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Congratulations Bihar!

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As Bihar celebrates 100th anniversary of its formation as a modern Indian state, it may feel like ages. But given the state's history, 100 year is a mere speck in the sands of time. Bihar stands for 'abode' in Sanskrit and Pali that finds numerous allusions in Buddhist monasteries, but later it assumed the notion of 'an educational city' heralding the glory of the largest and best universities of that bygone era -Nalanda, Odantpura and Vikramshila. This ancient land of great emperors like Samudragupta, Vikramaditya and Ashoka, and the great Chankya were instrumental of what is called the 'classical' and 'golden' periods in the Indian history. The land of Lord Buddha, Lord Mahavir and Guru Govind Singh consisted of Anga, Magadha, Mithila and Vrijji, and still speaks several great languages of the past like Angika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili and Bajjika. But history is seamless here. The governments, educational institutes, erstwhile trades may have changed significantly in past two millennia, but the old Pataliputra in the name of Patna still throbs.

Though the Greeks are credited with giving democracy to the world, many historians noted that the concept existed in India from ancient times. Vaishali was governed by democratic means and Bihar has the distinction of giving the world its first democracy during the Lichchvi period.

Bihar may be 12th largest Indian state, but it's the third most populous in the country. Poverty and backwardness was the defining image of Bihar until recently. Although millions are yet to receive benefits of India's economic progress and effects of globalization, the past decade has been a course correction in Bihar. Many projects taken up by the Nitish Kumar-led government are pro-people, making them a resounding success.

Many experiments in Bihar will be much useful for other states that also share similar socio-economic conditions. A substantial section of Bihar now comes under mineral-rich Jharkhand, which was carved out more than 10 years ago; the bifurcation hasn't deterred the mother state's strive for growth and development. Bihar sends a chunk of civil servants to various administrations around the country, and also a large number of talented young students to India's best universities.

The state leads the young India brigade, where a large number of the population is below 35 or 25 years. Over 58% of its population is under 25. It would be fascinating to see how these young lives are nurtured and what opportunities they get to excel in their respective spheres of life. Bihar has significant importance not only for India, but also for rest of the developing world. Bihar under the leadership of its CM Nitish Kumar is a role model for many other Indian states that await reforms and inclusive growth.

Inclusive growth, which is popularized by Gujarat CM Narendra Modi, is best evident in the western Indian state. But, Bihar too is complementing India's growth by giving an opportunity to the age-old have-nots.

NGI congratulates the people of Bihar and urges Indians and India-lovers across the globe to celebrate the occasion with not just festivities, but also some constructive supportive work. It is imperative for the people of Bihari origin living across India and the world to explore how they can give something to their home state, who in many ways shaped their lives.

Our valuable member Kanchan Banerjee has been with us since Thursday, 18 August 2011.

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