The Formation of Odisha: A Linguistic Landmark in Indian History

Image depicting the celebration of Odisha Day, also known as Utkal Divas, symbolizing the formation of Odisha as the first linguistic state in India on April 1, 1936
The Formation of Odisha: A Linguistic Landmark in Indian History

Establishment of Odisha:

  • Odisha was officially established as a separate state on April 1, 1936, during the British Era. It became the first state in India to be formed on linguistic grounds.
  • Following independence, Andhra State became the first state to be created based on linguistic considerations.

Celebration of Odisha Day:

  • Odisha Day, also known as Utkala Dibasa, is celebrated annually on April 1 to commemorate the formation of the state.

Historical Background:

  • The region now known as Odisha has a history spanning over 3,000 years, marked by the rule of various local dynasties and the influence of distinct cultural identities.
  • Despite its rich history, Odisha lost its political independence in 1568 when it was conquered by the Sultanate of Bengal, later coming under Maratha and British rule.

Struggle for Statehood:

  • The movement for a separate Odia-speaking state gained momentum in the early 20th century, with key milestones including the formation of Utkal Sabha in 1882 and Utkal Sammilani in 1903.
  • The Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms of 1919 introduced the principle of dyarchy, allowing for greater Indian participation in government.
  • The reorganization of provinces on a linguistic basis by the Indian National Congress in 1920 further fueled the statehood movement.

Formation of Odisha State:

  • After years of struggle, the Orissa Province was established on April 1, 1936, carved out of territories from the Bihar and Orissa Province, Madras Presidency, and Central Provinces.
  • However, 26 princely states within the Eastern States Agency remained part of Odisha Province until India gained independence in 1947.

Aftermath and Renaming:

  • The establishment of Odisha as a separate state set a precedent for linguistic reorganization in India post-independence, leading to the formation of states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Gujarat.
  • In 2011, the state was officially renamed Odisha, and the language was renamed Odia following parliamentary acts.
  • These notes outline the historical significance of Odisha's formation as a linguistic state, highlighting its role as a precursor to similar movements across India and its evolution into a modern state.

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