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Nitish effect affects economy

One state's progress is another country's distress. The Nitish Kumar effect in Bihar that has seen the hitherto backward Indian state making rapid strides is having a negative impact in neighbouring Nepal.

world Updated: Mar 07, 2011 00:08 IST
Utpal Parashar

One state's progress is another country's distress. The Nitish Kumar effect in Bihar that has seen the hitherto backward Indian state making rapid strides is having a negative impact in neighbouring Nepal.

Take the case of Pawan Patel, who quit his job at Reliance Spinning Mills, the largest yarn manufacturer in Nepal located in Sunsari district bordering Bihar, to take up a job in his native place.

Encouraged by the economic boom in Bihar, many workers in Nepali industries located in the industrial belt of Sunsari and Morang districts are crossing the border in search of greener pastures.

Of the 565 industries in the region, 450 are in operation. But there is a shortage of nearly 30,000 workers and it has brought down output in most industries by nearly a half.

The scenario was different till a few years ago. Thousands of workers from Bihar reached these bordering districts seeking employment.

A news report mentions Reliance Spinning Mills had nearly 300 Indian workers a few years ago. The number has now dropped to a fifth of the figure. And it's not industrial workers alone. Nepal is also witnessing a decrease in the number of barbers and street vendors from Bihar as they are getting lured by improved prospects at home.

It is estimated that of the nearly 1,500 barbers in the Kathmandu Valley, nearly half are from Bihar. Most scrap collectors, fruit and vegetable vendors and cycle-cart operators are also from the same state.

Two-digit growth in Bihar and high cost of living in Kathmandu has reduced the inflow of new barbers and many old ones have downed shutters to return.

I too noticed the trend as my neighbourhood hairdresser disappeared suddenly. Nearby shop owners informed that he's set up a business in Muzaffarpur.

"I am also thinking of leaving," said Shakti Kumar from Motihari while trimming my hair last month. Some days later, the friendly roadside fruit vendor who spent eight years in Nepal too vanished.

Lured by the Nitish Effect, I presume.