According to information gathered from the RTI (Right to Information), it has been revealed that there is no such yardstick determined by the National Development Council for giving the status of ‘Special State’ to any State of the country. That is why the argument which is taking place on how many conditions Bihar will fulfill is totally meaningless and the political drama which is running on this issue amounts to nothing but making fools of the public of Bihar.
There is intense political activity in Bihar these days for getting the State the status of ‘Special State,’. An ‘Adhikar Rally’ has already being proposed by the Janata Dal (United) [JD(U)] at Gandhi Maidan in Patna on 4 November, 2012 regarding this matter. Despite of all the obstacles, Nitish Kumar is touring the entire State for inviting the public for this rally. His party is also devoting its strength to this end. Nitish has gone to the extent of saying that if matters can’t be worked out from Patna, then he will flood Delhi with ‘Biharis.’ On the other hand Lalu Prasad Yadav is saying that Nitish does not have anything to do with the status of ‘Special State.’ This is his election issue. If Nitish is serious then he should take this issue to the National Development Council (NDC). He should bring consensus among all the Chief Ministers. Just organising assemblies in Begusarai and Jamui will not help in getting the status of ‘Special State.’ The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) is pained that the matter of ‘Special State’ was once the matter of all the parties but the JD(U) and Nitish Kumar have abducted this matter. In between all these political activities and arguments, it is very important to understand some facts regarding the status of ‘Special State.’
It is necessary to be familiar with another reality : if Bihar gets the status of ‘Special State’ then what will Bihar get from it? It is particularly necessary to know this because Nitish Kumar and his party by touring the State are repeatedly trying to convince the people of Bihar that the status of ‘Special State’ is the solution for all their troubles and hassles. Lalu Prasad Yadav said that Nitish Kumar is doing such propaganda as if a golden staircase will be formed between Bihar and Heaven if Bihar gets the status of ‘Special State’.
According to information gathered through RTI by Ranjan Kumar of Begusarai on 9 September 2010, several facts related to ‘Special State’ have been revealed. Till now it was being said that the NDC used to give the status of ‘Special State’ on the basis of five points : the related State should be a hilly region or its geographical position should be difficult and inaccessible; the density of population should be less; the percentage of tribals should be much higher than the total population: due to being a border States, the State must be significant from the military point of view; the State should be backward from the economic and fundamental structure point of view and the related State should be ‘non-viable’ from the financial point of view. All the arguments till now were revolving around these five points. Unfortunately, Bihar was able to merely fulfill only one requirement i.e. should be backward from the economic and fundamental structure point of view. The fight began from here and Nitish Kumar and other leaders raised the issue that the Central Government is doing injustice to Bihar. Nitish Kumar by taking one step forward demanded that the NDC should change the conditions. The ‘Adhikar Rally’ and all such political rumours are taking place only due to this, but according to information gathered from the RTI, there is no need to get into this debate. There is no such specific yardstick that has been determined by the NDC to give the status of ‘Special State’ to any State of the country. Yes, this is true that the announcement of giving any State the status of ‘Special’ is done by the NDC and it is the only competent body to perform this work. There is also no need to introduce any kind of Resolution or Ordinance for it. Presently, there are 11 States which have been given the status of ‘Special State’ namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Uttarakhand. RTI activist and the Coordinator of Right to Information Campaign in Begusarai, Ranjan Kumar said that according to the information which has been gathered so far, it is evident that only on the basis of some specialities and without any particular and determined rules, these 11 States has been provided with the status of ‘Special State.’ Not only this in the years 2004-05 and 2010-11, the Central Government has allotted Rs. 1,06,505 crores for these 11 States. Ranjan Kumar is saying that the objection is not for providing this much amount to these States. The question is by using some conditions as a shield the backward States like Bihar are being deprived, whereas there is no determined yardstick for providing the status of ‘Special State.’
After knowing this bitter truth it is also necessary to be familiar with another reality : if Bihar gets the status of ‘Special State’ then what will Bihar get from it? It is particularly necessary to know this because Nitish Kumar and his party by touring the State are repeatedly trying to convince the people of Bihar that the status of ‘Special State’ is the solution for all their troubles and hassles. Lalu Prasad Yadav said that Nitish Kumar is doing such propaganda as if a golden staircase will be formed between Bihar and Heaven if Bihar gets the status of ‘Special State’. This assertion of Lalu Prasad Yadav is true to some extent. To know about the background, let us trace the background. Public representatives had given a memorandum to the Hon’ble Prime Minister in July 2011 in which they demanded that Bihar be provided with the status of ‘Special State.’ An Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) was formed by the Prime Minister under the Chairpersonship of Sudha Pillai, Secretary of the Planning Commission to study this memorandum. The Secretary, Department of Expenditure, Government of India was also a member of this group. The IMG didn’t consider Bihar to be a fit case for the status of ‘Special State.’ According to the opinion of the IMG, Bihar is undoubtedly backward from the economic and fundamental structure point of view but it was not enough for providing the status of ‘Special State.’
The IMG has clearly said vis-a-vis the benefits and financial vantages which are provided to the States that have the status of ‘Special State’ that there is no relation between liberalisation of the taxes incurred by the Central Government viz. Central Excise Duty, Income Tax, and Service Tax and providing the status of ‘Special State.’
Providing the status of ‘Special State’ and giving financial concessions and waiving the taxes, both of these are totally different decisions and there is no connection between them. That is if Bihar gets the status of ‘Special State’ then it will not get the benefits of tax liberalisation. The IMG has also made it clear that the States with the status of ‘Special State’ are provided with 90 per cent as grant in the Central sustained schemes and 10 per cent as loans, whereas the normal States are provided with funds in the ratio of 70:30.
According to the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission, the States with the status of ‘Special State’ are provided with additional funds by the Central Government for the maintenance of irrigation, roads and bridges of the State. They are also provided with additional benefits at a rate of 90 per cent in the State Relief Fund. By considering Bihar as a very backward State, the Sam Vikas Yojana was introduced according to which work had to done related to energy, roads, irrigation and all round development on a priority basis in Bihar. For this task, Rs. 1000 crores were allotted in the 10th Five Year Plan, which was further increased to Rs. 2000 crores in the 11th Five Year Plan (2010-11). 100 per cent of the fund provided under this scheme is given as a grant. According to the opinion of the IMG, the backwardness of Bihar can be easily consolidated through the Sam Vikas Yojana. Therefore instead of providing Bihar with the status of ‘Special State,’ it will be a better alternative to make the Sam Vikas Yojana much stronger in the 12th Five Year Plan. So if we make a straight forward assumption of what the IMG is saying then Bihar is already getting Rs. 2000 crores and if it becomes necessary, then it can also be increased. If Bihar gets the status of ‘Special State’ then it will get what it is getting now — nothing more than this. That is why the necessity is for the State to stands on its own feet. How long will the future of Bihar will be governed by the amounts of the grants?