Nepali Times
The real Bihar



Patna - Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar cannot stop smiling. Five years ago, Bihar was synonymous with corruption, crime, malgovernance, and was blamed for pulling the rest of India down. This year, it has been rated as the state with the second highest growth in India, and has been feted in the national and international media. Kumar himself has won several 'Politician of the Year' awards.

How did he do it? That was the question all Nepali participants had when Kumar came to speak at the India-Nepal conference held in his state capital earlier this week. And his answers could not have been more relevant for us in a
week when public insecurity is at its peak.

"The mantra is to establish rule of law. Earlier, there was fear and criminals had state protection. Now, we have trials for cases and witness protection. The arms act is strictly applied. There is no interference in investigations. Now people feel a crime will lead to punishment."

Kumar said tackling law and order had been essential to changing the public mood. "People are willing to spend and invest now. Land prices are high. There are record sales of cars. Economic activity has shot up. And we have backed it up with public investment in roads and bridges, which is a prerequisite to get more private investment."

Along with infrastructure, the Bihar government focused on improving education (getting more students, including girls, into schools); health (ensuring 24-hour doctor availability at primary health centres); welfare measures (pensions for differently-abled, the elderly and widows); and modernising agriculture. "My slogan has been growth with justice," declared Kumar.

Sitting in the first row, Dr Baburam Bhattarai was paying close attention. He got up and told Kumar, "Despite our ideological differences, I am inspired by you today. I tried to do similar things when I was finance minister. My question is how did you ensure that high growth benefited all sections of society? Bihar also has a history of land inequality, how have you dealt with it?"

Kumar replied, "All the economic activities have led to job creation. We have ensured gender justice with 50 per cent reservation for women while recruiting teachers. We brought in special schemes for the most deprived Dalit communities. Roads don't have a caste, and everyone has benefited from them." Kumar skirted the land question, perhaps because he has been facing a political backlash from the upper castes against the recommendations of a commission to have land reforms.

UML MP Pradeep Gyawali asked about how Bihar dealt with the politicisation of crime and the criminalisation of politics. Kumar answered, "Rule of law. Who belongs to which party is immaterial and there will be no protection if you are in politics. Once people realised that being in a party would not save them, this trend declined on its own." To NC MP Gagan Thapa's question about armed groups operating from Bihar that posed a threat to law and order in Nepal, Kumar said he was ready to cooperate if there was specific information. He noted the reverse trend of Indian criminals using Nepali territory was also prevalent.

Kumar stated his belief that many of the changes in Bihar would also benefit Nepal. He cited the repair of Kosi in record time, and the faster port connectivity due to better roads and bridges on the Ganga as examples. "If there are any reservations about India's intentions in Nepal," he said, "please remove them. India is your biggest well-wisher. Go anywhere and there is only a positive feeling about Nepal. We are entirely with you and hope multiparty democracy in Nepal will succeed."


The India-Nepal conference, with high-level Maoist participation, made it clear India wants to continue engaging with the Maoists. But the differences persist.

India remains doubtful of the Maoist commitment to multiparty democracy and would like to see actual proof of their transformation into a non-violent political party. The Maoists' recent 'national awareness' campaign has sowed further suspicions about whether they will be sensitive to India's security and commercial concerns.

The Indian establishment believes that the Maoists must dismantle their coercive apparatus and renounce violence as the first step to any political settlement. This would entail settling the PLA question so most combatants are absorbed into civilian life, and dismantling the paramilitary structure of the YCL. A question that is asked is: if the Maoists are indeed committed to becoming a democratic party, why do they want their people to be sent to the army?

India is skeptical of the Maoist phraseology of 'multiparty competition', and would prefer them to make a clear commitment to multiparty democracy. In this view, the issue of the democratisation of the Maoists need not be linked to power-sharing.

India has also conveyed to the Maoists the message that that its anti-India campaign could set into motion a chain of events that would not be under anyone's control. Protests by locals in bordering Indian towns against the desecration of Indian national symbols by the Maoists were cited as proof of the hardening of Indian public opinion. India has also taken the obstruction of the Upper Karnali project by the Maoists very seriously, with officials privately warning Maoists of potential consequences.

There is a sense here that non-Maoist political parties in India will not be willing to take the Maoists at face value anymore. Unless the Maoists abide by their past promises, the coming months could see rising confrontation and violence.

1. Balram
This article of Prashant is very much impressive and it is also a lesson that how we can progress and go ahead. Unless we create the rule of law, every effort is worthless. In Nepal, there is no problem with the people, but it is the leaders who are problems in themselves. So request to PM and ministers please sacrifice for state and maintian the law and order. Nepal will progress faster the Bihar.

2. jange
Having recognised the Maoists' right to use violence to achieve their political ends, it will be a bit more difficult for the other political parties to establish the rule of law.

3. Karta
Will Baburan n Maoists will learn good things from Bihar in stead of what Prachanda said being Kritaghna earlier to his refuge homeland with the "Beti-roti ka sambandha"?

4. Prabin
No harm in learning good things from anywhere. Improving Bihar is always good for Nepal. Bihar was not always bad. Patliputra, Bihar used to be the center of our common civilization.

5. Bastich
The next five years are more important.
Sure Bihar has done wonderful progress - but ALL it will take is one election to bring back the RJD (Laloo) Janashakti (Paswan) to undo everything. An entire decade of wonderful governance under NDA is needed to educate people just how destructive the Laloo/Paswan combine is for Bihar.

The electorate (India has a very fickle electorate IMO) should not give into Anti-Incombance as they are wont to ! If Laloo/Paswan are defeated in the next polls - there is a high likelyhood that their age of destructive CM-ship is over - which will be a huge blessing for Bihar and India alike.

To conclude : Bihar will decide whether Bihar rises or falls! The people should show maturity rather than fickleness to come to this decision. Else all will be undone!!

6. R RAI
Rule of law, rule of law and rule of law. Zero tolerance for crime.Absolutely no political protection of criminals. If Bihar could do it, Nepal can.

7. BB
Jha has a very short-term memory. There already was law and order in Nepal. Investors used to flee Bihar and set up factories in pre-2006 Nepal. It's in "New Nepal" that we have lost all law and order, thanks to the support that journalists like Jha extended to the SPA-M alliance! Bring back Home Minister like Kamal Thapa and Nitish Kumar will come to Kathmandu to learn about establishing rule of law instead of other way around. Nepalis don't know how to respect the capable people in their own country and go running around to learn from others!

8. raju tamang
this was a great article and i know nepal will reach the skies in the coming years.we need clean and transparent justice system and also, good security.  thanks bihar and the people there for a glimpse of what is possible in any developing country.we hope you good keep improving and making it better for you and the rest of us in the region.namasteeeeee

9. Sonam Lama
Baburam was said to be one of the Nepali intellectuals being granted scholarship from the Narayanhiti palace to study in India. In India this architect student got infected by a political virus, and most unfortunately with that of Maoism disease, which is hard to be cured. That is why these comrades are suffering with a Maoist stubbornness disease and they never look at the positive sides for change and progress. Their brain is fully stacked with out dated ideologies and principles! It is very unfortunate for our country to see Maoism disease!

10. jampa dechen
some good news you made my day

11. raju lama
Why are you giving gali to Bihar you guys are worse than Bihar and will never become another Singapore or Switzerland, forget about it.
Above all remember Bihar is a part of India and you know what name Indians and India has earned for herself in the global arena.
Bhai you are a nation with a begging bowl and your leaders like Baburam and Prachanda, Koiralas and Nepals are not the enligntned people they claim to be they are just another petty thugs who are running the nation like Nepal and who would do anything to be in the helm of affairs kill, rob, sell anything  their own people not sparing evenn their sisters & mothers.
Good luck and God save you and your Nepal

12. Satya Prakash
I do not know about Nepali Moaist agenda but in India I do not need them. Here they are similar to terrorist. The only difference is that they India and not Pakistani. 
Moaist spread fear and stop govt work for development.

13. Dinesh

Dear Distinguished Leaders and Bureaucrats of Nepal

You not need dream of making Nepal to be like Singapore or Switzerland. In the first place practise how the incumbent  Chief Minister of Bihar has transferred a terrorized state into a state of law and order. You need to be sincere, honest, and righteous with a political will. You must put aside your personal and political interest and start building Nepal. First focus on building infrastructure like hydropower and tourism along with security and rule of law. All virtues will follow. Recent trend of some political parties obstructing the development of hydropower projects will need to be reverted. There has been lots of talk about integration of combatants in the Army and the obvious objection and oppostion. These people can be intregrated into development activities in the construction industries by building their skills. If our potential projects in hydropower can be initiated, millions can be employed in this sector since we need access roads, powerplants, and others.


14. tesroankha
The article makes a good point. The only problem i see is with the subheading.

Its not the question of whose example we look. I feel we should look at every good example from every corner of the world and modify it according to our circumstances, geography, political situation and economy. Just because certain approach to law and order worked in bihar doesnt mean that it would have the same effect in Nepal and the same goes with switzerland, singapore or any other place in the world. Ofcourse if it worked in Bihar, then considering the proximity it is easy to make an analogy on why it might also work in Nepal and there is nth wrong with this approach. But why should we remove the prospects of learning from other parts of the world and use strongly words like "rather than switzerland and singapore".

15. Devendra Pant
Can Bihar be our role-model? Interesting question--isn't it? If one puts the same question to Indians  living in the Deccan, it would not be difficult to guess the answer! There was a time in ancient history when Bihar used to be the center of spiritual learning such as the famous Nalanda university where scholars from China, Indo-China, Afganistan and other far away places used to visit the place to get enlightenment. No doubt the charm of the great Mithila tradition still exists there.  However, what we witnessed over the last sixty years of attitude and 'sanskaar' among our politicos, so-called 'democrats' and intellectuals trained over the land, makes us think twice about such proposition. Our politicians started with the dream of Singapore, then, they charmed us with Switzerland, now it seems we are heading towards Jharkhand? Is that the type of progress we are looking  for in Republican Nepal? Can we learn to imagine a bit further and broaden our intellectual horizon? Of course, we can and should learn good things from all.

16. jange
But surely our role model should be Prachanda and Prachanda path and not some Bihari.

17. Sameer
What a moronic statement Bhattarai has made asking how Bihar did it?  This is the guy who keeps saying that killing 100,000s of Nepalis for a "good cause" is justifiable.  This guy has no respect for human value, nor liberty, and then has this gull to ask this question.  What kind of Phd did he get and from where?  Just look at at any sensible democratic states and see how they did it...: law and order and protect people's property right...  Then basic good infrastructure -- roads, education, health. You don;t have to ask a Minister of Bihar;  just ask any Nepali from a village.  Learn from them.  They will also tell you to give back their confiscated property and pull back your YCL thugs so that they can exercise their right to free speech...

18. Budabaaje
Agree with Sameer. People like Bhattarai did the utmost to break down law and order and 'rule of law' in our country. They are the ones who have brought a halt to business activities and economic growth due to their organized violence. Then he does the drama of going to a conference and asking Nitish Kumar how he did it? It's like a murderer asking how to save lives. Answer is simple Bhattarai baaje. Shoot yourself then others' lives will be spared, naturally! In other words, disband your YCL, give up your terrorist and violence-based politics, respect the rule of law, don't interfere with businesses, in fact, disband the Maoist party... we had pretty good law and order before you Maoists destroyed it all!

19. Budabaaje
Re: #18: ..O and how can we forget the contribution of the media, civil society and other parties to help you, Maoists, destroy our law and order ...destroy our state, in fact!

20. Arthur
Interesting article. From what I read quickly about Bihar as a result of this article I understand this progress became possible because a thoroughly corrupt and criminal government dominated by parties roughly corresponding to most of Nepal's Madheshi parties, Congress and UMLs was defeated by an unusual coalition of people from the BJP and from the socialist wing of Janata Dal.

Perhaps such a transitional development might become possible in Nepal if elements like Ganga Thapa from Congress, Bam Dev Gautum from UML and Yadav's MJF were able to break away from their parties and unite in parties prepared to work together with the Maoists. If they could agree just on cleaning up the corrupt judiciary and police despite total obstruction from the rest of their old parties, that might kickstart such a process, of actually enforcing laws to enable other aspects of development.

21. Kumar



22. hange

Arthur, I think you forgot to mention that the previous Bihari government also condoned violence that served its own political interests- much like your cherished Maoists.  Would your analysis then be expanded to add that the logical moderates of the Maoist party should break away as well to join in a new united party?  Surely you're not saying that the party of violence (i.e. Maoists) are the ones who are going to suppress violence?  Then again, maybe that makes sense:  if they're the ones going around threatening and killing everyone, perhaps they are the only ones who can put an end to it?

23. bridohi

One cannot just merely blame the Nepali leadership. We, as Nepali citizens & peoples need to do a little soul searching ourselves. If we continure electing the same old crooks, then, the ultimate fault lies amongst us. If we want good governance, law & order, stability, prosperity, peace & security then, we need to excercise our right to vote. Vote out the crooks & their political network. It time to start a REAL Nepali Party--for the people, by the people & to the people. Who is with me?

24. Arthur
hange, sorry I didn't mention "condoning violence", as well as "corrupt and criminal" when describing the previous Bihar government which is so similar to the present government of Nepal. As for a transitional political development in Nepal that could move forward as Bihar did, it may not need to be a single parties united party. The Maoists are willing to unite with other  that want to move forward from the old Nepal, whether or not they agree on how far to move forward.

Problem is that people I mentioned who might be willing to move forward at least a little bit are still stuck in parties that only want to stay put and therefore cannot work with the Maoists at all.

Not much doubt that the YCL could smash the criminal gangs in the Terai once there was agreement to do that so police were no longer protecting them on the orders of Ministers in the government.

25. kumari
my god are you saying India can learn from me myself and i?

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)