Amartya Sen on what Bihar can learn from history

AMARTYASENExtracted from The New Bihar: Rekindling Governance and Development, Edited by NK Singh and Nicholas Stern, HarperCollins (Open)

Bihar, we might as well begin by noting, is an extraordinary part of India. It is exceptionally distinguished in its past—its stellar role as the centre of Indian civilisation for over a thousand years. If Bihar was the most progressive part of India from around the time of Gautama Buddha for a millennium or more, it is notable, in a very different way, in its present state of social backwardness and unusual poverty. And there is a third bit of extraordinariness in the determination of Bihar to conquer its present misery by focusing directly on economic and human development. The future of Bihar may not be a repeat of its past glory but nor would it be, it seems reasonable to predict, a continuation of its present state of underdevelopment and deprivation. Bihar is, it would appear, quite extraordinary in its past, in its present, and in the promise of its future.

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