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Cool Bihari: January 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007

Why my heart bleeds this Republic Day

On republic day last year, I had expressed my angst at the unfair treatment being meted to Bihar and Biharis in Patna Daily. Since then, Bihar has moved forward. There are signs of positive change, for example an IIT for Bihar, higher planned allocation for development and the improved conviction rate of criminals.

Yet my heart still bleeds this republic day. There is the most unfortunate killing of our labourers in Assam who still have to go to that inhospitable land in search of livelihood. From Rajdeep Sardesai using Bihar as a negative adjective to the children of migrant labourers dying inhuman deaths in Nithari and Muktsar, Punjab, unable to even have their cases registered with the police, there are any numbers of injustices meted out to Biharis. In spite of the increased allocation to Bihar for development in the last one year, it continues to languish at the bottom in terms of the per capita allocation by the planning commission. There would still be no IARI lab in Bihar though it is an agricultural state. But there seldom has been any protest against these. What could be the reasons for this?

Bihar is at a cross road where we have to try to consolidate the gains of the past year and try to analyze what has held it back for so many years. Why is it that when a Lalu Yadav starts a Garib Rath for Bihar or a Nitish Kumar starts the HQ of a railway zone in Bihar, there is widespread criticism, but when a Chidambaram and a Maran join hands to ensure 90% of all mobile phones for the booming market gets manufactured in Tamil Nadu, nobody raises an eyebrow? Why do many of our own Bihari brethren think asking for equal right for Biharis or development in Bihar is akin to rebelling against India?

The backwardness of Bihar and the ill treatment meted to Biharis, to me, appears rooted in psychology - both our own as well as those of non Bihari Indians. Let me try to delve a little deeper into the psychological make up and see what lies there.

As a school student in seventies, I heard the proposed Ganga Bridge at Patna was refused funding by the central planning commission. I wanted to write a letter to newspapers criticizing the decision. But seniors around me, at school and at home, restrained me, saying people at Delhi must have taken all issues in consideration before taking this decision. I wanted to protest the freight equalization scheme, but found little understanding of this sentiment around me.

What holds us back from asking our share? What is it that makes us believe the central government would always be fair?" Why do we hesitate to question its actions in a logical manner? Why the hurry to give away our share so readily? What is it that makes giving away the strategic advantages of Bihar so attractive for our leaders?

Is it lack of understanding of Bihar's strategic advantage that causes it's leders to give it away so easily? That would be really sad for the land of Chanakya. Does Bihari culture over romanticize the act of giving? Or is it the colonial hangover which makes us believe some distant master would be fair to us and set our house in order?

Fact is, even a mother does not lactate unless the child cries.

The second negative trait that I see is debating the wrong question. For close to four decades, the three issues that have been bandied about as the cause of lack of development of Bihar are: Casteism, Lack of land reforms and criminalisation of politics. This endless debate has taken us nowhere. Meanwhile so many other relevant questions have not even been debated. For example, why are there only three and a half bridges over Ganga in Bihar whereas there are over fifteen in Uttar Pradesh? Why is the most comprehensive irrigation system in Bihar still the British built Son Command Canal system? Why is there no protest when Patna Rice is registered as a trademark in US while there is such a hue and cry over Basmati? Why is there no comprehensive dialogue with Nepal for flood control? Why does the national integration song "Mile Sur Mera" have no Bihari symbols? I could go on and on, but the point I wantto illustrate is that we have been asking the wrong questions for decades without any tangible gains in terms of the economic uplift of our masses.

Let me move to the next negative psychological trait, the inability to hail true success. Mr Neelkanth Prasad, the brilliant engineer, kept the dream of the Ganga Bridge at Patna alive and managed to get it built in spite of severe resource constraints. But does anybody remember his outstanding contribution? Rajkumar Shukla brought Gandhi to Champaran and made him the mass leader. Do we ever pause to think of his massive contribution? And thereby we fail to consolidate success and encourage desirable behaviour.

Take the recent case of an IIT in Bihar. When I hailed MA Fatmi's promise to bring IIT to Bihar, several people implied I was naive to believe Fatmi. Now when he has actually delivered, one would expect some kudos for him. But no, now there is another set of pessimists saying bringing IIT to Bihar has no relevance!!! Govt of Bihar has been trying to bring a semblance of order for the last year. There are enough statistics to suggest Bihar has improved. But read the pessimistic comments. Police solves the case of kidnapping of a twelve year old Kankarbagh boy and nabs the killer even while he was preparing to strike again. CNN IBN gives it a negative twist. We seem to have an inability to celebrate success. Worse, an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!!

Another is self flagellation or the self blame even for things that are not in our own hand. Like a raped woman, somehow, when things go wrong, we tend to blame ourselves, not realizing there are situations where the blame lies outside. And the outsiders, particularly the 'national' English language press from Delhi and Mumbai, like the moronic UP police, lay the blame on the 'provocative' dress or other such imagined 'crime' for the situation. The labourers get killed in Assam and we blame Bihar's backwardness. Did the labourer cause Bihar's backwardness? Is he wrong is seeking a better livelihood for himself? How come the same trait of seeking a fortune in another land in a Punjabi or a Marwari is hailed as a positive trait? This is not to deny responsibility for own's action. For example, if a student at Gaya does not study hard, he is not going to get into an IIT. But if some idiot at JEE committee feels there is something wrong just because there are too many successes from Gaya and cancels the centre, the only fair solution is to expose that idiot and set things right, rather than blame ourselves.

After all, Bihar is the heart of India, appropriately placed a little to the left of centre in the upper part of the map of India. Today, a lot of people are asphyxiating the heart not realising the whole body would be dead if the heart stops functioning. We have to ourselves believe and make others realize that it is quite possible to be pro Bihari and yet be pro India. But unfortunately, the voice of reason and logic that can make it happen is lost in the din of self serving media. When Nitish Kumar calls up Manmohan to seek justice for the slain Biharis in Assam, 'national' media calls it 'chita ki aag mein rajnaitik roti sekna'. And in the process, unfortunately, time is running out.

Thus to me, the backwardness of Bihar and the ill treatment meted to Biharis appears rooted in psychology - both our own as well as those of non Bihari Indians. Till we can zero in on the underlying reasons and take corrective action, things are not going to change.


Thakur Vikas Sinha
Powai, Mumbai

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Global Meet at Patna-Some Impressions

Global Meet at Patna, some impressions

I am a native of Patna. I was born and brought up there, doing my schooling at the best that the state could offer. It was in 1982 that after doing my Intermediate Science (equivalent to the present day 12th) from B N College that I took the train to Varanasi to do my engineering. For the first few months, I would run back to Patna at least once a month just to be at home. Later, as I got into a job and started living farther and farther from Patna, the visits became less and less. It was not just the distance, but it was also the psychological thing. Two of my friends had their dad kidnapped for ransom. People of my father’s generation who had left the best of positions abroad to be in Patna for the sheer love of the city started to migrate one by one. On the personal front, my wife lost her father in an unfortunate air crash in 2000 and the connection with Patna on the in laws side of my family became tenuous. So we quietly started to wind up, leaving just the house where my parents stay. My brother and I started to insist that my parents stay with us more and more. Our dear house at Patna where I grew up and which would be teaming with relatives with difficulty in even finding a place to sleep, became deserted. Thus, though being a native of Patna, the visits to my beloved city became rather infrequent over the last decade or so.

One Bihar Team with Naveen Sharma,Rahul,Chandan,Rajeev and TV Sinha

Fed with the continued usual stories of ‘the lawless state’, ‘the state of darkness’, and the like, my expectations from my visit to the Global Meet were rather modest. The expectation was first raised when I heard that Lord Meghnad Desai would be one of the speakers. Then I received the list of topics that were slated to be discussed and finally the news that the President of India himself would be coming for the meet.

Pre meet events

I was rather disappointed when I heard the schedule would be rehashed due to the Presidential visit. Many of the seminars that were on the agenda would perhaps be cancelled, I thought. The spirit was further dampened by the rather prominent headlines about the kidnapping of two school children at Mokameh on the eve of the meet. So it was with mixed feelings that I went to Hotel Maurya Patna to pick up my registration kit. As I was holding the registration bag which I must say was of a good conference quality, a person gently told me that we were all invited for a lunch at the CM’s residence. With remarkable agility and showing the native Bihari ‘jugad’, a disappointment had quickly been turned into an opportunity. We had a wonderful pre event networking meet that would be the envy of the best event managers of the world. The welcome was done by the CM himself with all his humility. The mild afternoon sun of December in Patna on the lawns of the CM residence proved to be the perfect setting.

I must say the chief minister or whoever looks after his household has excellent taste. The infamous khatal is gone. In its place I saw wonderfully maintained lawns with the famous Patna doob. There is a beautiful permanent chatri in a corner which must presumably be used for outdoor meetings. The décor is simple and the furnishings are understated. There is absolutely nothing gaudy there.

Over tasteful food including varities of native Bihari items like the Bihiya Puri, I bumped into the Dy CM and the Roads and Tourism minister and had rather useful interactions with them, but more about that later.

I also had a short meeting with Ravi Verma, a remarkable first generation Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is running an offshore software development centre at Katihar for the last few years. When asked by Nitish Kumar about how his call centre business was doing; Ravi said something which is a good insight into the Bihari psyche. He said that what he runs is a software dev centre and not a call centre. The reason is that while a call centre employee has to have a less inquisitive but cool head, Biharis are rather hotheaded with high IQ – characteristics more suitable for running a software development centre. And I thought, it is precisely the lack of this type of appreciation of the Bihari psyche by our Delhi based planners that is perhaps the root cause of the under development of Bihar.

Inauguration by the President

We came back from the CM’s residence and took a walk in the evening sun to the dome shaped SK Memorial across the historic Gandhi Maidan. For those not from Patna, Gandhi Maidan is the grounds from which many agitations were launched for India’s independence struggle. This was also the main public meeting ground during the JP movement of seventies. The grass of the Maidan, the children playing cricket and the bamboos kept there to prepare the temporary structure for the republic day parade transported me three decades back when I as a child would come to Gandhi Maidan to play from my school across the road. The Gandhi Statue put up recently is a bit of an eyesore, but thank god, rest of the things have not been allowed to change with time.

Security arrangements by the Patna Police at the entrance of the SK Memorial hall was effective, efficient and non obstructive. In spite of my long association with Patna, this was my first visit inside the hall. I must say I found it rather depressing. The building from outside is a rather impressive dome shaped structure. But inside, partly because of the inadequate lighting, partly the dull green colour of the roof and partly the tasteless chairs, the feeling it generates is not positive.

Mercifully, the program itself managed to lift up our spirit. As we waited for the President to arrive, a remarkably well made video on the history of Bihar was played. The President’s speech itself was very well thought out and equally well received by an appreciative audience. My respect for the President went up a few notches by the affection, warmth and deep insight the President has for Bihar.

What transpired where I was sitting was no less remarkable. An old couple, Muslim by dress, were standing in the aisle, unable to get a seat in the jam packed hall. Two young chaps who had taken their vantage position in the hall having arrived at least an hour before the start of the function, and decidedly not Muslims, promptly got up and gave up their seats. Here was live evidence of courtesy that Biharis have always displayed but never given due recognition.

Coverage in Media

There was good coverage of the meet in the local media. All the local newspapers, Hindi and English as well as the local TV channels gave wide coverage to the event. The local portals, Bihar Times and others, were also pretty comprehensive in their coverage. After all, it is not everyday that the President of India inaugurates a meet like this in Bihar. For that matter, that such a meet is being organised in Bihar is itself a newsworthy item. Then there were a series of dignitaries like Lord Meghnad Desai present on the occasion. However, the coverage in the national media was rather conspicuous by its absence.

Unfortunately, busy as the national media is with the Big Brother episode, it deemed it fit to ignore the meet. It made me wonder what the coverage would have been if something had gone wrong at the meet. I could not help but think that the so called national English media of India is genetically incapable to report anything positive from Bihar. Middle classes like us have always looked for approval from the national English media and they have also not disappointed by taking up causes like the Tandoor and Jessica Lal murders. In the case of Bihar, however, we would have to seek strength for our action by seeking approval elsewhere. Mercifully, we have the internet and the blogs and web sites like Patna Daily and Bihar Times which can fill the void that the national media does not want to fill.

Business Proceedings – Day One

The business proceedings of the Global meet started the next morning with a plenary. The book “Gauravshali Bihar” produced by the One Bihar team was released by the Dy CM. This was my first occasion to share the dais with such high dignitaries. One Bihar team member Naveen Sharma made a scintillating presentation on Bihari sub nationalism as a foil to casteism. This was followed by a panel discussion on the social and economic issues where several eminent speakers spoke.

The CM made an unscheduled visit to the venue. A remarkable talk was delivered by Lord Meghnad Desai in a session chaired by VM Vyas. He stressed the need for inclusive growth. It is rather unfortunate, he felt, that the political system has not aligned quickly enough to the needs of the civil society and therefore they seem to be pulling in different directions leading to the slowing of the growth.

A series of break out sessions were organised in the second half. Remarkably, not one was on the hackneyed triple issues of casteism, criminalisation of politics and land reforms. New grounds were sought to be broken over topics such as Brand Building for Bihar, Cultivating Entrepreneurship, Tourism Industry in Bihar and many other similar ones. Discussions ranged from what went wrong to destroy the sugar industry of Bihar and how it can be revived; what can be done to kickstart tourism for the Buddhist and Jain circuits; why no big airport at Gaya, what could be the ten priorities for quick economic growth in Bihar, why the golden quadrilateral highways do not serve the cities of Bihar, why only three bridges over Ganga in Bihar while there are eight in Delhi on Yamuna, what are the psychological reasons for the backwardness of Bihar, how sub nationalism can subsume the ills of casteism, and so on.

Of particular mention are two sessions: one on Entrepreneurship in Bihar and the other on Tourism in Bihar. In the entrepreneurship session, the myth that Biharis are not entrepreneurs was sought to be broken. We had the presence of the remarkable grass root innovator, Raghav Mahto who built a community radio centre at Raghopur in Bihar with virtually no capital and started earning a living for himself while propagating socially useful messages on his community radio. Unfortunately, he was let down by the system as what he was doing was declared illegal by the mandarins of the Information and Broadcasting ministry at Delhi. Some NGOs have sought to lobby to get the legislation changed and hopefully Raghav would be back being a job creator soon. I made a short presentation on the GI of Patna Rice and how that can be used to get better realisation for the farmers of Bihar, but perhaps my presentation style was not suited for the occasion or the time allotted to me was very limited. Either way, I did not manage to make much of an impact except to one person from a UN agency. Another remarkable presentation was by Irfan, the rickshaw entrepreneur. He has developed a model to rickshaws to rickshaw pullers so that they get life insurance besides education for their children for the same money that they are giving to their rickshaw owners today, and yet Irfan will make a profit on his venture. I can only say god speed to his venture.

On tourism, the potential of Gaya as a tourist hub was presented by Naveen. It is remarkable how Gaya compares with Jerusalem. Both the places have religious importance for three religions : Judaism, Christianity and Islam for Jerusalem as much Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism has for Gaya. The income levels of the religion holders were compared to arrive at the tourism potential of Gaya.

In the session on brand building of Bihar, journalists were grilled on being too negative in their portrayal of Bihar. Pushed to the wall, a Patna based journalist of a national media, in a moment of remarkable candour, mentioned that they are specially encouraged by their editorial bosses to only present negative news from Bihar. If they send positive news, it just does find a place in print. This is indeed food for thought for many of us.

Business Proceedings – Day Two

The concluding day had a plenary session chaired by the CM. He mentioned about the difficulties he faces because the system had totally broken down. In remarkably frank speech, he also mentioned that no society is free from crime; but the important thing is how we deal with it as a civil society. He made a brief mention of the various achievement of his government - innovative steps like involving well trained retired employees of the army and the CBI in dealing with law and order, highly improved conviction rate of the criminals and the fact that criminals do not enjoy the patronage of the political classes any more. Remarkably, there is Rs 27,000 crore of private investment already committed in Bihar since the new government has taken over. The state government has put the details on a web site and can be accessed by anyone interested. Nitish Kumar pointedly delivered a short speech saying he is here to listen, not to talk.

This was followed by a panel discussion by eminent economists: C Rangarajan, Abhijit Sen, besides several others. Rangarajan made a positive reference to the improved utilisation of funds by Bihar. Abhijit Sen mentioned about the focus of the state government on primary education which is much better than any other Indian state government and also the much better retention of education by the children of Bihar compared to other states.

Chandan with Prakash Jha

The last session I attended was a break out session by Prakash Jha who is now donning the new avatar of an entrepreneur. The session was chaired by Mr SP Sinha, the MD of Maurya hotel which was hosting the seminar and is possibly one of the only public limited company from Bihar. Prakash Jha talked at length about the challenges he is facing as well as the opportunities and the rewards that beckons him to do what he is doing. Remarkably, he is trying to build malls at places like Bettiah and Samastipur besides Patna and Jamshedpur and is doing it as a business proposition, not as charity. It is remarkable how much potential is there for doing profitable business in Bihar. Indeed Bihar does not need charity, it needs empathetic business oriented thinking.

My impressions:

So with that I come to describe my impressions of the current environment in Bihar. To say the least, they are positive.

The Chief Minister

The politicians of Bihar in general are changing for the better. The CM is a man of many qualities. Naveen Sharma pointed out to me that Nitish Kumar has four qualities that one likes to see in a leader: Intelligence, Vision, Integrity and capacity to work hard. I would say the good news does not end here. I personally observed him on at least three times saying that he has come to listen, not to talk and saw him patiently listening. He comes across as a person with a lot of humility.

He does not believe in much sloganeering and playing to the gallery. He appeared to be goal oriented and one can expect quick results from him. In fact, in an unguarded moment when I happened to be around, he described himself as a manager who relies on instinct to judge a situation.

Small details describe a person. He preferred to buy our book even though the person at the stall was willing to give him for free. Since he does not carry cash himself, he sent his PA later to pay us the cost of the book.

Priority of the chief minister is very clear: Law and order, infrastructure and primary education are the sectors which will get direct govt funding and focus. For everything else, the govt would be a facilitator. Absence of negative feeling towards commercial success was remarkable. What is more, this was without loosing focus on working for the poor.

Other Politicians:

The even better news is that he is not the only politician with good qualities. I had some interaction with two others: Sushil Modi, the Dy CM and Nawal Kishore Yadav, the Road construction and Tourism minister. I must say both managed to impress me.

Sushil Modi is another down to earth, simple man who has the good of the state at his heart. Married to a Christian, he is a liberal person who to my mind can be trusted to work for the good of the state. While I was sitting on the stage for the launch of the book, he even helped me open the cover of the books when he saw me struggling. It is these small details that describe the character and mind set of the people.

I had a short discussion with Nawal Kishore Yadav at CMs residence when I asked him why the Golden Quadrilateral and the East West corridor, the two nationally acclaimed highways, even though passing from Bihar, would be touching only Muzaffarpur and no other towns of Bihar or for that matter even Jharkhand. His first reaction was defensive when he tried to justify the alignment. Soon enough, he caught up with the point I was making and started asking me questions about it. He shared his concern about how the central govt is only bothered about international connectivity with Nepal and slogans like From Gujarat to Assam while neglecting the interests of Bihar. He assured me that he will take the interest of Bihar very strongly when he meets the central authorities the next time and mentioned about the by pass from Dobhi near Gaya which will connect Patna and Muzaffarpur. I was also very impressed with the pride he is taking with the 3000 km of state road that is being constructed outside of the central and the grameen vikas schemes. I am sure if politicians start taking such professional pride in their work, the day is not far when we can expect a much improved state of affairs.

The Local People

People are itching for progress. In a manner of speaking, the genie of development is out of the bag and it cannot be put back. As Prakash Jha mentioned in his session, even the main opposition in Bihar is talking profits of the railways and talking management to students. So the march of progress is now irreversible.

The rancour that one earlier felt for the moneyed classes is waning. People no more want to mistrust commercial success. One felt that the earlier mentality that that “Paisa hai to be-imaan hoga” is no more as prevalent.

There is this attitude which I call the ‘raped women syndrome’ where a woman who has been raped seeks to blame herself for the fate that befell her. Quite a few samaj ke thekedaar try to encourage that too, blaming the dress of the women or her beauty or other such irrelevant things for the crime that has been committed just as the national press blames Bihar for anything and everything that goes wrong. This raped woman syndrome is characterised by self flagellation. To me, such an attitude, which was ever so present in the public psyche of Bihar, is on the wane. Confidence of the local people is palpable. The older attitude of self flagellation where one would first try to find a fault in oneself if anything goes wrong is much reduced.

In my social interaction with the people outside the meet, I met quite a few internet enabled people. A very large number of middle aged or even older people are hooked to the internet. Knowledge about limewire, advanced google search technique and other such net savvy practices was very impressive.

Several good qualities of the old Bihar, respect for the elderly, courtesy to women, non communal nature and ability to work harder than others are very much retained.

Visible signs of progress

I saw surprisingly large number of women in jobs. It is no more only the womenfolk of the poor families who are seen engaged in commerce and jobs outside their homes. I saw women employees at airport, hotels, petrol stations, shops, banks, and many others. It may be noted that women have always been present in large numbers in politics and education. I also saw many women freely driving cars and two wheelers.

There are visible progress in better road signs, cleaner rods and cleaner government offices. The airport is remarkably clean and it has very courteous staff. I saw this kiosk at the airport which mentions about the tourist spots of Bihar. This little piece of electronic equipment with a touch screen was working well. The toilets were clean. The book stall at the airport had good quality books that one would like to see at an airport book stall.

So I board the flight back to Mumbai in a very positive mood. I write my impressions during the rather long hopping flight delayed further due to traffic congestions at Mumbai. I do hope the year which is still new will usher a new dawn for Bihar, my beloved Bihar.

Jai Bihar
Jai Hind

TV Sinha

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Launch of Gauravshali Bihar Book

Gauravshali Bihari was launched by our Deputy Chief Minister, Sri S.K.Modi ji on 19th January at Hotel Maurya during the recently concluded NRB meet at Patna. Also we got Gauravshali Bihar T-shirt launched with the rich legacy of Bihar graphically printed in the form of the bodhi tree, deeply rooted in the soil and psyche of Bihar. The T shirt is based on the design from Mayank Krishna Ji..and has beautifully depicted what Bihar is all about.

We would like you all to read the book...and wear the T-shirt. The book contains articles on the people who brought glory to the state of Bihar and have enriched the live of millions across the globe. It covers the time span of almost 3000 years, from Viswamitra to Satendra Dubey.

The book was written by 21 eminent authors at various places in the country. And in order to support the economy of Bihar, this world class book was also printed in Patna (we were very determined about this). The book is dedicated to one and only example of undying human spirit & courage, conviction and resilience of Bihar in the form of Sri Dasrath Manjhi who cut open a 350 meters long mountain to make road thru it.

We have tried to bring together the hero's of our beloved state in this small effort of ours. We want us to know our history, our heritage, our legacy. Things that we had started to forget.We want to rekindle our sub-nationalism, to be proud to be a Bihari.

It has been a memorable journey for us, researching about our mother land, and we feel nice that we could complete what we had set out to do.

But the real satisfaction will come only after you have read this book, and send us suggestions about how we can improve upon what we have just finished. We do look forward for your feedback, its invaluable to us,. to improve upon and polish what is our baby step towards highlighting the positives of this great state of ours...and along the way making the world aware of Bihar's contributions to the human society on a whole.

You can order the book & the T shirt by sending us a mail at, or by calling (91) (612) (6450916), out Patna Office number.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

ITC to invest 300 crores in Bihar

The Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) chairman Y. C. Deveshwar, on the second day of the Global Bihar Meet in Patna on Saturday, announced the company's decision to invest Rs. 300 crore in various schemes, including primary education and health care in Munger district.

On the second day of the conclave, guests from nearly ten countries put forth their views on "Overview of Challenges, Opportunities, and Development Strategy of Bihar".

"We are adopting Munger for developmental purpose and we encourage others to take similar steps for their own home town or village. If we all adopted a town or a village, there is no reason why we could not turn Bihar into a highly developed state within a short period of time," Deveshwar said adding he had long relationship with Munger and therefore his interest in the district.
In another development Chairman of the Special Task Force on Bihar, S C Jha, on Sunday gave a clarion call to the people to transform Bihar into a granary of India. Addressing a session on "Main Conclusions of the Meet" on the concluding day of the three-day "Global Meet for a Resurgent Bihar", Jha said, "Transform Bihar into India's granary, a tourist hub, a leading producer of fruits and vegetables, a major centre for IT and a regional coordinator and supply line for adjoining areas." It is time for "real action", he said.
In a year or two, more roads will be built in the larger interest of the institutions, he added.Noted film-maker Prakash Jha told visiting NRIs, "We do not need charity. We need entrepreneurship. Think of Bihar as a land of opportunities". Eminent panelists agreed that the global meet this time was different from similar meets organised here in the past. "There was no blame game about the past and there was a positive vibration on what could be done," remarked eminent economists and director of the Institute of Studies in Industrial Development, New Delhi, T S Papola.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Global Bihar Meet

The three day Global Bihar meet concluded yesterday and the state was in news for all the right reasons. One of the key factors which contribute towards the growth and development of a state or a nation is the quality of natural and human resource it has. Bihar always had the plenty of it but unfortunately due to continued lapses others have benefited more out of our resources. So when the Non resident Biharis meet together to discuss the issues of the state even President showed keen interest in presenting his vision for the state.

President APJ Abdul Kalam on Friday desired that Bihar should once again become the best-administered state as it had once been and suggested that the political system, irrespective of its party affiliation, should work for the development of the state.

Addressing the "Global Meet for a Resurgent Bihar" after inaugurating it here on Friday, the President said, "India needs a developed Bihar." He complimented the Nitish Kumar government for taking some initiatives in the light of his 10-point Bihar Mission unveiled during his address at the joint session of the state legislature in March last.

Lord Meghnad Desai said on Saturday that Bihar had reached a crucial stage for its turnaround. He appealed to the people to extend "critical support" to the government and hoped, "Bihar does."

He said, "When people ask me if Bihar is on way to resurgence, I say, I hope it is. But it will be possible only when civil society gets enough strength and citizens get enough courage to go to schools and ask why there is no teacher." The professor of economics at London School of Economics said Bihar was “never a stranger to globalisation” as reflected through its massive indigo cultivation. But the state has not learnt to respect its people and potentials over the years. “Why is there a talented person from Bihar in every part of the world?” asked the economist, saying the state has to be responsible and just not only claim to be “benevolent”.“Treat your people well or they will run away,” cautioned Lord Desai, describing globalisation as “just another phase of capitalism”.

On the valedictory session of the three-day “Global Meet for a Resurgent Bihar” and Nitish was trying to stress his government’s commitment to improving, among others, the education system of the state.

“The state will best ensure that children who loiter in the streets are taken to school. But even after our efforts, some children fail to attend school. We will ask police to pick up these children and put them in a school. They will be the best people to do this task and the process will remove the fear of uniform from everyone’s mind,” the chief minister announced to instant ovation.

Nitish’s message to Bihar natives settled outside was direct. “Bolna achhi cheez hain, kuchh kar ke dikhaiye (it is good to talk, but set an example by doing something),” he said, adding that his government has successfully removed fear from people’s minds.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Anita's Entrepreneurship Story

A single box of honey was all it took to transform Anita Kushwaha, a petite teenager from a nondescript village in Bihar, into a successful entrepreneur who countered gender bias to become a role model for millions of girls in India. Four-years ago, 17-year-old Anita boldly fought and convinced her parents not to marry her off. She had set her sights on something that no woman in her predominantly Dalit village of Pattiayasam had ever dreamed of doing — taking on the male profession of making honey.
Starting with two boxes, today Anita manages 100 beehives with 500 bees. With a jar of honey selling at Rs. 40 to Rs. 45, Anita manages to save around Rs. 1,00,000 per year. She has even bought her younger brother a motorcycle with the money she saved. "I used to observe other people of my village who kept bees and found it very fascinating. I thought to myself `If men can do then why can't women do so'?" says Anita. With the Rs. 1,500 that she saved by giving tuitions to children she purchased a box containing a queen bee.

Anita's mother was impressed by her daughter's persistence and lent her Rs. 1000 for another box and so with two boxes of honeybees the determined Anita's entrepreneurial career took off to a flying start. While parents Rekha and Janardhan toiled as labourers in the fields, Anita juggled her school homework and took care of her bees.


Anita says her schoolwork never suffered because the bees hardly required much maintenance. "They took care of themselves," she said. She has inspired others in and around her village. Now many women and girls there are following her footsteps and harvesting bees. The bees have provided the teenager the opportunity to pursue her dream of going to college. She cycles from her village to the Mahant Darshan Das Mahila Mahavidyalaya in Muzaffarpur where she is pursuing her Bachelors in Arts.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Corporates show interest in Bihar's market

Bihar is seeing a flurry of business activity, with big corporate houses lining up major investment plans in the state. While Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) group is planning to set up a food processing plant in the state, Sonalika Tractors is all set to invest Rs 130 crore in a tractor plant. According to state officials Max Healthcare chairman Analjit Singh is also in talks to set up a multi-specialty hospital.

“We have approved land allotment to Sonalika Tractors. Other two proposals are being processed,” a Bihar government official told ET. M&M is planning to set up an agro-processing plant for litchi in Bihar. The state boasts of 71% of India’s total litchi produce.

For enabling private sector investments in the state, Bihar government has created a land bank. “The companies interested in investing in the state may approach the land bank and according to their need, they may select any plot,” said the official.

The state has also set up a revolving fund of Rs 200 crore for encouraging investments in the state. The government has already identified 1,000 acres at Bihtaand and Hazipur, and 200 acres in Begusarai. The state government has also introduced the new Industrial Incentive Policy to incentivise companies. “The policy provides for 80% VAT exemption for 10 years. It also provides for exempting start ups from luxury tax for at least seven years,” the official said.

It is understood that the state government is keen on Max’s proposal. “Good healthcare facilities are the need of hour for the state,” he said. According to the recent All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) study, about 70% of the population in Bihar visit the hospital for treatment.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

APJ Kamal to attend NRB meet in Bihar

President A.P.J Abdul Kalam is likely to attend the first ever Bihar global meet to be held here to discuss development strategies for the state.

Also attending the Jan 19-21 will be Mauritius Prime Minister Navin Ramgopal, whose forefathers migrated from Bihar. Kalam, who has a soft corner for Bihar, sees the state as a hub of knowledge, intellect and hard working people.

According to Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, President Kalam has been invited by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Experts and investors from India and abroad are expected to participate in the conference that intends to repackage Bihar as an investment destination.

Bihar is keen to attract foreign investment in agriculture, health, IT and tourism.

About 500 eminent international personalities, including 50 non-resident Indians (NRIs), are expected to attend.

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Stop the bias against Bihar-Sign this petition

Here we are in 2007 , embarking in this New Year with great hope and conviction to take our country to new heights. We are talking about world being flat and information being power, we are talking about tele density and broadband penetration but alas we still come across horrific incidents where people are being killed for just being Bihari.By destiny they were born as Bihari and that become the cause of their gruesome killing.

The recent gruesome of killing of Biharis in Assam by ULFA militants is yet another incident which shows the kind of bias which exits in our Country against Bihar and Biharis.So how do we react to this as a Bihari and citizens of this country?

How do we express our anguish and pain when our fellow country men are being killed for being Bihari ? Following the great tradition of this great country we humbly submit our petition to all , please spare a moment for the cause of the bereaved soul and lodge your protest against this incident in strongest possible word. Let’s hope and pray that incidents like these are never repeated and also express our solidarity with the family members of the bereaved ones.

I have started this petition drive to ensure that we raise our voice against this act of cowardice. I'll request you all to send this link to all your friends and relatives and request them to sign this petition, let's try and ensure that each Bihari put his protest against this heinous act.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mauritius out of Bihar

After a call to turn Mumbai into Shanghai, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked persons of Indian origin in Mauritius having roots in Bihar to help “make a Mauritius out of Bihar”.

Inaugurating the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here, Singh thanked overseas Indians for their remittances, which helped fuel the 9 per cent growth in the domestic economy and the upswing in stock markets. He lauded the Indian-American community for its help in lobbying support for the civil nuclear cooperation deal with the US.

The call to turn Mumbai into Shanghai was made at an economic conference last year and coincided with a period in which the sensex zoomed and modernisation work for Mumbai’s airport started. Today’s call to turn Bihar into Mauritius comes soon after railway minister and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad said the eastern state needed outside “push” to develop.

Singh thanked West Asian NRIs for their investments into India through remittances. According to World Bank estimates, about 25 million overseas Indians residing in 130 countries remitted $23 billion to India in the last calendar year — the largest for any country.

The Prime Minister said India has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies of the world and urged overseas Indians to invest in their country of origin.

“India’s growth process creates enormous opportunities for cross-border flow of trade, capital and technology. I would like the overseas Indian community to take full advantage of this opportunity,” he said.

Last year, foreign direct investment worth $7 billion flowed into India. Indians lined up around $18 billion in overseas investments.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Power Plant Investments in Bihar

It's great news for investment and power-starved Bihar. Tamil Nadu-based Indian Gasohol Ltd has proposed to set up 10 mega ethanol plants across north and south Bihar, investing a whopping Rs 13,557 crore. The projects were cleared by the state Cabinet.

According to the proposal, the company will set up cane crushing units of 25,000 TCD (tonne crushed per day) capacity at 10 places. The company will not venture into production of sugar, but will use cane juice to produce ethanol in its distilleries and also generate power through its co-generation units. It proposes to generate 2000 MW of power, of which 70 per cent will be surplus and will be utilised by the state government for rural electrification. The state government has assured to purchase the surplus 1450 MW from the company.
Apart from providing electricity to the state, these mega units will generate plenty of employment. “The units will generate 50,000 direct and two lakh indirect jobs,” said Cabinet Secretary Amir Subhanni. The units will be set up in Buxar, Rohtas, Aurangabad, Gaya, Araria, Katihar, Bhagalpur and Nalanda.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year Folks !!!

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  • From Houston, TX, United States
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