Bihar Diwas History and its Significance

Bihar Diwas History and its Significance

Today is Bihar diwas or Bihar Day which is marked on the 22nd of March every year and this gives us an opportunity to talk about the history and significance of this day. The 22nd of March every year is marked as the formation day of the state of Bihar and it is celebrated as Bihar diwas or Bihar Day. The celebration of this day took off on a large scale from 2010 2012 onwards following the initiative of the Nitish Kumar led Government. Since then, every year the 22nd of March is declared as a public holiday by the state government and it is commemorated in India and around the world through programs and events that are organized by the state government and the occasion is also used by the state government as an opportunity to announce several new government initiatives. This event is marked not just in the state of Bihar and in India but also in several countries abroad by the strong Bihari Diaspora Community. This is particularly true in countries such as Mauritius and Trinidad in the Caribbean because in both places you find a strong Bihari diaspora who were transported here during the colonial era as a part of the indentured labor system.

History and Significance of Bihar Day

The history and significance of Bihar day the history of its commemoration is not rooted in post-independence India meaning it is not related to the reorganization of states that was carried out post-independence, but instead its history is rooted in the Colonial era and it is linked to the reorganization of the larger Bengal presidency.

22nd of March was chosen as Bihar Diwas because it was on this day that the distinct regional identity of Bihar was recognized in 1912. The British carved out Bihar from the larger Bengal presidency. The British government gained control of this large Bengal presidency after the Battle of Buxar. On the 22nd of October 1764, the Battle of Buxar was fought between the British forces of the East India Company which was led by Hector Munro, and the joint army of the Nawab of Bengal, the Nawab of Awadh, and the Mughal King Shah Alam II. The then Bengal region which extended from today’s Bangladesh stretching all the way up to Bihar, West Bengal, and Odisha was largely under the rule of the Mughals and the nawabs and they lost their sovereignty over this region following their defeat at the battle of Buxar which resulted in a massive victory for the East India company. This firmly established the British presence in the country and very quickly the Bengal presidency became the political hub of the country.

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This defeat in the battle of Buxar resulted in the Mughals and the nawabs of Bengal losing control over these territories as the East India company which won the war enforced its Diwani rights which was its right to administer and collect and manage the revenues that had been initially awarded by the Mughals and nawabs to the East India company. Now that the East India company defeated them and took complete control over the territory the whole Bengal region switching from Bangladesh and Assam to West Bengal and Jharkhand fell under the British and this large British presidency of Bengal consisted of current states such as West Bengal, Bihar Jharkhand Odisha and as well as Bangladesh.

As the Bengal presidency came under the firm rule of the British, they implemented their policy of divide and rule to exploit the communal divide in the region that is between the Hindus and the Muslims as a part of their attempt to weaken the National freedom struggle which was gaining momentum in the Bengal Presidency in the late 1800s. But eventually, as the national freedom struggle became stronger the British came up with a sinister plan of partitioning Bengal in 1905 and the then viceroy Lord Curzon stated that Bengal had to be partitioned as it had become too large to administer. But this was just an excuse being cited by the British because the real intention was to divide and rule the region by exploiting the communal divide and thus they proposed the partition of Bengal into the Muslim-dominated East Bengal and the Hindu-dominated West Bengal.

The Bihar region fell under west Bengal, but this communal partition of the region eventually triggered national sentiments even further and became the root cause for the launch of the swadeshi moment the partition of Bengal now became a rallying point for the freedom fighters to oppose British rule and British policies and as these protests gained momentum eventually the British were forced to reunite Bengal in 1911. The then viceroy lord Hardinge finally bowed under the pressure of the swadeshi movement and proposed a reunited Bengal which would bring together all the Bengali speaking regions of both west and east Bengal along with recognizing the distinct identity of Odisha, Bihar and Assam.

Why March 22nd?

In 1911 King George V was coronated in Delhi and the capital of British India was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. So as the political focus shifted from Calcutta to Delhi and from Bengal towards Delhi, the Bengali-speaking areas were reunited as for the proposal of Lord Hardinge. On 21st March 1912, the new governor of Bengal Thomas Gibson Carmichael announced the decision to separate the Bengali-speaking areas from the other distinct linguistic regions which eventually led to the formation of Bengal Odisha, Bihar, and Assam. It’s because of this reason that the Bihar government chose the 22nd of March to be marked and commemorated as Bihar diwas or Bihar day because this day marks the recognition of the distinct regional and linguistic identity of Bihar.

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