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A Rajdeep Sardesai Article

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A Rajdeep Sardesai Article
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Lightbulb A Rajdeep Sardesai Article - September 18th, 2006

HEy guys,

This article I found and it was really intresting 1. I will put up this article here and people plase read the article and critically evaluate it. Is he completely right??? After some posts I will give my view.

Hope you enjoy the article.

Maharastra: The new Bihar

A journalist friend from Patna was recently transferred to Mumbai. During his many years in Bihar, I often wondered how he coped with a daily dose of murder, kidnapping, death, disease (and of course, Laloo). "This is Bihar my friend, not your Maharashtra!" he would remind me. A few days ago, soon after the Malegaon blasts, he smsed : "Your Maharashtra has become like my Bihar!" Even allowing for a little exaggeration, the "Biharisation" of Maharashtra is no longer a flight of fancy. Sure, Maharashtra isn't a basket case, but cut through the legacy of social progressiveness and rapid industrialisation, and the bright lights of the Mumbai-Pune-Nashik golden triangle rapidly begin to dim. The glitter of corporate India cannot mask the fact that many parts of the western Ghats increasingly resemble the violent chaos and deprivation that characterizes large swathes of the Gangetic plains.

Poverty? Bihar's poverty line figures are undoubtedly much higher, but several districts in Maharashtra can be statistically compared to the BIMARU belt. Maharashtra is India's most industrialized state,contributing almost 14 per cent of the national industrial output. But more than 50 per cent of the state's gross domestic product is still accounted for by the Mumbai-Thane-Pune industrial belt. Indeed, the much higher per capita income of Maharashtra cannot mask the ever-sharpening intra-regional inequalities. Just step a 100 kilometers outside Mumbai into Thane's Jawahar taluka and encounter tribal children who are dying of starvation. An affidavit filed in the Bombay high court last year claimed that as many as 35,000 children in Melghat in Amravati district were severely malnourished, and more than 5,000 had died in the last decade.

Unemployment? Yes, in absolute terms, unemployment is much higher in Bihar, but the rate of growth of unemployment in Maharashtra has steadily crept up, and is now officially seven per cent, with five lakh unemployed persons being added to the list every year in the state. The Employment Guarantee scheme that was once celebrated as a model for the rest of the country is now a classic case of how state sponsored schemes can go horribly wrong. And while the service sector grows, the noisy malls cannot mask the fact that Mumbai's textile mills have fallen silent, as indeed have the looms of Malegaon and Bhiwandi.

Agrarian distress? Even given the plight of the marginal farmer in Bihar, fewer farmers commit suicide in Bihar than in Maharashtra, this in a state where almost 65 per cent of the population is still dependent on agriculture and allied activities. The figures given by the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti are truly staggering. Since June last year, more than 800 cotton farmers have reportedly committed suicide, with nearly 200 occurring in the last eight weeks alone since the prime minister visited Vidarbha and announced a relief package. Take away the rural prosperity of the sugarcane farmers of western Maharashtra, and the incomes of the state's agrarian sector shows a sharp decline in every other region. Not surprising when even now, more than sixty per cent of the irrigated area is the monopoly of the politically influential sugar belt.

Economic mismanagement? Bihar's treasury may be empty, but Maharashtra too has little to be proud of. The state's debt has now reached a staggering Rs 1.15 lakh crores and the fiscal deficit of the state has risen sharply from 2.8 per cent of the GDP in the early 1990s to 5.8 per cent at the turn of the century. While revenue expenditure grew at an average of 15 per cent per annum in the last decade, capital outlays increased at just four per cent. You've heard of teachers not being paid salaries for years in Bihar? Well, in Maharashtra too, the state government is finding it difficult to pay their professors on time.

Collapsing infrastructure? Maharashtra's roads are closer to resembling Hema Malini's cheeks than Bihar's ever will be, but again, the shining Mumbai-Pune highway doesn't quite tell the story of the remote corners of the state, or for that matter, Mumbai city itself, whose potholed roads have now become not just the matter of public interest litigation, but a national joke. Mumbai's crumbling infrastructure, in fact, is symbolic of a state machinery that has simply been unable to meet the challenges of the time. While its unlikely that you will ever confront the power cuts in Maharashtra that are taken for granted across Bihar, the fact is that in a once power-surplus state, the state electricity board has had to resort to widespread load-shedding. Travel through Marathwada or Vidarbha, and six to ten hour power cuts are routine. Even in urban pockets, two hours of power cuts are now par for the course.

Crime? Ok, so doctors aren't kidnapped every day in Maharashtra, but while Bihar's goons operate in a more primitive environment of capital accumulation, Mumbai's underworld has developed far more sophisticated means of running mafia-like operations, be it in managing real estate or in controlling extortion rackets. Worse, while Bihar's criminals might still use the old-fashioned gupti, Mumbai's dons have brought in the AK-47 culture into the heart of the state. From Haji Mastan to Dawood Ibrahim through to the terror gangs of today, the criminalisation of the state has moved from smuggling gold to smuggling RDX with ridiculous ease. That no other city in the world has seen as many terror attacks as Mumbai in the last decade is further proof that the state's coastline is now an arms-friendly destination.

Naxalism? We haven't had a Jehanabad like audacious strike in Maharashtra, but the geography of Naxalism does have the state's border districts of Gadchiroli and Chandrapur as important centres. The base may be small, but the fact is that there is corner of Maharashtra where Naxal groups have a persistent influence.

Social harmony? While Maharashtra prides itself on the Phule-Shahu-Ambedkar legacy as having defeated the forces of casteism, the state has unleashed a Frankenstein's monster in the shape of communalism. Caste may be the dominant divide in Bihar, in Maharashtra it is now increasingly community consciousness. The rise of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance through the 90s is testimony that Maharashtra's polity has been susceptible to communal agendas. The subsequent rise of local Muslim extremist groups - many of them linked to terror outfits -- is proof of how a vicious cycle of hatred and revenge can rapidly spiral out of control. If there hasn't been communal violence after the Mumbai and Malegaon blasts, it isn't because of the state's secular spirit, but simply because a mix of fear and fatigue has left the average citizen feeling helpless.

Declining political culture? Bihar's politicians may be stigmatized as populist and corrupt, but Maharashtra's new breed aren't very different. From the disastrous handling of the Dabhol project to the idiotic campaign against dance bars, the state's ruling elite has shown a knack of getting their priorities misplaced. As for corruption, lets get it straight: the 30,000 multi-crore Telgi stamp scam which flourished under successive Maharashtra governments makes Laloo's fodder scam seem like loose change. Most top Maharashtra politicians today are either real estate sharks or co-operative chieftains, often both. In no other state have the means of rural and urban capital been so effectively linked, manipulated and monopolized by a handful of leaders as in contemporary Maharashtra. Is it any wonder that some of the wealthiest politicians in the country come from the state?

Indeed, islands of prosperity amidst a growing sea of despair is now how one must see Maharashtra. It is ironical that in this age where state governments have become more competitive, the one state which was ideally placed to exploit the opening up of the economy should be losing out. My journalist friend from Bihar often used to contrast the present crisis of Patna with the glories of the Pataliputra empire. Maybe, Maharashtra too is now caught in a time warp, surviving on past splendor and not on present accomplishments.


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Kartik Raichura
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Re: A Rajdeep Sardesai Article - September 18th, 2006

From what I read,

The article is totally statistical, and stats can be twisted to prove any side of the coin as true.

In a loose loose situation, you always choose a safer bet, Maharastra is the safer one.

Infrastructure, education and job scenario is way better than what is depicted.

I am against the views expressed in this article.

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Pratik Mehta
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Re: A Rajdeep Sardesai Article - September 18th, 2006

i Second Kartik....and even if it is deteriorating, then what Role does Media play in such situation, When we have the Power of RTI act, any body can Query in Govt. Organisation, Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai Are you Hearing.......Whatever it TAKES.......

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