Tag Archives: India

The Legendary Hindi Poet “Baba Nagarjuna”

8 Jun

“Baba Nagarjuna” was Born in 30th June 1911 as Vaidya Nath Mishra in the village Satlakha, his mother’s village, he was fondly called baba by his followers. Baba was known for his revolutionary ideas and unconventional lifestyle. His writings inspired generations and he was known for his candid and anti – establishment views.

Born in a lower middle class Brahmin family of Tarauni village in Darbhanga district of Bihar, Nagarjun lost his mother when he was barely three years old. His father lived as a vagabond and hedonist. So as a child Nagarjun had to depend upon compassionate relatives and some generous landlords for financial help for his education. He showed excellence in the learning of the ancient Indian languages like Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit first at the rural centres and later in the cities of Varanasi and Calcutta where, along his higher studies he also worked for his livelihood. Though, Nagarjun’s academic expenses could be met by the scholarships which he won as a bright student, he always bore the fact on his mind that he had also to support his father who could barely earn any money by himself.

After the years of learning and semi-employment in Calcutta, Nagarjun moved to Saharanpur (U.P.) where he got a full time teaching job. Apparently Nagarjun had moved to a better paying job but in fact his unsatiable urge to delve deep and yet deeper into the traditional wisdom of India particularly the Sanskrit treatises and philosophical discourses, Buddhist scriptures and handwritten manuscripts of sorts put him on the path of an unstable nomadic existence.

This pursuit took him to Sri Lanka where in the Buddhist monastery of Kelania he had to adopt Buddhism to have free access to the well guarded manuscripts which were inaccessible to the outside world. (This had a precedent. Nagarjun’s mentor Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan had to pass through the same experience). It was in 1935 that Nagarjun became a Buddhist monk. As an imperative he had to change his name.

That is when he started his literary career with Maithili poems by the pen-name of Yatri in early 1930s. By mid 1930s, he started writing poetry in Hindi. This is when he adopted the name Nagarjun. A wanderer by nature, Nagarjun spent a considerable amount of his time in the 30s and the 40s traveling across India. He was influenced by Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan and Swami Sahajanand Saraswati.

He also participated in many mass-awakening movements before and after independence. Between 1939 and 1942, He was jailed by the British courts for leading a farmer’s agitation in Bihar. For a long time after independence he was involved with journalism. He played an active role in Jaya Prakash Narayan’s movement prior to emergency, and was jailed during the period of emergency. He was strongly influence by Leninist-Marxist ideology. This was one of the reasons that he never found patronage from the mainstream political establishments. Coupled with this, his own vagabond way of life, became the cause of his extreme poverty. He spent his last days in illness and poverty in the poor localities of Delhi and Darbhanga. He died in 1998 at the age of 87 in Darbhanga.
Baba’s style of writing had tinge of social and political satire and protested againt the poltical regime of the times. He wrote on wide range of issues and was loved by all for his hard hitting and incisive views.

The subjects of his poetry are varied. Effects of both his wandering tendencies and activism, is clear in his middle and later works. His famous poems like Badal ko Ghirate Dekha hai , is a travelogue in its own right. He often wrote on contemporary social and political issues. His famous poem Mantra Kavita, is widely considered the most accurate reflection of a whole generation’s mindset in India. Another such poem is Aao Rani Ham Dhoenge Palaki, which sarcastically humiliates the then prime minister of India, Pt. Nehru, for the extravagant welcome thrown by him for Queen Elizabeth.

Besides these accepted subjects of poetry, Nagarjun found poetic beauty in unconventional subjects. One of his most astonishing works is a poem based on a female pig called paine daanto wali. Another such creation is a series of poems on a full-grown jack fruit .

Because of the breadth of his poetry, Nagarjun is considered the only Hindi poet, after Tulsidas, to have an audience ranging from the rural sections of society to the élite. He effectively freed poetry from the bounds of elitism. was given the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1969 for his historic book Patarheen Nagna Gachh. He was also honored by the Sahitya Akademi by appointing him its fellow in 1994.
A Socialist to the core of his heart, it was probably only Nagarjuna, after Munshi Prem Chand, who strongly advocated the cause of the downtrodden and the exploited. He wrote extensively about the rotten social system which, according to him, was being used to exploit the peasantry.

Nagarjuna was basically anti-establishment, because he was not compromising by nature. This is why he even rejected the offer of nomination to the Rajya Sabha and thrice to the Bihar Vidhan Parishad.Unfortuanlety on 5th Nov 1998 Baba breathed his last in the Khwaja Sarai locality of Darbhanga town in Bihar in the small house of his eldest son, Shobha Kant. About a month before his death, his daughter-in-law made a sentimental appeal to all Hindi lovers to come forward and give financial help to the seriously ill poet. Her appeal fell on deaf years. His famous protest poetry Om recently featured in Sanjay Jha’s movie Strings bound by faith and thanks to this effort of Sanjay the new generation is discovering the magic of Baba’s writing.

How Irfan Alam becomes Hero of Rikshawpullers in India

7 Jun

Irfan alam born in begusarai district, bihar started off with 100 such rickshaws in 2007. Today, over three lakh rickshaw-pullers from across the country are registered with Sammaan Foundation . While 10,000 and odd are pedaling the special rickshaws, the process is underway to help others. US President Barack Obama called him to attend the “Entrepreneurship Summit” scheduled for April in Washington DC, America.

A 27-year-old from Begusarai in Bihar and his typically Indian thirsts of entrepreneurship exhibited through his company Sammaan Foundation that he established in Patna in 2007.
Irfan Alam, the founder and chairman, Sammaan Foundation came out with an innovative idea and transformed it into a business model. It relates to the cycle rickshaw pulling business where the men engaged hardly made a respectable earning. Alam’s idea made it profitable and honorable with small but innovative changes. In Alam’s business plan, rickshaw puller makes the ride for the commuter more comfortable and enjoyable with provision of music, magazine/news papers, and even first aid. He designed the rickshaws in such a way that it gives ample space to put the advertisement on the side, front and back panels of the rickshaw. Rickshaw puller additionally earns from various value-added services such as sale of mineral water, juices, mobile recharge, courier collection, bills collections. The company intrudes for the first time prepaid rickshaws in India.

How Engineer & CEO Gyanesh Pandey Lighten Up The Bihar Villages

6 Jun

Gyanesh Pandey, a native of the village of Baithania in the District of West Champaran in Bihar had in the course of his life made an interesting journey via boarding schools to premier Engg schools in Varanasi and New York worked in the Power Management Semiconductor industry. Ratnesh Yadav, a native of Patna, had just moved back home from Delhi to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams.

The duo sincerely felt the need for rural development in Bihar in particular and India in general and saw immense opportunities right at home. Rural electrification was considered more of a necessity than an option. The conventional technologies and grids have failed to deliver and the pervasive energy starvation in the country is a rather known reality. A solution that used non-conventional technology for distributed generation of electricity was a no-brainer.

What needed years was finiding the right technology that fit the economic model for the rural space. A hunt that dedicated efforts from nanotechnology driven Polymer Solar Cells to the Jatropha based Biodiesel, and pretty much everything in between only led to realizations about how the different non-conventional technologies employing renewable resources lacked substance when it came to applying them to solve a broader problem.

Gyanesh had a change of heart after a failed Vipassana course in late 2006 and by February 2007, he was back home for good – for the first time in life – chucking a promising career in the greener pastures of Semiconductor industry in the USA.

Having ran out of the more talked about and presumed promising options, a chance encounter with a Gasifier salesman, Mr Krishna Murari, proved to be a fresh ray of hope in the so far rather frustrating pursuit of the two friends. They learnt how several rice millers in the state of Bihar were using the decades old technology of Biomass gasification to power their mills using Rice Husk – largely a no-good by-product of their operations.

Rice Husk – perhaps the only Bio-waste in the lives of rural folks – was just the perfect source to power the dream of rural electrification. There was a catch though – all of the prevalent rice-husk based gasifier systems ran in what is called the ‘dual-fuel’ mode of operation where the Producer Gas produced by the Gasifiers was used in conjunction with 35-50% Diesel to power the Diesel Engines. This suited a Rice Miller just fine by saving him 50-60% of Diesel but wasn’t good enough to fit the economic model of Rural Electrification.

Why not use the gasifier based systems in ‘Single Fuel mode’ without any Diesel, was an obvious question. The answer available, which came from multiple research works in many reputed institutions, was very negative. Rice Husk, an amorphous and low density fuel produced a gas that had very high tar content and was rather dirty in general. The experts deemed it unfit for the Single-Fuel mode of operation.

Having demonstrated remarkable yield levels in one of oldest IC Fabrication units of North America, Gyanesh didn’t see it as much of a problem. A dirty gas can clog the engine but if the engine is cleaned before the clog hampers the operation, why can’t it work – was the simple thought. The thought was much appreciated by a scientist with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Mr S. K. Singh, and without any previous experience with Biomass Gasification, the persevering duo undertook the revolutionary task of shifting the paradigm in the rural as well as renewable energy space. They got their gasifier fabricated at a local workshop, procured a cheap CNG engine from a small supplier and modified it suit their purpose.

What had been a rather lofty and continuously unyielding idea for over five years took less than five months to realize and on the 60th anniversary of India’s Independence, a remote and run-down village of ‘Tamkuha’( Literally meaning Fog of Darkness) in the infamous Dhanaha region (often called the University for Kidnappers) of West Champaran district in the state of Bihar experienced electricity for the first time. The work was done under the banner of Samta Samriddhi Foundation, an NGO setup by duo in Bihar.

‘After sixty independent years, we have found freedom from Darkness’, said Mr Rambalak Yadav, a local teacher on the occasion. Having zeroed-in on the technology, carving a lucrative business model wasn’t much of a task. Much of the elements had been in the mind all through the long journey and it came together rather well on the ground.

Having a good enough business model and a working technology in the backwaters of Bihar doesn’t guarantee any larger success. The breakthrough needed exposure. Exposure came through the efforts of Gyanesh’s college friend, Manoj Sinha, a business student at University of Virginia at the time. Manoj had been aware of the work on the ground and he undertook the task of presenting the work to the world. Manoj was assisted in his efforts by his classmate Charles Ransler. The model proved to be a great success at various Business Plan competitions and Husk Power Systems was born. With the success came prize money, exposure and a stream of willing investors and the rest, as they say, is history…


28 May

Dr. Rajendra Prasad (3 December 1884 – 28 February 1963) was born in a Kayastha Family in Zeradei village, in the Siwan district under Saran division of Bihar, on 3 December 1884. He was one of the architects of the Indian Republic, having drafted its first constitution and serving as the first president of independent India (26 January 1950-13 May 1962). During the independence movement, he left his law work and joined the Congress Party, playing a prominent role in the Indian Independence Movement. He served as the president of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the first constitution of the Republic, which lasted from 1948 to 1950. He also became the first Minister of Food and Agriculture in the year 1946 in the Interim national Government.