Coalition Building in a Divided Society: Bihar State, India, 2005-2009
Focus: Decentralization, Balancing the Central and Local, Containing Patronage Pressures, Civil Service
Topics: Managing Diversity, Extending services to insecure or remote areas
Type: Case Studies
Author: Rohan Mukherjee
Keywords: managing diversity, extending services
Nitish Kumar was elected chief minister of Bihar, India's poorest state, in December 2005, when the state's government was weighed down by two decades of institutional decline, widespread lawlessness and a society deeply divided by caste and religion. To win the election and to implement his reform agenda, he engineered a grand bargain whereby almost every distinct social group had a share in state-sponsored development. This paved the way for more fundamental reforms in law and order, administration and infrastructure. Although Bihar's more intractable issues remained in 2009, the state had begun turning the corner. Two separate memos, "Clearing the Jungle Raj" and "Reviving the Administration," describe Kumar's efforts to improve law and order and administration in Bihar, respectively.