Himansu Shekhar Rout

People of Odisha take pride in the fact that the state was the first one in the country to be carved out on a linguistic basis. Hence, the Odia language is our identity. 

To promote the language globally, the Odisha government organised the World Odia Language Conference, but had to face flak as the meet got mired in controversy over a ‘twisted’ letter in the Odia alphabet and mispronunciation of Kantababi Laxmikant Mohapatra as ‘Kanthakabi’. 

Even more humiliating is the changed names of two great men written in promotional wall paintings in Bhadrak. 

The Odia alphabet was prominently engraved and displayed at the conference. Many were surprised to see a letter (lu) in a twisted form, particularly after the letters ‘Ru and Roo’. One of the consonants like ‘kshya’ was not there.

Many questioned such errors.  The deformed letter when matched with that in Chhabila Madhu Barnabodha book (odia alphabet book written by Madhusuadan Rao was quite different.
Educationist Dash Benhur said, “The mistakes should be rectified immediately. Language is a sensitive issue as it is linked with the culture and communication of a race. Experienced people should see such things if such events are organised in the future. Such anomalies will hurt people.” 

Dillip Routray, director of Odisha Bhasa Pratishan, evaded the real issue, saying the engraved alphabet just formed a backdrop of a selfie point.  

Another grave mistake was noticed in the name of former Chief Minister Harekrushna Mahtab which was painted on the wall of Urdu Primary school under Dhamnagar block in Bhadrak. Harehkrushna Mahtab was written as Harekrushna Mohanty while Jatiya Kabi Banchhanidhi Mohanty was written as Banchhanidhi Das on a roadside wall at Bonth Chhak.

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