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'Very few people are as loyal as Biharis'
December 13, 2004 10:15 IST
We at rediff.com asked our readers what could be done to restore Bihar's old glory, and were overwhelmed by the number of suggestions that came in.
Due to paucity of space, we will not be able to showcase all of those suggestions, suffice to say that they were insightful and thought provoking.
We present below the five suggestions that represent the general view of the readers.
Do keep writing in!
Sougata Basu Thakur
I stayed in Bihar for more than a year before moving out to Orissa on a new assignment.
I have travelled throughout the state. What seems most shocking to me is the lifestyle out there. There's a reign of terror in the state. In Siwan, I was instructed by my higher authority to leave the town by 5pm; Chapra, at 10pm, is like a cemetery. There are many more such examples.
But, it's in Bihar that I have seen some beautiful places -- the stupa at Vaishali, the large lake in the heart of Motihari town, which, if developed and maintained properly, can be great tourist spots.
But the poor conditions of the roads (Chapra to Siwan, 70km, takes about 3-4 hours by car) and lack of infrastructure (15-16 hours without power) is a big hindrance towards development.
It's also in Bihar that I have met some wonderful people. There are very few people who are as hardworking and loyal and trustworthy and helping like the Biharis. It's only because of lack of education that the goons-turned-politicians have been making a fool out of these poor and innocent people. It's because of these people that the whole state is ruined and is suffering.
There must be an end.
Make police and bureaucracy accountable to judiciary. You have to instil faith in youth of Bihar that they can rely on the system, which, of course, needs resurrection.
Market forces at all level needs to be restored, be at village anaj mandis or stock exchange.
The faith of traders, manufacturers should be restablished. Only free and fair market will revive Bihar.
Rural economy needs to be revived. Make district magistrates accountable for all the development work in villages.
Bihar has a lot of areas where you have competitive advantage, like litchi exports. Make it work on pattern of Sudha Dairy project. Millions will reap benefits and it will also check law and order problems.
Till the eighties Bihar grew at 3/4 the rate at which nation grew. But now it is negative. You have to look where things went wrong.
It is very easy to say that the people responsible for Bihar's ills are politicians and the previous chief ministers. However, a state and its governance should be looked at from a systemic point of view.
What kind of system is it that allows a cabal (a gang of politicians) to reduce governance to a farce? The answer in my view is that it is a failed system. The system must be overhauled for the state to improve. All institutions in Bihar are corrupt and malfunctioning e.g.
1. The education system: Cheating in exams is common, results are rigged, university exams are never on time.
2. Police System: It is obvious that if law and order is suffering then the police machinery must be inefficient and corrupt.
3. Bureaucracy: People in Bihar view government jobs to be a source of under the table income. Therefore, corruption is rife in every department.
In my view overhaul the functioning of these systems and things will change (which, realistically speaking, seems unlikely). More than this it seems that the Malthusian theory of population growth outstripping food production and then the subsequent balancing by means of unnatural calamities has come to truth in Bihar.
It is actually not difficult considering how the Centre pampers the other states. Here is the five-point agenda proposed by me.
1. Make good roads across the state and reorganise the transport corp.
2. Refurbish fertiliser supply chain and overhaul irrigation department.
3. Force Centre to buy grains from all states, especially from poor ones (unbiased agricultural policy).
4. Set up IT parks and power plants under central supervision.
5. Employ police audit committee comprising dedicated IPS officers for at least two years.
It is a matter of great shame that a big state in the country is on downside of economic and social development.
It is commonly said that people get the government that they deserve. Who/what is responsible for the correction is a good question. The apathetic attitude of people? Lack of concern from the central government? Or lack of development of strong leaders in Bihar?
People, I think, can be mobilised only through a visionary leader. Any other movement by people without any leadership will create bigger problem in state.
In the current situation the most obvious solution that comes to my mind is imposition of President's rule for a year.
I don't think that you can violate human rights to this extent in a democratic country like India. Any further procrastination by Union government will indicate that the current Manmohan Singh government is interested in sticking to the chair and lacks the guts to take strong action for development.