What is Wrong With Bihar ?

(Below we reproduce from the Patna edition of the Hindustan Times dated 9 October 2005 , the answers by the CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya to the six questions posed before him for a special column of the daily in the wake of the Bihar Assembly elections)

What is wrong with Bihar ?

On the face of it, little seems to be going right for Bihar today. But tragedy struck quite early when after independence powerful feudal forces managed to subvert and derail the state's development potential through their controlling presence in politics, bureaucracy and the judiciary. Over the years, this systematic feudal subversion has led to a series of inter-linked maladies - chronic economic stagnation, massive financial loot and now rampant criminalisation of governance and all pervasive anarchy.

What must the state do to undo the wrong?

Bihar cannot move forward without liberating itself from the clutches of feudal-criminal nexus. The pre-Mandal and post-Mandal rulers of Bihar have forged a social and political compact among themselves represented by the Congress-RJD and BJP-JD(U) combines - to resist any real attempt for social transformation and progress. The rural poor, the middle sections and enlightened professionals must form a progressive counter-compact to thwart this conspiracy.

What are the weaknesses of Bihar ?

The stubborn vestiges of feudalism including the feudal craving for privileges and contempt for individual and collective rights, the crude accumulation of wealth and social ostentations and shocking lack of respect for labour and production, myriad prejudices and discrimination against the poor, the downtrodden and women - all these contribute to the continuing retardation of Bihar and must be weeded out.

What are its strengths?

Bihar is blessed with highly fertile land and abundant water resources. But its biggest asset is its people who are waging a glorious battle for the survival and change in the face of all odds.

What is your prescription for a growth oriented Bihar ?

Rapid implementation of land reforms; urgent public investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure; reopening of closed industries and setting up of a chain of agro-based and labour intensive industries; enforcement of effective employment guarantee in every panchayat; improving the delivery and quality of public distribution, education and healthcare systems. The World Bank prescriptions - wholesale dismantling of public utilities and services - are a proven recipe for disaster and must be avoided.

What Bihar means to you, in one sentence?

Hope and relentless struggle for a better tomorrow.

(By Rai Atul Krishna )