Makers of Modern Odisha: Utkala Gourav Madhusudan Das

Born on 1848, April 28 at Satyabhamapur of Cuttack District. Father Choudhuri Raghunath Das, Mother–Parvati Devi. Madhusudan Das was the first Oriya to fetch the degree of M.A.B.L., from Calcutta University. He was popularly known as Madhu Barrister, respectfully regarded and addressed as “Utkal Gourav”. He was deeply moved and shocked to see the discrimination, made against the Oriyas by administrative authority. He was convinced that the miserable plight of the Oriyas was only due to the apathetic and indifferent attitude of authorities towards the interest of the Oriya people. The Oriyas could not stand united only because of their vivisection and annexation with three different provinces. So, he took a solid stand for the unification of the scattered Oriyas by organising and mobilising strong public opinion among the Oriyas and pressurised the British rulers for the unification of the scattered Oriya-speaking tracts for the socio-economic and cultural growth of the Oriyas at large.

Madhusudan organised Utkal Union Conference to form the channel for discussion and negotiations with the authorities to solve the problems and open avenues for a new era of unification and integration and played a piloting role in engineering the plans and programmes, pioneering the aims and objectives and championing the cause of the Oriya movement. “Utkal Sammilani” came into existence in the year 1903 with the extinction of “Utkal Sabha”, it spearheaded the movement of the unification of Oriya-speaking units under one administration with right earnestness, disciplined plans and programmes.

Due to the ability and inspiration of Mr. Das, people of all categories and sections conglomerated under one political banner. It inspired people with a surging up feeling of oneness of culture, tradition and language and a rare sense of nationality. This impact thundered the sky of Orissa. It went up to such an extent that “freedom movement” and the Oriya movement got inter-linked under the stable leadership of Mr. Das and Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das. Sometimes the two movements were lacking harmony on the issue of priority. This situation impelled people to join hands with Mr. Das in the forum of Oriya movement, then the Congress. Utkal Sammilani or the Utkal Union Conference maintained its separate identity from the Congress.

As a legislator, Madhusudan Das acclaimed a commendable height of wide appreciation and position. It was mostly due to his sharp wit and inspiring speech of effective magnitude. He was selected as the Minister of local self-Government of Bihar-Orissa.

He was a leader of versatile performance and could arrest appreciation and love of the people and the Government during the tenure of his ministry. Inspite of his popularity, he resigned in 1923 on a matter of principle. It speaks of his integrity.

His journalistic approach was reflected in his weekly paper ‘The Oriya’ started in 1917. It was his intense desire to highlight the interest of Oriyas, criticising the Government’s policy through this channel of weekly paper. He was very genuine and emphatic in his voice and action.

He was a national pioneer and a staunch patron of Orissan development. He breathed his last on the 4th February 1934. He was a bonafide benefactor, a nationalist in true sense, acquiring the first Master Degree and first B.L. Degree as the first Oriya. He was the first Oriya to be the member of Legislative Council, the first Oriya to sail abroad, to visit England twice and to have the membership of Central Legislative Assembly as the first Oriya and the first Indian Minister.

Source: Odisha Review, November 2018