From the mails that I receive from the persons of Bihar’s origin living in different states of India and abroad, everyone is concerned about the developments in Bihar. They celebrate all the good news coming in media, but get morose with disturbing news too.
Something unique is happening in last few months. Bihar has suddenly become the subject matter of the writings of many columnists and all for good aspects of the transformation brought about after the downfall of Lalu’s regime about five years ago. Bihar is no more a state known with flourishing kidnapping industry.
Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar was the first to project Bihar’s image with findings of Bihar’s unprecedented GDP growth. His latest ‘Backward Bihar goes for the smartest cards’ in Sunday Times of India provides some inspiring evidence. In many areas Bihar has been taking steps that even the developed states have failed to do.
Bihar has taken the technological lead with the hightech smart cards. “This state has just completed a pilot project for smart cards in Patna district, called e-shakti (meaning power from electronic governance). These cards use not just fingerprints but biometric matching of the human iris, which is state-of-the-art technology. E-shakti has covered 13.5 lakh people in Patna district. It is now being expanded to cover the whole state. This bids fair to be the biggest biometric card scheme in the world. And the cost aspect is surprisingly low for the benefits that it may provide. The Bihar government estimates that the cost of smart cards for the whole state will be Rs 400 crore, just a peanut for such a large population.”
Saibal Gupta, member secretary, Asian Development Research Institute, Patna also wrote a column recently in Times of India that realistically analyzed the Nitish’s era in Bihar and how the land reform issue is causing trouble for Nitish at wrong time when he is going to face the assembly election very soon.
“In the last four years, no chief minister in post-independence India has got as much adulation as Bihar's incumbent…..
Bihar's state-building exercise would be incomplete without addressing the problem of land management, especially with relation to updating of records, consolidation of holdings etc. In anticipation of Nitish taking some steps related to land management, members of a section of the elite, mainly upper caste, turned belligerent.”
And as reported, leaders of the landed upper castes, cutting across the party lines are having separate meetings to discuss the issues related to Bataidari (Sharecropping) Bill. I wonder how the bill will not be a problem for the landowners of other castes, if it causes heartburn for the so-called upper class. There are huge numbers of landholders of OBC in many regions of Bihar. So why are the organizers not calling representatives of landholders of all castes? Why can’t there be a discussion on the subject without a caste bias? I wish the leaders of socalled upper caste find better ways to improve the lot of farmers’ community.
Ashok K Mishra of Economic Times did also publish a good analysis on the economic growth of Bihar.
In December 2009, Bihar topped the chart for cement consumption in the country with an annual growth of 36%. The state economic survey shows that the construction sector grew by 83.58% in 2006-07 and 43.85% in 2008-09. The new infrastructure being built, including roads, bridges and other public works, contributed 13.4% of the state GDP against 4.2% in 2003-04. Truck sales grew by 150% in the seven months till October 2009 on a Y-o-Y basis. “When businessmen complain to police about traffic jams, not law and order in general, I think it is a tribute to the system.” It can be heartening to all the people of Bihar.
There are many more articles in media recently on Bihar. I don’t think that these are paid insertions.
It is unfortunate that some raising the anti-Nitish issues are from JD (U), his own party, but from so-called upper castes. I am one against it and so must be many, as it will help those who damaged the fabrics of governance in Bihar. Nitish is a hope for Bihar. The others have not shown any change of heart. Nitish might have failed on many fronts. However, those who are against him will help the reentry in one of the two who have a history of vested interest instead of any development work for the state. Additionally, both have nurtured only their family members becoming strong and rich.
I wish Nitish to return but with a changed manifesto and dynamism to bring in some changes that can push Bihar in the league of developed state with education and skill training as the focus for sustaining any growth.
The views expressed by the author are personal.