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Pradyumna Bal Memorial Lecture in Odisha: Prabhat Patnaik bats for robust Panchayati Raj


Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 9:

Eminent economist and political analyst Prof Prabhat Patnaik on Saturday said it is high time that we have a decentralised power structure and a robust Panchayati Raj system in place across the country.

Pradyumna Bal functionProf Patnaik said this while delivering the memorial lecture on the occasion of the 82nd birth anniversary of noted Odishs journalist, social activist and founder of Odia daily ‘Pragativadi’ at the KIIT University auditorium here on Saturday.

Since the development in the rural sector is a major indicator of the overall development of the country, efforts should be made for proper decentralization of the Panchayati Raj system. The success of Panchayati Raj system lies in its ability to work with the consensus of the people and address local issues and development needs, he said.

“It is the people who have to make concerted efforts to exercise the power to decide their own fate”, Prof Patnaik said

Stating that caste and gender discriminations and socio-economic disparity are major obstacles for the healthy growth of the Panchayati Raj system, he said efforts must be made to eliminate these unjust and abominable practices through a social revolution.

Pradyumna Bal functionUnderscoring the importance of the participation of local people in governance, Prof Patnaik, took up the issue of mining and said the decisions over mining activities should be left to the local people. Mining should be done in consultation and coordination with not only the Centre and the state government but the local people (in the mining area) as well. Besides, the local people should be involved and consulted as stakeholders, whenever any change is mulled by the state government with regard to the laws or rules on the use of public property and assets.

“The local people should get a share of the mining cess and be allowed to become the shareholders of the company in their locality. Work without consensus would breed violence and pose a threat to democracy. This could also become a major roadblock in development,” he noted.

Paying glowing tributes to Pradyumna Bal, Prof Patnaik said the intrepid journalist was a progressive thinker and a pioneer of the social justice movement. As a bold and upright leader he stood up against the ‘national emergency’ in 1975 to safeguard democracy.

On this occasion, eminent social activist and founder of Janani Ashram for orphan children, Sanjukta Bharatiya was conferred with the Pradyumna Bal Smaraki Samman, The award, instituted by the Pradyumna Bal Memorial Trust, carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.

Besides, Pragativadi’s Malkangiri reporter Satyanarayan Panda was felicitated as the best journalist of the year along with a cash award of Rs 25,000.

The function was presided over by eminent educationist and former vice chancellor of Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) Prof Omkar Nath Mohanty.

While founder of KIIT and KISS Dr Achyut Samant delivered the welcome address, eminent journalist and editor of espncricinfo.com, the leading online cricket portal, Sambit Bal offered the vote of thanks.

Well-known writer and editor of popular Odia magazine ‘Kadambini’ Iti Samant read out the citations.

Among others, president of KIIT and KISS and Mrs Saswati Bal was present.