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Bihar a byword for worst of India: The Economist

Press Trust of India

Posted: Feb 25, 2004 at 2111 hrs IST

While conceding that there is a "shining economic opportunity" for India, a survey by leading magazine The Economist has described Bihar as a "byword" for the worst in the country.

Bihar has become a byword for the worst of India, of widespread and inescapable poverty, of corrupt politicians indistinguishable from mafia-dons they patronise, caste-ridden social order that has retained the worst feudal cruelties, the London-based weekly said.

The 14-page survey, which speaks of India's economy reviving up, has a separate section on Bihar, "an area of darkness" where many Indians are being left behind.

It mentions Naxalite terrorist attacks and chronic misrule that has led to crumbling infrastructure, collapsing education and health systems and evaporating law and order.

"Bihar has a claim to be the ancient heart of India. These days, it is seen as the armpit," it said adding that in much of India it is often joked, people do not cast votes so much as vote castes.

Quoting a study which covered 69 most disadvantaged of India's 602 districts of which 26 are in Bihar, it said Bihar's biggest growth industry is kidnapping for ransom.

The state, however, has suffered economic discrimination including low royalties paid by the Centre for mineral wealth extracted from the region, it added.

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