Monday, July 09, 2007

Good News from Bihar

BBC has some good news about Bihar:

For many years, Bihar in northern India has earned notoriety for being one of the poorest and most lawless states in the country.

Nobel-prize winning author VS Naipaul once described it as the place where "civilisation ends".

But all is not lost, perhaps. We discover five areas where Bihar might consider itself to be ahead of other Indian states.


Sounds good. How often I have faced such reactions - "A Bihari? But you don't look like one, really!" Or even worse, that I don't "sound" like a Bihari. Biharis are particularly famous for their problems with the English language. It is invariably followed by a hesitant laughter and incredulity. ("My God, a walking talking Bihari in our midst!" Ok, I exaggerate a little but you get the point.) May be the situation will change.

It is not really a PR exercise for Bihar and my homeland. The Naipaul quote above might be an exaggeration but I have no hesitation in saying that it is still an extremely backward society and, worse, a society which takes pride in its celebration of feudal values. This, in many ways, is true for most parts of India, even the affluent ones. Bihar just gets lots of media coverage. The real depressing thing is how little things have changed and how slow the process is. What good is all the economic growth if it doesn't change the social structure and the mindsets of people?

7 comments:

Madhuri said...

I too carried that stereotype image once in my head - until I went to IIT and realized that a lot of my classmates were from Bihar and far better read than I was, and most of the times very articulate.
Of course, a majority of them were also inclined to indulge in campus politics - at least I was correct on one count.
But then most of them have been educated outside Bihar. The ones who spend most of their youth in Bihar could be a different story.

Crp said...

I grew up in Bihar and I can tell you straight off the bat that the academic head-in-the-clouds types and the Mungeri Lal types are at least as frequent as the gangsta Laloo types.

Alok said...

thanks for the support guys :))

Szerelem said...

haha - I get that too! only with me its worse cos I am technically half UPite, half bihari (now jharkhandi?). but the stereotype is really silly. I know the common complaint is that Laloo ruined tha state....but earlier (or even now) the number of Biharis at the top in academics or even in the civil services (ok not so much now in the civil services) was quite ridiculously large.

Alok said...

that's true. and also the problems that bihar has -- small time lowlifes and criminals, hidebound traditions, casteism etc are true for other parts of India too, at least most parts of north india.

jyothsnay said...

Certainly the state is surrounded by not so great-sounding perceptions n lacks aspirational value, quite significantly laggin behind other states in terms of clinching adequate foothold in certain industries say IT ..which push any region into limelight
there's not much "talk-value" around this region!
...a few well known personalities, or shall I say, celebrities in Advertising world hailed from this region....n let's nt forget the leadership which consistently has been creating waves both in local n international media
Any region's DNA is defined by the behavioural nuances, the way of living of its massive belly, i.e. the populace that defines its DNA, its culture,n other key nuances...not just a handful educated people who migrated to other parts of mother loam...
I certainly laud the programmes or approaches that are being implemented by the leadership, which, surprisingly are given coverage by an international media hub...
on what basis you think "English speaking" defines certain degree of civilisation? is "the universal language" a kind of barometer based on which the extent of civilisation in one is measured? I find this quite a parochial way of defining one...

Alok said...

I was pointing to other people with that comment about the English language. I have no use for people who laugh at other people's pronunciations and difficulties with grammar. I have no illusions (and no wish either) about my own English language skills.

It's true what you say about the "DNA." The only problem is that Bihar gets exclusively attached to that DNA when it is the same everywhere else.