Dialogue  October - December 2005 , Volume 7  No. 2

Editorial Perspective

Bihar Syndrome

Bihar election is just over. It was the most peaceful and hassle-free election in the state during the last few decades. Pole percentage has come down. But the difference may be due to the prevention of bogus voting. Any way, the people are happy. K.G. Rao has undoubtedly emerged as the popular hero. 
    Three important signals, emerging from the successful conductance of Bihar elections, generate optimism:
         (i)   That the Election Commission of India has the capacity to conduct free and fair election in any part 
                of the country and it will continue to repeat Bihar in other States also; and it will not frustrate Indian 
                people in future on this count.
(ii)   That the Bihar State government machinery has not yet lost the capacity to revive and become 
(iii)   That the people of Bihar, by and large, as in any part of the country, want positive developments.
Professor Paul Appleby, an International authority on Public Administration, adjudged Bihar to be one of the best-administered states of India in 1956. The situation gradually changed and Bihar became one of the worst administered states of the country. As it happened, many, otherwise good, officers were influenced by caste considerations and thus abetted caste politics. Some formed nexus with the politicians. Shri K.Abraham, one of the senior most bureaucrats of Bihar, was member Board of Revenue when he retired in mid-1970s. He was District Magistrate of Purnea in 1951 and Divisional Commissioner of Bhagalpur in 1962. His observation is revealing: He said: “I was shocked when a young IAS officer told me shortly before I retired, that he and some of his colleagues had decided that it would be foolish on their part to refuse to do improper acts at the dictate of ministers.” The nexus between the bureaucrat and the politicians emboldened the corrupt officers. Tragically, many honest officers were penalized for doing the right things and quite a few dishonest officers were shielded and indeed rewarded for pandering to the dictates of the ministers, and other influential non-officials. With the passing years, it became more and more difficult for officers to perform their duties honestly and fearlessly.  
    The situation further deteriorated when criminals joined the nexus and the trade unionism robbed the administration of its healthy work-culture. As expected, there was steady deterioration in the administration. The failure was witnessed in both the development as well as law and order fronts. The State lost the capacity to deliver.
    It is true that administration gradually collapsed in Bihar. The law and order situation became worse. Of late, ransom has become an industry. Jehanabad could happen next door to the State capital, even after the State had prior intelligence of the Maoist designs. The ‘Law and Order’ situation in the state is so bad that even the Patna High Court took a serious view of the attack on the Jehanabad jail and observed , “We are also not safe in court.”

    The Bihar syndrome exposes the weaknesses of Delhi as well. The Centre/Planning Commission remained unjust to Bihar in Central funding, and even then, the megre sum received from the Centre for development/Centrally Sponsored Schemes was not properly utilized and a huge sum was returned back to Delhi every year. Partly the sum was siphoned out. Undivided Bihar had almost 40% of the Country’s mineral wealth. But proper royalty payment was denied to the state. Locational benefit of development was also denied to Bihar due to ‘Freight Equalization Policy’ imposed by the Centre. West Bengal and Orissa also suffered equally due to this unjust policy. Infrastructure did not develop properly in Bihar and the Centre was equally guilty. Even National Highways are not properly maintained. The State does not have a single Central University/IIT. There are hardly, any regional centres of the Central Institutes, etc.  
    Parts of Bihar, along with West Bengal and Orissa, had the longest spell of British colonial rule. The British introduced permanent settlement of land and highly exploitative Zamindari system, which was responsible even for man made famines and death of millions and depopulation of vast tracks from time to time.. The system robbed the people of Eastern India of their initiatives. The British colonial education, perpetuating even after independence, left the people highly confused. 

Bihar provides psychological benefit to other states, and even to the Centre, and a feel that they are better.
Actually, the situation in many parts of the country, on many counts, is still the worse. Farmers are forced to commit suicide in states like Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh even today after 58 years after independence. Parents are forced to sell their children in places like Kalahandi. Veerappan continued to dictate terms to Tamilnadu and Karnataka governments for decades, till he became diseased and old, and was killed. UP, by and large, is the most criminal state of India. In UP, like Bihar, political patronage of mafia dons has led to the law and order situation spiraling out of control. The blood of innocent Karbis and Dimasa is being shed every day in Assam hills. The NSCN and its leader, Muivah is extending his empire of terror throughout North-East through his network and patronage to insurgent outfits. The menace of the Ultra-left, the Naxalites is increasing day by day. For Andhra, this problem is more than half a century old. The Naxals are planning to carve-out a compact zone from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh. The Islamist outfits such as Lashkar-e-Taiba dream of establishing Dar-ul-Islam in this country. About 20 million illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are staying in India. That country wants living space (labensraum) in India and to annex areas in the North and North-East.. As of today, it is hosting 192 camps of the Indian terrorist outfits on its soil. The networking of all sorts of destabilizing elements and terrorist outfits is becoming dense. ISI has playing nefarious game posing serious problem of internal security. All these are sad developments indicating Nation’s failures. In reality, the Bihar syndrome is an all India syndrome.
It is sad that a dominant and large section of our politicians, intellectuals and media men are knowingly or unknowingly, weakening the Indian nation and the society by their wrong actions. They create chasm by promoting inner divide on caste and communal lines. Provocative actions are often ignored and rationalized. Such actions promote intolerance, ‘enemy-image formation’ within the society and ‘mirror-image reciprocation’. It tends to weaken the society and the country from within. Such persons are mischievous and foolish; mischievous, as they are working against their own society and the country; foolish as their actions are based on false premises that the country and the society are not fragile.  
    There is no doubt that our Prime Minister is honest and sincere; wants to lead the nation on the fast track of development. The interest of the nation is supreme for him. But the lethargy of the system and the existing political culture of the country puts hindrances. Difficulties multiply when the coalition partners start acting as opposition; a section of media and intellectuals mis-inform, mis-interpret and confuse. The Iran issue amply shows that there is no dearth of persons and parties in this country, who work as the extended arm of foreign countries and try to communalize even the foreign policy of the country. It is shocking that the leftists who ignored the clandestine supply of nuclear know-how by China to Pakistan are opposing the supply of nuclear fuel to our country, which we genuinely need. The need of the bomb of a state, which openly declares to wipe out the existence of a country from the global map, gets preference over the genuine needs of the country. The behaviour of the students of a centrally funded premier institution of this country on this count, trying to prevent the country’s premier from delivering his lecture is equally shocking.  
    This erratic behaviour of working against the genuine interests of the nation by our people becomes puzzling when we compare the same with that of the Chinese. This may only be explained by accepting that the Communism (Sovietism, Stalinism, Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, whatever, we call it) came as a colonial ideology to India. Unlike Russia and China, India failed to produce a Lenin or Mao. And again, Marx himself praised British rule in India. Again, Wahabism, fighting against traditional Islam/Sufism is clearly viewed unfavourably in Central Asia and Russia. The impact of Wahabism/Tablighi Jamaat in India is also disruptive. The malady, mentioned above, is the result of a mind-set resulting from triple colonial impact of British education, Marxism and Wahabism. Needless to say that their impact tends to denationalize Indiams. 
    The serious malady, which has crept in our political culture, intellectual life and the media needs to be remedied. There is no way out for the civil society than to confront them frontally and wage intellectual war till the situation improves. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   —Dr. B. B. Kumar  

Dialogue (A quarterly journal of Astha Bharati)

Astha Bharati