Day 2: Country Session – India-Bihar

Chaired by Dr. Shaibal Gupta, Co-Country Director, IGC Bihar, the session opened with a Presentation by Dr Clement Imbert (Oxford University), who presented the findings of his study ‘Information Technology, Transparency and Corruption in Public Programs: Evidence from a Large Workfare Program in Bihar’. Dr Imbert showed that the introduction of Centrally Monitored Performance Monitoring System (CPSMS) in transferring funds to Panchayats resulted in reduction in expenditure at Panchayat level without having any negative impact on employment creation and asset construction. The CPSMS seem to have reduced leakage in MNREGA by reducing the asset level of Panchayat level NREGA functionaries.

The Second presentation was made by Dr Johannes Urpelainen (Columbia University). He share the preliminary results of his study ‘Solar Power of Street Vendors: problems with the centralized charging stations in urban markets’. He argued that energy poverty among the urban street vendors is a major major constraint: around 80 percent of the vendors rated improved lighting as the ‘top priority’.

Dr P. P. Ghosh discussed these presentations and made several useful comments.

The second part of the session was a panel discussion on ‘What Next for Bihar’. Senior policy makers from Bihar – Anjani Kumar Singh (Chief Secretary), Rameshwar Singh (Finance Secretary), Sanjay Kumar Singh (Secretary to the CM) –participated in the session. Mr Rameshwar Singh made a presentation highlighting the achievements of Government of Bihar in the last 7-8 years. He said that the government should continue with the current level of spending on social sectors but Bihar needs to formulate policies that can increase the effectiveness of government expenditure. Mr Anjani Kumar Singh listed the priorities of the Government of Bihar: upgrading the skill of youth of Bihar; improving the power availability; policies to improve the quality of education; greater investment in human capital; Need for value addition in agriculture by providing marketing facilities to the farmers; continue with the policy of positive discrimination for women. Mr Sanjay Kumar Singh explained how the government is not only working towards improving the connectivity and access to power but also simultaneously trying to improve the quality of electricity. He argued that Economic growth is directly linked with the development of energy sector.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia argued that Bihar’s growth should be compared with the performance with other poorer states.

By Chinmaya Kumar, Country Economist, IGC India-Bihar