India’s most notorious state is failing to live up to its reputation
And to overcome what one minister describes as a “crisis of implementation”—teachers who don’t teach, nurses who don’t nurse, roads built but not maintained, funds received but not spent—he will have to overcome the most obdurate caste of all: the local bureaucracy.
More than the floods that frequently test Bihar’s embankments, local officials fear the rising expectations of people who no longer meekly accept their lot in life. Their instinct is to contain the waters by discouraging such self-assertion. But it is only by giving people their say, by turning unmet need into a political demand, that the state apparatus will begin to do its job.