By Vivek Pattnayak in Bhubaneswar, October 28, 2018: More than eight decades ago Odisha (called Orissa at that time) was created as a separate province under the Government of India Act of 1935 separating from Bihar then under the British India with Governor General and Central Legislature at the apex level.

t inherited institutions which existed under Government of India Act of 1919 and Government of India Acts of 1909, 1892 and 1858 and other laws namely district, sub divisional administration, police, magistracy, civil courts and session court and Revenue Commission. In addition it continued to have educational institutions like Ravenshaw College, hospitals, medical school and medical facilities.

The newly created province had districts of Cuttack, Puri, Balasore carved out of Bihar, Sambalpur taken out of Central Province, and Ganjam which was part of the Madras presidency. In addition, Anugul considered as a partially excluded area under the Government of India Act was also a district. Kondhamal was considered an agency area Governor being the Agent of the Government of India and Koraput also came under Odisha.

The High Court at Patna had jurisdiction over Orissa until 1948 when the Orissa High Court was established. The province had its own Legislature. The office of premier (chief minister) with his ministers was collectively responsible to the legislature. The Governor exercised reserved power like law and order and policing etc. while premier and his ministers enjoyed transferred powers like education, agriculture, health ,animal husbandry etc.

With independence of India there were cataclysmic constitutional changes. The princely states that were autonomous under Maharajas were given the option to decide their future. Mayurbhanj did not join Odisha (Orissa) till Ist January, 1949. Maharaja transferred power to a representative body called Assembly with a chief minister as the head of the government. Even tiny state of Niligiri hesitated.

With commencement of the Constitution and signing of instruments of accession by princely States, Orissa was divided into 13 districts. Some princely states like Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar and Kalahandi became coterminous with the newly formed districts. Some princely state like Sonepur became part of Bolangir. Princely states of Athamallik, Hindol, Talcher, Palahara, Dhenkanal along with Anugul formed Dhenkanal district. Deogarh joined Sambalpur so did Kuchinda and Rarakhol. Bamra came under Sundergarh. Narsighpur, Athagarh, Tigiria came under Cuttack.

The princes were given privy purses. To bring the erstwhile princely states under laws of India and Orissa, the Extra-Provincial Jurisdiction Act was passed and the Merged (States) Laws Act was brought into force. The Board of Revenue became the apex institution on land revenue matters. Three Revenue Divisions were created under statute.

Due to this historical background, the land tenure system was not uniform in the post independent Orissa. While the coastal districts came under the Orissa Tenancy Act which emanated from the Bihar and Orissa Tenancy Act and in turn a successor of Bengal Tenancy Act and Bengal Rent Act, Sambalpur came under CP Tenancy Act and CPLR Act and Ganjam came within Madras Estates Laws Act. Each princely state had its land tenancy law. Sonepur had a code called Bhumibidhi. One can visualize from this the heterogeneous nature of the land system of Odisha then.

Zamindary system was prevalent in the coastal districts and also in Sambalpur. Even in ex- princely states they had intermediaries and land estates. With enactment of the Estates Abolition Act, zamindary system including other intermediary land holding structures was abolished. Absentee landlordism was abolished through OTR Act and finally through Land Reform Act which also imposed land ceiling thus giving the tiller of land actual occupancy status. In order to achieve high level of productivity consolidation of land was attempted including prevention of fragmentation of holding through OCHPF Act which was highly successful in the irritated area.

Land tenure reform had twin objective of social justice and economic prosperity of the landed peasantry. These egalitarian measures were taken inspired by socialist thoughts coming from Karl Marx. The example of the Soviet Union was always kept in mind by the central leadership under Nehru. The Chief Minister, Nabakrishna Choudhury piloted the movement towards land tenure reform. He brought estate abolition law. During his time, the Tenants Reform Act and Tenants Protection Act came into force. Although he was influenced by Gandhi’s thoughts, he also believed in socialistic pattern of society championed by Nehru. Land Reform Act came after Nabakrishna Choudhury demitted office.

It was at the time of Sadasib Tripathy as Revenue Minister and later as Chief Minister, this law took shape. Credit must be given to Nandini Satpathy during her tenure as Chief Minister the law was enforced with commitment and elan particularly relating to land ceiling and distribution of land to landless both SC and ST persons ,and restoration of land to SC and ST. All these developments relating to Maharajas, Zamindars, intermediaries, tenants protection and ceiling on land holdings took place between late forties and mid-seventies of the last century.

After independence, Odisha under the Constitution established the State Public Service Commission for recruitment into State civil service and give advice to the State government relating to promotion and disciplinary proceedings and rule-making for recruitment and promotion. The State bureaucracy, after independence, at apex level was served by ICS and IAS duly supported by OAS. In addition, the cooperative service, agriculture officers’ cadre, educational service ,and a cadre of veterinary and animal husbandry were created. Police administration remained under IP and IPS officers duly assisted by OPS.

For generation of electricity at Macchkund agreement was reached between Odisha and Madras( later AP and now Andhra). At Hirakud a multipurpose dam project was constructed to generate electricity in two stages at Hirakud and Chiplima, provide irrigation in the Western districts and ensure flood control which was the scourge of people of Odisha. Surplus power from Hirakud was provided to the Indian Aluminum company, with majority shareholding by the Canadian company. Green revolution was sparked by abundance of controlled water through canal system.

The community development program came during the mid fifties and early sixties with Gram Panchayats having come as early as 1948 and Panchayat Samities and Zilla Parishad having been born in the early sixties. The Block as a unit of development administration and Tehsil as unit of revenue administration had taken roots during this period.

In the early seventies pursuant to clarion call given by Indira Gandhi for removal of poverty (Garibi Hatao), centrally sponsored projects like MFAL and SFDA and TDA were launched.ITDP and DRDA followed these projects. Objective was to achieve social justice and bring economic viability among the rural peasantry belonging to the lowest stratum of the society. Socialism had already become the goal with bank nationalization and abolition of Privy Purse.

When Biju Patnaik became Chief Minister in the early sixties he passionately spoke of rapid industrialization starting from Panchayat level. He also believed in establishment of medium and large industries using mineral resources of Odisha. By the time Rourkela steel plant had been established in Odisha based on the German assistance. There was always a feeling of deprivation among the educated Oriyas that Odisha had lost in getting Tata steel plant to Odisha although iron ore mines at Suleipat, Gorumahisani, Badampahad had been handed over by Maharaja of Mayurbhanj to Jamshedji Tata. General sentiment was that he could have setup the plant in Rairangpur rather than in Jamshedpur.

When Biju Patnaik came to power he had tremendous industrial experience having set up OTM,Kalinga Tube, Kalinga Iron Work producing pig iron, apart from other industries. Birlas had paper mill at Brajarajnagar. Titagarh paper mill was at Choudwar. Ramakrishna (ex-ICS officer)had put up sugar factory in Jeypur after his retirement and also a ferro-manganese plant. Beyond this private sector involvement in large industries was not visible.

No wonder Biju Patnaik getting inspiration from Neheru’s vision of socialism which advocated mixed economy, he thought of state initiative of establishing large industries. Means of production should be publicly owned was the central theme of socialism whether it was the philosophy of Marx and Engels or the concept of democratic socialism of Karl Kautsky. Hence, IDC was created by him. Ferro Chrome plant at Jajpur Road, Tile factory at Choudwar, cement factory at Bargarh,Jute mill at Dhanmandall were established by IDC and pig iron plant at Badbil was taken over. Under cooperative sector Sugar mill was set up at Aska and taking cue from there, Bargarh factory came up much later.
Raising of minerals through state entrepreneurship was first in India when Biju Patnaik established OMC.

During this period, Paradip port was established with the state initiative connecting with an Express Way from Daitary mines to the Paradip port as the export of iron ore was given top priority giving foreign exchange as there were no demands since only Tisco, IISCO, Bhadrachalam and Rourkela produced steel. Bhilai, Durgapur and Bokharo were getting ready for production. Demand for a second steel plant in Odisha was growing from early seventies due to heavy concentration of high grade iron ore.
During the period of Biju Patnaik’s stewardship, Dr. B. D Panda set up ferro-silicon plant followed by silicon metal plant and silicon carbide plant.

After a period of lull industrial activity took an upward movement with J B Patnaik calling for thousand industries in thousand industries. During his time IDCO was established as a statutory body to create industrial infrastructure. IPICOL which had come into being in seventies joined the effort in promoting and financing medium and large industries.

Two more sugar mills were added. Hotel was declared as an industry qualifying for loans and subsidy. A large number of hotels came with assistance of IPICOL and OSFC ,a statutory financial institution created by central law to promote industries. Both the financial institutions received refinancing facilities from IDBI. Sponge iron as a new industry to support steel production through electric arc furnace route was first time established in Odisha in joint sector with IPICOL using technology from USA and then through indigenous technology developed by TATA Group.

Calcium silicide plant was established by Mittal Group in Balasore declared then as no-industry district. Charge chrome factory was set up near Bhadrak by Saraf Group. OMC also established a charge chrome plant at Brahmanipal which was taken over by the TATA Group. IMFA also set up a charge chrome plant at Chowdwar with a captive power plant first time in Odisha. NALCO came into existence during the eighties to produce alumina and aluminum. They also established captive power plant which like IMFA wheeled their surplus power to the Odisha grid.

In the eighties and nineties, the then Chief Ministers, JB and Biju Patnaik tried their level best to establish second steel plant. Liberalization of economy in India encouraged establishment of power plant through private foreign initiative.

In the twenty first century during the period of Naveen Patnaik a large number of steel industries including the one established by TATA have come up in different locations of Odisha. Kalinga Nagar area has become a big hub in steel making. It is a pity that POSCO could not come up the most modern steel plant. Odisha has also seen in this decade alumina and aluminum production through the effort of Vedanta and Aditya Birla Group in spite of many hurdles.

Last two decades have seen phenomenal progress in road infrastructure including rural roads.
In the sixties and seventies, the state was starved of engineering college.Ever since private sector was allowed permission liberally, the State has got a large number of engineering colleges and management schools. There are a number of private universities in addition to State sponsored or promoted universities. A University of culture has been established with the State promoting it. More interestingly, University of Public Health has come up under private initiative. A number of medical colleges both in state and private sector have proliferated.

In the early Odisha going from Cuttack to Sambalpur was a massive endeavor. Railway connecting coastal Odisha with the Western Odisha has considerably eased passenger transport. Inter-City has been a game changer.

Meanwhile air transport growth has been phenomenal, Bhubaneswar being connected to all metros and other cities. Most notable achievement has been a new modern airport at Jharsuguda by reviving the airport constructed by the British during World War II.In addition Bhubaneswar has been declared as an international airport with direct flights to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

n last three decades new institutions namely State Human Rights Commission, Women’s Commission, Commission for children etc. have emerged. Electricity Reform has created Electricity Regulatory Commission. Odisha was pioneer in electricity reform in India initiated by Biju Patnaik during his second tenure as Chief Minister and diligently followed by JB during his third tenure.

Consumers’ protection became a program after new legislation came with dispute resolution mechanism. While in early stages, Odisha media development was restricted to print media including few dailies like Samaj, Prajatantra, Matrubhumi, Dainika Asha and periodicals like Jhankar, Dagara, Niankhunta and Asantakali, radio through Akashvani made popular presence. TV came in early eighties coinciding with Asian Games in Delhi although to popularize agricultural technology, Sambalpur had a TV station in late seventies and community viewing through satellite transmission had commenced earlier.

Now TV media has made unbelievable progress with plethora of private channels. Print media has also expanded many folds with many national English dailies having local editions. Sambad and Dharitri have reached very high level of circulation with many dailies having entered the cities, towns and villages.

In spite of electronic media newspaper reading has increased and no longer confined to upper and middle class. It was percolated to poor people. Private radio stations have made their popular presence. Social media has captured the minds of youth and slowly but steadily influencing other age group.
While civil society in the early Odisha was confined to lawyers, teachers, doctors, writers and few wealthy businessmen and elderly people of certain echelon of higher caste limited only to drawing rooms, today civil society has vastly expanded with any number of NGOs taking up diverse issues.

In today’s Odisha the intellect is not confined to only Cuttack, Berhampur and Sambalpur as was the case in early Odisha. Districts now thirty in number unlike 13 then can boast of bright lawyers, doctors, journalists very knowledgeable about the national and global situation. Ambition among the young is no more restricted to join civil service but to get into private sector and even start their own business.

No longer they would like to stay only in their State but they intended to go beyond to national and even to international level. One can find any number of Odias of X, Y and Z generation in USA, Canada, Europe, Singapore Australia, Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and China, some as students and some as professionals. Odisha is getting globalized.

In the games and sports, the State has made splendid progress. From Barabati Stadium for which Bharab Mohanty deserved all the credit, Kalinga stadium has equally received global recognition. Cricket and hockey have brought glories to the State. Sundergarh has produced a large number of hockey players having made name at international level. It is no mean achievement for the state to organize international events with success.

What Odisha should look for in the years to come before it completes hundred years? Agriculture should be given priority it deserves. Agro-based industries should be the focus. Renewable energy like solar power, wind power and electricity from bio-waste and municipal waste should be the objective. Swatchha Bharat program (Clean India) should be dovetailed to power generation. MSME sector would need handholding by the government and its agencies.

Policy makers, planners, and opinion makers should recognize its potential to generate employment, to contribute to GDP and finally to get foreign exchange. How tourism and hospitality sector can augment employment must be given due consideration. The potential of the sector should not be underestimated. Construction of airports and heliports should be encouraged.

Maritime transportation should be given importance. Quality of education must improve throughout the state particularly in the tribal areas. From elementary level to higher education there is need for quality. Quantity alone will not do. Research facilities have to be supported by both government and corporate sector. Nothing will succeed unless quality of human resources and institutions improve. They cannot come from outside. Ethical value and integrity are not negotiable commodities. All stake-holders must search within themselves to find them.

Leave a Reply

1 Comment on "Odisha, Then & Now: What lies in Future?"

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Bhavani Pani

A superb anthology of historical facts from the brightest and most enlightened beuracrats Odisha has ever seen. What pleasure to go through. Thanks Sir. Odisha would be ever indebted to you.