In rural Bihar, nearly two out of three people from the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are poor. According to Planning Commission data, poverty among casual labourers in urban areas of Bihar is 86%. Poverty has declined only marginally in Bihar, while according to data released Monday by India’s Planning Commission, the number of people living in absolute poverty in India decreased by 12.5% between 2004-2005 and 2009-2010.
Bihar government under Nitish Kumar has earned or managed a good media reporting about the significant developments in the state. Nitish Kumar also claims reduction in migration of Bihari labour to other states. I couldn’t appreciate Nitish asserting in a recent Delhi’s rally to celebrate the centenary of Bihar: “Delhi will come to halt if Biharis stop work.” Every Bihari who lives and works outside Bihar has an additional responsibility of not doing anything that undermines the image of the state in any way. Nitish Kumar must help in making Biharis a little more responsible. Why should the locals in metros look at Biharis the way the Britishers used to see the immigrant Indians in UK.
It is unfortunate that Bihar and its government do neither educate sufficiently nor train its employable population to get an honourable job. They go out as raw human resource to work as menial worker or for higher education to become employable. I don’t know in such a condition how the government or its chief should take credit for those working outside. Why can’t the government train a large number of its poor even as drivers so that they don’t start as cleaner or khalasi and wait for years to get trained as drivers at the mercy of their employers or co-working drivers?
The government has hardly taken any initiative to create productive jobs in the villages, when in reality a large number of jobs have vanished because of the use of machines in farming such as tractors and even harvesters. And interestingly, the operators of these machines come from outside the village that owns them. Why are the young men and women not interested in taking up the milk business in the villages of Bihar even with all types of assistance?
The government would have started vocational training for the boys and girls in every school or every panchayat to make the rural human resources skilled and encourage grassroots entrepreneurs to become vendors organizing the skilled women in working groups for the traders and marketers of the state as well as for those of other states.
Why wheat should is ground or paddy is dehusked only in big mills in towns? Why should some village men not get trained in repairing of the agricultural machinery or other appliances in used in plenty these days in the villages? Why should not the pickles or fluffed rice be produced and sourced from rural regions?
The state ministry of rural development must work for creating work for all those able bodied men and women in the villages instead of thinking about engaging some in only MNREGA projects.
The state has neglected the higher education, both in quality and quality, which makes the educated youth employable inside the state and outside. When all other states such as Andhra Pradesh and very recently UP have created huge capacity with large number of professional colleges of engineering, medicines, and law, Bihar has not made any attempt in that direction. And that was the reason of the growth of IT industry in those states and today that is the reason that Bihar can’t employ the professionally educated youths even after their education.
Bihar will remain poor and the poverty will not reduce, if the government doesn’t change it way of looking at the problem in very innovative way. The migrated labour will keep on remitting money for the sustenance of their family members, and the other members in family will keep on living at the mercy of middle men and getting some government doles.
With the farmers of Bihar working hard to reach the global yield benchmarks of paddy and potato, it is the government and entrepreneurs must come out with ideas to add value to these outputs and create employment right in the villages. Food processing must reach every village for value addition.
I don’t think Bihar will ever be able to reduce its poverty figure with MNREGA mentality and if the chief minister keeps on raising the figures of the poor families in the state to get more aids from the centre.