Friday, 30 September 2016

Whether BIMARU states continue to lag behind?

Dr. Devendra Kothari
Population and Development Analyst
Forum for Population Action


“Unless the Modi Government of India and BIMARU states engineer a common agenda for human resource development to lift these economies, the shadow of poverty as well as poor governance issue will continue to haunt India and thwart its tryst with destiny. This is a challenge for India’s development in the years immediately ahead".

In the early 1980s,  Prof. Ashish Bose made headlines after presenting a one-page synopsis of a research paper to the then prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, blaming the “BIMARU” states for India’s burgeoning population and other socio-economic problems. BIMARU is an acronym formed from the first letters of the names of the Indian states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.[1] BIMARU has a resemblance to a Hindi word ‘Bimar’ which means sick. Researchers and policy makers have argued that India cannot develop itself unless BIMARU states are developed as well; since these states, having 40 per cent of India’s population, have recoded high fertility as well as high maternal and infant mortality, low literacy and very high unwanted fertility amid poor socio-economic development.[2]

The post explores whether   BIMARU club still has four states? Whether there is some remarkable socio-economic development in these starts?

While addressing an election meeting in Bihar in August 2015, Prime Minister Modi asserted that among the four BIMARU states - only Bihar was still lagging behind while Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh had surged ahead. Further, the concept of 'BIMARU’ state, as argued by the policy makers and politicians of these states, is outdated, since these states have been advancing faster than some of the developed ones. While speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival, 2015, Arvind Panagariya, Vice-Chairman of the NITI Aayog (formerly Planning Commission),   said that Rajasthan had come out ahead of many other states in terms of development and was no “longer considered BIMARU”. Five years ago, in 2010, the then Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia said that “the old BIMARU concept is no longer true”.

A comparison of some basic facts about these states would, however, show that the conclusion is not only incorrect but also unfortunate. Even after three decades, acronym “BIMARU”, used to define underdevelopment and poor socio-demographic indices in these states seems to ring true. All these four states still continue to lag behind, their people still enmeshed in poverty and under-development. The Rajan Committee report has also included these states in the category of the “least developed states” of India.[3]

Table 1 presents variables used by Prof. Bose to discuss the causes of slow progress in these states namely: total fertility, infant and maternal mortality and literacy. A comparison with earlier data reveals that nothing changed in the last three decades.

Population of India at 0.00 hrs of 1st March, 2011 was 1210.8 million compared to 1028.7 million in 2001. In absolute terms, the population of the country has increased by 182.1 million during the Last census decade. Slightly less than 37 per cent of the total population of the country   (445 million) was enumerated in the BIMARU states in 2011. However, these states contributed around 44 percent of the total increase of India’s population during the census decade.

The BIMARU states recorded relatively high rates of population growth during 2001-2011 as compared to the national average. In the last census decade, Bihar, with population of more than 104 million, had the third highest rate of decadal population growth in the country at 25.1 per cent; though this is misleading, as the other two faster-growing states were Meghalaya (total population 3 million) and Arunachal Pradesh (1.3 million), states that hardly have the demographic heft of Bihar. Among major 17 states with population of more than 30 million each, Bihar had the highest rate of population growth in the country. UP, with an even heavier demographic drag, grew at 20.1 per cent during this period. India grew at a much slower 17.6 per cent during this decade.

A sizable proportion of population growth in these states is fueled by unwanted fertility. Table 2 (Cols. 8 and 9) indicate that the number of births that were unplanned or simply unwanted had increased between National Family Health Survey 2 (1998-99) and NFHS 3 (2005-06). Among the all the states of India, the total unwanted fertility was highest in Bihar (1.6 children per woman), closely followed by Uttar Pradesh (1.5). Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh also recoded the higher unwanted fertility than all India average of 0.7 children per woman.  

As a result, the BIMARU states have some of the highest fertility rates in India. In 2013, the Total Fertility Rate (children per woman) was 3.4 for Bihar, 3.1 for Uttar Pradesh, 2.9 for Madhya Pradesh, and 2.8 for Rajasthan, compared to 2.3 for India as a whole.  A comparison of the total fertility (Table 1) with total unwanted fertility (Table 2) indicates that if unwanted births could be eliminated, the Total Fertility Rate would drop to below replacement level fertility required to initiate the process of population stabilization in the country. 

These states also recorded very high infant and maternal mortality rates. All four states have infant mortality rates - infants dying due to disease and malnutrition before they are a year old - higher than the national average, with Madhya Pradesh worst at 54 deaths per 1,000 live births. Maternal mortality rates, that is, mothers dying while giving birth due to lack of adequate facilities, are unconscionably high in all four states with Uttar Pradesh at 292 and Rajasthan at 255, as against the national average of 178. In all four states, around a third of children are underweight. 

To know development in a community, Literacy is another indicator of economic development. For purpose of census, a person in age limit of seven and above, who can both write and read with understanding in any of the language is considered as a literate in India.  In 2011, Bihar was at the bottom of the heap of 28 states and 7 Union territories in literacy rate ranking. Rajasthan (33rd rank) and   UP (29th) were not far behind. Bihar had the lowest male literacy rate, while Rajasthan recorded the lowest female literacy rate in the country.

Human capital is one of India’s greatest assets. Yet, the world’s fastest growing economy has not touched millions of Indian citizens at the bottom of the economic pyramid. The latest Human Development Report, 2015 does not speak very high about India’s achievement in enlarging people’s opportunities/capabilities and improving their well-being. India ranked a lowly 130 in the Human Development Index (HDI) even if up from last year's 135 in the list of 188 nations. It is mainly due to stagnancy in education, health especially reproductive health, women's empowerment, living conditions and level of urbanization in BIMARU states continue to drag India down. In other words, the biggest challenge before India today is to diffuse access to education, skills, health and related issues in a more inclusive manner in BIMARU states to unlock its human potential.[4]

For a country as vast and diverse as India, among the 17 major states of India, the southern states retain their high  ranking in 2014 compared with a 2007-08 HDI constructed by the National Institute of Labour Economics Research and Development (earlier known as the Institute of Applied Manpower Research), an arm of the NITI Aayog. On the other hand, all the four BIMARY states were at the bottom, as shown in Table 3. The 17 major states of India, with their sizeable population and geographical area, are bigger than many countries in the world. If the 17 states were to be deemed as separate countries, then these would rank from 104 (Kerala) to 163 (Bihar), according to the scores in the latest UN report.


Table 1: Selected Indicators, BIMARU States
State
Decadal population growth
(In percent)
TFR
(Number of children per  woman)
IMR
(Infant deaths per 1,000 live births)
MMR
Mother deaths per live 100,000 births)
1991-01
2001-11
2001
2013
2001`
2013
1997-98
2010-12
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Bihar
28.6
25.1
3.9
3.4
62
42
531
219
Madhya Pradesh
24.3
20.3
4.0
2.9
86
54
441
230
Rajasthan
28.4
21.1
4.7
2.8
79
47
508
255
Uttar Pradesh
25.6
20.1
3.1
3.1
82
50
606
292
India
21.5
17.6
4.5
2.3
66
40
398
178
Source: Registrar General  India, and Census of India.


Table 2: Selected Indicators, BIMARU States
State
Percent female  literates
Percent  of couples using modern contraceptive
Percent of children fully immunized
Number of unwanted children per woman
2001
2011
1998-99
2005-06
1998-99
2005-06
1998-99
2005-06
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
Bihar
47.0
63.8
22.4
28.9
11.0
32.8
0.9
1.6
Madhya Pradesh
63.7
70.6
42.6
52.8
22.4
40.3
0.9
1.0
Rajasthan
60.4
67.1
38.1
44.4
17.3
26.5
1.2
1.0
Uttar Pradesh
56.3
69.7
22.0
29.3
21.2
23.0
1.2
1.5
India
64.8
74.0
42.8
48.5
42.0
43.5
0.7
0.8
Source: Registrar General India and National Family Health Surveys 2 and 3.


Table 3: Major States of India by HDI ranking , 2015
Major State of India
HDI Value
Rank
1
2
3
Kerala
0.7117
1
Himachal Pradesh
0.6701
2
Tamil Nadu
0.6663
3
Maharashtra
0.6659
4
Punjab
0.6614
5
Haryana
0.6613
6
Jammu & Kashmir
0.6489
7
Karnataka
0.6176
8
Andhra Pradesh
0.6165
9
Gujarat
0.6164
10
All India
0.6087
-
West Bengal
0.6042
11
Rajasthan
0.5768
12
Odisha
0.5567
13
Madhya Pradesh
0.5567
14
Assam
0.5555
15
Uttar Pradesh
0.5415
16
Bihar
0.5361
17
  
Although, some of these states have experienced high growth rates, they still lag other more progressive states. In an article - Are BIMARU States Still Bimaru? - Economist Vinita Sharma extended Bose's analysis to recent years to ascertain if the proposition is still valid. She finds that the BIMARU states have made a lot of progress, yet they continue to be BIMARU as the gap between them and the national average persists in a majority of indicators.[5]

In 2013, a committee constituted under the chairmanship of Raghuram Rajan, then Chief Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Finance, developed an index of backwardness to compare states with ten sub-components including per capita expenditure, the poverty rate and urbanization rate. On that ranking, Odisha ranked the lowest followed by Bihar and Madhya Pradesh at joint second from last. Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh were also tied at the same rank.

Politically, BIMARU states are very important. Between them these four states account for 174 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha. The BJP’s challenge will be won and lost here. As such, the BJP, the ruling party, has to focus on these battleground states if it wants to come back in power in 2019.

In sum, unless the Government of India and BIMARU states engineer a common agenda for human resource development to lift these economies, the shadow of poverty and as well as poor governance issue will continue to haunt India and thwart its tryst with destiny. This is a challenge for India’s development in the years immediately ahead.



[1] Since 2000, there has also been a change in the geographic composition of BIMARU states, with Bihar being bifurcated into Bihar and Jharkhand; Madhya Pradesh being bifurcated into Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh; and Uttar Pradesh being bifurcated into Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

[2] “Emerging demographic divide: A dilemma for India” Blog Entries by Devendra K Kothari at: http://kotharionindia.blogspot.in/2012/02/emerging-demographic-divide-dilemma-for.html.

[3]Rajan Panel Report on backwardness of States of India”, Blog Entries by Devendra K Kothari at: http://kotharionindia.blogspot.in/2013/10/rajan-panel-report-on-backwardness-of_3169.html.

[4] Refer, Author’s article: India: Empowering Human Capital- an Unfinished Agenda at: http://kotharionindia.blogspot.in/2016/05/india-needs-to-be-as-wary-of-unlocking.html.

 [5] Refer, Vinita Sharma. 2015. Are BIMARU States Still Bimaru?, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 50, Issue No. 18.

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