Year 2011 will go down as a landmark year for Bihar. Having turned the wheels of development and progress in the last few years, 2011 saw consolidation of various initiatives and remarkable turnaround in the state. In 2010, Bihar emerged as a role model for electoral democracy when people unanimously voted for progress and prosperity, weeding out the shibboleths of vote bank politics.
Time magazine recently had an article on Bihar on “How Nitish Kumar Turned Bihar into a Model of Indian Reform”.Though the rest of the country saw challenges growth numbers dwindling due to slower reforms and lack of decision making, Bihar is on fast track growth track.
Bihar saw annual growth rate of 14.15 per cent – the highest for any state in the country. Yet another testimony to the spectacular turnaround that has taken place in Bihar in recent years. This would have been unthinkable less than a decade back, when Bihar used to lag behind the rest of the country in terms of most development indicators. State has seen significant investment and improvement in infrastructure. Of the Rs.20,000-crore state budget, about Rs.8000-9,000 crore are earmarked for roads and infrastructure.
Manufacturing sector in Bihar also saw the highest reported growth this year. Manufacturing growth in Bihar stood at 15 per cent in 2010-11, which is the highest in the country. The share of agriculture in the GSDP declined from 38.8% in 2000-01 to 20.8% in 2009-10. On the other hand, share of secondary sector(refining, processing, construction and manufacturing) increased from 10.7% to 19.9% and share of service sector (transportation, banking, insurance, hospitality, and other sectors) increased from 50.5% to 59.4%.
The state’s revenue collection jumped 200 per cent in the past nine years, according to government figures, enabling Bihar to rely on tax collections rather than financial aid from New Delhi. Tax revenues rose from 24.42 billion rupees (Dh1.97bn) in 2002 to 73.36bn rupees last year.Bihar is also lauded for being one of the few states that has adopted the direct cash transfer model to distribute subsidy aid to its poor. The model, less prone to corruption than transferring subsidies through middlemen, is now being emulated by other states.
Economic growth rate is not the only pointer to cheer about; Bihar has seen significant change in its human development index as well. India Human Development report praised Bihar’s effort, the report said, “There is a vast difference between the Bihar of today and the Bihar of 15-20 years ago.” Not only has the state witnessed unprecedented economic growth in the 10th Plan, the per capita social sector expenditure too has increased significantly in the last five years. It noted that the share of expenditure on the welfare of Bihar’s SCs and STs to total expenditure had almost doubled during 2005-08 from 0.4% to 0.8%.
Literacy rate in Bihar has risen from 39% in 1991 to 47% in 2001 to 63.8% in 2011. Bihar’s unique initiative to provide bicycle for girl child is also bearing results as literacy rates for women in Bihar soared from 33.12 per cent in 2001 to 53.33 per cent this census year.
It’s even more heartening to see is that it’s not just government driven programs which has resulted in significant change & impact. Biharis around the world are also part of this success story. Individual success stories were more encouraging as it gave hope and dreams to every common man in Bihar.Sushil Kumar from Motihari became the first contestant to win 5 crore award money on KBC show. Bihari migrant’s workers are known for being the source of construction and agricultural growth all over the country. This year Bihar saw for the first time 26 per cent decline in the exodus of labourers from Bihar.
In another significant change, Association of Progressive and Resurgent National Awam (APARNA) a Non-profit organisation has taken the initiative to accelerate reverse migration for Biharis from Mumbai. They have bought a three-acre piece of land at Fatuha from the Bihar government at a concessional rate and is building an industrial hub for 500 Bihari entrepreneurs in Mumbai who will employ around 15,000 skilled and semi-skilled workers, also from Mumbai. Bihari entrepreneur talent is also being recognized for changing the fortunes of the state. Satyajit Kumar, CII regional vice-chairman (agriculture and food processing) and CII national council member, was given the Role Model Excellent Entrepreneur Award, 2011 by the International Consortium of Contemporary Biologists for rural and agriculture development. Many Biharis returned back home to pursue their dream projects. The year also saw formation of Bihar Entrepreneur Network and many such unique initiatives.
Bihar is also the first state to come up concrete action on ground to fight corruption. Right to Service Act and Bihar Lokayukta (Amendment) Bill 2011 were enacted and the government announced confiscation of assets of public servants accumulated through corrupt means.Nitish began a new practice — the chief minister, the Council of ministers, legislators, besides Group III to Grade I officials declaring their annual income and assets details and scrapping of MLAs and MLCs’ Local Area Development Funds.The government also took a unique step by setting up a primary school in the houses of those found guilty of disproportionate assets case and corruption charges. No wonder that in a book on corruption written by eminent economists Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari it was ranked as one of the least corrupt States.
2012 is the centennial year for Bihar. So glad that despite the dark and turbulent time, we have changed the fortune of the state. As we usher into the New Year, just hope that Bihar continues to push for greater all around change. Here’s wishing you all a Happy new year 2012. May this be another year of Bihar success story !!