Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up

Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Livemint article (Signs of renewal in Bihar) and my take on it.

Signs of renewal in Bihar

From: Prashant
Date: Wed, Jan 6, 2010 at 2:32 PM
Subject: Signs of renewal in Bihar
To: views@livemint.com

Interesting article and well summarized as far as the status of the state is concerned over the last so many years. However I think its not just the change in guard from Lalu to Nitish that is responsible for the double digit growth in GDP or the changes that have come up in the state but the focused efforts made towards improving the health of the state.

Some of the changes that have come in, in the last years are

  1. Improved governance leading to improved security. Number of incidents of crime and kidnapping have reduced. More criminals including MPs have been convicted and are serving life sentences.The vehicular population in Patna for example has more than quadrupled in the last 4 years. This has not happened in Bihar during the entire economic boom in India after 1991 until 2005. And many vehicles now ply on the road after 7 PM which was not the case some years ago.
  2. Educational infrastructure is being improved. More primary education centers are being implemented and existing failing infrastructures are being reconstructed. More than 2 Lakh teachers have been appointed.
  3. Healthcare has seen significant improvement. From a mere 4000 baby deliveries happening in the PHCs , the number has gone upto 80,000 because healthcare has improved, doctors are present and medicines available.
  4. Infrastructure improvement is taking place. There are better roads and better connectivity.
  5. Tourism is picking up: The number of foreign tourists visiting Bihar has gone up by 5 times in the last 4 years.
  6. Investment projects are getting clearances and proposals worth more than 75,000 crores have been approved even though the work on them are in the initial phases.

Obviously there are many inherent problems like casteism and corruption in Bihar that cannot be eliminated in a 5 year period. But the government is building the foundation of education that will lead to the reduction of these kinds of inherent problems.

There is still a lot to be done. In my personal belief the work done in Bihar in the last 4 years is not yet become self sustainable. This will only happen when enough interest has been generated in the state wherein

  1. Significant investments are made into the state
  2. More job opportunities are created for the people of the state
  3. Media provides enough coverage and acts as a check and balance in the state. Example : carrying out sting operations on bureaucrats, etc can create the atmosphere for people to avoid carrying out their corrupt practices.Or for example, media uses its reach to educate people on the positive as well as negative changes happening in the state.
  4. Various political parties do not just play mere political games when it comes to the question of the development of the state.

This is where your role as media comes up. Obviously you do not have enough coverage of the state and therefore are not possible aware of some of these changes that are happening. However your help can improve the state by highlighting the investment opportunities in the state as your paper is read by many people who control investment decisions in their companies.
I had a similar thinking like yours until a year back when I started tracking the changes in the state and was at first as surprised as you and questioned the fact that were these things really happening. Now I know that if the government continues doing the same kind of work that its been doing in the last 4 years for the next 5-10 years, Bihar will become one of the most developed economy in India. You might want to read about Nitish Kumar's plan 2015 or the progress reports that are released every year by the government. I track these changes and you might be able to get more information on these changes, if you so desire from my blog http://progressivebihar.blogspot.com/

You may want to begin with the reports on the right hand side of my blog.

Appreciate your patience in reading through this entire email.

Thanks
Prashant


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http://www.livemint.com/2010/01/03184644/Signsof-renewal-in-Bihar.html?atype=tp

Signs of renewal in Bihar

Bihar is often seen as India’s Somalia: a failed state run by a venal political elite, a civil society fractured by caste, a dysfunctional bureaucracy that does not police the streets or ensure that teachers attend school and an economic sinkhole bypassed by the economic boom that has transformed the country. Biharis have voted with their feet, and their mass migration has led to a backlash in cities as diverse as Mumbai, Guwahati and Ludhiana. Bihar is too big and strategically important to be allowed to wallow in backwardness. The new numbers published by the Central statistics office offer hope of renewal: They show that the state’s output from 2004-05 to 2008-09 grew at a double-digit annual rate, outperforming India as a whole. It is yet not clear what has propelled Bihar’s growth in these years, but one clear possibility is the change of government in the state: from Lalu Prasad to Nitish Kumar. No economy can grow when the rule of the law has collapsed and deep institutional decline raises the cost of economic activity, constant features on the Bihar landscape since at least the end of the 1980s. The larger lesson is that the politics of redistribution inevitably becomes a grab for resources unless robust economic growth keeps the cake growing. That is the tragic dividend of Mandalism. It is hard to believe that Bihar was rated India’s second best governed state after Independence by the Paul Appleby report. The late journalist and political thinker Arvind Das saw Bihar as a metaphor for India. He often pointed out that this is the state of Gautam Buddha and King Ashoka, of Rajendra Prasad and Jayaprakash Narayan. It’s now the state of anarchy. It is too soon to conclude that Bihar has healed and is ready to participate in the modern Indian economy as an equal partner rather than as a laggard that sucks public funds and sends millions of impoverished immigrants to other states. There is always the danger of reading too much into random bits of statistics; the same mistake was made with West Bengal a few years ago, which grew at around 1 percentage point faster than the national average for around 10 years but really does not offer enough economic opportunity to its residents compared with what states such as Gujarat, Tamil Nadu or Karnataka do. It is hard to believe that a mere change in the state government can uproot deep-rooted problems within five years. But there is definitely reason to believe that the Nitish Kumar government has done enough to undo some of the worst features of the Lalu Prasad years.Is Bihar on the path to recovery? Tell us at views@livemint.com

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