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Evolving Regional Identity


Mohammad Sajjad

THE MAKING OF A PROVINCE: SELECT DOCUMENTS ON THE CREATION OF MODERN BIHAR, 1874-1917. VOL. I, PARTS I, II, III
Edited by Ashok Aounshuman , Srikant, and Abhay Kumar 
Directorate of Archives, Government of Bihar, 2013, Rs. 2476.00 for the set

VOLUME XXXVIII NUMBER 7 July 2014

Among the recent works on Bihar, men- tion may be made of Vinita Damodaran (Broken Promises, 1992), Papiya Ghosh (Community and Nation, 2008), Hitendra Patel (Communalism and the Intelligentsia, 2011), Narendra Jha (The Making of Bihar, 2012), Lata Singh (Popular Translations of Nationalism, 2012). Earlier, K. K. Datta’s three volumes of detailed narrative of the Freedom Movement in Bihar (1958) published by the Government of Bihar and the Comprehensive History of Bihar published by Patna’s K.P. Jaiswal Research Institute (1976), and a few more useful works from professionally ‘lesser known’ publication houses have also come out like those of Umeshwari Charan (Responsible Government, 1985), Md. Muzaffar Imam (Muslims and the Freedom Movement, 1987), and Kamta Chaubey (Role of Muslims in the National Movement, 1990). In addition to that Srikant, a co-editor of the volume under review, along with Prasanna Kumar Chaudhry, has published a few well-researched works in the Hindi language.1   Archival primary sources should be published for the convenience of researchers spread across the globe. The incumbent Director of the Bihar State Archives, Vijoy Kumar, approached some academics to collate such sources/evidences which tell the story of the evolution of the regional identity of colonial Bihar which was a precondition or prerequisite for the building up of anti-colonial nationalism in Bihar. After the Mughal Emperor Akbar, the subah (province) of Bihar had lost its regional identity and merged with that of Bengal (an elaboration of this aspect in the introductory chapter may have been a good idea). The prefatory notes by Vijoy Kumar makes it clear that ‘the work traces the movement of the separation of Bihar from Bengal since 1874, the year Behar Bandhu (Nagri periodical) started appearing and goes up to 1917, the year of the creation of Patna University…the sources used are indeed extensive, ranging from unpublished sources to newspaper reports, letters to editors, articles, comments, extracts of books, memoirs, speeches and advertisements, etc.’ (p. xiv).   Using a wide range of such sources, in 1964, V. C. P. Chaudhary’s Creation of Modern Bihar (1964) the compilation of many such sources indeed make this volume (in three parts) extremely useful for the researchers.   Chapter one, for example, consists of documents pertaining to linguistic identity formation in which the passionate campaign for Nagri figures very prominently. Going through such documents a question may arise: What kind of socio-political tension may have emerged because of the assertion of Nagri against Urdu? Interestingly, the contents (of the Nagri ...


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