This article has been sourced from an authoritative, official
readers who wish to update or add further details can do so on
a ‘Part II’ of this article.
The source of this article
A REFERENCE ANNUAL
RESEARCH, REFERENCE AND TRAINING DIVISION
MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND BROADCASTING
GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
Area : 94,163 sq km
Population : 8,28,78,796 (census 2001)
Capital : Patna
Principal Language : Hindi
HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY
Bihar finds mention in the Vedas, Puranas, epics, etc., and was the main scene of activities of Buddha and the 24 Jain Tirthankars. Great rulers of the State before the Christian era were Bimbisar, Udayin, who founded the city of Pataliputra, Chandragupta Maurya and Emperor Ashoka of Maurya dynasty, the Sungs and the Kanvas. Then came the Kushan rulers followed by Chandragupta Vikramaditya of the Gupta dynasty. Muslim rulers made inroads into the territory during the medieval period. The first conqueror of Bihar was Mohammed- bin-Bakhtiar Khalji. The Tughluqs and then the Mughals followed the Khaljis.
One of the major states of the Indian Union, Bihar is bounded on the north by Nepal, on the east by West Bengal, on the west by Uttar Pradesh and on the south by Jharkhand. Bihar has a number of rivers, the most important of which is the Ganga. The other rivers are the Sone, Poonpoon, Falgu, Karmanasa, Durgawati, Kosi, Gandak, Ghaghara, etc.
Bihar has a total geographical area of about 93.60 lakh hectare, out of which only 55.54 lakh hectare is the net cultivated area with a gross cultivated area of 76.71 lakh hectare during 2008-09. The principal food crops are paddy, wheat, maize and pulses. Main cash crops are sugarcane, potato, tobacco, oilseeds, onion, chillies, jute and mesta. Bihar has a notified forest area of 6.22 lakh hectare , which is 6.65 per cent of its geographical area.
Bihar has an irrigation potential of 28.73 lakh hectare. It is created through major and medium irrigation schemes and 6.63 lakh hectare is through minor irrigation schemes.
Governor : Shri D. Konwar
Chief Secretary : Shri Anup Mukherji
Chief Minister : Shri Nitish Kumar
Jurisdiction of High Court: Bihar
AREA, POPULATION AND HEADQUARTERS OF DISTRICTS
S.No. District Area (in sq km) Population Headquarters
1. Araria 2,830.00 21,58,608 Araria
2. Arwal 637.00 5,89,476 Arwal
3. Aurangabad 3,389.2 20,04,960 Aurangabad
4. Begusarai 1,918.00 23,49,366 Begusarai
5. Bhagalpur 2,569.00 24,23,172 Bhagalpur
6. Banka 3,020.00 16,08,773 Banka
7. Bhojpur 2,395.00 22,43,144 Arrah
8. Buxar 1,703.00 14,02,396 Buxar
9. Kaimur (Bhabhua) 3,362.00 12,89,074 Bhabhua
10. Darbhanga 2,279.00 32,95,789 Darbhanga
11. East Champaran 3,968.00 39,39,773 Motihari
12. Gaya 4,976.00 34,73,428 Gaya
13. Gopalganj 2,033.00 21,52,638 Gopalganj
14. Jahanabad 932.00 9,24,839 Jahanabad
15. Jamui 3,098.00 13,98,796 Jamui
16. Katihar 3,057.00 23,92,638 Katihar
17. Khagaria 1,486.00 1,28,00,354 Khagaria
18. Kishanganj 1,884.00 12,96,348 Kishanganj
19. Lakhisarai 1,228.00 8,02,225 Lakhisarai
20. Madhepura 1,788.00 15,26,646 Madhepura
21. Madhubani 3,501.00 35,75,281 Madhubani
22. Munger 1,419.00 11,37,297 Munger
23. Muzaffarpur 3,172.00 37,46,714 Muzaffarpur
24. Nalanda 2,355.00 23,70,528 Biharsharif
25. Nawada 2,494.00 18,09,696 Nawada
26. Patna 3,202.00 47,18,592 Patna
27. Purnea 3,229.00 25,43,942 Purnea
28. Rohtas 3,851.00 24,50,748 Sasaram
29. Saharsa 1,687.00 15,08,182 Saharsa
30. Samastipur 2,904.00 33,94,793 Samastipur
31. Saran 2,641.00 32,48,701 Chapra
32. Shekhpura 689.00 5,25,502 Sitamarhi
33. Sheohar 349.00 5,15,961 Sheohar
34. Sitamarhi 2,294.00 26,82,720 Sitamarhi
35. Siwan 2,219.00 27,14,349 Siwan
36. Supaul 2,425.00 17,32,578 Supaul
37. Vaishali 2,036.00 27,18,421 Hazipur
38. West Champaran 5,228.00 30,43,466 Bettiah
Consumption of agrochemicals
Agrochemicals, including endosulfan, caused brain damage among children, says new report
Six months after medical journal The Lancet published a study connecting consumption of the lychee to the deaths of children in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, a new study maintains that the delicious tropical fruit is not to blame at all.
According to the new study, it’s the land and not the produce that was causing the unexplained neurological damage. In 2014, 122 children died in the Muzaffarpur region. The new study, published in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, found that a number of pesticides — including endosulfan — which has been banned since 2011 caused the brain damage among children.
In January 2017, In The Lancet Global Health, published a study of Indian children with litchi-associated encephalopathy unequivocally pinning the blame on the fruit itself. The researchers studied 390 patients admitted to the two referral hospitals in Muzaffarpur between May 26, and July 17, 2014 with symptoms of acute encephalitis syndrome.
They concluded that skipping the evening meal after consumption of lychee resulted in low blood glucose level and acute encephalopathy that provoked seizures and coma, causing death in many cases.
In the new study, the researchers interviewed families that worked in lychee orchards to conclude that most affected children had consumed ‘unwashed lychees, peeling away the skin with their teeth.’ The report adds that, “eating lychees was not associated with illness in the case–control study. The outbreak was linked to lychee orchard exposures where agrochemicals were routinely used, but not to consumption of lychees.”
Bihar: Caste, politics and development
The Times of India, Sep 11 2015
A story in numbers: How politics has failed Bihar Caste politics takes toll on state's health
Poll-bound Bihar is historically one of the poorest regions of the country with all the features of a grossly under-developed economy -low level of industrialization, dependence on agriculture, endemic poverty , low educational levels, high rates of outward migration, high population growth rates and extreme poverty . Unsurprisingly , electoral battles involve a high degree of caste and religious politics as formations of all political shades resort to diversionary methods to win over weary people. Although nominally everybody swears by `development', the reality is that nobody has been able to come up with a solution to the economic stasis.
On the face of it, Bihar's economy seems to have grown at a faster average rate than the country as a whole. Even job growth was slightly higher than at the national level. But the state's per capita income is a fifth of the national average.Monthly per capita spending was a mere Rs 970 in rural areas and Rs 1,287 in urban areas, almost 44% and 92% less than the national average, respectively. One of the key problems of Bihar is its low level of industrialization. Just 17% of the gross value of output from the state was created by industry compared to nearly 29% at the national level.
Dependence on agriculture which is increasingly unremunerative and widespread landlessness, pegged at nearly 70% in villages by SECC, have created a stranglehold of poverty and underemployment.This is also reflected in the low rate of urbanization at just 11%, compared to 31% for the country . This stagnation is reflected in some of the state's key health and living standard indicators. Both child and mother death rates are much higher than the national average. Nearly 88% children below five are anemic and 40% are underweight.
Nearly 90% of people still use wood or cow dung or kerosene to cook and over half the population resides in houses with thatched or other kachcha material roofs. Electricity for lighting is used by just 16% of the population. Education is still not accessible to all with the state having a literacy rate of 62% compared to 73% for the country . Women's literacy is just 52%, the lowest among all states. The desire for education appears to be huge as the current student population is not too far behind the national average. As the electioneering kicks off, the people of Bihar and the whole country are waiting to see whether this will be another round of identity politics and wild promises, with no real change.
Caste-based kitchens for policemen
The Times of India, Sep 25 2015
Caste-based kitchens for Patna cops
Mohammed Ghori is said to have witnessed a puzzling sight before taking on Prithivraj Chauhan's men.After sunset, in the enemy camp, soldiers broke into groups that lit separate fires to cook their dinner. Such a divided enemy won't last, Ghori is believed to have remarked. More than 800 years later, in the police lines barracks of Patna city , a kilometre off the iconic Gandhi Maidan -the seat of many a socialist call to arms -a similar scene unfolds at night. Constables and hawaldars, young and old, battle for law and order unitedly .But at dinner time, they sepa rate into groups formed on lines of caste and geography .
Over 20 chowkas -makeshift kitchens that make up for the absence of a joint cooking area -spring to life be tween 8pm and 10pm daily .Clay ovens hot up and the firewood crackles as rotis disappear into hungry tummies.
“Yehi parampara rahi hai yahaan saalon se,“ a consta ble says. “This has been the tradition for years.“
Wary their superiors might take umbrage, most policemen here request that they not be named.
Asked if the separate kitchens indicate a divide among the ranks, most brush away the concern, saying these groupings are based on friendship. “If you are a Yadav, you will generally have more Yadav friends. So you live together and eat together.The same is true for other castes. Also, if you are from a far off place like Darbhanga, it doesn't matter whether you are Hindu or Muslim, you will live in close proximity.“ Caste considerations seem to be a major factor in Patna's police lines. Barrack no. 3 is said to be a Rajput bastion. Barrack 5 is dominated by Bhumihars, while Barrack 8 is identified as the one where the Paswans hold sway .
“These are mere indicators that that particular caste outnumbers the rest in that barrack. You will also find a Dalit in a Bhumihar barrack. It's not that the entire barrack belongs to the Bhumihars,“ says a hawaldar.
In need of a desperate facelift amid overflowing toilets, cramped sleeping areas and lack of official holidays during election season, the barracks are no less than war zones. The main buildings were built in the 1960s, says a senior officer. “The facilities were built keeping in mind the strength of the force at that time. Over the years, the numbers have risen exponentially but the facilities have remained the same. Major renovations are also a problem because we don't have a place where we can shift these people to allow repair work to begin.“ As things stand now, there are over 5,000 people crammed in different build ings. Each floor is stuffed with beds where people are sometimes forced to take turns to sleep. The ceilings are crumbling after the monsoon rains and chunks of concrete can land on a sleeping policeman's head at any time.
And the elections are not good news because the bar racks, already bursting at the seams, will have to accom modate another few thou sand men in the coming days.
The recent protests by the policemen's association to force the authorities to take stock of their living con ditions are yet to bear fruit.
“A lot is said about the improved law and order condition in the city and the state. Who made it possible?“ asks a visibly frustrated cop.“People blame us for everything without realising what we go through to make Bihar a safe place. And look what we get for it?“
Casteism projected into history
The Times of India, Sep 14 2015
Caste-ing Ashoka in Bihar
Ashoka, the great Kushwaha
How caste politics is being resurrected with dubious history before polls
What does an ancient emperor who died over 2,300 years ago have to do with the hurly-burly of Bihar elections in the present day? Every thing, it seems, as politicians pull out all the stops to attract, make and remake caste formations. So in this cauldron of caste, Emperor Ashoka whose lion seal adorns our rupees, whose dharma chakra is on the national flag, who was the greatest communicator of ancient India reshaping much of Asia with Buddhism ¬ as Constantine would later reshape Europe with Christianity ¬ has now been repackaged as a Kushwaha leader.
The Rashtravadi Kushwaha Parishad, which is aligned with BJP, has held several commemoration functions in Bihar since last year, arguing that both Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka were Kushwahas and therefore ancestors of present-day Bihari Kushwahas or Koeris who make up about 9% of voters. State BJP leaders like Sushil Kumar Modi have publicly argued in these ceremonies that if voted to power, their party would restore the glory that Kushwahas supposedly enjoyed during the Mauryan empire.
They have likened the JD(U) regime to the capricious regime of the last Nanda king, Dhanananda, who was uprooted by Chanakya and the Mauryas.In May this year a celebration of 2,300 years of Ashoka in Patna turned into a political advocacy event, with posters coming up across the city of a bejewelled and moustachioed Ashoka image, sitting side-by-side with Kushwaha caste leaders and BJP satraps. The perplexing appropriation of Ashoka as a caste leader is part of these ground-level machinations. Kushwahas, an OBC caste who claim their descent from Ram's son Kush, were part of the social axis of forward castes and extremely backward castes that combined with the slogan of good governance to hand Nitish Kumar his 2010 triumph in Bihar.
Union minister Upendra Kushwaha's break with JD(U) in 2013 and his formation of Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), which in alliance with BJP won three Lok Sabha seats in 2014, was an attempt to break up the old Nitish coalition. Along with RLSP, Jitan Ram Manjhi's Hindustan Awam Morcha, essentially aimed at Musahars, and Ram Vilas Paswan's Dalit-focussed Lok Janshakti Party , BJP's social coalition is essentially one of upper castes and those at the very bottom of the caste pyramid to take on the Yadav-Muslim-KurmiMBC combine that the mahagathbandhan is banking on. Historians have been aghast at the bizarre appropriation of Ashoka as a caste leader. There is no evidence whatsoever of the emperor's caste credentials in Mauryan records. Yet, Kushwaha Parishad members insist they can prove it.The emperor has become a tool in the politics of social engineering in Bihar.
Dinkar, Pratap, Chuhar, Kunwar
Just as the legendary Hindi poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar has now been recast as a Bhumihar icon, Maharana Pratap of Mewar as a tool to woo upper-caste Rajputs and Baba Chuhar Mal as a dalit leader. State leaders have embraced all of these, including Kunwar Singh who fought the British in 1857, and held caste functions to commemorate these figures.
Rewriting history to serve modern political ends is not new. In UP, for example, BSP focussed on recasting and highlighting the stories of dalit veeranganas as a way of forging a new dalit identity.Bihari politics seemed to have turned a corner in 2010, moving from caste to bijli, sadak and paani like the rest of India.
The casting of Ashoka ¬ whose edicts on good governance moved Nehru to describe him as “a man who though, an emperor, was greater than any king or emperor“ ¬ as a Kushwaha leader does not diminish the Mauryan monarch, it diminishes us.
The Times of India, Aug 20 2015
In poll-bound Bihar, Patna & 20 dists get backward status
The Centre notified 21 Bihar districts, including capital Patna as backward areas and unveiled tax rebate for them in the poll-bound state, a day after the Narendra Modi government announced a mega Rs 1.25 lakh crore development package. The 21 districts include Patna, Nalanda, Bhojpur, Rohtas, Kaimur, Gaya, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Nawada, Vaishali, Sheohar, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Purnea, Katihar, Araria, Jamui, Lakhisarai, Supaul and Muzaffarpur.
The move goes a significant distance towards meeting Bihar's demand for `special status', and can help BJP blunt one of the major campaign themes of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. BJP celebrated the development as proof of Modi government's commitment to the well-being of the backward state. “Nitish Kumar should have the honesty to recognize and applaud the fact that BJP has already done for the state what he had used as a slogan and failed to realize despite his opportunistic tie-up with Congress,“ Bihar BJP functionary Sushil Modi said.
Government sources said that similar benefit was provided to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to help them develop.
The move is aimed at pro viding an opportunity to districts concerned to grow faster. Any manufacturing unit set up between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2020, in these districts will be eligible for 15% additional depreciation and 15% investment allowance under the Income Tax Act, on the cost of plant and machinery acquired and installed during this period.
“Thus, a manufacturing undertakingenterprise set up in any of these areas during the aforesaid period will be eligible for 35% (instead of 20%) of additional depreciation. This would be over and above the normal depreciation of 15%. Besides, a company engaged in manufacturing will also be eligible for 30% (instead of 15%) of investment allowance if its investment in new plant and machinery during the period 1.4.2015 to 31.3.2017 exceeds Rs 25 crore,“ a government statement said.
Modi's announcement for Bihar, underlining the political significance of the state polls seen to be a major test for the PM and the opposition RJD-JD (U)-Congress combine. This was above the Rs 40,000 crore given for ongoing projects.The package marks a major push by the prime minister to signal his commitment to Bihar's development and gives BJP a decisive edge over the challenge posed by the Janata Parivar.