Biju Patnaik was born on 5 March 1916 to Lakshminarayan and Ashalata Patnaik. His parents belong to G.Nuagan, Bellaguntha, Ganjam district, around 80 km from Bramhapur. He was educated at Ravenshaw College in Odisha but due to his interest in aviation he dropped out and trained as a pilot. Patnaik flew with private airlines but at the start of the Second World War, he joined the Royal Indian Air Force eventually becoming head of air transport command.
THESE ARE SOME FASCINATING STORIES ABOUT BIJU PATTNAIK.
1. He is popularly known as Biju babu.
2. In his school days in Ravenshaw Collegiate School, he was famous for his love for games, sports and adventure. His college football team won the inter-school championship for 3 years where he was a key player.
3. He joined as a trainee pilot in the Royal Air Force of British Empire.
4.In his college days, a remarkable achievement of Biju babu was a journey from Cuttack to Peshawar by cycling.
5. His mother Ashalata Devi told him about the heroic achievement of freedom fighters.
7.One day in the time of Quit India movement, Jayaprakash Narayan met Biju babu and wanted his co-operation and support for freedom struggle. Prominent freedom fighters were secretly carried from one place to another place in his plane. He performed his job in the national freedom struggle by reaching brochures, posters, and other publicity materials to different persons and destinations.
8.Aruna Asaf Ali once had taken shelter at Ananda Bhawan in Cuttack in the house of Biju babu. In that period the British Government declared a reward of 40 thousand rupees to capture Aruna Asaf Ali. Jaya Prakash Narayan travelled in Biju babu’s plane in the guise of professor Bhattacharya and Professor Banerjii.
9.Biju babu, by the direction of Pandit Nehru, saved the life of Sariar Khan and Srihatta, the freedom fighters of Indonesia. Biju babu brought them to India in his plane from Indonesia. The colonial Dutch did not get any information about it. It proves his bravery.
10.For this act of bravery, Patnaik was given honorary citizenship in Indonesia and awarded the ‘Bhoomi Putra’, the highest Indonesian award, rarely granted to a foreigner. In 1996, when Indonesia was celebrating its 50th Independence Day, Biju Patnaik was awarded the highest national award, the ‘Bintang Jasa Utama’.
11.Biju Patnaik piloted the first plane that left Palam Airport at Delhi on 27 October 1947 at dawn and landed at Srinagar Airport in the early morning. He brought 17 soldiers of 1-Sikh regiment commanded by Lt.Col. Dewan Ranjit Rai. “…The pilot flew low on the airstrip twice to ensure that no raiders were around… Instructions from Prime Minister Nehru’s office were clear: If the airport was taken over by the enemy, you are not to land. Taking a full circle the DC-3 flew ground level. Anxious eye-balls peered from inside the aircraft – only to find the airstrip empty. Nary a soul was in sight. The raiders were busy distributing the war booty amongst them in Baramulla.”
12.In 1951 he established the international Kalinga Prize for popularisation of Science and Technology among the people and entrusted the responsibility to the UNESCO.
13.Paradeep Port: Patnaik was keen to build the port at Paradeep. When the Central government refused to give funds to build the Paradeep port, he said: To hell with the Government of India. I will build the port with state government and my own money. And he spent Rs 1.60 billion on it. Later, of course, Nehru sanctioned funds for the project. Today that is Odisha’s most prominent port.
14.When Nehru was criticised in the Parliament for his decision to provide more aid to Odisha. Nehru replied, ‘”Biju Patnaik has the courage, dynamism and zeal to work. So there is no blunder in giving more aid to Odisha.”
15.During the Sino-Indian War in 1962, Nehru consulted the Odia leader repeatedly for advice. For some time, he was Nehru’s defense advisor, unofficially of course. ‘The prime minister was dazzled by Mr Patnaik’s familiarity with military subjects,’ wrote a political commentator of the time.
16.To fight against corruption he once proclaimed ‘beat up all corrupt officials’.
17. His advice to the future ideas are ‘To be born poor is not a crime but to remain so is indeed a crime’. ‘Be loyal not to me but to the destiny of the State’. ‘Odisha is a rich state where poor people live’. ‘Be a pride to your State and not a shame’.
18.When a journalist asked him on his 79th birthday how he would like to die, he had quipped, ‘I would like to die in an air crash rather than from prolonged illness. I would like to die instantly, just fall down and die’.
19. He left this quote for people of Odisha”In my dream of the 21st century for the State, I would have young men and women who put the interest of the State before them. They will have pride in themselves, confidence in themselves. They will not be at anybody’s mercy, except their own selves. By their brains, intelligence and capacity, they will recapture the history of Kalinga.”