I get excited with every good news report about Bihar or about someone from Bihar,be it a headline such as Bihar attaining the highest manufacturing growth in 2010-11 or Bihar readying for Rs 90,000 crore agriculture-road map. However, as usual I have very high expectation levels. And that makes me morose with every bit of bad news too.
How should I rate Bihar? Can I go by the report appearing in ‘India Today’ related to Bihar in its ‘State of States’ special issue? Bihar is in first five top states in education and governance out of 20 big states of the country. In infrastructure too, Bihar has performed better by coming at seven. That made me happy, but then the next moment I thought of the schools in my village and villages all around that I know from near. I neither find any change in the attitude of the teachers nor in the facilities. And I don’t blame the government for that. The parents of the children and the enlightened villagers will have to take the lead. The teachers must undergo attitudinal transformation. They will have to take the initiative to innovate ways and means to educate the children effectively and make them interested in real learning. However, the more alarming is Bihar’s ranking in healthcare, macro economy and investment where it is at the bottom of the list.
The healthcare really requires serious attention on war footing. I don’t know how many of the readers of this entry can confirm if their own village has got a healthcare centre in recent years. My own village with pretty good road connection now still has no healthcare. I am really scared to be in the village for this one single reason. My cousin keeps a standby vehicle with a driver for any eventuality whenever I am in my village. I personally feel the state must provide for an ambulance in each panchayat. Pregnant women must get moved to a health centre for delivery. No one should die because of the absence of medical attention.
Everyone appreciates that without sufficient power availability, industrial investment will remain a mirage. But the state can certainly help in scaling up the already branded produce of Bihar and not only its litti-chokha. Madhubani artisans or Bhagalpur silk weavers can certainly be assisted to scale up their production and provided with marketing aid. And the state must assist the genuine investors to acquire sufficient land for their enterprise. After all, other states are doing that.
Though the success story of the young men of Bihar- Sushil Kumar and Anil Sinha at Sony’s KBC is always exhilarating, the state’s higher education machinery is in dismal condition. I fail to understand why the state is not able to attract private investment in professional education. However, the state government plans to set up around 20 engineering colleges and ITIs in the next few years. But the government must try to improve the rankings of the existing engineering colleges in Bihar and scale up the input by creating the necessary infrastructures and facilities. I wish if the state government could appoint one interested and reputed chief executive from the industry to work as mentors for each of these colleges. It should also incorporate a course on entrepreneurship and innovation for all professional graduates.
Some of the government initiatives are really good be its emphasis on agriculture, or setting up a hospital on Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) premises in collaboration with Bangalore-based Narayana Hrudayalaya. Though many complain about the paid news regarding Bihar, but all appearing in media can’t be wrong. Bihar is certainly growing and moving ahead. One can only doubt about its speed of growth. Should not the news of the farmer of Nalanda making the global record of paddy production be a great one?
Many individuals or groups are trying to bring new changes for prosperity of the village. For example, the people of Chakwara in Vaishali district have gone for the cultivation of cauliflower seeds because they earn about Rs 5 to 6 lakh per annum. Some others have started focusing on unconventional modes such as nurseries and another lot of farmers have begun honing their artistic skills to make household decorative items from the forest produce available in abundance in the region.
Nitish Kumar’s development yatras must certainly be encouraging the farmers whom he meets and whom he requests to send their children to the schools. He must be perhaps one of the most traveled Chief Ministers in their own states. Many may be skeptical and calling it only a political move. But I consider it significant, as it must be providing him with a lot of input for taking the new development plans. I wish he himself, his ministers, and officers could spend nights in the villages to bring about a real change in quality of living in the villages.