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Bihar Govt to Provide an Assistance of Rs 2 Lakh to Around 94 Lakh Low-income Families

Lakhs of youths belonging to one-third of Bihar's low-income families are living in abject poverty, with a monthly income of Rs 6,000.

Representational Image. 

Patna: Sandeep, Rohit, Rumi, and Kiran are all jobless and poor. They found a new hope after the state government announced that it would provide financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh to 94 lakh low-income families for self-employment.

Two days after the state cabinet decided to provide financial assistance under Bihar Laghu Udyami Yojna to all low-income families (94 lakh) based on the caste survey report, it is widely seen here as a major step of Mahagathbandhan government led by Nitish Kumar to counter much-hyped 5 kg free ration scheme of the BJP-led Central government ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Lakhs of youths belonging to one-third of Bihar's low-income families are living in abject poverty, with a monthly income of Rs 6,000. Most of such families belong to the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Muslims, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Extreme Backward Classes (EBCs), as revealed by socio-economic data of the Bihar caste survey report, which was made public in November 2023.

The decision to provide Rs 2 lakh to low-income families is a step toward launching a development scheme based on fresh socio-economic data from caste survey reports to fulfil a promise made by Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav. Both have repeatedly claimed that the caste census data will help uplift deprived people as development plans would be based on it.

According to the socio-economic data of the report, poverty is rampant in Bihar, with 34.13% of all families in the state living in poverty. However, the number of low-income families is highest in SCs and STs, followed by OBCs and EBCs.

As per the data, 42.93% of SC families and 42.70% of ST families are poor, while 33.16% of OBC families and 33.58% of EBC families are also poor.

Among the SCs, poverty is highest among the musahar community, known as one of India's most marginalised ones in the caste hierarchy. About 54% of musahar families are poverty-stricken, followed by 53% among bhuiyan and 42% among chamar or mochi.

Among the OBCs, 35.87% of yadav families are poor, followed by 34.32% of kushwahas and 29.9% of kurmis.

The four youths mentioned above admitted that mere news of the Mahagathbandhan government's decision to provide financial assistance brought smiles to their faces.

"This is a big development for us. It will help us to do something for a livelihood because joblessness is rampant," Sandeep, a 27-year-old matric-pass, who also cleared a certificate course in plumber work, told NewsClick.

Sandeep, a resident of Phulwarisharif on the outskirts of Patna, said the government's financial assistance will pave the way for small businesses for thousands like him who are struggling for survival.

Similarly, Rumi, in his early 40s, a resident of Maner, about 30 km from Patna, told NewsClick that if he gets financial assistance as announced, he will start a small business that he had dreamed of for years.

"This Rs 2 lakh assistance may be a small amount for many, but it will trigger a desire and motivate many like me to do something to stand on their own to earn a livelihood."

Kiran, in her early 30s, who works as an assistant in a beauty parlour, told NewsClick that this financial assistance will open a new opportunity for women like her.

"I was planning to start my beauty parlour, but lack of money was a big issue. Now I may be able to shift to my block town to open it because Rs 2 lakh is adequate for it," Kiran, a resident of Bhojpur district, said.

All of them sound upbeat and hopeful. Sensing this ground reality, the state government decided to provide them with financial assistance.

This was made clear by S Siddharth, Additional Chief Secretary of the Cabinet Department, when he said on Tuesday, minutes after the cabinet approved it, that the government has identified 62 such small industries for which this money will be given to each low-income family to start their work.

Siddharth said that at least one member of the low-income families will be provided financial assistance of Rs 2 lakh in three instalments to set up and run small industrial or processing units.

After conducting a caste survey, the Mahagathbandgan government released its report on October 2, 2023, and later increased the reservation quota based on it; the government focus is the creation of jobs, particularly government jobs.

The Mahagathbandhan government has repeatedly stated that it is committed to creating more jobs to fulfil its promise of providing 10 lakh government jobs by 2025. Besides, the state government is working to create jobs in the private sector, mainly in infrastructure construction and others.

Last week, Yadav, in a social media post on X, claimed that between November 2023 and January 2024, within three months, Bihar became the first state in the country to distribute appointment letters to around 2,25,000 newly recruited school teachers.

The Mahagathbandhan government's focus on job creation is a strategic response to counter the BJP's Hindutva narrative, which lacks substantial offerings for youths seeking employment.

Besides job creation, the Mahagathbandhan government gave the government employee status to more than 3.5 lakh contractual school teachers in December 2023 – responding to teachers' years-long demand and agitation.

Yadav has repeatedly targeted the BJP for the failure of the Modi government at the Centre to fulfil its promise of jobs.

"Some people have been distributing swords among youths while we are distributing jobs among the youths in Bihar," Yadav said. He also accused the central government of using agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation, and the Income Tax Department to target the opposition parties.

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