Making The Right Moves

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Chief minister, Naveen Patnaik has the uncanny knack for making the right moves at the right time. He takes decisions to suit specific situations and always keeps people’s welfare in mind. That is the mantra of his success and that is what has kept his government in power for such a long time. Right now he is focusing on farmers and the health sector and rightly so.

 

Chief minister, Naveen Patnaik has a keen sense of timing and makes the right moves at the right time. A good example of this is his government’s stand on the minimum support price for farmers. At a time when farmers across the country are up an arms against the Centre’s new farm laws Patnaik has kept them happy.

He has taken up their cause of seeking remunerative prices for their produce. Patnaik insists on farmers being paid in tune with the recommendations of Swaminatahan committee, which favoured 50 per cent more MSP ( minimum support price ) than the production cost of crops. At the same time he has also come up with some excellent schemes to protect their interests.

Farmers across the state have hailed the chief minister’s move to release Rs 1272 crore to the accounts of nearly 53 lakh beneficiaries of the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA), the flagship scheme of the government in the field of agriculture. Each beneficiary got Rs.2000 in his account through direct benefit transfer or DBT. Releasing the money Patnaik underscored his desire to ensure that farmers got the right price for their produce and their income increased. Acknowledging the sacrifices made by the members of the community during the corona pandemic the chief minister said he wanted the farmers of his state to live with dignity.

With an acronym (KALIA) that strikes an immediate chord with the people of the state as it happens to be the popular name of state’s presiding deity the scheme has drawn praise from economists and policy makers as well. The outstanding feature of KALIA is that instead of making farmers dependent on government loans it seeks to make them self-reliant by providing them financial assistance in an innovative manner. Besides, it not only caters to the needs of different categories of farmers but also landless agricultural workers.

It is through such innovative schemes that the chief minister has been able to bring about an economic transformation even in the most backward areas of the state including the infamous KBK belt that comprises districts such as Kalahandi and Bolangir which had become a byword for poverty, hunger and starvation. Kalahandi was recently in news with chief minister inaugurating a slew of projects including the Rs.986 crore Indravati lift irrigation project in the district. The project is expected to facilitate irrigation in 25,275 hectares of land in three blocks of Kalahandi.

Politicians are notoriously selfish but Patnaik is an exception. He not only believes in giving people his due, he is extremely humble about his own achievements. But he appreciates good work and honours selfless workers.

Even though his handling of the corona pandemic has been hailed by international institutions he refuses to take credit for the same personally. He has always described it as team work. His move to honour the frontline corona warriors by erecting a COVID warrior memorial in the state capital reflects his deep regard for those who made supreme sacrifices to save thousands of precious lives.

Even before Patnaik took the decision to build the memorial he had acknowledged the selfless services rendered by frontline corona warriors including doctors, nurses and police personnel, among others. As the pandemic raged and the state government stepped up efforts to save precious lives by setting up exclusive COVID-19 hospitals and centres even in the rural areas the chief minister not only announced special incentives for corona warriors but also continued to encourage them by heaping praise on them at his review meetings.

Keenly aware of the huge challenge that the pandemic posed the chief minister was quick to realize the importance of creating a dedicated force of health workers. They were not only needed in large numbers but were also expected to work almost round the clock, especially in the first few months after the pandemic hit the state. This period was the most challenging because the chief minister had taken the bold decision of facilitating the return of migrant Odia labourers stuck in different parts of the country due to an extended lock-down.

The decision had been taken purely on humanitarian grounds but it strained both financial and human resources of the state. The workers returning home in lakhs had to be quarantined in temporary shelters for some time before being allowed to go home. The state had to take care of their food and health at these centres which involved a huge cost. This also entailed extra burden on health workers including doctors, nurses and other paramedics. Even police personnel had to work overtime to keep the situation well under control.

Patnaik led the war against the pandemic from the front. He personally monitored the situation on a day to day basis, taking feedback from officials and holding weekly reviews. He always had a good word for the health workers engaged in saving lives in different parts of the state. Whenever he found someone making a special effort he made it a point to appreciate it with a tweet. It is this quality of the chief minister that kept thousands of health workers motivated through this period of crisis. Now that the state seems to have won the battle against the virus Patnaik, like a true leader, has made the gracious gesture of constructing a memorial to the heroes who made this victory possible.

His government is also focusing on the health sector, especially on strengthening health infrastructure. One of the most important lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic has been the urgent need to boost healthcare with infrastructure development as well as investment in the human resource in the shape of doctors and paramedical staff. Thanks to the foresight of chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, Odisha has fared much better than most other Indian states in this regard but there is still scope for improvement. A visionary leader, Patnaik has,  over the years, made special efforts to attract investments in the health sector as he realizes the importance of private sector participation in this area.

In 2018 Odisha’s health sector had received investment commitments worth Rs 2,750 crore including commitments for affordable healthcare projects at 25 locations in the public-private partnership mode. There were proposals for setting up a cardiac care centre at Jharsuguda and a comprehensive cancer care programme. Patnaik has been conscious of state’s health needs right since his early days as the chief minister of the state in 2000 when Odisha had a notoriously high infant mortality rate and average life expectancy in the state was poor. Thanks to the initiatives launched by him the state has reduced infant mortality rate significantly.

 

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