Dr. Harekrushna Mahatab

Born :- 21-Nov-1899
Died :- 02-Jan-1987
Place of Birth :- Aagarapadaa, Bhadrak

Dr. Harekrushna Mahatab, the well-known freedom fighter, politician, writer and newspaper editor, was born in village Agarpada in the then Balasore district of Odisha. His father's name was Krushna Charan Mahatab and his mother's name was Tohfa Devi. After doing his matriculation from Bhadrak High School, he enrolled at the Ravenshaw College in Cuttack for higher education but dropped out midway to join the Independence movement.

Dr. Mahatab has left his deep and unforgettable footprint in many fields, including politics, literature, journalism and, above all, the construction of modern Odisha. He guided the development process of Odisha for nearly half a century. He made sincere efforts to transform Odisha into a progressive and prosperous state.

In 1923-24, Dr. Mahatab was imprisoned for leading the popular movements in the Princely states. He was elected Chairman of the Balasore District Board for the period 1924-1928. In 1924, he was also elected a member of the then Bihar-Odisha Pradesh Legislative Council. In 1930-31, he was twice imprisoned for leading the Salt Satyagraha and the CiVil Disobedience movement at Inchudi in Balasore.

Dr. Mahatab was elected a member of the All India Congress Executive Committee in 1936 and remained in the post till 1946. Meanwhile, he was elected President of the Odisha State Congress In 1937.

Dr. Mahatab served as the Chief Minister of Odisha from 1946 to 1950 and again from 1956 to 1961. From 1950 to 1952, he served as Union Minister for Industries, Trade and Supply. He was appointed Governor of Bombay in 1955-56. He was elected to the Lok Sabha uncontested in 1962 and left the Congress in 1966. He was elected to the Odisha Legislative Assembly in 1967, 1971 and 1974.

Dr. Mahatab was instrumental in the merger of the Princely states with the main administrative system of Odisha, establishment of the new Capital at Bhubaneswar, establishment of the Odisha Textile Mill, establishment of the Cuttack Akash Vani Kendra, construction of the Barabati Stadium as also the construction of the Hirakud Dam. He was the founding president of the Odisha Olympic Association.

Dr. Mahatab founded the weekly Prajatantra in 1923, which later became a popular daily with literary features for children and adult readers. He also founded the English daily-cum- weekly Eastern Times. The monthly literary magazine ‘Jhankar’, published by the Prajatantra Prachar Samiti, was once a prestigious literary journal. The annual Bishuv Milan, which he started with a view to encouraging Odia literature and the Odia litterateurs, is still considered to be the annual Kumbh Mela of Odia writers. ‘Odisha History’ and ‘Pratibha’ novel are among the literary masterpieces of Dr. Mahatab.

Dr. Mahatab won the Kendra Sahitya Akademi Award for his popular column ‘Gaan Majlis’, which he regularly wrote in the daily Prajatantra.

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