Instead of addressing real issues concerning the life, bread and butter of the nearly 12 crore Biharis, the CM is chasing a mirage called prohibition
BIHAR’S BIMARU journey dates back to mid 1950s when the then rulers employed thousands of semi-literate agriculturists as school teachers more to supplement low farm income and compensate the loss caused by Zamindari (most of the Bihar Zamindars were small landlords who survived more on ‘Rangdari’ than their small zamindari) abolition to the then privileged sections.
On their part, these semi-literate school teachers took their job casually and concentrated more on agriculture, their primary activity. Being feudal in nature, most of these teachers also practiced a variant of apartheid, thereby further weakening an already fragile social fabric of the state.
The semi-literate and non serious teachers only produced academic waste, which later on became college and university teachers and as per an anecdote shared by a former principal of an Aurangabad College, one male teacher of his college applied for maternity leave. When confronted, the college teacher revealed that at the time of joining, he inquired from the college head clerk about different types of leaves and their duration. As he wanted to go on a long leave, only maternity leave suited his schedule and as such he applied for maternity leave, responded the male college teacher somewhat nonchalantly.
In 2003, dozens of newly appointed teachers of once premier Patna University almost verbatim copied the joining report of one of their peers who earlier worked in the Kendriye Vidalay.
No less than half a dozen of vice-chancellors (VCs) of the state have been to jail for offences ranging from financial corruption to involvement in the flourishing degree scam. Several VCs narrowly escaped jail hospitality, one such VC was lucky as he happened to be a retired high court judge and while granting bail to SC Mukherjee, the former Magadh University VC who got the academic job after his superannuation as a Judge of the Patna High Court, the court castigated Mukherjee for jumping in the cesspool after holding the apparently exalted position of a high court judge.
Investigating agencies of nearly a dozen states, including Punjab, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh, are, as on date, inquiring into allegations that people in their respective states procured government jobs on the basis of dubious degrees issued by the universities of Bihar, particularly MU which hit the headlines for declaring Shikha Gupta, wife of the then Gaya SP Anurag Gupta as topper in the Post Graduate exam even though she did appear in only one of the eight papers for which examinations were held. A Punjab Police officer, Parampal Singh, is alleged to have passed in sociology from a college that did not even have the affiliation to teach the subject.
If Bihar seriously wants to reform its education system, it will have to import good primary teachers from states like Kerala. Less than 10 per cent of the more than one thousand college and university teachers appointed in the state a couple of years ago have studied in the universities of Bihar. The other 90 per cent either hail from other states or from within the state who studied outside Bihar.
The health care system of the state is no better, contends Brajnandan Pathak, an activist.
“Government hospitals,” he said, “are crowded either by medico legal cases or those who can’t afford almost extortionist private treatment and hence do not have any other place to die.”
On May 1, 2021, then chief secretary, Arun Kumar Singh, died not in the once premier King George Medical College renamed as PM CH, but in a Patna-based private hospital.
State Chief Minister Nitish Kumar got his eye operated for routine cataract in Delhi, not in Patna. It was a minor surgery successfully conducted even by hundreds of quacks in the state.
Overcrowding of the wards of Patliputra Medical College when the Covid pandemic was on its peak is still fresh in the memories of the state people. Instances of grade four employees marking attendance on behalf of absentee doctors in the Gaya-based Anugrah Narain Magadh Medical College and government medical college hospitals being used by a substantial number of doctors for fishing patients for their personal nursing homes and private hospitals also come to light from time to time.
The Infectious Disease Hospital in Gaya has been closed and ANMMCH, the so-called super-specialty hospital catering to the requirements of nearly one crore people from the five districts of Magadh Division and Chatra and Koderma etc. of neighbouring Jharkhand does not have any facility for neuro surgery, burn injuries, psychiatry and trauma etc. A sizeable number of road accident victims embrace avoidable death due to lack of facilities.
Instead of addressing real issues concerning the life, bread and butter of the nearly 12 crore Biharis, the CM is chasing a mirage called prohibition, which besides giving a severe jolt to the slowly emerging hospitality business, also puts additional, and avoidable pressure on an overburdened police system that still struggles to go beyond what legal experts call ‘hearsay investigation’ and acutely lags in employing modern tools for scientific investigation. The oft promised separation of law and order and case investigation in the state’s police system remains a far cry.
Amidst this gloom, a significant improvement has taken place in the state in the field of electricity supply (quantitative as well as quantitative), roads, village lanes and drains and unlike prohibition, the tap water scheme is not a complete wash out.