To a curious onlooker, Bihar seems like a place full of paradoxes. It has a rich cultural heritage from the civilisational past, but evokes images of being ‘uncultured’, ‘primitive’ and ‘rustic’ in the present.
Traversing Bihar depicts and interprets Bihar’s internal contradictions and struggles. The volume examines and analyses crucial political, social and developmental concerns of the state over the past two decades.
Between 1990 and 2005, Bihar under Lalu Prasad Yadav witnessed a social churning, called the politics of social justice. This period ushered in a process of de-elitisation of politics with far-reaching consequences. However, over time, Yadav’s regime became chaotic and failed to combine change and development.
In 2005, the people voted for a change and brought the Nitish Kumar-led JDU-BJP coalition to power. The new regime restored the state—the police, the quiescent bureaucracy, the rule of law. It seemed to be making concerted efforts to improve the climate of development in the state.
The 13 chapters of this volume, divided into three sections, look into issues such as growth and development, the politics of water resources, social exclusion in flood response, land rights, agrarian relations, the Left movement, and voting patterns in Bihar.
Well into its second term, the concerns about Bihar have re-emerged. Is Nitish Kumar’s model of development devoid of social justice? Does it re-elitise politics? Why did the new developmental state renege on its promises of tenancy reforms? Is the bureaucracy not responsible for raising the scale of corruption? Was the restoration of law and order and the model of development geared to satisfy middle-class demands for security and well-being?
In asking these questions and providing in-depth analyses of Bihar’s contemporary issues, this one-of-a-kind book will be an invaluable guide for scholars and students of economics, development studies and political science.
Manish K. Jha is Professor and Chairperson, Centre for Community Organisation and Development Practice, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
Pushpendra is Professor, Centre for Community Organisation and Development Practice, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
List of Tables, Photographs and Maps
List of Abbreviations
Manish K. Jha and Pushpendra
one Politics of Development
1. The Challenge of Land Reforms and Social Transformation in Bihar
2. Agrarian Relations in a Village in Bihar
3. The Rhetoric of Development in Contemporary Bihar
4. River Valley Projects of North Bihar and Indo-Nepal Aspirations
Dinesh Kumar Mishra
5. Social Inclusion: Perspectives from Top-down and B ottom-up Approaches in Rural and Urban Bihar
two Politics of Social Justice
6. Transformation of Subject into Political Subject: Maale in South Bihar Plains
Manish K. Jha
7. Naxalism, Caste-based Militia and Human Security: Lessons from Bihar
8. Intersubjectivity to Consensus? Engendering Rural Local Governance in Bihar
9. Explaining Power and Influence of State-level Leadership in Contemporary India: Nitish Kumar
and the Politics of Bihar
10. Politics in Bihar: Is There a Shift from Caste to Development?
11. Muslim Communities and the Politics of Social Justice: Bihar, 1990–2010
three Texts and Folk Narratives
12. Crossing Borders: Bhagait Folk Ballad Tradition of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Nepal
13. Purnea: Landscape of Cul de Sac
Notes on the Contributors