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Cool Bihari: January 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Nitish Kumar - IBN CNN Politician of the Year

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I Pledge

Here comes another Republic day of India.

My generation takes freedom and independence for granted. It takes motley situations of different nature to stir them up from deep slumber and inertia. It could the images of terrorist bleeding the heart of Mumbai or even a A R Rehman’s song. We are free, independent, vocal, intelligent, smart …….yeah we are cool about it.

We don’t compromise on “my space” “my life” “my time” “my friends” “my career” , it goes on and on. So when it comes to “WE as a nation” it really makes us think hard. I thought about it “kya kare” am I doing my bit? Is it good enough? Net activism and candle light processions will not make difference to the lives of millions. Just can’t procrastinate it any more, I’ll always find reasons to say “next time” after I’m done with this responsibility of mine. So finally it’s come to a point where I said myself “It’s now or never” and let me do introspection on what I can do as a citizen first.

So I’ll make an honest attempt to do my “2 cent (aana) “and try and be a better, more responsible citizen. My wish is that every citizen has a “things to do” list for himself and let’s just try and make an honest effort. I guess most of us are doing it, or may be helping the ideas in some or other way. We need to keep emphasizing these virtues in our day to day life.

Let's take this simple 8 point citizens pledge for India. Let's so our bit in making this country a better place. This is no political party or a social movement, these are simple things which you can do in your daily life and make a big difference.

· I will cast my vote to decide my public representatives.

· I will pay my taxes on time.

· I will never pay any bribe.

· I will report any act of crime, corruption and public nuisance.

· I will never litter at any public place and follow traffic rules.

· I will contribute few days in a year for philanthropic cause.

· I will donate a small part of my party budget to support child education and health.

· I will respect and give equal treatment to every citizen, irrespective of gender, caste, religion and region.

Take your pledge today, join us on facebook.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The man behind Bihar's turnaround

Five year back, who would have thought that the Chief Minister of Bihar would be credited with the biggest turnaround story of transforming a state from a land of despair to one of glorious hope and progress. But finally Bihar has found a leader (not just a politician) who has changed the landscape by turning the tides around and setting the wheels of development in motion.

In one of my earlier post I had referred to the survey published by HT which had comprehensive data on the changes and most importantly on the perception of people since Nitish took over as the chief minister.

In a recent TOI editorial comment Nitish has been well credited for his efforts and he was even rated as perhaps the better CM . The editor castigates business leaders for openly supporting Modi and ignoring the efforts of Nitish. 
Nitish has done a more commendable job, in many respects, than Modi. While Modi has built on an already established entrepreneurial culture in prosperous Gujarat, Nitish has taken a sick state like Bihar and attained a fair measure of success in improving matters. In terms of the CEO analogy that was freely bandied about at the summit, it's a better CEO who can take over a sick company and nurse it back to health. 
He is also nominated as the best political leader for the year 2008 by CNN IBN poll for his excellent leadership in turning around Bihar. Vote for him as he really deserves to win.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bihar 2009 :Dawn of a new era

Over the year we have been inured by the despicable stereotyping of Bihar as the land of crime and despair. None can beat the most disparaging annotation of “BIMARU” by the ilk’s of Ashish bose to marginalize and vilify few states. Thanks to the negative hyper activism of our few friends in media, Bihar always symbolized the damned.

It’s refreshing to see now Bihar is getting associated with progress, peace and prosperity. The 3 P’s were always seen as a mirage few years back but thanks to the changing times, its old glory is under revival.

India today has an article titled “Patna : P for prosperity” where the recent developments in prosperity (development) index of the state is showcased. A growing middle class, increase in disposable income (which was always there, just that the savings were getting siphoned to other states) which is leading to booming retail and improved infrastructure.

The mega trend of consumerism is revamping Patna's economic structure, besides fuelling business growth in the city. Similarly, the retail industry here is also developing fast with improving business environment and rising income levels.

Bihar's latest Economic Survey for 2007-08 says as much: Patna's capita gross district domestic product is Rs 31,441. Patna also has the highest per capita saving in the state at Rs 675, highest per-capita fuel consumption and the highest per capita income at Rs 6,958. Patna has also witnessed a huge influx of business organisations coming to the city, while the existing ones have been on an expansion mode thus generating hundreds of jobs in the private sector. 

No wonder, corporate tax growth in Bihar and Jharkhand is the second highest (75.45 per cent) in the country, and is second only to North-East (Guwahati) where it is pegged at 254.30 per cent.

So growing retail, insurance, telecom and agri sector means greater investment, job creation and higher disposable income which is further fueling the banking services, consumer durable and demand for recreational services.

Its interesting to note that in 2008 when automobile sales were down by 20-25 % in the country, Bihar showed 45 per cent to 1,33,000 in the last 11 months of the current year, against 92,147 sold in the same corresponding period.

Clearly signs of an upcoming and growing state where still untapped potential exists.


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Friday, January 09, 2009

CIMP - In Focus

One of the biggest initiatives in the area of higher education in Bihar has been the inception of Chandragupta Institute of Management last year with the support and guidance of IIM Ahmadabad. Bihar has many other management institutes like LN Mishra, Patna University Management Dept, and in the pre partition days of Bihar /Jharkhand XLRI and XISS were also part of higher education landscape. Over the years the number of aspirants for Management and other professional courses have steadily picked up in Bihar and today more than 30,000-40,000 aspirants from Bihar appear for various post graduate courses. Given the spurt in demand and the available talent pool, the need for an academic institute of repute with world class faculty and infrastructure support was much desired.

This year CIMP has enrolled around 50 students for its inaugural batch and has been making very encouraging process over the few academic session. Students from diverse background have been given intense exposure to the discipline of general management and industry orientation by the dedicated team of faculty , visiting subject matter experts from best B –Schools and Senior Industry professionals. The most encouraging theme of this group has been their sheer commitment and drive to excel and take up entrepreneur projects in Bihar. Many of them have great ideas and business acumen to undertake social entrepreneur activity and generate multiple avenues of employment and wealth creation.

CIMP has also taken initiative to collaborate with UNESCO and signed a cooperation agreement to jointly address the emerging challenges to human civilization and for the creation of a knowledge society to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth in the country. Both UNESCO and CIMP aim to create a platform to experiment with innovations in collaborative research and development, and to synergize scientific knowledge and management perspectives on the emerging challenges of environment and development.

CIMP has also collaborated with Bankers Institute of Rural Development (BIRD), Lucknow, promoted by NABARD, enables the institute to be one of the four Research centres of BIRD in micro–finance in India. This centre will cover micro - finance related studies in eastern India.

It’s also setting up state-of-the art library resource centre which is expected to set a new benchmark for the existing libraries in the state. The library has an impressive strategy for its activities in physical infrastructure and world class academic content.

Here’s a small CIMP intro video which my friend film maker Nitin Chandra (Bring back Bihar) has come up with.

Visit the CIMP site to read more details.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bihar flood relief : Subodh Gupta's Contribution

Recent Bihar flood has evoked strong and emotional response from different sections of society and NRB’s have also come forward in providing support. Many NRI groups, teams from NGO’s have really taken up the cause of destitute population and working on the ground with various agencies.

Leading contemporary artist Subodh Gupta has collaborated with his celebrity friends in the art world, and collected Rs 4.17 crore through online auction of their paintings for rehabilitation of the state's flood victims.

Gupta is among few Indian artists who have made meteoric rise during the past few years. One of his paintings sold at a whopping Rs 4.28 crore at a recent art auction at Gurgaon, where bidders from 32 countries competed with one another for 100-odd works of art by Indian contemporaries.

"We persuaded 30 leading Indian contemporary artists to donate their works for the flood-relief auction," Gupta and his wife, Bharti, informed TOI in an e-mail. Saffronart, Peter Nagi of Nature Morte Gallery and Trident Hotel at Gurgaon collaborated in the project. The auction was hosted by Saffronart on its online platform on November 11 and 12.

Gupta and his friends have selected two Bihar-based NGOs __ Gunj and Samajik Saikshanik Vikas Kendra (SSVK) -- to spend the money in the flood-hit areas. "We have already disbursed Rs 50 lakh to Gunj and Rs 34 lakh to SSVK," Gupta said.

Read more about Bihar flood relief effort here.

Join the facebook group for supporting the Bihar flood relief mission.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Bihar 08 - In review

Year 2008 will go down as a significant year for Bihar for multiple reasons. We saw major changes and initiatives getting actionised on ground in the area of education, investment and development programs. The state also suffered a major setback due to the sorrow of Koshi , the worst ever floods which we have seen in recent years.

Still in a way it was a remarkable year from the viewpoint of the States overall progress in terms of setting the ball rolling. The setting up of IIT Patna , Chandragupta Institute of Management(collaboration with IIM, Ahmedabad) and Chanakya Law institute are few of the most important landmarks as it was due for the state from some time.

Our recent flood relief efforts of web based groups has been well received by different quarters and thanks to the great team work and selfless service by our teams the global community is also recognizing the efforts of virtual groups in a crisis management situation. Till now Catrina relief, Mumbai bombings and other crisis situations were supported through various web based support groups based on facebook,orkut,twitter, bloggers etc.

The flood relief team has been doing a splendid job of providing relief and rehabilitation of the grief struck flood ravaged parts of Bihar. This has been recognized as one of the biggest blogging moments of 2008 and also a great act of citizen journalism. This also got some mainstream media attention and we were interviewed by NDTV for the efforts which NRB’s have taken in this crisis situation.

Cool Bihari blog has also recognized as a one of the prominent citizen journalism blog /blogger heros and thanks to the efforts of the team we really feel that the crisis has really shown how we can make a big impact as a group.

Look forward to another exciting year ahead and continuing with the momentum which has picked over the last few years.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Power Generation for Rural Bihar

Grass root innovation is gaining considerable momentum in Bihar. We have yet another success story of Manoj Sinha who has been recently featured on NYT for his unique contribution of coming up with Husk power system for transforming rural power generation. Husk Power Systems won first place in 2008 in the University of Virginia business plan competition and the social innovation competition at the University of Texas, Austin.

After earning an electrical engineering degree at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and working for the Intel Corporation, he began exploring ways to turn farm waste into electricity, with the dream of building village-scale generators.Last year at the University of Virginia, where he is studying for a master’s at the Darden School of Business, he and a fellow student, Charles Ransler, teamed up with another engineer from Bihar, Gyanesh Pandey, and Husk Power Systems was born.

The Indian engineers, both 31, had initially planned on raising money to build small generators for simply a few villages. But the company now has a proprietary generator that runs on a methane-like gas released by heating rice husks a certain way. A waste product of rice milling, husks are plentiful in villages. While agricultural waste is common for generating heat, it is not often used for generating electricity, and there is nothing remotely like this system in the villages of developing countries. The system produces enough electricity to supply 300 to 500 households for 8 to 10 hours a day. A byproduct is silica, a valuable ingredient in making cement.
The long-term plan is to profit from the global market in credits — earned by avoiding greenhouse-gas emissions, which result from burning fossil fuels like coal — and to sell the benefit.

Another worthy contribution in this area has been the Samman foundation, lead by Irafan Alam. Samman foundation is currently amongst the top 10 finalist in the Tata Nen hottest start up competition. Best wishes to his team for the final stage.

Read more about Grass root innovation in Bihar here.

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  • I'm Ajit Chouhan
  • From Houston, TX, United States
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