Bihar floods. Do we treat Bihar as a lost cause ?

The incredible tragedy in Bihar caused by the floods in the river Kosi raises several questions. Close to 3 million people have been displaced from their homes. Over a 100 are dead, but there is no way that figure can be established as much of the flood affected areas are cut off. While several people raised the spectre of global warming, why was there no warning and protection when engineers could see that the Kosi dam in Nepal was under structural pressure before it burst and caused the devastation ? If reports are to be believed, the warning was faxed to an office in Patna where the faxes accumalated as the person in charge was on leave and no one was in office!!!! Fax ? Whatever happened to the cell phone ?
A fundamental question too : why does the rest of India treat Bihar as a lost cause ? Wherever I go there is general lament about Bihari labour creating slums, forgetting that they were there for a purpose. To build our roads, our houses. Why have people got this attitude for a state that was once the greatest centre of learning in the whole world, at the nalanda Unversities. Famous Bihari’s include King Asoka, Chandra Gupt Maurya, Chanakya, Vatsayana, but also Dr rajendra Prasad, Karpoori Thakur, even our current hot favourite – Mahendra Singh Dhoni. And yet if you ask people about Bihar the first name that comes up is Laloo Prasad Yadav. Why not Buddha and Bodh Gaya ?

29 thoughts on “Bihar floods. Do we treat Bihar as a lost cause ?

  1. Maybe we should ask the Biharis that? Having roots in the BIMARU states (Eastern UP in my case), I can say through first hand experience that a lot has to do with people and their attitudes. The rest of the country does make or break a state. The people of the state do it themselves. If Bihar is not known for Bodh Gaya any longer no one can be blamed but the Biharis.
    This is obviously not related to the crisis in Bihar at the moment. The plight of the people suffering from the flood because of the neglect of the officials is extremely distressing. I hope we all can rise and do something for them through the various organisations that are collecting money for the purpose. The CM’s relief fund is one of them.

  2. Thank you for a timely post Shekhar on a question that is begging to be answered. I often wonder whether we consider ourselves Indians first and then Gujratis, Bengalis, Biharis etc or is it the other way round?
    As for the floods and the disaster that is ongoing, as individuals I think we can all contribute in our own way and the good part is that as fellow Indians we do respond whole heartedly and generously. However, here again we feel helpless as individuals. I think many may have forgotten just how often they have done their bit in helping out with flood relief. We are in the 21st century and this is not a natural calamity such as an earth quake or Tsunami but a perpetually devastating annual feature. Water management is just a slogan, just as much as garibi hatao or any other poltical shenanigan.
    Just thinking about 2.5 million people undergoing misery, deprivation and loss of their worldly belongings is mind boggling. One can’t even begin to think of what these people are going through.

  3. I agree with you about Bihar…King Asoka, Chandra Gupt Maurya, Chanakya, Vatsayana, even Buddha had spend lot of time. Even today highest number of IAS officers come from Bihar
    The problem is media. Laloo Prasad is media savvy since a decade and its the media that made many punch lines ‘ jab tak rahega samosay mei aalo, tab tak something something laloo’. Bihar has a legacy but highest amount of brain drain. Youth of Bihar after 18 years leave Bihar their fathers work in fields. Every other watchman in major part of India is Bihari.
    So what is the problem? Corruption?? no way its not corruption but low level of incomes that Biharis face. One has to understand that corruption is prevelent and will prevail but there are none self help groups, investments, opportunities that make the youth to autometically go out to seek their fortune outside Bihar. To make Bihar better is not a year’s work it will take decade to make the first changes.

  4. Who else, but the politicians are to be blamed for the perception of Bihar.Now indirectly, people are to be blamed too.Why is Bihar equated to goondagiri,where someone can stab a person for mere 100 bucks?because thats what the poltiicians made Bihar.The law & order there has been twisted beyond repair.Now,who choose those law makers (breakers)?People of bihar? If yes,did they do that out of ignorance or out of their illiteracy? if it is latter, then again the Govt. has to be blamed. Now see this vicious circle.
    If the law makers elected themselves as law breakers,what can one do?

  5. Shekharji, there is barely any news about the tragedy in Bihar outside of India. Why, there seems to be not much mileage to this disaster even within India. It is evident that the media is glaringly indifferent to the problems plaguing people in the hinterlands of the country, but is sparingly accommodating with news regarding crime, violence, sex, politics, movies, and of course cricket. The veil of modernism that shrouds our country is nothing more than a fig leaf, and incidents such as these clearly expose the efficiency of our administrative and political systems. The only thing that seems to be holding the country together in such situations is perhaps the forceful resilience of our people – whether it is floods, shortage of water, militancy or a bomb blast, we seem to want to accept things the way they are and move-on, until the next such one. So much for frivolously used mottoes such as “India Shining”.

  6. Sir, I read thy blog but as far I race out my horses I get that it’s all because of failures in the law/rules. What happens in Bihar is just out of law. And the pity is that inspite of so many rules it happens, Y?
    Sir, I have written a Novel,”A Night With God: My Overnight Renaissance” and posted that at
    Sir, plz do read it and give thy valuable comments and make a way for the Novel as may be You will come to know that why I have blogged it, no support, only rejection….but all that by chance make me the Author of First Online Novel of my State, Uttarakhand.

  7. Today it’s Bihar , tomorrow it could be Tamil Nadu. Global warming is slowly but surely making its footprint loud and clear and yet what do we do about it. Perhaps make the right noises, remember to switch of the lights and fans more often and perhaps walk to the nearest kirana store instead of driving down. But when tragedies like this happen in Bihar it is doubly pitiable because of the state in which it is. It’s no use pointing fingers at Biharis or at the Government or at anyone. This is a tragedy that has stricken our fellow humans and we have to deal with it the way we deal with all the other tragedies that are taking place in our country. I believe that there are people who are perhaps trying their best and i just hope some good will come out of this tragedy.

  8. Sir,
    I understand we cannot exclude the foreign affairs ministry in this. How are our current relations with NEPAL? Haven’t they weakened in past few years? Growing threat of terrorism from this area? We all know about the intra border nexus and illegal trade activities happening between Bihar and Nepal borders!!
    I believe this is the prime Law and Order condition due to which as you mentioned FAX and other forms of communication have failed.
    They have planned this failure.
    Is it regional politics, National Politics or Inter border trade Politics?
    Vinod Agarwal – No idea !!

  9. It is truly miraculous to watch the great Pataliputra, known for the oldest universities and the wisest scholars, crumble to today’s Patna, known for buffoons like Lalu.
    Elect Narendra Modi..he’ll replicate the model of Gujarat in these states that have been destroyed by the Lalus and Paswans.
    There is currently no other honest, far-sighted and efficient politician as Modi in India. He is exactly what India needs to bring in that radical infrastructural leap. Please look through the veil of communalism that has been painted over him by the corrupt UPA desperately hanging on to power.

  10. Hello Mr.Shekar,
    Primarily i should ask you ,why didnt Shekar ever talked about Bihar?
    even you blog was just as vague as the question I posed.
    Because something happens so considerable that it blocks your head ,then we throw some light into it.if its Floods in Bihar, Bombs in Jaipur,but the epitome is that we always worry about the routine seasonal floods in Mumbai , Kolkotta and worry about clogged drainage and bomb blasts that often take place in Hyderabad and Mumbai and kolkotta .Why Media is content centric to places where such things happens often ,but they dont enquire or dug out whats happening in otherthan those floods.Civil and NGO always play an active part in hearing their voices and show the raised hands of the problems to Governments and Leaders ,for whom Media hands off as they are busy on what Heroines are doing with their Boyfriends or which sexsymbol is making rupture.Shame less people .
    Bihar never had Floods in past few decades ,then how could you say that its someones failure?Shekar at least you should have raised your voice about Kosi .But you know about Kosi only after floods.Like Everybody.Do you know when was the dam built or what was it built of.Dont just sit there and write and scribble something to offend.I think its your regular practise .
    Have you voiced the situation of peoples mindset when Dhoni’s house was stoned by Fans and People of the locality when Dhoni was remarked to have shown poor performance.
    This is also mostly talked in sports circuit,saying this is Bihar ,a place perfect opposite to Budhdhisam and bhodi satva.
    You dont mention such things .
    There are many more Bridges in Bihar which are still staying still on damaged and wrecked and demolishing structure longed for decades ,Shekar please take care of them ,If you are so concerned like of Kosi,I will be the first one to tap on your shoulder and say ‘good fellow’.i have the list if you want ,about the bridges ,Dams and Annicuts which are so weak that they can break for a light rain in Bihar,that should be renovated or Repaired.They are left out by officials because there were never floods at those places.Will you voice the Government ?
    Remember:dont question what you cant do.And That would be stupidity.

  11. As Raja Ramadurai pointed out in his comment, our media’s coverage of the entire tragedy was pathetic. I remember my friend asking me on the first day why there was no news of this on our newspapers (I live in Bangalore; don’t think any of the English dailies here covered it on Day One). Day Two, the story came somewhere inside; still the front page was devoted to politics, sports, and all that daily mix. Well, I know I’m digressing. But our media’s priorities are clearly different.
    Then, yeah, while we are on the media, I do believe that the Laloo image that we are so fond of was one created by the media. Laloo is only as corrupt and bad as many other leaders of our times. What was the state of Jagannath Mishra’s regime? Wasn’t corruption an issue then? Lalu was made a joker by the media. And, then, he too fell to the trap of doing things that he thinks would please others. Making a fool of himself. I think they call it mass cult (not sure of the word, there is this syndrome where celebrities do silly things because they think their followers like it or expect such things from them…)
    Indian society is still caste centric and our middle class is so obsessed with the urbane, english-speaking leaders. And that should explain why Laloo is always portrayed as a joker.
    Then, I’m not trying to give him a clean chit…but, seeing some of the comments here, so familiar they are, thought I should respond too…

  12. Friends, Fellow Human beings,
    Its time to come out of our comfort zone to help
    The Times of India calls it “India’s Katrina; only the challenges could be bigger”
    While we all celebrated Janamashtami and Ganpati, now is the time, time which will be for human support …
    As the elusive monsoons played a naughty game of hide and seek.
    The sun and the clouds fought for a place in the same sky
    Krishna is painted as blue. One of his names, Shyam, simply means blue, the
    blue one. He is represented as blue, painted as blue, metaphorically. It is
    a symbol that he is a love god, that he represents love and the depth of the
    inner soul.
    No one has taught to mankind the art of love, divine love the way Krishna
    Blue is the color of depth and silence. The color of the sky and sea; and
    green is the color of growth and tranquility. Blue brings with it the
    eternity and green a serenity; the two things that love shall bring to ones

  13. I find the last comment by ‘dearbloke’ very much out of taste. I think a) you need to vent logically
    b) list your issues in order so that the reader knows what you are talking about in a serial order rather than a general rant!
    The issues you seem to think that need attention in Bihar are not ‘region specific’ they are common to many places in India so I think it is the state governments job- which is why there is a state government!!
    The Kosi issue is an important issue to bring up and I am surprised that you make it sound like ‘bombs’ are natural whether they be in Bombay or Hyderabad or any village in India. I am not sure this attitude suits any disastrous event in any country. The Kosi on the other hand has a greater story than what everyone tends to know – which is fine.. how much can an Indian really claim to accurately know of every other state within the country? Are we going to test each other on the micro-information now so that we can score on some general knowledge quiz test? In any case.. I find bad attitude as in the previous writers remarks to be completely distasteful and extremist. I loved this article.. so I am pasting the link here for people to read these facts if you were not aware of it :
    If the link does not work..go to ‘the Hindu’ on and look for the article titled
    ‘When Kosi did the unexpected’
    by: Manisha Jha and Sandeep Dikshit. It was published on 6th Sept 08 hence you will find it in the archives of the newspaper.
    Its an excellent article for even those who claim to know Bihar well..!

    Hello Neeta ,
    Thank you for your view and response.Your Article is true & right ,in every respect, ien your prspective ,which i respect,the fact that it defends itself strongly on social issues.
    My comments are not restricted to Specific part of India (like Bihar) but are optimistic to every part to of India .
    There are many Kosi’s in Bihar and outside Bihar,which are to be repaired for a safe and danger preventive solution.
    Thank you for refering to Manisha Jha & Sandeep Dikshit which i already read, even before your mentioning.
    But my point is that has anybody cared to talk about Kosi before Floods ,please answer ?
    The dams & Annicuts were clogged with Sand deposits along time before the rains & the flood ,may be for months/years,but did somebody ever cared to take action ,has the media ever talked about this,or did the officials of the locality responded to local peoples request,if somebody complained why didnt they act.
    Its a posmortem of Kosi and floods,this is not blame game .
    coming to the Media coverage,I dont know how well you understand the difference between Metropolitan city and Village,but media acts unfair to Rural areas.Much for commercialization of media,Metrocities are well published for media competitive marketing.I am talking about all kind of media,Printmedia ,Television,Radio etc ,mainly News channel have you ever analysed the 1hour continuous News program,you will find that 80% of news covered is from the Cities,10% from outside India, 5% from towns and less than 5% from Rural areas.
    So you can understand how far Journalism & Reporting is reaching to every corner of Indian territory.
    Why I am Talking about Media,why am I not accusing State government?
    When a Government is deaf to hear People’s problem,its the media that citizens call for help,as its believed to be one of the standing support of democracy,that would reveal the facts to the world.
    So its the media and people who should be motivated and mobilized to compell the government to take action,but such kind of catalytic act is absent in case of Kosi.
    Manisha Jha &Sandeep Dikshith’s article talks about KOSI AFTERMATH,which sumarize the lack motivation among the people residing and living around Kosi.This is Para reflects what i am saying
    “It is the same with the Kosi, as also the Mahananda, Ghagra, Gandak, Gomti and several others flowing into the Ganges. People living near these rivers simply pick up their belongings and walk away when these rivers brim over. They return to fields caked with alluvium, on which the next crop will thrive, and ponds full of water and fish. ”
    From this para you can understand how correct my comment is
    “People living near these rivers simply pick up their belongings and walk away when these rivers brim over.”
    This applies to every part of India and its shows the laziness of the citizens and it also reflects that nobody take cares of them ,government or Media or any NGO,if there was somebody who cares then they would not PICK UP THEIR BELONGINGS AND WALK AWAY WHEN THE RIVERS BRIM OVER.
    SO these people Lost belief over Elected state Goverment and Media.
    .Why do we talk about “things” only after something happens, why cant we prevent or forecast a problem with a solution beforehand ?
    Talking LOGICALLY is different from Speaking Practical.we cant have a Logical veiws ,statements and comments,we need a practically applicable and motivating statement than revolting a part of society,from your comment i could infer that you see me revolting or against Media.Is that so ,no i am not against media. just pointing out some loopholes.
    I dont know on what basis you painted my comment to be an Extremist View.
    Thanks Neeta once again.It helped me to defend and explain a clear and Optimistic View of my comment .

  15. HI Mr.Shekar,
    This is a reply to a comment by NEETA who remarked about my Comment.
    Hello Neeta,
    This Reply Regarding my remark on “bomb blasts” in my comment has been taken to be extremist remark that allows me to clarify about.
    I live in Hyderabad,where the city is wounded very often now and then ,and we hyderabadis get used to this mundane life that we live in where we fear and pray when ever we get out of our home.ITs quite terribly troubled atmosphere where being calm is far away from our lifes few decades ago.We always sleep without peace .More on more its so terrible that Mosques are attacked.This place is more sensitive along with Mumbai.
    The police and security are always on Patroling.When ever things happen here media covers them ,but there are no insights into the minds of people like Police & intelligence departments ,Governments and Media how well the terror is creeping into other areas than this.I mean they dont keep an eye or they are not forsighted.I am not blaming.Its such inability that allowed bombings to Happen in Jaipur.With Gujrat it is different,because the bombblasts there are aftereffects of Godhra incident,which was suspected by Intelligence department in past but there were no preventve measures like keeping an eye on terror was absent,as such events are not expected but when met we have to cope with it rather than blaming.Coming to jaipur ans Surat, it was a shock when nation learnt bombs were everywhere,it brought a chill to every indian and every village and every town.whenever there was some terrorist attack ,only sensitive places like (Hyderabad Kasi Delhi Mumbai Kolkota etc) were kept under protective & secured hands .Before 2006, never have anyone considered to alarm cities like Jaipur and Surat and All towns and cities which never seen terror,because the people and government of those localities might have felt they are safer than Sensitive areas.This is where we are failing .there no one to blame,such incidents are not predictve but they can be preventive only with every Indian’s involvement to motivate one and every one in the society .Example,Just like Surat the citizens of surat Lent their hands in helping Police and security and Intelligence officialswhen they suspected of bombs or seen bombs planted on trees or transformers or any places,such kind of involvement is needed in a society to help the society to progress.No matter whether the Problem is Terror attack or sudden earth quakes or Floods or any attacks or any kind of devastation,which are unpredictable & unexpected ,are to be dealt by socialising the society in a way that our society be least affected or should be proactive to minimise the damage if such things happen.This is to be applied to Flood at Kosi.
    That was my point.
    my comment defends to have no extremist Angle,with this Reply.

  16. Lets talk of action, enough of words!!
    I am collecting funds for this cause and taking it myself to the displaced. The food and clothing is being arranged, so who ever thinks and feels for the cause, do get in touch with me. Lets make a difference. We have spoken a lot of words, its time to do and act. Let me see how many hands I see coming forward. Do write to me ONLY if you believe in action.

  17. dear shekhar, its good to be back. i had a bit of an introspective crisis and decided to heavily limit internet/ telephonic contact for a while (amongst other things): seems to have helped. gosh i have some major catching uo to do on your blog.
    why is bihar in such a mess?
    2 ways to look at this–
    . postindependence it was one of the most neglected states as the centre took its ‘mineral wealth’ for granted. the state was used and abused, not much investment was made and then came a string of dishonest chief ministers.
    .from a cosmic view point, is this down-turn not inevitable? what was once the foremost centre of spirituality had to become the devil’s den?
    well, all said and done i feel things are changing for the better. the new cm is very industrious and honest i believe..he has brought around some refreshing changes…..fingers crossed for buddha’s land.
    best wishes, shivani

  18. The problem is with the establishment and with people’s attitude. Its appalling to note the current situation in Bihar. I wish the country wakes up and does more for underprivileged states. We are actually very good at the blame game that is why we blame politicians all the time. Can’t we for a change stop blaming and start acting? Create awareness. Help get our young educated. Create a conducive environment for people to live. No we cant, instead we are too busy blaming others for our flaws, for our negligence and for our self centered careless nature. This is not a comment, it is a question and I hope someone answers.
    Finally I hope we learn something from Bihar and as always peace be upon those who are suffering where ever they are.

  19. Dear Shekharji
    I have just returned from my home in Saharasa and could not locate my village easily forfet about exact location of mu house.Its just an array of diseases, hunger and depression prevailing in population.
    Please do something for us. I know you are a big person. Our history might have been great but the fact today is that we are dying and hyelp from outside is grossly missing. its just visible in roadside areas. I even dont feel proud of being a part of India which could not give us a life free of floods in these 60 years of independence.

  20. completely agree with shivani singh here the devils den will, after this cleansing become the spiritual buddhas land.He is waiting to come back to the land he belongs to now very soon the pure and pristine northeast

  21. Hi Shekhar,
    It is always nice to hear your views on topics/subjects of great importance. The biggest difference that a celebrity brings to the table is the fact that when he/she says something, people as well as media give it the required coverage and audience just for the fact that he/she is a celebrity. Having credentials like one you have is just like an icing on the cake. I would like to draw your attention to the kind of divisive politics our politicians are playing in the name of regions/religion/caste or language. It puts me to shame seeing some politiciance aka dogs barking from the rooftops statements that has no place in thwe civil society. I honestly feel that these modern day Neanderthals have no other place left but caves for them. These Rajs/Mayas/Mamtas/Rajnaths/Arujuns/Karats of the world either should be thrown into the seas or be exiled into caves so that they may not come back into any other civil society. It is apalling to see Raj Thakrey talking abt AB when he knows that millions of people are hopmeless on Mumbai streets and have no access to clean driniking water or basic sanitation; or for that matter Mamta Banerjee fighting for petty votes in the name of farmer or for that matter Karat pretending to the people as if he cares most abt saving India from the so called clutches of US. My anguish and anger with these politicians at times urges me to use choicest of abuses for them but then i stop just for the fact that it will be a grave disrespect to those choicest of abuses simply if i link them to these petty politicians.

  22. Mr Kapur, it is extremely heartening to see someone like you take up the cause of Bihar. Floods are a normal feature in that part of Bihar only this time it have been more that normal. PwD and Irrigation departments are two of the most corrupt departments in Bihar, and the annual floods and this year’s disaster can be directly atributed to teh bureaucrats. I am from Katihar and for the last at least 30 of my 40 years I have seen this happen every year. This disaster would be followed by the bitter winter soon.
    And please do not take the death toll of 55 as correct. In north Bihar the normal winter and normal floods and normal heatwave take away 100s of lives.

  23. i was in bihar last week – to do a small bit for the relief efforts on behalf of the company i work for. what someone i met there told me, neatly sums up many of the questions you have raised. he asked me plainly : why do you forget – for us in Bihar “floods is a business” ?

  24. 09.11.2008,
    Good Evening Sir,
    I just read your article and came to the conclusion that i simply agree to your point of view. The main culprit of the cause is the person who was on the leave, ok he was on the leave but he could have substituted someone in the place of him. Also the engineers could have confirmed that wether the fax is properly send to them or not. Also that they could have given tthis report to the state minister of Bihar for the further confirmation. But call this their lazyness or their carelessness that they could not do even thah much. Just sending them a fax and everything is done naa!!. Its just stupidity of them and we cant do anything of them. Now talking about them and their carelessness is just the waste of time.

  25. i live in jharkhand but i cant understand why this politician are not anything for the people so now is the time to use the goverments money in a proper way .what is done for the people who are saved but has no work to do .just they are increasing the no. of unemployment people.

  26. Thanks Shekharjee for the sympathy of flood victimes of bihar.
    “I am only one but still I am one. I cannot do everything,
    but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do”.

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