Poverty in Odisha: A Review

Bhubaneswar: A few days back, Niti Ayog had published a review report on the economic status and poverty index of the states in India. Odisha has been listed as the 9th poor state in India. From the time of independence till the year 2010, our state has been recognised as a poor state uninterrupted. Now Odisha has crossed many steps of growth to reach the 9th position in the poverty index which has made the people of the state proud and happy and the government is getting accolades for this achievement. According to the statistics of the state government, the percentage of people coming under below the poverty line in 2004-2005 was 57.2% and this percentage has reduced to 22.5% in 2018-19. In other words, the standards of living of the 4.5 crore people in the state have improved with time. Recently, some comments have been published on the transparency, development and livelihood of the administrative skills of different states in India and the big states which came under the below poverty line were Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar. So it is not acceptable that the situation of poverty reduction has come to a better degree. Now also many real pictures of Odisha’s poverty is seen in places. Utkalmani pandit Gopabadhu Das had addressed Odisha as ‘ Dukhini Odisha’ (Sad Odisha) by seeing the acute poverty in Odisha.

One of the major factors behind Odisha’s miserable situation of poverty is reiterated natural calamities. Every year the state is hit by floods, cyclones, famine, storms etc. Secondly, though the state has had a stable government for a very long period yet there is a dearth of a strong political will. Thirdly, the administrative skills of the state are slow down and not very much active. Most of the administrative officers are led by the feudalistic mindset of the English period. As a result, the decisions in the direction of the development of the state can not be taken at a faster pace and the people in the state tend to suffer. Fourth, the huge human resources the state consists of is not being utilised in the right way. Due to the hatred for hard work culture among the people, they do not seem to get mentally prepared in working in diversity. They majorly get satisfied by availing the facility of rice for Rs. 1 and meal for Rs. 5. If they manage to get meals twice a day, it becomes enough for them. When the common people are provided with free rice and wheat and done financial assistance from the government, then they are reluctant to work hard. It also alleged that another factor of prevailing poverty in the state is corruption. Corruption has engulfed the whole country. Although the state government is taking stringent action against corruption and the corrupted official or employees yet it does not diminish. The state government has, recently, fired or granted compulsory retirement to around 140 corrupted officers. This can be considered as one of the welcoming steps. Despite this many corrupted officers are still at work. There are many government offices, especially, the ones in the rural areas that are not corruption-free. Presently, in the state, the per capita loan rate has reached 50,000. Lakhs of money are spent for repayment of the interest of this loan from the government treasury. If this situation is not curbed then it is no surprise that one day the state would be bankrupt and the rate of poverty will increase as well.

The village is the soul of Odisha. Around 80% of states’ population are in villages but the kind of development has been done in some handful of cities, so is not seen in villages or real areas. If the people in rural areas get proper houses, education, health pure drinking water, roads and livelihood, then no villager would prefer to go out of their village to any other cities for bondage labour. It has been reported that a huge number of people from the districts of Balangir, Kalahandi, Rayagada, Malakangiri, Ganjam, Nayagarh go out from their native places to other states for bondage labour regularly.

In the health sector, Odisha is lagging so much as there are still no proper health facilities available in the interior most areas of the state. Many times it has been seen that the patients are carried on wooden cots to the hospitals.

If the surroundings, natural environment, land, first and water in the rural areas are given adequate attention, ample source of livelihood can be created. It is alleged that there are about 20% of people in the state live in hunger due to the under-nourished agriculture and farmers. The water resource of Odisha is located at a higher level as compared to the other states of the country. Odisha alone has the 18% of the total water resources in India.

It can be mapped from two prominently flourishing states in India i.e. Punjab and Haryana that have been developed because of the growth of agriculture in their states. The geographical territory of these two states are smaller than Odisha but their government has provided sufficient water supply and irrigation facility to every farmer’s land. The farmers who own only three acres of land in these states work the whole year. These farmers lead a modern lifestyle and they are reaching and well to do. They produce paddy, wheat in the field and as well as produce a lot of milk from cows. They also harvest different kinds of vegetables and fruits. The farmers in Panjab and Haryana are not free from conscience, self-respect and impartiality. They with a lot of self-respect and do not always seek assistance from the government.

Odisha is full of attractive art, sculpture, and architecture which are extremely fascinating tourist places. The state has a lot of natural resources like minerals, water, and forest. Despite all this Odisha is a poverty-stricken state. For the overall development of a state the government, as well as the people, need to show hard work, perseverance, dedication, sacrifice, enthusiasm, and courage. To uplift a nation, the government needs to implement policies and schemes with a distinct time frame, approved budget, perfect honesty, and devotion. Mostly the population in the areas invest their time in petty politics. The youth in today’s time seems to be lacking the work culture, talent, mindset that are required for building a nation. Nowadays, every state in India is affected by free culture. The government provides a lot of things free to the people. Which is a major drawback in today’s politics and governance.