The history of Bihar since 1921 is intrinsically linked with the life and history of a distinguished personality called Srikrishna Sinha, the first Chief Minister of Bihar. Srikrishna Sinha, who was lovingly known as Bihar Kesari for his thunderous voice when he addressed the masses, played a remarkable role in the history of Bihar, pre and post-Independence. Also known as Sri Babu, he was born at Khanwa in the Nawada district of Bihar on 21 October 1887. After completing his education from the Zila school in Munger, he went on to join Patna College to pursue a career in law and in 1915, began practising law in Munger.
His first meeting with Gandhiji in 1916 at Central Hindu College, Benares, inspired him so much that he vowed to work relentlessly to free India from British rule. In 1921, he gave up practising law for this cause. Srikrishna Sinha was arrested for the first time in 1922 when the British declared that the Congress Seva Dal, of which he was a member, was an illegal party. After his release in 1923, he became a member of the All-India Congress Committee. He was jailed again for his active participation in the Salt Satyagraha. In all, he spent around eight years totally serving jail sentences.
In 1937, when the Congress came to power in Bihar, he became the Province's Premier. He formed his cabinet in Patna on 20 July 1937 under the Government of India Act of 1935. Sinha administered Bihar from 1937 to 1961, and these years are considered even today to have been the ‘golden years’ for the state of Bihar. He is often hailed as the architect of modern Bihar, and the state administration under him was once hailed as the best in the country. He was the first Chief Minister of the country to abolish the Zamindari system. He also implemented river valley projects in Koshi, Aghaur, and Sakri and introduced heavy industries like oil refining and fertiliser production in Bihar.
Humanism, integrity, and secularism were the hallmarks of Srikrishna Sinha. He was a great leader and idealist who was very progressive in his outlook. He was totally against the caste system and a staunch defender of the oppressed. Impressed by his courage, Gandhiji called Srikrishna Sinha the first Satyagrahi of Bihar. He resigned from his duties along with other Congress leaders in 1939 to protest against the involvement of India in the Second World War without the consent of the Indian people. Such was his sense of righteousness.
Srikrishna Sinha served Bihar continuously from 1946 until his death on 31st January 1961. He spearheaded many developmental projects and schemes along with Dr Anugrah Narayan Sinha. Additionally, he maintained good relationships with the secretariat officials and helped enhance the image of the police. Having done away with their pre-independence legacy, the police no longer represented tyranny, oppression, intimidation, or control. He emphasized that in a democratic India, policemen should stand for efficiency, service, protection, and assistance to the people. Bihar's early history was marked by the substantial land reform legislation introduced by Srikrishna Sinha.
His legacy carries on even today. In memory of this great man, in 1978, the Indian Ministry of Culture established a science museum called the Srikrishna Science Centre in Patna. The largest conference hall in Patna, Shri Krishna Memorial Hall is also named after him. Every year, on 21st October, the state pays homage to the great leader by observing Sri Krishna Jayanti.