By Nilambar Rath

For Odisha to achieve accelerated growth, we should concentrate on its inherent strengths. It primarily includes natural resources, agricultural resources, and human resources.

Bhubaneswar, 24 February 2017: “It is the high time that we create public opinion for taking Odisha ahead, and I compliment team ‘Invest Bhubaneswar’ and its partners for the timely effort”, said Mr. Bijay Kumar Patnaik, former Chief Secretary of Odisha, while talking to ‘OdishaLIVE’ on the context of the unique conclave ‘Odisha Ahead’.

The initiative is taken up by ‘Invest Bhubaneswar’, a forum of entrepreneurs and start ups from Odisha, which is organising the  day-long event on 25 Feb 2017 at Bhubaneswar to develop a vision document for sustainable growth of state in the next 2 decades. Mr. Bijay Kumar Patnaik is one among the invited speakers who are going to share their vision for Odisha, at the occasion.

Mr. Patnaik is currently holding the assignment as President of the proposed Vedanta University project funded by Anil Agarwal Foundation. “For Odisha to achieve accelerated growth, we should concentrate on its inherent strengths. It primarily includes natural resources, agricultural resources, and human resources” he describes.

In the path of development of natural resources he explains that, Odisha is richly endowed with mineral, water and forest resources. We should not only conserve them but also exploit them wisely if we want to profit from them. Just as over-use or indiscriminate use of these resources is harmful in the long run, non-utilization of them is also retrograde. Hence public opinion needs to be created for the balanced use of these resources and against indiscriminate stoppage of projects for harvesting water, forests and minerals.

Like the utilization of natural resources, Mr. Patnaik equally emphasizes on a long-term to explore agricultural resources in the state. “Odisha remains as an agrarian State. No agenda for growth can afford to brush this fact under the carpet. While the tertiary sector remains the growth driver today, agriculture should receive its fair share of attention”, he points out. The former bureaucrat describes that agricultural reforms require fundamental and systemic changes which may not be palatable. Thus public opinion needs to be created in favour of the bitter pill.

The former Chief Secretary of the state is critical about the way education is handled here over the years. “This is a State where education commands a premium in every household. Accelerated growth of the State can take place if its human resource is properly harnessed. But unfortunately, improvement of quality in education has never been a political priority”, says Mr. Patnaik.

“All discussion ends with provision of school buildings and higher salary to the teachers. Thus the civil society should demand good quality education from all public funded institutions for the simple reason that the people pay for it” he advocates.

The human resource of Odisha is its biggest strength. Thus while developing the vision for action for the next few decades, it should be the priority of the policymakers and all stakeholders to see that the human capital is fully harnessed from the root.

‘Odisha Ahead’ is a unique step of Invest Bhubaneswar to frame the big picture with respect to developing a vision document for accelerated growth of the state in the coming 2 decades. This power-packed event is going to host over 20 Odia thought leaders from different walks of life who would deliver and discuss their ideas and vision for their motherland.

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