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Collaborative Efforts Key to Eastern India’s Development: Shaurya Doval

The transformative journey of eastern India is not just a regional narrative but a crucial chapter in the country’s quest for inclusive and sustainable development

The eastern region of India presents a paradox, being commonly characterised as a region abundant in resources yet plagued by poverty. It is imperative that governmental support, both at the Central and state levels, be directed towards this region to foster a conducive environment for business. Business growth alone can break down forever the persistent barrier of poverty in this region.

Despite the implementation of various social development initiatives by the Central government, such as the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojna (PMJDY), Anna Yojna (PMGKAY), Kalyan Rozgaar Abhiyaan (GKRA), Atal Pension Yojana (APY), PM Jan Arogya Yojna (PMJAY) and PM Ujjwala Yojna (PMUY), the performance and narrative of economic development and poverty alleviation differs significantly from state to state.

Riches of the Eastern Region

Encompassing the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand, the eastern region unfolds a tapestry of opportunities and challenges. As industrialisation gains momentum across these states, the potential for a reduction in unemployment and poverty becomes apparent. The economic landscape is characterised by thriving sectors such as jute, rice, sugarcane leather, steel and mining, which serve as the backbone for its development. Despite these promising prospects, it is noteworthy that, according to the Niti Aayog’s multidimensional poverty index (MPI), a significant portion of the population faces economic hardships. Bihar, the state with the highest MPI value in National Family Health Survey-4 (2015–16), experienced the most rapid absolute reduction in MPI value, with the percentage of multidimensional poor decreasing from 51.89% to 33.76% in 2019–21. Uttar Pradesh too saw significant reductions in MPI value, with the proportion of multidimensional poor in NFHS-5 (2019–21) being 22.93%. Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of people, 3.43 crore, exiting multidimensional poverty in the last five years, followed by Bihar (2.25 crore).

However, if the Bihar government addresses the limitations hindering agricultural growth, the economic development in the region could effectively contribute to alleviating poverty. This, in turn, would positively influence the food processing and agro-based industry in Bihar, serving as a significant catalyst for local economic growth. The result could be the generation of substantial employment opportunities in rural areas and increased profits for the farming community.

In Uttar Pradesh, the state government has established a land bank dedicated to mega industries, introduced tailored packages to support marginalised segments of society and undertaken efforts to revive ailing and shuttered industries, among various other initiatives. The primary focus is on fostering employment opportunities through the expansion of the industrial sector, facilitated by substantial private investments. Additionally, the policy extends incentives to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The state has witnessed prosperous infrastructure development initiatives that contributed to a decline in poverty levels. The construction of Purvanchal Expressway and Ganga Expressway is expected to give a huge boost to the state’s economy.

The states in eastern India have the potential to harness tourism as a key driver for economic growth. The temple’s inauguration is expected to be a significant event with major economic implications. Businesses are hoping to see new sources of income from the large number of devotees expected to visit the city. Abundantly endowed with natural beauty and heritage destinations, the region can leverage these assets to fuel its development. In tandem with the expanding service sector, tourism has the capacity to elevate the per capita income in the area.

Development in the East 

India places great emphasis on pursuing economic growth through labour-intensive methods. Consequently, implementing fiscal and monetary policies that offer incentives for the adoption of labour-intensive techniques proves most effective in addressing poverty.

It is imperative to enhance our comprehension of the rural non-farm sector. These regions hold particular significance in the context of alleviating poverty and fostering the expansion of non-farm employment opportunities. These opportunities span various domains such as sales, marketing, transportation, handicrafts, dairy farming, forestry, food processing and the production and repair of agricultural products. In this regard, the government can implement a range of incentives, including tax abatements, revenue sharing, grants, infrastructure support, low-interest or interest-free financing, allocation of free land, tax credits, and other financial resources. Prioritising support for companies that have the potential to generate substantial employment should be a key focus for the government.

Politicians from south India tend to target specific states, notably Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. However, it is essential to recognise that regional political parties in south India have consistently formed alliances with the Congress party. Rather than prioritising nationwide development, the Congress party has often directed its focus towards states with political affiliations. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin pointed out that during the nine years of BJP rule, no special schemes were introduced for Tamil Nadu. He highlighted initiatives received during the UPA government, led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, such as the Chennai Metro Rail project and the recognition of Tamil as a classical language. Contrary to this, Tamil Nadu received Rs 30 lakh crore from the Centre between 2004 and 2014, while the present Modi government has allocated Rs 120 lakh crore to Tamil Nadu in the last decade. The BJP is actively working to strengthen its presence in south India, prompting politicians from the region to shape a narrative emphasising perceived disparities in development funds. The current government is committed to realising its vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Dwarka to the north-east, actively striving for comprehensive development across the country.

Towards Collaborative Efforts

Infrastructure development is a key catalyst for economic growth, with ambitious projects like the Ganga Expressway in Bihar, efforts to enhance road and rail connectivity in Jharkhand and the development of industrial corridors and smart cities in Uttar Pradesh. These initiatives improve accessibility, fostering economic activities and trade.

The private sector’s involvement is seen as essential for improving economic development, particularly in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The collaboration between the public and private 
sectors is deemed vital for achieving social development goals, ensuring that the growth momentum benefits all sections of society. It is essential to address challenges collaboratively and ensure that the benefits of development reach every corner. The transformative journey of eastern India is not just a regional narrative but a crucial chapter in the country’s quest for inclusive and sustainable development.

The author is the governing council member of India Foundation, a thinktank on the Indian polity