Bijayananda Patnaik, popularly known as Biju Patnaik, was born on March 5, 1916 in Cuttack. He was the son of the late Shri Laksminarayan Patnaik (a notable nationalist) and the late Smt. Ashalata Devi.
Biju Patnaik studied at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. Right from his college days, he was a talented sportsman and headed the football, hockey, athletics and cricket team of the University. He was the sports champion for continuously three years. Apart from being a politician, he was an aeronautical engineer, navigator, industrialist, an ace pilot, popular freedom fighter and above all a renowned and outstanding personality.
Mr. Patnaik studied Aeronautics at the Aeronautical Training Institute of India. He became an ace-pilot. Biju Patnaik joined the Indian National Airways and was involved with the war effort from year 1940-1942. During 1940-42, when the struggle for Independence was going on, he was the chief of the Air Transport Command. Patnaik has two sons and a daughter. His elder son Prem is an Industrialist and his younger son, Naveen is a famous politician and is also the current Chief Minister of Odisha. His daughter, Gita Mehta is a renowned author and is the wife of Sonny Mehta, Editor-in-Chief of Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
Mr.Patnaik was elected as the Chief Minister of Odisha for two times (1961-1963 and 1990-1995). He was closely involved with the freedom struggle of Indonesia from Dutch in 1947 for which Indonesia conferred the highest civilian award, “Bhumi Putra” (Son of Soil) to him.
Biju Patnaik died on April 17, 1997 at the age of 81, due to a cardio-respiratory malfunction. The Government of Odisha has named several institutions after his name, The Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) is the most prominent one. The Biju Patnaik airport at Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha is another sign of honour in memory of this great man.