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Cool Bihari: August 2006

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bihar Diary

Finally after long prolonged ordeal Patna University is finally going to be accorded the Status of a Central University.

The Centre has decided to open an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Bihar besides an Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT). It has also decided to accord Central university status to one of the universities in the state, preferably Patna Univeristy. The announcements were made by Union minister of state for HRD MAA Fatmi at the inaugural ceremony of a new experiment of the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) called "On Demand Examination" here on Monday.

Fatmi said, "The proposal for one IIT for Bihar and two for Orissa and one Western Indian state besides one IIIT to Bihar will be included in 11th Five Year Plan". He said that five universities were being upgraded as Central universities of which one will be from Bihar. "The process for the upgrade has already started," he said.

Suger Complex Coming Up.

The Bihar government on August 17 approved a proposal from Glucon Limited for setting up Rs 550-crore sugar complex at Rasoolpur in Saran district. The state cabinet recently cleared the proposal.

The meeting also cleared a proposal from the agriculture department to provide Rs 10 as subsidy on purchase of a litre of diesel by farmers in light of the drought-like situation over a vast area in the state due to scanty rains, Cabinet Secretary A K Chouhan told reporters after the meeting.

The cabinet sanctioned a sum of Rs 49.50 crore for providing the subsidy to farmers through gram sabhas, he said.

Chouhan said the cabinet sanctioned Rs 7.41 crore for reconstituting industrial centres at all district headquarters, besides regularising the temporary appointment of 238 employees in the planning department.

The cabinet also decided to entrust the home department the task of undertaking the construction of walls in graveyards across the state.

Mahila Udyog Mela on it way..

the 11th Bihar Mahila Udyog Mela, which is run solely by women entrepreneurs, is getting business inquiries from states which never participated in any business fair in this state before. The September 14-to-18 fair is likely to see participation from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra this year. "This is unprecedented.

Till now our participants would be mainly from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. But this year we have been flooded with inquiries from other states," said Bihar Mahila Udyog Sangh president Pushpa Chopra. She said entrepreneurs from Patiala, Haryana, Delhi, Lucknow, Pune, Kolkata and Andhra Pradesh have confirmed theirparticipation. They have also booked stalls at the fair. "It is not just about an individual's enterprise. But these states would be sending clusters of women accompanied by a staff of the government as well," Chopra said. From Andhra Pradesh, an entire team of lace makers would come. The number of participants from West Bengal is expected to go up this year.

A woman entrepreneur said, "Till now women from other states were afraid of visiting Bihar. They often told us that they had heard all kinds of stories and would rather stay away. But this year there is a sense of confidence among the same people. They are now willing to come and showcase their products."....

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Winds of Change in Bihar

So finally Lalu has been applauded as a great Manager by none other than IIM-A Director, Bakul H Dholakia. So does it means this augurs well for Bihar as one of it’s ex chief minister is rated as the best manager and the present Chief Minister has just been voted, second time in row, as the most preferred chief minister of an Indian State? I’m sure the citizens of state can’t ask for more.

Considering the realities of the state it would be fair to say that the people of the state actually need the best from all its leaders if at all it needs to catch up with the rest and make amends for the past.

One of the best things about Indian democracy is that it never fails to amuse you, the same holds true for our Politicians too. Laloo in general considered to be the most corrupt, inefficient, rustic and chief culprit for the backwardness of Bihar. People of Bihar have not been able to forget the ignominy and indictment afflicted by the 15 years of tyranny committed by Laloo and his folks. It’s too hard and difficult for them to forgive him for throes of being labeled as a state of Jungle raj and lawlessness.

Now suddenly we have a new Chief Minister who promises to revive the pristine glory of Bihar and we have new hope and aspiration. But does it also means Lalu has learnt his lessons and has risen from ashes in a new avatar? Is it the end of corrupt, inefficient and inept politicians from Bihar? The answer to this is not easy.

The state has some serious malaise which every administrator or politicians need to address. Be it the obnoxious politicians-criminal-bureaucracy connection, the caste driven politics, or even the lawlessness and crime perpetuated by high ups, all this has been responsible for the deep crisis which we face today.

To expect that any politician or leader will be able to extricate us from the excruciating vicious circle is little too optimistic. As an individual they may have great dreams and vision but as the leader of a party they also have some black sheep’s in their own pack. One of the serious challenges which I see for any govt in Bihar is too keep a check on the unsavory characters from different walks of Public life.

On the brighter side I see lot of positive action, vision and serious public efforts through various groups, forums to collectively work for a change. Be it people from Bihari origin or Non Resident Bihari’s every one is chipping in and the emotional connect has been revived and the cynicism has given way to optimism. Perceptions count a lot and our Chief Minister is also not leaving any stone unturned to make an impact wherever possible by statements like this "You know, Tata’s want to invest in Bihar,"

The CM said he is in receipt of a letter from Ratan Tata, saying he wanted to come to Bihar. "I have also written back to him saying he is most welcome Investment proposals worth about Rs 9,000 crore have been cleared by the NDA government, he said and added, "That is a record in itself". He said he is trying to serve Bihar to the best of his ability. "I am trying to write a new story for the state every day," he said. He, however, said that decisions taken by him are not final. "I respect suggestions made by others and my doors are open for people giving suggestions,".

His Govt. was also commended for "positive changes in law and order and development efforts" by British High Commissioner in India Sir Michael Arthur who promised greater assistance in certain key areas. "On the basis of our feedback from different sources, I can say that there are positive changes in Bihar on law and order.... We are impressed by the developmental efforts," Arthur told reporters after meeting the Chief Minister at the State Secretariat.

With Laloo winning accolades all over India and Nitish in Bihar who is also the ex-railways minister and has been credited for setting the track for railways revival it promises a bright future for the state. We can actually hope that a benchmark for future govt. is set in the days to come so that the people of Bihar can reap the fruits of a well administered state .

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

British High Commissioner to Visit Patna

Britain's High Commissioner to India Michael Arthur will be visiting Bihar on a two-day official trip beginning Wednesday to explore investment opportunities in the state.

According to official sources, this is Arthur's first visit to Bihar after Nitish Kumar took charge as chief minister. The high commissioner will also formally launch the operations of a branch of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) here Wednesday. He will also be accompanied by Naina Lal Kidwai Naina , the first Indian woman to graduate from Harvard Business School, in 1982 and presently the CEO of HSBC Bank in India.

Arthur is scheduled to meet Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi apart from other ministers of the state administration. The government is likely to present a profile of investment opportunities in the state before Arthur.

My good friend Rohit Sinha will be hosting them for the bank’s first ever Branch opening in Bihar and during my recent visit to Patna he was all excited about the likley visit of the High Commissioner and Naina Lal to his new branch. Cool Bihari wishes Rohit and his team the very best for his new assignment as the Branch Head for Bihar.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

The Legend Departs...

Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan finally bid adieu to the world and died of cardiac arrest in the wee hours on Monday. The 91-year-old Bharat Ratna awardee, who had been admitted to Heritage hospital here on August 17 with age- related health problems, passed away at 2:20 am.

Bismillah Khan was born on March 21, 1916. Born as the second son of his parents, Paigambar Khan and Mitthan, he was christened as Qamaruddin initially, before his grandfather uttered Bismillah after looking at the newborn.

His ancestors were court musicians in the princely state of Dumraon in Bihar, India. He received his training under his uncle, the late Ali Baksh 'Vilayatu', a shehnai player attached to Varanasi's Vishwanath Temple. He spent his childhood in the holy city of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganga, where his uncle was the official shehnai player in the famous Visvanath temple.

It was due to this that Bismillah became inclined for the Shehnai. At an early age, he familiarized himself with various forms of the music of UP, such as Thumri, Chaiti, Kajri, Sawani etc. Later he studied Khayal music and mastered a large number of ragas.

Ustad Bismillah Khan was perhaps single handedly responsible for making the shehnai a famous classical instrument. He brought the shehnai to the center stage of Indian music with his concert in the Calcutta All India Music Conference in 1937. It was Khan Sahib who poured his heart out into Raga Kafi from the Red Fort on the eve of India’s first Republic Day ceremony.

Ustad Khan was credited with having almost monopoly over the instrument as him and Shehnai are almost synomyms. His recital had almost become a cultural part of the Independence Day Celebrations telecast on Doordarshan every year on August 15th. After the Prime Minister's speech from Lal Qila (Red Fort) in Old Delhi, Doordarshan would broadcast live performance by the Shehnai maestro. And this tradition had been going on since the days of Pandit Nehru.

Despite his fame, Khan's lifestyle retained its old world Benares charm. His chief mode of transport was the cycle rickshaw. A man of tenderness, he believed in remaining private, and that musicians are supposed to be heard and not seen. He was a pious Shia Muslim and also, like many Indian musicians regardless of creed, a devotee of Mother Saraswati.Ustad Khan will remain one of the finest musicians in post-independent Indian Classical music and one of the best examples of hindu-muslim unity in India.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Women in Bihar

One of the development parameter which is often considered for evaluating the well being of a state is the empowerment of Women in the society.

Although Bihar may figure at the bottom of other parameters but it has surely taken the top slot with regard to the empowerment of women.

DNA reports “After occupying 50 percent seats in the Village Panchayats, Block Development Committees and District Boards, the women of Bihar are now all set to fill around one lakh posts of teachers in the government-run primary and secondary schools.This follows the state government’s decision to reserve half of the vacant seats of teachers for them. In addition to this, the women have also been given age relaxation of maximum three years for these jobs.

Perhaps, Bihar is the only state to have given this kind of job reservation to women in government schools. The mass recruitment drive for around 2 lakh vacant posts began on Thursday. The Nitish Kumar-led NDA government’s decision to reserve 50 percent seats for women in the Panchayat bodies was an unprecedented step by any state government. Similar reservation would be provided to the women in the upcoming civic body elections too. The state cabinet has already approved the proposal.

Another development which we have seen in the past few years is the success of Bihari girls in various spheres of life. I have posted some other articles here, here , here , here and here which are just few indicators to the rising trend.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Patna Girl wins International Tennis Tournament

Patna's 17-year old girl Shilpi Jaiswal from Bihar has won the British Open Deaf Tennis Championship - a first by an Indian.

Shilpi Jaiswal won the under-18 championship title on Saturday at Nottingham, Britain. She defeated Sweden's Fatima Tebibel in straight sets 6-2, 6-1 in the final.She is the first Indian girl not only to win the title but also to participate in this championship.

"Shilpi was passionate about tennis since she was barely five-years-old despite her hearing problem and the non-existence of international standard facilities here," said her coach Kunal Aikat.He added: "She is a girl with the potential to break records in the deaf category at international tournaments. She also won the All India Ranking Super Series at Delhi and Jamshedpur.

According to him, Shilpi not only excelled in the physically challenged category but she has competed with normal tennis players in a number of national and zonal tournaments.

She was ranked number one in the East Zone (juniors) and played for India at the International Tennis Federation (ITF) under-18 tournament for girls.Shilpi's parents, Shishil and Preeti Jaiswal, were overjoyed by their daughter's victory and celebrated her triumph with relatives and friends.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thakur Vikas Sinha:Cool Bihari of the Month

Be led by your heart and do your own thing” is the credo of our Cool Bihari of the Month.

Thakur Vikas Sinha popularly known as TVS in the Cool Bihari group has been a driving force behind the Patna Rice Project. TVS triggered our imagination by his thought provoking and in-depth study on Patna Rice and its future potential.

Thakur Sahab attended XLRI, Jamshedpur where he studied Marketing, Finance and earned a Masters degree in 1988. He also attended IT BHU where he studied Chemical Engineering and earned a Bachelors degree in 1986. TVS has around 18 years of rich experience at various senior level management positions in top IT companies like CMC, Mphasis and Polaris software.

Despite his the fact that he earned his educational qualifications and worked through out his professional career outside Bihar, he remains connected to his roots and continue to contribute for the cause of Bihar at various forums.

Our Cool Bihari member Chandan who meet him recently during his visit to Patna says “Frankly, before meeting him, I thought of him to resemble Mr Ravi Shanker Prasad( Minister during BJP regime), maybe subconsciously based on his voice and the photograph of his in which he seems to be wearing a black waistcoat..but, He is different. A savvy technocrat, very articulate and polished, is having loads of patience and a very good judge of personalities.

Inside the professional shell is a very warm person, homely, funny and sentimental about his home state. I had a wonderful time with him and in this short time learned a lot from him. We had healthy discussions on a number of issues, honest and sometimes brutally so, and always came out learning more about the subject. He is a Perfect gentleman to lead this highly talented and dedicated group of people. It was really a very nice experience working with him.

Full of humour, josh and positive ideas, that TVS for you. TVS is also regular contributor on various e-groups and websites on Bihar related discussions. He has penned/keyed articles on various educational and cultural issues related to Bihar. Some of his popular articles are:

The Jekyll and Hyde in Lalu
The 'Babu-ization' of Bihar Education
Radio Raghav - Illegal Yes, but Who is Culpable?
Patna Rice, a Killer Geographic Indicator
Why My Heart Bleeds This Republic Day

TVS feels that in order to improve job opportunities in Bihar in IT / ITES we must begin with:

1. A TPO in each college with a budget for travel to companies all over the country.

2. Appoint savvy teachers to TPO, preferably those who have exp in the industry or least have good communication capabilities

3. Have them in the syllabus committee of the colleges

He feels that Negative image, bad infrastructure, neglect by the centre and keeping the state to ransom by a small but very vocal criminalized political fringe has been the reason why we lag behind , despite having the best of talent in our state we have not been able to capitalize on the vast pool of Skilled Human Resources.

However on an optimistic note he says that even if some these things may be changed, we have a very bright future. His top 3 wish list for Bihar are:

-Appropriate share of central funding for development.

-Keeping a check on the criminalized politicians.

-Pragmatic rather than loaded by ideology policies and execution by the state govt.

TVS says that the youth of Bihar should work improve their communication skills and learn English well. They should work on developing individual capability, rather than falling back on contacts. He suggests that we must to help our friends as much as possible – as all the help we extend will come back to us as help from others soon enough .

We wish TVS the very best in his personal and professional future endeavors ahead and I’m sure he’ll continue to inspire the new generation of Biharis with his commitment and passion for the cause of Bihar.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Reforms in Bihar

Bihar government has got a total of 111 proposals from investors, of which, 25 have been approved, State Industry Minister Gautam Singh said on Tuesday.

Replying to a short notice question of RJD's Bhim Singh, Minister of State for Industries (Independent Charge) Gautam Singh told the legislative council that the state government was receiving an encouraging response from investors in the country and from abroad. Of the total 111 investment proposals received so far, the state industrial board has approved 25 of them, the minister said. He, however, did not divulge the names of the investors or the fields they evinced interest in.

Education Reforms in Bihar

Bihar has taken the lead in starting the process of adopting a uniform educational system and has constituted a Common School System (CSS) Commission to look into its long-term implementation.

The three-member commission is to submit a report within nine months and will focus on ways to introduce the Common School System (CCS) that aims at providing uniform education without discrimination based on one’s economic condition to all boys and girls of state.

‘No other state has constituted a CSS commission till date and it is the first concrete step to achieve the goal of education for all,’ said State Human Resources Minister Brishen Patel Tuesday.

He said that the nine-month-old Nitish Kumar government was keen to start the CSS in the state as early as possible. ‘We would be the first to introduce CSS also,’ he claimed.

In another development Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), which has come a long way in educating the people of Bihar, is now busy preparing the educational roadmap of the state.

The Union human resources development ministry has entrusted IGNOU with the task of improving the dismal educational scenario of the state. IGNOU regional Director Ram Chandra told TOI here that the vice chancellors of all the universities in the state are being directed by the governor to instruct the principals of all the colleges under their administrative jurisdiction to provide necessary facilities to IGNOU study centres.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Madubani Painting

A five-day solo exhibition of paintings by artist Sachindra Nath Jha on Lord Krishna opens at Alliance Francaise in Delhi on August 10. Titled "Raas-Lila", the series of paintings depicts the blissful divine interaction of Lord Krishna with the Gopis.

Sachindra Nath's subjects with the characteristic Madhubani detailed features come forcefully alive with colour. Showcasing a composite range of emotions, from the joy of union to the painful pangs of separation, the paintings reflect spirituality in art.

The exhibition is not just about the legendary story of Krishna but is also about the exploration and understanding of ourselves and our surroundings through the medium of Krishna, who embodies human aspiration to the divine.

Born in 1975 at Madhubani in Bihar, Sachindra Nath studied painting at the College of Arts and Craft in Patna University. While growing up in the colourful city of Madhubani, the artist developed a fascination for paintings. No wonder, he uses vibrant colours like green, blue, violet and red in his paintings of Indian mythological figures.

Hosted by Nitanjali Art Gallery, the exhibition is a testimony to the strength of bhakti (devotion). In his earlier exhibition "Charnamrit" in New Delhi, Sachindra Nath had captured the alluring charm of the holy town of Benaras. The paintings -- acrylics on canvas -- encapsulated his unending fascination for Benaras that had inspired him to portray deeply complex yet beautiful collection of images.

His passion for colours started as a child when he used to watch his mother draw colourful "rangolis''. A number of prestigious awards, including the Lalit Kala Akademi's National Research Grant Scholarship Award, have been conferred on Sachindra Nath. He also has to his credit a number of solo and group shows in India and abroad.

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