Nitish Kumar sidelines 'babus', looks to professionals

In a unique initiative, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has decided to rope in a team of well-paid professionals to oversee poverty alleviation programmes, rather than leaving it to bureaucrats.

The state government has decided to constitute a Bihar Rural Development Society (BRDS) comprising 32 experts drawn from the open market to help guide the implementation of rural development schemes in the state, with the leitmotif 'be the change that you wish to see'.

Advertisements were released by the state government in national newspapers on Monday on the ''autonomous society committed to eradicating poverty, promoting sustainable employment and fostering social justice''. It invited candidates to become a part of this ''self-motivated and committed multi-disciplinary team''.

The jobs being offered are state programme director, NREGA (the rural employment guarantee scheme); director, social audit; controller, finance; head, capacity building, human resources and facility management; UID Unique Identification Scheme) coordinator; and information technology director.

Salaries would be much higher than what their government counterparts earn, and comparable with the private sector. The chief executive heading the BRDS would earn in the range of Rs1.25 lakh to Rs2 lakh a month, apart from allowances for housing, travel and other expenses. Several dozen senior positions in the society would also earn candidates above Rs80,000.

The BRDS is expected to be set up by December, would oversee programmes worth Rs6,000 crore a year. It is hoping to attract experts from international bodies like the World Bank and the United Nations, as well as Indians with a proven track record in social development work.