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Odisha leadership crisis deepens: CM engages retired babus to oversee depts' work

By Sudhansu R Das 
Over decades, Odisha has lost much of its crop diversity, fertile agriculture land, water bodies, employment potential, handicraft and handloom skills etc. The state has failed to strike a balance between the urban and rural sector growth; this leads to the migration of villagers to the urban areas leading to collapse of the urban infrastructures and an acute labor shortage in rural areas. 
A large number of educated, skilled and unskilled Odia people have migrated to other states for higher education, quality jobs and for earning livelihood which plummet the efficiency level of government departments. Utmost transparency in the recruitment and promotion in the state government departments will improve governance mechanisms in the state. 
"No near and dear one approach" in governance mechanisms can only achieve inclusive growth for the state on payment basis. This is a moral hazard. When so many educated young people seek employment outside the state, why does the state government engage the retired people in the state on payment basis? This practice should be stopped immediately. 
There is growing suspicion that those retired oldies are compatible with some corrupt people in the system.
The rivers, lakes and ponds are no longer producing the desired quantity of fish; the atmospheric temperature has increased and the ground water level has plummeted. 
Unsustainable mining activities, deforestation, aggressive concretization and destruction of hills lead to loss of huge revenue, pollution and loss of livelihood.
The Odia intellectual class and the opposition party leaders lament over the growing influence of outside contractors and some Tamil politicians over the state’s natural resources and development projects. 
In fact, the native Odia leaders are solely responsible for this situation; they fail to develop a single voice to protect the economic interest of the state. The much needed Odisha specific development visions continue to delude the state. The unique Odia culture, language and traditions disappear amid aggressive feel good advertisement campaigns.
The main opposition parties, the Congress and the BJP, have no strong leader who can lead the state. Both the parties have failed to identify capable leaders who can boost their parties’ prospects when Lok Sabha election is closing in. 
Majority of the leaders are ignorant of the state’s grass root level problems faced by common man. Nobody takes up long padayatra and everybody emerges from the helicopters or luxury cars.
There is not a single leader in Odisha who can attract 5,000 people to his public meeting without spending money to hire people for the purpose. The double-engine plank of the BJP has failed to appeal to people in the state due to the absence of a charismatic leader in the state. The BJP has not identified a strong leader who can match the chief minister’s charisma.
Aparajita Sadangi is the sole woman BJP MP of Odisha. She won the Bhubaneswar parliament seat in the last Lok Sabha election. The strong, feisty, and intellectually strong, Sadangi has the charisma, vision and knowledge on relevant state issues, but has not been projected by the BJP to lead the state. The BJP hopes it will win the election on the basis of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oratorical skill and the double engine plank. It will never happen until the Odia people feel the presence of a credible and trustworthy leader at the helm.
There are more than 20 Odias occupying the top posts in the BJP run NDA government; their presence in the center does not help BJP to grow in the state. Odisha is always left behind in getting fast train connection to the business hubs like Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai which fall in the same route. Over decades, the trains from Bhubaneswar have been taking more than 24 hours to cover 1,119 kilometer in order to reach Hyderabad. 
Though there is huge demand for rail journeys in the route covering Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai, the slow trains adversely affect the economy of people; super fast trains become slower day by day due to the increase in the number of stops in between Bhubaneswar and Hyderabad. Imagine trains running at an average 46 km per hour in the digital age is a hazard. 
People are compelled to choose flights despite the hike in airfare. In an emergency, it is very difficult to travel due to the dynamic booking system which multiplies the cost of train tickets; the Tatkal seats vanish within a few seconds.
Senior congress leaders in the state have hopped from party to party and ended up as political non-entities. Many of the senior Congress leaders in the state have lost their credibility due to party hopping. The majority of the political leaders in the state look for short cuts to power; turn coat politics has become a culture. 
A few leaders in the state have the capacity to focus on issues like urban collapse, migration, unemployment, food adulteration, loss of livelihood, erosion of crop diversity, idol theft from temples, malnutrition, loss of original handicraft and handloom skills, disappearance of Odia language and culture from border districts, land grabbing, water pollution, disappearance of water bodies, absence of quality schools and health care facilities at an affordable cost etc.
More than 95% villagers in the state don’t have a regular income of Rs 20,000 per month to sustain their families. Free food and freebies are given to them so that the discontentment among them would not turn into a mass protest to defeat a political party in power. The biggest challenge before the state leadership is to create self employment in the state which will give each person an income of minimum Rs 20000.00 per month on a regular basis.
The urban areas create employment due to the overpopulation which creates demand for products and services. Today the main urban centers of Odisha have become a terrible mess. Rain flood, water logging, food adulteration, huge floating population, growth of slums in the core city areas, lack of parking space, monetization of essential services, lack of quality health care and education facilities at an affordable cost, air pollution, dust pollution, water pollution and drinking water scarcity reduce the quality of living. 
The open space, play grounds, ponds and greenery have disappeared from the culturally vibrant core area of the Cuttack city which constitutes 52 bazaars and 53 lanes. The city’s rich indigenous culture, traditions and above all people’s health deteriorates.
Brown sugar business has adversely affected the young generation and forced them to commit crime when they need money to meet their impulse. The white poison is spreading fast to villages across the state. Big money involved in this business is the main reason why this menace is spreading unchecked. The newspaper Samaja has reported the chilling incident of brown sugar menace in Jajpur district of Odisha.
Frequent low pressure related cyclones in Odisha have shaken the farm sector from its root. Free food and freebies will not protect the farm sector from frequent cyclones. Only massive plantations of native trees and forest cover will reduce the impact of cyclones and protect the crops in Odisha. Local newspaper reports about the tardy forestation program where the forest department officials forget the sapling after plantation which lead to very low survival rate and waste of money. Local newspaper "Samaja" has reported this incident of sheer neglect in the Korei Block of Odisha. 
Deforestation has let animals to roam in villages and towns. It is very essential to protect forest and wild animals to boost wildlife tourism; the state can earn a lot from wildlife tourism. Odisha is immensely rich with minor forest products whose benefit should go to the Odia people in the tribal districts. Sustainable mining can save forests and wildlife tourism sector in the state. 
Over mining makes a few people rich and causes huge revenue loss and waste of money on the rehabilitation of people and in repairing the damage to the environment. Honest and efficient media, the teacher force, the youth mass, good NGOs and conscious citizens should create the right environment for the growth of strong leaders in the state.

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