Who am I? I am Bihar. I form part of India’s border with Nepal and within, I neighbour Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and importantly, Jharkhand (wonder why Jharkhandis can’t stop calling themselves Bihari, because it’s certainly not a glamorous tag to carry westward).
The news of the Intermediate Humanities and Science toppers from the Bihar state board screwing up big time post-results, is news no more. Of course, it’s not okay to mistake “prodigal” for “political” AND top the entire state. I’m also hearing the science topper doesn’t know the atomic structure of sodium – duh, I knew that in tenth grade CBSE.
And guess what they have in common? Their college. Two dubious toppers from one college in semi-urban Bihar, rings a bell? (One is free to scream names for Bihar without a thought.) But then? What happens, the name-calling for Bihar is all that remains for a reputation of the state?
That’s it. Everyone has had enough entertainment for the day.
“Ye Bihari kya karega?”
More than once, I’ve been apologised to when a peer goes the derogatory way talking about the state I don’t even belong to.
And Chetan Bhagat, writing the absolute literary masterpiece that Half Girlfriend is, didn’t help.
In fact, a close, well-meaning friend once said, “I’m truly happy your parents gave you the opportunity to study further in spite of being from one of those states (Jharkhand/Bihar/UP).” I was disappointed for everyone who has ever gone to college from these places. Heck, I was aghast for every Bihari on this year’s Civil Services rank list, together constituting a clear majority.
It’s very easy to judge a state based on how it holds on to its rustic form, and only on the unfortunate parts of its governance (fodder scam, cheating gate, I’m looking at you). Holding it as a target to paste the blame for heinous crimes on, even easier.
The next time someone says that Bihar’s got problems, I’d say they have themselves got major ones. Calling every poor, struggling, dark-skinned, Hindi-speaking human from Eastern India (or other places), a Bihari is one.
A rapist from UP is not a Bihari. A drug addict from Jharkhand, is not a Bihari. For that matter, even a drug addict from Bihar does not solely represent what Bihar stands for. It stands for much more. It stands for struggle, for humility and perseverance, at least as I have seen it.
I can be a Bihari and not know that “prodigal” science isn’t about cooking.
But then, I can also be a Bihari and do really (no, really) well in a sea of more privileged North Indian peers.
I am the same Bihar that nurtured a certain Dr. Rajendra Prasad. I witness tens of dialects being spoken simultaneously. I cradle Bodh Gaya which draws enormous numbers of tourists. I have seen abject poverty and I fail to understand why everyone refuses to see the efforts I’m making to come out of it.
Do not generalise. And if you have to, remove every Bihari from the workforce – from sabziwallahs to officers in the IAS and in DMRC – and then we shall see how this system functions.
Emotions of another Bihari: Bihari – An Unintended Sin
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.