The elections are over and it is the time of wait before the results. Our newspapers and TV channels are busy projecting election results, which all seem to agree that Narendra Modi will be in power. They are also projecting that Bihar will be contributing good number of seats to his victory.
Assuming these projections are correct and given the uncertain environment in the post NDA break up phase, Bihar's will be a remarkable contribution to their success. Bihar must demand to be rewarded for it.
NDA favours enabling environment development over largesse. Also, it will lack numbers in Rajya Sabha to make large scale policy changes. So I think it may be prudent to drop demands like Special Category Status and ask for Mega Scale Infrastructure building which can be directly executed by the central government with minimal need of legislative effort. Delivering on these is also the strength of Mr. Narendra Modi.
Some of the projects I would like to see are:
1. Irrigation/Floods control: Mega projects on the rivers Kosi and others
2. Bridges: Half a dozen well located new bridges over Ganga and another two dozen large bridges over other principal rivers, particularly in North Bihar.
3. Power: Half a dozen large power plants.
4. Education Infrastructure: Half a dozen agricultural universities/ agro-research centres of global standards, two dozen engineering colleges and a dozen medical colleges
5. Urban growth: Half a dozen new cities and massive local commute infrastructure like Metro rail
6. Airport: One mega-scale airport to give international connectivity to our landlocked state.
Given Bihar's high dependence on agriculture where it also enjoys locational advantage, I would like to see changes which give fillip to agro industries like sugar where Bihar was a leader till independence. Vegetable processing, spices processing, fruits processing are others which can grow.
Special considerations will be in order to attract other manpower intensive industries. Two industries that can give large-scale employment to our teeming millions are garment industry and electronic assembly. Others similar industries are gems and jewelry, handicraft, toys manufacturing, carpet weaving, hosiery, and the like.
A most crucial factor in industrialisation will be the interstate or regional cooperation. Bihar can only develop if its neighbours develop. Jharkhand - Orissa - Bihar can become the JOB states if enabling infrastructure is provided. Eastern UP will be a focus for Modi and they should be co- opted in this. Also, Chhattisgarh with its massive mineral base.
An industrial corridor can be demanded, starting from a massive sea port in Orissa to Nepal via Jharkhand with spurs for Chattisgarh and Eastern UP. This can be an axis of development as it will have everything: sea port, minerals, and excellent manpower. Several new towns can develop around this axis.
There will be a lot of discussion on who all will be the ministers from Bihar. Given that UPA II had none, this question has its own importance. However, our priority should be economic development rather than personality oriented political discussions.
T. V. Sinha, Guest Contributor, PatnaDaily.Com