IIT IS NOT ESSENTIAL, IRRIGATION IS

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Politicians, who have, by assuring our peoples to safeguard their interests, got their votes; but once in power, have willfully forgotten their pledge, and have collectively strangulated Orissa, now know that the silent victims of their misrule will silently terminate their existence in power. Therefore they need a way to escape.

The only way that seems safer to them is instigating the inhabitants of Orissa against the Central government, run by another political set-up, on concocted charges of conspiracy against our soil, a solid litany being for the IIT.

When Agami Odisha, a supposedly non-political organization of intellectuals is eager to spread its campaign into our villages raising slogans against the central government for having stopped coming of an IIT to Orissa, the BJD-BJP combine has resolved to equip their cadres with the misleading potency of this campaign, which, they know, can click, as the gullible pubic, unlikely to believe them, shall have no problem in believing in an apolitical intellectual forum.

It cannot be said that this coincidence in campaign for IIT by a non-political body and the politicians in power is not deliberate and taking into accounts how the aforesaid organization has proudly allowed its forum to be used by the politicians of Orissa’s ruling combine to castigate the central government on different occasions in the past, it cannot be accepted that it is not being used as a mask by Naveen. Therefore, emphasis on IIT at this juncture is more harmful to Orissa than any so far.

If we correctly remember our campaign for NISc, when eminent senior citizens marked for their excellent contributions to Orissa in various fields, preferred a written demand to government of India, the friends, whose harping on IIT is getting dovetailed with Naveen’s campaign against the central government, had made the propaganda that the Vajpayee government had given the NISc to Orissa but the Man Mohan Singh government has gifted it away to Bengal. We all had known that this was contrary to the actual.

In fact, an international seminar on science education held in 1996 under auspices of UNESCO had stressed on building up of institutes of sciences of international standard with emphasis on their balance distribution within respective geographical limits of the participating countries. India being a signatory to this resolution, in normal course of administration, decided to establish four National Institutes of Sciences in four parts of the country including one at Bhubaneswar in Orissa. So the Vajpayee government and the NDA had no role in conceiving NISc for Orissa. Rather, it is Vajpayee administration and NDA that had rendered this conception inconsequential.

Placing this on records, I had noted in orissamatters.com that, records show that there was stiff objection to put one of the said NIScs at Bhubaneswar. The Bengali lobby, as is its wont, had whipped up this controversy. But the UGC had rejected the Bengali pressure and declared that when expansion of such institutes would be taken up in course of time, the demand for one at Kolkata might be considered.

Thereafter, Vajpayee’s government had slept over the decision.

This was because, Vajpayee was unwilling to dissatisfy the Bengalis. His inner courtyard was murmuring under footsteps of a Bengali projected as his son-in-law who was observed as a facilitator by segments in the media. Mamata Banerjee, who leads a regional party of Bengal, was close to Vajpayee. There was no impossibility therefore to put a stymie on proceeding of the NISc.

Whatever be the motive, the fact was that even though NISc was a concept of UNESCO, and the UGC, in which planning to funding of higher education is vested under the law, had lawfully drawn up the plan and determined the location of four NIScs in four befitting regional nerve-centers, the Vajpayee government had preferred slough over the scheme as and after the Bengali pressure was turned down by the UGC.

When this is the fact, the podium of Agami Odisha was used to tom-tom that the NISc was the contribution of NDA to Orissa; but because Orissa rejected UPA, Man Mohan Singh has diverted it to Bengal. This false propaganda was coined and spread deliberately, so that the Naveen Patnaik government that had blatantly failed to bring the NISc to Orissa because its priority was not on science education but on distribution of land and mines to non-oriyas in lieu of what the Judeo tapes have given glimpse of, could escape criticism.

The same motive is now conspicuous in the campaign for IIT.

If political use of apolitical concerns of intellectuals is allowed, it is proper to oppose this campaign.

On the other hand, for Orissa, an IIT is not the essential requirement. The essential requirement is irrigation to her cultivable lands. Some of the friends including former chief secretary of Orissa Mr. Sahadev Sahoo have reacted to my previous discussion with the arguement that IIT is to be funded by the central government and irrigation by the state government. So demand for IIT should not be seen as an impediment to irrigation, they have stressed. To me, which sector is funded by which of the governments – central and state – is not the issue.

The issue is: which is essential for Orissa? IIT or irrigation?

There could be no two opinion on the fact that whichever is of primary utility to the people is essential.

Irrigation is of primary utility and hence irrigation is essential.

Naveen Patnaik’s government has neglected this essential need.

Its schizophrenic eagerness to embrace and keep imperialists pleased is so oblivious of peoples’ primary requirement, that, unless commons are helped to pursue a demand for irrigation single-mindedly, Orissa will perish forever. Therefore, there is necessity of keeping the mass mind concentrated on demand for water to every inch of cultivable land and from this demand attention should not be allowed to be diverted to any other agenda.

As I note, peoples have started agitating against supply of river water to industries as they are now subjected to acute shortage of drinking water. Peoples have started agitating against use of underground water by industries as that renders their wells in adjoining villages empty. People have started agitating against pollution of their rivers by industries as that makes them bereft of useable water. People have started looking sternly at their misfortune of distress-selling their products, even their babies and their bodies, with determination to find out the factors behind their wretched poverty. And, slowly but steadily they are understanding that they are unable to get rid of poverty, because their lands are lying barren due to non-availability of water. And, they are rushing into the last limit of tolerance.

As a conscious member of my community, I stand with these disadvantaged fellow beings and I suggest that the elite of us should not confuse our people with projection of IIT as the panacea.

Every design that may divert mass attention from the essential requirement to a non-essential ancillary of industry like the IIT needs to be defeated.

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