Utkal University organises seminar commemorating 100 years of Gandhiji’s visit to Odisha

Bhubaneswar: History department of Utkal University in association of Odisha History Congress organised a seminar on “On the Path of Gandhi” to commemorate the centenary of Gandhiji’s arrival in Odisha on Wednesday. Renowned author and recipient of Sahitya Akademi award, Dash Benahur graced the seminar as chief guest and spoke about the history and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to the state. Prof. Sabita Acharya, Vice-Chancellor also attended the programme.

“Mahatma Gandhi is the only global icon of India,” said Dash Benahur in his address to the students. He spoke about the time when Gandhi was assassinated, United Nations’s flag was lowered to half-mast to show its respect, a tradition usually reserved for heads of states. Gandhi was an ordinary citizen but was and still is the most revered Indian icon across the globe.

“The first time Mahatma Gandhi visited Odisha was on 23rd March, 1921. It was also Dola Purnima, a festival of colours and renewal. His visit in a sense renewed Odisha,” added Dash Benahur. His first visit gave a tremendous impetus to the freedom movement in Orissa. It once again stimulated the people’s zeal and enthusiasm for the cause of national movement. Benahur also expressed his sadness on the current political scenarios where people were seen recreating scenes of Gandhi’s murder and hailing the man who killed the father of our nation.

Mahatma Gandhi had visited Odisha eight times in between 1921 to 1946. Dash Benahur talked about these visits at great length and urged students to cultivate the habit of reading. He suggested many books on Gandhi, such as the autobiography of Gandhi, Little known facts about Gandhi and Hind Swaraj among many others.

Prof. Sabita Acharya in her address spoke about how Gandhi saw Odisha as the Khadi Hub of the country. He witnessed the poverty in Odisha during his visits and visualised the state as the perfect platform for the Khadi movement which would help the people economically as well. “Today we live in a free country where human rights exists. It became possible because Gandhi fought against hatred, castes and oppression,” said Prof. Acharya.

Prof. Nigamananda Das, Director, College Development Council was invited as the guest of honour in the seminar. As a professor and student of chemistry, he spoke about conserving the environment and Gandhiji’s views on science. Prof. Basant Kumar Mallik, Chairperson, PG Council and Head of the Dept of History gave the welcome address and Dr. Subash Chandra Barik, General Secretary, Odisha History Congress proposed the formal vote of thanks. Retd. The Vice-Chancellor felicitated professor and author Dr. Somarani Chand on the occasion.