Isn’t the reason quite obvious ? We are one of the most poor region in the world despite the potential to be one of the most developed.
Talking about politics in Bihar can get you into a lot of trouble. But if you don’t it will keep everyone else in trouble. The elite political class has managed to maintain a status quo to serve their self-interest. Politics today represents everything that an educated person would want to stay away from, and I am no exception. But that is not how real politics is supposed to be. It is not a synonym for corruption, manipulation and deception but conceptually it means redistribution of pooled resources in the most productive manner. Our sense of politics is so twisted (thanks to the politicians) that it is unimaginable for us to believe that it can do any good or to trust anyone who speaks up for the society. ‘That simply cannot be right, there must be some vested interest,’ Right ? While we are not to be blamed for loosing trust in politicians because after independence they all have mostly failed us. But, we definitely are to be blamed for choosing to remain at the periphery and only discuss politics in our living rooms and recently on social media. Many of us do not even vote. I was not taught to vote when I was growing up and so it was never a priority. And that is why the politicians triumph over us. We empathise with people who suffer and feel that we will never be in that situation. But we are in that situation. We just are mentally conditioned to look the other way or believe that this is how things are meant to be and it is not our place to do anything about it. Today when I am writing this there is a flood in Patna and it is devastating. Many have already lost their live. We will survive only at the mercy of mother nature that is if it stops raining, not because of the efforts of the government.
Bihar gets submerged by floods every year. This that we are facing today, our fellow citizens from the Kosi area ‘relive’ year after year. If we the people from comparatively better districts of Bihar questioned the government then, today we wouldn’t be in this situation. Clearly we are safe only until its our turn. Both the incumbent government and ‘we the public’ had fifteen years to do something about it. 15 years is a very long time. But it is morally urgent to do it now for our future and the future generations. I (and I am sure you) want to see Bihar developed in my lifetime and get the respect that Bihar deserves from the rest of the country.
I completed my higher education in the UK during which I studied various interdisciplinary branches of Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Consequently, with all the acquired skills, when I was working on a public policy project for the Boston Consulting Group with London School of Economics, I realised how quickly the world is moving forward. Policymaking that requires interdisciplinary skills is strategic, based on evidence and thorough analysis. Governments rigorously assess the impact of a policy before and after implementing it because both public and public money really matters and the public ensures that they do. Redistribution is at the core of public policy. The foremost problem in Bihar is not the lack of funds, but the misuse of the funds, corruption and clientelism. We lack institutions, basic infrastructure and decisions are made as per the whims and fancies of the political class. For instance, the incumbent government woke up one day and wanted to construct a museum and they did. The money that urgently should be spent on affordable housing, primary education, better health services or setting up agro based industries was spent on a building which was not urgent- an absolute insensitive trade. And yet they get away with it because there is practically no one to question their action (The opposition here is even worst). The politicians of Bihar have no knowledge of evidence-based policymaking. For them politics is personal attack, irrelevant speeches and maintaining the status quo, which means keeping people unemployed, uneducated and poor so that they get re-elected by making the same promises or talking about issues that do not really affect us election after election. Eradication of poverty has been on the agenda of every political party since past 73 years. They entertain us with their nonsensical oratory style and we let them. But their job is not to entertain us. Moreover, how does that help us ? Most countries in the world, even the non-democratic ones are in the advanced stages of policymaking. Undoubtedly they have their own problems, but they have found soultions for most of our current problems decades ago. We, on the other hand, still lack access to basic non-negotiable urgent human needs that every human requires and deserves for subsistence. As a Bihari this realisation feels like a failure. Even if I or you personally succeed tremendously outside India or Bihar, as a Bihari we are all failures. And there is no getting away from that.
It is noteworthy, that the political class in Bihar commonly uses poverty alleviation, justice, good governance and development in their speeches without any knowledge of what these ideas mean and how to achieve them. Due to the politicians in the past, our benchmark of development has been so low that we have learned to be happy with the little that the government does, which is precisely nothing. We have stopped questioning the incumbent government and somehow convinced ourself that we do not have an option. One must be utterly ignorant or completely helpless to tolerate the current conditions in Bihar. There is mess everywhere you step. Ministers and politicians are not just incompetent but unfortunately also morally corrupt. Just after the death of hundreads of children in Muzaffarpur and the destructive flood, the self-obsessed incumbent government had the audacity to start their political campaign with the slogan “Theeke hai” (“Everything is alright”). This unacceptable arrogant attitude stems from the firm belief that most of the affected people will lack a platform to speak up and others who can question the government will not take any interest in politics- they may not even vote and will definitely not contest an election. Well they are not that wrong right ?
Many who are affected are completely ignored and lack a platform to voice their struggles. Others just look the other way. And this is precisely the answer to ‘why’- it is time the unheard voices are represented to defeat arrogance and insensitivity.
We get angry when our fellow country citizens stereotype us (mostly due to our politicians). We often remark that no one cares about Bihar. But Bihar is also our responsibility. How can we expect development when we do not demand it. And why would anyone care about Bihar if we do not. It is time to take command to be a self-sufficient progressive state (not just for political slogans but in reality). To become a Plural the first step is to demand to govern. Bihar does not only belong to the political class of criminals, incompetent politicians, or a handful of elite. It also belongs to us, their employer- the tax payers. They and their life of luxury- bunglows, vehicles, bodyguards and all other luxuries is beacuse of us. We have given our money to the political class to work for us, its time they explain their incompetence.
Bihar has the most fertile land in the world, is blessed with a young hard-working potential workforce and with the right public policy can easily beat underdevelopment. Then why has it not happened so far ? Why is the workforce still looking for employment or labours to earn money that is far from decent. Our forefathers taught us that the first step towards change is to “challenge the status quo”. This is the idea that Plurals represent. It’s time we, the army of Plurals become a strong, competent opposition that questions this government and demand progress. We cannot afford to stay where we are in this fast moving world. We are just getting started. And you are either a Plural or against your own future. There isn’t a third option.