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Giveaway Politics

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RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav has promised ten lakh government jobs to Bihar’s youth if elected to power in the state. He has not stated what these jobs would be or how an already financially challenged system would pay for them. He has made the distinction between jobs and employment, which is, of course, the essence of his election pitch. The promise of employment implies that the state would create the environment for job creation, while government jobs mean straight giveaways, irrespective of whether these are needed or can be paid for. In a day and age when a section of society does not think that government jobs – even the IAS – is worth the effort, as it can get paid considerably more in the private sector – the youth of Bihar remain among those who think these are the be all and end all of existence. Psychologically, therefore, Tejashwi has raised an issue likely to energise the voters, even if most of them know they are likely to be disappointed. This is the level of desperation that exists.

This class of politician that likes to define itself as ‘samajwadi’ believes that carefully distributed government jobs and similar sinecures would ensure its survival in power. It is completely out of touch with present day economic realities. ‘Vikas’, as promised by the likes of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, envisages economic growth rather than further redistribution of that which exists in depleted government coffers. Unfortunately, he has not been able to entirely deliver, mostly because the state’s culture has not been entrepreneurial to the extent required. It has suffered, also, because of the slicing away of Jharkhand as a separate state, depriving it of mineral and industrial wealth. Lalu Yadav and Rabri’s stints in power ensured that Bihar remained mired in caste politics, failing entirely to take the measures required to enter the era of economic liberalisation.

The situation has been made worse by the Biharis’ tendency to migrate to other states for a certain kind of employment. The recent lockdown exposed the shortcomings of this model. Add to this the failure to adopt social mores like family planning, and improved agricultural practices, which have ensured chronic backwardness. This frustration was expressed by Nitish Kumar when he stated the RJD model would just mean families continuing to have 8-9 babies. Bihar has been unable to afford the needs of just Lalu’s nine progeny.
Should Tejashwi’s vision undo the few gains the state has made, thus far, its political future is bound to be even more dismal.