The Bihar Paradox
Created by skshanu on Fri, 2012-04-13 18:03
THE BIHAR PARADOX
Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, who is also the Finance Minister had presented a surplus budget of Rs. 78,686.83 crore for year 2012-13. The priority sectors identified in the budget are agriculture, education and infrastructural development. For the year 2012-13 , the budget for education is estimated to be Rs. 15054.12 crore as against Rs 10977.91 crore for the year 2011-12 which is Rs 4076.21 crore higher than the previous year. For the year 2012-13, the total amount include Rs 8896.85 crore for Non plan and Rs 6157.27 crore for Plan in which Rs 3670.26 crore is for State Plan and Rs 2487.01 crore for Centrally Sponsored Scheme. Education has bagged a handsome share of Rs. 3670.26 crore in the plan outlay. The allocation to education is almost three times of that of agriculture and substantially more than of what roads, water resources and energy departments have got. The plan outlay has shown an increase of 21.77 % in Education.
The plan outlay for education in the year 2011-12 was Rs.3014 crores with internal breakup being Rs.2006.96 crore for primary education, Rs.897.04 crore for secondary education and Rs.110 crore for higher education. This year also, the internal breakup is on expected terms. The Central Government has agreed to set up one Central University at Gaya while also providing assistance to the State Government to set up one at Motihari. Though the State Government seems to be at loggerheads with Centre for the proposed Central University to come up in Motihari only instead of Gaya to address regional disparity, the Centre proposing to establish the university on defence land at Gaya has robbed the State Government of its bargaining stand. Its seems logical too for the State Government to focus more on primary and secondary education with the State currently being at the bottom of the literacy chart. Though the enrolment rates have shown a marked increase in the last years, the fake admission scam has put a question mark on the credibility of the data.
During the Budget discussions in Bihar Legislative Assembly, opposition members raised the issue of strike by unaided schools teachers, who have never been paid salary. Leader of opposition Abdul Bari Siddiqui pointed out that both the ruling parties had promised in their election manifestos to take care of the unaided schools teachers' demand, but did nothing and the teachers were up in arms again. Since what has become a tradition, Water resources minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary blamed the previous governments for the current situation and assured that the current Government was sensitive to the issue, and the State is soon going to initiate talks to find solution to the demands to salary and other issues which has been plaguing Bihar Educational scenario for long.
As evident from the above facts, it seems quite paradoxical for a State where Education gets the most out of a surplus budget and still the teachers are not getting salary. The Finance Minister had noted that the revenue surplus would be used fill the infrastructural investment demand gaps. Though shining roads are one of the parameters for development, the Government can hardly afford to ignore the restless and discontent teachers. No development can be more important than Human Resource Development, and with resources already earmarked for that, it just requires that iron will to implement the projects and see to their completion.
Swapnil Kumar Shanu,
Joseph P Overton Fellow