Growing up in his village in Bihar, Amit Kumar Das dreamt of owning a big tractor so that he could double the produce in his father’s farm. But for that, he needed Rs 25,000 and that meant going to Delhi, as a friend advised him. His father didn’t think much of his dream and so, Das ran away from home. While he did his BA from Delhi University, he applied for a basic computer learning course at NIIT. He was refused admission because he fumbled for an answer when the interviewer asked him, “When did you come here?” He enrolled for a crash course in English, after which he was taken in by NIIT for a six-month course that was extended to a year. He completed the course and joined NIIT as a faculty member. It was at that point that he dropped his idea of owning a tractor and instead, decided to become a “computer entrepreneur in Delhi”.
From then on, Das and his dream set off on a new journey. In 2001, with his savings of “a few thousand rupees”, he started his software development firm, Isoft, from a cyber cafe in Bharat Nagar, a run-down south Delhi locality. Isoft today has 40 clients across India, UAE and Australia, and 150 employees in its offices in Delhi, Dubai and Sydney.
Meanwhile, Das, who was by now in Sydney, kept dreaming till that dream turned full circle in 2009 and reached his village, Mirdaul, in Bihar’s Forbesganj district. His wish list now reads: a “world-class education hub” in Mirdaul, a “super-speciality hospital” because his father couldn’t get proper medical care when he had a heart attack, and drinking water to people in the state’s districts where contaminated water causes severe illnesses.
Das, 30, is among the many who are investing in a state that they left many years ago because it didn’t offer them enough opportunities for education or business. Their journey back to Bihar reflects the story of the state itself: from a negative GDP growth rate of 5.15 per cent in 2003-2004—a figure filled with stories of millions migrating out of the state—it now clocks a growth rate of 11.03 per cent, the second highest in the country. This turnaround comes with new stories, like those of Das and others who are now returning to the state, looking for opportunities in the government’s ambitious infrastructure projects or