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Shedding the BIMARU Tag

Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan

Ganesh Kawadia (ganesh.kawadia@gmail.com) and Sheena Sara Philips (sheenaphilips25@gmail.com) are with the School of Economics, Devi Ahilya University, Indore.

The states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan have been striving hard in the last decade to get rid of their BIMARU label. They have made impressive strides in the field of health and education, and their efforts to boost growth and mitigate poverty are worth noting.

At a time when development models adopted by the states of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu are being hailed, it might be useful to analyse the  remarkable progress made by the BIMARU [1] states of Madhya Pradesh (MP), Bihar and Rajasthan. These states, along with the state of Uttar Pradesh, were once held responsible for retarding India’s development. The acronym BIMARU was coined by demographer Ashish Bose to refer to the above mentioned laggard states because of their poor demographic indicators. But soon the acronym was used to refer to their economic backwardness. Odisha shortly joined this club given its poor gross state domestic product (GSDP) and social indicators.

However, in the last decade, these states achieved remarkable growth rates and that too during a period when the overall Indian economy was coping with faltering growth, rising prices, weakening currency and burgeoning deficit. The laggard states that were once blamed for retarding the growth of the country are now actually pulling it up (Financial Express 2012). The deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, specially referring to Bihar and MP, said that these states did not deserve the tag BIMARU anymore due to their impressive economic growth rate, which was far above the national average (Financial Express 2012).

In this article, we will focus on MP, Bihar and Rajasthan – analysing how economic growth in these states has translated into broader development benefitting all. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been in power in MP since 2003, Rajasthan in the last decade has been ruled both by the Congress party and the BJP. Since 2005, Bihar is being run by a coalition government of the Janata Dal (United) and the BJP.

Economic Performance

The annual average growth rate of gross state domestic product (GSDP) from 2005-06 to 2011-12 in MP was 8.64% while for Bihar and Rajasthan it was 18.14% and 8.67% respectively (Databook for DCH 2014). The growth in all the three states was more than the national average, which was 8.46% during the same period.

In 2004-05, the per capita income (PCI) of MP was Rs 15,442, of Bihar Rs 7,914 and of Rajasthan Rs 18,565. By 2011-12, this had risen to Rs 24,395 in MP, Rs 13,226 in Bihar and Rs 28,851 in Rajasthan, showing an average growth rate of 6.8%, 7.8% and 6.6% respectively (RBI Handbook of Statistics 2012-13). The contribution of services sector to the GSDP of these states was instrumental in this growth. Nevertheless, the agricultural sector still contributed more than 20% to the GSDP in MP and Bihar (Databook for DCH 2014).

As illustrated in Table 1, the performance of the agricultural sector in Bihar was relatively better than that of MP and Rajasthan. But the comparatively better performance of agriculture and allied sectors put together in MP pointed towards the state’s emphasis on diversified activities. Bihar had an edge in the services sector with a 11.01% growth rate in the sector, whereas Rajasthan with 11.97% average annual growth rate in the industrial sector explained the greater role played by the secondary sector in the state’s economy.

Table 1: Sectoral Annual Average Growth in Net State Domestic Product from 2005-06 to 2011-12

Sr No

Particulars

MP

Bihar

Rajasthan

1

Agriculture

6.81

9.17

6.93

2

Agriculture & Allied

6.21

5.35

6.11

3

Industry

9.46

11.92

11.97

4

Services

9.68

11.01

8.60

5

NSDP at constant prices

8.62

9.34

8.42

Source: RBI Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy, 2012-13 

The commendable economic performance of these states betters prospects for people, but if this growth does not percolate down, it will generate social unrest. Therefore, periods of high growth in poor regions can put significant pressure on the system. It can unleash powerful aspirations as well as frustrations. The question, therefore, is how to tap these emotions to benefit all. The challenge is to address this situation and devise new mechanisms and institutions to solve problems that are associated with rapid growth.

Efforts to Reduce Poverty

With a surge in economic growth, these states can afford to launch many welfare schemes for the poor. But it needs to be worked out how these schemes while granting entitlements to the poor could simultaneously empower them. Therefore, the socio-economic development of the poor becomes as important an objective as achieving economic growth.

As per estimates based on Tendulkar committee methodology[2] for poverty estimation, poor people living below the poverty line in rural areas in 2011-12 when compared to 2004-05 came down from 48.6% to 31.65% in MP and from 34.4% to 14.71% in Rajasthan. Bihar managed a 20% reduction by bringing down the poverty level to 33.74% (India Rural Development Report 2012-13). The reduction of poverty levels in all these states was more or less the same during this period. The sharp decline in the poverty levels was mainly because of the public distribution system (PDS) through which state governments provided subsidised food.

In 2004-05, hardly 1% of rural households reported PDS rice consumption in Bihar; the figure for Rajasthan was nil (Table 2). On the other hand, during the same period, 17.9% of rural households reported rice consumption in MP. In a period of 5 years from 2004-05 to 2009-10, MP registered a 5% increase in the household consumption of PDS rice, while figures for Rajasthan rose only by 0.2 %. However, for the same period, Bihar put up a commendable performance by registering a growth rate of 11.2% in rice consumption.

As far as wheat consumption from PDS was concerned, MP not only outpaced Bihar and Rajasthan but also the all-India average in 2004-05 and 2009-10. As a matter of fact, it registered a sweeping 25.4% increase in wheat consumption in the five year period from 2004-05 to 2009-10, when Bihar and Rajasthan recorded an increase of 11% and 5.2% respectively. This helped to reduce the poverty levels in the state of MP.

 

Table 2: Rice and Wheat Consumption from PDS by Rural Households (%)

Sr No

Particulars

MP

Bihar

Rajasthan

All-India

1

Proportion of Rural households reporting Rice Consumption in 2004-05

17.9

1

0

24.4

 

Proportion of Rural households reporting Rice Consumption in 2009-10

23.0

12.2

0.2

39.2

 

% Increase in Rice consumption

5.1

11.2

0.2

14.8

2

Proportion of Rural households reporting Wheat  Consumption in 2004-05

20.3

1.7

12.7

11

 

Proportion of Rural households reporting Wheat  Consumption in 2009-10

45.7

12.7

17.9

27.6

 

%  Increase in Wheat  consumption

25.4

11

5.2

16.6

Source: Ministry of Rural Development: Key Data on Rural Development from IDFC India Rural Development Report 2012-13

 

The improvement in the PDS coverage in these states basically indicates reduction in leakages. The statistics in Table 2 suggest that MP, Bihar and Rajasthan  vastly improved their PDS between 2004-05 and 2009-10, which basically implied better administration.

The question now is whether this improvement in the consumption is matched by improvement in social indicators, which better reflect the level of development. It is therefore important to see the performance of these states in realising their social development targets. Though many studies have shown that despite a sharp reduction in poverty, measures of human development, such as the nutritional status, educational attainment and life expectancy, improve very slowly.

Improvement in Literacy Levels

The high growth also creates demand for skilled labour. Thus, education becomes a powerful tool for social mobility. Various centrally sponsored education schemes like the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) have been successful in bringing the much needed improvement in literacy levels in these states. But as education is a part of the Concurrent List, it is imperative that state governments make serious efforts in this field.

Be it female literacy, rural literacy or the overall literacy rate, the performance of MP has been phenomenal—70.63% of the state population is literate—almost at par with the national average (Table 3). Increased awareness among women through education has led to a decline in fertility and maternal mortality rates in MP.

Implementation of schemes like Universal Education for all, Vikramaditya Nishulk Shiksha Yojana etc, has helped increase enrolment in schools. The state has emphasised heavily on female literacy programmes like Laadli Lakshmi Yojana, Gaon ki Beti Yojana, Pratibha Kiran Yojana, Free Cycle Distribution etc. Owing to the laudable efforts of the MP state government, the status of female literacy improved appreciably from 29.4% in 1991 to 60% in 2011 (Census 2011). In 2001 itself, MP had achieved 50% female literacy, which Bihar and Rajasthan could only achieve by 2011.

Table 3: Literacy Rates (%)

 

Sr No

Particulars

MP

Bihar

Rajasthan

All-India

1

Literacy (Total) Census 2001

57.80

43.92

55.34

64.84

 

Literacy (Total) Census 2011

70.63

63.82

67.06

74.04

 

Increase over Census 2001

12.83

19.90

11.72

9.20

2

Rural Literacy Census 2001

57.8

43.92

55.34

58.74

 

Rural Literacy Census 2011

65.29

61.83

62.34

68.91

 

Increase over Census 2001

7.49

17.91

7.00

10.17

3

Female Literacy Census 2001

50.29

33.12

43.85

53.67

 

Female Literacy Rate Census 2011

60.02

53.33

52.66

65.46

 

Increase over Census 2001

9.73

20.21

8.81

11.79

 

Source: Census of India 2011. Provisional Population Totals of MP.

The performance of Bihar in the field of education is striking as well. In a ten year period, from 2001 to 2011, Bihar registered more than an 18% increase in total and rural literacy rate and 20% increase in female literacy rate. With implementation of schemes such as the Mukhyamantri Balika Poshak Yojana, Mukhyamantri Cycle Yojana and Akshar Anchal Yojana, Bihar has been striving to increase literacy levels in the state.

Rajasthan has taken significant strides in the field of education and has managed a significant improvement in literacy rates between 2001 and 2011. The state in partnership with nongovernment organisations has been running innovative programmes such as Shiksha Karmi Programme (SKP) and the Lok Jumbish Pariyojana (LJP) for more than two decades to enhance access to education. With the help of community participation and innovative strategies, these programmes have actually managed to improve education delivery in the state, especially in remote areas. For example, to counter the problem of absenteeism of teachers in remote areas, the SKP recruited local youths, although with lower qualifications, to teach in schools. 

Nevertheless, literacy levels alone would not assure overnight miracles in MP, Rajasthan and Bihar. The gap that exists between skill-sets possessed by the youth and what the market requires poses a major challenge for these states.   

Status of Health

Though MP is notorious for its high Infant Mortality Rate (IMR),  it has managed to bring down the level from 74 infant deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 59 infant deaths in 2011 (Sample Registration System Statistical Report 2011). The IMR in Bihar equalled the national average of 44 in 2011, but Rajasthan, like MP, is also fighting hard to bring down the high IMR prevalent in the state.

Table 4: Health Indicators

 

SrNo

Particulars

MP

Bihar

Rajasthan

All-India

1

IMR (2006)i

74

60

67

57

IMR (2011)

59

44

52

44

Change over 2006

15

16

15

13

2

MMR  (2004-06)ii

335

312

388

254

MMR (2007-09)

269

261

318

212

 

Change over 2004-06

66

51

70

42

3

Institutional Deliveries (2002-04)iii %

17

15.8

22.5

29.8

Institutional Deliveries (2007-08) %

40.8

25.6

40.7

37.8

Change over 2002-04 %

23.8

9.8

18.2

8.1

4

Sex Ratio (Census 2001)iv

919

919

921

933

Sex Ratio (Census 2011)

930

916

926

940

Change over 2001

11

3

5

7

5

TFR (2006)v %

3.5

4.2

3.5

2.8

TFR (2011) %

3.1

3.6

3.0

2.4

Change over 2006 %

0.4

0.6

0.5

0.4

6

Rural TFR(2006)vi %

3.9

4.3

3.8

3.1

Rural TFR (2011) %

3.3

3.7

3.2

2.7

Change over 2006 %

0.6

0.6

0.6

0.4

             

Source:

 i and iv Census of India 2011. Sample Registration System, Statistical Report 2011. Office of the Registrar General   and Census Commissioner, India.

 ii and iii Ministry of Rural Development: Key Data on Rural Development from IDFC India Rural Development Report 2012-13.

 v and vi Census of India 2011. Provisional Population Totals Paper 1 of 2011: Madhya Pradesh.

 

Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is defined as the number of women aged between 15 and 49 years dying per 100,000 live births. Much higher than the all-India average of 212, MMR in MP and Bihar was 269 and 261 respectively in 2007-09 and in Rajasthan, it was 318. However, the decline in MMR has been phenomenal in all the three states—MP (66), Bihar (51) and Rajasthan (70).

 The MP government  launched many laudable initiatives such has Prasav Hetu Parivahan Yojana, Janani Suraksha Yojana, etc,  and majorly promoted institutional deliveries. The active participation of Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANM), Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and various NGOs  also helped to bring down the soaring levels of maternal mortality rates to a great extent. As a result, it was able to bring down the MMR by 23.8% as compared to Bihar (9.8%) and Rajasthan (18.2%). Bihar is way behind its counterparts, as only 25.6% women underwent institutional deliveries, while in MP and Rajasthan 40% women underwent institutional deliveries (Table 4).

During 2006 to 2011, the total fertility rate (TFR) declined by 0.4% at an all India level, while the three states registered a decline of 0.6%. Gender inequality is both a health and human rights issue. With consistent efforts and state intervention, the sex ratio remarkably improved between 2001 and 2011 both in MP and Rajasthan.  In MP it increased from 919 females per 1000 males to 930 and in Rajasthan from 921 to 926. But this still fell short of the national average of 940 in 2011. Bihar on the other hand saw a downfall from 919 to 916 females in 2011 (Table 4).

Conclusions

It is assuring that these states have chosen to walk on the sustainable path of development while simultaneously battling their historical backwardness and basic infrastructural deficiencies. Maintaining an impressive growth rate over the last few years, the economy of Bihar has witnessed a huge turnaround. Improvement in road connectivity, better maintenance of law and order and efforts to raise the literacy levels have boosted the ailing economy. Although Bihar still lags behind in many areas of social development, the much needed inclusive growth approach has found its due place in the development model adopted by Bihar.

Providing the poor with basic entitlements through various central and state sponsored schemes and accelerating grass-root community participation in education, health and various other areas of social sector, Rajasthan has been trying hard to reduce existing inequalities in the state for some time now.

In fact, prior to its bifurcation in 2000, MP was known for poor infrastructure, low growth and high poverty ratio. But, as of late, improvement in power supply, infrastructure development through public-private partnership (PPP), better accessibility to education facilities and empowerment of women through various welfare schemes can be seen.

On the economic front, accepting the dominant role played by agriculture in the state economy, the incumbent government introduced the scheme of providing bonus on procurement prices of wheat and rice. This endeavour not only pushed up the agricultural growth but also led the state to become a wheat surplus one. Besides that, the state has also implemented many small and medium irrigation projects to increase surface water irrigation. The government is now focusing on the promotion of pulses and oilseed production.

Similarly, the state has held many investor meets to attract foreign and private investment. Development initiatives have also benefitted marginalised groups, which is very important for a state like MP, which has a huge tribal population. Thus, the high and sustained economic growth in MP has been accompanied by improvement in its social and demographic indicators.

Hence, we cannot deny the undisputable role that good governance can play in determining economic and social outcomes of development initiatives undertaken by a state. Having being reprimanded for stunted socio-economic indices for a long time, these states have gradually started to shed their BIMARU tag.

 

Notes

[1] BIMARU is an acronym formed from the first letters of Bihar (BI), Madhya Pradesh (MA), Rajasthan (R) and Uttar Pradesh (U). The acronym BIMARU has a resemblance to the hindi word bimar meaning sick. Later, Odisha was added to this club, and the acronym was spelled as BIMAROU. In the book, Headcount: Memoirs of a Demographe’, Ashish Bose calls these states BIMARU in the eastern dialect of Uttar Pradesh referring to depressing demographic indicators viz. poor average age at marriage, number of children per woman, family planning practices, maternal and infant mortality rates and life expectancy at birth.

[2] Tendulkar Methodology of poverty estimation did away with the method of calculating poverty based on the minimum calorie intake and instead calculated poverty lines by using implicit prices derived from quantity and values data collected from national sample surveys of household consumer expenditure carried out by the NSSO.  Recently , an expert committee chaired by former PMEAC Chairman C Rangarajan, submitted that proportion of poor is 29.5% in 2011-12 unlike 21.9% as estimated by Tendulkar for the same period.

References

Bose, A (2010): “Headcount: Memoirs of a Demographer” Penguin Books India.  

Census of India 2011: Provisional Population Totals.  Paper 1 of 2011: Madhya Pradesh. Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India 2011, available at http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011-prov-results/data_files/mp/06Gender%20Composition.pdf

Census of India 2011: Provisional Population Totals of MP Paper 2 Volume 2 of 2011-Madhya Pradesh Series 24 Rural-Urban Distribution. Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India 2011. http://censusmp.nic.in/censusmp/All-PDF/6Literacy21.12.pdf

Census of India 2011: Sample Registration System, Statistical Report 2011, New Delhi. http://www.censusindia.gov.in/vital_statistics/SRS_Report/12SRS%20Statistical%20Report%20Table%20-%2020111.pdf

ENS Economic Bureau  (2012): “Bimaru states turn the tide, top growth charts”, Financial Express, 27 December, available at http://www.financialexpress.com/news/-bimaru-states-turn-the-tide-top-growth-charts/1050686

Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India: Key Data on Rural Development from IDFC India Rural Development Report, 2012-13, available at http://www.rural.nic.in/sites/IDFC.asp

Planning Commission Databook for DCH  March, 2014, pp nos 71, 74 and 76; 80, 83, 85 and 87, available at http://www.planningcommission.gov.in/data/datatable/1203/databook_1203.pdf

RBI Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy, 2012-13, available at http://rbidocs.rbi.org.in/rdocs/Publications/PDFs/009T_BST130913.pdf

 

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