I spent six weeks in Bihar earlier this year. I had the opportunity to travel by road to
Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga Vaishali and surrounding areas of Patna. Since my last visit a
year ago, I must admit I saw some changes for the better, like absence of refuse on the
roads, construction of sewage system in Kankarbagh and road building in many parts of
the districts I visited. I must admit that some of he road surfaces on dual carriageway
that is being built are of European standard. Patna looked cleaner and somewhat better
than my last visit a year ago.
Nevertheless, there is absolutely no change in the lives if ordinary Bihari. I was stunned
to see the number of shops everywhere. People just spread a mat on pavement, put a few
items and sat waiting for customer. It seems as if there is one shop for each Bihari. It took
three weeks for me to understand the reason for such proliferation. As there are no job, no
other opportunity to earn a living, people have no option other than to sell something which is
better than the alternative - begging. Whilst a school kid and growing up in 50s, I never saw
poors making footpath and pavements their home, where they cooked and slept as is the case
now. People looked stunted and thin. Children looked smaller for their age, malnourished and
ill. There being no Highway Code for vehicle drivers, there were unnecessary traffic jams on
the roads. As a British national, I was refused a Sim card for my mobile; in England, one buys
a mobile phone with Sim card like Cadbury chocolate, no matter who they are. Reason for such
restriction was to prevent crime and terrorism. And yet, criminals go unpunished, terrorists are
never apprehended, let alone prosecute and punish them. So, who is made to suffer ? A common
law abiding citizen. Similar hardship I encountered when I went to buy a new Maruti Omni car in
Visiting Darbhanga to attend Foundation day and Alumni meet at the Medical college was a nostalgic
journey. It was there that I became a doctor, spent 7 golden years and met my wife. I suffered
emotional shock on seeing general deterioration. I was shocked to see my room in West Hostel - so
dilapidated stained plaster. My colleagues talked about heart, liver, kidney and brain diseases. And
yet, out of the lecture theatre, 85% people who were poor, needed medical care for hookworm,
roundworm,malaria, Kala azar, TB. They needed health education, importance of hygiene and safe
drinking water. We addressed only 15% of population, 85% remained unaddressed, untouched. We
must put our priorities right. And wrong priorities are what ails Bihar. Hardly few thinks about 85% of
poor, deprived, disadvantaged Bihari.
I am sure people will say I live in England, come to Bihar once or twice a year and just moan and
complain. They will be justified in their complain. They may also say as to what have I done for Bihar.
Well, just a little. I created two jobs; a driver and a cook for my car and home. I will be giving four
awards , each of Rs. 5000/-, to four poor and deprived students admitted to first year MBBS in
Darbhanga Medical College every year. A boy and a girl from Muslim community and a boy and a girl
from schedule caste Hindu community. This would enable them to buy items like books, stationary and
clothes. This is the least I could do as a Bihari.
Dr. A. Kumar
Dear A. Kumar Sir,
I admire that you have done something for Bihar by creating two jobs and instituting four awards for students of poor background. Congratulations on this commendable work. But, Sir you have done very little indeed. If my kids need Rs. 5000 per month from me and I give only Rs. 5 per month, should I feel satisfaction or shame?
If your society needed much more from you and you had the knowledge to contribute much and you ended up settling for kama and artha rather than fulfilling your dharma, how can you feel satisfied?
Intelligentsia of our country are just a shame – they forsook the country throughout last 2-3 millenia – they sacrificed their dharma for the sake of kama and artha and brought only ruin upon the nation. Sir, there are people who will be much more shining example of social consciousness for this country than NRIs like you. Please continue to do whatever little you are doing for society, but please do resist in writing articles with such moral tones because it appears shallow and hypocritical. Please leave that task of writing inspiring articles to those truly awakened souls who know how to walk the talk.
In case, you misconstrue me as an ill-educated person who envy your success, I have no hesitation to let you know my background. I was one of the top rankers of IIT-JEE 2002 (All India rank 85) and did my B. Tech from IIT Kanpur and M.S. from University of Illionois, Urbana Champaign. I am a software engineer in USA right now and aim to return to India in 2011 to do fulltime social and political work like Gandhi Ji and Subhas Chandra Bose did. Unlike you, I have decided to renounce kama and artha for the sake of dharma, but found your article morally repulsive enough to prompt me to write this comment. My sincere apologies if you feel hurt – my intention is to bring to your attention that the real level of social consciousness that you showed in life is much lower than you should or could easily have shown if only you would have aspired for higher ideals and greater moral courage. Please return back to India and do work for those poor people about whom you have written – till then, your words are meaningless and hollow to people like me.
I am appreciating your analysis and step to move things forward. People who felt insulted by the article which depict the position of our birth place should think that how painful it is to think it is your place as well and you are at least trying to move something forward by contributing (by raising the concern as well as by contributing to encourage people).
I have strong objection for the views made by Mr. Ravish regarding people living abroad and who are NRI.
I would like to tell Mr. Ravish Kumar and other people with similar views to make a note that NRIs are better then those who are blessed with the high profile jobs just because of hefty donations and reservation.
I am sure all Biharis whether they are in Bihar or anywhere in world must be eager to see their home state growing.
I would be pleased to see if I could be any help for the development of Bihar.
I tried to contact our respected CM Mr. Kumar many months back (Jan, 2008) by posting a message on a government website. I was surprised to get a response sent from some public mail system (firstname.lastname@example.org) by some Mr. Sachchidanand Sinha, Dypty Secretery of CM.
I never heard anything in this regard.
I am a certified Enterprise Architect who is trained and gained knowledge to help any enterprise for its growth. I am sure there would be many biharis across the globe who are contributing towards the growth of the society by their skills and knowledge. It is the responsibilities of an enterprise (Bihar Government) to take help of people and take this forward.
I have acquired all of my skills and education by my hard work and not by using the subsidised education system. I just dont believe in the statement mentioned by Mr. R Kumar. Still I am eager to contribute for the development of Bihar.
However if nobody will respect the offer to help for the growth, Same efforts could be used for the growth of 'Adopted' country or Adopted state.
Sujit K. Singh
I should tell , this is one of the article , which I read completely and felt well written .I am respecting writers vast experience
In terms of living in Bihar as well as educational background .It is general thought in all of us (as a Biharies) , how to uplift the
plight of Bihar .But I have never seen a article, better than this , which articulate facts(where writer have admitted his absence from Bihar )
with the current situation.
I could tell two general mindset which comes in almost all the Biharies regarding plight of state.
First type of mindset which is more critic and having all negatives ingredient added. Second type is positive but not relying the facts.
Just want to explain my these two points .
We have grown in the environment , where Bihar was left alone among the states and poverty was really swallowing the state.
People from outside Bihar ( in our age group 25-30) have not much idea about Bihar because they never felt anything interesting about it.
In my opinion , if you really want to be noticed by someone , either you should be highly skilled in your business or you should advertise
Yourself in the right way .I guess, Bihar have lost the first one(Most of the educated people left the state) and never tried for other one.
Therefore, people have not shown interest in building knowledge about the Bihar because they never felt it having worth to do. So, most of them use to criticize Bihar with lack of knowledge(as I have checked many will just do it because it shows them more smarter).
As I said before , sometimes even we are critic about our society and their cultural loopholes but never wanted to improve .I should
tell this is “most famous disease among Biharies who is living outside bihar”.Just by criticizing someone ,an individual can’t prove that
he/she is more mature and have better idea than others. We are critic because we have seen better part of India or world , that’s it.
But it having nothing to do with improvement of Bihar. I guess action is really missing in our part . We always wanted to be an observer than a actor.
The second type of thinking where the people are really feeling proud of being part of Bihar and their cultural values. They have faith that one day it will overcome all barriers and ,will be among top states but never know how. I am not saying people should stop doing this but thinking should be more practical .So, Here I should say, thinkers are really denying the facts ,Which we have earned since last one or two decade. If someone blame
us for corruption , poverty, racism in Bihar, there would be certain logic behind it and we should respect it(Talking about people having really interest in nation building).
In this editorial , writer has explained nicely , how to get rid of current condition of Bihar and what are all steps we should take. Really a commendable job.
I never expected so much comments my small article would attract. Apart from these
published comments, I have received a few personal emails which support what I have
What makes me sad and despondent is the fact that, instead of constructive appraisal
of current situation in our state, people are indulging in heated slanging and accusations.
Instead of incisive clinical analysis, personal, national, racial and religious insinuation is
being made. In a free, democratic society, debate in a civilised manner is of paramount
importance. We debate the issue, not the debater. We do not raise our voice; we listen
in silence what the other say. We may not agree with his or her views, but we must never
hurl any personal or otherwise abuse/insult. Emotion is not a good thing. We must overcome
it. People who are trying to bring in UK, state of NRIs in there, NHS etc. have no personal
knowledge of UK, NHS, status and state of "NRIs" there. They are like a spoon. It transfers
food from plate to mouth, but has no idea what the food taste like. Without enquiry and
personal experience, knowledge can never be gained by any other means.It would be a waste
of time and space to get into discussion about UK, NHS and NRIs. It is totally irrelevant to our
discussion and debate.
Other people hijacked the actual topic to bring in UK, NHS, race, colour of skin, religion, NRI
and the sundries. Accusation of communal indulgence is totally unfounded. Please read the
report of Sacchar Commission. Please also read history. Just after 1857, when British Govt.
took over the governance of India, Muslims were shunted into ghettos, denied jobs of all kinds
and never allowed to join mainstream. Sadly, they still live in ghettos even 62 years after India's
independence. If successive government failed them, political parties treated them as vote bank,
then it is high time that we as fellow Indian and Bihari rise up and help them according to our
means and resources so they too join the mainstream. If this is communal, then what is Gujarat
riots, may I ask ?
We have to accept that there is a problem in Bihar. We also have to accept that Mr. Nitish Kumar,
with all his abilities and intention, can not make Bihar a prosperous state like Gujarat, Andhra, and
Tamilnadu. For that to happen, every Bihari has to change first. Become law abiding, respect one anothr,
practice fair play and believe in justice and rule of law. And then get into partnership with Nitish Kumar. Act of
clapping requires both hands. Only then Bihar will change for the good.
Until that happens, let us we Biharis indulge in altruism according to our means and resources.
Dr. A. Kumar
My mental state is never the matter of discussion for you or anybody else. If you are a Psychiatrist, I never sought your diagnosis. And my vocabulary is sufficiently rich to put you and your ilk in your place, if I choose to do so.
You never read my views properly. I never said Bihar did not have its set of problems. But the problems Mr Kumar chose to highlight in his article are trivial and not even the tip of the iceberg. But I can understand his problem. With his best of intentions, he can scratch the surface only because it's simply not worth it for him to go deeper than that. That's what I meant by "Bihari with a stake". I felt it was an attempt to insult because he does not even have an idea of the enormity of the problems Bihar faces. That's why his comments at best are frivolous to me. And that's why I believed the intention was only to take a moral high ground and that too because he lives in UK. I do not accept that because I don't think he deserves any moral high ground. I may be blind to the ground realities of Bihar but I am definitely much more aware of it than Mr Kumar.
And I never cursed UK. UK simply does not matter to me. It was only the comment made by someone who wanted to claim superiority based on his visa or PR that I took offence to.
And Mr Rai, do you always resort to using expletives to win arguments? If you do, you need sympathy from me rather than a response.
Dear Mr. email@example.com,
As your first name and my first name are same, I decided to refer to you by your email address. With a statement like "Being a Bihari with a stake, I just refuse to be belittled," you are showing the symptoms of a mentally retarded person. Not that I am a fan of the original article, partially because of its communal color in the last paragraph, but I refuse to accept it as an attempt to belittle Bihar. Unfortunately, your write-up is nothing but UK bashing, which is disgusting. You may claim that you are a Bihari with a stake, but you are blind to the ground realities of Bihar vis-a-vis UK.(electricity, water, roads, and employment) are the basic necessities of every human being. So, next time when you start cursing UK, remember to base your judgment on above four parameters. Disclaimer: I have never lived, worked, studied or traveled to UK. You have boasted of medical tourism in India. May I ask you what percentage of this tourism does state of Bihar have? You as well I know it very well that the answer is absolute zero, and therefore it is an invalid point for the current topic of discussion. (That every other month MCI threatens to derecognize one or the other PMCH degree is no secret. Earlier this month, it did derecognize MD (Radiotherapy) course.) That how many NRIs are culturally integrated in UK is not the issue, the relevant question is how open and welcoming and forthcoming and friendly Bihar is to the foreign/white tourists. Ease of buying a SIM card is just one of the indicators of that openness. I am sure Dr Ajay Kumar had a valid passport, and a valid Indian visa as he is a UK citizen now, but still he found extremely hard to buy a SIM card in Bihar. Instead of realizing his problem, your are being offended. That is not how I will define a Bihari with a stake.
Dear Mr Kumar
Have you ever tried to read through your article/comment in a dispassionate manner? Because if you had, you would have discovered how shallow your understanding is about Bihar and life's priorities in general. And it's got nothing to do with your having been born in Bihar. It's just that you have not shared this journey with Bihar through these last 50 years. Having said that, it's not my case that you do not have a right to comment. You sure do but you must realise that lack of attention to details is usually the difference between constructive criticism and insult.
First of all, there's nothing in the disturbing phenomena you observed during your latest holiday trip, which is specific to Bihar. I have seen those in all parts of India and some of them in UK as well. Buying a SIM card may be more difficult in India (why blame only Bihar for that) than in UK but then there are thousands of things which are much easier and cheaper in India than in UK. And I just read some comments about somebody's loyalty to NHS and how it would be more preferable to the best hospitals in Patna. Good Luck to him. I just wish that he never has to visit either the NHS or any hospital in Patna. However, how does he explain the fact that many white British patients are coming to India for treatment instead of NHS?
I have nothing against NRIs. They simply took advantage of opportunities to make a better life. I don't see anything more to it. Definitely not an achievement on anybody's part. Being a Doctor is an achievement just as any other job can be depending on what you make of it. Being a Doctor "in UK" does not add anything to it. But, if one is determined to define "achievement" to fit whatever one has done so far (like getting a visa or PR in UK), I am not impressed. And before anybody jumps to conclude I was refused a UK visa, let me clarify I got it and I don't consider it a big deal.
I hate to break this news to some of our friends here that "most" NRIs are "not" highly respected, socially accepted, financially better off and culturally integrated (I wonder what percentage of Gujaratis in UK can be considered culturally integrated), as claimed. Only "a few" of them have these privileges and they have had to work harder than a white British person to deserve it. But then, people who have those credentials get those privileges in India also. And about one's children's marriages to whites (would blacks be accepted as well?), I don't see how it has any bearing on that person's credentials as I am sure they do not have a choice in the matter. If you consider UK to be a far more tolerant society than Bihar or India, then it means you simply choose to see what you want to see. I am not sure how many Indians have broken through that racial glass ceiling in any sphere of life in UK as against the percentage of NRIs to the total population of UK. If you don't see it in your day-to-day life, it's just because most of the time people in UK practice intolerance in a more subtle manner than in India. Dig further, you will get your answer. Or, you can simply ignore the truth as you have done for most of your life.
Your relatives left behind in Bihar may consider these things achievements on your part. In UK, you know as well as I know, it's nothing.
The bottomline is that you made a choice and you are not obliged to justify your decisions in life. Neither does Bihar or Biharis need to defend themselves before a bunch of people who do not have a stake in Bihar. I do not wish to belittle anybody. Being a Bihari with a stake, I just refuse to be belittled.
When I read the comments on this article (Impression of Bihar : 2009), I felt compelled to write something.....there are so many aspects to this article and the comments by the people. However, I shall try to restrict myself to as few owrds as possible.
I believe, the intentions of the writer is very good and whatever he has written is his perspective which needs to be respected. We are a democracy and everyone has a right to independent thinking and expressing his/her views.
he has mentioned about visiting many places and so I assume, he would have visited certain sections of the places he has mentioned.....what probably is missing in his perspective is the way people of bihar has started thinking about them and their future...with Nitish government, things ahve mproved and the hopes of a better future are there...thats why, people might feel bad if someone observes negativity, as it might remind bihari ppl about their old days, when outside bihar, it became like a 4-letter word to b called bihari.......
....but tht does not take away the fact that we, in bihar, have actually gone back during lalu days and poverty, illiteracy etc are still the basic problems. so I would tend to agree with the observations of the writer....only difference being, that since I have seen changes hapening in my villages e.g. solar lights have come up, jobs are there now, roads getting created in villages, panchayat directly getting finances leading to ppl getting their own work done rather than waiting for red tapism and beurocracy to get things done, hospitals getting medicine and doctors present 24 hr in hospitals...the list is long!...so the hope is also back and now people see things and comparethemselves from where they were 5 years back...so for them, things have improved a lot...where as for a person living in europe or US, things have improved, but scope of things to be done is huge...and so he/she can see things which normal people are may be missing
lets give due respect to our NRI brothers too.....if they have taken subsidised edu and gone there..then they have also brought respect and wealth to the country..its always a 2 way traffic......bashing someone on points like these is useless...lets all be more constructive..and hope, we keep improving as a society and eliminate all the negative things that are there!
Rajesh Kumar Singh
You should appreciate if somebody takes initiative to do something for people living in Bihar. Mr. Kumar has taken a small step to help four meritorious students from poor family with scholarships and he deserves appreciation not criticism. We should appreciate his good intention and action. Instead of being critic of Kumar, If all Biharis (Resident or non-resident of India) who has means, sponsors one poor family/student, it would have a huge impact on Bihar.
I do not blame you, it's the frustration and not able to do anything to improve the living condition in Bihar,which is speaking. So please do not criticize, when any Biharis help other Biharis, even if it is small and always look at the positive side of it. Biharis are hard working people and they deserve better living condition.
I agree with Dr. Kumar that only perception has changed, there is no
real change in Bihar after change of guard. Mr. Avinash is giving
communal colour to Kumar's honest write up. And Mr. Ravish wants and
will be happy if Dr. Kumar live a hell life in the footpath of Bihar
like million others rather than living a dignified life abroad. Dr.
Kumar should be appreciated for contributing to Bihar or Bihari rather
than just taking high like many others.
I am disappointed on your decision of diving the already divided Bihar on the basis of caste and religion, where you have announced awards for medical students. "A boy and a girl from Muslim community and a boy and a girl from schedule caste Hindu community. "
This looks to me more of a political statement than an intellectual one. If you had stated that you have hired a driver and cook of scheduled caste or muslim community I would have been more than happy that you have contributed positively to their upliftment. But if you are not ready to accept them as your cook, then this is merely a political statement.
I don't usually feel the need to write to a newspaper to answer the sometimes ignorant and foolish comments made in response to an article. However on this occasion I feel I must.
You seem to be an exceptionally bitter individual who is guilty of hypocrisy. Your one-sided and very broad statements about NRIs are naive and ignorant. I wonder if your bitterness is down to the fact that you seem to have been refused a Visa to the UK since you mention the 'Visa regime'. You claim that NRIs are perpetual whiners, but I have never heard a more pathetic series of whines and complaints. Your attitude is symptomatic of the reasons why Patna is in the state that it is (yes I have been there many times and know what I am talking about).
Are you seriously saying that the levels of poverty in Bihar are down to those who choose to emigrate? Poor living standards are the normally the responsibility of the state government ie those whom people like you have democratically elected to deal with healthcare, sanitation, public highways, refuse management and welfare. And there are many non-white countries who have created much better standards of living for their people. NRIs just have a problem with Bihar's rampant corruption and lawlessness, which you seem to happily accept as the status quo instead of trying to improve it. And I would rather have treatment with the NHS with all its failings than trust to medical care in Patna!
I doubt many NRIs would say that they are treated like 3rd rate citizens in their adopted countries. Their characteristics of sheer determination, intelligence, entrepreneurism and hard work have meant that most are highly respected, socially accepted, financially better off and culturally integrated to the point where they accept their childrens' marriages to whites. It is a shame you do not respect or seem to share any of these qualities.You say colour makes a difference but Britain is far more tolerant of racial and cultural differences than India. What you think is whining, is actually an expression of disappointment and frustration at the shameful and inexcusable neglect of their beloved homeland by those who are entrusted by the people with its care.
I was pretty intrigued by your thoughts and views on your visit to Bihar.However its pretty disappointing that you did not find Bihar the way you wished it.Mr kumar its high time that we all change our thinking and learn to appreciate fellow human beings and make an effort to make this world a better place.I am sure after living in UK you would have realised that the most you belong to the most sermonising, perennially whining, foolishly egoistic species that we unfortunate people in India term as NRI. And the best part about them is they fell very happy to live as third rate citizens in their adopted country than to live with dignity in their own country helping their poor countrymen.And a strange phenomena that every NRI suffers from is white skin mentality ( attaching a superiority tag to everything done by white people ).I am sure you would have different opinions of a shoeshine guy in UK and a poor , frail, dark kid in train in Patna (Color does make a difference )
Do you realise why Bihar has a lot more people who are now on footpath,its because people like you take advantage of the subsidised education of our country and vanish only be back to sermonise.Mr kumar the only diference between you and the poor on the road is that you were fortunate that you father was capable enough of paying for you education,Please get rid of the notion that you are a bright student,absolutely not.Next time you see a poor person just realise that the difference between you and him is opportunity.
I am really disturbed by sermonising intellectuals who take it as their birthright to dish out words of wisdom . I am sorry to sound harsh but I think you are not in a position to comment on the way the poor ( financially but rich past,I am sure we will get it back) Biharis live their life.Please worry about the falling standards of NHS and the new Visa regime in UK