Saturday, June 30, 2007

After Spiderman, a Bhojpuri TV channel

MUMBAI: Sri Adhikari Brothers, which recently concluded a public issue for its 100% subsidiary, Broadcast Initiatives (BIL), is gearing up to launch India’s first Bhojpuri channel in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Bhojpuri is currently a high-growth regional market, and BIL hopes to duplicate the huge success of Bhojpuri cinema in the television arena. Speaking to ET, Markand Adhikari, vice-chairman and managing director, SAB, said, “There is currently no Bhojpuri entertainment channel, and through a concentrated effort in specialised content, there is a huge opportunity. Being a dialect of Hindi we are confident of grabbing a good marketshare and are equipped to take the first-mover advantage.”

With regional markets accounting for more than 24% of the total television advertising pie, there is a concentrated effort by the group to target these markets by launching a Bhojpuri channel to the Marathi entertainment channel Mi Marathi.

Most of the other regional markets today have at a choice of about 6-7 regional language channels. BIL has two channels, a news and current affairs channel Janmat and the Marathi general entertainment channel Mi Marathi.

The company is in the process of investing in equipment and technology for the news channel Janmat and the new revamped avatar will be visible in July, it is learnt. Mi Marathi, meanwhile, has managed to gain a strong foothold in the Marathi market in Maharashtra and is currently second in terms of reach after Zee Marathi with 33% and marginally ahead of ETV’s 31%, according to Tam Media Research.

Sri Adhikari Brothers, earlier this month issued foreign currency convertible bonds aggregating $7 million, with a greenshoe option of $3 million. The funds raised will be invested for expansion. The company plans to build a state-of-the-art television studio in the next one year, and is in the process of acquiring land in Mumbai.

The Bhojpuri market received a boost in 2006 with 76 films produced in that year alone, a 100% increase over 2005. They also account for 7% of the number of films produced, marginally behind Malayalam and Kannada, according to the Central Board of Film Certification data.

The demand for Bhojpuri content is not restricted to eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, but goes much beyond to cities like Mumbai, which have a large number of migrants. The films are doing well in Jallandhar, Ludhiana, Panipat, Kurukshetra, Noida and Gurgaon, which have a sizeable population of the migrant labour from Bihar.

There is an estimated 40 lakh Bhojpuri-speaking people in Mumbai, 18 lakh in Punjab and about 8 lakh in Delhi. Bengal and Nepal are also emerging as the next big markets.

Bihar temple comes of age with Dalit head priest

About 10,000 people of Paliganj village will attend a grand ceremony that will mark the installation of Janardan Majhi today

PATNA: Winds of change seem to be blowing in the rural areas of Bihar. The religious rituals in a remote Hindu temple at Paliganj, around 40 kilometres from the state capital, here will be performed by a Dalit priest without any objections by the Brahmins or other upper caste people.

As a mark of their approval, about 10000 persons from different sections of society would attend a community feast (Pangat) to mark the installation of Janardan Majhi now Janardan Das as the chief priest of the ancient temple at Paliganj on Saturday. The birth anniversary day of saint Kabir falls on this day.

The Bihar State Religious Trust Board (BSRTB) had constituted a Temple Trust Committee for the smooth management of this ancient temple that has 100 acres of valuable land under its possession. The temple trust committee is also be headed by a Dalit — Sidheshwar Majhi.

The Secretary of the committee, Suresh Kashyap also belongs to an extremely backward caste. Chief Administrator of BSRTB, Kishor Kunal said that the said temple was considered to be one of the most affluent temples of Bihar but in course of time almost all the land belonging to the temple had been encroached.

Some people had occupied it forcefully while others had purchased it unlawfully by paying just peanuts to the successive priests. But by his concerted efforts and clean image, Kunal succeeded in retrieving more than 50 percent land of the temple and constituted a temple management committee to look after the temple.

Impressed by the action of BSRTB, many others have volunteered to return the temple land. This is not the first temple to have a Dalit as its chief priest, said Kunal. The Mahavir Temple of Patna, Vishal Nath Mandir at Hajipur and Shiva Mandir at Bihta all have Dalits as their chief priests.

Bihar to get IIT, IIM, IIIT

New Delhi, June 30 (PTI): Bihar will have one IIT, one IIM and one Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) during the 11th plan period.

Besides, every district in the state will have a UGC-aided college.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the Planning Commission with State Secretaries of higher education, a Bihar government release said.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Nitish package for ‘ex-Prez’ Kalam

The BJP may have overlooked the “contributions” of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam but the Janata Dal-United has not. Instead, this appears to be pay-back time, at least for the Bihar chief minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, who has announced that he ould “rehabilitate” the President after he relinquishes office on 24 July.

Apparently, overwhelmed by the thumping support he always got from the President, Mr Kumar’s NDA government in Bihar is thinking of offering him the top post f “visitor” at the proposed Nalanda International University, coming up at the historical site.
“President Kalam has to play a big role in the revival of the university.

I had discussed the issue with him once and the state government will make a formal request to him to accept the post,” the chief minister told reporters recently. Under the Nalanda Open University Act as passed by the state government recently, the university will have a chancellor, a vice-chancellor and the top post of a visitor.

Curiously, Dr Kalam, while discussing his plans with reporters on Sunday had expressed his wishes that included the one to teach at Nalanda International University.

Mr Kumar had lobbied in Delhi to get Dr Kalam nominated a second term in office, though his efforts did not succeed. Much before the BJP could agree to his request, JD-U sources said, the former had announced the candidature of Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as its presidential candidate.

Even the Third Front formally urged him to withdraw from the race after he appeared “willing” to contest if there was a “sure-shot victory”. Mr Kumar told reporters on Monday that he had personally proposed Dr Kalam’s name in Delhi but failed in his efforts.

Why this special love for Dr Kalam? The answer is simple. The outgoing President appeared only too “willing” to help Mr Kumar whenever the latter needed his support and went that extra mile to let people know what should be done to bring Bihar on the path to progress and prosperity.

First Prez had bank balance of Rs 1,432

PATNA: While the present day politicians declare assets worth crores, the balance amount of a savings account held by the country's first president Rajendra Prasad was a meagre Rs 1,432.

The account in the Exhibition Road branch of the Punjab National Bank has not been closed by the authorities even after four decades of Prasad's death as a mark of respect to the Bharat Ratna awardee.

No one has come forward till date to withdraw the amount. His descendants have already migrated out of Bihar. Bank officials said that the account was an asset and a matter of pride for the bank.

They said that the balance signifies his (Prasad's) honesty and integrity in public life. Other prominent leaders like Jay Prakash Narayan and Maulana Mazharul Haque also had accounts in Punjab National Bank branches, the officials said.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The folk legends of Shiva and Vidyapati

Vidyapati is the most celebrated poet of Mithila. He was the first of the old Vaishnava master singers who spoke and wrote in desil-bayana (folk language), and his short hymns of prayers and praises soon became exceedingly popular. He wrote on several branches of scholarships.

Prominent among them are Keertilata (a marvellous piece of literature written in praise of Kirtisimha and Veerasimha of the Oinwar dynasty of Mithila); Bhuparikrama (geographical details of the world); Purusapariksha (an examination of Hindu ethical morals based on the good examples from the ancient history of India); Keertipataka (description of the details of the battle between Sivasimha, a worthy descendant of Keertisimha, and some Muslim rulers); Padavali (an account of his charming songs written in his mother tongue- desil-bayana); Likhnavali (written in a form of letters); Gangavakyavali (on religious merit of worshipping the holy Ganga); Saivasarvasvasaar (a vast treatise like an ocean on the Shaiva form of worship-can be treated as an encyclopaedia of the Shaiva cult); Daanvakyavali (about the importance of religious gifts for a common practioner of Hindu religion); Vibhagsasar (details of law of position of property and inheritance); Durgabhak-titarangini (on the form of Durga worship); Gayapattalaka (an excellent manual of rites to be performed on the occasion of death rites at Gaya); Gorakshavijaya (song-drama); Manimanjari (drama); Dvaitanirnaya (on the practices and experiments of tantra and tantra tradition of Mithila) and Vyadi-bhakti-tarangini (details of snake-worship in Mithila).

According to the local legend, Vidyapati was an ardent devotee of Shiva. He composed several songs in the form of Nacharis and Maheshbanis to please the Lord. Impressed with the devotion and poetic creativity of the poet, Lord Shiva came to him in a disguised form of a cowherd boy called Ugna.

Ugna requested the poet that as he was an orphan boy he wanted to work in his house as his servant. With a little hesitation, the poet assigned him the job of looking after his cattle. Ugna became a very charming and affectionate servant to the poet within a very short period.

One day, Vidyapati received an invitation to participate in a royal function of the king of Mithila, Shivasimha. He took Ugna with him and they left for the king’s capital. On the way the poet became very thirsty but it was a huge barren land where he saw no drops of water.

The helpless poet finally requested Ugna to bring some water. Ugna too showed his inability to bring the water and requested him to travel some more distance, but Vidyapati refused to walk further and became unconscious. He fell on the ground. Now, Ugna, who was none but Lord Shiva himself, took out a jug of water from his matted hair (jata), revived him to consciousness and gave the poet water to drink. The poet felt the taste of Ganga-water and immediately asked Ugna wherefrom he had brought it.

Ugna tried to make some false story but failed to do so. He wanted to keep it a secret and that’s why he avoided deliberately the poet’s query, but as Ugna wanted to avoid it, the poet’s curiosity increased. Finally, he appeared as Shiva, in his original form, before the poet.

Vidyapati touched his feet and took the dust of Ugna’s feet into his hands. Ugna now warned him not to disclose the secret before anybody including the poet’s wife Sushila. Vidyapati assured Ugna to keep this secret with him.

According to the local legend, Vidyapati was an ardent devotee of Shiva. He composed several songs in the form of Nacharis and Maheshbanis to please the Lord.

Ugna remained with Vidyapati for many years and helped him miraculously in many critical situations. For instance, when Shivasimha was arrested by Emperor Allaudin Khilji of Delhi, Vidyapati accompanied by Ugna, came to Delhi to get him released. Knowing that Vidyapati was a poet, Allaudin arranged a scholarly debate between Vidyapati and his own court-poet.

Vidyapati was told to respond either in Persian or a mixed language alone. The poet with the heavenly blessings of Ugna defeated the Sultan’s poet and responded in poetry he had composed in the prescribed languages. Not only that, with the blessings of Ugna he got rid of many obstacles created by the Sultan and his men at Delhi and finally succeeded in getting his king released from the prison of Sultan.

Now the story takes a very sad turn. Once, the wife of Vidyapati assigned some domestic responsibility to Ugna, which he failed to deliver according to her given instructions. She became angry with him and started beating him with a broom. This erratic behaviour of Sushila made Vidyapati frustrated that Shiva, of whom he was a great devotee, should be abused and humiliated. He could not control himself and shouted, “Stop! What the hell are you doing? Ugna is none else but Lord Shiva.” It is said, that very moment Ugna disappeared from there.

Now Vidyapati realised his mistake. He left his house and wandered through many temples, rivers and jungles in search of Ugna. Finally, Vidyapati found Ugna in Nandanvana. Shiva told him that he would not go back to his house but would help him whenever required. The place where Ugna appeared before the poet as God is known as Ugnaasthan. A small lingam was enshrined by the local devotees. Recently a temple has been made for that lingam.

This story is known to each and every person of this region. For them it is history. Even today they worship Lord Shiva while singing the devotional songs of Vidyapati to please him.

Source : Organiser

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Global varsities lend a hand to Bihar

PATNA: Technical education in Bihar is set to go global. The University of Edinburgh, UK, and Iowa State University, USA, have offered tie-ups with institutes providing technical education in Bihar.

"The tie-ups will not only open the gates of the world to students of technical institutes in Bihar, but will also add to the credibility of the degree offered here because the brand name of the internationally-acclaimed universities will be added to it and it will have a better visibility in the employment market," remarked science and technology department commissioner Ajay Kumar Thakur.

The department has been entrusted with the job to process the offers made by the international universities. Prof B Sinha, emeritus professor, Institute of Infrastructure and Environment, School of Engineering and Electronics of the University of Edinburgh, has written a letter to Bihar CM Nitish Kumar expressing the desire to bring a delegation headed by the deputy vice chancellor (international affairs) to meet him.

"We hope to discuss the possibility of helping the state in raising standards in the fields of engineering (civil, chemical, electrical, mechanical and electronics), IT, management and public health," Sinha said in his letter. The internationally-acclaimed university has offered to reach a bilateral agreement for mutual cooperation and benefit, which would include training of undergraduate and postgraduate students of Bihar in Edinburgh and exchange of staff and students between the institutions of Bihar and Edinburgh. It will also cover development of collaborative research projects and organising joint scientific activities such as conferences, seminars and symposia.

In another development, Rajendra Sinha, instructor, international business, Des Moines Area Community College, Ankeny, Iowa, USA, has suggested the Bihar CM to visit Iowa along with his officials to discuss the offers made by Iowa State University (ISU). He has suggested discussing the modalities of setting up partnership "to fully operationalise the five engineering colleges and 17 vocational/technical schools in Bihar.

Sinha, incidentally, was instrumental in facilitating an MoU between ISU and Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa, in March 2006. He has also suggested to offer vocational and technical courses along with other professionals. "For instance, Dr Modudgu Gupta, who has helped thousands of rural women in South-East Asia learn the 'art of raising fish', will be able to single-handedly transform the economic conditions of rural Bihari women," he has suggested.

However, the tie-ups with internationally-acclaimed universities will need upgradation of existing facilities and huge funds. The government is toying with the idea of approaching the World Bank, USAID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other such institutions for financial support.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bihar may have its first open jail soon

Patna, June 22: The Bihar government may set up its first open jail for 100 inmates where the convicts could stay in a family ambience for their speedy reform.

A detailed project report has been submitted to the state's home department to establish an open jail adjacent to the Buxar central jail, IG (prisons) Sandeep Paundrik said.

A 20-acre plot has been identified for the purpose.

A two-member team comprising the superintendents of Phulwarisharif and Buxar central jails was sent to Jaipur to study the functioning of open prisons in Rajasthan and on the basis of its report, the DPR was prepared for setting up the jail without walls which has been submitted to the home department, he said.

He said the jail department in its proposal had recommended that only those prisoners who have undergone 50 per cent of their sentence would be entitled to get the benefit of the open jail where they could stay with their families and take up jobs of their choice within a raidus of 5 km of the jail premises.

Though they will not have guards breathing down their necks all the time and will be allowed to go and work outside, the inmates will be required to answer the roll calls twice in the morning and evening.

There are 26 open jails across the country but none in Bihar.

Bihar government sanctions Rs 146 lakh for minority institutions in the state

Patna, June 22: Bihar government has approved the plan for increasing the retirement age of the employees in aided minority schools from current 58 years to 60 years. In this regard, the department of human resources will issue an ordinance within two or three days. The government also sanctioned to give the teachers in aided minority schools salaries at par with the central pay scale salary and other allowances. Under the guidance of acting chairman of state legislative counsel, Prof. Arun Kumar, a meeting was held along with seniors officers of department of Human resources and the treasury department for discussing issues related to Madrsas, Minority and Sanskrit schools, in which several important decisions were also taken.

Those who participated in this meeting were ML Kidar Pandey, Basdeve Singh, Narendera Singh, Naveen Kumar, first secretary of treasury department, and other many officers.

After meeting, Prof. Kumar said that the teachers of madrasa coming under Bihar Madrasa Board, minority schools as well as Sanskrit schools have been the victims of discrimination and negligence during the previous governments. He said that the present government is taking necessary steps to improve the lot of these neglected segments.

Rs 1 crore was approved as budget for Bihar Urdu Academy for financial year of the year 2007-08. The Academy had a similar budge during the last financial year as well. For Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu Rs 4 lakh was approved while Rs 20 lakh was approved for Bihar Sunni Waqaf Board. Shia Waqf Board was sanctioned Rs 7.5 lakh for this fiscal year. The much neglected Bihar Haj Committee was also given Rs 10 lakh by the state government for current financial year.

In a first, Bihar gets US firm to check district roads for quality

In the thick of a massive road-building and upgradation exercise, Bihar has gone further in search of lasting quality for its roads and opened district construction projects to third party inspection.

At present, only under-construction national highways and externally aided road projects by the World Bank and ADB opt for third-party inspection for superior road quality and contractor accountability. Bihar government has tied up with US firm MSV International for “third party quality check of construction” of integrated road development projects in the state.

Starting on Thursday, 4,000 km of Bihar’s major district roads currently being two-laned, are being tested for quality construction work with the help of a Mobile Testing Van, a first for the state.

“The thinking is to get the best of roads in the state. So we came up with the plan to start third-party inspections,” said an official at the Road Construction Department in Bihar. “The MSV system will not only improve road quality but also help us rework maintenance contracts keeping road deficiencies in mind,” he said.

The testing will later be extended to other state highways under construction. About 4,000 km of the 7,000 km long district roads are presently being upgraded by the state, which is using its own funds estimated at Rs 1,400 crore.

The US firm’s testing van, packed with standard testing equipment, will test quality of work across the state and submit its reports to the executive engineer and chief engineer concerned of the central design organisation of Bihar.

In case poor construction activity is reported from any site, the mobile van will be rushed there for instant quality check. The tests will be carried out keeping in mind the standards prescribed by the Indian Roads Congress Codes & Publications, and the specifications listed out by the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways.

Shahi litchi may be exclusive brand of Bihar

The famous shahi litchi of Muzaffarpur could become an exclusive brand of Bihar soon. The state is moving to claim the brand name under intellectual property rights (IPR) laws.

Once the Bihar government gets exclusive rights to the brand name, no one else will be able to use it to market shahi litchis in India or abroad. Buyers anywhere will know that a litchi with this brand name has to be one of the famous litchis of Muzaffarpur.

Officials in the horticulture department are preparing documents under the Geographical Indications clause of IPR laws to prove their case that the shahi litchi is unique and that it grows only in Muzaffarpur.

They expect that registration of the brand name will benefit farmers, who will gain access to more markets and get better prices.

About 70 percent of all litchis produced in India are grown in Bihar. The number of farmers in the state growing litchis has increased in the last decade, especially in Muzaffarpur district.

But in a recent report, the World Bank noted that litchis good enough for export were being grown in only about 10 percent of the 2,000-odd orchards in Muzaffarpur. Countries that import litchis from India include the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Canada, Russia and Yemen.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Right to Information Call Center in Bihar

Bihar govt. launched the first call center on RTI in Patna. People can take any kind of information from any dept. under state govt. by applying online.
This film is directed by Priyanka Tyagi & shaped by K.Neeraj.This film has got full media coverage on 29th Jan:06 when the CM Nitish Kumar viewed it with 4000 people around in Patna along with Arvind Kejriwal,the magassasay awardee this year. Later it was shown on various national & local TV channels.

This film became a subject of praise among the diplomats.Nitish Kumar also praised the making of film open heartedly.

Bihar govt signs MoU with SBI

The Bihar government on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with State Bank of India (SBI) for launching a Rs 306 crore World Bank-aided rural livelihood project chirstened 'Jeevika'.
The MoU was signed by SBI chairman O P Bhatt and chief executive officer of 'Jeevika' Arvind Choudhry in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and the bank's general manager A K Dev.

World Bank has agreed to provide Rs 264.40 crore and the state government's share would be Rs 29.40 crore, Modi told reporters, adding the rest of the money would be the share of the beneficiaries.

World Bank sanctioned the project for forming self help groups in 42 blocks of six Bihar districts at its meeting in Washington on June 14, Modi said.
In the first phase 4000 villages of 776 panchayats falling under the districts of Nalanda, Gaya, Khagaria, Muzafarpur, Purnea and Madhubani would be covered under the scheme and would be later extended to other districts.

Modi said SBI had disbursed over Rs 3000 crore in Andhra Pradesh to SHGs and the same could be achieved in Bihar provided the SHGs were formed and they take the benefits of several schemes launched by the nationalised banks.

Bihar Hockey Team beats Gujarat 13-1

Bihar defeated Gujarat 13-1 in a Group A match of the National Junior Hockey championship here today. For Bihar, Vinay scored six goals while Bhim Kumar scored four including a hat-trick. The lone goal of Gujarat was scored by Vijay Thapa.

In another match, Tamil Nadu trounced Madhya Bharat 16-0. Vinod Rayar (6) and Shyam Kumar (4) were the main scorers for the winners.

Following are the results: Group A: Bihar 13 Bt Gujarat 1, Tamil Nadu 18 Bt Madhya Bharat 0.

Vidarbha 12 (Ameer Khan 4, Athur Mishra 4 bt Gujarat 3.

Group C: Haryana 3 bt Madhya Pradesh 2 Mizoram 7 (Nalidlanzbua 2, Lalrindheta 2 bt Maharashstra 0.

Group E: Air India 14 (Danish 5, Ashish Minz 2, Mayank James 2, Kullu 2 bt Chattisgarh 0, Namdhari 4 bt Delhi 1.

Group G: IOC 2 bt Uttar Pradesh 0. (Our Correspondent)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Aryabhatta, the Bihari Mathematician

Aryabhatta (476-550 A.D.) was born in Patliputra in Magadha, modern Patna in Bihar. Many are of the view that he was born in the south of India especially Kerala and lived in Magadha at the time of the Gupta rulers; time which is known as the golden age of India. There is no evidence that he was born outside Patliputra and traveled to Magadha, the centre of education and learning for his studies where he even set up a coaching centre. His first name “Arya” is hardly a south Indian name while “Bhatt” (or Bhatta) is a typical north Indian name even found today specially among the great “Bania” (or trader) community of Bihar.

Whatever this origin, it cannot be argued that he lived in Patliputra where he wrote his famous treatise the “Aryabhatta-siddhanta” but more famously the “Aryabhatiya”, the only work to have survived. It contains mathematical and astronomical theories that have been revealed to be quite accurate in modern mathematics. For instance he wrote that if 4 is added to 100 and then multiplied by 8 then added to 62,000 then divided by 20,000 the answer will be equal to the circumference of a circle of diameter twenty thousand. This calculates to 3.1416 close to the actual value Pi (3.14159). But his greatest contribution has to be zero. His other works include algebra, arithmetic, trigonometry, quadratic equations and the sine table.

He already knew that the earth spins on its axis, the earth moves round the sun and the moon rotates round the earth. He talks about the position of the planets in relation to its movement around the sun. He refers to the light of the planets and the moon as reflection from the sun. He goes as far as to explain the eclipse of the moon and the sun, day and night, the contours of the earth, the length of the year exactly as 365 days.

He even computed the circumference of the earth as 24835 miles which is close to modern day calculation of 24900 miles.

This remarkable Bihari was a genius and continues to baffle many mathematicians of today. His works was then later adopted by the Greeks and then the Arabs.

Now, Bihar govt plans to make 'waves'

A bicycle mechanic, Raghav, recently made waves by sending radio waves from his small shop at Mansurpur village in Vaishali district. The "Radio Raghav" FM station was an instant hit among people residing within 10 km radius of Mansurpur village.

Now, realising that radio is a powerful mediun to interact with the masses at the grassroots level, the state government is seriously planning to launch its own FM stations — community radio stations (CRSs). The state government has already prepared a pilot project with the help of IIM students. The technological know-how is being prepared by students of IIT (Kanpur) and IIT (Mumbai).

To begin with, the state government has selected 10 schools of Patna and Nalanda districts to operate these FM stations. These schools would transmit the programmes, the contents of which would be prepared and developed at the Soochana Bhavan. The government would help these schools in obtaining FM frequency from the information and broadcasting ministry. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, during his visit to IIM (Ahmedabad) in November, 2006, had talked to some of the students there and had asked them to prepare a blue print for community radio stations. Nitish had said such radio stations would bridge the gap between the state headquarters and the villages, by using cost-effective means of information through entertainment.

State information and public relations department (IPRD) secretary Vivek Singh, who is monitoring the creation of community radio stations, told TOI that it would be a powerful medium to communicate with the people. The IPRD secretary said the IIM team, comprising management professor Rajnish Sinha and IIM (Ahmedabad) students Kaushlendra, Abhishek, Irfan and Rahul, has worked out the financial viability. These students have also given presentation before the secretaries of different departments, including MM Jha (HRD), Anup Mukherjee (rural development) and special secretary (CM secretariat) Chanchal Kumar.

According to the plan, the schools will be stake-holders while the principals concerned would be presidents of the school community radio stations. Though the initial cost of setting up a transmission centre is estimated between Rs 5-6 lakh, the IPRD secretary said, students of IIT (Kanpur) and IIT (Mumbai) are being approached so that the transmission cost could be reduced.

The state government is planning to set up 800-1,000 community radio stations, having services in Bhojpuri, Magahi, Vajjika, Maithili and Angika.

Patna girl in final round of Indian Idol 3

The melodious voice of this Patna girl has shot her to fame following her entry into the final round of Sony's Indian Idol 3 programme. In the final round Deepali, a Patna Women's College student, will compete with 12 other contestants.

Needless to say, her feat has brought immense joy to her parents Rita Kishore and Dinesh Kishore, the latter a sub-inspector attached to special branch of the Bihar police.

Interestingly, Deepali wanted to become a radio jockey. But given her performance in the Indian Idol show, it'll not be surprising if she ends up as one of Bollywood's most-sought-after playback singers. "Deepali is now aiming at becoming a playback singer in Bollywood. For her, the sky is the limit now," her parents told TOI.

Besides giving credit to their daughter and her trainer — Sony's music director - both Dinesh and Rita also showered ample praise on people who voted for her through SMSes in the piano round. Deepali was among the 10 finalists among 28 contestants in the Piano round held in mid-May and which was telecast from June 1 to 9.

Her parents said programme panelists Udit Narayan and Alisha Chinai, music director Anu Mallick, lyricist and writer Javed Akhtar and special guest Kailash Kher all appreciated Deepali's musical talent.

"But Alisha had special praise for her," chipped in Rita with a sense of pride.

The final round is set to be interesting given that there would be two wild-card entries, besides a finalist from Indian Idol 2, Jolly Das, who couldn't appear earlier due to illness. While the two wild-card entries will perform on June 15 (Friday), Deepali will have a brush with other contestants in the subsequent programme.

Deepali, in fact, was selected from among 5,000 contestants during the audition held at Kanpur from March 12 to 14. Post-selection she was among the 128 contestants in the preliminary round.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bihar to go int'l with Nalanda's revamp

If the Bihar government is really keen to sustain the international interest generated by the just-concluded ‘Global Meet for a Resurgent Bihar’, it has a God-sent opportunity at hand to make the most of.

It can try giving a truly pan-Asian twist to the proposed inauguration at Nalanda on February 10 of a grand memorial to Xuanzang (aka Hieun Tsang), the great Chinese traveller who was a student at the ancient Nalanda University and then a teacher at the Nalanda Mahavihara in the 7th century AD.

Confirming the programme, Nav Nalanda Mahavihara (NNM) director Ravindra Panth said Union Culture Minister Ambika Soni, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) president Karan Singh, Bihar Governor RS Gavai, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and a large Chinese delegation were slated to attend the inaugural function.
"The opening of the memorial will provide a major fillip to international tourism in Bihar and should prove to be a substantive revenue-earner for the State. The revenue potential will be enhanced considerably by the plans to build a cultural village near the memorial," Dr Panth told Hindustan Times.

He said exhibits highlighting life and work of Xuanzang would be displayed in the memorial hall. Among these will be part of his physical relics, handed over by the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama on January 12, 1957 to the then India Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Lying at the Patna Museum, the relics will be transferred to the hall after it is opened.

“The modalities for the transfer are being worked out. There will also be a MoU on the memorial between the representatives of the two countries,” said the director of the Mahavihara, a centre of Buddhist studies set up in the early 1950s at the initiative of the then President Rajendra Prasad.

“Our optimism about the memorial’s potential is buttressed by the fact that Xuanzang is more than just a Chinese icon. He is also one of the most renowned ambassadors of Buddhism,” the NNM director asserted.

Besides enriching the Buddhist circuit, the memorial may prove a stepping-stone for further Indo-Chinese cultural co-operation. Chinese engineers spent months giving the finishing touches to the monument and many feel this bodes well for a consortium that the Nitish regime is putting together to fund a new international university at Nalanda.

Last November, a Chinese television crew had travelled a long way to make a documentary covering Xuanzang’s Nalanda sojourn.

Pages of stolen Aurangzeb manuscript found in Bihar

Patna : Police have recovered 19 of the 110 pages of a rare manuscript - authored by 17th century Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and said to be worth Rs.10 million today - that was stolen from a Bihar school library last year.

Gaya district superintendent of police Amit Jain said Friday they recovered some pages, including the cover page, of the manuscript "Gulistan" from a house in Gaya town, about 100 km from here.

Three people were arrested while negotiating its sale with a Kolkata-based antique dealer who had offered them Rs.2 million for the pages.

"Now our concern is to recover the remaining pages of the rarest of rare manuscript," Jain told IANS over telephone. He hinted that the arrested criminals had given some clues but refused to elaborate.

"Gulistan", written in Persian, was stolen from the Tekari Raj High School library in Gaya about six months ago. Police suspected the hand of international smugglers, dealing in antiques, in the theft.

The crime highlighted the fact that such a rare manuscript had been kept casually in a school library. Incidentally, Magadh Divisional Commissioner S.K. Negi had cautioned the school authorities about its safety.

An expert valued the manuscript to be worth over Rs.10 million in the international market.

"Gulistan", which incorporates colourful paintings and embroidery, also has a picture (sketch) of Aurangzeb - who lived from 1618 to 1707 - printed on the cover page.

"The rare manuscript was lying in the school for over 100 years," a district official said.

There are two theories on how Aurangzeb's "Gulistan" arrived in this school in Tekari, an erstwhile royal estate.

The first one says in 18th century the then king of Alwar in Rajasthan had sold it to his Tekari counterpart for Rs.10,000. It was later donated to the school that was established by the then queen of Tekari, Rani Rajroop Kunwar, in 1876 for the education of her son Gopal Sharan, who later became the king of Tekari.

The second theory says the manuscript could have been presented as a gift to the Tekari estate during Auurangzeb's visit. It was later donated to the school by Rani Rajroop Kunwar.

Kolkata firm to set up power plant in Bihar

The Bihar government Saturday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a Kolkata-based company to set up a thermal power project at a cost of Rs.25 billion in the power-starved state.

The state-owned Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) signed the MoU with Vikash Metal and Power Ltd (VMPL) here for setting up a power plant at Barauni in Begusarai district, about 110 km from here.

'We aim to complete the project by 2011 and the power plant is likely to be operational in the same year,' Vikash Patni, managing director of the company, said.

'It will be a small investment but make a difference,' Patni told IANS soon after the memorandum was signed.

The Bihar State Investment Promotion Board has already approved the project while the Bihar Industrial Development Authority has allocated 300 acres of land for setting up the plant.

According to VMPL officials, the company has made a demand for 1,000 acres of land for setting up a 2,000 MW power plant in a phased manner in order to streamline the distribution of power in the state.

Energy Minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav, who was present when the deal was signed, said it was a positive beginning as several big power projects were coming up in the state.

According to energy department officials, the state's own power generation currently is nil. 'We have a demand of 1,500 MW and the state is getting about 800-900 MW from the central government pool,' they said.

The two thermal power plants - at Kanti in Muzaffarpur and Barauni in Begusarai - are being repaired.

Friday, June 15, 2007

World Bank Provides Support to Rural Poor People in Bihar

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2007 – The World Bank today approved a credit of US$63 million equivalent from the International Development Association (IDA) to the Indian state of Bihar, designed to enhance social and economic empowerment of rural poor people in the state.

The Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project, named “JEEViKA” (or 'livelihood', in Hindi), aims to improve rural livelihoods in Bihar through institutions of the poor in 776 village Panchayats covering 4,000 villages in the districts of Nalanda, Gaya, Muzzafarpur, Madhubani, Khagaria, and Purnea. The project is expected to directly benefit about 2.9 million people belonging to 590,000 households.

Bihar is a predominantly rural state with 89 percent of the population living in rural areas. Around 44 percent of the rural population is poor, one of the highest ratio in India. Poverty is heavily concentrated among the landless or near landless agricultural households, which accounts for 70 percent of the households in the state. Disparities are also evident along gender and caste lines, with Scheduled Castes accounting for one-fourth of Bihar’s landless poor.

“Effective targeting of the poor, especially the most vulnerable groups, is absolutely critical to make growth more inclusive,” said Isabel Guerrero, World Bank Country Director for India. “This project will contribute to empowerment and livelihood enhancement of the rural population, focusing on women and vulnerable groups so that they become active partners in Bihar’s journey out of poverty.”

The project will help organize women from poor and disadvantaged households into vibrant and self-managed institutions of the poor (self-help-groups). These groups will be federated into village organizations, which will receive project investments for various activities through a participatory micro-planning process. The last phase involves forming federations of village organizations as higher-level apex community-based organizations that will take up livelihood enhancement and income-generating activities, and developing linkages with market institutions.

The project will finance Community Investment Funds, designed to transfer financial and technical resources to the community organizations on a demand-driven basis through a participatory micro- planning process. The village organizations are expected to use this resource as a revolving fund to finance various self-help groups in the villages.

“These communities will be provided skills and tools to develop social accountability mechanisms to enable transparency and good governance within the institutions of the poor. This will also help in building effective service delivery partnerships with local governments,” said Parmesh Shah, World BankLead Rural Development Specialist and project team leader.

IDA, the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, is currently supporting five similar programs in India with an outreach of about a million community groups and 10 million poor households across 60,000 villages in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Tamil Nadu. These projects support the social and economic mobilization of poor households into self-managed community organizations and facilitate development of linkages with the financial sector and the markets to enable the poor to become credit and investment worthy.

The IDA credit has 35 years to maturity and a 10-year grace period.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Special cell in fisheries department : Nitish

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today announced that special cell would be opened in state fisheries department for speedy redressal of the grievances of those engaged in fishfarming.

Addressing a function here, Mr Kumar said fisheries had a greater role to play for increasing the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) of the state and the government was committed to tapping the potentials in this sector.

''Agriculture has a broad spectrum having fisheries, dairying, horticulture and floriculture and these sectors require priority to achieve the desired result of improving contributions in the GDP of the state'' he said.

Mr Kumar said after according the agriculture status to the fisheries, the sector was expected to grow fast as all sorts of facilities including the electricity at subsidised rates would be provided to it.

''The existing provision of single phase line in rural areas under Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Programme will not serve the puropse in giving a boost to the agriculture sector'' he said adding that the Centre should change the concerned rules for providing three phase line in villages.

Tarkari vendors chill out on cool promise

Hundreds of woman vegetable vendors here are looking forward to freedom from hardship as the Bihar government has decided to open swanky air-conditioned vegetable outlets for them.

"I heard the government plans to help us by opening vegetable outlets. It is really a good news for woman vendors like me," said Mangri Devi, a vegetable vendor.

The mother of five sells vegetables on the dirty, chaotic pavements at Antaghat, one of the retail vegetable markets here. "Life is not easy. I have been doing it for the sake of my family. I have no option," said Mangri Devi, whose husband works as a labourer.

Last week, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar decided to introduce 'Bihar Green' at a high level meeting here. The project is aimed at helping vegetable farmers and vendors, particularly women, by opening vegetable outlets for them.

Vijay Prakash, secretary of the state welfare department, told IANS: "The project is one of the several moves by Nitish Kumar to promote agri-based businesses and empower women. The government has decided to form self-help groups of women involved in vegetable farming and selling the produce on the lines of successful milk cooperative Sudha Dairy".

Official sources said small vegetable outlets would be set up on the lines of Sudha Dairy booths.

"To begin with, the small vegetable outlets will be set up near the existing Sudha Dairy booths in Patna and later in Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Purnia, Gaya and Bhagalpur districts," an official said.

The government plans to open its centrally air-conditioned vegetable outlets in Patna well before Reliance Fresh and other major players start their grocery retail business here.

"The women will be provided assistance in setting up their shops to run on minimum profit so as to compete with big business houses like Reliance," officials said.

They added that the government would train woman vegetable vendors and improve their communication skills. They will also be taught the importance of hygiene and how to keep vegetables fresh. These women would no longer sell surplus vegetables at slashed prices. "The women vendors will fix their own prices daily at the vegetable outlets," officials said.

"The government move has the potential to benefit vegetable vendors and farmers if the scheme is implemented sincerely," said a merchant at Bazaar Samiti. Bazar Samiti is the largest wholesale market of vegetables and fruits in the state.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Centre mulls Rs 75,000-cr plan for Bihar floods

To put an end to Bihar’s woes caused by annual flooding from Nepal’s rivers, the Centre is working on a Rs 75,000-crore proposal to build three river barrages on Saptkoshi, Baghmati and Gandak rivers.

The Centre has constituted a high-level team comprising of Central and state representatives, which will visit Kathmandu shortly to negotiate with the Nepalese government and convince them of the mutual benefit of the project, which has already received in-principle approval from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The team, to be headed by the chairman of Centre’s special taskforce on Bihar Satish Chandra Jha, will include representatives from Union ministries of foreign affairs, water resources and power, Bihar and UP. Efforts are also on to take the chief ministers of the two states on board along with an Union minister of either of the ministries mention above.

“While persuading the ADB to fund the projects, we argued that support for regional cooperation between India and Nepal on river system will eradicate the problem of arms struggle through Maoist movement in the region,”Jha said.

“Among the three barrages, the technical papers for a dam on Sapt Koshi have already been prepared. The dam will be named Pancheswar and will cost about Rs 20,000 crore. The ADB has agreed to finance the entire project,” Jha added.

The Pancheswar project, apart from controlling floods in the northeastern districts of Bihar, will also generate 7,500 mw of electricity, Jha added.

Bihar takes lead in reviving river inter-linking project

hree years after the Central government virtually abandoned the mega project of inter-linking of rivers, the government of Bihar is coming out with a proposal to link various river basins within the state.

Gujarat, too, is toying with a similar idea. What’s more, Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi recently said that the linking of the southern rivers — Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery — could be taken up immediately.

In Bihar, the project of transferring water in 12 river basins in the state could cost around Rs 35,000 crore, principal secretary of Bihar’s water resources ministry A K Sinha told SundayET.

The state government, which plans to undertake five projects, including Baghmati multipurpse project and Koshi-Mechi link during this fiscal, may require up to 10 years to complete the entire work in 12 basins.

Significantly, the NDA government, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, not only undertook the mega project of inter-linking of rivers, guestimated to cost Rs 1,58,000 crore, but the Supreme Court, too, supported the move.

“For Bihar, it will be an integrated approach of irrigation, flood control and drainage. It’s unlikely that the funding can be done through public private partnership (PPP) mode as the returns will come only through agriculture. However, we expect 50% of funds to come from the Central government,” Mr Sinha said.

Satish C Jha, chairman, special task force on Bihar and a member of PM’s Economic Advisory Council, told SundayET that a better understanding with Nepal was key to control flood in the state and also evolve a better system of irrigation.

“The inter-linking of rivers within the state is an innovative idea. But what we need is a better understanding with Nepal and replicate the success story of the Mekong basin involving various countries,” Mr Jha said.

Former head of the task force on inter-linking of rivers Suresh Prabhu argued that it should be a two-way approach. “What Bihar is doing now is a bottom-up approach. We need that too. Inter-linking of rivers should be done in an intergrated manner involving both augmentation and conservation,” said Mr Prabhu.

Employment Exchange portal of Bihar starts working

Employment Exchange Portal of Bihar ( started functioning from Friday. This web-based application package aims to take care of "on-Line Registration" through '' with other functionalities like Registration, Vacancy EMI, Submission, Vocational Guidence and Employment Statistics.

This system is a land mark step of using IT in a web-based work flow of the Directoriate of Employment & Training.

Explaining the facts Mr Atul Prasad, Director, Employment & Training stated that this portal will allow the Employment Exchanges to select the candidates against a vacancy or seach the jobs for a given candidate profile.

The software will take care of job seekers, employers and employment exchange perspective for submission activity. 48 Employment Exchange offices of the government of Bihar has been connected with this "Employment Exchange Portal." Mr. Prasad has appreciated the whole NIC Bihar Team for their excellent technical support.

Unique food grain banks rescue starved Bihar villagers

in time of need...and the interest waso high. But now everything is fine because we get food when we are starving.

The poor are being benefited," said Kamleshwari Devi, a beneficiary of this unique bank.

At least 35 such grain banks have been set up by women belonging to lower castes and backward tribes across the state with the help of a voluntary organisation, Pragati Gramin Vikas Samiti (PGVS) or Progressive Rural Developmental Committee.

The villagers bought grains with the money provided by the organisation and also contributed to the pool, reassuring themselves the availability of food during trying times.

With little or no interest component, the poor villagers are able to free themselves from the shackles of farmers and lenders.

"It was very difficult earlier. My children cried because of starvation, but everything has changed after we set up the grain bank. Everyone gets food and we are really happy," said Munna Devi, a grain bank operator.

In Sehra village of Paliganj cluster in state capital Patna, villagers have accumulated 1,120 kilograms of rice.

Patna rice

Patna rice, a variety of the species Oryza sativa, and one of the varieties of long-grain white rice, is extensively cultivated in the Indo-gangetic plains, in and around Patna, capital of Bihar state, India. Patna rice is known for its elongated kernel with grain length greater than 6 mm, and has been used as staple food by the local people for thousands of years. Sometimes, Patna rice is also called Parimal rice locally.

This mildly flavoured rice comes from the Bihar region of the Ganges plains. It has a robust, long and narrow, opaque grain that keeps its shape well for curries. Basmati rice is closely related to the Patna rice but has a stronger aroma. Patna rice is the most esteemed in UK and USA and is the highest priced rice in the grocery stores.

The Mughal chronicler Abul Fazal who collected the various types of rice grown in the Gangetic belt has described the rice cultivated in Patna in glowing terms. William Fullarton of Skeldon UK made his fortune by dealing in Patna rice. He chose to name the hamlet of the coal mining workers he built in East Ayrshire, Scotland as Patna.

As at one time, most of the rice sold in Europe came from this region, Patna Rice is also sometimes loosely used to mean any long grain aromatic rice.

Another example of long-grain rice is American long-grain rice which include Carolina rice. It is believed that Patna rice was the first type of rice cultivated in America [1], and acquired the name Carolina rice. The seeds of Patna rice were taken to America, grown in Carolina and exported to Britain before the American Civil War. Thus the term Carolina rice is also sometimes used to denote this variety of rice.