Eminent Personalities of Odisha: Odisha is the land of great leaders. What Odisha is today, is because of the contribution of several leaders from the ages. These leaders contributed to various spheres of life which have been of great importance to the Odisha Society. Here is the “List of Important personalities and their contribution to History of Odisha”.
Eminent Personalities of Odisha:
Biju Pattanaik ( 1916-1997)
Biju Pattanaik was a trained pilot of acknowledged competence. Had a special interest in Science and Technology and was responsible for instituting the prestigious International Kalinga Prize. He was the pioneer of Industrial movement in Odisha and was the head of Air Transport Command during the war (1940-42). An indefatigable freedom fighter, he led the underground movement for freedom of the country along with Shri Jayaprakash Narayan, Dr. Ram Mohan Lohia, and others. Landed the first platoon of troops in Srinagar during an attack by Pakistani raiders. Succeeded in safely airlifting the Indonesian leaders during the war. He was honored by the Indonesia Govt. as “BHUMIPUTRA”. Elected to Odisha Legislative Assembly from 1952. Chief Minister of Orissa now Odisha from 1961-1963 and 1990-1995. Member, Rajya Sabha 1980-1984 and 11th Lok Sabha from 1996-1997. Union Minister of Steel from July 1977 to January 1980. He had the distinction of laying the basic infrastructure for the development of Orissa/Odisha.
Special mention could be made of Paradeep Port, MIG Factory at Sunabeda, Ferro Silicon Complex at Theruvali, Hydro Electric Power Project Balimela. Thermal Power Station, Talcher, Engineering College, Rourkela, Engineering College, and Medical College at Burla, Express High Way linking Dairari with Paradeep, Sainik School, Regional College of Education, Bhubaneswar, Regional Research Laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology and many others.
He was a great visionary who worked relentlessly for the uplift of the people of Odisha.
Nilakantha Das (1884-1969)
Nilakantha Das, a great social reformer, educationist, writer & linguist from Odisha. A member of Pancha Sakha, he also led the fight against untouchability & other social evils. Secured M.A. Degree in Philosophy from Calcutta University. Spurned offer of a lucrative job by the British Govt. and preferred to serve as the Mead Master of Satyabadi High School. Endowed with a profound erudition he became a legendary figure in his lifetime.
A powerful speaker, his speeches in Central Legislative Assembly and Odisha Legislative Assembly have left an indelible impression on Legislative history. He was a rare amalgam of a Writer, Editor, Speaker, and Author. Author of an excellent commentary of Geeta. His epics are considered as Masterpiece of Odia Language. A distinguished freedom fighter and a revolutionary, he inspired the youth to fight against untouchability and other social evils. Led the movement for the amalgamation of outlying Odia tracts and was a symbol of Odia culture.
Biswanath Das (1989-1984)
An eminent Freedom Fighter, able Statesman, remarkable Administrator, astute politician, and a charismatic leader. He was elected as the president of the Ganjam District Board in the year 1920 and joined the Non-cooperation movement in response to the call of Mahatma Gandhi in 1921 after giving up his lucrative law practice. Continued to be a member of the Madras Legislative Assembly from 1921 to 1930. Gave up the membership of the Madras Legislative Assembly in 1931 and joined Salt Satyagraha. As a great Patriot led the peasant movement and fought for the creation of a separate Orissa Province. He had the distinction of being elected as Prime Minister of Orissa. Resigned from the Prime Ministership on 4th November 1939 at the bidding of the Indian National Congress. In 1950 got elected to Lok Sabha and became the President of Utkal Pradesh Congress Committee. He was appointed as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. A noble son who has left an indelible impression on a resurgent Odisha.
Fakir Mohan Senapati (1843-1918)
A Master in the art of writing short stories, he injected a new life in Oriya literature in an environment of gloom and despair. His sense of humor remains unsurpassed in Oriya literature. Discarding romantic themes, he wrote about the common man and his problems. Senapati could rightly be compared with the 20th Century great novelists like Premchand and Bibhutibhusan Banerjee. Even though he had no formal education, he proved to be an enlightened teacher, painter, and a great administrator. In his writings, Oriya Nationalism was the dominant theme. As a recognized literary poet, Senapati has made his place secure as a great prose writer in Odia.
Gajapati Maharaja Krushna Chandra Dev ( 1892-1974)
An Architect of modern Odisha. He attended the first Round Table Conference in London on 16th November 1930 wherein he made a fervent appeal for creating a separate province of Orissa on the basis of Language and homogeneity. As an eloquent spokesman of Odias, he was felicitated by Madhusudan Das, the father of modern Odisha. As a scion of illustrious Ganga Ruler he espoused the cause of the poor and downtrodden. Later played an important role in bringing together the vivisected parts of Orissa and laid the foundation of United Orissa. He was a member of old Madras Legislative Council, a member of royal commission of Agriculture and a member of the Odisha Legislative Assembly. He was twice elected as Prime Minister of Odisha. He was an Educationist, Freedp, Fighter, Social Reformer and a champion of the poor. He established a permanent theatre at Paralakhemundi for promoting cultural activities.
Raja Artatran Deo ( 1900-1946)
Enthroned as Raja of Khariar, (present-day Nuapada district), in 1921. A great patron of Art, Culture, and Education. Sportsman of distinction, member of many committees and Organisations. Sponsored Scholarships for deserving students for higher education. Patronized “Beer Bikram Theatre” of Khariar, the first permanent Oriya Stage in the State. Nominated member of Odisha Advisory Council. Elected to Odisha Legislative Assembly in 1937 and 1946 from Khariar Assembly Constituency. Played a pivotal role in the formation of Orissa as a separate province in the year 1936. It was at his instance and under his enlightened leadership that Khariar Zamindari merged with the State of Odisha leading to full Statehood.
Utkal Gourav Madhusudan Das (1848-1934)
First Odia to get the Degree of M.A. B.L. from Calcutta University. Took a valiant stand for the unification of scattered Odia tracts. Emerged on the Eastern horizon as a symbol of new hope and aspiration of all Odias. Was the founder of Utkal Sammilani, architect of the Odia movement, and pioneer in the field of industrial development. Acclaimed as a great Legislator and Journalist, he was the first Odias to be a member of the Legislative Council and Member of the Central Legislative Assembly and was the first to sail overseas. He had the distinction of being the first Indian Minister.
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Pandit Gopabandhu Das ( 1876-1928)
Aptly described as the Gandhi of Orissa, Pandit Gopabandhu Das played a pivotal role in the formation of a separate province of Orissa. Born and brought up in an atmosphere of Brahminical orthodoxy, he shattered the shackles of narrow caste barriers. A Law Graduate from the Calcutta University. He was an active sentinal of the Oriya Movement, Freedom Fighter, and a great social reformer. As an educationist, he was responsible for the establishment of the Satyabadi School at Satyabadi in the Puri District. Imbued with patriotic fervor the students of Satyabadi School were known as indefatigable fighters against British Imperialism. Gopabandhu regarded politics as an instrument of service to the people. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, Gopabandhu was one of the Noblest Sons of Odisha. His spirit of service and sacrifice finds an apt echo in his following lines.
“Let my body mingle in the dust of my motherland and let my countrymen walk across it”.
Chandra Sekhar Behera ( 1873-1936)
Chandra Sekhar Behera of Sambalpur was a leading freedom fighter and an active participant in the Non-Cooperation Movement. He consolidated the National freedom movement in the Sambalpur region and merged his activities with the Indian National Congress. He was a founding member of the National School of Sambalpur started on lines of Satyabadi Vana-Vidyalaya founded by Gopabandhu Das. As the chairman of Sambalpur Municipality, he received Gandhijee in Sambalpur in 1928. Organized a mass movement against illiteracy and untouchability.