Yearender 2022: Odisha Events & Issues Under Focus
2022 was welcomed with a mixed feeling of expectations and apprehensions. As it unfolded, the year brought in its own incidents of good and bad, events of joy and sorrow, issues of human and inhuman kinds. Thankfully, unlike two previous years, 2022 was a near normal. The scene in Odisha was no different. To recap in a yearender, here are some events and issues that put the state under focus:
Fading Shadow Of COVID
Emerging from two years of COVID onslaught, the people had conflicting questions about what the year lay ahead. Would 2022 play out like two previous years? Would things take a turn for better or worse? Will there be more rounds of COVID variants or vaccines will decapitate it? Will lockdown continue? What about quarantine?
But, when things seemed to slip out of human hands, its very survival instincts finally made the virus to bow down. As a new day begins with bright sunshine after a night of tempest, the state started to rise by shedding the COVID shackles slowly, steadily and surely. Soon, new normal gave in to old times.
Odisha, being a state of festivities and religious practices, started opening the doors of temples, shrines and religious institutions. Devotees started gathering at places of worship, attended religious discourses and enjoyed community celebration of festivals.
Rath Yatra of sibling deities- Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra – in Puri, one of Chaturdham in the country, was participated by lakhs of devotees from around the world with unprecedented enthusiasm.
With Rath Yatra began community celebration, a strict no-no for the last two years. Festival of colours Holi, celebtration of good over evil Dussehra, festival of lights Diwali were celebrated by people as if in a vengeance against coronavirus.
For many years, Odisha has been the land of cyclone. 2022 was no exception. It faced the threat of two storms in the year – cyclone Asani and cyclone Sitrang.
As the weather offices forecast, the state geared up to face cyclone Asani in first week of May. With the initial forecast that it was heading for Odisha coast, the cyclone-beaten people started readying to face it. The government mobilised its resources for zero casualty.
However, cyclone Asani made landfall on the coast of neighbiuring Andhra Pradesh and weakened into a depression, sparing Odisha from any kind of devastation.
A few months after, in October, the favourite month of the cyclones to hit Odisha, another cyclonic storm, Sitrang, started brewing in Bay of Bengal. As weathermen forecast that Sitrang may attain a maximum wind speed of 90-100 kmph gusting to 110 kmph and make landfall as a severe cyclonic storm on October 25, the people anticipated 1999 Super Cyclone rerun. But, the storm turned its head and moved away, leaving with some spells of heavy rain but no gusting wind to the relief of people.
2022 served a fair amount of controversies on the plate of Odisha. The murky water of controversy spread to a wide spectrum of society, from celluloid world to religious sentiments to high-flying society.
First to come was the issue involving Ollywood stars Babushaan and Prakruti with the third angle played by the actor’s wife. What was perceived as a take from filmy script, a video went viral showing Babushaan’s wife was captured slapping, beating and scolding her husband and Prakruti inside a car on the street of the capital city in broad daylight. The issue hogged the limelight and consumed fair amount of newstime after dying down on its own.
Next was a fight between ritualists and rationalists over fasting during eclipses. As the ritualists observed fasting during solar and lunar eclipses, the rationalists challenged the practice. They held community feast by serving chicken biryani as a show of defiance. It also triggered violence as supporters of both groups clashed in some places and cases were filed in police stations and courts.
As the year was winding up came the case of honeytrap and blackmailing. Kingpin Archana Nag and her huaband Jagabandhu Chand have been accused of amassing wealth worth over Rs 30 crore by trapping high-profile people like politicians, businessmen and filmmakers.
A Lady President
Breaking from gloomy look, Odisha wore a bright and smiling face when for the first time in its history, a tribal woman leader from remote Mayurbhanj district was elected as President of India.
It was a moment of pride, glory and celebration for the entire state as 64-year-old Droupadi Murmu assumed the office of constitutional head of the country on July 25. She is India’s first tribal President and second woman to seat on the highest office of the world’s largest democracy.
Democracy At Grassroots
Setting the example of a vibrant democracy, Odisha witnessed elections to democratic institutions at grassroots level – panchayats and urban local bodies (ULBs).
The panchayat elections were held in five phases from February 16 to 24 in compliance with COVID norms. In the elections, the ruling BJD captured 90% of Zilla Parishad (ZP) seats, pushing the Opposition BJP and Congress to the fringes. While the regional party smashed all previous records by winning 765 of 852 seats, national parties BJP and Congress were reduced to 42 and 37 seats respectively.
Similarly, in the ULB elections held on March 24, BJD president and chief minister Naveen Patnaik once again proved that his party stands invincible in popularity at grassroots level. The ruling party bagged all mayor posts of three municipal corporations in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Berhampur for which direct election was held for the first time.
Out of 1,724 councillor posts in urban bodies, BJD won 1,183 at a rate of 68.61%. BJP could manage to win in 286 wards, followed by Congress in 139 and others in 116. The elections were held in total 1,731 councillor posts in all the civic bodies.
Konark Temple Unlocked
In a positive development and historic step, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) decided to remove the sand inside the 13th-century Sun Temple at Konark. The process began in September.
Though it has been a long-standing demand of the lovers of archaeology and historical monuments, the ASI has been hesitant in opening the Jagamaohan of the temple apprehending threat to the main structure. However, aftera prolonged study and research, it decided to open the Jagamohan that was filled with sand by the Britishers to check the collapse of the structure 119 years ago.
Make In Odisha
Continuing its overdrive for rapid industrialisation of the state, the government organised its flagship business conclave – Make In Odisha – in a bigger scale to attract the investors from the country and outside. During the conclave, the state received investment intents worth over Rs 10 lakh crore with 741 proposals in 21 sectors from the business houses.
FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup
Besides industries, sports has been another focus area of the present BJD government led by chief minister Naveen Patnaik, himself a sports enthusiast. Besides making huge investment in sports infrastructure, the government has been eyeing international events to place the state in a prominent position in global forum.
As part of this initiative, the state hosted FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup. The multinational women’s youth football championship was participated by the under-17 national teams of the member associations of FIFA.
he first five matches of the World Cup were played in Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar which was one of three venues between 11 and 17 October. The other two venues were Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Margao in south Goa, and DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. India would have hosted the 20202 edition of the World Cup before it was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
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