On 1st of April, 1936, Orissa (now officially Odisha) became the first State in the Indian Union to have been formed on linguistic basis. The Constitution of Orissa Order, 1936 got the approval of British king on 3rd March, 1936. It was announced that on 1st April, 1936 the new province would come into being with Sir John Austin Hubback, ICS, as the Governor. On the appointed day (01/04/1936), a solemn ceremony was held at Ravenshaw College Hall, Cuttack, where Sir Hubback was administered the oath of office by then Chief Justice of Patna High Court, Sir Courtney Terrel. The Governor read out the message of goodwill received from King Emperor George VI and Lord Linlithgow, the Viceroy of India, for the people of Odisha. The long cherished dream of the Odia speaking people at last turned into a reality and Odisha became a separate province. Since then, the 1st of April is celebrated as the ‘Odisha Day’ or ‘Utkal Divas’.
This being the 80th anniversary of the ‘Odisha Day’, the Divas was celebrated with pomp and grandeur across the State. The state capital Bhubaneswar was decked in lights and there prevailed a festive atmosphere. Amongst the many programmes that were held across the State to commemorate the day, the ONI focused on two main functions held at the State capital, which were quite contrasting in style and content.
The main State level celebration was held at the Utkal Mandap in Bhubaneswar where the CM, Naveen Patnaik, was himself in attendance after doubling back from Rourkela where he was present earlier in the day alongside the PM. Cabinet Ministers Ashok Panda, Atanu Sabyasaachi Nayak and Pradip Kumar Amat , MP Prasanna Patsani, MLA Priyadarshi Misra, SecretaryTourism Arabinda Padhee and Commissioner cum Secretary I &PR Deptt Madhusudhan Padhee, were also present at this function. On a befitting background that carried images of some of the great sons of Odisha namely Utkal Gourav Madhusudhan Das, Maharaja Krusha Chandra Gajapati Narayan Deo, Maharaja Sriram Chandra Bhanjadeo, Vyasakabi Fakir Mohan Senapati, Swabhav Kabi Gangadhar Meher, Utkalmani Pandit Gopabandhu Das, Pandit Nilakantha Das, Karambir Gourishankar and great visionary and former CM Biju Patnaik, the CM Naveen Patnaik greeted the people on Utkal Divas and then rolled out a report card of a supposedly galvanized Odisha.
To drive home the point that Odisha is a success story under his long standing Govt, the CM talked of a fantastic growth rate, wonderful investments coming to the State, credible performance in e-governance, getting Krushi Karman award thrice at national level reflecting agricultural development, getting national award for the welfare of differently abled persons, getting International acclaim for disaster management, having become a pioneering state for women’s empowerment and bringing them to the mainstream of development, schemes implemented for the development of tribals , development of youth power through implementation of new Youth policy, provision of pucca houses under the Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana, various schemes implemented for the poor, new opportunities created in the Tourism ,IT and service sectors and overall agricultural as well as Industrial development. In the same breath, he talked of social welfare, infrastructure development, creation of employment opportunities, education for all, provision for health services and extension of irrigation facilities as priorities of his Govt, as of date. The CM also raised the coming Nabakalevara of Lord Jagannath and said that all efforts are on to solicit the same successfully.
The CM also gave away the Red Cross awards to persons who have contributed to the society despite their disabilities as also presented trophies to the winners of State level essay competition that was conducted for school students to mark this years’ Utkal Divas. Dances from across the State were presented on the occasion. There were also two exhibitions on the sidelines of the State ceremony at the very venue. A photograph exhibition showing the great sons of Odisha and chronicling their immense contribution to the development of the State and also a painting exhibition, rich in imagination, on the theme of Odisha by the contemporary artists of the State, lured a good number of people and admirers.
The other significant function that drew ONI’s attention was held at the Odisha Press Club, organized by the Odia daily ‘Samaja’. To mark the day, a seminar was held on the topic- “Vision Odisha-Role of Civil Society, Youth and Media”. Professor Prabhat Patnaik, who was with JNU, New Delhi and today considered as one of the topmost economists of the country, was the star speaker at this seminar. Sharing the dais with him were other luminaries of the State namely former DGP Sarat Chandra Mishra, Vice Chancellor of Ravenshaw University Prakash Chandra Sarangi, noted Gandhian S.N Subbarao, former Professor in IIT Kharagpur and ex-Vice Chancellor of BPUT Omkar Nath Mohanty, Educationist, writer and thinker, Haraprasad Das and former Chief Secretary of Odisha Sudhanshu Bhushan Misra. Unlike the State celebration in Utkal Mnadap, where the audience comprised of a motley mix but mainly constituting the masses, an elite audience of intellectuals, academicians, writers, thinkers as also various experts in different fields gathered in this function to commemorate the day.
In his keynote address, Prabhat Patnaik, speaking in his lucid style, made it clear that the state of Odisha cannot develop until the 40 percent of population comprising of the SC, ST people in the state are developed. He also made it clear that sacrificing Agriculture would be very detrimental and won’t take Odisha very far. With current figures and data at his fingertips, Patnaik said that by 2009-10, Odisha went down below the poverty line as far as the figures of calorie intake per day suggests.
The economist said that the apathy towards agriculture has led to the sharp decline in the per capita food grain output. “The present thinking is that agriculture can be sacrificed for the manufacturing and the service sectors. But that has not happened. Employment in these sectors does not match with the figures of people who are leaving agriculture due to hopelessness. As a result, unemployment is increasing leaps and bounds. This kind of development strategy is all wrong. Today capital from outside is being brought in for development of minerals and mines. But if Foreign Direct Investment in mining and mineral sectors increase, then the resources are actually being taken away without building of any assets. A time will come when no resources will be left and then a state of hopelessness will come. Burma is a classic example of this. They were very high in growth till their Oil reserves lasted. But once it got finished, the FDI stopped and the growth dried up”, he pointed out.
“Moreover, the State Govt is not in a position to tax a foreign investor as to the desired extent, rather has to dole out sops and concessions in a competitive market. It is also burdened with the order-made infrastructure to be ready for these companies. Hence the earning of the Govt doesn’t suffice as much as to utilize for development of concrete assets. Moreover, the future of mineral based development is bleak and it is towards the wane. Latin American countries like Brazil are facing the music as big companies from China have stopped investing and buying. Odisha must also learn from this and not get stuck in this development model”, he added.
In his view, the policy that shows apathy to agriculture must be reversed. “At present, a huge amount of agricultural land is being used for different purposes in Odisha. The productivity per acre of land has also not gone up. It is necessary that there should be social control on land use. It is a must for Odisha to revive food grain production. This will increase the income at the local level and their purchasing power will go up which in turn will bring about employment multiplier effect. More income and money into the hands of the already rich means nothing as far as the benefit of the State is concerned. These people will use the money to do things like holidaying abroad…..what benefit will the State get? The model should be Industrialisation of the bottom rather than the Industrialisation of the top. But the reverse is unfortunately happening in Odisha at the present moment ’’, said the renowned economist to rapt attention of the audience. Prabhat Patnaik ended his brilliant address with the wish that every citizen in Odisha must have justifiable right to Food, Environment, Healthcare, Education and Pension.
Other speakers following him like ex-DGP,Sarat Chandra Misra, deeply lamented the present state of affairs in Odisha that is holding it back from flowering to its true potential. Visionary leadership, which is missing today, was wished for in political as well as other spheres of life. The civil society mindset also requires change to more ‘pro-active state building’ bend than the attitude of being smug and content, it was so felt. It also came up strongly that there should be far more impetus and recognition to creation of wealth, in parallel to cultural enhancement and deserving credit should go to the people who are involved in this at par with cultural stalwarts ,whom the present day Odisha only know to salute . In the same vein, it was felt that there is much to be desired as far as the media’s role is concerned. The seminar underlined great importance to the emergence of a responsible and pro active fourth estate to catapult Odisha to its rightful place under the sun.
ONI has highlighted these two important programmes held to commemorate the State Day, just to drive home a study in contrast. Utkal Divas is time to celebrate the very emergence of the geographical entity called Odisha, which is very much ours. But going beyond mere celebration, this Day also provides an excellent opportunity for self-introspection on part of every true citizen of the State to gauge and assess the real-time intrinsic and holistic development of the State, over the years.
From 1936 to now has been a great expanse of time. In more recent context, a single party has enjoyed the overwhelming mandate of the people with the same leader holding the reins for quite long……an ideal situation to deliver the goods. Some great Odias, like Prabhat Patnaik, have been produced over the years. But where does Odisha as a state stand amidst all this? Has it progressed in the desired manner? It is a mere historical co-incidence that the Utkal Divas falls on the Fools Day…there is absolutely no offence intended. Considering all our readers to possess a good mind and judgement of their own , we reserve ours and leave it on you to do a soul searching and try to figure it out as to whether we are living in a ‘galvanized Odisha’ or in ‘Fool’s Paradise’?