Prosperity promises

Nitish draws roadmaps for growth

ALOMIT

Prospect, prosperity and promises are wafting in the cool breeze. Bihar is in the process of a metamorphosis. Development roadmaps and action plans are being doled out almost every day since Nitish Kumar took the reins for second term of five years.

To quote a Bihar minister, since the people’s mandate has been unprecedented, the NDA government has no time to rest on the oars but to make honest efforts to come up to the people’s expectations. The task is gargantuan. But, ham hogen kamyaab (we will succeed).

The situation is somewhat difficult. Droughts, for three years in a row, have badly mauled the state’s agriculture. Paddy production has gone down by 40 per cent. Rabi prospects are bleak as Hathia Nakshatra has failed. Canal irrigation system is in a shambles as there is no or little water to run them. Corruption has seeped to the lowest level of administration. Vigilance department has been flooded with swindling complaints against mukhias and others who matter. Rural employment schemes and Indira Awas Yojna are mired in corruptions.

Quite aware of the odds the Nitish government is charting a course of action that can ensure growth and rein in corruption. And, if morning shows the day, there is little to doubt about the sincerity of the NDA government in the second incarnation. The previous mandate to the JD-U-BJP alliance was something negative. That was the vote against the Lalu-Rabri misrule. The 2010 verdict has been positive albeit a tinge of Lalu fear was also there. It is but natural for the NDA government to plunge head on to tackle challenges ahead.

It is good that Chief Minister Nitish Kumar himself reviewing the functioning of each and every department with concerned ministers and officials and crafting roadmaps for development and setting targets. Road, electricity, education, health, investment, anti-corruption crusade, e-governance, woman empowerment, better law and order situation, speedy trials of bahubalis and restoring Bihar pride are some of important thrust areas. The Nitish model of development has even caught the national attentions. Many states are eager to embark on the Nitish agenda.

Re-emerging Bihar has charmed national and international investors. Nationalised banks are being persuaded or ‘forced’ to plough back the money, earned in Bihar, for the growth and development of the state. Even die-hard Lalu supporters have been forced to revise their opinion about Bihar. Even CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan has praised Nitish Kumar and confessed: “We made the biggest mistake of our lives by supporting Lalu 15 years back. I still regret the love and affection our party has given to Lalu”. He went on to add that Nitish Kumar’s work on women’s reservation and improving law and order situation in the state are the main reasons for regaining power. Moreover, the masses who voted in Nitish’s favour never wanted to bring Lalu Prasad back to power, AB Bardhan said.

Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has rightly insisted that 2011 will be a ‘year of implementation of plans’. “The people will not be satisfied with distribution of cycles among girls, better roads and schools only; they will ask for livelihood and healthcare facilities. “The difference between 2005 and 2010 is that the expectations of the people have doubled and it is focused on one man — Nitish Kumar, not his ministers or MLAs”, commented a social scientist. If the Chief Minister is focused on improvement of delivery system, he is doing the right thing because that will fulfil the people’s expectation.

Suave and soft-spoken Nitish Kumar has taken a commendable step to involve people and all those who matter in the process of development. He has been holding a series of meetings with government employees unions and associations seeking their views to end corruption and accelerate pace of development. He also listened to their problems. He is meeting university teachers and other opinion makers and social thinkers with the same mission. The abolition of legislators’ development fund is the first step toward drying up the source of corruption.

Meanwhile, the Nitish cabinet has set the agenda of good governance for the next five years. The approach document reiterated government resolve of development with justice. Instead of going in bits and pieces the government charted out a detailed agenda for all the major sectors. Some of the highlights of the programmes of good governance are as follows:

Administration: The government has decided to introduce guarantee to service Act. It will also take up a zero-tolerant attitude on corruption front. It will formulate a training policy for capacity building of state employees. Set up river police stations in diara areas. Bring all the police stations, offices of superintendents of police and police headquarters under computerised network. Set up a state-level institution for grievance redressal of state employees. Ensure effective use of websites and Vasudha kendras for easy access of information to common people.

Health: The government would strive to bring the child mortality, maternal mortality and reproduction rate on par with the national rate. Make all the health centres functional round-the-clock. Fill up the vacancies of doctors. Set up super-specialty hospitals for major diseases. Encourage private players for setting up medical colleges in the state. Set up nine trauma centres along the national highways in the state.

Education: It would bring back all the primary school drop-outs to schools. Give free dress to all the students from class I to VIII. Revive basic schools. Set up at least one degree college in every sub-division. The state would be developed as a hub of technical education.

Energy: The government would make all efforts for early completion of power generation projects, which have already been approved. Facilitate private investors interested in making investment in power sector. The Nitish government plans to electrify all villages and light each and every house by 2015.

Industry: The NDA government would set up industry promotion commission. Develop industrial areas for setting up industries. Revive Upendra Maharathi craft institution. Simplify the process related to commercial taxes. Introduce special welfare programme for the Bihari labourers working in other states.

Woman empowerment: Formulate a policy for women empowerment. The government would take steps to increase the sex ratio and the number of polytechnics meant for females. Coaching facility for females to prepare them for competitive examinations would be provided.

Minority welfare: The government would construct boundary walls in all graveyards, which still does have one. Put up an effective system to promote publication of Urdu magazines. Appoint Urdu language teachers in all primary and middle schools. Extension of programmes meant for skill development of minority students along with regular.

The state government has already appointed a panel to look into economic condition of upper caste people and provide reservation for economically poor upper castes. The Karpoori Thakur government had provided three per cent reservation to economically weak upper caste women, which Lalu Prasad had subsequentally abolished. A bigger challenge for the state government in 2011 would be to create a better infrastructure for primary education.

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