Bihar: A Blend of History and Progress



A Blend of History and Progress

Located in Eastern India, Bihar is a state with a rich history and promising development. It's the third most populous state in India, covering a significant area and ranking 14th in GDP in 2021. Sharing borders with Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, and Nepal, Bihar is divided by the Ganges River running from west to east.

In ancient times, it was a hub of culture and politics, giving birth to India's first empire, the Maurya Empire, and spreading Buddhism. Today, Bihar has a youthful population, with over half under 25 years old, showing its potential for the future.

Despite past challenges, Bihar is making strides in governance, infrastructure, education, and healthcare, paving the way for a brighter tomorrow. The capital of Bihar is Patna.

A Brief History of Bihar

The name Bihar originates from the Sanskrit word vihāra, meaning "abode," reflecting its historical association with Buddhist vihāras. The region's ancient history is marked by significant kingdoms like Magadha and Mithila, contributing to India's cultural and political landscape.

Despite glory days, the decline of Buddhism due to invasions led to the destruction of prestigious centres of learning like Nalanda and  Vikramashila. 

<div class="paragraphs"><p><strong>History of Bihar</strong></p></div>

History of Bihar

History of Bihar

Bihar played a crucial role in India's struggle for independence, with movements like the Champaran Satyagraha and the peasant movement under Swami Sahajanand Saraswati. Post-independence, Bihari migrant workers have faced discrimination, underscoring ongoing challenges of integration within India.

Bihar: Land of Rich Diversity and Natural Wealth

Bihar, covering a total area of 94,163 km2 (36,357 sq mi), is surrounded by Nepal to the north, Jharkhand to the south, West Bengal to the east, and Uttar Pradesh to the west.

Geographically, it comprises the Southern Plateau, the Shivalik Region, and the Gangetic Plain, divided by the Ganges River into North Bihar and South Bihar. 

<div class="paragraphs"><p><strong>Land of Rich Diversity and Natural Wealth</strong></p></div>

Land of Rich Diversity and Natural Wealth

Land of Rich Diversity and Natural Wealth

The state experiences a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and cold winters, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 29°C. Bihar boasts diverse flora and fauna, with moist deciduous forests in regions like Champaran, home to species like Sal, Khair, and Semal trees.

The Valmiki National Park and Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary contribute to the conservation of wildlife, including Bengal tigers, river dolphins, leopards, bears, and various bird species. 

Bihar is also rich in natural resources, holding significant reserves of pyrite (95%) and recently discovering substantial gold deposits in Jamui district, which account for a significant portion of the country's gold reserves.

<div class="paragraphs"><p><strong>Bihar </strong></p></div>
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Demographic Dynamics

Bihar, India's third most populous state, boasts a population of 104,099,452 as per the 2011 Census, making it the country's most densely populated state. With nearly 58% of its inhabitants under 25 years old, Bihar holds the highest youth population in India and has an urbanisation rate of 20% as of 2021. 

The state exhibits religious diversity, with 81.99% practising Hinduism and 17.70% adhering to Islam. In terms of language, while Hindi is the official language spoken by 25.54% of the population, various Bihari languages such as Bhojpuri, Maithili, and Magahi are predominant, with calls for recognition similar to that of Maithili. Adult literacy stands at 68.15%, with notable disparities between male and female literacy rates.

 Additionally, Bihar has seen an increase in population to 130,725,310 as per the 2023 caste survey, reflecting its ongoing demographic shifts and cultural richness.

Governance and Politics in Bihar

The government of Bihar operates under the Constitution of India, with the Governor appointed by the President. The Chief Minister and cabinet make policy decisions, and the ruling party in the Legislative Assembly forms the government.

Administrative divisions include 9 divisions and 38 districts, with urban areas governed by municipal bodies. Bihar's politics has shifted from forward castes to backward castes' dominance. 

Nitish Kumar, as Chief Minister, focuses on economic development, crime reduction, and social equality, implementing measures like property confiscation from corrupt officials and prohibition of alcohol sales since 2016.

Challenges and Progress in Bihar's Public Health Sector

Bihar faces significant challenges in public health, consistently ranking among the weakest Indian states due to inadequate healthcare facilities. Although federal programs like the National Health Mission and the Clinical Establishments Act of 2010 aim to improve healthcare, Bihar struggles to fully utilise the allocated funds. 

The state heavily relies on private hospitals for healthcare, leading to high levels of corruption and slower service delivery.

Transparency issues hinder effective policymaking, resulting in inconsistent resource allocation. Compared to Kerala, Bihar has fewer healthcare professionals, with significant shortfalls in physicians and specialists. 

The state also falls short in meeting national standards for healthcare infrastructure, such as sub-health centres and hospital beds. Despite these challenges, Bihar has made some progress in improving female health workers and reducing mortality rates, signalling the potential for further improvement in public health outcomes.

Economic Landscape: Growth and Challenges

Bihar's economy has experienced significant growth, with the gross state domestic product (GSDP) reaching around ₹3,683.37 billion in FY 2013–14. The state's economy is service-oriented, with agriculture contributing 22% and industry 5% to the GSDP. Bihar has the fastest-growing state economy, with a growth rate of 17.06% in FY 2014–15. 

Despite progress, challenges persist, particularly in agriculture, due to floods and droughts. Industrial hubs like Begusarai and Patna drive economic activity, with ongoing efforts to attract investments and improve infrastructure.

However, income distribution remains uneven, with districts like Patna, Munger, and Begusarai recording higher per capita gross district domestic products. Bihar also lags behind other Indian cities in per capita income, reflecting historical inequalities and land ownership issues.

Cultural Heritage and Artistic Diversity of Bihar

Bihar's rich cultural heritage encompasses various forms of traditional arts, music, and cinema. Mithila painting, also known as Madhubani art, is a prominent style practised mainly by women, portraying scenes from ancient epics and nature.

Bhojpuri painting, with motifs of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, thrives in the Bhojpuri region. The Patna School of Painting, dating back to the 18th century, blends Mughal and local styles, reflecting daily life and ceremonies. 

<div class="paragraphs"><p><strong>Cultural Heritage and Artistic Diversity of Bihar</strong></p></div>

Cultural Heritage and Artistic Diversity of Bihar

Cultural Heritage and Artistic Diversity of Bihar

Bihar has contributed significantly to classical music, producing renowned musicians like Ustad Bismillah Khan and dhrupad singers of various gharanas. The state boasts a vibrant film industry, particularly in Bhojpuri, Magadhi, and Maithili languages, with notable films like "Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo" and "Mithila Makhaan" garnering acclaim. 

Bihar's media landscape includes influential publications like Biharbandhu and Bharat Ratna, showcasing Hindi and Urdu journalism. The state celebrates festivals like Chhath Puja and Durga Puja with great fervour, reflecting its deep-rooted religious and cultural traditions

<div class="paragraphs"><p><strong>Bihar </strong></p></div>
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Bihar's Tourism Treasures

Bihar, a hub of cultural and historical significance, attracts millions of tourists annualy , including over 1 million from abroad in 2019. With two UNESCO World Heritage Sites—the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya and the ancient Nalanda Mahavihara—alongside the renowned Khuda Bakhsh Library in Patna, the state offers rich cultural treasures. 

<div class="paragraphs"><p><strong>Tourism Treasures</strong></p></div>

Tourism Treasures

Tourism Treasures

Additionally, Bihar boasts ecotourism destinations like Valmiki National Park and Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary. Its religious significance draws pilgrims to sites associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, such as Sitamarhi, Bodh Gaya, and Vaishali.

Gaya, particularly during the Pitru Paksha period, holds special significance for spiritual seekers. With its diverse offerings, Bihar provides a compelling destination for travellers seeking history, culture, and spirituality.

Transport Infrastructure in Bihar

Bihar boasts a robust transport network, comprising three operational airports, including an international airport in Gaya, and a well-connected rail network spanning 3,794 km.

The state is witnessing infrastructural advancements such as the Gaya-Darbhanga Expressway, set to become Bihar's first expressway by 2024. Additionally, plans for the Patna Metro are underway. 

The Bihar State Road Transport Corporation (BSRTC) operates interstate, intrastate, and international buses, serving destinations like Delhi, Ranchi, and Kathmandu. Inland waterways along the Ganges River, including National Waterways-1, provide further connectivity, with Gaighat in Patna serving as a terminal for cargo vessels. Overall, Bihar's transport infrastructure ensures efficient travel both within the state and beyond.

Bihar's Education Landscape

Bihar's educational legacy dates back to ancient universities like Nalanda and Vikramashila. Under British rule, institutions like Patna University and Bihar School of Engineering were established. Today, Bihar hosts eight Institutes of National Importance, including IIT Patna and AIIMS Patna. 

Recent additions like the Indian Institute of Management Bodh Gaya and proposals for an AIIMS-like institution in Darbhanga underscore Bihar's commitment to higher education. Bihta is emerging as an educational hub with institutions like IIT Patna and AIIMS Patna.

Initiatives like the Bihar Knowledge Center aim to enhance students' skills for the job market. Bihar's graduates rank among the country's top in terms of quality and employability, showcasing the state's focus on nurturing talent.

In conclusion, Bihar stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of progress amidst a backdrop of rich historical and cultural heritage. From its ancient roots as a centre of learning and spirituality to its current trajectory of economic growth and development, Bihar has embraced the challenges of its past while charting a course towards a promising future.

With a youthful population, diverse natural landscapes, and a burgeoning education sector, Bihar is poised to emerge as a beacon of opportunity and prosperity in the heart of Eastern India. As the state continues to invest in infrastructure, governance, and public health, it reaffirms its commitment to building a brighter tomorrow for generations to come.

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