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Cool Bihari: March 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Bicycle Story of Saidullah

Grassroot Innovations have always been fascinating stuff to me. When we see the mad rush today for getting degrees and certificates, you are always struck by the amazing practical insights of the common man. We have debated about Raghav Radio at length on this forum and probably his story has been covered by almost all mainstream and even alternate media agencies.

Next up we have Mohammed Saidullah who hails from Jatva-Jeneva of Motihari district, Bihar and is currently engaged in selling honey in the market. A philosopher, his mind is always occupied in problem-solving, which would benefit the family and society and he has made various environment-friendly and yet affordable functional innovations such as Mini tractor, key operated Table Fan, Fodder cutter operated Mini water pump, Conserved Energy operated bicycle and Mini turbine for electric generation. He has named the Noor Bicycle, after his wife.

Mohammad Saidullah developed an amphibious bicycle which is a conventional bicycle to which four rectangular air floats are attached, which support the bicycle when moving in water, and fan blades are attached in a radial manner on the spokes of the rear wheel which enable it to run on both water and land.

The blades are arranged in such a fashion that it can be driven in reverse direction also. The advantages are obvious as people in rural areas need no longer solely depend on the few boats which tend to be overcrowded for crossing the river and it can be done at one’s own convenience.

As it operates on both land and water, the time and money required for hiring a boat to cross the river and for further transportation on land is saved. A further application could be in amusement parks or children’s parks. Saidullah was awarded the first prize for his presentation of a showcase of his innovations during the Republic Day Parade in Patna in 1995. You can check the video clip here

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E:Governace for Rural Bihar

A survey conducted by management and ICT consultancy firm SKOCH suggests that contrary to popular perception, information technology has a far greater impact in rural areas than urban centres. A recent survey of 37 e-governance projects, spread across 11 states accorded an overall rating of 8.67 to rural e-governance projects against 8.03 to urban projects. The survey was conducted over two years by management and ICT consultancy firm SKOCH and the projects were rated on various parameters. The results of the survey were released on Tuesday at the company’s ninth annual summit.

Around 30 MoUs have already been signed between the public and private sector and Panchayati Raj institutions to generate employment in rural areas, covering sectors like bio-diesel, power generation and fruit processing. The MoUs have so far been signed with farmers in Haryana, Karnataka and Uttaranchal. The rural business hub programme brokers partnership between the public and private sectors and Panchayati Raj institutions to initiate commercial activities in the rural areas.

I think this one area where the Bihar govt. needs to take a big initiative for bridging the IT gap and create some employment opportunities in Rural Bihar.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Bihar Updates...

In a commendable move Nitish has decided to approach Mittal for investments in Bihar. Business Standard reported that “Nitish Kumar has decided to approach global steel majors, including Mittal Steel, and urge them to set up a steel plant in the state near its border with Jharkhand, close to Nawada.

Kumar has told The Indus Entrepreneurs, a global not-for-profit organisation focused on promoting entrepreneurship that it should help in Bihar’s efforts to find a company that will invest in a steel plant.Ramesh Yadava, a Silicon Valley rofessional, who is deeply interested in developing Bihar and was used by former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad as a points person for the state in the US, is said to be exploring options, including approaching the Mittal group.

I think it’s a much awaited move which was very much lacking in our State leadership. Nitish has a big challenge of not only inviting investment in Bihar but also ensuring that the vigour for sustaining the momentum is also installed in the system.

Some of the finest example of leadership driven action are to be learnt from our neighbouring state West Bengal and UP. I am reminded of the initial effort which was put by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to revive industrialization in West Bengal.

In fact he is believed to have spoken directly to CEO’s of top MNC’s assuring them of all possible assistance and personally monitoring plans and development projects of all MNC's. We have many such examples of pro active leaders from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

It was also refreshing to see the interview of MR G. S. KANG; CHIEF SECRETARY OF BIHAR in Hindu Business line where he spoke about the revival of Bihar. He spoke about the various development initiatives in Bihar. Some of highlights of the interview were industrialization, power and infrastructure.

You can read the complete interview here.

Update on Raghav Radio:

After reading about the plight of Raghav Mahto and his Radio Raghav FM Mansoorpur 1, members of the Indian diaspora are contacting Mahto and the media in the state to find out how they can help revive the station.

Some NRIs are ready to fork out money.Radio Raghav had been beaming popular programmes from Mansoorpur village in Vaishali district for the past three years and enjoyed a loyal clientele, drawn from all sections of the society.

Ajay Kapoor, an NRI in Britain, approached, a popular news portal of the state, and sought contact details of Mahto. Another NRI, Pranesh Sinha, has apparently offered to pay the money Mahto needs to get a radio licence. "I read about this talented man," Sinha said. "I am really interested in helping him."

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Mission 2015

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Tuesday outlined 10 missions to make Bihar a developed State by 2015. Addressing a joint session of the Legislature here, he presented his 70-page blueprint in the form of "Missions for Bihar's Prosperity".

It was more than an address. It was something of a crash course for the members. With visual depictions, he stressed that it was possible to put the State back on the rails and develop it so that the nation achieved its mission 2020.

Giving a power-point presentation in the assembly before MLAs and MLCs while addressing a special joint session of the state legislature on Tuesday, Kalam asked them: "What will you like to be remembered for? That you have done something for development of the state, obviously."
He asked the state government to prepare a "global human resources cadre". "Prepare two million youths of the state for high value employment in IT, BPO and allied sectors before 2010," he said. Kalam presented his roadmap "Missions For Bihar's Prosperity" promising that it would increase per capita income of the state from the existing Rs 6,300 to Rs 35,000 by 2010 and Rs one lakh by 2015.

At present, the number of people below poverty line is around 42 percent of the state's population. It will come down to zero and the literacy rate, currently at 48 per cent, rise to 100 per cent," he said laying emphasis on female literacy. Kalam's roadmap for development of Bihar was apparently well researched as it fixed targets in the field of education, health, agriculture, infrastructure development and other areas.
It all sounded like the "10 Commandments". "Bihar will be transformed into a dream developed state," Kalam said adding that there would be no shortage of funds for development as it would get major allotments from Bharat Nirman programme and other central schemes. The first thrust area identified by him was agriculture and agro food processing. "Triple your food grain productivity," he said stressing that Bihar had the potential of becoming the rice bowl of the country.

He laid stress on revival the sugar industry saying north Bihar is best suited for sugarcane production and suggested creation of sugar co-operatives for running sugar mills on the Maharashtra pattern. He also put emphasis on dairy development, food processing and horticulture. "This will lead to empowerment of 27 lakh farmers and a business of Rs 100,000 crore," Kalam said.
Kalam said the second thrust area was education and entrepreneurship. "You have a lot to do in this field," he remarked. I do not know how you have tolerated it for so long," he said adding that the VCs had promised to put exam schedules and academic sessions back on track by 2007. "Higher education should lead to employment generation in the state instead of adding to the crowd of job-seekers," the President said. "Bihar should aim for an IIT."
Kalam called for establishment of Nalanda International University with international partnership at the cost of Rs 200 crore. "The focus of the university should be world peace and prosperity devoid of crime, terrorism and war," he said. The other seven key areas identified by him included health care, flood and water mission, infrastructure development, tourism, creation of exclusive economic zones and strengthening e-governance in Bihar.

His objective was to raise the per capita income from Rs. 6,500 to Rs. 35,000 a year by 2010 and to Rs. 1 lakh by 2015 and to increase literacy from 45 to 75 per cent by the end of the decade and to 100 per cent in a decade. The emphasis should be on reducing the percentage of people below the poverty line from 42 to 20 by 2010 and to zero by 2015.
To read more click here,here and here.For the official PPT with the detail speech click here.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Politics decides Economics

It an interesting but rather piquant move “impressed by Baba Ramdev's capability to inculcate a spirit of zeal and zest in people's lives, the Bihar government has decided to appoint Baba Ramdev as the brand ambassador of the state.”

Well my first reaction to this news was somewhat bland and placid. But on a critical note I think it’s one of those moves which is cosmetic in nature and lacks serious planning. It’s time the new govt. realizes that moves like this does nothing more than creating a good news item.

To give you some insight do the pressure groups or for that matter even opposition use any statistical tools from Program Analysis and work out on a simple metrics for evaluating various sectors of economy which are critical indicators. I guess these ideas a little far fetched because of the reliability of data and I’m sure no body wants to adopt data metrics for the simple reason that it’s too embarrassing and requires very thoughtful consideration.

However we have our PM and President who have a very distinguished academic career and perhaps they have the best record of project accomplishment capability .We have read about the success story of CEO and some nation heads like Lee Kuan and New York Ex-city Mayor Rudolf Giuliani It would be interesting to note that the Ex Andhra Chief Minister Chandra Babu Naidu adopted some highly effective IT tools for project monitoring and implementation which saw phenomenal change in the compliance percentages in the state.

But I guess it would be naïve on our part to expect these radical changes because of the myriad complications of a democratically elected govt. in our caste-ridden, mafia dominated political state. After all here “it’s politics which decides economics”.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Inspiration Unbound

Today’s TOI carried out an inspiring story about Jaya Jha, who emerged topper among 249 students in Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow. She has already spurned lucrative oversees job opportunities and clearly chalked out her own path. She has been offered pay package of Rs 10-16 lakh per annum.

I do not want to get sucked into job placement straitjacket and would rather take the risk of setting up my own venture. I really want to serve my own country, specially Bihar, the state to which I belong,” a confident Jaya told TOI on Thursday.

Though the 22-year-old effervescent Jaya has taken a job with a comparatively new Readlink Technology Pvt Ltd in Banglore but she does not intend to stick to it for long. She sees it as her springboard.
Jaya began to plan her future while doing her BTech in computer engineering from IIT, Kanpur. Born in a nondescript hamlet Bharmarpur in Bhagalpur district, she did her early education in Banka. But when her father Chandra Shekhar Jha, working with UCO Bank, moved to Purnia, Jaya studied at Saraswati Vidya Mandir, St Xavier’s and finally at Navodaya Vidyalay, Garbanaili. She also studied at DPS, Ranchi.

Though now an IIM celebrity, Jaya displayed interest in Hindi literature too. This gifted, multi-faceted genius was adorned with Rashtriya Kavita Award and Nehru Bal Kavita Award.

She wants to set up a website primarily to help the young Bihari girls who continue to be stuck in ignorance and backwardness. “They surely need the exposure and must come out of morass of depravity.”

Chandra Shekhar and mother Neelima Jha are on cloud nine. “We were sure our daughter will attain something,” said Neelima. Meanwhile, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has expressed willingness to help this pride of Bihar.
My Views: This comes as refeshing news since we have been hearing and watching almost apathetically media reports about the kind of money MBA grads make out the lucrative job offers from MNC’s.

We also know that IIM-B chairman (placements) Y L R Moorthi has stepped down from the post, a year before his term would have ended due some apprehended controversy regarding two students of Class of 2006 — Gaurav Agarwal and Venkatesh Shankararaman, who bagged the highest salary offer this year — shot off an email to Apte, expressing anguish over their salaries being made public. They said their compensation details were publicised without consulting them.

Jaya’s move is not the first of its kind which MBA students opt for, but the most amazing thing is that a girl from Bihar has taken a commendable lead in initiating a new career move which I’m sure will inspire many others in the days to come.

Folks, the move is all the more appreciable because it’s a different matter that we all aspire to do something and create a better Bihar, but she has refused lucrative offer and is committed to serve the state.

I have spoken to Atul, Gautam, Neeraj and many folks in our group who nourish similar ambitions but we all have personal aspirations, career goals, family, social commitments and sometimes we even use this as an alibi for the status quo.

I guess that’s one of the reasons why we can appreciate better that it’s indeed a brave move on part of Jaya.It’s not easy to refuse such lucrative offers when you have made it to a place like IIMs and have toiled for years and competed with lakhs of others to find a place.

Cool Bihari would like to wish her the very best in her future endeavor ,and we sincerely hopes that she inspires million other Jaya’s in our state and country who put there foot ahead for a such inspiring endeavours .

Friday, March 17, 2006

Patna University in News

Our Good old Patna University, Centre for Environment and Nature Conservation has been selected as one of the 11 nodal training institutes in India under the human resources development programme by German Technical Cooperation. Only two centres, including IIT, Kharagpur, have been selected in the eastern region.

This centre is located in the zoology department of PU; the centre has been doing a commendable work in the field of environmental conservation.

Edusat network: NAAC-accredited Patna Women's College, which has already been accorded with the status of "College with potential for excellence" by UGC, added yet another feather to its cap by commissioning a satellite interactive terminal (SIT) on its campus.

More updates about the development activities at Patna University here.

Efforts to Develop Art and Craft in Bihar:

“The vision for development of Bihar's art and craft with suitable infrastructure may soon be a reality with minister for art, culture and sports Janardan Prasad Segriwal planning to honour the artistes and giving them opportunities to extend their horizon. The govt will initiate "Kalagram" in the state to provide artists of all hues the facilities to develop their art and grow. The "Kalagram" is to be modelled on the lines of Kalagrams in some other states and this would have the potential to attract tourists.

More on this here

Friday, March 10, 2006

Terrorism:The Debate

Last week debate on terrorism had a very valid point raised by Atul “The motivations of people who give up their lives in terrorist activities is not a secure/wealthy future. In fact many of these people give up whatever prosperity they have for their cause which they believe is a great cause. It is driven more by the training/brainwashing they have gone through. The roots of Osama bin Laden lie in Saudi Arabia which is not a poor country, neither is he personally..”

I agree with you that terrorism has its roots in firm belief and convictions about certain beliefs.

Kashmir,Punjab,Suadi Arabia,Naxalite, MCC(in Nepal, Bihar) wherever the case may be but terrorism has a unique pattern which is seen across borders.

First their apparently has to be some or other economic issue which is the root cause of starting any insurgency. Land,Capital ,natural resources are three most prominent reasons. Any fight for separation like Bodoland, Naxal strife and MCC in Neal is against the current power centres.

Apparently it has to be a convincing reason for people going against the govt. or some superior authority. World over the demand for separate nation-state or province is based on economic inequality. Its only when the deserving ones are sidelined and boycotted in reaping the fruits of the land, that we see some resistance simmering and taking a form of resistance against the state. When this voice of people is crushed with iron hand it leads to resistance and eventually a form of terrorism movement begins. After all what is terrorism to common man is freedom struggle for some.

Now what is the way out…….educate, create awareness, mass campaigns and goodwill initiatives from the state to drive the fact that the sate is juts and equitable in its approach and deeds. Create an atmosphere of trust, participation, negotiation, dialogue and effective bargaining.

Believe me War has never been a solution and no other nation is going to waste its energy as much as America in this war against terror and you’ll find some years from now it will be the only country left struggling economically and also strategically because essentially it’s the economic consideration like weakening of Dollar and trade deficit and inflation which is driving Busg Nuts. Read more here

Someone like Osama is popular because he like all great charismatic leaders he has been able to exploit human emotion successfully for his personal gain. I agree that some of these people may be rich, but the point is that money plays the most important part is garnering public and mass support. I 'm sure you are aware of the fact that even Hindu folks have joined the Jihadi movement in Kashmir in the last few years, and the simple reason behind this is economic compulsion


Some interesting action taking place in Bihar this week. As usual we are never short of variety and amusements. I’m sure the job of a journalist is never boring in Bihar.

In an interesting move a small delegation of entrepreneurs from Ukraine met chief minister Nitish Kumar on Wednesday and expressed its interest in civil aviation, telecom and small hydel power projects in Bihar. The members of the delegation will visit certain places to conduct survey and explore possibilities of investment. Their first destination will be Valmikinagar and after survey they will submit their proposals.More here and here

Ranchi also seems to getting a hot destination for foreign investment. A Singapore-based consulting firm is being appointed to improve civic amenities and develop Jharkhand's rundown capital. Meinhardt, the Singapore-based firm, has been appointed as consultants by the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) at a cost of Rs.214 million ($4.8 million).

In a surprising , amusing ,reliable but effective experiment to clean up the grimiest spots in Patna, pictures of gods and goddesses from different faiths have been stuck to discourage people from dirtying these spots any further. This move seems to have paid off and the administration has decided to extend it to all government offices in Patna. The walls in the government offices are famous for the red paan spit stains. As they say it happens only in Bihar.

In an eco friendly move several students of the city have taken a pledge to shun polythene bags. The pledge was taken at a seminar on solid waste management organised by Patna Women's College's Eco Task Force on Tuesday. The seminar was sponsored by National Environment Awareness Campaign, ministry of environment and forests, government of India.

Alarming reports also suggest that LET has its links in Bihar.According to the sources, LeT militants, who had planned to attack vital installations of Danapur army cantonment in 2001, lived for a short while at adjacent Phulwarisharif on the outskirts of Patna. That the police have detected several cases of transaction of fake currency notes in the area also hints at stepped up ISI activities here, the intelligence sources said.
Gosh is Bihar police ready to face this challenge???…Humm

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Our Biggest Challenge

Terrorism continues to be the biggest challenge humanity faces today.The blasts in Varanasi is another blot in the history of mankind.I feel that Govt. role in combating terrorism is not the only aspect.If we continue to handle these cases with iron hand I'm afraid it will only worsen the matter.

We have to take the issues of lop-sided developement more seriously.The issue here not just about taking strong steps,I think strong steps means nothing to people who are committed to die for some cause which they think is more important than life.

Today we already the digital divide apparent in our own coountry,look at the various economic indicators of north and south India,compare the disparity in the income distribution between Indian in metros and Bharat in Villlages you see the wide chasm which exists.This same situtaion exists today on global scale.

What we need is a more pragmatic ,considerate approach towards handling sensitive issues and less of jingoism.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bihar Budget : A long wait

The Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi on Wednesday presented a Rs 28,944.64 crore budget for the financial year 2006-07 in both Houses of the state legislature with major hike in allocation in key areas such as roads, power, drinking water and agriculture.The last time such a full-fledged budget was presented — by the RJD — was in 1992 when the new government of Mr Lalu Prasad had barely settled on the throne.
The Key Highlights of the Budget are
70 per cent increase in road sector — from Rs 925 crore in the previous financial year to Rs 1,562 crore.

An increased state Plan outlay of Rs 8,250 crore for 2006-07 that is an increase of 33 per cent from this year’s Plan outlay of Rs 5,525 crore.
64 per cent rise in allocation for drinking water supply and 37 per cent rise for agriculture and irrigation. The government has further increased budget provisions for departments such as education, health, minority welfare, police and prison modernisation and the power sector.
Enumerating the new schemes launched by the Government in keeping with its commitment to enhance rural employment and strengthen rural infrastructure, he said Rs 125 crore has been allocated for the "Mukhya Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana" to connect villages having population between 500 and 1,000 with all-weather roads.

A sum of Rs 120 crore has been earmarked for the employment guarantee scheme launched in 15 of the State's 38 districts through the Government's own resources. These district are not covered by the Centre-sponsored national rural employment guarantee programme. To read more click here ,here & here

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