The Telegraph
Wednesday , March 16 , 2016
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Governance jolt for Bihar

- Survey by Bangalore think-tank puts state at bottom rung

Bhubaneswar, March 15: A survey by a Bangalore-based think-tank shows that when it comes to governance, Bihar occupies the last rung among the country's 17 large states. Two other eastern states, Odisha and Jharkhand, emerge ahead of Bihar.

The Public Affairs Centre (PAC), a non-profitable organisation, has conducted the survey using data sourced from central and state governments and United Nations agencies such as Unicef.

The study, which is based on 10 themes, 25 focus subjects and 68 indicators, attempts to rank the diverse states of the country into a common, data-driven framework so as to enable an interstate comparison.

The surveys reveals that Bihar stands at the 12th position in the transparency index as it is yet to appoint a Lokayukta and has failed to maintain its records on the government websites.

Section 4 of the RTI Act stipulates that public authority should maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form that facilitates the right to information. Even the government websites are not updated for months together.

As for the state's crime and law and order scenario, the survey looks into various indicators such as rape, murder, dowry deaths, custodial deaths and police firings. To study the policing system, it looks at the number of police personnel vis-à-vis the population.

On this count Bihar stands 10th. While Tamil Nadu tops the chart in this category, the survey reveals that the law and order scenario in neighbouring Bengal is better than Bihar.

On the economic front, the survey focuses on the issue of ease of doing business as demonstrated by the recent World Bank report that ranks states in this regard. It also includes the number of industrial entrepreneurship memoranda filed in the state and the promotion of SMSEs.

While Gujarat tops among the large states, Bihar is at the bottom of the index.

When it comes to providing essential infrastructure, the survey examined the comparative quality of governance with regard to four identified focus subjects namely power, water, road and communication and housing.

On the issue of providing power, the survey took note of reduction in transmission and distribution losses and per capita consumption.

Here Bihar stands at 13th among the 17 large states. Even Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh fare better than Bihar.

Bihar falters critically when it comes to providing support to human development. Health and education are two parameters used to judge the states. While education is weighed through indicators such as access, infrastructure, teachers and outcomes, the health sector is measured through infant mortality rate, immunisation programme and expenditure on health care. On these counts, the state emerges at the bottom while Jharkhand turns out to be a better performer and is ranked 14th.

The methodology

For the purpose of the survey, the states have been divided into two categories - large and small. Those with a population of more than two crore have been included in the large state category, while those falling below the two-crore mark are treated as small states. Bihar falls in the category of big states.

To paint the bigger picture of comparative governance, the survey used population statistics to standardise variables across the states. To do this, it has used 2011 Census figures to convert variables into population terms.

To cite an example, if the number of murders reported in Kerala in 2013 is 372, it is divided by the state's population of 3.32 crore. This means that for every 10 lakh population, there are 11.41 murders. Breaking down statistics to every 10 lakh of the population facilitates interstate comparison.

The study also employs percentage mechanism to standardise variables. This is used to work statistics regarding the state's revenue deficit, health expenditure or even infant mortality rate.

What percentage of the state's GDP is spent on health care is calculated to make interstate comparison possible.

The themes

To rank the states the Bangalore think-tank studied 10 aspects of governance that include essential infrastructure, support to human development, social protection, state of women and child, crime, law and order, justice delivery mechanism, green concern, transparency and accountability, fiscal management and economic freedom.

To get a holistic picture, each of these themes has a number of indicators. To study a state's level of transparency and accountability in governance, indicators such as the government's adherence to Section 4 of the RTI Act or the number of services provided under e-governance are factored in.

Reacting to the survey report, Bihar industries minister Jai Kumar told The Telegraph: "It will be wrong to say that Bihar is still lagging behind when it comes to good governance, investments, etc. One should see where Bihar was 10 years ago and where it is now. Today in Bihar, one can get power for 22 hours at least. This is one among the biggest examples of good governance and development of Nitish Kumar. Industrialisation in Bihar has been difficult, I admit, but then one has to see the odds against Bihar. We are landlocked from all sides the land is agricultural by nature. Hence, the problem of land persists but then the state is working fast to solve the situation. The private industrial park policy is being studied and improved and soon, Bihar will have a completely new single-window system. After assuming office, the CM immediately started work towards the seven resolves and work on the same is going on in a very fast pace. This is an example of good governance. Nitish's resolve of no tolerance when it comes to law and order is another example. Bihar has created a venture capital fund of Rs 500 crore and two new policies for start-ups and the industrial incentive policy is on way, which will change the atmosphere of industrialisation in Bihar. Every sector has improved under Nitish and the government. The food-processing industry in Bihar has turned out to be a thriving one. Keeping Bihar in the last place isn't right at all."

However, C.K. Mathew, a retired IAS officer who is a senior fellow at PAC, told The Telegraph: "It is all official data."

Mathew, a former chief secretary of Rajasthan, had spearheaded the study that was recently released by former Chief Justice of India M.N. Venkatachaliah.

A senior official of the PAC said that data used for the study were extracted from various Union government ministries, departments and was collated with those from the states.

However, to judge states on the parameter of education parameter the think-tank sourced statistics from Unicef and ASER reports.

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