Nagpur: When effigies of ‘Ravan’ were being burnt to celebrate Vijayadashmi on September 30, Gond tribals in Gadchiroli and some parts of Chhattisgarh were busy in offering prayers to their ‘great king’.A large number of gram sabhas came together to offer prayers to ‘Ravan’ in Surjagad, Kamalapur, and Korchi of Gadchiroli.“Ravan was a great king of Gond tribals. But the people, who practised Brahmnic culture based on hegemony, vilified the history of Ravan to show themselves as great warriors,” said Mahesh Raut, an activist from Gadchiroli.Tribal organisations and village bodies have petitioned the government to stop the practice of burning Ravan’s effigies, but it is yet to act on their demand, he said.Mr. Raut claimed that 70 village bodies in Surjagad, which has been witnessing a protest against the mining, came together under the leadership of zila parishad member Sainu Gota to offer prayers.Tribal organisations and groups, including Tribal Students’ Organisation, Gond Society of Korchi, Gondwana Gotul Sena, Parakrami Gond Raja Ravan Sangh, Buddhist Society of Korchi, and the Halbi Society organised prayers in Korchi.
Many politicians have squandered away the benefits of a landslide electoral victory by doing precious little for the common man. But Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar seems inclined to make the most of the three-fourths majority given to his alliance in the recent assembly elections.He has begun his new innings in right earnest by declaring an all-out war on corruption. Less than a week after he assumed charge, he announced his government’s resolve to bring about the Right to Service Act in Bihar to facilitate timely disposal of work related to public utility services. He also talked about incorporating provisions for a penalty on officials who do not compelte their task within the stipulated time.In the following week, his government acted swiftly to confiscate the property of an official charged with amassing wealth disproportionate to his known source of income. The government will now open a school in his palatial building in keeping with Nitish’s poll-time promise.But it is his decision to abolish the local area development fund of the state legislators that has underlined his determination to rid the state of corruption. Under the scheme, MLAs and MLCs of the state had been getting a discretionary fund of Rs 1 crore per annum.This fund was created with the seemingly ‘noble’ intention of helping legislators implement development projects as per their preference in the areas of their choice but it did not remain immune to taints of graft in subsequent years. Majority of the schemes executed with this fund reeked of poor quality and hence the scheme came to be seen as perpetuating corruption.advertisementSensing the public perception of this scheme, Nitish first broached the abolition of this project during a meeting of the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA) legislators last week and sought their opinion about it. He also spelt out the reason behind it, saying the fund had caused more harm to their image in the public eye. Three days later, the state cabinet took a decision in principle to do away with this scheme and bring about an effective scheme in its place.In just one masterstroke, he put an end to this fund of Rs 1 crore each to 243 MLAs and 75 MLCs, which he can now channel to other welfare initiatives. Not only this, he also called upon all ministers and legislators to declare their income and assets every year to ensure probity in public life.Even opposition parties like the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress have supported this move. But more surprising is the way the NDA legislators have rallied behind him, except for the murmurings of a few. Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi says that there is no difference of opinion among the legislators over the abolition of the fund and wants the Centre to emulate it.Nitish’s decision to get the fund abolished has come at a time when the NDA had received a massive mandate and his leadership cannot be questioned by anybody within the coalition. He apparently wants to convey his seriousness about eradicating corruption from public life not only to the people in general but also to those politicians who wish to perpetuate the myth that graft is a way of life these days.Nitish’s decision has come at the right time. This has set the agenda for his government for the next five years. He has taken the bull of corruption by the horns at the outset of his new tenure. Its success will be evaluated in the next assembly election.Sonepur’s good old cattle fairThe traditional rural fairs are fast becoming pass even in Bihar but the famous Sonepur Mela seems to have retained its old charm. In an era of fun parks and mobile games, the fair – once touted as the biggest cattle fair in Asia – gives glimpses of the “real India”. The month- long mela attracts not only national and foreign tourists but also villagers from nearby areas. It has been primarily famous for the sale and purchase of animals, especially elephants, horses, dogs, cows and birds over the years.In recent times, the ban on the sale of birds and animals, including elephants, have limited its appeal but it still attracts hordes of prospective buyers. Instead of outright sale, elephants are given away as ” gifts” to tweak the rules these days. It is, however, the village market-like atmosphere that is the USP of this mela.From the typical Bihari cuisine available at food stalls to the rural wares sold at the fair, everything reminds one of good old days. The crowds of villagers swaying to the beats of catchy tunes inside the theatres also seem to be the throwback to a bygone era. The Saran district administration is often forced to cancel the licence of the theatres on the charge of obscenity but they return every year in view of their ever- growing demand among the mela revellers.advertisementA treat for Patna’s bookworms Patna Book Fair is an event that every Patnaite looks forward to every year.Bihar is considered to be a huge market by the publishers because of the people’s abiding interest in books and their love for reading.The fair attracts a large number of bookworms every day. This time, it is no different.The latest edition of the fair, inaugurated by chief minister Nitish Kumar on Friday, had more than 60,000 visitors last Sunday. But not every visitor is a potential buyer of books. Majority of them go there for reasons other than purchasing books.Some visit the fair to listen to eminent writers and other intellectuals who share their thoughts with the readers every day. Others go to explore career and employment opportunities through the stalls of different agencies and institutions. Some food stalls selling delicacies like Hyderabadi Biryani draw more crowds than many of the book stalls. And a large majority makes the most of it by having fun, loitering around under the winter sun and having an extended picnic through the day. Nitish believes that this ambience makes it a ‘fair’ in the real sense.In a lighter vein, he said that many people primarily turned up only to gaze at the crowd of book buyers. ” But how long can one go on gazing at the people?” he said.”They also end up developing an interest in reading when they look at the books.” Nitish now wants the organisers to host an international book fair in Patna in deference to the wishes of the teeming book lovers of Patna.Do not disturb! Cops sleeping It is not at all uncommon to catch policemen napping during their duty hours in Bihar.Some of them tend to make the most of the winter sun whenever they find a convenient place. At times, one can find them dozing off even in their patrol cars.But two such ‘ sleeping’ constables in Patna found themselves to be the unlucky ones when they were caught stealing forty winks by none other than the district’s senior superintendent of police B. S. Meena.The SSP saw Rakesh Kumar and Ravindra Kumar Singh sleeping near a girls’ college where they had been deployed to keep a watch on mischief mongers and eveteasers.The SSP, who happened to be passing by, promptly suspended them from duty. The suspension must surely have robbed the duo of their sleep now!BIHAR has finally found a woman sporting icon in Smita Kumari who was part of the Asian Games gold- medal winning kabbadi team. Her success is all the more striking because she fought poverty and family opposition before making it to the team. Smita developed a passion for kabaddi while watching boys play in her village. She now wants more girls to take up kabbadi and hopes that the state government would provide jobs to players to motivate them.advertisement