By Amarnath Tewary
Think pink in India, and you instantly recall the northern city of Jaipur which is dubbed the Pink City after its terracotta-colour dwellings.
Now a crime-infested town in the badlands of Bihar, one of the country's most backward and poorest states, is painting itself pink to uplift, according to authorities, its sagging morale and spirit.
Aurangabad is a hotbed of Maoist rebel activity - nearly 90 people died in two major attacks involving the rebels in 1987 and 2000 alone.
The authorities feel pink is the way to go for Aurangabad residents to feel proud of their town again.
Travel into the city today and you find the facades of most of the private and government buildings painted a gaudy pink.
"About 80% of the buildings have been painted pink in the town and the rest would be completed by next week," the town's sub-division officer Arvind Kumar Singh said.
'Pink fosters harmony'
Mr Singh says he thought of painting Aurangabad pink after a visit to Jaipur.
"What better colour than pink which symbolises good mood, soothing sight and good feelings. Pink also fosters communal amity and harmony," he says.
Accordingly, the government buildings were all painted pink, and now private dwellings seem to be following suit without much resistance. Four of the six hotels in the town already sport the colour.
"Initially I met with some resistance. Now even a former member of parliament from the town has painted his palatial home pink," says Mr Singh.
Authorities say painting the town pink will raise morale Pics: Prashant Ravi
The authorities even put pressure on residents to paint their buildings pink using a 1992 municipal law.
Now they are so obsessed with the colour that even official leaflets are being printed in pink.
"Pink Aurangabad, clean Aurangabad, green Aurangabad and disciplined Aurangabad," exhorts one of the pink leaflets.
It is still not exactly clear how painting homes and offices pink can bring down spiralling crime and unrest in a place where caste violence is rife and only 30% of the people can read and write.
Local resident Devnandan Chaurasia says people are even getting makeshift shops and kiosks repainted.
"We are putting fresh coats of paint so that the whole town looks pink soon."
The district administration is at pains to clarify that there is no coercion in painting the town pink.
But it is not the first time that authorities in Bihar have shown a predilection for the colour.
Government school buildings funded under a federal mass education scheme have to be painted pink, according to a local notification.
Aurangabad authorities want to best that directive.
"We will get the name of the town in record books as the real pink city of India," says Mr Singh.