US, UK evince interest in Bihar growth story

PATNA: With the Nitish-led NDA government firmly in the saddle in the state, with not even an iota of political instability, world powers have started taking keen interest in Bihar’s progress and exploring opportunities for possible investment.

In the past less than 12 hours, highly-placed representatives of the US and the UK called on the chief minister and praised him for the positive developments in the state.

US undersecretary of state for political affairs Wendy Sherman met Kumar here on Tuesday and said, “Bihar has emerged as an inspiring model of positive change and good governance.” On Monday evening, in New Delhi, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, called on the chief minister at Bihar Niwas and expressed deep interest in the growth story of Bihar. He also explored the investment opportunities available to British companies in the state.

The one-day visit of Sherman to the state capital is seen as the US’ appreciation of Bihar’s growth and success story, about which it received information through various sources. The extensive coverage of the changing face of Bihar by the world’s top magazines also drew the attention of world powers towards Bihar, which they once saw as a caste-riddled, lawless and poor Indian state.

Sherman, on her maiden India visit, called on Bihar governor Devanand Konwar and also attended a meeting with some entrepreneurs, analysts, community leaders, NGO activists and state officials to discuss trends in development and governance throughout the state as well as the challenges they face in accomplishing their goals.

During her meeting with Kumar and earlier in an interactive session, Sherman, who was accompanied by US embassy Charge d’affairs A Peter Burleigh, said, “Bihar is on the move. Its entrepreneurs, innovators and NGOs embody the spirit of Bihar. Bihari society in general and youth in particular, appear eager to create new opportunities for economic growth and development.”

“International players also want to play and fill gaps in Bihar,” said social scientist Shaibal Gupta, who also attended the interactive meeting with Sherman. In the long term, these players see the extent of provincial political stability and growth of market, he added.

In Delhi, on Monday, Chancellor Osborne, during his meeting with Kumar, wanted to explore investment opportunities available to British companies for participation in the growth story of Bihar. The CM informed him that huge investment opportunities were available in power sector, provision of professional education like engineering, management, law and skill development as well as agro-based industries.

The CM told Osborne that though there has been good growth in the state despite handicaps, there is a huge development deficit. “Bihar has benefited from the participation of Department for International Development ( DFID) in the development process and it requires continued engagement of all development partners,” Kumar said.

The CM explained to both the foreign dignitaries about the turnaround of Bihar, saying he emphasized good governance including enforcement of rule of law, transparency in functioning of the government, investment in infrastructure, and strengthening delivery of public services like health and education.

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