Bansidhar Panda: A statesman who never waited for anyone

By Kasturi Ray

Time and tide wait for none. So do people who shuffle off the mortal coil. Late Bansidhar Panda was even more of an exception. On the final day of his life, he waited for none before visiting the village deity to offer obeisance.

For someone who, when alive, did not wait for anyone before taking a plunge into setting up an industry at a time when none thought about it, took up philanthropy in larger interest of people, and loved and lived without waiting for anyone to give him back, Late Bansidhar would not really wait for anyone to pay him last respects.

For such a man whose name is etched in history of Odisha for his contribution to the growth of the state and who was looked up to with admiration by the likes of Biju Patnaik, Janaki Ballav Patnaik and many great leaders, Bansidhar has been the biggest change agent who believed in himself and people around him. The industrialist was a true statesman, who gave up comforts of a high flying career in the US as a scientist to bring home prosperity. An illustrious personality Bansidhar Panda was, his dreams and visions for the state were far more towering.

“I was compelled to return to Odisha to provide livelihood to people and decisively influence the process of industrialisation in the state. It was a long journey with twists and turns. I succeeded because people loved me, supported me and stood by me,” the late industrialist, an institution by himself, had stated in one of his speeches years back.

What he meant for the people of Odisha was not evident from the people who were conspicuous in their absence, but by a sea of known and unknown faces from all walks of life who gathered at his residence in Bhubaneswar and Madhuban, his native place near Barang on May 22. There were many others who made a beeline to the venue where late Panda’s Ekadasa rituals were held today. And their gratitude was writ large on their faces.  Politicians and people cutting across many sections of the society also poured their heart out on social media platforms.

Belonging to a league that had Madhu Babu and Biju Babu as frontrunners, Bansidhar with the unwavering support of his wife Ila Panda, naturally crossed all boundaries to do good to humanity in general. Warm as his persona was, he seemed as comfortable in the company of Prince Charles, Indira Gandhi as in the homes of his employees in remote tribal areas sharing food and pleasantries just to gauge if they were well off.

His contribution was not only limited to the industrial development, it far stretched to the fields of arts, literature, culture and sports in all of which he left an indelible mark of his own.

A smile that made people his own; a vision that moulded the journey of a state’s development and magnanimity that remains unparalleled, Bansidhar will always be remembered by a state and not any individual, for he was an institution who got his final deliverance by giving himself to the cause of the state.