- Two Bihari IITians enhancing the cultivation in the state
- The tale of a Bihari now living in Pakistan
- Disaster Management will be part of compulsory studies in Schools
- Bihar Inc expresses its discern over the recent fuel price hike
- Bihar to declare the mystery disease as epidemic
- Super 30 to conduct entrance test in Bhopal this time
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 06:18 PM PDT
PATNA: Treading a path less travelled, two IITians have taken to agriculture after turning down lucrative job offers by MNCs and made a mark for themselves within a few months. Beginning their offbeat initiative in October 2010 in Vaishali district, their activities now span six districts in Bihar.
Meet Shashank Kumar, an IIT-Delhi graduate (2004-2008 batch), and Manish Kumar, an IIT-Kharagpur postgraduate (2005-10 batch), who have embarked on their mission to improve the lot of farmers in the backwaters of Bihar with the aim to empower them, much to the chagrin of their parents.
“We suggested to farmers to cultivate ‘rajma’ instead of the conventional crop of wheat. But they ignored our suggestions outright,” said Manish. “We were at our wits’ end,” Manish recalled adding, “but we somehow persuaded 18 farmers to experiment on six acres of land. Luckily, it was a huge success.”
“The farmers earned Rs 1000 per kattha with an investment of Rs 400. For wheat, they used to invest Rs 350 and reap 50kg produce per kattha, earning Rs 400 to 500,” said Manish, son of a retired clerk.
In February 2011, they founded an NGO, ‘Farms n Farmers (FnF)’, which does everything from soil testing to providing a market to farmers. Its activities have now expanded to adjoining districts including Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Banka and Purnia.
“Our focus is on maximizing returns from land through natural farming,” said Shashank.
In Purnia district, where corn and potato are predominantly grown, farmers usually leave their land unused from June to September. “We advised farmers to sow baby corn. As baby corn is reaped within 50 to 60 days, farmers had a bumper harvest just before raising another crop,” said Manish, who hails from Chakdariya village in Vaishali district.
Several Purnia farmers harvested 25kg baby corn per kattha of land and sold it for an average amount of Rs 750, earning more than Rs 300, he said.
In Buxar, the farmers, facing water shortage, were advised to grow medicinal herbs, which need negligible irrigation.
“We sell directly to food processing companies. It helps farmers earn more,” said Shashank. The FnF charges a nominal 10% of total sale value from farmers. The techies plan to lower this figure in future as more farmers join their initiative.
“We want to create a large network of small and marginal but happy and prosperous farmers,” Shashank and Manish told TOI.
Though they are currently not using organic methods of farming, they said “organic is best.” “Now that we have gained farmers’ faith, we have started to work on organic farming. We are advising farmers to avoid using chemical fertilizer,” they said.
FnF, which has more than 150 farmers associated with it, has an eight-member advisory team which includes Prof P K Sinha from IIM-Ahmedabad, Prof R Singh and P B S Bhadoria from IIT-Kharagpur, and Dr Bimla Rai from RAU, Pusa. Manish and Shashank hold regular training programmes in different parts of Bihar.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 12:23 PM PDT
Abu Khalid's family migrated from Muzaffarpur, Bihar to Karachi during Partition. Here he narrates his childhood memories of the city and the long journey that brought him to his new homeland. Khalid is retired and spends his time writing poetry, gardening and stock trading
"I was born on May 6, 1936 in Chapra which is north of river Ganga. My parents had seven children and I am fourth in number, with two older sisters and a brother and a younger sister and a brother. While I was growing up, several of my father's nieces and nephews and my mother's younger brothers lived with us on and off. We lived in Muzaffarpur where my father had a law practice but would often visit our ancestral village Khesrahi as well as Chapra, my mother's birthplace, on occasions like family weddings.
"My grandfather, Abul Farah, was a munshi in a court and my father, Abu Mahmood, had earned his LLB degree from Calcutta University. My father was the first Muslim in Muzaffarpur to acquire a law degree in first division. My brothers and I went to Muslim High School which had predominantly Muslim students. We walked to our school that was about three miles away from home and I sometimes went alone if my brothers couldn't accompany me; one wasn't fearful of doing so at the time as one is now. My sisters also went to a girls' school — in strict purdah — but only for a couple of years. At home they were taught the Quran, Arabic and Urdu, as was the norm at that time but when they became older this kind of tutoring was halted. For us boys however, a salaried teacher was hired who then stayed with the family. This was a prevalent custom in Muslim families at the time. If the teacher was a college student his college fees were paid for by the employer's family and accommodation was also provided to him by giving him a room in the outhouse.
"Our teacher's name was Badarul Islam who lived with us and taught me and my older brother. Islam was in the final year of his BA when he joined us. An extremely intelligent man, he was a mathematician, a poet, a calligraphist, a chess-player and an expert in traditional stick-fighting (lathi). He was not only responsible for overseeing our school education but also taught us things not covered in our syllabus.
Beginning of tension
"In 1946, Hindu-Muslim riots began in several parts of Bihar. Riots occurred in Zilaor district and around the localities of the capital of Bihar, Patna and even in my mother's home town, Chapra. In fact my maternal relatives' house was also attacked.
Several of my mother's relatives lived in a neighbourhood called Kareemchak in Chapra which was surrounded by a Hindu population and one night a huge mob of Hindus descended on Kareemchak. One of my relatives fired his gun at the mob leader who died on the spot; pandemonium broke out, a few more shots were fired and some more Hindus got injured. Then the police arrived and gave the residents full protection. Soon after this incident all of my mother's family living in Chapra moved to Patna to live with my mother's maternal uncle.
Decision to migrate
"When it dawned on us that Pakistan indeed was going to be created, my father decided to visit East Bengal to ascertain where his family could settle down. In Bihar most Muslims were planning to migrate to Dhaka because it was nearer and the fare affordable, however, when my father inspected small towns around Calcutta and Dhaka he found them impoverished,
"In 1946 when riots took place in the outskirts of Patna, people decided to migrate. So the first group of Mohajirs from Patna arrived in Karachi in 1946 and took refuge in Mohajir Camp on Lawrence Road which was earlier known as Haji Camp from where pilgrims would go for Hajj. In this group were my maternal relatives who settled in the Camp. Later my elder brother, Abu Hamid, who had just finished his matriculation, was sent off to Karachi in 1947, just before Partition. I do not recall any debate taking place in my family about whether or not they should leave for the new country, perhaps because I was too young to be involved in those discussions.
"Our preparations began as soon as it was declared that Pakistan had been created. It was planned that we would move from Muzaffarpur and go to Patna, Calcutta, Bombay and finally from Bombay to Karachi by boat. We embarked on our journey in September-October 1947 and it would be several months before we would reach the end. All of us moved to Patna, except my father who stayed back to sort out property matters and joined us later. In Patna, my mother's younger sister's family, my married sisters and more families joined us for the journey to Pakistan and this gathering took quite a while. We then set off to Calcutta, where we stayed at Maulvi Musafirkhana, a traveller's lodge, for about two to three weeks. Then we travelled to Bombay from where we booked tickets on the Dwarka steamship for Karachi. This took around 15 to 20 days and eventually we got the tickets on January 26 or 27.
"On the day of the journey we all reached the port early but there were already thousands of people there, all bound for Karachi. We could only get a place on the deck as no room was available. It was a four-day trip from Bombay to Karachi. As we were nearing Karachi, on January 31, 1948, we heard the news that Gandhiji had been killed. That very same day our ship docked at Karachi port. My elder brother was waiting for us here. From Keamari, we hired a camel-carriage, which was the prevalent form of transportation in the city. We put all our belongings into the carriage and set off for our quarters. When we reached there was an empty ground on which there were 150 houses (quarters). The house, built on 80 square yards, had two rooms, a veranda, a toilet, a kitchen and a bathroom. Soon after, I took admission in Model High School near Burns road.
"Thus we all began our new lives in a country which was a dream of Allama Iqbal, translated into reality by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It was still 1948 and I had started going to school when the Quaid passed away and was buried on the hill where the mausoleum was later built. As a child I went as close to the dug up grave as I could and saw Liaquat Ali Khan, Sir Zafarullah Khan, and Sardar Abdul Rab Nishter sitting on the ground with tears in every eye waiting for the final rites for the great man who had created a new home for the Muslims of the subcontinent."
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 12:18 PM PDT
Patna, Jun 25 (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said his government will introduce disaster management in school syllabus for building wider awareness on the issue.
Addressing a meeting of state Disaster Management department, Kumar said, “We will introduce disaster management in school syllabus for the benefit of the common people, prone to natural calamities like flood and drought.”
He stressed on the need for construction of earthquake-resistant hospitals and schools in the areas prone to natural calamities.
Later at a party programme, Kumar said the demand for a special category state for Bihar had become a demand of the common people.
His party (JD-U) had obtained a signature of one crore people who supported this demand, he said, adding, this would be submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh next month.
A delegation led by state JD(U) president Bashishtha Narayan Singh would be reaching New Delhi on July 10 to submit the signatures to the Prime Minister.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 12:17 PM PDT
Patna, June 25: The central government's decision to increase the price of diesel by Rs 3 a litre has come in for sharp criticism from Bihar industry associations and chambers which have said that the decision would have "cascading effect" on the economy as a whole besides adversely affecting the industrialisation process in the state.
The Centre on Friday hiked the price of diesel by Rs 3 a litre, kerosene by Rs 2 a litre and a steep increase of Rs 50 on each liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinder. The hike in prices became effective from Friday midnight.
The industry has been crying foul over the increase in price of the diesel, which is the main input source for transportation of raw material and finished goods, as it has come as a "double blow" within a month. Bihar State Electricity Board (BSEB) had effected an average electricity tariff hike of 19 per cent besides imposing a fuel surcharge of Rs 1.35 per unit for March and April.
The industrialists were critical of the government's decision and many of them were of the view that the move (price hike) would increase the inflation, which in turn, would hamper the industrial growth momentum in the state.
"The Centre's decision will have big impact on the industries as on the one hand, the Reserve Bank of India, the central bank, has increased the interest rates for around 10 times in a year to curb credit to choke the general demand and on the other hand, it has increased the price of Rs 3 on diesel which will create inflationary pressure affecting the growth momentum," Bihar Industries Association (BIA) president Shailendra P Sinha told The Telegraph.
Terming the hike as "unfortunate" and "bad signal" for industrial growth in the state, Sinha said: "The power cost is already high in Bihar. The decision of the state electricity board, which hiked tariff rate and imposed fuel surcharge, has further added to the woes of the state's traders and industrialists and the yesterday's hike given them a big blow again. It may squeeze the profit margin of the firms or many industries might go sick in the state."
Bihar Chamber of Commerce (BCC) president O.P. Sah, who termed the decision as "unfortunate", said the Centre has taken the decision in haste. Sah told The Telegraph: "It will have an adverse impact on trade and industry. When the prices of crude oil have been witnessing a declining trend in the international market, the Centre should have waited before taking a decision. This single decision will affect everyone, right from the common man to the industrialist. The government should absorb the burden instead of passing it on the general people."
Confederation of India Industry's (CII) eastern region vice-chairman and chief executive officer of Shakti Sudha, which processes and markets makhana, Satyajit Singh: "The move to effect a hike diesel price is highly condemnable as it will badly affect the industries and industrialisation process in the state. The reason is that diesel, which the major component for transportation across the country, serves as the lifeline of Indian industries."
The entrepreneurs are facing the heat in the form of electricity tariff hike and fuel surcharge, Singh said and added that the move is completely negative step as it would hamper the growth.
Industrialist K.P.S. Kesri, director of Amrapali Foods Ltd and ex-president of BIA, was expecting the move anytime given the fact that oil marketing companies were suffering. Kesri, however, said that increase in the cost of electricity coupled with diesel hike has dealt a big jolt to the industries and they might get sick.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 12:14 PM PDT
With the casualty toll in the mysterious illness growing to 47 on Sunday, the Bihar administration is expected to declare it an outbreak.
Under the epidemic Act, the health department will be empowered to obtain samples of brain tissues of the people suffering from the deadly illness.
Around 6 demises have been registered in the last two days, comprising 5 at K D Kejriwal Maternity Hospital.
The hospital declared 24 casualties till Sunday evening consisting of one on Sunday.
About 17 kids are being treated at K D Kejriwal Maternity Hospital.
Muzaffarpur’s administrative hospital, Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, announced one fatality in the past 48 hours.
In addition, the doctors at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital have been looking after 8 patients.
Around seven patients with the same disease have been admitted to Patna Medical College and Hospital has.
At the National Institute of Virology, Pune, and Rajendra Memorial Research Institute, Patna, 24 blood and cerebral spinal fluid samples have tested negative for Japanese encephalitis (JE). These institutes now want brain tissue samples to ascertain the disease that experts describe as a kind of viral encephalitis. Culex mosquitoes are suspected to carry virus from animals to humans.
Muzaffarpur district magistrate suggested the state administration to declare Gandak catchment and suburban regions of Bochaha, Minapur, Mushahari, Kanti, Ahiyapur, Sahebganj and Paru as contagion region.
The district administration has formed a five-member doctors’ team to direct line of treatment and help make an emergency plan.
Dr. Arun Shah, one of the committee members, stated that Muzaffarpur cases required the same cure as Saharanpur encephalitis, which caused a large number of fatalities each year till 2000.
“A study by the Indian Council of Medical Research concluded that a toxin from kasaundhi trees, being transmitted to humans through insects, caused the disease. The trees were cut and the disease subsided. Litchi trees and mosquitoes present in the region should be studied for this disease,” suggested Shah.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stated that regardless of blood sample examinations ruling out Japanese encephalitis, JE vaccine should be given to all kids under 15 years in affected regions.
Posted: 27 Jun 2011 03:33 AM PDT
Bhopal: The Super 30 institute of Bihar will hold a selection exam in Bhopal this year. The institute provides free coaching for IIT-JEE exam to financially weak students.
Anand Kumar, the founder of the institute, said that last year the entrance exam was organised in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and selected six students. This year it has been decided that the exam centres will be Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi and Bhopal. A total of 60 students will be selected.
The examination will be held on July 2. The selected students will get free food, stay and tuition facilities.
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