Planting saplings on a girl’s birth

Bihar prides in this golden heritage

ALOMIT

Gift of mango tree to Nitish

Nitish gets a gift of mango sapling in Dharahara

Bihar provides a unique and soothing contrast to the murky situation in Haryana and Punjab, where girls are killed in foetus after the pregnancy tests. Even the national capital is not immune fro the scourge. But, more sinned than sinning, state of Bihar adores its daughters. In many villages five trees are planted at the birth of a girl child. Women are considered Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, in every household.

This face of Bihar has remained buried under the debris of stories about the state being a Wild West or female members are burn for dowry with impunity. The media hype had made state a dreaded place where, not to talk of angels, even human beings feared to tread. Now slowly but steadily, Bihar’s true face is emerging. And the girls have taken the lead. And they deserved it. They are excelling in all walks of life.

Nitish planting a mango tree in Dharahara village

Nitish planting a mango sapling in Dharahara village

Dharahara in Bhagalpur is among many villages that plant a mango sapling on the birth of a girl child. This unique tradition has turn Dharahara into a village of mango orchards. Houses nestle in green groves. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also reached the village recently on the occasion of a small girl Lavi. He took her in his and fondled her. He planted a mango sapling and told Lavi, “I have planted this tree in your honour and for your prosperity. You grow up and make the village and the state proud of you.

The villagers, attired in their festival best, extended warm welcome to Nitish and gifted a mango sapling which he carried back to Patna. Villagers, especially women, gave details of this golden heritage handed down from generation to generation. Shatrughna Prasad, 98, hoped, now that the Chief Minister himself has seen the tradition ‘my village will be known all over the world for planting trees on the birth of a girl’. The youth of Dharahara vowed to plant hence forward ten saplings on the birth of a girl child.

Plants for new entrant

VC Prof. Qamar Ahsan

VC BNMU Prof. Qamar Ahsan

Meanwhile, here is heart warming news for the environmentalists. Taking a cue from the Dharahara tradition, BN Mandal University (BNMU), Madhepura, has taken a big step to make the Kosi-ravaged zone greener. The university has decided that colleges would plant two saplings for each of newly admitted girls. The students, both boys and girls, on their part will have to give an affidavit at the time of college admission that they have planted saplings for two trees. And, to avoid any glitch in this scheme, the students would be required to provide concrete proof of tree-planting before they are given graduation and PG certificates.

The BNMU vice-chancellor said that since college ‘admission is also a new birth for attaining talents’, students and colleges should plant saplings in tune with the Dharahara tradition. If the sapling planting idea catches fancies of all academics, this will be a historic step to stem the global warming. The governments and universities of the twin states take up sapling planting to its logical conclusions; ecological imbalances may be corrected to a great extent. Bihar and Jharkhand would be green again.

Girls make history

The year 2010, however, may go down as golden period for girls in the history. Five of the six toppers in the secondary school examinations are girls. Sweta topped in the Inter science examinations. Not only that. Girls annexed nine slots among the 15 toppers. And the 2009 IAS female topper, Iva Sahay, belonged to (undivided) Bihar. She was brought up and had schooling in Ranchi. Iva got the third position among all candidates. Meena Jha, a Patna University alumina, bagged 59th position in the IAS list.

In Jharkhand also girls kept the flag flying high. Fauzia Maram of Vir Buddhu Bhagat Inter College became the state topper in the Intermediate Exams in the Arts stream securing 379 marks. The second topper was Nargiz Naaz of SVBB Inter College and third place was held by Salma Khatoon of the Ursuline Inter College.

Be it Manju Devi of Munger, Rajkumari alias Kisan Chachi of Muzaffarpur, Pinki Didi of Bhagalpur, ‘handless’ Sushanti Topno of Dhanbad or Sunita Bhagat of Lohardagga, to name few, all have charted a new path and carved out a niche in this male dominated world. (All of these idols have been featured in the bjmirror,com). Women in Bihar and Jharkhand are taking giant leap forward. Many of them have emerged as catalyst for social change and economic prosperity. The Bihar girls are all set to bridge the gender literacy gap very soon.

The society, at least in Bihar, has come to accept that girls are no more liabilities. They are assets for the family and society on the whole. It was not for nothing that Gandhiji had said that if you educate a boy you educate an individual. But, if you educate a girl, you educate a family and society.

Bihar steps to reserve 50 per cent posts in local self governance have started paying dividends at the grassroots level. Now woman mukhias, sarpanches, zila parishad chair persons and others have started emerging out of their husband’s shadow. It is hoped that women in local bodies come on their own ever growing corruption in villages and panchayats would be curbed to a great extent.

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