Two Pieces of Information: Orissa-Odisha change and Earth Hour

This will be a short post and will be different from posts that usually get posted here on this blog. My intention is to generate some awareness on two recent, not so sensational, events through this post. As the title suggests, the two events are the ‘correction of the spelling of the name of the state Orissa to Odisha’ and the ‘Earth Hour’.

1. Orissa is now Odisha:

On the 24th March, the Rajya Sabha passed the Orissa (Alteration of Name) Bill, 2010 which will pave the way to correct the historic spelling mistake in the name of the State Odisha. In the last winter season, the Loksabha had passed the bill after the state legislative assembly had passed the bill and sent to the parliament for approval. Now the last step, President of India’s commendation, is awaited after which the spelling Orissa will finally be changed to ‘Odisha’. Not just the name of the state, but the spelling in the name of the language ‘Oriya’ will be changed to ‘Odia’. The spelling change is not just limited to English. The change will also take place in Hindi as ‘उड़िसा‘ is now ‘ओड़िशा‘. Similarly the spelling of the language in Hindi is now ‘ओड़िया’. It is good to see that the wikipedia pages for Odisha and Odia language are updated both in English and Hindi.

In last 2 days, while interacting with many (who are not from Odisha) and after reading some tweets, I realised that many club this change in the same category as ‘Bombay-Mumbai’ or ‘Madras-Chennai’ change and brand this as yet another populist measure by regional politicians for votes. But actually the case is quite different. There is a fundamental difference between Odisha and Mumbai’s (or Chennai, Kolkata’s) case. Odisha isn’t a name brought from the history and being imposed on the 3.5 crore people of the state to get the support of the cultural brigades. In the modern days, Odisha’s name was always Odisha this is how it is pronounced by the locals in the local language. There is neither a ‘R’ in the name of the state (as in previous spelling) nor a ‘U’ (as in the Hindi spelling). It was during the British rule the spelling got changed. Linguists believe that the change in the spelling was because no letter in English language is available for the sound ‘ड़’ (D is for the sound ड) and thus Britishers pronounced Odisha as Orissa and Odia as Oriya. But that never changed the name or spelling the native Odia language. Due to reasons unknown to me, the pronunciation and thus the spelling of ओड़िशा changed to उड़िसा in Hindi.

So it is not a case similar to Bombay being made Mumbai or Madras being Chennai to fulfill cultural brigade’s wish. If it were the case, then the names like ‘Kalinga’ (remember Kalinga war against Ashoka) would have been adopted as it speaks highly about the state. But what we tried to do is change the spelling mistake in the existing name so that the pronunciation of the name of the state and language be same in each language.

On the 1st April 2011, Odisha will enter the 75th year of statehood. This historical correction in spelling can be treated as a gift for all the residents of Odisha. There may not be any change in the state of affairs in the state after this spelling correction, as some would argue, but the state of affairs wasn’t changing with a wrong spelling too. So why not adopt the correct spelling? I wish the whoever reads this post becomes aware about the correct facts and suitably adopt these changes. I will also like to thank the state and central govt. as well as the politicians who took up this matter.

2. 26th March: Today is Earth Hour!

Are you aware that today is the Earth Hour? This year will be my second year of supporting Earth Hour and I’m very excited about it. I won’t post more on what Earth Hour is as I know most of you must be aware about the event. For those who still don’t know what earth hour is then check this post I had written last year and check this Wikipedia article.

There are several misconceptions about the event as many see this as exhibitionism. Some ask what’s the value of switching off lights in a country where power cuts are a daily affair. Some see this whole campaign as western idea of saving earth being imposed on the whole world. Actually, this a small idea that eventually has grown to this level as people across the countries irrespective of their economical status took part in this event voluntarily. Those who started the campaign only wanted the people to switch off their lights for one hour at least a day in the whole year, but many people made the idea big by switching off all the electrical appliances for one hour. In fact, seeing the idea growing, this time Earth Hour is going beyond just one hour. With more awareness program, more people are becoming part of the concept. Ideas to keep the world green and clean are being developed under this Earth Hour brand name. Every person wants to do his/her bit for the mother earth, Earth Hour just provides the platform for that. Channelizing the individual efforts is the objective of the Earth Hour concept.

From my experience, I can tell you that you will feel better after you switch off your lights (or better if all electrical appliances in house/office) for one hour. I remember, last year there was IPL around this time and the match on the Earth Hour day was that of KKR vs KXIP. Sourav Ganguly being my favorite cricketer and then being part of KKR team, it was a tough choice for me to choose. I decided to sacrifice viewing the game for one hour. During observing the earth hour, I started receiving SMSes that ‘Dada’ is playing well. Still I persisted with my decision. When I switched on the TV at 9.30 after the Earth Hour, I got to know that Sourav scored a half century in that match. I had to miss that innings yet I felt no remorse of missing that innings. In fact, I thought that perhaps Dada was helped by my decision, however small it was. I request you, if you are moved and want to do something for the mother earth, then join the Eart Hour campaign. Switch off the lights from 8.30 to 9.30 pm tonight. Also tell your friends to join you in this. Here are two magnificent official 2011 Earth Hour videos. I have also attached the FlickR photostream consisting of some brilliant pictures. Take a look and join the cause.

Earth Hour Global 2011\’s photostream


P.S. Well, the argument that Earth Hour is a joke in India considering the daily powercuts we face here is quite true. We, Indians can boast that we celebrate Earth Hour daily opposed to other countries where people do it once in a year. I stumbled upon this cartoon from this blog so decided to share it for the readers 😛


Happy Earth Hour 🙂


2 thoughts on “Two Pieces of Information: Orissa-Odisha change and Earth Hour

  1. Well you have yourself contradicted yourself in the blog. The “cultural brigade” wanted names of cities changed in Chennai or Mumbai or Kolkata because their cities names were changed during British rule because the Britons could not pronounce the names of their cities (which is true for many other states). Ridding ourselves of the colonial legacy and restoring “our culture” seems to be the favourite pastime of the nation.

    • No, You missed the point. With the Britishers changing the name (for their suitability), the name of the city had also changed in the local language. The Bombay public had adopted the name ‘Bombay’ and when so when the name was changed to Mumbai, it was kind of imposing decision. Same thing is going to happen in Bhopal as the govt. tries to impose a name from the history ‘Bhojpal’ and want to replace the name of the city. On the contrary, the name of Odisha was not changed to Orissa, for the local public it was always Odisha. Why have 3 different pronunciation of one name in 3 different languages just because of some spelling blunders?

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