On lookout for role models and successful experiments to adopt, adapt and improve ever since it came into power, the Nitish Government has now shifted focus to Gujarat, the fastest developing State of the country.
While skeptics may scoff at Bihar, one of the poorest State trying to emulate the ways of Gujarat, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has this to say: "We have learnt quite a few things from Andhra Pradesh and replication of some of their most successful experiments in Bihar is underway. But the process of learning is a continuous process for people as well as the State. It is Gujarat now, it may be Karnataka after some time."
He conceded that in course of presentations made to him by 15 different departments of Gujarat he got several surprises and a shocker (though those are not the exact word used by him).
While Bihar has been announcing concessions for the industries, Gujarat offers none. In fact, the State chose to lose a project proposed by General Electric rather than meeting its demand for incentives. Still, the State has projects worth Rs 6,66,000 crore lined up. Modi realised that the secret lay in the infrastructure. The State guarantees proper roads, 24-hour power supply and no clearance bottlenecks to reduce the gestation period.
Can Bihar dare to emulate it?
Even if we take the power generation by the two states, while Gujarat produces 8,000 MW of power, which is 90 per cent of its requirement, Bihar's generation for the last one year has been negligible. While Bihar is trying to strengthen its aging transmission network, Gujarat has two separate feeders reaching each village. The dedicated domestic feeder provides 24-hour power while the other one powers irrigation pumps eight hours a day.
Similar comparisons could be made across several sectors. But the Deputy Chief Minister is undaunted. "I know Bihar does not bear comparison with developed states. But that is all the more reason to learn. The inputs I have got will be discussed with the Chief Minister and suitable initiatives in human resources development, agriculture, sanitation, panchayat raj institutions, water management and e-governance could be adopted."
Interestingly, while Bihar studies Gujarat's 10.62 per cent annual growth, Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of that state, has embarked on a similar exercise focused on Japan.