The sorry state of Bharatiya Nationalism today: Hatred for UP and Bihar

There are a lot of smug South and West Bharatiyas on the internet who think that helping out our poor states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan etc is wasteful expenditure and are asking why comparatively rich states of the union like Tamil Nadu, Maharastra, Karnataka etc should support the poorer states. What is worse is the fact that most of these arguments are coming from the self claimed nationalists and Hindutvawadis of the internet.

It is a disgrace to the actual Nationalists of Bharat that such questions from the supposedly nationalistic right wingers of Bharat need to be addressed. The arguments of these supposedly “RW/Nationalists” range from a very malignant like question of allowing Bihari/UP migrants into their respective states for work to a much less malignant question of transfer of tax money (i.e. fiscal transfer from GoI). The onus of correcting the narrative is thus on the well informed and well read people who put their national identity over state identities so as to debunk these cancerous ideas before they take hold any further.

Questioning the right of Bihari laborers to work outside Bihar is a malignant idea

This is a very malignant idea to begin with, even though it might look to many half informed people as being a very legitimate point, specially to those who take their economic policies and ideas from the far right websites like Brietbart. Bharat is a nation state and single unified country, a fact which many of these supposed nationalists seem to forget when questioning the right of anyone to migrate and work within Bharat. Every Bharatiya has the right to move, work and settle in any place he wants. Bharat is the homeland and motherland of every Bharatiya born here and hence the very basis of this question of allowing people of different states to migrate to other states to take up jobs reeks of anti-nationalism. This is the reason why article 370 of the constitution, which protects Jammu and Kashmir from the free movement and settlement of rest of Bharatiyas, is a very malicious and divisive one since it prevents the Jammu and Kashmir from becoming a full core territory of Bharat like rest of the states. Making these kinds of questions and their logical implication will lead to creation of article 370 like situation in every state in Bharat, leading to every state becoming a non core territory of Bharat just like J&K.

Strangely enough, these same nationalists, who oppose article 370 (and rightfully so) because they see how article 370 prevents full integration of J&K into the union, don’t feel ashamed when questioning the movement of Bihari labour to other more fortunate parts of Bharat. The nationalists should know better rather than to question the right of any Indian to migrate, work and live anywhere in Bharat as per his will.

Debunking the myth that Bihari Migrants are a strain on the local economy

The next popular myth is that immigration is bad for the local economy of the immigrants. This of course has been debunked by every single economics paper and study on the entire planet. All cases of immigration, specially the ones where the immigrants are working for their livelihood is good for the economy as a whole. This is of course very logical- each immigrant adds a pair of working hands to the local economy and the society he migrates to. The greatest resource of any country is the Human resource and hence immigrants add the biggest resource i.e. the Human resource to the local economy.

In fact, logically speaking, immigrants are a better human resource than the local population. Why? In economics and population studies, there is a concept of dependency ratios and demographic dividend. Humans who are too young (0-15 years) or too old (60+ years) need to be supported by the working age population (15-59 years). The ratio of working population to the dependence population is called dependency ratio and Bharat right now has favourable dependency ratio i.e. more working than dependent people. This is something many Bharatiyas half-interested in economics are familiar with since this is something frequently used in debates and news on how Bharat has a great potential because of “young” population which gives it a demographic dividend.

How is this relevant to the question here? It is relevant because the immigrants add a net positive to the dependency ratio. Unlike the local population, which had to be supported in their young age from 0-15 years by the local population, the immigrants from Bihar will not have to be fed or raised or supported to the age of 0-15 because they are already grown up and are in working age. Therefore, the immigrants add to the economy and working population from day one without being dependent on the local economy. Thus, immigrants are much better human resource to the local population than local population per se from an economic perspective.

Ironically, many of the people who sprout hatred against immigration from Bihar were also against emigration to Saudi Arabia, UAE or USA. Their concerns about Bharat losing talent and human resource to the foreign countries is quite valid. But for some reason, they don’t seem to apply the same logic in this case that the migration to their home states from less fortunate states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh is good as it brings human resource from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Of course, this is not to say that immigration is bad for Bihar or Uttar Pradesh either. The immigrants are not irrational to leave their homes to work in the States they migrate to, to live under often subhuman living conditions, for nothing, specially for the thankless people who think their work towards their host states are unwelcome. Biharis endure such hardships because the situation back home for them is even worse. They would rather save some money by working in richer states and send it back home for their poor kids, to send them to school and run their families.

Immigrant repatriations help to ease up the wealth inequalities among states to a large extent. And of course, by working in other states, they gain valuable experience in the fields they work in and can in near future, when the poorer states pick up growth and development, can establish new shops, restaurants, businesses to create jobs back home. This is a win-win situation for everybody. Of course, wages will drop in short run in host states but the lower wages are also responsible for lower overall costs for the consumers in the local economy as a whole. So banning immigration to keep wages high is as brilliant as banning power-looms to keep the wages from hand looms high.

The net effect of such Trump-esque/Brietbart type policies will be net drain for the economy. If anything, Bihar having lower economic opportunities is the reason why states like TN and Maharashtra continue to gain more investment even though the rising costs of labour in these states should in theory keep investments out of these states. Thanks to the possibility of immigration, the economic engines of these rich states continue to run. But sadly, the immigrants who help in this miracle only get contempt from their supposedly nationalistic Bharatiyas.

This is only the economic story. Social problems can arise out of immigrants if they don’t assimilate and engage in crime. But most of the Hindu immigrants, whom these supposed nationalists are attacking assimilate very quickly due to similar culture and religion and hardly engage in crime. Most of the second generation immigrants become as Marathi or Tamilians as the native Marathi or Tamilians in most cases. Yet, these people have a problem with the immigration from Bihar and UP. Worse yet, many of them go as Hindu nationalists as well, showing their actual concerns for their fellow Bihari and UP Hindu brethren. One can understand the opposition for Muslim immigration from Muslim ghettos around Bharat (Bangladesh, Burma) and the truck load of problems such migrants bring, but why are these Hindu nationalists opposing migration from Hindu Bihar and Uttar Pradesh?

Why transfer of tax and wealth from rich states to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh is justified

There are many people from richer states of the Union, who take issue with transfer of taxes from their states to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. One has to wonder what kind of Hindutva or nationalism they follow when they have problem with transfer of wealth from one Hindu to another Hindu or one Bharatiya to another Bharatiya. Is the transfer of taxes from rich states to poorer states any different from taxing rich people to pay for the poor people, which is how any government anywhere in the world operates?

What would one think of a guy who thinks that government should tax rich people and spend that tax on the same rich people? So one would think they would be having no problem with transfer of taxes from richer Bharatiyas to poor Bharatiyas, if they are nationalists who care about nationalism and hence fellow Bharatiyas or they would be cool with transfer of wealth from rich Hindus to poor Hindus when they define themselves as Hindutvawadis, since they supposedly care about well being of fellow Hindus. But no, these are the people who claim to be Nationalists and Hindutvawadis but are unhappy with transfer of wealth within the same nation and among Hindus.

Even worse is the fact that these people whine about wealth transfer although it is not even that significant. There is barely 20% per capita transfer difference between rich states like Maharashtra and poor states Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (see the last table). Also, the same people malign poor development record of Bihar but as can be seen from graph below, per capita development expenditure of Bihar is less than 50% of Bharat. Do we really expect our poor brothers from Bihar to catch up quickly when they get half the development assistance as compared to average Bharat?

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Per capita development expenditure is much lower in Bihar

Historical step-motherly treatment of Bihar

Of course, many of the tax redistribution whiners don’t know or sometimes don’t even care to know that Bihar deserves far more wealth redistribution and compensation if we are fair and neutral. Bihar was impoverished by systemic discrimination by the central government since independence. The planned transfers to Bihar in every 5-year plan has always been much lower than the average. The below table is compiled on actual plan allocation to Bihar in each of the 5-year plans till 2007. As can be seen in the last column, Bihar got much lower than projected expenditure in the plan which is based on population of the state. This unequal distribution of resources against one state can hardly be justified for such a long duration. If anything the current excess fiscal transfers to Bihar would only correct the historical maltreatment of Bihar.

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Plan Allocation to Punjab and Bihar since independence

Also, one cannot forget about the freight equalization policy, which killed the competitiveness of any industry in Bihar till 1991. Under this policy, basic raw material like steel and coal, abundantly available in Bihar were made available at a constant price across the entire country to encourage development country-wide. But what it essentially did was blunt competitiveness of Bihar while allowing the coastal states to prosper at the expense of Bihar and other mineral rich states. Having a coastline already improves competitiveness due to easy access to world economy and freight equalization ensured that Bihar lost the only source of competitiveness it had till 1991. So when the reforms in 1991 happened, the other coastal states which were already well placed with decent industrialization base leap-frogged in development while Bihar-UP stay stuck in a vicious cycle of crime and under-development.

It should be emphasized that, when RW whines about being robbed to pay for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, they follow the exact same propaganda as Maoists use in Bihar and Chattisgarh. Maoists point to central government mining their states to pay for the development of rest of Bharat as a propaganda tool. These people too are now repeating the same argument of how their tax money is being used to fund and fix Bihar’s problems. How nationalistic are these people that their line of reasoning resembles eerily similar to that of the Maoists and terrorists on the very same issue. Should Bihar and Chattisgarh now take over their mines and ban the use of vast natural resources from being used elsewhere in the Union using the same logic these people seem to use- why redistribute Bihari mineral wealth for helping rest of Bharat? Isn’t this line of thinking as dangerous as the Chrislamists/Maoist version of political discourse?

We will give you another example of hypocrisy while discussing this issue. Some South Bharatiyas salivate at the prospect of river water linking project of Ganga with Cauvery. Do they have any locus standi when they want to share water from the same UP, Bihar belt but not their money? Is this their sense of nationalism? Somehow for these people, wanting to take water from Ganges river during deficits in Cauvery river is justified because of “nationalism”, where sharing of national resources like water is justified, but they themselves won’t share their economic opportunities and resources for our Bihari brothers.

Additionally, some people in the social media think that Bihar and Uttar Pradesh will be always backward. But this is inherently misguided as this goes against the civilization history of Bharatvarsha. Historically Gangetic plains have always been very rich and seat of important power and nurtured our civilization. So it is ill-informed opinion to assume that Bihar and UP cannot rise up and have something inherently wrong with them. It is probably bad karma of us Indians as a whole that today, our civilizational brothers in our civilization’s heart have to endure such contempt from the westernized Right Wingers masquerading as nationalists.

If given enough time, our Bihari and UP brothers will catch up with the rest of Bharat, specially with proper investments and better governance. Till then, it is our duty as fellow citizens of Bharat to help our brethren from Bihar and UP with all the help they need. Why else do we have the union of Bharat if not to help each other in our times of weakness. There is no point in preserving the union, if we don’t stick by our brethren in Bihar and UP in their times of need. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh with few years of good governance have already broken out of BIMARU state tag, so there is no reason to think that UP and Bihar cannot.

Lastly, a strong Bihar and UP are good for Bharat’s economy as a whole. Small wealth transfer today will quickly help these states grow and rest of the states will gain tomorrow when these states are rich. Higher economic activity within the country will help every state just as it helps all countries in the world, if world economy is doing better. So, in terms of transfers Bihar and UP will pay back more than what GoI spends on them today.

Thus, those who stand against this temporary help to our fellow Hindus are completely misinformed and doing a great disservice to this nation.

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(The article was first published here. You can follow @yugaparivartan on twitter.)

References:

www.nipfp.org.in/media/medialibrary/2013/04/WP_2012_107.pdf

http://www.india-seminar.com/2007/580/580_mohan_guruswamy.htm

http://www.econ.hit-u.ac.jp/~kokyo/APPPsympo04/India.pdf

Image Source:

http://www.darpanmagazine.com/news/india/elections-in-bihar-campaigning-in-punjab-to-woo-bihari-migrants/


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