Harping on JD (U) leader Nitish Kumar’s contribution to turning Bihar around, chief minister Jitan Lal Manjhi told an audience at the London School of Economics (LSE) that the state needed private investment to retain its position as the fastest growing state in India.
Delivering a public lecture as part of LSE international Growth Centre’s ‘Growth Week 2014’ on Monday evening, Manjhi noted that in a democracy many people were needed for success, but said it was Nitish Kumar’s vision alone that had lifted the state from a morass.
“All credit goes to Nitishji. He gave us the vision for growth with social justice”, Manjhi said. Kumar stepped down as chief minister in May after the general elections, installing Manjhi, who has been a minister in his government since 2005.
Manjhi’s lecture, titled ‘The Bihar Story: Resurrection of the State, Inclusion and Growth’, was delivered in Hindi to the audience that mostly comprised Indian students and people of Indian origin, and researchers of the LSE centre.
Manjhi recalled Bihar’s rich history, the challenges it faced after independence and narrated in detail the many initiatives taken by the former Nitish Kumar government on law and order, women, minorites, education, social justice and growth.
He said that compared to the previous situation when youths from his state migrated to states such as Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra for jobs, many projects in those states were now suffering because labourers from Bihar were no longer going there, now finding jobs within Bihar.
“Our record of the last eight years has been satisfactory. Lot of work remains to be done, we are facing lots of challenges every day”, Manjhi said.
Making an insightful intervention, Robert Burgess, director of the IGC, said that he often noted during his visits to Patna that most billboards and advertising were of coaching institutes and training centres, “to enable people to get out of Bihar”.
He said: “At the Patna airport, I meet young Bihar professionals going to Bangalore and elsewhere to take up jobs, and in five-star hotels in the city I meet representatives of NGOs and aid agencies”.
“I should instead be meeting young professionals from Bangalore and elsewhere at the airport, arriving there to take up jobs in Bihar, while in five-star hotels in the city I should be meeting investors looking for opportunities in the state”, he said, indicating the distance Bihar still needed to travel, compared to other states in India.
The event was chaired by entrepreneur Karan Bilimoria, who has invested in Bihar.