‘Odisha is a rich state where poor people live’, once said by none other than the visionary political leader of Odisha– Bijayananda Patnaik, popularly known as Biju Patnaik or Biju Babu. Throughout his political career, the brave and dynamic leader dreamt to make Odisha an economic viable and prosperous state. Today, on March 5, the State Government, the ruling Biju Janata Dal, many social and non-government organisations in Odisha are celebrating Biju Patnaik’s birth centenary year.
Born on 5 March 1916 to Lakshminarayan and Ashalata Patnaik at Cuttack, Biju Patnaik was educated at the prestigious Ravenshaw College in Odisha but due to his interest in aviation he dropped out and trained as a pilot. Eventually, he joined the Royal Indian Air Force and earned a great deal of reputation for his adventure during freedom movement. The fearless pilot took up many challenges and played a crucial role during the Quit India Movement. He dedicated his skills in fighting the Axis Powers for which he was sent to the prison by the British authority. Shortly after independence of the country, Pakistani tribesman invaded Kashmir and at Prime Minister Nehru’s request he helped airlift the first Indian soldiers to Srinagar.
Biju Patnaik’s heroic rescue of Sultan Sjahrir during Indonesian freedom struggle was duly recognized across the world. The Indonesian Government honoured him with Bhumi Putra (Son of Soil) title for his act of bravery during their crisis.
Biju Patnaik joined active politics in 1946 and hold various posts both at the state and the centre. He was the Chief Minister of Odisha for two terms. His major contributions to the state of Odisha are as follows:
- Paradip Port
- The MIG factory at Sunabeda
- Hydro-Electric Project at Balimela
- Thermal Power Plant at Talcher
- The Choudwar and Barbil Industrial Belts
- Ferro Silicon Complex at Theruvali
- The Bhubaneswar Airport
- The Odisha Aviation Centre
- Reorganisation of districts
- Regional College of Education at Bhubaneswar
- The Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology
- Engineering & Medical College at Burla
- Engineering College at Rourkela
- Sainik School at Bhubaneswar
The charismatic leader passed away on 17th April 1997.