Patna, Feb 20 (IANS) Bihar has been changing and developing fast but its poverty is not declining, warned Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen here.
“It is a matter of serious concern that there is no decline in poverty in Bihar despite a high growth rate and development,” Abhijit Sen, who is here to attend a three-day global meet on changing Bihar, told IANS.
Sen, a well-known economist, said that while Bihar had been maintaining good growth rates between 2004 and 2009, it had failed to reduce the rate of poverty. “Bihar has impressed many with its high growth rate. That is good. But at the same time, the state has not seen a decline in the rate of poverty. It is still at the bottom of the pile and has a lot of catching up to do,” he said.
Sen said that this was clearly reflected in the National Sample Survey Organisation report.
He agreed that outside the state, people do have a sense that something good is happening in Bihar and development is taking place. “Bihar will have to maintain its growth rate for the next five years with good governance,” Sen said.
Sen said that the state government should work hard to ensure law and order, maintain fiscal responsibility, good governance and energy.
“Energy deficit is the major hurdle or roadblock for Bihar in moving forward. The government should focus on energy,” Sen said.
Sen, who has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Cambridge, also teaches at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
Earlier, Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumarmanglam Birla said at the meet that investments for heavy industries in Bihar would be impossible until the power situation in the state improves substantially. He urged the state government to first take steps to improve its power situation and then expect investments.
Nearly half of Bihar’s population of 104 million lives below the poverty line.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)