| Ramesh Chandra Majhi |
Bhubaneswar, March 13: Here’s an interesting bit of information about information technology minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi.
While his colleagues continue, as usual, to browse through files in the secretariat, the 32-year-old is busy cramming for his Plus Two Arts examination in his native village, about 600km from here.
“After becoming a minister, I realised that I must try to become a graduate. So, I decided to resume my studies,” Majhi told The Telegraph over phone from Dandamunda, his native village in faraway Nabarangpur, one of the most backward districts of the state.
Son of former minister Jadav Majhi, Ramesh’s last attempt at clearing Plus Two was in 1995 when he tried the science stream from BJB College here without success. “Since I did not do well in science, I have now switched over to arts,” said the minister who is appearing for the examination at Panabeda College in Nabarangpur district. While Majhi has already taken the first paper — Oriya (MIL) —there are five more papers left — English, history, political science, economics and Oriya.
The last exam is scheduled for March 30.
The minister said he would stay put in the village till the examinations were over. The authorities have made separate arrangements for him at the examination centre.
Interestingly, the minister’s official bio-data mentions his educational qualification as ISC though, by his own admission, he never acquired that degree.
Majhi, however, believes that lack of higher education has not been a hindrance to the execution of his official duties.
“My officials have always cooperated with me. However, I have begun to realise the importance of education,” he said.
Though information and technology secretary, Pradeep Jena, sought to steer clear of the controversy saying he should not be commenting on how the minister’s academic qualification would impact his working, some other officials and IT experts expressed their doubts.
“Despite the state’s focus on the IT sector, the department is being handled badly. It is in a sorry state of affairs,” said a senior official adding that this did not bode well for the department at a time when the government had a new IT policy on the draft board and had been desperately trying to sell Bhubaneswar as a destination for major IT companies.
The prevailing state of affairs is obvious from the state government’s website maintained by the IT department. The website continues to show Pramila Mallick as the women and child development minister though she resigned more than a month ago — on February 5 — in the wake of the dal scam.
“Things are going from bad to worse. Since the state does not have a proper IT policy, all the resources are being cornered by the few big companies,” said a young entrepreneur who works in the IT sector.
The need for change in the IT policy has also been admitted by IT secretary Pradeep Jena who recently said that a team of officials of the Orissa Computer Application would soon visit Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra to study their IT policy.
The IT sector, which showed a lot of promise in 2000, seems to be on a slide. The change of ministers handling the department has been reflective of the change in its fortunes. While chief minister Naveen Patnaik himself was in charge of the department between 2000-2002, later it went to A.U. Singhdeo and Surya Narayan Patro, who also made big promises.
The reins of the department were handed over to Majhi, the minnow, in 2009 and the department has ever since been on a slide.