It is about decentralised development!
Corruption, populism and the general awareness of issues and the role of media matters!
Picture postcard scenes from other India!
Arent our villages still beautiful?
Pastel green paddy fields still cheer us! Bullock carts, the very many, though still unfinished, rural roads and much of the average village faces look happy and contented, let us know!
A recent writer, who obviously a traveler and a researcher in the rural affairs had travelled around in Bihar and UP and has much so say and capture the realities at the ground levels. She says that is much more truthful and reliable and help us to form judgments than those bureaucrats -turned rulers, cosy, urban living families and leaders of the families who make rules and pontificate and lecture us to do this or that while in the end you end of disappointed and become rather frustrated with the unfulfilled promises of those in power.
You in fact end up as the greatly cheated people while piles and piles of evidence comes out as the listed assets and bank balances are trotted out ,more because of the court cases and police cases on land grabbing and other offences, as it is doing just now in Tamil Nadu!
Yes, there are always two sides to the coin.
While there is much democratic politics and that means that in the name of democracy, liberalisation and globalisation there are always news and new developments that impact people. There are now Chinese-made umbrellas sold at throw away prices.
Very soon we are told that Chinese retail shops would be flooded with cheap Chinese merchandise.
It is already there in countries nearer us, say, in Sri Lanka where on the roadsides even the Chinese -made kites sell for a premium!
In Bihar, we are told that squalor still stares in our eyes, the visitors, feudalism, caste prejudices are still real forces to put us off and create some disquiet! In West Champaran, in Bihar, we are told that children loiter around, and yes, they say they don’t go to school! You just speak to the children and you find that out. This, under Nitin Kumar, you may wonder. But then that is reality! Children who do say that the masterji, the teacher comes only one or two hours a day!
On West Champaran, on the Bihar govt’s Website, you find that the district has a literacy rate of 39.6 per cent. It has 1,340 primary schools, 284 middle schools and 69 high schools. And yet, why there are still so many students out of the schools and what they are doing?
No food and no education, teachers’ absenteeism and worse still the caste status of the village. Enter the village and you will find the women would first rush to meet you and say what the caste status of the village is! This is Bihar; you have to remind yourself once again!
Why has the teenager dropped out of the class VIII?
The adults don’t bother about such questions. They have more pressing things to do and attend to. The prices of food are high, they say.
The writer here says that the prices of kerosene are now reduced thanks to the new CFL light but they complain about the prices of pulses, milk and meat.
But there is some contradiction here. In a state like TN, every aged person in the villages is given a pension of Rs.1, 000, now even the Sri Lankan refugees are eligible for this amount. In addition there is the 35 kilo of free rice and 25 kilo for the others, in fact for everyone.
So, where is the PDS in Bihar? Where is the pension scheme, health insurance, the Bharat Niorman and other such Central and other state schemes?
Now, populism is running riot in all states and why Bihar seems to tell a different story!
It is also a bit contradictory to say that only people in villages spend much more than those in urban centres more on food. No, this too seems a bit exaggerated. Now, consumerism is the driving force, everywhere, in the villages and in the cities.
There are malls everywhere, or mall like retail stores and the rural transport system is expanding and every morning, every village seems getting emptied. Everyone is on the bus to towns and only late in the evening you see the returning buses are filled like jelly fish to over capacity!
There is now too much cash chasing the goods and services.
Oh, villagers, even those who might entertain too much superstition, are now great pilgrims and temples and god men are becoming the centres of large crowds.
So too the eateries. Even in small towns you see new, new fangled name boards and new food items. People have become great consumers of all foods.
So you have people putting on weight even at young age.
All the good and mostly bad habits have come to occupy the minds of people. So too you find new hospitals and even in remote areas you find the new hospitals growing in size and money-grabbing new medical instruments.
Some small town hospitals advertise heavily about their new acquisitions, MRI scans and much more new complicated machines and the ads are very scary.
This is the new contradiction about the new prosperity. So, why our Bihar visitor asks such old-fashioned questions, literacy, food and teacher absenteeism! Budaun district in UP. Is it true that milk comes at Rs.3? It costs anything like Rs.10-15 in TN. Pulses cost Rs.50 per kg, the very same price in Delhi? Then someone complains that the local vyapari (trader) hoards and raises the prices. No, this too seems to be impossible in better off states like TN where there is always the PDS outlet that sells these pulses too.
It seems, perhaps true that families keep growing in size in these two backward states, Rekha in Tamkuha village, Bihar has six children, only two go to school. Shanta in Ujhanni, UP, has a brood of five, despite the fact the eldest is a son!
No, there is no room for any theories here and the plain fact is that the governance in the states might be different.
But there are some inconvenient questions to be asked but nobody asks. In the states well-governed, where there is less corruption, as we believe in Bihar, perhaps there is still neglect of the poor, no populist freebies as in TN. Nitish Kumar has a reputation, all India reputation for being clean, while in TN, both the DMK and the ADMK chief Ministers are reputed to be highly, personally corrupt! So too in UP!
So, it is not theories of rural development that are relevant here, it is how reputed your Chief Minister is.
Image Source : thehindubusinessline.com