Saturday, November 24, 2007

PM seeks European support for Nalanda university

SINGAPORE — Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday sought European support for a proposed internationally-backed university at Nalanda, the ancient Buddhist site of learning in India.

Speaking at an exhibition on ‘The Nalanda Trail’ here, the prime minister said the university would focus on becoming a centre for excellence for research and teaching with an emphasis on postgraduate studies.

"It will have departments for philosophy and Buddhist studies, regional history, business and management studies, international relations and peace studies and study of languages," he said.

"It will be established as an international university through an international treaty."

Welcoming leaders of the European Union to the exhibition, the prime minister sought support from the grouping "in making the initiative on Nalanda a success".

The exhibition, which unveils the spread of Buddhism from India to China and Southeast Asia and the role played by Nalanda in Bihar, opened on November 2 at the Asian Civilisations Museum. It ends on March 23 next year.

The ancient university at Nalanda drew students from all over the world for more than 700 years from the fifth century onwards. At its peak the campus had dormitories for over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers, from Turkey and Persia to Indonesia, China and Japan.

By special permission of the Indian government, the exhibition features bone relics from the only known archaeological find that can be linked directly to Buddha.
Exquisite furniture and famed Papyrus paintings and products made of camel skin from Egypt, jamdani, muslin and tangail saris from Bangladesh, decorative items from Thailand, gold jewellery studded with ruby, sapphire, jade and emerald, apparel and melamine products from Pakistan and decorative items from Thailand...

Imagine shopping for such excellent items on the campus of Victoria Memorial, Kolkata, sipping your favourite coffee and munching crisp, fried fish in the backdrop of lilting and pulsating music on a cold winter evening.

Come December 29 and Patnaites will have a rare, pleasant experience of shopping. The 1st International Expo 2007-08 will be inaugurated by famous music director Ismail Darbar at Gandhi Maidan here and it will continue till January 8.

This "one-stop shopping destination" will offer a wide range of the latest and best products.

Addressing media persons here on Friday, M A Khan, managing director of Leo Advertising, the organiser of the event, said: "The exposition will give multinational companies and Indian corporate giants an excellent platform to display their products and communicate with their customers, who, in turn, will get a chance to seek information about a wide array of products."

"Thailand, Egypt, Kenya, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan have confirmed their participation in the expo while efforts are on to rope in other countries as well," Khan said.

The expo will hold cultural evenings in which Bhojpuri artist Kalpana and Indian Idol runner-up Amit Paul will participate.

Another attraction of the expo will be the administrative block of the expo which will be a replica of Victoria Memorial, Kolkata.

The expo will have more than 500 stalls and 20 pavilions. Being sponsored by the official associates, including the Bihar Chamber of Commerce, the expo will have lots of schemes from renowned international companies dealing in electronic goods, entertainment, fashion and lifestyle, sports and fitness, services and even wedding-related items.

The expo will be open from 11 am to 9 pm. The expo, with the tagline "Shopping Bhi Masti Bhi", has been approved by the Indian Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO), Khan said.

Rehabilitation package for Patna beggars soon

Patna, Nov 24 (IANS) The Bihar government has now planned a scheme to rehabilitate Patna's beggars. The Bhikshu Welfare Scheme will provide them an opportunity to be self-reliant and to live with honour and dignity.

"The state cabinet has approved Rs.22 million for the launch of rehabilitation package for beggars," Girish Shankar, prinicipal cabinet secretary, said Friday.

According to sources, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is likely to launch the scheme Nov 24, the day his government completes two years in office.

Under the scheme, all beggars, including the disabled and minors, would be issued identity cards.

Aged beggars would be admitted to an old-age home, minors would be provided education facilities, and able-bodied beggars would be engaged in various activities to earn livelihood.

Women beggars will be trained to earn livelihood with respect, sources said.

The state government will extend the beggar welfare scheme to other Bihar cities if the scheme proves successful here. There are nearly 10,000 beggars in Patna.

Last month, the state government decided to set up an innovative school-cum-home for daughters of beggars in Patna to provide them a safe shelter and training in vocational courses.

The centre, likely to be called Balika Grih, will be set up soon, said Vijay Prakash, state welfare department secretary.

"It will be the first of its kind in Bihar with the sole aim of providing an opportunity for personality development to these girls," Prakash said.

The Bihar government has approved the project, which will cost the state exchequer Rs.2 million annually.

One of the main aims of the Balika Grih is to prevent girls from begging. A recent study on beggars revealed most of the daughters of beggars were forced into begging due to lack of job opportunities.

Apart from education, they will also be trained in dance, music, handicrafts and fine arts.

A study on street children in Bihar revealed nearly 200,000 kids, including 50,000 minor girls, were engaged in begging.

Patna, Nov 22: The Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) has signed an MoU with the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB).

Patna, Nov 22: The Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) has signed an MoU with the Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB).

The project aims at improving the overall distribution of electricity in the state by 2012 at an expenditure of Rs 1240.86 crore.

The four-party agreement was signed by PGCIL Chairman and Manganig Director (CMD) R. P. Singh, state Energy Secretary Rajesh Gupta, BSEB Chairman Swapan Mukherjee and Union Ministry of Power Director Lokesh Chandra in the presence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, state Energy Minister Dijendra Yadav, state Chief Secretary A. K. Sinha and several other senior officials.

The Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar, after signing the MoU asserted that following the completion of the third and final phase of the work within the next five years, the overall power scenario in the state would undergo a sea change to ensure better living conditions.

"The laying of transmission line by the Power Grid would go a long way in providing electricity to every household even in rural areas of the state," the Chief Minister said.

He also described the Rs 2,500 crore project as a "major milestone in the ongoing industrialisation programme of the state government."

"It has become the need of the hour to improve the entire power transmission network in Bihar in line with that of the national power grid so that the proposed extra generation of electricity by the NTPC and the BSEB are not wasted," Kumar said and requested the Power Grid CMD to ensure that the work of the final phase was completed on time.

Kanpur tanneries move to Bihar

Kanpur, November 23 Nearly 256 tannery owners out of the total 402 in the city have decided to move their tanneries from the bank of river Ganga here to Muzaffarpur in Bihar.

The reasons behind this decision include harassment by the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB), poor power supply and soaring cost of land and labour, said tannery owners.

Zafar Alam, vice-president of Jajmau Tannery Association (JTA), said that recently, a delegation of industrialists from Bihar had come to Kanpur to look into prospects of starting leather industry in their state.

He added that the cost of land in Muzaffarpur is about one-tenth of Kanpur and the administrative machinery there assisted industrialists in procuring necessary documents like No Objection Certificate (NOC) and others.

JTA General Secretary Shahid Hussain said, “The scenario in Kanpur could be understood from the fact that UPPCB had sealed at least 103 tanneries and other agencies, even when they fulfill pollution control norms.”

Yet another reason is easy availability of labourers. In the tanneries, most of the workers are from Bihar. Therefore, the tannery owners there find it easy to recruit them in large numbers and at a cheaper cost.

Uttar Pradesh Leather Industry Association Chairman Mohammad Ishaq said, “In Uttar Pradesh, the leather industry faces problems due to neglect by the state government, extortion in the name of pollution norms and power scarcity. On the other hand, the Bihar government has promised suitable land at cheaper rates, uninterrupted power supply, a pollution control plant and other subsidies.”

Ishtekhar Ahmad, Secretary of the Association, said, “The shifting of leather industry, which earns revenue to the tune of Rs 3,000 crore a year and provides employment to 1.5 lakh people, would be a major setback to UP.”

A tannery owner, Haji Mohammed Ishaq, who plans to move to Bihar, said pollution control board officials have often sealed tanneries and cut power supply, leading to huge losses. “We also have to pay huge amounts to government officials to evade harassment and closure,” he added.

Irshad Alam, another tannery owner in Jajmau, said that the long list of problems have pushed about 80 to 100 tanneries in the state on the brink of closure, thus leaving 10,000 labourers unemployed.

“With the leather industry moving out, the state government will not only lose a major source of revenue but also of employment,” he added.

Bihar's image has changed for good, claims Nitish Kumar

Patna, Nov 24 - Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said Saturday that Bihar's image has had a positive change and national and international institutions have shown interest in investing in the state.

'In the last two years, our government has strived to provide development with justice to all sections of society,' Nitish Kumar said while releasing a report card here on completion of his government's two years in office.

'Things have changed and the image is also changing. Bihar is on the threshold of making its own rare brand of development,' Nitish Kumar said.

'We have underlined improvement in law and order, agriculture and rural development, campaign against corruption, qualitative improvement in education, road and infrastructure, health services, minority welfare, welfare of women, children and disabled as our priorities.'

Speedy trial of criminal cases has sent the message that criminals can no longer roam freely and 'the rule of law has been established in the state' he said.

The report card highlighted communal harmony in the state and numerous schemes started for the development and welfare of minorities, dalits, backward castes and women.

On the occasion, Nitish Kumar announced launching of four welfare schemes, including Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah Yojna and Kanya Suraksha Yojna.

He said the government had decided to provide free textbooks to Muslim students and Rs.10,000 grant to each student of the Muslim community who secures first division in matriculation board examination.

Under Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah Yojna, girls from families having an annual income less than Rs.60,000 will be given a grant of Rs.5,000 on registration of their marriage.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Bihar State health sector to get a boost

With a view to strengthening state’s health sector to provide better medicare to the people, the state government has taken up different projects across the state.

Briefing mediapersons here on Sunday, health minister Chandramohan Rai said the Bihar State Health Society plans to sanction Rs 80 crore to the building and construction department for infrastructure development. He said, earlier, a sum of Rs 70 crore was handed over to the department by the society.

Rai said the state government also plans to set up three new medical colleges at Bettiah, Nalanda and Madehpura. He said efforts are on to start construction work with regard to additional 11 district hospitals.

The minister said plans for sanctioning technical facilities to 76 referral hospitals all over the state in the financial years 2007-08 and 2008-09 have been sent to the department.

Regarding appointments, the minister said as many as 1,483 doctors have been appointed on contract basis. He said in the last financial year, in all, 1,092ANMs have been appointed while merit list for selection of A grade nurses numbering 3,000 has been sent to the districts. The minister said 477 blockhealth managers against 533 vacant posts had already been appointed.

About different national health programmes, the minister said spraying of DDT had been carried out in 31 districts of the state for eradication of kala-azar. He said medicines are available at all health sub-centres for leprosy patients.

Rai said for availing emergency ambulance service, six emergency control cells have been set up in the state and ambulance service have been provided to a large number of emergency patients till November 14, 2007. Under private-public agreement, 276 pathology centres and 134 radiology centres are working across the state, he said.

Under the Hospital Maintenance Programme, the state government is taking assistance from different NGOs for maintenance of the hospitals, internal and external sanitation and food for the patients, the minister said and added that efforts are on to provide 24-hour generator facilities to the hospitals.

British filmmaker traces the 'Super 30' journey

A new documentary by a British filmmaker traces the journey of 30 students from impoverished homes to the elite Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and highlights the success of a unique educational programme that is helping such students utilize their potential and fulfil their dreams.

Directed by Christopher Mitchell, 'Super 30' follows the lives of the 30 students from the time they were chosen from among 4,000-5,000 applicants in 2006 by the Ramanujan School of Mathematics in Patna for seven months of free-of-cost training, to the moment when the IIT results were announced in May this year.

The film, which was screened here for the first time Monday, also looks into the lives of the two men -- Abhyanand, additional director general of police (ADGP) in Bihar and Anand Kumar, a mathematics teacher -- who help poor students crack the IIT-JEE, one of the toughest competitive exams in the country.

For Mitchell, the idea of making 'Super 30' came when his producer Veronica Hall showed him an article about it in a British daily.

'My producer brought it to my attention and the next thing I know, we were in Patna shooting our film,' he said.

When asked what was the one thing about these 30 young students that fascinated him the most, Mitchell said: 'They are true geniuses. Their extraordinary mathematical ability and relentlessness makes them stand out from the crowd.'

A self confessed mathematics-buff, Christopher was amazed to see the exceptionally high level of mathematics the students enjoyed doing. Sadly, for him it is a practice that has only a few takers in Britain.

'In Britain, there is a significant drop in students studying mathematics, physics and chemistry. A cynic would say Britons don't like hard work but it's just that Britons consider science as a bad thing, something contaminated, which will do no good to society,' he told IANS.

Abhyanand, who in his free time teaches physics to the Super 30, was also present for the screening of the documentary. The police officer seemed content with Super 30 being a 'state-centric' affair, saying that Bihar has lots of talent, which is yet to be found and nurtured.

Abhyanand, who is also a co-founder of the Ramanujan School of Mathematics, added that this time students from other states had also applied for Super 30.

This year, the Super 30 educational programme had 29 of the students getting admissions into IITs all over the country.

So far, the Ramanujan School of Mathematics has got 10,000 applications for the selection of Super 30 next year.

CM for better care of poor children

The International Child Rights Day was observed on Tuesday with the state government, in collaboration with Unicef, releasing the "Convention on the Rights of the Child" (CRC) Report, 2007 for Bihar entitled "Sankalp".

Releasing the report, CM Nitish Kumar laid stress on taking care of children of disadvantaged sections with love and dignity. He said the agencies should expand their child rights campaign to cover more areas and population. He informed the gathering that the government has initiated all inclusive schemes to cover all social strata and giving more emphasis on girl children for their education, training and health.

On this occasion, welfare minister Rameshwar Paswan, social welfare secretary Vijay Prakash and Unicef representative Vijayraj Bhandari also spoke.

The Child Rights Day is a day of worldwide fraternity and solidarity between children and stakeholders promoting welfare of world's children. On this day in 1959, the UN General Assembly had adopted the Declaration of Rights of the Child and later held a Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

In order to ensure a broad-based dialogue between the state government departments, civil society members and child rights organisation, the department of social welfare was called upon to act as a nodal agency for coordination.

Bihar, in the last few years, has made significant progress in the implementation of various programmes. It even initiated measures which had a lasting positive impact on child rights in the state. Large-scale appointment of teachers, making provisions for school uniforms for the underprivileged and improvement in school infrastructure are indicators of the larger vision that the state has for its children.

The Unicef is running Apna Ghar for the orphans and street children. One such child, Sonu, spoke on the occasion in English and Hindi. This 14-year-old boy of class V said he learnt about rights and also the right to live, learn and study. The children also presented a song on the occasion.

Nitish opens ONGC's exploration campaign

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar inaugurated a Rs. 150 crore land survey and oil exploration campaign of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation here on Saturday.

The ONGC has planned extensive survey and exploration in 2537 square kilometre block covering parts of Purnia, Araria, Kishanganj and Katihar districts bordering West Bengal under which it will drill three wells and invest Rs. 150 crore till 2015.

Later, addressing a gathering at the Indira Gandhi stadium here Kumar expressed the hope that considerably large reserves of oil and natural gas would be found in the block situated in the gangetic basin.

The chief minister said his hope stemmed from the presence of Gondwana rocks under the soil in the region as wherever these rocks have been found, including in Assam, oil reserves have been struck.

Addressing the function, ONGC chief general manager A.K. Biswas lauded the Bihar government for giving a licence to it for starting the exploration within three months of submission of application.

Biswas said that the ONGC believed that the exploration campaign would unlock the hydrocarbon potential of the Purnia gangetic basin.

Unknown facts about ex-Darbhanga king

The last Maharaja of Darbhanga, (1907-62), was the first person in India to get a bust of Mahatma Gandhi made by celebrated artist and niece of Winston Churchill -- Clare Sheriden. The bust was presented to the then viceroy of India Lord Linlithgow to be displayed in Government House (now Rashtrapati Bhawan).

This was acknowledged by Mahatma Gandhi in a letter to Lord Linlithgow in 1940. Gandhi, in a interview during his visit to Bihar in 1947, said that the Maharaja was an extremely good person and like a son to him.

Interestingly, the Maharaja also donated three fighter planes to the airforce in the World War II. On another occasion he donated Rs 5,000 each for Sikh and Hindu personnel in the Army to celebrate festivals. He also donated 50 ambulances to the Army Medical Corp.

These are some unknown facts about Maharajadhiraj of Darbhanga which find mention in a 450-page book entitled "Courage and Benevolence: Maharajadhiraj Kameshwar Singh". The book, which is already in print, will be formally released by the Maharajadhiraj Kameshwar Singh Kalyani Foundation on the occasion of his birth centenary celebration on November 28. Former JNU professor Manager Pandey will formally release it at a function at Darbhanga.

Noted sociologist Hetukar Jha, who is the editor of the volume, told TOI that the book "contains rare letters, speeches, documents and photographs depicting the personality of the last Maharajadhiraja of Darbhanga".

He helped people from all walks of life, irrespective of his/ her political affiliation or social standing. Among his beneficiaries were stalwarts such as Dr Rajendra Prasad, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Shubhash Chandra Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Maharaja of Jaipur, Nawab of Rampur and others in India, besides Swami Bhawani Dayal Sanyasi of South Africa. Being the biggest zamindar of India, he was also one of the great industrialists who controlled 14 industrial units of sugar, jute, cotton, iron & steel, aviation, print media, etc. His raj, spread over 2500 sq miles containing 4,495 villages under 18 circles in Bihar and Bengal, employed over 7,500 officers.

He also donated huge amount of money to educational institutions like the Calcutta University, Allahabad University, Aligarh Muslim University, Patna University and Bihar University, the book says.

The Maharaja also donated to the organizations such as the Congress and League of Depressed Classes and social organizations.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Patna Book Fair from Dec 7

The Patna Book Fair would be held at the historical Gandhi Maidan from December seven to 18.

Being organised in the state since 1985, the fair, with the theme "Youth of Bihar; dream and direction" would be inaugurated by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The construction work had already begun with the traditional Bhumi Pooja ceremony, they added.

The book fair has a capacity of around 500 stalls would have 250 publishers, both national and international. More than 20 lakh titles in different languages were likely to be on display at different stalls

Pledge to eradicate kala-azar by 2010

Bihar governor R S Gavai on Monday inaugurated a five-day inter-country workshop on kala-azar elimination with participants pledging to eradicate the disease from Bihar by 2010.

Describing kala-azar as a major public health problem, Gavai said even countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, Brazil, Sudan and some others have been hit by the disease.

The governor said people are now keen to eradicate the disease and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued necessary guidelines in this regard. "We hope to eradicate kala-azar as the society has accepted it as a challenge," Gavai said exhorting the people to join hands in combating the disease.

The programme was organised on the premises of Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS), Patna City.

Addressing the gathering, health minister Chandramohan Rai lamented that though the kala-azar has spread its tentacles in different countries, it had assumed alarming proportions in Bihar. He said that the state government had taken it as a challenge and a task force headed by former Union health minister and kala-azar expert Dr CP Thakur had been constituted.

The minister said if things went well the disease would be eliminated by 2010.

On his part, Dr Thakur lauded the state government for taking several steps for elimination of the disease.
Dr Chusak of WHO said that as per official estimate, 200 million people are at the risk of contracting this disease worldwide.

Dr Chusak said that the disease affected poorest of the poor of the society and it led to poor development of the area.

Earlier, RMRIMS director P Das welcomed the guests, Dr Neema Verma proposed the vote of thanks.
According to WHO, 31 out of 38 districts of Bihar are kala-azar endemic.

The workshop is being sponsored by WHO and participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and India are taking part in it.

SAIL set to built first steel plant

Union minister for steel Ram Vilas Paswan laid the foundation stone of Bihar’s first steel processing unit here on the outskirts of West Champaran district headquarters of Bettiah on Monday.

To be set up by the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) in an area of 50 acres allocated by the state government, the plant will be one of SAIL’s 10 such units located across seven states with the total investment of Rs 2000 crore to cater regional needs.

Speaking on the occasion, Paswan termed it as a very important step in the process of industrialisation of Bihar. He said another steel plant is scheduled to come at Mahnar in Vaishali district soon.

Thanking R S Pandey, secretary in the steel ministry, for making it possible to set up the steel plant in West Champaran, Paswan said the plant would also cater to the needs of Uttar Pradesh.

Pointing out that the investment for the Kumarbagh steel plant has been increased from the proposed Rs 200 crore to Rs 300 crore, the minister the unit would start production by August 2008.

Secretary in the ministry of steel R S Pandey, who hails from Lauriya in West Champaran, said the investment for the steel plant is the biggest ever made in Bihar and added that the returns would be as much as 40 per cent.

SAIL chairman S K Roongta, who was present on the occasion, said with the setting up of the steel plant many other allied industries would come up in the area.

Giving details of the Kumarbagh steel processing unit Bokaro Steel managing director VK Srivastava said that it would be developed in two phases. The first phase will have a gestation period of one-and-a-half years with production capacity of 90,000 tonnes per annum, he said adding that hot rolled coil, steel pipes, beletus etc would be produced here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

CM for IIT Patna by next year

PATNA: The state government has urged the Centre to take steps for the establishment of IIT Patna by next year. Principal secretary of the science and technology department Ajay Kumar said that CM Nitish Kumar is keen to make the IIT Patna functional by 2008-09.

The official said that the CM is likely to write a letter to the Centre in this regard. "The state government will provide all the requisite infrastructure and support for the purpose. However, the central government will have to take certain steps to facilitate this move," he added.

He further said that the Centre will have to make an amendment in the IIT Act for inclusion of the IIT Patna in its ambit. It will also have to constitute a governing body for the IIT Patna and appoint a director, he added. “The Bihar government will extend total support towards setting up of the director’s office as well as making the IIT Patna functional on the lines of support provided by the government of Assam in the case of IIT Guwahati,” the official said. The IIT Guwahati became functional on a temporary infrastructure long before its own buildings were complete.

The Union government has okayed proposals regarding the setting up of IITs in Bihar, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. The government of Bihar intends to acquire 500 acres of land in Bihta, around 30 km away from Patna, for the establishment of the IIT Patna.

The science and technology department maintained that the procurement of land was in an advanced stage and that the work on preparation of a hydrological profile of the site, as desired by some members of the site selection committee, is also in progress.
A team of experts headed by Prof Goyal of IIT Roorkee has already surveyed the proposed site at Bihta and sought hydrological data of the area from any competent agency like the state water resources department.

NTPC, Railways form JV for 1,000MW Bihar plant

The country`s largest power generating company NTPC has entered into a joint venture (JV) agreement with Indian Railways to set up a 1,000 MW power plant in Nabinagar in Bihar at a cost of Rs 1,605 crore.

A joint venture company - Bharatiya Rail Bijlee Company - would be set up for the purpose with NTPC having 74% stake and the Railways having 26% stake.

NTPC would put in Rs 1,188 crore of capital and the Railways would invest Rs 417 crore in the Nabinagar plant. The plant is expected to commence operations after 30 months from receipt of approval of investment by both parties, which is likely to come by December-end.

As per the Cabinet approval, 90% of the power from Nabinagar plant will be supplied to railways and 10% to others and this will primarily be a captive power plant for the Railways.

The average cost of generation from this plant will be Rs 2.13 per unit. The railways expects to save up to Rs 600 crore annually after paying wheeling and transmission charges, reducing operating expenses by 1-2%. The average annual requirement of the Railways is 2,000 MW.

The Railways, at present, spends about Rs 5,700 crore a year towards electrical energy for traction and non-traction purposes.

Patnaites don't talk sex: Survey

PATNA: Despite aggressive campaigns by the government as well as NGOs, the level of awareness about HIV/Aids among Patnaites is quite low. Also, most of the city residents do not use contraceptives.

These were among the findings of a joint study conducted recently among Patnaites by a Unicef official and a government lady doctor. Although at least 70 per cent of the respondents were aware of the dreaded disease, they said they do not prefer using condoms.

The objective of the study, conducted by Unicef's sub-regional coordinator Tushar Kant Upadhayay and Dr Sarita of Danapur, was to find out the level of awareness about HIV/Aids in urban and rural Patna.

At least 200 household owners, mainly living in apartments located on Boring Road and Kankerbagh, were interviewed from April to July 2007 through a series of questionnaire. A survey was also conducted among a few dozen students of a premier women's college. For the data from semi-rural households, a random survey was conducted in and around Danapur.

Unicef's Allahabad-based divisional coordinator Sudha Rathor helped format the survey's questionnaire.

As per the findings, even professional couples living in the city avoid discussing sex-related problems in and outside the family. Sex remains a taboo subject.

Forget about using condoms, more than 70 per cent respondents were not even aware of the existence of Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centres for HIV/Aids test running at each government sadar hospital, Upadhayay said.

The survey found there is no proper health education (related to risky sexual behaviour) for adolescents at any stage of life. Each respondent expressed his/her desire to know about how STDs and HIV are transmitted and how the risks can be reduced.

CM inspects ghats ahead of Chhath

PATNA: CM Nitish Kumar was on Tuesday happy to watch tourists enjoying joyrides on motor boats in the Ganga but was displeased with the bad condition of ghats. The CM was inspecting ghats ahead of the forthcoming Chhath festival along with urban development minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey.

He directed the DMs, SPs and executive officials of the state municipal corporations to make proper arrangements at different ghats before Chhath so that the devotees did not face any problem while offering their “arghya (obeisance)” to the Sun god.

Later, briefing mediapersons, Nitish, who visited 76 different ghats falling under the jurisdiction of the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) on a steamer, said that lakhs of people assemble at different ghats to offer “arghya” to the Sun god. He said that the PMC is spending over Rs 20 lakh for cleanliness, sanitation and security arrangements at different ghats so that the devotees did not face any problem.

Expressing satisfaction over the works being carried out by the and the district administration, he directed the principal secretary of the water resources department to inspect all the ghats along with the Patna commissioner, the DM and the PMC commissioner on Wednesday and make proper arrangements. The CM saw boulders, fixed under the flood prevention operation, uprooted at different ghats in between Bankipore and Patna Law College during his inspection.

Nitish also directed PMC commissioner Rana Awadhesh to ensure levelling and filling up of ditches at all the ghats. He also asked the officials concerned to construct steps and make arrangements for drinking water and mobile lavatory at different ghats.

He directed the PMC commissioner to cover cremation ghats, including Gulbi ghat, with white clothes and remove all the pieces of bricks strewn across ghats. The Patna commissioner and the DM were asked to make proper arrangements for divers, identification of dangerous ghats and proper lighting facilities. The CM also directed for adequate security arrangements and proper traffic management.

Nitish was peeved over the increasing pollution in the Ganga and directed the departments concerned to get the drain water treated before it reached the river. He also appealed to the citizens to keep the Ganga clean in view of its importance. The CM said that the repair work of broken staircase at the Gandhi Ghat has started and asked the Patna DM to complete the construction work quickly.

The CM said that the repair work of Mahatma Gandhi Setu is being carried out by the National Highways Authority of India since the bridge needed repair. The Centre has been urged to provide adequate fund for it, Nitish said, adding that the state government is also spending its share of money for the purpose.

The 'foreign click' to worlds Largest Cattle Fair - Sonepur fair

PATNA: For the first time, a 10-member team of world photography groups led by a BBC photographer and writer Steve Davey is arriving here to cover the world famous cattle fair at Sonepur commencing from November 22.

This group comprise of world famous photographers who want to cover this festival as the highlight of their tour to India to showcase its rich heritage. "This is one of the brightest chances to showcase India and its rich heritage with festivals by capitalising the opportunity to host the arrangements of this group at Swiss cottage in Sonepur fair ground built by the state tourist department," said an official. "Four Swiss double-bed cottages have already been booked for this photographers’ group from November 22 to November 25," said Mukesh Kumar manager of Hotel Kautilya Vihar which is run by Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC).

BBC photographer Steve Davey is also a writer whose work has been published in magazines and newspapers all over the world. He is the author and principle photographer of, "Unforgettable Places to See Before You Die" and "Unforgettable Islands to Escape to Before You Die", both published by BBC Books.

In view of the huge rush of foreigners, this time Bihar tourism has constructed 20 double-bed Swiss cottages to accommodate these tourists. All these cottages have already been booked till November 30, said BSTDC manager, trade and travels, Gajendra Singh.

Dozens of foreigners from France, Kazakhstan, Austria and Portugal have already booked their cottages at Sonepur fair. Sumantra Chattopadhyay of Kazakhstan has booked three cottages for a week commencing from November 23 while groups led by Patricia Peyrat, Bonnet Didier (both from France) and Jermy Richards of British High Commission have made their advance booking.

Bihar tourism has already made an aggressive marketing of Sonepur cattle fair through its GOI offices located in various parts of Western countries. The forthcoming World Tourism Mart in London is likely to showcase Sonepur fair scheduled to begin from November 12-15. Bihar tourism secretary Rashmi Verma and BSTDC deputy general manager Navin Kumar will attend the Mart at London.

Sonepur fair has its origins in ancient times. It takes place annually, 35 km from Patna. It is held for 21 days in November at the junction of the rivers, Ganga and Gandak.

It is Asia’s and probably one of the world’s largest cattle fair.

Nearly all animals can be bought at the fair, all breeds of dogs, camels, buffaloes, donkeys, ponies, monkeys, horses, rabbits, bears, cats and guinea pigs.

Shotgun launches cancer drive

PATNA: Noted Bollywood actor and former Union health minister Shatrughan Sinha launched a cancer awareness drive here at the Mahavir Cancer Sansthan (MCS) on Wednesday. He said the awareness drive should now be carried forward from cities to villages to create a proper awareness about cancer among the common people.

Lauding the role of MCS in providing specialised treatment to cancer patients at a low cost, Sinha said though the country has progressed in various fields, it is , however, yet to overcome several fatal diseases including cancer. Unless a massive awareness drive is launched across the country, it is very difficult to check its spread in different parts of the country, he said.

“Unfortunately Bihar seems to be at the top of cancer patients’ list as compared to other states,” he said.
Sinha appealed to people, particularly the youth, to come forward for cancer check-ups at the MCS.

Keeping in mind that prevention is better than cure, he said that Bihar could overcome the disease if people voluntarily offer themselves for the checkup after 40 years of age.

Cancer has become curable now if it is detected in time, he said and added that he was ready to offer himself for the regular check up at the MCS.

Speaking on the occasion, health minister Chandra Mohan Rai said the state government would now launch a cancer awareness drive in each district of the state to check its spread. Besides, the government would call a high level meeting soon to accelerate cancer awareness drive in every part of the state.

The government would extend all possible assistance to make the MCS a standard centre for the cancer patients’ treatment in the eastern region, he said.

Minister for sports and culture Janardhan Singh Segriwal said that the MCS has proved to be a boon for the poor cancer patients. The government is willing to provide some games items to MCS for the recreation of cancer patients who have been undergoing treatment there, he said.

Secretary of the Mahavir Mandir Nyas Samiti Acharya Kishore Kunal praised the efforts of Sinha for contributing a lot in the development of MCS.

He stressed the need for setting up a corpus of Rs 1 crore for providing proper treatment to poor cancer patients of the state.

The fund could be raised with the joint venture of both the government and MCS, he said adding the government should also evolve a plan to reimburse medical expenses to government employees as well as poor people undergoing treatment at the MCS.

Earlier, MCS director Dr J K Singh welcomed the guests and highlighted achievements of the cancer hospital.

Two-year-old Lakshmi still in ICU but stable: Doctor

A complicated 27-hour-long surgical procedure to remove a parasitic conjoined twin from Lakshmi has been completed successfully
BANGALORE: Two-year-old Lakshmi, who underwent a complex 27-hour-long surgery to part with her extra limbs, is "stable", a doctor said on Thursday.

"We have been monitoring her condition the entire night. Her essential parameters are okay," Dr Sharan Patil, who led a team of 36 surgeons to successfully complete the procedure at Sparsh Hospital on Wednesday, said.

Lakshmi is still in the Intensive Care Unit and has been put on a ventilator, Patil added.

"The next 24 to 48 hours are very critical and we need to keep close watch," he said.

According to doctors, Lakshmi, born with four arms and four legs, is a rare ischiopagus conjoined twin -- two bodies united at the pelvis. Only one of the twins has a head and the other is a parasite.

The marathon surgery on Lakshmi to remove the 'parasitic conjoined twin' began on Tuesday morning and ended.

She was brought to the Sparsh Hospital, a part of the Narayana Health City, from a village in Araria district of Bihar by her parents Shambu and Poonam on October three.