor are they familiar with any Kosali literature. They are much more familiar with Bengali in northern coastal area and with Telegu in southern area. So why this pretence? Why not celebrate the linguistic diversity in Odisha instead?

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