Step into the nineties -- the notion and concepts have drastically changed. Forecasting the future in 1991, Time Magazine described India as a sleeping giant. By 1995, India is regarded along with China as one of the foremost players and participants in the global economy, even better positioned than Soviet Union and Eastern European countries, no more shrugged off as an under- developed country.
Under the astute leadership of present Indian Government, specifically the Finance Minister, liberalization of rules is being championed as a means to facilitate the progress of the national economy into the global arena in the 21st century. Simultaneously, the central government is giving enormous latitude and power to the state governments to attract various industries and plan their expansion.
In the wake of this massive industrialization of the states, the entire south India, Maharashtra, Gujurat, Haryana, Punjab and even West Bengal have increased their stake with sheer dynamism and vision. The states who are lagging way behind include Bihar, UP, MP, Assam, Rajasthan and Orissa. In the last fifty years of post independent India only two capital projects were developed in Orissa -- Paradeep project and the steel plant in Rourkela although Orissa is one of the richest states with yet untapped mineral resources. This is because the bureaucracies controlled by the politician perpetuate a corrupt system of government and resist change. There is no incentive for the private sector to prosper.
The annual state revenue of Orissa is spent paying the salaries of the government employees. The majority of the educated public crave to be government employees. Once employed, they think it is their birthright to hold the position notwithstanding their performance. During their tenure in office, bureaucrats and politicians are guided by the personal goal to amass wealth at the expense of the public funds that would carry them through not only their own lifetime but that of their next two generations. There is no startegic long-range planning or coordination for future project developments in Orissa. Through the bureaucratic red tapes and hurdles the government stifles incentive for growth in the private sector.
When we try to define Orissa's location or existence even to people in India, we mention with pride Jagannath Temple, Konark and Ashok's rule in Orissa; but that was way in the past of Orissa's glory. When we talk of our cherished heritage and leaders, we can only think of a few stalwarts like Gopabandhu, Madhusudan, Radhanath, Mayadhar, Fakirmohan; but again that is in the past. We have not taken their inspiration to forge ahead into the future.
The different avenues that can help OSA put forward a futuristic outlook to envision Orissa away from the agricultural backstage to the industrial forefront are as follows:
In the majority of instances in Orissa, education is undertaken without objectives and without goal or result oriented planning. Because of lack of basic education there is explosive population growth leading to various socio-economic strife, disparity.
Many established OSA members in faculty positions at different universities could encourage bright students (not necessarily relatives) from Orissa for further studies here. They could initiate regular seminars and symposia on different topics of interest at various universities in Orissa in addition to encouraging basic and fundamental research in liaison with the faculty there.
A few cases in point. Dr. Tarapada Das has been instrumental in having an array of Physics Ph.D.s in this country now separately heading physics chair in different universities. Dr. Sura Rath has almost single-handedly (with few local support) achieved liaison between LSU, Shreveport and Berhampur University in areas of exchange visits by faculty and short term student traineeships.
Please take the case of Ravenshaw College. Many committees have been formed in USA and Orissa by people with great aspirations for the welfare of the college. The estimated rebuilding of Ravenshaw College has been placed at $2.6 million (~ Rs. 817 lakhs) When we say "to rebuild", are we going to donate funds to replace window glasses and bricks, streamline drains or see the inequities and inadequacies of educational facilities in different departments? I suggest all the educationist in USA who are Revenshaw College alumni form a core group to look out and suggest how they can coordinate the funding to elevate the educational amenities available, including the holdings of Kanika Library. We should not subsidize the local faculty, community and government in general, trying to build the building infrastructure -- that is the job of the Orissa Government.
2. COMPUTER AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
Needless to say many of our friends occupy high faculty positions at Universities and many hold senior positions in prestigious computer companies. Within the next decade computers, television, telephone and telecommunication industries are going to merge into a giant playground and by punching few buttons one can gain access into global information technology.
Fortune 500 companies have taken significant inroad into South India and other states but not into Orissa. We need our computer scientists to galvanize forming a consortium in this direction.
3. HEALTH AND ALLIED AREAS
In health care, the amenities in preventive, diagnostic and investigative areas are 50 years behind and very pathetic. The diagnostic base of a certain disease is in doubt because of lack of facilities. The day of placing your hand on a patient and making a correct diagnosis is over. It is a meticulous science gone astray. After 48 years of independence, Orissa is one of the very few states lacking modern health care facilities.
For the past 6 years 35 persons have been collaborating in building a multispeciality modern hospital (Kalinga Hospital) at Bhubaneswar. The project is not just confined to physicians. Non-physicians are also involved. Whether you are a physician or a nonphysician it does not matter. If you are concerned about the health care of your parents, relatives and friends, kindly come forward and take active part in the construction phase of this hospital. It is not a glorification of any particular person involved. It is a matter of pride to get involved in anything like this hospital, which will be well suited to serve people of Orissa.
In allied health projects -- pharmacological and pharmaceutical research collaborations with indigent Indian therapies would be of immense importance in exploring new therapeutic potentials in different areas of medicine where western medicine has not been fruitful.
4. SMALL BUSINESS VENTURES
Private sector in this country is the biggest employee, not the government. Enterprising individuals with innovative ideas can make industries diversify with richness of raw material available in Orissa.
Insurance industry, franchising (food and nutrition), retail industry, recycling industry will definitely diversify into Indian economy. For example, Orissa's eastern coastline has as much coconut, mango and shrimp production as in Thailand. Why is it then that there is no incentive for mass production and export of these products and their components from Orissa whereas they go from Thailand to all over the world.
5. COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL WELFARE
The well-being of a community in general whether we think of improving day to day life of women or children is innately connected with the level of education or training they get in uplifting their own individual life. Lack of education among the majority of population has led to lack of birth control leading to massive population explosion.
Even our cultural heritage and religious belief has encouraged strong family values and bondage over centuries, the inherent conservatism in them also has propagated the belief in caste system and the acceptability of a dowry system during marriage. In the process of "me and mine only" thinking, individuals accumulate wealth for themselves never thinking of others in distress. Hence, a society not believing in "giving" is where the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer.
This concept has to change and is changing. In the previous OSA journal we have pointed out how individuals and organizations (like SEEDS in Kalahandi project) are making the difference. All members, young and old, should get involved in a project of their liking. Do you know the pleasure and self pride you derive when you help someone in real need ! PLEASE TRY ONCE AND FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF.
6. LITERATURE AND ARTS
Our cultural heritage over centuries needs critical analysis by scholars. The richness of our literature, the religious traditions, artful Odissi dance should be well documented, inscribed and preserved for posterity. Through a foundation the scholars in different areas could be encouraged.
7. NRI CELL & LIAISON
In a state where the government is not taking care of its own people's needs I do not see how or why they will be interested in NRI Cell in Bhubaneswar. It's role should be more clearly defined by OSA body. It should not be used for personal gratification.
Orissa has spent on each of us at least Rs 1.5 to 2 lakhs toward educating us and nurturing our life for a beginning in this country. Let us think of how to pay it back in the most proper way.
Your comments are always welcome...
Devi P. Misra, MD. FACP.
1001, Brookridge Circle
Huntsville, AL 35801
Mr. G.K.Misra and Mrs. Sita Misra, Cuttack, Orissa
1958 - Revenshaw Collegiate School, Cuttack
1958-60 - G.M.College, Sambalpur
1960-66 - MBBS, Utkal University
1967-69 - MD, Patna University
1966-67 - Rotating Housestaff, SCB Medical College Hospital
1970-73 - Clinical Tutor/Registrar, SCB Medical College Hospital
1973-74 - Senior House Officer in Genatrics, St.Mary's Hospital, Kettering, UK
1974-77 - Intern and Resident in Med PGGH, Cheverly, Maryland, USA
1977-79 - Pulmonary Medical Fellow, University of Missouri
1979-80 Instructor in Pulmonary Medicine, University of Missouri
1980-present - Practice of Internal and Pulmonary Medicine, Huntsville, Alabama
American Board of Internal Medicine
1983 Fellow of American Center of Physicians
1982-84 Chief of Medicine, Crestwood Hospital, Huntsville, Alabama
Dr.Devi Misra is actively involved with various charitable organization both in India and USA. He contributes to United Way, Downtown Hope, a center for homeless people in Huntsville. He also helps SEEDS, Guru Gangadhar Pradhan and his Orissa Dance Academy and Prof. K.C.Mishra and his Institute of Orissan Culture in Bhubaneswar. The last two organizations are dedicated to preserve and propagate Orissan art and culture around the globe.
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