Bihar shows the way

By GovernanceToday
In Editorial
February 8, 2016
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Why-are-UP-and-Bihar-are-described-as-bimar-and-squalor-states-of-India-indialivetodayThe state of Bihar has made tremendous progress over last decade. The state which was known mostly for wrong reasons has started to make a positive buzz at all economic conferences. The growth rate of the state since 2005 has been very strong, which has made Bihar among the fastest growing states in the country. Last fiscal the state grew at a scorching 17 percent at the current price.

Two main aspects of the state’s progress over last ten years have been the primacy of public investment and the improvement of governance. First, when many other states are making great efforts to push private investment, Bihar has made public investment primary growth vehicles. Second, the improvement in governance is displayed in improving social indicators, including reducing the poverty rate. But the state still has a lot to do to alleviate widespread poverty. The urbanization is also a challenge for the state. Further, urban transportation needs to be improved.

Those who live in Delhi NCR very often spend two hours getting to work in the morning and returning home again in evening. That means they roughly spend a half of their office hours just to get to the place of work. Funny as it may sound, it has multiple implications for commuters and for a country. People not only waste their precious hours on road, they inhale poisonous air all this while, lose on time what could have been put to productive work and finally, lose on the productivity at office and home. For a country, it all translates into lost working hours, unhealthy society and billions of rupees in wasted oil in traffic jams. Urban India cuts a sorry figure when it comes to mobility.

Indian cities are also burgeoning. More cities are coming into existence and existing ones are bursting at seams as people are migrating from rural areas to urban centers to search for jobs. That obviously puts the enormous burden on the transportation infrastructure. As pressure on public transport increases, increasing number of people switch to personalized modes most notably two-wheelers and cars. This, in turn, is congests roads. Needless to say, Indian cities need the huge increase in transport infrastructure in terms of road, bus fleets and suburban rails etc.

But that in itself is not enough. Transport systems need to get more sophisticated. Higher end technologies need to be adopted to increase the efficiency of transport modes. Further, technology can allow higher predictability and better integration between different modes. Reforms are also needed at an institutional level so that a single body managed all modes of transport in a city. A most important aspect of having a better managed urban transport is to have an intelligent urban planning that reduces mobility needs. Finally, transport planning needs to put non-motorized transportation, i.e. walking and cycling public on top and provide them with facilities that could encourage motorcycle and cars users to switch to walking or cycling for short travels. Unless the state can fix city planning and transport planning, it cannot offer a good quality of life to its urban citizens, which is their due right.