With the advent of Nitish Kumar under the NDA coalition saw tremendous shift in Brand Bihar. He brought governance to the forefront and changed the law and order situation.
When India was witnessing the era of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation (LPG) in the early 90s, the state of Bihar was caught in the phase of ‘Jungle Raj’ under the myopic vision of Lalu Prasad Yadav. This dented the image of Brand Bihar and pushed the state towards backwardness and lawlessness. Ask anyone in Bihar, the traumatic experience of living in Bihar in 90s and early 2000s will shiver them.
Dacoities, murders, kidnappings, extortion, rapes, etc were the prime headlines in the state. People lost confidence in the Government and migrated towards other cities and states only to face stigma due to the image of Bihar. Once the glorious land of Ashoka and Buddha became a matter of shame for the Biharis across the world during the Lalu regime.
- Bihar alcohol ban: Nitish Kumar running parallel economy of illicit liquor, claims RJD spokesperson Chitranjan Gagan
- Congress cannot defeat BJP without taking regional forces along: RJD’s Chitranjan Gagan
- Grisly killings of 2 journalists jolt Bihar: Half-burnt body found in Madhubani, Minister blamed for Purnia murder
With the advent of Nitish Kumar under the NDA coalition saw tremendous shift in Brand Bihar. He brought governance to the forefront and changed the law and order situation. Children could go to school, women could walk on streets without any fear, crime rates were successfully curbed, bahubalis were shown the doors of jail, and Bihar began to move towards the path of progress. On 24th November JDU is set to celebrate 16 years of good governance under the leadership of Nitish Kumar, he has been aptly named by fellow Biharis as ‘Sushasan Babu’ or ‘Mr. Good Governance’.
While Lalu Yadav fragmented the society of Bihar and used caste as a tool to rule Bihar, Nitish ensured inclusive growth and won the hearts of all sections of society. The liquor ban imposed by Bihar has been one of the most courageous decisions taken by any Chief Minister, it has brought peace in the society of Bihar and especially women has given full support to this historic decision. Even the crime rates have fallen and impacts can be easily seen at societal level.
Nitish Kumar has taken pragmatic and efficient steps in Bihar in the field of education, health, infrastructure, societal upliftment of various sections, agriculture, etc. Brand Bihar is back under his leadership and Biharis across the world have supported him. The literacy rate has risen upto 70 % and female literacy has witnessed a quantum jump.
Mr Kumar has been successful in changing the caste based politics in Bihar and has restored his image as Developmental Leader, he has ensured that Bihar grows at fast pace and in the last sixteen years Bihar has been consistent in GDP growth rate. The Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Bihar for 2021-22 (at current prices) is projected to be Rs 7,57,026 crore. This is an annual increase of 11% over the GSDP in 2019-20.
He has brought women centric policies in Bihar which has helped in the growth of women, reservations for women in Panchayats and state recruitment examinations have ensured the participation of women in governance and job sectors. Who can forget the revolutionary scheme of providing bicycles to the girl child, it has not only provided them education but also gave them freedom. The mindset of Bihari society changed and now you can see the girls from Bihar doing well across India from selection in civil services examination to being squadron leaders in the Air Force.
Caste based violence was the reality under the Lalu regime and many heinous crimes were committed which were politically motivated but Nitish Kumar ended all these and provided social justice in the state.
In a Princeton University case study, Professor Juliette John highlighted that mismanagement of financial resources, obsolete methods of data entry and reporting, and a low skilled workforce, insufficient transparency, and scarce accountability hindered service delivery in Bihar under Lalu Rabri regime. To combat these challenges, Nitish Kumar launched a series of reforms to streamline operations, boost revenues, and improve the Government’s responsiveness to citizens’ needs. It focused on three areas: land registration, finance and freedom of information. The objective was for the government to be efficient, responsive and cost effective. The strategic targeting of public spending on development programmes and fiscal strengthening is driving Bihar’s strong development performance. He even introduced Bihar Industrial Policy 2006 to speed up the process of industrialisation in Bihar from which Jharkhand was already carved out in 2000, losing most of the industrial areas and revenues as well. Bihar Infrastructure Development Enabling Act 2006 intended to provide for rapid development of physical and social infrastructure in the state, attract private sector participation and to provide for comprehensive legislation for designing, financing, construction, operation,maintenance of infrastructure projects. Even the Bihar Industrial Investment Promotion Policy 2016 and Bihar Startup Policy 2017 were introduced to accelerate the process of industrial and startup development in the state.
The “saat nischay Yojana” is CM’s dream project in which he resolved to change the fate and face of Bihar. The seven point agenda pledged an investment of over Rupees 2.7 lakh crores. The agenda’s main focus is “bijli, sadak and paani” along with focus on youth employment, education, skill development and women’s empowerment. Under these ambitious “Seven Resolves”, the government launched several schemes to fulfil its promises. The Har ghar nal ka jal scheme strives to provide clean and safe drinking water to all households while Shauchalay Nirman Ghar Ka Samman scheme aims to construct a toilet in every household of the state.
Bihar has also shown resilience in fighting COVID19 cases, during the first wave many migrant labourers returned to the state and quarantine facilities were provided to all such workers. Even the workers were mapped and provided avenues for employment in the state. The second wave of COVID19 was well managed and lives were saved with an efficient healthcare system given the scale of impact across the world. Even recently precautions were taken for the COVID19 and people coming to Bihar in the festive season were given advisory and proper care by the state.
Overall, Nitish Kumar has been successful in changing the perception about Bihar in recent times and overhaul the governance systems. His regime saw inclusive and sustainable growth for all with a core focus on rainbow development where each section of society got its due and social & economic justice were ensured for all. Bihar has truly attained its stature among the Indian states and continues to lead in the growth and development parameters. Now he is focusing on transformation of the state through the ‘Seven Resolves’ which will accelerate the spheres of employment, Youth led skill development, education, women empowerment, agriculture, infrastructure, health facilities, irrigation and cleanliness. The State will begin implementation of Saat Nishchay Yojana-2 in 2021-22. Rs 4,671 crore has been allocated in 2021-22 for this programme. Key schemes under Saat Nishchay-2 include: (i) creating centres of excellence in polytechnics and industrial training institutes, (ii) establishing mega-skill development centre in each district, and tool rooms in each division, (iii) providing grants up to five lakh rupees and loan up to five lakh rupees at a subsidised interest rate to youth and women for setting up new businesses, (iv) providing cash incentive to female students: Rs 25,000 upon completing senior secondary and Rs 50,000 upon completing graduation, (v) provision of telemedicine, pathology, and screening for diabetes, blood pressure etc in primary healthcare centres, and (vi) housing for homeless and landless poor in urban areas, and shelter homes for old age persons in all cities.
An important scheme is being launched under the Digital Bihar Program, all students of Class VI and above will receive computer education and training from 2021-22 onwards. The state will take steps towards implementing the National Education Policy 2020 and increasing the gross enrolment ratio in higher education to 50% by 2035.
In the words of Robert Frost, “Miles to Go Before I Sleep”, Nitish Kumar is working tirelessly to push the state on a continuous path of development keeping alive the Bihari spirit of hard work, simplicity and indefinite patience!
The author is K C Tyagi, former Rajya Sabha MP and National Spokesperson of Janata Dal (United). The views expressed are his own.