Letters to the Editor: What Bihar needs is a new imagination, not tired, old rhetoric
What Bihar needs is a new imagination, a new drive. One only hopes that whichever government is formed in the state will change priorities of the state and give a new direction to education and health
A landmark election
Ever since one can recall, Bihar has been known to vote for its castes. In constituencies the caste arithmetic mattered more than anything else, with the result that every political party tended to field candidates from the same dominant caste in each constituency. The pattern has not been unique to Bihar though. Across India one can see this playing out, though Bihar has been singled out by pundits for the casteist tag. But this is possibly a rare election in the state, where issues like employment, health and education are uniting people across castes. While the mainstream media have not quite caught this churning, the social media have been at the forefront in reporting the people’s exasperation with poor governance. If this yearning for change does bring out a ‘regime change’, it might be the harbinger of a new democratic exercise.
It is in this context that chief minister Nitish Kumar’s diatribe against Lalu Yadav and Tejashvi Yadav seem to be in such poor taste. Taunting his young rival by asking how he would get the finance for his promise of a million jobs was a legitimate question. But asking if the money would come from scams or from prison was not warranted. Unfortunately, Nitish Kumar has repeatedly launched personal attacks in his rallies, even bringing in the number of children Lalu Yadav had to cast aspersion on his leadership.
He had only himself to blame when Tejashvi Yadav retaliated and dragged in the Prime Minister, pointing out that even Narendra Modi had six siblings. This is hardly the kind of political discourse that Bihar or the country needs.
What Bihar needs is a new imagination, a new drive. One only hopes that whichever government is formed in the state will change priorities of the state and give a new direction to education and health.
Priti Nath Jha
Teach the teachers
I t was shocking but not surprising to read the report (October 25 issue) from Bihar in which high school teachers, it was mentioned, did not know where Delhi was and could not pinpoint the national capital on a map of India. For a long time, Bihar has deluded itself by allowing people to clear examinations without proper evaluations and by appointing teachers on purely political considerations.
Leaders and the civil society in Bihar were foolish to pursue this course. Because while the affluent and the upper caste people could afford to secure better education for their children in the state and outside, the vast majority had to depend on teachers who were barely eligible to teach. I know a teacher who voted this year from the graduates’ constituency to elect an MLC. But she neither knew that the legislature had two Houses nor could she answer whether the winning candidate would go to Delhi or to Patna.
The solution surely does not lie in sacking the existing teachers. But probably a beginning can still be made to educate the teachers and the children together—by volunteers and guest teachers drawn from civil society and from among retired government employees. The lot of Bihar cannot change unless it invests heavily in proper education. Shortcuts will no longer do.
It is for sociologists to study out fascination for currency notes. They are thrown at singers and dancers, at weddings and religious functions, distributed at election time. And now if media reports are to be believed currency notes worth Rupees one Crore, 11 lakh and 11 thousand have been used to string together origami flowers to propitiate the deity at the Kanyaka Parameswari temple in Telengana. It seems to be a part of Dussehra celebrations and organisers lamented that because of the pandemic, they were unable to raise a higher amount. The deity of Dhanalkshmi at the temple in Jagulamba Gadwal district was apparently propitiated in 2017 with garlands strung with currency notes worth Rs 3,33, 33,333.
While the temple claims that the money is collected by way of donations and then returned to the devotees, the curious practice needs closer attention to expose the link between temples and dodgy trade practices.
Uday Shankar Rao