The India Today State of the State Conclave honours the change agents driving Odisha’s transformation from a poverty-stricken state to a frontrunner in economic and social development
From a rice-deficit state, we are the third largest contributor of rice to the public distribution system in the country. From a state known for subsistence agriculture to the only state that has doubled farmer’s income in the last decade. From a state known for mismanagement of natural disasters to setting global benchmarks in disaster management—Odisha has definitely moved forward,” said Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at the india today State of the State Conclave in Bhubaneswar on October 27.
The State of the State report for Odisha was released on the occasion. The comprehensive analysis, conducted by india today with the Institute for Human Development, assesses the state’s 30 districts (see: Sun Rises Over Odisha) over the past two decades across 10 categories: education, health, agriculture, industry, services, law and order, infrastructure, water and sanitation, prosperity and overall development. Patnaik gave away the awards for Best District and Most Improved District in each category. Seven dis-
tricts were honoured with Special Mention Awards.
Recently under attack from the Opposition, especially former ally BJP, for alleged corruption and poor development of the state, even as his Biju Janata Dal (BJD) gears up for simultaneous general and assembly elections in 2019, Patnaik said his government believed in performance and this reflected in the aspirations of the state’s 45 million people. He said the cornerstone of Odisha’s progress had been inclusion and empowerment, with a record eight million people being pulled out of poverty and five million women being empowered through the Mission Shakti self-help group movement.
“We are the leading state in providing land rights to our tribal population,” said Patnaik, who has been in power for over 17 years. “Our growth rate is higher than the national figure. Our social sector interventions are a model for the entire country. We are one of the leading states in attracting investments.” He added that his government believed in the “3 Ts”—technology, transparency and teamwork—to bring about transformation.
The day-long conclave, which had seven sessions with around 30 participants, saw intense discussions on Odisha’s growth in agriculture and industry; development of education, arts and culture; and politics. The participants included state agriculture minister Damodar Rout, leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra, minister for ST and SC development Ramesh Chandra Majhi, BJD vice president Debi Prasad Mishra, state chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi, additional chief secretary R. Balakrishnan, and National Rainfed Area Authority CEO Ashok Dalwai.
Delivering the inaugural keynote address, state finance and excise minister Shashi Bhusan Behera said Odisha
“Since half of our gram panchayats aren’t covered by banks, the rural population lost money during demonetisation” SHASHI BHUSAN BEHERA Minister for finance, Odisha
had achieved phenomenal development since the Patnaik government came to power in 2000, with per capita income rising from Rs 14,862 in 2000 to Rs 61,678 in 201617. He said the NDA government’s policies on demonetisation and GST had hurt his state. “Since 50 per cent of the gram panchayats in Odisha are not covered by banks, the rural population lost money due to demonetisation,” he said. “The state has not benefited from GST since it was rolled out in haste and suffered from structural defects. We need more changes in the GST structure to make it suitable for the different stakeholders in the state.”
Santosh Panda, vice president, South Asian University, New Delhi, pointed out that a 2013 report by a panel led by former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan that put Odisha at the bottom of all states considered various parameters but not GDP growth or per capita income, both of which have surged since 2003. Criticising the BJD government, Srijit Mishra, director of Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre of Development Studies, Bhubaneswar, said while agricultural production had gone up, so had the risk factors, leading to death of farmers. To reduce the risks, he called for diversification into crops that required less investment but assured harvest. As an example, Mishra cited the success in promotion of millet in 30 blocks—majority of them rain-fed—and argued for its expansion to another 25 blocks. Dalwai said there was a lot of scope for diversification in agriculture, including fishery and livestock. “Odisha has the potential to be the Punjab of the east,” he said.
Padhi said the chief minister had given freedom to the bureaucrats to effectively implement the policies of the government, but with freedom came responsibility. “The constitution is very clear on who runs the government. We implement the policies as desired by the political masters.
“In three years, we want corporate India to make a beeline for Odisha to hire and lock in our talent” SUBROTO BAGCHI Chairman, Odisha Skill Development Authority
Bureaucrats are given the required freedom, but at the same time, if they commit mistakes they also face action,” Padhi said during the discussion ‘The Model of Good Governance’.
In the session ‘How Education Can Drive Development’, Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology founder Achyuta Samanta said their KISS (Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences) model for education of tribal children had attracted national attention. He said Odisha has undergone a sea change in education with Bhubaneswar turning into one of the hubs of higher education in the country. Jatindra Nayak, chairman of Sikshasandhan, and author Gourahari Das called for greater focus on government schools and colleges. Nayak said private players can never match the government’s key role in education. The session ‘Cultural Renaissance’, moderated by dance historian Ashish Mohan Khokar, had speakers lamenting the government’s shrinking role in the revival of traditional art and culture. Noted Odissi dancer Priyambada Hejmadi talked about how Odissi got classical status after years of struggle. Art critic Kedar Mishra said the government had done little for dying dance forms like Sambalpuri Chhau.
The session ‘Across Party Lines: How to Build a Nonpartisan Agenda for Odisha’ raised political temperatures. Leader of Opposition Mishra, from the Congress, said even though he opposed the “communalism of the BJP”, there would be no pre-poll tie-up with the ruling BJD for 2019. “I rule out the possibility of any such alliance,” he said. BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra said the chief minister had made clear the BJD would remain equidistant from the Congress and BJP. “The BJD is strong enough to win elections on its own,” he said. BJP leader Prithviraj Harichandan said the very idea of such an alliance “signals the emerging strength of the BJP in Odisha”.
In his keynote address ‘Investing in Human Resource is the Key to Growth’, Subroto Bagchi, chairman of Odisha Skill Development Authority, said Odisha needs to make 0.63 million youths skilled by 2018-19 so that they command premium wages. “Eighty per cent of those trained will go outside the state. We have to shift the conversation from ‘skill’ to ‘Skilled in Odisha’. In a three-year period, we want corporate India to make a beeline for Odisha not just to hire but to lock in our talent,” Bagchi said. He said the 44 government-run Industrial Training Institutes in the state needed to be revamped to achieve the feat.
STARS OF THE EAST Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, India Today Editor-in-Chief Aroon Purie (in front row) and India Today Group Editorial Director Raj Chengappa (behind the CM) with the award winners in Bhubaneswar
(Left to right) Kishor C. Samal, Prakash Sarangi and Debi Prasad Mishra
(L-R) Ashish Khokar, Gajendra Panda, Ratikant Mohapatra, Priyambada Hejmadi, Kedar Mishra
(L-R) Srijit Mishra, Ashok Dalwai, Ajit Kumar Jha, Damodar Rout and
(L-R) Gourahari Das, Ramesh Chandra Manjhi, Manogya Loiwal,
(L-R) Sanjeev Chopra, Dr Padmaja Mishra, Dr Santosh Panda, Subhas Pani and Dr Sudhakar Pande
Achuyta Samanta, Jatindra Nayak and Bijoy Kumar Sahoo
Dr Raj Kishore Panda
(L-R) Sasmit Patra, Narasingha Mishra and Prithviraj Harichandan