Odisha became a separate state in British India on April 1, 1936. Odia, a 2,500 year old language recently gained the status of an Indian classical language. The Odia Wikimedia community celebrated these two occasions on March 29 in Bhubaneswar with a gathering of 70 people. Linguists, scholars and journalists discussed the state of the Odia language in the digital era, initiatives for its development and steps that can be taken to increase accessibility to books and other educational resources. 14 copyrighted books have been re-licensed under the Creative Commons license and the digitization project on Odia WikiSource was formally initiated by an indigenous educational institute, the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS). Professor Udayanath Sahu from Utkal University, The Odisha Review’s editor Dr. Lenin Mohanty, Odisha Bhaskar’s editor Pradosh Pattnaik, Odia language researcher Subrat Prusty, Dr. Madan Mohan Sahu, Allhadmohini Mohanty, Chairman Manik-Biswanath Smrutinyasa and trust’s secretary Brajamohan Patnaik along with senior members Sarojkanta Choudhury and Shisira Ranjan Dash spoke at the event.
Eleven books from Odia writer Dr. Jagannath Mohanty were re-released under Creative Commons Share-Alike (CC-BY-SA 3.0) license by the “Manik-Biswanath Smrutinyasa” trust, a trust founded by Dr. Mohanty for the development of the Odia language. Allhadmohini Mohanty formally gave written permission to Odia Wikimedia to release and digitize these books.
The community will be training students and a group of six faculty members at KISS who will coordinate the digitization of these books. “Collaborative efforts and open access to knowledge repositories will enrich our language and culture,” said linguist Padmashree Dr. Debiprasanna Pattanayak as he inagurated the event. Dr. Pattanayak and Odia language researcher Subrat Prusty from the Institute of Odia Studies and Research also re-licensed three books (Two Odia books; “Bhasa O Jatiyata“, “Jati, Jagruti O Pragati” and an English book “Classical Odia”) based on their research on Odia language and cultural influence of the language on other societies under the same license. KISS is going to digitize some of these books and make them available on Odia Wikisource.