New Delhi: Looking ahead to brighter beginnings, Bihar has started witnessing growth and development. With winds of changes that have started blowing, we continue to track the rise of the new Bihar….

Bihar as a state of modern India is 100-years-old but the ancient history of its past tells a different saga. This historically-rich state has witnessed different phases of history. It has seen rise and fall of kings and their kingdoms. It has kept in its bosom the stories of great men who changed the course of history. Bihar derived its name from the word Vihara which means Buddhist monasteries. In ancient India, Bihar was the fortress of major political, social and cultural activities. It consisted of the kingdoms of Magadh, Vajji, Mithila and Anga. Magadh's capital Pataliputra which is modern Patna remained the capital of various significant dynasties. From Bimbisara and Ajatashatru of Harnyak dynasty, Ashoka of Maurya dynasty till Samudragupta and Chandragupta Vikramaditya of Gupta dynasty, Pataliputra remained an important center for power play.

Two important religions of Ancient India have their roots in Bihar. Buddhism, founded by Gautam Buddha was at its apex during the reign
of Emperor Ashoka. Another religion which flourished in ancient Bihar was Jainism. Under the guidance of Lord Mahavira, the 24th and last Thirthankar of Jainism, it attained new dimensions. It is due to all these major historical events that Bihar has emerged as an important tourist destination in the present time.

B+: Bihar Positive

The Economic Development saga continues…

“Bihar has been a story of great success. Growing at an astonishing pace of over 11 percent in the past five-six years, it is among the fastest growing states of the country,” said the former President of India, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam.

The success story of the growth and development of Bihar coincides with the centenary of its establishment in 1912 after being separated from Orissa. People of Bihar along with the government have walked a long way and are taking the state to new heights.

The state is investing heavily in social as well as economic sectors now. Out of the annual plan outlay of Rs 24,000 crore for Bihar from the Centre for 2011-12, the state government has earmarked 35 percent of the plan size for the social sectors — education, health, water supply, rural housing, empowerment of women and social security — and 25 percent for infrastructure — including construction of roads, power, irrigation, flood control and agriculture.

Industrial Development

Industries in Bihar are getting impetus from both domestic and foreign players. A number of associations in Bihar are also receiving foreign contribution. In an effort to boost the state's public health standards, the government has signed a Memorandum of Co-operation (MoC) with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The MoC is a milestone and will administer various programmes and activities for a period of five years, from 2010-2015. The state government is also collaborating with the World Bank. The Bank is also helping the government of Bihar to build technical capacity in a range of sectors, from public expenditure management, to the reform of the public distribution system. Bihar has also emerged as a priority state for the World Bank Group's private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The IFC is working with the state government on a number of programmes including, the design and implementation of a tax reform programme to save cost, time and enhance ease of paying taxes for small and large businesses and to introduce reforms in the maize and poultry sectors to generate investments.

Educational Development

“Things are different now”, says Malti. “I am happy that my daughter is getting all those opportunities which I did not get.” Malti is happy that her three daughters are enrolled in government schools and in spite of lack of money, they are getting education. Her eldest daughter also got a bicycle free of cost from the state government. Thanks to the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojana introduced by the Bihar government that has helped young girls redefine their life. Education is now accessible to them. Not only Malti, but there are many other girls and women who are benefitting from various educational and social schemes launched by the state and Central government. Women are now emerging as an empowered group and contributing to the mainstream. Education is the backbone of every society. Bihar which once heralded the idea of education is again re-emerging as an educational center. A number of universities, medical colleges and institutes of technology are imparting education and training in various disciplines.

National Institute of Technologies and Indian Institute of Technology are being set up to enhance the standard of higher education in Bihar. It was in this line that the proposal for the establishment of the Central University of Bihar was put forward. The Advisory and Executive Council of this University has been constituted in 2009 by the Government of India. Another major venture in the field of education is the setting up of the proposed Nalanda International University which is expected to be functional from 2013. The university was envisaged by former president A P J Abdul Kalam. It is based on the idea of the ancient center of higher learning which was present in and around the 5th century BC in Nalanda, Bihar.

In an effort to streamline this magnanimous project, Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG) was established under the chairmanship of Professor Amartya Sen. It's role is to coordinate with the international partners. The NMG also has representatives from Singapore, China, Japan and Thailand. “My kids will now not go away from me and will also get the best of the education here only” says Komal. This is an attempt to retain our people so that they can be a catalyst for the growth of the state.

The Socio-Cultural Development of the State

A walk through the cultural maze of Bihar makes you experience a variety of art forms and languages. Travel from one corner of the state to another and you will witness a gradual shift in the cultural life of the people. The state has produced numerous Hindi writers, including Raja Radhika Raman Singh, Shiva Pujan Sahay, Divakar Prasad Vidyarthy, Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Ram Briksh Benipuri, Phanishwar Nath 'Renu', Gopal Singh 'Nepali'and Baba Nagarjun. The great writer and Buddhist scholar, Rahul Sankrityayan, was born in Uttar Pradsh but spent his life on the land of Lord Buddha.

The culture of Bihar has helped in the blooming of a number of languages, including Maithili, Bhojpuri, Angika and Vajjika. Of all these languages, Bhojpuri has made its presence not only in Bihar but its Diaspora is based in countries like Ghana, Surinam, Mauritius, West Indies, Dubai, Nepal, Indonesia and Holland. Bhojpuri is the dialect of over 39 million people and is understood by more than 200 million people. A number of scholars and authors have been influenced by the tone and style of Bhojpuri. Its contribution is not limited just to literature and music, but to the new genres of art and communication.

Bhojpuri Film

The indigenous film industry of Bihar has also been embraced warmly by the cinema lovers. The reverberations of Bhojpuri cinema has been heard both in India and abroad. After being ignored for years Bhojpuri film industry is finally getting its due. “We now release about 100 films a year. The average money spent yearly on Bhojpuri films is close to Rs. 100 crore and the gross collection is about Rs. 125 crore every”, says Rajan Sinha, spokesperson for the Bihar Jharkhand Motion Picture Association. The mantra for success of these films is low investment, low risk and high returns. Themes concentrate mainly on homegrown subjects like relationships, emotions and family ties. Bhojpuri films have efficiently managed to create their base in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai and other parts of India, which are home to a large number of migrants from the Bhojpuri speaking belt.

Bihar: A coveted market for media

“Print media has always been active in Bihar, now we have TV channels in the regional language too. Bihari journalists are working across the country, some of the Big names in our Industry are from Bihar. The state has always been a very mature market and the marketing and advertising fraternity is taking note of it now,” said Pramath Sinha, founder and managing director, 9.9 Mediaworx. Farokh Balsara, partner, Media and Entertainment, Ernst & Young concurred, “As the economy starts to do well, it gets reflected everywhere. Bihar is doing well and so are media entities operating there. The success of the market is evident from the fact that most mainstream media players want to have a presence in Bihar today.”

The Great Bihari Diaspora

“Once a Bihari always a Bihari”, says Madhav Chaudhary. Madhav has been working as a financial expert in a top Multinational Company based in Florida, United States. “I want to contribute in the process of rebuilding a new Bihar.”

Bihari community has been leaving its imprint in myriad fields. Katihar, a small town in Bihar, is today providing tech support to public and private sector firms in California - thanks to the efforts of Ravi Verma, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Biharis are working as scientists, engineers, doctors, educational professionals, administrators and last but not the least contributing in the field of politics.

When we look at Biharis establishing their credibility all over the world, it becomes inevitable to talk about those associated with the film industry. The charisma of Shatrughna Sinha, Manoj Vajpayee, Shekhar Suman, Sonakshi Sinha, Prakash Jha, Udit Narayan, Sharda Sinha and many others have left movie buffs mesmerized.

Bihar is growing and Biharis are leaving their imprint all over the world. There was a time when young talents used to migrate to other states in search of better avenues. Bihar, which was once considered as a state which contributed the least in the growth and development of India and was continuously alleged for impairing the growth rate, has come a long way.

Gone are the days when Bihar was associated with poverty, anarchy and lack of proper administration. People of Bihar are taking long strides and embracing a new beginning. They are writing a new story of growth, development, hope and emancipation.

(JPN)

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