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October 25, 2001 - October 26, 2001

Jamnagar ::On-line facility in Jamnagar soon Friday, October 26, 2001

JAMNAGAR: District telecom department is being computerised under dotcom computer system at an estimated cost of Rs. 1 crore, thereby giving the entire district on-line facility. District manager of telecom Kakkar said 95 computers system and server will be arranged to link up the entire district network to provide single window facility. The system will be commissioned in December.
Okha boat workshop

As Jamnagar is a coastal district, patrolling by Customs was essential to prevent smuggling and trespass by sea, said divisional Customs commissioner Mathew who visited proposed site for patrolling boat workshop at Okha port now nearing completion. Such a workshop existed only at Surat and one was needed in Saurashtra, too. Round the clock vigil and attending to calls to repair boats was the strength of this unit. Patrolling in this region would be intensified, he added. Mathew visited other ports, too.

Water supply reviewed
Collector R K Pathak reviewed the drinking water situation as many reservoirs have not received adequate rainwater. In fact, six reservoirs have limited storage and all their stock should be reserved for drinking purpose. So he suggested discontinuance of lifting water for irrigation so as to handle any adverse situation up to July. He is thinking of banning water for irrigation.

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

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Social reflections on the changing patterns of Navratri Friday, October 26, 2001

SURAT: From Nave nagar ni chunladi vapri .... to the latest numbers like Bumro bumro sham rang ...., Koi kahe kehta rahe ..., Navratri in this new millennium have traversed a remarkable socio-cultural distance, apparently fed on the images of the West. With undercurrents of a new social formation, the festival has been witness to the amalgamation of the 'kediyu' and jeans, while the body language suggests the urge to break-free to new social dimensions.

For social critics, the value system might be under constraints but the overall new equations necessitated with the emergence of migrant nuclear families and the individual aspirations reaching new highs, despite social odds (read restrictions), the younger generation in the city, representing varied social groups across the country with diverse cultural mindsets, are trying to create a fusion which could get translated into healthy social designs in the long run, according to observers of social change.

No wonder, for Priti (23), a career woman whose family migrated to this city eight years back from Indore, Navratri is an occasion to mingle with and understand her own peer group of both the sexes, without any usual hindrance. "The interactions might sometimes lead to intimate behaviour, but one gets to know the others, which helps to shape a healthy mindset," she said.

Take the case of 26-year-old Manish, a businessman. Though hailing from a well-to-do family, his exposure to intermingle with the opposite sex has been rare. Hence, to observe and know them in an environment which helps to melt away the barriers has been an experience worth appreciating. Educated enough about others, he now has a positive understanding which otherwise had been perverse due to the lack of exposure, believe several psychologists.

For scores of youths like Priti and Manish even age-old rituals like Navratri are fast becoming occasions of individual expressions, if the social behaviour reflected during these nine nights of wonder, fun and frolic is any indication to go by.

Moreover, changes in the society with assertion to 'self', primarily due to the lack of earlier social values which posed restrictions with a certain code of conduct defined for social interaction with the opposite sex. Here festivals like Navratri provide a platform for healthy interaction among the youth, according to sociologists.

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

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Bright nights, dark nights, Navratri nights Friday, October 26, 2001

It's Navratri and the nights here are bright. They are dark too. As garba grounds overflow with the sound of music and dazzle with the colourful dresses. But, beyond the glitter, the scenes in shady, dark corners and beneath trees, sometimes behind buildings, may not be in keeping with the traditions maintained by the Sanskar Nagri. Democracy does offer us freedom and many have spoken out against "moral policing" by the state.

But, the question does remain - where does one draw the line? People moving around at night with families have been taken aback at young boys and girls under trees and inside cars. Though they cannot complain officially, people feel their sensibilities are hurt.

No amount of counselling has helped changed the scenario. And, as Navratri festivities help bind the city culturally, there exists a nether world, Vadodara's underbelly.

Of mega events and mega goof-ups
It's also time the city stopped boasting of its capability to organise mega events. Most organisers here have gone ahead organising huge garbas, claiming to be able mangers and organisers. But Navratri 2001 has exposed the clay feet of these self-proclaimed "super organisers". Within a couple of days into Navratri, and it was clear that most organisers have sold and distributed more invitations than they could possibly handle. At the big garba grounds, many invitees either stood left out, without having to get a glimpse of what was going on, or had to jostle for space inside.

As rude private security personnel heckled people at the entrance, onlookers complained that there was little space at almost every garba ground for all ticket and pass holders to watch comfortably.

Even the Vadodara Municipal Corporation seems to have turned a blind eye to the preparations with very few garba grounds following any fire safety norm. No fire engines can be spotted in front of any of the big garbas and with most of them using wood and jute sheets, most them are veritable death traps.

And, the fear has been compounded by the fact that a large number of people are thronging these grounds, perhaps more than they can comfortably accommodate. As these garba enthusiasts drive through clouds of dust to park their vehicles, then trek long distances to find their enclosures _ with no directions boards put up by organisers _ and jostle for space inside, a lot of questions are raised. People were heard discussing the way garbas have gone commercial over the years. "Gujarat is a enterprising state. Enterprise is nice but should the limit be stretched too far?"

Mayor does a window-dressing
From her coronation as the city mayor a year ago to the present day; from the grimy corridors of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation's Khanderao Market office to the recent press meet in the five star comfort of Hotel Holiday Inn, Bharti Vyas has come a long distance.

She's launched a virtual media blitzkrieg, laying a sumptuous lunch and handing every reporter her 'annual report card' _ listing the development work done by the VMC since she took over.

The report, that reminds that Vyas was the city's first woman mayor and goes on to elaborate on her achievements. But, what the ambience and the report could not hide was that the VMC has been far short of achieving the target it had set itself for the year. At the end, the mayor had to admit that the VMC's octroi collection may not exceed Rs 115 crore though the target was Rs 132 crore. It had ripped on property tax collection too.

It remains to be seen how long the window dressing can hold.

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

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Bhavnagar ::Makawana elected deputy mayor of Bhavnagar Friday, October 26, 2001

BHAVNAGAR: Haresh Makawana of the BJP was on Tuesday elected deputy mayor. The Congress and CPM corporators complained at the general board meeting that the poorer and weaker sections of the society were being harassed by the estate department which demolished small units.

Municipal commissioner P D Vaghela said encroachments were being removed even in posh areas. In reply to many allegations, he said that action could be taken against officials only if evidence was submitted to the BMC.

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

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Dalit family on fast over land dispute Thursday, October 25, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Life turned into a nightmare for Suresh Mangalbhai Valmiki of Kotha village in Gandhinagar district after he ignored a notice slapped on him on September 17 by the village talati asking him to pull down his house or face action.

Suresh decided to stick on with his extended family of nine, including a wife and two small kids, till they faced ostracism. On October 4, the family fled to Gandhinagar town and is on a protest fast demanding justice against the atrocities allegedly meted out on them by the higher castes dominating the village.

"First they stopped all rations, then the milk supply and then threatened to burn me alive inside my house," he told TNN on Tuesday from the canopy where the family is parked since 19 days. Suresh's only bane is that he was born a Dalit. His is the only Dalit family in the 5,000-strong village comprising Patels, Prajapatis and Darbars in Kotha which occupies some four units in the village. He claims they have been restricted entry into the village except for sweeping.

The Valmikis lodged a complaint on Tuesday at the office of the Superintendent of Police Gandhinagar district accusing six persons including the village administrators of having assaulted them and abused them on the basis of their caste.

Those named in the complaint are administrator of Kotha gram panchayat Manharbhai Gordhanbhai Patel, talati-cum-secretary of Kotha village Kevalbhai Prajapati, former sarpanch Jivanbhai Girdharbhai Patel, gram panchayat clerk Pravinbhai Mohanbhai Prajapati, Bhikhabhai Karsanbhai Patel and Ramabhai Varvabhai Prajapati.

The fight is not just over the house, but over a 47x49 feet plot of land adjacent to where the Valmikis stay. "We have inherited this land from our ancestors and use it for our community functions because they don't let us into the village," says Amrutbhai Mangalbhai Valmiki. Suresh's wife Usha, breaks down when narrating the way in which her husband was beaten "till he almost went insane". Taraben Babubhai Valmiki is a widow who joined the exodus while her daughter was still taking exams. They claim to have met the chief minister, minister for social justice Fakir Vaghela and several other government functionaries.

"We have the tax receipts with us which prove our rights on the property, how can they throw us out?," questions Suresh. Volunteers from the Ahmedabad-based Navsarjan Trust who are stationed in the area second these testimonies. "We went first to the Nardipur police station and then to the Kalol taluka police station but got no response," he says. "They threaten to break down the houses that we helped build in the same site after the earthquake damaged them," says Prahlad Parmar from Navsarjan.

According to him, the village functionaries lodged false criminal cases against them. When contacted, the talati Kevalbhai Prajapati told TNN that the land belonged to the panchayat. "They have encroached upon it and so we issued the notice," he said. He denied that the Valmikis had been ostracised from the village. "The land matter is under appeal in the Mehsana court," said Prajapati, adding that Suresh was doing this 'stunt' only to escape from the criminal investigation.

The villagers have made a 10-point representation before Gandhinagar district collector S J Haider demanding a livelihood, police protection, withdrawal of police cases against them, among others. "I have already directed a team of the mamlatdar, a police inspector and the taluka development officer to visit the village on Thursday and submit a report within 48 hours," Haider told TNN.

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

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