Of Hills, Hopes and Happiness

On my way to interview Bisna, wife of a migrant worker in Tanahun, Nepal

On my way to interview Bisna, wife of a migrant worker in Tanahun, Nepal

After weeks of brainstorming over field guides and running up to unsuspecting strangers to ask for interviews for our dummy protocols, we were finally good to go for Nepal. Except that I almost missed my flight and survived through a real life episode of ‘Need for Speed’ in order to ensure that I didn’t. As we ran through the length and breadth of Terminal 3 of the IGI Airport, my colleague and I (who I happened to share the experience with) finally understood what it felt like to be chasing distraught lovers about to take off to another country. The only reason that I could board the flight that day was because it got delayed. Thus began my much awaited trip to Nepal. [Read more…]

Contextualizing Bihar: What’s Going on in the Neighborhood?

A lot of the work that CKS does is focused in India’s eastern state of Bihar, which is the third largest state in the country, with a population of over 100 million. Our work there covers a range of sectors, such as healthcare, telecommunications, and microfinance. We also plan to open an innovation lab in Bihar in the early part of next year, in order to better meet the state’s many needs. All this work has only been possible, in a large part, due to the changes in government policy that came about since the appointment of Nitish Kumar as the state’s Chief Minister in 2005. Prior to this, Laloo Prasad Yadav held the office for about 15 years, during which the state was notorious for its corruption and backwardness. Under Kumar’s governance, many of these negative trends are being targeted, and several programs and schemes have been implemented that are designed to robustly drive development in the state.

A very interesting development resulting from these policy changes is the trend of migrant workers returning to state. Previously, a large percentage of the unskilled and semi-skilled labour force of India came from Bihar, but this is no longer the case. As a result, a running joke of sorts is that ever since Nitish Kumar came into power, all the carpenters have disappeared. This is because Bihar is now being viewed as a growing economy with great potential, where fortunes can be harvested.

[Read more…]