Friday, February 25, 2005


Shekhar Gupta's article in today's Indian Express makes an interesting reading. He finds out on a trip to Bihar that things aren's as bad as the press portray. Not that everything is very good there, but it's not much different from other parts of India. Some plus points too: "there is a certain decency, patience, cultured-ness, a tolerance of the other in Bihar, that you won’t see anywhere — at least in the north. Women feel quite safe. They don’t get pinched, pushed, or pawed in crowded election meetings." In parts of Bihar, "the roads are as good as any in most states, certainly better than in most of Uttar Pradesh. Houses are pucca, there are schools, colleges, some small factories, you see the odd tractor, lush fields of wheat, vegetables, ripening mustard and blooming lentil. Farmers are busy, and so are their families."

I do believe Bihar is poorer than most other places in India. Other indices are bad as well, low literacy rates, etc. But check the 1991 and 2001 census reports, and you'll find that Bihar's progress in many areas are comparable to any other state, for instance a 10% increase in literacy. Definitely Bihar hasn't gone poorer because of Lalu rule. On the other hand people of Bihar were well protected from communal clashes. Remember the riots in the pre-Lalu era?

Also, Bihar hasn't witnessed the kind of farmer suicides as in Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka. Those like Chandrababu Naidu and SM Krishna made life miserable for the village poor. Lalu's RJD has fared much better in Bihar in that respect.

Tomorrow by this time we'll know whether RJD is going to get another five years in Bihar. Exit polls have predicted a hung assembly with a slight edge to BJP-JD(U) combine. Indian voters have always shown more wisdom than the pollsters, and I would expect the RJD combine to get enough seats to form the next government again.


Post a Comment

<< Home