The inaugural session of the IGC Bihar Growth Conference was chaired by Jonathan Leape, Executive Director of the IGC. The Chief Minister of the state delivered the keynote address while the Finance Minister and the Water Resource Minister were present as guest speakers.

The conference started with welcome remarks from Shaibal Gupta, Co-Director of IGC Bihar Programme and Anjan Mukherji, Director of IGC Bihar programme. Both of them welcomed researchers, guests and participants to the conference. They further mentioned that for last four years IGC programme has supported studies related to economic growth of Bihar and completed 25 projects on wide range of subject including health, education, sustainable development, departure management, energy and infrastructure development. The project included 6 rapid responses and all these projects were demand driven.

Jonathan Leape, the Executive Director of the IGC noted that the Bihar Programme is one of the showcase programmes of the IGC. He then stated that the motivation of the IGC is to bringing research and policy together to co-create knowledge. He said that the good policy requires good ideas and good ideas require frontier research. He further noted that good policies can only be generated if the researchers and policymaker work together towards better policy making. He concluded his remarks inviting the Chief Minister and other ministers for the Growth Conference in London.

Guest Remarks from the Finance Minister-

Finance Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav, in his address noted that the first decade of the 21st century was marked by market dominated economy and we saw modern market and market products reaching rural areas in past decade – however such a market dominated economy has not been able to bring any meaningful change in people’s standard of living.

Water Resources Minister Vijay Kumar Choudhary started his remarks with a welcome note to all researchers participating in the Bihar Growth Conference. He said that it’s important for the state that research related to economic growth is being presented and discussed in this Patna conference.

He then noted that the story of Bihar’s inclusive growth is unparalleled in history and it has to be presented to the world and we cannot find such a quick economic and social turnaround anywhere in the world. He said that the IGC conferences can be useful in telling the Bihar story to the world.

The Chief Minister appreciated the healthy growth rate of the state in the past decade but noted that the social, economic and geographical inequalities in the state remain big challenges in front of his government. He said that there is no meaningful change in the lives of the poor and fruits of higher GDP growth have not reached the lowest strata of the society. He further noted that the importance of agriculture as a profession has declined over the years and it is necessary to restore the importance of agriculture and related services.

The Chief Minister concluded his remarks with note of thank to the International Growth Centre for conducting policy relevant research for past years and helping the state in designing its growth oriented policies.

By Vikas Dimble, Country Economist, IGC India-Central