If human beings are at the center of all development, Education and Health are the cornerstone of human development. The major goals of human development in the areas of poverty eradication and hunger alleviation can be achieved by making advances in the twin areas of Education and Health. Investment in these two sectors can help address the pressing human development challenges.

More focus on Education and Health means more focus on societal development. At a micro level, we usually witness that in families where education and health play a major role in decision making, that family is more likely to progress. A few decades ago, citizens of our country didn’t understand the importance of education. During those years, European and North American countries focused on advancement of science, arts and commerce while regulating healthcare systems and finally became the super powers of the world. Some people who realised these advancements and could afford to, sent their kids abroad to study in reputed and professional universities. But slowly and steadily things have changed. India understands it can no longer ignore the social sector spending.

I would like to highlight that one of the greatest achievements of our visionary Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik is the steps he’s taken to modernize and give a new shape to government schools under the “Mo School” Programme. The initiative falls under the 5T agenda (teamwork, technology, transparency, transformation and time limit) of the government which is a smartly built system to implement the most difficult tasks to deliver people friendly governance.

For several years, government schools were in a bad condition and needed revamping. By establishing “Mo School”, the government is investing not just in education but in the future of children. Shri Naveen Patnaik while inaugurating a school under the Mo School campaign said, “Though children constitute one-third of our population, they are our future and hence it is our responsibility to take care of them.” Children in Odisha are very talented and they need opportunities to shine which our Chief Minister has presented. The revamping of schools will draw parents to get their wards admitted in smart schools instead of struggling to get their children get education at public schools, which are generally expensive.

I would like to discuss about intervention in the area of health which is the most important aspect of life – as goes the saying health is wealth. Odisha has proven to be one of the best managed states during the COVID crisis and in the inoculation drive. Starting with establishing the largest COVID hospital at KIMS to distributing 350 million Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY) cards to people belonging to the poor and the middle-class segment, one after the other, the state government has achieved some difficult tasks in providing quality healthcare.

Under the BSKY scheme, the state government lays special emphasis on the health protection of economically vulnerable families. Odisha Government will provide Rs. 5 lakh per family per annum as healthcare assistance for secondary and tertiary procedures of treatment. This cashless treatment will benefit 96 lakh families (3.5 crore people) at all government and private empanelled hospitals in Odisha and outside. Moreover, for women members of the family, the limit is Rs 10 lakh which points at the government’s focus on women empowerment.

BSKY smart health-cards seek to bring a change in outlook in the arrangement of medical care administrations in India, where a patient will get the best medical services at no cost. CM Patnaik’s step to provide hassle-free quality treatment at best available health care facilities will go down in history as one of the first of its kind. Under the Swasthya Mitra Seva scheme, patients finding it difficult to access the benefits of BSKY in private hospitals are being helped by Swasthya Mitras who are deployed at help desks in each empanelled hospital to facilitate the beneficiaries. The impossible is being achieved because accountability is set.

Earlier, I have witnessed poor people sell their fortunes if someone from the family was sick. They would never recover from that debt and would continue being in the circle of poverty and debt trap. Now things will change in Odisha. The BSKY is here to save people who are helpless when it comes to accessing basic amenities of life like healthcare.

From my personal experience I can state that when I was young I was lucky that no one from my family ever fell ill or got any sickness, except some common ailments. It was a blessing. If someone from the family was sick, we would have lost everything. A visionary leader like Naveen Patnaik and his welfare schemes were not available. My siblings and I could continue our studies only because we had the privilege of getting education. If we would not have been blessed with good health or free education in government education institutions, I would not have been the person I am, an educationist or have established KIIT or KISS. Only a person who has seen poverty will realise the impact and importance of such comprehensive welfare schemes and its impact in the long term.