Utkal Divas - Dissected by Dates
(A Tale of a Mother and Her Five Daughters)

Today, as we celebrate the 85th foundation day of Odisha, also known as Utkal Divas, which came into being on 1st April in 1936 as the first state to be formed on a linguistic basis, it would be somewhat like a ‘mystery story’ for our young readers. Further, igniting their curiosity to flip through the pages of history and dig out some ‘not-so-pleasant’ story behind this eventful day – Utkal Divas or Odisha Day.

Let’s start from the STARTING – Two eventful dates – 1757 and 1763-64 come into our Mother Bengal’s complacent life.

One follows the other – Battle of Plassey – the ‘decisive event’ which became the source of ultimate rule of the British in India – followed by Battle of Buxar that paved way for the English to gain successive victories at Katwah, Murshidabad, Giria, Sooty and Munger.

Even the 1765 Treaty of Allahabad could hardly do anything towards any kind of damage control. Rather made the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam-II a useful ‘rubber stamp’ in the reckless hands of the Company.

Our Mother was quiet, her daughters were quiet…entire nation was QUIET!

Next blow to our Mother and her daughters came in 1874, when one of her daughters – Assam – got sliced away from her Mother Bengal and her four sisters – West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, and the present-day Bangladesh.

patachitra orissa

Worse was yet to be seen – Lord Curzon, the erstwhile Viceroy of India (1899 to 1905) and along with him came the ill-fated day of 16th October 1905 – the partition of the Bengal province that came into effect during his viceroyalty.

Hitherto, our Mother Bengal living together with her 4 daughters – present day West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, and Bangladesh – further got dissected into two provinces – Bengal (including modern West Bengal, Odisha and Bihar) and Eastern Bengal and Assam.

The motive behind this Bengal partition was brutally politically motivated by the ‘divide and rule’ policy intended to undermine the growing nationalism in Bengal and other parts of India.

Bengal, our Mother would have a Hindu majority and Daughters – Eastern Bengal and Assam would have a Muslim majority population.

Ironically, their capital would remain the same – Calcutta!

This religion-based partition did succeed in creating a communal rift in the country and even contributed to the birth of the Muslim League in 1906.

This time no one was QUIET!

The nation united against this humiliating partition of our Mother Bengal.

There was a huge cry for the unity of Bengal. Rabindranath Tagore composed the famous song ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’ which later became the national anthem of present-day Bangladesh.

Most of the Bengalis in the western part protested this step as it was to make them a linguistic minority in their own province. There would be more Odia and Hindi speaking people than Bengalis.

Finally, the partition got annulled in 1911 giving rise to the creation of new provinces based on linguistic lines (rather than earlier religious lines).

Odisha was one such province that was carved out of Mother Bengal in 1936.

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About the Author

Prof. (Dr) Shalini Verma ‘LIFOHOLIC’ is a communication professor-consultant, a body language expert, an author-columnist, actor-model-screenwriter and Co-founder – Books33 & SamvaadShaalaa. Dr. Verma hails from Motihari, East Champaran, the LAND OF SATYAGRAHA (Satyagrah is a Sanskrit word which means“insistence on truth”), in Bihar. She may be reached at: [email protected]

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