Odisha Accords ‘Hon’ble’ Tag to Freedom Fighters
In consonance with BJD’s view to project itself as a government for the people, of the people and by the people, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik decided to do away with the ‘Hon’ble’ tag for all public functionaries other than constitutional authorities – and instead conferred the tag on freedom fighters from the State.
Odisha is the first state in the country to designate such a title for the mostly octogenarian community that had helped realize India’s campaign for political independence. Former Rajya Sabha member Bhabani Charan Pattanayak remarked, “freedom fighters in all states should get the honour. It is good that Odisha accorded it first and set an example for others. But the State Government should make it clear whether freedom fighters of all three categories will be addressed with honourable.”
The State has three categories of freedom fighters. Those who had been jailed for more than six months come under the first category, while those jailed for a period less than 6 months are categorised into the second group. While the first category gets Central pension of Rs 29,000 and State pension of Rs 8,000 a month, the second and third category freedom fighters get only State pension of Rs 10,000 and Rs 9,000 respectively.
The government had also recently renamed the Odisha Secretariat building as the Lok Seva Bhavan. Patnaik is a strong advocate of anti-VVIP culture that is otherwise rampant across the highest echelons of the country’s executive structure. In fact, he was one of the earliest to remove the red beacons from his government vehicles after the Union Cabinet banned such means. Therefore, that the move to accord special titles for freedom fighters was received very well by the public was hardly a surprise- in simplicity, after all, lies Patnaik’s extraordinaire.