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Remembers immense contribution of the ‘Utkal Keshari’
Pays tribute to Odisha’s Contribution to the freedom struggle
History evolved with people, foreign thought process turned the stories of dynasties and palaces into history: PM
History of Odisha represents the historical strength of entire India: PM

Jai Jagannath!

Present with me at this event is Bhartruhari Mahtab ji, who is not just a member in the Lok Sabha, but a living example of how a good MP can discharge his duties, Dharmendra Pradhan ji, other senior dignitaries, ladies and gentlemen! It is a matter of great pleasure for me that I have had the opportunity to attend this event associated with ‘Utkal Keshari’ Harekrushna Mahtab ji. About a year and a half ago, we all celebrated the 120th birth anniversary of ‘Utkal Keshari’ Harekrushna Mahtab ji as a very inspiring occasion. Today, we are releasing the Hindi edition of his famous book ‘Odisha Itihaas’ (History). It is very important that the vast and diverse history of Odisha reaches the people of the country. You have fulfilled this essential requirement through the Hindi version after Odia and English. I also thank and extend my best wishes to Bhai Bhartruhari Mahtab ji, Harekrushna Mahtab Foundation and especially Shankarlal Purohit ji for this innovative effort.

Friends,

While requesting for the release of this book, Bhartruhari ji had also given me a copy. I couldn't read it, but I had a cursory look at it. Then it came to my mind that its Hindi publication is associated with so many happy occasions. The book has been published in a year when the country is celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav of independence. This year also celebrates 100 years when Harekrushna Mahtab ji left college and joined the freedom struggle. When Gandhi ji started the Dandi March for the Salt Satyagraha, Harekrushna ji led this movement in Odisha. It is also a coincidence that the publication of 'Odisha Itihaas’ is completing its 75 years in 2023. I think such coincidences continue to develop when there is a seed of service to the country, or social service at the heart of an idea.

Friends,

In the preface of this book, Bhartruhari ji has written that "Dr. Harekrushna Mahtab ji was the person who made history, saw it being made, and also wrote it". In fact, such historical personalities are very rare. Such great men themselves are important chapters of history. Mahtab ji dedicated his life to the freedom struggle and dedicated his youth. He spent his life in jail. But what is important is that along with the freedom struggle, he also fought for the society! In the movement against casteism and untouchability, he also opened his ancestral temple to all castes. We will not be able to realize the power of it that somebody could set such an example by one’s own behavior during that time. It was a very courageous decision in that era. What kind of atmosphere in the family would be when he took that decision? After independence, he took historic decisions as the Chief Minister of Odisha, making several efforts to shape the future of Odisha. He has played a major role in modernizing cities, ports, steel plants, etc.

Friends,

Despite being in the power, he always considered himself a freedom fighter and remained a freedom fighter for the rest of his life. It may surprise people's representatives today that he went to jail during Emergency opposing the same party from which he became the Chief Minister. He was a rare leader who went to jail for the country's independence and to save the democracy of the country as well. It was my privilege when I went to meet him in Odisha after the Emergency was over. I had no identity. But he gave me time and I remember vividly it was pre-lunch time. It is natural that one thought the meeting will be over by lunch time, but when I remember today, I think he didn't go to eat for two and a half hours and kept telling me a lot of things for a long time. I went to him because I was doing research for somebody and was collecting some material. This is my experience and sometimes when I see and the question also arises what the children born in a prominant family and that too, especially in political families, are doing. But it never seems so after meeting Bhartruhari ji. And the reason for this is that we find companions like Bhartruhari because Harekrushanji gave equal emphasis to the decency, discipline and ethos in the family.

Friends,

We are aware that Harekrushna ji was very attracted to the history of Odisha, even while worrying about the future of Odisha as Chief Minister. He played a key role in the Indian History Congress, taking the history of Odisha to the national stage. Whether it is museums, archives, archaeology sections in Odisha, all this was possible only through Mahtabji's historic vision and his contribution.

Friends,

I have heard from many scholars that if you have read the Odisha Itihaas of Mahtabji, then you know everything about Odisha and you have breathed Odisha. And it is true also. History is not only a chapter in the past, but also a mirror of the future. With this idea in mind, the country is reviving the history of freedom in the Amrit Mahotsav. Today, we are reviving the stories of renunciation and sacrifice of freedom fighters so that our youth not only know it, but also experience it, and grow with new confidence and move forward with new resolutions with the aim of doing something. There are so many stories related to the freedom struggle that could not come before the country in the true form. And just as Bhartruhari ji was saying that the history of India is not the history of palaces. The history of India is not just the history of Rajpath. History has been created with the lives of the people and that is why we must have lived with this great tradition of thousands of years. It is foreign thinking which accepted the events around the royal dynasties as history. We are not those people. Go through the entire Ramayana and Mahabharata and you will find that 80 per cent of it is related to the common man. And therefore, the general public has been at a focal point in the lives of us. Today, our youth are researching those chapters of history to take them to new generations. So many inspirations will come out of these efforts, so many colours of diversity of the country we will be able to get acquainted with.

Friends,

Harekrushna ji has introduced us to many chapters of the freedom struggle that have opened up new dimensions of understanding and research on Odisha. From the Pike Struggle, the Ganjam Movement, and the Larja Kolha movement to the Sambalpur war, the land of Odisha always gave new energy to the flame of revolution against foreign rule. So many fighters were put in jails by the British, tortured, and so many sacrifices were made! But the passion for freedom did not weaken. Surendra Sai, the brave revolutionary of Sambalpur War, is still a great inspiration for us. When the country launched its last fight against slavery under Gandhi ji's leadership, Odisha and its people were playing a big role in it. Heroes like Pandit Gopabandhu, Acharya Harihar and Harekrushna Mahtab were leading Odisha during movements like the non-cooperation movement, civil disobedience and Salt Satyagraha. There were so many mothers and sisters like Rama Devi, Malti Devi, Kokila Devi and Rani Bhagyavati who gave a new direction to the freedom struggle.

Similarly, who can forget the contribution of our tribal society of Odisha? Our tribals never allowed foreign rulers to rest with their bravery and patriotism. Perhaps you may be aware that it is my endeavour to build a museum in the states where the tribal community has played a role in the freedom war for the future generations. There are countless and heroic stories of countless sacrifices. How they fought the war and how they won? They did not allow the British to set foot for a long time. It is very important to share these things of tribal society with the next generation. It is necessary that the leadership of the tribal society in the freedom war across the country needs to be brought to the fore. And there are countless stories that history has probably done injustice to. As it is our nature, we are lured by things which come with little frills. As a result, such stories of sacrifices and renunciation do not come before people. Attempts have to be made to bring it before the people. We must also remember Laxman Nayak ji, the great tribal hero of the Quit India Movement. He was hanged by the British. He went to sleep in the lap of Mother India with the dream of freedom!

Friends,

Along with the history of independence, an important dimension of the Amrit Mahotsav is India's cultural diversity and cultural asset. Odisha is a complete picture of our cultural diversity. The art, spirituality and the tribal culture here are the heritage of the entire country. The whole country should be familiar with it and connect with it. And the new generation should know about it. The deeper we understand ‘Odisha Itihaas’ and bring it before the world, the more comprehensive perspective we will gain to understand humanity. The light that Harekrushna ji has shed on the faith, art and architecture of Odisha in his book gives a strong foundation to our youth in this direction.

Friends,

If you dig into Odisha's past, you will find the historical strength of Odisha as well as the entire India. This potential written in history is linked to the possibilities of the present and the future, guiding us to the future. You see, Odisha's vast maritime boundary was once hub of India's largest ports and international trade. The trade that was done from here with countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka was a major cause of prosperity for Odisha and India. Research by some historians even suggests that the Konark Temple in Odisha has pictures of giraffes, which means that traders from Odisha traded up to Africa. At that time, there was no WhatsApp. A large number of people of Odisha also lived in other countries for business and they were called Daria Paare Odia. Scripts similar to Odia are found in so many countries. Historians say that Emperor Ashoka invaded Kalinga to gain control over the same maritime trade. This invasion turned Emperor Ashoka into Dhamma Ashoka. And in a way, Odisha became a medium of trade as well as the spread of Buddhist culture from India.

Friends,

The natural resources that we had in those days have been given to us by Nature even today. We still have such a wide maritime boundary, human resources, trade prospects! At the same time, we have the power of modern science today. If we combine these ancient experiences and modern possibilities together, Odisha can reach a new height of development. Today, the country is making serious efforts in this direction. We are also conscious of making more such efforts. When I had not become the Prime Minister and the election was also not declared, I made a speech probably in 2013. It was my party's programme. And in that I said how I see the future of India. I said then that if there is no balanced development in India perhaps we will not be able to make full use of our potential. And I assume that from that time on if we draw a line between the western parts of India on the map of India, you will see progress and prosperity in the West these days. Economic activity will be visible from bottom to top. But in the east where there are so many natural resources, where there are so many creative minds, we have wonderful human resources, whether it is Odisha, Bihar, Bengal in the east and Assam or the North East. It is full of wonderful potential. If this region alone is developed, India cannot lag behind. There is so much potential here. And so you must have seen and if somebody makes an analysis of the last 6 years, it will be found that the biggest emphasis has been given to eastern India as far as the initiatives for the development is concerned. Maximum emphasis has been given on infrastructure which is the biggest initiative of the development so that there is a balanced growth in the country. I can understand the difference of 19-20 between the East and West due to natural reasons. And it was the golden age of India then when the East used to lead India, whether it is Odisha, Bihar or even Kolkata. These were the focal points leading India. Considering India's golden period, it means there is an unlimited potential here. If we move forward with this potential of ours, we can take India to that height once again.

Friends,

Infrastructure is the first requirement for trade and industries. Today, thousands of kms of National Highways are being constructed in Odisha, coastal highways are being constructed which will connect ports. Hundreds of kms of new railway lines have been laid in the last 6-7 years. Thousands of crores of rupees are also being spent on the Sagarmala project. The next important component after infrastructure is industry! Work is being done to encourage industries and companies in this direction. Thousands of crores of rupees have also been invested for the huge oil and gas potential that exists in Odisha. Be it oil refineries or ethanol bio refineries, new plants are being set up in Odisha today. Similarly, the broader potential of the steel industry is also being shaped. Thousands of crores of rupees have been invested in Odisha. Odisha also has immense opportunities from maritime resources. It is the endeavour of the country to make these resources the basis of Odisha's progress through Blue Revolution, so that living standards of fishermen and farmers improve.

Friends,

There is also a great need for skills in these broad potentials in the times to come. In order to ensure the maximum benefit of this development for the youth of Odisha, the foundation stone of institutions like IIT Bhubaneswar, IISER Berhampur and Indian Institute of Skill has been laid. In January this year, I also had the privilege of laying the foundation stone of IIM Sambalpur in Odisha. These institutions will build the future of Odisha in the coming years and give a new impetus to development.

Friends,

Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das ji has written:

जगत सरसे भारत कनल। ता मधे पुण्य नीलाचल॥

Today, when the country is gearing up for the auspicious occasion of 75 years of independence, we have to realize this spirit and resolution again. And I have seen that and I may not have exact figures. But it seems that after Kolkata, Surat is perhaps the only city where Oriya people live in such a large number. And because of this, I have natural connect with them. I have seen very closely such a simple life full of fun with the bare minimum means and provisions. There is no hooliganism. They are so peaceful. Today, Mumbai is discussed in the country. Before independence, Karachi was discussed, Lahore was discussed. Gradually, Bangalore and Hyderabad were discussed. Chennai began to be discussed. Whereas people write about Kolkata after remembering so much regarding the progress and development and economy of the whole of India. In fact, a vibrant Kolkata can lead not only Bengal but the entire Eastern India in development. We are trying to make Kolkata vibrant once again so that it emerges as a force for the development of Eastern India. And we are working on this entire map. And I am sure that it gives strength to all these decisions which are in the interests of the country.

I would request the scholars of Harekrushna Mahtab Foundation today that this is a great opportunity to take the work of Mahtab ji forward. We have to take the history, culture and grand architecture of Odisha to the country and abroad. Let us join the Amrit Mahotsav of the country and make this campaign a people's campaign. I am sure this campaign will be as similar to the ideological energy flow as Shri Harekrushna Mahtab ji resolved during the freedom struggle. With this auspicious resolve, I once again thank you for giving me the opportunity to join this family on this important occasion. I am grateful to the Mahtab Foundation. I am grateful to Brother Bhartruhari ji that I got the opportunity to be among all of you and express these feelings. Today I have had the opportunity to connect with some events in history that I have had faith and respect for. I express my gratitude very much.

Many thanks!

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