The Bihar Poll Agenda: The Development Dilemma

 

As the alliance frenzy and the list of innumerable promises ahead of the Bihar election heats up, I cannot help but reminisce about one basic aspect of this election. While political parties are not leaving any stone unturned in trying to woo voters, no effort is being made in addressing the real issues yet. As we have seen in the performance of the past Governments and parties ruling the state, the overall direction of development in the election agenda seems muddled, perhaps as muddled as the muddy waters of the Kosi River.

Occupying a significant chunk of the Indo-Gangetic plain, Bihar is blessed with one of the longest stretches of fertile land, second perhaps to only Uttar Pradesh. The state also boasts of a huge human resource pool. However efforts to develop the state’s agricultural potential have been few and far between. The need of the hour is a constructive exercise in minimising the incessant flood in the region, harness the river water and utilise it in irrigating the dry areas and provide a fillip to the agricultural output of the state.

A look at the geographical positioning and human resource pool will indicate that in many ways Bihar is as well endowed as Punjab in terms of both natural resources as well the manpower required to optimise the output. Yet the output is woefully meagre. The biggest problem for Bihar is lack of proper irrigation, resources to maximise output in the Gangetic plain and widespread corruption.

So while political parties are joining the mindless race in promising hefty allocation for Bihar’s development, it is time that the electorate rose to the occasion. They must demand a constructive agenda targeted towards deadline based development. They must categorically look towards the near-term achievables rather than the long-term goals. The need is to fashion a unique Bihar centric development agenda rather than using another’s state’s template and expect similar response.  

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