Why is Orissa the best state in india to establish a sister-state relationship with?
1. Orissa's more than 300 miles of coastal line with history of maritime heritage: With the presence of 14 ports, many pristine beaches and 6 Special Economic Regions of the country being developed by the Government of India, it is a perfect set up for both the states to establish a sea-trade link through their ports. As a matter of fact in ancient times Sadhabas, a trading communities of Orissa had been credited with taking voyages from Orissa ports to the South East Asian nations of Cambodia, Malaya Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Burma and Thai kingdoms. The Chinese pilgrims Fa-Hien and Hiuen Tsang visited Orissa in 639 AD. (It is important to highlight the centennial sister-port agreement between the Port of Seattle and Dhamra port in Orissa in March 2011.)
2. Rich Cultural Heritage: One of the seven classical dances of India, Odissi, has been in its traditional form since sixth century BC. In the excavated ruins of the Buddhist Ratnagiri and Pushpagiri Hills in Orissa dating back to the 6th-9th centuries, several icons and panels of dance are found resembling the present day Odissi dance. In the capital city, Bhubaneswar, there exists Jain Caves which date back to 2nd century BC which served as royal palace for King Kharavela. Contemporary Orissa has a proud cultural heritage that arose due to intermingling of three great religious traditions- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The culture of Adivasis (the original habitants of India) is an integral part of modern Odia heritage. Almost every tribal group has their own music and unique dance style.
3. Abundance of natural resources: Orissa is a treasure island as far as its wealth in natural resources is concerned. It contains one fifth of India's coal, one third of its bauxite, one fourth of its iron and most of its chromites. Modern India’s first steel plant was set up in Orissa (Rourkela Steel Plant). South Korean steel giant Posco is engaged in building another steel plant with an investment of $25 billion, the biggest foreign direct investment in India. South Korean President Lee made this announcement in his visit to India in 2010. (It is to be noted here that US signed a trade treaty with South Korea last year and Washington State has a strong trade relation with the country).
4. Investment Opportunities: In the years 2009 and 2010 Orissa was second top domestic investment destination after Gujarat. Its share was 12.6 percent in total investments in the country and most of these were on Steel and Power. The central government has agreed to accord SEZ (Special Economic Zones) status to eight sites in Orissa including Bhubaneswar, the capital city. The state government has taken proactive measures to attract investments by creating the concept of “Team Odisha” that encompasses the broad institutional framework of the government which is engaged in industrial facilitation and investment promotion in all key areas of economic growth. Detailed updated information can be had from www.teamorissa.org.
5. First State to have Surplus Electricity: Orissa was the first state in India to begin to privatize its electricity transmission and distribution business and achieved surplus in electricity.
6. Political Stability and Leadership: Orissa has a progressive leader in its Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. Elected in May 2009 with a massive public mandate for his third consecutive term as chief minister for the next five years, Orissa has the political stability, much needed for a sustainable bilateral trade relationship. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also authored three books: A Second Paradise: Indian Country Life 1590-1947; A Desert Kingdom: The people of Bikaner; and Garden of Life: An introduction to Healing Plants of India
7. Supportive Education System: Existence of six universities, one agricultural university, three management institutions, and more than twenty four technical and engineering institutions, three medical colleges in the capital city of Bhubaneswar alone opens up great opportunities for Washington State universities and colleges to affiliate and collaborate.(it is important to highlight here the recent MOUs between the North Seattle Community College and two reputed educational institutions in Orissa which took place in 2010.)
8. Galore of Opportunities: in the area of infrastructure development - tourism, sea ports, air ports; clean energy; health care, agriculture and education. The state of Orissa would be a major trade, investment and tourism partner of the state of Washington creating opportunities for many small and medium businesses in many different areas of business. The Indian software giant Infosys has a big hub in the capital city of Bhubaneswar.
9. Low Cost of Living: Orissa is one of the states in India where the cost of living is at its lowest level. It attributes to low cost in operation for establishing a liaison office even though it is well connected with the rest of India.
10. One of the Tiers-2 Cities: The Indian Government is focusing in developing infrastructure in many Tier-2 cities with a population of around one million, reducing the cost of support infrastructure such as buildings, drainage, electricity and water etc. benefiting many Foreign Direct Investors (FDIs) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs). The capital city of Bhubaneswar is one if these Tier-2 cities.
11. Scarce Competition: Orissa does not have any existing sister-state relationships in the US. Therefore, it would not be detrimental to or in competition with any existing Washington sister state relationships, nor be with the same country. It may please be noted that the state of Massachusetts had a MOU signed with the Karnataka State of India in 1995; The State of California had signed sister state relationships with both Punjab and Gujarat in 2001; The state of Minnesota had signed a sister-state agreement with the state of Haryana and the state of New York had signed a sister-state agreement with West Bengal in 2006.
12. Tourism Prospects: Odisha Tourism has bagged the Best Tourism Festival Destination Award at the prestigious International Tourism Conclave & Travel Award (ITCTA) held in March 2012 at East Bourne Resorts & Spa in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. Odisha Tourism has been playing a significant role to showcase the rich cultural and religious heritage through classical and folk music and dance. Odisha got this recognition as the best Tourism Festival Destination Award for its innovative and cultural activities during the past few years.