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.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Patna to be developed as Major Tourism destination

Mr. Nitish Kumar has correctly understood that Tourism is one of the avenues that will accelerate the growth in Bihar. In a recent annoucement he has said that Patna will be developed as an important tourist destination.
Two projects where work is in progress in full swing at Patna are
  1. An international class museum on Belly road that will showcase the heritage and history of Bihar
  2. Buddha Smriti Park: A Buddha Smriti park is being setup at the site of the old Patna Jail at the cost of Rs. 150 crores. Nitish Kumar has requested Dalai Lama to innaugurate the park. This will increase the flow of international tourists to Patna and Bihar
Similarly he is focusing on developing various other tourism locations, improving connectivity and  infrastructure in and around these tourism locations and providing better stay facilities in these locations.

More information on the above steps is available in the Press release of the state government.

Attempt to improve discipline within State Government employees

I think Bihar government has realized that improving the bureaucracy and the state government functioning and reducing corruption is an important task for succesfully developing Bihar. Thus besides the decision of setting up special corruption courts, Bihar government has also amended the disciplinary rules for state government employees. These amendments remove the vagueness in the rules which could be mis-interpreted in one's favour earlier on.

Now punishments are clearly defined which will improve the functioning of the state machinery.

More information about these changes are available in the Times of India article Fresh rules to discipline state govt employees

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fundamental Rights of Citizens of India

Fundamental Rights enjoyed by the Citizens of India
The Constitution of India offers all citizens, individually and collectively, some basic freedoms. These are guaranteed in the Constitution in the form of six broad categories of Fundamental Rights, which are justiciable. Article 12 to 35 contained in Part III of the Constitution deal with Fundamental Rights. These are:
  1. Right to equality: Right to equality, including equality before law, prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, and equality of opportunity in matters of employment;
  2. Right to freedom: Right to freedom of speech and expression, assembly, association or union, movement, residence, and right to practice any profession or occupation (some of these rights are subject to security of the State, friendly relations with foreign countries, public order, decency or morality);
  3. Right to freedom from exploitation: Right against exploitation, prohibiting all forms of forced labour, child labour and traffic in human beings;
  4. Right to freedom fo religion: Right to freedom of conscience and free profession, practice, and propagation of religion;
  5. Culture and Educational rights: Right of any section of citizens to conserve their culture, language or script, and right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice; and
  6. Right to constitutional remedies: Right to constitutional remedies for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.
I am posting the above reminder and refresher on fundamental rights in wake of the discrimination happening against people in various part of India. These fundamental rights list has been taken from the Know India: National Portal of India

Special corruption courts in Bihar

The Bihar state cabinet approved the constitution of special courts for corruption cases against all state public servants (people who draw salary from the state government).

Bihar has been plagued by corruption over the years in every part of the public services. Some of the corruption stories I have heard are
  1. PWD engineers going to office only 2-3 times a month and most of the time to collect their salaries and other TA/DAs and sign the attendance register.
  2. People in positions of power taking money from potential candidates for recruitments into government jobs. E.g. someone was asked to pay 2 lakhs to get a havaldar's job, some years back.
  3. Bribes taken from pensioners to release their pension amounts.
  4. Bureaucrats and other government functionaries taking money for any action requested by the common people.
  5. Corruption in the police, judiciary, bureaucracy, politicians... ever aspect of Bihar's state functionaries.
The biggest roadblock for Nitish Kumar in trying to improve Bihar besides shortage of investments in the state, is the corruption prevailing in the state. Corruption doesn't seem to have gone done even after so much effort has gone into Bihar's development. If anything else, many state functionaries in the last 4 years or so have made more money than ever before because money was being invested into the state. Hence reducing corruption is an important and herculean effort that has to be taken up.

This new step will hopeful go a long way in reducing corruption in the state and thereby increasing the prosperity of the state.

More details can be read in the article Bihar to get special corruption courts

Friday, February 5, 2010

Nitish Kumar 2.0 - - - Bureaucracy

Nitish Kumar's term as the Chief Minister of Bihar comes to an end this year. As I look back to the four years and three months of his government, I have a sense of elation. He has achieved many milestones, some of them a first for Bihar. Besides the development activities in Infrastructure, Health Care, Education, etc that have been spoken before, some of the notable changes worth mentioning are
  1. Visibility of Bihar in India and the world: There was a time that most of India looked down upon Bihar and hardly anyone outside India except Indians knew about Bihar. Today in a changed scenario, Bihar is being recognized and written about in many leading publications in India and outside.
  2. Media presence: Over my readings, I was suprised to see that many Indian publications had negligible presence or no presence and coverage of Bihar. Searches on articles of even some national level publications will only throw up a handful of articles on Bihar. But now all publications want to write about Bihar and increase their coverage of Bihar.
  3. WB/ADB: World Bank and Asian Development Bank are also taking note of changes in Bihar and are willing to provide and are providing developmental loans to Bihar.
  4. US ambassador also visits Bihar: When did we last hear of any other country's ambassador, leave aside the, visit Bihar. Today we had the US ambassador to India visit Bihar for two days which symbolizes the change in perception of Bihar.
  5. Bill Gates Foundation: Bill Gates Foundation also found it correct to enter into Bihar and partner with it in it's social ventures.
Thus Nitish Kumar has been able to create a visibility for Bihar and which is really very good. Better roads, security, healthcare, education are an important consideration for any investor to invest in Bihar and we have seen that happen.

But there is another side of the story too. As I look at the achievements, I also wonder about the things still to be done. And the list that comes up is significantly large. There are so many areas which require rejuvenation without which Bihar cannot sustain a growth rate that actually impacts and improves the lives of the downtrodden and the poor at the grass root level.

In the last 60 years only Nitish Kumar has brought about a visible change and created the expectations of Bihar's growth in the minds of the Biharis and the Indian people as a whole.  And I firmly believe that he is the person who can bring about further changes which will make Bihar truly rocking and moving in the direction of accelerated growth. Therefore it is necessary for Nitish Kumar to continue the stewardship and be the Chief Minister for the next 5 years term too. Thus I call the next five years of Nitish's leadership as Nitish Kumar 2.0

I will write about some of the issues that Nitish Kumar has to really look into, in a series of posts that I will be posting over the next few months covering one issue at a time. Today I will cover Bureaucracy which I feel has one of the most important roles to play in Bihar's development.

Bureaucracy: The biggest hurdle in Bihar after politics and law and order was the bureaucracy. Even though we have seen significant improvements in the law and order scenario, there has been negligible change in bureaucracy. There definitely are some bureaucrats who have played a very important role in Bihar's development and they cannot be ignored at all, but the vast majority of the other bureaucrats have not changed at all. If anything, many of them are making more money today because there are more investment funds available in Bihar.
  1. To cite an example, DM (District Magistrate) courts/adalats are supposed to be held once every month to settle problems that fall under the jurisdiction of the DMs. In a case related to my family's property there has been a wrong doing at the local admistration level and has to be resolved in the DM's adalat. Unfortunately the DM adalat has not sat for the last 9 - 10 months as the hearing gets canceled everytime. We are given a date for the next hearing and this happens every month without the hearing actually happening. And this is the case with the present DM. The case has been with the DM courts for over 3 years now and an earlier DM had held his adalat and gone through the hearing twice without taking any concrete action. As the case involved is simple the DM could have dispensed it in one hearing but probably he expected us to bribe him to correct a wrong which was caused by a slip up by the local administration and an advantage taken by the local goon.
  2. Another example of the lack of action is an article I had written on my blog Investment proposals since 2006 in Bihar: Progress of Bihar  which was also marked to Mr. Nitish Kumar. I was very impressed that Mr. Nitish Kumar actually read my post and asked the Industries division to respond to me on that post. I did get a reply too from the Dy. Director-cum-Incharge Lok Grevances (Industries department, Govt of Bihar) over an email sent using yahoo mail (which itself is impressive considering that they do not have official email). However the reply was very generic and I had sent a follow up email asking questions. I am yet to receive a reply. I am attaching the original letter and the email communication to them below.

It is quite possible that they missed out my email and I have sent them a reminder. It is also possible that I might have to use the RTI act to get these details, but no one has responded back. This is the sorry state of our bureaucracy even today. Does this mean that to get a reaction we have to write to the Chief Minister all the time? My email sent to them is given below:

From: Prashant
Date: Fri, Feb 5, 2010 at 11:55 AM
Subject: Re: Change in destiny and progress/investment proposal since 2006.

Dear Sri Ravi Bhushan Prasad Sinha/ Sri Mahesh,
I would appreciate a reply to my email.


On Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 7:26 PM, Prashant wrote:

Dear Sri Mahesh,
Thank you for the mail and the attached letter. I was a little tied up and could not reply back earlier.

I appreciate the fact that 220 or more projects have been approved by the Bihar government. However I would like to know how many projects have been fully implemented, how many projects have been commissioned and how many are in the advanced stage of development. I could not find any data on this. Would it be possible for you to send me some information on this like

1. How many of the approved projects in the last 3years have been implemented and are fully live and the value of each project.
2 How many of the above implemented projects have been completed in the last one year and the date of completion of each.

You can send me the above in excel format. It could contain the following information
1. Project name
2. Location
3. Value
4. Approval date
5. Vendor / Company
6. Project implementation start date
7. Project implementation completion date

I am sure this information would be available but would have to be put together in a format like above. So I am assuming it might take a week or two to put together and hoping that I get this report back by the end of this month. If there is any challenge in getting the data by the end of the December, do let me know by when it would be possible to send it across.

Appreciate your help and efforts. I am sure the Bihar team is working hard on improving and growing the state. This information will help us understand the progress and communicate the same to the all the people who are interested in knowing the state of investment implementation in the state.

Thanking you

Best Regards

On Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 5:10 AM, wrote:

Dear Sri Prashant,

Please find attached file.

With regards,
Dy Director-cum- In-charge LOK Grievance,
Department of Industries, Bihar, Patna.

Thus a revamp of the bureaucracy is needed today and is one of the biggest hurdles in Bihar's growth. Besides focusing on other areas of growth, the Chief Minister also has to improve the bureaucracy and make it more responsive to sustain the growth levels required to make Bihar a developed state.

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