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Naveen Patnaik and Transformational Politics

By Satya Narayana Sahu | PUBLISHED: 29, Sep 2022, 12:52 pm IST | UPDATED: 29, Sep 2022, 12:54 pm IST

Naveen Patnaik and Transformational Politics
In his speech delivered in New Delhi on  getting the Life Time Achievement Award on 4th September 2022, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik  said, "….my life time’s achievement will be to see an empowered and spirited Odisha claiming her place in the sun".  He hoped that with support of people the desired objective would be translated to reality soon.  Those words uttered by him represented his ardent desire and passionate engagements. through public policies, for transformation of Odisha. His lofty vision for a transformed Odisha exuding confidence of an empowered State is anchored in the transformation he has already scripted during the last twenty two years of his governance.  
 
In that speech Patnaik also said, "After the super cyclone of 1999 who would have thought that Odisha will set global benchmarks in disaster management and get awarded by the United Nations." The transition of Odisha in less than one and half decade from being a miserable victim of super cyclone in 1999 to a stellar example in the world for its splendid record of managing disasters and almost ensuring zero casualty of human lives demonstrate the transformation undergone by the State under the able leadership of Naveen Patnaik.  Before we specifically deal with the transformation of Odisha in manifold areas of its collective life it is imperative to reflect on rapid,  impactful and unparalleled transformation human civilisation experienced in the last century and the continuity of its accelerated momentum in the last twenty two years.  
 
Peter Drucker on Transformation 
  
No century( in recorded history) has experienced so many social transformations and such radical ones as the twentieth century", observed Peter Drucker, the father of the discipline of management, in his illuminating article "The Age of Social Transformation".  He described those transformations  "'… to be the most significant events of twentieth century, and its lasting legacy. "Proceeding further he wrote, "In the developed free-market countries--which contain less than a fifth of the earth's population but are a model for the rest– work and work force, society and polity, are all, in the last decade of this century, qualitatively and quantitatively different not only from what they were in the first years of this century but also from what has existed at any other time in history in their configurations, in their processes, in their problems, and in their structures.”   
 
Technology and Transformation 
 
The pace of transformation has been accelerated in twenty first century because of unprecedented electronic revolution.So the idea of transformation has acquired an entirely new dimension and meaning. Earlier the simple meaning of transformation conveyed change.  But now transformation includes not just quantitative change but also qualitative change which would result in paradigm shift in understanding the society and the processes of its functioning. 
 
In fact,  in this twenty first century when technology, particularly information technology, is developing in an unprecedented pace, transformation correspondingly has become bewilderingly fast and complex.  Whether we require or not transformation and that too radical transformation has become fact of life.  Therefore, we need to have a strategy and approach to not only engineer transformation but to deal with transformation that we confront. 
 
Transformation in the fields of Education and Health 
 
For instance transformation in the fields of health and education requires that we need to go beyond the conventional processes of accessing educational and health facilities by employing technology. Apart from text books available we need to explore the internet and get access to several other sources for education. The hybrid methods of learning combining online and physical modes have revolutionised the learning process. Smart class rooms in schools and Mo School concepts have improved infrastructure of Govt schools. Adarsh Vidyalayas in every block for bright students have brought out significant transformations in empowering students with quality education at a highly affordable cost. 
 
Now  medical and health facilities can be accessed by following the procedure of telemedicine which enables people to reach out to doctors without actually visiting them. The monitoring of patients from very distant corners of the world by satellite technology is a case in point. The organisation "Doctors Without Boarders" is now administering medical care to people cutting across national boundaries. It has adopted modern technology to achieve its lofty objectives. That organisation got Nobel prize for peace.  
 
Through  Biju Swasthy Kalyan Yojajna health cards have been made available to people so that they can have access to medical and health facilities cashless across India in designated and approved hospitals.  It has brought about transformation in making the poor to get specialised health care without any cost.  
 
Trandformation in Disaster management  
 
In the context of disaster management massive transformation has taken place in Odisha after the super cyclone of 1999 killed 20,000 people and there was total collapse of administration in dealing with the aftermath of the cyclone and providing relief to the victims. By employing technology and public  policies Odisha has set global bench mark of excellence in disaster management which is acclaimed by the UN.  Such radical transformation to save lives during disasters is a glowing example of quality governance emanating from political leadership committed not only to save lives but to change and better them. Same is the case in women’s empowerment which cuts deep into society.The objective of Mission Shakti and self help groups  is to transform patriarchy and not just give doles to women.Transformation of patriarchy is a Herculean  task.  But the vision of the leadership is taking it forward and now more women are playing roles beyond household activities and getting liberated from oppressive patriarchy.  BJD fielded women candidates in one third of parliamentary seats during 2019 general elections. This is a fine example of qualitative transformation representing paradigm shift. It impacted the whole country and other political parties followed the example. 
 
Transformation Through Food Security 
 
Similarly in case of food security a fundamental transformation has taken place in Odisha.In 2000 the poverty rate of Odisha was 49 per cent. By 2022 it has come down to 29 per cent. Such transformation has taken place because of public policies of Naveen Patnaik to fight hunger and poverty by  ensuring people's access to rice, a kilo of which costs just a rupee. It is being strictly implemented.  The food security has helped to bring about this transformation and Odisha known for widespread persistence of poverty is now known for reducing poverty at a  faster rate than national level.  
 
Odisha and Idea of Swaraj 
 
When the country is celebrating the seventy fifth anniversary of our country’s independence let us be mindful of the fact that terrible famine of 1866 which killed one third population of Odisha deeply influenced Dadabhai Naoroji to develop his idea of Swaraj to provide remedies to poverty of India. While Odisha influenced Dadabhai Naoroji to develop the idea of Swaraj for providing remedies to poverty, now Odisha is influencing rest of India for faster reduction of poverty.  This is fine example of transformation.  
 
Transformation and Sports 
 
In the field of sports Odisha and its leadership represented by Naveen Patnaik has set a glowing example of transformation which is qualitatively different.  For instance the transformational  experience of Indian hockey testifies to the historic initiative of Naveen Patnaik to sponsor Indian hockey teams - men and women- when none was coming forward to do so and the whole nation, as always, remained glued to cricket.  The quiet work in that direction paid dividends when both women and men hockey teams of India entered semifinals of Tokyo Olympics.   While men's team did so after four decades, the women’s team diid it for the first time in the history of Indian hockey. The whole country applauded Naveen Patnaik for bringing about such remarkable transformation in the field of hockey. That transformation was a transformation to restore the glory of India in the field of hockey.  
 
Five T and Transformation 
 
It is in this context the Five T programme assumes significance. The Five Ts-Technology, team work, timely completion, transparency and Transformation- is the guiding spirit for governance.  When  Technology, team work, timely completion and transparency becomes integral to governance the eventual outcome is manifested in another T- Transformation. The five Ts have enabled to ensure  hassle free access of people to services of the Government. It has bolstered the trust of people on governance. It is premised on the principle that people are the real masters and Ministers and employees of the Government are their servants.This approach provides a refreshing dimension to people centric governance.This represents transformation. 
 
Transforming Swaraj to Surajya
 
Three months after our independence Mahatma Gandhi on 13th November 1947 wrote about transformation to rebuild India. He presciently wrote about the need "…to transform Swaraj to Surajya".  It means total transformation based on good governance embodied in Surajya.  What we are doing through 5T and other measures for ensuring, food security, saving life from disasters, empowering women, interrogating patriarchy, improving education, health care and sports, etc., are nothing but to transform Swaraj to Surajya.  It is a continuous process and relentlessly we will dedicate ourselves for the cause of transformation which improves people’s lives qualitatively.

#The author served as Officer on Special Duty and Press Secretary to President of India late Shri K R Narayanan and had a tenure in Prime Minister’s Office and Joint Secretary in Rajya Sabha Secretariat. Views expressed in the article are in his personal capacity.
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