Saturday, 31 May 2008


There is no denying of the fact that during the 10th. Plan period; Orissa’s growth rate has registered an impressive 08.59 percent against 07.5 percent for India as a whole. This in itself does not guarantee that the people of Orissa, except a minority section, have become overnight prosperous. It simply means that now the state has obliquely acquired a newfound brave face beneath which lie the scares—curtsey the World Bank, the self appointed messiah of the third--world countries. However, they deserve thanks for being able to lift the sagging spirit of the hapless people of the state and unknowingly for pushing them to celebrate for a second, on their soon to evaporate good fortune. Here, for the time being, the joke of the day is, if you want to refurbish your image—ask for a loan from the waba and a character certificate, too to flaunt before the international community!Now let us take to the basics to read between lines vis-à-vis what the all knowing World Bank says. For example, take the case of the staggering loan of a whopping Rs. 35875 crore as of 2007-2008, which is expected to gallop to a projected 72 thousand crore, as per conservative estimate and the interest required to service the principals in order to remain credibly creditable. However, the World Bank is singularly not responsible for the entire loan amount of the state and has contributed a part of it only. It is self-evident and a plain truth that Orissa is rapidly sliding into a well-laid booby trap of loan, scripted by the national and international business interests to wreck havoc in the sovereign political system of the state via the backdoor; from which it will be very difficult for the state to extricate. The successive political leaderships and governments of the sate are required to clearly explain to the people as to why so much of money is being taken as loan and towards what ends, if till today, the people of the sate remain largely impoverished? Who actually is benefiting from it? Is it mainly meant for the corrupt and money launders and of course, the willing lenders who masquerade as the reformist saviors of the poor here and elsewhere? A section of the intelligentsia and civil society organizations believe that government after government and the bureaucracy in the state have, in an attempt to hoodwink the people for their narrow political and economic gains and to hide their own follies and mismanagement have preferred to take to the easy ways of borrowing from all and sundry, paving situation for mortgaging of the people. It certainly is a dangerous game and as of today, external extra-constitutional forces have largely been successful in dictating terms and influencing the policy decisions of an independent state government. If this process continues, in the near future, the state government of Orissa would have to abandon its welfare responsibilities (it has already started to do so) and be reduced to a mere political apparatus of remote inimical forces. Therefore, it is no wonder that in its recent dossier, the World Bank has taken extra pains to heap encomiums on the Orissa state government by overnight overturning almost all the earlier reports of various government agencies, academia and research organizations and independent assessments about the ground realities that remained unanimous that the state of affairs is near precarious requiring immediate corrective steps to rescue the people from misery. In certifying that the people of the state have now become well-off and the economic fundamentals are becoming robust, the World Bank has consciously tried to hide the social pathologies that besiege majority of the people. To actually know this one need not take refuge under the cleverly couched jargons of the experts of the Bank when one can directly see the stark realities of poverty in his own eyes in the countryside or the sprawling neighborhoods of the slums. Further, as per records, Orissa has, since 1936, have been experiencing recurring natural calamities—to be precise; it encountered 70 counts of floods, seven instances of cyclone and drought occurred 35 times, thereby severely impoverishing the people in the entire state. As a result and coupled with the narrow shortsighted policy of the government of the days, still now, the state remains as one of the poorest of the states in the country, a fact, amply vetted by many of the previous reports and surveys except that of the World Bank, apparently to make available the much needed succor and nirvana for both the state government and the people, though the people did not request for it to be like that.Notwithstanding what the World Bank professes, meanwhile half of the industries in the state remain paralyzed and non-operational, except some of the recent ones. Every year here, about 25500 hectares of agriculture land would continue to shrink paving way for non-agricultural activities while most of the major rivers in the state, such as Mahanadi, Brahmani, Baitarani, Rushikulya, Nagabali and Subarnarekhs have gone polluted, jeopardizing the health of the people, negatively impacting the riverine bio-diversity and adversely affecting agriculture and the environment having far reaching consequences due to the noxious effluents released by the industries under the tacit patronage of the bureaucracy. Further, during the last 15 years, a total of six lakh hectares of arable land has been completely lost impacting negatively on the food production and increasing the food insecurity of the people, who mostly have a subsistence existence with not much of surplus. As if this is not enough, about 70 percent of the forests covers of the state have been decimated, sadly enough, in the name of development of the poor people, during the last 50 years; in turn, precipitating increase in the pollution level and triggering erratic behavior of the monsoon. Even as the state government is continuing to aggressively promote industrialization, mainly large and medium, at the cost of agriculture and precious natural resources of the people; it is likely further endanger the already fragile eco-systems and the limited livelihood options available to the majority of the people. This may push the state and the people into a catastrophe--sort of; while the coffers of the international lenders continues to swell.