Nitish and Bihar

Nitish Kumar, the CM, Bihar must be in dilemma. His being engineer must have aggravated his worries. What should be his priorities? Can he talk of bringing in investors in IT or BPO sector, as Budhhadev Bhattacharya are going for? With not even a single college of technology or management or medicine in the top 20 institutes of the country, it is a difficult task to assure an investor about the availability of cheap, abundant, and quality human resources in the state. But let me confess this is just a myth. If the biggies in IT sector invest in Bihar, they will not find dearth of good engineers, as the students from Bihar have been filling up proportionately larger chunk of seats in engineering and management colleges in every part of the country. And many of them will love to come back to Bihar if they get a job there and may be at a lower salary. IT investors may take advantage of this aspect of Bihar’s strength.

Bihar is having a large number of unemployed graduates in age of 20 to 35. They might have been the part of the mass of unemployable graduates that our education system produces. Perhaps, Bihar will need some enthusiast educationists with innovative entrepreneurship to set up some institutes of employability for these graduates on the line of one set up in Tamil Nadu by Reliance as ‘The Reliance-NIS Sparta Academy’s School of Employability to provide the country’s corporate world with trained and skilled students who are ready to work in any industry.

Nitish at one time talked of making Bihar a manufacturing hub, but then what will he manufacture with all the minerals gone to Jharkhand? There are some sectors that can certainly attract investors. One is certainly sugar. Bihar can become the manufacturing hub of endless items coming out of sugar- from candies to ethanol or rum. And a special task force for sugar based sectors with a missionary chief can bring a revolution for rural Bihar with ideas ranging from contract farming to rural hubs on line of ITC’s choupal Sagar.

With a strong control on panchayats, Nitish can provide a unique leadership to change the rural Bihar with many initiatives that may not require that huge an investment. And he must emulate other states in this regard.

As the first priority, all the panchayats must work for massive plantations on government land along state roads, rural roads, irrigation canals, and grazing grounds. Family below poverty lines must be given the ownerships of the trees they plant and grow. Why can’t Bihar participate in plantations of Jatropa and other bio-diesel plants? President APJ Abdul Kalam had called for the national mission on bio-diesel to realise 60 million tonnes of production a year by 2030. And as a corollary, why can’t Bihar be a honey producing state that may provide extra earning and employment?

If Punjab can contributes 25 per cent of the total honey produced in the country and if its 23,000 beekeepers can earn Rs 15 crore by exporting nearly 3,000 tonnes of honey annually, worth Rs 15 crore, to countries like the USA, the UK and other countries of Europe, and the Middle East, why can’t it be Bihar? If Haryana can invest in a 100 percent export oriented and invite international player such as Yakult Danone to invest for producing world-class buttermilk at its state-of-the-art unit, why can’t Bihar have one milk-processing unit in each district headquarter? Why can’t Bihar set up an institute such as the National Institute of Food, Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management (the first of its kind in the country) at Kundli (District Sonepat)?

Bihar can prosper only through its rural based industry. And there is huge potential. But it requires government policy and coordination that can bring entrepreneurs, farmers, and scientists together to achieve the goals.

We all hope and wish Nitish to succeed, but success demands innovative and sometimes harsh approaches. As one example, Nitish will have to ensure that ‘rangadaari’ (mafia group) is crushed and rangadaars- small or big, are behind the bar for ever, otherwise no investor will like to come to Bihar, and even the people for whom these investment are intended will not be benefited.

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