Introduction of Bihar | History, Geography, Economy

General introduction of Bihar | History, Geography, Economy, Polity, Art and Culture for Students and Aspirants those are preparing for Bihar PSC (BPSC), Bihar Combined Entrance Competitive Examination Board (BCECEB) and other competitive exams preparation.

Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the third-largest state by population and twelfth-largest by territory, with an area of 94,163 km2 (36,357 sq mi). It is contiguous with Uttar Pradesh to its west, Nepal to the north, the northern part of West Bengal to the east, and with Jharkhand to the south. The Bihar plain is split by the river Ganges, which flows from west to east. Three main cultural regions converge in the state: Magadha, Mithila, and Bhojpur. Bihar is also the world’s third-most populous sub national entity.

On 15 November 2000, southern Bihar was ceded to form the new state of Jharkhand. Only 11.3% of the population of Bihar lives in urban areas, which is the lowest in India after Himachal Pradesh. Additionally, almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, giving Bihar the highest proportion of young people of any Indian state. The official languages are Hindi and Urdu, although other languages are common, including Maithili, Magahi, Bhojpuri and other Bihari languages.

Introduction of Bihar | History, Geography, Economy

Bihar, state of eastern India, is bounded by Nepal to the north and by the Indian states of West Bengal to the northeast and Uttar Pradesh to the west. In November 2000 the new state of Jharkhand was created from Bihar’s southern provinces and now forms the state’s southern and southeastern borders. The capital of Bihar is Patna.

In ancient and classical India, the area that is now Bihar was considered a centre of power, learning, and culture. From Magadha arose India’s first empire, the Maurya Empire, as well as one of the world’s most widely adhered-to religions: Buddhism. Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule. Another region of Bihar is Mithila which was an early centre of learning and the centre of the Videha kingdom.

Since the late 1970s, Bihar has lagged far behind other Indian states in terms of social and economic development. Many economists and social scientists claim that this is a direct result of the policies of the central government, such as the freight equalisation policy, its apathy towards Bihar, lack of Bihari sub-nationalism, and the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company. The state government has, however, made significant strides in developing the state. Improved governance has led to an economic revival in the state through increased investment in infrastructure, better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a reduction in crime and corruption.

The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit and Pali word vihara meaning “abode”. The region roughly encompassing the present state had many Buddhist viharas, the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval periods. Medieval writer Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani records in the Tabaqat-i -Nasiri that in 1198 Bakhtiyar Khalji committed a massacre in a town identified with the word, later known as Bihar Sharif, about 70 km (43 mi) away from Bodh Gaya.

Chirand, on the northern bank of the Ganga River, in Saran district, has an archaeological record from the Neolithic age (c. 2500–1345 BC). Regions of Bihar – such as Magadha, Mithila and Anga – are mentioned in religious texts and epics of ancient India.

Mithila gained prominence after the establishment of the Videha Kingdom. During the late Vedic period (c. 1100–500 BCE), Videha became one of the major political and cultural centers of South Asia, along with Kuru and Pancala. The kings of the Videha Kingdom were called Janakas. Sita, a daughter of one of the Janaks of Mithila is mentioned as the consort of Lord Rama, in the Hindu epic Ramayana, written by Valmiki. The Videha Kingdom later became incorporated into the Vajji confederacy which had its capital in the city of Vaishali, which is also in Mithila. Vajji had a republican form of government where the king was elected from the rajas. Based on the information found in texts pertaining to Jainism and Buddhism, Vajji was established as a republic by the 6th century BCE, before the birth of Gautama Buddha in 563 BCE, making it the first known republic in India.

The Haryanka dynasty, founded in 684 BC ruled Magadha from the city of Rajgriha (modern Rajgir). The two well-known kings from this dynasty were Bimbisara’s and his son Ajatashatru, who imprisoned his father to ascend the throne. Ajatashatru founded the city of Patliputra which later became the capital of Magadha. He declared war and conquered the Vajji. The Haryanka dynasty was followed by the Shishunaga dynasty. Later, the Nanda Dynasty ruled a vast tract stretching from Bengal to Punjab.

The Nanda dynasty was replaced by the Maurya Empire, India’s first empire. The Maurya Empire and the religion of Buddhism arose in the region that now makes up modern Bihar. The Mauryan Empire, which originated from Magadha in 325 BC, was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, who was born in Magadha. It had its capital at Patliputra (modern Patna). Mauryan emperor Ashoka, who was born in Patliputra (Patna), is often considered to be among the most accomplished rulers in world history.

The Gupta Empire, which originated in Magadha in 240 AD, is referred as the Golden Age of India in science, mathematics, astronomy, commerce, religion, and Indian philosophy. Bihar and Bengal was invaded by Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty in the 11th century.

Buddhism in Magadha went into decline due to the invasion of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji, during which many of the viharas were destroyed along with the universities of Nalanda and Vikramashila. Some historians believe that thousands of Buddhist monks were massacred during the 12th century. D. N. Jha suggests, instead, that these incidents were the result of Buddhist–Brahmin skirmishes in a fight for supremacy. After the fall of the Pala Empire, the Chero dynasty ruled some parts of Bihar from the 12th century until Mughal rule in the 16th century. In 1540, the great Pathan chieftain, Sher Shah Suri, took northern India from the Mughals and declared Delhi his capital.

From the 11th century to the 20th century, Mithila was ruled by various indigenous dynasties. The first of these were the Karnatas, followed by the Oiniwar dynasty and Raj Darbhanga. It was during this period that the capital of Mithila was shifted to Darbhanga.

The tenth and the last guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh, was born in Patna in 1666. With political instability in the Mughal Empire following Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, Murshid Quli Khan declared Bengal’s independence and named himself Nawab of Bengal.

Area94,163 sq. km
Principal LanguagesHindi

Bihar finds mention in the Vedas, Puranas, epics, etc., and was the main scene of activities of Buddha, and 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 and Maurya dynasty, the Sungs and the Kanvas. Then came the Kushan rulers followed by Chandragupta Vikramaditya of the Gupta dynasty. Muslim rulers made in-roads into the territory during 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 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 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 hectares. It is created through major and medium irrigation schemes and 48.97 lakh hectares through minor irrigation schemes.

Important places of tourist interest are Rajgir, Nalanda, Vaishali, Pawapuri (where Lord Mahavira breathed his last and attained Nirvana), Bodh Gaya, Vikramshila (ruins of Buddhist University of higher learning), Gaya, Patna (ancient city of Patliputra), Sasaram (tomb of Shershah Suri) and Madhubani (known for its famous Madhubani Paintings).

Mundeshwari Mandir (Kaimur), Rohtras Garh Fort (Rohtas), Jain Pilgrim Place, Kundalpur (Nalanda), Bihar School of Yoga (Munger), Manersharif Patna, Rural Tourist Place Nepura (Nalanda), Kesaria Stupa (East Champaran), Barabar Hills (Jehanabad) and Lauria Nandangarh are also important tourist places.

The Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Bihar will increase at a CAGR of 13.17% between 2015-16 and 2020-21. Bihar has witnessed strong growth in per capita net state domestic product. At current prices, per capita NSDP of the state grew at a CAGR of 13.41% (in Rs.) between 2015 and 2021.

Bihar is one of the strongest agricultural states. The percentage of population employed in agricultural production in Bihar is around 80%, which is much higher than the national average. It is the fourth largest producer of vegetables and the eight largest producers of fruits in India. Food processing, dairy, sugar, manufacturing, and healthcare are some of the fast-growing industries in the state. The state has planned initiatives for the development of other sectors such as education and tourism and also provides incentives for information technology and renewable energy.

The state has a large base of cost-effective industrial labour, making it an ideal destination for a wide range of industries.

Total FDI inflow for Bihar stood at US$ 16.28 million between October 2019 and June 2020. In 2019, eight investments were filed in the state worth Rs. 671 crore (US$ 96.01 million). Total merchandise export from the state stood at US$ 1,661.13 million in 2020. In 2020-21 (till July 2020), export stood at US$ 323.99 million.

Recent Developments in Bihar

On September 15, 2020, The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, approved establishment of a new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Darbhanga, Bihar, under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY).

In September 2020, Power Minister, Mr. R K Singh, inaugurated NTPC developmental projects in Bihar. The govt aims to generate 10,000 MW of electricity in the state.

To boost the state’s petroleum and gas sector, Bihar introduced 10 projects worth Rs. 21,000 crore (US$ 2.85 billion). Out of 10, three projects were launched in September 2020 for the Petroleum sector in Bihar’s Durgapur-Banka section of the Paradip-Haldia-Durgapur pipeline augmentation project and two LPG bottling plants. The other five initiatives were completed projects.

In September 2020, Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi inaugurated the ‘Kosi Rail Mahasetu’ project and new rail lines and electrification projects in Bihar. These projects include a new railway bridge on the Kiul river, two new railway lines, five electrification projects, one electric locomotive shed at Barauni and a third line between Barh and Bakhtiyarpur.

In September 2020, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Mr. Nitin Gadkari approved Rs. 971 crore (US$ 131.91 million) for Munger-Bhagalpur NH road in Bihar. This route offers commercial connectivity, with a volume of ~25 thousand vehicles per day; developments/upgrades with further increase vehicle traffic to ~6000 vehicles.

Under BSHP – 2, construction of ROB (part of SH 83 – Baghi-Barbigha Road) was expected to complete in January 2019. Total cost of the project was Rs. 32.74 crore (US$ 5.08 million)

During 2019-20, Patna and Gaya handled 30,959 and 3,606 aircraft movements, respectively. Patna and Gaya handled 45, 25,765 and 2, 37,452 passenger’s respectively in same period. Patna airport handled 12,249 MT freight traffic during same period.

Key Sectors:

  • Total horticulture production in the state for 2018-19^ was 21,204.97 thousand metric tonnes (MT) with 1,185.36 thousand hectares of area under production.
  • State produced 6,787.8 thousand MT of rice and 62 thousand MT of pulses in 2018-19*.
  • Sugarcane is grown in approximately 6 percent of the total area under cultivation in Bihar. Sugarcane production in the state for 2018-19 (P) stood at 182.85 lakh MT. During sugar season 2019-20, 11 sugar mills were operating in the state of Bihar. During 2019-20, 220.50 lakh MT sugar is estimated to be produced in Bihar.
  • In 2019, foreign and domestic tourist arrival reached 1.093 million and 33.99 million, respectively.

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