Static Bihar and Dynamic Biharis

My problem has been my expectation to see some fast transformation and achievement. Last time Ashok came here enroute to Vadodara after visiting our village during Holi, I asked him regarding if the NREGs is effectively functioning there. His reply was in negative. Basically, nothing worth mentioning is happening, neither it is serving the purpose of the people for it was meant. Last week, I read a detail report about the NREGs in Outlook Business. The NREGs is failing to provide much-needed livelihoods and community assets as desired by those who perceived the scheme. Unfortunately, now it is the people right in the villages who are involved in rampant corruption. The beneficiaries require education about their rights. NGOs, media, and dedicated officers must monitor it by building foolproof, transparent system.

Another recent decision of the Bihar government to develop self-contained maha-Dalit colonies in every panchayat across the state, which would have a house, built on four decimal land for every such family, a school, a hospital, a park and drinking water facilities on “gairmazrua (government)” land, was really heartening. The maha-Dalits includes Mehtar, Halkhor, Dom, among others, constitute about 40 per cent of the total Dalit population in the state. And their condition still remains pitiable. I wish this is not an announcement with election in mind but a genuine endeavour to help the deprived through empowering them.

However, the most worrying part for me was the report that Bihar is among the states where the level of corruption is still “alarming”. The “India Corruption Study 2007”, brought out by NGOs Transparency International India (TII) and Centre for Media Studies (CMS), found that about one-third of Below Poverty Line (BPL) households in the country bribed officials to avail a total of 11 services – from police to PDS. Is it not shameful?

But many individuals from Bihar working on as missionary make one happy and proud of them. In the wonderful special issue of ‘India Today’ on 50 pioneers of change, Amitabh Srivastava has four such stories. Here are those four persons:

1.Deepak Kumar is a murder convict and has served a 14-year jail sentence for killing an influential co-villager over a property dispute. But he is changed man now. Deepak Kumar has set up a residential, 15-roomed English-medium Deendayal Kushepremi Central School up to Class VII with eight teachers and more than 365 students-most of whom are poor.

2.Abhyanand, the Additional Director-General of Police, Bihar Military Police is a legendary personality by now. His Super 30- a free IIT-JEE coaching institute for 30 select youngsters from underprivileged families in rural Bihar has created a model for emulation. This year, everyone from the Super 30 group made the grade in what is widely believed to be one of the toughest and most competitive entrance examinations in the world. Abhyanand for reason unknown will not be teaching any more in Super 30. But as reported, Abhayanand has another mission now. He ” will now expand the concept of Super 30 and pick underprivileged Muslim students and train them for competitive exams”. Is it not a wonderful mission?

3.Veena Devi, 35, a widow, is serving her second-term as mukhiya (panchayat chief) of the Loharpur Panchayat of Nawada district. She was one of the four women village heads who shared the dais with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at a national convention of Panchayati Raj last year. There hasn’t been a single case filed against anyone since Veena was elected for her second term. In fact, she has persuaded everyone in her Panchayat not to take their differences to a police station.

4.Prabhat Shandilya and his Magadh Jal Jamaat have so far revived more than a dozen abandoned water sources including Saryu talab in Gaya, created a few new ones, and most importantly infused in the residents of several parched villages of Gaya the need to conserve water and to sustain the water table. Prabhat remains unwilling to step into the spotlight. Late in 2006, the 8-km-long water channel from Maanpur to Nanouk village was desilted bringing water to 32 tanks of the area. In 2007, it was the turn for unclogging the 11-km-long Vanshi Nallah. Shandilya and his men are presently busy clearing up the 28-km-long water channel that runs from Chapardah to Thaneta village.

5.Kaushilendra, the 2007 batch topper of the IIM, Ahmedabad, and the son of a college demonstrator in block town of Ekangarsarai in Nalanda district that is the vegetable bowl of Bihar has become a vegetable vendor “to earn money and ensure quality prices to farmers and quality product to citizens”. Kaushilendra owns today 50 carts that are selling vegetables in “right measurement and right rate”. Will Kaushilendra be able to sustain his spirit? Will he become the vegetable king of India? Perhaps, the answers are not known, but Kaushilendra has started in a revolutionary manner. I wish Kaushilendra expanded his business model with rural malls serving as hubs on the pattern of ITC’s Choupal Sagar on the GQ and East-West corridor expressway. He can promote organic food business too saving chemical and earning more price.

While all these pioneers are trying to set examples for the others in the state to participate in the development of the state, unfortunately, Lalu’s clan is happy with the gift from the sycophants of his party. Can’t there be some fast track courts as one for the dons-turned-politicians for politicians-turned-billionaires?

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