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The Rise Ofnaveen Patnaik

Updated: February 27, 2010 1:20 pm

This book is a critical political biography of Naveen Patnaik reflecting his clean image that has been developed gradually through the years depending on an assessment of his style of work and character. It gives an account of the contribution of his father Biju Patnaik, the architect of modern Orissa. It also gives an account of his family history and various other facets of his personality as a writer, parliamentarian and finally as the Chief Minister of Orissa.

            Tracing his family background, the writer first gives an account of the personality of his father Biju Patnaik, the most popular politician of national importance, well-known for his patriotism, dynamic leadership, innovative thinking and bold decisions. The writer has made a special mention of his contribution to the Indonesian independence struggle and the honour bestowed upon him as Bhoomi Putra of Indonesia.

            In the next chapter, the writer narrates his family history and gives an account of the cultural environment in which Naveen and his sister has been brought up. His sister Gita Mehta enjoys a special position in English writings. He describes his mother’s role as a housewife, as a pilot and as a member of her husband’s Indoneshian freedom struggle. She gave birth to Naveen Patnaik on October 16, 1946. Naveen had schooling at The Doon School at Dehradun and graduated in Art from Delhi University and took to painting and writing soon after his studies. During this period, he took up writing and penned “A Second Paradise: Indian Country Life 1590-1947; The People of Bikaner and the Garden of Life; An introduction to the Healing Plants of India, each one published in India, US and England. Later, Naveen Patnaik joined politics and entered 11th Lok Sabha in 1997 as a Janata

Dal candidate. In 1998, he formed Biju Janata Dal. He joined the union cabinet as minister of steel and mines.   After sometime, his party entered into seat-sharing adjustment with BJP. with the principal aim to fortify the anti-Congress forces in Orissa. After the fall of IK Gujral government at the centre, elections were held in the state and BJD-BJP alliance in Orissa won the elections. Atal Behari Vajpayees government was formed at the centre and Naveen Patnaik joined his cabinet.

            In 2000 AD, he fought the assembly elections and the alliance won the elections with a thumping majority. He was elected as the Chief Minister of Orissa and continues to be on the seat till to-date. On becoming Chief Minister, he and his team drew plans for expanding the steel sector. His initial days as minister of steels at the centre helped him considerably in this task and could attract investments in this sector. The state was put on the path of industrial revolution with having large number of mineral- based industries. Presently, Orissa has top industrialists of the world drawing plans to have their plants based on the mineral reserves of the state. His tenure as Chief Minister has seen establishment of power plants. Various public and private sector organisations are actively associated with exploration work in the state. During this period, the state has done a commendable job to create railway network within the state and this has played an important role in the economic development of the state.

            Giving an over-view of the economic growth of the state under the stewardship of Naveen Patnaik, the writer states that the state has registered an annual growth rate of 7.3 per cent during tenth plan as compared to 3.8 per cent in 1999-2000. At present it has set a target of 9 per cent annual growth rate during the eleventh plan period. His government is committed to over-all social and economic uplift of the poor and downtrodden sections of the society. His initiative to strengthen panchayat raj laid the foundation of decentralisation in the state.

            Generation of employment through several self-employment programmes remained at the top of the state government’s agenda since Naveen took over reins of power in 2000. The mineral use pattern in the state has opened lots of employment avenues for the local people directly or indirectly. In the field of agriculture, there has been a paradigm shift from traditional agriculture to commercial cultivation of cash crops in the state. In the field of industrial development, the state has taken effective steps to facilitate setting-up of integrated steel plants by reputed steel companies and 45 MoU have been signed with such steel companies.

            Orissa has already emerged as a major industrial destination in the country. The state has formulated public-private partnership approach to promote private investment in infrastructure development. Handicrafts and cottage industries have been declared a priority sector. There has been an encouragement of widespread use of IT for providing good governance. Universalisation of primary and elementary education has got the highest priority in the state. National Rural Health Mission was launched in the state with a view to providing effective health care to the rural masses. In recognition of his achievements as the fastest mover in the entire country in the category of “Prosperity and Budget”, President Dr APJ Kalam honoured him with the best Chief Minister’s award at the conclave of Chief Ministers organised by India Today. His popularity amongst masses can be judged by the fact that his party won the assembly elections held last year all alone in spite of the breakup of the alliance with the BJP.

            The writer’s concluding remarks about Naveen Patnaik’s personality and performance can be quoted from his book itself. “Naveen Patnaik’s phenomenal rise in politics has been like a fairy tale in Orissa politics. This has been possible because of his grit hardwork, never-say-die spirit and right kind of attitude. He is a beacon of hope for Orissa.

           “He typifies the young generation of Orissa that is making waves in all the fields. He has got everything to reach the top. The tallest icon of our times shows no signs of slowing-down. He represents all that is best and noblest in the traditions of our good governance. He unflinchingly upholds moral and ethical values in his public life.”

(MINTECH Publications, Laxmisagarpatna, Fishery Tank Road, Bhubaneswar-751006)

By Prof KD Sharma

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