Bihar, the most underdeveloped and underprivileged state of the nation is the new tiger economy of the country. It has achieved a growth rate of about 11.03% in its GDP in the last five years under the leadership of Nitish Kumar. With this, Bihar shut the mouth of all the critics who were always commenting on the development in this part of the country. A state which was termed as the “BIMARU” state has today reached this level of growth due to proper government administration.
Now the bigger question which arises is whether this new status will bring any change to the lives of the people not only those living inside the state, but also those who live outside, popularly known as “Biharis”. As we all know the term “Bihari” is used as slang in some northern parts of India, mostly in Delhi, as a slang to address or demoralize a person, or to make him feel inferior.
It has been a long term mind-set of people that all Biharis are illiterate, corrupt, law breakers; they are the ones who have taken their jobs, their lands, their seats in colleges; they are menial workers or say present day “girmitya majdoor”. They do not know how to behave; they have no culture, no respect for others’ well being.
The biggest question that comes to my mind, very often, is that why is it so that the image of Bihar is painted darker than it actually is? May be the reason behind this is that there is no one to speak on the behalf of the community or no one to listen to what they want to say. Our politicians or the so called ‘servants of the people’ show their concern on various issues like the foreign policy of U.S and China, climate change; they protest against Mittal’s and Tata’s building industries and many more issues of so called national importance. But how many of us have ever seen them talk about an issue of regionalism that exists in our own land? The problem that is being discussed in the offices of all the ministers today is the problem of Indians being ill treated in the foreign land, but no concern is being shown to the discrimination that is taking place within the country itself. The discrimination that is making these people feel alienated in their own country?
Irrespective of the fact that what a Bihari does, from a rickshaw puller to a technocrat, these people have equal contribution in the development of most of the states. These are amongst the people who helped in making roads, houses, metros, railways etc. so that we could develop.
Biharis are not just limited to menial works, as they are placed at almost every top-notch place from politics to cricket, to the civil services. They are doctors, engineers, managers, writers, artists, businesspersons, journalists and much more.
Nevertheless, irrespective of all these, the image of a “Bihari” remains the same.
There are mainly three reasons for this –
1) The image has been tarnished by the politicians of the state. They took the state in the dark ages. They divided the state in the name of casteism and built a system based on corruption, red tapism and sycophancy. Because of this, crime rate increased and with it, Naxals groups such as Ranvir Sena and MCC. Money meant for development went into the pockets of politicians and babus. Thus creating a bad name.
2) With their constant hard work, Biharis started occupying a better position in other states. As a result, the natives thought that these people are eating their jobs and resources and started harassing them, as in case of Maharashtra, Punjab and Assam.
3) As most of the Biharis doing the menial jobs are illiterate and belong to rural parts, thus, they know very little about the life in urban centers. Their way of speaking and activity is not up to the mark and as they are poor and downtrodden, others make fun of them.
People from other states always argued that if they are talented and multi-faceted but rarely do they contribute to the development of the nation as a whole? Why are they still lagging behind? I bring to you some points on why Biharis are forced to leave their land.
1) The first reason is its geography. Every year, Bihar faces the brunt of nature. In some parts, it faces floods (as in the case of Kosi region) and on the other hand there are areas like Gaya and Jehanabad where drought is very common. So there remain not many options for the people, as they have to feed their family and also save their lives. They have to leave their land in search for employment.
2) Bihar has faced this situation due to the parochial interest of their leaders. Its leaders from the time of independence were busy playing caste cards instead of building infrastructure or an atmosphere where every hand get works and every child gets education. Funds meant for development projects were used in building infrastructure for public servants i.e. for netas and babus.
3)Bihari students migrated to other states in search of higher education. Due to lack of quality education and very few institutes offering higher education. This situation has to do with the policies of the leaders of the state who never tried to uplift the condition of education in the state. The leaders kept the people busy on issues which had nothing to do with their daily lives and development. So that they do not ask question about serious issues such as education and health. For this purpose they used every possible way such as promoting hatred in the name of caste and thus came up Naxal groups such as Ranvir Sena and MCC.
Therefore, the students had no other options other than studying hard so that they could get admissions in IITs, IIMs, JNU, DU and other well-reputed colleges. With their talent and hard work, they flooded these colleges and paved new avenues for them.
4) Bihar has no major industry and after partition from Jharkhand the situation worsened as mineral rich places such as Bokaro, Hazaribagh and Jamshedpur went to Jharkhand. The industry of Bihar for e.g. sugar mills and fertilizer plants either were shut down or were incurring losses. In this situation the common people or the technicians were not able to get enough jobs and so had to migrate.
As we all know that nobody wants to migrate from their native place because you have got many memories and you have your own people there. Therefore it is not a matter of happiness for anyone to leave their place and migrate. It is not a matter of choice for the poor but they are forced to do so. This is applicable for the Biharis as well. Comments of Sheila Dikshit “that these people are law breakers” and of Raj Thackeray that “ek bihari sau bimari” resembles the anti Bihari sentiments going on in the country, these comments hurt the locals, as being people of the same country they are discriminated. These things needs to be stopped immediately otherwise this things can lead to bigger repercussions.
At the end, I would like to say that Bihar, once the land of civilization, must maintain its 11 % growth rate for decades to come, to regain the lost glory. For doing so, Bihar needs to build infrastructure so that it can sustain its population by giving the brainiest people jobs on their own land. Industry should be opened; colleges on the role model of Nalanda University should be opened soon. Seeds have been planted for a better tomorrow but still a lot needs to be done so that we can work in our own farms rather than in Punjab or Maharashtra.
The writer is the Contributing Editor at Youth Ki Awaaz