Have you ever really felt proud to be an Indian? And when I say this I don’t mean ‘wining cricket matches proud’, mind you. I mean the kind of loftiness that leaves you excited and exultant even when you stand to witness the forward marches of other countries’. Has your heart ever truly swell with pride and happiness of being a part of this great nation called India? If not, now is better than never so let me help you with that.

It is however funny that you need someone else to give you reasons to feel proud about your own country. All our answers lie in our past. People might suggest you to never look back and keep moving ahead, but this isn’t the best course of action! I say you will only lose your way if you never glance back. Your past makes you who you are today. Our great history is something to be truly proud of and look to if we ever feel down. Sadly though, we have been force-fed the wrong side of history all our lives, as a result of which we tend to believe the worst of lies about ourselves much easily than we accept the smallest of goods.

It is a consequence of such a cynical view about our own achievements that we end up assuming and believing the worst about people, ignoring the many goods that they possess.

India today has 29 states and each and every state is as indispensable to her identity as an organ is to the functioning of the human body. And just like in a human body, ignoring the well-being of any of our organ could prove to be fatal, ignoring a state’s achievements and progress is a major blow to India. One such recipient of ridicule, solely based upon outdated stereotypes created to keep us divided and suspicious of each other, is Bihar. The Saga of Bihar, its past, present and future is one of the greatest stories ever told. It’s about overcoming the odds, never giving up and always moving forward no matter what life throws at you.

Bihar has seen the best of times, and has fallen on the worst of times, over and over again, somehow managing to stand tall at the end of the story every time. One of the greatest Indian Empire, the Mauryan Empire, originated from Magadha in 325 BC, and had its capital in Patliputra- the modern day capital of Bihar, Patna. The Vikramshila and Nalanda Universities were among the oldest and best centres of education in ancient India (Wikipedia). Vaishali is often credited by many historians to be one of the first functioning democracies in the World. Bihar’s history is way too expansive to fit into a measly essay and trying to do so would be an insult to it.

Today the conventional slang of referring to someone as a “Bihari” implies that a person is rustic and unsophisticated. Given the past of the state, both ancient and the recent, it is almost ridiculous.

A lot is also said about lawlessness, crime and corruption in Bihar. As we talked earlier, about enduring stereotypes that we allow to exist just to avoid the trouble of having to update our insults and jokes, the picture of past is still lingering. The truth, obviously, has been something else entirely for years now. Bihar has been competing with Gujarat in terms of progress and development in the past few years and this has been recognized by some of the most prominent and reputed economists and journalists.

If you’re looking for some notable names from Bihar, some “celebrities”, don’t worry, Bihar has you covered better than you imagine! Science and Mathematics; Starting from Aryabhatta to most of the prominent scholars of the day like mathematician K C Sinha, Physicist Deb Mukherjee among many others hail from Bihar. Leaders; How about the some of the biggest one in Human history? – Mahavira and Lord Buddha. If you want something more recent then look up our first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. And did we mention all the awesome festivals? Chhath is slowly on the way of becoming a national festival, becoming popular in many other states with the passage of time. Not to mention the Durga Puja, which rivals that of the West Bengal, a Holi which rivals that of Vrindavan and Teej which rivals the Karwa chauth that is celebrated over most of Northern India?

While Bihar has a reputation of being backward and illiterate, a mind unclouded by judgement can see that upholding culture and language is a priority here. Education is extremely important to the people of Bihar and close to 10% of our IAS officers come from the single state of Bihar. It is also extremely impressive and refreshing to see and hear many of my friends hailing from Bihar having no trouble with ‘Sudh Hindi’. Apart from such good knowledge of Hindi, there are about five more local dialects of Hindi used by the local people, among which Maithili was declared as a derivative of the ancient language spoken by the people of Magadha state. Instead of mocking these accents we should be proud of the diversity our country has even for a single language. But instead of honouring it, we use “Bhojpuri” in our mainstream media to establish that a character is either poor or stupid.

So why was Bihar being discriminated again? Because of its uncultured and illiterate populace? – Doesn’t exist. Then was it the crime and corruption? – Gone like the wind. Think of some more maybe, we’ll be around to debunk that.

Behind the unnecessary barriers and concealment lies the hub and nub of culture and traditions that we are totally missing out, the beautiful handicrafts, the peaceful Bodh Gaya, the spirited folk music, and the wonderful art. So let go of your prejudices and feel the history ringing in the lands of Bihar.