Anguish of a Pravasi Bihari

by Jun 16, 2024Governance0 comments

Ministers, their portfolio and future of Bihar make a Poor reading


Bihar NDA MPs who were picked up as ministers in Modi’s 3.0 didn’t get departments (portfolios) that could be used as meaningful tools for rapid development of the sickly State. Bihar is at the bottom of all the states in all areas. In contrast to the ministers from the JDU, for example, the ministers from the TDP got departments such as Civil Aviation, Rural Dev and Communication.

Until recently, the BJP’s national face and MPs like Ravi Shankar Prasad had departments of Law and Information Technology. We could also talk about Jagjivan Ram, Ram Subhag Singh, Ram Vilas Paswan or Lalu Yadav holding the Railway Ministry at different times.

Many Biharis like me may have reasons to be disheartened and disappointed. But, if we go to the bottom of why we get treatment like this, we wouldn’t relish the reasons. We wouldn’t like to accept that our estimation in the eyes of the people outside (including, I’m sure, Narendra Modi’s, too!) is very low and poor.

We may claim to be tall, but we are splintered socially. We harbor bad blood and envy so easily for our fellow Bihari brethren that we don’t even have adequate self-respect and higher expectations of ourselves. We can’t think big. We haven’t built up enough strength based on character, integrity, courage and dedication.

Our social and political leaders are corrupt, have no ethics, conviction or integrity. Any person who rises to any influential position is forced to be corrupt by his/her own people, including the family members. We demand of our political (elected) representatives as well as bureaucrats, teachers or professors to compromise rules, impartiality, ethics or even civility, at the drop of a hat.

Take the example of R.K.Singh, an ex-IAS officer and two-term BJP M.P. He did so much work for his constituency, Ara and yet he was disliked and defeated by the people this time around. The complaint against him was that he wasn’t approachable.

I know from my own experience as a young college professor at Darbhanga (Bihar) in the 1980’s when more students and their parents would come to my door to pressure me to do unfair or unlawful things and not so much to receive teaching lessons or career advice. R. K. Singh was extremely sincere and committed to his work or projects at hand but didn’t encourage unnecessary influence-peddling. He didn’t patronize unsavory parasite elements, the current run-of-the mills politicians to keep surrounding him.

This unproductive, uncouth and sycophantic protocol in politics had already begun during the Congress years, but the generation of politicians who came after 1967 took this to new heights. In new political culture and dealings, in order to command prestige or influence, you will have to acquire the image of a rough and tough person who could wield all criminal apparatus and get things done at all cost. This deterioration had a wider impact in society. As a professional — even to lead a clean-unblemished career — you have to be under the protection or patronage of unsavory, anti-social, criminal elements who would exact their own price from you.

No wonder, the level of fraud, misappropriation and pilferage of public funds are so high in Bihar. We have no security; our rights to property or to generate wealth in a legitimate way are not encouraged or assured. Sheer criminality and the propensity to usurp others’ possessions have defaced, distorted and misinterpreted all philosophers — from Marx-Lenin to Gandhi-Lohia to Vinoba or Jay Prakash. Elections at all levels have been reduced to being a chess board where only caste supremacy could be established.

Bihari diaspora are scared of investing any resources in their land of birth. Even the migrant Bihari workers / professionals in other parts of the country don’t spend money in Bihar beyond the bare minimum that fulfills the requirements of their families. At every step, you are stumbled upon by crooks, saboteurs, extortionists or middle-men brokers. Look at the quality of the youth coming out of dysfunctional schools, colleges or the education system in general. Read the comments in the social media they make on any serious political, social or behavioral issues. Pay attention to the music or the filthy conversation they do or the songs they listen to aloud on the streets, the substance they get addicted to early in their youth. Their proneness to crime and lawlessness is unprecedented.

We may not like to concede that, in view of the deterioration in our character, integrity and status, no one looks at us with respect. No one cares about Bihar and the BIharis.


Like all politicians, it is in the character of Bihari political leaders and their sycophant-followers too to expect more; their greed could be bottomless. They must realize that in this challenging political environment where they could luckily secure a ruling mandate, they could do a lot for the state of Bihar. Regardless of portfolios and limited discriminatory allocation of resources, they must show that they could be high-achievers. They could convince their constituency and the central leadership by ridding the Bihar work environment of such decadent culture as pilferage, corruption, lethargy, procrastination, envy, bad blood or inability to think big.

However, my reading is that those who represented the state in the Parliament or the State legislature have no vision or drive for a better Bihar; they couldn’t align or coalesce with others showing their willingness to cut across their ego, party or caste lines. All they would worry about is to get re-elected by switching sides, becoming surrogates to any leader or political party. Wherever they get a chance, they must steal — what a friend rightly characterized as “Malai-dividend.”

Since 2005, in Bihar, except for 3-4 sporadic years, the BJP was always attached as a coat-tail to the JDU of Nitish Kumar. The BJP state unit — central leaders included — banked on Nitish Kumar and preferred to stay as a B team only. The attention of the top BJP brass couldn’t be drawn to the severe necessity of raising their own leadership with a vision/plan in Bihar. The morale of the BJP grassroots volunteers was shattered, the role of the RSS was undervalued, defectors were given precedence over dedicated old-timers. Votes were sought to be gathered in the name of a Hindu-first party, but the legitimate Hindu agenda was relegated to the back burner. The nation was gripped by the impression that a highly centralized ruling party, the BJP, was led by the two Gujarati leaders who cared more for Gujarat than for Bihar or Punjab. Just recall who did the BJP central leadership foist as Deputy Chief Ministers right after the 2020 Vidhan Sabha election.

In the context of Bihar, if the state-level leaders were dull, the central leadership of the BJP could have constituted a high-powered committee of the BJP MPs from Bihar itself. There was no dearth of competent thinkers. After years of preparation, the BJP would have been able to stand on its own and become greatly influential. Now, after a quarter of a century, its fate is still mortgaged in the hands of the JDU or Chirag’s party. It seems to have outsourced its election work, particularly in rural Bihar, to the JDU, LJP or HAM.

What I read somewhere is that the BJP central leadership had already declared that it would contest the 2025 Bihar Vidhan Sabha election by projecting again the face of Nitish Kumar, the “Paltu Chacha” of Tejaswi Yadav, Lalu’s son. If that happens, in my opinion, Tejaswi’s victory (he already has momentum) and re-establishment of Lalu’s legacy in Bihar is assured.

I hope I’m proven wrong!

[Originally from Darbhanga, Bihar (India), Dr Binoy Shanker Prasad lives in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). He is a former UGC teacher fellow at JNU in India and a Fulbright Scholar in the USA. Author of scholarly works including a book, “Violence Against Minorities”, “Gandhi in the Age of Globalization” (a monograph) and a collection of poems”, Dr Prasad has taught at Ryerson University, Centennial College and McMaster University. He has also been the president of Hamilton based India-Canada Society (2006-08 and 2018-20)]

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