Nobel laureate Amartya Sen while delivering a lecture, “Bihar: past, present and future”, said that Bihar played a great role by unifying India during the rule of Ashoka. The state set a new trend in world democracy by organising the first “Buddhist global council” at Rajgir after Gautam Buddha’s death, initiating the process of opening doors for “government by discussion”.
“The state,” said Sen, “had a trail-blazing tradition of free medical service for all in Pataliputra which impressed the Chinese traveller, Fa-Hsien, to record in his accounts.”
He also made a special mention of Sher Shah whose large empire in early 16th century was centred in Bihar and which constructed the infrastructure of roads and bridges across India. Sen said he still remembered how a bridge built by Sher Shah in Bengal survived when a devastating flood washed away all the others.
But why was Bihar being referred to as a “backward state”? Sen said: “It is because the state lagged behind in the areas in which it had set up examples: rule of law, building infrastructure, literacy, education and healthcare.”
He also urged industrialists from the Jain community to take initiative to develop Pawapuri in Bihar’s Nalanda distrit where Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, is believed to have attained enlightenment.”
The renowned economist, who visited Pawapuri Friday, said there was a need to set up three-star hotels, an engineering college and other infrastructure for the area’s development. Sen recalled that last time he visited Pawapuri in 2003 when he was part of the delegation of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Pawapuri is nearly 90 km from Patna.