Bihar already enjoys many natural advantages and opportunities. The River Ganges flows through its heart, bringing much needed water to its fertile farmland, especially during the long dry season. As the birthplace of the Buddha, the state has the potential to become a hub of world class tourism. Gaya already has an international airport, and Nalanda is slated to become a new university, reviving its ancient heritage as a renowned seat of learning. And, Bihar’s people, working in the public and private sectors across the country, are a valuable resource for the country as a whole.
With the stage now set for development, the World Bank has resumed support to Bihar after a gap of many years. A recent project for US$63 million, aptly called ‘Jeevika’, aims to light the spark of empowerment to help rural women start productive new livelihoods. The project will cover 4000 villages in Bihar’s poorest districts. Improving economic opportunities for poor and disadvantaged communities is particularly important in a state like Bihar where more than two thirds of agricultural families have little or no land whatsoever.