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Cool Bihari: July 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bill Gates Foundation to support Bihar

Bill Gates, now better known for his philanthropic activities in health sector across the globe, has turned his attention on Bihar and its people hit by various diseases like polio and kala-azar. Gates, who had a discussion with chief minister Nitish Kumar through video-conferencing from Delhi, promised to constitute a task force and dispatch it to Bihar within a few days which will work out areas of co-operation through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) apart from polio and kala-azar.

After a 35-minute talk, an elated Nitish commented, “I spoke to Bill Gates the philanthropist and not the Bill Gates, the Microsoft giant.” Gates accepted invitation to visit Bihar sometimes during his next India visit. Gates had expressed desire to see Nitish, but the CM could not make it to Delhi in view of the ongoing assembly session. Gates commended Nitish for progress in health programmes and was impressed with significant increase in childhood immunisation which recorded progress from 11 per cent to 51 per cent in one decade. But his stress was on complete elimination of polio in view of fresh cases reported from north Bihar and western UP.

Nitish pointed out that as many as 13 cases of polio, eight of which reported from Kosi region, and said with concern that majority of the cases came from the areas where 10 rounds of polio vaccination had been done and one case where 20 rounds were undertaken. “I have a new appreciation for how challenging it is to vaccinate every child in the Kosi region,” Gates responded. “However, we cannot let the polio eradication effort stall just because it is difficult. We are ready to work with your government and all partners in the polio effort to stop transmission in Bihar,” said Gates.

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Cruise along Ganges river @ Patna Floating restaurant

A state-of-the-art floating restaurant in Patna will add to the attraction for tourists visiting Bihar.A 75-seater luxury yacht will take the visitors on a cruise through the Ganges River, as they dine in the fine surroundings of the restaurant. It will be operated by the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation on the Ganga river twice every day.The floating restaurant will be made available to the locals on rent, forprivate functions like marriages, parties and other social functions.With the launch of this restaurant, the government hopes toattract tourists to the state and provide a boost to the industry.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Taregana : Best view for century largest solar eclipse

National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA), the US space research and exploration agency, has declared after 20 years of research that this nondescript town, 25 km south of Patna, is the best location on earth to watch the largest solar eclipse of the century on July 22.NASA has also listed it among the best places from which to observe the stars.

Aryabhatta (476-550 AD) had figured this out a long time ago. The famous 6th Century astronomer-mathematician from India’s Golden Age — who first proposed that the earth rotates on its axis and developed the concept of zero — had located his observatory at the sun temple that existed in Taregana (literally, song of the stars) then. “Tare-gana” means counting of stars. It was here that the sixth century astronomer-mathematician Aryabhatta camped here here for his studies.

Following unknowingly in his footsteps, scientists, tourists and eclipse chasers from across the world suddenly want to visit Taregana. The problem: Taregana does not have hotels or other facilities to receive so many guests.

The solution: The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation will put up tents and temporary cottages to cope with the rush. The July 22 eclipse, which will begin at 5.29 a.m., will be the longest in the 21st century and last 6 minutes and 39 seconds. It will not be surpassed in duration till July 13, 2132, ie, 123 years from now.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Global recognition for Bihar's Husk Power Project


In one of my earlier post I had mentioned about the classic example of grass root innovation by Manoj Sinha who was 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.

This model has been now won global recognition by beating more than 1,000 competitors from world over to bag the inaugural Global Business Plan Competition award.The award was sponsored by leading American venture capital firms Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Cisco. India's Husk Power System would receive $250,000 (nearly Rs 1.20 crore) as investment from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Cisco to help take the technology to the next level; thus giving it an opportunity to expand to other parts of the state.

"Deciding on just one winner was difficult, especially with this caliber of candidates. We are excited to have chosen Husk Power Systems, which is especially remarkable for its alternative power technology, and we can't wait to see how this team becomes the next game changer," Draper Fisher Jurvetson MD Tim Draper said.

"Given Cisco's focus on emerging countries and the use of innovative technology to provide enhanced essential services, Cisco's investment in Husk Power Systems is a great way for us to accelerate these themes," added Hilton Romanski, Vice-President of corporate development for Cisco.

The company, which the two venture capitals believe has the potential to change the face of rural areas, especially in the rice belt of Northern India, by converting rice husk into energy, was founded in 2007 by two University of Virginia, Darden School of Business 2009 graduates Chip Ransler and Manoj Sinha.

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