Just Do It!
by Mayank Krishna
First Published: Feb. 1, 2007
In last one year, with the change of government in Bihar, a lot of hope and aspiration has come to surface in the life of Bihar and Biharis. Apart from the efforts of the government, a select group of passionate Bihari intelligentsia scattered around the globe is making the concept of a flat world a reality and working toward bringing back the past glory of Bihar as a land of wisdom, wealth, opportunity, abundance, governance, and cultural heritage. And it has already started making some small but meaningful impact.
But with the hope there is a concern too. From the interaction I had had with numerous Biharis at various stages of their life and career, it seems that a large number of them, particularly young and well educated, are either not interested in Bihar or show utter pessimism about Bihar’s future. Some typical responses are ‘There is nothing in Bihar’, ‘it’s too late’, ‘development in Bihar is next to impossible’, etc. This reasoning is devoid of logic. It smacks of ignorance, stereotyping, and a lack of will and conviction.
These young people educated in top colleges of India often attribute ‘criminalization of politics and serious law and order problem’ as the root cause of all problems of Bihar. Nothing can be more wrong and preposterous. These children of economically liberated India, devoid of knowledge of the post-independence developmental economic policies of Indian government, believe an effect to be a cause. They believe that fortunes of Bihar tumbled in the last 20 years when the truth is that the script of this tragedy was written by the learned economic planners of India in 50s, 60s, and 70s through unjust allocation of developmental resources. Take an example: In 1955, the total national outlay for irrigation was Rs.29106 lakhs. Of this, Punjab got 38% while Bihar got just 4.5% even though Bihar was 3.5 times larger than Punjab. The result: Almost 76% of Punjab’s land is under irrigation while just 41% of Bihar’s land is irrigated. Or, take the Freight Equalization Scheme that applied to Steel and Coal and remained in vogue till 1991. This policy of consumers paying the same freight whether the coal was transported from Jharia to Dhanbad or Jharia to Vishakhapatnam broke the back of industry development in Bihar. Many of us are blissfully ignorant of numerous historical injustices of this kind meted out to Bihar by the economic planners.
They talk of lack of opportunities in Bihar and assert that opportunities should first be created before they can exploit them. This is passive mentality. If Bihar has to progress then opportunities will have to be created and tapped by Biharis themselves. If one can’t help oneself, no body can. Others can help, they can support, but they cannot set your house in order. This is something all Biharis need to understand. I am reminded of the old story of two shoe salesmen who went to a place where aboriginals existed. The first sales man saw that no one wore shoes and reasoned that there was no market for shoes while the second one saw a huge market because no one wore shoes! We have to create our own opportunities. Whining and complaining will not help but action orientation will and this is what is expected from the younger generation of well educated, smart, and suave Biharis. They should feel proud of their Bihari roots and act with courage and conviction.
Another issue is entrepreneurship development. In Bihar, people view entrepreneurship as something that smart, educated people don’t do. This has to change and entrepreneurship has to be accorded its due status. With the pool of well educated and technically qualified young Biharis, there is no reason why entrepreneurship development can’t take place in Bihar. The opportunities are immense though they might not be so obvious. An entrepreneurial wave can turn Bihar into the vegetable capital of India. Similar big opportunities are in agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, fruits, agro-processing sectors. The need of the hour is not large scale entrepreneurial ventures but small grassroots level ventures that ensure wealth generation along with economic and social development of the local community. We don’t need 10 investments of Rs.100 crores each; but 100 investments of Rs.10 crores each. Spread of investment is key not the quantum.
Ultimately, what Bihar and Biharis need is the Nike philosophy – Just Do It! And may I modify it a bit – JUST DO IT WITH PRIDE AND CONVICTION!