Bihar, once almost synonymous to despondency, is rising from the ashes of gloom and murkiness. The nearly infamous GDP growth rate of 11.03% that was termed as miracle more than once is not just where the story begins or ends. The dreadful past that saw this north eastern state decelerating, deteriorating and degrading is hard to picture vis-Ã -vis the present Bihar.
Nitish Kumar is increasingly seen as the reformer and renovator with sturdy administrative qualities. Today, the streets of Bihar resemble grace as opposed to the crumpling bridges and dilapidated highways a decade ago. An overwhelming 6800 kilometers of roads, more than 1500 bridges, and an almost equal number of cesspits were constructed during Kumar’s tenure. The enhanced transport facilities, especially the streets and highways have ensured normalcy with the journey time been slashed to half.
Real estate enjoyed a boom with many more building projects being taken up, the city started to adapt itself to modernization with newer shops and malls opening up. A sharp 18% rise in the cement inflow to the state evinces the escalation and expansion of construction projects. Agricultural yields have been cited as a major growth factor and sugar which is the prime sector in Gujarat, has been advantaged a great deal. The sugar mills roped in private investments that would provide direct jobs to tens of thousands, something that came as a boon to a state with one of the least employment opportunities. Under the Nitish Kumar government, the mill scenario ameliorated with several big scale projects being cleared up. The saga has been threaded together with many such incredible deeds that include a massive 45% growth in the auto sales which has a lot to do with the fact that the highways and boulevards are no longer abandoned after 8 at the night, and that in turn is a direct consequence of terrific administration and governance.
The increased law and order situation has been the major reason behind this growth tale, and the man behind it all, the architect of the new Bihar, Nitish Kumar had attributed the marvel to improvement in law and order situation that was in tatters during the previous tenures. Today no politician can openly challenge the state police; no gunda, don or bandit can roam free on the roads after committing a crime and no mafia will be given protection by the government. With heavy police patrolling, there is little scope for a criminal to dodge the claws of legal procedure and penalty. The Bihar government has been quick in filling the enormous number of vacancies in the police force, and what ensued was no surprise. With speedy trials, backlogs were cleared, and within a span of three years as many as about 39000 were convicted. Bigwigs and highhanded VIP’s too were not spared of the customary legal bindings leading to a complete reversal of Bihar’s faÃ§ade. Crime rates plunged by 50% straightaway, and the number of kidnapping followed by demand of ransom, which was once thought to be the only vocation in Bihar, has plummeted drastically from 1390 in the previous government’s term to 315 in Nitish Kumar’s tenure. The improved law and order situation did wonders as investors convinced with the assurance of safety started to invest in Bihar but it is not the private sector that is accredited with the honor of resurrecting the lost state, it is the state spending that did the job. In previous tenures, major portions of the allocated funds remained unused as a result of the lackadaisical attitude of the former governments. Tourism plays a part in the economy undoubtedly, and for Bihar in the past few years, the number of foreign tourists has gone up four-fold from near about 1 lakh to almost 4 lakhs. On the other hand, private educational institutions have come up and the creators of tomorrow — the teachers, as many as 100000 joined primary schools as a part of a major recruiting drive by the Nitish Kumar government. With the amendments to the notions that were existent in the minds of people regarding Bihar, investors, and not criminals found Bihar to be the land of prospects, upon which mobile service providers have cropped up, so has the prepaid talk-time reportedly risen heavily. Banking firms are a healthier reality in Bihar today.
The health factor remains dim, despite efforts from the government, so is the poverty rate high. A chief contributor to the number of BPL families in India, Bihar also has a high child mortality rate. These figures are as true as the magical figures of SGDP (State Gross Domestic Product). There is a need for more private venturing in order for Bihar to curb poverty. One of the jewels in the crown that the reformist CM wears, is the piece of information that the State Investment Promotion Board, built by Nitish, already has a tad more than Rs 95, 000 crore tenders. Whatever it is, be it the enhanced law and order, improved roads, surging construction assignments like building, malls or the increasing investor faith for the state, the architect of the new and revived Bihar Nitish Kumar needs to be spoken well of, after all it is not for nothing that India’s economics Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen showered praises on him. The economy wonder has not sprung from nowhere though — massive reorganization was undertaken and implemented but the one thing that Nitish Kumar propagated with the aim of Bihar’s betterment is ‘discipline’. Now the rickshaw puller says they are taking back home more money since they are commuting passengers even after 8 PM, and the local storekeeper sighs he does not need to bribe ruffians to survive their business. It is a clear indication that, Kumar has satisfied the people — something which the politicians are here for. There is a lot left to be done for Bihar’s development along with the one big hurdle that the latter along with a few other states has to tackle — the growing Naxalite menace. Kumar’s ‘discipline’ would expectantly act as the panacea mending once again.
PS: Very recently he was rightly conferred with the best politician of the year award by India’s premiere broadcast medium NDTV 24/7.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.