Dhenkanal: Whether during the formation of a separate state of Odisha or the struggle for India’s independence, The Samaja newspaper has played an important role in all areas. ‘The Samaja’ has made a significant contribution to the development of the Odia language, literature, social, economic, and political development. More importantly, The Samaja ushered in social reforms during the independence movement. Experts from academia and the media industry highlighted such issues during a virtual panel discussion at the Eastern Regional campus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Dhenkanal on Friday, 25 September 2020.
Marking the centenary of one of India’s oldest surviving newspapers and a leading Odia daily The Samaja, IIMC Dhenkanal had organized an online panel discussion on ‘Role of The Samaja in the Development of Odisha’. The panelists, Mr Susanta Kumar Mohanty, executive editor, The Samaja; Dr Satya Ray, former executive editor, The Samaja; Dr Debendra Nath Rout, president, The Intellects and Pitamber Barik, vice-president, Utkal Shiksha Sansad discussed the contribution of The Samaja to the development of Odisha from 1919 to date.
Giving special attention to people’s perception of the newspaper The Samaja, Mr Susanta Kumar Mohanty, executive editor, The Samaja said, “The Samaja has played a key role in safeguarding the history, traditions, literature, culture, education, and self-respect of the Odia state. The newspaper is the voice of Odia in the breakaway region. Everyone thinks of The Samaja as their own newspaper. What Odisha is seeing today is what ‘The Samaja’ has shown.” He also said that the role of ‘The Samaja’ in the formation of a separate state, in gaining India’s independence is remarkable. The newspaper has done various welfare works for the benefit of Odisha. In the same way, the organization is also dedicated its time to helping the needy, providing health care, and more.
Dr Satya Ray, former executive editor, The Samaja said, “The Samaja is always focused on delivering value-based news. Beginning with Gopbandhu Das, Godabarish Mishra, Lingaraj Mishra, Udayanath Sadangi, and Dr Radhanath Rath, all emphasized the impartiality and impartiality of news coverage. These pre-eminent editors did not condone false and exaggerated news under any circumstances”. The Samaja has made significant contributions not only to journalism but also to social work and the freedom struggle. The mouthpiece of the Odia state was ‘The Samaja’. The newspaper was constantly trying to solve people’s problems by presenting them to the concerned administration and the government. That is why the faith and trust of The Samaja in people is still unshakable today” he added.
“We think of ‘The Samaja’ as our society and it is closely related to everyone,” said Pitamber Barik, vice-president, Utkal Shiksha Sansad. He also said that The Samaja has also reached the outskirts of Kolkata and Andhra Pradesh and done many notable deeds for the state of Odisha. He opined that the expatriate Odia people living in Kolkata were more interested in reading ‘The Samaja’ newspaper than other well-established newspapers of Kolkata.
Similarly, Debendra Nath Rout, president, The Intellects said, “The Samaja is one of the best institutions in the role of the social reformer. The Samaja played an important role in the success of education in Odisha. The contribution of this newspaper is considered not only in education but also in all social and cultural spheres. The newspaper has also done a lot of eye-popping work to reduce racism. Regular anti-racism articles were published in newspapers and made an impact. As a result, racism has largely diminished. Although the number of media outlets is growing, such reform issues are becoming less and less important. “So journalists and the younger generation need to take it seriously,” he said.
In a speech welcoming the guests, Professor Mrinal Chatterjee, Regional Director, IIMC Dhenkanal reminded the audience of ‘The Samaja’s’ role in making Odisha better. “There are more than 12,000 daily newspapers in India, according to RNI (Registrar of Newspapers for India). However, only fifty to sixty newspapers have been published since independence. Of these, our fortunate daily ‘The Samaja’ is one of them. The Samaja has done a great job in guiding society, strengthening and enriching the language. Dr Chatterjee also said that IIMC Dhenkanal will hold an e-panel discussion to observe the centenary of Marathi newspaper Mooknayaka on 16 October 2020.
Assistant Professor of IIMC Dhenkanal Dr. Jyoti Prakash Mohapatra said, “The Samaja is related to people’s emotions. The newspaper has been instrumental in playing the role of a social reformer.”
The Odia newspaper ‘The Samaj’ started on 4 October 1919, as a weekly by Gopabandhu Das, a prominent freedom fighter and social activist from Satyabadi in Puri district of Odisha, to facilitate the freedom struggle and revive the moribund Odia language. Under his leadership, and with the support of the local people, the paper gained prominence. In 1928, before Das’ death, the paper was handed over to the Lok Sevak Mandal (Servants of the People’s Society); a non-profit organization started by freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai. Servants of the People’s Society still run the paper.
During the e-panel discussion, Dr Mrinal Chatterjee released an audio version of a Novel “Chori Chari” written by him. Wherein he brilliantly weaves the beautiful story of a thief and the way by which he transforms into a good and educated human being. Presently, it is being aired on ‘Radio Bhubaneshwar’ in episodic form every day. The print version of this novel has been published four years ago. And it has also been put in a radio-play.
The panel discussion was moderated by Dr Jyoti Prakash Mohapatra, assistant professor of IIMC Dhenkanal, and culminated with the vote of thanks by another assistant professor Sambit Pal. The session was attended by media industry experts, media academicians, research scholars, faculty of the IIMC, and the students.