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History Of Kalahandi

                    Kalahandi, a district of Orissa,India, was known as Mahakantara (Great Forest) in ancient India. It is also known as Karunda Mandal,
which means treasure of precious stones like karandam (Manik), Garnet
(red stone), Beruz, Neelam (blue stone), and Alexandra etc.

        Maharaja Pratap Keshari Deo, The Ex-Maharaja of Kalahandi, in one of
his articles expressed his view that the historical significance of
naming Kalahandi as Karunda Mandala is based on the availability of
Corundum in this region.

Maa Manikeswari (the goddess of Manikya), the clan deity of the Naga
kings of Kalahandi may have also necessitated the adoption of the name.

The present District of Kalahandi was a former princely state. After Indian Independence, Kalahandi joined with the Union of India
on January 1, 1948, and was subsequently merged with Orissa on November
1, 1949. The former capital of the State of Kalahandi, Junagarh,
located 26 kilometers from Bhawanipatna has a well-built fort and a
number of temples of Hindu pantheon, with sculptural evidence of the rite of sati.

A long history of drought, the socio-economic traditions
following in the society are the main cause behind the class
distinction among the people of Kalahandi. The fact that the
agricultural products the rural Kalahandi are being controlled by the
urban businessmen is one of the causes of social class distinction.
Moreover the customs of loan and mortgage current in the society are
the major sources of exploitation. Certain forms of mortgage like
Bandha, Kalantaria, Bandhasaheji, and Katti, and that of labour systems
like goti, halia (annual servant, bahabandha and Kalibhuti, thika) etc.
have debacle the normal way of peasant life. Along with the drought the
problems such as rural unemployment, non-industrialization, growth of
population and rapid deforestation are some of the major problems of
Kalahandi. Hence being gripped both by nature and men, the rural
inhabitant of Kalahandi has found no other way of survival. As a result
either he has migrated from his motherland or lived in the wasteland as
a crippled soldier. 

Kalahandi has been in the news since middle of 1980s when India Today reported sale of a child by its parents due to financial crisis. That article led the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to pay a visit to the district and brought the district to the attention of the national stage for its acute poverty and famine.
Subsequently similar reported cases of starvation deaths and sale of
children have led to the announcement of a host of relief efforts and
development projects. Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao
announced the famous KBK project (Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput) in 1994.
Nonetheless, Kalahandi has not been able to take off despite of hosts
of programmes, largely because of lacuna at implementation stage. As
the basic infrastructure is dismal state, the development progress is
very slow. 

But some development in the recent past has shown some sign of progress. The Indravati Water Project, second biggest in the state has changed the landscape of southern Kalahandi, leading to two-three crops in a year. Because of this,
blocks like Bhawanipatna, Jayapatna, Dharamgarh are witnessing rapid
agriculural growth. Sterlite Industries, a major aluminium
processor has made major investments in the Kalahandi-Koraput range.
Once this project is completed, it could be a big catalyst for
industrial development in the region. 

Political Affluence:-

                 Politically, the district does not have much importance in state or
national politics. Mr Vikram Keshari Singdeo, sitting MP(BJP) and third
time MP from the district has not yet received any Union Ministry or
political post. Mr Bhaktacharan Das, MP during the Chandrasekhar regime
(1990-91), was part of the union ministry in the Railway and Sports
department. No other MPs in last two decades have made it to any
important post of national or state level. Among the MLAs representing
the district, two MLAs Mr Bhupinder Singh and Mr Jagannath Pattnaik
have been among the senior leaders of Congress Party. Despite both of them being in an important ministry like Revenue and Tourism, they failed to make it to limelight.

Recent Developments:-

                 Kalahandi also is an example of disparity /contrasts that exist in many part of developing/underdeveloped world. On the one side, this district is famous for famine and starvation deaths: this is the same district that boasts of among the Highest Number of Rice Mills in Orissa. The number of rice mills in the district was around 150 in the year 2004-05. More than 70% have been built in the five years after commissioning of the Indravati project. The rice mill business is so lucrative that businessman from adjoining districts and states have invested directly or indirectly. Most of the rice mills purchase paddy from the government allotted villages through panchayat and sell the rice to Food Corporation of India. As many rice mills are competing for paddy, the price paid the farmers has increased in the recent past. But much needs to be done as the Rice mill Owners are primarily profit-oriented. No remarkable Farmers' Movement is seen in the areas so far. To articulate the voice & rights of the Kalahandia, people have waited for a 'mahatma'to descend amidst them.

Orissa government has also set up a private medical college with a tie up with one South India based organisation in Junagarh block of Kalahandi. This has the potential of changing the health infrastructure of the adjoining blocks in the locality. Recently Orissa state Government has announced to establish a Government Engineering College and an Agriculture College at Bhawanipatna but local demand for a Central University in Kalahandi has not been accomplished.People are joining the Separate State Movement for the creation of 'Koshal' state.The 'Koshal Mukti Rath'of Mr.Balgopal Mishra,a former M.P.7 M.L.A. has been widely wel comed by the people of Kalahandi.