Bihar has a long history of organized education. Once upon a time, Bihar was a leading place in terms of higher education. Nalanda and Vikramshila University was the two most important centres for learning in India. Nalanda University being the focal point handled all branches including (Art, Architecture, Painting, Logic, Grammar, Philosophy, Astronomy, Literature, Buddhism, Hinduism, Arthashastra (Economics & Politics), Law, and Medicine, Arithmetic, Theology, Law, Metaphysics, Ethics) and housed up to 10,000 students at its peak.

Students from China, Korea, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia and from all the regions of India came to Nalanda and Vikramshila uinversities to study.

But at present, both Bihar and Nalanda is in ruins. State is highly deficient in the area of good technical institutions. Some institutions of higher learning like Birla Institute of Technology, (BIT, Mesra Ranchi), Xavier Labour Relation Institute (XLRI, Jamshedpur), Indian School of Mines (ISM, Dhanbad), National Institute of Foundry and Forge Technology (NIFFT, Hatia, Ranchi), National Institute of Technology (NIT, Jamshedpur), Xavier Institute of Social Sciences (XISS, Ranchi) went to Jharkhand. Because of the lack of good technical, medical, research, and management institutions, Bihari students go to other states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka etc. The other reasons are the lack of opportunities in Bihar. Biharis are taking admission in large numbers in private engineering, medical colleges, and management institutes in South and West India.

While, we are on the need of temples of learning in Bihar, lets us see what has happened in India in the field of higher education and research after India got Independence in 1947 and then compare the statistics with Bihar. After India gained independence in 1947, her development in the field of higher education and research has increased drastically. At present (data of 2001) there are currently 268 universities, 50 deemed to be universities and 12 institutions of national importance and about 11,100 colleges established through Central and State legislation. Of the 268 universities, 18 are Central Universities and the rest State Universities.

In the field of nuclear power programme, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai and for the fundamental research in mathematics and physics the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), also at Mumbai are the autonomous institutes. These two institutes are the doing research in the frontier fields.

In Medical Sciences, to name a few, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, set up in 1956, Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMR), Chandigarh, JIPMER, Pondicherry (1956), AFMC, Pune, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Tiruvananthapuram, Tata Memorial Hospital and the Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai etc are carrying out teaching and research work in all areas and has evolved both as a premier teaching and research institution with extensive medical facilities.

The Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), a unique institution devoted to the research, teaching and application of statistics, natural sciences and social sciences. The Headquarters of ISI is located in the northern fringe of the metropolis of Kolkata. Additionally, there are two Centres located in Delhi and Bangalore. The institute gained the status of an Institution of National Importance by an act of the Indian Parliament in 1959.

In engineering, a group of seven institutes is collectively called IITs. They are-IIT Kharagpur, IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi, IIT Guwahati, and IIT Roorkee. Apart from IITs there are a large number of National Institute of Technology (formerly known as Regional Engineering Colleges) scattered throughout the country educating and training students to be future engineers.

The first Indian Institute of Technology was born in May 1950 in Hijli, Kharagpur, in the eastern part of India. No need to remind that all IITs and NIT’s are autonomous universities and draft their own curriculum.

In the area of modern biology, biotechnology, and plant molecular biology, lots of institutions have been setup in last one-two decade. These are, for example, The National Institute of Immunology (NII), New Delhi, founded in 1981, promotes research in basic and applied immunology, research and development (R&D) of new vaccines and immunological reagents for communicable diseases and research into regulation of human reproduction. The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, established in 1977, has major R&D programmes in biomedicine and biotechnology, genetics and evolution, cell and developmental biology, molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics. In plant molecular biology, the National Centre for Plant Genome Research (NCPGR), New Delhi has broad research areas in plant genomics and transgenic, while recently initiating new research projects in chickpea genomics. Some of the other research institutes working in the area of scientific research are the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore (in frontier areas of science and engineering); National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) also at Bangalore (in modern biology); National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), New Delhi (in neurosciences) and the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Chandigarh (in pharmaceutical sciences).

Another world-class institution in the area of management is the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). The premier management schools of India are located in the cities of Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Indore, and Kozhikode.

Recently, two new institutions of national importance have been created by the HRD ministry. These two institutions are collectively called as Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) and are located at Kolkata and Pune. The HRD ministry has reportedly been trying to push through the first batch of students for the two premier Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Kolkata and Pune by July 2006.

A cluster of the premier industrial R&D organization called as the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) was constituted in 1942 by a resolution of the then Central Legislative Assembly. It is an autonomous body registered under the Registration of Societies Act of 1860. CSIR aims to provide industrial competitiveness, social welfare, strong S&T base for strategic sectors and advancement of fundamental knowledge. Today CSIR is recognised as one of the world’s largest publicly funded R&D organisations having linkages to academia, R&D organisations and industry. CSIR’s 40 laboratories and 80 field centers not only knit India into a giant network that impacts and add quality to the life of each and every Indian, but CSIR is also party to the prestigious Global Research Alliance with the objective of applying global knowledge pool for global good through global funding. CSIR’s R&D portfolio embraces areas as diverse as Aerospace, Biotechnology, and Chemicals indeed, almost the ABC-Z of Indian Science!

In the area of Economics, Social Sciences etc lots of premier institutions (for example, Institute of Economic growth setup in New Delhi in 1958, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR) setup in Mumbai in 1987, Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (ISID) in New Delhi, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, setup in Mumbai in 1936, Centre for Development Studies affiliated to JNU was setup in 1971 at Trivandrum, Institute for Social and Economic Change established in 1972, at Bangalore) have been set up who are consistently engaged in interdisciplinary research and teaching in social development problems, agriculture, industry, poverty, health, economics etc.

Besides this, there are other institutes also like Delhi School of Economics, Madras School of Economics, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (Pune) who do teaching and research in the area of economics and social sciences.

Among well-known institutions catering to information technology is IIIT Bangalore, IIIT Allahabad, Atal Bihari Vajpayee IIITM Gwalior, IIITM Trivandrum. These are the institution of excellence in education, research, development, and training in basic and applied Information Technology and Management. Other noteworthy institutes in the field of information technology, computing and related field is the Centre for Development in Advance Computing (C-DAC) established in 1988. C-DAC, currently is engaged in various teaching and research programme which includes Software technologies, Enterprise System Management (ESM), Geomatics, VLSI designs, Digital Multimedia, and the Programme for Advancing Computer Education - PACE. C-DAC has centre spread all over the India namely at Pune, Bangalore, New Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Trivandrum and Chennai.

India has also witnessed setup and running institutions in the area of Astronomy, Astrophysics, Theoretical physics, Physical and Life Sciences, Material Sciences, Plasma Research, Laser and their application, Theoretical Computer Science, Experimental and Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics etc. These are, for example, Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital, Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bangalore, S. N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences (SNBNCBS), Kolkata, Centre for Advanced Technology (CAT), Indore, Harish-Chandra Research Institute (HRI), Allahabad, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam, Institute of Physics (IOP), Bhubaneswar, Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP), Kolkata, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc), Chennai,Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC), Kolkata, and Indian Institute of Science (IISC), Bangalore. The dynamism and the research capabilities shown by these institutes and their laboratory in their respective fields are known to every one.

Since, independence the creation and setup of Central Universities has gained momentum. There are 18 Central Universities at present under the purview of the MHRD, which have been set up by Acts of Parliament. 4 out of 18 are in Delhi itself, 4 are in UP, 2 are in Hyderabad, North-Eastern (including Kolkata) region has 6 central universities and the two others are at Wardha and Pondicherry respectively.

India has also witness, Institutions and Universities in the area of Legal and Law coming up. Some of the law universities for example Gujarat National Law University (GNLU) Gandhinagar, NLU Jodhpur, NALSAR University Hyderabad, NLSUI Bangalore, National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata, Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai, Hidyatullah National Law University, Raipur, National University for Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi have done fairly well in terms of teaching and research in laws, cyber laws etc. Besides there are other important areas like dairy, agriculture, etc which needs special discussion.

India has witnessed an increasingly mediocre higher education system for decades. To compete successfully in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century, India needs enough universities that not only produce bright graduates for export but can also support sophisticated research in a number of scientific and scholarly fields and produce at least some of the knowledge and technology needed for an expanding economy.

But the important questions is, where Bihar stands today in terms of higher education, research institutions etc. Let’s look at some magical number of Bihar in terms of Universities, Technical Institutes, Research Institutions and Laboratory.

Number of Universities in Bihar: 11?Number of Law University: 0?Number of CSIR Lab: 0?Number of IITs: 0?Number of IIMs: 0?Number of Central University: 0?Number of Research Institutes for Physics, Astrophysics, Laser etc: 0?Number of IT and C-DAC Institutes: 0?Number of Life Sciences/Biotechnology Institutes and Centers: 0?Number of Institutes/ University/Research Institutes in Economics: 0?Number of Medical Universities: 0?Number of Mathematical and Statistical Institutes: 0

To add with, it is worthy to mention about the number of engineering colleges and medical colleges in Bihar. One can count it in finger, how many engineering and medical colleges Bihar is having. There are less that 20 medical and engineering college in Bihar, which is significantly lesser than those medical and engineering colleges of city like Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Nagpur etc.

To continue with, let me put some statistics related to Bihar

1. Even after Jharkhand was taken out of it, Bihar is India’s third most populated state with a total population of 85 million.

2. Bihar has India’s largest concentration in the below 25 years age cohort, with 58% in this category. It will retain this position till well into this century, which means that as India ages Bihar will remain young! And what the young need most are health, education, and jobs.

3. It accounts for one-seventh of India’s population below the poverty line i.e. nearly 40% of Bihar’s population lies below the poverty line, the highest in India.

4. The state’s performance lags seriously behind national trends. As opposed to an All-India per capita developmental expenditure (from 2000 to 2002) of Rs.6748.50, Bihar’s is less than half at Rs.3206.00. The annual real per capita income of Bihar of Rs. 3650 is about a third of the national average of Rs.11, 625. In terms of per capita expenditures on Medical and Public Health, Bihar falls well behind with Rs. 86.20 as against the national average of Rs. 157.20. Despite this, its infant mortality rate (62 per 1000) is better than the national average (66 per 1000).

5. Educational enrollment and literacy rates are far below the national average. Bihar is also the only Indian state where the majority of the population - 52.47% - is illiterate

6. There are large differences in educational outcomes across gender, social and economic groups.

7. 80% of the bottom quintile household heads have no education.

For a change, let us look at the bright side of Bihar and Biharis:

1. It has a strong political clout in the national affairs with 40 members in the lower house and a large presence in the council of ministers.

2. Of the 700 students who qualified for IAS and IPS in the last 10 years, 25 per cent belonged to Bihar. According to a recent estimate, every district of the nation will be having either DM or SP as Bihari. Biharis are backbone of administration of the nation. The trend continues. Also, in recent years, large numbers of students from Bihar have been topping entrance tests conducted by Indian Institutes of Technology, IIM’s, NIT’s, CBSE medical etc. Talents of Bihar are going to different parts of the country and abroad to do research, higher studies etc.

3. The Patna model of taxation has earned much acclaim from United Nation (UN) and is now being copied by many countries. The states like Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh have now adopted the Patna Tax system that helps simplify an otherwise cryptic and cumbersome tax structure.

4. The Cooperative Milk Producers' Federation Ltd, founded in 1983, is Bihar's own cash cow. Its Sudha milk and milk products is already the flavor of the state. Now it is extending its reach to other neighboring states.

5. The state is self-dependent in grain production and is supplying rice to nearly some 13 states in the country. Begusarai district of Bihar is number one in maize production.

6. Bihar is ahead of many states in per capita deposits, getting Rs 7,000 crore annually.

7. NO one can defy that, Biharis are hardworking, intelligent, and sincere.

8. Bihar is a place of opportunity in terms of tourism, medical care, private investment, foreign and NRI investment, irrigation, infrastructure development, power sector, industrial sector and most importantly development of educational institutions that is the central theme of this article.

9. The infant mortality rate is 62 per 1000, which is below the national average of 66 per 1000. Even in terms of life expectancy, the average Bihari male lives a year longer (63.6 yrs.) than the average Indian male (62.4 yrs) and the state’s performance in increasing life spans has been better than most during the past three years. Bihar has 7.04 mn. Hectares under agriculture and its yield of 1679 kgs. per hectare, while less than the national average of 1739 kgs. per hectare is better than that of six other states, which include some big agricultural states like Karnataka and Maharashtra. Its per capita spending at Rs.484.10 on Education is as good as the best. AP spends Rs.493.90 and the national average is Rs. 586.80

Bihar has suffered a devastating loss of jobs, plight of central funds etc in the past few years. In addition, our state is burdened by high unemployment and lack of funds for good schools, universities, research institutions and 21st century technology and communications. Bihar is India’s poorest and most backward state is undeniable. The facts speak for themselves. Bihar is not only the worst off of all Indian states, but also the gap between it and the rest is widening. But there is another reality as well, that is, India cannot progress without Bihar’s advancement. It is much too big to be left behind. Thus, the development of Bihar is integral to India’s development. India cannot go forward leaving Bihar behind. If India intends to grow at 10 per cent of GDP over the next few years, then Bihar is at present so behind that it needs to grow at 15 per cent to catch up with the rest of India.

Our state is lagging behind in many areas and we must find new answers to meet the challenges of educating and training our people in new directions. I believe, strengthening our education system is the answer, from pre-school through our colleges, universities, and research institutions. Education is a basic right to which all children are entitled in the Bihar and India. There is a good reason for this: More than anything else, a solid education is the ticket to a better quality of life, including good jobs that pay decent wages and offer opportunities for advancement. And the benefits of education are more important today than they have ever been. Good academic institutions do not just lift educational standards of a state but also lift its morale, and lend it a status and an image that are imperative for the growth of a community. Providing this education to every young one’s will go a long way toward fulfilling Bihar and India’s promise of equal opportunity for all. More education means more choices in work and in life.

The Bihar government is putting lot of efforts to attract business through give-away programs like - tax credits and grants for infrastructure etc. But even when Bihar give them sugar coated tax deals, business and investment is not going to this poorest state because businesses want a strong educational system (apart from sound administration and better infrastructure facilities) for their workers and managers.

To attract business, a state like Bihar needs a good transportation and communications system, a top-notch education system (in which Bihar is lagging manifold), a well-trained work force etc. The economic health of Bihar depends upon the investment in education system i.e. investment in temple of learning’s. Bihar must support the public school fully and must make sure that every child should succeed. It must invest heavily in colleges and universities. Bihar must be competitive in terms of higher education and research based study. The data given above regarding the number of technical institutes, legal centres, research institutions etc reflects the current and pathetic situation of Bihar. There is so much being written about Bihari’s talent in the field technology, medicine, research, etc. However, little attention has been paid as to the Bihar education system and temples of learning. None of Bihar universities occupies a solid position at the top in India. Bihar colleges and universities have become large, under-funded, ungovernable institutions. At many of them, politics has intruded into campus life, influencing academic appointments and decisions across levels. Under-investment in libraries, information technology, laboratories, and classrooms makes it very difficult to provide top-quality instruction or engage in cutting-edge teaching and research. Few in Bihar are thinking creatively about higher education. There is no field of higher education research. Those in government as well as academic leaders seem content to do the "same old thing."

Now as Bihar strives to compete with other developing and developed states of India, in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century it require highly trained professionals, enough universities, good technical and management institutions, research labs, economics and development institutes etc. The quality of higher education becomes increasingly important. In broader terms, Bihar needs more and more temples of learning. The ancient Nalanda and Vikaramshila University in Bihar was a centre of learning that drew students from across the world. If Bihar and India Government takes initiative in opening up of new temples of learning and providing sufficient funds backed with sound administration to the existing educational system then that day is no far when it will bring back students who migrate to other states in search of better opportunities, the day is no far when Bihar will be standing in the first row in every walks of life whether its research, or job opportunities, or top notch colleges and universities, the days is no far when we can witness investment happening in Bihar, and finally the days of academic glory will be back.

References?;; websites of different institutions;?“New institutions in India”, Nirupa Sen, Current Science, Vol. 81, No. 8, 25 October 2001.?“Proud to be Bihari: Five good things about the much-maligned state”, Kanhaih Bhelari, The Week, June 2003?“Why Biharis are Discriminated”, Prabhat Kumar Sinha, Readers Write, PatnaDaily.Com April 30, 2005.?“The economic strangulation of Bihar”, Mohan Guruswamy, Abhishek Kaul, Business Line, Saturday, Feb 07, 2004.

The author is a research scholar at IIT Madras.