Bihar Getting Emulated Now

Here are some news reports on some of the strength of its people, the recent actions taken by the new government of Bihar, and the performance of some institutions that other states may emulate, and the people of Bihar origin may feel proud about:

1.According to senior economist of World Bank, Deepak Ahluwalia, ‘Bihar excels in the production of certain agricultural produce like maize, potato, fruits, dairy products and vegetables. The cost of production of potato, dairy products, maize, fruits and vegetables is much less in Bihar in comparison to other states. For example, though Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are leading potato-producing states, the cost of production in Bihar is much less compared to both these states. Even the cost of production of maize in Bihar is much low in comparison to the international cost. This agro-produce could easily find place in the world markets if there is a proper coordination between different agencies.’

I am sure the government of Bihar would have taken notice of these statements and taken actions. I have been writing that if West Bengal can export potatoes, why can’t Bihar do that. But it must be done to make the farmers richer rather than the intermediaries.

2.Bihar is the first state to start coupons to beat corruption in rations shops. Corruption and malpractice are rampant in the public distribution system (PDS): ration-card holders are often turned away from fair-price shops they are assigned to and large quantities of grain and kerosene meant for the poor get sold in the open market. Bihar has launched a coupon system aimed at checking malpractice and encouraging better service at ration shops distributing essentials to below poverty line (BPL) families. Under this scheme, the BPL families would be given coupons for one year to avail food grain and kerosene at subsidized rates every month from the PDS shops. With coupons, beneficiaries can go to another fair-price shop if they are turned away at one. Every month each BPL family is entitled for 10 kg wheat, 25 kg rice and five litres of kerosene. These coupons will be distributed through elected gram sambas. The government had already updated the BPL list through a survey involving students and schoolteachers, besides government officials, across the state last year. As reported, the Planning Commission has reportedly decided to emulate the ‘coupon scheme’ and recommend this scheme for all other states in the country. Will the dealers, as they have unusually fertile brains, find some way to corrupt the innovative system too, even if it means collaboration with the beneficiaries for mutual advantages?

3.From January 29 the state information commission has set up call centres in Patna to help the public get information. One simply has to make a call and provide his/her address and the type of information he/she wants to get. The call centre will then pass on the application to the department concerned for the information. The commission also has a website, Thus even an illiterate person can get the information with just a phone call. I again wish all the information regarding the ownership of land in the state and status of all the judicial cases must be made available on the website for each village. The state must aim to provide an Internet kiosk for every the panchayat and at next stage for every village. Many NGOs and corporate are providing assistance for the kiosk. The state must take advantage of the opportunity.

4.Though it is unbelievable, the Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) has achieved a unique feat of completing the secondary examination process in the shortest time in the country. It completed the process in just seven days, way ahead of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which took 24 days, and other state school boards. Bihar also fared well in the number of days taken for declaration of results. Bihar took 46 days to finish third, behind West Bengal Board of Madarsa Education (27 days)

According to the Council of Boards of School Education (COBSE) that analyzed the data made available by 25 boards out of 32 boards, in terms of pass percentage, Bihar finished seventh with 70.07 per cent, which is significantly higher than the national average of 63.36 per cent. Bihar, however, finished sixth in terms of pass percentage of girls, with 71.29 per cent. In terms of pass percentage of Scheduled Caste students, Bihar was ranked seventh, with 62.73 per cent.

At the senior secondary level (Plus Two), however, Bihar was ranked 14th both in terms of number of days taken for completing the examination process and declaration of results.

On the education front, Bihar is to go miles. The teachers, particularly of rural Bihar, are to play an important role. They must get themselves qualified for doing the job properly, and the state must not involve them in non-teaching assignments, that are becoming the excuse. A carrot and stick policy for teachers is the need to improve the situation. The state must also get all the institutions accredited and audited by the reputed outside agencies.

If the figures can be believed the number of convictions in last year has been significant, and so is the speed of some police actions. If the bureaucrats so wish, and that they must, for a change, they can transform Bihar into ‘Booming Bihar’.

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