Bihar has been a continuous growth story in the last few years, but there are still some issues that need to be addressed for the state to realise its true potential.
Pradeep Kashyap, Founder and CEO, MART shared his thoughts on these issues and how they can be transformed into massive growth prospects. Kashyap was speaking at Real India Conclave – an attempt by Jagran and exchange4media to bring to the forefront the huge opportunities that are waiting to be tapped in the emerging states of India. The first edition focused on the state of Bihar.
Building a path to glory
Making few observations based on his 40 years of expertise in the field of rural development and marketing, Kashyap said that it is not just Bihar but almost all the states that face the crisis of limited resources; however, it is up to the governing bodies to use that prudently.
In one of his studies conducted with The World Bank across 1,100 villages in the state of Uttar Pradesh, he found that all villagers expected a good roadway network from the Government. The reason that the villagers gave was that with better roadways, things such as electric poles and education related paraphernalia such as blackboards would become easily accessible to the villages.
“Thus, once roads are in place making transportation possible, villages will automatically get connected to the outside world. This in turn will lead to rapid development,” Kashyap added. Hence, building a strong road network will eventually lead to the development of other infrastructural needs of the rural markets.
According to him, at an all India level the one thing that contributes to the growth of rural markets, which are much bigger than their urban counterpart, is good road connectivity. Seventy per cent of rural hinterland is connected by all weather roads. “With limited resources, the government should judiciously map out a plan for the development of backward areas and to my mind roads is one thing that will make a difference,” he affirmed.
Small is big
He also draws marketers’ attention to the fact that in India there are around 64,000 villages and 40,000 towns. “Very few of us know that the top 50 cities that are the hub of all marketing activities account for only 25 per cent of the nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). On the other hand, the rural hinterland contributes to a massive 50 per cent. But most importantly, the middle tier of some 8,000 small towns also account for around 25 per cent contribution; a fact unknown to many marketers,” he shared. He urged the Government and marketers to make these middle level towns their focus as people here have as much purchasing power as their neighbours in the cities.
He called for the governing forces to look at developing this next level of towns as bigger cities such as Patna have limited scope of further development and it is really the small towns where the opportunity lies.
According to him, the third transformation that is happening in the villages of Bihar is the encouragement being given to girls to educate them even if it is for marriage purposes. “Education has become a priority for the rural populace; however, I think education alone is not the solution for employment in these backward areas,” he pointed and suggested that investments be made in setting up institutes for skills development given the high rate of unemployment in the country.
The other good news is that slowly the youth in these areas is becoming more confident in their thinking, which according to Kashyap, will lead to action and fuel growth in the rural areas of Bihar. He urged the Government to pay more attention and encourage setting up of small scale industries to redeploy agricultural labour to other industries.
He reasoned, “Although Bihar has seen growth of six to seven per cent in the agricultural industry with national average only at two to three per cent, people are opting out of the industry as it is overpopulated. Fifty per cent of the agricultural labour just contributes to 15 per cent of the GDP. While organised industries’ role has been dismal in adding to the employment scenario, it is the small scale industries that will give the required push.”
Pradeep Kashyap was speaking at the Real India Conclave – Special Focus on Emerging Markets, organised by Dainik Jagran and exchange4media. The Conclave was held in the Capital on June 29, 2012.