THE BIHAR TIMES
A Passage to Bihar Policy Economic of Poverty in Bihar Prof.Alakh N Sharma Institute for Human Development, New Delhi
The acute poverty situation of Bihar can be traced to the economic backwardness of both the agricultural and industrial sectors. While natural or technological factors such as floods, poor development of infrastructure and high population density play their part, the state’s backwardness is related more to the inequitous and exploitative socio-economic structure, lack of political leadership and almost total collapse of the administrative and law and order machinery-to the point where it is said that in Bihar ‘the state has withered away’. These conditions have created a milieu of non-development in which even large-scale poverty eradication programmes have had little impact.
The only ray of hope is the increasing awareness and mobilization of the rural poor, whose potential can be harnessed to improve the management of such schemes and to pressurize the state into making structural changes. I Socio-Economic and Demographic Characteristics BIHAR, the second most populous state of India (comprising a little more than 10 per cent of the country’s population), is economically the most backward. Along with a very high proportion of population below the poverty line (40.7 per cent in the 1988-88), Bihar has the lowest per capita income among all the states of India- its per capita income (net GDP at factor cost at current prices) stands at a mere Rs. 2,904 as against Rs.5, 781 for India as a whole and Rs. 9,643 for Punjab [CMIE 1994: Table 10.2]. The state has the lowest literacy rate among the major states of India-38.5 percent as against the national average of 52 percent and Kerala’ state of 91 percent. It has a very high child mortality rate and also fares very badly with respect to most of the other socio-economic indicators of development.
This acute poverty and backwardness can be traced to the backwardness of both its agricultural and industrial sectors. Among the major states of India it has the lowest per capita (rural) income (net value added from agriculture)- Rs. 948 (average of 1987-88 to 1989-90) as against Rs. 1522 for India as a whole and Rs. 3,929 for Punjab [CMIE1994: Table 7.2]. The reasons for the extreme backwardness of agriculture are both institutional and technological.
Where as structural and institutional factors have been operating as a powerful barrier to the agrarian transformation, the technological factors such as poor development of infrastructure like irrigation and power, non-availability of modern inputs, low value of credit and poor extension services, etc. have also contributed much to the dismal performance of the state’s agricultural sector1. Though some big industries mostly in the public sector, are located in Bihar, the sluggish rate of growth in agriculture did not produced the spread effects of these industries, and hence industrially also the state continues to be backward, even though it possesses about one-fourth of the mineral resources of the country. Per capita net value added in the manufacturing factory sector in Bihar was only Rs. 305 in 1989-9 0 (at current prices) as against Rs. 514 for India as a whole and as high as Rs. 1,266 for Maharashtra [CMIE 1994: Table 8.7]. The major explanation of the state’s backwardness and poverty, however, has to be traced to the rural sector. With about 87 percent of the population in rural areas (as against 74.3 percent for India as a whole), it is the most rural state in the country, next only to Assam. Further, about 46 percent of the state income (average of 1986-87 to 1988-89) is derived from agriculture (and allied activities), as against about 34 percent for India as a whole and about 23 percent of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Floods in large parts of the plains of Bihar, especially in north Bihar, are recurring features and cause havoc destroying crops and the quality of land, and threatening the conditions of life and livestock due to large-scale displacement.
Few Flood control measures have been effectively implemented. Some of the districts in the south Bihar plains and plateau region are drought-prone with poor irrigation facilities. Though the overall percentage of net area irrigated in Bihar is about 38, irrigation is largely seasonal and protective. Waterlogging in substantial parts of the command area of north Bihar is a chronic problem. One of the obvious reasons for the economic backwardness and poverty of Bihar economic backwardness and poverty of Bihar is its high density of population (497 persons per sq. km in 1991), the third highest in the country after West Bengal and Kerala.
The average per capita operational holding in the state is 0.87 hectare (in 1985-86) as against 1.7 hectare for India as a whole and about 2.8 hectares for Punjab. About three-fourths of the operational holdings are marginal (less than one hectare) in which the average size is merely 0.31 hectare. But the population pressure on land in the region is not as acute as the population density would indicate. In contrast to some other poverty stricken and backward regions of the country, such as part of central India where the natural productivity of agricultural land is very low, Bihar has a large alluvial river valley area; moreover, the plateau region in the southern part of the state is extremely rich in minerals. In view of such generous natural resource endowment, it seems that the state’s backwardness is probably more related to its socio-economic-political structures, unresponsive political leadership, and the nature of development strategies that the state has pursued so far.
Apart from the exploitative social and agrarian structure. Bihar is also experiencing an acute crisis of political leadership, bureaucratic inefficiency, and rampant corruption at all levels, and social disorder. The almost total collapse of the administrative machinery-once hailed by the British cabinet secretary in the Apple by report even after independence as the best-organised in India-is matched by the calamitous condition of the educational institutions [Das 1993:79]. There have been no Panchayat Elections for more than two decades.
The division of society into caste has penetrated not only into politics but also in to the bureaucracy, academics and other professions, seriously affecting the efficiency and functioning of the entire system of governance, development machinery and other sector. Castes tension, and in some parts of the state even caste riots, have seriously eroded social harmony. The serious breakdown of the law and order machinery and the scenario of crimes, kidnapping, tensions and violence have prompted people to sarcastically remark that the state has withered away’ in Bihar.
These conditions have created to an extent a socio-economic milieu of non-development. The era of planned economic development in the state has hardly cared for the masses, but only for organised sector workers, particularly the government/semi-government employees, while the elites, including professionals, contractors, politicians and power brokers, have fattened themselves in the ‘development’ process. The prevailing socio-economic situation is so alarming that it is being described as the ‘state without hope’ and the ‘graveyard of development projects that achieve success elsewhere’.
In the wake of widespread poverty, a substantial number of poor people go outside the state in search livelihood. In several parts of the state, the poor have become restive-in central Bihar poor peasant and agricultural labourers have launched a powerful movement against their oppression. Thus, Bihar is not only poor and economically backward but is also a state where institutional barriers of all types-socio-economic, political, cultural, etc-are quite strong.
A sympathiser of the cause of Bihar even goes to the extent of saying “the state is not only suffering from culture of poverty, but also from poverty of culture”. Geographical/ Economic Units Before we proceed to discuss the extent and profile of poverty, we should remember that the state is far from homogeneous with regard to the distribution of its natural resources and growth patterns. It is divided into two distinct topographical units-the plains and the plateau. The plains region, which is almost flat and alluvial, slopes gently towards the east.
This region is divided by the river Ganga into two unequal parts-northern Bihar plains and south plains. North Bihar plain is very fertile and constitutes about 31 percent of the area of the state. It has a number of big rivers and is afflicted occasionally by heavy floods, causing huge damage to crops and property. The area is heavily populated- the density of population in this region is one of the highest in the country.
The area is predominantly rural, the urban population being only about 6 percent. In recent decades, a few islands of industrial growth such as the Barauni complex have come up; otherwise, the economy lacks diversification. The infrastructural facilities are extremely meagre. Large disparities in irrigation power consumption, rail and road communications, etc. persist vis-à-vis the other regions of the state.
It is no wonder, therefore, that north Bihar is an area of endemic poverty, backwardness and unemployment. Consequently, this region sends a large number of migrant labourers from its rural areas to places such as Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. The south Bihar plans, constituting 21 percent of the total area is not subject to frequent floods, except for lands on the banks of rivers.
This region is more diverse than the north Bihar plans. It has the lowest rainfall of the three regions. It is considerably more urbanised than the northern plans, the level of urbanisation being about 15 percent. The position in regard to infrastructure is also better. Though it is comparatively more industrialised than north Bihar, the level is still quite low. A large part of the rural area of this region is currently witnessing the radical peasant and labour movement leading to considerable violence and turmoil.
The Chhotanagpur plateau region has undulating topography and does not suffer from floods and drought to the extent of other parts of Bihar. But its land is not fertile and barely 30 percent of the total land is used for crop production, as compared to 50 percent in the state as a whole. Forests account for 29.2 percent of the total area. Poorly served by irrigation (about 10 percent) its agriculture is carried out almost entirely under rain-fed conditions.
The plateau, however, is richly endowed with natural resources. Almost 90 percent of the minerals found in Bihar are located in this region and have given rise to a number of mines and metal based industries. The level of urbanisation in the region is 20.3 percent-much higher than the two other regions. This area also has a high concentration of scheduled tribes, as much as 92 percent of the state’s 6.6 million scheduled tribes. On the other hand, the scheduled castes, although found in sizeable numbers everywhere, are generally concentrated in north Bihar which has about 60 percent of the scheduled caste population of the state. Though there has been development of industries in the plateau region, the conditions of the local tribals have not improved appreciably.
They feel alienated due to a number of factors-cultural economic and social. Consequently this region is presently facing a somewhat powerful movement by tribals to separate this region from Bihar and create a new state known as Jharkhand’. II. Poverty in Bihar Bihar is among the states in India where the incidence of poverty is most acute. According to official estimates the state had the highest incidence of poverty in 1983-84, with half of its population below the poverty line. In 1987-88 about two-fifths of the state’s population was below poverty line, which, except for Orissa, was the highest in the country. Some unofficial estimates, however, point to an even higher incidence of poverty in the state. In one such estimate by Minhas, Jain and Tendulkar (1991), it was reported to be as high as 65 percent in 1987-88. In this estimate, the state had not only the highest proportion of population below the poverty line till 1983-84. Even after 1983-94 the decline was higher elsewhere in India than in Bihar. As revealed in Table 1, during the period 1957-58 to 1973-74 the percentage of rural population below the poverty line in India declined from 53.4 to 47.6 but in Bihar the decline was almost negligible-from 59.7 to 58.4.
During the century’s worst drought in Bihar in 1966-67, the calorie consumption of about three-fourths of the rural population was below the normative minimum. During 1977-84, while the rural population in poverty decreased by 10.8 percentage points in India, the corresponding decrease was only 6.4 percentage points in Bihar. However, during the period 1983-84 and 1987-88 the decline in poverty in Bihar, as per official estimate, was comparable to the all India estiamtes-8.7 percent to 7.0, respectively.
This relatively better performance of Bihar has put the state in second place (after Orissa) now with regard to the incidence of poverty. There are several factors behind the recent decrease in poverty level in the state. First, the growth of agricultural output has been relatively better since the mid-1980s, largely due to better weather conditions and to some extent to an increase in the use of modern inputs.
Second, remittances from migrants working outside the state, which have become quite significant, have contributed to increased consumption expenditure as well as investment in cultivation. Third, various poverty alleviation programmes, notably IRDP, NREP and RLEGP, have had their albeit small-share in this development. Unemployment Contrary to the high incidence of poverty, the unemployment rate as per time criteria is quite low in the state. According to the 43rd NSS round of 1987-88, the unemployment rate is per usual status in rural areas of Bihar was 2.6 percent for males and 0.8 for females: the corresponding all India rates being 2.8 and 3.5 percent respectively. Several states 9i.e. Assam Haryana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and a few others) had higher unemploymen rates than Bihar. However, the underemployment rates among both males and females of 14.6 and 12.3 percent reespectively in 1987-88 were the second highest in the country after. Tamil Nadu-much higher than the all India rates of 9.8 and 6.0 for males and females respectively [Ministry of Labour 1991:47]. Thus, though people in rural areas are not openly unemployed, due to their poverty they do not find regular productivity employment over the year, which promotes large number to migrate to other regions in search of livelihood. The state reports high year-to-year fluctuations in the availability of employment opportunities, thanks to floods and droughts. Thus Bihar suffers from a low productivity employment problem in the key agricultural sector rather than unemployment as usually measured in terms of persondays. The incidence of poverty among a large section of self-employed cultivators belonging to marginal and small and categories is so high2 that they will join the category of paid workers, leaving their farms work, if suitable work opportunities are offered to them.
Bihar is one of the few states where the expansion has been extremely low-between 1983 and 1987-88, there has been hardly any growth in non-farm employment [Chadha 1993]. Thus, more and more rural workers have had fewer days of work per year. Such a situation implies severe distress because of very low rates of growth of the agricultural sector leading to substantial out-migration of labour to seek employment in other areas both within the outside of the state.3 Bihar has a substantial proportion of labour housesholds in rural areas-one of the highest in the country and substantially higher than the national average.
There are a number of factors behind this rise. Apart from the relatively better performance of the agricultural sector. Changes in rural labour market conditions due to out-migration of workers as well as state intervention through wage employment programmes have been the major factors behind it. Besides, in large parts of the state radical movement of the agricultural labourers have been a very important factor behind the rise in wages. Pattern Of Poverty The estimate of poverty in Bihar discussed earlier is based on NSS expenditure data. However, there are many other dimensions of poverty line calorie intake, housing, health education., household possessions, assets, etc. which can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the problem. A survey conducted by the ANS, Institute of Social Studies in collaboration with the ILO enables us to examine the issue in some details.
This survey was conducted during 1981-82 in a stratified random sample of 12 villages in the plans of Bihar. 4 The analysis of survey data on food and nutrition indicators of poverty shows that calorie intake exhibits distinct variations across socio-economic groups, but appears to be less reliable than other measures of nutritional intake and anthropometric status. Nearly 50 to 70 per cent of landless wage labourers fall below recommended intake levels. Food quality indicators were more strongly associated with class, but only the richest groups have frequent intake of eggs. Meat, fish and fruit. These food intake differences showup clearly in differences in anthropometric status.
In particular, stunting is much more frequent among agricultural labourers than among other groups, Girls tended to be stunted more than boys. The distribution of housing and domestic facilities was highly unequal among different social classes. Pucca houses are almost entirely absent among wage labourers, and the difference in house value between top and bottom groups is by a factor of 30. Electricity for lighting is rage (2 percent of households). Treating kerosene lamps as an acceptable minimum, it was found that only around 10 per cent of agricultural labour households obtain this level, while for more other groups the figure reaches 40 percent, only approaching 100 percent for the top groups in the class and land hierarchies.
The ownership of domestic assets is extremely low over a quarter report on assets at all (other than cooking utensils, etc.). Only 15 percent of the households own a mosquito net, 25 per cent a torch, 15 percent a bicycle, and 10 percent a radio.
Total expenditure is less unequally distributed. Clothing and medicine dominate expenditure by the poorest groups, who obtain credit on the worst terms, interest rates averaging 50 percent. Landless agricultural labourers own less than 1.5 saris on average, i.e., the majority of women in landless labour households own only one. Another index, which catches attention, is the ownership of a blanket or quilt. Winters and cold is essential. In the bottom expenditure groups 60 percent of households have no blanket at all, few households have better than a cotton quilt in lower expenditure groups, and only a quarter in the top groups. Data on child mortality show a distinct decline with increasing economic status, and female death rates are over 50 per cent higher than that of males.
The high mortality of agricultural labourers shows up clearly- about 20 percent for boys and over 30 percent for girls. The regional differences are also reflected in mortality. The advanced areas of north-west Bihar have much lower mortality than average. It is worth noting the very high mortality of scheduled caste children. Schooling is almost completely lacking for women and averages a more respectable four years for men.
In agricultural labour households, girls receive practically no schooling. Permanent labour households do particularly badly, no doubt reflecting the opportunities for early child labour in such households. The distribution of total value of all assets (except grain) among various classes shows that agricultural labourers along with the non-agricultural classes are not only at the bottom, but the difference between these classes and big peasants as well as landlords is extremely wide. As a matter of fact, the non-agricultural class is placed even worse than the agricultural labourers.
The difference in the value of total assets between the non-agricultural classed and landlords is about 16 times. It is also noticed that female-headed households have a lower value of assets compared to male-headed households, pointing the vulnerability of such households. The survey has shown that assets have a very strong association with poverty.
Indebtedness from traditional sources is widely prevalent in rural Bihar, and the incidence is particularly high among agricultural labourers -about 85 percent for casual labourers and 88 percent for high interest loans are seldom able to repay their debts. This often leads to debt bondage due to their current consumption, exceptional social expenditure and health expenditure.
In regards to loans from institutional sources, the level is not only low in Bihar, but such loan have been mainly grabbed by the upper classed and big landowners. Female-headed households are found to be relatively poorer. Scheduled castes are invariably poor, followed by Muslims and backward castes. Attached labourers who constitute about one-third of total labour, are relatively more poor than casual wage labourers are generally of scheduled castes. III Growth Performance and Poverty Alleviation Programmes The rate of economic growth in Bihar has been slow from the very beginning. In 1960-61 Bihar was at the bottom among all the states of India in terms of per capita income.
At present also it is at the bottom but with increased distance-in 1960-61. Bihar’s per capita income was about two-thirds of India’s average per capita income; it declined to less than half towards the late 1980s [Mathur, 1994]. Bihar’s rate of growth during 1960-85 was 2.43 percent, which after adjusting for the rate of population growth of s only a 35 per capita income since the 1960s. This dismal performance of Bihar becomes more glaring when the performance of its agricultural sector is taken into account.5 After independence the state witnessed a moderate rate of agricultural production- during 1952-53 to 1964-65 it was 2.97 percent per annum, which was better than many other states including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal [Prasad 1987:15]. The rate of growth of foodgrains production was even higher than the national average-it was 3.05 per cent in Bihar against 2.50 percent for India as a whole. Between 1969-70 and 1983-84, the annual growth of agricultural production in Bihar came down to 0.42 per cent per annum [Prasad 1987:15]. Between 1970-73 and 1980-83 the compound annual rate of growth of foodgrains production was negative (0.3). However since the middle of 1980s there has been some improvement in agricultural performance. As such the compound annual rate of growth in foodgrains production between 1980-83 and 1990-93 has been 2.33 per cent. The growth rate (compound) in agricultural production during 1980-90 has been of the order of 1.5 per cent per annum [CMIE 1994: Tables 7.1 and 7.4]. The very low growth rate in agricultural has been the main factor behind the persistence of poverty on a large scale. Due to the sluggish rate of growth in agriculture, the state, in spite of having some big industries that were established in the 1950s and 1960s, did not experience their spread effects. ‘Bihar, which had achieved an average annual rate of growth of 18 per cent in industrial employment during 1951-61, slid down to 0.7 per cent per year during 1961-81. As discussed earlier, there has been a further retrogression in employment structure since then, particularly since the early 1980s-there has been an absolute declined in secondary sector employment. The primary sector has absorbed this displacement of workers from the secondary sector, and consequently the percentage of workers employed in the primary sector has increased during 1981-91. Table 4: Awareness of and Benefits from Various Government Policies by Classes. Pension Employment Scheme Antyodaya Schooling Subsidies Nutrition Programme Land Reform Homestead Land Maternal and child Health Programme Drinking water Flood and Drought Relief. H B H B H B H B H B H B H B H B H B H B ALNT 94.0 26.8 31.9 1.9 6.4 0.4 20.7 4.3 20.5 2.5 21.0 0.7 30.9 3.7 8.0 0.6 42.4 33.2 40.9 6.5 ALT 89.4 25.1 36.0 5.9 8.9 0.8 19.4 0.0 17.8 0.0 19.7 3.5 21.2 1.0 0.7 0.0 40.2 30.0 30.8 3.8 PMP 83.9 27.5 22.8 2.3 6.1 0.0 17.7 0.0 12.3 0.0 11.3 0.0 12.3 0.0 1.3 0.0 27.5 9.3 27.9 0.0 MP 80.3 17.6 24.3 3.1 18.0 2.0 34.3 7.6 26.6 0.0 15.7 0.0 23.8 0.0 5.6 0.0 30.2 14.3 49.4 2.0 BP 87.3 8.1 40.8 1.0 35.0 1.7 39.8 2.5 23.8 3.0 29.6 2.9 24.8 1.0 11.7 1.0 39.9 6.4 45.0 3.4 LLORD 89.6 13.2 34.7 0.0 31.0 1.4 37.2 7.8 34.0 1.4 38.4 1.4 30.1 0.0 16.5 0.0 44.6 3.0 48.5 1.4 MONAG 79.3 25.4 28.2 0.0 11.5 0.0 22.2 1.5 20.2 0.0 23.5 0.0 21.7 0.0 8.2 0.0 28.3 5.5 30.7 0.0 TOTAL 89.0 21.0 66.5 2.4 15.7 0.9 26.4 3.1 21.5 1.6 23.0 1.6 25.5 1.7 7.4 0.4 39.5 20.53 9.5 3.8 Notes: H= Heard about the scheme; B= Benefited from the Scheme; ALNT= Agricultural labour, not tied; ALT= Agricultural Labour, tied; PMP= Poor-middle- Peasants; PB=Big Presents; LLORD= Landlords and gentlemen farmers; MONAG=Non- Agricultural Source: Prasad et al (1989), Chapter 9. There are many factors behind economic stagnation in the state-the exploitative agrarian structure, lack of consolidation of landholdings, poor irrigation and water management, inadequate credit and extension services, lack of industrial culture, etc. Often, inadequate assistance by the central government and various agencies like banks and other financial institutions are also cited as reasons for the continuing backwardness of Bihar. However, it appears that most of the factors behind the state’s backwardness are rooted in the failure of its political leadership and administrative apparatus to take the state along the path of social and economic development. Bihar was able to develop moderately up to the 1960s because the quality of the political leadership and administrative efficiency was reasonably good. It is a widely shared view that the quality of political leadership and administration has deteriorated since then, and at present it is probably at the lowest ebb in the country. No doubt, the state has an acute shortage of investible resources like every poor economy, but the utilisation of even these meagre resources has been utterly disappointing. In fact, it is widely believed that there has been a plunder of the meagre resources of the state on a large scale, affecting its interest much more than other states of India. Though there has been of systematic and detailed documentation of this phenomenon in Bihar, many of the facts clearly points to this.6 In Bihar a peculiar brand of political class emerged. These political ‘buccaneers’ had only one agenda, i.e. to grab political power and corner the maximum funds meant for development. One of the essentials to rise up the political pyramid in the quickest time was to forge links with the crime syndicate. With the passage of time this process has accelerated- the criminalisation of politics, politicisation of crime and politicisation of the bureaucracy have taken place at an alarming rate. The venom of crastism has spread to every walk of life. Almost invariably postings in bureaucracy are done on a caste and money basis, which has seriously affected its moral and efficiency. Almost all the co-operative credit institutions of the state were captured by vested interests and they were twice superseded by the government. Not to talk of the provision of extension services by co-operative and other institutions, spurious inputs were distributed to the farmers. Many research studies have shown that there is gross misutilisation and malfunctioning in the distribution of credit, and the marginal and small farmers have been grossly discriminated against. The co-operative movement has served the interests of the strong only [Nilkant and Das 1979:34]. A major section of the bureaucracy is an active collaborator of this loot and political corruption. This and practice of popular and sectarian politics have led the state to a state of financial bankruptcy. Huge finds are spent on the salaries of the big army of government and semi-government employees.7 Not only this, due to the inability and inefficiency of the political and bureaucratic system for the last several years, the st ate has not been able to utilise all the funds allocated to it in the annual plans. Now, for the last three years the States financial position has been so precarious that even the salaries of the university teachers and other semi-government employees have not been paid for the last several months. The state has been spending without caring to raise enough resources. Consequently, it has witnessed massive reductions in the plan outlays during the last few years. The annual plan of the Rs. 2,200 crore during 1992-93 was almost halved; the plan outlay during the 1993-94 would not be more than Rs. 1,200 crore, and it is feared that in 1994-95 it would be further curtailed. Though the lower per capita plan assistance, meagre disbursement of funds by financial institutions, irrational royalty policies and other federal transfers are also responsible for the state’s financial crisis, the major share of the blame lies with the state government. Further, there is an acute power crisis in the state. Except Patna, all other places are without power for the major part of the day, seriously affecting agricultural and industrial activities. Capacity utilisation of the thermal power plants has been extremely low, and losses of the Bihar state electricity board and enormous. Table 5: Awareness of and Benefits from various Government Policies by Operational Holding: Pension Employment Scheme Antyodaya Schooling Subsidies Nutrition Programme Land Reform Homestead Land Maternal and child Health Program Drinking water Flood and Drought Relief. H B H B H B H B H B H B H B H B H B H B 1Acre 89.3 26.7 33.7 3.5 8.6 0.6 19.7 2.2 18.1 1.6 18.7 1.8 25.6 2.8 5.4 0.0 40.5 27.2 36.5 5.1 Up to 1 acre 93.3 17.8 27.6 0.8 17.1 0.1 32.1 4.9 24.8 0.7 22.3 0.7 23.0 0.0 7.5 1.2 33.3 19.5 44.0 2.7 Up to 2 acre 92.3 15.9 27.1 0.0 17.6 0.0 20.9 1.2 16.9 2.7 18.1 2.7 13.3 0.0 5.6 0.0 41.4 19.7 30.7 1.4 Up to 5 acre 85.4 14.7 41.2 2.2 29.9 0.0 38.1 3.5 26.3 1.3 32.2 0.0 28.0 0.0 11.8 0.0 41.9 8.5 49.0 1.6 Up to 10 acre 77.5 5.4 46.5 1.6 27.5 3.9 50.7 10.9 37.8 4.8 37.6 4.8 43.2 4.8 17.3 4.8 44.3 7.0 42.8 4.8 More than 10 acre 79.3 11.8 22.1 0.0 28.4 4.7 24.2. 1.5 23.4 0.0 38.9 4.7 21.1 0.0 7.5 0.0 33.0 0.0 32.5 4.8 Total 89.0 21.0 33.5 2.4 15.7 0.9 26.4 3.1 21.5 1.6 23.0 1.6 25.5 1.7 7.4 0.4 29.5 20.5 39.5 3.8 Source and Index: As in Table 4 Due to the acute financial crisis and wrong policies and priorities, the development activities in the state, at least so far as the state’s development expenditure is concerned, have come almost to a halt. Even the funds meant for the central government poverty alleviation schemes like Jawahar Rojgar Yojana have been reported to have been diverted temporarily to met the salaries of its employees, affecting the implementation of these schemes. However, with all their defects in design and implementation, in the prevailing acute financial crisis, it is mostly the poverty alleviation programmes like the Integrated Rural Development Programme and Jawahar Rojgar Yojana (JRY) which are somewhat visible in the name of development activities in present day Bihar. Ironically, even such a big financial crisis does not deter the government from setting up new universities and administrative centres (like district, sub-division, block, etc.) which are mainly done due to political and caste considerations. The state has failed to almost all fronts to deliver the goods to the people, particularly the poor. Table 6: Performance of Jawahar Rojgar Yojana 1991-92 92-93 03-94 Funds allocated (Rs. crore) 335.4 446.9 482.9 Funds utilised (Rs. crore) Employment generation (Lakh mandays. 341.0 412.6 604.5 Target 894 938 1468 Achievement 837 1036 1474 Achievement Rate (%) 93.6 110.4 100.4 Source: CMIE (1994: Table 9.14) In the wake of acute poverty and immiseration, the poor of the state, particularly the rural poor, have adopted their own survival strategies and responses. One response is the substantial out-migration of the rural poor to other areas-both rural and urban and inside and outside the state in search of livelihood. As yet another response, the state has witnessed a relatively powerful movement (the so-called extremist or naxalite movement) by the rural; poor during the last two decades or so, generating violence and tension. Such a vulgarisation of politics and administration, and the nexus between corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, contractors and criminals, have played havoc with not only the development programmes in general, but also with programmes specifically meant for the benefit of the poor, Immediately after independence, no major programme for poverty alleviation was launched in the state as such except a few minor welfare programmes for the poor like the old age pension scheme in the mid-1970s. As in other states, schemes like Food for Work, NREP, etc. were also launched. The public distribution system was operative earlier but it coverage was increased since the 1970s. At present the central government-sponsored Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) and JRY are the two most important direct poverty alleviation programmes in the state. But the programmes of old age pension and a few minor welfare programmes are still in operation. There are other programmes like land reforms, public distribution system (PDS), etc., which are not targeted specifically to the poor but have relevance for them. It will be interesting to see the overall impact of some programmes and their implications for the poor. Land Reforms After independence, Bihar was the first state in the country to abolish the zamindari system-the much-hated stratum of intermediaries between the actual tillers and the state was removed and the tillers came into direct contact with the state. However, though zamindari was abolished, the former zamindars were not deprived of their homesteads and private lands, which were quite larger. Therefore the measure of zamindari abolition was complemented with the imposition of a ceiling on large holdings in order to redress the inequitious distribution of land. After many hurdles, the first land-ceiling act was passed in 1962 with subsequent amendments in 1972 and 1973. Some legislative measures to safeguard the interests of the tenants with regard to the fixation or rent and ejection of tenants were also undertaken. There were a few other agrarian legislations too-the Bihar Privileged persons Homestead Tenancy Act, the Bihar Moneylenders Act, etc.,-which were enacted for the benefit of rural labour and the poor. But the implementation of these various legislative pro-poor agrarian measures has been rather dismal. The most glaring cases are those of the land ceiling and tenancy acts. Till 1990 only 192.1 thousand hectares of land had been declared surplus, of which only 152.2 thousand hectares have been taken possession of and 102.6 thousand hectares have been actually distributed (most of which are said to be low quality land). There is large-scale violation of ceiling laws in the state. The principal reason for non-implementation of the ceiling laws has been the lack of political will and collusion of the bureaucracy with landlords. Large scale ‘Benami’ transfer in land has taken place landlords have resorted to litigation, which generally takes so much time that the very essence of the measure is defeated. A study conducted in 1986]. According to this study only 1.53 per cent of the cultivable land was acquired and distributed, whereas the surplus land amounted to 20.51 per cent. The implementation was not uniform. In four villages where the study was conducted, the government did not initiative any action at all, not even a notice for submitting a return of surplus land was served to the owners. Further, the government functionaries showed favour to landowners in classification of land and areas so that the extent of surplus land shown remained lower than the actual. The study showed that the bigger landowners enjoyed better accommodation by the government functionaries than the smaller ones. Table 7: Year-wise Physical and Financial Targets and Achievements under IRDP. Year Financial Physical Allocation (Rs. Crore) Utilization (Rs. Crore) Achievement (% age) No of Families Targeted (Lakh) No of Families Benefited (Lakh) Achievement (% age) Sixth Plan Period 1980-81 29.4 10.3 35.3 3.5 2.5 71.7 1981-82 35.2 31.3 89.0 3.5 2.8 78.4 1982-83 47.0 34.0 72.4 3.5 3.6 10.29 1983-84 47.0 39.0 82.8 3.5 4.3 122.1 1984-85 47.0 52.2 11.97 3.5 6.0 171.4 Seventh Plan Period 1985-86 52.5 49.5 94.4 3.1 4.2 135.9 1986-87 70.8 78.8 108.3 4.6 5.4 116.3 1987-88 84.1 101.2 120.3 5.4 6.6 122.5 1988-89 96.1 42.0 ” 4.3 – …. 1989-90 72.0 34.7 ” – 4.49 … There has been large-scale violation of ceiling act [Pandey 1992]. Another study (LBSNAA 1991a] also found very inadequate implementation of the ceiling laws in Katihar, East Champaran and West Champaran districts where there is wide scope for acquiring much more surplus land. In district of Purnea alone there were 210 landowners with more than 200 acres. Though the allottees of surplus ceiling land should be overwhelmingly from the SCs and STs, in actual practice ‘other castes’ constituted 48 per cent in number and 38 percent in total area allotted. It is significant that in all such cases where cultivable lands were allotted, there has been some perceptible change in the socio-economic status of the allottees. They felt more confident and partly relieved from the clutches of the landlords. Provision of land, however small, has given them a sense of identity and something on which they can fall back. However, the average extent of land allotted was less than one acre, which is not economically viable. Those who were allotted uncultivable land were miserable. The facilities of irrigation, lending and rural development scheme were not well integrated with the allotments. Tenancy reform remains an important question in Bihar because the state has a fairly significant proportion of cultivated land reporting tenancy. Though the overall tenancy rate has been reported to be of the order of 10 per cent as per NSS data of 1980-81, several studies have shown that the plans of Bihar, particularly north-east Bihar, has a high incidence of tenancy. A study conducted in 1981-83 showed that about 28 per cent of the cultivated land in the plains of Bihar were under tenancy [Prasad 1987] (the tribal region of the state shows a very low level of tenancy). A recent study [LBSNAA 1991b] in 15 villages spread over 12 districts reveals that the high incidence of tenancy is not only characteristic of areas with higher irrigation intensity but is equally characteristic of unirrigated land. The tenants are usually labourers, poor peasants and marginal farmers, although under the demographic pressures and due to some other factors small cultivators have also started leasing in land. Many researchers have highlighted the inter-linkage between landholdings, sharecropping and bondage leads to the process of economic stagnation in the countryside and immiseration of the poor. The study by LBSNAA (1991b) showed that the principal from the tenancy in the state is sharecropping in which the majority of tenants equally share the gross produce with landowners. However, there were important deviations from this principal pattern in many parts of the state- in some ceases there is prevalence of rack-renting in which the tenants bear the entire input cost and share the produce equally. In some other cases though the tenants share the inputs costs with landlords, the landowners receive between 50 and 75 percent of the gross produce leading to a highly exploitative rent. In some parts of the state, particularly in the irrigated tracts, the system of fixed rent in kind or cash is also prevalent. The statutory provision with regard to rent is 25 per cent of the gross produce, and the by-products are to remain entirely with sharecroppers. Thus, except in some isolated cases, there is a large gap between what is statutorily provided and what the sharecroppers get. The system of tenancy is almost entirely concealed and informal and hence there is no security of tenure. The majority have their plots changed with in a years or two thereby denying them the status of occupancy tenants, in spite of the fact that a very high proportion of tenants have worked as tenants for more than 10 years with the same landowner. The pitiable condition of tenants, both with regard to rent and security of tenure, has hardly been the largest of any intervention by the government machinery. The experience in the state shows that the law and the administrative machinery have not worked. The sharecroppers are in very weak bargaining position vis-à-vis landowners. Though in some limited areas like Madhubani and parts of central Bihar sharecroppers have asserted their rights and after their prolonged struggles have been able to secure better terms, in large parts of the state tenants are vulnerable as they have neither the economic strength nor faith in the justice system. The legal procedures are so clumsy, time consuming, expensive and biased towards landlords that tenants simply cannot resort to them. Further, the tenants are required to furnish documentary evidence of their cultivating the tenanted land, which they are simply unable to provide, as tenancy agreements are entirely oral and informal. Over and above this, and move by the tenants to get justice is met with resistance by the combination of landlords, police state machinery. In regard to other aspects of tenancy reforms i.e., homestead and susfrucmortage, their implementation is slightly better. According to the study by Prasad (1986), the land reform measures related to homestead land were implemented with good success, and the debt redemption legislation had also achieved better success in its objectives-about 54 per cent of households had received relief. Thus, the implementation of the various land reform measures has been very slow and unsatisfactory. The main reasons for poor implementation are lack of political will lack of organisation and consciousness among he poor peasants and agricultural labourers, the indifferent attitudes and red-tapism of the bureaucracy, lack of up-to-date land records, and legal obstacles in land laws. Fortunately some parts of the state have shown some awakening among rural labourers and poor peasants and there has been effective mobilisation of peasants in recent years. It is reported that this has influenced the course of implementation of land reform laws in such areas: Table 9: Result of Evaluation of IRDP in Bihar and Other States in Eastern India- MRD Survey Items of Evaluation Bihar Orissa West Bengal Assam India 1. Social classification of beneficiaries (per cent) Scheduled castes 29.7 20.6 23.5 8.4 28.5 Scheduled Tribes 13.6 26.6 4.3 23.0 16.5 Others 56.7 52.5 42.2 71.6 55.3 Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 2. Sectoral Classification of Beneficiaries (Percent) Primary 25.1 17.7 23.7 44.7 43.6 Secondary 15.38 28.5 34.3 10.4 11.5 Tertiary 49.6 54.8 42.0 44.9 44.9 Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 3. Percentage of Beneficiaries selected through gram sabha 0.9 94.7 100.0 21.7 65.4 4. Percentage of beneficiaries satisfied with quality of assets provided. 46.7 88.8 84.0 87.7 80.0 5. Investment (subsidy/credit) per beneficiary (Rs). Primary 3375 3466 4383 5288 4276 Secondary 3338 2236 3299 5125 3631 Teritiary 4111 2833 4532 5785 4512 6. Percentage of beneficiaries who thought investment was sufficient 90.3 99.2 97.3 90.3 82.9 7. Percentage of beneficiaries trained under TRYSEM. 2.5 24.3 8.1 5.3 5.1 8. Percentage of beneficiaries who received Vikas Patrika. 3.8 74.4 36.7 52.9 38.5 9. Percentage of beneficiaries who had undated Vikas Patrika. 0.8 69.2 10.0 18.1 24.3 10. Percentage of beneficiaries who reported after care services. 33.7 72.8 0.7 9.3 18.8 11. Percentage of beneficiaries whose assets are intact. 67.4 72.5 72.1 75.2 71.0 12.Percentage of beneficiaries crossing poverty line of Rs. 3,500 91.3 63.9 95.7 88.3 81.0 13. Percentage of beneficiaries crossing poverty line of Rs. 6,400 42.6 11.5 18.3 39.1 27.0 Public Distribution System: Though PDS does not cover only the poor. The dependence of the poor on it is very large. Further, some of the commodities like poor. Not only is there large-scale corruption in the distribution of these commodities to the poor, but the coverage of PDS is also extremely low, only confined to some pockets of urban areas. The data collected by NSSO (1990) show that in rural Bihar the percentage of outlay on purchase from PDS to total purchase was 0.42 in case of rice and 1.51 in case of what; the corresponding figures for urban areas were 0.29 and 7.05. This is an extremely disappointing performance in view of the fact that in states like Kerala the percentage purchase from PDS to total purchase of rice and wheat are 51.36 and 92.04 in rural areas and 46.19 and 91.98 in urban areas respectively. In fact, Bihar’s performance is the worst among all the states. Poverty Alleviation Programmes: The above mentioned study conducted by ILO and the ANS Institute of Social Studies between 1981 and 1983 in the plans of Bihar throws considerable light on the unsatisfactory working of the poverty alleviation programmes (PAP). The awareness and benefits derived from the ten policies related to PAP are presented in Tables 4 and 5. Old age pension scheme: this scheme aimed to give pensions of Rs. 30 per month to old people in the low-income groups, who do not have significant sources of income. Knowledge of the scheme was very widespread- only in one out of six districts studies8 the percentage of people aware of the programmes fell below 75 per cent. Moreover, this policy was relatively successful in reaching the poor-over 30 per cent of scheduled castes, over 25 per cent of agricultural labourers, over 30 per cent of Muslims (predominantly agricultural labourers), poor middle peasants and non-agriculturists (the latter mainly low income), and 27 per cent of landless, had benefited from the programme. If one takes into account the fact that many households do not have an eligible older member, this implies quite a large coverage. However, there was a significant number of beneficiaries among the big peasants and landlords and landed classes who were outside its scope. So the targeting of the poor was far from perfect. About one out of eight of those who cultivate more than 10 acres of land also got the old age pension. Employment schemes: there have been many schemes of rural works, some in the context of flood or drought relief, some as part of larger national anti-poverty programmes designed to provide employment to agricultural labourers. The employment schemes had much less impact, awareness was moderate (33 per cent) and mainly concentrated, in two districts and in larger peasant and landlord households Benefits were concentrated in one backward district (about 12 per cent) in one village and 5 per cent in the second, and although beneficiaries were generally from the lower part of the class hierarchy including middle peasants as well as agricultural labour, they formed only a small part of the sample population as a whole. Its impact was thus almost negligible. Antyodaya: Awareness of this scheme exceeded 20 per cent in only three villages out of 12 villages studied and was essentially concentrated among the village elite (Brahmins: 40 per cent), Gains from the scheme were negligible, and it benefited mainly middle and big peasants and landlords and not the poorer groups who were the ostensible target. The benefited largely went to those who were cultivating more than 5 acres or even more than 10 acres of land. This policy was implemented in a manner, which went against its very objectives. Schooling subsidy: Under this programme a series of scholarships and subsidies for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other underprivileged groups were to be offered by the education ministry. Only about a quarter of the population had heard of schooling subsidies and scholarships and only 3 per cent of households had benefited. On the whole, benefits went to the better off groups. Nutritional programmes: This had hardly nay impact at all as it was operational only in three out of 12 sample villages, and outside these villages even awareness was low. The pattern of gain was slightly worse than that for schooling subsidies in so far as the poor are concerned. However, neither this programme nor the schooling subsidy was meant exclusively for the poor. Land reforms: Knowledge of and benefits from land reforms were again concentrated in only two district, with the knowledge highest among landlords. The proportion benefiting was very small, and it was concentrated in both agricultural labour and big peasant classes, with landlords also sharing that accrued under this heading, the highest gains were recorded by those households cultivating more than five acres-a serious outcome for a policy that was supposed to be transferring land to those with few assets. It is clear that the norms laid down for the distribution of land were largely flouted. Table 10: Results of Block-Level Evaluation of IRDP in Bihar Items of Evaluation Nalanda N=24 Nawadha N=128 Hazaribagh N-99 Dumka N=113 Ranchi N=65 1. Social classification of beneficiaries (per cent) Landless, Labour 64.5 46.1 17.2 0.9 44.6 Marginal Farmer 31.5 43.8 71.7 40.7 47.7 Small Farmer 4.0 10.1 11.1 58.4 7.7 Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 2. Percentage of Beneficiaries for whom survey was conducted 88.7 99.2 91 100.0 13.8 3. Percentage of Beneficiaries selected through gram sabha 0.0 96.0 0.0 96.2 10.1 99.0 0.0 97.3 0.0 49.2 4. Percentage of beneficiaries who were granted schemes of their own choice. 96.0 99.2 99.0 97.3 49.2 5. Percentage of Beneficiaries receiving loan within three months. 29.1 84.4 87.9 66.5 95.4 6. Percentage of beneficiaries receiving assistance in kind. 100.0 91.4 73.7 93.8 55.6 7. Percentage of beneficiaries trained under TRYSEM. 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 8. Percentage of Beneficiaries reporting at least one visit by officials and one afterwards. 0.0 36.0 1.0 0.0 4.0 9. Percentage of beneficiaries who received Vikas Patrika 0.8 0.0 49.5 91.9 24.6 10. Percentage of beneficiaries paying loan 66.9 40.6 37.4 15.0 15.4 11.Percentage fo recovery of loan 52.6 32.6 22.3 16.8 13.7 12.Percentage of increase in average per capita income. 11.5 40.7 31.8 15.6 30.2 13. Percentage increase in number of working days per worker 10.6 18.0 29.6 11.0 44. 1 14. Percentage of beneficiaries crossing a) Poverty line of Rs. 3,500 54.8 92.7 74.7 50.4 75.4 b) Poverty line of Rs. 6,400 0.8 32.0 1.0 0.0 0.2 Source: Complied from the evaluation reports of the department of rural development, government of Bihar. House sites for landless labour: This scheme showed a distribution which favoured scheduled castes and casual agricultural labour, but only 4.5 per cent of the former and 3.7 per cent of the latter reported benefits. While 2.8 per cent of landless households received land under this scheme, 4. 8 per cent of those cultivating five to 10 acres also got such homestead land, to which they were not entitled under the law. Maternal and child health Programme: Perception of and benefits from the maternal and child health programme were negligible except in two villages, where too they were small. Drinking water programme: Much better results were achieved with the drinking water programme. Regionally it was very unevenly distributed with less than 15 per cent awareness and virtually no benefits in half the villages. But in the other half there were widespread benefits, and they were also concentrated in the poorest groups. Nearly 30 per cent of agricultural labourers benefited from this programme, and the slipover to higher income groups was small (6 per cent big peasants; 3 per cent landlords). Flood and drought relief programmes: Benefits from these programmes were rather erratically distributed, which is to be expected as the programmes depend on the occurrence of flood and drought. A higher level of benefits was observed among agricultural labourers (3.8 to 6.5 per cent) than among peasants and landlords. The benefits were most pronounced among the landless. Thus, the survey has provided a very unsatisfactory picture of the working of the anti-poverty programmes, both in terms of awareness and benefits. The coverage of all these policies, except the old age pension and drinking water, was extremely low. The policies, except the old age pension and drinking water, was extremely low. The policies, which were exclusively meant to provide some basic needs and relief to the economically weaker sections of the rural population, not only reached a very small proportion of the population, but in addition their targeting on the poor was far from perfect since the benefits from the policies were availed of by landlords and the big cultivating classes who were not at all entitled to them, often in contravention of the legal provisions. There fore one cannot ignore the fact that these policies were used by the rural rich to serve their own interests. This study also showed that in spite of the high level of traditional indebtedness, institutional loans are not only low but haven been cornered mainly by big landowners belonging to upper classes and castes. Recent Initiative Experience of JRY Since the beginning of the 1980s, some other poverty alleviation programmes were also launched in the state. IRDP and the various wage employment programmes like the National Rural Employment Programme (NREP) and Rural Labour Employment Guarantee Programme (RLEGP) (merged as Jawahar Yojana since (1989) have been the most important anti-poverty programmes in recent years. A sum of Rs. 299 crore was spent on the NREP/RLEGP during the Seventh Plan (1985-90); Rs. 73 crore and 88.8 crore were spent on the merged Jawahar Yojana (JRY) during 1990-92. In the Eight Plan (1992-97) the proposed outlay on JRY is Rs. 650 crore of which Rs. 250 crore is the capital content. It was claimed that 64.89, 69.91 and 75.34 lakh mandays of employment were created in rural areas under NREP/RLEGP in Bihar in the years 1985-86, 1986-87 and 1987-88 respectively. Under JRY in 1990-91, apart from the Rs. 73.70 crores of the state’s share, Rs. 292.35 crores were released as the central share, and it was claimed that 1130.1 lakh mandays of employment were generated. However, all was not well with the programme of employment generation. An evaluation of NREP in the backward district of Purena shows that the programme hardly fulfilled the objectives of adequate creation of gainful employment in rural areas by strengthening the rural economic infrastructure and assets and improvement in the overall quality of life [Verma et al, 1987]. It was found that the rate of out migration of rural labour during lean periods did not decrease even after the introduction of such programmes. Not only that in most of cases labourers did not get the prescribed wages and in many cases outside labourers were hired by the contractors in place of local labourers so as to pay lower wages. Assets created were not only of low quality but universally unproductive. School building, village community building, Harijan houses, etc, were some of the items which were built almost every where, but the most needed productive assets like repair of irrigation dams, ponds, etc, were hardly undertaken anywhere. Social forestry was attempted at some places but with very unsatisfactory results. The people of the villages were hardly taken into confidence while envisaging the scheme. It was found that the objectives of NREP were not clear to high level functionaries only but also to lower level functionaries and executing agents. It appeared that different development agencies lacked co-ordination [Verma 1987]. Yet another study of the performance of NREP in the district of Siwan [Kumar 1993] shows that the programme did not contribute significantly either to the improvement of wage rates or of bargaining power of the poor. In overall terms, it had some positive impact too. At least in some seasons and in some operations it exerted pressure on wage rates through intervention in the labour market. It was found that the wage rate in non-agricultural operations were close to the minimum. There have been some important changes in the programme since the merger of NREP into JRY. Not only do the Panchayats ‘directly’ receive the money, but the responsibility for executing the programme/ scheme lies with the village Panchayat itself instead of block officials or their contractors. It is believed that the new arrangements has produced relatively better results.” The better management of Jawahar Rogar Yojana by Panchayats compared to the bureaucracy is because of people’s growing consciousness about these programmes and their pressures on the elected representatives to deliver the goods. In the specific context of Bihar, the existence of various groups (based on caste, class or any other consideration) and intra-village rivalry exerts some pressure on the Panchayat functionaries to do something. Though the Panchayat leaders are as corrupt as the bureaucracy, the fear of facing the next election and the dynamics of village life forces them to work and deliver to some extent. The bureaucracy faces no such compulsion and accountability. Also it has probably not as good as understanding of village problems as the Panchayat functionaries. Although it would be naïve to expect spectacular results given the prevailing socio-economic milieu, even this relatively better performance of the Panchayats compared to the bureaucracy has important implications for the implementation of government programmes. As a matter of fact JRY is the most visible rural development programme in the state. During the last few years the programme has been expansion in several respects-in terms of funds allocated and utilised as well as mandays of employment generated (Table 6). In 1991-92, 837 lakh mandays of employment were generated, which increased to 1,036 lakh in 1992-93 and further to 1,474 lakh mandays in 1993-94. Achievement of employment generation to targeted employment was 100 per cent in 1993-94. In spite of several defects, the programmes has made in impact in rural areas in several ways by providing employment, however small; constructing houses for the poor under Indira Awas Yojana; and creating at least some social infrastructure like school buildings, drainage, etc. IV. IRDP In Bihar IRDP is the most important poverty alleviation programme in the state with a wide coverage, hence we attempt here to discuss its role in poverty alleviation in somewhat greater detail. Before we describe its working, we should note that a programme like IRDP which promotes self-employment as a strategy has relevance for Bihar were the land-man ratio is one of the lowest in the country. A poor land-man ratio will always imply that the scope of increasing wage employment in agriculture is very limited, and thus the promotion of self-employment plays a very crucial role in reducing rural poverty. IRDP was introduced in Bihar during 1978-79 in 310 out of a total of 587 blocks. Initially the concept of IRDP was quite new to both the block officials and the credit agencies, hence in 1978-79 the progress of IRDP was very poor. Out of the total allocation of Rs. 1.024 lakh, a bare 19.1 per cent of the budget amount was utilised. The geographical coverage of IRDP was extended the following year to another 15 blocks, brining the total number of covered block under IRDP to 325 in 1979-80. But even in its second year the programme was in its formative stage. A major change in its dimension and thrust was brought about in 1980-81 when under the Sixth Plan (a) its coverage was extended to all the blocks, and (b) financial allocations for the programmes were increased. Significant changes were made in the state development administration to ensure effective implementation of IRDP. The programme was carried over through the Seventh Plan period with even greater emphasis and, by now, it has been operating for about a decade and a half. Data pertaining to year wise physical and financial targets and achievements under IRDP in Bihar since its inception are presented in Table 7. It is quite obvious from the table that the whole programme has received considerable attention by the development administration of the state. This is presumably because the central government (which has planned the whole programme and was bearing half of its cost) was able to impress right up to the district or even block level functionaries that IRDP is a very special programme different from many other development programmes which had weaker objectives, limited durations or even insufficient financial allocations. It is further interesting to note that the programme has expanded with higher and higher yearly physical targeted. As a result the quantum of assistance per capita shows a steady upward trend (Table 8), from Rs. 1,090 in 1980-81 to Rs. 4,976 in 1989-90. During 1980-81, when IRDP was extended to all the blocks in Bihar and was made an important part of the Sixth Plan, there were major changes in the development administration in the state, geared to the need of IRDP. To begin with, the state government announced the formation of District Rural Development Agencies (DRDA) is all the district. The DRDAs were now made the model agencies for co-ordinating the activities of all the developments in the implementation of IRDP. To make the DRDAs powerful and effective, a senior civil service officer (to be called deputy development officer or DDC) was posted who was to relieve the hard pressed district collectors being overburdened with law and order problems or regular administrative duties is probably even more serious in Bihar, and this bifurcation of routine and development administration was thus a very positive change. This apart, the planning from being and association of credit agencies in the planning process were two of the most vital strengths of IRDP and were designed to ensure the smooth flow of funds to the programme. The district level agencies assisted by block level agencies were to identify that portions of the plan which required credit support. A second important change in the development administration was the expansion of the banking system in the state. Bihar has been one of the most poorly banked states in the country. There has taken place significant branch expansion in rural areas since the mid-1970s. Although there is a considerable gap between Bihar and the national average in banking facilities, the gap has become narrower. This expansion of banks was very crucial because, as mentioned before, the most important factor which placed the IRDP on an improved footing compared to earlier programmes was the well defined role of credit agencies in its implementation. Evaluation of IRDP: The importance of IRDP as a poverty alleviation programme is reflected not only in the financial allocations for it or the huge administrative efforts behind the programme, but also in the considerable efforts that were a made of evaluate the programme. Many such evaluation surveys have been sponsored by the government itself while others have been carried out by researchers. Of the evaluation surveys sponsored by the government and carried out by external agencies, we have one initiated by the ministry of rural development, government of India. We shall now discuss the results of this survey in a comparative framework taking the others three major eastern states (Orissa, West Bengal and Assam) into account. Below we discuss an evaluation study sponsored by government of Bihar, which covered selected blocks in different districts. The survey sponsored by the ministry of rural development (hereafter MRD survey) covered the entire country; the canvassed questionnaires were fairly detailed covering all the important dimensions of the implementation of the programme. In Table 9 we have presented information relating to only 13 dimensions which are most relevant. In regard to the first two items, viz., social and sectoral classification, the position of Bihar is seen to be quite satisfactory; (a) the scheduled castes and tribes together account for a little less than half of the beneficiaries, and (b) the sectoral classification is rather similar to other states-it shows that opportunities for self-employment in agriculture are limited in Bihar. Two important defects of implementation of IRDP in Bihar are reflected in the next two items of process of selection and quality of assets. In spite of pointed instructions to select beneficiaries through the gram sabhas, officials themselves have selected nearly all the beneficiaries in Bihar. It would, however, be worn to infer from this that officials had ignored the gram sabhas in Bihar or that they are so thoroughly dominated by the local landlords that officials found it wiser to bypass them. The fact that officials themselves are not efficient or honest is indicated by the quality of assets supplied in Bihar. Whereas in the neighbouring states more than 80 per cent of the beneficiaries were provided with good quality assets, in Bihar it was only 46.7 per cent. Although the per family investment (i.e. subsidy plus credit) is a little lower in Bihar than in West Bengal, Assam and all India, it was judged to be enough by more than 90 per cent of the beneficiaries. Poor integration between TRYSEM and IRDP is an all India phenomenon and this absence of integration was even more pronounced in Bihar. One of the striking features of IRDP implementation in Bihar was the unfortunate impression among development functionaries in general that their role in the whole process was restricted to disbursement of credit and subsidy. The crucial role of post disbursement activities (after care support or monitoring) was ignored by development officials, which again must have contributed to the relatively poor performance of IRDP in the state. It is seen in Table 9 that only 3.8 per cent of the beneficiaries in Bihar were provided with Vikas Patras and only 0.8 per cent had an undated Vikas Patra the corresponding figures for other eastern states and all India were much higher. The general conclusion that emerges from the MRD survey is that the implementation of IRDP in Bihar was the poorest among the four eastern states. It was thus anomalous to find that the percentage of beneficiaries crossing the poverty line (of Rs. 3,500) was as high as 91.3 per cent in Bihar. One would thus suspect that the selection of beneficiaries in Bihar was improper, in that a substantial number of them were already above the poverty line or marginally below it. But in the prevailing situation in Bihar even such a moderate impact of IRDP is not a small achievement. Apart from the MRD evaluation survey, another comprehensive evaluation of IRDP in Bihar was sponsored by the department of rural development of the state government (hereafter DRD survey). This was proposed to be done in a phased manner covering one block in each district in each phase, and till now reports of some block level evaluation studies have already been submitted. The discussion here covers the blocks of Asthawan (Nalanda district), Govindpur (Nawadaha), Simaria (Hazaribagh). Shikharipoda (Dumka), and Ormanjhi (Ranchi). Interestingly, out of these five studies, three (except for the first two) are in the southern plateau region of the state where the scheduled tribe population is concentrated. In Table 10 we have presented some selected indicators of the working of IRDP in those blocks. The total number of beneficiaries included in the evaluation survey is more than 500, thus it provides us with a strong database for examining the working of IRDP in Bihar. Unlike in the MRD survey, the social classification of the beneficiaries in the DRD survey was done on the basis of land endowment. In most blocks, the beneficiaries were mostly landless labourers or marginal farmers. Only in Hazaribagh and Dumka was there deviation from the pattern-while marginal farmers were too many (71.7 per cent) in Hazaribagh, small farmers were so (58.4 per cent) in Dumka. Pending any further information, it might be conjectured that this typical pattern of social classification of beneficiaries is because of the specific nature of land distribution pattern there; after all landlessness is not as widespread in tribal areas as in non-tribal areas in the plans. Information on selection of the beneficiaries who were surveyed, who were selected through the gram sabha and who were granted schemes of their own choices, indicates that the directive of selection through gram sabha was breached almost universally. However, it does not mean that the selection of schemes through the choice of beneficiaries as per their requisite skills is always proper. For example, if 10 beneficiaries opt for sewing machines in a village (each being unaware that others have done the same), granting of sewing machines to all of them will probably mean under utilization of the assets (and hence low additional income generation) by most of them, in spite of the fact that they were all given schemes, of their own choice, and, hopefully, they all had the requisite expertise to run them. In regard to disbursement of assistance, most of the beneficiaries received it within a reasonable period (i.e. three months) as most of them were also granted loans in kind, which prevent to a great extent misutilisation of assistance by poor beneficiaries by spending it on some immediate consumption need. An important deficiency in the working of the IRDP (apart from the bypassing of gram sabha) was its failure to integrate with the TRYSEM independently which must have affected the success of both. Having identified the beneficiaries and provided assistance to them within reasonable period, the next tasks of the IRDP officials was to monitor the programme, and it is here that we find the most glaring weakness of the scheme. The percentage of beneficiaries reporting at least one visit (not an adequate number of visits) was nil in two blocks of Nawada and Dumka, negligible in Hazaribagh and Ranchi, and a modest 36.0 per cent in Nalanda. A similar impression of extremely poor monitoring also emerges from the figures of percentage of beneficiaries who received Vikah Patrika. These percentages are too low in three districts, and even where it is high or moderately high, it is partly because they were given Vikas Patrika much after the disbursement of loan and subsidy, probably because the officials had got the news about an evaluation survey. Considering the fact that the selection procedure was not proper and monitoring of the scheme was also not effective, it is rather surprising to note that the scheme has shown moderate to high success in the five blocks under study. Although the percentage of beneficiaries crossing the poverty line of Rs. 6,400 is very small (except in Nawadah), many families have crossed the line of Rs. 3,500-ranging from 50.4 per cent to 40.7 per cent- and this additional income is closely related to additional employment generation. These findings from the DRD survey are very similar to those emerging from the MRD survey, and here too the only way of explaining the apparent moderate success of IRDP is by assuming that many of the beneficiaries were either above the poverty line or just marginally below it. Finally, it might be noted that the scheme is under severe stress as the percentage of beneficiaries who are paying their loan installments regularly is very low (around 40 per cent); in Nalanda it reaches a moderate figure of 66.9 per cent. Contrary to rational expectations, the repayment Behaviour in different blocks is not related to increase in income. In Nawadah, the increase in income is only 11.3 per cent, but repayment is most satisfactory there; whereas although the average per capita income has increased by 30.2 per cent in Ranchi, the repayment position there is the weakest. One may thus conclude that the administrative efficiency of the development administrative and the banks along with the populist stand of the political authorities are responsible for the financial mismanagement of the scheme. From the above description, it is clear that there is a lot of scope for arbitrary action in selecting the beneficiaries. Lack of norms for estimating income from various activities, and lack of vigorous scrutiny by block and district level authorities of the estimates of income prepared by block level workers (VLWs), lead to faulty selection of beneficiaries. Supply of substandard assets at prices higher than the market price is a common feature, but probably the most important defeat is that after procuring the income generating assets, the beneficiaries do not receive much assistance in terms of supply of raw materials, marketing support, technical advice, training etc. due to which the productivity of the assets declines. There is no follow up of the scheme given to the beneficiaries. The machinery involved in the implementation of IRDP in Bihar has the single-minded objective of fulfilling the target at any cost. The only effort made by the machinery is subsidy administration. Consequently, in a substantial number of cases the beneficiaries only “temporarily” cross the poverty line at the time of acquiring the assets but later on sump down to their previous levels, in many cases with increased indebtedness. It is reported that in the newly designed cash disbursement scheme the element of bribe has been done away with to a great extent. But the other problems of vital importance are still there, affecting the impact of the programme. V. Islands of Hope The overall situation that emerges from the above description is that the efforts of the state towards eradication of poverty have largely failed. In the absence of economic growth, both in agriculture and industry, and unsatisfactory working of various anti-poverty welfare programmes, the plight of the poor has not improved as a whole. The efforts towards, poverty alleviation have largely been wasted and gains have been substantially concerned by the non-poor, even in programmes specifically addressed to the poor. However, to be fair, even amidst the general non-performance, the poverty alleviation programmes have had some positive impact. In terms of direct economic gains to the poor also, at least there has been some marginal impact. We had seen earlier that at least two of the policies in the early 1980s-old age pension and drinking water- had reached their targets rather well, albeit with leakages and loopholes. Though JRY and IRDP could have been implemented in a much better way, particularly with regard to the selection of beneficiaries and after care support (in the case of IRDP), at least some marginal gains have accrued to the poor. For the first time, the poor in significant numbers are having banking experiences. These programmes have also indirectly helped the poor by influencing the rural labour market. Employment generation from IRDP, NREP, and RLEGP made some contribution to the significant rise of rural wages in the state since the early 1980s. The non-economic gains of these programmes have not been less important. These poverty alleviation programmes, notably JRY and IRDP, have become well known to the rural poor, and their execution and management have created considerable consciousness among them. The poor have been mobilized in a large number of areas of some issues concerning the programmes like bribe-taking by officials, proper allocations of funds, etc. The rising consciousness and mobilization of the poor have not only contributed to the better execution of these programme, albeit marginally, but have also created pressures on state policy about the poor. The poor are probably being talked about more in the realm of state policies. As a matter of fact, the mobilization of the poor on several issues is a significant development and offers some hope amidst the general climate of despair. In the contest of the acutely exploitative agrarian structure and impoverishment of the poor, a significant part of the state, particularly the central districts, has been experiencing powerful movements by poor peasants and agricultural labourers, which have led to much bloodshed. Several types of organizations right from Gandhian to extreme Maoist, are working in the state, and they have been able to mobilize the poor on a large scale not only on such economic issues as minimum wages, land reforms, fishing rights in village ponds, etc., but also on such social rights as the dignity of women. This substantially heightened consciousness of the poor for their cause has partly been aroused by the unsuccessful implementation of the various programmes for bettering their conditions. The accumulated frustrations and anger generated by the gap between their aroused hopes and reality has been an important factor behind the massive mobilization of the poor in a large part of the state. There are several achievements to the credit of the movements. Undoubtedly they have been able to raise agricultural wages in the areas of their influence. The government machinery has hardly played any positive role of this respect because of collusion between the labour administration and the rich farmers. In about 900 villages in the districts of Bhojpu, Patna, Nalanda, Rohtas, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Gaya, Siwan, and east and west Champaran, successful wage struggles were launched by the Bihar Preadesh Kisan Sabha (one of the most powerful organizations of poor peasants and agricultural labourers in Bihar at present), leading to substantial rise in wages.10 In fact wage struggle has been one of the most important instruments of mobilization of these organisations.11 Sometimes they have even been mature enough to take into account the element of land productivity while agitating for increased wages. Land reform has been yet another issue on which they have mobilized the poor. If a substantial portion of the surplus land was acquired in Bihar in the mid-1970s. It was largely due to the pressure generated by the movement launched by these organizations. Though the movement to capture “gairma zarua” (common land) and surplus land above the ceiling has led to occasional violence in the countryside, it has also aroused the government from slumber. In many cases not only have these organizations have captured gairma zarua land hitherto occupied by the rural rich, and distributed it among the poor, they have also made provision for irrigation and cooperative farming and in some villages they have produced good results.12 It is well documented that the sharecroppers organised movement in Madhubani and Champaran, particularly in the former, has done much to give them security of tenure and to raise the tillers’ share of the produce. Though the better implementation of direct poverty alleviation programmes like IRDP and JRY has not been on the agenda of these organizations, some isolated gains in this direction are also encouraging. In several cases the issues of wrong selection of beneficiaries under IRDP, digging of hand pump wells and construction of drainage and houses in Harijan localities, non-availability of ration cards to the poor, bribe-taking by block and bank officials for disbursements of assets, etc. were taken up activity by them and in several cases the wrongs have also been corrected.13 In regard to the role of the administration it has already been mentioned that the general orientation towards the poor is not one just of indifference but of active opposition. A part of this active opposition is largely dictated by the local land-based vested interests and politicized criminal and lumped elements; the vulnerability of the administration of corruption makes them even more active opponents of the poor. That the bureaucracy is not handicapped organizationally or in terms of required manpower and the real reason behind its ineffectiveness lies in its social composition and the social milieu within which it functions, is demonstrated by a few of its highly localized success stories. Such successes are generally caused by ultra enthusiasm on the part of a small group of administrators who decide to implement a programme on a mission basis’ in a rather small area. Mobilization of the rest of the bureaucracy is done by pressure as well as persuasion, and the small size of the project area enables the groups to closely monitor the programme. As is expected, even one small positive step by the administration enthuses the expected beneficiaries to take two steps forward and thus it generates a momentum, ensuring the success of the programme. In recent times, one such successful programme was the digging of several thousand irrigation wells in district Dumka, known as “Jal Hain Jan Haift, changing the agricultural economy to some extent. So massive was the participation of the beneficiaries in the implementation of the programme that they had completely eliminated the middlemen or contractors, the most important channel of “leakage” in such programmes. The district administration had launched this scheme after judging the people’s perceptions about their needs the demand for water was made by almost everyone in this dry district. The scheme has been found to be so successful that there has been a tremendous increase in the vegetable production of the district, causing a somewhat significant rise in the incomes and employment opportunities of the poor. It has been claimed that there has been a substantial, reduction in the out-migration of labour from the district after launching the scheme. Vested interests like middlemen have tried their best to sabotage the scheme by imposing many hurdles, but an alert administration has been able to surmount many of them.14 Of course, this scheme pertains to only a limited area, but the potentialities thrown up by it have immense implications and lesson for other parts of the state. Though the positive impact of the poor peasant and agricultural labourers’ movement in improving the lost of the poor and towards their execution of poverty alleviation programmes is limited, it has at least shown the potentialities, which may be utilized. In a state where the bureaucracy is inefficient and corrupt, village, Panchayats are without elections for more than two decades and dominated by the rich and vested interests and good NGOs are rare, organizations of the prospective beneficiaries may be the only hope for the future. V. Conclusions During the post-independence period, particularly since the 1960s, the rate of growth of the Bihar economy on both the agricultural and the industrial front has been dismal. The rates of growth have been among the lowest in the country due to which the incidence of poverty also did not decline. Only in recent years has poverty declined in the state, thanks to relatively better agricultural performance, rise in real wages, and partly to various poverty alleviation programmes. The measures taken for direct intervention for poverty removal have also produced unsatisfactory results, mainly due to deficiencies in the delivery system. The different organs of the delivery system-Panchaysts, the bureaucracy, cooperatives, etc-have really served the interests of the rich who cornered benefits even from those schemes which were specifically meant for the poor. The strong nexus of landed interests, polity and bureaucracy, and in recent years lumpens, has been working against the poor. The situation is getting out of control-the poor are becoming restive and in large parts of the state they have been mobilized. In fact, during the last two decades or so the countryside has witnessed much turmoil and violence. Hence, even the elements which have been hitherto hostile to the poor are now ready to reconcile to the new realities, though reluctantly. The attack on poverty in the state needs to be tackled at two levels. Nay vision of poverty alleviation will have to accelerate the growth rate in the agricultural sector. Bihar, as we have seen is a poor economy, which subsists mainly on agriculture whose fortune fluctuates which the vagaries of nature. This is because irrigation exists only in a limited area and much of it is “protective” in nature, rather than being aimed at production or growth. The poor are the worst victims of recurring floods in large parts of the state. Public investment in irrigation, flood control, drainage, rural electrification and generation of rural power supply are the inescapable preconditions for development, land reforms, including tenancy reform and consolidation of holdings, have to be emphasized in this context. There is a need to take up an ambitious scheme of rural industrialization also. Bihar has witnessed deterioration in the employment structure in recent years- the proportion of workers engaged in the primary sector has increased and that in the secondary sector has declined. This is really a matter of concern and there fore schemes of rural industrialization and other schemes of diversification of the economy in rural and simi-urban areas are urgently needed. The direct intervention by the state in the form of poverty alleviation programmes should be simultaneously taken up to providing not only relief to the poor, but also to generate productive capabilities among them which otherwise might remain largely unutilized. We have seen earlier that the availability of different types of assets is not only very low but their distribution is extremely skewed among classes. In fact, the non-availability of productive assets is one of the main reasons of the persistence of poverty in rural Bihar-particularly among agricultural labourers, poor middle peasants and the non-agricultural labourers, poor middle peasants and then non-agricultural class. Consequently, provision of assets, particularly productive assets, assumes importance in any comprehensive scheme. For the eradication of poverty. It points to the desirability of government programmes like IRDP, which would lead to the creation of productive assets and employment among poor households in rural areas. The prevention of large-scale out-migration of rural labour from the state calls not only for the creation of more wage employment but also its creation at reasonable wage rates; hence the need for wage employment but also its creation at reasonable wage rates; hence the need for wage employment programmes. Literacy programmes have to pay an important role in the state, which has the highest rate of illiteracy in the country. Of course, the better execution of the programmes of infrastructural development and poverty alleviation has to be ensured it the state is to become out at all from the present rut. Much time and resources have already been wasted by now. Fortunately the poor are also ready to bear their share of the burden, thanks to their considerably heightened consciousness generated by acute impoverishment and other developments. In many places they have already shown potential. There are also a few examples of good and efficient elements in the bureaucratic machinery, which have shown their metal. In the prevailing corruption-ridden milieu of Bihar, the story of NGOs is not very different, but here again some instances of successful NGOs with missionary zeal are there. The need of the hours to pick the good elements from both the bureaucracy and the NGOs and to involve them according to their suitable roles and capabilities. People’s involvement at all levels, right from selection of schemes to implementation and monitoring, along with the bureaucracy w and NGOs, will give good results, as has happened in Dumka in the “Jal Hai Jan Hai” scheme. The organised power of the poor should improve even the indifferent and corrupt bureaucracy and local government functionaries. The fact that the execution of JRY by the Panchayats in Bihar is better than the execution of NREP and RLEGP by the bureaucracy earlier shows the potential of people’s involvement in improving the management of poverty alleviation programmes. Reference: Ahluwalia, M, S. (1978): Rural Poverty in India: 1957-58 to1973-74, World Bank, Washington, D.C. Ayer, K.G. (1990): ‘The Subaltern in Bihar through Tradition and Development’, Paper presented to seminar on ‘Tradition and Development in India’ With Special Reference to Eastern India’ ANS Institute- of Social Studies. Patna. October 4. CMIE (1994): “Basic Statistics Relating to Indian Economy: States, Volume II, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. Bombay. Chadha, G.K. (1993): ‘Non-Farm Employment for Rural Households in India: Evidence vs. Prognosis, Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Volume 36 No.3. Das, Arvind N (1993): ‘The Republic of Bihar Genguin Books. Ghosh, P.P. and Sharma Alakh N Sharma (1990): Rural Labour Migrationin Bihar, ANS Raghunath (1986): ‘What Ails IRDP’, Yojana, September 1-15. Jose, A.V. (1988): ‘Agricultural Wages in India’, Economic and Political Weekly Volume 23 June 25, Special Issues on Agriculture. Kumar, Kirti (1993): ‘Impact of National Rural Employment Programme on Employment and Wages’, Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Volume, 36, No. 3 LBS National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) (1991A): ‘ Report on the Implementation of Land Ceiling Programme in Bihar Paper presented at workshop on ‘Land Reforms in Bihar’, ANS Institute of Social Studies , Patna, February, 8-11. -(1991b): ‘Report on Tenancy Situation in Bihar’. Paper presented at workshop on Land Reforms in Bihar’ INS Institute of Social Studies, Patna, February 8-11. Mathur, A.K. (1994): ‘Regional Economic Development and Policy “in G.K. Chadha (ed). Policy Perspectives in Indian Economic Development, Har Anand Publications, New Delhi. Minhas. B.S. L.R. Jain and S.D. Tendulkar (1991): Declining Incidence of Poverty In the 1980s: Evidence vs. Artefacts’, a Economic and Political Weekly, Volume 26, July 6-13. Ministry of Labour (1991): Report of the National Commission on Rural Labour. Volume II, Government of India. NSSO (1990):Sarvekshna, Volume 13, No. 4. April-June National Sample Survey Organisation New Delhi. Nilkant, V and Arvind N Das (1979):’Submission of a Cooperative Institution: Case Study from Purnea’ in Arvind N Das and V. Nilkant, (eds), Agrarina Relations in India, Manhor, New Delhi. Pandy, M.P. (1992): Land and Religious Institutions: The Scenario in Bihar, ANS Institute of Social Studies, Patna (mimeo) -(1987): Political Economy of Development in Bihar in Sharma and Gupta (eds) (1987). Sharma, Alakh N (1987): Backwardness Trap of Bihar Agriculture’ in Sharma and Gupta (1987). Sharma, Alakh N and S Gupta (eds) (1987): Bihar: Stagnation or Growth, Spectrum Publishing House, Patna. Sharma, J.D. (1991): ‘Myopic View, Vested Interest and Underdevelopment: Case of Public, Management of Ground Water Resources in Bihar’, Proceedings of the Second Annual Conference of the International Association for Study in Common Property, University of Manitola’, Winnipeg, Canada, September. Verma, K.K. et al (1987): ‘Evaluation of National Rural Employment programme in the district of Purnea’. A N. Sinha Institute of Social Studies. Patna. ——————————————————————————– BACK