Recently when I was in Lucknow. My hometown. I met quite a few of my old school friends. Whom I had not met for an eon. It was nostalgic. Seeing them and their better-halves. Some of whom. I was interfacing for the first time in my life. Ever since they had got married. But, strangely, I couldn’t meet their children barring a few. As most of them had moved out, to either Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi-NCR and some even abroad. In pursuit of professional careers and greener pastures. But as a saving grace. I could meet the children of two of my friends. One in business and the other in politics. Both readying themselves. To take on the mantle from their father. This got me thinking. As to why, all these children had to leave their hometown. Perhaps, it was in pursuit of their careers. And, in the process they had to leave behind their parents, many of them now old. In fact, what I came to know later was. They had to leave their homes much earlier and way before. They even started their professional careers. First for professional education and then for jobs. This brings me to the sad point. That most of my friends are now living alone, with their spouses.
Post, India’s independence. When Jawahar Lal Nehru became the Prime Minister of India. He towed with an interesting idea of having one ‘heavy Industry’ in every district. That could have given employment and career opportunities to many, locally. But, unfortunately the bright idea never saw the light of the day. Perhaps, Nehru had realised. Though India is an agrarian society. Agriculture alone will not be able to take the load of its population explosion. From around thirty crore then. To a hundred and twenty five now.
Meanwhile, some smart states of India. Driven by their vibrant and entrepreneurial combo of PBEs (politicians-bureaucrats-entrepreneurs). Took lead in developing pockets of industrial corridors in their states. That served as an early bird advantage. Such pockets came up mainly in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. To name a few, soon after independence. This now gives them, an exponential edge over other states. That did not follow suit, only to become laggard states. And, how quickly and craftily. The business savvy PBE of these states also realised. That Industry and entrepreneurship should not be close to the seat of power that is Delhi. Therefore they made Mumbai the financial and business hub of India. Now let’s see what happened to some other big key states of India after independence.
Let us start with Bengal. A front line state of India then. Much promoted and hyped as a business-savvy state by the Britishers. But, it stopped thinking about business. The moment Stalin, Lenin and Marx started parading the streets of Bengal. The tremors of which were felt in the entire North East. When existing businesses started closing down and new ones feared to enter. The age old and much hyped Bengal centric boast of, “What Bengal thinks today, India will think tomorrow,’ died down. Entrepreneurial drive vanished. In fact, on a lighter vein. I even remember a joke that goes on as follows:
‘What will happen if you give a dozen Bananas each. To a needy Punjabi, Bengali or a person from the Hindi heartland of UP-Bihar? The most likely answer would be. Bengali will eat all the bananas in one go, UP-Bihar will eat six and save six for the next meal and Punjabi would eat six and sell six. And ergo, that sizes it up, quite well.
But, what happened to Bihar including the present day Jharkhand. And Uttar Pradesh including Uttarakhand. The political nerve centre of India. Is historically amazing, and to be more precise, pathetic. We have had eight Prime Ministers from Uttar Pradesh. They all have served India including UP and Bihar for 44 years. But still U.P. is where it was-Laggard. Further, many important portfolios under these Prime Ministers have been held by great stalwarts as ministers from Bihar. But still, Bihar is where it was- both backward and laggard. Except, for adding a few new trains as a royalty of sorts. Not much has been done for these states by these ministers. In fact a stray Integral Coach Factory that was once gifted to Allahabad, was also handed over by Mrs Indira Gandhi to Kapurthala during Punjab agitation to please the Sikhs. When easily she could have announced any other project. Or given an additional coach factory to Punjab, or could have announced something in return, for Allahabad. But she did nothing of that sort.
UP-Bihar is a typical case of Chirag tale andhera. U.P. only knows how to make Prime Ministers. Which is an old loaded pride of the state. In return. These Prime Ministers who hailed from Uttar Pradesh genuinely thought of serving and developing India. But not the state of U.P. as a whole, where they hailed from. On the contrary they only focused on their own constituencies for development and that too. Not in a professional manner. And never ever concentrated on the entire state. For example take the case of Rae-Bareilly. It has been the bastion of Gandhi family for decades. But is still nothing to pride upon, even after so many years. Specifically, if we were to compare it with Baramati. The bastion of Sharad Pawar.
The other point that comes to my mind was the combo of PBE in UP-Bihar. That never worked in unison and ran their own agendas. Unlike the ones in the advanced states. Where entrepreneurial bench marking, economic progress and educational sufficiency of the state was an important cardinal rule, irrespective of which party ruled. Truly, a tacit understanding. And, in all of this. The much complacent populace of these states also need to be blamed. As they never demanded the best out of their PBEs. Rather, they kept smiling at whatever they got. Not realising that their children, one day will have to face the brunt of all this.
And, last but not the least. Netas from UP-Bihar did not fare well in business, entrepreneurial and industrial astuteness. They never had a hidden string of understanding among themselves, while they belonged to several parties. To take their state on the path of progress. As compared to their counterparts from advance states. Where they also bickered. But when it came to intrinsic issues about the progress of state. They joined cause and had some form of understanding and unity. In fact netas from UP-Bihar were far ahead in political brinkmanship. But that only helped their party, themselves personally and their family and friends.
In domino effect. I’m sure the present generation of job seekers and professionals from the laggard states must be asking. Why Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, UP and Uttarakhand are not like Maharashtra, Gujarat, or Karnataka? What have the dynamic combo of PBEs of these advanced states done which our PBEs couldn’t do? When will people from Mumbai, Bengaluru and Gurgaon come to work in Lucknow, Patna and Ranchi. And more specifically when will I get a chance to work in Ranchi, Patna, Lucknow and more specifically my hometown. The harsh answer remains the same. Not during their lifetime. But I don’t rule out miracles.
By Kamlesh Tripathi