By Biju Patnaik
I have been commissioned here in the memory of my dearest friend Binode Kanungo not to speak but to dream. I have been told that I should project Orissa of my dreams. What would I dream ? Once Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore said, “When you dream, dream big. It is only by dreaming big things that big tasks are accomplished.” We are born to die. While dreaming think of big things- Dream the biggest dream of all. In his poetry, what did he say ? “Sapan dekhi tulab ani badi, prabal dwipe manimuktar…” This was the dream which urged the young people of those days to dream big. I have not forgotten these lines of Rabi Thakur.
When I want to dream of Orissa what should I dream ? Orissa has become a small little place. One day it was the greatest empire of India. Its army defeated Alexander’s Army and threw them across the border of India. Kalinga was the larg-est maritime power ever known in the world. That Kalinga spread her civilization throughout the South East Asia; relics are found in all these countries even today. What better dream can I have than dream of those magnificent days, when Orissa was vital, when Kalinga was vital, when Kalinga was the greatest empire of India, when the sailors of Kalinga did not know fear, when the soldiers of Kalinga did not know fear, when the mothers of Kalinga were known as “Biranganas.” That was Kalinga. Therefore that is a dream worthy of Kalinga.
In my dream of the 21 st century for the State, I would have young men and women who put the interest of the State before them. They will have pride in themselves, confidence in themselves. They will not be at anybody’s mercy, except their own selves. By their brain, intelligence and capacity, they will recapture the history of Kalinga. I would like my Orissa c” 21st century to have excellent artisans, superb crafts-men and sculptors, greatest musicians and poets. After all it is we who built Konark. It was in Orissa or Kalinga where the great Geeta Govinda was composed. It is the same place where great mathematician like Pathani Samanta looked at the sky and created astronomical wonders. A place where we have mathematical genius, great sculptors and artists, great musicians and dancers and men and women of great culture, this should be the dream of my Orissa, should be the dream of my life.
There is no English word for “Karuna.” When a young woman goes to pray to God, she asks for one blessing : “O’ Lord, fill my soul with ‘Karuna’. I ask for nothing else.” That is the epitome of culture, which Orissa of my dream would have.
We, men and women of today, have shrunk. Because we do not dream big, we have become little men and women with little problems, little conspiracy, little likes and dislikes, little gain or loss. Orissa can be lifted by collective will. We are the descendants of great ancestors. Look at my beautiful sea, rich forests which are gifts of God, given to our people. I would like my men and women, young people of my State, in the coming years to take ail these gifts that God has given and produce the greatest machines that produce wealth for all and provide employment and productive work to all. In my dream of Orissa no cultivator would go with his field dry. Every drop of water that percolates through our soil is recovered. In my dream of Orissa of tomorrow, I will not like to hear a whisper about oppression to woman. I dream of a day when women will play equal role with men. They will exercise with men equal power and enjoy the same privilege. This should be my dream of tomorrow, the 21 st century. In that time no child of my State will go hungry without food or suffer from malnutrition. And all over my land, there will be no illiteracy or ignorance.
For my farmers, I would like to dream that never and never his crop shall perish for want of water. Each drop of water will be conserved and used. Natural calamity, the scourge of Orissa, would be a thing of the past. All the rivers would be tamed, all the water storage reconstructed so that parched lands get that water when needed.
Yesterday I inaugurated an exhibition of the Adivasis. those of you who have not gone, I would recommend that you spend a couple of hours there, see their style of living. You realize that 30% of our people live in this condition. I will like to see that every citizen of my State has a decent roof over his head, every family has portable drinking water and all weather protection. They must have all weather roads and bridges, schools properly manned with able teachers and hospitals with adequate number of excellent doctors. It has to be ensured that every nook and corner of my state has proper health care, proper schooling, proper road system and communication systems like telephones like electronics-all that the modern science has given, the average village should have.
The wealth of minerals that nature has endowec us with will sustain many major industries for long years to come, whether it is steel, whether power from coal, whether Aluminium or oil refineries and petrochemicals. All these will come to us. We should make our State a place of attraction to all people from all over the world. In India, today we have no social harmony, no religious tolerance, no caste tolerance Certainly we cannot grow with all these divisions. In my dream of Orissa, there should be harmony, broad-mindedness, greater tolerance all around and fellow feeling among neighbours.
In conclusion, I would like to say what Maxmuller said long time back, “If I have to look over the whole world to find out the country that nature has bestowed its best, I would point to India.” We, all of us together, can make our State such that the whole world would say that Orissa is our dreamland.