Naveen Patnaik’s Odisha Is Still A Work In Progress
Women activists greet Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik after his party Biju Janata Dal’s victory in the assembly elections. (Photo: PTI)

Naveen Patnaik’s Odisha Is Still A Work In Progress

Naveen Patnaik has become the chief minister of Odisha for the fifth consecutive term—the third Indian chief minister to achieve the feat in any state. And Odisha has progressed under him.

In 2000, when he was first elected to office after his Biju Janata Dal swept to power, Odisha was India’s poorest state, with unemployment running high. It was also ravaged by one of worst cyclones from Bay of Bengal, leading to a death toll of over 10,000 and causing damage to the extent of more than $2.5 billion.

The state has since then halved its infant mortality rate, with only a third of its population living below the poverty line today. Patnaik has implemented over 60 major welfare schemes meant to alleviate poverty, improve public health, and boost agriculture.

Here’s a look at how Odisha has fared and the challenges ahead for the Patnaik-led administration.

Odisha’s per capita income is 22 percent lower than the national average. Under Patnaik’s term, per capita income increased consistently to Rs 67,522 in 2017-18. Yet, the gap with the national average is widening.

The coastal state is vulnerable to storms and cyclones. While the state has pegged the loss due to cyclone Fani at Rs 12,000 crore ($1.7 billion), according to World Bank’s estimates, the previous cyclone—Phailin, which struck in 2013—set the state back by $1.45 billion. For a state where nearly one in every three persons is below the poverty line, cyclones dismantle Odisha’s infrastructure, resulting in extensive damage to kutcha houses (mud houses with thatched roofs) electrical transmission lines and connectivity.

The state needs Rs 10,000 crore for energy infrastructure and Rs 7,000 crore for “disaster-proof houses” and a telecom network that that can withstand extreme weather, according to Patnaik. “Odisha spends thousands of crores every year on repair and restoration following such disasters,” he had tweeted earlier this month.

Also read: Cyclone-Ravaged India State Seeks $14 Billion for Reconstruction

The state’s Koraput-Balangir-Kalahandi region is home to some of the country’s most poorest districts, apart from being affected by Naxalites.

Odisha ranks 14th in the 2017 ease of doing business rankings, slipping three positions in a year.

The state has a single-window clearance system, set up under the Odisha Industries (Facilitation) Act, 2004. Patnaik also launched the Make In Odisha initiative in 2016 to facilitate more investments in the mineral-rich state. Since the launch of the programme, investments in the state—which has India’s largest reserves of aluminium, chromite and iron ore—have more than doubled to Rs 4.23 lakh crore in 2018.

Since 1999, Patnaik has nearly doubled the number of factories in Odisha to 3,051 in 2016-17. The industrialisation drive, however, suffered a setback in 2017 when POSCO, the world’s fourth-largest steelmaker, decided to wind up its $12-billion investment plan—to set up a 12-million-tonnes-per-annum plant—and surrendered the 2,700 acres that it had acquired for the purpose.

Mining contributes nearly 10 percent to the gross state domestic product. Yet, the state achieved barely 9,065 metres of drilling of the targeted 20,000 metres, as per a Comptroller and Auditor General report. The report attributed the shortfall to a lack of manpower, but the deficit in mineral-wise drilling target—excluding heavy minerals—ranged from 19-96 percent.

The industrial sector’s share in Odisha’s GSDP is 35 percent, adding a manufacturing gross value of 88 percent in the organised industrial sector, greater than the national average.

Naveen Patnaik’s Odisha Is Still A Work In Progress

Better, But Not There Yet

From being the state with the most deaths per 1,000 live births in 1998, Odisha has reduced its infant mortality rate by over half to 44. Still, it’s the worst on this parameter after Madhya Pradesh (47) and shares the dubious distinction with Assam. By comparison, India’s infant mortality rate stood at 34 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2016.

Patnaik implemented multiple health schemes aimed at insuring its citizens and improving health parameters. But it’s doctor-population ratio is far worse than the national average.

Odisha has 21,681 doctors registered with the state medical councils as on Dec. 31, 2017, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Based on the 2011 census, each doctor serves an average population of 1,974. That compares with India’s doctor-population ratio of 1:1,596 (as per current population estimate of 1.33 billion) against the World Health Organization’s norms of 1:1,000.

As of 2015, Odisha had a shortfall of 297 doctors at primary health centres. Also, the state’s shortfall of 1,152 surgeons, gynaecologists, paediatricians and physicians at primary health centres is the sixth highest in the country. Uttar Pradesh has the highest deficit of 2,608 specialists.

Odisha had 1,305 primary health centres as of 2015, the seventh highest among all states and union territories, according to data compiled by NITI Aayog from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Medical Council of India said there are 86 primary health centres in the state without a doctor. Total primary health centres in India stood at 25,308 in 2015.

Patnaik’s recent healthcare scheme—Biju Swastya Kalyan Yojana—aims at providing financial assistance for healthcare to over 3 crore people of the state. This includes an annual health insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh per family and Rs 7 lakh per female member of the family.

In 2011, Patnaik launched the Mamata scheme, a conditional cash transfer scheme for lactating and pregnant mothers. His Ahar Yojana offers cooked meals for the deprived at Rs 5.

Other healthcare, women welfare and poverty alleviation schemes that Patnaik has implemented include:

  • Shishu Abond Matru Mrutyuhara Purna Nirakaran Abhiyan (SAMPURNA) scheme— which aims at reducing infant mortality rate and maternal deaths.
  • Biju Krushak Kalyan Yojana—a health insurance scheme for farmers.
  • Kishori Shakti Yojana, implemented in 2007, this scheme empowers women by providing them education, social exposure, nutrition, health and development, hygiene, life and social skills.
  • Madhubabu Pension Yojana for the aged, widows and differently-abled.
  • Biju Pacca Ghar Yojana, which ensures housing for the poor.

Rising Crime

The state’s population as per the 2011 census was 4.2 crore, of which 83 percent lived in rural areas. Odisha is home to multiple tribes—comprising around 10 percent of India’s total population—and as per a 2016 National Crime Records Bureau report, the state had the third-highest number of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Tribes. Such crimes made up for 10.4 percent of total cases reported in the country.

As per the same census data, the state has 1.81 crore women. The number of crimes against women has risen more than threefold during the same period.

Education, And The Future

The state’s literacy, rate according to census 2011, was at 73.45 percent, up from 63 percent in 2001. That’s still lower than the national literacy rate of 74.04 percent. But the state fares better than Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Bihar where the literacy rate is less than 70 percent.

As of 2015-16, Odisha had the seventh highest number of primary schools in the country at 68,978, of which 84.8 percent is run by the government. That compares with 49,063 schools in 2003-04, of which 95 percent were state-run. The number of teachers in these schools has doubled to nearly 3.14 lakh during the same period.

In 2016-17, the state’s dropout rate at the primary school level stood at 4.24 percent, according to a report by the Unified District Information on School Education. Nagaland had the highest dropout rate of 21 percent at the primary school level during the period.

For secondary schools, the dropout rate stood at 28.87 percent in Odisha in 2016-17, the UDISE report said. Bihar reported the highest dropout rate at 39.73 percent for the same year. In 2014-15, nearly 50 percent students dropped out of secondary schools in Odisha.

Odisha’s enrollment ratio for primary schools stands at 90.51 for 2015-16, according to data available on the NITI Aayog’s website. That compares with the national figure of 87.30. The state’s enrollment ratio for upper primary schools is 72.

The Patnaik-led state has added only three universities between 2010-11 and 2015-16, taking the total number of universities to 21.

Electricity In Schools

Only one of three schools, both primary and secondary, in Odisha had electricity in 2015-16, according to the UDISE report. The state, however, fared better than Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh where only 19.45 percent and 29 percent schools have electricity, respectively.

While Patnaik has managed to win over the state with his policies, it’s still a work in progress.

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