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Tale of Two Biharis

We have been hearing about the great success of Biharis in the field of engineering, medical, administrative services and banking jobs. Despite the social and political odds in the state, we have some solace in the fact that our talent has been able to make its mark felt in various parts of the world and in different fields. We always felt that talent migration may hurt the interest of the state in the short run but ultimately some of these successful people will come back to share their stories and expertise.

It’s a matter if great pleasure to see people like Vijay Shekhar Sharma who was something of a child prodigy because he finished school when he was just 14, was the youngest engineer to graduate out of the Delhi College of Engineering and he set up his business at 19.

This 28 year-old comes from a family of educators from Bihar but didn't want to do the same thing. His dream was bigger and he wanted to get there in a hurry. He wanted to be owning a billion dollar company by the time he was 30 years old, so he decided to get started early and that's how he began an internet services firm in college. The initial startup was sold to a New Jersey-based telecom software company.

Then came One 97 Communications. So, just what is One97 Communications all about? It's about what makes India abuzz these days - SMSs, funky ringtones and it's something that Sharma's company caught on to pretty fast. But the real break came to him with His company has been approximately valued at USD50 million and he's looking forward to an exciting time. His future could be moving towards video and as he puts it, "We've been actively working with video. We'll soon launch video SMSs, video portals, videogames and everything that will bring video on to your phone. You would see video ringbacks, video portals and you could have flicker-free video on-demand on your phone."

We also have people like Ravi Verma, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, who hails from Katihar, around 350 km from Patna, is the CEO of Telecommand Software and Services in the Silicon Valley that maintains the Entrepreneur Resource Planning (ERP) systems of the state of California.

I am from Katihar. I invested some dollars here because I feel charity should begin at home. It was my childhood dream to do something for my native place," Verma, said. According to Verma, Telecommand provides IT consulting and support to both public and private sectors in Sacramento county and wider northern California areas.

Verma, who is in his 30's, said he was proud of running a successful software development centre in Katihar. "Not many thought it could actually happen. I chose Katihar to prove that one can make a difference." He started his business in this town in December 2005 and it was a profitable venture right from day one. "California is our premier customer and our Katihar team works hard to maintain its systems. Our team in Katihar works as though they are sitting in the US itself."

The biggest challenge for Verma was to motivate the people in Katihar. He hired software engineers belonging to the town who had gone to cities like Bangalore and Mumbai in search of work. Verma also set up the R.S College of Computer Science and Engineering in Katihar in July.

"I hope other NRIs also do something for their hometowns or home districts," said Verma, a graduate from IIT Kanpur who migrated to the US in 1994-95.

Way to go man…you guys have really set nice examples for generations of Biharis to come. Great to know that the emotional energy is being focused to bring about some concrete results.So now that this process has gained momentum once again it’s important that the state comes forward to facilitate such new ventures.Bihar has had some companies from US having its offshore operations in Patna in the past for several years. It had some success stories as well but ultimately due to some political intervention the companies had to make quiet exits due to other than business issues. It’s time to learn from our mistakes a put our best effort to make it happen.

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