Chinese foray for Diwali
In July, during the India-China standoff at Doklam, many Patnaites had shunned Chinese products such as cheap and attractive rachis and vowed to continue the boycott. But now, with Diwali round the corner, Patna’s markets are being flooded with a wide array of Chinese products.
Colourful lamps in all shapes and sizes, consuming less electricity and significantly cheaper than Indian products, are already on sale at hundreds of shops across Patna. Few shops have the traditional Indian lamps like the diya-shaped metallic products used to illuminate idols of gods and goddesses as there is low demand for them. After the Doklam standoff eased, the love for cheap Chinese products, it seems, is back with a bang.
No city, a big village
Situated along the Ganga and continuously inhabited for thousands of years, the Bihar capital is a city steeped in history and eagerly embracing modernity. But the haphazard constructions in many residential areas and roads overflowing with people, vehicles and cattle alike amid filth dotting them belies Patna’s pretensions of being a modern city. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, ruling Bihar for the past twelve years, believes exactly the same. “Patna is no city. It is at best a very big village,” said Kumar at a government programme on Sunday. Delivering a mild rebuke to Patna’s people for their unwillingness to keep the roads and colonies clean, he said a social awareness campaign is needed to keep Patna clean.
City square abuzz
The sprawling Gandhi Maidan, witness to several political movements during India’s freedom struggle and in the post-Independence era, is no longer a lonely expanse of grassy ground. The 62-acre open space near the banks of the Ganga is now abuzz with activities after the district administration set up Patna Haat here on the pattern of Delhi Haat. As part of an initiative to develop the place as a city square, the Art Village with 50 canopy stalls selling handicraft and handloom products was opened for the public on October 5. Among the artefacts on sale are Madhubani paintings, Sikki craft, Bhagalpuri silk, Khatwa appliqué work, bamboo and stone craft. Three food courts across 3,600 sqft were set up on the Maidan’s eastern part in August.
When the Regional Ayurveda Research Institute for Infectious Diseases in Patna issued a circular prohibiting the use of English in all written and oral communication on its premises, the move was greeted mostly with glee. If anyone speaks in English with Hindi-speakers at this central government institute, “suitable action” would be taken against them, said the October 3 circular. The average Bihari, including most of the educated people and college students, has a strange fear of the English language. The funny way they often speak and write English is infamous as “Bihari English” or “Binglish”.
Anand ST Das
The author is the correspondent of the New Indian Express in Bihar.