Courtesy : Indian Express
By Ratan K Pani
Rudrani Pradhan, a housewife at Budharaja here, questioned the enumerator whether she can mention Sambalpuri as her mother tongue. The enumerator responded by saying it was up to her.Rudrani’s not a solitary instance. Even as Andhra Pradesh is embroiled over the demand for a separate Telangana, there has been a silent move by the people of the region, through the ongoing census, to establish a different cultural identity based on linguistic affinity of their own. Though the move might help the cause of Koshal Kranti Dal (KKD), a political outfit, ahead of polls, it is bound to widen the gap between the people of western and coastal Orissa.The question relating to mother tongue was included in the Census for the first time in 1881. In the 1891 Census, the question referred to ‘parent tongue,’ which was defined as the language spoken by the parent of an individual. It was then changed to language ordinarily spoken in the household in 1911, while it was again replaced with the word ‘mother tongue’ in 1931. While during the previous Census the mother tongue was mentioned as ‘Oriya’, in the ongoing Census, a large number of people of western Orissa are mentioning either Sambalpuri or Koshali. The issue cropped up a couple of months ago when some outfits requested people to record their mother tongue either as Sambalpuri or Koshli in the Census. The outfits reasoned that socio-economic development of the region was not possible without the development of their language. The KKD has taken up the issue and since then has launched a campaign urging people to record their mother tongue as Koshli. KKD president Pramod Mishra, however, said the campaign has no political undertone and stressed their demand for inclusion of the language in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. He said the enumerators are ignoring the demand of the people to register their mother tongue as Koshli and informed that they had moved the Census Commission and directions have been issued to the District Collectors accordingly. The move seems to have struck the right chord among the masses except perhaps in Rourkela, which has a large cosmopolitan population.