Posts filed under ‘Nitish Kumar vs Naveen Patnaik and Bihar vs Orissa’
Following letter was sent by Prof. Arjun Purohit to different e-groups during a discussion on development in Orissa and Bihar:
Development means different things in Orissa and Bihar. In Orissa development means ushering in mega mining projects, no matter what net benefit is to the state, socially, economically, environmentally, and what not and the cost in the same measures. Costs have been enormous. Laws have been violated to suit the purpose of the mining barons. It has created an unsettling hostile ambiance between segments of citizenry.
Pollution has reached toxic levels in the air. Orissa produces six per cent of total toxicity in the air in India though it has only 4 per cent of the population. That too is concentrated in select places, not diluted over the entire state, making it even more lethal. The prevailing mantra, in the words of a promoter of last Investment Bhubaneswar symposium, is “top down” development. Thus the inter-regional disparity is increasing and will continue to increase, thus creating even more discontent and social unrest across the state. This mantra basically means that if you look after of big things, benefits will trickle down to lower rungs in the society eventually. It also means that the population in the lower rungs, especially those affected by these mega projects, are not knowledgeable as to what is good for them, and therefore need not be consulted or the projects need not be explained to them; only “experts in BBSR know and so projects can be implemented against their will. This of course leads to elitism, which leads to feudalism, which ultimately leads to authoritarianism.
In Orissa, development in education means trying to garner as many centrally funded institutions of higher learning, and even the private institutions, such as Vedanta and SRI Sri universities, and locate them in extreme concentration in a small strip. How IIT,IISER,AIMS,Sri Sri or Vedanta will have a dent on illiteracy, the hall mark of Orissa, is known only to the “experts”. Development in healthcare ? I can not understand how the current obsession of massing 10 or more medical colleges in the vicinity of BBSR will do any good to cholera stricken folks in Kashipur and Lanjigarh. To put it bluntly, there is a disconnect between mega concentrated “development” projects and real developmental needs of Orissa.
From my scant knowledge of what regime of Nitish Kumar for the last five years, development mantra is different: “Ground Up”, that is, take care of small problems and big problems will be resolved. It also means that trust must be earned by the government from population of all sectors, even the most vulnerable and not very educated. Thus small farms which employ a large section of the populace are strengthened and enabled. Nitish Kumar provided bicycles to school kids to go school.
The news report says that this has increased enrolment of kids in schools in rural areas by fivefold. Not many mega mining industries any more because with Jharkhand separated out, not much mineral deposits left. I had an opportunity to visit Patna about six years ago. The main roads were filthy with foul smell all over. Law and order situation was very bad. My host Dr.Sinha, retired director of A.N.Sinha Institute warned me not to be out in the city past 6 P.M.. He used to use five locks on the front door of his house even though he lived in a gated community. During my very brief stay, I found in the local newspaper that one of my old contemporaries,a retired prof in English, was shot dead while reading his newspaper in front veranda of his house. I spent couple of hours in the Pali institute in Nalanda on my way to Rajgir. There they told me that a few days ago, a Mongolian Buddhist monk was kidnapped for ransom ! I was told in Patna that when Lalu’s daughter got married, the new cars in the showroom of car dealers across the city were taken away at night breaking the glass windows so that they could be used by the groom’s marriage party in Barat ! The dealers were threatening that if such things persisted they would close the dealerships forever ! Recently I talked to my friend Dr.Sinha, who assured me that things have improved beyond imagination, and I was invited to come back and see. Before I vouch for the improvement in Patna, I really have to see and believe what I was told.
There seems to be a new optimism in the air. It seems Nitish Kumar has managed to earn trust from all segments of the population,intelligentsia and ordinary citizens. That by itself is a great accomplishment. It seems Sarvodaya movement of J.P.Narayan is rising again from the grave. I hope and pray that Bihar continues to be on the mend, and be an example for the neighbouring states.
Prof. Arjun Purohit, Canada, E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org