Bihar stepped into the year 2009 by watching Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stepping out of Patna's concrete cocoon and discovering Bihar, as he travelled across the state- backwaters on his much-publicised Vikas Yatra.
As the year drew to a conclusion, Nitish Kumar was once again out of capital chaos to spend the year's last week in the serene surroundings of historical Rajgir where he held the last Cabinet meeting of the year atop the Ratnagiri hills at the height of 1,300 feet on December 29.
While the intent and the purpose are visible in whatever the chief minister said or did throughout the year, Nitish Kumar's attempts to reach out to people were dripped with symbolism. Perhaps therefore, whatever Nitish did was seen through a political prism.
While Kumar had launched his Vikas Yatra just before the Lok Sabha polls, his Rajgir Yatra at the end of 2009 is said to have timed with an eye on the 2010 Assembly polls.
Under the shadow of Vishwa Shanti Stupa, the last cabinet meeting of the year 2009 embossed and approved the revised pay package for government employees on the pattern of the sixth pay commission report. This almost confirmed the subtle political meanings of the Nitish's initiative.
The state exchequer would bear an additional financial burden of over Rs 3,500 crore due to revised salaries and pension component.
Of all things, General Elections 2009 was surely the biggest event of the year. Though the results further strengthened the political pecking order at the national level-with the United Progressive Alliance augmenting its lead over the BJP led National Democratic Alliance in New Delhi-Bihar adhered to a reverse order. Contrary to the national trend, the JD(U)-BJP combine swept Bihar by winning 32 of the total 40 Lok Sabha seats.
The NDA that suffered heavy losses across the country raced to the top in the two states of Bihar and Jharkhand by bagging as many as 40 seats.
In fact, the Congress party that staged an impressive comeback in New Delhi could gather only three out of the 54 Lok Sabha seats in the two states.
People in the two states clearly demonstrated a different political assessment of the political scenario.
Analysts could read various nuanced messages in the voting trends in Bihar, which clearly suggested that the two states were still largely influenced by micro issues and factors that overshadowed national issues. In short, the two states voted in the Lok Sabha polls the way they would have had voted in assembly elections.
The Lok Sabha elections in the two States also shattered many myths. For instance, RJD chief Lalu Prasad's much-vaunted political arithmetic that went horribly wrong is still billed as the biggest electoral shock of the year.
One of the high points of the General election for Bihar was electoral ineligibility of Bahubalis like Shahabuddin, Pappu Yadav, Anand Mohan and Surajbhan-who could not contest polls because of their respective convictions.
These men once ensured Bihar's drift from criminalisation of politics to politicisation of crime. But, Lok Sabha elections 2009 also decisively rejected their dummy candidates - read wife and mother.
Lalu Prasad lost Lok Sabha election to his one time friend Ranjan Prasad Yadav from Pataliputra, though he won from Saran while LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan lost his home turf, Hajipur, to his long-time rival Ram Sunder Das of JD(U).
Although temporarily, Nitish Kumar emerged as the man with the Midas touch-a man who with his shrewd calculations coupled with a new social engineering ensured electoral meltdown of biggies like Lalu Prasad and Ram Vilas Paswan in the summer of 2009.
This, however, was short-lived. Three months later in September, when Bihar witnessed by-elections for 18 assembly seats, the "discredited duo" successfully turned the tables on Nitish Kumar by winning nine seats. Clearly, Lalu and Paswan clawed back to political centre stage.
The emergence of Congress as an independent political force in Bihar is also one of the major political development of the year 2009. The Congress broke electoral ties with Lalu and Paswan on the eve of the Lok Sabha polls when the two left only three seats for the grand old party.
The Congress fought alone. And since then, subsequent elections have confirmed the party's ascendance to a status of being a political force in many constituencies of Bihar with considerable rise in vote share.
In the education sector Bihar remained a viable centre for quality learning, as the already functional branches of Indian Institute of Technology, Chanakya Law University and Chandragupta Institute of Management-which were established during the earlier years- continued to draw top talents.
Besides, a panel led by Nobel laureate Amartya Sena is also in the process of setting up an international university at Nalanda. Process is underway to accord the status of central university to Rajendra Agriculture University.
The Universities in Bihar remained pockmarked with controversies with State HRD department all through 2009 kept shooting orders-including one when Vice-Chancellors and some senior officials were made to refund their salaries, as they were disallowed to use internal resources to this effect.
Many thought this actually undermined the autonomy of the education centres. University teachers in Bihar, ironically however, are still awaiting the implementation of the revised UGC pay scales.
In the year 2009, the Nitish Government in Bihar also remained involved in a series of spats with the Centre over packages for floods and drought. Nitish Kumar kept demanding special status for Bihar, a comprehensive relief package for Kosi flood and assistance for drought hit districts of the state.
Though, Bihar's lists of demands were not without merit, Nitish Kumar's insistence on blaming Centre for everything that was wrong with Bihar failed to impress anyone.
In 2009, Bihar also had the misfortune of suffering two natural disasters-flood and drought-simultaneously. In fact, at a time when 26 districts of the state were declared "calamity- hit" following scanty rainfall and drought conditions, over 10 lakh people in a different corner of the state remained grappling with flood waters.
The dichotomy was all the more pronounced with one group of farmers left with too little water while the other with too much of it. A group of relief officials trying recuing the flood hit population while the other group praying for rain, as the spectre of famine loomed large on the state.
The year 2009 also recorded some improvement in the law and order situation with conviction of over 10,000 criminals serving as a deterrent. The crime graph, however, left a lot to be desired, as in the first ninth months of the year alone the state witnessed 2438 murders, 505 dacoity, 1253 robbery, 62 kidnapping for ransom and 720 robbery incidents.
Maoists also continued their stray attacks in which over two dozen cops were killed. The police, however, succeeded in targeting the extremists and arrested several top Naxalite leaders and seized huge quantity of arms and ammunition from various places including state capital.
* Bihar initiative of reserving 50 % seats for women in Panchayat Raj Institutions and local bodies was adopted by the country
* A large number of companies and private institutions reached Bihar
* Bihar registered a quantum leap in tourism sector. Bihar Administrative Reforms Mission Society Constituted.
* The medium term growth rate of NSDP at constant prices, during the period 1999-00 to 2008-09, is estimated to be 5.57 per cent. Although this growth rate is lower than the national gowth rate of about 6-7 per cent, it indicates an improved growth performance compared to the recent past when the state economy managed to grow at barely 3-4 per cent. The per capita NSDP of Bihar has grown at 3.61 per cent. The growth rate for NSDP at constant prices has been very good for at least three sectors - Construction (21.53 per cent), Communications (16.01 per cent) and Trade, Hotels and Restaurants (12.08 per cent).
* Bihar's per centage per capita growth of 12.07 per cent is not much behind the all India per capita growth rate of 12.73 per cent.
* According to Bihar economic survey for 2008-09, State has registered impressive growth trends in three sectors in the state - construction (21.53%), communications (16.01%) and trade, hotels and restaurants (12.03%).
* Among all States and union territories, Bihar with a crime rate of 118 stood at 28th position in the country. There has been a decline in major crimes including murder (-3.2 per cent), dacoity (-10.10 per cent), robbery (-4.99 per cent), kidnapping for ransom (-23 per cent), bank robbery (-15.03 per cent), etc. during the period 2001-08. There has been a sharp decline of around 50 per cent or more in the cases of dacoity, kidnapping, road dacoity and bank robbery in 2008 over 2001.
* Bihar still mans the bottom space for having the lowest per capita income in the entire country.
* The poor form 41.5 per cent of its population; it has a poverty and hunger average of 2.7 per cent against a national average of 1.9 per cent; 58.4 per cent of its children under the age of three are underweight and only one-fourth of its population has access to public health and toilets.