The 1st Odia Newspaper of Odisha ‘Utkal Deepika’ started on 4th August 1866. That’s why 4th August is celebrated as Odia Journalism Day annually. Let’s know about this newspaper and its struggles for society.
The birth of the Utkal Deepika in between 1865-66, was a landmark in the history of Odia journalism. It marks the beginning of Odishan taking to printing and print journalism. Earlier in July, 1855 a clerk with a literacy bent of mind, Gourishankar Ray, with the enthusiastic collaboration of a popular sirastadar, Bichitrananda Das, managed to start a press. After collecting Rs. 7500 to selling 300 shares to native rulers and other influential persons of cuttack printing company, the press with a lithographic machine purchased from Puri for Rs. 200 was started in the residence of Jagamohan Ray. He was a shareholder of this company. The printing started by Gourishankar Ray who became the manager of the press and editor of the Deepika, the press was shifted to its new building Dargha Bazar in 1869.
Utkal Deepika was born on August 4, 1966. It was a weekly, Mr. Ray was the editor of the weekly for 50 years within one year and its circulation figure was doubled. The size of the paper was 12.5” * 9.6” and it had two columns to each page. In 1900 it was published 4 pages and its size was 14.5” * 9.5”. News without dateline continued from one column to other. There were no headlines and editorials which were later introduced. News were collected from honorary correspondents from different parts of Odisha. News from outside Odisha including foreign news, were being translated from other paper.
There seemed to be no specific pages for advertisement which appearied on any page and any place in Odia, English or Bengali, carry the name and addresses of advertisements bellow the advertisement. Different size of types was used to draw the attention of the reader. The weekly was priced 4 annas per copy. Its annual price was Rs.5 if paid in advance Rs. 6 if paid at the end of the year. It is half yearly price was Rs. 2.50 and its price for three months was Rs. 1.50 if paid in advance. The advertisement rates in 1866 were two annas per line, 12 annas for half a page and one rupee for a full page. Utkal Deepika played a significant role for the rural grams of outlaying Odia-speaking areas which remained scattered under different provincial administrations, development of Odia language and literature and protection of Odia interests.
The paper covered the difficulties faced by the people during the famine ‘na-naka’ in 1866 and criticized the authorities for failure to collect estimate the stock of foods available in Odisha and to arrange for its distribution at fair prices. The weekly demanded more transport facilities for Odia, lack of which had caused famine. The paper got many of its demands fulfilled in the educational field. In 1866, there were only 63 vernacular schools all over Odisha. Deepila played for a normal school, which was functions and played for placement of educated Odias. The paper successfully defined the many Odia books and in the school, Bengali language students. The Utkal Deepika pointed out that as Odia was to be studies by not more fought for the Odia language and the emigration of the Odia speaking areas. Deepika also criticized the mixed and complete language of text books in Odisha, which affected interest of Bengali writers.
After the death of Mr. Ray in 1917, Nilamani Bidyaratna took over the editorship of Deepika till 1923. In 1936 Deepika closed other weekly published in 19th and 20th century-before some days it became a daily.