BSE has over 66.5 lakh registered investors. Yet, the third most populous State in the country, Bihar, does not have a single manufacturing unit listed on the stock exchange.

It is a statistic that aptly summarises the State’s laggardness in manufacturing. This is despite three key industrialists – Anil Agrawal (Vedanta), Sampada Singh (Alkem Pharma), and King Mahendra or Mahendra Prasad (Aristo Pharma) – having roots in Bihar. However, according to the official websites of their respective groups, none of them have a manufacturing unit in their home State.

This has not deterred the growth of stock market investors in Bihar.

Data from BSE shows that as of April 22, although Bihar accounts for just 2.65 per cent of the total number of registered investors on BSE, it has witnessed a rise of over 10 per cent in the last quarter and over 47 per cent in the past year.

As on date, BSE has just one prominent name from Bihar – Aditya Vision – which is basically a trading company and it has graduated from the SME platform to the main platform. It is a multi-bagger which was listed at ₹15.50 in 2016, but the closing price on Monday was ₹3320.

So, why is Bihar so far behind other states in terms of manufacturing units?

“An investor needs sustained secured returns on capital investment and that is not happening in Bihar,” said KP Keshri, President of Bihar Industries Association.

Also, it is important that an industrialist would prefer his business to set up near a pit head, in other words, ensuring availability of raw material, which is unfortunately not so easy in the state, he added.

Gaurav Sah, Vice Chairman of CII Bihar State Council said that historically, before the separation of Bihar and Jharkhand, the region encompassed both an agriculture-based and consumer-based economy, as well as a thriving mineral and manufacturing sector in what is now Jharkhand.

“However, post-separation, Bihar found itself predominantly relying on agriculture and consumer-centric industries,” he said. Further, this transition had significant implications for Bihar’s economic landscape. The absence of a robust manufacturing sector, coupled with limited access to essential resources, has hindered the state’s ability to compete on a national scale, he added.

To attract industry, last December the State government organized Bihar Business Connect summit in Patna, where memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed for Rs 50,500-crore investment proposals. The government showed opportunities in Textiles. leathers, IT/ITeS & ESDM, Food Processing, and Hospitality & Tourism sectors.

It offers a land bank of 28 lakh square meters built-up area. There is plug and play facility at 13 locations in 9 districts. It also has a provision for ₹25,000 grant per labour for skilling besides providing ₹3,000-5,000 employers’ contribution in EPFO for new textile and leather units. There is also provision for capital subsidy and weaver of power charges.

Still, industry bodies here feel that addressing the perception barrier is essential.

“Bihar is plagued with negative stereotypes and misconceptions that deter potential investors. Conducting roadshows, engaging in awareness campaigns, and leveraging platforms like CII can play pivotal roles in reshaping perceptions,” Shah said.