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Madhusudan Das – A Profile

On 28th April, 1848 a child was born to Jamindar Choudhury Ranghunath Das and Parbati Devi of Satyabhampur, 20kms. away from the Cuttack city. He rose to great heights of eminence and was popularly remembered as Utkal Gourav Madhusudan Das. He was the first Graduate, the first Post-Graduate, the first Law Degree Holder and the first Lawyer of the State. He was first elected member to the Bengal Legislative Council and the viceroy imperial council. He was the first Odia to establish industries in Orissa and organize the small and cottage Industries. He took keen interest to introduce the artistic skill of the Odias in the World Market. He was the first Odia Minister of Bihar and Orissa Province.

Madhusudan completed primary education in the village school, Secondary and High School education at Cuttack and passed High School Examination in 1864. He joined as a teacher in a School at Balasore, left for Calcutta for higher studies in 1870, and become the first Odia Graduate from Calcutta University. In 1873, he passed M.A. in English from the Presidency College, Calcutta and later completed his B.L. studies.

He was married to Soudamini Devi, daughter of Dr. Jadunath Chatterjee of Calcutta. He was enrolled as an advocate at Calcutta and started practice at Alipur Court. He switched over to High Court Bar as a Junior of Barrister Woodruff. He returned to Orissa on the 12th of September, 1881, and resumed his legal profession in the District court.

Soon after Madhu Babu got acclimatised with various problems of the Odias, he channelised his legal profession towards upliftment of the socio-economic conditions of the Odias. In this process, he could firmly establish the glorious identity of the Odias through the establishment of the separate State. His dedication and determination made his “Champion of the Time” and his Advocacy got recognition amongst all, leading to famous nick-name “Madhu Barrister”.

Madhu Babu’s skill as a Lawyer was best manifested in Puri Mahunta Case in which he took up a poor Rayat’s side against the mighty landlord who had engaged all the leading Advocates, save and except Madhu Babu for an eviction prayer and Madhu Babu got a decree for his pauper client, to whom he did not forget to pay from his own pocket money to return home. To Madhu Babu nobility of profession was not money-making.

The second land mark case is famous Jagannath Temple Case. The British Raj under Lt. Governor Sir Richard, Temple conspired to transport Thakur Raja Sri Sri Divyasingha Dev to Andaman and take over temple administration. The Queen was deprived of all the rights and privileges. Madhu Babu’s brilliant Advocacy restored nine year old ‘Yuvraj with all pride. Lord Jagannath’s righty and ritual vis-à-vis King’s relation was kept up.

For the upliftment of Oriyas in all spheres, he organized students in Ravenshaw College and convinced ‘Utkal Sabha’ on 16th of august, 1982. He was elected as life long President of the Sabha.

Indian independence was not out of his mind. He joined Independence Movement and National Congress in 1886. He participated in Calcutta and Madras National Congress sessions as an elected active member. It is worthwhile to mention here that in the year 1925, Mahatma Gandhi accepted the invitation of Madhu Babu and visited Orissa.

In the year 1897, he visited London as the first Odia and placed grievances of the Odias before Sir W.Waidegbourn, an administrator in charge of Indian office in London for establishing separate State of Orissa.

He organized Odia Artists and activated the special fine art such as filigree, ivory work, handloom etc. He established Utkal Tannery’s a shoe factory at Cuttack in the year 1905. Madhu Babu’s contribution to Orissa, amongst all was his effort to create a separate state for Odias, on the basis of language. He convened ‘Utkal Sammellani’ on 31st of December, 1903. His patriotic speech galvanized the people. Till his last breath on 4th of February, 1934, he continued to strengthen that organisation, which ultimately succeeded in carving out ‘Orissa’ as a separate province on 1st of April, 1936.

Madhu Babu born rich, lived like a lion and died as a saint.