The state is divided into the following administrative units arranged hierarchically: Divisions, Districts, Sub-Divisions, Blocks, and Panchayats. The administrators for these units, respectively, are: Commissioner, District Magistrate (DM, also known as "the Collector"), Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO), Block Development Officer (BDO), and Mukhiya. Except for the mukhiyas, all are members of either the Union Indian Administrative Service (IAS) or the state's Civil Service - the Bihar Civil Service (BCS, Senior and Junior Branch.) BDO's are members of the BCS. Some SDO's and District Magistrates also come from the ranks of BCS, but majority are members of the IAS. The mukhiyas are elected by the villagers. Thus, beginning from the Commissioner, percolating through the mukhiya, all decisions of the government reach the grass-roots.

Maintenance of law and order is also through the same civil service. The police force are answerable to the local civil service representative. Their hierarchy is as follows: Divisional or Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Superintendent of Police (SP, at the district level), Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP, at the subdivision level), Inspector of Police (at the subdivision and/or block level), Sub-inspector of Police (SI, at the block/subdivision level), constables (in urban areas), and chowkidars (in villages.) SP's upwards are members of the union Indian Police Service (IPS.) SI's to DSP's are members of the Bihar Police Service (BPS.)

Recruitment to the IAS, IPS,   BCS, and BPS is through a nation-wide or state-wide competitive examination which consists of two parts: a written test in various subjects, followed by an interview before the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) or the state's,  Bihar Provincial Service Commission (BPSC.) Historically, entry into the IAS was considered to be the epitome of success for a young college graduate. However, recently, due to the onset of two forces, one positive and the other negative, more and more gifted people are being drawn away from such ambition.

The positive force is the appearance of multintional corporations on the Indian scene. They offer much higher salary and far better work environment.

The negative force is the politicization of administration, and the existence of the so-called nexus between criminals and successful politicians. It is they who form the state's Cabinet of Ministers to whom the administrators are answerable. Incidents of how these criminal elements, but holding "legitimate" power, take pride in humiliating, injuring, and even killing local administrators (obviously those who are not to their liking) are many. This single most unfortunate and tragic aspect of contemporary Bihari life has brought much disrepute to Bihar. Sadly, it eclipses all that is good and great about this state. This is the state which had produced  luminaries, not only of ancient  India, but also of modern India. It is to the great credit of  the vast majority of its decent and hard-working populace, that their sons and daughters, in spite of the heavy odds, continue to succeed in large number at the  IAS, IFS (Indian Foreign Service), and IPS exminations,  which still are quite competitive nationally. Bihar produces more than a fair share of other professionals as well, doctors, engineers, scientists, etc. Biharis, young and old, also constitute a significant part of the Indian diaspora.

All lovers of Bihar must remain eternally optimistic. He/she must not loose faith and must continue to hope till hope creates from its own destruction what it conjures!

Administrative Units

Historically, Bihar had only four divisions: Patna, Tirhut, Bhagalpur, and Chhotanagpur. This arrangement continued until very recently, when many new divisions were created and the old districts were carved up into new ones. Below you will find the names of all the divisions and their districts. In case of recently created divisions, their dates of creation are included in (parentheses.)

Links on the divisions point to their map. Maps also contain links on the surface of a district to its demography and a thumbnail description. The latter can also be obtained by clicking on the district's name in the table below. (Population figures are from the 1991 census.  In case of districts created recently, where separate population data are not available, they are combined as the pre-existing units.)

Divisions and their Districts
Divisions Districts
Tirhut West Champaran, East Champaran, Muzaffarpur , Sitamarhi, and Vaishali
Darbhanga (Oct 31, 1973) Darbhanga, Madhubani, and Samastipur
Saran (April 23, 1991) Saran, Siwan, and Gopalganj
Kosi  (Oct 12, 1972) Saharsa, Supaul, and Madhepura
Purnea   (Jan 14, 1990) Purnea, Araria, Kishanganj, and Katihar
Bhagalpur Bhagalpur and Banka
Munger (April 22, 1992) Munger, Jamui, Luckeesarai, Sheikhpura, Khagaria, and Begusarai
Magadh (May 18, 1981) Gaya, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, and Nawadah
Patna Patna, Nalanda, Bhojpur, Buxar, Rohtas and Kaimur
Santhal Parganas (June 10, 1983) Dumka, Deoghar, Godda, Sahibganj, and Pakur
North Chhota Nagpur   (May 16, 1974) Hazaribagh, Chatra, Kodarma, Dhanbad, Bokaro and Giridih
South Chhota Nagpur   Ranchi, Gumla, Lohardaga, East Singhbhum, and West Singhbhum
Palamau (May 2, 1992) Palamau and Gharwa