Whenever April 1 comes, people observe it as ‘April Fools’ Day’. This is a day of pranks, as observed in Western countries. During British rule, ‘April Fool’ became a regular prank day in India also. I don’t know whether fooling someone is correct or not, although pranks are sometimes considered humorous among friends and acquaintances. I don’t want to go into the history and reason behind ‘April Fool’s Day’ as April 1 has a different significance in the Indian context.
Firstly, April 1 is observed as Utkal Divas (Odisha Day). Odisha was the first state in India to be formed on the basis of language. On April 1, 1936, Odisha was formed for Odia-speaking people, followed by a revolution of ‘Utkal Sammilani’ led by Madhusudan Das, Gopabandhu Das and many other legendary Odia leaders. Formation of other Indian states on the basis of language happened only after India’s Independence in 1947. So, April 1 is always an auspicious day for Odias.
Point to be noted is that Odia was declared a classical language in 2014. It’s the first language from the ‘Indo-Aryan language group’ and the sixth Indian language to be accorded the status of a classical language. This really speaks of the significance of the Odia leaders back in 1903-1936. Had Odisha wasn’t formed, perhaps the Odia language would had vanished by now, forget about its current classical status. The Utkal Sammilani, in fact, fought against the Odia-Bengali conflict when Pandit Kanti Chandra Bhattacharya, a teacher from Baleshwar, started a movement ‘Udiaya ekti swantatra bhasha noi.
Thus, April 1 has a special significance for Odisha.
Further, the date is significant for India also. On April 1, 2010, the Right to Education Act was enforced in India by the Central government. This act mandates children between the ages of 6 to 14 to get compulsory education for free. Education is always a building block for the development of any nation and that’s why, RTE is the most significant for India.
Unfortunately, despite the Act, there are many children who are not able to get an education for various reasons, such as poverty, lack of infrastructures, political apathy, and also, to some extent, social brazenness. The RTE is based on the fundamental rights as per Constitutional Provision, vide Article 21a. If the Act is not enforced in its entirety, then it would amount to a violation of the Constitutional fundamental right.
Many a times, the Central government blames the state government for not implementing RTE fully. On the other hand, state governments blame the Central government for not providing the necessary funds. Politics always plays a role in such issues. In a democracy, the public is the master. If the public realises that their representatives are not up to the mark, especially in the education sector, then, they should raise their voice democratically.
Instead of observing ‘April Fools’ Day’, shouldn’t we observe April 1 as RTE day and ask questions to the state and Central governments regarding the implementation of quality education for free? Pranks can be done on any day, shouldn’t we give one day for the education of our next generation citizens? Just think once on this matter.
Best Wishes for all Odias on ‘Utkal Divas’ and all Indian on ‘RTE Enforcement Day’