Vikash Sharma

It seems that the move to promote extensive use of Odia language by Odisha government officials in official communication is moving at a snail pace in the state. Though the officials had started using Odia language for official communication after the passage of Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Bill 2018, the process has now allegedly slowed down to a greater extent.

The Amendment had then suggested for penal provisions for non-compliance and reward for extensive use of Odia by the state government officials in official communication. The government employees were then doing official business in Odia language, but the language now seems to have lost its charm for these employees with the passage of time.

Besides, the move has not generated the desired outcome as the employees are getting away because the penal provisions have not been clearly defined, alleged Subhash Chandra Patnaik, chairman Odisha Bhasa Andolan.

“Non-compliance should be like that of a cognizable offence. Nothing has been defined what the penalty should be. The employees will not use the language when they come to know that the Chief Minister is against the language,” said Patnaik.

At present, a lot of tools including Google Translation, Microsoft Translation and AI are available and they are being used for translation of text from English to Odia and Odia to English. However, the Odisha government is allegedly not taking the desired assistance from the IT experts.

Bimal Prasad, a translator said, “The work which should have been through IT invention, have been done for free and the Odisha government has not spent anything. A lot can be done to upgrade it with funds. I worked for the state government at the Odia Virtual Academy and nothing has started for ‘Odia Bhasa and Lipi’.”

It is pertinent to mention here that the Supreme Court has provided over 20000 judgements in Odia and other regional languages in the last 5 years. The Orissa High Court is also uploading the verdicts in Odia vernacular language. Under such circumstances, question remains when will the Odisha government departments be able to work and use Odia language fully?

Meanwhile, the Odisha government officials could not be contacted over the issue.

Senior journalist, Sandeep Sahu said, “The dominance of other language is growing other than Odia language as those who have governance in their hands are not displaying the will power to give importance to Odia language.”

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Dr Jatindra Nayak, a translator said, “When one does not want to use Odia language, one cannot force despite imposition of penalty. Only encouragement and scope can promote Odia language. We are losing the battle as we, Odias, are getting away from the language itself.”

(By Laxmi Kanungo)