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October 27, 2001 - October 28, 2001

Rajkot to host the IMA state conference Sunday, October 28, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: The city would host the Indian Medical Association state conference from November 2 to 4, wherein 1,200 doctors from the country and abroad are expected.

Announcing this to reporters here on Saturday, Union minister for heavy industry and conference organising chairman Vallabh Kathiria said the aim of the conference was to update doctors with advances in medicine.

Papers on topics like endocrinology, AIDS, safe motherhood, TB, cancer and stress management would be presented. The new president of the IMA Gujarat chapter would also be elected during the conference.

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


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State IMA conference on Nov 2 at Rajkot Sunday, October 28, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: The city would host the Indian Medical Association state conference from November 2 to 4, wherein 1,200 doctors from the country and abroad are expected.

Announcing this to reporters here on Saturday, Union minister for heavy industry and conference organising chairman Vallabh Kathiria said the aim of the conference was to update doctors with advances in medicine.

Papers on topics like endocrinology, AIDS, safe motherhood, TB, cancer and stress management would be presented. The new president of the IMA Gujarat chapter would also be elected during the conference.

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


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CM insists on questionnaire before he is interviewed Sunday, October 28, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GANDHINAGAR: Last week, when Chief Minister Modi visited Kutch, he issued a terse directive to the local administration _ speed up reconstruction work and finish it by December-end, because the world media would be here on the first anniversary of the quake in January.

Coming from a former BJP spokesman and one of party's most media-savvy persons, this really wasn't a surprise. After all, even his swearing-in on October 7 had some leading media luminaries from Delhi trooping to Gandhinagar _ not for covering the mega event, but for friendship's sake.

But the tide has changed and Modi has suddenly clammed up. During the last three weeks he has addressed just one press conference where he was more evasive than forthcoming. Ever since, Modi has conveyed it to ministerial colleagues that they need not talk to newspersons about all and sundry.

Bureaucrats, too, have been told to curtail their media interaction. Unlike his predecessor Keshubhai, who would take media criticism in his stride and never make it known that he is unhappy with an adverse report, Modi makes it a point to convey _ directly or through aides _ that he hasn't appreciated a particular report. Newsmen who have met Modi have been taken by surprise when he insisted on a questionnaire for interviews.

He is quite wary of talking on basic policies. "I am not the one who would announce big programmes like my predecessor did and then not deliver. I will deliver and then you can make your analysis," he told a reporter recently. Unlike Keshubhai, who looked forward to his weekly post-Cabinet Press briefing, Modi has not yet fixed any periodicity for interactions with the media. "He feels only good work will impress the media, he does he want any superficial talk," explained a top aide who goes on to say that the policies would be known through strong implementation on the ground and not announcements beforehand.

The media may not have liked the veil of secrecy that has been thrown over the gameplan, but sources say this is the way Modi would like it to be. He wants to get familiar with the problems of the state and wouldn't like to be caught on the wrong foot during media interaction. During his informal interactions with the Press, Modi is known to have said that the media is a double-edged sword _ you can use it but it cuts both ways. Besides, he would also like to play down the expectations that have been raised after his arrival in Gujarat because that could be counter-productive in the longer run.

Modi has also revealed that he is currently more comfortable with mediapersons in New Delhi, for whom he hosted a lunch during his recent visit, and is taking his time picking up the ropes in Gujarat after a four-year hiatus. His adviser S K Shelat is readily available to write down the answers on the CM's behalf, provided a questionnaire are provided.

Those who don't follow the formality are assuaged when Modi tells them that he needs at least two to three months before he could reveal his mind. Those who have known Modi for long say that he used to effortlessly indulge the media during his tenure in Gujarat as BJP organisation secretary.

He used the same skills during his stint in Delhi where he cultivated many admirers and friends in the national Press. However, while he was comfortable being a spokesman for his party, it looks like there is still time before Modi, the chief minister, becomes his own PR man.

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


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Confusion over number of quake orphans Saturday, October 27, 2001

BY BHARAT DESAI, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Eight months after the earthquake devastated Kutch, there is still confusion about the exact number of children orphaned in the January 26 catastrophe. While the state government has put out a figure of 249 children who lost either one or both their parents, this figure is being disputed by the NGOs who say that a proper survey in all the affected areas could reveal a much bigger figure. They say in a disaster where almost 13,000 people died, the number of orphans was bound to be higher.

The government, in fact, is also contesting the figures being put out by various NGOs about the quake orphans under their care and says: ‘‘Most of these children are actually not victims of the quake.’’

Kutch district civil defence officer R.P. Christy says: ‘‘Various teams have gone around the district and we have finally arrived at a figure of 249 orphans.’’ Most of these, he says, were staying with close relatives who refuse to send them to orphanages opened by the NGOs with government assistance.

However, director of SOS Childrens Village Jagdeep Singh, who set up an institution for the children in Bhachau, Rapar and Adipur after the quake, said there were 92 children under their care. ‘‘Except for three-four abandoned infants, the rest of them lost one or both their parents,’’ he said.

Singh said the confusion about the figures of orphans in the state was created because an in-depth survey had not yet been conducted. He said there were instances of orphans being taken away to institutions in Bangalore and Pune who have since returned after a high court directive that they be rehabilitated in Kutch. ‘‘We are still getting requests from single parents to take care of their children as they are unable to do so,’’ Singh said.

Christy says of the 249 orphans, most of them now under care of their relatives, the government had received 197 applications from their foster parents for maintenance grant of Rs 500 per month. As many as 133 of these applications had been rejected because the rules do not allow maintenance grant for children aged above 12. The grant had been sanctioned in 53 cases and the rest were still under investigation.

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


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CVC orders probe into Surat land scam Saturday, October 27, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
SURAT: The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has ordered an enquiry into the alleged Rs 15-crore embezzlement case by members of the Surat Parsi Panchayat Trust and other irregularities. The CVC order was based on a complaint lodged by a member of the trust and some concerned members of the 4,500-odd Parsi community in the city.
The CVC had directed the Gujarat government on August 24 to initiate investigations into the alleged fraud that resulted in the sale of about 150 acres of land near Doongarwadi in Saharadarwaja area of the city. Subsequently, the charity commissioner was instructed to look into the matter and conduct an enquiry into one of the major land scams in the city, involving fraudulent means to dispose off the land by a handful of trust members for personal gains. The assistant charity commissioner has so far issued five notices to the trustees to show cause as to why appropriate action should not be initiated against them, said Noshir Dordi, an activist among the local Parsis.

Trustee Dhanjishaw Dumasia in his complaint to Central Vigilance Commissioner N Vittal had stated that land worth over Rs 15 crore in Doongarwadi was sold to textile mills without taking any proper resolution to this effect by a majority of trustees and other members of the Parsi community. Even the approval, which is mandatory, was not sought by them, he said.

Once spread over 150 acres, Doongarwadi which was gifted to the local Parsis by Mughal emperors in the early 19th century for constructing a tower of silence and a fire temple, has now been reduced to just 70 acres. As a result, commercial activities, stud farming, poultry farming and two textile mills have sprung up in the area which was supposed to be left untouched to keep sanctity of the tower of silence, one of the oldest and biggest in the world.

Apart from this, Dumasia pointed out that in the last two decades various plots of land and property belonging to the trust were sold without prior approval from the members and the revenue earned from the transactions was never deposited with the trust's fund and property wing, of which he was once a member.

Other frauds include siphoning off of money in the name of imparting computer education to Parsi students and other projects related to movable and immovable trust property, Dumasia alleged.

Sources said members of the trust were summoned to clarify their stand before the charity commissioner early this week. However, several activists forwarded apprehensions that the trustees might try to mislead the concerned investigating authorities, Dordi added.

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


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