Intellect Personified; Honouring Rashmita Panda
With the onset of the two-day Innovation Carnival, the debut of a business and entrepreneurship
extravaganza, NIT Rourkela saw footfalls of many notable personalities. IAS Officer Rashmita Panda,
served as the Guest of Honour during the inaugural ceremony of the event. Holding the cumulative
posts of Chief Executive Officer of Rourkela Smart City as well as the Commissioner of the Rourkela
Municipal Corporation (RMC)and Vice-Chairperson of the Rourkela Development Authority (RDA),
Rashmita Panda is the personification of intellect and placidity. Admist the hustle of the carnival,
Team MM caught up with her for a brief talk, excerpts of which are given below –
MM: How was your experience at the Innovation Carnival, a first of its kind event of NIT Rourkela?
Rashmita Panda (RP): It was really interesting to see the works of all the budding entrepreneurs
with innovative ideas supported by a plan of action. It was absolutely awesome to witness this. The
school exhibitions was a great step to bring the students into the entrepreneurship fold and giving
them a platform to explore the unexplored under the guidance of established entities.
MM: How far has Rourkela developed after its declaration as a Smart City?
RP: One of the few important things that come to my mind right now is the installation of energy
efficient LED streetlights throughout the Rourkela Municipal Corporation city limits. The other
would be laying the entire sewerage network system across the Rourkela city with the ODF plus-
plus network, a guideline of Swachh Bharat Abhigyan Program. This will definitely have a long-term
MM: How has been the start-up scenario under the banner of Smart City Project of Rourkela?
RP: When we had interacted with a couple of start-ups, there were few problem statements which
had come to my mind. I have already shared these issues with the concerned start-ups and some of
them have already started working on it. We had a discussion regarding the matter about 6 months
back. I am sure something concrete will be seen in the near future.
MM: Why is innovation important for the development of the country?
RP: An idea can always change a life. That is why creativity and innovation have gone hand in hand
since time immemorial. We need passionate and creative people in our society to keep the fire of
innovation burning which has been ignited since the inception of human civilisation.
MM: How supportive is the government in providing aids to the budding entrepreneurs and
innovators? What can be done to better the current scenario?
RP: Government has provided a lot of support structures in terms of linking it to financial institutions
or encouraging the budding entrepreneurs by linking them to academic institutions and aiding them
with independent workspaces. There are a lot of encouragement levels but I would not deny the fact
that there is scope for improvement. I think we need to have a little bit more of flexibility in
government programs so that the start-ups are encouraged at the incubation stage itself.
MM: How do you think programs like Innovation Carnival helps in providing a platform for
entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative skills?
RP: Events like such enables them to link up with the industry partners so that they get to know their
markets and where they need to target their product. It is equally important to sell the idea as it is to
create an idea. It also helps them to network the people. Besides, through such events, they get to
know the financial institutions from which they can get the upfront money or the capital fund.
MM: What will be your message to our readers?
NIT Rourkela students have been doing a great job and it has been a pleasure to visit the