One of the saddest and most overlooked tales in history is the demise of the Native American population during the late 1400s in North America. It could be argued that if the Native Americans were not already divided amongst themselves, they could have successfully resisted colonial efforts of the Europeans.
Christopher Columbus may have mistakenly called the Native Americans "Indians", but the true Indians were facing similar issues due to lack of unity. The people of Bihar face immense challenges on multiple levels. The region fails to thrive due to very limited employment and educational opportunities, entangled local politics, and poor infrastructure.
It is a known fact that unity within communities produce better outcomes for its citizens. Remaining divisive on important issues and supporting agendas that benefit only a fraction of the population does more harm than good. On a national level, India is a diverse country, with principles founded in democracy and diversity. However, there are local politics, namely those in places like Bihar, that cause a rift in the overarching theme of unity, prosperity, and opportunity for everyone.
Bihar continues to be one of the most impoverished regions in the country. The wage gap and income disparity are immense. Additionally, the area suffers from low education rates, weakened and outdated infrastructure, and high outward migration. When the political situation is analyzed, it unsurprisingly highlights the ill-effects of utilizing the caste system, engaging in religious politics, and supporting candidates that do not propose clear and effective solutions to the issues plaguing the region.
Muslims in Bihar are divided and coerced into supporting agendas that only damage relationships and community ties with non-Muslims residents. These agendas are formulated to create emotional responses and rhetoric, not yield results that promote inclusiveness and progressive outcomes for the region. For the betterment of everyone, Muslims should seek to support agendas and reforms that are beneficial to people of all faiths living in the region. Supporting agendas that promise change based on religious exclusivity is detrimental to the overall growth of the area. As we can see now, the region does not benefit from this type of politics.
The Hindus living in Bihar are facing similar, self-inflicted obstacles. They are divided amongst themselves, supporting counterproductive concepts such as the caste political system. This practice eliminates opportunities for driven and intelligent individuals. Those born in the "wrong family" lack access to education, training, and better employment. Those in the lower caste are forced to move abroad to have access to opportunities they are not afforded in Bihar. Oftentimes, many of the people that flock to other places are very intelligent and would have been a catalyst for change in the local political climate. When they leave to pursue better opportunities, they take their ideas, skills, and abilities with them, leaving Bihar left with stagnant growth. The continued outward migration continues to leave Bihar in a destitute position, especially when compared to the rapid economic growth in other parts of India. If the brightest minds can emerge from the shadows that were created by the caste political system, all people of Bihar can be equally represented in the political spectrum and contribute to the success of the region.
India, as a nation, is emerging as a superpower and is continually gaining international influence. The nation is experiencing economic, educational, and infrastructural growth, which is excellent for investors and citizens. The situation in Bihar does not reflect the growth that is occurring around the nation and can be considered lagging behind. It is warranted for Hindus and Muslims in Bihar to work together to create a united front in tackling the issues in the region. If they continue remaining divisive and using outdated practices, the people of Bihar will not have the share of same growth as others in the nation. As stated above, a united front creates a stronger community.
Dr. Abedi is the founder of LADI, an Indian-American writer countering extremism as a Muslim crusader.