Friday, June 6, 2008

Unimaginable ignorance towards KBKK in higher education by Odisha State Government

Dear Chief Minister, Intellectuals and Journalists of Odisha,

Father bought a sophisticated toy and gifted it to the elder son who knew how to play with it. Looking at that the, younger son, who had the capability to learn but did not know how to play with it, started crying. Noticing it the mother immediately put a Rasagola into his(younger son's) mouth to shut him up. The youngest son was in awe without understanding anything till the end.

In this daily routine of a middle class family, the role played by central and Odisha state governments are like that of the father and the mother and that Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and KBK regions are the respective elder, younger and youngest sons.

The central Government announced an IIT for Odisha and people around Berhampur wanted to establish it in their region, which is all right.

Nonetheless, consistent persuasion of central Govt. and policy makers to have an airport in the vicinity of IIT, the dream of Berhampur region started getting marginalized. Taking into notice the frustration of CM's home district, the state Govt. immediately announced an engineering college in Berhampur opening the Pandora box of the beloved state.

If the state Govt. wanted to establish a new engineering college, it's a very welcome decision. However, it should reflect the practical and social requirements for the whole state.

Except undivided Kalahandi, Balangir, Koraput and Kandhamal (KBKK)districts in Odisha, rest of the undivided districts have at least one government institutions solely funded by state Government like a state university, engineering college, medical college or agriculture college. For many of them second institution through PPP or state Govt. funded are under consideration and few of them are lucky to have 3 government institutions funded completely by the state government.

What these poor undivided KBKK districts did to the Odisha state Government that their demands always fall into deaf ears?

Secondly, state Govt. is not getting enough funds to establish a new state Govt. institute in other parts of Odisha, therefore, it is encouraging private parties to participate through PPP to build higher educational institutes importantly in KBK districts, and none of them have succeeded so far. Then suddenly the same state Govt. is able to announce new Govt. Engineering College in Berhampur ignoring KBKK districts, does not it sound funny?

Are our policy makers mad reasoning PPP mode institutions in Koraput/Balangir and complete state Govt. funded institution in Bhubaneswar/Berhampur?

I am not saying Berhampur does not deserve a state Govt. engineering institute which is like saying Punjab did not deserve an IIT. However, the timing, location and political bargaining have made the present situation so easier that any intellectual could easily realize the ignorance towards KBKK districts by state Govt. is unimaginable and deeply shameful.

If the state Government needed to establish an Engineering institute in South Odisha, wasn't Koraput more suitable choice to satisfy every aspect, or, south Odisha means people of Berhampur and framers of Ganjam district only?

Engineering colleges in smaller towns such as Gunpur (private), Pralakhemundi (private), Sarang (state Govt.) etc are being very much successfully run in Odisha. Amazingly, why can't Koraput/Jeypore, Bhawanipatna, Balangir, or Phulbani, those are considered as major towns in Odisha representing major chunks of regions, make for an engineering institute?

Is it the reason our CM wanted to establish a new engineering college in his home district like our HRD minister and Prime minister tried and exposed them-selves to the whole nation?

Berhampur already has a state university, medical college and a diploma engineering college solely funded by the state Government and there are also few good private engineering institutes in its vicinity.

Do we mean the farmer and economically weaker sections in Berhampur region deserves more a state Govt. engineering institute than the same sections in Koraput, Bhawanipatna, Balangir or Phulbani regions?

Before taking the decision hurriedly, it should have been practical to bring regional balance to all regions regarding solely state funded Governmental institutes to every region in Odisha.

If the state Govt. feels KBKK is only for backwardness and poverty, it's a shame to the state and its people. Balangir, Kalahandi, Nabrangpur regions are top districts in rice production (Balangir and Kalahandi are among top 3). In industries too KBK is not that backward while contributing to her mother state, such as hydroelectricity project like Upper Kolab, Upper Indravati, Balimela, Machhakund,
Duduma etc., aluminium mining and projects in Damonjodi, Rayagada, Lanjigarh, etc, and ferro silicon industries in Rayagada, Koraput etc, in addition to supplying forest resources mainly Kendu leaves, Mahul, bamboos and woods; all of them are equally contributing to the state/nation.

It's the step motherly attitude and ignorance of the state Govt. which is making KBKK more backward.

Is it not the role of the state Government to equalize every region of the state, so that each of them would feel confident and equally participate in state's overall development?

Instead of doing that the state Government is acting like a mother who knows the trick to put a Rasagola into the mouth of those crying children to appease them each time they create a hue and cry about such a situation.

Thank you and best regards


Digambara Patra
American University of Beirut

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