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.

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

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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

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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

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---------- 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

Sunday, March 7, 2010

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

Interesting! The recent growth stories of Bihar have prompted many eminent economists, sociologists and professors to analyse and present their views of this sudden hype about Bihar.

One such article has been written by Mr. R. Nagaraj (nagaraj@igidr.ac.in) from the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai. He was assisted by Mr. Andaleeb Rahman (andaleeb@igidr.ac.in), a research student at the same institute.

Mr. Nagaraj has taken a critical view of the recent growth story, and is skeptical of the changes that have been talked about in the media recently. He has highlighted that the GDP growth in Bihar has primarily resulted from government spending on road construction which to quite an extent is true as construction accounted for over 35% of Bihar's GDP growth in the last 5 years. He is  however skeptical of the sustenance of such growth. He has also highlighted that the primary sector of agriculture has hardly shown any growth and so is the case of Industrialization.

I think these are valid points raised by Mr. Nagarajan when he is highlighting that government spending on construction without growth in agriculture and industries, cannot sustain an increasing GDP and hence growth will not be sustainable. While Mr. Nitish Kumar is trying to attract investments into the state and we have seen projects being approved but not yet implemented due to various reasons, but Mr. Nagaraj's article is a good highlighter to Mr. Nitish Kumar and team to take note.

Nitish Kumar ji, If you did not know about the above already, you know it now. Hopefully you will strengthen the resolve and overcome these challenges by being able to attract more investments and public/private spending in the state.

That said, there are various sections of Mr. Nagaraj's article and guest speak which I do not concur with. Some of my reasons for not agreeing are as follows
  1. Mr. Nagaraj has for the most part not substantiated his writing by relevant references to the sources of the  data he has used, which would have done justice to his statements.
  2. The data released in the latest economic of Bihar 2009-10 (Bihar Economic Survey 2009-10) states that besides construction, Communications accounted for 17.68% of Bihar's GDP growth in last 5 years. Similarly trade, hotel and restaurants accounted for 17.71% of Bihar's GDP. However Mr. Nagaraj doesn't seem to address this in his article.
  3. It appeared to me that Mr. Nagaraj has not been tracking the developments in Bihar and was inspired to make his analysis/study after the media hype created on the Bihar growth story in the last 2 months.
Some interesting happenings in Bihar which has been ignored by Mr. Nagaraj when writing this article are
  1. Tourism which has picked up in Bihar. The number of tourists visiting Bihar has multiplied 5 times the as compared to the number of tourists 5 years back (Tourism picking up in Bihar). Why has tourism picked up? What has been done to improve tourism?
  2. The increased sales of vehicles in Bihar: Motor vehicle sales in Bihar has grown 4 times in the last 4 years (Signs of progress). What has prompted people to buy more vehicles?
  3. Growing air traffic from Patna (Flights of prosperity). Why are more flights landing into Bihar? Why are chartered plane operators starting operations in Bihar?
  4. New teacher appointments : More than 2 lakh new teachers were appointed. Similarly investments are being made in improving school infrastructure.
  5. Public health services improving: More than 80,000  deliveries per month happen in PHC as compared to about 5000 about 5 years back. This information is available in the Progress report 2008.
  6. Obviously Mr. Nagaraj has apparently not read the Progress Report's released by the Bihar government which would have given a better view of why everyone is euphoric about the changes being brought into Bihar. (Progress Report 2008 and Progress Report 2009)
  7. A compilation of various changes in Bihar are also listed in this article : Bihar Growth Statistics and Image Management which highlights other actions and results.
  8. Some more information worth nothing in the Times of India article Bihar - A Growth Story - TOI - Mumbai Edition which are possibly ingored when this article was written.
I think Mr. Nagaraj's article in all earnest has highlighted some of the challenges that will come in the way of Bihar's growth if requisite action is not taken. But his article has also taken a very myopic view of the situation in Bihar and I dont think it does justice to the efforts being put in by various people in turning around a state which till sometime back was considered a Bimaru state, a failed state and a state that no one talked about.

Maybe I am wrong and I have missed out important aspects. I would love it if Mr. Nagaraj would provide his view about my article and substantiate his statement. Hence I am marking a copy of this article to Mr. Nagaraj and look forward to his response.

Mr. Nagaraj's article can be read at Booming Bihar: Fact or Fiction? and his guest speak can be read at R Nagaraj: Demystifying Bihar's Growth

- Prashant

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Nursing schools in Bihar

The central government has approved setting up of 132 nursing schools across 18 high focus states of India at a cost of Rs. 660 crores. Bihar will also benefit from this and will get its share of nursing schools which will ultimately improve the quality of health care delivery in Bihar.

More details can be read in the article Govt nod for setting up 132 nursing and midwifery schools

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bihar Economic Survey - 2009-2010

Some interesting facts have again been highlighted in the 2009-10 Economic Survey of Bihar tabled in the state assembly on the 4th of March 2010.

GDP
  • Bihar's GDP stands at Rs 131873.20 crore at current prices for 2008-09
  • Bihar's GDP stands at Rs 98392.60 crore at 1999 prices for 2008-09
Per Capita Income
  • Bihar's per capita income stands at Rs 13,959 at current prices for 2008-09
  • Bihar's per capita income stands at Rs 10,415 at 1999 prices for 2008-09
GDP grew at 11.35% between 2004-05 and 2008-09 compared to 3.5% in the 5 years before 2004-05

Major Sectors responsible for high growth of GDP in the last 5 years
  • Construction - 35.8%
  • Communication - 17.68%
  • Trade, hotel and restaurants - 17.71%
Roads Construction:
  • Amount spent - Rs. 2489.15 crores in 2008-09 as compared to Rs. 263.23 crores in 2004-05
  • Roads constructed - 2417 KMs during 2008-09 compared to 415 KMs in 2005-06
  • Since 2006, three hundred and seventy five bridges have been constructed at an investment of Rs. 712.33 crores
I think the Bihar government has created good visibility for the work it is doing such that more and more media companies are covering Bihar better than they did before.

Readers can read the above details in the Outlook article Bihar Economy Poised for Steady Growth: Survey

    Coal linkage for two 660Mega Watts plants

    The central government has approved coal linkages for 2 thermal power plants each with a capacity of 660 Mega Watts for Bihar (at Nabinagar). This has been a long outstanding demand of Bihar as even though many thermal power plants have been approved in Bihar, in the absence of coal availability, these plants could not be set. Thus this would be a good first step for fulfilling Bihar's power needs.

    However the central government has not approved coal linkages or usage of Ganga waters for other power projects in Bihar. In comparison it has approved 4 such plants in already developed and advanced Maharashtra... While I try to be rationale, I am forced to think: Does this have to do with the power politics in the center :?: The Central government is of Congress while State government in Bihar is JD(U) and BJP... A point worth mulling over as the power generation is a must in the growth of Bihar.

    More details can be read in the article Jaiswal approves fuel linkages to power units in Bihar, UP

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Happy Holi

    I wish you all a very Happy Holi. May this Holi usher in an era of peace, growth and proserity.

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