BHUBANESWAR: Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan on Tuesday said it is about time Odisha surged ahead with the vast potential - natural, intellectual and cultural - it is endowed with.
"If Saudi Arabia can use oil as a weapon in the global market for the last 40 years, why should Odisha wallow in the bottom of development index despite being rich in iron ore, bauxite and coal deposits, a vast coastline and an ancient culture," he said while delivering the keynote address on 'Tracing the Odia Identity: Which Medium Does It Best' at Odisha Literary Festival (OLF) 2014 here.
Pradhan pitched in for branding Odisha afresh stating that the Odia race has, for far too long, rested on its past laurels. "In the open market economy, branding is key but the Odia race has been basking in the glory of its history. It is about time we found an answer to assert the Odia identity and step into the future," he said.
The Union Minister called for introspection and said it is a challenge to take the State forward by using its resources. If all Odias engaged in the IT sector at Bengaluru come back, the software market will plunge. Similarly, if Odias working as plumbers in Delhi return home, all big-wigs of the national capital will have their drainage systems choked. From IT to plumbers, Odias have been at the forefront of intellectual development, he said.
"The race which had forced history to change its course by valiantly fighting King Ashoka is now at the bottom end of development as per the Raghuram Rajan Report. It is a dichotomy which must be addressed," he said.
Former Chief Secretary Subash Pani, famous dramatist Ananta Mohapatra, Jnanapith Award winner Pratibha Ray and eminent Odissi danseuse Kumkum Mohanty were unanimous that the Odia identity was unique because of its composite nature.
Delving deep into the history of Odisha, Pani said the State's architecture, painting, dance, music and textiles define the Odia identity. Ray was pointed in her approach to the subject. When language was not there, it was culture which defined a race's identity. It is the culture which gave language its resources, she said. The eminent novelist said literature alone can not be the medium to trace the Odia identity because the Jagannath cult is a composite culture. Mohapatra said drama can reach the sections which remain untouched by literature and shape the identity of Odia race which it has done in the past. The legendary play 'Manika Jodi' consecutively ran for 320 days and nights at Annapurna Theatre in Cuttack decades back which showed how powerful a medium it was. Reminiscing how she once received a letter which was addressed to Kumkum Das of Assam, the famous Odissi dancer Kumkum Mohanty said the quintessence of Odia identity is composite.