Coalition Building in a Divided Society: Bihar State, India, 2005-2009


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. 

Rohan Mukherjee drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Patna, Bihar, in July 2009. Two separate case studies, "Reviving the Administration" and "Clearing the Jungle Raj," describe Kumar's efforts to improve administration and reduce criminal activity, respectively. 

Associated Interview(s):  Chirashree Das Gupta

managing diversity
extending services
Focus Area(s)
Civil Service
Balancing the Central and Local
Containing Patronage Pressures
Critical Tasks
Diversity management
Extending services to insecure or remote areas
Core Challenge
Dispute resolution (compliance)
Country of Reform
Case Studies
Rohan Mukherjee