Bihar: My Expectations and Nitish

We don’t have electricity in my village, Pipra near Sasaram yet with all the drive in Bihar for rural electrification. And the village is waiting for it since 1967. We saw poles getting erected all around, but then they disappeared too. With news of thrust on infrastructure by Nitish government, I thought at long last we can have the electricity in the village. I have a plan to gift a computer setup for Alok, my cousin who heads the household affairs and get him the Internet connection. He is PG in agriculture and computer-literate too. I also had convinced my sons in US to donate some five computers to the village school. But it’s not possible yet. And talking about some healthcare facility in the village is perhaps distant or may be impossible dream for me. Why is it not happening? I think the present system doesn’t involve the people and its panchayat. The system can’t make the panchayat accountable for providing good education and healthcare even if it means beg and borrow. I shall still not recommend stealing.

Perhaps Nitish and his men are too busy with Patna and they just can’t think of anything beyond that. Nitish claims to have “made progress in e-governance in the last few years – from Remington typewriters to online access” and have even sought the help of Nandan Nilekani to expand the mission of e-governance that was started after an advice from the former President Kalam. Who can judge his performance about the e-governance in the state?

I am really shocked to know that Bihar doesn’t have yet an IT Policy and IT sector doesn’t have an industry status in the state. I can’t digest the engineer Nitish taking four years to just promise to go for it in the last year of his tenure. Who will ensure this policy continuance, if he doesn’t survive in the next election? I also don’t know what happened to the software park that was supposed to be set up in Patna.

I have some suggestion for simple things that he can get done, if IT and computer are something that he as engineer didn’t learn during his days in engineering college.

Let him participate in making India green. He must have been told about the alarming rate of the growth of emissions in India that, as estimated, could reach anywhere from 4 billion to 7.3 billion tonnes by 2031. Every Indian would have to plant about 18 trees a year to offset that damage, according to Carbonify.com’s carbon dioxide calculator. Can Nitish get his people in the state appreciate the cause and make them achieve the target? There has been some wonderful work in some pocket. Why can’t those be replicated in the whole of the state?

Nitish has been talking about his thrust on the primary education in Bihar. Why is he not involving the retired headmasters and teachers who are taking a lot of pension money to get over the scarcity of teachers?

In a recent article, ‘The future of Bihar’, NK Singh who leads the ‘Think Tank’ of Nitish appears to be optimistic about the Future of Bihar: “because given continued good governance; its demographic advantage, and improving agricultural productivity can make Bihar the granary of India and also an educational hub.” According to him, ‘the future of India is linked with the future of Bihar’. Does anyone in Delhi who matters believe that Bihar can do that?

I wish NK keeps focus on Nalanda International University. With a support from Manmohan, the project that is being financially supported by Japan and Singapore must get going. But as usual for any project, this one too will require a lot of push and luck too. Nalanda International University may become a showpiece of Bihar as a centre of modern education centre and abode of the students from China, Japan and other Asian countries. It will improve the brand image of Bihar.

I do believe that Nitish has tried his best to get the government machinery restarted that had almost stopped working. But Nitish has failed to make a real impact in any area. Bihar in last four years or so of his rule couldn’t improve any of its ranking. And I think Nitish will have to hire some outsiders to make a breakthrough. Let him and Modi not focus so much on the local talents that are rare in any field including the business initiatives.

Bihar needs hundreds and thousands of Kaushalendra, Irfans, Anita Kushwahas, Lalmuni Devis, Raj Kumari Devis, Subodh Guptas, Charles Ransler, and many who are the real change agents in the state. Can’t Nitish Kumar provide the encouragement to these young men and women and make other emulate them? Why can’t Nitish invite Dr. Devi Shetty and provide him with all that he wants to set up the first 5000-bed health city in Patna or near Boddh Gaya for the masses? Many entrepreneurs from Bangalore and Hyderabad may be interested in setting up rural BPOs in Bihar? Why can’t they be invited to do that? Why can’t Bihar focus on ITC and Airtel to get the best of its rural initiatives for Bihar? Bihar will have to take few very big projects in education and health care to show the country that Bihar can do anything that it needs. I still remember the blood donation by the people of Bengal to build Bakreswar thermal power plant when the centre was behaving funny with it.

Can Bihar and specifically Nitish Kumar do something recognizable by the people world over?

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