During the last one hundred years, a number of industries have been set up in the rich coal and ore belt of the south, and some land has been brought under canal irrigation.
Examples –the first are the Tata iron and steel complex at Jamshedpur, the coal, Dhanbad and Ranchi, and the mica mines of Ranchi and Hazaribagh. Bihar also inherited at the time of independence the Gandak canal system in the northern part of the state, and the Sone system in the south. Since then, spasmodic efforts have been made to develop the state further. Two other major industrial centers have sprung up at Ranchi which houses the Heavy Engineering Corporation and Barauni in north Bihar, which has Bihar’s only oil refinery. The state also benefits from the Damodar Valley irrigation and hydroelectric scheme on the Bihar –Bengal border and the eastern Kosi Canal system which has turned Purnea district in the north –east a verdant garden, growing two and even three crops a year.
The lives of the peasants have also grown more insecure. The growth of population has steadily increased the pressure on the land. In Darbhanga district in north Bihar, for instance, eight to nine million people are huddled on just five million acres of land. Their holdings are fragmented- often even holdings of just two or three acres are broken into a dozen tiny fragments of land. The owners can do nothing with these fragments- neither sink a tube –well nor level the land and put a fence around it. They are thus barred from adopting better agricultural practices and shackled to eternal poverty.
In such a situation, deprived of opportunities for advancement outside the state, the Biharis have turned inwards and busied themselves with trying to enlarge their share of the employment cake within the state.