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October 31, 2001 - October 31, 2001

Dazed corporates go in for Diwali gifts squeeze Wednesday, October 31, 2001

News Source: Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: In a financial year marked by slipping top-lines and bottom-lines, spending on corporate gifts does not seem to be a priority for most corporates this Diwali.
Some companies, which have been badly hit by recession, are considering giving it a skip; while others, who cannot escape it, feel that allocation on gifts was an annual expenditure which can be squeezed without directly hurting the company's returns.
"At a time when most of companies were minimising their costs due to constrained cash flow, it is unlikely that they would indulge in expensive gifts. This festive season, corporate across all sectors will be seeing a general pull-back on corporate gifting. It would be restricted only to special and very important clients," said a spokesperson of a leading pharmaceutical company.
Corporate gifts are typically made by businesses to customers, employers, influential clients and suppliers during the festive season in acknowledgement of favours taken during the year. But with belt-tightening by corporates, the emphasis in most corporates was more towards dispensing regular fixed costs like employee salary than to appease a prospective client to keep its business running.
Even those on firmer grounds are either compromising on value of the gifts or have decided to slash their list of the recipients of gifts.
While better years have seen corporates gifts ranging from expensive imported perfumes, gold ornaments, silver coins and tea sets, dinner sets, watches and hordes of other goodies, the bend of the corporate gifts this year is towards paintings with corporate theme, greeting cards, household items, crystalware, chocolate gift packs and the good old Indian sweet packets.
Watches, for one, have lost favour as a Diwali gift this year. A local watch company, which had received huge orders from such major companies as Indian Shaving Products Limited (Gillette) is starved for orders this year. Whatever orders that have come its way are small in number, and no major corporate has placed any order.
Bank of Baroda (BoB), which follows a tradition of distributing sweets and dry-fruits to its employees and major clients, has cut its budgets for corporate gift by 20 per cent this year.
Havmor, the local ice-cream and dessert company, has pruned its budget by 50 per cent. It would be distributing its gifts on Dhanteras day, and does not want to let out the secret as yet. In the previous years, it had distributed such gifts as electronic home appliances. "There would be a comedown on the type of gifts we would offer this year," Havmor purchase manager Ajay Mistry said.
BOB public relations officer Jayesh Dholakia says such a fall was inevitable. "With the cash flow in most companies being hit, there was curtailment on costs which are not considered necessary. And spending on corporate gifts was not justified when there was other spending of greater urgency," he says.
The tiding for the coming festivals in December is also not too happy. Lufthansa, which has special German cakes _ Stollen _ flown down to India every year in December may not do so this year, and the way things stand today, the general sales agents (GSA) of the German airlines are not expecting any big festivities either.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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State body denies to WB loan it had asked for Wednesday, October 31, 2001

AHMEDABAD: It is not very often that an organisation in the Third World tells the World Bank that it does not want the loan it had asked for. That, too, when the original request was a mammoth Rs 400 crore. The District Primary Education Programme, an independent body helping the state government in restructuring the primary education scenario, has done just that. And yet it hopes to repair nearly 10,000 schools damaged by the quake, by the year-end.
Officials and the DPEP had drawn up the proposal after the quake, but before the Bank responded, help came from another part of the world, the Netherlands government.
Already funding 85% of DPEP, they agreed to help in repairing the buildings as well and approved a grant of Rs 173.68 crore. With this, the Netherlands government has given DPEP a total grant of Rs 264 crore.
Suddenly cash-rich, programme officers are now hoping that the improved buildings would help retain students in classrooms, especially in rural areas where the drop-out rate is very high.
"External agencies generally give 70% of their funds in grants and the rest as loan," says local DPEP director Avinash Kumar Joshi. "We, however, convinced them that this was an extraordinary situation which led to the entire fund being turned into a grant."
Netherlands has already given Rs 90.96 crore for the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, the basic programme aimed at improving the quality of education, especially in the remote areas, and bringing down the drop-out rate.
There is, however, some concern over their year-end deadline. They are currently repairing 9,483 schools in 18 districts with 44,819 classrooms. Roughly 10% of the work has so far been completed. But Joshi is not worried. "At the pace at which work is progressing, I am certain that almost all the schools will be ready by December 31. We have already spent Rs 65 crore on repairs."
Instead of repairing the buildings themselves, DPEP has created village civil works committees, comprising the villagers themselves, which have taken the responsibility. DPEP, on its part, has provided 300 supervising engineers. Each of them visit 30 villages in a week.
An optimistic Joshi hopes to do more than just repair buildings. The new improved infrastructure, will help in bringing down the drop-out rate, he says. "Instead of merely erecting classrooms, we will provide for better sanitation and drinking water facility and an outer boundary wall, something many schools did not have earlier. In a sense, the quake was a blessing in disguise for many of these schools."
Joshi, however, has a daunting task ahead is one goes by the Gujarat Social Infrastructure Development Board's 'Vision 2010' report.
It accepts that there is no direct relation between the number of schools and the level of literacy. In 1997-98, nearly 99% of the state's population was within one kilometre of a primary school. Literacy was however a dismal 68%. Kerala on the other hand had 98.16% of its population living near a primary school with a literacy rate of 93%.
Not surprisingly Gujarat's drop-out rate is one of the highest in the country at 48% while enrolment, ironically enough, is 100%.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Jet Airways' extra flight to Delhi Wednesday, October 31, 2001

VADODARA: Jet Airways began an additional flight to Delhi from Vadodara on Thursday. It leaves at 8.05 p.m.
Women's seminar on Nov. 5: A national seminar on 'Women in Educational Management: Vision and Action' organised by the MSU education and psychology faculty will be inaugurated by Chancellor Mrunalinidevi Puar on November 5.

Bus to DDIT: Dharamsinh Desai Institute of Technology (DDIT) at Nadiad has started a bus service for its students in Vadodara. A release here stated that the bus will start from Kirti Stambh at 9 a.m. and reach DDIT at 10.30 a.m. On its return trip, it leaves DDIT at 5.45 p.m. and reach Kirti Stambh at 7 p.m.

It will pick up and drop students at Nagarwada, Karelibag, Fatehgunj, Wadi Wadi, Nizampura and Chhani Jakatnaka.

Maths workshop: MSU mathematics department here has organised a 10-day workshop on 'Advanced training in mathematics for TYBSc students'.

A release here stated that 50 students from the state will participate in the event organised to encourage students to pursue studies in higher mathematics.

SYBCom exams:October examinations of SYBCom, conducted by the MSU here will begin on Thursday. Details have been posted on the faculty of commerce notice board.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Residents don't want of pay-n-use Chhayapuri flyover Wednesday, October 31, 2001

VADODARA: Hukumsinh Verma (58) is a migrant residing at Chhani. He has to cross the railway underbridge near Chhayapuri every day to reach his garage.
Nalin Darbar owns a spare parts shop just across the underbridge. Ram Nair has a lathe machine unit a couple of metres away from the underbridge. He too, like Darbar and Verma, has to pass through the underbridge from Chhani to reach his place of work.
For Verma, Darbar, Nair and scores of others like them, the railway underbridge near Chhani is a crucial link. It connects them to the source of their livelihood.
But since last week all those who use this underbridge are perturbed. The state government has slapped a decision on them that they hate. According to this decision, the railway underbridge will be replaced by a pay-and-use flyover. The construction of the bridge, the notice says, will begin from November 18.
"Over our dead bodies. We will not allow them to fleece us in the name of a flyover which we don't need in the first place," says former Sarpanch of Chhani village Shantilal Patel.
He says lakhs of people living in Dashrath, Ajod, Sishva, Sokhda, Motiyapada, Padamla and Chhani villages will be adversely affected by the state government's unilateral decision to construct a flyover at the proposed site. "Even those living in city and working in companies like GSFC will be affected. They too don't agree with the concept of toll tax that the state government has imposed on us," Patel said.
Impromptu protests have become the order of the day since the government announced the pay-and-use flyover _ a joint venture between Gujarat State Road Development Corporation (GSRDC) and Ranjit Road Construction Company of Mehsana.
GSRDC has argued that the flyover is being constructed to overcome the 'frequent' problem of water-logging at the underbridge. However, residents are opposing this theory tooth and nail.
"Water-logging problem is just for 3-4 days in an year. For that you need not build a Rs 27-crore flyover and ask people to pay for it," Patel said.
The North Zone Societies Federation (NZSF), an association of residential societies in Sama, Nizampura, Mehsana Nagar and other areas close to Chhani in city, submitted a memorandum to the district administration registering its objection to the proposed flyover. "They have ignored us completely. Infrastructure is a state's responsibility. It is unfair to make the citizens pay in the name of upgrading infrastructure," said NZSF president H V Patel.
"We have even sent a letter to the CM about our protest. If they want to make the bridge, it should be a toll-free. Or else there is no need for a flyover here," said corporator of Nizampura area Pradeep Johsi.
Even BJP MLA Madhu Shrivastava has lodged strong objection. "This is a cruel joke on people. The government should make this a toll-free bridge. There are many farmers who live at Chhani and other villages and have to pass through the underbridge to work in their farms. You can't expect them to cough up Rs 30 every day. That is unreasonable," Shrivastava said. He said despite he belonging to the BJP, the ministry did not listen to him. 'I took up the issue in the Assembly, but I was not allowed to speak," he said.
Sharda Patel, sarpanch of Chhani says that if the government is so bothered about the water-logging all it needs to do is put a pipe. "The solution is simple. Put a pipe that will suck water from the waterlogged areas and empty it in the Chhani lake. This will solve the problem of water logging as well as help clean the polluted lake," Patel said.
Besides the commercial aspect of the flyover, residents are also complaining about the traffic diversion and the subsequent congestion on city and village roads that it will cause. "They say the traffic would be routed through Chhani village, Sokhda, Sama and Fatehgunj. If this happens then imagine the pressure on the already-narrow roads. Huge vehicles like truck will ply on Sama and Fatehgunj roads that has about five schools and children walking all over these roads. If they go ahead with their decision, it will mean a tragedy waiting to happen," said Hitesh Patel, a farmer from Chhani village.

District administration and VMC were not taken into confidence
Senior sources in roads and buildings department disclosed to Times News Network that GSRDC did not take district administration or Vadodara Municipal Corporation into confidence before giving a go-ahead to the pay and use flyover. Source said while senior government engineers briefed the ministry in Gandhinagar on at least four occasions, it did not divulge a word about the proposed flyover to district administration, VMC or any of the elected public representatives.
"We were not taken into confidence. When everything was over they told us that from November 18 the construction would begin," said a senior district administration official wishing anonymity. He also said several people in the administration feel that there is no need for a toll structure. "If a flyover is to be built, better make it toll-free," he said.

We have conveyed Vadodara resident's feelings to GSRDC: Jha
"We have conveyed the feelings of people of Vadodara to GSRDC. We have briefed them on the protests that have built up since the announcement of the flyover construction. We are also co-ordinating with the police to ensure that the protest does not pose a serious law and order problem," district collector Bhagyesh Jha said. In personal capacity, Jha said he was for a toll-free flyover. He also said he strongly felt that GSRDC should have at least taken elected public representatives into confidence.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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JMC administrative wing Wednesday, October 31, 2001

JAMNAGAR: Jamnagar Municipal Corporation (JMC) will construct an administrative wing at an estimated cost of Rs 3.50 crore. The wing will accommodate the mayor, commissioner's office and several other branches. Offices of the chairmen of various committees will also be housed here. The civic body has received a World Bank grant for this purpose as well as finance from the state government towards repair of the building damaged by the January earthquake.

Two brothers murdered
JUNAGADH: Two brothers belonging to Mer community and residents of Hunterpur village in Mangrol taluka were murdered early on Saturday while they were fast asleep.
The duo, Maher Ganga Deva and Maher Rama Deva, were attacked by a group led by Koli Ram Parbat with swords, axes and pipes. Police suspect revenge to be the motive behind the attacks. One Koli Kala Ranmal was killed six years back in which the two Mer brothers were allegedly involved.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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