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Recreating Magical Bihar

The brain behind widely known and appreciated `Lets Inspire Bihar’ movement, senior IPS officer Vikas Vaibhav explains why he chose the path of reviving the lost glory of the state.
Indian Masterminds Stories

The glorious, though ancient, heritage of Bihar still carries a tremendous magnetic pull. Historians and travellers down the ages have sung paeans to magnificence. Among the few die-hards who have been working ceaselessly to reclaim for Bihar its last glory is senior IPS officer Mr Vikas Vaibhav. 

In an earlier piece in Indian Masterminds, we spoke about the special efforts that Mr Vaibhav, a 2003-batch officer presently posted as the Special Secretary in Bihar’s Home Department, has been making in this direction. Today we talk about what moves Mr Vaibhav and the factors which motivated him to initiate the popular `Lets Inspire Bihar’ movement.

A different exposure 

Mr. Vaibhav’s father was a government engineer and the family used to move around with him, according to his postings. However, it was mandatory for the children to visit the native villages (both maternal & paternal) during the holidays. Recalling some of the interactions with other students in the village Mr. Vaibhav said, “Most of them were studying under the Bihar Education Board. I often noticed that the standard of education was going down and that students were making efforts and gradually getting used to practicing unfair means in order to clear examinations”.

This was a real shocker for Mr. Vaibhav, who had been a sincere student from the beginning. He says, “I found that students were studying not for the sake of knowledge but only to clear examinations by whatsoever means, in order to earn degrees which could enable them for jobs. It galled me, their attempts to be successful through illegal means.’’

On 7th of February 1993, Mr Vaibhav visited for the first time remains of Nalanda University. In its days of pristine glory, Nalanda stood tall and proud, a major attraction for students and travellers who came here from all over the world. Through Nalanda, he found himself truly acquainted with the real, but now forgotten, treasure of Bihar and this left a deep impact in his mind. “Despite the lack of roads and proper vehicles , students of that time used to undertake life threatening journeys to travel from far-off foreign lands in order to reach Bihar for the sake of knowledge,’’ he adds with a tinge of sadness at what Nalanda was and what it has been reduced to now.

Hey ‘Bihari’ 

In 1993, when his father was posted in Bhopal, a young Vikas Vaibhav was admitted in Kendriya Vidyalaya. It was the first time he came across students from other states, and very often they would address him as a “Bihari”. This pained him. Initially, he did not feel much about it but gradually learnt that the term was used in a derogatory sense. Even then he never expressed anguish in public. Rather he chose to study hard and make his classmates understand the real worth and intellectual capacity of the boy who they would slight in such a fashion.

Recalls Mr Vaibhav “by then I had started feeling proud about the past of Bihar; this happened when I got deeper knowledge of Bihar’s past Heritage. I started looking upon myself as one of the brand ambassadors of the state, one who would prove what a true “Bihari” believed and stood for.’’

Urge to Bring Winds of Change 

Mr Vaibhav appeared for IIT JEE and got admission in IIT Kanpur. By that time his father was posted in Barauni Refinery and Mr. Vaibhav started to slowly learn about the ground realities of Bihar.

Meanwhile, he learnt that one of his close friends at IIT Kanpur was wanted by the police. Quite a brilliant student who hailed from Samastipur district in Bihar, he had however fallen prey to the lure of easy money. He had become what was known as the “scholar”, i.e. one who impersonated on behalf of others and answered the examination papers. 

This incident shook Mr Vaibhav. And at the same time, he decided to contribute something, no matter how small, towards bringing positive change in Bihar. 

Mr Vaibhav chose to appear for civil services. He got selected as an IPS officer in his home cadre. Had he wanted, he could have lived a corporate life, flush with all the accompanying luxuries, but chose not to. 

Mr Vaibhav’s unswerving determination led to his starting ‘Let’s Inspire Bihar’ initiative. This movement, now hugely popular, encourages the youth of Bihar learn from their glorious past and change their future. He strongly believes Bihar has still has the potential to reclaim its its glory.


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