Orissa, now known as Odisha,for me, is a very important State for many reasons. For e.g. (a) even though, it has abundance of natural resources, it is the poorest States of India, (b) it is also called the 'disaster capital' of the country because of the frequency different disasters including the floods and cyclones, (c) it hosts important religious and touristic sites with international acclaim, (d) it has a rich culture with beautiful music, dances, food, handicrafts and (e) I started my career as a humanitarian from this State.
The worst disaster in Odisha was in 1999, the super cyclone. It killed 9,893 according to government records, however locals report that many more were killed including the undocumented migrants from Bangladesh. About 11 million people, nearly a third of the state's population of 35 million, were estimated by the UN agencies to be directly affected, having lost their shelter, crops, cattle and livelihoods. Another seven million people were partly affected due to the large-scale collapse of infrastructure, including communications and surface transport.
Although, substantial assistance came to Odisha, it did not help much to improve the living conditions for the people living in the coastal areas. I remember, fours years after the cyclone, it was still difficult to reach some of the affected villages. People are still struggling to meet their basic necessities.
"Orissa among all Indian states tops the incidence of poverty. Orissa emerges in the forefront of all states signifying all indices. Poverty is a condition created by unjust society ,denying people access to and control over the resources that they need to live a fulfilled life. Orissa also lives in villages. Almost 85% percent of people live in rural area of the state . Around 42 % people in Orissa and 47% people of rural Orissa live below poverty . Although it is the state of mineral resources and it spreads over 6000 sq km area . Iron ore occupies 33% of India ‘s reserve ,Bauxite is 50% ,Nickel is 95% chromite is 98% and coal is 24 % . Still it is difficult and stupendous task to eradicate poverty in Orissa." (http://knol.google.com/k/poverty-in-orissa-a-life-long-disease#)
One wonders, why Odisha should remain one of the poorest States in India, when it is rich in natural resources, it hosts thousands of tourists every year, it has received quite a bit of aid for disaster preparedness and response and has many educated and well placed citizens in and outside India?
On the positive side, the government has made and is planning to make more investments to facilitate the economic growth in the State.
Peace cannot be achieved without meeting the basic human rights. I pray that the poor people of Odisha and other parts of the world may move on the way of progress and growth necessary for life with dignity.