Biharis on Moon! But Why?

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"If there was an opening on moon Biharis will make their mark there too" was the statement of Bihar Chief Minister recently at a function.

This statement, in fact, calls for deeper analysis and debate. There are two sides of this statement:

- Industriousness of Biharis who are willing to take any challenge and make their mark (where others might dither)

- Desperation of Biharis which drives them from their home state to far flung corners places (moon not excluded if that was an option today!).

Well, there is no doubt that Biharis are extremely diligent lot. It is proven beyond doubt that they have amazing grit and tenacity to overcome challenges of life. When one hears stories of so many suicides due to crop failures or debt crisis in other parts of India, one feels sad about these cases but one also wonders why they cannot take some inspiration from people of Bihar. The abysmal prospects for employment for decades in Bihar has not pushed people to such desperations. On the contrary, they have not left any nook of this country unexplored for an opportunity to work, contribute and eke out a living with dignity. That spirit is worth saluting thousand times. Giving up is not in the genes of Biharis and perseverance part of their DNA. That perhaps goes on to make them so hugely successful in prestigious all India competitive exams such as IITs, Civil Services or Bank POs. Biharis succeed in them in much larger proportion to their share of nation’s population.

The other side of the coin is why have people from Bihar migrated or still migrating in such large numbers? People migrating from one part of country to another per se is not a bad thing. There is no question of any legal impropriety etc either. Still such massive migration as we have seen in last 25 years forces one to ponder why we could not generate even basic employment in Bihar?

One understands that those Biharis who are equipped with higher education or professional qualifications flock to places where these skills are in demand. They are empowered lot and are not vulnerable. But I am excruciatingly pained when I see lots of illiterate or semi-literate people from my home state working as manual labor in different parts of this country. They do work which no local is willing to do (many times at lower wages). These people often live in shanties in big cities or even remote areas and are vulnerable to exploitation. They bear mostly the brunt of being made a bogey for political purpose by local chauvinists. They have even been physically targeted in some places. These migrant labors staying sometimes away from their family for years together are really poignant cases of deprivation driving them to far off places.

The question is if Biharis are industrious then why we cannot turn around own state? The state has such fertile land and abundance of fresh water (and till Jharkhand was carved out it was most mineral rich state too). Not to mention its glorious history - land of Goddess Sita’s birthplace, Buddha, Emperor Ashoka, Jain Mahaveer, Shershah Suri,  Gandhi’s Champaran and Jayaprakash Narayan to name a few.

In my opinion there are few reasons for state still lagging in employment generation:

1. Lack of social respect to entrepreneurship (we crave for power more than anything else)

2. Feudal mindset (Dominating others is bigger drive than any other)

3. Caste ridden (though diluted, still its potency is dangerously high)

4. Utterly poor quality of political leadership for most of last few decades (We ourselves are to be blamed for this).

5. Severe image crisis (kahte hain bad se badnam bura, still investors are not coming to Bihar)

Being an optimist I think there is some light visible after a long dark tunnel. State is at the cusp of time where there is only one way it can go and that is path of rapid and inclusive development. We have missed the bus once but we certainly cannot afford to miss it this time.

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