“Karpoori Thakur’s rule was a false dawn for OBCs, real breakthrough came in the 1990-2015”

Patna,(BiharTimes):  The story of Bihar since the 1990s up to 2015 holds a lesson for Nepal which suffers from the same debilitating conditions which were affecting the former till recently. To hit the path of development, the underprivileged communities in Nepal have to join hands first to gain dignity and then development.

The prescription for Nepal was provided by Harry Blair, Senior Research Scholar, Yale University, New Haven, on Monday in his Silver Jubilee lecture at the international conference on ‘Bihar and Jharkhand: Shared History to Shared Vision’ being organised by ADRI, Patna.

 Tracing the political empowerment of the OBCs between 1952 and 2015, Blair said the 1977-79 Karpoori Thakur’s regime was “a false dawn” for the OBCs and the real breakthrough came in the 1990-2015 period. It comprised Lalu Prasad’s rule which gave them the dignity and then the Nitish Kumar’s rule which brought them under the ambit of development. This was the period when the OBCs enjoyed the maximum representation in the Assembly.

He said that Lalu Prasad was the first game changer but his rule was also characterised by administrative decline with posts remaining unfulfilled, allocations being unspent and corruption being rampant. He cited fodder scam as an example. “Probably, Lalu was too anxious to end the hegemony of the forward castes.”

Nitish came as the next game changer and brought about a turnaround in terms of inclusive growth which was lauded by the world. “He showed with a focussed and dedicated leadership, a poor state can develop,” Blair added.

Earlier in the day, Imre Bangha, Associate Professor of Hindi at Oxford University, said that Hindi should not ignore its past whatever may be its status today. A PhD from Visva Bharati UIniversity, Bangha was speaking on the topic ‘Erach, Rajgir, Dalmau: The Earliest Documented Locations of Vernacular Literature in Hindi Belt’. The session was chaired by Vasudha Dalmia, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley.

He said ‘Hindi belt’ was a curious term, with some scholars referring to it

 as Madhyadesh which would roughly cover modern-day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar,  Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

He said there was continuity between Brajbhasha and Hindi. “Bihar had a very rich circulation and therefore a rich production of Brajbhasha whereas

Bengali had a Bangla cirlutaion. So, when Hindi developed in Bihar, it was more oriented towards Brajbhasha,” he said.

 Answering a question, he said modern-day Hindi was indebted to Urdu but added that the perception of a language depended on history and the latter depended on the community which constructed it.

 “Any historical reconstruction is often highly politicised,” he added.

The lecture by William Pinch, Professor, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, offered interesting insights into the events of 1764 in the

> run-up to the Battle of Buxar, most notably the decision of Hector Munro to  execute 24-25 sepoys. The lecture session on ‘Blown from Cannon: The Prelude to Buxar, 1764’ was chaired by Lord Meghnad Desai.

He shed light on how the varying accounts of the execution was integrated into the subsequent narratives and how the East India Company forces justified it in evolving a standard measure to quell mutinies. The British

> company argued that this was not new and that it was just a variant of the “old Mughal punishment”.

Delivering the Silver Jubilee lecture on ‘Revisiting the Bihar-West Bengal  Merger Plan, C. 1956: Envisioning the Region in the 1950s’, Gyanesh Kudaisya, Associate professor, National University of Singapore, gave an account of how an extraordinary plan worked out by the then West Bengal chief minister B C Roy and his Bihar counterpart Shri Krishna Sinha in 1956 had to be junked because it faced a stiff opposition in West Bengal. “In its 100 years of existence, Bihar’s territory has seen multiple alterations and re-configurations. Its boundaries have changed vis-a-vis its neighbours,

Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha,” he said.

According to Janine Rodgers, Senior Visiting fellow, Institute for Human Development, New Delhi, the male migration from the rural Bihar has been a

major driver of village dynamics. As a result, the role of women in farming, agriculture labour and management of livestock has increased but is not always acknowledged. Patriarchal norms and structures limit their access to economic, social and political resources as land and local body representation.

Her lecture session was chaired by Antara Dev Sen, Editor, The Little Magazine.

Subrata K Mitra, Director, Institute of South Asian Studies, National  University of Singapore, spoke on the topic ‘Regional Governance in India: A Preliminary Analysis of Bihar, Tripura and West Bengal’. His lecture session was chaired by Mrinal Pande, senior journalist and author.





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