Nitish’s State and Nitish

The outcome of the recent bye-election went against Nitish and so against his priorities in governance of the state and his vote-bank politics. Voters sent a warning signal to the rulers: They can’t be taken for granted. Naturally, I was a bit morose as it appeared the people of Bihar again trying to bring back the worse ones. Instead, they would have decided not to elect any one. Unfortunately, the provision is still missing in Indian democratic process or the voters are not mature enough to do that.

But with the latest ‘India Today’, the special issue on the ‘state of the states’ in hand, I got another bad news going against Nitish that pains me more than his losing few seats. He and his government have not been able to change the state of his state in last four years. Is a time period of four years not good enough to bring changes improving the state’s ranking on different parameters? I would not have written if Nitish would have shown a will and aggression to change the conditions.
Bihar has remained at the bottommost in the overall rankings of 20 big states since last six years and this year too. Interestingly, Bihar is at the bottom of the table in six of eight categories, and even in agriculture, where it has natural advantages, it is in the bottom five. Even in the rankings of the 13 small and big states of eastern zone, Bihar is at the bottom in the same way.

Is it not due to the failure of Nitish to get a breakthrough in developing his state? Does it not speak of the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of his team that he has selected on his own without many problems even from his alliance? Can I dare to further conclude that Bihar doesn’t have the political or administrative stuffs that can perform aggressively to bring the state from the shameful situation?

The per capita income in Bihar is measly Rs 11,403, the lowest. I kept on hearing about Nitish’s thrust on education, but only one out of three children over 10 completes studies. One household out of five owns TV set in Bihar.

As reported, Bihar has been the worst performers in the demand-driven programme like the prime minister’s rural roads programme and Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojna. And still the people of Bihar do read only the news about the cruel differences between the Nitish, his ministers, and the central ministers. Bihar didn’t use even its NREGA effectively and provided only about 23 days of work against the provision of 100 days.

Even with all these bad news and rankings, Nitish gets an award from Economic Times outsmarting New Delhi’s chief minister. As reported in ET, ‘Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who has managed a remarkable turnaround in the state, is ‘the Business Reformer of the Year’. Nitish Kumar was unanimous choice of the panelists. The jury members felt that Nitish Kumar was a much better candidate given the tough conditions prevailing in that state and the obstacles that he was facing.’ As evident from the profiles presented for Nitish, he has been impressive performer. Unfortunately, the jurists, some among them are industrialists too, have not helped Nitish Kumar. As reported, Nitish Kumar got also invited by the International Growth Centre (IGC) to attend the Growth Week Programme 2009 being held at the London School of Economics (LSE). But all these achievements hardly help the state and its people.

Nitish has got a list of investment proposals for the state running in hundreds, hardly few has seen any daylight in last four years now.

Unfortunately, Nitish has pretty rigid mindset apparent from his opposition to SEZs and urbanization. Perhaps like most Bihari intellectuals, Nitish is pretty introvert too; neither could he get a good liaison man to help him getting closer to the industrialists. NK Singh couldn’t deliver. He is pretty good in vote-politics and many have understood it with his gestures for mahadalits or Muslims. But Nitish is not aggressive enough to create a better leadership for attracting entrepreneurs. Nitish could have certainly delegated each of his district collectors to set up an education hub in each district head quarters, super specialty hospitals or housing complexes that could have boosted economy and provided employment. Nitish could have asked the professionals and experts of State Agriculture Universities to go in field and improve the conditions of rural population with new ideas as many states have done. What is wrong in emulating the good ideas from other states? What is wrong in employing a reliable and proven consultant to improve the investment in the state? What is wrong in calling an all-party meeting to discuss and find consensual ways and means to improve the investment climate of the state? Why can’t Nitish resort to some experts’ body to find a permanent solution to Kosi menace? Unless the people of the state participate, the state will remain where it is for the next few decades, if not a century.

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