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Thursday, Aug 18, 2022
Outlook.com
Outlook.com
Opinion

Dawn Is Far Away

If you think that Bihar is a land of darkness, think again. It's not even evening yet. The true nightmare is yet to unfold. Maybe then, someone will emerge with some guts. Till then, continue to laugh at Lalu's antics...

Dawn Is Far Away
Dawn Is Far Away
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

I write this on the last day of the elections in Bihar. TV channels and newspapers are busy speculating about the seemingly infinite permutations and combinations that may be possible after the results. I don’t care. Whether Lalu wins or loses, it won’t make any difference to my Bihar.

The first thing that Bihar needs is sustained law and order. It has to be a genuine war against the criminals. I don’t see any politician in Bihar being brave enough to lead this war. Each one has too many goondas in his party. Each one is captive to too many vested interests. Each one is hungering for revenge. One set of criminals may replace another set of criminals. Symbolic crackdowns may be done. Brave words will definitely be spoken. People and media may be fooled; but they can’t fool money. Money doesn’t flow to a place where there is no law and order. And money alone knows if the law and order situation is genuine or a bunch of contrived statistics.

With no investment flowing in, Bihar needs a revenue model. Currently, there is none. I don’t see any of the competing politicians having the vision to create one either. Agriculture is the economic backbone of the state. This backbone has many slipped discs already. If agriculture alone continues to be the revenue generator, given our traditional left-of-center agriculture policy, Bihar is condemned. Bangalore and Hyderabad grew on IT. Goa and Kerela grew on tourism. Bihar needs a flagship offering, around which growth will crystallize. There is none on the horizon. Nothing was discussed during the elections. No ideas offered.

With no investments and no revenue earner in sight, Bihar needs financial transparency and accountability to use whatever it has most efficiently. It needs to put the bijli, sadak, paani agenda into action, but to do that it needs to display financial integrity. At the very least, it needs to shift its mindset to an "efficient model of corruption". In this, politicians and their cohorts take "cuts" on growth. The Bihar model of corruption is to loot at source. This leaves nothing for infrastructure development. I don’t foresee any one amongst the current contenders resisting from robbing the treasury.

With the three basic requirements not being addressed, Bihar will continue on its downward spiral. Maoist insurgency will rise dramatically. Central packages will be announced but the money will continue to vanish. With its relatively large number of Lok Sabha seats, the central government will continue to avoid taking any tough action. And the wicked wheel of Fortuna will go on turning.

Till about fifteen years ago, Bihar was to India what India was to the world. People would ask questions like "How come people from Bihar do so well outside?" and "Bihar has everything; then why doesn’t it do well?" India has pulled ahead. It has created islands of global competence and affluence. But for India to grow truly, Bihar has to change. Because like it or not, there is a Bihar inside every state, wrestling with progress; trying to hold it back. For that reason, the challenge of Bihar is not that of Bihar alone.

If you think that Bihar is a land of darkness, think again. It’s not even evening yet. The true nightmare is yet to unfold. Maybe then, someone will emerge with some guts. Till then, continue to laugh at Lalu’s antics. He knows that when people don’t have any hope for the future, making them laugh is the best thing you can do.

And that’s why, I think that he’ll win again.

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