millions migrating out of the state—it now clocks a growth rate of 11.03 per cent, the second highest in the country. This turnaround comes with new stories, like those of Das and others who are now returning to the state, looking for opportunities in the government’s ambitious infrastructure projects or simply putting money where their heart is—a fruit processing plant, a water purification unit, a hospital or a school.
Bihar Foundation, a state government initiative set up in January 2008 to get people settled outside the state to invest in Bihar, has 1.5 lakh members across 11 chapters in India, US, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, South Korea and Australia.
“That’s a number that went beyond our expectations in such a short span of time,” says Bihar Foundation CEO KP Ramaiah. Most of the investment by non-resident Biharis is of a “giving back” nature, of contributing to the socio-economic development of the state, the lack of which forced them to migrate. Thus, most of their money, says Ramaiah, goes towards improving education in their villages or towns.
Betting on education
Das, for instance, is setting up an engineering college, two schools and a hospital in Mirdaul, Forbesganj. The foundation stone for his Rs 110-crore engineering college, Moti Babu Institute of Technology, was laid last year on a 14-acre land he bought from the government for Rs 60 crore (30 per cent self-funded, the rest is financed by banks). Work on the college will begin in April this year and is expected to end by 2011. His Isoft has tied up with TAFE (Training and Further Education), South Australia, for exchange programmes and faculty visits, and with Outreach Consultancy, an Australian project management firm, to oversee construction of an R&D Centre.
The college will have two schools in its vicinity: one will come up on four acres and will be a kilometre away from the college. This is to encourage qualified teachers for the engineering college to relocate to the village; their wards can study at this school. The other, spread across 25 acres, will be a residential school for children of the villagers.