It is always a tough task to follow in the footsteps of an illustrious predecessor. Bihar’s new Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi should know it well, as he finds himself in an unenviable position after taking over the reins from none other than Nitish Kumar. Nitish, who resigned after the disastrous performance of the JD(U) the recent Lok Sabha elections, had raised the bar of good governance by bringing Bihar back on the tracks of development during his eightand-a-half-year rule. From facilitating economic growth of an underdeveloped state, restoring law and order and tackling the scourge of corruption with an iron hand, his regime was marked for quick decisions and out-of-the-box solutions to many a long-standing problem.Jitan Ram Manjhi has been a sixterm MLA who has outshone his colleagues with his performance.For the first time in Bihar, development became a byword in the corridors of power during his tenure which prompted his admirers to hail him as the best administrator since Sri Krishna Sinha, the first and the longest-serving chief minister in the state.His political decision, especially the one to snap his party’s ties with the BJP against the rising stature of Modi, may have been questioned but no one could take away the credit from him that he served, to the best of his ability, to work for the inclusive growth of Bihar all through his stint.Nitish’s government was applauded for giving 50 per cent reservation to women in the three-tier panchayati raj institutions, setting up of speedy trials for disposal of long-pending and high-profile criminal cases and confiscating assets of corrupt public servants, including IAS and IPS officers.That is why his sudden exit created a vacuum of sorts. Most people, including former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, felt that Manjhi, the new Chief Minister, would not be able to step into the big shoes of Nitish and end up as a dummy candidate to be remote controlled by his predecessor .This was, however, grossly unfair to Manjhi. A six-term MLA who was made minister in the Jagannath Mishra cabinet way back in the early 1980s, he has been a campaigner who had diligently worked his way to the top with making any noises over the years. Even his performance as the minister for SC/ST welfare in the Nitish government was better than most of his ministerial colleagues. This probably explains why no murmurs were heard within the JD(U) when he was handpicked by Nitish. It was Manjhi’s long experience – in addition to the fact that he belonged to the poorest of the poor Mushhar community of the mahadalits – that worked in his favour and minimised the possibility of any rebellion. Manjhi will now have to prove to his detractors that he is not merely a “rubber stamp.”His task is to carry forward the development agenda of Nitish but he is also expected to take his own independent decisions.Poor girls gettop spots in schoolsIi is not unusual for girls to outperform the boys in the school examinations these days. But in Bihar, they are grabbing the lion’s share of the top spots. In the Class XII Intermediate (Arts) examination conducted by the Bihar School Examination Board, out of the 20 students who got the top positions, 16 of them happened to be girls. What is significant about their achievement is the fact that all of them belonged to the interiors of the state. There were five girls from Madhubani district alone, three from Muzaffarpur, two each from Araria and Saharsa districts but none of them hailed from Patna.This year’s topper Huma Khatoon was a student of Purnia Secondary School while the second and third toppers were Kumari Priyanka from Siwan and Nidhi Kumari from Rosera in Samastipur district. Huma is the first girl from her family to have pursued her education beyond class X. The overall performance of the girls was also far better than the boys. While only 38.75 per cent boys could pass the examinations, 62.24 per cent girls achieved success. Still, the performance of the girls was not better than the last year. In 2013, altogether 19 girls were among the top 20 students. Girls’ education received a tremendous boost during the tenure of Nitish Kumar who offered girl students sops such as free bicycles to check the dropout rate in the state.Bihar kids enter record booksBihar’s kids have something to cheer about. The children of Kilkari Bihar Bal Bhavan have made it to the Limca Book of Records this year for their commendable feat. In December 2012, altogether 7,475 students in the age group of 9-16 had taken part in the Bal Olympiad (Children’s Olympiad) at the Moinul Haq Stadium in Patna. This turned out to be the largest children’s sports event in the country and earned it an entry into the record book.Patna Sahib mahotsav relocatedThe tourism department of the Bihar government has started organising the Patna Sahib Mahotsav on a grand scale at the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, seven years ago. Every year, it invites popular singers and other performers to regale the crowds at the festival held near the famous Harmandir Sahib shrine. This year, too, the two-day musical extravaganza saw singer Jasbir Jassi and the dance troupe of Aditi Mangal Das holding the audience in thrall. But the kicked off a controversy due to change in its venue. For the first time since its inception, the Patna Sahib Mahotsav was held at S K Memorial Hall, far away from the holy shrine. The change in venue had angered residents living near the shrine.