Sunday, November 29, 2009

Patna Police turns matchmakers

They have always been 'criminal-catchers'. But now, Bihar's policemen are turning expert matchmakers as well.

The state's crime graph may have witnessed a sharp decline in recent times - as claimed by none other than Chief Minister Nitish Kumar - but that has not taken the load off the police.

In fact, they are often busy with another equally challenging responsibility - help lovers torn apart by family opposition get married.

On November 25, the policemen at Khajekalan in Patna solemnised the wedding of such a couple on the station premises. Alka and Akash Bharati had faced strong opposition from their families because they belonged to different castes.

Alka, a resident of Bela in Gaya district, reached Akash's home in the Lodi Katra locality of Patna on Wednesday. She had run away from home. She told Akash's family she would kill herself if anyone tried to play villain in her love story.

Sensing the threat was not an empty one, Akash's family took her to the police station. Alka told the police she and Akash had been in love for more than two years and wanted to get married.

The daughter of a railway employee, Alka was Akash's neighbour before her father was transferred to Gaya. The couple fell in love and remained in touch even after Alka left for Gaya.

When Alka repeated her suicide threat before station house officer Vinod Kumar, the police called Akash.

He supported Alka. The police then verified their certificates - to confirm their age - and advised them to go for court marriage with the consent of their families.

But probably fearing opposition outside the station premises, the couple said they wanted to get married immediately.

Their wish was granted and they were taken to a nearby temple for the ceremony.

Instead of family members, the couple sought blessings from the police for a happy future.

This is not an isolated example of police turning marriage pandits in Bihar. Recently, about eight weddings have been arranged by the men in khaki in different parts of Bihar.

On October 13, the Gardanibagh police helped a teenager, Pallavi Sinha, marry her boyfriend Prem Kumar. Once again, caste difference and financial status had turned their parents against the match. In this case, the local police didn't stop with the wedding.

They went ahead and hosted a reception at the police station.

The Malsalami police had helped Rakesh and his longtime girlfriend, Jyoti Kumari, unite on August 12, 2008.

Jyoti's family was dead against her marrying an illiterate auto- rickshaw driver, but the police obviously found such parental concerns unnecessary.

On April 8, 2008, a woman constable Vidya Devi from Agamkuan police station got 22-year-old Radha married to Ram Lalit Kotwal amid much fanfare. Radha had been abandoned by her family for falling in love with Kotwal.

Though the Bihar Police are flooded with complaints of young girls being abducted, a majority of them turn out to be cases of elopement. In 2008 alone, 214 abduction cases were found to be false.

Akshay's film based on Bihari engineer's murder

Priyadarshan new comedy Khatta Meetha starring Akshay Kumar has been altered to accommodate newspaper headlines. The film is now based on the mysterious 2009 murder of Bihar PWD engineer Yogendra Pandey who was allegedly killed by the crime cartel controlling the road construction business in the state. His body was found on June 18, 2009. Akshay Kumar plays the murdered engineer’s colleague who helps to bring the culprits to book. Priyan says, “My film has now become the story of Bihar’s road mafia. Makrand Deshpande plays the murdered engineer while Akshay plays his colleague.”

Initially, the film was based on Priyan’s 1988 drama Vellanakalude Nadu. “Initially, Khatta Meetha was based on the road mafia and corruption in the construction business but at that point of time, it was entirely fictional.” It was Akshay who suggested that the film be contemporised by bringing in Pandey’s notorious death. Priyan says, “We brought in the whole story of the death of the honest road engineer in Bihar who was apparently killed by the corrupt road mafia when he threatened to expose their wrongdoings. We introduced Makrand’s character based on Yogendra Pandey and Akshay as the friend and colleague who uncovers the bloody trail.”

Priyan and Akshay have hit on a new formula to counter the charge of making mindless comedies. Khatta Meetha being shot in dusty Satara at the moment blends satire with a social message. Priyan adds, “I think I’ll be doing this kind of a mixture of social comment and satire more often. In Khatta Meetha we took up a very serious and disturbing crime situation in Bihar but treated it lightly. No one wants to watch grim films anymore. We just have to find a way of letting the audience know what’s actually going on in the world while transporting them into a make-believe world at the same time.”

Akshay Kumar went out of his way to complete this film. “We did it in 90 days at a stretch. Akshay believes we’ve been able to do something important here. The message comes through the comedy,” said Priyan.

Bihar GDP shows upward trend: ASSOCHAM

Possibilities and prospects of industrial revival in Bihar seems to brightening as its Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) is expected to grow at
Twitter Facebook Share
Email Print Save Comment
a modest CAGR of 8 per cent during the next decade.

This is the finding of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). It said, "Bihar GDP will reach Rs 2,64,781 crore from the current level of Rs 1,05,148 crore, mainly due to good governance factor."

The ASSOCHAM, which brought "Bihar Vision: 2020", stated that by 2015, the state GDP would be around Rs 1,80,205 crore. Releasing the finding, ASSOCHAM secretary general D S Rawat said since Bihar had acquired a reputation for good governance, its SGDP is projected to consistently grow at 8 per cent CAGR.

The organsiation expressed concern that manufacturing would remain a challenge for Bihar as it contributes only 0.38% to the state GDP which was lowest in the country. Manufacturing remained a neglected area in Bihar as it failed to provide security to industry which halted flow of investments, Rawat said.

The poverty level in the state is measured at 42.6% and if manufacturing is encouraged by ensuring law and order situation with suitable infrastructure, it would remove poverty from Bihar by creating bundle of employment opportunities, the report said.

Rawat said in the 2008-09 fiscal, Bihar received investment proposals worth Rs 40,000 crore but still has to raise resources through PPP to execute such investments. Agriculture contributes 35% to the SGDP against 9% of industry and 55% of services.

Bihar attracts Rs.1,032 crore investment in four years

Bihar, one of the poorest states in the country, attracted private investments worth Rs.1,032 core in the last four years, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said Friday.

The Bihar State Investment Promotion Board (SIPB) has cleared 220 investment proposals in the past four years, Modi said.

'SIPB cleared 220 proposals of which 22 have already been commissioned and 74 are under various stages of the implementation process,' he said.

Modi added that the southern parts of the state remained a favourite destination of industries, while central Bihar was still struggling to attract investors.

'Keeping this in view, the government is now trying to make this area attractive for investors.'

He said big industrialists were showing keen interest in Bihar after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar initiated some measures to develop the state's infrastructure.

Most of the investments are in the food processing, power, sugar, cement and agriculture sectors.

In the past three years, four big industrialists visited Bihar to explore investment possibilities.

They were Tata group chairman Ratan Tata, Mahindra and Mahindra group vice-chairman Anand Mahindra, Bharti group chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal and Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani.

After coming to power in November 2005, the Nitish Kumar-led government had initiated several steps to build infrastructure facilities like roads, bridges and power, to attract investors.

The government has also prepared a land bank to make land available for industrial projects.

According to Industry Minister Bijrendra Prasad Yadav, there is a 'visible change in the economic environment' of the state in the past four years.

The government has started pushing major investment projects since January 2006. Once the proposed projects are implemented, it would create job opportunities for more than 100,000 people, government officials said.

An official at the chief minister's office said the government was now regularly receiving new investment proposals from industrialists.

Patna to boast of another world class museum

The city will have another world class museum. The USP of the new museum would be to project the glorious past of Bihar through displays

A brain child of CM Nitish Kumar, the new museum would be located on posh Bailey Road area of the state capital. Sources said experts are already on the job to chalk out the details about the new museum.

Six spacious government bungalows (nos. 2 to 7) spread over 10 acres of land would be demolished to build the museum. Currently, these bungalows are occupied by ministers.

The state building development department has started working on this ambitious project, sources said, addingthat the proposed museum will be equipped with the latest technology in lighting, lift, doors, interior decor and foolproof security system.

The museum, according to an official, would be on the par with any other museum in the world, particularly in terms of its rich antiquities and decor.

It would be one of the major attractions for visitors, mostly foreigners. "Though the time frame has not yet been fixed, it is likely to be completed within three years," said an official.

For branding Bihar, the USP of the museum would be on "Bihar Through Ages" to project the glorious past of the state through audio-visuals and displays.

"We are preparing a tentative project to be put up before the government for its final approval," said Patna Museum additional director Umesh Chandra Dwivedi.

The existing city museum, built in 1917, does not have adequate space to display all the antiquities. Out of the total 45,000 antiquities available at the museum, barely 2,500 artefacts are on display, Dwivedi said.

"It is essential to build another museum to display all the artefacts available with the museum. The paintings and other miscellaneous items will be on display in the old museum," Dwivedi said.

Important and rare collection of the old museum are likely to be shifted to the new one.

Meanwhile, the Ahmedabad-based National Institute of Design (NID) is engaged in redesigning the Patna Museum in an effort to give it a new look.

Relics of Lord Buddha, his ashes and other related materials discovered during the excavation of a 6th century stupa at Vaishali are currently on display on the first floor of the museum. The relics of Xuanzang are not on display as well.

Bihar IITF pavilion draws huge crowds

The Bihar pavilion at India International Trade Fair (IITF 09) at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, has focused on the vision of emerging Bihar
Twitter Facebook Share
Email Print Save Comment
with the slogan faith, wisdom and science.

The vision encompasses the state government's move to develop the potential of religious tourism of all the faiths to showcase the wisdom and the centre of learning at the ancient Nalanda University around which the present Nalanda International centre of learning and university is coming up, and the pursuit of scientific development, said the deputy director, industries, R C Rai.

Rai, who is camping at the Bihar pavilion site at Pragati Maidan, told TOI over the phone that the Bihar pavilion is also focusing on service industries and export on the IITF 09 theme "Exports of Services". Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (BIADA) has already received over 55 investment proposals at the fair. It is appealing the investors to invest in service sector, including the knowledge process outsourcing in Bihar, he said.

At the outset industries principal secretary A K Sinha, agriculture production commissioner K C Saha, tourism principal secretary Rashmi Verma, Bihar resident commissioner in Delhi A V Chaturvedi and Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam chairman Bihar Atish Chandra had at the Bihar pavilion focused on Bihar as an investment destination with untapped market potential. They projected Bihar as a land of boundless opportunities in infrastructure development, food processing, sugarcane and ethanol production, textiles, healthcare and tourism, and potential for growth of tourism industry with its rich cultural heritage and abundance of waterbodies.

The Bihar pavilion displays intricately designed religious circuits of different faiths Buddhism, Jainism, Sufism and other religious circuits. The tourism stall is providing the details of tourist spots and pilgrim centres in Bihar. At its stall, BPRNN, which has raised the Bihar pavilion, displayed its success story of building 140 bridges in record time. The Sudha stall has displayed the success story of the white revolution brought in Bihar through a network of co-operative milk societies and it has put on display its milk and other products.

The jute jwellery stall is drawing huge crowds, Rai said. Bihar State Khadi Gramodyog Board has at its stall put on display and sale khadi products. The stall, showcasing rural development in Bihar, has put on display handicraft items and products of rural women entrepreneurs, he added. Besides there are stalls of Madhubani, Mithila and Godna paintings, Bhagalpuri silk and silk sari, applique bedsheets, Suzni work sari.

At the IITF food court, Bihar's specialities litti chokha, tilkut, laai, anarsa, khaza, and litchi juice are available.
Twitter Facebook Share Print Email Save Comm

Nandan Nilekani to help Bihar improve e-governance

Bihar has sought the help of Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, the chief of India's Unique Identification Database Authority, to
improve the state's e-governance system.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar disclosed at a function in Patna on Friday evening that Nilekani will visit Patna November 17 and hold talks with senior government officials to strengthen e-governance in the state.

All 37 district headquarters and 470 block headquarters in Bihar can be accessed online through the Bihar State Wide Area Network. "We have made progress in e-governance in the last few years - from Remington typewriters to online access," the Chief Minister said.

Bihar had formally adopted e-governance as a state policy in 2006 on the advice of former President APJ Abdul Kalam.

The state has constituted a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with the objective of bringing about an Information Technology (IT) transformation in the state. The SPV was constituted as a tripartite joint venture of state-owned Beltron, Tata Consultancy Services and Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (ILFS) at an estimated cost of Rs 380 million.

The SPV is preparing a comprehensive special package for e-governance. Besides, separate e-governance packages have been created for different departments by the joint venture partners, based on specific requirements.

The state government has already equipped legislators with sophisticated laptop computers under the national e-governance plan of the central government.

The previous state government, headed by Rabri Devi had brought several departments online and launched an official web site of the state.

Her husband, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, also a former Chief Minister, has often rubbished IT as a "tool of the elite".

Bihar villagers now get green electricity

A technology that converts rice husk into electricity is gaining ground in Bihar. Some 100,000 households in the state already use
Twitter Facebook Share
Email Print Save Comment
electricity produced from biomass and their number is steadily growing.

According to an estimate, 44% of India's population still live without electricity, making this biomass-based power generation technology indispensable in energy-starved states like Bihar.

Though this technology has been in use for the past 50 years in India, Husk Power Systems (HPS), a rural electrification company, has modified it to create a cost-effective operational model.

Today, HPS supplies power to 50 off-grid villages in the state. Each village has a population between 2,000 and 4,000. By 2012, HPS plans to cover 2,000 villages in the state.

Rice husk is traditionally discarded in India. However, when it is heated, it releases a gas that HPS uses to run modified diesel engines to generate electricity.

"We heat rice husk to a point at which they turn into gas and that gas runs an engine," said Chip Ransler, chief strategy officer of HPS. The power is supplied through a grid that HPS operates.

The rice husk is procured from farmers and mill owners, and each biomass gasification plant is run by trained mechanics.

"Roughly 1.5 kg of rice husk yields 1 KWh (kilowatt-hour) of electricity," Ransler said.

"Electricity is generated via an alternator and delivered in three phases at 220 volts. We set up grids that are specially suited according to the size of the villages. The setup is completely decentralised," he added.

The villages that have benefited include Tamkuha, Dhanaha, Rupahi, Madhubani, Inarawa, Sarisawa and Majhoulia. All are located in West Champaran district.

However, the company wants to keep its electricity rates confidential.

"We don't share the price. But villagers save 50 percent of what they were spending on kerosene and diesel, and they're getting much larger output from the investments in HPS," Ransler said.

Simon Desjardins, an analyst with Shell Foundation, a Britain-based NGO that provides financial and technical aid to HPS, said electricity shortages can directly impede the economic development of a village, apart from the environmental pollution caused by the use of diesel and kerosene.

"Today, Bihar represents a viable market for modern energy services. The rural communities are willing to pay for reliable electricity," he said.

Ransler said HPS initially provided electricity to 15 villages with support from the Shell Foundation. Now it has 10 biomass plants with capacity ranging from 35-100 KW. It has also created jobs opportunities for the locals.

Biomass gasification plants are eco-friendly as they replace diesel and kerosene with carbon-neutral biomass-derived electricity.

Ransler said each HPS plant offsets roughly 80-100 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Study shows Bihar emerging as job hub

Biharis, in general, have a reputation of flooding cities of other Indian states in search of employment. But this stigma could soon be a
Twitter Facebook Share
Email Print Save Comment
thing of the past as the state capital seems to be emerging as an employment hub. This is according to a survey by Assocham Placement Pattern Study for the first seven months (April to October) of the current fiscal (2009-10).

The good news comes close on the heels of chief minister Nitish Kumar saying that Bihar, which was once dubbed a failed state, is now a success story under his stewardship. On Tuesday, he completed four years in office as CM.

The APP report talks of different aspects of employment, including sectoral patterns and performance of different categories of cities in terms of employment generation.

Under the city classification, Patna has been placed in Tier II along with 17 other major Indian cities. The cities jointly contributed 18.82 per cent in terms of total employment generation in the country in the said period and Patna’s contribution of 0.41 per cent was higher than Indore’s (0.33 per cent), Nagpur’s (0.32 per cent), Cochin’s (0.32 per cent), Ludhiana’s (0.28 per cent), Bhubaneswar’s (0.25 per cent), Bhopal’s (0.21 per cent), Amritsar’s (0.18 per cent) and Gwalior’s (0.17 per cent).

Cities which have a greater share than Patna in this aspect, are Pune (5.46 per cent), Ahmedabad (5.01 per cent), Chandigarh (1.95 per cent), Surat (1.13 per cent), Lucknow (0.82 per cent), Gandhi Nagar (0.80 per cent), Jaipur (0.68 per cent) and Vishakapatnam (0.50 per cent).

There is yet another area in which Patna has left behind cities like Bhopal, Amritsar, Gwalior and Ludhiana. It pertains to a percentage growth in job creation during April-October 2009-10 compared to the corresponding period of the previous fiscal (2008-09).

While the state capital recorded a growth of 20.52 per cent in this period, Bhopal, Amritsar, Gwalior and Ludhiana registered a decline in job creation by 26.68 per cent, 9.60 per cent, 6.27 per cent and 3.94 per cent respectively.

Economist N K Chowdhary attributes this to an improved law and order situation. "And overall positive approach of the state government has helped promote economic activities resulting in growth in employment," he said.

Concurred Bihar Chamber of Commerce president P K Agrawal, "Employment opportunities have increased both in organized and unorganized sectors with telecom, banking, insurance and real estate sectors being the most visible contributors in terms of employment generation."

However, Asian Development Research Institute director and economist P P Ghosh opined against drawing conclusions. "The high percentage growth in employment generation may be the result of a low base where even small growth is reflected very highly in percentage terms," he cautioned.

Ghosh, nevertheless, agreed that rapid increase in development expenditure in the past four years would certainly have helped in employment generation.

"Bihar has changed," Nitish was quoted saying on Tuesday after the four-year stock-taking. He even said that Amartya Sen and Nandan Nilekani had acknowledged this.

`Sushasan' effect: Flyers' flow up

Economic slowdown notwithstanding, the number of air passengers flying out of and into Bihar has been increasing constantly with Patna's
Twitter Facebook Share
Email Print Save Comment
Jayaprakash Narain International Airport receiving and seeing off as many as 56,049 air travellers in October this year as against 27,711 air travellers during the same month last year.

That's a growth of well above 100%! And this is not a one-off growth. Even in the preceding five months from May to September of the current year, the flow of passengers to and from Patna has been up.

There are some who attribute it to the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government's "sushasan" or good governance. "I think improved law and order and overall positive environment for development have attracted many people who earlier hesitated visiting the state," Airports Authority of India (AAI)'s Patna director Arvind Dubey told TOI on Saturday.

Dubey, however, added the number of flights connecting the state capital to other parts of the country has also gone up, of late. In the past five months, the number of flights to and from Patna has gone up from eight to 12. "With many of these flights being low-cost carriers, more and more people are opting for air travel," Dubey said.

Low-cost carriers like Kingfisher Red, JetLite, Jet Konnect and IndiGo fly to and from Patna. Aviation industry sources say more such flights are in the pipeline. That would, needless to say, give a fresh fillip to air travel to and from the city.

The increased flow of passengers is music to the ears of AAI authorities as the Patna airport has been a loss-making unit. "We have certainly been able to reduce the deficit and hope to do better by optimising the use of existing facilities at the airport," Dubey said, refusing, however, to divulge the deficit details.

The AAI director's hopes are not unfounded. The airport watch hours currently starts at 8 am and ends at 9.30 pm. "If we have sufficient number of flights, we can work round-the-clock

Bihar now a success story: Nitish

Chief minister Nitish Kumar takes pride in Bihar's turnaround in a short period. "Bihar was a failed state but now Bihar is a success
Twitter Facebook Share
Email Print Save Comment
story," Nitish told TOI on Monday. He completes four years in office as CM on Tuesday.

Sitting under a canopy at the herbal garden on the eastern flank of his 1 Anne Marg residence amidst the aroma of a large variety of herbal plants like plectranthus amboinicus (ajwain) and sweritia chiratta (chiraita), a relaxed-looking Nitish spent hours giving interviews to the media on Monday.

"Running a state like Bihar is no joke particularly while working for every section of society," he said.

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

He said the duration hardly mattered when good work was initiated with commitment. "Sher Shah ruled the country for just over four years but he is still remembered for his good work," Nitish said, adding quickly: "No, no, I am not comparing myself with the emperor who to date is the only Bihari to have ruled the country."

"When I look back I feel astonished and think if it was really possible to do so many things in a state where nothing moved. Bihar watchers are also surprised," Nitish claimed.

He said four years was not a long time keeping in mind the state's backwardness and administrative failures, where "there was neither law nor order", but now a lot of work has been done for the development of infrastructure, human resources, besides special measures for the deprived sections.

"There is no longer any tension in society. People are feeling secure. Festivals are observed in total harmony. I treat this as a big achievement," Nitish said. He continued, "Bihar has changed. This is acknowledged by people like Amartya Sen and Nandan Nilekani."

The CM said he has received the people's mandate for five years and in the remaining one year he would continue aggressively for the state's development and welfare of its people without any discrimination.

"I will seek a second term from the people on the basis of my work and not on hollow claims. It's up to the public to decide. They fully know that Bihar has changed and will change further for the good," Nitish said.

River cruise boosts Bihar handicrafts sale

A range of vibrant handicrafts to choose from, a tour of heritage hotspots and bird-watching in the sylvan thicket. All this, while
Twitter Facebook Share
Email Print Save Comment
tourists go sailing down the mighty Ganga.

Western tourists who have been taking the Kolkata-Varanasi river cruise, introduced on September 29 this year, are being feted with these incentives on board.

Till date, products (mainly silk and the famous Manjusha art) worth Rs 80,000 have been sold. Principal secretary, Bihar tourism, Rashmi Verma, said, "The famous Bhagalpuri silk, garments and Manjusha paintings were in great demand. The cruise has definitely boosted the sale of handicrafts and art products of Bihar."

A wide range of silk items, sikki and paintings were exhibited during the seven-day cruise. Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation DGM, Navin Kumar, said, "In just one week we sold products worth Rs 30,000. The cruise will be suspended next month in view of Christmas and New Year when foreign tourists would be busy with their festivities. The cruise will resume in January next year."

Encouraged by the spurt in sale, BSTDC is planning to put up more items on sale, including Tikuli art and paintings on paddy husks from January. Kumar said that crafstmen in Madhubani, Jehanabad and Patna have been identified who will supply the paintings.

Apart from ethnic shopping, the tourism department has introduced bird-watching for value addition. "Many foreigners are keen avian watchers. We have put a wildlife expert, Raj Vir Singh, on the cruise. Singh spotted dozens of species of birds on the Buxar-Patna and Simaria Ghat stretch," said Kumar.

About 500 km of the 800 km cruise covers places like Bhagalpur, Munger, Patna and Buxar. Those with a thirst for history and nature can go on a tour of these places. The Yoga Ashram and the ancient Vikramshila University in Munger will beckon many. The Dolphin Sanctuary in Bhagalpur would be fun, while ancient Nalanda, Rajgir and Bodh Gaya would be a trip down the lanes of history. BSTDC and Pandaw Cruise are jointly promoting this cruise on the Ganga.

28,000 Bihar kids to write maths Olympiad test

Over 28,000 students of Bihar are expected to participate in the first phase of International Mathematics Olympiad, scheduled to be held
Twitter Facebook Share
Email Print Save Comment
on December 10.

New Delhi-based Science Olympiad Foundation's state coordinator Vishal Ranjan Daftuar said it is the largest talent hunt conducted in Asia by any organization. Around 5 lakh students from Class II to XII from various Indian schools, including those located abroad, will participate in the event, he said.

He said last year around 22,000 students from the state participated in the Mathematics Olympiad. "Of the 28,000 participants from Bihar this year, 7,000 and odd are from Patna alone," Daftuar said and added the last date for registration for participation in the event is November 30.

During the first phase, around 50 multiple-answer questions are asked from the students to test their mathematical ability and reasoning capability. On the basis of their performance in this test, Daftuar said, around 65,000 to 70,000 students are selected for the second round of the Olympiad which will be held in February next year.

Around 6,500 finalists get awards, including gold, silver and bronze medals for the first three students in each class, he said and added principals and teachers of schools are also feted for their contribution to mathematics.

Daftuar said the National Science Olympiad and National Cyber Olympiad have already been held on the same pattern. Around one million students participated in the two contests. "The performance of students from Bihar has been quite impressive in these competitions," he said.