There has been an unusual spurt in the number of colleges that provide education and training to students in various streams of engineering like Mechanical,civil and Electrical Engineering in Odisha. An estimation states that there were over 107 engineering colleges in odisha by the year 2011. These college train around 43,000 students annually into different streams of engineering.
However there have been ominous trends on display since the last year . The overall admission capacity into the engineering colleges in Odisha has fallen sharply. The year 2012 saw a total of 26,947 seats in engineering colleges remaining vacant in Odisha even after two phases of counseling !
While 23 colleges could attract less than 50 students, the number of admissions in five colleges of the state were single digit figures. One private engineering college found no student at all this time. All the data go on to paint a bleak future for the engineering colleges in Odisha!
While the private colleges are perishing for want of students, the government is facing flak from all sides for still being busy in giving nods to open fresh engineering colleges in the state. It is being alleged that that while granting sanctions to open new colleges in the State of Odisha, neither the Centre nor the State Governments have taken care of supporting such colleges.
When the State Government and the Central Governments have a say in opening a new college, Granting affiliation, curbing the fee hike, increasing the seats or de-affiliating a college, is it not equally responsible for the losses incurred by the colleges due to its faulty or wrong acts ? Is it not the duty of the Government to guide and support these new colleges in introducing with the Industry and the market?
The Government needs to have a mechanism to link the new colleges( heavily loaded with bank loans) with the Industry. Most of the colleges get self sufficient by the time 4 to 5 batches of students pass out. But in the infancy stage the government has a binding role in helping them as the government makes mileage out of the students passing out of the colleges.
Even now on an average one in five job seekers in India does not have any Technical Expertise/ diploma or a degree. So it can be safely assumed that the number of seats available in the engineering colleges has not outnumbered the demand. As such the government needs to review its policy and take steps for proper nursing of the private engineering colleges so that they don’t face the threat of closing shutters even before they start operations!
Earlier posts in this blog on odisha have highlighted positives of the odisha economy that is clearly in ascendence. There is no dearth of statistics that indicate to the visible changes in the economy of Odisha. Let’s consider the points below:
- The annual average rate of Odisha economy is 8.23% in the 11th plan.
- Poverty in Orissa has declined by 20.2 percentage points from 57.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 37 per cent in 2009-10. This is the highest reduction in poverty among all States.
- Overall literacy rate of Odisha is 73.45 per cent against the national average of 74.04 per cent in 2011, male literacy being 82.04% and female literacy being 64.36%
- Infant mortality rate and maternal mortality ratio have declined from 73 and 303 respectively in 2006 to 61 and 258 respectively in 2011.
While the statistics reveal too much and provide every reason to gloss about, there are indicators that cannot be avoided if growth in real terms need to be achieved in the long term and on a consistent basis!
Let’s focus on each of these indicators here:
Agriculture : While the state’s economy is on rose, the agricultural sector is what has not shown any sign of growth over the past couple of decades. Though the state government has taken note of this and addressed the issue in this yaer’s annual budget by earmarking a total outlay of 5627.84 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 7161.84 crore un 2013-14 for the horticulture and agricultural sector, lots need to be done to increase the productivity. Increasing irrigation potential, promoting watershed development at a massive scale and drought proofing are critical pre-requisites to this. Apart from this diversifying crops, strengthening rural marketing, encouraging agricultural extension and technology transfer, expanding crop insurance and improving rural infrastructure are some of the steps that need to be taken immediately.
Augment Human resource Development: Human resources are the most important resource of any economy and if Odisha has to sustain growth on a long term basis, it needs to keep paying attention towards its human resources. More and more institutions of higher technical and managerial learning and massive networks of ITI, tool rooms, centres of excellence and other training facilities are required to be established throughout the State with a view to enhancing employable technical and soft skills of unemployed youth.
Stepping up Investments in Social Sectors : Though the state government has started addressing the disparity in social sector with greater thrust, statistics reveal a stark difference in prosperity level between the coastal regions of Odisha and those areas dominated by tribal populace. The physical infrastructure and Human Development Index of the tribal areas calls for massive public investment. The State has already embarked upon an ambitious plan to provide hostel facilities to 5 lakh girl children belonging to Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes. Other schemes targeted at developing the tribal patches need to be pursued aggressively!.
The State should give reasonable tax breaks for attracting private investment in labor intensive manufacturing, agro-processing, tourism and other employment generating sectors in the tribal region. The removal of intra-state imbalances has been receiving special attention in the plan strategy of the State. The Koraput-Bolangir-Kalahandi (i.e., KBK) region of Orissa still considerably lags behind in terms of most development indicators. Heavy incidence and persistence of poverty in the KBK region of Orissa has been a cause of serious concern. The growth policy should focus on achieving faster, sustainable and more inclusive growth and bridging the regional, social and gender disparities.
Upon reminiscence, on its foundation day, the spectacular journey of a historical city that became the capital city of odisha in 1948 to a throbbing new world teeming with extensive infrastructure and modern amenities in 2013 seem , seem nonplussing.
In many terms the transition of this small city that was adorned by relics of history that displayed a rare mosaic of cultural creativity and was canopied with copious covers of green into a hub of services and education industry of east is no mean achievement.
Although its presence is rooted deeply in the history of the state and it has been a center of activity since the mighty emperor Kharavela established his capital in Sishupalgarh , it was only in 1948 that after careful considerations, that this sleepy town was chosen as the spot to become the administrative capital of Orissa. Long before Pandit Jawhar Lal Nehru inaugurated it as the capital of the state On April 13th 1948, the place was well known as the Temple city boasting of more than 1000 temples that were as old as 7th century!
The master plan of Bhubaneswar was prepared by the internationally acclaimed architect and urban planner, Otto H Koenigsberger in 1948 for a population of 40,000 over an area of 16.48 km2 with a density of 10 to 12 families per acre. The innovative master plan of the city with modernist buildings, land-use patterns, provisions for education, recreation, medical and social services created a landmark in the history of town planning in India. Bhubaneswar was after all the second city in the country and only after Chandigarh to be developed on a master plan!
The City saw a greater change in the late 1980’s when light industries and manufacturing activities were added into the ambit of the original master plan that envisaged it primarily for administrative activities. This led to influx of working population into the “sleepy town” and for the first time showed the seeds of expansion. Three decades later, today the government with its intention of projecting Bhubneswar as the Prime destination of Education in the eastern India, the city has taken quantum leaps not only geographically but demographically too. The city which is growing towards north, northwest and southwest direction along the main transport routes and has already taken areas like Chandaka, Jatani,Uttara, Patia and Hansapal into its sway is today one of the fastest growing cities in India!
Agricultural and vacant land that once donned the outskirts of the city has been now replaced with high rise buildings. There are engineering collges and other educational institutes that are coming up there! The city boasts of more than 40 engineering colleges and three medical colleges. Top institutes like that of IIT, BITS and AIIMS have already started operating in the city.
This has brought in structural changes in the demography of the city too. Today students and younger working professionals coming out of the state are becoming majority. Service sector industries like the Software sector and ITES industries have started operations in the city in scores! Similarly infrastructure companies that have their eyes on the future too are now very active in the city. In fact the city has become the cynosure of all infrastructure activities and boasts of some big players like DLF, Tata and Vipul. These companies are redefining the future of the city by creating residential and commercial complexes in the city! On a nutshell, Bhubaneswar the city is going through a transition that is simply unprecedented!
And nothing defines this transition more than the cultural conversion that we are experiencing today! The youth of today in the city is more aggressive and extrovert than he ever was! While hindi and English are slowly replacing Oriya as the mode of communication, the shopping habits of the residents have undergone sea change with the advent of mall culture. Similarly concepts of eat – outs and night parties have become popular too!
While all these changes might not be welcome, but transition is just a way of life and one need to accept the fact that Bhubaneswar is well on the path to compete with other cities on scales of infrastructure, development and economic success. It might not be too far off when we actually see Bhubaneswar as the best city in the country!
Odisha is a land that is expressive culturally and has a lot to offer to the world in terms of art, songs and dance. Some of its celebrated folk dances are still throbbing to find peace with changing times. Danda nacha or the penance dance is one such folk dances of odisha that has fought the vagaries of time to be still popular in the state.
Celebrated mostly in different parts of Odisha, the dance ritual is performed in the month of “Chaitra” for seven to twenty one days. It ends on the Mahavisuva Sankranti that is the first day of Oriya New Year. The dance is undertaken by the devotees of Lord Shiva who observe the ritual as part of penance, roaming around street and villages with a brass idol of cobra mounted on pole.
The festival is celebrated with much enthusiasm as a welcoming ceremony to the spring season that lays foundation for the agricultural activities in the state of odisha. However there are historical allegories too that make the festival and this folk dance really fascinating.
Indian mythology is replete with anecdotes on Lord Shiva and his consort Sati. There is a reference in one such mythological story about a Yajna that was performed by Daksha Prajapati in which Lord Shiva was not invited. The Lord took offence to it and consequenetly beheaded Daksha Prajapati. The wife of the killed Daksha then cursed the Lord and 12 other deities to be born as son of hermits suffering from leprosy. These 13 leper sons upon their birth on earth underwent severe penance observing Danda nacha and recovered.
Danda nacha is divided into three sessions – Dhuli Danda ( earth penance), Pani Danda( water penance) and Agni Danda ( fire penance). The devotees enact several activities based on farming on the streets under scorching sun as part of Dhuli Danda ritual. On dusk, they go to ponds or other water bodies to perform the Pani danda.As a part of the Agni danda, the devotees walk on embers of fire, jump through rings of fire and swallow fireballs.
Danda Jatra is celebrated in different parts of the state. Danda Jatra of Galeri in the district of Ganjam is famous throughout odisha as it sees a one of the biggest congregation of devotees that can go up to 1000 to 1500. Similarly the Danda jatra of Nuagaon of Ganjamis also famous. Here at least 300 danduas(devotees) and 50 dancers participate in this. In the Danda jatra of Kutaguda of Ganjam almost 1200 danduas (devotees) join. In Odagaon, Khandapara and Ranpur of Nayagarh district danda jatra is celebrated with greater purity. Devotees in this place are known to hang themselves upside down in trees and face a fire that keep on burning down.
Danda nacha is a medium that assimilates several forms of dance forms on a single platform. It has thrived the tides of time to continue till date. A bit more government support & promotion would take this form of dance beyond the frontiers of the state.
Well, at a time when the Odisha government is busy projecting itself as one of the most progressive economies of the country, the party seems set to be spoilt. No doubt Odisha has set itself ahead of all other states in terms of number of proposals received, but how many proposals actually see the daylight, is what that matters!
The decision of the NTPC to shift out the Rs 11,000 crore 1600 MW coal based project from Gajamara in Dhenkanal to Gadarwara in Madhya Pradesh is a case that can be taken as a pointer. The reasons cited by the NTPC officials tell it all. According to the NTPC, there were inordinate delays in execution of the project in odisha owing to holdups in land and environmental clearances. Another project of the NTPC which is scheduled to come up in Darlipali is similarly struck on the issue of procurement of resources necessary for the execution of the project.
Reports have it that one of the key equipment suppliers pulled out of the project and the company and the State Government failed to receive necessary clearances on time, threatening to delay the manufacturing process further. Though company officials now maintain that despite the delays they will go ahead and invite fresh tenders for procuring equipment, it needs to be seen whether this project will take off the ground or also go the Gajmara way. Similar precedents of delay in projects can be found in the POSCO case and the proposed steel plant of the Arcelor Mittal group.
Flight of capital, for whatever reasons, is not a healthy sign from the perspective of a State that is keen on attracting more and more investment into industry.
Orissa, like any other State in the country, needs investment in industry for developing . However in most cases, the government is signing MoU’s with big multinationals and owing to execution problems on the ground level, the project gets stuck. What is common in almost all project delays in Odisha is the resistance of people to part with their land owing to displacement and rehabilitation issues. Issues like these need to be handled proactively and people of the locality need to be taken in to confidence before any MoU is signed with the investing companies. This would go a long way in curtailing the delays in implementation of the project. Similarly, critical issues like land and forest clearance need to be clarified beforehand rather than the other way round so that projects can take off smoothly without cost or time over-run.
Odisha is a mineral rich state and presents a great opportunity for those who invest however to make it more acceptable to the investor community as a truly investor-friendly State, executions of the MoU’s is needed. And the government needs to work in this regard too to ensure that investments keep flowing smoothly and steadily into the State.
It was on the year 1936 on the first day of April that Orissa rediscovered itself on the cultural and geographical maps of the country by becoming the first state in India to be constituted on the basis of language. Ever since the occasion is being celebrated in odisha as the Utkal Diwas.
What preceded this was a five decade long intense struggle for recognition. A state that once stamped its authority on the cultural landscape of the country with its own uniqueness was dissected and divided by a colonial authority with such alacrity that its self-belief and pride was mauled beyond repair. This is the reason why We Oriyas still run such a bad self esteem and lack of pride that today’s generation is loathsome of anything that owes its origin to the Oriya culture.
Well, it’s really sad twist of fate but it’s true! The language itself, which is a mirror to our glory is now under serious threat. Great sacrifices, vision and struggle that marked the endeavor of our leaders in the late nineteenth century stemmed from their ardent love of the language. However this is precisely what is lacking in today’s generation.
Odisha has, of late seen a major influx of non-residents owing to rapid industrialization and expanding commerce. This has no doubt helped in rising economic activities and rising prosperity of the state. However this has also has a telling effect on the culture of the state. In any given circumstance, the influx of outsiders leads to a mix in culture which leads to diversity. Unfortunately, because of the low self-esteem of Oriyas, things have not turned out the way they should have. Instead of influencing other cultures and introducing them to our heritage, Oriyas were prompt to give up their traditions and adopt alien customs with an eagerness that has been difficult to understand.
As a result of this Oriya festivals started losing out their charms to the younger generation. While Odisha has its own set of festivals that accentuate its identity, like the Raja festival, Prathamastami and Sabitri Brat, we end up celebrating Holi, Diwali and Karva Chauth with unprecedented zing. Festivals like the “ Kanwariyas” which were completely unheard of in the state till a decade are being celebrated with a craze that seems alien to our culture while we are forgetting the importance of celebrating our own festivals. Ask any growing teenager from odisha about “Prathamastami” and he would stare blankly.
Oriya weddings similarly been transmogrified way beyond recognition. For any Oriya native, it is getting increasingly difficult to identify between oriya marriages and North Indian marriages. Concepts like “Sangeet”, which are in no way connected to Oriya marriages, are now a part of every wedding ceremony in the state. If this was not enough, getting a non-Oriya bride is considered an honor by many young Oriya boys. This is nothing but a reflection of the inherent inferiority complex that lies in the heart of modern Oriyas, a complete reverse of leaders of the past.
The young generation truly is so much engrossed with anything that is non-oriya that you find Hindi taking over as the medium of communication among youngsters. While learning Hindi or English is essential in today’s world, pushing our own mother tongue to oblivion is something that is abominable. The same has not been the case with other languages like Tamil, Kannda and Telugu. People of these states someway stay connected to their culture and gloss over their past. The same is missing with us in Odisha.
It is a issue that is grave and can assume monstrous proportions, if not attended to! The state was formed 75 years back and yet the language is not secure. Oriya has received patronage neither at the official level nor among the common people. Celebrating Utkal Diwas is nothing but a ritual for us today but the fervor that is shown during the celebration of English New Year or Valentine’s day is completely missing.
A state that owes its birth to it’s language is getting increasingly unfaithful to its creator and is on the process of losing its own identity! And if something drastic is not done now, there will be nothing that can be done tomorrow!
Mahanadi, the largest river of odisha that irrigates the heartland of the state and provides water both for drinking as well as irrigation purposes to most is under threat. Pollution is finally beginning to have its impact on the river.
The Mahanadi runs through 494 km within Orissa with five main tributaries and four major distributaries and is the largest river system among the 11 rivers in the state. It has a basin area of 65,628 sq km with a population of 1.62 crore. There are about 34 cities, towns and urban conglomerates in the Mahanadi river basin area inside Orissa. Till recently, the river used to be the chief source of drinking for most of these cities and towns. However of late the water of the river is getting unfit for human use chiefly due to the indiscriminate pollution caused by sewage released into the Mahanadi .
With 86 per cent of the catchments and major tributaries of the river upstream located in industrial towns in the neighboring States of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, the water of the Mahanadi is loaded with industrial wastes. The already contaminated water faces further mal treatment in human hands as the garbage of the town are dumped into it .
The bio-chemical oxygen demand in the Mahanadi has already reached an alarming stage and the water has become totally unfit for human use. The river itself has been classified as category ‘D’ river by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB). It is only during the monsoons, when there is an increase in the level of water in the Mahanadi, that it is put in the “category C”.
To make things worse for the cities that dot its bank, sewerage system is completely nonexistent in the Sambalpur and Cuttack. All the waste water that is being produced in the cities get dumped in the river directly. The Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) estimates untreated domestic wastewater discharge from urban settlements in the Mahanadi basin at 3,45,000 m3 (m3 = 1,000 liters) per day, contributing a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) load of about 68.8 tones every day. To put it plainly, the OSPCB describes that direct consumption of water up to a stretch of six kilometers from Sambalpur town could lead to skin and stomach disorder of varying degrees.
Taking things into its own hand the OPSCB filed a criminal case against the Executive Officer of Sambalpur Municipality for his inability in handling the issue of pollution negligently thereby putting the lives of many in danger. The case is pending in the court since 2010. Subsequently the SPCB has even withdrawn the solid waste management authorization from the Sambalpur Municipality.
It is high time that the state government takes stern steps in this regard and make the river clean and safe for all.
For most Odias no summer meal is complete without two dishes. The first is Pakhala and the second badi chura. Thanks to the efforts of the state government the Pakhala has now got due recognition and March 20th of each year is now celebrated as Pakhala Diwas. Similar efforts by the government and now badi are reckoned as a crunchy side dish and available across multiple outlets not only in odisha but also out of the state.
Traditionally the badis have been made in every household of the state. These are dried and preserved food items that are consumed as crunchy side items with rice or water rice ( pakhala). Made from split black gram paste that is put to dry in sun as dumplings, badi has been a favorite item of housewives in odia houses from ages.
Though not much is known about its origin, it is widely believed that the crispy crunchy dumpling marked its beginning in the districts of Keonjhar amongst the tribal populace. Even today it is offered as Prasad to the deities in many temples in Keonjhar. Ten varieties of the badis, for example, are offered to the deity in the Baldev Jew temple in Keonjhar district on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.
It baffles imagination when one considers the fact that coming from the temples the badi has found its way to the dining habits of people of odisha. And what is more interesting is the fact that changing time the badi has dawned new roles. The dumplings are now available in different varieties and unlike common practice, are treated with spices and items like pumpkin, almonds, and cauliflowers to make it more appealing to the taste buds.
And also as it makes it way out of traditional odia homes to be sold in shops and outlets, badi has become the source of income for many families . It is estimated that today, around 850 families in Orissa’s Keonjhar District alone earn their livelihood from Badi making. The entire process has taken commercial proportion and bigger players in the market are turning on to mechanized production of badis to meet demands. What is heartening is the fact that now badis are in demand not only in other states of India but in countries like USA and China.
Various government agencies like ORMAS have helped a lot to market these commodities but as a popular odia dish, it also needs to be recognized just like the “pakhala”!
Of late, there are good signs of Odisha’s progress! The Economic Survey Report has come up with many interesting facts on odisha. These are
- Odisha will grow at 9.14% in the year 2013-14.
- The poverty index in odisha has fallen by 20.2% from 2004 to 2009.
- Per capita Income in the state has soared to Rs 25,5484, a growth of 6.01% over 2011-12.
- There has been a considerable appreciation in the collection of taxes in Odisha compared to that of other states.
But are these feel-good signs only numbers that satiate the mind of economists and the jargon of management students who seek to pepper their talks with fancy numbers?
Well, there have been great progress in the state in the past decade and as is known “numbers do not lie unless tampered with” but there are other side of the pictures that need to be taken into consideration.
The poverty index of odisha has fallen down greatly in the past decade but the regional and social disparities have widened and the imbalances are much wider. The extent of poverty on southern and northern regions of Odisha as well as among the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe population has increased along with the decrease in poverty index. Similarly the standard of living of the agricultural laborers in Odisha is one of the lowest in India and is just ahead of Bihar.
The rise in per capita income of Odisha again presents only a partial picture of the state of things. The standard of living in the state has no doubt risen in Odisha over the past decade but again the regional disparity continues in this respect too with the majority of rich being concentrated only in the urban patches of the state. The per capita monthly expenditure in urban areas of odisha stand at Rs 1468.84 in 2011-12 compared to that of Rs 715.59 in rural areas of the same period.
Similarly though there has been considerable rise in the taxes collected by the state government, this is more due to the leverage that the government got from boom in mineral prices. Other factors that contributed to the growth in the tax collection was the revenues earned from petroleum products and motor vehicle taxes. According to the Thirteenth Finance Commission, the tax to GSDP ratio of the Odisha government should be more than 6.75% but it is estimated to be only 5.92% in 2012-13. The same ratio, it is being predicted will not go beyond 6.02% in 2013-14.
Going by all the indicators above, it can be safely assumed that though there has been appreciable change in the economy of Odisha in the past few years, there are still much left to be done. We need to address more on rural upliftment now than ever to stop the growing economic imbalance in the society
The Odisha state budget that was presented by Mr. Prasanna Acharya in the State Assembly has been a mixed bag of sop and punishments. However what is notable with this year’s state budget apart it from being the highest ever budget outlay of Rs 60,303.09 Crore, is the fact that too much emphasis was laid on agriculture and allied sector.
The state government for the first time ever in the history of odisha and the second time in the history of the country (after Karnataka), presented a special tailor made budget for the agriculture sector. The budget outlay for agriculture,horticulture and allied sector has been increased from rs 5627.84 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 7161.84 crore un 2013-14. The finance minister has also announced 3% interest subvention on farm loan and an additional 2% would be provided to the farmer on repayment of the loan. Apart from this, the budget makes provision for health insurance for farmers under the Biju Krushak Yojana.
The budget itself is an emphasis of the fact that the Government has realized the importance of providing support to the agriculture sector. In a marked shift from its pro-Industrial policies since the inception of this century which triggered the growth and diversification of economic activities in odisha, this year’s budget is aimed at bringing back people to the agricultural sector.
The sudden shift in government’s priorities is understandable. Owing to lack of support from the government, the agricultural sector has suffered. While the total contribution of agriculture to state’ GDP has gone down to 17.49% in 2012-13, the total productivity has hovered around 21.97 quintals per hectare, which is way below the national average. This is clearly a threatening call to the state’s 67% odd population that depend on agricultural activities for their livelihood.
So the decision of the state government to take steps to address the issue on an emergency basis by presenting a Special budgets for the farmers is understandable. However what needs to be seen is the implementation of all the schemes that have been announced. Translation of goals into actions would certainly boost the agricultural sector in Odisha