Saturday, September 29, 2012

Yatra Season in Bihar & demand for special category status to Bihar

JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar began his 17 day-long 'adhikar yatra',  as a party programme in the state on September 19 gather support for special category status to Bihar to deal with decades of backwardness. It is expected to conclude with a 'Adhikar rally' at the Gandhi Maidan in Patna on November 4. JD(U) came to power in 2005. During this yatra, the JD(U) leader is not using any official facility and official vehicle or government guesthouse as a Chief Minister. 

The yatra and the rally is mobilising the supporters and cadres of JDU to campaign for special status for Bihar. Bihar Vidhan Sabha had passed an unanimous resolution of April 4, 2006 and sent to the Prime Minister on June 3, 2006. A similar resolution was passed by Bihar Legislative Council on March 31, 2010. This was also sent to the Prime Minister on May 12, 2010. The Chief Minister had written to the Prime Minister on December 9, 2006. He also sent a document titled 'Special Category Status: A Case of Bihar' to the Prime Minister on May 23, 2009.

Bihar Chief Minister had urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to set up an expert committee to consider the state's long pending demand.

"The expert committee should take a fair and rational decision on demand for special category status to Bihar and respond positively to the aspirations of a poor, backward state, which notwithstanding recent process, remains at the bottom of development pyramid both in terms of poverty indicators and various indices of human development," he argued.

He has demanded that the special cell in the Planning Commission set up in the context of Bihar Reorganization Act to draft short and medium-term measures to mitigate the consequences of the bifurcation of the state.

He has criticized the report of the central inter-ministerial group (IMG) that rejected the demand for special category status to Bihar despite recognizing 'huge development deficit of Bihar' and mentioning that it is 'among the lowest in the country on human development index.'

The IMG indeed recognized that the special plan under the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) should be continued and strengthened in the 12th Plan period to enable Bihar complete the on-going projects and take up new projects to address infrastructure gaps. "But despite clear articulation of the special requirement of the state it concluded that 'Bihar's case for special category status is not made out."

"I am disappointed with the report as the IMG did not consider the issues spelt out in our memorandum submitted to you in July, 2011, with any seriousness and seems to have worked in a mechanical and perfunctory fashion with bias and predilection to reach pre-ordained conclusions," he said.

The IMG identified five-point characteristics for according special category status but it did not grant state government officials any opportunity for meaningful submission to it before the finalization of its report on March 30, 2012. It ignored the annual cycle of floods that makes Bihar most flood-prone state in South Asia.

While the demand of Bihar's legislative bodies for a special category is justified, to begin with the JDU leader can make Bihar special by acting on the recommendations for the Common School System.

Contractual teachers have been creating noisy scenes at Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's public meeting across the State-it is just a symptom of the crisis in the education sector in Bihar which is increasingly getting in the hands of a education mafia.

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