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What Centre said on ally Nitish Kumar’s long-pending demand for ‘special category status’ to Bihar | India News

NEW DELHI: Nitish Kumar, who has been seeking special status category for Bihar since long, still has no assurance from the Centre despite his party, the Janata Dal (United), now being a part of the ruling BJP-led alliance.
The Centre has once again indicated in Parliament that it is not considering special category status for Bihar, even as it admitted that the state has been ranked as worst-performing in the NITI Aayog’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index Report 2020-21.
In his reply to a question by JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan (Lalan) Singh on special category status for Bihar, Union minister Rao Inderjeet Singh cited the Fourteenth Finance Commission recommendations to suggest that the tag of special category state would not make much of a difference.
“The Fourteenth Finance Commission, in its recommendations, has not made any distinction between General Category States and Special Category States in the horizontal distribution of shareable taxes among the States. After acceptance of the Fourteenth Finance Commission recommendations, the State’s share in divisible pool of central taxes has increased from 32 per cent as it used to be earlier to 42 per cent for the period 2015-20. This provides for more fiscal space to the states for implementation of projects,” the minister said in his written reply.
The minister also admitted that Bihar had been ranked lowest on the NITI Aayog’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index Report 2020-21, with a composite score of 52 out of 100.
While this is an improvement of 2 points from the previous year score of 50, the state is still at the last position on the list.
The Index has been constructed using 115 indicators across 16 sustainable development goals.
The categories in which Bihar’s performance have been the lowest include poverty, hunger, gender equality, industry, innovation and infrastructure, reduction of inequalities and climate action.
In his reply, the minister cited the reasons for Bihar’s poor performance as follows:
* A high proportion (33.74 per cent) of the population lives below the poverty line, and as high as 52.5 per cent suffers from multidimensional poverty
* Only 12.3 per cent of households have any usual member covered by a health insurance
* As high as 42 per cent of children under five years of age are stunted, which is the highest in the country
* It has the lowest literacy (64.7 per cent) in the age group of 15 years and above
* The state has the highest Pupil Teacher Ratio (PTR) at secondary level (class 9-10) at 58, while the India average is at 21
* It has the lowest Gross Value Added (constant prices) in agriculture per worker (in Lakhs/worker) at 0.29
* The state also has the lowest mobile tele-density (50.65 per 100 people) and lowest number of internet subscribers (30.99 per 100 people).
The five best performing states on the Niti Aayog SDG list are Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Goa in that order.
The bottom five states on the list includes: Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan.
‘Opposition RJD takes a dig at double-engine claims’
While campainging for assembly elections in various states, the BJP has often harped on the advantages of a “double engine government”.
PM Modi, in one of his election rallies ahead of the assembly elections in Bihar, had asked the voters of the state to chose double engine government over the jungle raj of “double yuvraj” referring to opposition alliance of RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, who is the son of Lalu Prasad, and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Citing the Niti Aayog rankings, the opposition RJD has mocked Nitish Kumar and has asked him why the double engine government has failed to power the state on growth trajectory.
When the rankings were declared in June, RJD president Lalu Prasad had taken a dig at Nitish Kumar and said that Bihar had topped from the bottom.
“As a result of Nitish-BJP’s 16 years of relentless efforts and negative politics Bihar ranks top from the bottom,” Lalu had then tweeted.
His son and opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav has also attacked the Bihar government in assembly over the state’s dismal growth numbers in the Niti Aayog rankings.

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