Date:09/09/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/op/2007/09/09/stories/2007090950011400.htm
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A mine of resources waiting to be tapped

MISHA SHARMA

I completely agree with Mayank Rasu (“Musings of a Bihari”, Open Page, August 26) that Bihar has indeed been a deprived State, both economically and socially.

One day my friends asked me where I was from. When I told them I was from Bihar, they lost no time in reacting: “Oh, the Lalu land.”

The point I want to make is that even the well educated and so-called “aware” people associate Bihar with only Lalu Prasad. The fact is that Bihar is a huge resource warehouse, both natural and human resource, waiting to be tapped.

People are not wrong in associating Bihar with corruption, murders, kidnappings and the like. The homicide rate in Patna is as high as 14 per a lakh population, when compared with other cities in India such as Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai which have homicide rates as low as 0.3, 2.9 and 1.9. But are the people of Bihar solely responsible for the current situation there?

No Central universities

The State has always been neglected by the government of India. There has absolutely been no development in this land, in terms of infrastructure, education or investment. A classic example of this is that there are no Central universities in the State. The assets of Bihar have ironically depreciated in value and have become a liability. The eastern part of our country is completely neglected, both by the government and the people of India.

When recently Bihar was hit by heavy floods, the news channels were busy showing how Sanjay Dutt spent his day in jail or how the Men’s Indian cricket team won the test match in England. Many people did not even know that more than half of Bihar was under water. Even the government excused itself by dropping some food packets here and there.

The national poet, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, a Bihari, in Sanskiti ke Chaar Adhyay says that despite various cultures, languages and topography, India stands united, because however different we may be, our thoughts are one and the sam e. It is a great disappointment that this statement, once true, does not hold good anymore.

Had people’s thoughts been the same, there would have been equal development in all parts of our country. Everybody would have got equal opportunities of education. What development can take place in a land where most women folk are still deprived of education? No wonder, Bihar is one of the BIMARU States.

Even today in a technologically connected world, people hardly know the potential of this holy land. Bihar has a huge advantage of availability of natural resources in abundance, which can turn the tables if someone takes the initiative. But the irony is that business houses have shied away from investing in Bihar due to the growing problems of corruption, red tapism, etc. The much talked about IT age is yet to reach there.

It might take decades for Bihar to get rid of the tag of being one of the BIMARU States. If we want to see Bihar developed, the change needs to start from within and the government of India and industrial houses will also have to give it a fair chance. Essentially, the people of Bihar must choose a leader who fights for the cause of development. Only then will someone in the future say, “Oh, the booming Bihar”, instead of recognising it as ‘the Lalu land.’

(The writer is a student at Stella Maris College, Chennai)

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