Home / Opinion / How Bihar has fared under Nitish Kumar

Elections are decided by many factors. But the Bihar elections are being portrayed as a choice between voting for development or caste. We take a look at Bihar’s development record under Nitish Kumar.

Chart 1: It has often been said that Bihar’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is high in percentage terms because of its low base. It’s better, therefore, to look at whether Bihar under Nitish Kumar has increased its share in all-India GDP. The chart shows that Bihar’s gross state domestic product as a percentage of the GDP of all states and Union territories has been steadily increasing since 2005-06, when Kumar became chief minister.

Chart 2: Bihar has always been a very poor state, and in 2005-06 its per capita income was 29.2% of the all-India figure. By 2013-14, this had increased to 38.9% of the all-India per capita income, which shows that while it’s still very poor, its position has improved significantly.

Chart 3: Since the majority of people in Bihar make a living from agriculture and allied activities, this chart shows the rate of growth in agriculture in the state compared with all-India growth and agrarian growth in some other states between 2005-06 and 2013-14.

Chart 4: This chart shows that Bihar’s rate of reduction in poverty between 2004-05 and 2011-12 has been very good compared with similarly poverty-stricken states, although Odisha has done even better.

Chart 5: The chart shows that the life expectancy of people in Bihar is higher than the all-India average, despite Bihar’s poverty. It shows Bihar’s record is better than comparable states, and life expectancy in Bihar is not very different from that in much richer states.

Chart 6: Bihar’s government expenditure has been focused on development. The chart shows development expenditure as a percentage of GDP in state budgets for Bihar and comparable states and also the all-India figures. Note that Bihar does well in development expenditure, expenditure in the social sector and in capital expenditure as well.

To sum up, Bihar’s development record under the Nitish Kumar government has been commendable. But then, development alone may not win elections—caste calculations, money, beef wars, a desire for change, religious consolidation all have an effect.

Manas Chakravarty looks at trends and issues in the financial markets. Your comments are welcome at capitalaccount@livemint.com

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