Friday, 6 July 2007

Time for a Social Renaissance in Biharby Som Vishwakarma
March 24, 2005

It is said that everything in the world is cyclic. Anything that goes up comes down and vice-versa. The problem comes when a society has massive resistance to stay down and not come up. It makes every effort and uses every excuse to stay at the rock bottom. The present condition in Bihar is a classic example of this. In most states/nations of the world, in case they were in a similar situation as the Bihar of today, there would have been a revolution long back. But Biharis are either living in denial or they show great resilience tolerance to wrongs in the society.

Let consider the first case of a society living in denial. When Arabs were invading India during 1000 AD, a great Arabian scholar Al Barouni was traveling with the Arabs armies. He was a historian and a scholar. He wanted to share knowledge with and learn from the various lands he visited. He went to the various centers of learning and met several learned men in India. He was amazed to find out that most of them either felt they were too superior to him to even argue with him or felt that Al Barouni gained ALL of his knowledge in India itself. One thing that was common amongst all of them was that they had some sense of pride in their past/history. Everybody said we used to be so and so in the PAST. This has been recoded in Al Barouni’s memoirs written some 1000-year back. Now, let’s come back to the present. Do you realize that the Biharis of today talk exactly like the Bihari of 1000-year back? We were great in the past and so it’s okay for us to rot in the present. Unfortunately the past is never going to change since it has expired. Biharis can go on praising their past and ignoring the present for the next 1000 years too! It is mandatory to break out of this vicious loop and focus on the present and plan for the future.

Let’s go the next case, a societies resistance to reform itself and tolerance to the ill wills. It looks like Biharis have gotten into the habit of trivializing the grave ethical, moral, law-and-order and civil society issues. Consider the politicians and police in Bihar. If there are 100 crimes in Bihar and say 2 crimes in Andhra Pradesh the politicians and police will say it’s okay since there is crime everywhere. But wait a minute, did you consider that the number 100 much greater than number 2? The issue here is not that that there is zero crime everywhere, it’s that there are way too many crimes in Bihar.

The fundamental problem though before Bihar is casteism. Biharis don't have a ‘community’ feeling and are loyal ONLY to their caste. By community I mean the people who live in the same town/mohalla as you do. This makes them narrow-minded, mean, uncaring and anti-social. The worst thing is that they become un-empathetic. If the neighbors’ house is robbed they don’t care. If the trouble is not on their own head then it’s non-existent. In addition, everybody gets into the mode of trying to exploit everybody else. Moreover, there is no sense of justice in the peoples mind and soul. Nobody feels hurt to see a weak person being exploited or bullied. For the Biharis the superficial caste 'superiority' and false pride in past glory are the core values to live and die for. Alas! the core values could have been character, truth, morals and ethics.

Unless these fundamental issues are resolved, President's Rule or the rule of ABC political party is immaterial. The fix to Bihar’s problems is social renaissance. Bringing this is more difficult than economic or educational reforms. But it is a mandatory first step to educational and economic reforms. Remember that post second-world war a battered and destroyed Japan was able to quickly recover into a first world nation since the social structure was in place. The western nations brought social renaissance around 200 years back and now all of them live in first world conditions, even after the two world wars. The Chinese brought the social renaissance from the sixties and now they are all set to become the next global superpower, providing for and taking care of all its citizens. Remember the order truth, justice, empathy, education, economics and leisure. There is no short cut to this.

Excellent article!!
To add another example to this, I have heard Biharis say that it's okay to have casteism in Bihar since it exists everywhere in India. But again this is not entirely true. Casteism does exist in India but it does not exist with the same ferocity and intensity as in Bihar. People from other state bond based on language first, caste second. Ask any Bengali, Punjabi or Tamil Nadu person and he will say he is Bengali, Punjabi and Tamil first.

Ask any Bihari who he is and he will immediately tell his caste! In fact one of my friends from Maharashtra visiting my native place in Bihar was shocked when in every nook and corner the people were inquiring him about his caste, as if it is the most important thing that matters. Buddha, Mahavir and Guru Nanak all tried to fight this caste menace and bring civility in the society but unfortunately they all failed. - Ramsharan - March 26, 2005


Any discussion about Bihar boils down to casteism. It is unfortunate. Is casteism is the root cause of all ills? I doubt. Crime in Bihar and poor law and order are interlinked but these have become an excuse for all who matters. Let us consider following:

1) Was law and order in neighouring U.P. was perfect when it got IITs, IIIT and IIM?

2) When Assam can get IIT, IIM, why not Bihar?

3) How is casteism, crime and poor law and order is related to issue of Flood?

4) What stops us to demand all the above things and many such other things like AIIMS type hospital in Bihar, removal of "Freight equalization" policy, financial package in return of Jharkhand?

5) What happens to us, when some responsible politician degrades Bihar on national and international platform? Do we protest against such thing. When a prominent leader of BJP/RSS Narendra Modi degraded Bihar, while addressing people in Britain and US during his last visits to these countries even when he was talking to sale Gujarat and that had nothing to do with Bihar. Recently, new Chief Minister of Haryana talked very poorly about Bihar.

We Biharis have mastered the art of degrading ourselves and have forgotten to demand something. We never ask for anything. We enjoy behaving like an opposition political party.

Casteism and corruption are prevalent in almost all parts of the country even in larger dose than in Bihar. Believe me, Haryana has more casteism and corruption than in Bihar. Punjab, Delhi have more corruption than in Bihar. Other parts have more communal problems and instability than Bihar. UP has more crime than in Bihar. During recent tsunami relief work in south , casteism was very much visible. Naxalism in A.P. is more than in Bihar.

Who are responsible for polarisation on caste line?? Only politicians?? If I am upper-caste, you would safely assume that I am anti-RJD. Is this not a cause of polarisation in our daily life?

Stop complaining, start demanding. Remember, only crying babies get milk. Let us cry vociferously. - Prabhat Sinha - March 26, 2005


I congratulate the writer for an eye opening article. I visited United States of America & Canada. Biharis have settled in most part of the world holding dignified position. I also migrated to Mumbai in 1964. Now my son is settled at New Jersey. Biharis can venture in any activities any where without forgetting Bihar. Once again my thanks should be conveyed to the writer. - Khagendra Das - March 28, 2005


I am in agreement with Mr. Prabhat Sinha. Despite all odds, we can grow, we can have good institutes, we can have good educational environment, healthy work culture. This is possible with dedication towards work, devotion towards our own defined ideals and paths. There is an urgent message for all erudite of Bihar: come together and join hands for the implementation of development projects and build "Swarnim Bihar" which has been the hub of technical brains, paradise for the intellect, center for learning religious values and cultural ethics since ancient times. Retain it, save it; think only about development; see the result... all types of demon, all categories of ills would disappear automatically. I have firm believe in this. - Bibhuti Bikramaditya, Seoul, South Korea - March 29, 2005


I totally agree with Prabhat Sinha. Whatever Mandal/Karpoori/Lalu did to Bihar, it was done long time ago in TN. Brahmins and backward do not see each other. Karunanidhi is Lalu of TN. - Sunil Sinha - March 30, 2005

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