On the inaugural day of the Uttar Pradesh government’s two-day Investors’ Summit, Prime Minister recalled the tag of ‘BIMARU’, used to describe the state.
What do BIMARU states mean, who coined the term?
- The BIMARU acronym has often been used in the past few decades to refer to the states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, usually to imply they have lagged in terms of economic growth, healthcare, education, and more.
- Ashish Bose, the late demographer (someone who studies a population and changes within it), coined this term in a paper presented to then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
- At this point in time, the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand were not separate states and were part of the grouping. BIMARU means “sickly” in Hindi.
- Bose mainly argued that from a family planning and population control perspective, these four states – with their high population growth rates – were likely to offset the gains made elsewhere in the country.
- The national goal of reaching a “stabilising population”, meaning where the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) of 2.1 was achieved, was more difficult to achieve, therefore.
- TFR estimates the number of children each woman bears in her lifetime, on average.
What is the role of BIMARU states in population growth?
- Erstwhile BIMARU states, which accounted for 41 per cent of India’s total population in 2001, will account for 43.5 per cent in 2026.
- This has tremendous political implications.
- It also shows that the share of BIMARU states in the absolute increase in India’s population during 2001-26 will be of the order of 50.4 per cent while the share of the south will be only 12.6 per cent.
- A 2020 report of the National Commission on Population of the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, titled ‘Report of the Technical Group on Population Projection’, said BIMARU states (excluding the three newly carved out states) will contribute to 49.1% of the population increase in India between 2011 and 2036.
- Population in Indian states also dictates the delimitation process or the number of seats allotted to them in Parliament.
- Currently, the seats are proportional to the Indian population as of the 1971 census.
- It was frozen until 2001 (and has now further been extended to 2026) to give states time to meet family planning goals.
- Southern states have stressed that the division of seats and devolution of funds to states on the basis of population is unfair to them.
- In North Indian states, family planning was not implemented with sincerity.
- However, there was a dip of 4 per cent in the population growth rate of these states — from 24.99 per cent in 1991-2001 to 20.92 per cent in 2001-11 — and it helped pulled down the country’s decadal growth rate.
How has BIMARU been used over time?
- The BIMARU tag has been used to criticise the parties in power in these states, and also to showcase success in achieving some progress.
- NITI Aayog’s 2019-20 Health Index Round IV also ranked Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (in highest to lowest order) at the last four positions out of 19 large states.
What are the alternatives to ‘BIMARU’?
- At times Odisha is also included in the grouping, as BIMAROU, although it is not as big a state in terms of population. An Empowered Action Group (EAG) was set up to include these five states in 2001.
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