Chair: Prof. Aswini K. Mohapatra, CWAS, SIS, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Speakers: Dr. Biswajit Mohanty, University of Delhi
Shri Sandeep Mahapatra, Senior Lawyer & Thinker
The seminar was organised by India Policy Foundation on June 17, 2017. It was the 2nd talk under the series of state politics in India on the topic of ‘Odisha-emerging social, cultural and political discourse’.
The event was graced with the presence of the chair speaker Prof. Aswini Mohapatra , Professor in JNU in the School of International Studies of the West Asian Studies, Sh. Sandeep Mahapatra, Advocate in Supreme Court and a Thinker, and Dr. Biswajit Mohanty, Associate Professor in Deshbandhu College, University of Delhi.
The event commenced by the opening presentation on the background of Odisha’s politics and its social and cultural discourse by an intern Ms. Mrittika Guha Sarkar. Dr. Suman kumar introduced the honourable speakers and invited them to begin with their address on the topic.
Sh. Sandeep Mahapatra began his address by praising India Policy Foundation for initiating such a discussion on Odisha because it is generally organized by the Odisha people in Delhi. He spoke about the emergence of politics in Orissa from pre Asoka to post Asoka period till date. He gave an insight on the political evolution by firstly talking about the ‘Paik Rebellion’ in 1817. The Paiks projected Lord Jagannath as the symbol of oria unity. Bakshi Jagabandhu was the leader of the rebellion and he believed that there has to be a casteless society and only one god. Sh. Mahapatra said that Orissa was the 1st state to be carved out on linguistic basis in the pre-independence period. He further explained how identity politics has not gained its roots and the caste baste politics does not gain ground in Orissa. He deliberated on the factors that led to the poverty of the state and because of them Orissa lagged behind the growth rate. More than 60% of the population is dependent on agriculture sector. He stated that there is an element of anti-congressism in Orissa with an exception of Naveen Patnaik (current chief minister under BJD) since the Congress always formed ministry in coalition. Sh. Sandeep further stated that there has been Maoist violence in the state since last 10 years. To conclude his address, he stated that odia language should get its due and that the powerhouses of the state should be harnessed properly. The audience gained a lot of knowledge on Orissa politics by his comments.
Dr. Biswajit Mohanty then began with his presentation on ‘BJP in Odisha: prospects and challenges’. In his presentation, he gave us an insight on BJP’s position with the help of the detailed statistical analysis on various aspects. He informed us about some of the reasons for BJP winning such as the amalgamation of social and economic conservatism and the Modi effect. Orissa was the 1st state to adopt the economic reforms with full zeal. It was inferred from his statistical analysis that in the local governmental elections of Orissa, BJP made a spectacular performance. One of the reasons for the victory of BJD according to Sh. Mohanty was that the Modi factor was driving the mood of Orissa state. His presentation was an insightful experience for the whole audience.
Prof. Aswini Mohapatra chaired the talk by providing us with his remarks and comments on the address of the two speakers. He praised Prof. Sandeep Mahapatra and Dr. Mohanty’s address and claimed that the state is the Hindu nationalist. He criticised the state by stating that there is no interface between the policy makers and the ‘aam aadmi’ (common people). He further stated that politics is fundamentally based on the personality factor and education is the vital vehicle for mobilisation. He concluded his remarks by stating that oriyas are extremely nationalist. Thereafter, the question answer round started w here people asked interesting questions which further expanded our horizons of understanding the state politics in Orissa.
Prof. Rakesh Sinha delivered a small address to conclude the entire talk giving his viewpoint on the same. He spoke about how Indians are not as proud as Europeans about their language, thus, relating it to Orissa. Dr. Alok Sharma delivered a vote of thanks and praised the speakers on giving us an insightful experience.