Growth of socio-political Associations and Growth of Public Associations in 19th Century Odisha

The 19th century witnessed the growth of socio-political associations and public associations in Odisha. The educated middle class that emerged in Odisha in the post-famine period, like its counterpart elsewhere, expressed its ideas, views and aspirations through the press, meetings, and associations. A number of socio-political associations and public associations, having different objectives such as the development of Odia language and literature, protection of the interests of Odias, social reform, promotion of education and intellectual and literary discussionswere formed in the post-famine period. The lead in this field was taken by some Englishmen who formed at Cuttack an association, called Mutual Improvement Society in 1859.

These Englishmen used to discuss social issues. Subsequently following associations were formed – Utkal Bhasa Unnati Bidhayini Sabha (Association for the development of Odia language), Balasore, 1867; Utkal Bhasa Uddipani Samaj (Association for Odia Linguistic Awakening), Cuttack, 1867; Utkalollasini Sabha (Association for awakening the Odias), Cuttack, 1868; Cuttack Debating Club, 1868; Cuttack Young men’s Association, 1869; Utkal Brahmo Samaj; 1869; Puri , Society, 1870; Ganjam, Utkal Hitabadini Sabha (Ganjam Association for the promotion of welfare of Odisha), Berhampur, 1872; Bhadrak Desha Hiaishini Sabha (Bhadrak Association for the welfare of the country), 1874; Ganjam Nisha Nishedhini Sabha (Ganjam Association for prohibition), 1875; Utkal Sabha, Cuttack, 1877; Balasore National Society, 1878; Madak Seban Nibarini Sabha (Association for the prohibition of wine drinking), 1879; Shiksha Bidhayini Sabha (Association for the Promotion of Education),1881; Utkal Sabha or Odisha People’s Association, 1882; Anti-Corruption and Prohibition Sabha, Cuttack, 1884; Odisha Graduate and Undergraduate Association, 1888; Utkal Sahitya Sammilani (Odia Literary Association), Cuttack, 1886; Balasore Zilla School Reading Club; 1896; and Alochana ,Sabha ,of Cuttack Secondary Training School, 1893.

There were some communal and caste-based associations, such as Karan Sabha, Odisha Islam Association, 1875 and Odisha Christian, Association, Cuttack, 1896. The educated elite of Odisha like the elite elsewhere in India, sought to reform the social life through such measures as promotion of education and uplift and emancipation of women. They were also influenced and inspired by social reform movements in other parts of India. But the slow progress of education and lack of strong intellectual elite slackened the process of social regeneration.