An open Letter to politicians of UP and Bihar

TruthWell in one of my articles “Political games being played all over”, i mentioned reasons about large scale migration from UP and Bihar. I was lacking some figures which i got in today’s HT Counterpoint written by Vir Sanghvi on page 10.

Here is an excerpt from that article.

My suspicion is that the disdain with which the Thackerays treat people from UP and Bihar – the so-called Bhaiyyas – is part of a wider trend. As India develops and transforms itself, UP and Bihar are increasingly being perceived as the laggards. Once, Bihar was India’s best-administered state (do not laugh: an international study came to this conclusion in the 1950s); now, it is seen as a wasteland. UP was the heart of India, the state that gave us the largest number of Prime Ministers. Now, it is a mess, treated on par with Bihar.

One look at the figures will demonstrate that UP and Bihar are the two states in India that are certainly not shining. The net state domestic product of Bihar was Rs 51,194 crore in 2004-05. In contrast, the state domestic product of Ma- harashtra was Rs 3,28,451 crore, over six times the figure for Bihar. Even poor, backward Orissa did better than Bihar at Rs 52,240 crore.

The contrast is more striking when you look at per capita figures. In 1993-94, the per capita domestic product of Bihar was Rs 3,037. Eleven years later, in 2004- 05, that figure had gone up to Rs 5,772 which, when you adjust for inflation, prob- ably means that income hardly went up at all, and may even have gone down.

Now, look at the figures for other states. In 1993-94, Maharashtra’s per capi- ta domestic product was Rs 12,183 – already four times the figure for Bihar. By 2004-05, it had gone up to Rs 32,170, nearly six times the figure for Bihar. Gujarat was at Rs 28,355 in 2004-05, and other states were booming: Kerala at Rs 27,048; Punjab at Rs 30,701; and Haryana at Rs 32,712.

Uttar Pradesh has fared a little better. In 1993-94, its per capita income was Rs 5,066. In 2004-05, it went up to Rs 11,477 (largely on the basis of Noida, but that’s another story). This makes it better off than Bihar but still worse off than every other Indian state.

Together, UP and Bihar are bottom of the list when it comes to per capita income. It takes four Biharis to earn as much as one resident of Maharashtra. And, UP’s current per capita income of Rs 11,477 is less than Maha- rashtra’s income of Rs 12,183 a decade ago in 1993-94. In those 11 years, UP has not even reached where Maharashtra was way back then while Maharashtra and other Indian states have surged ahead.

The economic disparity is matched by a political decline. In few states has politics got as dirty as in today’s UP. If it isn’t Mulayam Singh Yadav’s crony capitalism, then it is Mayawati’s shameless casteism and her naked pursuit of her own enrichment (her annual income is Rs 60 crore the saving grace is that she declares it and pays tax on it).

As far as the rest of India is concerned, Bihar has become a wasteland run by mafia dons who are pursued by Naxalites. The rule of law does not exist, and politics is largely a question of caste.

In both states, national parties hardly get a look in, unless they are alliance partners. Regional groupings based on caste share power with one another. Because these states have such a large share of Lok Sabha seats (UP has 80 while Bihar and Jharkhand together have 54), national politics is held hostage to these caste considerations and to the ambitions of regional leaders.

All this contributes to the lack of regard for UP and Bihar in many parts of India.
In Bangalore, a few years ago, a successful software executive told me that he had compiled a growth rate for south India and that it exceeded China’s. “It is UP and Bihar that let us down,” he said. Such sentiments are common. The face of India that we show to the world – hi-tech, Bollywood-glitzy and super-educated has nothing to do with UP and Bihar. For many Indians, the two states have become an embarrassment.

Now i have a question for politicians of UP and Bihar. Do they have any blue print of taking their state forward? The states have only caste politics nothing else. The people are so “innocent” that they fall prey to caste games. They don’t even understand the term development it seems. May be because they have never seen it. But one thing is for sure that whole India is developing at a brisk pace while UP and Bihar are crawling.  As Mr Sanghvi says–  I have respect too for the ordinary Biharis, who are truly the salt of India, going off to other states to create wealth for all of us. I doubt if West Bengal could survive without Biharis and Punjab’s crops are usually planted and harvested by Bihari workers. And oddly enough, whenever Biharis have travelled overseas, they have prospered: in Mauritius, Guyana and Surinam, for instance.

But then why can’t their own state take care of them. It is because we have not changed with time. Rest of India ignored the casteism and racism and rose to the top of the economic pyramid. And eventually India shed its old image and went from being perceived as an underdeveloped wasteland to becoming an emerging superpower. But the status-quo in UP and Bihar. I want to ask the politicians and people of UP and Bihar—- How long will they deny their citizens the benefits of the new India? And how long will the voters of UP and Bihar allow themselves to be ruled by a bunch of casteist crooks?