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Boom Boom Bihar Meet Nitish Kumar The latest management guru

Updated: January 30, 2010 10:55 am

The headline of an English newspaper blared with an element of wide-eyed surprise—Next only to Gujarat, Bihar grew by 11.03 per cent. Only a few days after ’20ten’ dawned, this piece of news about the state’s turnaround was all over the media. It really sounds like a potboiler of development. Given the precariously long record of the state’s decadence, even a Nobel Prize for economics would not suffice to reward the leader who has achieved this impossible feat.

            Though Nitish Kumar, the “no nonsense” Chief Minister, has been seen as a saviour of the state for quite sometime, the news seemed like the stuff a celluloid thriller is made of. It is a common knowledge that the state is surely being “repaired” by the post- Lalu political dispensation but the news of Bihar being a “vibrant” state, just .02 something behind Gujarat, under the stewardship of Narendra Modi, a Chief Minister considered to be a “poster boy” of development in the country, was something no one would have bargained for. It can well be said – Narendra Modi had really a close shave. The news is certainly a succor to the people much demoralised and despised by likes of Raj Thackeray.

            This dramatic turnaround of the state was proclaimed by the latest data of Central Statistical Organisation (CSO). According to the data, in the years between 2004-05 and 2008-09, the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) has jumped to an amazing 11.03 per cent. The quantum of growth is much more than a miracle economy, a sobriquet awarded at just 7 per cent growth. It really is a giant leap forward, if juxtaposed to its 5.15 per cent negative growth in the year 2003-2004, about time when Nitish took the reins in his hands. The change of guard at that time itself was a great turnaround. No one imagined at that time that the state would ever be liberated from the vice-like grip of Lalu Prasad, whose wife Rabri Devi was Chief Minister by default and his party RJD, just as the latest news was unbelievable when it first came.

            The turnaround this time is so “shocking” that it can give the best of economists and the management gurus run for his money. Bihar was considered to be a failed state beyond salvation. How Nitish Kumar brought about this miracle can be a hot cake for any premier management school under the sun. The “engineer” Chief Minister, it seems, has really constructed a robust leverage to put the state on the path of sustainable growth so as to pull his state out of the dishonourable bracket of “Bimaru states”. It is really a feat worth being showered with encomiums.

            No wonder, if Nitish Kumar becomes a hot favourite of the management schools world over. The economists and academics would certainly want to be his students and to know the secret of his alchemy. So, enter the Bihar Institute of Management. When a reputed economist like Swaminathan S Anklesaria goes gaga over this stunner, there should be no doubt that once—Bimaru state is really in a fine fettle and all set to reach the pinnacle of development. Anklesaria writes in his Swaminomics column: “Let us celebrate the emergence of Bihar and other poor states as miracle economies. This is surely one of the biggest achievements of the decade.” Gujarat has achieved the enviable number one position on the block, yet so much importance is not being attached to it. It is because the people of Gujarat themselves are imbibed so much with the spirit of entrepreneurship that no ruler can apportion the whole credit for any turnaround but this is not the case with Bihar. Bihar’s is a passive people, waiting with perseverance to be turned on by some leader with a magic wand. And, no doubt Nitish fitted the bill.

            But, certainly, the suave Nitish will not go to town with this feather in his cap because he knows in his heart of hearts that many challenges lay ahead and there is no scope for complacency. This “one-off” magic figure is not going to turn the fortunes of the state for ever. The big draw needs to be consolidated through many more years of enlightened reign. For sure, the news is too good to seem true. You need to stretch your imagination too much to come to grip with this “out-of-world” news. As a comic relief, a joke that did the round when Lalu Prasad was at the helm of affairs in the state is opportune here just to underline the notoriety that he had earned because of descend of the state in the quagmire of decadence. The joke goes thus: Once the then premier of Japan, pitying the precarious situation of the state, said, out of charitable intent, if Lalu gave him the state for two years, the state would be metamorphosed into Japan itself. Here lies jab. The answer of the maverick Lalu was: “Give me Japan and I will turn your’s into Bihar only in two days time.” Needless to say, the “generous” premier dumped the idea of the bizarre turnaround forthwith. But after the latest news of the state’s turnaround, one could be sure that even Japan would not mind to take a lesson or two from Nitish, while trying to cope with its economic meltdown. Lalu turned out like a curse on the state, what with industry of kidnapping flourishing by the day and businessmen fleeing for safer states.

            Bihar’s image as a basket case has so much become ingrained in the psyche of the nation that when a word emerged that the great news about Bihar’s amazing turnaround was just a canard spread by a coterie of journalists hand in gloves with Nitish Kumar, the feisty Chief Minister of the state, it was lapped up by some people as they really could not believe that the state was salvaged from the seemingly incorrigible state of decadence. Thankfully for the much maligned state and often ‘more sinned against than sinning’ the figure is not a tad false. Had this GDP been computed by the state mandarins, no one would have believed it because one such much hyped figures of turnaround of Indian Railways by Lalu Prasad, has turned out fake, not too long ago. Mamta Banerjee, the present Railway Minister, has called his bluff by presenting a white paper in the Parliament. And what a hype that Indian Railways turnaround had made not only within the nation but all over the world. Lalu Yadav had become most sought-after management guru and, interestingly, the man who is imputed for the decadence of the state through his vice-like grip rule of 15 years, shone like the only ‘mantra’ of turningaround whatever was beyond repair till the truth tumbled out of account book. If one looks at the details of fodder scam, which happened during his long debilitating reign, wherein figures such as a scooter ferrying 900 buffaloes at one go, any figures emanating from there would be bound to be looked at with a pinch of salt. But the latest figures emanating from Nitish Kumar, another leader from Bihar and once a fellow traveller of Lalu in politics, have a very high quotient of credibility for the single reason that Nitish is a politician with a difference. Given his impeccable image, even a Doubting Thomas will not grudge awarding him 100 marks for this piece of “‘howzzzat.”

            Forget the announcement. Don’t you find something amiss when you take your daily dose of television news? There was a time when Bihar’s share of loot, arson, violence, murders, and kidnappings used to make a lion’s share of crime news of the country. Someone watching events closely would concede that he has not heard crime news worth the name from state for long. India’s third largest populated state, with over 8.2 crore people, seems to have scripped a new chapter. The question naturally arises. How did it happen after all? But it does not take long to find the answer, which is, it is due to the tenacity of Nitish Kumar. His fast track and ruthless enforcement of law and order, which did the wonders. The crime dons, high and mighty, either landed in jails or left the state to cool their heels in some unknown corners. Law and order is a sine qua non for any state to flourish economically. That is exactly what happened in the case of Bihar. His good governance stressed on improving basic infrastructure. During Pravasi Divas held this month in the capital of the country, the advertisement of Bihar government proudly inviting NRIs to look towards Bihar for investment made a lot of sense. But the same kind of advertisement during Lalu’s reign would have seemed audacious and outrageous.

The full transformation of the state calls for a repeat regime of the enlightened leadership. This is the last leg of Nitish’s reign. Yet another mandate to him will, doubtless, entail a lot of such good news. Bodhi Tree is once again a beacon—For both moksha and money both. Amen!


By Prakriiti Gupta from Jammu

On January 12, wherein the adverse climatic conditions continue to hover and dense fog blinds the vision of the Indian border guards, the electronic surveillance gadgetry raised an alarm well past midnight. A group of six to seven terrorists tried to enter into Indian side from Kanhachak area in Jammu along International Border with Pakistan.

            Another incursion attempt was made within hours about 200 metres away from other spot at around 4.30 am, but failed due to strict vigil on Indian side. As Indian troopers tried to thwart the incursion bid, gun shots rattled as the terrorists and the Pakistan Rangers targeted Indian soldiers to divert the attention.

            A day before, a group of five terrorists had managed to sneak well within a few kilometres into Indian territory from Pakistan side in Akhnoor border sector of Jammu region. Their movement was observed by the border guards from their forward posts with the help of night vision devices and other sophisticated gadgetry.

When attempt was made to stop them, a heavy gunfire followed lasting for over an hour, the terrorists fled back.

            This was the seventh infiltration bid from the Pakistan side in 2010 amid renewed efforts from across the border to rejuvenate terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

In the following search operation, it was found that the infiltrators had cut the fence, leading to suspicion that some terrorists might have succeeded in entering the Indian side.

The following day in broad daylight, an Indian border force guard was killed in sniper fire from Pakistan side in Mandi area of border district Poonch in Jammu region.

            On January 9, an Indian paramilitary force border guard through his night-vision device spotted a group of infiltrators at International Border with Pakistan in Kanachak, about 35 km west of Jammu. There was heavy fire from Pakistan side of border and an IED blast was triggered to damage the barbed border fence, which cut towards Pakistan side.

            A retaliatory action from the Indian Border Security Force guards however helped keep the infiltrators off the border fence and intrusion bid was stalled.

            All the infiltration attempts have one thing in common: As soon as the terrorists started firing on the Indian border posts, they were given a covering fire by Pakistan Rangers.

The spot inspection of the area showed footmarks of three to four terrorists up to the border fencing and their return to Pakistan side. The terrorists had used shock-proof instruments to cut the barbed fence taking advantage of dense fog.

After almost all the infiltration incidents, India called for a flag meeting with the Pakistani Rangers, who were shown the cut fences and

signs of footmarks but the Rangers were not ready to admit their support to infiltration. They claimed that the incidents might be executed by non-state actors over whom they had no control. However, the sources said, the BSF responded that it was the Rangers’ responsibility to prevent hostile actions and India would be left with no option but to retaliate if they failed to do so.

            Following the fresh eruption of tension, defence minister AK Antony, army chief General Deepak Kapoor and defence secretary Pradeep Kumar visited Jammu to take stock of the situation. And Antony has also stated that infiltration attempts are likely to increase in near future.

            Terrorists in the past few weeks have tried to make fresh footing in Jammu and Kashmir, the recent attack in the heart of Srinagar city, wherein two Lashkar terrorists took refuge in a hotel in Lal Chowk, is a biting fact as to how the terrorists are regrouping in state, which otherwise for the past couple of years was rather peaceful as compared to other parts of India in terms of terror strikes.

            After the 22-hour gun battle, Indian troopers eliminated the two terrorists but a striking reminder of 26/11 came to light as how Pakistani handlers were in constant contact with the two terrorists on phone encouraging the two terrorists and asking them to inflict more damage on the security forces and to prolong the siege.

Based on intercepts from across the border, intelligence agencies have warned that winters could be bloody in the Valley as existing terrorist modules have been told to carry out more of Lal Chowk, type attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.

            Deputy Inspector General, Border Security Force, JB Sangwan admitted that terrorists had made a comeback. According to him, the present infiltration attempts could be aimed at disturbing the Republic Day celebrations. “They will try to do some terrorist action but we are alert to thwart their plot,” he said.

            Sources said there are enough proofs that clearly reflect that infiltration bids on both the Line of Control and the International Border are being actively supported by Pakistan Army and Rangers, who not only provide covering fire to the intruders but also use other ways and means to help them enter into the Indian territory.

            The Rangers on several occasions had thrown arms, explosives and currency consignments from atop the border fence into the Indian side. The consignments, meant for the couriers of terrorists, were seized by the Indian security forces.

            In couple of incidents, IEDs were planted into the Indian side and blasts were triggered from across the border causing casualties on Indian troopers. In November last, a senior Indian Border Security Force officer was killed in an IED blast and in January 2010, four Indian troopers were injured in similar IED blasts.

            Sources said this new technique is being used by the terrorists at the behest of Pakistan Army and Rangers, to cause casualties on the BSF which has been maintaining a strict vigil along the IB and has thwarted all infiltration attempts of the terrorists backed by the Rangers, this year.

            According to reports, about 700 terrorists have been kept by Pakistan Army and Rangers at various launching pads and at their posts close to LoC and IB to push them into the Indian side of them, around 300 are Pakistanis and 70-80 from countries like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

            “Intercepts also reveal that they have managed to regroup here and Lashkar-e-Toiba is emerging as the leader terror group” a top state police official told this correspondent. Pakistan military has constructed several fortified concrete bunkers along borders in Jammu and Kashmir, a move which has caused lot of unease on the Indian side as intelligence reports suggest that these new fortified bunkers are used by the Pakistani Rangers to facilitate infiltration attempts by terrorists to Indian side.

            Though India has lodged strong protest with its Pakistani counterpart (Pakistan Rangers), the latter denied construction of new bunkers and claimed that only existing defence structures are being renovated on its side. Military sources here say that the coming days pose serious threat as there is every possibility that few incursion bids would have been successful and the suspected terrorists might be working on their scheduled targets. Hence, an high alert has been sounded.

By Babita Jha

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