PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar may hate his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi, but that doesn’t stop him from borrowing from the Modi model. Something very unusual is happening in Bihar these days. Yet they are largely going unreported in the name of image makeover of the state. After five long years, Bihar is holding a Global Meet. Unlike the first one in January 2007, which was inaugurated by the then President A P J Abdul Kalam, Nepalese Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on February 17 inaugurated this one. The Global Meet on Resurgent Bihar 2007 was initially a civil society initiative, while this meet is purely a government exercise.
The stated objective of the Global Meet was to discuss ways to accelerate the momentum of growth and formulate development strategies for Bihar. However, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi denied it was an investment-raising exercise.
The 2007 meet saw many NRIs discussing potential investment in Bihar, who later withdrew because of red tapism and lack of follow through.
It seems that after spending government funds on holding many seminars from anti-poverty meetings, the organisers still have not got it right. On the first day of the Global Summit 2012, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia could not find a place on the dais and was forced to sit with the audience. As he holds the post equivalent to the Union cabinet minister, the protocol demands suitable place for him on the dais.
Meanwhile, the state government, afraid of a poor turn-out signalling a flop show, decided to bring administration to a standstill in Patna. It was made mandatory for all officials and employees of the state secretariat to attend the three-day Global Summit. To ferry them from the four Secretariat buildings to the Shri Krishna Memorial Hall, where the meet was taking place, buses were pressed into service at government cost. On February 17, these vehicles packed with government employees who were ordered to leave their desks disgorged the bemused officers at the inauguration.
The government order was meant for officials above the Rs 5,400 grade. As a result, lesser mortals had a field day at the Secretariat in the absence of their masters. The official reason given for making the attendance compulsory is that they would learn a lot from such international meet.
Nitish Kumar put face before performance, because for three days, the Secretariat came to a standstill leaving ordinary citizens with unresolved issues to miss the bus.