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 civilization. Close to Patna, Nalanda and Vikramshila were centres of learning established in the 5th and 8th century respectively in Bihar, and are counted as one of the oldest international universities of the time.

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 developing the state. 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 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.

Indians of Bihari origins are commonly found in the Indian Diaspora, most notably in Mauritius where 64% of the population is of Bihari origins due to the massive influx of Indentured Labourers brought to the island by the British Administration at the end of the 19th Century

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