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Bihar n : a state of northeastern India

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bihar, f
  1. spring (the season)

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Extensive Definition

Bihar (Hindi: बिहार, Urdu: بہار, , ) is a state in the Republic of India situated in the eastern most part of the north Indian politico-geographical zone. Its capital has been Patna for almost 2500 years. Bihar is the 12th largest Indian state in terms of geographical size, ranked 14 out of 28 in terms of state GDP (Rs 94251, Crores), and the 3rd largest by population. Agriculture is the biggest industry in the state today, but the government has recently embarked on a large industrialization and inward investment program. Bihar has significant food and dairy producing industries, a strong rail & developing road network, two international airports (Patna, Gaya), and is the centre of the dynamic Bhojpuri language film industry. Patna remains the richest city in Bihar, with per capita income greater than the Indian average. The fast changing macro-environment has made the state one of the fastest growing economies in 2006-2007.
Bihar is surrounded by the Indian States of Uttar Pradesh to the west, Jharkhand to the south, West Bengal to the east, and has an international border with Nepal to the north. Bihar lies in the fertile Indo-Gangetic Plain. Culturally, with Eastern Uttar Pradesh (Purvanchal), it is a part of the 150 million people strong Bhojpuri speaking heartland of northern India. In addition, many other languages are spoken in Bihar, including Hindi, Urdu, English, Maithili, Angika, Pashto, Magahi and Bengali. Since ancient times Bihar has attracted migrants and settlers including Bengalis, Chinese, Turks from Central Asia, Afghans and Punjabi Hindu Refugees during Partition. Bihar is most famous for its status as the birthplace of iconic global and Indian symbols like Buddhism, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs-Guru Gobind Singh, the Indian Rupee, and ancient Bihari Imperial symbols like the Maurya Lions and Ashok Chakra. Symbolically, the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, was a Bihari. Other key Bihari leaders include legendary freedom fighters like Babu Kunwar Singh, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, Basawon Singh (Sinha), Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha,Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan, Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha and Maulana Mazharul Haque.

Etymology of the name

The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit vihāra (Dev. िवहार), means "abode". The region roughly encompassing the present state was dotted with Buddhist vihara, which were the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval period.



Bihar was called Magadha in ancient times. Its capital Patna, then known as Pataliputra, was the center of the first empire built in India, that was by Nanda Dynasty, followed by Mauryan empire, which dominated the Indian subcontinent from 325 BC to 185 BC. Emperor Ashoka was the most famous ruler of this dynasty. Bihar remained an important place of power, culture and education during the next one thousand years. The Vikramshila and Nalanda Universities, were among the oldest and best centres of education in ancient India. It must be mentioned here that the boundaries of ancient Mauryan empire extended up to the present day Afghanistan which was unparelled in Indian history.


Muhammad Bin Bakhtiar Khilji, a Pashtun and general of Muhammad Ghori, captured Bihar in 12th century. Many of the viharas and the famed universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila were destroyed in this period.
Bihar saw a brief period of glory for six years during the rule of another Pashtun Sher Shah Suri, who was from Sasaram and built the longest road of the Indian subcontinent, the Grand Trunk Road, which starts from Sonargaon in Bangladesh and ends at Peshawar in Pakistan. This road is now known as National Highway 2 (NH-2)in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkand, and West Bengal. Sher Shah was an economic reformer, some of which continue to this day. The introduction of a new currency called the Rupee and Custom Duties are still used in the Republic of India.
During 1557-1576, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, annexed Bihar and Bengal to his empire. With the decline of the Mughals, Bihar passed under the control of the Nawabs of Bengal. Thus, the medieval period was mostly one of anonymous provincial existence.
The 10th and the last Guru of Sikhism Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna. The location of his birthplace known as Harmandir Sahib or as Patna Shahir has become on of the 5 Takhts, thus becoming an important pilgrimage site for Sikhs.


After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer and collect revenue, or tax administration / collection) for Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. From this point onwards, Bihar remained a part the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj until 1912, when Bihar was carved out as a separate province. In 1935, certain portions of Bihar were reorganised into the separate province of Orissa. Again, in 2000, 18 administrative districts of Bihar were separated to form the state of Jharkhand.
Babu Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur and his army, as well as countless other persons from Bihar, contributed to the India's First War of Independence (1857), also called the Sepoy Mutiny by some historians.
Bihar's contribution in the freedom struggle has been immense with outstanding leaders like Swami Sahajanand Saraswati,Bihar BibhutiAnugrah Narayan Sinha ,Mulana Mazharul Haque,, Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan,Satyendra Narayan Sinha(Singh) Basawon Singh (Sinha), Yogendra Shukla, Sheel Bhadra Yajee, Pandit Yamuna Karjee and many others who worked for India's freedom relentlessly and helped in the upliftment of the underprivileged masses. Khudiram Bose, Upendra Narayan Jha "Azad" and Prafulla Chaki were also active in revolutionary movement in Bihar. More than hundred of cases were registered in different jails of Bihar like Madhepura, Darbhanga, Saharsa etc. against the great son soil Late Shri Upendra Narayan Jha "Azad"
Baikuntha Shukla, another great nationalist from Bihar who was hanged for murdering Phanindrananth Ghosh who had become a government approver which led to hanging of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.Phanindra Nath Ghosh hitherto a key member of the Revolutionary Party had treacherously betrayed the cause by turning an approver, giving evidence, which led to the execution. Baikunth was commissioned to plan the execution of Ghosh as an act of ideological vendetta which he carried out successfully on 9 November 1932. He was arrested and tried for the killing. Baikunth was convicted and hanged in Gaya Central Jail on May 14, 1934. He was only 28 years old.
In North and Central Bihar, peasants movement was an important side effect of the freedom movement. This movement aimed at overthrowing the fedual zamindari system instituted by Britishers It was being led by Swami Shajanand Saraswati and his followers Pandit Yamuna Karjee, Rahul Sankritayan and others. Pandit Yamuna Karjee along with Rahul Sankritayan and other Hindi literaries started publishing a Hindi weekly Hunkar from Bihar, in 1940. Hunkar later became the mouthpiece of the peasant movement and the agrarian movement in Bihar and was instrumental in spreading the movement. The peasant movement later spread to other parts of the country and helped in digging out the British roots in the Indian society by overthrowing the zamindari system.
After his return from South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi started the freedom movement in India by his satyagraha in the Champaran District of Bihar at the request of Raj Kumar Shukla-- against the British, who were forcing the local farmers to plant indigo which was very harmful to the local soil.
In India’s struggle for Independence the "Champaran Satyagraha", marks a very important stage.Raj Kumar Shukla drew the attention of Mahatma Gandhi, who had just returned from South Africa, to the plight of the peasants suffering under an oppressive system established by European indigo planters. Besides other excesses they were forced to cultivate indigo on 3/20 part of their holding and sell it to the planters at prices fixed by the planters. This marked Gandhiji’s entry into the India’s Struggle for Freedom. On his arrival at Motihari, the district headquarters,Gandhiji along with his team of eminent lawyers comprising of Dr.Rajendra Prasad, Dr.Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Brajkishore Prasad and Ram Navami Prasad which he handpicked tp participate in the satyagraha were ordered to leave by the next available train which they refused to do and Gandhiji was arrested. He was released and the ban order was withdrawn in the face of a, "Satyagraha" threat. Gandhiji conducted an open enquiry into the peasant’s grievances. The Government had to appoint an enquiry committee with Gandhiji as a member. This led to the abolition of the system.
Raj Kumar Shukla has been described by Gandhiji in his "Atmakatha", as a man whose suffering gave him the strength to rise against the odds. In his letter to Gandhiji he wrote "Respected Mahatma, You hear the stories of others everyday. Today please listen to my story….. I want to draw your attention to the promise made by you in the Lucknow Congress that you would come to Champaran. The time has come for you to fulfil your promise. 19 lakhs suffering people of Champaran are waiting to see you."
Gandhiji reached Patna on 10 April 1917 and on 16 April he reached Motihari accompanied by Raj Kumar Shukla. Under Gandhiji’s leadership the historic "Champaran Satyagraha" began. The contribution of Raj Kumar Shukla is reflected in the writings of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, first President of India, Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Acharya Kriplani and of course, Mahatma Gandhi himself. Raj Kumar Shukla maintained a diary in which he has given an account of struggle against the atrocities of the indigo planters, atrocities so movingly depicted by Dinabandhu Mitra in Nil Darpan, a play that was translated by Michael Madhusudan Dutt. This movement by Mahatma Gandhi received the spontaneous support of a cross section of people, including Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who ultimately became the first President of India, Bihar Kesari Sri Krishna Sinha who became the first Chief Minister of Bihar, Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha, who ultimately became the first finance minister of Bihar and Brajkishore Prasad.

Timeline for Bihar

  • 560-480 BCE: Anga, Buddha
  • 490 BCE: Establishment of Patliputra (Modern Patna)
  • Before 325 BCE: Anga, Nanda clan in Magadha, Licchavis in Vaishali
  • Before 500 BCE: Foundation of world's first republic in Vaishali.
  • 450-362 BCE: Emperor Mahapadma Nanda is ruler of the Magadh Empire, Nanda Dynasty; Start of the Golden Age of Bihar
  • 304 BCE: Ashok Maurya born in Patliputra
  • 325-185 BCE: Magadh Empire under the Maurya Dynasty
  • 340 BCE: General Chandragupta Maurya crowned Emperor of Magadh; Chandragupta is the first Mauryan emperor
  • 273 BCE Ashok Maurya crowned new Emperor of Magadh, Bihari-Magadhi Buddhism is exported to Persian Empire, Greece, China and East Asia
  • 273-232 Conquest of 'Indian' region by Ashok the Great (Modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, southern India, and Gujarat) falls under Magadh territories and taxation system.
  • 232 BCE Death of Emperor Ashok Maurya
  • 250 BCE: 3rd Buddhist Council
  • 185 BCE-80 CE: The Magadh Empire falls under the Sunga Dynasty after the military coup by General Pusyamitra Shunga.
  • 71BC - 26BC: Magadh Empire falls under the Kanva Dynasty
  • 240 - 600: Magadh Empire falls under the Gupta Dynasty. First ruler is Chandra Gupta
  • 375-415: Emperor Chandragupta II
  • 500; Attack by Huns weakens the Imperial center in Patliputra. Proviences break away. End of the Bihari Golden Age
  • 600 - 650: Harsha Vardhana empire expands in to Magadh from the Haryana region
  • 750 - 1200: The Bengali Pala Dynasty Expands in to Magadh
  • 1200: Bakhtiyar Khilji's army destroys the universities at Nalanda and Vikramshila in Bihar. Start of the Muslim Era.
  • 1200-1400: Sharp decline of Buddhism in Bihar and northern India in general
  • 1250-1526: Magadh becomes a core part of the Delhi Sultanate e Hind (Hindustan).
  • 1526-1540: Mughal Emperor, Babur, defeats the last Sultan of Delhi, Lodi, and establishes the Mughal Dynasty in Delhi and Agra
  • 1540-1555: New empire from Bihar (Magadh), with Shenshah SherShah Suri (from Sasaram, modern south Bihar). SherShah captures empire from Mughals. (SherShah built the Grand Trunk Road, introduced the Rupee and Custom Duties)
  • 1556: Mughal dynasty restored in Agra after the Battle of Panipat, centre of power moves back to Delhi-Agra region
  • 1556 - 1764: Bihar is a wealthy, core territory/ province of the Mughal Sultanate-e-Hind (Hindustan)
  • 1666: Guru Gobind Singh The 10th and last Sikh Guru, is born in Patna
  • 1757-1857: The British East India Company expands it rule in to Bihar from Bengal
  • 1764: Battle of Buxar, Core lands of Mughal Hindustan are put firmly under British Company government. Tax collection rights are now a duty of the Company.
  • 1764-1920 Migration of Bihari & United Provices (Eastern Uttar Pradesh) workers across the British Empire by the Company and later Crown Government. Bihari migrant population dominate and settle in Guyana, Surinam, Trinaded-Tobago, Fiji, Mauritius, and Natal-South Africa. Smaller settler colonies also established in Jammica and West Indies in general.
  • 1857: Period of the north Indian Rebellion of 1857 Bihari, Purvanchli, & Western UP East India Company Sepoys (80% Hindu according to William Daryample in the book "The Last Mughal") declare Bahadur Shah Zafar II Emperor of Hindustan. The region becomes the centre of resistance to the East India Company. End of the Muslim Era.
  • 1858: Mughal Sultanate-e-Hind reorganised to form the new British Indian Empire after the British Government abolishes the East India Company. Start of the British Age
  • 1877: House of Windsor is made the new Imperial Royal Family. Queen Victoria declared the first Emperess of the British Indian Empire
  • 1912: Province of Bihar & Orissa separated from Bengal
  • 1913: Start of the dramatic slowdown in wealth creation in India and Bihar
  • 1917: Patna University established
  • 1925: Patna Medical College Hospital established under the name "Prince of Wales Medical Collage"
  • 1935: 1935 Government of India Act federates the Indian Empire and creates a new Bihar. End of the British Age.
  • 1936: Sir James David Sifton appointed the first Governor of Bihar.
  • 1937: Srikrishna Sinha is the first Chief Minister of Bihar
  • 1947: Indian Independence; Bihar becomes a state in the new Dominion of India. Religious violence leads to the migration of millions of Bihari Muslims to the new Pakistani states of Sindh and East Pakistan (East Pakistan known as Bangladesh since 1971)
  • 1947-1950 Dominion of India is replaced by a republic in 1950. Central Government adopts symbols of ancient Imperial Bihar (Ashok Chakra added to the Indian flag, the Lion Pillor is made the symbol of the central government of India, all state governments, reserve bank, and the military, whilst the Bihari Rupee is retained as the currency)
  • 1973: Indian wealth creation beings to recover; surge in all India GDP starts again
  • 1975 - 1977: Suspension of the Republican Constitution. Bihar is the centre of resistance against the Emergency
  • 1984: Indira Gandhi Assassination leads to deadly anti-Sikh Riots in northern India, including Bihar
  • 1989 - 2004: Lalu Prasad/ Rabri Devi term of Government (RJD Party). Period marks the complete collapse of the Bihar economy, massive rise in crime, and the development of mass migration to other states in Indian Union of all classes/ castes and religions.
  • 1992: Bihar ecsapes sever rioting after the destruction of Babri Masjid.
  • 2000: Bihar divided into two states by NDA central government - The northern part retains the name "Bihar", whilst southern (and more industralised region) becomes the State of Jharkhand.
  • 2002 - 2004: Deadly crime wave grips Patna and Bihar
  • 2003: First Bihari-Bhojpuri Immigrant Worker Crisis; Bihari migrants attacked in Mumbai, and hundreds killed and tens of thousands flee Assam
  • 2005: In Feb, Lalu Prasad/ Rabri Devi lose power after 15 years, Presidents rule declared after no party wins overall majority in lower house
  • 2005: In November, Janta Dal (United) with the BJP wins the state election with a working majority. Nitish Kumar becomes the first NDA Chief Minister of Bihar.
  • 2005 - 2007: Nitish Kumar is declared the best Chief Minister in India by the India Today magazine
  • 2007:First Global Meet for a "Resurgent Bihar" was organised in Patna.President APJ Abdul Kalam inaugurated the meet.Bhojpuri cinema hall complex bombed in Punjab. 6 UP and Bihari migrant workers killed.
  • 2008: Second Bihari-Bhojpuri Immigrant Worker Crisis: Marathi politicians attack Purvanchali and Bihari working class society. Hundreds of Thousands of Bihari and Eastern UP migrants report hate crimes. Over 250,000 people flee Maharashtra by end March 2008. Migrants flee North East India, after confirmed reports of more Uttar Pradeshi & Bihari migrants killed in Assam, Manipur

Geography & climate

Geography Bihar is mainly a vast stretch of very fertile flat land. It has several major rivers: Ganga, Son, Bagmati, Kosi, Budhi Gandak, Chandan, Orhani and Falgu. Central parts of Bihar have some small hills, for example the Rajgir hills. The Himalayan mountains are to the north, in Nepal. To the south is the Chota Nagpur plateau, which was part of Bihar until 2000 but now is part of a separate state called jharkhand.
Climate: Bihar is mildly cold in the winter (the lowest temperatures being around 5 to 10 degrees Celsius; 41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Winter months are December and January. It is hot in the summer(with average highs around 35-40 Celsius; 95-105 Fahrenheit). April to mid June are the hot months. The monsoon months of June, July, August, and September see good rainfall. October & November and February & March have pleasant climate.


The State of Bihar is now part of the economically emerging states of the Hindi speaking northern India. Despite recent economic gains it still has a per capita income of $148 a year against India's average of $997 and 30.6% of the population live below the poverty line against India's average of 22.15%. The blame for this stems from many factors: the freight equalisation scheme, poor political vision, under-investments in the key sectors of agriculture, infrastructure and education.
Cultural and political factors have also been blamed for the economic deline in the 1980s and 1990's. Many observers believe that a lethal combination of poor governance, caste based politics, caste based society, and rampant corruption by politicians & bureaucrats(and also, an conducive atmosphere of social tolerance and acceptance for corruption) were the main causes for the lack of development. However, Saibal Gupta of Asian Development Research Institute, has also blamed the complete absence of a sub-national identity which allowed the Union Government to ignore the state's interests. This has changed since the attacks on Bihari migrant workers.
The new NDA Government has made 'development with justice' an aim of the state. The Bihari Finance Ministry has given top priority to create investment opportunities for big industrial houses. The current economy is based on agricultural (90% of the current GSDP). Despite this, investment in irrigation and other agriculture facilities has been grossly inadequate in the past. There have been attempts to industrialize the state between 1950 and 1980: an oil refinery in Barauni, a motor scooter plant at Fatuha, and a power plant at Muzaffarpur. However, no sustained effort had been made in this direction. Historically, sugar and vegetable oil were flourishing industries of Bihar. Until the mid fifties, 25% of India's sugar output was from Bihar. Dalmianagar was a large agro - industrial town. However, these were forced to shut down due to faulty central government policy which neutralized the strategic advantages of Bihar. Hajipur, near Patna, remains a major industrial town in the state, linked to the capital city through the Ganga bridge and good road insfrastructure.
Since 2005, the Dairy Industry has has become a high performing sector. Likewise, the Sugar Industry is another sector which has grown; 25 new sugar factories committed in Bihar between 2006 and 2007. Since 2005, the NDA state government has created business friendly environment for investment opportunities and leverage the resources there for all big and small industrial houses.
The division of Bihar in 2000, when the industrially advanced and mineral-rich southern-half of the state was carved out to form the separate state of Jharkhand, had a strong impact on development in the north mainly through a loss of revenue. The new State of Bihar produces 60% of the output of the Undivied Bihar. The GSDP of the new Bihar has grown by 18% in the year 2006-2007 according to the government of India's statistics making it one of the key growing states of Hindi speaking northern India. Bihar's gross state domestic product for 2004 was estimated at $19 billion in current prices. Further developments have taken place in the growth of small industries, improvements in IT infrastructure, the new software park in Patna, and the completion of the expressway from the Purvanchal border through Bihar to Jharkhand. The government has also decided to expand the state highway from Patna to Muzaffarpur from its current poor one lane to a four lane expressway. The central government funded north-east corridor expressway will run through the northern part of the state making the north better connected with the rest of India.
In addition, the Financial Express newspsper reported on April 7th 2008 that Patna, Munger and Begusarai in Bihar were the three best-off districts out of a total of 38 districts in the state, recording the highest per capita gross district domestic product of Rs 31,441, Rs 10,087 and Rs 9,312, respectively in 2004-05.
Average Per Capita Income for all India Rs 22,946
Average Per Capita Income for Patna Rs 31,441
GSDP at Current Prices 2000-2007 from the ''Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (Feb 2008 Data)
Rupee value in Crores
1999-2000 GSDP 50200
2000-2001 GSDP 57279 Growth 14.10%
2001-2002 GSDP 57804, Growth 0.92%
2002-2003 GSDP 65117 Growth 12.65%
2003-2004, GSDP 66961 Growth 2.83%
2004-2005 GSDP 73791 Growth 10.20%
2005-2006, GSDP 79682, Growth 7.98%
2006-2007, GSDP 94251 Growth 18.28%
(Not including Jharkhand)
The average economic growth rate under the RJD government (2000-2004) was 7.03%, whilst under Presidents rule (Feb to Nov 2005)and the current NDA government (Nov 2005 till date) the state is growing on average by 12%. Even more significant is that the state's GSDP grew by 22% between 2004 and 2007. The growth has resulted in visits by Indian business leaders to Patna making commitments to invest in the state's fast growing economy. The Indian governments data for 1980 to 1990 (below) also show that the GSDP of the undivided Bihar grew by 72%. The below data also shows that the state GSDP grew by 49% between 1980-1985, which means that the economy was one of the fastest growing in the country during the early 1980s.
However, the data also shows that the GSDP shrank between 1990-1995 resulting in an employment-development-crime crisis between 1995-2004. Furthermore, the breakup of the state in 2000 compounded the dismal economic activity during this period and created the mass migration of Bihari's seeking work in other states.

Macro-economic trend

This is a chart of trend of gross state domestic product of Bihar at market prices by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with figures in millions of Indian Rupees. 2008 || 568,450
includes Jharkhand


Bihar was an important part of India's struggle for independence. Gandhi became the mass leader only after the Champaran Satyagraha that he launched on the repeated request of a local leader, Rajkumar Shukla, he was supported by great illumanaries like Rajendra Prasad, Anugrah Narayan Sinha and Brajkishore Prasad. After independence also, when India was falling into an autocratic rule during the regime of Indira Gandhi, the main thrust to the movement to hold elections came from Bihar under the leadership of Jaya Prakash Narayan.
This did result in two things:
1. The famous identity of Bihar (From the word Vihar meaning monasteries) representing a glorious past was lost. Its voice often used to get lost in the din of regional clamor of other states, specially the linguistic states like Uttarpradesh, Madhyapradesh etc.
2. Bihar gained an anti establishment image. The establishment oriented press often projected the state as indiscipline and anarchy.
Since the regional identity was slowly getting sidelined , its place was taken up by caste based politics, power initially being in the hands of the Brahmins, Bhumihars and Rajputs. After Independence the power was shared by the two great gandhians Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha who later became the first chief minister of Bihar and Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha who undecidly was next to him in the cabinet and served as the first finance minister.In late 60's death of late Mr. Lalit Narayan Mishra (who was killed by a hand grenade attack for which central leadership is blamed most of the time) pronounced the end of indigenous work oriented mass leaders. For two decades congress ruled the state with the help of puppet chief ministries hand in glove with the central government (Mrs. Indira Gandhi) ignoring the welfare of the people of the state. It was the time when a prominent leader like Satyendra Narayan Sinha took sides with the Janata Party and deserted congress from where his political roots originated, following the ideological differences with the congress. Idealism did assert itself in the politics from time to time, viz, 1977 when a wave defeated the entrenched Congress Party and then again in 1989 when Janata Dal came to power on an anti corruption wave. In between, the socialist movement tried to break the stranglehold of the status quoits under the leadership of Mahamaya Prasad Sinha and Karpoori Thakur. Unfortunately, this could not flourish, partly due to the impractical idealism of these leaders and partly due to the machinations of the central leaders of the Congress Party who felt threatened by a large politically aware state.
Janata Dal came to power in the state in 1990 on the back of its victory at the national stage in 1989. Lalu Prasad Yadav became Chief Minister after winning the race of legislative party leadership by a slender margin against Ram Sundar Das, a former chief minister from the Janata Party and close to eminent Janata Party leaders like Chandrashekhar and S N Sinha. Later, Lalu gained popularity with the masses through a series of popular and populist measures. The principled socialists, Nitish Kumar included, gradually left him and Lalu was the uncrowned king by 1995 as both Chief Minister as well as the President of his party, Rashtriya Janata Dal. He was a charismatic leader who had people's support and Bihar had got such a person as the chief minister after a long time. But he couldn't bring the derailed wagon of development of the state on to the track. When corruption charges got serious, he quit the post of CM but anointed his wife as the CM and ruled through proxy. In this period, the administration deteriorated fast.
In 2005, as disaffection reached a crescendo among the masses, middle classes included, the RJD was voted out of power and Laloo Prasad lost an election to a coalition headed by his previous ally and now rival Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar has regained Bihar's true identity which is the place from where people who changed the world come like Gautam Buddha or Asoka or the Sikh Gurus. People love him and he is desperate to put Bihar in the mainstream development path. Despite the separation of financially richer Jharkhand, Bihar has actually seen more positive growth in recent years.
Currentlly, there are two main political formations: the NDA which comprises Janata Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal led coalition which also has the Indian National Congress. There are myriad other political formations. Ram Vilas Paswan led Lok Janshakti Party is a constituent of the UPA at the centre, but does not see eye to eye with Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD in Bihar. Bihar People's Party is a small political formation in north Bihar. The Communist Party of India had a strong presence in Bihar at one time, but has got weakened now. CPM and Forward Bloc have minor presence. Ultra left parties like CPML, Party Unity etc have presence in pockets and are at war with the state.

Government and administration

The constitutional head of the Government of Bihar is the Governor, who is appointed by the President of India. The real executive power rests with the Chief Minister and the cabinet. The political party or the coalition of political parties having a majority in the Legislative Assembly forms the Government.
The current incumbent, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, succeeded Rabri Devi, wife of the Former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav (also known as Laloo Prasad) (currently Cabinet Minister for Railways) in 2005.
The head of the bureaucracy of the State is called the Chief Secretary. Under him is a hierarchy of officials drawn from the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, and different wings of the State Civil Services. The judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice. Bihar has a High Court which has been functioning since 1916. All the branches of the government are located in the state capital, Patna.
The state is divided into 9 divisions and 38 districts, for administrative purposes.

Transport & travel

Bihar has three airports: Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport, Patna, Bhagalpur Airport and Gaya. Patna airport is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, and Ranchi. It is categorized as a restricted international airport, with customs facilities to receive international chartered flights. Gaya airport is a small international airport connected to Colombo, Singapore, Bangkok and more.
Bihar is well-connected by railway lines to the rest of India. Most of the towns are interconnected among themselves, and they also are directly connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. Patna, Muzaffarpur Darbhanga, Kathihar, Baruani, Chapra, Bhagalpur and Gaya are Bihar's best-connected railway stations.
The state has a vast network of National and State highways. For Buddhist pilgrims, the best option for travel to Bihar is to reach Patna or Gaya, either by air or train, and then travel to Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir and Vaishali. Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh also is not very far.

Places to see

  • Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan, Patna.
  • A. N. Sinha Institute Of Social Sciences Gandhi Maidan, Patna: a prominent social research institute with has vast literary collection and rare historical documentation.
  • The Jamalpur Workshop, established on 8th. February, 1862, enjoys the distinction of being the oldest and the largest locomotive workshop in India.
  • Gandhi Maidan: a historic ground that symbolises the Indian independence movement in Bihar. It was used to hold meetings by great illumanaries like Rajendra Prasad, Nehru, Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Sri Babu, Jayaprakash Narayan and others.
  • Anugrah Seva Sadan: it was established by Loknayak Jayprakash Narayan to serve the underprivileged masses and to serve as a care home for the poor. It bears the pious name of reverend leader Bihar Bibhuti Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha.
  • India's first [Multimedia Museum at Nalanda]



Hinduism is practiced by 83.2% of the population and forms the majority religion in the state. Islam is practiced by 16.5% of the population, and other religions less than 0.5%. Also there are 20,780 followers of Sikhism.


  • Chhath, also called Dala Chhath - is an ancient and major festival in Bihar, and is celebrated twice a year: once in the summers, called the Chaiti Chhath, and once around a week after Deepawali, called the Kartik Chhath. The latter is more popular because winters are the usual festive season in North India, and Chhath being an ardous observance requiring the worshippers to fast without water for more than 24 hours, is easier to do in the Indian winters. Chhath is the worship of the Sun God. Wherever people from Bihar have migrated, they have taken with them the tradition of Chhath. This is a ritual bathing festival that follows a period of abstenance and ritual segregation of the worshipper from the main household for two days. On the eve of Chhath, houses are scrupulously cleaned and so are the surroundings. The ritual bathing and worship of the Sun God takes place, performed twice: once in the evening and once on the crack of the dawn, usually on the banks of a flowing river, or a common large water body. The occasion is almost a carnival, and besides every worshipper, usually women, who are mostly the main ladies of the household, there are numerous participants and onlookers, all willing to help and receive the blessings of the worshipper. Ritual rendition of regional folk songs, carried on through oral transmission from mothers and mothers-in-law to daughters and daughters-in-law, are sung on this occasion for several days on the go. These songs are a great mirror of the culture, social structure, mythology and history of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Nowadays, modern Chhath songs, largely Bollywood filmy remixes have caught on, but the old tradition still goes strong. Chhath, in absence of proper administrative arrangements, however, leads to some serious problems of traffic congestion, waterbody pollution and vandalism on several Bihari towns. However, Chhath being celebrated at the crack of the dawn on a river bank is a beautiful, elating spiritual experience connecting the modern Indian to his ancient cultural roots.
Chhath is celebrated around a week after the festival of Diwali. However, the two festivals are not connected, mythologically speaking. While Diwali celebrates the return of Lord Rama after the battle with the demon king Ravana, Chhath is an ancient festival supposedly started by the King of Anga Desh (modern Bhagalpur region in Bihar) named Karna. Karna is a powerful character in the epic Mahabharata.
Chhath is also celebrated by a great number of people in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Teej and Chitragupta Puja are other local festivals celebrated with fervour in Bihar.
  • Among ritual observances, the month long Shravani Mela held along a 108 kilometre route linking the towns of Sultanganj and Deoghar [now in Jharkhand state] is of great significance. Shravani Mela is organised every year in the Hindu month of Shravan, that is the lunar month of July-August. Pilgrims, known as kanwarias, wear saffron coloured clothes and collect water from a sacred Ghat [river bank] at Sultanganj, walking the 108 km stretch barefooted to the town of Deogarh to bathe a sacred Shiva-linga [sacred rock]. The observance draws thousands of people to the town of Deoghar from all over India.
Bihula-Bishari Puja of Anga region also is a great festival of Bihar.
The Sonepur cattle fair is a month long event starting approximately half a month after Deepawali and is considered the largest cattle fair in Asia. It is held on the banks of the Sone River in the town of Sonepur. The constraints of the changing times and new laws governing the sale of animals and prohibiting the trafficking in exotic birds and beasts have eroded the once-upon -a-time magic of the fair.

Folksongs & music

Apart from a strong contribution to the Indian (Hindustani) classical music (for example, Bihar has produced musicians like Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan and dhrupad singers like the Malliks (Darbhanga Gharana) and the Mishras (Bettiah Gharana)) , Bihar has a very old tradition of beautiful folk songs, sung during important family occasions, such as marriage, birth ceremonies, festivals, etc. They are sung mainly in group settings without the help of many musical instruments, though Dholak,Bansuri , and occasionally Tabla and Harmonium are used.
Bihar also has a tradition of lively Holi songs known as 'Phagua', filled with fun rhythms.
During the 19th century, when the condition of Bihar worsened under the British misrule, many Biharis had to migrate as indentured labourers to West Indian islands, Fiji, and Mauritius. During this time many sad plays and songs called biraha became very popular, in the Bhojpur area. Dramas on that theme continue to be popular in the theaters of Patna.

Dances of Bihar

Dance forms of Bihar are another expression of rich traditions and ethnic identity. There are several folk dance forms that can keep one enthralled, such as dhobi nach, jhumarnach, manjhi, gondnach, jitiyanach, more morni, dom-domin, bhuiababa, rah baba, kathghorwa nach, jat jatin, launda nach, bamar nach, jharni, jhijhia, natua nach, bidapad nach, sohrai nach, and gond nach.


Dariya Sahib, was a saint (that was born in Shahabad in the 1700s) influenced by Kabirdas and Dharamdas, united by the Hindu and Muslim communities. Dariya Sahib, like many other Bhakti saints, is known as Dariyadas. He was listed by Brahm Sankar Misra as one of India's greatest saints. Many of his followers believe that he is the reincarnation of Kabir.
The battle cries of the Bihar Regiment, consisting of 17 battalions, are "Jai Bajrang Bali" (Victory to Lord Hanuman).
Bihar is the birthplace of Buddha, a Buddha of Buddhism, which is also known as "Brahmayana". Buddha attained Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, a town located in the modern day district of Gaya. Lord Buddha is said to be a descendant of Sage Angirasa in many Buddhist texts. Buddhists and scholars like Dr. Eitel connects linear to the Gautama Maharishi.There too were Kshatiryas of other clans to whom members descend from Angirasa, to fulfill a childless king's wish.
Mahavira, the 24th and the last Tirthankara of Jainism, was born in Vaishali. Indeed Jain monks & nuns wandered in the towns and forests of then-Magadha. They called it vihara and thus Bihar got its name from the vihara of Jain. Jainism claims to be a "Brahma-patha" (path to Brahman).

Language & literature

Hindi (Official language of State), Urdu- (2nd official language of State government), Maithili, Angika , Bhojpuri, Bajjika, Bangla and Magadhi (Magahi) are the major languages spoken in Bihar. Angika is the only one of the languages which can be used in the Google Search Engine; Google-Angika has been available since 2004. The oldest poetry of the Hindi language (e.g., poetries written by Saraha, also known by the name Sarahapa, were written in the Angika language during the 8th century.
Bihar has produced a number of writers of Hindi, 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. Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan, the great writer and Buddhist scholar, was born in U.P. but spent his life in the land of Lord Buddha, i.e., Bihar.Hrishikesh Sulabh is the prominent writer of the new generation. He is short story writer, playwright and theatre critic. Arun Kamal and Aalok Dhanwa are the well-known poets. Different regional languages also have produced some prominent poets and authors.
Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, who is among the greatest writers in Bangla, resided for some time in Bihar. Of late, the latest Indian writer in English, Upamanyu Chatterjee also hails from Patna in Bihar.
Devaki Nandan Khatri, who rose to fame at the beginning of the 20th century on account of his novels such as Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati, was born in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. Vidyapati Thakur is the most renowned poet of Maithili (c. 14-15th century). Urdu is one of the important languages of Bihar. It became the second official language in the undivided State of Bihar since 16 August 1989 for the following purposes: 1. Acceptance of representations and replies thereto. 2. Acceptance of documents by the Registration Offices. 3. Publication of important rules, regulations, etc. 4. Issue of orders and notifications of public interest. 5. Publication of important Government documents. 6. Publication of district Gazettes, and 7. Display of signboards. The State Government identified several areas in which there are 15 per cent or more of the local population speaking one of the minority languages of the state. Urdu speakers constitute at least 15 percent of the total population in the largest part in the state:
1.District of Darbhanga (19.36) 2.Purnea (35.01) 3.Sitamarhi (15.28) and Katihar(77.60).

Folk theatre

Theatre is another form in which the Bihari culture expresses itself. Some forms of theater with rich traditions are Bidesia, Reshma-Chuharmal, Bihula-Bisahari, Bahura-Gorin, Raja Salhesh, Sama Chakeva, and Dom Kach. All of these theatre forms originate in the Anga or Ang area of Bihar.


Bihar has a robust cinema industry for the Bhojpuri language. There is also a small Maithili and Angika film industry. First Bhojpuri Film was Ganga Maiya Tohe Piyari Chadaibo. "Lagi nahin chute ram" was the alltime superhit Bhojpuri film which was released against "Mugle Azam" but was a superhit in all the eastern and northern sector. Nadiya Ke Par is the most famous Bhojpuri movie till date.
Ramayan Tiwari, popularly known as Tiwari, was the first major Bihari film actor. He played the villain and various mythological characters in more than 200 films. He was followed by his son Bhushan Tiwari, also a renowned actor, who played the villain in more than 100 movies.
The first Maithili movie was Kanyadan (released in 1965 & Directed by Phani Majumdar), of which a significant portion was made in the Maithili language.


The cuisine of Bihar for the Hindu upper and middle classes is predominantly vegetarian, although some of the Hindu classes do eat meat. The Muslims in Bihar however do generally eat meat as well as vegetables.
Islamic culture and food with Bihari flavor are also part of Bihar unique existence of mixed culture. Famous food items include (Biharee Kabab) (Shami Kabab) (Nargisi Kufte)(Shabdeg)(Yakhnee Biryanee) (Motton Biryani) (Shaljum Gosht) (Baqer Khani) (Kuleecha) (Naan Rootee) (Sawee ka Zarda) (Qemamee Sawee) (Gajar ka Halwa) (Ande ka ZfraniHalwa)
The staple food is bhat, dal, roti, tarkari and achar. It is prepared from rice, lentils, wheat flour, vegetables, and pickle. The traditional cooking medium is mustard oil. Khichdi, a broth of rice and lentils seasoned with spices and served with several accompanying items, constitutes lthe mid-day meal for most Hindu Biharis on Saturdays.
The favourite dish among Biharis is litti-chokha. Litti is made up of sattu and chokha is of smashed potato, tomato, and brinjal.
Chitba and Pitthow which are prepared basically from rice, are special foods of the Anga region. Tilba and Chewda of Katarni rice also are special preparations of Anga.
Kadhi bari is a popular favorite and consists of fried soft dumplings made of besan (gram flour) that are cooked in a spicy gravy of yogurt and besan. This dish goes very well over plain rice.
Bihar offers a large variety of sweet delicacies which, unlike those from Bengal, are mostly dry. These include Anarasa, Belgrami, Chena Murki, Motichoor ka Ladoo, Kala Jamun, Kesaria Peda, Khaja, Khurma, Khubi ka Lai, Laktho, Parwal ka Mithai, Pua & Mal Pua, Thekua, Murabba and Tilkut. Many of these originate in towns in the vicinity of Patna.
Several other traditional salted snacks and savouries popular in Bihar are Chiwra, Dhuska, Litti, Makhana and Sattu.
There is a distinctive Bihari flavor to the non-vegetarian cooking, as well, although some of the names of the dishes may be the same as those found in other parts of North India. Roll is a typical Bihar non-vegetarian dish. These are popular and go by the generic name Roll Bihari in and around Lexington Avenue (South) in New York City.


Manjusha Kala or Angika Art of Anga Region, Madhubani Art of Mithila Region, Patna Kalam of Magadha Region.


main Education in Bihar Historically, Bihar has been a major centre of learning, home to the universities of Nalanda (one of the earliest universities of India dating back to the fifth century) and Vikramshila. Unfortunately, that tradition of learning which had its origin from the time of Buddha or perhaps earlier, was lost during the medieval period when it is believed that marauding armies of the invaders destroyed these centres of learning.
Bihar saw a revival of sorts during the later part of the British rule when they established a University at Patna along with a few other centres of high learning, viz. Science College, Patna, Prince of Wales Medical College (now Patna Medical College and Hospital), and Bihar Engineering College now (National Institute of Technology, Patna). However, this early lead got lost in the post independence period when the politicians from Bihar lost out in the race of getting centres of education established in Bihar.
Modern Bihar has a grossly inadequate educational infrastructure creating a huge mismatch between demand and supply. This problem is further compounded by increases in population. The craving for higher education among the general population of Bihar has led to a massive migration of the student community from the state. This has led to a "flooding" of students to seek educational opportunities in other states, such as New Delhi and Karnataka, even for graduation level college education.
In spite of the meager investment on education in Bihar, compared to other poorer Indian states, owing to class based reservation (of which Bihar's Pupils have been the main beneficiaries) the students have as a result done very well. Famed national institutes of learning such as IIT, IIM, NITs and AIIMS have always had a good representation from Bihar. There is also thought to be growing discontentment among students of other classes who claim however that pure merit has taken a back seat in the nation's education system as a result of giving reservation to people of backward classes. . Other institutions of higher learning, and coveted positions in the government also show a greater share than the percentage of their population. A recent survey by Pratham rated the absorption of their teaching by the Bihar children better than those in other states.

External links

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