Nitish and Bihar: My Views

I keep listening to Yamuna when she talks with someone in her village curtsey cell phones that have become so popular. She mostly talks with Satyabhama, her sister-in-law, the wife of Raj Kishore, the youngest among her brothers who worked in Hindustan Motors and is also now retired.

Early this week I heard in one of these tele- conversations about Priya, the eldest granddaughter of Satyabhama from her eldest daughter Poonam passing Bihar School Final examination in first division. I felt happy, as Priya’s father proved to be a useless character doing nothing for living a decent life. Priya lives with her maternal grandmother for education. Priya has now the bicycle to ride up to the school. She will be getting Rs 1000 as incentive for passing the examination in first division as girl child. It’s Nitish initiative that girl education has got a big boost in Bihar. And all his incentives for girl education are without any reservations for castes. Is it not something uniquely rare for a political leader in Bihar to focus on education? Nitish has done a lot for school education in Bihar. Will even Lalu and Rabri disagree? Did they not kill it in their fifteen years?

Why should not Nitish get the credit for it? Why not voters recognize his contributions to education for all? I might have many expectations regarding improving the quality of education, for adding and encouraging educational institutes for higher education and skill developments in larger number in all the district headquarters of Bihar, but I can’t but agree that Nitish is on right route.

I do also feel that the so-called forward castes will be harming the interests of Bihar and their own too by getting Nitish defeated in the forthcoming assembly election. Leaders such as Lallan or Prabhunath with doubtful integrity can’t match with Nitish as on today. Let the upper castes have first a real tall leader. Till then, the upper castes must vote for the best bet available in Bihar and don’t allow the proven rogues to come in power. Otherwise, they may make Nitish loose, but in real sense it will be Bihar that will loose. I wish the people of upper castes don’t get emotionally exploited by their leaders with their own vested interests.

It’s not that I don’t have grievances with Nitish. I rate his performances till now as average, but the reason is different. My expectations are higher from a chief minister of a laggard state like Bihar. I think Nitish would have focused on some more urgent priorities and would not have talked about many controversial issues. Some are as follows.

Some small entrepreneurs in Bihar have come out with exemplary models of business. Nitish would have encouraged them and the other young men to emulate the models to and to scale it up to cover Bihar as fast as possible. In the process, Bihar government would have helped the likes of Gyanesh Pandey and Ratnesh Yadav, founders of Husk Power Systems (HPS), to expand the business from biomass, a power generation technology which uses anything from agri-residues to wood chips or even coconut shells. HPS’s micro power plants, which burn rice husk to generate gas to run generators, supply electricity to 80 villages. Why couldn’t it have reached 10,000 villages? The novel biomass technology converts rice husk into combustible gases, which then drive a generator to produce electricity at affordable rates. Here is a potential solution that can take power to many more villages of Bihar and with it the prosperity too. If Bihar gets electricity, many petty entrepreneurs of Bihar will like to return to the home state and many new will start hundreds and thousands of small businesses employing a large number of locals.

The successful business model of IIM graduate Kaushalendra linking vegetable growers to the consumers in Patna is another one that could have been expanded to all the major cities of Bihar benefiting many more farmers and vendors.

Nitish would have also encouraged the growth of other cities instead of bringing in every institute near or to Patna.

Nitish would have selected aggressive and performance-oriented ministers. Unfortunately, it’s short in supply because of the system to be followed.

There are many items that can be added in the wish list. And it’s for the people of Bihar to make Nitish focus on them in the coming years by electing him.

I still think that the forward class must not think over the Batai Bill as ghost. They must come out with suggestions that improve the productivity and return on investment of the farms through many other means including diversifications. The limit of ceiling and effective land consolidation needs a relook.

Let the forward class understand that farming is no more an inherited profession of some caste, it requires to be considered as business.

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