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Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das

Gopabandhu Das
Utkalmani Gopabandhu Dash (9 Oct 1877 – 17 Jun 1928) was born on 8 October 1877 to Swarnamayee Devi and Shree Daitari Dash in Suando village situated on the banks of river Bhargabhi of Puri district, Odisha. Gopabandhu Dash known as Utkalamani (Gem of Odisha) was a social worker, reformer, political activist, journalist, poet and essayist. He was a legend in the Indian culture. He served people even at the cost of his family.

Gopabandhu Dash had his primary education in the village school, After completion of upper primary education, Gopabandhu had to join middle vernacular school at a nearby village called Rupadeipur, later joined Puri Zila School in 1893. Gopabandhu graduated from Cuttack. He passed his B.A from Revenshaw College in 1904 and later passed BL, LLB from Calcutta University in 1906.

After coming back from Kolkata, he worked as a Government lawyer in Mayurbhanj court. Law did not interest him, so he gave up his practice and worked for the welfare of the people. He believed that only education can improve and develop society. In his mission to work for a better society he established a school, "Satyavadi Vana Vidyalaya" in the year 1909 at Sakhigopal in Puri district, which turned into a high school in 1910. The school then got affiliated to the Calcutta University and for the first time matriculation exam was held in the year of 1914. The school got affiliated to another leading University of the country, Patna University in the year 1917. Due to huge success of the school it was converted to a National school in the year 1921.

Gopabandhu was member of Bidhan Sabha (State Assembly) of Bihar and Odisha from 1917 to 1921. As an administrator he took initiative steps for the upliftment of the people of Odisha suffering from constant natural calamities like flood, cyclone and famine as well as social evils like illiteracy, poverty and disease.

He also contributed immensely in the National struggle towards achieving freedom. In the realm of Journalism, Pandit Gopabandhu Das started the weekly newspaper "Samaj" on 04 October 1919, which is today a leading daily newspaper in Odisha. Before "Samaj" he had also published another monthly magazine named "Satyabadi" in the year 1914.

Gopabandhu was a great social reformer and harbinger of a new social order. His crusade against untouchability, advocacy of widow remarriage, campaign for literacy, new model of education, stress on both rights and duties, emphasis on women education, particularly vocational training and above all a deep commitment and compassion for poor and destitute have immortalized him in Odisha and India. He was truly a versatile personality. He was an eminent writer and poet. Some of his poems like "Dharmapada", "Bandi Ra Atma Katha", "Kara Kabita" are testimony of his evident skills of a great poet. Gopabandhu fell ill while attending a fund raising ceremony in Lahore for the flood victims of Odisha, after which he never recovered. He died on June 17, 1928.

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