By Devasis Sarangi
Sadhabas were ancient mariners from the Kalinga empire, which roughly corresponds to modern Odisha, India. They used ships called Boitas to travel to distant lands such as Bali, Java, Sumatra, and Borneo, in Indonesia, and to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Persia, China, Greece and Africa to carry out trade and for cultural expansion; taking advantage of the wind, which flows in the north easterly direction from mid-October to February.
The ideal moment for such a voyage was full moon night of Karthik month. In early morning of this day, the seacoast of different port cities of Odisha used to reverberate with the sound of thousand conch shells blown by the wives of these indefatigable sailors whose sail would gradually fade into the horizon in search of trading prosperity at distant land. So important was the prosperity of Kalingan sea-traders that the great poet Kalidas described Kalinga King in his epic “Raghubansa” as “Mahodadhipata" or the "Emperor of the High Seas” and to this day in Puri stands the Mahodadhi Palace by the same name (renovated recently by a private hotelier as Heritage Hotel).
Kartik Purnima festival observed in the autumn season is a pointer to this. On this day, early in the morning, even today, people of Odisha make small boats out of the banana-trunks and sail them in the nearest water body amid melodious chants in a symbolic remembrance of homecoming of Sadhabas. The religious obligation still remains but we seem to have let go of the entrepreneurship boat.
Entrepreneurship requires highest level of imagination, creativity, and innovation. By and large, there is no dearth of such people in Odisha, however, a large number of people with potential to develop entrepreneurship either sit idle or wait for a job to come their way.
While 1000 largest US companies eliminated one million jobs, smaller innovative Companies added 20 million jobs over the same period, last recession. Becoming an entrepreneur to earn a living and thereby generate employment for others and also create assets for the whole state is not an option anymore and we do not seem to have learned from the developed countries except the fancy consumerism (read high end mobile phones, ipads).
Some of the blame can be attributed to our education system which simply churns out hoards of office clerks. In schools and colleges, mind-sets are shaped for nothing but a job after graduation. Even the top management institute of the state are churning out managers conditioned to work for big corporations. There is little emphasis on the development of entrepreneurship skills through requisite training.
Also the parents are to blame as they are happy nurturing clerks as they think it is high paying and safe. No sooner do parents send their children to school/college than they expect him/her to become a Babu in government sector someday (even if they are called Secretary-pun intended) or join a desk job in an IT company (new age clerks). Almost none think of making their child an officer of his/her own business. Socialistic attitude prevailing on them also have a bias that anything concerned with money and creating wealth is a sin. Anyone doing so is thought of as a thief by this society. This negative feeling has of late bogged down the mind set and hindered the growth of enterprising efforts. In a society of joint-families, non-employed member of the family is considered a boon to do small odd jobs but not supported as an entrepreneur.
Despite having a large population of unemployed youths in the state, entrepreneurship as a career has not been picked up much of late. We are not willing to come forward for developing our own business and till we do our State cannot get back its lost glory.
Thus, the bottom line is that, instead of thinking of joining others’ business, youth of the state should be motivated to create and find employment avenues by their own efforts. Business always does not mean a multi-million corporation. Something as humble as a small shop catering to local needs is still better than no employment at all. So, small is beautiful.
So, why join others’ business? Why not your own? It is high time entrepreneurship as a career becomes a common phenomenon again in Odisha. Hope the recession helps in this at least. Will Odisha again start churning out entrepreneurs instead of clerks? Only time will tell….
Author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org & 09437028958.