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Stepping Outside the Confines of a Paradigm – A Vision for PatnaDaily

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I have written for and read articles published in PatnaDaily since its early days. Yes, I was with PD from years ago when the site was clunky compared to its slick and sophisticated form today.

On occasion, I used to make suggestions and feedback to the editor. Some of them were implemented. I liked the thought of a Bihari news site and wrote articles for it off and on. I expended my effort and wrote for the Bihari Community for nothing more than a deep sense of satisfaction of contributing to the people of my land. Patna Daily was the vehicle that I liked over others to carry my ideas to my fellow Biharis because the management was less bureaucratic and very responsive.

I am not saying that it was a smooth ride all along. Being proficient in Hindi, I wrote an article for PD in Hindi. PD politely declined to publish it because, the editor initially wanted to retain PD’s English character. Over time that changed and I started noticing a few Hindi entries finding the light of day on the PD website. I was overjoyed. PD had come around finally to speak the language of the soil and expand its offering to people for whom English was challenging.

It has been a great journey and I have stayed with PD – reading it all the time but writing only off and on. I have had asked myself, "Kyon likhta hoon PD ke liye?" It has been a selfless labour of love. I write for the sons and daughters of the Bihari soil. I can speak the language of both Hindi and English speakers and use my life experiences to share my views and knowledge to open the eyes of my fellow Biharis who could benefit from a wider perspective and views on life and enrich themselves from my experiences and knowledge.

I try to throw in stuff that is educational so that my articles end up elevating and enriching the minds of my readers – especially those who are stuck in the rut of the casteist and communal thinking that has kept Bihar stuck in a backward-looking mindset. I have railed against the antinational Muslims and the vigilante 'Go-Rakshak' goons in the same breath.

Today as I write this article I am asking readers to cogitate (think deeply) who the target audience of PD should be. Biharis have left Bihar since the British days - first exiled to Mauritius, Fiji, and Trinidad. Later hordes of Biharis left the drought-prone central districts to go work in the jute mills in Calcutta. Many settled there. Concurrently and subsequently, thousands of Biharis left Bihar to go to other metropolises and settled there. When the casteist politics and the wretchedness of the political system became corrupt, bright students who wanted to make something of their life left Bihar in hordes for other lands. This has gone on for over half a century. Today you will find large number of Biharis spread all over the globe. Inside India, Biharis occupy enviable positions as the elites in both Government and private enterprises in all parts of India. They are all angry and frustrated at the politicians of Bihar but they love their litti- chokha and the cultural aspects of Bihari life.

PD should be engaged in promoting 'Bihariyat'. The Bihari people are an iceberg. If you look at the people living in Bihar, you just see the tip of the iceberg. I definitely do not see them as my only target audience. My target audience is the huge expatriate Bihari population that still looks at their Bihariyat with fondness. They are increasingly not ashamed of saying, "Hum bolte hain, tum suno" on the campuses of Bombay, Delhi, London and Stanford. This submerged part of the iceberg is my target reader as well as those who live in Bihar.

I see the garbage Bihari politics splattered all over the top half of the PD website. I just read the headlines and do not go reading the juicy tit-bits that follow in the articles. I personally think that PD should shrink the political news to a column – it is always depressing anyways. Instead, there needs to be an inclusion of issues that pertain to the expatriate Biharis - from Jharkhand to Johannesburg. This will, over time, bring the huge Bihari diaspora flocking to the PD watering hole. I would like to see more articles on traditional Bihari food, culture, anthropology and history. It should be a platform that should attract Biharis from Canada, USA, Europe, Australia and many other countries. I would love to see a Bihari Directory by Postal Code for Bihari expatriates so that people can network in whatever corner of the globe they live in. Now let me hang a carrot over the whole issue. Hits from all over the world will definitely help PD in selling Ads and expanding their capability of becoming a hub for Patna'ites and Biharis.

There are huge numbers of Bihari professors, intellectuals, and writers whose contribution to PD could attract a lot of other readers. They do not write to PD as they think that the main thrust of PD is covering the shenanigans of Lalu Yadav and Tejaswi Yadav. I am reminded of a sign board along the Highway that passed through the Hazaribagh Wildlife sanctuary. It said, “कुंजों के वातायन से छुप उत्सुक आंखें रही निहार”. I would love to see these उत्सुक आंखें become voices that tell stories and share experiences of Bihariyat.

As I have done over the years, I am throwing this out for readers to chime in on… Would you like your PD to be about Bihariyat and read about the history, culture, rituals etc. of Bihar or would you just be happy learning mostly about what Tejaswi Yadav said about BJP and how many people died when a tractor collided with a bus in Katihar? I am challenging the paradigm. We should transition – slowly so that when a Bihari sits at his desk at 8 'o clock in Canada, US or New Zealand, he opens PD alongside BBC, CNN and TOI to catch up on the news and social talk of his homeland.

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