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Poor Response

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is facing flak for his government’s poor response to the floods that have hit many parts of the state, particularly Patna. He has not been able to offer any explanation for the almost zero action taken, except by casting blame on the unpredictability of nature. It is true that natural disasters can sometimes be of unmanageable scale. However, a government’s response even at such times can still be effective given that there is some level of preparedness in terms of human resources, equipment, training, and standard operating procedures. This ought to be in existence in Bihar given that it faces some level of flooding every monsoon. On the other hand, if the usual response is based on people having become used to a level of inconvenience, it will actually be nothing. The failure to deal with the situation in Patna reveals exactly that state of affairs. It is not that severe weather events have not been predicted by the scientists. Based on this information, any self-respecting government would adopt some anticipatory measures. For instance, the likelihood of earthquakes is high in the Himalayan states so every one of them has set up some institutions and protocols to deal with them. Building regulations have been enforced to minimise damage. Other states anticipate seasonal epidemics such as Dengue and take preventive measures. The response by Odisha in the face of the recent cyclone, Fani, was praised not only in India but across the world. In this context, Bihar has a lot of explaining to do. Considering that Bihar supplies a considerable amount of human resource to the rest of the country, particularly in the infrastructure and administrative sectors, it is strange that it cannot get its act together at home. This is either due to complacency or lack of ability, neither of which is acceptable in the modern context. Unfortunately, come election time, too much emphasis is given to caste combinations and votebank politics instead of performance. Over a period of time, the people of the state have been left with few choices in terms of performers and have to make to do with what they have. It is, perhaps, time that the younger generation breaks from the traditions of the past and establishes higher standards, hopefully by taking things into its own hands.