Bihar’s new govt must outdo itself to take state to development

  • Ashok Mishra, Hindustan Times, Patna
  • Updated: Nov 09, 2015 11:22 IST
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar surrounded by media persons as he greets supporters after victory in Bihar state elections, in Patna on Sunday. (AP)

From improving poor social indicators and law and order to creating masses of jobs for the young, Bihar’s new government faces a daunting task in ridding the state of its reputation of being a chronic laggard.

The country’s third-most populous state is also one of its poorest and most corruption-prone, probably having more in common with a feudal agrarian society than a fast-modernising, aspirational India.

There is little industrial activity, two-thirds of the people have no access to power, migration to cities is en masse, and social indicators are mostly worse than the national average. All of this contributes to the perception that nothing works in Bihar.

“The biggest challenge before the new government is to change the perception about Bihar,” said social scientist Shaibal Gupta.

Given the state’s history of nondeliverance, the government will have to boost investment in core sectors to win big investments that could move millions of farm hands to industrial jobs.

With 80% population engaged in agriculture, the government will have to find ways to augment farm income and create jobs for nearly two crore youth, who constitute 25% of the vote bank.

To do this, the government will have to increase its internal resources and accelerate growth rate from the present 9.42%.

For the new government under Nitish Kumar, improving law and order, especially the safety of women, would be a key challenge. This was one of the main poll planks of the BJP.

The government has to also take strong steps against corruption. The previous government had lodged graft cases against some officers, including director general-rank officers, and granted sanction to prosecute in 71,000 cases.

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