Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up

Progressive Bihar - Finally the sleeping giant is waking up
Progressive Bihar - Come support it's growth path.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another award for Nitish Kumar - Polio Eradication Champion Award

Nitish Kumar became the 3rd Indian after PM Manmohan Singh and Rajashree Birla of Birla group to be conferred the Polio Eradication Champion Award by the Rotary International’s Polio Plus Committee.

Nitish Kumar joined the likes of US president Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton, UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon and his predecessor Kofi Annan, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and many others who have received this award before.

In his acceptance speech Nitish Kumar said "“I feel honoured to receive this award which is not my personal achievement, but it is for Bihar and all those involved in polio eradication campaign."

Rotary International’s Polio Plus Committee Chairman Robert S. Scott said that 2006 was declared Year of Immunization in Bihar and by 2008 the state made tremendous progress in polio eradication campaign. He said that 99 per cent children were immunized which he said was a major achievement.

Bihar is an endemic state and till date has 111 polio cases: 38 of P1 type and 73 of P3 type. Nitish said, in 2007 there were 459 cases of P3 and 46 of P1 type.

The full article in Times of India can be read at Polio Eradication Champion Award for Nitish

Vote - "Indian of the Year 2009" on NDTV

NDTV poll is on for choosing the Indian of the year 2009. Those who want to vote should do so at the following link.

http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/new/VOTEINDIANOFTHEYEAR2009.ASPX

Mr. Nitish Kumar is one of the 5 nominees from the political field.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Strengthening the judiciary and the dispute resolution system.

We have made substantial progress in improving the law and order situation in many parts of Bihar. The intial efforts saw a lot of sweeping changes like reduced street crimes, reduced kidnappings, etc. People once again are gaining confidence to walk outside, for example on certain roads of Patna even after 7PM in the evening.

The next step requires more efforts, the results are not likely to be visible immediately but are very critical in improving the overall fabric of justice in Bihar. I am talking about strengthening the Judiciary and the mechanisms for dispute resolution; I am talking about faster resolution of cases in the judicial courts, courts of DMs (District Magistrates) or any other formal places of justice.

Often I find that because judiciary is week and habitually corrupt, many cases keep on dragging for a long time... Many times the cases just drags along even without any hearing happening... Dates are assigned for hearing a case and because of some reason or the other, the hearing doesn't happen on the assigned date.

Infact my family is also currently undergoing this where some part of a property we own was fradulently sold by someone to someone else and the buyer even managed to get this registered even though the property was in our name and we were no where close when this transaction happened. Over 3.5 years back, we have registered a case in the court of the DM who has the authority to resolve the problem, and with all the necessary documentation and evidence available the case can be resolved in 1-2 hearings only. But it has hardly made any progress. And for over a year now (maybe even 2), we just keep getting dates and for some reason or the other the hearing doesn't happen on the assigned date and we get a new date. And over the course of these 3.5 years, the DM at this place has changed thrice, thus compounding the problem.

Hence by this example I wanted to re-iterate that the government has to bring back the people's confidence, that has been lost, in the judicial system of Bihar.

It is also time for the government to focus on this aspect of improved governance and timely justice which are essential for an upcoming and developing economy to have so as to be able to attract increased investments and people's interest in developing Bihar.

One news article which caught my eyes and prompted me to share my thoughts above, was the article titled 300 crorepati babus in Bihar! This article talks about how 300 government employees earning modest salaries have become crorepatis by taking bribes and participating in underhand activities and how even though 71 such babus were caught by the state vigillance bureau till last month, only two have been fired while the rest continue to hold on to their secured jobs, continue to make their bribes and continue to stall the process of justice in their cases (and we can all guess what this delay can be attributed to). If the judiciary and the dispute resolution mechanism is strengthened, such babus will be punished faster sending out the right signals to all the other corrupt officials in the state, thus reducing the level of corruption across the state.

Nitish Kumar ji: An area where the law ministry has to focus on.

Signs of progress

It pleases me to no end when I hear or read about something related to Bihar which further indicates that Bihar is making progress. I just read one such article which spoke about two situations that re-inforced the view that Bihar is making progress.

On wednesday (2nd December 2009), the BCC (Bihar Chamber of Commerce) invited the police for an interraction with its members. Representing the police department was Patna Zone IGP Mr. P. N. Rai. Such interractions are organized periodically where the BCC members tell about the problems they are facing to the police. Anybody can guess what the majority of the problems highlighted at these meetings in the last decade or more would have been... yes ... extortions and kidnappings... i.e. rangdari....

But this wednesday's meeting was very different. Instead of talking about rangdari, the BCC members were discussing traffic problems and traffic jams in Patna... Different... isn't it? Gone are they days when the main item on the agenda was rangdari... infact former BCC president Mr. Yugeshwar Pandey told the IGP "It is a compliment to your policing that we are not talking about `rangdari' which has almost ended". Now that people, who can effect changes, are free from worrying about extortions and saving themselves from kidnappings, they can focus on other developmental issues ... like the one about traffic jams in Patna...

I like this... it is a sure sign of a changing and progressing Bihar...

A second sign of progress is that the number of vehicles has increased 4 times in the last 4 years. Gone are they days when you would hear of someone's new car being hijacked or snatched as the owner drove the car from the showroom to his home. And then all of us know the long circulating humour about where that the car was likely to be found... At the house of the very politician friend whom the owner of the car would approach for help in finding his car.

Obviously, in the last 2 decades, given the way Bihar was deteriorating, no one thought that we could have a situation of traffic jams because of increased vehicles in Patna so quickly. But now that the increase in vehicles has become a reality, it is important to improve the infrastructure in Patna and other places as these places showcase Bihar's development opportunity and it would not look good for Bihar if potential investors land into traffic jams even before the industrial revolution in Bihar takes off.

While the police, BCC and other institutions think of ways to tackle this growing traffic situation, we should also do our bit for improving the traffic conditions in Bihar... like parking at proper places and not in the middle of the road, obeying traffic rules and not defying any of the traffic signals, listening to the traffic havaldar or inspector, etc. These small small changes from everyone will go a long way in making a strong and beautiful Bihar.

The article I refer to was published in The Times of India and can be found at " Traffic snarls, not crime, worry traders now" for those who are interested in getting more details.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Future of India linked to the future of Bihar

An update to the below reproduced article: This is actually an article published by Mr. N. K. Singh , MP Rajya Sabha, from Bihar and only posted on the Life Boat Foundations Webpage. The original article was published on MoneyControl and the link to the article is as follows:

http://www.moneycontrol.com/mc10/leadership/article.php?autono=422050&sr_no=1

-------------------------Earlier Article-----------------------------

I came across a very interesting article on Bihar on a website that tracks high impact progresses. This website talks about the poverty in India, China and Brazil and then has a detailed focus on Bihar. This is a news service of a foundation called Life Boat Foundation and has provided a compelling view on Bihar. I was intrigued by this article and reasoned that it would be worthwhile for more people to read this article. This article published on 29th November 2009 is titled "Poverty in Brazil, China and India and in Particular Bihar, India"

I am reproducing a section from the above article verbatim, which is very relevant from Bihar's development perspective. It is a detailed assessment and worth reading.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Five factors leading to endemic economic backwardness of Bihar:

1. In the post-independence period, the policy of freight equalisation did not enable Bihar to derive the advantage of its rich mineral resources as well as a large growing market. This policy which remained effective from 1952 to 1993 had serious repercussions in neutralising Bihar’s comparative factor advantage.

2. Notwithstanding Bihar’s considerable clout in the Central Government, central investments, (except by Public Sector Undertakings in what is now Jharkhand), there was little investment North of the Ganges or in the drought-prone areas in the South of Bihar.

3. The failure to break away from the past in implementing tenurial land reform changes resulted in excessive social stratification which prevented both vertical and horizontal mobility. Excessive preoccupation with caste and even communal factors dominated political discourse. Successive Governments were not held accountable on indices of improvement in life quality and other developmental indicators either in the overall growth achievement or performance of Index of Human Resource Development.

4. The failure to transit from a feudal-based economy to a market-oriented economy emphasised value systems which did not facilitate rapid economic development. This coupled with poor quality of infrastructure, social indicators and governance quality did not enable the State to attract meaningful private investment even in areas of its comparative factor advantage. Poor governance also resulted in decline of education and health.

5. The political parties in the State failed to secure meaningful arrangements with Nepal for better harnessing its river and hydro electric potential. The Kosi and Gandak embankment, the result of international treaty with Nepal, did bring significant relief to a large population in North Bihar from the vulnerabilities of floods but could not convert these transitional arrangements to permanent solutions.

These temporary structures have long outlived their expected life span, and in any case they were designed to be transitional arrangement to be followed by taming these rivers upstream to harness the irrigation and hydel potential. These remained unimplemented. Durable infrastructure wasn’t created to withstand the destruction due to periodic floods and other vulnerabilities.

During the last four years, the initiatives taken by the Nitish Kumar Government have concentrated on six factors.

- Improved Governance
- Macro Management
- Human Resources Development
- Emphasis on factor endowments
- Enactment of key legislations to improve climate for private investments.
- Improvement of Infrastructure.

The future of Bihar would depend on five key variables.
1. To what extent fiscal federalism works in a manner which is in line with the spirit of the constitution? This concerns four components.

The compensatory additional central investment in a State considering that in the near future private investment will remain shy.

To what extent will the State be enabled to take fuller advantage of Central investments already made, namely a higher percentage of allocation from Central power projects? The present agreements are discriminatory and unequal. These agreements do not enable the State to secure a fair percentage of the energy produced in the State.

Permitting the development of downstream industries from existing Central investment, say from the Barauni refinery as well as other investments which may be in the offing.

A degree of fairness in access to raw material inputs like coal for new power generating companies necessary to meet the energy deficiency in the State.

2. The State has to succeed in harnessing its rich water potential through the optimum utilisation of resources and adoption of new technology. It’ll prove their comparative factor advantage in agriculture. The extent to which agricultural productivity can be enhanced by diversified agriculture practices, creating and implementing an enabling policy framework.

There is also a broader issue of mitigation and adaptation to Global Warming and Climate Change. Does it make sense for planners in India to pursue, say water intensive cultivation in other parts of India which are water deficient than say North Bihar, where water is abundant? What special assistance can be given for enabling Bihar to become the food granary of India?

In Punjab water aquifers have fallen significantly and rice production may become increasingly more expensive. This is an opportunity for Bihar to enhance both the production and productivity of its agriculture even as further research and development is needed to develop strains and cropping patterns which better factor the consequences of global warming.

3. To what extent can its very young population be harnessed and vocational skills imparted to create the “Missing Middle”. This entails increasing urbanization very significantly through many more satellite towns and skill inculcation programme which can provide gainful employment activities outside agriculture sector, even while agriculture can gain advantages of externalities in scale instead of an exclusive reliance on agricultural produces.

4. To what extent can Bihar leverage its political power to create an enabling international framework on sharing our river basins, particularly with Nepal for generating irrigation and hydel potential to optimise the resources of this region.

5. The issue of whether Bihar can rewrite its history, and foster new green shoots of investments, employment and diversification in its activity patterns?
All these, of course require continued good governance and stable policy framework and institutions which can incentivise private investment.

The restoration of Bihar’s lost glory will demonstrate the success of strategic initiatives and technology can do to one of the most backward and densely populated regions in India. Unless backward States become growth drivers, India would find it difficult to grow at 9 per cent. In some ways the future of India is linked with the future of Bihar.

The original article in its entirety can be found at
Poverty in Brazil, China and India and in Particular Bihar, India

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Flights of prosperity

One of the indicators that the Bihar economy is developing is the airline traffic to Bihar. Bihar's Jayaprakash Narain International airport was one of the most under-utilized airport in a state capital of India. Till last year there were a total of 8 landings and take-offs from this airport. Compare this to the airports in Mumbai or Bangalore where there are more than 650 take offs and landings everyday.

But this scenario is slowly changing. Today there are 12 takeoffs and landings taking place from the Bihar airport. However the clincher is the growing number of passengers travelling to and from Patna by air, which has steadily increased in the last few months.

Air travellers to and fro from Patna:
Month20082009Percentage change
May32,24936,00711.65%
June 28,96036,73126.83%
July26,58338,77845.87%
August21,95539,25678.80%
September23,11739,69671.71%
October 27,71156,049102.26%

While it will take more time to get all of India's important destinations connected to Patna, I am sure as the pace of the development continues and further accelerates, we will be seeing not only more domestic connections but international flights also taking off from Bihar.

This increasing air traffic from Patna is already generating more interest in the airline industry and we are likely to see more low cost air connections being established between Patna and major cities of India.

Development, isn't it?

Read more details in The Times of India article `Sushasan' effect: Flyers' flow up

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Connected Biharis

I was recently going through the various groups related to Bihar on the internet, specifically the yahoo groups and google groups (i.e. egroups). However, I couldn't not find many Bihari groups with more than a thousand members. If I put together all the Biharis in the various groups, I would say that all the groups put together there will not be more than 5000-6000 members in all these groups who are interested in Bihar. I also believe that there would be some of us who are members of multiple groups and thus, I do not think there are more than 3500-4500 unique members in all the groups put together.

This is a very small set of Biharis who are connected to each other specially when one considers the population of Bihar and the number of Biharis who can possibly become connected. I am even more surprised when I see groups from other smaller states that have memberships of more than 10,000 members.

There could be multiple reasons for the current situation

1. Most Biharis are not aware of the existence of these groups that connect each of us together.

2. Most Biharis who are outside Bihar are not aware of the activities of these groups.

3. Often, looking at the appalling condition of the state in the last 20-30 years before 2005, people from Bihar were sometimes subject to jokes and ridicules at the hands of other Indians. Disenchanted by the despicable state of Bihar where they did neither find a source of livelihood nor saw any improvements or development, the people got disconnected with Bihar as they did not have any hopes from Bihar. The result was that many people from Bihar hid their Bihari identity and disassociated themselves with anything related to Bihar atleast publicly. So often a Bihari would claim to be from Delhi or Mumbai or Chennai and make no mention of Bihar. Thus even though there are many renowned Biharis in various fields, they are not connected with Bihar.

4. Many Biharis outside Bihar do not know about the changes that have come to the state in the last 4 years. Many of them do not know that Bihar has changed from being a Bimaru state - a failed state to a developing and progressing Bihar.

It is important to get all these people who have their roots in Bihar to get connected back to it. Many of these people would be in a position to influence and can help in expediting the growth and development of Bihar, be it financially by investing in the state, or intellectually by providing their thoughts, suggestions and ideas.

We all happen to know other Biharis who are not connected. Hence in my view, we should convince all these people to get connected and be involved in the growth of Bihar. Let all these people start by becoming members of any of the groups that might meet their views and needs:

Bihar-Network, biharbrains , Bihari , worldbihariforum , coolbihari, Progressivebihar : These are some of the groups that come to my mind.

Nitish Kumar ji: I don't know if there is any database or registry that tracks the Bihari people. It might be a good idea to establish a database of Biharis all over the globe. It could be a database probably on the http://gov.bih.nic.in/ site where people could come and voluntarily register themselves. We can promote this database and get as many people as possible to register. I think people power can be a catalyst in speeding up the investment process in Bihar which will result in its development. Hence the Information Technology department of the state should analyze such an option and initiate the creation of such a database. Another benefit I see is that the Bihari population will feel more connected with Bihar. This can also serve as future communication tools for connecting to various people from Bihar.

Promotions for this database would be required and I think that can be done by advertizing about it on newspaper sites like Timesofindia.com and rediff.com, etc. Besides the various people in our groups can help by passing on the information to the other Biharis that they might know.

This is an initial thought and I think there can be other advantages for creating such a registry or database.

Kolkata - Varanasi river cruise - An opportunity to showcase Bihar's tourism heritage

A cruise trip on Ganga was introduced between Kolkata and Varanasi on the September 29, 2009 and has attracted many foreign tourists. This opens up opportunities for the Bihar Tourism team to showcase Bihar's art and culture and tourist destinations as the cruise makes it way through Bihar.

It is definitely an opportunity to improve our aquatic tourism opportunities and attract many more tourists to Bihar. Some of the examples could be
1. Dolphin eco-tourism
2. Aquatic sports : If we can develop this in the Ganga / other river tributaries)
3. Aquatic Museum : We should definitely invest in building a good fish aquarium, and if possible an underwater aquarium. An underwater aquarium definitely attracts a lot of tourists and the feasibility should be checked if we can have one in Bihar.
4. Bihar art's and crafts should be showcased at various places on the route.
5. At these centers, the other tourist destinations like wildlife tourism, etc should be advertised using electronic billboards, Sinages, etc.

Its an opportunity and BSTDC has taken up the some of the above activities. However there is an opportunity to use this cruise for the strategic development of Bihar's underdeveloped tourism (the non-Buddhist circuit). This opens up opportunities for private entrepreneurs also to showcase and sell Bihar's handicrafts, etc and develop private theme parks etc like a water park,

Some of the activities that the BSTDC has taken up and more related information can be got from the article River cruise boosts Bihar handicrafts sale in The Times of India.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Madhubani - Education Sector - Job Opportunity

All,
I came across this job opportunity in one of the Bihar related yahoo groups. This is a job opportunity for teachers and a Principal in Madhubani required from April 2010. You may pass it on to people who might be interested. Anyone who is interested can directly get in touch as per the email below.

I am pasting the contents of the email below.

====================================================================

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Raj Singh rajsingh801@yahoo.com
Date: Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 1:01 AM
Subject: Requirement of Principal and Trained Hindi/English/Science/Math teachers

Hi All,

I am re-forwarding my previous mail for teaching staff requirements.

Though, I have been able to meet the current teaching staff requirements for our school by hiring teachers from outside, I am looking for more trained teachers and Principal from next session starting from April 2010.


Would appreciate for passing on this message to the target groups in case you know.

Regards

Raj Singh

Managing Trustee, Vivek Singh Memorial Trust,


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On Tue, Apr 14, 2009 at 3:05 PM, Raj Singh <rajsingh801@yahoo.com> wrote:
Dear All,

I am in the look out for the following staff for running the school which has been started last week:

A visionary Principal with an excellent academic experience in developing and managing public school from ground zero level.
Trained Science/Math teacher
Trained English/Hindi teacher
The medium of instruction is english and aspirants should be fully versed with english. They will be required to stay in the school campus. The necessary accomodation and amenities will be provided. Food will be provided in the common mess with the students.

The school is in village surrounding where the campus is being developed on a 12 acres plot, located 15 KM east of Jaynagar Railway station (connected with direct trains from Delhi, Kolkatta, Patna, Muzaffarpur, Samastipur). It is 3 KM south of Khajedih Chauk (on NH104) in Ladhania Block under Madubani District.

Interested may submit their resume at : rajsingh801@yahoo.com
Phone: (0) 9223595078

Salary would not be a limit for a right candidate.

Regards

Raj Singh

Managing Trustee, Vivek Singh Memorial Trust

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Planning Commission's Support Required

Traditional governments in Bihar (in the last 15-25 years before 2005) were not interested in developing the state and therefore we have seen very little per capita development spend in Bihar. Thus while things have been improving in Bihar in the last 4 years, the per capita development spend for the 11th five year plan has only been Rs. 1,446 during 2005-06, Rs. 2,123 during 2006-2007 and Rs. 2,184 during 2007-2008 in comparison to the national average of Rs. 3,049.

While the Indian planning commission has been helpful in supporting the growth strategies of the present government, it has to realize that it is the first time in many many years that a government is putting efforts for the development of Bihar. If Bihar propers, there will be a lesser outflow and migration of people from Bihar in search of a livelyhood. This will definitely have a positive impact not only for India but for the image of the Bihari people who often are at the receiving end of the jokes of people from across India.

With a very high density of population, Bihar would require much more financial resources to accelerate its growth so as to bring the standard of living of people across the state, closer to the national average, in the next five years. Hence it is important for the Planning Commission to support the development efforts of Bihar, even rising above political considerations. The Bihar government has approached the planning commission soliciting their support and the planning commission has been positive in considering the request from the Bihar government. My hope and the hope of majority of the people in Bihar is that the Planning commission will take a sincere and positive look at the demands of Bihar and support Bihar's development efforts and not turn a blind eye to all its requests. By supporting the development efforts, it will improve the lives of crores of people, specially since the highest number of people living below the poverty line are in Bihar.

I am marking a copy of this blog post to Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Dy. Chairman of the Planning commission.

Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia ji: Do consider the requests of the people of Bihar and provide your extended support to Bihar in the cause of its development efforts. This is the first time in many many years that the people of Bihar have a hope of a better Bihar and your help and consideration will be highly appreciated by all the people of Bihar. If implementation is a concern, please provide development assistance aligned with targeted milestones to continue getting the assitance and I am sure Mr. Nitish Kumar will ensure that these targets are adhered too.

For people who want to read the article on the per capita development GDP spend in Bihar, they can read the Economic Times article at "Bihar has the lowest per capita development spend"

Bihar Progress Report Card - 2009

I have posted the Bihar Progress Report Card - 2009. The report can be downloaded from my home page Bihar's - Change in Destiny and Progress.

I have only briefly glanced at the report and would be studying it in more detail over the next few days and then I will post my views on anything substantial that I find in the report.

I have broken up the report into 3 parts so that people can download it easily. If anyone wants the report as one file, I can also email it to him directly. The report can also be downloaded directly from the companion site of Bihar's - Change in Destiny and Progress

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bihar Progress Report 2009 to be released today (Tuesday)

As Nitish Kumar's government completes its 4 years at the helm of Bihar today (Tuesday 24th Nov 2009), it is expected that he will release the progress report for 2009 today. It will be interesting to read what new developments have taken place and what new initiatives are being taken up in this report.

I am looking forward to reading this report and will post it as soon as I get access to it.

In the meantime Nitish Kumar in an interview to reporters has said "Bihar was a failed state but now Bihar is a success story".

Quoting from this article in the Times of India : Much before Barack Obama made his famous slogan of "Yes, we can", Nitish had pledged to change the face and character of Bihar which was infamous for crime and corruption. "We did it in a brief period and today at least people are not living under terror," he said.

This news article can be accessed at Bihar now a success story: Nitish

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tiger Protection Force (TPF) - likely in Bihar

Poaching of Tigers has been a big problem in India and even in Bihar. The Valmiki Tiger reserve, the only reserve where Tigers are found has seen a dwindling population of Tigers. In 2005 there were 33 tigers in this reserve. Apparently there are only around 10 left now. If not protected, we won't have any tigers left in Bihar. Thus any chances of increasing the wildlife tourism for the Valmiki Tiger Reserve and Bihar in general will suffer a jolt.


Thus it would be a good initiative to have a TPF that will protect the tigers in Bihar.



More details can be found in the article "Bihar likely to have tiger protection force soon"

Green electricity in Bihar - Risk husks for biomass electricity generation

I came across an interesting article on how some villages are being electrified in Bihar using Rice husks which are traditionally thrown away as waste. Currently 50 villages with a population of 2,000 to 4,000 are getting electricity from such biomass fuel.



Husk Power Systems (HPS), a rural electrification company, that has pioneered this technique, has plans to provide electricity to 2000 such villages in the state.



This presents an opportunity to the entrepreneurial mind to start such husk based power generation plants to electrify the other villages of Bihar where there is no electricity yet. It will benefit both the entrepreneur and the villagers and thus is a win-win for everyone.


One of the things that I did not come across was any information about the CO2 foot print generated by these plants. This is something to keep in mind and try to reduce, when using such plants.



More details can be found in the article "Bihar villagers now get green electricity"

RTI Amendment in Bihar - Change from Rs. 10 for multiple queries to Rs. 10 per query

A lot of people have recently raised queries and challenged the change introduced in RTI by the Bihar government where the Bihar government has amended the RTI act so that a person will now have to pay Rs. 10 for each query asked instead of Rs. 10 for all queries asked.

A lot of social activists and politicians are opposing this amendment. Politicians claim that this is anti-poor and that it is aimed at stopping the poor from using the act. However I am really surprised by this position of many politicians. I would like to know how many poor people really use the RTI. The poor, toil day in and day out to earn their daily bread, where would they have the time to invoke information under the RTI act. I am guessing that majority of them don't even know that something like RTI exists.

For people who can think of using the RTI act, the change in the fee structure is hardly going to impact anyone. If I think from the government's perspective, they are only trying to make people use RTI sensibly. It is very likely that some people ask a few more questions than they really wanted to ask just because they don't have to pay anything extra. This obviously puts an extra toll on the RTI mechanism delaying the RTI responses to some of the other people. For example, there were 50,000 RTI queries made in 2007-08. Assuming 5 queries per person there would have been 2,50,000 queries. Even if I assume that 2% of the queries were asked just as an add-on to some other queries being made, it would mean that 5000 additional queries were made, unnecessary, thus delaying responses to some of the other people.

I think people should stop raising uncessary issues and concentrate on more important issues. A request to such people: Please stop diverting the government's valuable time away from developmental activities.

More information about the RTI ammendment and opposition can be got from the article "RTI activists to challenge amendment to RTI in Bihar"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bihar's current GDP - Rs 1,05,148 crore and future

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) has said that the the current government of Bihar has put the industrial revival of Bihar on fast track.


"Riding the crest of a 'good governance', Bihar is all set for an industrial revival during the next decade with the state's GDP moving towards achieving a healthy eight per cent growth."


This view was expressed by ASSOCHAM in its latest report entitled ''Bihar Vision-2020-A Growth Strategy'' which was released on 12th November 2009 in Patna.


ASSOCHAM has said that the prospect of the revival of industrialization in Bihar has brightened as the state's Gross Domestic Products(GDP) was expected to grow by eight per cent per annum during the next decade to reach a figure of Rs 2,64,781 crore from the present Rs 1,05,148 crore. The report attributed this prospect to good governance in Bihar in the last 4 years.


The report has pointed out that Services sector contributed to 55% towards the growth of GDP in Bihar, followed by agriculture at 35% and industries at 9%. The report expressed concerns that manufacturing sector was a challenge for Bihar as it contributed only 0.38% to the growth of GDP in Bihar (the lowest in the country).


However the emergence of food processing, agro products, pharmaceuticals, cement, iron and steel, tourism, health and infrastructure sectors reassures the investment potential of Bihar to everyone.

More details can be found in the article by Times of India and the article Industrial revival of Bihar put on fast track by NDA govt: ASSOCHAM by Webindia123

How should the people of Bihar react?

With the ongoing efforts of certain politicians in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and other states aimed against Biharis, that have lasted more than a year, a section of people from Bihar feel that one of the ways to react is by boycotting the products made in Maharastra to impact it economically and thus stop the rattle of the some of these politicians against Bihar and it's people.

In my view, it is a highly impractical and incorrect idea to boycott things made in Maharashtra. Some of the reasons for my belief are
  1. Maharashtra has a reasonable size of residing Biharis. All attempts to boycott goods made in Maharashtra is likely to affect Biharis especially the lower starta of people working in these industries as labourers, operators, etc
  2. A campaign run over emails and a couple of paper ads will not have much of an impact. A much larger campaign would be required which would entail enormous cost. Such a campaign is unlikely to succeed without the support of the Bihar Govt (which can never support this initiative openly).
  3. Doing so would mean that we are also reacting like these politicians:trying to hold a section of people at ransom. Even if our campaign in successful, we will end up bulling thes politicians and these governments which does not send out a positive signal for the people of Bihar. There will be more violance against the people of Bihar. Are we equipped today to offer jobs to thousands of people who would have to leave these state and return to Bihar?
  4. Infact other states might also start reacting unnecessarily against Biharis assuming that we might do a similar thing with those states. Afterall the image and respect for Biharis in various states has been at an all time low not too long ago.
  5. Finally Maharastra, MP and any other Indian state are as much a part of Sovereign India as is Bihar. People from all states, like Biharis, have the right to stay and involve in commercial activities in any part of India. No one has the right to damage/destroy any businesses run by any Indian in any part of India.

I would agree with some of the people who have said that rather than reacting against these states, we should rather focus on the development of Bihar. Creating self sufficiency in Bihar is the only way to improve the image of Bihar and command the respect that all Bihari people deserve.

Instead of focusing our efforts externally , let us focus our efforts internally.

  1. Let us get our major political parties to support the development efforts for Bihar rather than just trying to derail and criticize all efforts being currently made.
  2. I am highly surprised by the political party that was in power for 1.5 decades and responsible for taking Bihar to the drains. However they are quick to criticize all efforts (positive and negative) of the state today with the sole motive of making political gains. Undoing damage done over 15 years and more requires time to be undone and cannot be done in a short span of time. Hence let us try and influence such politicians, if possible, to contribute positively for the development and rise of Bihar.
  3. Various political parties are carrying out morchas, bandhs, etc to highlight that no development is taking place in the current regime. However 87% common people agree that development is happening in Bihar. So we should convince the common people of Bihar to not get carried away by such claims of political parties motivated by just political ambitions.
  4. Let us force everyone possible, to work for the development of Bihar.
  5. The Government of Bihar had drawn ambitious plans to bring the GDP growth rate of Bihar on par with India's GDP growth rate of 8% in the 11th Plan. It had also drawn plans to increase the GDP of Bihar, which stood at Rs. 39,330 crores at the end of the 10th five year plan (2006), to Rs. 99,700 crores at the end of the 11th five year plan (2007-2012) i.e. in 2012. However, as of 12th Nov 2009 itself, the GDP of Bihar stood at Rs 1,05,148 crores. Doesnt this mean that the Government of Bihar is doing good work? So why not support it and strengthen it?

Let us force the rest of India and the rest of the world to give the due respect to us Biharis by our actions, our growth and most importantly the growth and flourishment of Bihar. That is in my opinion the best way to respond to petty politicians who talk or raise slogans against Biharis and Bihar.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Protect the Dolphins and increase eco-tourism - Prof. R. K. Sinha

After my last article on Dolphins in Bihar, I could not stop myself from reading Prof. R. K. Sinha's homepage in depth. As I read through his homepage, my appreciation for the efforts of this man continued to grow and I subsequently ended up writing to him. I got a reply from him and the reply shows how deeply involved and concerned Prof. R. K. Sinha is about the Dolphins.

I want to share the contents of his email and hope that all of us will be able to support his cause by promoting the use of the alternative to the dolhin oil, if and when we get a chance. Like Prof. Sinha has rightly said "By saving a dolphin, fishermen can earn the money daily, equal to what they can earn only one day by killing a dolphin" through promoting eco-tourism.

The contents of Prof. Sinha's email is given below.

"Almost ten years ago I developed an alternative to the Ganges River dolphin oil used by the local fishermen as fish bait. This oil is extracted from fish scraps thrown along the road side near any fish market. From the peritoneal fat attached to the viscera mainly of Rohu, Katla and Mrigal fishes, the oil can easily be extracted by heating the same in any utensil. This can be used as an alternative to the dolphin oil to support oil fishery.

We conducted field trials for 500 hrs in 121 days spread over three years with the help of local fishermen, published the findings in a reputed Journal"Biological Conservation" published from Elsevier from London in 2002. To popularize the oil among fishermen we undertook extension program at Patna, Bhagalpur and Kahalgaon in Bihar and also in Brahmaputra River in Assam from where fishermen were trained by us. They are using this alternative oil and earning good return besides saving the dolphin. Also this oil adds value to the scrap which is otherwise a big nuissance along the road side.

The Ganges dolphin got the status of National Aquatic Animal of India by the Prime Minister on 5th October during the First Meeting of the National Ganga River Basin Authority at the Residence of the Prime Minister. In the meeting, as one of the co-opted Expert Members of the Authority, I explained the ecological and economic importance of the dolphin and requested the Prime Minister to declare the dolphin as a National Aquatic Animal. During an International Conference on Ganga organized by me at Patna University in Nov 2006 I had requested the Chief Minister of Bihar Sri Nitish Kumar to get this species status of National Aquatic Animal and he had written two letters to the Government of India with the same request. On my request and the two letters of the CM, Prime Minister declared the Ganges Dolphin as National Aquatic Animal then and there. Indeed it was very exciting for me and Sri Nitish Kumar who told me "tab apka sab kam to ho gaya" just after the meeting was over.

Promoting eco-tourism to watch dolphin in its natural habitats will provide one of the alternative livelihoods to the fishermen and help save the dolphin also. By saving a dolphin, fishermen can earn the money daily, equal to what they can earn only one day by killing a dolphin. Moreover, the species is our Aquatic heritage as it is endemic to the rivers of the Ganga-Brahmaputra system. It is our prime duty to save the species from extinction."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Festivals of Bihar

Introduction
India has had a tradition of festivals from time immemorial. From national festivals to social ones, people come closer, enjoy and forget their differences. Festivals always break the monotony of day-to-day life and inspire us to promote love and brotherhood and to work for the upliftment of the society. Bihar as a part of this ancient land is no exception and has a long list of celebrations.

Chatth Puja
Almost all civilizations have worshipped the ‘sun god’, but it has a unique form in Bihar. Chatth Puja is the only occasion where the setting sun is worshipped. The people of Bihar have immense faith in this festival. It is celebrated twice a year. Once in Chaitra (according to the Hindu calendar) which falls in March and in Kartik which falls in November. For this 4-day festival, people maintain sanctity and purity from even a month ahead. People celebrate this festival with immense faith the folk songs sung in the honour of ‘Surya Dev’ and ‘Chatti Maiyya’ can be heard at every nook and corner the sweetness of the songs lets you feel the holiness of the festival.
Women fast for the good of their family and the society. Regardless of the social status, to celebrate this festival only the faith counts. Though it is a festival of the Hindus, some of the Muslims also participate actively in the puja.

Sama-Chakeva
It is during the winter season that the birds from the Himalayas migrate towards the plains. With the advent of these colorful birds, celebration of sama–chakeva is done. This is a festival especially celebrated in mithila. mithilanchal dedicates this festival to the celebration of the brother sister relationship. It represents the tradition of this land as well as the art of making idols. This festival starts with the welcoming of the pair of birds sama-chakeva. Girls make clay idols of various birds and decorate them in their own traditional ways. Various rituals are performed and the festival joyfully ended with the ‘vidai’ of sama and with a wish that these birds return to this land the next year.

Ramnavami
A Hindu festival celebrated in all parts of the country. This is the auspicious day when lord RAMA was born. People celebrate it observing fasts and offering prayers in his honour.

Makar-Sankranti
Also known as Tila Sankranti, the festival marks the beginning of the summer season. People believe that from this day on, the days become longer and the heat of the sun also increases. Every year it is observed on the 14th of January. People celebrate it by giving offerings to the poor.

Bihula
Bihula is a prominent festival of eastern Bihar especially famous in Bhagalpur district. There are many myths related to this festival. People pray to goddess Mansa for the welfare of their family.

Madhushravani

This festival is celebrated all over mithilanchal with much enthusiasm. It is celebrated in the month of Sawan (Hindu calendar), which falls around August. This festival carries a message with itself. It teaches how to weave together religion and tradition in day-to-day life.

Basant Panchami, Shivratri, Raksha Bandhan, Holi, Durga Puja, Deepawali, Id, Bakrid, Christmas and many more festivals however big or small are celebrated with enthusiasm all over this landmass.

Courtsey: http://gov.bih.nic.in/Profile/default.htm

History of Bihar

Introduction
Bihar, the ancient land of Buddha, has witnessed golden period of Indian history. It is the same land where the seeds of the first republic were sown and which cultivated the first crop of democracy. Such fertile is the soil that has given birth to innumerous intellectuals which spread the light of knowledge and wisdom not only in the country but in the whole world. The state has its capital at Patna, which is situated on the bank of the holy river Ganga. The state as it is today has been shaped from its partition from the province of Bengal and most recently after the separation of the tribal southern region now called Jharkhand.

Ancient History
The history of the land mass currently known as Bihar is very ancient. In fact, it extends to the very dawn of human civilization. Earliest myths and legends of hinduism the Sanatana (Eternal) Dharma - are associated with Bihar. Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, was a princess of Bihar. She was the daughter of King Janak of Videha. The present districts of Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Samastipur, Madhubani, and Darbhanga, in north-central Bihar, mark this ancient kingdom. The present small township of Sitamarhi is located here. According to legend, the birthplace of Sita is Punaura, located on the west-side of Sitamarhi, the headquarters of the district. Janakpur, the capital of King Janak, and the place where Lord Rama and Sita were married, lies just across the border in Nepal. It is reached via the rail station of Janakapur Road located in the Sitamarhi district, on the Narkatiyaganj - Darbhanga section of the North-Eastern Railway. It is no accident, therefore, that the original author of the Hindu epic - The Ramayana - Maharishi Valmiki - lived in Ancient Bihar. Valmikinagar is a small town and a railroad station in the district of West Champaran, close to the railhead of Narkatiyaganj in northwest Bihar. The word Champaran is derived from champa-arnya, or a forest of the fragrant Champa (magnolia) tree.

It was here that Prince Gautam attained enlightenment, became the Buddha- at the present Bodh Gaya- a town in central Bihar; and the great religion of buddhism was born. It is here also that Lord Mahavira, the founder of another great religion, Jainism, was born and attained nirvana (death). That site is located at the present town of pawapuri, some miles to the south east of patna, the Capital of Bihar., it is here that the tenth and last Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh was born and attained the sainthood of sikhism, that is became a Guru. A lovely and majestic Gurudwara (a temple for Sikhs) built to commemorate his memory - the harmandir- is located in eastern Patna. Known reverentially as the Patna Sahib, it is one of the five holiest places of worhip (Takhat) for Sikhs.

The ancient kingdoms of Magadh and of Licchavis, around about 7-8th century B.C., produced rulers who devised a system of administration that truly is progenitor of the modern art of statecraft, and of the linkage of statecraft with economics. Kautilya, the author of Arthashastra, the first treatise of the modern science of Economics, lived here. Also known as Chanakya, he was the wily and canny adviser to the Magadh king, Chandragupta Maurya. As an emissary of Chandragupta Maurya, Chanakya traveled far and wide in pursuit of promoting the interests of the State and dealing with the Greek invaders settled in the northwest of India, along the Indus valley. He succeeded in preventing the further onslaught of the Greeks. Indeed, he brought about amicable co-existence between the Greeks and the Mauryan Empire. Megasthenes, an emissary of Alexander's General, Seleucus Necator, lived in Pataliputra (ancient name of Patna, the Mauryan capital) around 302 B.C. He left behind a chronicle of life in and around Patliputra. This is the first recorded account by a foreign traveler in India. It describes in vivid terms the grandeur of life in Patliputra, a city established by King Ajatshatru, around 5th Century B.C., at the confluence of the rivers Sone and Ganga.

Another Mauryan king, Ashok, (also known as Priyadarshi or Priyadassi), around 270 B.C., was the first to formulate firm tenets for the governance of a people. He had these tenets, the so called Edicts of Ashok, inscribed on stone pillars which were planted across his kingdom. The pillar were crowned with the statue of one or more lions sitting on top of a pedestal which was inscribed with symbols of wheels. As the lion denoted strength, the wheel denoted the eternal (endless) nature of truth (dharma), hence the name Dharma (or Dhamma) Chakra. This figure of lions, atop a pedestal, with inscription of a wheel, was adopted as the Official Seal of the independent Republic of India (1947). Also, Ashok's dharma chakra was incorporated into the national flag of India, the Indian tricolor. Remains of a few of these pillars are still extant, for example at Lauriya-Nandan Garh in the district of West Champaran and at vaishali, in the present district of the same name. Ashok, a contemporary of Ptolemy and Euclid, was a great conqueror. His empire extended from what is now the North West Frontier Province (in Pakistan) in the west, to the eastern boundaries of present India in the north, and certainly, up to the Vindhyan Range in the south. Ashok was responsible also for the widespread proselytization of people into Buddhism. He sent his son, Prince Mahendra, and daughter, Sanghamitra, for this purpose to as far south as the present country of Sri Lanka (Sinhal Dweep in ancient times, and Ceylon during the British Empire. Some historians, particularly Sinhalese, consider Mahindra and Sanghmitra as brother and sister.

Ancient Bihar also saw the glorification of women in matters of state affairs. It was here that Amrapali, a courtesan of Vaishali (the present district of the same name) in the kingdom of the Lichhavis, attained and wielded enormous power. It is said that the Lord Buddha, during his visit to Vaishali, refused the invitation of many princes, and chose to have dinner with Amrapali instead. Such was the status of women in the Bihari society of several centuries B.C.!

A little-known, but historically and archaeologically documented, event is worth mentioning in this context. After his visit with Amrapali, Lord Buddha continued with his journey towards Kushinagar (also called Kusinara in Buddhist texts.) He travelled along the eastern banks of the river Gandak (also called Narayani, which marks the western border of Champaran, a district now administratively split into two- West and East Champaran.) A band of his devoted Licchavis accompanied Lord Buddha in this journey. At a spot known as Kesariya, in the present Purbi (meaning, East) Champaran district, Lord Buddha took rest for the night. It was here that he chose to announce to his disciples the news of his impending niravana (meaning, death); and implored them to return to Vaishali. The wildly lamenting Licchavis would have none of that. They steadfastly refused to leave. Whereupon, Lord Buddha, by creating a 3,000 feet wide stream between them and himself compelled them to leave. As a souvenir he gave them his alms-bowl. The Licchavis, most reluctantly and expressing their sorrow wildly, took leave and built a stupa there to commemorate the event. Lord Buddha had chosen that spot to announce his impending nirvana because, as he told his disciple Anand, he knew that in a previous life he had ruled from that place, namely, Kesariya, as a Chakravarti Raja, Raja Ben. (Again, this is not just a mere legend, myth or folk-lore. Rather, it is a historiclly documented fact supported by archaeological findings. However, neither this part of Buddha's life, nor the little town of Kesariya, is well-known even in India or Bihar.

At Nalanda, the world's first seat of higher learning, an university, was established during the Gupta period. It continued as a seat of learning till the middle ages, when the muslim invaders burned it down. The ruins are a protected monument and a popular tourist spot. A museum and a learning center- The Nava Nalanda Mahavira - are located here.

Nearby, Rajgir, was capital of the Muaryan Empire during the reign of Bimbisara. It was frequently visited by Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira. There are many Buddhist ruins here. It is also well-known for its many hot-springs which, like similar hot-springs elsewhere in the world, are reputed to have medicinal property.

Medieval History
This glorious history of Bihar lasted till around the middle of the 7th or 8th century A.D. - the Gupta Period - when, with the conquest of almost all of northern India by invaders from the middle-east, the Gupta dynasty also fell a victim.

In medieval times Bihar lost its prestige as the political and cultural center of India. The Mughal period was a period of unremarkable provincial administration from Delhi. The only remarkable person of these times in Bihar was Sher Shah, or Sher Khan Sur, an Afghan. Based at Sasaram which is now a town in the district of the same name in central-western Bihar, this jagirdar of the Mughal King Babur was successful in defeating Humayun, the son of Babur, twice - once at Chausa and then, again, at Kannauj (in the present state of Uttar Pradesh or U.P.) Through his conquest Sher Shah became the ruler of a territory that, again, extended all the way to the Punjab. He was noted as a ferocious warrior but also a noble administrator - in the tradition of Ashok and the Gupta kings. Several acts of land reform are attributed to him. The remains of a grand mausoleum that he built for himself can be seen in today's Sasaram (Sher Shah's maqbara.)

Modern History
During most of British India, Bihar was a part of the Presidency of Bengal, and was governed from Calcutta. As such, this was a territory very much dominated by the people of Bengal. All leading educational and medical centers were in Bengal. In spite of the unfair advantage that Bengalis possessed, some sons of Bihar rose to positions of prominence, by dint of their intelligence and hard labor. One such was Rajendra Prasad, native of Ziradei, in the district of Saran. He became the first President of the Republic of India.

When separated from the Bengal Presidency in 1912, Bihar and Orissa comprised a single province. Later, under the Government of India Act of 1935, the Division of Orissa became a separate province; and the Province of Bihar came into being as an administrative unit of British India. At Independence in 1947, the State of Bihar, with the same geographic boundary, formed a part of the Republic of India, until 1956. At that time, an area in the south-east, predominantly the district of Purulia, was separated and incorporated into West Bengal as part of the Linguistic Reorganization of Indian States.

Resurgence in the history of Bihar came during the struggle for India's independence. It was from Bihar that Mahatma Gandhi launched his civil-disobedience movement, which ultimately led to India's independence. At the persistent request of a farmer, Raj Kumar Shukla, from the district of Champaran, in 1917 Gandhiji took a train ride to Motihari, the district headquarters of Champaran. Here he learned, first hand, the sad plight of the indigo farmers suffering under the oppressive rule of the British. Alarmed at the tumultuous reception Gandhiji received in Champaran, the British authorities served notice on him to leave the Province of Bihar. Gandhiji refused to comply, saying that as an Indian he was free to travel anywhere in his own country. For this act of defiance he was detained in the district jail at Motihari. From his jail cell, with the help of his friend from South Africa days, C. F. Andrews, Gandhiji managed to send letters to journalists and the Viceroy of India describing what he saw in Champaran, and made formal demands for the emancipation of these people. When produced in court, the Magistrate ordered him released, but on payment of bail. Gandhiji refused to pay the bail. Instead, he indicated his preference to remain in jail under arrest. Alarmed at the huge response Gandhiji was receiving from the people of Champaran, and intimidated by the knowledge that Gandhiji had already managed to inform the Viceroy of the mistreatment of the farmers by the British plantation owners, the magistrate set him free, without payment of any bail. This was the first instance of the success of civil-disobedience as a tool to win freedom. The British received, their first "object lesson" of the power of civil-disobedience. It also made the British authorities recognize, for the first time, Gandhiji as a national leader of some consequence. What Raj Kumar Shukla had started, and the massive response people of Champaran gave to Gandhiji, catapulted his reputation throughout India. Thus, in 1917, began a series of events in a remote corner of Bihar, that ultimately led to the freedom of India in 1947.

Sir Richard Attenborough's award winning film, "Gandhi", authentically, and at some length, depicts the above episode. (Raj Kumar Shukla is not mentioned by his name in the film, however.) The two images here are from that film. The bearded gentleman, just behind Gandhiji, in the picture on the left, and on the elephant at right, is Raj Kumar Shukla.

Gandhiji, in his usual joking way, had commented that in Champaran he "found elephants just as common as bullock carts in (his native) Gujarat"!!

It was natural, therefore, that many people from Bihar became leading participants in India's struggle for independence. Dr. Rajendra Prasad has been mentioned above. Another was Jay Prakash Narayan, affectionately called JP. JP's substantial contribution to modern Indian history continued up until his death in 1979. It was he who steadfastly and staunchly opposed the autocratic rule of Indira Gandhi and her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi. Fearing people's reaction to his opposition, Indira Gandhi had him arrested on the eve of declaring National Emergency beginning June 26, 1975. He was put in the Tihar Jail, located near Delhi, where notorious criminals are jailed. Thus, in Free India, this septuagenarian, who had fought for India's freedom alongside Indira Gandhi's father, Jawahar Lal Nehru, received a treatment that was worse than what the British had meted out to Gandhiji in Champaran in 1917, for his speaking out against oppression. The movement started by JP, however, brought the Emergency to an end, led to the massive defeat of Indira Gandhi and her Congress Party at the polls, and, to the installation of a non-Congress government -The Janata Party - at Delhi, for the first time. With the blessings of JP, Morarji Desai became the fourth Prime Minister of India. JP remained the Conscience of the Janata Party and of post-Gandhi - post-Nehru India. He gave a call to all Indians to work ceaselessly towards eliminating "dictatorship in favour of democracy" and bringing about "freedom from slavery". Sadly, soon after attaining power, bickering began among the leaders of the Janata Party which led to the resignation of Shri Desai as the Prime Minister. JP continued with his call for "total revolution" (sampporna kranti), but he succumbed to kidney failure at a hospital in Bombay in 1979.

Subsequent bickering in the Janata Party led to the formation of a breakaway political party - the Janata Dal. This political party is a constituent unit of the current ruling coalition at Delhi, the so called, United Front. It was also from this party that Laloo Prasad Yadav, the Chief Minister of Bihar was elected. The bickering continued. A new party led by Mr. Yadav was formed as - the Rashtriya Janata Dal - which went on to rule for almost 15 years in Bihar.

This was also a period when Hindi literature came to flourish in the state. Raja Radhika Raman Singh, Shiva Pujan Sahay, Divakar Prasad Vidyarthy, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Ram Briksha Benipuri, are some of the luminaries who contributed to the flowering of Hindi literature, which did not have much of a long history. The Hindi language, certainly its literature, began around mid to late nineteenth century. It is marked by the appearance of Bhartendu Babu Harischandra's ( a resident of Varanasi in U.P.) drama "Harischandra". Devaki Nandan Khatri began writing his mystery novels in Hindi during this time (Chandrakanta, Chandrakanta Santati, Kajar ki Kothari, Bhootnath, etc.) He was born at Muzaffarpur in Bihar and had his earlier education there. He then moved to Tekari Estate in Gaya in Bihar. He later became an employee of the Raja of Benares (now Varanasi.) He started a printing press called "Lahari" which began the publication of a Hindi monthly, "Sudarshan", in 1898. One of the first short stories in Hindi, if not the very first, was "Indumati" (Pundit Kishorilal Goswami, author) which was published in 1900. The collection of short stories "Rajani aur Taare" (Anupam Prakashan, Patna, publishers) contains an extended history of the origin and evolution of the short story as a distinct literary form in the Hindi literature.

Conclusion
For its geographical location, natural beauty, mythological and historical importance, Bihar feels proud of the assets it has been gifted by time. And for its moral contributions in the fields of arts-literature and religion and spiritualism, it knows no competitors centuries old stories related to this land are told even today. The state is the same kingdom, which once upon a time ruled the country as well as the neighbouring countries . Many great rulers have lived here and it fills us with a sense of pride when we think of Bihar as the 'Karmabhumi' of Buddha and Mahavir. Bihar, to liven up the glorious tale of which land, words fall short.

Courtsey : http://gov.bih.nic.in/Profile/default.htm

Friday, October 30, 2009

Half of India's Dolphin population found in Bihar

It was not known to me but half of India's dolphins are found in the water of Ganges (Ganga) river in Bihar. However, this population of dolphins will start facing extinction if their killing is not stopped immediately.

There are two reasons for extinction.
1. Contaminated wastes released by industries into Ganga
2. Fishermen killing the dolphin's to use their oil for making fishing bates.

Dolphin's have been declared national indian aquatic animal recently. But even besides that it would be lovely to have dolphins around and can become a source of dolphin tourism in Bihar.

Alternatives have to be found for the fishermen folk so that they can switch over to other materials for fishing bates. Secondly, the pollution control mechanism has to kick in to quickly stop industries from releasing contaminated wastes into Ganga across the various states Ganga flows in. While efforts have been going on, on this front from quite sometime, the efforts have to be increased and the industrialists have to realize that it is important to save the Ganga from any further contamination. They might incurr a small cost to find out alternate ways of waste disposal but the benefit of this act on humanity will be tremendous.

Since a lot of rivers feed into Ganga, dolphin's are found in other rivers , like Gandak , etc too. Hence it is equally important to protect the dolphin population there.

I appreciate PU zoology department Professor R K Sinha, who has single-handedly led a struggle to save the Ganga dolphins. Let us support him and his efforts in anyway possible which includes even just spreading the words on saving the dolphin population.

Tourism: Dolphin keep changing habitats with the changing seasons and right now good numbers are found in the Ganga in Patna and Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary in Bhagalpur. Last month, Prof. Sinha sailed 200 kms in the Gandak in a boat and spotted a dolphin every km. So the tourism enthusiats planning on a holiday might consider going on a dolphin tourism in Bihar.

An interesting article to save the dolphin's can be found here "Enforce ban on killing of dolphins, DMs told". More details on Prof. Sinha can be found at http://dolphinsinha.com

State Level Employment-cum-Guidelines Fair - 2009

A mega employment job fair has been organized today (saturday) and tomorrow in Patna. The job fair is offering 25,000 jobs and is represented by 125 reputed private companies. Multiple venues have been created between B N College and teh employment exchange office on Bailey road. The venues have been made sectorwise for ease and convenience. The employment fair is being organized in joint collaboration with CII, Bihar Industries Association (BIA) and Bihar Chamber of Commerce (BCC)

This is the 3rd in the series of mega employment job fairs in Bihar. In the first fair 25 companies had participated and offered employment to 1,200 youths. The 2nd job fair saw 35 companies participating and giving employement to 3,500 youths. Both these fairs were held last year. Thus as we see, the number of companies participating and jobs being offered this year has increased 5 times. This is a sure sign of growing private sector participation in Bihar.

More details about this Mega employment fair in Patna, can be found in the times of India article "25000 jobs to be on offer at fair"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Have you voted for Nalanda University.

http://7wondersofindia.ndtv.com/vote_final.aspx

Please vote for Nalanda University as one of the 7 wonders of India (contest of NDTV), if you truly feel that Nalanda University deserves a place on this list.

http://7wondersofindia.ndtv.com/vote_final.aspx

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Analysis of Criminal contestants - Assembly bye elections 2009

I have extracted the names of the politicians from Bihar who have criminal cases pending against them from the ADR published list. I have put this together in an excel sheet for easy of anyone who wants to find out the names of the candidates . Some of the eye-catching findings are
  1. 25 candidates have a serious IPC case pending against their name (generally cases like murder, attempt to murder, etc). Out of the 25 candidates 4 have been fielded by JD (U) and 4 are independant. RJD, Congress and CPI have fielded 3 candidates. The other parties have lesser than 3 candidates with serious IPC cases pending.
  2. Begusarai has 7 politicians followed by 6 in Nautan with criminal cases pending.
  3. The highest number of cases pending against any individual is 17

The most suprising part (or un-surprising part) is that none of these politicians have even been convicted in a single case.

People who would like to find out the details of the candidates can do so from the excel sheet posted at Contestants with Criminal backgrounds (Assembly bye elections 2009)

The summary is as below.
Party : Total of Serious IPC Cases
IND : 4
JD (U) : 4
CPI : 3
INC : 3
RJD : 3
CPI(M) : 2
LJSP : 2
NCP : 2
BJJD : 1
BSP : 1
Grand Total : 25

Some other statistics

  1. The average age of the politicians standing in the bye election is 47 years.
  2. The age range of the politicians is 29 to 66 years.

Contestants with Criminal backgrounds (Assembly bye elections 2009)

Criminal backgrounds Politician in assembly bye elections 2009

An interesting statistics was published by National Election Watch (Association for democratic reforms). Thanks to Dr. V. N. Sharma for sharing the statistics with us.

As per the statistics
  • Maximum no of candidates with pending criminal charges contesting elections are from Bihar (45 out of 123, 36.49 %). It is followed by Gujarat where 9 (out of 24, 37.50%) candidates have pending criminal charges against them.
  • Of the political parties, INC has fielded 13 (out of 31, 41.94%) candidates with pending criminal charges. It is followed by RJD 9 (out of 12, 75%). BJP & JD (U) have fielded 5 candidates each (out of 17 & 11, 29.41% & 45.45% respectively) with pending criminal charges
  • There are 15 candidates with murder and attempt to murder charges pending against them. Out of these 13 are from Bihar and 1 each is from Delhi & Gujarat.

The detailed document has been uploaded at Contestants with Criminal backgrounds (Assembly bye elections 2009)

I think it is time again for people of Bihar to come out and not vote for candidates who have a pending criminal case against them or are criminals. I know some good politicians with false criminal cases might suffer due to this but for the bigger cause of Bihar's development we will have to make a sacrifice.

Let us all decide and influence as many people as possible to not vote for politicians with pending criminal cases or who are criminals.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Acceleration of Bihar's Growth and development.

There was a discussion in one of the forums about the difference between "vikaas" and "pragati" in Bihar's context. It was pointed out that today Bihar government is developing the basic infrastructures which will provide the growth needed for Bihar. It was also pointed out how investments in different areas are important for accelerating the growth in Bihar.

In my view investments into agriculture, tourism and industry is definitely required to put Bihar in the accelerated growth mode.

Industries:

Bihar government has been trying to attract investments into India which is a very good sign and with the improved law and order and security and road infrastructure we will see an increase in industrial investments. But this will take time to bear fruits as industrial investments normally take time to mature. The government should not only make efforts to attract more investments but also provide the right kind of support in getting these projects implemented in the shortest possible time keeping in mind the best option for the people of Bihar.

However there are two areas in which Bihar can immediately start reaping more benefits with investments from the Bihar / Central government and lesser dependence on investors: Tourism and Agriculture.

Tourism:
There are many places that can be converted into tourism attraction easily and Bihar can earn much more revenues from tourism than it currently does. With relatively lesser investment and in shorter duration of time, Bihar can attract much more revenues which can be ploughed back in the development of Bihar.

Some examples pointed out for places which can be developed, besides the already more popular attractions, are Sitamadhi (birthplace of Sita) and Gandhi Museum (currently suffering from neglect) in Motihari…

How about the wildlife of Bihar? Bihar boasts of 2 national parks and 21 sancturies. These include the country’s only hideout for wolves, a sanctuary for dolphins, a crocodile centre and a lake that is home to an infinite variety of birds migrating from Central Asia.

Similarly there will be many more such important tourist attractions which if adequately developed and marketed, can benefit Bihar.

I happened to visit Hearst Castle in USA in early 2000s. I was surprised by the amount of revenues this tourist attraction far away in wilderness was attracting, just based on the positioning the marketing team has achieve for Hearst Castle. If one look at Hearst castle and more so from within, one will realize that Bihar's historical and cultural heritages have much more to offer than a Hearst Castle. And still we are not attracting many tourists (domestic and international), that can be attracted to Bihar.

Agriculture:
Bihar mainly being an agricultural economy (and that can be said about all India as 70% of Indian GDP is agriculture and related industries), it is of prime importance to strengthen the investments in agriculture such that our farmers are negligibly effected by climatic adversities. On one hand certain districts are suffering from no rain and on the other hand some districts are suffering from floods. The Bihar government should immediately start investing in infrastructure which would allow the excess water, from areas that get flooded, to be used for irrigation in the areas where there is no rainfall. It is important for the sustained growth of Bihar, that the government over the next 2-3 years makes concerted efforts to bridge this gap between dry areas and flooding areas. Bihar will be so much more economically stronger if this is done.

Even though 70% indian economy is agriculture based, the investments in irrigation projects is very low even though the investments in agriculture development fund is Rs. 3.25 lakh crores. The government of India in 2009-2010 is only investing about Rs. 1000 crores on irrigation projects which in my mind should be increased and implemented on a war footing in all agricultural economies of India. (Budget information courtesy: India Union Budget 2009 - 2010)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tourism picking up in Bihar

The news that more foreign tourists visited Bihar in 2008 than ever before has pleasantly surprised me. As per the article dated 2nd Sept 2009, appearing in Times of India , 3,45,572 foreign tourists visited Bihar in 2008. In 2005 the number of foreign tourists visiting India was 63,321. This is over 5 times increase in foreigners visiting Bihar and this is a very good sign specially as this number was next only to Goa's.

Dy. Chief Minister Sushil Modi has attributed this to better law and order situation, improvement in tourists’ facilities and positive changes in the state. I will tend to agree with his statement.

The dramatic increase in foreign tourists illustrates how a positive change in basic infrastructure and security can have an all round impact on the state. Bihar has a lot of opportunities to build global tourism destinations . Many of the tourist locations like Nalanda, Rajgir, Kesariya Stupa, Gaya, Tutla falls, etc can easily be developed into international tourism destinations of repute. I am sure the government has this in mind and will develop more and better infrastructure that will attract big revenues from tourists internationally and domestically that will in turn aid in the faster development of Bihar. If some people in the government have not realized this, I am sure they will, after hearing or reading this article in Times of India.

The detailed article can be found in Times of India : Over 3.4 lakh foreigners visited state in 2008

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An appeal for Mr. Santosh Kumar - NIT (REC) Suratkal student

Hats off to all the people who responded to Mr. Prabhat Kumar's and Mr. Shyam Kamath's request and came out wholeheartedly to support Santosh Kumar.

Dear All,
Many of you would have come across emails to support Santosh Kumar (an engineering student at NIT Suratkal). Santosh Kumar hails from Kamhar village in Begusarai district. His father had passed away when he was a child and he was being taken care of by his brother. His brother also recently passed away. Santosh had taken a loan of about Rs. 80,000/- (70,000 initially and another 10,000 of other expenses) for his brothers treatment. Thus Santosh was left with no one to support him for his fees and monthly expenses and a debt of Rs. 80,000/-.

Realizing this Mr. Shyam Kamath, Asst. Prof. at NIT Suratkal took up Santosh's cause and reached out to Mr. Prabhat Kumar, Sr. Research Scientish, Thailand and others to provide help to Santosh. Many people came out to take up the cause of Santosh Kumar. I would specifically like to mention the names of Mr. Shyam Kamath, Mr. Prabhat Kumar, Mr. Ashok Sharma and Mr. Anand Lakhmani here.

Many Biharis came forward to support Mr. Santosh Kumar and today not only his fees for the semester has been paid but also some people have come forward to pool in and remit Rs. 2200 per month to Santosh Kumar for his monthly expenses. The money is being routed through the NGO, Prayaas. Some of the names of people willing to support Santosh are Kartik Sahay, Saroj Kumar, Suman Kumar, Varun Kumar, Prabhakar Pandey, Anup Sinha , Anand Lakhmani, Prabhat Kumar, Amit Sharma,Uday Shankar, Om Prakash Jha, Mr. Anjani Kumar Singh, Prabhakar Pandey, Chandan Singh, Keshav, Divyanshu Verma, Pooja, Santosh Singh, Sanjay KS, NIT Suratkal Alumni, and some others who have decided to directly help Santosh Kumar. (I might have missed some names as I got these from the email trail). Great work people.

The details of contributions made by everyone can be found in this excel sheet http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=rBqt61qqWUiP1nvxmrjIELA&output=html


However,I just came to know from Mr. Shyam Kamath that the Rs. 80,000 Santosh Kumar borrowed from friends for his brother's treatment is still pending and is weighing on Santosh's head. Many of you out there can still help Santosh in returning this loan. Mr. Santosh will make all efforts to return the money to all individuals once he starts workings.

I am attaching my email communication, other relevent documents and the ways to get your contributions to Santosh in the documents located at Help Santosh Kumar (http://sites.google.com/site/progressivebihar/help-santosh-kumar)

Do come forward for this noble cause.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Investment proposals since 2006 in Bihar: Progress of Bihar

The Bihar State Investment Promotion Board (SIPB) has cleared (or cleared with conditions) 194 investment projects worth more than 115,000 crore rupees (over 23 billion dollars). These projects include

26 Thermal, biogass and solar power plants
25 sugar mills
34 agricultural/food processing units
18 steel and cement plants

Some existing manufacturing facilities are also being augmented.

However many of the projects have not kickstarted as there are delays in land acquisitions, other governmental clearances (like environment), etc. These controls from governmental agencies are good for Bihar's future but at the same time the delays in approvals or rejections have to be reduced. Otherwise we will see many of these investment proposals moving from Bihar to the other states, which will not be good for Bihar.

Nitish Kumarji, do expedite clearance of the projects (if they are pending for political and corrupt reasons) with various ministries/governmental agencies. These projects should be cleared based on the legality and correctness of the investment proposals and how much they can benefit or cause harm to the people of the region. More the time taken, more the chances of corruption and unfair practices. Fulfill your 2015 dream of a developed Bihar.

For all who are interested, the entire list of proposal is posted on the Bihar government website and also on http://sites.google.com/site/progressivebihar/project-approved

Is Bihar making progress - Poll

Friends,
I had started a survey many months back to get people's view whether Bihar is actually making progress consistently. The poll has closed in July 2009 after being open for 6 months and I am happy to declare the results

11% - People who felt that Bihar was not making progress.
1% - People who did not know whether Bihar was making progress or not.
87% - People who felt that Bihar was indeed making progress.

Thank you everyone who voted in this poll.

Investment approvals: Power generation in Bihar - As on July 2009

One of the key focus of the Government of Bihar has been infrastructure development. We have seen the government invest in roads, Primary healthcare and education. The government also realizes that power will also play a major role in the development of Bihar and hence has increased focus on power generation projects in Bihar. Thus between 2006 and 2009 power generation projects worth more than 73,000 crores have been approved or are in the various stages of approval. If all these project materialize, then the total power generation capacity of Bihar will have increased by more than 18,000 mega watts. This will definitely go a long way in the development of Bihar.

While SIPB (State Investment Promotion Board) of Bihar has approved or conditionally approved all these projects, the Bihar cabinet is still taking its sweet time to approve the projects. The Bihar cabinet has only approved 3 projects that will result in a total of 5,440 mega watts of power generation capacity with an investment of 22,779 crores India rupees.

As the government of Bihar has itself said that Bihar will need more than 8000 mega watts of power in the in next 5 years, it should speed up the process of making more approvals. The projects that are approved by the cabinet are

Company : Type : Power capacity (MW): Location : Inv (Cr)
JAS Infrastructure Capital Pvt. Ltd. : Thermal : 2640 : Banka : 11120

Adhunik Power &Natural Resources Ltd. : Thermal : 1000 : Kahalgaon, Bhagalpur : 4369.45

M/S Nalanda Power Company Limited : Thermal : 1800 : Pirpainti, Bhagalpur : 7290

On another note, the Bihar government should also focus on giving approvals to green energy projects which will benefit Bihar more in the long run. Thus solar energy projects and Biomass projects should be encouraged. Currently most power projects in Bihar are Thermal/Coal based.

I have extracted a list of power projects in Bihar and am listing the ones with more than 100 MW production capacity. The list can be accessed here
http://sites.google.com/site/progressivebihar/project-approved. The list of all projects approved from 2006 to July 2009 can also be accessed here

Business Reformer of the year 2008-09 - Nitish Kumar

Another feather in Nitish Kumar's cap was added when he was declared the Business Reformer of the year 2008-09. Nitish was choosen over Sheila Dixit who has been credit with good development work in Delhi.

The article states that "Ending Lalu Prasad Yadav family’s 15-year reign, Nitish Kumar became the chief minister, with a promise to turn the state around. Three years on, Mr Kumar seems to be on track, although Bihar might take a while to show results. "

As per the article, Nitish Kumar wants to make Bihar a developed state by 2015. The article appreciates Nitish for the good start made in the areas of employment generation and infrastructure development.

More details can be found in the article ET Awards 2008-09: Business Reformer of the Year- Nitish Kumar

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Focus on improving literacy amongst women in Bihar

While the overall Bihar literacy rate stood at 54.1% at the end of 2007, the literacy rate amongst women was abysmally low at about 35%.

Hence the recent move by the Bihar government to invest about Rs. 52.6 crores for literacy programs for 40 lakhs illiterate women falling under the age group of 15-35 years is a welcome move.

The program called Mukyamantri Akshar Aanchal Yojana is definitely a good move as empowering women by education will help in improving the socio-economic conditions of the people of Bihar.

More details can be found in the Times of India article Rs 52.6 cr literacy programme for women okayed


Mukhyamantri Akshar Aanchal Yojana meant to make 40 lakh
illiterate women falling under age group of 15-35 years literate across the state

Five Patna University colleges get new Principals.

All government appointments were at a standstill in the last few years or even decades in Bihar. The same was the case with the education sector also. Many Patna University (PU) colleges did not have a Principal for decades. Many of the colleges were functioning with Professors Incharge. Now this has changed. The Vice Chancellor Mr. Shyam Lal has announced the appointment of Principals for 5 colleges under PU.

List of new Principals
1. Patna Science College - Prof. Kashi Nath (Was the Head of Physics department in Patna Science college)
2. Patna College - Prof. Lal Keshwar Prasad Singh (Was Patna college geography teacher)
3. Magadh Mahila College - Prof. Dolly Sinha (Was head of Physics department in Magadh Mahila college)
4. B. N. College - Prof. Raj Kishore Prasad (Was physics teacher in B R A Bihar University)
5. Vanijya Mahavidyalaya - Prof. Umesh Mishra (Was PU applied economics and commerce department head)

Congratulations to all the new Principals. I hope they can help in accelerating the sustained growth and progress of Bihar.

More details about these new appointments can be found in the Times of India Article Five PU colleges get new principals

Bihar's Economic Survey 2008-09

The Bihar government carried out an economic survey for the year 2008 - 09. The report of this survey was published in Feb 2009. It provides some interesting highlights of the economy in Bihar.

Out of the many interesting highlights, I am listing some

1. Out of the entire Bihar population 89.5% stay in the rural areas

2. Population density is 880
3. Sex ratio is 919 girls to 1000 boys with Siwan having the best ratio of 1031 girls to every 1000 boys and Munger having the worst ratio of 872 girls per 1000 boys. Patna follows close behind with 873 girls to 1000 boys. (However the high ratios in Siwan is most likely due to emigration of the male population to other states in India in search of work)
4. Gross enrollment of students from Bihar in higher education is 6.7% compared to the India average of 9.2%. While the male enrollment is better the female enrollment is only 3.5% against India average of 7.7%

5. Bihar has a very low density of higher education institutions. For e.g. Bihar has only 7 engineering colleges (with no new applications for engineering colleges pending). Compare this with 292 engineering colleges in Andhra Pradesh (with applications for 113 new colleges pending) and 286 engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu (with applications for 53 new colleges pending). Even UP has 125 engineering colleges with 43 new applications pending.


5. Reduced crime rate: As per the report there were 117.9 crimes per lakh of population for the year 2007 which is below the national average of 175.10. This placed Bihar at the 28th rank for crime with Pondicherry having the highest crime rate of 475.4 crimes per lakh population and Nagaland having the lowest crime rate of 54.4 crimes per lakh population. Details of various states are present in the table below.

There are many more details in the report. I have uploaded this report on my companion site "sites.google.com/site/progressivebihar" for anyone who wants to download the report.

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