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About Bihar

The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit and Pali word Vihara (Devanagari: विहार), which means "abode". The region roughly encompassing the present state was dotted with Buddhist vihara, the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval periods. Medieval writer Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani records in the Tabakat-i-Nasiri that in 1198 AD, Bakhtiyar Khalji committed a massacre in a town now known as Bihar Sharif, about 70 km away from Bodh Gaya. Later, Bakhtiyar learned that the town was a college, and the word for college is bihar.

Bihar is a state in northern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at 38,202 sq mi (98,940 km2) and 3rd largest by population. It is bounded by Uttar Pradesh to its west, Nepal to the north, Northern part of West Bengal to the east and by Jharkhand to the south.

The Bihar plain is divided into two parts by the river Ganges which flows through the middle from west to east.

Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km2, which is 7.2% of its geographical area. Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state, while the majority of the people speak Angika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili and Bajjika. In 2000, Bihar was subdivided, the southern part becoming the state of Jharkhand. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India.

Ancient Bihar was a centre of power, learning and culture in ancient and classical India. From Magadha arose India's first and greatest empire, the Maurya empire as well as one of the world's most widely adhered-to religions, Buddhism. Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule.

Its capital Patna, earlier known as Pataliputra, was an important centre of Indian civilisation. Close to Patna, Nalanda and Vikramshila were centres of learning established in the 5th and 8th century respectively in Bihar, and are counted amongst the oldest and truly international universities of the time. Bihar has distinction of giving the world its first democracy through Lichchivi (modern days Vaishali) during ancient era.

Since the late 1970s, Bihar lagged behind other Indian states in social and economic development terms. Economists and social scientists claimed that this is a direct result of the policies of the central government, such as the freight equalization policy, its apathy towards Bihar, lack of Bihari sub-nationalism (resulting in no spokesperson for the state), and the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company.

The state government has however made significant strides in improving governance. The improved governance has led to an economic revival in the state through increased investment in infrastructure, better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a diminution in crime and corruption.

Indian and global business and economic leaders feel that Bihar now has good opportunity to sustain its growth and thus they have shown interest in investing in the state.Additionally, for the period 2011–2012, Bihar was also India's fastest growing state, with a growth rate of 13.1% for the year 2011–12, which had followed a growth rate of 14.8% for the previous year. Bihar has managed to record 11.95% annual growth rate, the highest among all the states, during the 11th Plan period.

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