Any citizen of India with a conscience cannot help but weep for the unfortunate condition of the industrious, uncomplaining and continuously short-changed people of the eastern state of Bihar (pop.104 million). Despite a mountain of evidence that liquor prohibition has failed in every country and society since it was promulgated in the US in the 1930s and gave birth to the mafia and prolonged wars between hooch gangs, Nitish Kumar, who was re-elected chief minister in 2016, enacted legislation imposing liquor prohibition in Bihar. Predictably since then, illegal vends distilling cheap country liquor have mushroomed across this chronically mis-governed state with notoriously corrupt police personnel hand-in glove with liquor mafiosi. On December 18, 70 manual labourers were done in by spurious liquor in Chhapra district. On January 3, three residents of the Siwan district died from the same cause.
For the past half century since sham socialists Laloo Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar clambered upon the late Jaiprakash Narayan’s Navnirman anti-Congress movement and established themselves in Bihar politics, these greedy opportunists have heaped misery on the state’s public. Like the old man who climbed aboard Sinbad’s shoulders and refused to get down. While Laloo has been convicted and imprisoned for being caught with his hand in the public till in the infamous fodder purchase scandal, Nitish Kumar, a classic political turncoat, has self-served three terms as chief minister by adeptly switching allies on the eve and after assembly elections.
During the past 50 years — in 300 BCE, the state was the epicentre of the mighty Maurya and Gupta empires and seat of Buddhist and Jain philosophy — under the rule of these latter-day Neros, Bihar has entered a new dark age. The pathetic plight of Bihar’s people highlights the error that the founding fathers of the Constitution made in rejecting completion of primary education as the pre-condition of right to exercise adult franchise.