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, 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.

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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.

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---------- 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."

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