Bihar: One of India’s most politically volatile states.

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By Fiza Alam Zaidi, The India observer, TIO, NJ: What do we Indians visualize in our imaginations when we talk about Bihar ? All that seems to originate from this benighted state are stories of horror: economic backwardness, social inequity, electoral banditry, political cupidity, caste riots, and cultural degeneration. But much water has flowed down the Ganga in more than 20 years, as economic backwardness is gradually receding, violent electoral banditry in forms of booth capturing has become virtually nonexistent since 2014 and is being replaced by booth management, as it exists in rest of India, and the caste wars may have apparently institutionalized themselves in the state’s political electoral battle in a more sublime way. Yes, the political cupidity or the urge to practice politics and the keenness to pursue it remains.

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1917 : Gandhi in Champar

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A state full of people and politics , Delhi is considered as the political capital of the country , a place where all political stirrings happen but some shock waves of the earthquakes from the epicenter can also be felt in Bihar. The state is visibly politically colored by banners and flags, Gandhi Maidan is the central park of Patna and also a center for political stirrings. Also another characteristic feature of Patna as well as Bihar , is Gandhi, a “Saint Rebel” who ignited the flame of Satyagarh (as well as his political career). You can find his divine presence everywhere , though it’s different that the fact that Indian currency has his face on it makes his presence visible in the entire subcontinent , here in Bihar he is present beyond the transaction rupee and remains a highly influential figure of Bihar politics. All major political parties draw their inspiration from this one man who because of the persistent request of a troubled peasant , Rajkumar Shukla thought of visiting Champaran in 1917 which turned the destiny of this gigantic subcontinent upside down.

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Satyagarh was powerful, no one can deny it. It created a perplexed environment for the British who I believe inspired by the Mohammandans believed in the “Rule of sword” as supreme. The very fact that non violence could have a significant impact or it could unite Indians into a unified force was something which could never even occur in the wildest fantasy of the British or anyone for that matter. And Gandhi did something which philosophers of Drain of wealth or Lal, Bal, Pal could not.

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If you travel some 228.2 kms from the State capital (Patna) you reach West Champaran, located in the northern part of the state, near Nepal. In fact there is a vast patch of unidentified and un-surveyed area which is nowhere land. Neither is it in India nor in Nepal. This northmost part of the district has vast forest reserves encompassing indigenous population whose records and census remain an enigma.

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It was the Bhittarwa Ashram in the Gaunaha block of West Champaran that Bihar’s favorite leader Gandhi started his Nationalist struggle against the British government who was forcing peasants in this region to grow Indigo on their lands. Indigo was like a termite to land, it made the land barren. But at the same time was something of utmost importance to the lavishing industrial revolution in Britain and elsewhere. It was a natural dye and of course it could not be grown in Britain despite having abundant lands of appropriate climate, why? for starters Britons had segments of government with a monarchial head ever since the Glorious revolution.

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It was the land where rights were recognized and freedom was ushered to the Anglo Saxon inhabitants. However these charter of rights were applicable “just to the Britons”, so these “free and equal” individuals often embarked on journeys to capture foreign lands freely, and India was no exception.

Bihar is considered one of India’s most politically volatile states.
has one of the highest degrees of partisanship. When we say the highest
It denotes a high level of political awareness and a high level of politicization and predisposition to have strong political beliefs. It would make sense in this situation.

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Patna is Bihar’s capital and the seat of the state government. It also serves as a center for political and cultural activity. Patna is located on The state’s Magadh area which includes the banks of the Ganga. Apart from it, Bihar is a politically lively and socially concerned state that is also quite diversified regionally, with each part of the state reflecting a distinct culture of socio-politics. The state is organized into five major regions:

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Tirhut, Mithila, Magadh, Bhojpur, and Seemanchal are among the districts (East). These divisions are mostly cultural, but they are also used to investigate political ideologies. Each region has its own distinct social and cultural characteristics. Maithili, an Indo-Aryan language, is the primary language spoken in the Mithila region of the state, while in the Bhojpur region, Bhojpuri is the main spoken language. In Patna and the adjoining region known as Magadh, Magahi language is spoken.

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Bihar as a state exhibits some serious challenges , and one of the many is the problem of poor census and absence of caste census. A state where most of the politics surrounds politics is overwhelming to witness the lack of proper categorical data to understand the demographics of the state. 10 political parties can have 10 different loads of data, and none will be accurate. Enigma and chaos swirls around the state and the only way out of it is to get yourself wrapped up in this ramshackle, the deeper you’ll dig the more you’ll understand how less you’re acquainted with the reality of this wonderland. But in this process a lot many misconceptions shall also be erased. It is not at all like it seems like it’s a deep scavenging meander. So let’s leave the rest for the next entry in this series, if at all there’s a next 🙂

Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai

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