Why Does Your ‘Nationalism’ Exclude And Stereotype Biharis?

Posted by Daipayan Dhar in Society
March 11, 2017

Recently, our union minister, Miss Maneka Gandhi, when asked why the hostel rules are unfair for the female hostellers, said,”at 16 or 17 you are hormonally very challenged. So to protect you from your own hormonal outbursts, perhaps a Lakshman rekha is drawn. It really is for your own safety.” The statement received a huge backlash by feminist groups on social media.

My blog is not about that. It’s about the statement which followed thereafter. “No, not by two Bihari gentlemen at gate with dandas. It can’t be solved like that. It has to be solved literally by giving time limits for everything… Give them (boys) two nights to go to the library and two nights for girls — if you want to go to library, that is.” Did she check whether the gatekeepers in all the universities are from Bihar or not? Even if that is so for any particular university, was it important to mention it? Mentioning ‘Bihari’ for people doing a particular job. It’s a typical way to stereotype people.

 In urban India, the notion of caste as an identity remains prominent in two ways. One is because of the surname of the person and the other is by demeaning the job he does, no matter what her/his surname. Biharis in India face the second form of caste discrimination, since most of them are in different states, and work as labourers. They are doing work which is considered lowly by many upper caste people.

Every time a criminal offence is reported, the media generally does not bother to mention the place from where the criminal belongs. They mention it only when it’s someone from Bihar. Every time a Bihari accidentally collides with a person inside a bus, be it any city, he is abused for his identity. That doesn’t happen so violently if the person is from any other state. A Bihari is ill-treated everywhere, for the place where he has been brought up. In public gatherings, generally, our so-called bhadraloks openly make jokes on Biharis. Those same bhadraloks who rant of nationalism when the JNU students revolt, misbehave with Biharis, the place which has a huge part to play in the history of India.

Let me remind you that Bihar is the 13th largest state in India and is located in the East. No, all the people in Bihar do not speak Bhojpuri. There are other languages like Magahi, Maithili, etc. However, at present, Bihar is in a sorry state. The economic condition of people on an average is bad. Bihar has the lowest literacy rate at present. But who has to be blamed for all this? I guess it has to be the people who consider themselves as Indians and the government.

The issues of Bihar have never been taken up seriously by any government. Bihar represents India. A village in Bihar has all the peculiar characteristics of the villages in other parts of India, which are segregated by caste. Crimes are common and they mostly go unreported, especially the crimes against women. Dowry system still prevails in Bihar.

The word sexist falls short in describing Bihari movies. Bihari movies in general, promote rape culture but that never gets criticised. Even the censor board is fine with it. It seems as if some feminists don’t like criticising Bhojpuri movies.Criticising Chetan Bhagat books is important. In short, our so called elite class finds it irrelevant to even discuss the issues of Bihar.

Is this how you define nationalism? By stereotyping, by discriminating all the people from a state? Well, Miss Maneka Gandhi, is it not the responsibility of your government to uplift those ‘Bihari’ gatekeepers by providing them with better education? Is it not the responsibility of your government to remove the corruption from Bihar?

This is a suggestion to all the so-called Indians. Next time, before you rant about nationalism with your casteist and venomous tongue, just think about how you have treated a Bihari last time.