Friday, July 13, 2007

Bihar I did not know about...

Bihar, as one "knows" - courtsey, the Indian MSM - is the back of beyond in a global, competitive economy... beyond any hope... and as VS Naipaul described it, where "civilsation ends"... one of the most backward, flogged states in Northern India....

Thanks to "Hat-Tips" (I guess that is what you say when you follow up from others' blogs) fromKrish and Cool Bihari, I could reach this news-report from BBC

5 spaces where Bihar outpaces rest of India:

Women Power
Bihar is the only state in India to have 50% of places in local municipal bodies reserved for women.... Today half of the 262,000 elected councillors to local municipalities in the state are women.

"The 50% reservation for women in civic bodies is not only empowering women but educating them to a great extent," says social scientist Dr Shaibal Gupta.


Speedy Trials
Fast track courts in Bihar have convicted and sentenced more criminals than courts in any other Indian state in the past 18 months.... Between January 2006 and May 2007, a total of 11,665 criminals were convicted through speedy trials and sent to prison... More than 2,500 were sentenced to life, and 21 others given the death penalty.

Politicians across party lines have also been tried through speedy trials.


Special Cops
Bihar is the only state in India where retired soldiers are being hired as policemen to stem the crime wave.

They mostly comprise the "special auxiliary police" force - about 5,000 retired soldiers were hired last year and sent to help police various districts.... The force has earned praise from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who has asked other states to emulate the model.


Cash Cow
Bihar has a long and tortuous history of chronically unprofitable state-owned companies and their unpaid employees taking their lives.

But Sudha, a dairy co-operative, is a shining exception and one of the most successful exercises of its kind in India.

Launched in 1993, the co-operative's revenues from a range of milk and milk products has risen from $73.5m in 2001-2002 to $136m today. The co-operative has 6,000 outlets covering 84 towns in the state.... More than 260,000 milk farmers in the state are members of the co-operative, and a private bank has even launched a pension scheme for them.

Now Sudha has begun "exporting" milk to other Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Delhi.


Model Taxes
Did you know that a simplified tax system conceived and launched in Bihar is now being emulated by Sri Lanka and various African countries and has been lauded by the United Nations?

Introduced by the municipality of Patna, the state capital, in 1993, the tax system, locally known as the "Patna model of taxation" simplifies property tax rates on the basis of the local area and use of property.

...States like Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh have adopted the same property tax model.

The UN was so impressed by the taxation model that it gave a $30,000 award to Bihar for introducing this method.


Now, one wonders... why do these facts not get reported in the Indian MSM??

8 comments:

confused said...

Professor,

You are wrong that these facts have not been reported.Indian Express has covered the municipal elections and the active participation of women. I knew about them. I suggest you start reading www.patnadaily.com. Along a lot of rubbish, it carries some interesting news too.

Madhukar said...

Thanks,

I must have missed it... though I do read Telegraph, HT and TOI... and watch some of the news-channels...

somehow, this kind of news should make headlines... it didn't.... but that was also who I titled this post as the Bihar "I" did not know about...

TV said...

You are absolutely correct. Some stray reports hidden in the inside pages of the mainstream media do not absolve them. Bihar faces a serious image problem, created by the patronizing MSM, so much so that it finds a mention in the first paragraph of the World Bank Report on the economic status of Bihar.

To give some examples, thanks to adverse media reporting, it is generally believed that the funds invested in Bihar have been wasted. Fact is, every single five year plan since independence has Bihar's the share been by far the lowest. At an average, the per capita spend by the central govt is one third to one ninth for Bihar as compared to southern states like Karnataka and one tenth to one sixteenth as compared to Punjab. Mohan Guruswamy, an economist, tried to calculate how much less Bihar has got. It is over 1 lakh crore!!! No study by any agency has ever hinted that that money invested in other states have given better returns.

The rotten loan advancement policy of the banks make Bihar, the most economically deprived region of the country, a net exporter of capital. A similar statistic for India vis a vis UK had led to massive agitation during the pre independence days.

The much maligned education system of Bihar has always delivered. Pratham assessed the efficacy of primary education by various states. Bihar was near the top. A small town like Patna gave 200 successful candidates to IITs this year, of which 50 odd are from families that can barely afford two square meals a day. I am deliberately not mentioning civil services.

Bihar is the only major region in the world which achieved a massive food grain production increase (it is now fully self sufficient) without any major investment by the govt, either in irrigation or in agricultural research.

Such hard facts need sustained campaign to highlight and correct.

confused said...

Professor,

Fair enough but then bad news sells. MSM wants to report bad news because people do want to read about it.

On a similar note, here is an interesting take from Africa,

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/13/AR2007071301714.html?nav=rss_opinions/columnsandblogs

confused said...

tv,

Partially disagree. Let us not also forget that Bihar which was once one of the best governed state in country had the misfortune of having extremely poor chief ministers: Jagannath Mishra and Laloo Yadav to give just two examples. Law and order has been bad for ages and criminalization of politics has to be seen to believed. After all, Lakhs of Biharis drive rickshaws in Delhi and Mumbai forced to migrate because of lack of employment opportunities. And they are exploited; while traveling through Punjab, I met farmers who told me they fed their laborers Afeem so they could go on working without a break.

And if Bihar has got less funds, then who is to blame? In almost every ministry at the center, there are on a average 7-10 ministers from Bihar. Are they all sleeping?

Though Nitish Kumar is a fine man, and hopefully he will deliver the goods.

Madhukar said...

Confused,
you are perhaps right about "band news sells" - but I would make a qualification to that: bad news sells when it is about what is already considered bad.

Consider for instance, if the same news was about Maharashtra or Karnataka. I am sure it would have made headlines, or at least would have received wider coverage. That would be because these two states are more favoured by MSM.

Perhaps, underlying this is also an assumption that media wants to maintain/prove, viz, economic growth is what leads to social justice.

In case of Bihar, this news does not reinforce this equation, and therefore, did not fit the template.

Thanks for the link to Iweala's article... interesting read

Ajit Chouhan said...

Madhukar's got it right-good news from Bihar doesn’t sell.Mainsteam reporters themselves admit in private that the Mai-Baap sitting in Delhi wants only muder-rape-dacoity and bad news from the state as it sells and makes better headlines.

Confused-the political leadership in bihar is no different from any other state in India, again the fact remains that we seldom get to hear about the good things that they try to do.Tvs has rightly pointed out that the state has been getting unfair treatment from ages.

Truth is that everyone’s in interested in talking about what’s wrong with Bihar but no ones comes forward to work for making things better and this also include our Harris from Bihar who continue to show apathy but will never take the pain to talk about the goods things which the state has

Supratim said...

Indian Express has consistently covered Bihar fairly, IMO. They have had many articles on the corruption during Laloo's regime and they have published many articles, since, on Nitish's clean-up. In fact, yesterday, I read an article about the Nitish Kumar govt withdrawing a laudatory citation to a Bhagalpur riot accused (accused of leading a mob that massacred over 100 muslims) and arresting him. Said accused was given the citation by Laloo.

And, this paper has been regularly taking the Mah govt to task over it many lapses. And, day before, it had a lead article on how the Gujarat govt was involved in huge fraud in the Sujalam sufalam project.

So, if we all stop reading rags, and move on to better papers : ), may be the MSM would follow suit?

Cheers