Rahul, a successful manager in export house, landed in Delhi a decade ago for furthering his academic career. From finding dwelling place to visiting saloon and bargaining with sabjiwala to debating with his peers in alma matter, he felt deep anguish to learn the kind of treatment and ton and tenor used for those who having myriads of ambition with hunger pains were coming from Bihar for greener pastures in the national capital. Rahul’s first-day ecstasy of getting job in export house dashed into pieces when he heard one senior executive shouting at his subordinates: “What the hell! Ye kisne kiya, pakka kisi Bihari ka hi kam hoga.” Rahul was not alone rather hosts of people hailing from Purvanchal were squirming to hear Bihari which became synonymous with abusive word till recently. From rickshwala, sabjiwala, dudhwala, paperwala, street vendors, workers, private security guards… the ubiquitous presence of Bihari workers across the country has morphed the image of Bihar---the land of Gautam Budha, Dr Rajendra Prasad and Jai Prakash Narayan---into Bihari who left his home and hearth for eking out his livelihood and in the course bathed the growth trajectory of the country with their blood and played pivotal role in putting Indian economy on cloud nine. But there is light at the end of tunnel, the travesty of Bihari workers, who have to cut umbilical chord with their kith and kin willy-nilly for migrating to other places in order to sustain life, as the socio-economical scene headwind has changed in Bihar under Nitish regime with many construction and development work going on that has gravitated many Bihari labourers to their home turf, who worked indefatigably for tagging the country ‘India Shining’ with round the clock work in several sectors across.   

Now-a-days, many parts of the country are reeling under acute labour shortage in the wake of free-fall in the number of migrant workers who are rushing back to Bihar as the state is doling out employment with loads of projects. In past few years the migration of laborers to different parts of the country has fallen by one-third causing an upsurge in the demand of such labourers. Statistics suggest that Bihari migrants constituted of about 50% of the total migrant labourers in the country which has fallen down to 40 percent recently. Some of the industries are reported to be collapsing and many construction work and projects are in doldrums owing to the paucity of manpower. According to reports, Punjab's cycle industry and the farm sector are the worst-hit because of this crisis. The Bicycle industry of Punjab is facing a closer shutdown. The shortage of labourers has created havoc among the employers. Many of them have come up with attractive schemes to lure workers. They are being offered attractive incentives, pay hikes and other freebies. Never before in the past had Bihari labourers found themselves in such a bargaining position. Notably, 90% of the cycle in India is manufactured in Ludhiyana, which is known as the Bicycle Capital of India.

It is worth mentioning that the budget expenditure of Nitish Kumar government is reported to have been ramped up by 33% in past 1 year to Rs 24,000 crore. This is utilized in construction of roads, hospitals, schools and other infrastructures, providing employment opportunities to huge number of people in the state. The stupendous investment in various sectors of state economy, where the people of Bihar are getting employment, has changed the contour of the state. From social point of view, this is billed to be retaliation to the war waged against Bihari migrants in several parts of the country.

Besides, the Central government's flagship programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MNREGA), which has generated huge employment opportunities in the rural areas, has played an effective role in pulling back workforces to the state. Many illiterate people are now engaged in work nearby their home. Now, the big challenge for the Nitish government is to retain the workforces. This could be possible only when the government kickstarts industrialization in the state. Given the population of the state, there is a need of generating enough employment opportunities in Bihar. Bihar has immense potential for agro industries, which can cater to the needs of surging number of people whose hands are waiting for jobs.

JPN