In every class, there is a child who is routinely held up as an example of what not to do. The poor performance on report cards, cheating in tests, scuffles on the playground and general exploits, as well as the reprimands are magnified by the teacher to impress upon the other students, the severity of the punishment that may be meted out to such misdemeanors.
For a long time, Bihar was that child to the rest of the states. Every poor performance – be it literacy, crimes or unemployment, felt bearable when compared against that of Bihar. Backward and synonymous for corruption, crimes and caste-ridden social order that had seeped into politics, persistent poverty and escalating crime rates as well as number of migrant workers was the picture presented by the popular media. Though it remained unchallenged for a while, the recent turnaround the political canvas of the state signifies the winds of change.
Post Independence, the political scene in Bihar was promising. The state was mainly led by two Gandhian nationalists, Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha and Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha. However, as time passed the leadership became a puppet in the hands of the central government. After the emergency in 1975-77, the politics of the state saw highs and lows of misplaced idealism and dabbling of the Congress Party leaders.
With the loss of regional identity came a new dimension in politics – one ruled by caste. The caste-based politics became a curse, as it was favourable only to a certain demographic, undermining the rest of the public. With a long tenure of doubtful leaders, the situation worsened till the public snapped, hauled the shady leaders out of the office and made way for the new leadership. Bihar has seen a positive growth, the last six years being pivotal in the development of the state.
The CM of Bihar, Nitish Kumar has played a significant role in this graph of optimistic growth. Media presence has grown, and so has the general presence of Bihar on the national and international level. Women empowerment and literacy have become the new trends and poll booths, which once donned the state of a deserted outpost, saw respectable turnouts.
What I look forward to is the day when Bihar will replace the good boys of the Indian Republic, forcing the other states to catch up with the kind of reforms going on in the state. A day worth seeing, indeed