Bihar: Beyond Agriculture (2)
|Bihar School (Photo credit: stevewright316)|
The idea would be to largely skip industrialization and focus largely on the knowledge and service sectors. Make Bihar a hub of organic farming. The goal should be to send Bihari vegetables to every kitchen table in India and then beyond. There is margin in green.
You can't have a knowledge economy without 24/7 electricity. And clean energy will come from the mighty rivers upstream in Nepal.
Start out by turning all of Patna into a free WiFi zone. If you can get to Patna from any place in Bihar within six hours, then it makes tremendous sense to turn the capital city into a free WiFi zone city. But you can't stop there. Much road building and bridge building has happened. Next in line is free WiFi, first in the capital city and then in every district headquarter.
You couple free WiFi with cheap Android smartphones. Just like the Chief Minister has been running a bicycle scheme for girl students, he should, after building the free WiFi zones, offer free smartphones to all students who finish high school if they live in free WiFi zones.
Universal primary and secondary education and universal basic health care are key. But then you have to build a string of higher education institutions across the state. You want to launch IITs and IIMs all over Bihar, or their equivalents.
All education and no job creation are no good either. Knowledge workers trained and working in Bihar could be serving companies all over the world. There is software work. There is customer service work. There is back office management work. Those jobs will be created in the private sector, but political guidance helps. You create the right environment, and you sell the vision.
Knowledge workers create more wealth than industrial workers. An emphasis on the service and knowledge sectors might be how Bihar grows from being the poorest Indian state to being a state that compares itself with the leading European economies in a few decades.
And knowledge work is not just about software. Training teachers, professors, health care workers, nurses and doctors is a big win idea. There are huge global opportunities for employment in the education and health sectors all over the world, as in Bihar.
Bihar is well-positioned to compete globally. It has to start imagining a per capital income of $5,000 a year. And the lifelong education concept means even adult Biharis are fair game.