What images come to our mind when we think of Bihar? Poverty, squalor, backwardness and people living in utterly abject conditions, running from pillar to post, in order to fulfil their basic necessities. Or perhaps, the imagery of mandarins of South Block, who give concrete shape to the public policies of India, that have the wherewithal to affect the generations of this great country. I guess, the former picture is most likely to spring up in the minds of the readers.
Bihar, a state that is resplendent with the natural bounties, has been subjected to decades of misgovernance by the hordes of political leaders and is nearly on the brink of collapse. The annual per capita income of a resident of Bihar is merely Rs. 43,000, which is almost a third of the national average of 1,36,000. Bihar needs a detailed blueprint for providing quality and sustainable living to its residents. So let’s see, what is it that needs the urgent attention of the policymakers?
As per 2011 census, Bihar was the third most populous state in India with a population of about 10 crores. For a state with this huge size of the population, there are concrete requirements of food, education, jobs, primary and secondary healthcare facilities etc. There is a compelling case to sensitize the youth towards the benefits of proper family planning. In Bihar, still, there is a huge preference towards the male child thereby leading to an unsustainable increase in the number of children in families.
The political executive should come up with the implementable ideas towards the betterment of primary and secondary education. The state of education, and particularly primary education, is in shambles. Numerous studies have shown that efforts to improve upon the situation of primary education yield low hanging fruits. Improvement in the state of primary education has a cascading effect of improvement in secondary and tertiary education.
The next important vertical to be taken care of is health care. The state of the public healthcare system in Bihar is creaking at its best. Public medical practitioners are more interested in their personal practice. This leads to the rustic folks thronging to the places of the private practice of the doctors. A white paper on the healthcare facilities in Bihar is something that needs to be brought immediately. Proper healthcare facilities would bring the much-needed succour in the lives of people who are in dire straits.
Boost to the economy and job creation may be done by attracting investment and improving the investment climate to establish the industries. Mass scale employment is possible only by establishing industries. The government must work upon providing tax breaks to the intending participants in the growth of Bihar. The policies towards land acquisition and development still date back to the medieval era. There is an urgent need to overhaul them and come up with investor-friendly policies.
Creating much needed physical infrastructure is the need of the hour. The government will have to start implementing projects on the PPP model. There is an acute need to build roads, dams, public offices, schools, universities and other utilities. Creating infrastructure will provide huge employment opportunities to the youth of Bihar, who have to venture out to other states in search of jobs.
Bihar is an agrarian state and about 80% of the population is still dependent upon agriculture towards their sustenance. Farmers have to be listened to carefully, so that proper policies may be drafted for agriculture. Farmers need to be provided with quality seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural implements. Although a huge population is dependent upon agriculture, the yield is still far from being satisfactory. The concept of contract farming may be implemented, with support from the private players.
The impending government may also choose to provide the much-needed impetus to tourism in Bihar. The state is home to many landmarks in the space of tourism. Bodh Gaya attracts thousands of tourists from all across the world every year, Patna is the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, 10th Guru of Sikhs and there are many other places of interest as well.
Another malady that Bihar has been facing for decades is the monster of corruption. Creating the office of Lokpal and equipping him with the necessary powers may help in bringing down the corruption. Similarly, reforms in the judicial system may bring about huge positive changes in the social fabric of Bihar.
Although the aforementioned issues just highlight the tip of the iceberg, Bihar still has the potential to be a top-performing state. The goal of providing a great life for the people may be achieved if the elected leaders work in tandem with the industrious population of Bihar.