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I once had a correspondence with a gentleman who though of Bengali origin had spent considerable part of his life in Bihar and identified himself both as a Bengali and a Bihari.  Though it is about four years old, I think it is quite relevant for many of us.

I found one sentence particularly insightful "My Bengalee and Bihari friends may kindly pardon me for that. While too much self-pride is destroying the Bengalees, an absolute lack of self-pride is the principal mental blocks for Bihar's development."

Lest he be misunderstood, I am also pasting his full letter below

"My forefathers migrated to Bengal from Bihar's Darbhanga (= dwar banga) and I am a Bengali. I was born in Bihar and although I started my education in Bihar I had my schooling mostly in Bengal in a Bengali medium school. I spent my working life mostly (two decades) in Bihar (now Jharkhand) and I do not have any difficulty in identifying myself as a Bihari by soul. How did it happen? My colleagues and friends and their families accepted me as one of them. I do not think such an experience you would experience in any other part of our country.

Being a Bengali myself let me ascertain that Bengali culture is too inward looking to admit or naturalise others. So are the Tamilians. Please do not misunderstand me. I am a proud Bengali. I am proud of Rabindranath, Rammohan Roy, Vivekananda, Subhashchandra. But that do not prevent me from declaring
myself as a proud Bihari and I declare that rather loudly.

You may be aware that when Bibhutibhushan Mukhopadhyay was described as a 'prabasi bangalee' he objected and said that he belonged to Bihar and it was Bengal where he was in 'prabas'. Dr B C Roy was the first Chief minister of West Bengal; record shows his permanent address at Patna.

I have a feeling. My Bengalee and Bihari friends may kindly pardon me for that. While too much self-pride is destroying the Bengalees, an absolute lack of self-pride is the principal mental blocks for Bihar's development.

I shall disown my Bihari heritage if you can show me a single politician who was/ is more honest than Babu Rajendra Prasad. I can go on and on, but being an ardent admirer of Jayprakash Narayan I would rather allow others to do the talking.

Yes, Bihari's have draw-backs but then which community is free from flaws?

I N Sinha

My reply was as follows

Prof. Sinha

You have nicely summed up the feeling of people who belong to two or more states. My native state is Jharkhand - a village called Pathra (now called Narsinghpur), about 10 kms from Daltongunj in the Palamau district of Jharkhand. Since my father was in service at Patna, I had my schooling upto 12th there and was brought up at Patna: thus belonging to a tiny minority which is a native of Jharkhand but moved to Bihar for economic progress.

I personally feel I am a Bihari and a Jharkhandi. Near extinct Jharkhandi delicacies like dhoka, papri, tilwa etc are still made by my mother, aunts and wife. I still yearn for the boli of Palamau: renga or butru for a child, goe for a friend and didhi for standing still.

For my engineering education, I moved to Varanasi. Later had my management education back in Jharkhand at Jamshedpur. First ten years of my job was at Calcutta, followed by six years at Delhi, less than a year at Los Angeles and for the last four years at Mumbai. My children have been brought up at Calcutta, Delhi and now
at Mumbai. What state do they belong to? Are we going to destroy this rich tapestry called India?

Your observation "While too much self-pride is destroying the Bengalees, an absolute lack of self-pride is the principal mental block for Bihar's development." is full of insight that can only come from one who is confident of his identity as both Bihari and Bengali.

Warm regards

TV Sinha


tvsinha

T. V. Sinha, Guest Contributor, PatnaDaily.Com

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