Lt Gen Abhay Krishna  (Retd)

Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule. Its capital Patna, earlier known as Pataliputra, was an important centre of Indian civilisation

The strength of a state is not only the revenue it generates, but also the quality of the education system and the character of the people it maintains. The foundation of every state is built on the education of its youth. Education, therefore, becomes the real strong pillar upon which the fate of a country depends. The goal of education is considered as the advancement of knowledge and dissemination of truth. Education, therefore, becomes a powerful weapon which can be used to change the world.  

Bihar is well known for its rich cultural heritage and its contribution to Indian history. Historically, Bihar has always been considered as a centre of power, learning and culture in ancient and classical India. From Magadha arose India's first and greatest 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. Its capital Patna, earlier known as Pataliputra, was an important centre of Indian civilisation. Close to Patna, Nalanda and Vikramshila were centres of learning which were established in the fifth and eighth century respectively in Bihar and are counted as amongst the oldest international universities of the time. During the 17th century, Patna had also become a centre of international trade.

Historical Perspective 

Bihar played a significant role in the Indian independence movement starting with the First War of Independence in 1857, also known as the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

The state went through several uprisings and battles against the British forces, with many local leaders and common citizens actively participating in the movement. One of the prominent leaders of the revolt was Kunwar Singh, a zamindar from Bihar who led a group of soldiers and farmers to fight against the British in the areas of Jagdishpur and Arrah. Another notable figure was Veer Kunwar Singh, who at the age of 80, fought against the British in Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh. The city of Arrah in Bihar, witnessed a significant battle between the Indian rebels and British forces in 1857, which lasted for several weeks. The brave resistance put up by the locals of Bihar against the British forces played a crucial role in the rebellion which inspired similar uprisings across the country. Later, in 1917, another notable event was the Champaran Satyagraha led by Mahatma Gandhi, against the oppressive system of indigo cultivation and the exploitation of farmers. Bihar then launched a Non-Cooperation Movement in 1920-21, which saw widespread participation and civil disobedience against the British government. The Quit India Movement of 1942, which called for an end to British rule, was also active in Bihar, with several leaders and activists from the state joining the movement. Bihar is, thus, the birthplace of many prominent leaders of the freedom struggle and one such is Dr Rajendra Prasad, who went on to become the first President of independent India. Thus, overall, Bihar's contribution to the Indian independence movement is considered noteworthy, inspiring and an important part of the state's history and legacy. 

Few Examples of Achievers

Bihar has been home to many prominent achievers in various fields since India's independence in 1947. Today, when we look back in time since independence, Bihar has produced many talented individuals who have made significant contributions to various fields in India and around the world. At one stage, Bihar was widely acknowledged as having a rich tradition of producing top-ranking civil servants. Some prominent names include RK Singh, who served as the Home Secretary of India and is Minister of Power as also New and Renewable Energy. Amar Sinha, IFS was the third Ambassador to Afghanistan from Bihar after Jayant Prakash and Gautam Upadhyaya. Amar Sinha went through a very turbulent time when several attacks had taken place all over Afghanistan. He is known to have handled the tough transition period under a dangerous prevailing uncertainty with great zeal and courage. Abhayanand has been one of India’s most celebrated IPS officer who, along with Anand Kumar, is also revered for having created Super 30, a top ranked coaching institute for preparation of IIT-JEE and NEET.

There are many notable political personalities who grew up getting educated in Bihar and have contributed significantly in the Indian political domain. The former Deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram is one such personality who also had a crucial role to play in India's struggle for independence. Nitish Kumar, a notable qualified engineer, is the current Chief Minister of Bihar. Few other prominent senior political leaders who grew up studying in schools and colleges of Bihar and have made significant contribution are like C P Thakur, Late Ramvilas Paswan, Sushil Modi, Shahnawaz Hussain, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Rudy Pratap and many more. Jagat Prakash Nadda, the current BJP President, is also one such prominent personality who did his schooling and college education at Patna. Let’s not forget Jayaprakash Narayan, popularly known as JP, a freedom fighter and social activist, who had played a pivotal role in the Indian independence movement. He was also a key figure in the Indian socialist movement and led the anti-corruption movement in the 1970s.

Entrepreneurs from Bihar are well known to have made a mark in various fields, including e-commerce, education, and agriculture. Neeraj Kumar is the founder of the popular mobile wallet and UPI payment app, PhonePe. Sharad Sagar, the Founder and CEO of Dexterity Global is a a social entrepreneur focusing on education. Amrit Kumar Das is a Serial Entrepreneur, Founder, and CEO of ISOFT Group, IST Group and Innotech Group headquartered in Sydney Australia. Manmeet Chawla is the youngest digital entrepreneur from Bihar. He is considered the youngest millionaire in India and Featured as Youngest Digital Entrepreneur in World. Dealing with Over 5000+ clients Worldwide made him one of The Best Entrepreneurs in India. 


Over the years, Bihar is well known to have produced many notable figures in the fields of engineering, medical, judiciary, science and entrepreneurship. Engineers from Bihar have made significant contributions in various fields of engineering, to include, civil, mechanical, electrical and computer engineering. Significant contribution has been in the field of medicine also. Dr Inamul Haque, who is an assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Centre, Kansas City, USA, is well known for having investigated the biochemical activity and the molecular targets of CCN1 in pancreatic cancer cells. In the field of judiciary too, Justice Aftab Alam, Justice B P Sinha, Justice L M Sharma, Justice B N Agarwal and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra, are just few examples of prominent personalities, to quote. Among the notable Advocates, again just to quote a few, from among the prominent ones are Advocate L N Sinha, Advocate Amarender Sharan and Advocate Vikas Singh. While Supreme Court Advocate L N Sinha was the Attorney General of India, Advocate Vikas Singh, a product of St Michael School Patna, is currently the President of Supreme Court Bar Council for the third term.  

Since independence Bihar has always been a major contributor to Indian Armed Forces every year and the sacrifices made by these soldiers in protecting the sanctity of our border is well known. Galwan incident is one such example of bravery in the recent time of the long history of valour and courage. Nation will always remember the gallant soldiers of Bihar like Lance Naik Albert Ekka, PVC, Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala, AC, and many more who have won laurels and sacrificed their lives for the sake of safety and security of our Nation.  Just to name a few key personalities, Late Lt Gen S K Sinha who retired as Vice Chief also served as Governor of Assam and J&K and ambassador to Nepal. While Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, a naval aviator who headed Western Naval Command and Air Chief Mshl B S Dhanoa is a product of St Xavier’s school Patna, another very top-ranking officer, Air Mshl B K Pandey was not only a Xavier Medallist but was also bestowed with the award of Gold Medal at National Defence Academy, Sword of Honour at AF Academy and a gallantry award during his service. 

Bihar has also made notable contributions in the field of science as well. Amardeep, a senior scientist of ISRO, has played a key role in carrying ISRO's heavy rocket Chandrayaan-II, which weighs 3.8 tonnes at a cost of Rs 3 crore. Few other notable scientists and researchers from Bihar also include Jitendra Nath Goswami, who served as the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Dr.  Virendra Kumar Sinha, who is known for his work in the field of agriculture. Bihar has also been a hub of social movements, with several prominent activists and social reformers hailing from the state. A social reformer Bindeshwar Pathak, who founded Sulabh International, an organization that works for sanitation and social reform, is one such example. Prakash Chandra is a prolific inventor who has over 100 patents to his name. He is best known for inventing the world's first eye-controlled wheelchair, which has been a game-changer for people with disabilities. Gopal is not just an explorer but also a researcher and a motivational speaker. He has patented his discovery involving banana leaves and paper bio cells. 

Bihar has also produced great writers, scholars and authors. Let’s not forget Bihar’s contribution to the Bollywood and entertainment world too. Besides popular personalities like Shatrughan Sinha, an actor and politician, and Late Ashok Kumar who have acted in over 200 films, we have Shekhar Suman,a well-known actor, comedian and television host who has appeared in numerous Bollywood films and television shows. We also have Prakash Jha, who is a renowned filmmaker. Late Sushant Singh Rajput was an excellent actor who appeared in numerous Bollywood films before his unfortunate death in 2020. Neetu Chandra is an Indian actress and producer who has appeared in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Bhojpuri films. She was born in Patna and attended school in the city before pursuing her acting career. Manoj Bajpayee and Pankaj Tripathi too come from the same roots. And of course, few journalists like M J Akbar, Ravish Kumar, Sweta Singh and Sushant Sinha are also well known in the environment.


Biharis have been making significant contribution in various fields which has helped shape India's growth story. So, what has gone wrong now?


Aryabhata who gave zero number to the world, the ‘nine planets' theory and trigonometric rules was from Bihar. The first Prime Minister of Mauritius, Seewoosagur Ramgoolam too hailed from Bihar. Besides giving three Prime Ministers to Mauritius, Bihar has also given two Prime Ministers to Trinidad and Tobago and one to Nepal.

The above stated cases are just few examples to quote as there are endless contributions made by Bihar in multi domains. The Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Police Service (IPS) and Indian Foreign Service (IFS) are among the top civil services in India that attract many Bihari aspirants. Many Bihari civil servants have served and are serving in important positions in these services all over the country and have contributed significantly to the development of the country. According to available reports, Bihar has consistently been among the top states in terms of the number of candidates appearing for the civil services examination. In recent years, the state has also witnessed a surge in the number of women candidates from Bihar appearing for the examination.

Biharis have always been making significant contribution in various fields, which has helped shape India's growth story and have been instrumental in improving the lives of people across the country. So, what has now gone wrong that in some contexts, the term ‘Bihari’, in majority of the states, by and large, is seen being used in a little demeaning manner?

Manish Kashyap, popularly known as the "Bihari YouTuber”, who did his best to make positive and worthwhile contribution to Bihar by creating awareness about Bihar's rich cultural heritage, huge tourism potential besides the positive contributions of its people in various fields and domain, is behind bars today. His relentless effort was always directed essentially towards helping change the negative prevailing perception of the state by showcasing its beauty and potential, thereby, help create awareness about Bihar's rich cultural heritage, tourism potential and the positive contribution of its people to various fields. Specific details and reasons behind Manish Kashyap's arrest by the Tamil Nadu government is not known. However, it is essential for governments to balance the need for freedom of expression with the need for maintaining law and order and protecting the interests of the citizens. One is sure that actions taken by the government will be based on legal provisions and carried out in a fair and transparent manner, ensuring that the rights of the individual are not violated and such rules are not applied selectively.

There is no doubt that the education system in Bihar has undergone significant changes in the last over a decade with some improvements but few major challenges still prevail.

The Way Ahead

Till few decades ago, Bihar was considered as the supreme hub of education with both English and Hindi as the medium of instruction in most of the schools, colleges, universities and professional institutions. Bihar always had a strong presence in the Indian education system and was home to several prestigious universities and colleges. However, in the 1980s and 90s, it lost its colour. The state's educational system declined due to a variety of factors, including poor governance, lack of investment in education and rampant corruption. As a result, the quality of education in Bihar suffered and the state's institutions began to lose their reputation as center of academic excellence. The Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) Scandal incident in 2017 is well-known which brought to light deep-rooted corruption in the education system. The Govt did come forward proactively and several officials were arrested and charged in connection with the case. However, later in 2019, the Teacher Recruitment Scandal was uncovered in Bihar. Again, Govt did come forward to take action and several government officials and individuals were arrested and charged in connection with the case, but the obvious decline in quality education had got well established beyond any doubt. 


According to the 2011 Census, Bihar has a literacy rate of around 63.8 percent, one of the lowest literacy rates in India. This is significantly lower than the national average of 74 percent. Now the time has, therefore, come for the current proactive leaders of Bihar to rise above their narrow personal political agenda and instead give a strong focussed approach on getting back the time immemorial high quality education standards that Bihar was always known for, till few decades ago. Bringing back this change is necessary to help contain the growing negative connotation with the term ‘Bihari.’


Bihar, today, is seen as one of the most economically backward states in India, with high levels of poverty and unemployment. This has led to large migration of people from the state to other parts of India in search of better opportunities. The migrants have sometimes faced discrimination and prejudice due to their cultural differences and their perceived lower social status. The state has also witnessed instances of lawlessness, corruption and political instability, which have further contributed to the negative perception of Biharis in some parts of the country. There is no doubt that the education system in Bihar has undergone some positive changes in the last over a decade with some improvements but few major challenges still prevail. Why so much of migration from Bihar to other states in search of job is taking place today? Is it because of rapid growth of population, lack of education and job opportunities?

One of the major changes in the education system of Bihar in the last over a decade has been the increase in access to education. The state government has made efforts to increase the number of schools and colleges, especially in rural areas, which has led to a perceptible increase in the number of students attending schools and colleges. However, while access to education has improved, the quality of education in Bihar still remains a matter of concern. Despite efforts by the government to improve the quality of education, the state still faces challenges in terms of shortage of teachers, lack of proper infrastructure and inadequate resources. The government has made efforts to promote technology-enabled learning and has introduced several digital initiatives in schools and colleges, but the quality of education in Bihar remains a concern, with a shortage of qualified teachers and inadequate resources in schools and colleges. 

Another significant change in the education system of Bihar has been the increase in gender parity. The government has taken several measures to encourage girls to attend school, including providing free education, uniforms and mid-day meals. However, on the face of it, while the education system in Bihar looks to have improved in terms of access, gender parity and teacher training, there is still a long way to go in terms of improving the quality of education. While Bihar has made progress in increasing access to education, it still lags behind other states in terms of the number of schools, colleges and universities. According to the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, Bihar has a low Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER), which is the number of students enrolled in higher education as a percentage of the eligible population.

Bihar's curriculum has also undergone several changes over the past over a decade, with an increased focus on vocational education and job-oriented courses. However, the state still lacks a comprehensive curriculum that meets the needs of a rapidly changing economy and society. Bihar also lacks in providing quality training to its teachers. Teacher training programmes are essential to improve the quality of teaching and ensure that students receive high-quality education. Therefore, with a shortage of qualified teachers and inadequate resources in schools and colleges, the quality of education in Bihar remains a concern. Bihar also ranks low in national and international assessments of student learning outcomes.


Bihar needs to regain its past glory in the field of education so that the state can retain the meaning of Bihar, i.e., walk ahead with confidence and prosperity spreading the light of education as used to be in Buddha’s era.

Need for a Focussed approach

Overall Male and Female literacy rate in Bihar is 70.32 percent and 53.57 percent respectively, the total Rural literacy rate is estimated at 43.9%. This is because of a significant gap in education standards between urban and rural areas in Bihar. This gap needs to be bridged by providing better infrastructure, resources and teacher training in rural areas. More opportunities for girls to attend school, such as scholarships as also providing a safe and secure learning environment, have to be effectively implemented. There is also the need to increase the number of schools and colleges both in rural and urban areas to provide better and easy access to education for all with sufficient number of well-trained teachers. Credibility of Bihar education has also got adversely affected in the national perception by cases of rampant cheating and paper leaks as reported in the national media. This has led to major universities not only in India but abroad also casting doubts on the legibility of degrees from Bihar’s schools and colleges. Govt needs to seriously address this malice within the education system.

Bihar has significant potential for economic growth in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and services. The syllabus, therefore, needs to be updated to include the latest knowledge, technologies and trends in various fields. This would ensure that students are equipped with the skills and knowledge required to succeed in their chosen fields. There is a need to promote vocational education that prepares students for jobs in these sectors and other emerging fields. This would help students develop job-specific skills and make them more employable. There is a need to work to provide better access to technology-enabled learning such as online courses and digital textbooks, in both rural and urban areas. 

In conclusion

Education is like moving from darkness to light. Bihar needs to regain its past glory in the field of education so that the state can retain the meaning of Bihar, i.e., walk ahead with confidence and prosperity spreading the light of education as used to be in Buddha’s era. Bihar, therefore, not only needs good schools and colleges to come up in rural areas, but also very high standard colleges for higher studies, so that majority of students don’t have to migrate outside Bihar searching some good educational institutions. But all these can be achieved only when a major focussed approach is adopted and is supported by a strategy and true resilient effort on the part of the State Government. 

Bihar has always contributed significantly to India and the rest of the world through its high-quality education, be it in schools or colleges, over the last many decades. The state has been home to several premier educational institutions, producing top-class professionals and leaders, and has also been a hub of cultural, literary, scientific, and social activities. Bihar's rich legacy in education and its contributions to India's progress and development are a testament to the state's resilience, dynamism, and spirit of excellence. So, let’s move forward to revive the old glories back and resurrect Bihar once again as a major education hub of India.


Lt Gen Abhay Krishna (Retd) is a native of Bihar and has done his schooling at St Xavier’s school, Patna and two years at Patna Science College before he joined the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune.  Besides being a gallantry award winner, he has the unique distinction of heading three Army Commands, that is, South Western, Eastern and Central Army Commands.

The views expressed are his personal.


Lt Gen Abhay Krishna (Retd)



traffic analytics