The concept of 'bimaru' (sick in Hindi) states is outdated, since these states have been advancing faster than some of the developed ones, Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia has said.
Bimaru (referring to Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) was an acronym coined by the noted demographer Ashish Bose - in a paper submitted to then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the mid 1980s - to group together states which were lagging behind and retarding India's overall development.
"The old Bimaru concept is no longer true," said Ahluwalia,while sharing the commission's analysis of growth data for the states. Among the four Bimaru states, the economist particularly singled out Bihar, as a state with the fastest growth rate in recent years.
The data to be formally unveiled at National Development Council (NDC) meeting on July 24 shows that 25 per cent of the poorest Indian states recorded a growth rate of 6.3 per cent between 2002 and 2008 - compared to less than 4.9 between 1987 and 2002. On the other hand, the speed of growth in richer states such as Punjab has slowed down.
"Liberalisation of economy has benefited the poorer states," Ahluwalia said.
He also predicted that, following the global economic slowdown, India's average economic growth during the 11th plan (2007-12) would be 8.1 per cent against the original growth target of nine per cent.
Ahluwalia said that on 29 socio-economic indicators such as education, gender balance and population growth, the disparity between rich and poor states has reduced.
What still worries India's top planners, however, is continuing exclusion of tribal population in India's growth story.
"Our data shows that tribals are now more excluded than the scheduled castes," said a plan panel member and added that a special development plan for tribal areas would be circulated to chief ministers at the NDC meeting.