Swadeshi Movement in Odisha

In 1905, the Swadeshi Movement began in Bengal in protest against Bengal’s partition, having a significant influence on Odisha’s intellectuals. In this regard, protest meetings were held in Cuttack, Puri, Balasore, and Sambalpur, among other locations, to express solidarity with the Bengali movement. Bengal’s Swadeshi agitators emphasised the boycott of foreign goods and the production of indigenous goods, which had a positive effect on Odia intellectuals. Janaki Nath Bose, Biswanath Kar, and Dhirendera Nath Choudhury all spread the Swadeshi massage in Cuttack. On 20 August 1905, a meeting was held in the Cuttack Municipal Hall, presided over by Babu Janakinath Bose. Madhusudan Das issued a clarion call to the people of Odisha to boycott imported goods, particularly Manchester cloth and Liverpool salt, in favour of indigenous products. Swadeshi’s message also reached Balasore and Puri. Abdus Sobhan Khan and Fakir Mohan Senapati convened large public meetings in Balasore in September for this purpose. At Puri, Haris Chandra Ghose and Dhanpati Banerjee led a procession of students through the town, persuading the business community to sell only Swadeshi goods and to boycott foreign goods in their establishments. According to Pandit Godabarish Mishra, a bonfire of foreign clothing was lit in Puri town. Numerous residents of Balasore and Cuttack abstained from the use of foreign clothing, salt, and sugar.

According to the Utkal Dipika, weavers in Sambalpur, Banpur, Sukinda, and Basudebpur began manufacturing fine hand loom textiles in response to Swadeshi ideas, and men and women of the upper classes began wearing Berhampuri pata and Maniabandha sari on festive and other occasions. During the Dasserah festival, a large number of people purchased locally made clothing. Madhusudan Das was inspired by the Swadeshi concept to establish Utkal Tannery and an Art Ware in Cuttack. On 7 August 1907, on the occasion of the Swadeshi Sabha’s anniversary in Calcutta, an exhibition of indigenous goods was held in the Cuttack Town hall.

The Surat Split of the Congress in 1907 weakened the Moderates and resulted in the emergence of a group of nationalists led by Gopabbandhu in Odisha. The advent of Gopabandhu Das in Odisha politics marked a sea change in the state’s political landscape. Gopabandhu was a zealot of the ultra-nationalist movement. Initially, he was a devoted disciple of Madhusudan Das. Between Madhusudan and Gopabandhu began an ideological conflict that culminated in the latter’s victory.

Throughout the Swadeshi movement, Bengali agitators emphasised the importance of national education, an issue that appealed to Gopabandhu. On 12 August 1909, he established Satyabadi Vana Vidyalaya in Sakhigopal, Puri, modelled after the Decan Education Society. The establishment of Satyabadi School was a watershed moment in the development of Odisha’s national consciousness. This institution gained notoriety when a group of dedicated and talented teachers, including Pandit Nilakantha Das, Pandit Lingaraj Mishra, Acharya Harihar Das, Pandit Godabarish Mishra, and Pandit Krupasindhu Mishra, along with Gopabandhu, introduced a new pattern of education that was most suited to Indian society.

The teachers at this school were concerned with developing their students into ideal citizens while also devoting time to social reforms in the surrounding villages. For approximately 40 years, the school was a leader in Odisha’s political, social, and literary activities. Teachers and alumni of this school demonstrated their worth as citizens and educated the people of Odisha about India’s national movement. However, the national movement’s extremist phase emerged following the Swadeshi movement. Under the leadership of Jatindranath Mukherjee, popularly known as Bagha Jatin, a group of radical youths in Bengal began terrorist activities. They used the jungle areas of Balasore and Kaptipada as bases for raids on British institutions. Bagha Jatin, on the other hand, was killed in a police encounter, while his friends Manoranjan and Hiren were hanged. Three young men from Odisha, Atal Bihari Acharya, Sasanka Mukherjee, and Bairagi Tripathy, were arrested in this context for alleged ties to the Bengal terrorists.

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