Friday, April 01, 2011
A New Bihar
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has got another feather in his cap from none other than President Pratibha Patil, the latter obviously impressed by the efforts towards empowering women and the overall development of the state under the stewardship of Nitish Kumar. Ever since coming to power (he has been re-elected for a second term) by defeating Laloo Prasad Yadav, the quiet and efficient Chief Minister of Bihar has gone about doing his job earning both admiration and respect from even his opposition. Under him Bihar has changed for the better. The image of Bihar as a land of crime, corruption, cattle, backwardness and poverty is now a thing of the past. Today there are visible signs of peace and development. This is indeed refreshing. Today Bihar would undoubtedly be the most improved State in the country. It’s indeed a great leap forward and due credit to the leadership of Nitish Kumar. When people talk about the new Bihar, they usually refer to the transformation—the State was in complete chaos when Nitish Kumar first assumed office in 2005. Bihar was more popular for its rampant kidnapping and killing, the disorder, poverty and caste politics. Things have changed and there is hope and optimism among the people. Not only within but the image of Bihar as perceived by the outsider is positive. This is very important for the future prospect of the State. With order, political stability and strong progressive leadership, investors will have confidence to enter Bihar and this will do a world of good to the local economy.
The other aspect about the leadership quality of Nitish Kumar, which merits attention and applause, is the reformist zeal that he has demonstrated during his tenure as Chief Minister. This is rare for a politician because the more power you get to wield, the more entrenched your vested interest becomes. In the case of Nitish, he has challenged the status-quo on many occasions.
Take the case of the MLA Local Area Development (MLALAD) Fund, which the Nitish Kumar government has scrapped. In a unique approach, the failed LADF has been replaced by the CM Area Development Programme (CMADP). Under the plan, which will be at the district-level (as against the Assembly segment level), while the minister-in-charge, MLAs and MLCs concerned will only select schemes every year, its implementation will rest with a body of engineers headed by Engineer-in-Chief. Also, while chief/executive engineers will sign cheques, district magistrates can only monitor implementation of schemes so they meet deadlines.
As against arbitrary selection of contractors under the MLALAD Fund, there will be open tendering in which a CAG representative would be present. Bihar has therefore become the first state in the country to scrap the LADF because of the rampant corruption within the existing system. Nitish Kumar is not your usual run in the mill politician who clings on to power. He has an agenda and vision for the peaceful development of Bihar and its people. And he wants to deliver this vision through real performance and not just publicity stunts. Politicians in India and even Nagaland can learn from Nitish Kumar. He has been able to move away from the old ways of doing politics i.e. based on the status-quo. And in a way this is welcome development not only for Bihar but also for the politics of the country