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Spell well hitch hits state name change

New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, Aug. 30: The union government today did not introduce the Orissa (Alteration of Name) Bill, 2010, in the Lok Sabha in view of the confusion over the spelling of the new name.

Official sources said the Bill would come up during the winter session. Though the government did not specify the reason for not taking up the Bill today, parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Bansal said: “The members were having a rethink and hence the Bill would be passed later.”

The extended monsoon session of Parliament ends on Tuesday. Surprisingly, the Bill, getting listed for consideration on a number of occasions during the session, never came up for discussion.

The new name proposed in the Bill spelt ‘Odisha’ but now it is being sought to be changed to ‘Odissa’. The Centre had no problem in changing the name from Odisha to Odissa as desired by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) now.

Sources revealed that BJD Lok Sabha leader Bhartruhari Mahtab had moved an amendment seeking the change in the name. The government had prepared the Bill on the basis of the resolution passed by the Orissa Assembly, which had spelt the name as Odisha only.

But some purists objected to it, arguing that Oriyas did not pronounce it that way. Sources in the BJD said some known Oriya intellectuals had argued that the additional ‘h’ was not required and it was pronounced as ‘Odisha’ only by outsiders. The government has agreed to redraft the Bill instead of changing the name through an amendment. The Congress does not want to give the BJD any opportunity to score brownie points on this issue.

The amendments are to change the name of both the state and its language — from Oriya to Odia in English and in Hindi and Orissa to Odisha. But Mahtab and few others had objected to the spelling and had suggested the ‘sh’ be replaced with ‘ss’ to get the closest pronunciation.

The Centre can do very little since it has to depend on the Assembly resolution without which no amendment is possible. As the state government had earlier proposed Orissa to be spelt as ‘Odisha’, the proposal would have to be initiated at the state level, said sources. Since the ruling BJD had raised the matter, the Congress would like to stay away from the controversy.

However, linguists have not been keen on the Mahatab’s suggestion ever since the controversy had sparked off. Linguist Gaganendra Nath Das had said that the more the suggestions, the more would be the confusion.

“It is anyway not possible to pronounce it perfectly when read in English since the languages differ in syllables,” he had said reacting to Mahatab’s suggestion.

Translator Jatin Nayak too had insisted that the replacement of ‘r’ with a ‘d’ in the spellings would be important and since Odisha is the closest to the pronunciation that could be well accepted.

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