HomeBiharNever Forget Who You Are | Brand Bihar Swati Kumari Bihar, Bihari 1 I don’t agree with those who are criticizing the character played by Alia Bhatt in Udta Punjab. Alia Bhatt is not someone to be blamed for such a character in a movie. If anyone had given her a role of a girl from Bihar who is highly educated, privileged and sophisticated, she might have accepted that as well. And if the role (character played by Alia in Udta Punjab) had been offered to any other actress, they too would not have rejected the offer only on the basis that the character is portraying a poor, uneducated girl of Bihar. I am sorry Alia, but while many people are saying that you have justified with the character of a ‘Bihari Girl’, you actually haven’t. The character played by you is of an uneducated labour girl who is from Bihar. She could speak only in her mother tongue, not in Hindi or English or any other language. Yet, she doesn’t represent ‘every girl from Bihar.’ However, the producers, directors and the scriptwriters are the people responsible for illustrating Bihar as the poor under developed state where every second person is illiterate and living in destitution, every third one is a criminal, and every politician and government official is corrupt. Not just Bollywood, but there are a number of novelists who have depicted the characters from Bihar being geek, shabby, not highly educated and without any class. This is seriously disappointing! Audience and readers would definitely love to see and read the other side of the Bihar, the beautiful one. I want to share one experience. I was in Gurgaon this February. One day I went to meet my college friend and met her flatmate who was from Uttarakhand. While talking during a train journey, my friend’s flatmate said, “One can’t travel in a sleeper coach from Delhi to Dehradun at all. It is packed with Biharis. They enter and illicitly occupy the seats there.” I was mum, just looking at her. “These Biharis are so dirty, mannerless, inferior class contemptible people.” She added. Her last remark was enough to infuriate me but I wanted to understand what made her to conclude this. “How did you know that all those in the train were Biharis?” I asked her controlling my voice. “You can easily recognise them if you see. They are so labour class, poor and speak incorrect Hindi.(can’t even speak proper Hindi)” She explained. “Hmm! First, tell me, how could you claim that the language they speak is Hindi and not any other language that sounds a lot like Hindi?” Also, is everybody rich (or even middle class) in places like Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujrat, Punjab, Karnataka, West Bengal and other states of India. Are the poor highly educated there? Are they all high-class? Are they all sophisticated and wealthy there?” She was silent for few seconds and then she said, “NO! There are people who are very poor, uneducated…” “Then why are you categorising all the labour class and poor people as Biharis?” I asked again. “Visit all the states of India and you will find different classes of people everywhere. In fact, there are poor people in the developed countries as well. Not every poor person in the world is illiterate nor can they afford all the sophistication, but it doesn’t mean all of them are Biharis. You proudly brag about the first president of India, Rajendra Prasad, Lord Budhha, Chandragupt Maurya, the Great Ashoka, Chanakya as the legendary Indians who changed the course of history but you forget that these legends have shared the same land as these low, labour class Biharis(apparently) you claim to see in these trains. And if you would like to argue about the timelines when these legends left a mark, what would you say about Bismillah khan (Sehnai maestro), famous writers like Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’ and Phanishwar Nath ‘Renu’, Nitish Kumar, Neetu Chandra, Satrudhan, Sinha, Sonakshi Sinha(Bollywood actress), Asha Khemka (Damehood by Prince Charles & Order of the British empire), Samreen Saba (scientist, NASA), Prakash Jha(movie director), Manoj Bajpai, Anil-Agarwal(Vedanta group), Anand Kumar ( Founder of Super 30), Meera Kumar (ex-speaker, Lok-Sabha, India)). Do you even know the average number of IAS officers Bihar gives to the country each year? There is a never ending list of people. She was speechless and was just looking at me in awe. “Are you from Bihar?” She asked hesitantly. Now there was a broad smile on my face. “Yep! I am a BIHARan.” I declared proudly. “But you don’t look like one!” She said . “..and this is what I have been trying to explain you. You have a wrong mindset about Bihar. Bihar is very much like other states of India” “I am extremely sorry about whatever I said.” That was all she could say in the end. It was not the only incident when a person in Bengaluru, Hyderabad or in other parts of India had refused to believe that I am from Bihar in the first interaction. I am damn sure it happens with many other people from Bihar as well. Coming back to the topic, I was still thinking that why do people blame the movies, the novels or their creators for presenting the upsetting impression of Bihar and its people. I have seen many people from Bihar residing in other states with a reputed white-collar job, they feel ashamed of being recognised or introducing themselves as a Bihari. They forget that living in a different state for their whole lives also couldn’t change the land of their origin. So many NRBs (Non-Residential Biharis) who visit Bihar after a long time get surprised at the sight of malls, international food chains, international brand outlets, Audi and Mercedes on the roads of Bihar and above all, girls roaming freely without their families. They talk about Bihar as the hub of IAS producer as well, but that’s not all. We don’t let them see the other facets of Bihar. There are numerous software engineers in different IT cities, many scientists from Bihar researching in different labs of the world and so many renowned people who have dedicated their life in field of art and literature. Is it not the responsibility of every Bihari, who live in different cities of the world, to show the world a better picture of Bihar? Are they not equally responsible and to be blamed for letting only the poor labour class image to represent Bihar and be known as the face of Bihar? I am not criticizing the labours or the underprivileged class, as they are a very important part of any society. They are like those bricks in the foundation of a building, which make the giant edifice strong but are never valued as the pleasing exterior adornment. Without their hard work, any society can’t be this beautiful. All the same, I am definitely against stereotyping Bihar. Rapes, murder, robbery, kidnapping, human trafficking and all crimes happen everywhere and everyone knows that. Even then, Bihar, time and again, has been referred to as a Jungle Raj? I request everyone related to Bihar, to not hide their identity as a Bihari. Let others know, see and feel the superior class of Biharis as well. Movies and books can’t change the image of Bihar, but we all can bring this change. Let people know that Bihar is a place with rich culture, history and people of Bihar are very hardworking, honest, peace-loving, creative and brilliant people. Stop blaming others! People outside will see and perceive based on what we show them. Let’s take our own stand. Let the world know that all kinds of people live in Bihar, from underprivileged to Game changers to people who can change the course of History. Let’s start today and proudly say #IamBrandBihar. You represent Bihar! With Regards, Swati Kumari #IamBrandBihar Share your picture with the hashtag #IamBrandBihar from all your social media profile!