The Pragativadi Powerlist:
Like every year, we present the Pragativadi Powerlist 2016 on the occasion of Diwali. Keeping in mind round the year activities, success and failures as well as highs and lows in various segments of the powerful and famous of Odisha, we have ranked nine of them in our Powerlist this year. Their influence is limited to their field of work and these personalities are not always showered with praise but often find themselves amid criticism and controversy. Yet, with their proficiency and vision, they have come undone and moved forward. Only such figures in Odisha have made it to the Powerlist on the basis of the opinion of experts and Pragativadi team’s evaluation of their performance this year.
Based on Pragativadi’s values of ethical journalism we have prepared an impartial, unbiased and fair Powerlist. While some on last year’s Powerlist have made it to the list again, many have been dropped. We have chosen personalities from an array of fields such as education and social work, politics, administration, mass media, industry, spirituality, art and culture. Despite every effort to single out a sports personality from the state, we could not find anyone suitable. We have arranged the names of personalities on the Powerlist in alphabetical order. We hope our readers will enjoy the Powerlist like the years before.
THE PRAGATIVADI POWERLIST
The most impactful and widely known name in Odisha’s education sector is that of Achyuta Samant. KIIT University, Kalinga Instiute of Social Science (KISS), KISS Foundation India, KISS Foundation UK and KISS Foundation US are his family. Awards and honours have become common for him. While international awards have brought him recognition, his sincere efforts in the field of education have made him immensely popular. He has been featured every year since the Pragativadi Powerlist was first drawn in 2008, because no one comes anywhere close to his achievements in the education sector.
Samant has impressively managed his education empire but never used his recognition to move forward in either politics or business. He has groomed many initiatives to fulfill his sincere inclination towards Odisha’s literature, art and heritage but has never been directly involved with any organization or joined the race to be a litterateur. KIIT and KISS have established himself as an educationist and social worker, specially the latter where thousands of deprived tribal students find the best opportunities to study and grow with free education and food. The KISS initiative has left leaders across the world amazed who wonder how it has even been possible to run such an institution. KISS has now opened branches in other states too.
Apart from KIIT and KISS, the Pradyumna Bal Memorial Hospital is another major institution Samant runs. Also known as Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences or KIMS, the hospital adds another feather to his cap. Though he has not been able to manage its affairs personally it has found recognition among one of the top health centres in the state. Sadly, recently the Supreme Court imposed a Rs 5 crore fine for negligence of KIMS hospital management while Medical Council of India (MCI) has also questioned its functioning at times. Probably, its time Samant looks into the affairs personally.
Literary magazine Kadambini that he has founded is immensely popular and the magazine also conducts a ‘patrika haat’ literary event. Samant has also set up the Art of Giving while he has now stepped into electronic media through Kalinga TV.
Despite coming from a background of poverty and sorrow, his sheer hardwork has helped Samant be successful overcoming all struggles. Pragativadi founder Pradyumna Bal’s blessings and encouragement are the reasons behind his success Samant reveals.
Like all successful personalities Samant too has found critics and foes but that has not affected his work.
Bhartruhari Mahtab :
When the list of all the powerful politicians of the country is drawn, the name of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Bhartruhari Mahtab would definitely appear. Being in the good books of Naveen Pattnaik and for his versatility, he is widely acknowledged in the Parliament and has been successful in maintaining his position as an MP from Cuttack constituency since 1998. He is appreciated by other members of the Parliament for his polite behavior, elegancy, and gracious presentation style and above all his potential.
As a parliamentary party leader of BJD, Mahtab has a front- row seat in the Lok Sabha. After Biju Pattnaik, he is the second person from Odisha to get a seat in the Parliament’s front row. With a 20 member group in the Parliament, BJD has established its political stability.
Mahtab is among the rare politicians of the state who has never gone beyond party norms after being a minister of the state either in any state or national affairs. He has never misused his power for his name to appear in the list of transfer-on-appointment in his own constituency. He has never been in controversies regarding MP lad funds either. However, he is also criticized for not having created a strong impression in his own constituency Cuttack to be ever able to win from there on his own. He is completely dependent on CM Naveen Patnaik’s popularity. On a lighter vein, it’s always said in the political sphere, “Mahatabji and his Delhi.”
Just like Bhartruhari Mahtab is for BJD and Prasad Harichandan for Congress, Dharmendra Pradhan from BJP is always successful in retaining his name in the Pragativadi Powerlist. Considering their impact in state politics, all three unanimously get chosen by the Powerlist expert team. Though he was elected as a member of Rajya Sabha from the state of Bihar and is now the cabinet minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas (independent charge), his influence in the state affairs of BJP is growing stronger. In fact, it seems as if the state BJP completely stimulates under his decision. Though, he has not bagged his seat in the cabinet from his own state, but with the party dominance at the centre, he has made a complete set up for a chief ministerial candidate of the state. Of course, he is yet to be impactful enough to win an election on his own. But who knows what’s in store in the future.
During BJD-BJP alliance in the state, under Naveen Patnaik’s leadership, Pradhan could win both as a member in state Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha. But his position later weakened when Naveen Pattnaik isolated BJP.
Even as a youth, Pradhan could influence the national leadership in BJP to win a Rajya Sabha seat from a politically seasoned state like Bihar which in itself is a great achievement. However, he holds a record of being the first leader from Odisha who is elected to the Rajya Sabha from any other state. He has also managed to get a major portfolio in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s powerful leadership. It is well known in national political spheres that he was a close aide to Pramod Mahajan when the latter was influential. Later, he has been an aide to Nitin Gadkari, Arun Jaitley and now BJP National President Amit Shah.
He has also impressed Russian president Vladmir Putin. When Putin visited India for the first time Pradhan was in charge of the Russian leader. On his next visit, Putin himself inquired about Pradhan.
Even though his influence on Odisha voters is limited, both the state government and BJD have often treated him as Naveen Patnaik’s alternative. Though he does not possess that power BJD is competing with him pointlessly and creating an unnecessary ‘Dharmendra’ terror in state politics.
Gajapati Maharaja :
He is a king without a kingdom who commands respect of his people despite being out of rule. When spiritual kingdom of so-called saints quivers with controversies and scandals, Gajapati Maharaja Sri Dibyasingh Deb continues to be the epitome of spirituality. He has always claimed being the first servitor of the Odia fraternity’s ultimate deity Lord Jagannath and has been assigned with special position with a significant role in many rituals of the Lord.
He is the permanent Chairman of the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration. There has been many controversies relating to him, be it the land dispute of the royal palace of the Jagannath temple to the lapses in the custom of Rath Yatra. His opinions on various issues have often appeared as political comments that have affected his popularity.
He is not into any political party but still holds a special position in the heart of the masses of the state owing to his spiritual knowledge. Odias follow every word of his with love and respect. Despite people’s firm faith in him and his strong influence on the public, it is unclear why he has never taken a strong step during the various crisis and controversies of Sri Jagannath temple.
Prasad Harichandan :
If debates to choose out one most effective leader in State Congress were to be, then Prasad Harichandan would be a no brainer.
From being a highly educated, hard working, principled person to having a stainless political record and most of all blessings of Union high command giving his leadership, youth and good track record has raised him to the top command in State Congress in spite of having tasted defeat during 2014 polls last time around.
Amid this entire time ever since he was assigned to control the party reins his leadership has always been doubted by other senior and experienced leaders. There is no doubt that coup to oust him from the OPCC Chief’s post has been running as the mainstream debate within today’s congress party. It has been learnt that two most senior leaders one former OPCC Chief Niranjan Patnaik and the other Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra are both leading the charge to topple Prasad from his perch The so called ‘Delhi Chalo’ recently by party leaders which they do especially when there is some amiss in the party proved it.
But in spite of all that Prasad is all strong and is hell bent on proving his capability to handle the all important post of the major opposition alternative political party in state as of now.
While political analysts point to his youth and his stainless personality as his main armour but also discredit him for his lack of media management and inability to walk hand in hand with all other party bigwigs.
Prasad who once launched a revolutionary ‘We not I’ campaign to revamp the party in state has slackened to nothing more than three words. It has more often than not backfired as ‘I not we’ with most top leaders of the party unhappy with Prasad and his party management.
Another issue that has acted as a deterrent to his stature is his unwillingness to explore financial needs within party. Especially when other parties are cashing in on bucks to improve election campaign, strategy, workers’ need and so many other incentives meant for the reinvigorating the party, and luring ways to influence people, Prasad has always relied more on people’s choice and his work. His such actions have worked against his ambition to give a holistic change to the party.
Soumya Ranajn Patnaik:
Soumya Ranjan Pattanaik has emerged as the measure of success and failure. He started his political career under the guidance of prominent politician late Janaki Ballabh Patnaik, former Chief Minister of Odisha as well as former Governor of Assam. But Soumya Ranjan could not be a successful politician. But he has succeeded in the field of mass media through his initiative and efforts. He has emerged successful in every field of media be it newspapers, electronic media, radio or jatra (Folk Media).
In his long journey of political struggle he was elected to Lok Sabha only once. Later he contested many times in elections but couldn’t find any success. He is renowned for changing political parties frequently. He has been trying and testing his political fortune by shifting from BJP, NCP, Congress and at last by forming his own party ‘Ama Odisha’. But he is yet to fulfil his political aspirations.
On the other hand, his name definitely features as an influential personality in the field of mass media. ‘Sambad’ newspaper, ‘Kanak News’ Electronic Media, Radio Chocolate, Eastern Opera Jatra party are his achievements. Known for his love to spend time among people Soumya Ranjan’s name has been linked with Chit Fund depositors to farmers and other organisations.
He has also created a revolution in the field of blood donation through ‘Ama Odisha’. He is also well known for his efforts to save and develop Odia language.
As a son-in-law of Janaki Ballabh Patnaik, once he had great influence in Congress, but after being expelled from the party, his own party ‘Ama Odisha’ hardly has any say in Odisha politics.
He has been making it to the Pragativadi Powerlist for being a mass media tycoon. Criticising good initiatives in his media has often earned him criticism. Now he has chosen the successor of his mass media empire. His daughter Tanaya Patnaik is now in charge of Radio Chocolate and Kanak News. In future she will also take over the Sambad newspaper.
Providing villagers with opportunities of livelihood and making them self dependent as well as bringing a revolution in the field of social and economic development, has made Srikumar Misra one of the most successful entrepreneurs of Odisha today. He is the founder of Milk Mantra Dairy Pvt Ltd., and serves as its CEO and MD. Milk Mantra is not limited to Odisha but also provides dairy products across Eastern India under the brand ‘Milky Moo’.
A highly educated Odia youth, Srikumar left his job in London and established the dairy in his home state to make a difference. Around 50,000 families earn a livelihood through his Milk Mantra that was launched in 2009. In just a matter of seven years its annual turnover has reached Rs 123 crores making it Odisha’s undisputed leader in dairy products. He established two plants in Puri district’s Gop and Sambalpur. In future he plans to establish plants in Eastern India like West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand.
Personally he likes to play tennis, golf and mountaineering and has participated in many climbing expeditions. After his MBA at Xavier Institute of Management, he worked in London and South Africa. After a stint with TATA Tea Ltd, Tetley Group and ASPEN Institute he returned to Odisha and established Milk Mantra.
Sudarshan Patnaik :
One of the most renowned Odia in present times is the ace-sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik who is famous all over the world for his magnificent sculptures in sand.
As a son of Odisha he has brought fame, respect for his state by throwing limelight on Odia culture, tradition, art, society through his beautiful and majestic sand art. From Prime Minister Narendra Modi to US President everyone is full of all praise for Sudarshan.
His international accolades list is very long. Staring from 1998 he has been performing with excellence. During the period from 2006 to 2010 he consecutively bagged five world records.
He has also been awarded with the prestigious Padmashri by the Centre.
V K Pandian :
Noted for his unblemished tactics and political maneuvers in today’s Odisha politics, V Kartikeyan Pandian might be shy away from the limelight of everyone but he is one of the most valuable administrator.
Though a Tamil by birth, he is a very dedicated Odia by action. Such is his track record. From being an IAS officer from Odisha cadre of 2000 to marrying an Odia girl named Sujata Rout of the same cadre he has been ever since settled well enough to consider Odisha as his home.
He has always been a very debatable personality especially among the politicos. Since he is probably the tactician and the sole game planner of the ruling BJD he has always been behind enemy lines.
But he has never allowed anyone to advertise or rather be opportunistic in targeting him because he is always the main man behind the curtain but is never out to show it. His dedication, loyalty to the Chief Minister himself bears testimony to this fact.
But this loyalty has also brought him criticisms. The more successful he has been the more criticism he has been meted out to. But that has not deterred him from doing his work with ease and tranquility. Being a young, silent, respectable, humble officer he seldom goes out of his chores. Only spot he visits regularly besides CMO, Secretariat, Government office, and Naveen Niwas is Puri Jagannath Temple.
He has proved his talents and capabilities while working as the Private Secretary to Chief Minister and as a collector in Ganjam and Mayurbhanj districts.
It is well learned fact that behind every major decision by the CM himself there is a bit of Pandian.