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5 things Nitish Kumar needs to do to win confidence of Bihari youth

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Even though the JDU-led Grand Alliance in Bihar secured a landmark victory in the recently held Assembly polls ensuring third-term for Nitish Kumar as the Chief Minister, the educated Bihari youth, living especially in the other parts of the country, were dismayed and did not mince words in expressing their disappointment on social media, fearing the return of ‘Jungle Raj’.

‘Jungle Raj’ was a real thing in Bihar in the 80s and 90s when Lalu Yadav and company ruled the roost in the state. Kidnappings, murders, corruption, unemployment and migration to other states for bread and butter were the major problems faced by the people. However, things began to slowly change after the JDU and BJP formed a coalition government in the state in 2005 promising vikas (development) to one and all, irrespective of their caste and religion. 15-year-rule of Lalu was thus put to an end for good, it was believed.

The change was notable and conspicuous. The quality of education improved; new roads, hospitals, and schools were built; and people started flocking back to the state as new opportunities of jobs were created. However, after Nitish broke ranks with the BJP over the nomination of the then Gujarat CM as NDA’s prime ministerial candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha elections, political uncertainty and instability ensued during Jitan Ram Manji’s rule.

Now that Nitish has been formally elected as the RJD-JDU-Congress Mahagathbandhan’s leader, he is faced with the daunting task of winning back the confidence of the educated youth of Bihar who, like other Indians, have dreams and aspirations.

Here are five things Nitish Kumar must do to win back confidence of Bihari youth

  • Quality Education

The state’s dismal track record in providing poor, unreliable education to the youth is a major cause of concern. It is a fact that students passing out from Bihar state board and universities find it tough to secure jobs and admission into good educational institutes in other parts of the country. Nitish must take concrete steps in improving the quality and reliability of education, for ‘Farzi Degrees’ have done much harm to the future of Biharis.

Opening new quality institutes like IIMs or IITs is not enough. What needs to change is the system and the mindset of the people of Bihar. For, in today’s competitive world mere degrees cannot help one get a job.

The need of the hour is quality education that will impart necessary skills required to meet the demands of the industry. The hardworking youth of Bihar wants nothing but the state’s support in this regard.

  • Lack of industry and jobs in state

The primary reason behind the Bihari youth flocking to other states is the lack of opportunities and quality jobs at home. Therefore, providing quality education will not suffice. What Bihar needs today is manufacturing industries, IT parks, MNCs and factories. The educated youth after completing his or her education should be able to find quality jobs at home rather than being forced to migrate to other places. No one wants to leave their homes in search of greener pastures in foreign lands where there’s little respect.

Today, Bihar is not in a position to boast of any major industry and after the formation of Jharkhand the situation worsened as mineral rich places such as Bokaro, Koderma, Dhanbad, Jamshedpur etc. went to the latter. The industry of Bihar for e.g. sugar mills and fertilizer plants either were shut down or were incurring losses. Therefore, the Nitish Kumar government ought to pull out all the stops to attract investment in Bihar.

  • Safety

With Lalu Prasad Yadav once again a part of the government, it is feared by many that ‘Jungle Raj’ part 2 is in the offing. Days when kidnappings, extortion, corruption and red tapism were rampant must not be allowed to haunt the people of Bihar again. It is essential that such an environment of peace and security is created in the state sans which Bihar would find it tough to become an attractive investment destination. In those days, my Bihari friends tell me their parents would not even allow them to play in the parks, lest they should be abducted.

It is important that people should not be allowed to take the law into their hands and the state must exert its authority. ‘Dadagiri’ should have no place in any civilized society.

  • Corruption

In Bihar, shockingly even for opening a bank account one has to pay a bribe. If you have money, clearing competitive examinations, securing admissions into schools and colleges is duck soup. It’s not that Bihar is the only state in India plagued by the scourge of corruption, but the level is definitely a cause of concern.

It is one the major reasons why people leave the state in disgust and frustration. This has to change. Nitish Kumar can learn a thing or two from his friend Arvind Kejriwal who openly supported him during Bihar polls. There should be zero tolerance towards corruption and the government and its Babus must lead from the front.

  • Infrastructure

In order to attract investment, quality infrastructure is essential. Roads, highways, schools, metro and mono rails of high standards are required in urban Bihar. However, at the same time rural Bihar must not be left behind and deprived of the fruits of development. 24/7 electricity, clean water, and irrigation system should be made available by the state to help the people realize its full potential.

Needless to say, a tough road lies ahead for Nitish Kumar. But strong will and sincerity can help him overcome any obstacle considering the kind of overwhelming mandate he has got from the Biharis.

Lalu’s support will be crucial in this regard.

“The seven commitments (nischay) made by Nitish would require almost Rs 2.70 lakh crore. People have voted for him for 35% reservation for women in government job, monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 to the educated unemployed youths, students credit card up to Rs 4 lakh limit, free Wi-Fi in every college and university apart from free electricity connection in each household over the next five years,” a senior JD(U) legislator says, adding that Lalu’s support would be required on every step to make this happen.

It is hoped that Lalu would prove its critics wrong.

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Child Rights Summit: Nations Should Spend More on Education Over Weapons

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Displaced Syrian children look out from their tents at Kelbit refugee camp, near the Syrian-Turkish border, in Idlib province, Syria, Jan. 17, 2018. VOA

Countries should spend more on schooling and less on weapons to ensure that children affected by war get an education, a child rights summit heard Monday.

The gathering in Jordan was told that a common thread of war was its devastating impact in keeping children out of school.

Indian Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who founded the summit, said ensuring all children around the world received a primary and secondary education would cost another $40 billion annually — about a week’s worth of global military expenditure.

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child rights summit
Nobel Peace Prize laureates Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai listen to speeches during the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony at the City Hall in Oslo, Dec. 10, 2014. VOA

“We have to choose whether we have to produce guns and bullets, or we have to produce books and pencils to our children,” he told the second Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit that gathers world leaders and Nobel laureates.

Global military expenditure reached almost $1.7 trillion in 2016, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said last year 27 million children were out of school in conflict zones.

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“We want safe schools, we want safe homes, we want safe countries, we want a safe world,” said Satyarthi, who shared the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai for his work with children.

Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein told the summit, which focused on child refugees and migrants affected by war and natural disasters, that education was “key,” especially for “children on the move.”

“Education can be expensive, but never remotely as close to what is being spent on weapons. … They [children] are today’s hope for a better future,” he told the two-day summit.

Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, a nonprofit group, described the number of Syrian refugees not in school in the Middle East as “shocking” as the war enters its eighth year.

Kennedy cited a report being released Tuesday by the KidsRights Foundation, an international children’s rights group, which found 40 percent of school-aged Syrian children living in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq cannot access education. VOA