(Bihar Times)Bihar is India’s new miracle economy. It was one of the main news headlines on the front page of Sunday Times of India. Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s column in Economic Times was the reason for this headline.
If I go by my inbox e-mails, the news has excited many well-wishers of Bihar. I did also get a kick. Only recently I had gone through some articles based on the panel discussion organized by Business Standard Hindi in Patna that had made me morose and so I wrote ‘Bihar’s Bad Luck’. Let us see what Aiyar says:
“The best news comes from Bihar, historically the biggest failure. From 2004-05 to2008-09, Bihar averaged 11.03% growth annually. It was virtually India’s fastest growing state, on par with Gujarat (11.05%). That represents a sensational turnaround. Nitish Kumar deserves an award for the most inclusive revolution of the decade.”
I have also gone through the recently published progress report for the last four years of Nitish rule. As usual, that is so poorly drafted by the babus that one hardly gets enthused to complete it. Why can’t the officers who go to all sorts of management training bring some freshening changes in their presentations and working?
The state will have the next election for the state assembly this year itself. Lalu and Ram Vilas are camping in Patna and consistently teasing and obstructing Nitish to make the people of Bihar notice their presence. Will Aiyar’s certificate matter in bringing the election result in Nitish’s favour? I doubt as it will hardly reach to those who matter in these elections.
However, the news will certainly help in changing the image of Bihar overall. Nitish has certainly worked hard to reach the people. His achievements have been many. I have been regularly writing about my expectations. But I wonder why Nitish doesn’t involve the people more. Why can’t he appeal to the rich business people of India to help him in providing education facilities, say at least 100 Higher Secondary Schools and 50 engineering and medical colleges, even if necessary on their terms in Bihar? Why can’t he involve the educationists of the state to scale up the quantity of intake and the quality of teaching in its existing science and commerce colleges? Some of them might wish to become entrepreneurs themselves. If it can be a lucrative business in other states, why can’t it be so in Bihar? I am sure some in his government itself are not the obstructionists. I wish he would have wound up different state school boards and got all schools affiliated to central boards to bring better equity at national level.
I would have loved to see a healthcare centre in any of the village- my own, maternal one or one from where my wife comes. I myself and my sons in US would have loved to contribute as much as we could. In my own village, I would have given my land for it. I can also contribute the investment required for a Knowledge Centre with computer and Internet facilities on pattern of ITC’s e-choupal for my village. But there is no such initiative at work.
But I am really happy with the findings of Mr. Aiyar. It certainly highlights that Bihar has a huge potential to get out from its laggard status. And the industrialists must come forward and invest there. Nitish must get his due reward and the people must elect him again and not the suspect black sheep.
Bihar’s Miracle is an exaggeration. There is nothing in Bihar’s recent growth rate to be envy about. At the best, it is pretty ordinary.
First and foremost, 11.03% growth rate is false. Its credibility is dubious. No one knows how did Bihar come up with the magic 11.03% growth rate. No matter what newspaper or magazine published it, there is still no authentication process or verification check for the validation of this phenomenal growth rate. Mind you, Chief Statistician of India and Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation, had recently clarified that the data of 11.03% growth rate between 2004 and 2009 is based on information provided by Bihar itself and it would not be correct to attribute it to the Central Statistical Organization.
Secondly, let us assume for the time being that 11.03% growth rate is correct, the pertinent question should have been 11.03% of what. To compare the economic health of Gujarat versus Bihar, one should disclose the per capita GDP of Bihar and Gujarat as well. Even the Economic Times article mentioned above conveniently skips the concept of GDP. If I scored 30 in half yearly exam and 45 in final exam, my percentage growth is 50%. This is Bihar. However, if I scored 90 in half yearly exam and 95 in final exam, my percentage growth is merely 5%. This is true for Maharashtra and Gujarat. Even a first class student knows whether 95 on 100 is better or 45 on 100. Bottom line is that growth rate by itself does not tell the entire story. On the contrary, percentage growth is a quite misleading concept.
Please do not take me wrong. I do not want to take away the thunder from the good work of Nitish and company, but I do have reservations in singing paeans. I have seen positive changes in Bihar. What used to be a 90-minute ordeal on a private vehicle is now only a 36-minute joy ride – to cover a distance of 18 kms. There is a lot of infrastructure development in Bihar. Roads, bridges, schools, colleges etc. are continuously being upgraded. Educational institutes are definitely performing better now. Law and order situation has by and large improved. Interaction of lawmakers and bureaucrats has generally increased with public through Janata Darbar and Vikas Yatra. RTI-Jankari has increased the transparency in day-to-day operations of government officials. Ordinary people are feeling more confident in the systems. But, all these improvements are extremely hard to quantify. I wonder how somebody has translated all these growth parameters into 11.03% growth rate. The only thing that has tangibly and quantifiably increased is the perks and benefits of government employees of Bihar.
It may be emphasized that Bihar does not have any industry other than sugar. Sugar industry in Bihar is unequivocally performing quite poorly. Improvements in agriculture sector cannot be attributed to the initiatives of government of Bihar (or New Delhi). Furthermore, growth rate by itself gives an eclipsed view of the growth parameters, and it cannot be used to compare economic health of two different states.
Very good intentions and plans for your own rural areas . I wish all success . New age Zamindaars must come forward . If you travel Bihar you will find many schools / colleges were built by then rich land-lords or cash rich people which benefited thousands of Bihari . Now , people like you are capable enough to uplift your own native . Your mail will inspire thousands of non Resident Bihari across the globe .
recent success of biharTimes.com initiative "Bihar Conclave" shows that - We all love our motherland willing hard to improve its situation . It was always a lack of political will , now its also being solved so its a good chance for all of us .
Ranjan Rituraj Singh