Bihar to serve as a role model for development

Bihar is changing and it is now being acknowledged by the international media. An article published in New York Times (NYT) has termed Bihar as a state which could serve as a model.

Recalling that for decades Bihar was “something between a punch line and cautionary tale, the exact opposite of the high tech, rapidly growing, rising global power India has sought to become,” the article said that previously “criminals could count on police protection, not prosecution. Highway men ruled the shredded roads and kidnapping was one of the most profitable businesses”.

“The name captured everything that was wrong with the old India — a combustible mix of crime, corruption and caste politics in a state crucible that stifled economic growth,” it said.

However, after the turnaround when it notched an 11 per cent average growth rate for the last five years, the news was greeted as a sign that even India’s most intractable corners of backwardness and misery were being transformed, the article says.

Bihar’s turnaround illustrates how a handful of seemingly small changes can yields big results in India’s most impoverished and badly governed regions. It stressed that state governments are responsible for everything from schools to hospitals to policing to maintaining most roads. “Bihar is a textbook case of how leadership determines development,” it says.

The article has uncharitable things to say about Lalu Prasad who ran the state for 15 years `from beneath a banyan tree’.

“Under Mr Prasad’s watch, criminal syndicates kidnapped, extorted and robbed with impunity, protected by political leaders or in some cases led by politicians,” it says, adding Lalu’s government did little to improve the daily lives of Biharis. It talks about dismal road conditions, schools crumbling as teachers did not turn up for work and health centres left un-staffed.