Coffee Bytes

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Coffee Bytes

Coffee Bytes presents its readers a unique piece of history regarding the formation of Orissa. The full text of the speech way back in 1931, follows.

 

“Sir, on behalf of 10 million Oriyas, the subjects of His Majesty, I rise to represent their long standing grievances on this occasion. The memorandum I have placed in your hand a few days since has been able, I hope, to give a clear insight into all the present difficulties the Oriyas are placed under, situated as they are in 4 different Provinces. I will not tire you with the details of the history for unification of the Oriyas, agitating as they have been for the last quarter of a century and more. As one wellinformed of the facts, I should lay before you all to-day that the formation of a separate Province for the Oriyas is a life and death problem to them. They feel tortured with all the disabilities and disadvantages of one being a distant adjunct lying at the tail end of every Province wherever they are, far away from the seat of Government of the respective Province, and always in a unique minority, completely lost sight of, being merged in the teeming millions of population of those Provinces. I appeal to you all, gentlemen, to appreciate the peculiar position of the Oriyas and their demand, as recommended by several official bodies time after time. We want a Province of our own on the basis of language and race, to be ourselves a homogeneous unit with feelings of contentment and peace, to realise and be benefited by the projected reforms to India by both Indian and British politicians, who look forward to the day when the United States of India will consist of small federated States based on common language and race. Without a separate Province for the 10 millions of Oriyas, let me tell you, Sir, that all your labours at this Conference to develop Parliamentary institutions in Provinces with autonomous powers, will prove, on the contrary, seriously injurious to the Oriyas. The patience with which we have waited and the loyalty to the British Crown with which we have looked up to always for justice, sympathy, and fair treatment, have proved as Lord Curzon put it once “Were the Orissans an agitating people, which they are not, they would soon make their protest heard. As it is they have been sacrificed without compunction.” I am right, I think, Sir, in my presumption that you all consider the Oriya problem as the least controversial of all the problems that this Conference has had to deal with. You are aware that the Simon Commission, the Government of India Despatch, and all the Provincial Governments concerned have recognised the urgent necessity for the immediate solution of the question. The question of finance, however, is evidently the only obstacle in the way of their recommending the formation of a separate Province for the Oriyas. My answer to that is that finance is not, after all, a fence of such insurmountable dimensions when we have to save a great historic race with an ancient civilisation and culture, from being obliterated. The old saying: “Cut your coat according to the cloth”, if strictly applied, comes to the rescue, to a great extent, in forming the long-sought after Odisha Province; and, again, I am fully confident that the Central Government with the same feelings of benefaction will come to the rescue of the new Province as it did in the case of Assam and Bihar and Orissa, when first they were created. One redeeming feature, however, which I should point out to you is, that we will be starting with hardly any debts; but, on the other hand, with appreciably more income than Assam had to start with. At page 404 of the Memorandum submitted by the Government of Bihar and Orissa to the Indian Statutory Commission, we gather that the annual revenue of the Odisha Division of Bihar and Odisha would be about ten millions of rupees, and I am sure that with the additions of the districts as recorded by different official bodies with their gathered evidence of the people of those parts, and the people of other adjoining Oriya speaking areas, that may be recorded by the Boundary Commission, will bring in about 20.2 millions of rupees to solve the financial difficulty. I may illustrate that the agency tracts with their scope for excise revenue, large areas of waste lands that are being developed and valuable forest produce, will contribute largely to the Provincial funds. In addition to this, there is an extensive coastal land containing large sheets of salt pans and scope for shipping between different parts of the Empire further to increase the Provincial revenue. I can also assure you, Sir, that if circumstances so necessitate, we the Oriyas are prepared to bear the burden of special taxation to meet any financial deficit of the future Province. Without further encroaching upon your valuable time, enough if I have been able to impress you, gentlemen, with the urgency of the problem. It is for you to make or mar the destiny of an ancient race, vast in numbers, cultured and advanced, but placed under painful circumstances now, though their past was bright and full of unique interest and of historical importance as those of any of the present advanced communities of India.“

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