Professor Satya Narayan Misra in Bhubaneswar, June n6, 2024: Mr. Naveen Patnaik took over as the President of BJD in 1997) and Chief Minister of Odisha in 2000, with a record-breaking five stints as CM. He was a cut above the rest, by virtue of his immaculate courtesy, culture, and sense of cuisine. He put in place the right development priorities, with women empowerment as the fulcrum of his policy priority.

As he loses the election, he will be remembered as the architect of 5 Ms , viz Mo School, Mission Shakti, Millet Mission, Management of Disasters and Medical Insurance for the poor. Looking at these schemes in retrospect will hold a mirror to his place as architect of human development of Odisha, a state bequeathed to him by his legendary entrepreneurial father Biju Patnaik.

Mr. Naveen Pattanaik launched the “Mo School”Abhiyan; a unique initiative to bring the alumni and the alma mater and the community around the government school together. The “Mo School” Abhiyan rests on five pillars: Connect Collaborate, Contribute, Create and Celebrate. The financial contribution of the alumni is matched by the government twice over.

By using a mobile application, it has been possible to connect with the alumni and help them to know more about the development work which is needed in the school. The collaboration between alumni, school and district administration as well as the community has led to infrastructure creation and sports infrastructure. Many schools are benefitted from technology-enabled interventions to enhance the educational eco system, and multidisciplinary educational content like documentaries, films, and talks by alumni.

One of the areas in which India stands behind 140 countries is its low representation of women in the Parliament. Only 14.39% of women representatives are part of the current Lok Sabha. in Lok Sabha as against a global average of 24.6%. Odisha is way ahead of other states in providing 50% percent reservation for women in local bodies as against a constitutional requirement of 33%. Among the 12 BJD MPs in Lok Sabha, 5 are women (41.6%). In the state legislative assembly out of 16 women representatives, 14 belong to the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). 12% of BJD MLAs are women. The state government revised the 33% reservation to 50% for women in the local government body i.e. Panchayati Raj Institutions way back in 2011.

To alleviate maternal and infant under-nutrition, the government of Odisha has launched a scheme for pregnant and lactating mothers called Mamata, which is a conditional cash transfer Maternity benefit scheme. This will help in providing partial wage compensation for pregnant and nursing mothers so that they are able to rest adequately during pregnancy and delivery.

In a survey by the renowned economist Jean Dreze and Ritika Khera (2019), they note: “In earlier surveys, we had also noted how Odisha, a low-income state often clubbed with the so-called BIMARU states (undivided Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) not so long ago, was making steady progress in matters of food security, child nutrition, and public health. This time, once again, we saw important signs of hope in Odisha”.

The Mission Shakti program, launched by the Chief Minister of Odisha on 8th March 2001, is the flagship program under which these groups started functioning with the aim of poverty alleviation and women empowerment. Till now it has empowered around 70 lakh women across the state. The total financial implication is Rs. 20989 Crore, of which the center’s share is 75% and the state contribution is 25%. It focuses on Women Self Help Groups (WSHGs).These women SHGs are engaged in a wide range of activities such as producing and packaging pickles, spices, badi, papad; manufacturing LED bulbs, appliances, utensils, etc. The government of Odisha linked these SHGs with other development & welfare programs for fruitful implementation.

Naveen Babu’s successful Millet Mission has become a template for emulation by the centre. The medical insurance scheme has benefited the poor people immensely as they have now access to the best of private hospital with negligible out of pocket expenditure. The way he has handled& managed disasters like Fani & Sunami has won him plaudits from all over.

Odisha has become the epicentre for hockey, with its rich tradition of tribal sportsmen having a natural skill in playing hockey. The way the World Cup hockey was organized earned him respect from all over the world. His attention to aesthetics and scrupulous embrace of simplicity can be a lesson for the more flamboyant politicians, who traverse the national space with undisguised hubris.

Prof Sumantra Sen of LSE writes that one of the major challenges of India realizing its full potential is the lack of ‘concert action’ between the centre and states in many developmental issues and bolstering manufacturing by creating Manufacturing zones. Compared tomany opposite-party CMs bickering with the centre Naveen Babu has been a role model in fostering Centre State synergy. It’s a pity that such a CM was ridiculed by the PM in public for his failing health for harvesting political fortunes. This smacks of very low level of politicking.

Naveen Babuleft the political company of the BJP when he realized that he should not be tainted by the criticism of political alliance with a communal party like the BJP. Odisha prides itself as a shining symbol of secularism where its principal deity Lord Jagannath is paid hosanas by a Muslim poet Salabega. It’s indeed a pity that such a noncommunal state would now be run by a manifest communal party. Modi’s invocation of Lord Jagannath could not have been more oxymoronic for a party that swears by Hindu fundamentalism.

Hiren Mukherjee, a political adversary of Nehru called him a Gentle Colossus. In the twilight of his career, much like Nehru, he was hemmed around by a scheming civil servant. The women, hoipolloi, and the cognoscenti will miss this gentle colossus in equal measure.

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

Notify of