How Lalu ruined Bihar
By Ravi Shanker Kapoor
Lalu Prasad Yadav'sdefeat in the Bihar assembly polls underlines the age-old saying that you can fool all people for some time and some people for all time but not all people for all time. It also gives a lie to his assertion that in the second most populous state what matters is caste and not development.
Here is a man who has styled himself as the messiah of the poor and the downtrodden. We begin with a comment on the economic scenario of Bihar.
?Nineties saw emergence of such forces which relegated the process of development in Bihar. Development has been sacrificed at the altar of divisive forces.? Is it Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushil Kumar Modi? It is, actually, the Planning Commission.
In its objective analysis, the plan panel study lists a litany of woes: ?Revenue receipts were sacrificed on calls of rallies and industrialists who fed the revenue receipts used to become victims of kidnapping. Migration of industries continued without any attempt to arrest this flight of capital from state.?
All major cities have witnessed massive inflow of Biharis representing all socio-economic strata?from daily wage workers to IT professionals and super-specialty doctors.
Coupled with this flight was, and is, the exodus of Bihari workforce. All major cities have witnessed massive inflow of Biharis representing all socio-economic strata?from daily wage workers to IT professionals and super-specialty doctors. Interestingly, Shri Yadav acknowledges the flight of workforce?while accepting Shri Kumar'simpressive electoral victory, he challenged the new Chief Minister to check such flight.
Shri Yadav expects the new Chief Minister to possess Alladdin'slamp, rubbing which the jinn could be summoned and ordered to perform wonders. But what has he himself done? He gave his state the fodder scam. As the plan panel study noted: ?Bureaucracy has become demoralised, partly by lessons from fodder scam and mainly by process of marginalisation in governance of the state. Execution, monitoring and implementation of development programme found absence of commitment among bureaucrats.
?And this adversely effected planning. It is concern of none if the poor man continues to sleep with cattle in thatched leaking roofs, as houses under Indira Aawas Yojna could not be built and provisions were allowed to lapse. The sufferer is belly-sunken poor old man who could not be provided with old-age pension or grains under Antyodaya scheme or free grains under Annapurna Yojna, BDOs appear to have no concern or interest for genuine identification of families living below poverty line, because they remain busy in pleasing local representatives or obeying the dictates of the leaders of the political parties. The starving millions are left uncared. Poverty is allowed to linger on without active support from government to influence its decrease. Lumpen administration has reduced poor as beggars rather than claimants for survival under schemes of food security or poverty alleviation programmes. People have become used to such apathetic situation. Those who cannot sustain this position and have spirit left for survival, have left the state in search of employment, be it in Leh or in Sikkim or in Surat.?
All the macro-economic indicators and human development indices of Bihar make a depressing reading. There is a Hindi proverb that the genius shows his brilliance right from childhood or beginning. Shri Yadav made the proverb stand on its head; he showed his incompetence right from the beginning. In the first five years of his misrule (1990-95), the state recorded a negative growth rates, -0.14 per cent. According to the Planning Commission, ?The collapse of growth has been a phenomenon of 1990s.?
The sad story continued. ?The economy of Bihar (after bifurcation) is in shambles?with an estimated GDP growth rate of around one per cent against the national average of 5.5 per cent. The incidence of poverty are alarming at roughly 43 per cent against the national average of 27 per cent.? What the results of V.P. Singh's?lab experiment? are!
Other features of the Lalu saga are no less saddening: 89 per cent of the people below poverty line don'tget ration benefits; the literacy level is the lowest, 48 per cent against the national average of 65 per cent; it is the only state in which the primarily enrollment percentage fell in the 1990s; the number of schools per million is 629, against national 1,036; maternal mortality rate is 707 per lakh, against a national figure of 404; and long goes the list.
The political class should learn a lesson from the Bihar verdict: they cannot ignore development.
(The author is Editor, www.indiaright.org. He can be reached at [email protected])