Not Just Nitish Kumar, Media Also at Fault for Mess in Bihar

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Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. — File photo

Such misplaced honour bloats the false ego of the award receiver and he or she starts taking things for granted

Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India

PATNA — As the head of the political executive for such a long period, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar can be blamed for the present mess in the state despite the fact that the Janata Dal (United) leader started on a good note on November 24, 2005.

The Fourth Estate, that is the media, and to some extent, the judiciary, are no less responsible for the sorry state of affairs as they failed to perform their duties. The media barons, just for sheer business objective, started honouring the Best Chief Minister Award to him in his first term itself, totally ignoring the havoc such move would cause in Bihar .In democracy there should be no scope for any such award by vested interest groups. It is the electorate which gives reward or punishment after every five years.

After all, what is wrong if the Chief Minister–or even, for that matter, the Prime Minister–is awarded by any media house? Such misplaced honour bloats the false ego of the award receiver and he or she starts taking things for granted. In contrast, the media’s role is of a watchdog. But the corporate media expects favour from the head of the political executive—that is a huge amount of advertisements and other concessions.

Between 2005 and 2010, Nitish was showered with the honour, when the fact is that he had, like many other newly-elected chief ministers, only performed his duty.

It was by the end of his first term that he started behaving like other politicians. At the very outset, it needs to be told that Nitish did not do anything extraordinary in the first few years. He largely earned kudos for implementing the Centrally-sponsored schemes for which the media dishonestly gave less or no credit to the then Manmohan Singh government.

So far so good. But when the head of any government is awarded, it also has a detrimental impact on the administrative machinery. As there is no scope for criticism and the rulers are praised to the skies, the entire bureaucracy, technocracy and the police are bound to become complacent and corrupt.

Why should one work when the government is rated first in the country every year. This had a devastating impact on the work culture of the government machinery, which was actually never very good.

Thus, except for the construction boom, in which the politician-contractor-engineer-real estate dealer nexus had a great role to play, Bihar started declining.

The media, on its part, not only kept its eyes shut, but continued to praise the government. Hardly anyone questioned the manner in which lakhs of para-teachers were appointed by panchayats on contract basis when a large number of them could not spell the name of the school they are teaching in.

Soon there was rampant loot in the name of the so-called development works. But since everything was ‘looking good’ and the vested interest was greatly benefited by the construction boom, nobody was questioning the corruption and irregularities.

No doubt roads and bridges were built; school and hospital buildings had come up. But the education and health situation turned from bad to worse. What people often overlook is that these two sectors witnessed some sort of improvement in the initial couple of years largely because of Centrally-sponsored Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and National Rural Health Mission.

It was later that the people started noticing the quality of roads and bridges–at least three of the newly-built ones collapsed within two months in this year’s monsoon alone.

When Bihar was rocked by the Toppers’ Scam, the Staff Selection Commission paper leak scandal, the Srijan Scam in which as high as Rs 2,500 crore were siphoned off and about three dozen underage girls of a Shelter Home in Muzaffarpur were sexually exploited and killed, the people realised that something had really gone wrong. But by that time it was too little too late as the whole system had gone to rot.

The truth is that though all these cases were leaked in the recent years, they all have their origin in the first term of the Nitish Kumar government, which the media continued to overlook–rather it was busy applauding it.

Just one example is enough to highlight the real situation. When the infamous Uterus Scam took place during the first term of the Nitish regime, hardly any media house gave due coverage to it. Believe it or not, the BBC World Service sent a special team to make a documentary on it in English.

Another example is sufficient to understand the present state of affairs in Bihar. The Bihar Public Service Commission released the result of the Mains exam of the Bihar Administrative Service on July 16 this year, exactly a year after the written exam was held.

The prelims test was held several months before the written exam. Hold your breath. The process of interview would start from December 1–if the date is not extended further. So it may take six more months for the result to come.  So if more than two years are taken to induct the officers of Bihar Administrative Service, the top bureaucrats of the state, who is bothered about the schools and colleges of the state?

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