Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up

Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up
Progressive Bihar - Come support it's growth path.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is Nuclear Power an option for Bihar?

A recent news telecast just a couple of days back, that a nuclear power plant with a capacity of 10,000 MW will be setup in Maharashtra, caught my attention. This nuclear plant , will be the largest nuclear power plant globally and will be setup with the help of the Franch company Areva.

This made me wonder: Is Nuclear Power an option for Bihar? Can nuclear power plants be a viable source of electricity for Bihar? Does Bihar have that kind of land and resources required that can be used to build nuclear power plants, even if small?

We have way too much dependancy, as has been seen in the last 5 years or more, on coal for generating electricity. If Nuclear power is a viable option then why not explore it?

With the recent nuclear deal that India signed, a lot of nuclear nations are more than willing to partner with India: afterall it generates a lot of revenue for them. So getting a partner to generate nuclear power should not be a problem... The question is can nuclear power be generated in Bihar keeping not only the technology itself in mind but also the environment , people, etc.

Does anyone know if nuclear power plants are a feasible option for Bihar or has any thoughts around it?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Trade associations target 4,00,000 Crores investments over next 5 years

Buoyed by the victory of the NDA and Nitish Kumar, three trade associations have come together to target almost 4 Lakh crores worth of industrial investments into Bihar by holding 3 investmarts; one each in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

The three trade associations are
  1. ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India)
  2. BCC (Bihar Chamber of Commerce)
  3. BIA (Bihar Industries Association)
The investments being targeted are
  1. 50,000 crores in 2011
  2. 1,25,000 crores in 2013
  3. 1,75,000 crores in 2015
The confidence level is high because of the development focused goverment coming back to power and based on an example of Madhya Pradesh which garnered 2,53,000 crores investment commitments from a two days investors' summit.

The 3 associations have also proposed a public-private partnership to develop 14 new industrial clusters with each cluster housing 1,800 to 2,000 industrial units that will provide direct and indirect employment to 6 lakh people. The total investment on these clusters would be about Rs. 450 crores and land is expected to be provided by the state government. The clusters are proposed in Patna, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Barauni, Muzaffarpur, Katihar, Madhepura, Bhagalpur, Munger, Nawada, Supaul, Gaya, Bhojpur and Hajipur.

In my view, this is a good step if planned and executed properly with the right amount of support from the government. The biggest support that I see would be the power supply required for these industrial units. The Bihar government has already said that it will buy surplus power from other states. It remains to be seen how successful will the Bihar government be in getting the required quantum of power supply quickly.

The details in this post are courtesy of The Times of India article Trade associations to hold investmarts. The article does say that the investments will be 4 lakh crores but the sum total of the investments targeted in each of the 3 years is 3,50,000 crores. Hence there is a difference somewhere but it doesn't matter. Even if Bihar gets investments worth 3,50,000 crores, it will be well on its way to becoming a developed state and a better place to stay.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The New Bihar Cabinet

With the NDA winning the elections with a thumping majority (206 seats out of 243i.e. 84.7% of the seats) and coming back to power, the team led by Nitish was sworn in on Friday (27th November 2010).

The new ministers in Bihar and their portfolios are as follows:

# Name Portfolio
1 Nitish Kumar Home, Nigrani, Nirvachan, General Administration, Department of Cabinet Secretariat and all such departments which is not assigned to any one
2 Sushil Kumar Modi Finance, Vanijya kar, Environment and Forests
3 Vijay Kumar Choudhary Water Resources
4 Vijender Yadav Energy, Products and Prohibition, Terms and Legislative affairs
5 Nandkishore Yadav Road Construction
6 Narendra Singh Agriculture
7 Brishin Patel Public relations & Transport
8 Rami Ram Revenue and Land Reforms
9 Chadra Mohan Roy Lok Shwasthya Abhiyantran
10 Ashwini Kumar Chaubey Health
11 Hari Shah Panchayati Raj, Peechra warg aur Ati peechcra Kalyan
12 Bhim Singh Gramin Karya
13 Renu Kumari Kushwaha Industry and disaster management
14 Jeetan Ram Manjhi SC / ST Welfare
15 Damodar Rout Construction
16 Dr. Prem Kumar Urban Development and Housing
17 Narendra Narayan Yadav Law, Planning & Development
18 Prashant Kumar Shahi Human Resource Development
19 Shahid Ali Khan Minority Welfare and Information Technology
20 Shyam Rajak Food and Consumer Protection
21 Parveen Amanullah Social Welfare
22 Nitish Mishra Rural Development
23 Awadhesh Prasad Kushwaha Sugar cane and Small water resources
24 Gautam Singh Science & Technology
25 Janardan Singh Sigriwal Labor Resources
26 Giriraj Singh Animal husbandary and Fisheries
27 Satyadev Narayan Arya Mines and Bhutatwa
28 Ramadhaar Singh Co-operatives
29 Prof Sukhda Pandey Arts Culture and Youth
30 Sunil Kumar aka Pintu Tourism

These set of ministers will now drive the development in Bihar and target to make Bihar a developed state by 2015. My wishes and the wishes of everyone are with them so that they can put Bihar and Bihar's development above everything else and work towards the goal of developing Bihar.

All the best Bihar: Lets look at the dawn of a new, healthy and prosperous era.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Congratulations Nitish, JD(U) and BJP

Dear Nitishji,
Congratulations on winning the election and the mandate of the people. Hopes are running high and everyone is looking forward to you taking Bihar and all Biharis on an accelerated path of development.

All the best and look forward to the rapid growth of Bihar.

Thanks
Prashant

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Online website - Bihar election results

The ongoing Bihar election results will be declared on two Election Commission websites.

http://eci.nic.in/

http://ceobihar.nic.in/

Like everyone else, I am looking forward to a positive result for Bihar.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Diwali

Wishing you all and your families a Very Happy and Prosperous Diwali.
Thanks
Prashant

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bihar's big moment: An interesting article by Utpal Kumar

I came across an interesting article written by Utpal Kumar written in the Pioneer where he has touched on Bihar's sense of pride or the one that has taken a beating over the years. Worth reading....


Bihar’s big moment

October 31, 2010 12:57:32 PM

With development as poll agenda, Nitish Kumar has changed the very electoral rules of the caste-ridden State. So much so that even Lalu Prasad seems ‘progressive’ today. Utpal Kumar analyses the trend

If you seriously want to know what it means to be a Bihari, then take the first train out of Bihar. I was fortunate — one can call it a misfortune as well — to have experienced this early in my life when I insisted my father take me to Nagaland, where he worked as an academician. My father was one of the few well-placed Biharis in the State, I was told by my local friends. “The rest are filthy labourers,” they would chide me.

At least the perception was so in Nagaland. And why not! ‘Lalu-isation’ of Bihar was already in place, though the worst was yet to come. By the time the image of Bihar hit its nadir, I found myself in Delhi, wanting to pursue higher education from the University of Delhi.

“So, you are looking for a rented accommodation,” I was quizzed along with two of my Bihari friends. Before we could say anything, came a terse question: “Hope you are not a Bihari!”

I was stunned. It was my third day in the Capital. Being unaware of the ‘politics’ of house-hunting, I could have all but lost that flat. Thankfully, my friends interrupted. “We are from Allahabad,” they said.

Then began a series of Bihari-bashing from our prospective Punjabi landlord, unabashedly calling us filthy, thieves and mischief-mongers. It was an agitating moment for me. More so to see my friends listening to the non-stop anti-Bihari ranting with a smile on their faces! How could they lie in the first place? Worse, how could they listen to such comments, and smile?

Being a Bihari, that was my first lesson in the Capital. Today, when I hear the hardships being faced by Muslims — or even Northeasterners — in getting accommodation in Delhi and other metros, I just smile and say, “What’s new in that!”

As I spent some time in Delhi, I realised how my Bihari friends could smile at being rebuked. I, too, learnt to remain indifferent to such slurs being thrown, though not always I could take them hands down. But most times I kept quiet, preferring to blame the Biharis for such a sorry state of affairs — more so their political leaders for deliberately mocking at themselves through comical and at times nauseating antics.

In the past two to three years, however, there has been a perceptible change in the manner in which Bihar is being looked at in Delhi. There is a growing feeling that the State and its people have finally woken up. Even the Biharis seem more confident today. I discovered this myself a few months ago when I did not get agitated when someone shouted the term ‘Bihari’ in public. “Bihari ko Bihari nahin bolenge to kya bolenge,” I wondered.

If nothing else, one can count this sense of self-confidence as the single-most important contribution of the Nitish Kumar Government. And, this feeling is not confined to ‘Non-Resident Biharis’. During a recent visit to “the place where civilisation ends”, a Naipaulean epithet for Bihar, I was surprised not to find a single person who felt the State had not changed for the better in the past five years.

How could Nitish usher in such a turnaround, which till a few years ago seemed unfeasible? The first thing he did was to put the criminals in place. According to a report, at one time no less than 50,000 people were placed behind the bar on the pretext of one crime or the other. This had its impact. The State, which witnessed over 22,000 murders in the five years since 2000, saw a substantial decline of about 8,000 deaths between 2006 and August 2010. Likewise, there were 484 kidnappings between 2006 and 2010, down from 2,196 kidnappings from 2000 to 2005.

With most criminals behind the bar, business began to thrive as never before. This was instantly evident with the flooding of food chains and mobile service providers across the State. On a more sophistic term, Bihar, which had grown at an annual rate of 3.5 per cent between 1999 and 2004, took the highway of 11 per cent growth rate for the next five years, next only to Gujarat. Change was also perceptible in the per capita income, which soared from `8,307 in 2004-05 to `13,959 in 2008-09.

The benefits of economic growth might not have reached every Bihari, but the hope for a better future has reached them all. No one expected a miracle in five years, but the State, which witnessed not a semblance of governance for at least 15 years, saw its fundamentals getting corrected under the Nitish regime.

With economic prosperity trickling down, not only the number of Bihari migrants has come down, but also many people have begun to ponder about returning to their roots. According to a report, the number of fresh Bihari migrants in Punjab has come down by 30 per cent. This led to such an anxiety among Punjabi landowners that this harvest season many were seen waiting at railway stations for the trains pulling in from Patna!

Delhi, too, is witnessing this trend, though on a minuscule scale. And why not! Construction boom in Bihar has led to rise in the daily wages from `120 to `200 for labourers and from `150 to `250 for masons. “Why should I work here when opportunities are there in Bihar,” quipped contractor Zuber Alam, working in the National Capital Region for almost a decade. Last month he shifted his base to Patna with a dozen of his fellow labourers.

Nitish has also initiated another revolution, though unintentionally, in Bihari society by providing Bihar sub-nationalism a pride of place. Traditionally, there have been two forms of nationalism in Bihar — Indian and caste. A Bihari was always an Indian and of so-and-so caste; in contrast, a person in Bengal is an Indian, a Bengali, and then of his caste. What this means is that there is no one to vouch for the Bihar cause. For instance, when Jharkhand was carved out of it, there were only minor voices opposing it, unlike the one being witnessed in Andhra Pradesh.

It was this lack of sub-nationalism that also made Biharis indifferent towards the Centre’s erstwhile freight equalisation policy, which meant that transport was not to be considered an input cost. This enable a factory to be set up anywhere in the country and the transportation of minerals would be subsidised by the Union Government. This in turn nullified undivided Bihar’s natural advantage as factories could have been — and were — set up everywhere except in Bihar.

Arvind N Das takes up the sub-nationalism issue in his book, The Republic of Bihar, and tries to explain why Jaipurs, Jaisalmers, Udaipurs, Bahmani kingdoms or Hyderabad couldn’t arise in Bihar. “No baronial nizam-ul-mulk could carve out a territory for himself in a region whose produce was vital to the imperial existence that control through proxy could not be risked,” he writes. Bihar was too important to be left for barons!

Development, however, is no guarantee for electoral success in Bihar. And no one knows this better than Nitish, who, despite doing good work in his Lok Sabha constituency of Barh, lost the seat in 2005. No wonder while Nitish talks about development, he has openly indulged in social engineering, carving out a separate new section of ‘Mahadalits’ (Most Backward Classes) out of the existing Dalits that have traditionally supported Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan. With Mahadalits having 36 per cent vote-share, Nitish has gone all out to provide special financial and employment packages to this section. This, along with the BJP’s traditional upper caste vote-bank, can become an almost unassailable combination for the ruling alliance.

To counter this, Lalu is trying to regain his Muslim-Yadav base, whose loss had played a big role in his losing power in 2005. In the polls held in February 2005, the RJD had fielded 32 Muslim candidates, of which 21 lost. In the October-November 2005 elections, only four of the RJD’s 30 Muslim candidates won. Its ally, Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP, fared worse, losing all 29 Muslim candidates. One wonders how Muslims will vote in the wake of the Babri Masjid judgement. Lalu expects some benefits out of it. This explains why almost a third of the party’s candidates for the first phase were Muslims. Nitish, too, seems a bit wary. Thus the decision to keep Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi out of Bihar campaigning!

One hopes Bihar votes on the issue of development, and not caste and religion. Initial indications suggest that even if Nitish doesn’t succeed this time, which seems improbable at least now, he has set in motion a process for a different Bihar where a ‘feudalistic’ Lalu Prasad is forced to talk of development and the ever-indifferent Congress promising to take the State to the level of better administered federal units like Gujarat and Maharashtra. Whatever be the people’s verdict, Bihar can no longer be dismissed in Naipaulean terms; it could well become the place where a new civilisation begins.

Making of Nitish Kumar

Politician
1971 Member of Ram Manohar Lohia’s youth wing, Samajwadi Yuvajan Sabha
1974 Joined the JP movement, arrested under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act
1975 Arrested during the Emergency
1989 Secretary-General, Janata Dal, Bihar. Elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time
Minister
1990 Union Minister of State for Agriculture & Cooperation
1999 Union Minister for Surface Transport
2000 Union Minister for Agriculture
2001 Union Minister for Railways

Chief Minister2000 Chief Minister of Bihar for the first time; resigned after seven days when he couldn’t prove his majority
2005 Elected Chief Minister of Bihar for the second time
2010 Heads NDA campaign in Assembly election, seeking another term as CM
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What's changed in Bihar

With the current elections in Bihar, multitudes of people are debating and talking about Bihar, some for Nitish, some against Nitish. I did come across one such post in one of the forums and couldn't stop myself from giving my two cents on it.

When I think of Bihar and read more and more reviews of what people are saying, I am more and more convinced that Nitish Kumar has done a lot of work of Bihar and has achieved more than what most erstwhile chief ministers have achieved in the last 60 years... He has done two major things for Bihar
  1. Set the ball rolling for Development: Whatever anyone does or whoever comes to power, he will have to follow a development agenda. People in Bihar have, for the first time in many years started hoping... Hoping for a better and developing Bihar. Nitish has given people hope.
  2. Got people to think beyond caste considerations: This was not easy and in the last 60 years most elections were won only along caste lines and leanings. It is after a very long time that we see people visibly talking of development cutting across caste or community lines. Many people in Bihar are now  talking about development which they were not doing before.
These are by no means easy feats to achieve in 5 years time, so much so that other important larger than life politicians are also talking of development and promising development.

But these are not the mere achievements. There are many others to quote:  like better law and order, a governance in place, better roads, more teachers, better education data, a sub-nationalism that has not existed for a long time, brought some pride to Biharis, etc. I also think, getting the whole bureaucracy to start working and thinking of development, itself, would have been a mamoth task and would have taken time and very difficult to achieve.

Hence we can all debate on what good has been done or what is still pending; what development has been done and what has not been done BUT Bihar has started rolling on a path of good: a path of development and the credit goes to Nitish Kumar and Sushil Modi. Today we all are debating and we are debating because Nitish has given us a reason to debate, a reason that was not present before.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Business Standard - Bihar needs Nitish

An interesting article published in Business Standard caught my eye. Various newspapers, magazines and journals are closely following the Bihar elections , some taking a neutral stance, some highlighting the positives of one or the other, but none of them has completely sided with anyone... until now.

The Business Standard in an article published on 24th of October, i.e. today has clearly taken a stand that Bihar needs Nitish Kumar in a similarly titled newspaper article.



Bihar needs Nitish Kumar

India deserves more chief ministers like him
Business Standard / New Delhi October 24, 2010, 0:19 IST

This newspaper has not often taken political sides. Indeed, Indian journalism has not had the western tradition of the media declaring its political preferences. In the state of Bihar, however, which has now entered a month-long election period, the choice is clear and preferences should be stated. Bihar’s voters have to choose between five more years of a government led by Nitish Kumar, or five years or less of confusion created by an uncertain and split verdict, or five years of some nameless politician serving his tenure in Patna at Delhi’s beck and call.

There are many reasons why Bihar deserves Mr Nitish Kumar. First, he is a decent chap. In the rough and tumble of Indian politics it is not easy to come across men and women of basic and simple decency. That in itself should be a good reason for his remaining at the forefront of Indian politics. Second, he has done an impressive job. While the Congress party has every right to criticise his government and question his record in the heat of an election campaign, the fact remains that Mr Kumar has done more for Bihar than any other chief minister of this hapless state in the past five decades. Consider some simple numbers.

According to the state’s economic survey published earlier this year, Bihar’s economy registered an annual growth rate of 11.35 percent over the five-year period from 2004-05 to 2008-09, covering most of the term of Mr Kumar. It was only 3.5 percent per year in the previous five years. This should rule out the idea of returning to a Lalu Yadav-Rabri Devi regime. Bihar’s per capita income rose from Rs 10,415 per year in 2008 to Rs 13,959 in 2009, compared to Rs 7,443 in 2004-05. This impressive growth comes from an across the board improvement in the state’s performance, barring the industrial sector. Bihar’s agriculture sector, construction, education, health and services sectors have all witnessed impressive growth. It is only in the industrial sector that the state’s economic survey shows low growth. The contribution of Bihar’s manufacturing sector to gross state domestic product (GSDP) was a lowly 4.69 percent. Bihar has less than 1 per cent share of India’s agro-processing industries. Despite the much improved performance of agriculture, health and education, Bihar remains a laggard and has a long way to go before it can catch up even with some of the more developed north Indian states, not to mention the states of western and southern India. 

However, if Bihar has to have a chance, if it has to finally catch up with India’s more developed regions, it needs another five years of the kind of development-oriented administration that Mr Nitish Kumar gave the state. If Bihar can move closer to the national average in terms of the various indicators of development, that national average will itself rise significantly. India cannot sustain growth rates of over 8 and 9 per cent, not to mention 10, if populous and large states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh remain stuck in the morass of backwardness, both economically and socially. While Ms Mayawati Kumari is wasting a golden opportunity in Uttar Pradesh, doing little for development and being obsessed about herself and her wealth and power, Mr Kumar has remained focussed on development. He is a model chief minister that other Indian states should also aspire for. Our vote goes out to Mr. Kumar.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Projections - 170 seats for JD(U)-BJP

The Star News - AC Nielson opinion poll conducted amongst 21640 people has thrown the following projections
  1. 170 seats for JD(U)-BJP combine and 41% vote share
  2. RJD - LJP combine reduced to 34 seats and 25% vote share
  3. Congress to get 22 seats (9 in last assembly elections) and vote share increase to 10%
But the best thing is 90% of the people polled said that they would vote for any candidate with a development agenda irrespective of his or her caste. Bihar is now really on the development path.


The entire details are present in the Times of India article JD(U)-BJP combine to get 170 seats in Bihar: Opinion poll

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Every Bihari wants respect now

I am pasting a brief interview of Nitish Kumar in an Outlook article "Every Bihari wants respect now" which I think is a good summarization of what many of us think. Infact the last answer is something very interesting and we should be able to see where it comes from.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

interview

‘Every Bihari Wants Respect Now’

On the campaign trail, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar is full of confidence. He firmly believes his development plank will work with the electorate and that he will be able to take all sections of society with him. Nitish spoke to Outlook. Excerpts:
The last polls had an anti-Laloo plank. What is it this time?
The last election wasn’t fought on the anti-Laloo plank. Last time, people were sure that they wanted to vote for a clear-cut majority. This election is all about providing continuity.

Continuity to what?
Continuity to what we’ve done so far. This time there are three important factors that people will vote for: a fear-free Bihar where law and order prevails, development and Bihari pride. Every Bihari wants to be respected.

Your entire campaign is based on development. Will it work?
Yes, it will. People have seen the work happening around them. For the first time, they have realised that development can happen in Bihar and it can happen fast. A recent survey showed that 39 per cent of the total voters will vote for development. That says it all.

Don’t caste combinations play an important role in Bihar? You yourself engineered a subgroup within the Dalits called the Mahadalits....
Caste combination plays an important role all over the country. But caste is not the sole factor. Mahadalits are an important section of Bihar’s social structure. For ages no one did anything for them. Now they are confident that someone is looking after their interests.

What about the Muslims? Do you see the Muslims voting for you after the Ayodhya verdict when you have the BJP for a coalition partner?
People will vote for development. Look at what we have done in the field of education. That is for every caste and community. Secondary schools are full up. People will vote for the change that we have brought.

Have you been able to add any new groups of voters to the present set? Will it help?
This election will throw up a huge surprise. This time you will see a 25-30 per cent increase in voter turnout. That will come from the women. And this vote, this year, will be an independent vote. Our government has given them a sense of security and peace of mind from violence. We have empowered women with 50 per cent reservation in panchayats and the state education sector. Another section that will come out in huge numbers and vote for me is the new generation of Bihar. The young in Bihar has found a connect with the outside world. They are forward-looking and know that they have a glorious past and the time has come to restore it. This never happened in Laloo’s time.



Prevent the Ayodhya verdict from hampering Bihar's growth

As Biharis start voting for the assembly elections this week, I hope and pray that the Ayodhya verdict is not able to slow down or completely stop the progress of Bihar.

I was going through an Outlook India article which said "Nitish seemed well placed to retain power before the Ayodhya verdict. Now it no longer looks a cakewalk." It signifies that before the Ayodhya verdict, Development would win in Bihar... but now with the Ayodhya verdict, Development is taking a back seat with many voters giving more weightage to the Ayodhya decision.

However my belief and the belief of many people is that the Ayodhya verdict should not be allowed to make our voting decisions and determine whom we should vote for. Rather vote for the development of Bihar. Ayodhya verdict doesn't change people's situation in Bihar either ways. Ayodhya doesn't provide a livelyhood to the people of Bihar nor does it change the views of people outside Bihar in they way they look at Biharis. The only way the people who laugh at Biharis will stop doing so and respect each and every Bihari is if Bihar develops. The very same people who ill treated Biharis or raised slogals against them or even bashed hardworking Biharis will want to partner with Bihar if Bihar continues on the accelerated growth path it has been on in the last 5 years.

What we don't need is a Chief Minister who used social justice as his rallying point and presided over a kingdom of unsafe streets, endemic poverty and the kidnapping industry (The Bihar Glossary). What we need is a growth story presided over by a CEO-style chief minister in tune with the new economy, a re-made landscape where the roads are smooth and the mind is without fear (The Bihar Glossary).

Vandita Mishra has in a very matter of fact way echoed the above in the first two paragraphs of her article "The Bihar Glossary" in the Indian Express.

Can people who read this post and can influence those sections of Bihar who view the Ayodhya verdict as bigger than the development in Bihar, come forward and exert their influence and educate people to put Bihar's development ahead everything else?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What if the current ruling party looses elections

As I read various news articles on the election fever in Bihar, one thought comes to my mind... What if, what if the current ruling party looses the elections and the party that ruled for 15 years comes back.

In the next 5 years time there are various possibilities, but going by historical data this could be a highly likely outcome:
  1. Roads: We will have roads that get washed away in the rain, that is , if any roads are constructed at all
  2. GDP: Bihar's GDP will remain the same, if it does not contract
  3. State Budget: There will be no budget prepared for Bihar. Every expense will be taken case to case by going through a Vote on account. Result - No budget for development and thus no development in Bihar.
  4. Investments: Investments that have risen from 26 crores 5 years back to more than 1000 crores in Bihar, will go back to 26 crores or lesser. Industrialists who have been watching the election keenly will decide not to invest in Bihar because:
    1. Fear of the law and order returning to the state it existed prior 2005
    2. Criminals / Politicians with criminal backgrounds will have no checks and hence create chaos
    3. The environment will not remain conducive for investments.
    4. And big bucks would be required to grease the palms of these politicians to get things moving
  5. Kidnapping: Instances of kidnapping will go up. Kidnapping will become the main industry again. After all it achieves multiple things, significantly the politicians make money for each kidnapping and secondly people start living in fear again thus strengthening their rule.
  6. Criminals run free: Politicians and criminals who have been convicted in the last 5 years, will appeal and win those appeals and be set free. So people will again have to live with the scare and vengeance of the likes of Shahabuddin.
  7. Hospitals and Primary health care centers: Will go back to same condition that existed before
    1. No Doctors present in the hospital
    2. If Doctors are present they will see patients privately after the patients pay their private fees
    3. Medicines will evaporate and be found and sold in pharmacies privately
    4. The child deliveries that had gone up multifold will be back to old levels creating more child deaths and health problems
  8. Overturning of many developmental decisions: Many developmental decisions will be overturned. Afterall Lallu was the one who said that Bihar doesn't need IT.
  9. Reducing spend on education: An educated Bihar will not vote for politicians who do not work for Bihar's development. So why will the politicians educate the people at all. Rather they will remove investments in schools, teachers , etc.
  10. Below poverty line: 42% of Biharis live under the poverty line. This number will again start soaring.
  11. Multiple Dy Chief Ministers: So all of Ram Vilas Paswan's family members will be Dy Chief Ministers and same would be the case with Lallu. But to appease the Muslim and other minority community voters, they will make an equal number of Dy. Chief Ministers from various minority communities. Thus Bihar will only have a Chief Minister and a battalion of Dy Chief Ministers. Everyone will be a Chief Minister or a Deputy.
Well the last point might just be there for giving a good laugh, but the writing on the wall is clear... the state will head southwards (negative growth, etc, etc) if the people get swayed by the commitments of the likes of Lallu, Ram Vilas Paswan and others (including Congress) which never did any thing for the upliftment of the state collectively or the minority community individually.

Politicians can be shameful. Some promise free motorbikes  and some promise 5 litres of kerosene free: Where do these politicians think they will get the money for these commitments? From their own wealth ??? or burden the people of the state by diverting money earmarked for development of Bihar to fulfilling the commitments these politicians are making now (assuming that they will really fulfill the commitments).

Hence I appeal to the people not to get swayed by caste, community, Ayodhya, promises made, etc but to keep the past performance of the politicians and the development of Bihar in their minds when casting their important votes in this most important election in Bihar.

Make Bihar a winner.




    Wednesday, October 6, 2010

    Will caste politics have a bigger say over development?

    This has been the case with Bihar time and again. Most political battles in Bihar were fought on caste lines. This was probably the first time in ages that Development was to be the main plank for winning the election, but the Ayodhya verdict has a possibility of derailing "Development" from being the main poll plank.

    Political parties, who would not have won the elections, if people just thought of development, will now try to make Ayodhya a main issue and divide people around caste and communal lines.

    I hope people can overcome these challenging times, look above the caste and communal lines, and vote for the development of Bihar. In the past 5 years, people have seen things change and I hope the changes are enough to convince the people of Bihar to take the right decisions. May we all vote for Bihar's Development.

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Bihar in Monterey Bay Aquarium, California, USA

    It was a pleasant surprise to see Bihar as one of the 8 places in the world highlighted amongst the places that are creating better places to live in by cutting carbon pollution. I felt very happy to see the name appear in the Monterey Bay Aquarium and therefore wanted to share this news with all of you.

    Bihar has found a mention along with San Francisco (California), San Jose (Costa Rica), New York City (New York), Ann Arbor (Michigan), Chicago (Illinois), Austin (Texas), Bogota (Columbia), Reykjavik (Ireland), London (UK), Samso (Denmark) and Paris (France). 

    Infact, if we watch closely, Bihar is the only place shown in this world map from entire Asia Pacific


    For those of you who want to see larger versions of these pictures, you will find them at the companion site of the blog "Bihar in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, California"

    Election dates in Bihar

    The elections in Bihar will start on 21st October and end on 20th November 2010. On 24th November we will all know whether Bihar's growth will leapfrog and get into accelerated mode, creating more job opportunities in Bihar, or will we start moving back to the Hagemonic era of Laluism.

    The industrialists who were thinking of investing in Bihar or who committed to investing in Bihar and have not invested in Bihar will watch the developments very closely. This is the time for all the people, whether lower caste or upper caste, whether backward or forward, whether landowners or landworkers, whether Hindus or Christians or Muslims or Buddhists, or any other religion, to have some patience and invest in the future of Bihar even if the good work of the last 4.5 years has not benefitted them, yet.

    After all, everyone will be better off if Industries come to Bihar thereby creating job opportunities for Biharis. All the best to Bihar for a better and brighter future.

    Details of the election can be found in the Times of India article "Six-phase Bihar elections from 21st Bihar to 20th November"

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Backdoor entry into the Parliament

    Ram Vilas Paswan, till a year back would have never thought that he would have to use a back door entry like the Rajya Sabha to get into the Parliament. The man who created records after records in winning elections has once again managed to hoodwink the people and get back into the Parliament. This time people did not want him to represent them in the Parliament, but our political system is so politician friendly, that one way or the other people find a way to be in it again. So did Rajiv Pratap Rudy get back even after loosing elections.

    Our Political system needs a revamp. Any person who looses a Lok Sabha election should not be given a chance to sneak in back doors for atleast 3 years, if not 5. I am not judging  whether a politician is good or bad: that is for the people, who vote, to decide. So we should atleast respect the decision of people.

    I know, some good people would be left out, but atleast our politicians will know that without delivering on their commitments and promises, they cannot expect to come back and hoodwink the people.

    Interesting article - State going the Bihar way?

    Bihar in the news again... this time being quoted by a Karnataka Minister in one of his address.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    State going the Bihar way?

    M B MARAMKAL, TNN, Jun 16, 2010, 10.37pm IST

    MYSORE: It was a time when politicians from state and other states speaking about development used to quote the name of Karnataka and termed it a "developed state." They even used to caution people not to allow the state to go the Bihar way -- which was part of `BIMARU' (connoting sickness) states. BIMARU was the short form for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

    Today, the situation is reversed and now the opinion about Bihar among the politicians has not only changed, even development there in the recent years under the leadership of Nitish Kumar seems to have caught the attention of leaders from Karnataka forcing them to quote Bihar in their speeches.

    Addressing the lawyers at a seminar `Development and role of lawyers in it' organized by the BJP legal forum, minister Suresh Kumar extensively quoted the Bihar model and the development path adopted by it.

    Revealing the changed law and order situation in the state and how it has paved way for the people visit and invest in the state, Suresh Kumar said: "It is amazing that Bihar has recorded a highest growth of 11.3% behind 11.5% recorded by Gujarat. Recently, I was on a visit to Bihar to participate in BJP's national executive and I was told that 47,000 cases in various courts have been ended in conviction. Of these, 5,000 have been convicted for life," he said, pointing out that the lawyers and government played a role in paving the way for development. Not only should the government strive to improve the law and order situation, the leaders in it should think over various issues related to land, investment and providing facilities to people particularly living urban agglomerations.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mysore/State-going-the-Bihar-way-/articleshow/6048079.cms

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Progress reaching villages and villagers

    Recently in Mumbai I happened to meet some youths in their early 20s
    who work in a barber shop. The common connection between them was that
    they all belonged to different villages in Darbhanga district.

    I asked one of the guys as to who he thought would win the election
    this time, Lallu , Paswan or Nitish. Two of them emphatically replied
    "Nitish" at the same instance.

    They had visited / come from their villages in the last 3 months and
    were pretty impressed by the changes they found in their villages

    1. Primary health care centers were functioning in their villages.
    Earlier for any problem they had to travel to Darbhanga main city.

    2. Roads: offcourse they spoke about the roads, the four laning of
    the natonal highway and the good quality of roads that won't get
    washed away in heavy rains.

    3. Schools: that are functioning regularly now.

    4. Government's scheme of making a fixed deposit of Rs. 7000 for
    every girl child born and Rs. 1800 cash given for every boy child born
    went particularly well for them.

    5. Women are now being recruited into the police force which also
    impressed them.

    Thus these younsters were very certain that whatever tricks Lallu and
    Paswan played, it is Nitish who will win.

    I hope that the same sentiments are shared by other villages also and
    they vote for Bihar's well being and growth.

    Sunday, April 11, 2010

    Will people vote for development or caste?

    I think this is a question in the minds of a lot of us? Some, who are externally observing the developments in the state and others who are going to be actual participants in the state upcoming elections and will decide the future of Bihar. All of us are waiting and watching what will win this time : Development or Caste system?

    This is a question that also come to the mind after reading the article in the New York Times today : Turnaround of India State Could Serve as a Model

    The article has highlighted some significant changes that have come to Bihar in the last 5 years. It has also pointed out the uncertainty in people's mind which has been well coined my Mr. Shailbal Gupta of the Asian Development Research Institute

    Mr. Gupta has said in the article "Identity politics is strong, we hope that voters will choose development over caste. But in Bihar one never knows"

    But there is also another important  area of concern which can change the course of Bihar's development. For the next stage of development besides industrialization , land reforms are required so that the poorest in the state also benefit. Will the rich landlords allow this? Will the rich landowners allow Nitish Kumar to come back as the Chief Minister again? Will they realize that they themselves will further prosper if the state develops, for which it is important that Nitish Kumar becomes the Chief Minister again. Or will they vote against Nitish Kumar and influence their people also not to vote for Nitish Kumar?

    The third problem is the aspirations of many people within JD (U) itself. Will these people be ready to put their aspirations on hold for Bihar's growth. Or will they put their aspirations before anything else?  How will their actions affect the future of Bihar?

    So many variables! Will Bihar continue to develop, grow and prosper?

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Bihar has started becoming a role model

    The Punjab government, impressed with Bihar's Super - 30 programme to train rural/economically weak aspirants for IITs, is set to replicate the model in Punjab.

    While this was not so much of a government initiate, I still felt happy reading about this news as this is one of the first of the many times to come where Bihar will become a role model for other states to follow.

    The detailed news can be read at Punjab to copy Bihar model for rural IIT aspirants

    Wednesday, March 31, 2010

    Media coming to Bihar

    One good visible sign that people expect Bihar to continue growing is the interest media is showing in Bihar. Not only many publications who never wrote about Bihar are writing about it but also many of them are focusing on Bihar as their next growth area.

    Thus we see that Dainik Bhaskar, a Hindi newspaper and the 2nd most read , is setting up a printing facility in Bihar and plans to bring out multiple editions.

    Similarly other news papers like Hindustan and Prabhat Khabar are expanding their editions by bringing out other editions of the paper from Bhagalpur and Muzzafarpur. Hindustan is setting up a new printing press in Patna that can print an all-colour, 24-page edition newspaper at the rate of 90,000 copies an hour.

    Bihar poised to be next major battleground for Hindi dailies an article in Live Mint states that "Bihar isn’t an unattractive market either. The state’s economy is growing at 11.03% compared with the national average of 8.49%, according to the latest data from the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO). Chopra of Hindustan says of the Rs2,000 crore advertising revenue that the Hindi dailies generate, Bihar contributes around Rs150 crore. And readers in the state also appear to be willing to pay for their papers—a change from most other markets where advertising subsidises the cost of printing to a significant extent."

    This is another one of the stories of a growing Bihar.

    Is this correct!

    We have known that politics and politicians can stoop to levels unimaginable to common people if it helps get them political gains. Dirty politics, crime, wrong propaganda, etc go hand in hand with a lot of politicians.

    However, should such dirty politics be allowed and should we get influenced by it when the future of an entire state is at stake?

    My question comes after I read an article in Times of India "Congress to splash Nitish's links with LK Advani in Bihar poll runup". Congress understands that many Muslim voters would be swayed away from voting for Nitish Kumar if it can link up Nitish Kumar to BJP’s Hindutva platform while he has stayed away from it in his entire tenure as the Chief Minister. The congress party, in an effort to create a base and woo away Muslim voters from voting for Nitish Kumar (and JD (U)) is trying to rake up a link between Nitish and Advani, thereby creating a link between Nitish and the Hindutva platform of BJP.

    Many of us see Nitish Kumar as the face of the revival of Bihar. Many of us feel that Nitish is the best bet for taking Bihar forward and it is important for Nitish to be around for at least another 5 years to really put Bihar on the auto growth path that is required by means of bringing investments and industries into Bihar.

    Interestingly, many influential people and others have pointed out that what Nitish and the Bihar state government have focused on are improving the law and order situation across Bihar, building roads and improving conditions in cities like Patna while ignoring the rural population. Many amongst us have argued against it by pointing out how more primary healthcare centres are functioning better across major parts of Bihar (delivery of babies have gone up from 4000 to 80,000 per month) or how the government is constructing more schools, appointing more teachers, strengthening the panchayats, providing facilities for panchayats to perform better, empowering the poor women in panchayats, empowering the women, providing money for the poorest sections of society for house building, sanitations, etc.

    All of the efforts that we have collectively talked about directly or indirectly affect all sections of the society in Bihar. 
    1. Because of better road connectivity, there can be better governance and rule of law can be implemented. The rule of law can now be taken faster to most places in Bihar. This helps in improving the law and order situation and reducing criminal activities in Bihar.
    2. Implementing better sanitation, strengthening the panchayat infrastructure, empowering women, empowering the poor women, etc will definitely have a long term effect on the lives of the poor and down trodden.
    3. Better Primary health care centers will indirectly help the poor get better medical care which in turn will lead to better lives for everyone
    An article by Anil Padmanabhan deputy managing editor of the Mint caught my eye today. His article "Bihar is daring to dream again" talks about an indirect effect of the improvement in law and order and better infrastructure in Bihar. This article talks about how the improvement in the infrastructure has helped take the the benefits of "World Bank sponsored project - Jeevika" to the poorest of the poor in various districts of Bihar.

    Quoting verbatim from his article "However, the children have ended up as the unintended beneficiaries of a World Bank-sponsored project, Jeevika, to improve the livelihood of the rural poor. For that, they have the energy and enthusiasm of a progamme worker to thank. The children now have a make-shift school in a space of about 8 feet by 4 feet and a teacher (on a monthly salary of Rs500) and the promise of a permanent roof from a probationary officer of the Indian Administrative Service, Kartikey Budhabhatti. While it is far from ideal, it has at least initiated, at a very rudimentary level, a mainstreaming of the community through capacity building."

    Jeevika has managed to setup 17,044 Self help groups and has 196,000 members across eight districts in Bihar - Nalanda, Gaya, Khagaria, Muzaffarpur, Purnia, Madhubani, Madhepura and Supaul—spread over north and south Bihar (some of the poorest districts in Bihar). Significantly it is now proposed to scale up the program to 18 districts. It would not be possible without the improved law and order and better infrastructure to reach out to the people of these districts.

    Similarly we know that the Gates Foundation is going all out to reduce the child mortality rate in Bihar by providing emphasis on innovations that effect social and cultural change to bring down the unacceptably high death rates for children less than five years of age in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as detailed in the article "Gates Foundation to go all out to reduce child deaths in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar". I think the Gates foundation can take such a full fledged initiative just because of the improved law and order and better infrastructure in Bihar.

    Thus it is clear that the efforts of the current state government have impacted the lives of every Bihari and every Bihari will gain from it in the short term or the long term.

    I also know that various efforts and initiatives have been taken for the Maha dalits and Muslims in Bihar. Detractors might call these initiatives politically motivated too keeping the upcoming assembly elections in mind, but the fact remains that efforts and initiatives have been taken for an all round development of Bihar.

    I am a very non-political person and do not side with any particular political party but I do side with Bihar's growth and progress and any party that works towards the state's improvement. As such I have seen the Nitish Kumar Government take initiatives and architect the start of Bihar's turn around and therefore I support the work being done by the Government of Bihar. Therefore when I read this article in The Times of India I could not stop myself from writing penning down my thoughts. I do not ask people to blindly follow Nitish Kumar or JD (U). I just want people to be aware and take the right decisions based on their judgment and not get influenced by such political games of political parties like the one planned by Congress.
     
    I know there are many Muslims in our group and I would urge them to educate the other Muslims they know, to not get influenced by dirty/incorrect politics of any political party and look at what’s best for their future and what’s proven the best bet for their future in current times. I wouldn't ask you to support Nitish if you don't believe in him but I would definitely ask you not to get influenced by dirty/incorrect political maneuvers of any political part for political gains. If you think what I have said is correct and agree with the main thoughts I have echoed, then I would urge all who read this article to take this view to not only Muslims and but also to all sections of people of Bihar. Many of our Muslim friends who are part of this group would be part of the larger Bihar Anjuman yahoo group (biharanjuman@yahoogroups.com with over 5000 members). If they agree in principle to what I have said, I would ask them to take this message across to the Bihar Anjuman Group and educate the people with what’s best for them for their future development.

    Let us all contribute our efforts to build a better Bihar.

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    Reliance out of the Motipur Sugar Mills

    Bihar government has cancelled the contract of Reliance for reviving the Motipur sugar mills. This was done because even after repeated requests from the state government, the Mukesh Ambani led Reliance group did not start work at this site.

    The decision of Reliance of not starting the work at this sugar plant appears to be more of a strategic business decision rather than anything attributable to the state. However, this is not a good sign in Bihar's quest of attracting more investments into the state. In the past many companies like Gujarat Ambuja and Solanika tractors came and went without making any investments into the state. They left citing reasons like poor law and order, power shortage and lack of infrastructure.

    Today in an improved scenario, we have better law and order & infrastructure in the state as compared to before. But to attract industries we have to do more. The state government has to provide attractive options like tax breaks, etc so that these companies come and invest in Bihar. I know that the Nitish Kumar government was drafting up a plan in this regards: I just hope that the plan comes quickly,  is attractive and doesn't get strangulated by the forthcoming assembly elections in the state.

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    100 Richest Indians

    I came across an article which is not directly related to Bihar but will be of interest to many people. This is the list of 100 richest Indians.

    India's top 100 richest people are based out of 16 cities. Needless to say the maximum of 37 are based out of Mumbai followed by 20 in Delhi. None are based out of any city in Bihar / Jharkhand.

    CityTotal
    Ahmedabad5
    Bangalore9
    Bangalore/Delhi1
    Chennai5
    Delhi20
    Dubai1
    Gibraltar1
    Hisar/Delhi1
    Hyderabad5
    Kolkata2
    London3
    Mumbai37
    Mumbai/Belgaum1
    Mumbai/London2
    Pune6
    Singapore1
    Grand Total100
    Looking at the list I cannot tell if anyone belongs to Bihar. Maybe if someone does, they can point it out. The list of the 100 richest people is as follows:

    Rank Name City
    1 Mukesh Ambani Mumbai
    2 Lakshmi Mittal London
    3 Anil Ambani Mumbai
    4 Azim Premji Bangalore
    5 Shashi & Ravi Ruia Mumbai
    6 Kushal Pal Singh Delhi
    7 Savitri Jindal Hisar/Delhi
    8 Sunil Mittal Delhi
    9 Kumar Birla Mumbai
    10 Gautam Adani Ahmedabad
    11 Anil Agarwal London
    12 Adi Godrej Mumbai
    13 G.M. Rao Bangalore
    14 Dilip Shanghvi Mumbai
    15 Shiv Nadar Delhi
    16 Uday Kotak Mumbai
    17 Malvinder & Shivinder Singh Delhi
    18 Subhash Chandra Mumbai
    19 Indu Jain Delhi
    20 Kalanithi Maran Chennai
    21 Anand Burman Delhi
    22 Brijmohan Lall Munjal Delhi
    23 Sudhir & Samir Mehta Ahmedabad
    24 Cyrus Poonawalla Pune
    25 Ramesh Chandra Delhi
    26 Micky Jagtiani Dubai
    27 Yusuf Hamied Mumbai/London
    28 Pravin Kumar Tayal Mumbai
    29 Jaiprakash Gaur Delhi
    30 Rajan Raheja Mumbai
    31 Venugopal Dhoot Mumbai
    32 Rahul Bajaj Pune
    33 Tulsi Tanti Pune
    34 L. Madhusudan Rao Hyderabad
    35 Baba Kalyani Pune
    36 Rakesh Wadhawan Mumbai
    37 Chandru Raheja Mumbai
    38 N.R. Narayana Murthy Bangalore
    39 Gautam Thapar Delhi
    40 Rama Prasad Goenka Kolkata
    41 Niranjan Hiranandani Mumbai
    42 Desh Bandhu Gupta Mumbai
    43 Nandan Nilekani Bangalore/Delhi
    44 Pankaj Patel Ahmedabad
    45 Vikas Oberoi Mumbai
    46 Senapathy Gopalakrishnan Bangalore
    47 G.V. Krishna Reddy Hyderabad
    48 Ajay Piramal Mumbai
    49 Vinod Goenka Mumbai
    50 Shahid Balwa Mumbai
    51 Virendra Mhaiskar Mumbai
    52 Anand Jain Mumbai
    53 Anurag Dikshit Gibraltar
    54 Shyam & Hari Bhartia Delhi
    55 Anu Aga Pune
    56 Keshub Mahindra Mumbai
    57 Shantanu Prakash Delhi
    58 Rakesh Jhunjhunwala Mumbai
    59 Murali Divi Hyderabad
    60 Vijay Mallya Bangalore
    61 Brij Bhushan Singal Delhi
    62 Sri Prakash Lohia London
    63 K. Dinesh Bangalore
    64 K. Anji Reddy Hyderabad
    65 A. Vellayan Chennai
    66 Bhupendra Kumar Modi Singapore
    67 Atul Punj Delhi
    68 Benu Gopal Bangur Kolkata
    69 Harsh Mariwala Mumbai
    70 Reji Abraham Chennai
    71 S.D. Shibulal Bangalore
    72 Hemendra Kothari Mumbai
    73 Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw Bangalore
    74 B.G. Raghupathy Chennai
    75 Naresh Goyal Mumbai/London
    76 Shobhana Bhartia Delhi
    77 Gracias Saldanha Mumbai
    78 Analjit Singh Delhi
    79 Kishore Biyani Mumbai
    80 Hemant Shah Mumbai
    81 Jignesh Shah Mumbai
    82 Balvant Parekh Mumbai
    83 Nimesh Kampani Mumbai
    84 Manoj Tirodkar Pune
    85 Ashok Sarin Delhi
    86 Prathap Reddy Chennai
    87 Prithvi Raj Singh Oberoi Delhi
    88 P.V. Ramaprasad Reddy Hyderabad
    89 Ashwin Dani Mumbai
    90 Balkrishan Goenka Mumbai
    91 Kamal Khetan Mumbai
    92 Karsanbhai Patel Ahmedabad
    93 Vidya and Narendra Murkumbi Mumbai/Belgaum
    94 Ravi Puravankara Bangalore
    95 Abhay Vakil Mumbai
    96 Ashwin Choksi Mumbai
    97 Bhadresh Shah Ahmedabad
    98 Sameer Gehlaut Mumbai
    99 Dhruv Sawhney Delhi
    100 Hardeep Bedi Delhi
    This list is courtesy Forbes and can be found at Special Report: India's Richest

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Happy Bihar Divas Day

    Hi All,
    Wishing everyone a future filled with recognition, prosperity and respect on this first Bihar Divas Day.

    Thanks
    Prashant

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Economic Survey - Social sector spending in Bihar

    LiveMint has published a breakdown on the social sector spending of funds in Bihar. It is an interesting article, the focus of which is to highlight that 44% of all funds spent in Bihar have been spent on Patna.

    Courtesy: Live Mint


    Some of the interesting statistics provided for fiscal year 2008-09 , highlighted by this article are

    Per Capita Income: Highest three districts (economically advantaged districts)
    1. Patna: Rs. 37,737 
    2. Munger: Rs. 12,370
    3. Begusarai: Rs. 10,409

    Per Capita Income: Lowest three districts
    1. Sheohar: Rs. 4,398
    2. Araria: Rs. 5,245
    3. Jamui: Rs. 5,516
    Per capita expenditure
    1. Bihar average: Rs. 3,821
    2. Patna: Rs. 29,390
    Per capita expenditure on primary education
    1. Bihar average: Rs. 425
    2. Patna: Rs. 3,867
    Per capita expenditure on medical facilities
    1. Bihar average: Rs. 106.92
    2. Patna: Rs. 752
     Per capita expenditure on sanitation
    1. Bihar average: Rs 6.4
    2. Patna: Rs 55.4 
    Per capita expenditure for the welfare of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes
    1. Bihar average: Rs. 23.32
    2. Patna: Rs 87.46
    Funds for Medical facilities
    1. Patna: Rs. 410 crores
    2. Sheohar (the poorest district): Rs. 2.9 crore
    Drinking water: No funds for Sheohar, Arwal, Nawada and Lakhisarai.

    Sewage and Sanitation: No funds for 6 districts out of 38.
    First of all I am glad that even LiveMint (liz Mathew) has started taking keen interest in Bihar just like many other people. Secondly these numbers will help bring this matter to the attention of the government of Bihar so that they can put adequate focus.

    But my take is that , this is how the growth story of most states happen. Doesn't it? Didn't Mumbai advance much more than the other districts of Maharashtra before the other districts started picking up. It is a step by step journey and you can only take so many steps in a period of time. After all it takes a lot of effort to turn around the situation from no governance to better governance, from a failed state to a growing state.

    I think looking at those numbers in isolation is not correct. What has happened in the last 4 years is that there is hope and optimism and a positive feeling in the air. Everyone is now looking forward to betterment and growth. Only about 5 years back no one including these newspapers, economists and everyone even thought that Bihar could start improving even though Biharis prayed for it. Many of these newspapers and economists did not even consider thinking of Bihar, analyzing Bihar or writing about it. Now thats a big change the Bihar government has brought it. Everyone is talking about it: Every one knows that Bihar has a growth story and every one wants a hand in this story.

    But today we have hope. And as one economist pointed out that, due to the backwardness, only Patna and a few districts had the capacity of absorbing and using the funds.

    Nitish Kumar, in an earlier interview with LiveMint had said that that welfare measures introduced were universal. A couple of statistics missing in the analysis of many people , that Nitish Kumar pointed out were
    1. Rs. 700 was being provided to each and every girl in Bihar from VIth standard onwards to buy school uniform, a school bag and shoes.
    2. In 2006, the number of girls going to high school was 1,50,000 and now it is 4,50,000.
    Now this is the kind of statistics that I would like to hear. Because even though this statistic doesn't do much to elevate the problems in the short term, it is creating the platform for the long term success and development of Bihar. This will truly improve the living conditions of the people of Bihar and help in eliminating the social problem of casteism deeply rooted in the minds of many Bihari people. This will truly change Bihar.

    Hence I believe that Nitish Kumar is focusing on building a strong foundation on which, Bihar will once again become a very glorious state.

    The detailed article can be read at Patna gets lion’s share of Bihar’s funds, poor districts left behind

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    New Blog Layout

    Friends
    It has been over a year and 100 blog posts since I started writing on my blog http://progressivebihar.blogspot.com/. I appreciate all the support and feedback I have received from everyone and hope that I will continue getting the necessary support and guidance in future too.

    I have changed the layout of this blog and would like to get your feedback on this layout. Do let me know whether it is easier or more difficult to navigate as compared to before and what is its visual appeal in comparison to the earlier layout.

    Thanks
    Prashant

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    World Bank recognizes Bihar's signs of turnaround

    World Bank has endorsed Bihar's turn around story and has attributed this turn around to the all-inclusive reforms initiated by the state government, including improved law and order and higher public expenditures.

    In a statement released by the world bank it has said 'There are visible signs of a turnaround where the Bihar government has been implementing wide-ranging reforms. State revenues and development expenditures have increased."

    It has also pointed out that it is complex to pin-point  the reasons for the fast paced economic growth in Bihar. Its statement said "Pinpointing the roots of economic growth is complex, the faster growth experienced by Bihar after 2004 can be reasonably linked to improvements in the rule of law, more efficient and larger public expenditures, and better infrastructure."

    It is an endorsement of Nitish Kumar and team's effort by a global organization and should put to rest some of the negative opinions put forward by various skeptics of the Bihar Growth Story. Good Work Nitish Kumar ji.

    The complete article can be found at Bihar turning around on improved law and order: World Bank

    Rajdeep Sardesai's article on Lalu - Running out of steam.

    Rajdeep Sardesai, the Edito-in-Chief of IBN Network and a famous TV personality has written an interesting article on Lalu. Its his personal opinion and take on Lalu's Political career and his charisma.

    Its an interesting article for anyone who has time and would want to know about Lalu. This article Running out of steam is published in Hindustan times.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Nitish Kumar's Interview - Livemint - 11th March 2010

    I am sharing the interview given my Mr. Nitish Kumar as captured by Liz Mathew on the LiveMint article Bihar’s a place where things can be done

    ------------------------------------------------------------------

    Bihar’s a place where things can be doneEarlier, there were (a) lot of social conflicts in Bihar, but there is a sense of harmony (now) says Nitish Kumar, Bihar chief ministerLiz MathewNew Delhi: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, widely seen as bringing in positive changes in the backward state, said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government needs to do more to aid his efforts to hasten development. Kumar said in an interview that inclusive growth, which the UPA government stresses upon, would not be possible unless it changes its discriminatory attitude. Edited excerpts:


    You have been waging a war against corruption. Your government had passed a law that enables it to confiscate property of errant officials even if the matter is before the courts. How far have you succeeded in checking corruption?

    We have taken strong steps against corruption and it’s an important area of interest and focus. A number of actions have been taken. A record number of graft cases are there in the courts, people have been caught red-handed while taking bribes at their workplace.

    Finally, I went for legislation, which has two features—a limited time frame for trial and that the properties of those who have been charge-sheeted can be confiscated, of course with prior permission from the designated authority. It got presidential assent in February.

    Here is an example of an administrator being praised for his attempts at bringing in changes in politics by outsiders, but not getting much support from his own Janata Dal (United) party. Any comments?

    No, it’s not the case. The party is with me. But there is no role for the party to play in this point of time, except that they should speak against corruption, which they do. Everybody is with me. But it takes some time to do the good things.

    Your government claims to have improved law and order in the state. How far has it improved?

    Twin demands: CM Nitish Kumar says Bihar needs a special status tag plus greater support from the Centre and the Planning Commission. ReutersCompare our law and order situation with any developed state and you will find our situation is far better. I do not name any particular state because it will create (a) controversy. In 2004, the number of kidnappings for ransom cases, which created a very bad image for Bihar, was 400-plus. Now it has come down to 70-80 cases. The perception has changed. I have established (the) rule of law. More than 42,000 cases have been decided and people have been convicted in the last four years, which is the highest number in the country.

    Bihar has been in the news for development work. Isn’t that overstated?

    Before we discuss development, we should see the change of perception in Bihar. Earlier, there was a feeling that nothing moves in Bihar. Bihar is changing and it’s a place where things can be done. Earlier, there were (a) lot of social conflicts in Bihar, but there is a sense of harmony (now). Mass carnage has become a matter of the past.

    I have laid emphasis on infrastructure, particularly (on) roads. We are even investing in maintainance of national highways because the Central government is not providing enough money for their maintenance. We are also focusing on education, healthcare and other welfare schemes.

    The state government has signed agreements with industry, but how many of these have turned into a reality?

    We have cleared projects worth Rs1 lakh crore. Basically, the investment proposals are primarily in two sectors. One is producing ethanol from sugar cane; a number of proposals have been cleared on this.

    And the other is thermal power projects. But for thermal power plants, one requires coal-mine linkage, which has to be given by the Central government. They have not given us any coal linkage for any power plant in the 11th Plan. This is the 12th Plan, still we have not got any coal linkage to any private sector plant till date. Even for public sector plants, we are struggling hard. Due to (the absence of) coal linkage, power generation is disrupted.

    Do you support the proposed goods and services tax?

    There is an empowered group of (state) finance ministers. If it decides for the whole country, we have to opt for it.

    The 13th Finance Commission report has recommended more assistance to states lagging behind in education and health infrastructure. But it also made this conditional on certain parameters. What are your thoughts on this?

    We are performing and there would not be any problem on that front. But the basic thing is that they did not address many of our concerns. They claim that Bihar earned more; but in percentage terms, everything has been reduced. If the government can make a special package for Bundelkhand, why can’t it be for Bihar. I do not object to the Bundelkhand package, but Bihar also qualifies for one.

    The Central government has even ignored our requests for compensation for the Kosi river tragedy. We got nothing from the Central government. This is discrimination. We want to become a developed state by 2015. How can we achieve that unless per capita development, per capita expenditure go up? We are a development-deficient state. It has been a case of perpetual negligence. How can they (the UPA government) achieve inclusive growth without developing backward areas?

    We are improving ourselves. We require two things—larger support from the Central government not only in terms of grants, but also from the Planning Commission. Bihar also needs a special status. We have proved that Bihar can be developed, it can be changed, and it can be governed. Why will they not invest in Bihar?

    You had promised to implement the recommendations of the D. Bandhopadhyay committee report on land reforms. What has happened to that?

    There has to be a debate on that report. There should be a conducive atmosphere for it.

    At the national level as well as in some crucial states, including Bihar, there is a resurgence for the Congress. How are you going to tackle it?

    Where is (the) Congress resurgent? The resurgence is visible only in the media, not in Bihar. Take it from me, nobody is taking them seriously. They are not giving us money, no special status.

    The Janata Dal (United) is getting stronger in the state and the Bharatiya Janata Party is weakening. Do you see any point in continuing the alliance?

    There is no problem here. What is happening at (the) all-India level, I cannot say. So far as Bihar is concerned, our alliance is very successful and there is not much problem. There may be some problems, but they are within manageable limits. Our relationship has matured and the government is working well... Here this alliance will continue and I want that this should go to the people for renewal of mandate jointly.

    What is the future of the National Democratic Alliance?

    It will be fine. Now it’s (the) Congress (in power) and people will gradually develop a disliking for it. (See) how they have handled the women’s Bill. They got 200 seats and they pretend that as if (they have) two-thirds majority everywhere. Now they will face difficulty everywhere with this kind of attitude and temperament. I feel that a fatigue will develop in the UPA.

    liz.m@livemint.com

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Reply from Nagaraj - Booming Bihar: Fact or Fiction? - Article by R. Nagaraj

    Friends,
    All of had various kinds of reaction on reading the articles published by Mr. R. Nagaraj be it published in the Business Standard (http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/r-nagaraj-demystifying-bihar%5Cs-growth/387412/) or on Sify (http://business.rediff.com/column/2010/mar/04/guest-how-real-is-bihars-growth-story.htm) or the article written by Mr. Nagaraj on the site  epw.in : Booming Bihar: Fact or Fiction?


    Many of us were surprised and agreed that his reaction was being very myopic and did not probably represent the complete truth or the sentiments of people on here.

    Like many other, I had also published my views in myblog  article Booming Bihar: Fact or Fiction? - Article by R. Nagaraj . I had also marked a copy ot Mr. Nagaraj's email address. Subsequently I received a reply from Mr. Nagaraj and I am posting it below for everyone to read.




    ---------- Forwarded message ----------

    From: nag@igidr.ac.in
    Date: Sun, Mar 7, 2010 at 9:20 PM
    Subject: Re: Booming Bihar: Fact or Fiction? - ...
    To: Prashant prashantrbe@gmail.com

    Dear Mr. Prashant,
    Thank you very much for your comments and questions. Let me reiterate the following:


    1. My comment on Bihar was restricted to the hype of 11% growth, which seems suspect - given the fragility of the official statistics. I am sure you would agree that any rigorous analysis of social and economic issues should start with careful examination of facts.

    2. The supposed growth is not broad based, but restricted to an exceptional growth in construction, which seems suspicious given the methodological problems in estimating value added in this sector.

    3. While the government's publicity material apparently makes many tall claims, information contained in the official web site of the concerned department does not seem to fully support the claims, therefore, the doubts I had expressed.

    4. It needs to be appreciated that Bihar was not stagnating prior to 2004, as many seem to believe. Economic growth during the last decade was slightly lower than the national average, with considerable yearly fluctuation (as I have shown). The growth rate seems to have improved after 2004, but the extent of improvement is open to debate (given the conflicting numbers, as I have shown).

    5. My questioning of the hype is not meant to disregard the progress that Bihar seems to have made in recent years, which are commendable. In fact, I have said, in my epw piece, that there are some lessons here for the rest of the nation.

    I hope the clarification helps.

    Sincerely
    R Nagaraj

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I had also raised some questions to him and echoed my views in a subsequent reply to his email. I am sharing this information as it matches the views and thoughts of many Bihari people.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: Prashant prashantrbe@gmail.com
    Date: Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 3:09 PM
    Subject: Re: Booming Bihar: Fact or Fiction? - ...
    To: "nag@igidr.ac.in" nag@igidr.ac.in


    Dear Mr. Nagaraj,
    Thank you for your prompt response.


    Can you please provide me the links of the official websites which you have referred to in your email?


    I appreciate the fact that you are taking on the role of carrying out the checks and balances for a government which is claiming substantially good statistics which could be completely or partially correct. However it is good to have accomplished and seasoned people who can raise the red flag which will keep the government on its toes.


    At the same time, it requires other people to highlight the good and the bad happenings for a state and thus others can follow. This is what I am trying to do.


    You have mentioned that there was economic growth prior to 2004 and that Bihar was not stagnating. You are right and economic growth was happening. But was this growth a result of focused efforts or was just a by product of running a state.. Taat economic growth was not resulting in any change for the people in Bihar or their lifestyle , as far as I can fathom. I am sure you would be aware that during Rabri Devi's 5 year rule, the state did not even have a state budget and all the expenses were passed on a "vote on account". In such a situation you would hardly expect any work was done for Bihar's betterment. Nothing was done for the upliftment of the people as Lallu Prasad and gang would have lost their support base. Therefore they kept the status quo as long as they could.


    You will appreciate that the caste system is deeply rooted in the Bihar society. This has created many a hurdles in the the progress of Bihar. The only way one can reduce the caste differences and thus minimize the growth hurdles is by educating people. This was never an apparent focus area for Lallu and team. Atleast Nitish understands the benefits of education and is trying to do his bit in that direction, be it the appointment of 2,00,000 teachers on a contract basis or by re-building the dilapidated school infrastructure. Similarly Nitish's team has done a lot of things which are even acknowledged by the people at the grass root level (Improving security, law and order, better road infrastructure, tourism, etc). None of these were ever done or atleast no outcomes were visible during the 15 years of RJD rule.


    We are very hopeful that Nitish will continue bringing the turn around. However, the conditions in the past so many years were so sad that majority of people from Bihar had to go out looking for labor jobs etc outside the state. Thus Biharis have offen been the subject of ridicule across India: You already know whats happening in Mumbai / Maharashtra with the MNS thing, etc.


    However people have got hope now and the hope is that Nitish can turn around the state so that people do not have to leave the state looking out for jobs as much as they do now. I think Nitish has done a fairly large amount of work as compared to the previous regimes which has given people hope. However, as you have pointed out, there is hardly any self-sustaining work that has happened which can continue irrespective of the political situation in the state. Many of us believe that the base is made and now is the time to develop the state by building industries, improving the agriculture, etc which is the only way to improve the living of people in the state. We have to give Nitish a chance because he appears to be the best bet the people of Bihar have. The trust on Lallu and team is zero and people are confident that things will go back to the old ways if they return. (I am myself a native of Bihar staying in Mumbai and the last time I went to my village during Rabri's rule, I could stay at my own house for less than a day. I was convinced by many a neighbours that if I stayed longer my whole family would get kidnapped as my father is a very successful man coming from a small village in Bihar. Today my parents go and stay there for months together without any untoward things happening ).


    I also find Nitish is a responsive man and many of my posts go to his email box too. I have received responses and actions also based on these posts which in itself is a big thing (coming from a politician of a state like Bihar). One such actions detail can be found at : Nitish Kumar 2.0 - - - Bureaucracy. However there is still a lot to be done and I think it will taken another 5-10 years of focus before the growth becomes self propelled.


    So I, like many others, try to play the roles of keeping the checks and balances by writing about some of the things once in a while. However I am glad that eminent personalities like yourself are also taking interest in Bihar. I would appreciate if you will continue to keep track of Bihar and come up with your qualified comments and suggestions from time to time that will guide the people and government of Bihar.


    Regards
    Prashant

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------

    From: Ashok Sharma
    Date: Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 8:50 PM
    Subject: Re:  Comment on Bihar GDP growth figures

    Dear Prashant,
    Thanks for sharing the response of Mr Nagaraj. His intention may be noble but the question remains unanswered "Why everyone get over excited by anything related to Bihar?".

    The data is prepared by CSO which is not working on the payrole of Bihar Gov. Did Mr Nagaraj shared his apprehensions with CSO?

    When was the last time we came across such article on any other state?? Why media ignored the per capita allotment to Bihar in 5-year plans since Independence.


    There is no denying that there are many well wishers who want Bihar to succeed by providing critical feedback but in reality too much negative media campaign has hurt bihar's image so bad that


    Bihar is still struggling to come back on its own term.

    There was front page title in India today when I was in college. The title was - "The good , The bad and Bihar". Now how disgusting is that. We Biharis never realized that each and every negative campaign has given reasons to others that today .... Koi bhi sadak chap bihari ko gali de ke chala jata hai..and we bihari's ask ourselves.. "why me??".


    We all know that we have problems...what bothers me is that when people get over excited and start blabbering about Bihar as if there is no one to give them befitting reply.

    We should not take any more BS from anyone. BTW, Constructive feedback is always welcome :).

    Ashok

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