The 1st phase of polling for Bihar elections has begun. The development of the state is contingent on the party which will be entrusted by the electorate. Bihar is restless to see the sunshine of development at the end of the election results. With 90 per cent rural demography and 2/3rd of the state reeling under darkness after more than six decades of independence, Bihar deserves better, in fact best possible alternative. One parameter to judge the ‘governing choice’ is by means of the vision document. In this context the vision document of NDA alliance is a visionary charter of development.
Firstly, on the front of agriculture the document aims at holistic empowerment of the farmer .The varied initiatives try to address specific problems of the farmer in an integrated manner. Movement from agriculture to agriculture and farmer development ministry is not a nominal change. It reflects a change in approach .The new approach focuses on the ‘dignity of farmer’. It hopes to achieve this monumental shift by- 1) getting farmers the required price in the market 2) supporting the farmer amidst weak monsoon 3) increasing yield per acre of land 4) helping farmers in distress through continuous monetary and non-monetary support 5) raising the income level of farmers by promoting scientific methods . Moreover, a separate yearly budget for agriculture will avert any shortage in allocation in lieu of variable state finances. All these steps can only happen with regular supply of electricity. The decision to introduce separate feeder line for agriculture consumption is a progressive shift in stance. This shift in stance will create the necessary condition for farming in the State to become a productive investment.
Secondly, the focussed approach to improve the law and order situation in the state and to arrest corruption deserves praise. A separate police force for cyber and financial crimes, around the clock force to cater to women security, will assist in maintaining a safe and secure environment. In fact, installation of CCTV cameras in police station and important traffic signals will check arbitrary abuse of power by some members of the state police force itself. The creation of a safe and secure environment is a pre-requisite to development and employment. Separate courts for fast-tracking corruption cases, toll-free number for grievances and an institutional mechanism for electronic file system based clearance will stem corruption at the individual and organizational level. These steps will arrest the fall of the state into “jungle-raj” of 1990’s during which more than 20k murders and kidnapping had been reported.
Thirdly, the document focuses on generating employment opportunities for youth , improvement in education standards of state universities, provision of electricity to all households, quantum spending on capital infrastructure (roads in particular) and focussed steps to enhance the social stature of backward communities. Vision to provide sufficient opportunities to backward communities will hinder any social discrimination against them. Filling the vacant seats in government services in mission mode, and constituting a ‘Welfare Board’ will give a push to complete social inclusion of backward communities and address the grievances in a time bound manner. In addition, the establishment of one Stop rape crisis centre will help woman in distress, and the girl child education scheme ‘हर बच्ची जाएगी स्कूल’ ( each girl child will go to school) will increase enrolment rate. Good mental and physical health is a pre-condition to benefit from overall development efforts to be undertaken by the State. The vision document acknowledges this by 1) promising a special health card for poor and backward 2) increasing the support ceiling to 50k 3)building an effective system of availing free medicine and healthcare check up facility in the State 4) improving the condition of primary health centres. In addition to above steps listed, the document moves further towards the goal of ‘preventive health care’ by focussing on 1) power generation using renewable sources of energy like solar and biodiesel 2) constructing hygienic public toilets at all important destinations and roadways under ‘Swachh Bihar’.
Lastly, the varied steps to create an environment for investment in the state will increase the GDP and growth rate of Bihar. ‘Make in Bihar’ will provide skilled employment to young population. Skilling youth in Bihar will stem their migration to other states for employment opportunities. Local entrepreneurs and small businessman will be given access to a Rs 500 crore Venture capital fund. The local craftsmen, weavers and handicraft artisans will also benefit from the venture capital fund. It will help them integrate and sell their products in global markets. In addition financial support from the MUDRA bank will prevent distress shift to other low income opportunities. These steps will support a food sufficient Bihar, receiving the benefits through improved, computerized and leakage proof PDS (public distribution system). An effective Public Distribution System will catalyse targeted delivery of wheat at 2Rs/kg and rice at 3Rs/kg under the Food Security Scheme. Further, and most importantly the senior citizens will not be left out of the welfare initiatives undertaken by the state. Equipping the district with modern old age homes, and introducing ‘बीट पुलिसिंग’ (beat policing) for protection of single senior citizens are progressive steps to achieve respectable living for them in the state.
All the steps in the vision document are means to help Bihar move away from जंगलवाद towards विकासवाद.The document channelize the Central development plans wit State development goals. The unified approach of ‘cooperative federalism’ will fuel the engine of development in the State. Cooperation between Centre and State will provide accountable and effective governance in the State. It is Bihar’s right to develop and deserve the best possible alternative. The vision document is undoubtedly a step away from history of ‘गुंडागर्दी’ (violence and intimidation) towards a future of ‘विकासगिरी’ (developmental future).
(The author is a public policy graduate from Takshashila Institution and his areas of interest are public policy, economy, internal relations and national security. He has worked in youth advocacy initiatives across the country after having received the young leader award in 2014, 1st youth parliament.)