Member of Parliament, Balasore invited Swaniti team to assist him in developing his constituency. He wanted Swaniti to focus broadly on Skill Development, Horticulture and Self Help Groups. Located in North-east Odisha, Balasore is a coastal district around 250 Kms from Kolkata and around 200 Kms from Bhubaneshwar. The economy of Balasore is predominantly Agriculture even though some plastic and rubber industries have come up in the recent past. Balasore is considered the education capital of Odisha. The literacy rate of the district stands at 80% and Balasore town is the most literate town of Odisha with a literacy rate of 88%.
Balasore is a historically important town as well which has made significant contributions to the national life of India. This is the same ‘Punya Bhoomi’ where the famous freedom fighter ‘Bagha Jatin’ died while fighting the British. This is also the ‘Karma Bhoomi’ of the ‘Vyasakavi’ Fakir Mohan Senapati who is widely considered as the father of modern Odia literature. Balasore can boast of another thing, the Abdul Kalam Island, the missile test facility for most missiles of India including the Agni and the Brahmos missiles.
With all this in backdrop, we set off for Balasore to study the area, its issues and design and execute interventions. We visited various blocks in the district, talked to the villagers, Panchayat leaders, district officials and other stakeholders. Despite being the education capital, the impact of education on the life and economy of Balasore was not evident. Industrial development is missing largely from the district and agriculture still is very traditional in most parts. We believe this is the case because somewhere skill development and entrepreneurship failed to get space within the education and economic system of Balasore.
Balasore needs a new direction and a new model for development. Entrepreneurship seems to be the way forward. Skill Development is one component of entrepreneurship and the ecosystem needs to be strengthened. Schemes like PMKVY and DDUGKY need to be tapped into and implemented effectively. Providing credit support and mentoring to young entrepreneurs is equally important.
The first step in this direction was organizing a Kaushal Vikas Mela to generate awareness among young students about opportunities available for Skill Development in the district. We are working further to introduce suitable skill development courses and invite reputed training providers to set their centers in Balasore. It will further be complemented by steps to create Farmer Producer Companies and promoting agri-entrepreneurship. The next area of focus will be leveraging schemes like Mudra Yojana to ensure smooth credit flow for entrepreneurs and also providing them mentorship. We are confident that these young entrepreneurs, once empowered will change their as well as the destinies of their people and Swaniti, by supporting the Member of Parliament hopes to play its part in this transformation.