Lying in the intensive care unit of the Mission Hospital Raxaul, he did not show any clinical improvement. The laboratory reports, though gave evidence of a slight better picture. He was first admitted in the emergency wing of the hospital, but later shifted to the intensive care unit as his condition was steadily worsening. He was still complaining of chest pain, low-grade fever and difficulty in breathing. He; the son of a local jagirdar (big landlord) and grandson of past minister, in the state of Bihar was being given VIP treatment by the doctors and nurses.
He had lost a lot of weight in the last 6-7 years, since he shifted to his village Chikani, near Raxaul. It is a district in the division of East Champaran, in the state of Bihar, India. He was put on different medicines and his pneumonia was being watched closely through a number of gadgets and monitors. A persistently clicking and humming sound of the ventilator and cardiac monitor with pulse oximeter were indicating seriousness of the condition. In addition to these measures, he was constantly under strict watchful eyes of the resident doctors. The brisk movements of the attending nurses indicated the seriousness of the situation.
In spite of all this, he did not lose consciousness, though, he was a bit delirious, drowsy and feeling out of place. Could be, due the effects of medicines being administered so frequently through permanent intravenous cut-out. His eyes were sunken and lusterless and surrounded by big hollows of dark pigmentation. Still there was brisk movement in both the eyeballs and blinking of the lids. He could easily make out, the presence of a wall lizard high up, under the fluorescent light, on the opposite wall. He watched it waiting patiently for a big insect, a small distance away; unaware of the oncoming danger, gradually moving imperceptibly towards its prey. Ultimately, with a sudden and swift move, the lizard was able to catch hold of the insect. It was difficult for it to control the struggling insect in its mouth, due to its size and its inability to gobble it up. The insect was still trying its best to get released from its mouth, in desperate wild and helpless movements. Looking at all this, a feeble smile came on his lips momentarily. He could compare this scenario with himself, struggling to keep himself out of the jaws of death, slowly, steadily, but surely during the last 8 years.
During this period, he had been in and out of different reputed hospitals in Delhi, Mumbai and Patna. Now, with no improvement in sight, in desperation ultimately landed up in this hospital as it was near his village. Now for the last four years, losing all hopes, he had been permanently shifted to his village where he could be properly looked after by the family. Three nurses were assigned permanently, to take care of him and to administer medicines and nutritious diet as advised by the doctors.
Suddenly, he started having dyspnea and severe dry hacking cough. To him, it seemed as if everything came tumbling down. Dr. Nath, the head of Infectious diseases when called, examined his chest, blood pressure, respiratory rate and blood analysis for electrolytes. The pulse-oximeter was showing a sudden drop in blood oxygen concentration. Dr. Nath immediately ordered tracheal intubation (putting a rubber tubing in the wind-pipe through mouth), for giving oxygen under positive pressure, for relief of the symptoms. He felt some relief momentarily, but the choking sensation and weight in the chest was still unbearable. He was feeling nauseous and wanted to vomit to feel better, but could not do so due to the intubation.
He looked at the opposite wall again, the lizard was searching for some other prey. He got alarmed seeing this though a bit delirious. His eyes moved to the other side of room, his mother Rohini and younger sister Rasika were standing against the glass wall along the door. They had been instructed by the resident doctor, not to enter the room. He could clearly observe streams of tears in Rasika's and his mother’s eyes. He wanted to talk to them, but was unable due to the tube inserted in his windpipe. He conveyed through signs that he loved them and to go home. Ultimately, he could not endure the heaviness in his chest and tried hard to vomit; thereby blowing away the indwelling tube. In the process, a sudden gush of bright red blood, mixed with some clotted dark brown blood gushed through his mouth and nose. Feeling sudden relief in heaviness, he started having profuse sweating, shivering with cold, clammy skin and pith darkness around him. Suddenly, he heard a shrieking whistling sound of a train, passing on railway tracks on the back of the hospital. Upon this, he felt some pleasurable feeling in his lower back. This reminded him of the time gone long ago with hazy images of Prashant sir and Osasuna laughing wildly and calling him. He was having a delirious dream; facing a tiger with piercing eyes, ready to jump at him and he, begging for mercy. Passing through a dense and dark jungle he encountered large number of animals shrieking on seeing the tiger. They were running fast away from it, to save their lives. Trying desperately to escape, he felt as if his legs had refused to respond to his command and sending a message for him, to surrender before the roaring tiger. He offered himself to the predator with open-arms, looking into his fiery yellow eyes,
“Come on Oh lord! Savor your slave, to your full satisfaction and quench your decades long old thirst.” Watching him, the tiger also changed its mind, bending the head down and lowering the eyes. It turned its head away, shrinking its tail between both hind legs, ran away like a torrential wind. It looked as if the hunter also had got panicky. Throughout all this state of semi consciousness, he could feel some injection being given in his left chest with vigorous thumping of his chest with a clicking sound as if some rib had broken but he did not feel any pain.
Suddenly he felt as if he was sitting on the ventilator of the room; the tiger, the jungle with its shrieking animals suddenly disappeared. He started observing with amusement, a drama being played on his bed. Dr. Nath checked the cardiac monitor apprehensively. He seemed to be alarmed by the falling blood pressure and he could clearly see the appearance of bluish tinge on his lips and nails. Still sitting on the ventilator, he watched, with a weak smile, being given cardiac massage on the hospital bed, when all of a sudden he got another bout of profuse bloody vomit. It was immediately followed by severe convulsions, with profuse sweating and all went black. He went into dark…..pith dark world…….darkness all around. Rohini, Rasika, Dr. Nath and all of his staff had disappeared.
Dr. Nath shook his head in defeat, removed his blood-smeared gloves and apron. He ordered his residents to get theirs’ and staff’s apparel removed and incinerated, and other equipment used for the patient be autoclaved thoroughly.
Raxaul; also called Raxaul Bazaar, a subdivision and a small nondescript town with a population of around 60,000 at that time, is a part of East Champaran Division in the north Bihar state in India. Folerganj is its oldest known name. It is situated at the Indo-Nepal international border and is about four miles from Birgunj, the 2nd largest city of Nepal. More than 80% of exports from India and about 40% of imports from Nepal was conducted through the custom post here. That way, it is called gateway to Nepal and is railway junction connected to the national capital Delhi, other big cities like Patna and Calcutta. A broad-gauge railway line (at that time a narrow-gauge), connects this city with Birgunj in Nepal also. The Indo-Nepal international border has always been an open border and no passports or visas are required, from the citizens of these two countries to cross over to the others' territory. The roads in this area are mostly single-laned and fairly in bad shape. There are ditches and broken culverts due to heavy traffic of trucks carrying goods to and from Nepal. Monsoons, after the scorching heat of the summer bring heavy rains, causing further damage to the poorly maintained roads. The land along the border and further southward is in Terai (valley) of great Himalayas, so there is abundant water supply for cultivation, through a large number of rivulets coming from north to south, the main river being Burhi Gandak. The river flowing through Raxaul is Sarvasya (Sirsiya). It is a tributary of Burhi Gandak and originates from Pathalia hills in dense forest of Ramban in Nepal. It reaches Raxaul Subdivision, passing through Bara and Parsa District of Nepal. From here the river crosses down towards south-east for about 20 kilometers, to merge with Burhi Gandak near Sagauli in East Champaran Division. Its water is considered to be clean and has medicinal value, like other Himalayan rivers. But it deteriorates markedly by the time it enters India, on account of pollution from the effluent discharged from more than 25 industries in Birgunj. The land in the region is quite fertile due to alluvial soil, being deposited every year from the rivers and flood waters. There are dense forests, on both the sides of international border having mostly pine, teak and shrubs. An abundant animal life exists and most of the herbivores like deer, stags, rabbits neel-gais, elephants and carnivores like tiger, leopard, bear, jackal, crocodiles and foxes are aplenty. The main crops are sugarcane, rice and tobacco. In a few scattered areas along the border, illegal poppy cultivation is also done by unscrupulous elements, for manufacture of opium and heroin, which is then smuggled to Nepal across the porous border.
A truck used to takes around 24-48 hours to get through the border, after custom clearance. It was mostly due to red-tape and obsolete record keeping. The custom officers were pampered with huge bribes, and a lot of money changed hands for early clearance of goods. Everybody in custom department wanted to be posted here because of this lucrative bonanza and a fierce competition used be there for posting in this area. This in turn led to more money changing hands, through the middle-men, who after bargaining and bribing the higher authorities including politicians used to get their clients to be posted here. The economy of the region was based mostly on agriculture. People were having small land-holdings, though a fair number could be found having large farm-lands. This was in spite of land-ceiling legislation passed by the parliament and state assemblies, immediately after independence. A large number of population worked as daily wagers-farm-laborers. They were in great demand during the sowing and cultivation season. Due to low wages in this part of India and very small land holdings, a large part of population of this area and eastern UP, migrated temporarily during sowing and cultivation season to Punjab, Haryana and other northern states. Bihar was said to receive hundreds of crores as remittances from farm, construction laborers, daily wagers and even shop and domestic assistants/helpers. They used to leave their homes due to scarcity of jobs or very low wages, leaving behind their families. They lived in crowded accommodations in inhuman conditions to save money. Spending a pittance on their own living, tended to send the maximum back home, comprising wives, children and old parents. Due to lot of exploitation during the British rule and subsequent neglect in socioeconomic development, this area was witness to abundant poverty and illiteracy.
Rai Bahadur Bindeshwari Prasad Singh, a jagirdar (a landlord having big agriculture land-holdings), lived here having vast tracts of land bestowed by the British in lieu of his services rendered to the imperial Government during second world war. He was a big landlord, still remembered in awe by old natives in village Chikani, about ten miles east of Raxaul and at a distance of about three miles from the international border. It was a small village, having a population of around 1200 to 1500 people, at the time of independence. Due to his foresightedness, good business acumen and being an ambitious politician, he became very affluent. He cultivated a large piece of land inherited fifteen years ago. In addition to it, he was running a brokerage firm in agricultural products in the grain market nearby. That way, he was well off and leading a decent and respectable life. He was the only resident in the village, owning a brick house and maintaining British standard of living, though not very educated. He developed good contacts with the local British government officers serving in that area. They usually had to take short term loans by the end of every month due to being extravagant. It was rumored, that he used to provide them loans at high interest rates. His wife, Bhuvaneshwari Devi was an educated, humble and deeply religious woman. She had good relations with the neighbors and other residents. Their only teen-aged son, Rashbihari Singh was studying in St. Xavier School, a prestigious English medium private school, in Patna and was staying in the Hostel.
Bhuvaneshwari Devi, was a keen follower of the ongoing independence movement launched by the Congress led by Mahatma Gandhi. He was striving hard for independence through non-violent satyagrah (peaceful agitation). She was not an active participant in the movement, due to her husband's proximity to the British and his apathy towards the national freedom movement. She had heard a lot about the first Satyagraha (non-violent and passive protest), launched by Gandhiji in favor of the indigo farmers in Champaran, not far from their village in the year 1917. The farmers were being forced by the British government to grow indigo in minimum 30% of their land, though its prices had fallen drastically in the market. The British used to earn a lot of revenue through this crop. His satyagraha (peaceful fight against injustice) movement was tried by him in South Africa (another subjugated colony of British colonialism), successfully before. He went there as an attorney in a case, hired by some Indian businessman and stayed there for fifteen years. After reaching there, Gandhi himself had to face a lot of humiliations for being non-white. These incidences created such a repulsive reaction in him, that he decided to stay there only and fight the British head-on. Surprisingly, this method was a novel one; never tried in human history before. He named this movement,'Satyagraha' (fight for truth). Its aim was, to organize peaceful, passive resistance against any draconian law, which was ethically wrong. He became very popular there, fighting nonviolently for basic human rights and had a large following. He advocated passive peaceful agitation and not to resist physically, in spite of being hit by the law enforcement or even if tortured by them, so as to make them feel guilty of wrong-doing.
When he came back to India, he had already become popular here due to his peaceful movement for human rights there. The first movement (satyagraha), launched by Mahatma Gandhi, in the year 1917, was in Champaran division, near Raxaul. This agitation culminated in success, though Gandhi was arrested and the agitators were tortured physically. This success led him to practice 'satyagraha' so many times; sometimes, included with indefinite fast up to death. Ultimately, it paved the way to 'self-rule' and later on total Independence.
In the Second World War, the axis(Germany, Italy and Japan) declared war against allied forces(Britain, France and later on US and Russia) In this war, the British Empire needed a large number of soldiers to safeguard not only its own interests and territory, but of its colonies too. Indian National Congress led by Gandhiji, was in favor of the British. In his view Germany, Italy and Japan were even worse than the British, ruling India at that time. During this period Bindeshwari Prasad Singh, very actively helped the British in recruiting foot-soldiers for the British Empire, to fight in North Africa, southern Europe and South- East Asia (to fight Japan, a partner of Germany in the war). In lieu of this, he was able to get huge contracts to supply grocery, milk, eggs, vegetables and even shoes and uniforms also, for British Army from that area. He made a lot of money and stature, doing so being on good terms with the ruling class. Due to this, he was granted the title of ‘Rai Bahadur’(a respectable honorary title, bequeathed to the loyalists). He was also bestowed, with the ownership rights of two thousand acres of forest land, adjoining his own land in lieu of his services rendered to the British Empire, towards the war efforts. After this, only sky was the limit and Bindeshwari Prasad Singh became Rai Bahadur (an honorary recognition) overnight. He also became a Jagirdar(big land-lord) and one of the richest Indian in that area. He cleared a large part of forests and made a nice profit by selling the timber only. He constructed a big palatial bungalow in the outskirts of the village, hardly seen in that part of country. It was a big 'haveli' (mansion), comprising 15 rooms for the family, and a quarters for the farm-laborers and staff working for him. In addition, a number of asbestos-roofed sheds were constructed for the live-stock and to store the grains and fertilizer. The house had a big gated porch, with a fountain in front and separate stables for his favorite horses, who used to ply his four-wheeled buggy. A number of permanent employees were engaged by him to look after day to day activities at the farm and for cultivation. A few servants were engaged for transporting the products to the market in Raxaul and looking after his personal needs. In a way, within a span of five years, he reached the pinnacle and had become an object of envy and admiration.
His only son, Rashbehari Prasad Singh, studying in the prestigious English medium St. Xavier school, near Gandhi maidan in Patna. It was the oldest school in Patna and was considered to be good academically, in sports and having strict discipline. At first, he did not like the school due to its strict discipline, but gradually became used to its routine. Still, he had his childhood habit of being a rowdy child, teasing the classmates and making fun of the teachers. Being the only child, he was pampered a lot lately, due to the considerable increase in family fortunes. He had transformed into a brash snub during this period, considering himself belonging to a different category from other classmates. He had a group of 3-4 similar rich friends, with attitude. Absenting themselves, or coming late to the class and remaining out till late hours from the hostel, was his routine rather than exception. Going for late night rendezvouses, having drugs occasionally and then entering the hostel by bribing the guard, were quite frequent episodes. The group was named as ‘rowdy-runners’ by the fellow classmates. In spite of this he was an intelligent student and fetched tolerably good marks. The staff was relieved to learn, that he was going to join the reputed Pusa Institute of Agriculture Research in Delhi after completing senior Cambridge. He successfully got through the final, with a high second division in the finals. His father, Rai Bahadur Bindeshwari Prasad forced him to join the agriculture college, so as to look after the vast agriculture and forest land.
August 15, 1947; India attained freedom from the British, the people had been struggling for, in the last sixty years. At the same time, the Indian subcontinent was divided into two countries, Pakistan (East and West) and India. The division was done on religious lines, between Hindus and Muslims, according to the predominant religion being followed in certain areas. It was forced upon, in spite of the fierce opposition from Gandhi ji and the Congress party. Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India declared in his famous speech, 'Tryst with Destiny' in the especially called Constituent assembly presided over by Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy and the first governor-general of India at 11PM, on August 14,
“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time has come when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measures, but very substantially. At the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”.
The declaration of independence and formation of the two countries was made on 30th June, 1947. This was announced earlier, to give sufficient time for the transfer of Hindus and Sikhs from the West and East Pakistan areas to India. At the same time Muslims were supposed to shift from India to Pakistan in the demarcated areas according to their wishes. In spite of these precautions, there was large scale-massacre, followed by mayhem in both the countries. It is estimated that about 13.5 million Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs shifted from their abode and around two million people lost their life. In addition, all this profligacy were accompanied by looting, abduction and rape on both the sides of border. It was the biggest migration and human tragedy in the world history. All this happened due to lack of planning and inability by the British Indian government in maintaining law and order. Pakistan was declared to be secular by Jinnah, its founding father and first president. But it became a predominantly Muslim country, having driven away almost all Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities by force, riots and killings. The princely states, ruled by the British in this sub-continent, before independence, were given the freedom to join Union of India or Pakistan. They also had the option of remaining independent even. It was due to the astute thinking and foresightedness of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the then Home Minister and a well known freedom fighter, that almost all the princely states (more than 565), adjoining and within India, either opted or were forced to merge with India after difficult negotiations. The only exceptions were; Hyderabad, Jammu & Kashmir and Junagadh in Gujarat, the state to which Sardar Patel himself belonged. They wanted to remain independent, but later on signed the memorandum of merger on insistence of Sardar Patel with a warning to be taken over by force, if needed. Because of this resolve, he is called the Iron Man of India. The assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, called the 'father of the nation' was a big jolt to India, immediately after independence. He was shot dead by a Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse, during the evening prayers at Birla House in New- Delhi on 30th January 1948. He considered the Mahatma, to be responsible or the division of the country and because of his lenient attitude towards the Muslims. Sardar Patel, due to self-blame and age factor, died suddenly on fifteen December 1950, at Birla House in Bombay where he had gone for treatment. His death was a big loss to the nationalist forces in India. He was later awarded Bharat Ratna posthumously and his birthday (September-15), has been declared as National Integration day from the year 2014 by the Indian Government.
The freedom of India, was a big jolt to Rai Bahadur Bindeshwari Prasad Singh. Though, he had foreseen freedom in the long run, but did not realize it to happen 'too soon and too suddenly.' In his views the Indian leaders were incapable of running the country and self-rule, would be a disaster due to lack of experience. During his entire life, he never bothered or cared for the local nationalist leaders struggling hard for freedom. Rather, he used to look down upon them. He usually avoided their company and refrained from attending their social functions, so as not to displease the British. Unfortunately for him, it turned out to be just the antithesis, being avoided and looked down upon. His activities and efforts to have contact with them was always met with suspicion and derision. Because of these factors, he felt himself isolated. He was busy searching for and waiting for some opportunity, to make amends or at least, not to be at loggerheads with them.
On 28th October 1947, a drafting committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution of the Republic of India, under the leadership of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar. The constitution bill was passed by the constituent assembly of India on 26th November, 1949 and was adopted on 26th January 1950. This historical day is celebrated as Republic Day. According to this, India was declared to be sovereign, secular, socialist, democratic Republic. Several fundamental rights were given to every citizen of India irrespective of caste, creed, gender and religion. According to these rights, all the people of India were declared to be equal, free to move anywhere, right to free speech and adopt any profession of their choice, anywhere in the country. The constitution was based largely on the pattern of British parliamentary democracy. The country was to be ruled by an elected Prime Minister of the majority party in the parliament. Similarly in every State, the leader of the majority party in the state assembly, be ruled by a chief minister.
On 18th April 1951, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, a staunch disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, a freedom fighter and a social reformer, started his peace-movement. He started this historic movement in violence-torn Telangana, a part of Hyderabad state. The Harijans, as they were called by Gandhi then (‘people dear to God’; the low-caste Hindus or the so-called untouchables), of Pochampalli village, requested him to make available eighty acres of land.
Acharya (great teacher), Vinoba Bhave, came forward and exhorted the landlords of the village, to donate the land and save landless Harijans. Everybody was surprised, when a landlord stood up and offered the entire land asked for. It was the beginning of the 'Bhoodan Movement' (gift of land). Acharya Vinoba Bhave, traveled all over the country on foot and requested the big landlords to consider the poor landless people, as their children and gift the surplus land to them. He was born in 1895 as Vinayak Narain Bhave to very religious parents at Gagoda in Kaleva district of Maharashtra. In 1916, when he was going to appear for the intermediate examinations, he happened to read an article by Mahatma Gandhi in some newspaper. Becoming too emotional, he burnt his school and college certificates. On June 7, 1916, he went to see Mahatma Gandhi, after a series of letters were exchanged between them. Years later, on 8th April, 1921, Vinoba was sent to Wardha to take charge of Gandhi Ashram, and remained there till 1932. He was one of the most confident disciple of Mahatma Gandhi and participated wholeheartedly, in the freedom struggle. He was imprisoned a number of times by the British for this. After independence, he was loath to join hands with other colleagues, in sharing the political arena. He was more or less a recluse and had become a social reformer, working for the welfare of the society (Sarvodaya movement). Vinoba Bhave received about 230, 000 acres of land in Bihar only between September, 1952 and December, 1954. His other social development projects included - 'Kanchan Dan' (gift of jewelry), Sampada Dan (gift of wealth), Shram dan (gift of labor), and jeevan dan (gift of life). These programs, though look to be cynical in to-day’s India but had a great relevance when the country needed a lot of political and social reforms with harmony. Vinoba, was also instrumental in surrender of a number of dreaded dacoits in the Chambal Valley of Madhya Pradesh. Tehsildar Singh, son of the dreaded dacoit Man Singh, also surrendered on his initiative and in a way, he was able to bring a sense of relief among the people in that area.
Sensing this to be an opportunity of a lifetime, Bindeshwari Prasad Singh invited Vinoba to his village through an emissary. He arranged a grand function on this occasion. A large number of people of his village and nearby areas were invited. They including the District collector, Superintendent of Police and a number of politicians of the area. There, in front of Vinoba and the whole gathering, he discarded his western clothes and put on Khadi clothes (garments stitched from hand -spun cotton). At the same time, he offered the papers of one thousand acres of land, at the feet of the great saint. It was a masterstroke by him, to be rehabilitated and accepted by the people of the area. He was praised not only by Vinoba and people present, but also by the local and national newspapers and AIR (All India Radio). He killed two birds, with one stone, thereby; silencing his opponents and becoming the messiah of the poor and downtrodden. A few months after this, he enrolled himself as a primary member of the Indian National Congress, the ruling party. He did not bother to apply for any ticket, for contesting the first general elections, in 1952. It was too soon and too ambitious, in his views.
“Other party men will become suspicious,” he thought, “people memory is short; let them forget my past and then, I will strike when the iron is hot.”
He started bidding for his time and started canvassing for the party vehemently, in form of funds and rallies. In this process, he came in contact with a number of important, influential leaders of the party and later on, through them, used to get the work done. In the 1952 general elections, the Indian National Congress won the elections handsomely in Parliament at center and all the State Assemblies. Shri Krishna Singh, became the first Chief Minister and Dr. Anugrah Narain Singh, became the Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister of Bihar. Being the member of ruling party, it was easier for him to help the people, at party and government level due to proximity to power. Because of these factors, he became quite popular in the party at district level in a short time. He became the secretary and within three years became the president of the district unit of the party. He was envied, by the other old party members, because of his money power and of having influence at the higher level of party. Various ministers of the state, chief minister and other influential party executives used to avail of his hospitality, whenever, they visited his area. In 1952, enactment of land reforms Bill, was passed by the Bihar Assembly and Zamindari (sharecropping) System was also abolished. He knew that this bill was not worth the paper it was signed on, as it would take a long time to get implemented. Still, he was worried about the land ceiling bill, which was rumored to be presented in the Assembly shortly. In spite of donating one thousand acres of land, his holdings were far in excess of the upper limit permissible.
“I will have to find some loopholes to retain maximum area of land holding, by hook or crook”, he thought, “how can I part with more land when already I have donated almost half of my landholdings?”
The British left India, but left behind certain legacies and customs which were against the spirit of good governance. The most important was, bribery. During the British rule, it was termed as 'baksheesh' in Urdu language (so called ‘tip’). It denoted gratitude paid in monetary form, in lieu of services rendered and was not mandatory but optional. After independence, this tradition took an ugly turn gradually. It became an unwritten rule that one has to pay the so-called baksheesh, now bribe, to the official concerned, for getting his work done in time, without any harassment. Later on, this became a nuisance with the passage of time, when the person in authority would openly demand this ‘gratification’, if one had to get even his genuine work done. Still later on, it became a routine to engage a middleman with contacts in the bureaucratic hierarchy to get it by paying a commission, who in turn bargains and get his cut. It is still flourishing and called ‘Kickback’. In spite of getting regular salary, officials got multitude of salaries in form of illegal gratification, to the discomfiture of an honest common man. The rich men, used to get even their illegal work done by paying bribe, but a poor man, who did not afford, had to go from pillar to post for genuine work.
Bindeshwari Prasad Singh had a number of sharecroppers (Bantaidars), who worked on his land and cultivated it by sharing 50% of the crops with him. He used to self- cultivate only a small part through the laborers employed by him or through contractors. This sharecropping pattern is called ‘Zamindari’ system where tiller of the land does not own the land, but cultivates the crops on behalf of the owner. All the inputs; the seeds, fertilizers and labor is provided by the tiller and the zamindar takes 25% to 50% of the produce, on cultivation. This pattern was present in the whole of India, that got reduced due to ‘Zamindari Abolition legislation' passed by various state governments. According to this bill, tiller the land was declared the real owner. This legislation later on, caused a lot of bad blood between the landless and landowners, sometimes leading to violence, rapes and murders even. This system, is still practiced in a few pockets of India clandestinely.
Through his personal political connections, Bindeshwari Prasad started certain development projects in his area like laying metaled roads up to his village and adjoining villages. In addition, he got himself involved prominently for electrification of his area. Prior to this, people used to suffer due to non-availability of power and depend upon the kerosene lamps and petromax at night. In addition, they had to use the diesel or kerosene operated pumps, but now they could use power for the same. These projects, not only made their life comfortable but made him popular also.
“These works would be helpful to me in my political career and elections,” he used to think,
“let me show them some solid development in the area, before asking for their votes.”
In the process, he was preparing a groundwork by luring the people of his area. He promised them new schools, vocational institutes, opening of post offices, bank branches and dispensaries to make their life easy. By 1955, Bihar was rated as the best administered state in the country. In the same year Birla Engineering College and technical institute was started at Mesra, Ranchi. His son, Rashbehari Singh was undergoing the mandatory internship after completion his three-year course in agriculture engineering and be free in the coming April, 1956. He had decided to seek the party ticket from Raxaul constituency, for the State Assembly, for the elections to be held in 1957. Simultaneously, he had decided call Rashbehari back, after completion of his term. He needed somebody, who could manage the estate and Rashbehari his son would be best suited, with the expertise in agriculture gained in the last four years. That way, he wanted to participate in politics, wholeheartedly and strive hard, to get the party ticket which was of course, not that easy.