indica Washington Bureau –
The journey of development of Bihar started in 2005 when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was elected to power for the first time and not in 1947 when the development of most of the States started with India’s independence, its Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said Wednesday.
“Though India gained independence in 1947, and in most of the States the journey of development started in 1947, but we were unfortunate because of some political reasons and because of some other reasons, the development journey of Bihar started in the year 2005,” Modi, currently on a visit to the US, told a Washington audience.
It was in 2005 that a coalition government of Janata Dal (United) and BJP-led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar cam to power. Except for a short duration, Kumar has been the State’s Chief Minister since 2005. For most of the period from 2005 to 2013 and again since July 2017, Modi has been the Deputy Chief Minister.
Before 2005, Modi said there were very few roads in the State and the road conditions were very bad, there was no electricity, very few doctors, and there were no medicines in the hospitals and all the health parameters were at their lowest ebb in Bihar, he said.
In his inaugural address to the half-day conference of CSIS Global Health Policy Center on “Innovation, Partnership, and Self-Reliance: Health Policy Lessons from India’s Bihar State” the Deputy Chief Minister told the participants that India’s third most populous State having a population of more than 120 million, is one of the poorest State with 34 percent of the people living below poverty line.
It’s female literacy rate is about 51 percent, and the density of population is one of the highest in world 1102 as per 2011 census. As many as 79 percent of Bihar is rural and 76 percent of workforce is dependent on agriculture. Its per capita income is one-third of that of all India, he said.
“So, we had to start from scratch. In 2005, the development journey started in Bihar. In the last 12 years the GDP growth is in double digit. Bihar is one of the fastest growing State,” Modi said adding that now every village of the State has electricity. Rural areas are now having electricity between 16-18 hours per day.
“Nobody could ever imagine that this kind of change can take place in Bihar,” Modi said as he listed some of the developments in Bihar in the field of infrastructure and socio-economic field. But the State still has a long way to go. In the field of health and social infrastructure, he said, everything revolves around women.
The half-day conference examined the lessons learned from the Bihar Technical Support Program and its implications for U.S. foreign policy and assistance programs. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by CARE, the program was founded to address these challenges with the goal of boosting capacity and self-reliance.
The program covers all 534 blocks in 38 districts of Bihar and involves at least 400 public sector hospitals and 200,000 frontline workers.