People will always cherish the memories of the multifaceted personality, a freedom fighter, a veteran statesman, Hero of Kalinga and an able Chief Minister who fully dedicated himself for the upliftment of the state.
By Dr. S.K. Tamotia
An imposing personality with youthful advantage, doggedness, enthusiasm and indomitable spirit, Bijoyananda (Biju) Patnaik was born in Cuttack, Odisha on 5th March 1916 to Laxminarayan Patnaik and Ashalata Devi. Being in judicial service, Laxminarayan was a great nationalist and a prominent leader of the Odia movement. He was fully associated with Utkal Gourav Madhusudan Das and Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das and was taking active part in preserving Odisha’s cultural heritage. Biju inherited the qualities of fearlessness and love for Odisha from his parents.
Starting his early education in Mission Primary School and Mission (Christ Collegiate) School of Cuttack, he studied in the famous Ravenshaw Collegiate School. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was once a student of that school. After passing matriculation in first division in 1932 he joined intermediate science class of the famous Ravenshaw College and was the sports champion during his studies. He discontinued his studies for a B.Sc degree to undergo training as a pilot at the Aeronautic Training Institute of India and Delhi Flying Club. Being fascinated in flying Biju decided to take flying as a career and his exploits as a pilot provided the vigor and youthful strength that later on helped him to be a powerful administrator and a visionary political leader. His political career was as hard and adventurous as of a successful pilot.
Biju Patnaik had met and come under the spell of Mahatma Gandhi and learned from him the resistance to the British rule. Other political leaders who influenced Biju with patriotic feelings were the prominent freedom fighters like Jaya Prakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia and Aruna Asaf Ali.
Biju Patnaik was elected to Odisha Assembly in 1946 from North Cuttack Constituency. His resounding success in 1961 midterm poll established him as a veteran politician and capable administrator. He was a distinguished and talented member of Orissa Legislative Assembly, an outstanding leader of opposition, a remarkable Chief Minister of Odisha in 1960s and 1990s and an efficient Parliamentarian and effective Central Minister. Within a brief period of time he could prove to be a dynamic leader and could feel the poverty of people of Odisha despite its vast potential and natural richness. He then took a pledge to transform poverty into plenty in Odisha and created a milestone in its history.
Biju Patnaik is considered as a pioneer of the industrial growth of Odisha and established a mission for taking Odisha ahead in industrial growth and development. He set up the Kalinga Tubes, Textile Mills a flagship company at Choudwar, the first Refrigerator factory at Jobra Cuttack and a low shaft furnace at Barbil as an initial measure towards industrialization. The name KALiNGA was dear to him for which he set up Kalinga tubes, Kalinga airways, Kalinga iron work, Kalinga Refractories and the Odia news paper Kalinga. Biju Patnaik with his determination for industrial development took strong steps in this direction and accelerated the pace by creating industrial set ups in almost all fields. He was the chief minister of Odisha in the first spell during 1961-63, for a short spell of 15 months. During this short spell of Chief Ministership he could bring many achievements for Odisha.
In his historic speech at the inauguration of the Odisha Planning Board on June 15th, 1962, he had mentioned about the need for industrial development in the state and said that growth of people cannot be possible without the growth of industries. He always mentioned that state Odisha was behind other major states of India like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Maharashtra etc. in the field of industries and strongly advocated that the state has to multiply its efforts to make up the backlog and compete with other states. He was very firm in his conviction that industrial growth only will lead to number of economic activities like agricultural and technological developments, opening employment opportunities and opening a path for enhancing income level of the state. Agricultural productivity will not be possible without the improvements in technology and industries.
Biju babu won the by- election for Odisha Legislative assembly in 1971 from Rajnagar. He once again won from Rajnagar in 1974 and became leader of opposition. He won from Kendrapara Loksabha Constituency and became the Union Minister for Steel and Mines and Coal from 1979-1980. He was instrumental in expediting the proposal for establishing Asia’s largest integrated Alumina – Aluminium complex, National Aluminium Company Ltd. (NALCO), under ministry of mines Govt, of India in Odisha. The foundation stone was laid by the then Prime Minster Late Smt. Indira Gandhi in 1981. He was the member of Lok Sabha from 1980-85 and after resigning from Lok Sabha seat; he contested from Bhubaneswar Assembly Constituency and once again became leader of the opposition. He then steered his party Janta Dal and had a massive victory in Odisha Assembly election in 1990.
During his first short term as a Chief Minister he provided the people of Odisha a very powerful legislation and dynamic and efficient administration. He was successful in bringing industrial revolution in the state to uplift its economic condition. During the tenure as Chief Minister in sixties the third plan outlay was increased from Rs. 260 Crores to 320 Crores.
Establishment of Paradeep Port was one of the historical landmarks of his time. The state of Odisha with its 250 miles long coast line was not having a modern port for a long time excepting the ports at Chandbali and Gopalpur. Under the dynamic championship of the Chief Minister, the state Government worked out a massive plan for establishing a major deep- sea port at Paradeepjn the Eastern Zone with 90 mile long distance of Express Highway passing over the entire flooded delta area and connecting the 100 miles distance from iron ore deposits at Daitari-Sukinda to Paradeep. The central cabinet and the Planning Commission cleared the entire financial outlay and the port could be completed on record time with necessary support and help in technical, economic and financial matters available from other countries. His dream was fulfilled when on 12th March 1966, the Paradeep Port was commissioned. The port is at the vicinity of Tomka- Daitari mines. A mechanized ore handling plant was constructed to ship- load 2500 tons of ore per hour and about 2 million tons ore per annum could be exported from Paradeep port. Paradeep complex is one of the gigantic industrial units of the country having mines and the port connected with express way which was completed during his tenure.
He accelerated completion of major projects like the Rourkela Steel Plant and Hirakud Dam Project which was lagging behind completion for certain isolated minor works. He set up the state planning board and many other public corporations. Padma Vibhusan Dr. A.N. Khosla, the internationally reputed engineer was the then Governor of Odisha who gave his helping hand to Biju babu in formulating the development of the river basin by preparing a ten year plan popularly known as Decade of Destiny.
Establishing MIG Engine factory at Sunabeda in tribal district of Koraput was yet another milestone achievement in the map of industrial developments in Odisha. With his powerful personality he could convince the Central Government to establish the factory in Odisha. The state is proud to be having an aero engine factory and helping the nation’s defense preparedness.
In the year 1962 the Industrial Development Corporation (IDCOL) was formed to shape various industrial complexes in the state. The corporation had undertaken the installation of cement plant at Hirakud Rerolling Mill Cable Plant, Chrome Vanadium Plant, Calcium Carbide Plant_and much large scale Tile Factories in the State.
As a Chief Minister, Biju Patnaik was equally concerned for Rural Industrialization and to give shape to his dream he formulated an overall scheme for rural industrialization involving State Government, cooperative societies, Panchayat Samities , Gram Panchayats and rural artisans as partners. Incentives were provided to the best Panchayat Samities for achievement in the field of Industrial development. This made the samities self reliant and help them to achieve all round prosperity by small scale Panchayat Industries.
Establishment of Regional Engineering College (Now NIT) at Rourkela in 1961, Thermal Power Plant at Talcher, Regional College of Education, The Odisha University Of Agriculture and Technology at Bhubaneswar and Universities at Berhampur and Sambalpur were also the landmark contributions of Biju Babu towards the overall economic development of the state.
As an able and powerful administrator, Biju Patnaik was very steadfast in decision making. By his personal intervention the National Aluminium Company Ltd. Was established at a strategically convenient location in central Odisha. He wanted the NALCO corporate office to be an architectural master piece and the corporate office was constructed as per his vision and dream. During the period of industrial turbulence at NALCO Biju Babu was extending his all out support to ensure continuity in plant operation by way of his timely and strategic administrative interventions. His passion for industrial development in Odisha was visible in every step that he took during his tenure.
Many of his dreams remained unfulfilled when he breathed his last on 17th April 1997 at the age of eighty-one. He was the Son of the Soil (Bhumiputra) in real sense of the term, and has left an indelible impression not only in the minds of people of Odisha but in the country as a whole. His death is an irreparable loss to the nation. People will always cherish the memories of the multifaceted personality, a freedom fighter, a veteran statesman, Hero of Kalinga and an able Chief Minister who fully dedicated himself for the upliftment of the state. On this memorable occasion of Birth Centenary, let us join together to pay our heartfelt gratitude and reverence to this noble and immortal soul.
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan & Director General,
Bhavan’s Centre for Communication