ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bihar Society, Polity and Culture

Traversing Bihar: The Politics of Development and Social Justice edited by Manish K Jha and Pushpendra, New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan, 2014; pp 368, Rs 850.

The views expressed here are personal.

A s indicated by the sweeping title, this volume attempts to put together a well-rounded and updated picture of the Bihar society and polity. More specifically, its three sections on “Politics of Development,” “Politics of Social Justice” and “Texts and Folk Narratives” comprising 13 articles by experts in the varied fields do, indeed, make it a comprehensive work equally useful for scholars, activists and journalists. A wide gamut of issues and topics tackled by the authors in the articles will assist the reader in correlating the somewhat disparate aspects of Bihar’s society, polity and culture. Of course, being comprehensive often entails the risk of becoming diffuse or short on focus—this volume escapes the fate thanks to the brilliant editorial introduction which may well serve also as a concluding chapter!

The word “paradox” is repeatedly employed to characterise Bihar and the editors of the present volume use it unhesitatingly too—perhaps the reason is, it is near impossible to provide a discrete list of what has changed and what has remained unchanged in the state over the decades since independence. The strange mix and the endless layering of dynamism and stasis may be why authors on Bihar get drawn to the word. This strange polyvalent quality is as much a hazard faced by scholars groping for the right analytical categories, as the policymaker who wonders at which end of the Bihar’s spaghetti-like reality his story of intervention should begin!

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