Karela Fry

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Kickstarting growth

leave a comment »

10 years ago Bihar was the heart of darkness. The times have changed. TOI reported about a conference this weekend on the state’s growth taking place in Bihar:

[Nepal’s Prime Minister, Baburam Bhattarai] profusely praised the turnaround of Bihar and lauded the “visionary leadership” of chief minister Nitish Kumar. “Your state today is one of the fastest growing states of India. In the eyes of many citizens in Nepal, Bihar is now a role model for development, economic advancement and social inclusion. What you have accomplished thus far makes us almost envious,”

The Kolkata Telegraph reported further:

The panel of experts participating in Global Summit on Changing Bihar 2012 felt that though Bihar had achieved remarkable average growth rate of about 10 per cent in the past six fiscals, it was lagging on various growth parameters, including per capita income and poverty rate. The experts participating in the plenary session “Vision for Bihar’s development and emerging agenda for action” observed that if Bihar wanted to bridge the gap, it would have to achieve at least 14 per cent growth. It would have to improve on several other fronts, including child mortality rate and literacy, said the experts.

The speakers charted various proposals and agenda, including industrialisation strategy and commercialisation of agriculture, for the inclusive growth of the state. They also laid stress on strengthening the role of the IT sector and science and technology for better delivery and performance.

Speaking at the session, Emeritus professor, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Sudipto Mundle said: “Bihar is one of the best performing states in health and literacy and the reasons behind it are good governance, improvement of law and order and a few other factors. But despite making a steady effort on these fronts, the state is still poor on per capita income and drawing investors.”

Sharing the views of Nathan and Mundle, visiting professor of Institute for Human Development Gerry Rodgers and former director of International Institute for Labor Studies, Geneva, said the time had come for Bihar to shift from crop sector to livestock, dairy, fisheries and other such activities to give boost to the agriculture sector and reap harvest of equitable and inclusive development.

Reporting on another session TOI recorded:

Initiating the debate, [Infosys head K V Kamat] said it was the people who set the best agenda. He said that enthusiasm among the people of Bihar is perceptible was evident when he visited some of the branches of ICICI Bank in the state capital. This is positive sign for the state which is on a development mode,” he said adding when there is good governance and improved law and order, investment would definitely get a boost. But the state need to shave proper infrastructure, he said.

Highlighting that Bihar needs good rural roads for value added industry — specially food processing and dairy, Kamath said rural roads would help farmers in getting adequate price for their produce.

Referring to the Baramati model of growth in Maharashtra where agro and agro-related industries flourished in which cooperatives played a vital role, Kamath said: “Bihar has far better capacity to take up the Baramati model.” Referring to the growth in IT sector, Kamath said by giving a boost to BPO industry would automatically give thrust to the IT industry.

On his part, SEBI chairman Sinha said as Bihar boasts of a large youth population ( i.e two-thirds of the state’s total population comprise of youths) they could be utilized in areas like technical and skilled development by opening large number of schools, technical colleges, polytechnics in public-private partnerships.

The primary requirement for growth is the rule of the law. Once that has been assured, physical infrastructure and education are the keys to growth. There is a clear direction for Bihar. Outlook reported:

Kumar said that the state government had decided to launch a 10-year agriculture roadmap from April 1, 2012 under which Rs 1.5 lakh crore would be invested for increase in farm yield, storage, marketing and related activities.

“Bihar has taken upon itself to to launch a second green revolution in the country,” he added.

Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said corruption was a major challenge, but the state government had taken measures like mandatory annual declaration of assets by officers as well by the Chief Minister and ministers.

The state government had enacted a strong Lokayukta Act and set up the Special Courts Act to deal with corrupt public servants, he said, adding that other states had taken a lead from Bihar to crackdown against corruption.

The ill-gotten wealth of senior officials was confiscated and put to public use, he said.

Hindu Business Line confirmed that there was already work on the ground:

In Chief Minister Mr Nitish Kumar’s vision of a ‘changing Bihar’, it is clear that infrastructure takes priority when it comes to attracting investments. Sure enough, companies are lining up to bag road and infrastructure projects. Among these large and small construction companies are Gammon India, Atlanta Constructions, NEC, Madhucon, Navyug Constructions and C&C Constructions.

“We have built roads passing through 20 out of the 38 districts in the State. Even in flood-prone North Bihar, where construction is difficult as it is restricted to just five months in a year, we have completed most works ahead of schedule,” C&C’s Chief General Manager, Mr Ashok Kumar, told visiting media persons in Patna recently.

IBN Live carries a report on the quick growth of basic human indices:

Infant mortality rate in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, is declining, according to a UN report. The report has credited the state’s better infrastructure development in the sectors including health, roads and electricity for saving lives of newborns. “Between 2008 and 2009, this (IMR) fell from 56 to 52 per live 1,000 births – only just above the national average,” says the assessment report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. As part of the Comprehensive Newborn Care Initiative (CNCI) developed with technical support from UNICEF and Bihar Government’s National Neonatology Forum has set up ‘sick newborn care units’. The new system relies on better electricity supplies, better health care services and better roads for home visits and referrals to specialised health centres.

The report in Telegraph ended:

After hearing the visiting dignitaries, chief secretary Navin Kumar said: “The challenges discussed at the session will be defined as agenda for tomorrow. Ideas and suggestions at various sessions will be drafted as agenda for development. The Bihar government has made a steady progress in elementary education with construction of about 70,000 elementary schools in the past six years but the bigger challenge is in higher education and secondary education. In Bihar, we have only 3,000 secondary schools. Providing education to students finishing their elementary education will be tough ask.”

The chief secretary also highlighted the shortage of doctors, nurses and auxiliary nurse and midwives.

The carping by the planning commission seems to miss the point entirely: soon Bihar will have to be treated as a normal state, with normal problems.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: