Bihari Pride!

Bihar—one of the largest North Indian states in geographical size and population. Where Hindi, Urdu and English are the official languages and the regional languages are Angika, Maithili, Magadhi and Bhojpuri. The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit and Pali word—Vihara, which means a place to reside.

Ancient Bihar had a rich heritage and, culture. The two dynasties, Maurya & Gupta EmpiresSeal_of_Biharthe greatest empires of India—arose from Magadh. Maurya Dynasty was India’s first empire. Magadh was formed of sixteen Maha-Janpad (great-republic communities), which had their own assemblies. You can say that it was the era of partial Republic Reign. It has seen the reigns of legendary kings as Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka Maurya. These two emperors are believed to be one of the greatest emperors in the world. The central area of both the empires was Bihar, though it was expanded from West-Bengal to Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. Later, Ashoka extended the Empire over most of the Southern Asia. Previously Rajgrih (modern Rajgir) was the capital of Magadh, and later Patliputra (modern Patna) became the capital, which is still the capital of Bihar. The Gupta Empire has seen great advancements in various fields, such as Science, Mathematics, Astronomy, Arts, and Philosophy etc. The elements of Hindu Culture crystallized during Gupta Dynasty. This era is known as the “Golden Age” and this was the era when India was known as the “Golden Bird”. Historians have placed this dynasty along with many great empires (Roman and Han etc.) as a model of classical civilization.

Bihar had the oldest and truly international universities of time—Nalanda and Vikramshila. These universities were among the best centers of education.

Buddhism—the most followed religion in most part of Asia—arose from the region of modern Bihar. Gautam Buddha got Nirvana under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, Bihar. Buddhism was widely spread by Ashoka Maurya, all over his kingdom, which are now various modern countries of Asia who worship Buddha. Now, Bodhgaya is a sacred pilgrimage for all the Buddhists.

Another progressive emperor of Bihar—Sher Shah Suri—improved the infrastructure and economy of Bihar. He established the current Indian currency – Rupiya. He is the one who established modern post offices, which had a significant role in communication before telephones and mobile phones arrived. The principles and conventions of archaically managed administration of Sher Shah influenced the future of Mughal Empire. Mughals never succeded in annexing Bihar and Bengal until Sher Shah was alive. He defeated the army of Humayun. Thus, Humayun was forced to make Delhi as his capital. After Sher Shah’s death, while fighting the second battle of Panipat, Akbar captured Bihar and Bengal. Even though they were rivals, Akbar got the motivation from Sher Shah’s administration.

Bihar has witnessed the birth of the tenth and last Guru of SikhismGuru Gobind Singh, who was born in Patna. There is a Gurdwara at Patna Sahip in his remembrance. The first president of India—Dr. Rajendra Prasad was also from Bihar. Bihar has also witnessed the great writers of Hindi literature, such as Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Ram Briksha Benipuri, Rahul Sankrityayan, Nagarjun and Phanishwar Nath Renu.

Bihar’s three major mother tongues—MMithilaksharaithili, Bhojpuri and Magadhi—were lost competence since the first success of Hindi extent across Bihar in the year 1881, when it became the first state of India to adopt Hindi. Out of all the regional languages, only Maithili has superimposed its identity over Hindi. However, it uses Devanagri script for writing rather than its own script Mithilakshar due to the lack of development of the printing press and ignorance. The other regional languages have accepted the dialects of Hindi.

One of the regional arts—Mithila Painting/Madhubani Painting, which is supposed to be originated at the time of Ramayana, when king Janak asked the artists to create the paintings at the time of her daughter, Sita‘s marriage to prince Ram—is a world known and appreciated art now.

The national aquatic animal of India—River Dolphins are found in the great river of Bihar — Ganga. Near Bhagalpur, there is a dolphin sanctuary—Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctury—to ensure the protection of dolphins.

Bihar falls in ample fertile plane with plentiful of water resources, which makes its agriculture rich and diverse. It is the largest producer of vegetables and fruits, such as potato, onion, brinzal, cauliflower, litchi, mango, banana and guava. It is the third largest producer of pineapple and other previously mentioned fruits. Sugarcane and jute are also the major crops.

Though. It is sad that besides having such an abundant cultivation potential, it has not reached to its full potential. There were flourishing industries of sugar and vegetable oil in Bihar, but they were forced to shut down due to some central government policies.  Due to deteriorated administration, Bihar was said to be the perfect example of worst India.  Moreover, it happened because of extensive and inevitable poverty, corrupt politicians indistinguishable from mafia-dons that they utilized and supported and caste-ridden social order that have retained the worst feudal cruelties.

It is woeful that suddenly  the state, because of which the country was known as the Golden Bird and which had shown the world the exemplary managed administration, has become the state of persistent poverty, multifaceted social stratification, disappointing infrastructure and pathetic governance. The state of education and research is completely dis-satisfactory.  It has lost the pace of being a center of education. People have to migrate to other states/countries for better edification.

So why not be confident and generate the sense of belonging and Bihari pride and let’s show the world that we are still those people who had the courage to create the golden era and we can still have that valor to do that again ..

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Society in 1990s to 2010s: From My Experience

Though, the Nineties or the late 20th century is a period of development in social behavior, technical fields, and improved employment opportunities—it also appeared as a period of various issues, such as ethnic tensions, religion and caste based politics, communal riots (genocide), terrorist attacks, natural disasters, recession. However, past few decades have been appealing, comfortable and brightest; on the other hand, have been a dreariest one too.

Urban drift—physical growth of urban areas is the significant rationalized advancement as a result of rural migration and suburban concentration, which caused the arrival of “Urban Millennium”. Where, there are improvements in many fields, such as transportation, job opportunities, education, and software areas (as user-friendly web browsers made web surfing easier, MS Windows became a widespread operating system. Many improved and advanced technologies came in and made day-to-day life a lot easier later); there are negative aspects of urbanization too, such as increased daily life costs, negative social aspects, stress, pollution, land grabs, conflicts and degradation of farmland.

Where common ancestries, cherished relationships, and communal behavior characterizes the rural culture, the urban culture is known as distant lineages, unfamiliar relationships and competitive behavior. Rural inhabitants started migrating to the city to seek fortunes and social agility, as cities are known as a centralized place for money, services and wealth. City life permits individuals and families to take advantage of the opportunities for jobs, education, housing and transportation.

The picture of the Indian society in this era is—men are still the breadwinners (as they have always been since last so many decades), though women have also started sharing the burden and are trying to reduce the pressure of survival in the modern life while keeping an eye on her family that they are getting all the essentials. However, that is happening only in urban areas. In rural areas, situation is same old, same old. This era has coined the concept of a Supermom, who can handle each-and-every work related to her household, family and profession.

This era has showed a complex mixing of old and new traditions, customs and viewpoints. It has been modern and conservative at the same time. People are concern of their social order and status comparative to other people, be it family, friends or outsiders. However, at the same time they are friendly and accommodating.

There is a steep inconsistency and contradiction in urban and rural civilization. Things are changing rapidly and vogue of the era is—women empowerment. However, over a past few decades, the status of the women has been changed to a great extent, yet they are treated as neglected citizens in many parts of India. Where in urban areas women are approaching for higher educations and great career opportunities, in rural areas they are still left out from the basic requirement of education and nutritious food. In suburbs, people were educating their girls only to a certain extent, as it was considered that even after higher education they don’t have to be a breadwinner and have only to look after their families, and give birth to children. Thus, high education of girls is considered as wastage of time and money. Moreover, it’s sad to admit that this concept is still accepted in many regions of India. In various regions, different levels of education are criteria of groom’s family, so, girls are allowed to study till that level only. Well-settled men want well-educated brides to make their status and stature high by showing off that their wife is a highly educated person. Doesn’t matter, if she is able to utilize her skills or not… doesn’t matter at all if she wants to make a career after her studies or not.

This era has seen extravagantly inconsistent society. Hope that new generation will understand the conflict and the upcoming eras will be auspicious and propitious.

1960s: Paradoxical Aspects of Women

The sixties was the era when traditional roles of the family were running the show. Fathers were the breadwinners and mothers were looking after the domestic establishments.

Thus, the picture of a middle-class family was—patriarchal domination. Wives subsisting on husband’s income (and it was a norm), trying to coexist with the pressure of modern (prevalent) life, homemakers paying attention that her family had a place where all the members can get refreshment, self-acceptance, self-esteem, and courage to survive the crushing urge of modern life.

Life was a little lucid then. No multiplexes, computers, or cell phones. Back then, communication meant sending and receiving letters and entertainment meant to meet friends, chat with them, go for a walk; for kids, playing outdoor games or reading storybooks was fun. Telephones and televisions were luxurious items for entertainment, which were owned by only well-heeled people. Then circus or fair was a much bigger attraction and the biggest one was watching a movie in a theater.

Schools were teaching basics and had extracurricular activities, such as Quiz contests, football, cricket, dance, and music. In many families of northern suburban areas, dance and music were not-so-accepted arts. For studies, folks preferred science over arts. It was a norm that science is for boys and arts is for girls.

Society was biased for men and women, as women were expected to be celibate, demure and especially humble and modest, which constrained their ability to perform in any scenario on an equal basis with men. There were different behaviors for men and women, which carried over from their personal life to their professional life.

Back then, the aspects of a woman’s life were paradoxical. They were expected to be at home to maintain their feminine virtue and to demonstrate their family’s morality and financial security. However, if the family suffers from economic crisis, women’s participation was expected. On the other hand was viewed as slightly inappropriate, subtly wrong and certainly dangerous to their chastity.

Though most of the women contributed to the economic strength of their family, much of their work was not accounted. Traditionally, Women were considered important for the daily household chores, such as cooking, cleaning, fetching water, collecting fuel, weaving, making handicrafts and looking after kids.

Even after being employed, women had no control over their earning, as they were expected to devote all of their time, energy and money to their family. However, men could have spent their time and some of their earnings on activities other than the household.

Girls were going for education, but after schooling, they were kept at home. There were only a few families, who agreed for higher education of their daughter and that too, to marry their daughters to a well-settled groom. As marrying, a well-educated girl was the biggest fad of that era.

The country known for its mythological culture, well-cultured natives with mythological thinking, deep belief in almighty and religious nature, has so many stained systems just like black spots on the moon. One of the black spots is the dowry system (better to call it paying the groom’s price, as it is a demanded compensation by the groom’s parents for the amount spent on his education and upbringing).

Origin of this system is not much known, but it’s an age-old system that’s for sure. Quite possible that it started from the Aryan culture, as Vedic Brahmins specified the custom of Kanyadan (father presents his daughter with jewelry and clothes) and Vardakshina (bride’s father present the groom cash or other items). This curse is completely sanctioned in the Vedas as Streedhana. Its purpose could be noble, such as gratifying girls with the due in their ancestral property (as sons were the heirs of all the money and property, even until the recent times) as a token of love for the pampered daughters. Or, as a seed money for the establishment of a new household, again for the comfort of their daughters and to ensure that their kith and kin can survive any ups and downs of life during any kind of financial crisis.

The ritual of Kanyadan was not considered complete without a dakshina provided to the groom. Thus, cash or gifts from bride’s parents for the groom became associated with Kanyadan. However, it was completely up to the bride’s parents, what they want to gift the groom. Gradually, this custom deepened its roots and groom’s parents started demanding a certain amount of dowry to be paid by bride’s parents.

It is believed that, this drastic change happened after the British rein. The British made the peasants pay revenue twice a year on a fixed date. Inability to pay would result in auction of the land by the government. Peasants were forced to borrow money from the moneylenders during a bad year. Thus to pay a never-ending debt, people started demanding money from bride’s parents to keep their property safe.

The dowry system was one of the key factors that made male kids more desirable than female kids. Brides became a subject to torture and even often killed if the demand of dowry does not meet. Thus, because of the fear of own child’s death or torture and more than this, the incapability of arranging unaffordable money, society became biased for female kids. It’s not that this was the only factor, though it was a major factor of gender discrimination.

Hence, the society encouraged domination of masculinity over femininity. A female child was treated inferior to the male child, which leave a deep engraving in the mind of a kid. Thus, where a male child was regarded as a precious part of a family, girls were often neglected and denied the right to education and its advantages, right to freedom and association with the society. It is bitter that besides working for longer hours, no or less schooling, and less received food, girls were even denied the right to live.