We the People, the State Bihar, and the Irony behind its Misery

Posted on July 12, 2010 in Society

By Sadhogopal Ram:

Bihar, with its most varied history in India, was once the centre of power, learning and culture for more than 1000 years. In fact, India’s first empire, the Maurya Empire as well as one of the world’s greatest anti-violence religions – the Buddhism – arose from the region that now makes modern Bihar, a centre of extreme violence, culturally backward and to the very extent a powerless state of modern India.

What an irony, once hailed for its greatness now literally in hell for its abjectness!

Today almost 58 percent of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India, making Bihar, as of today, the house of YOUTH.

But Bihar today, lags behind the other Indian states in terms of human and economic development.

The Economists and Social Scientists claim that this is a direct result of the distorted policies of the Central Government, such as the freight equalisation policy and its apathy towards Bihar, along with the lack of Bihari sub-nationalism and the permanent settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company.

  • The Freight Equalisation Policy was adopted in 1948 by the Indian Government to smooth the progress of the equal development of industry all over the country. This meant a factory could be set up anywhere in India and transportation of minerals would be subsidised by the Central Government. And as an outcome, the policy resulted in the expansion of heavy and middle level industry in the post-independence years outside the mineral-rich regions of the country. The coastal states of Maharashtra and Gujarat along with Delhi and its surrounding districts were the greatest beneficiaries. Industrialists interested in setting up plants anywhere in the country — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi etc. — would get Coal, Iron Ore, Aluminium etc. at the same price as they used to get in Bihar (now Jharkhand), West Bengal, Chhattisgarh orOrissa. But along with benefiting other Non-Mineral-Rich States of the Country, the policy resulted in literally destroying the vastly Mineral-Rich States. The worst sufferer of this policy was West Bengal, the undivided Bihar (now Jharkhand) and to some extent Orissa andMadhya Pradesh (now Chhattisgarh carved out from it). West Bengal and Bihar’s huge competitive advantage of holding the minerals got destroyed as now factories were set up everywhere else but in these particular mineral-rich states. This was not the case in the pre-independence era when Tatas and Dalmias etc. had to come and set up industries in Bihar and most of the engineering industry was located in the state of West Bengal. The Freight Equalisation Policy thus continues to destroy states like West Bengal and Bihar even after more than half century of Independence.

During the freedom struggle, Bihar was an important part of it and Gandhi became the mass leader only after the Champaran Satyagraha (Champaran is a historic region and a district in Bihar).

But the irony behind Bihar’s misery is that it is cursed, and cursed not by the ones who don’t even belong to it but by the ones who were once not only born and brought up in here but also happens to be the very part of it till today.

It is this sheer hypocrisy of these thankless and loathing people who have and continue to condemn Bihar for the fault and crime it never actually and deliberately did.

For people must understand that it is not a state which commits sins or kills the very people who belong to it, no, a state is not and should not be held liable or responsible for the crimes and even the good things that the people living in it do.

But alas when it comes to Bihar, the entire human race fails to understand this basic concept that a state doesn’t make its people, as it is the very people who live in it and out of it makes it a state.

I, myself am a Bihari i.e. born in Bihar. So does it make me a BAD man? Or am I to be labelled as a BHAIYYA simply because I was born in the land of milkmen?

Well, call it arrogance or attitude of a Bihari BHAIYA but I refuse to accept such dumb reasons because I find it completely bizarre and it is also wrong to label people simply based on the states that they come from.

Isn’t this Regionalism (labelling and discriminating people on the basis of states)?

But Bihar, in recent times under the current ruling party JD(U), has shown immense amount of growth in terms of the matters that affects it the most — Crime, Education, Politics, Economy, Women Empowerment, Development and Infrastructure. In fact, the results of improvement are now not only in the Government Documentation but are quite visible throughout the state at physical level too. And as a result the Indian and Global Business and Economic leaders feel that Bihar now has fine opportunity for Sustainable Economic Development, and as such have shown great interest in investing in the state.

image: A homeless girl looks out from her makeshift tent in the eastern Indian state of Bihar January 24, 2008.