Young in Nitish's Bihar face bullets and oppose vulgar holi

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Patna, March 29: Bihar is changing, but Nitish Kumar's Bihar has still got to go a long distance before it can claim to have developed substantially to join mainstream states.

Earlier, there use to be one Bihar, now there are two Bihars. One Bihar wants to shed its crude image of lawless state, and the other Bihar is still stuck in feudal culture. Yesterday's two incidents demonstrate this as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar plays modern card to pitch himself to a bigger role, nationally.

Two people were killed and over two dozen injured in clashes in Bihar over playing lewd Bhojpuri Holi songs. These clashes are not crime news. They have to be viewed in the context of socio-economic changes taking place in Bihar.

Santosh Kumar, 35, was shot dead in a village in Sheikhpura district after he protested playing of vulgar Bhojpuri Holi songs on Thursday. A young person objecting to vulgarity is a sign of awareness in the state that nurtured Jayaprakash Narayan's values, and also that allowed horrific Bhagalpur blindings of youth.

In another incident, a youth was shot dead in a village in Sitamarhi district when he questioned playing lewd Bhojpuri Holi songs.

Holi was celebrated in Bihar on Thursday, a day after the rest of the country celebrated the festival of colours.

Chief Minister Kumar has been projecting 'Bihar model' of development as the real one in comparison to that of Gujarat.

Nitish Kumar, while speaking on the special status issue at the JD(U) rally in New Delhi on March 17, had strongly countered his Gujarat counterpart's development plank saying that the 'Bihar model,' which seeks to take everyone along, was the 'real model'.

Bihar's challenges

According to UN agency report, although Bihar is one of the fastest growing states of India, it faces immense development challenges.

The state has high levels of intra-state disparity with north Bihar lagging behind due to low agricultural productivity, poor irrigation facilities and high vulnerability to floods. The state is also often referred to as the most under-developed states in the country. According to the Tendulkar Committee Report 2009, nearly 54.4 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, which is much higher than the national average of 37.2 percent.

About 79.3 percent of the state's population lives below the poverty line and the poverty ratio of the state is the second highest in the country after Odisha. The rural poverty at 55.7 percent is also much higher than the urban poverty at 43.7 percent. Poverty in Bihar due to very low industrialization base and limited opportunities in the service sector. Low human endowment and poor infrastructure compound the problem.

The Planning Commission the state's problem in perspective: "For Bihar, acceleration of the rate of growth of around 11 percent during the Eleventh Plan to around 13 percent during the Twelfth Plan will require a massive increase in total investment (public and private)-from around 29.9% in Eleventh Plan to around 45% during the Twelfth Plan period. This has got to be financed by domestic and government savings."

Bihar also needs to work on its social attitudes and empowering of women before it can claim to be a model state.

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