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October 21, 2001 - October 22, 2001

Rights groups oppose POTO Monday, October 22, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: A large number of human rights and voluntary organisations from all over the state have opposed the decision of the Central Cabinet to promulgate the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), replacing the Terrorist & Disruptive Activities Act (TADA).

A joint statement issued on Sunday, by the People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), National Alliance of People's Movement, All India Democratic Students' Association and others condemned the decision.

" ... (the decision) reflects the high-handed attitude of the Indian government to tackle the problems without going to the root cause of the problems, and paying scant concern to the misuse of such draconian acts in the past in various states of India," it stated.

The activists said that even before the September 11 attacks on the US and the suicide attacks on the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly in Srinagar, Union home minister L K Advani had stated that "suitable changes would be made in the law to protect the security personnel acting against terrorist elements from being hounded for extraneous reasons".

Representatives of different organisations then pointed out that there had been an 800 per cent rise in reported cases of rights' violation by armed and paramilitary forces in the last one year, from 61 in the previous year to 452 in the following year.

They alleged that the recent attacks on the US and Kashmir has given the government an opportunity to push the measures that would curb the democratic rights of the citizens without formally declaring an emergency, and though terrorism is not eliminated but people are terrorised by enacting such laws.

Indicating that the TADA has been misused, they said the state with the most TADA arrests is not Punjab, but Gujarat, a state with no track record of terrorism. Nearly five years after TADA was done away with, trials are yet to be completed in 4,958 cases out of which 1,384 cases are still under investigation.

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


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AMC, France, HUDCO to sign pact in Nov Sunday, October 21, 2001

BY SOURAV MUKHERJEE, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Come November and heritage conservation in the Walled City here will never be the same again. The French government, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) will sign a tripartite agreement which will see to it that the old Ahmedabad city retains its old-world charm for generations to come.

Those delicately carved facades, quaint yet earthquake-resistant architecture and spacious houses will be literally preserved in time for future Amdavadis and tourists alike.

French heritage conservationists and architects along with AMC will provide the know-how on the preservation of such buildings and temples, many of which are over 150 years old, while HUDCO will provide financial assistance through low-interest loans. It's a fresh lease of life that the Walled City is looking at.

This is also the first time ever that a financial institution like HUDCO has agreed to extend loans for repair and purchase of centuries' old buildings. "This is a significant change in the approach towards privately-owned heritage structures. With loans for years' old buildings their valuation, mortgage and ascertaining cost would be possible once the tripartite agreement is signed during the workshop slated for November 28, 29 and 30 in Ahmedabad," informed Debashis Nayak, who is looking after the heritage cell of AMC.

The three-day workshop will be attended by members of the French Embassy and technicians from France, senior officials of HUDCO and AMC. HUDCO, said sources, has volunteered to co-ordinate financial assistance to all applicants from heritage homes of Ahmedabad.

Other than generating academic interest, the workshop is being waited for by the 22 heritage building-owners of the Walled City who hope to get loans to rebuild and maintain their heirlooms for decades together.

Arvind Kumar Mehta, who owns a 100-year-old house in the Mota Sutharwada ni Pol in Khadia, is one such aspirant. "My house is now is dire need of repairs and upgradation, especially since the quake. It seemed impossible to reconstruct the house where I have lived my life because neither any NGO nor the banks were prepared to spare a thought for these heritage structures," Mehta told TNN.

But, his dreams may soon be realised with his name figuring atop the list of eligibles for getting financial assistance from HUDCO as well as the state heritage department. Mehta and his two sons, who wish to buy a house adjoining their 100-year-old house, are also readying papers for the first-ever loan from HUDCO for heritage structure purchase.

"Once the first loan for repair-maintenance of a century-old structure comes through, heritage conservation not only in Ahmedabad but in the whole country could go through a sea-change. This unique system that we are striving to set up could well be the prototype for other states to follow," said Nayak.

The unique system pointed out by Nayak consists of three components: free technical assistance from French experts, training local architects on the job of repairing and upgrading centuries' old buildings while retaining the old-world charm and low-interest financial assistance to convince owners into preserving the heritage of Ahmedabad.

This seemingly dream-come-true for heritage conservationists was however hanging fire with the French calling for modification of a rule under the BPMC Act. A draft of the proposed change in this rule has already been prepared by AMC and will now be sent for the state government's perusal and approval.

Once this change in BPMC Act is through, residents of the Walled City will have to take AMC's approval before demolishing any building and will be encouraged to retain the old city's character.

"Now that the ball has been set rolling, the tripartite agreement will herald in the second phase of AMC-French collaboration (the agreement between France and AMC had begun in 2000) on heritage conservation. With HUDCO joining forces with us the Walled City of Ahmedabad is indeed safe from land grabbers," said Nayak.

With technical expertise, trained artisans and architects along with loans from financial institutions and government grants, staying in heritage homes might yet become a fad in Ahmedabad.

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


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Modi's CMO usurps quake relief from GSDMA Sunday, October 21, 2001

BY BHARAT DESAI, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Strangely enough, while the handling of earthquake relief and rehabilitation in Gujarat under chief minister Keshubhai Patel was blamed for the ruling party's growing unpopularity in the state, his successor Narendra Modi has a rather lofty notion about the exemplary manner in which the government gave an account of itself after the January 26 catastrophe.

Don't believe just Modi's statement when he says that after the WTC attack on September 11, even the West had realised why Gujarat took such a long time in removing the debris of the earthquake and started appreciating the relief and rescue measures taken in Kutch. It is indeed significant that the officials chosen by the chief minister while re-constituting the CMO has officials with a proven record in earthquake relief and rehabilitation.

Modi , who is currently touring Kutch district for two days to see for himself the progress of rehabilitation, appointed P K Mishra, the CEO of the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) as his principal secretary. Anil Mukim, who served as collector of Kutch during those difficult months before he was promoted and shifted to Gandhinagar, has become the additional principal secretary in the CMO. Mukim continues to be the chairman of the Bhuj Development Authority. And Arvind Sharma, who is the chairman of the Rapar Development Authority, has also joined the CMO as secretary.

Bureaucrats said the hand-picking of officials with experience in earthquake rehabilitation shows the attention that Modi would like to pay to the issue, apart from it being a recognition of the appreciation that he has for the previous regime's record in this area. Mishra has in fact been allowed to retain his position as CEO of GSDMA. "It will effectively mean that decisions at the authority level will be speedily cleared by the CMO and the policy of the CMO will be effectively executed by the GSDMA," said another official.

However, there is also criticism that Modi had disturbed the GSDMA which had emerged as a powerful co-ordinating body for earthquake relief and rehabilitation after the initial period of confusion. Only M Sahu, the additional CEO of GSDMA, remains in the authority at the senior level because it is felt that Mishra's time would be occupied more by the CMO.

P Pannervel, the other additional CEO in the GSDMA who was also serving as relief commissioner, has now been moved to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as commissioner. Pannervel was handling the crucial job of housing reconstruction in the affected areas and the speed of reconstruction had even surprised the World Bank and Asian Development Bank who are the main funding agencies for the job. Modi, of course, has also replaced Sanjay Gupta, who was chairman of the Anjar Development Authority, with P N Roychoudhary. This is one of the many posts that Gupta had to lose after the new dispensation took over.

Currently, a battery of senior officials led by chief secretary G Subba Rao and chief co-ordinator L Mansingh, are touring Kutch along with the chief minister. Mansingh's continuance is crucial for industries minister Suresh Mehta, who also hails from Kutch and who has excellent rapport with Mansingh, also the secretary of the industries department. During the Keshubhai regime, Mehta had the grudge that the chief minister used to give more importance to the speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, Dhirubhai Shah, also a Kutchi strongman, whose political interests often clash with that of Mehta.

Officials say Modi's two-day visit to Kutch, which will end on Saturday, may shape the changes, if any, he plans to bring about in the elaborate administrative structure of the government's earthquake rehabilitation machinery.

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


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Modi's CMO usurps quake relief from GSDMA Sunday, October 21, 2001

BY BHARAT DESAI, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Strangely enough, while the handling of earthquake relief and rehabilitation in Gujarat under chief minister Keshubhai Patel was blamed for the ruling party's growing unpopularity in the state, his successor Narendra Modi has a rather lofty notion about the exemplary manner in which the government gave an account of itself after the January 26 catastrophe.

Don't believe just Modi's statement when he says that after the WTC attack on September 11, even the West had realised why Gujarat took such a long time in removing the debris of the earthquake and started appreciating the relief and rescue measures taken in Kutch. It is indeed significant that the officials chosen by the chief minister while re-constituting the CMO has officials with a proven record in earthquake relief and rehabilitation.

Modi , who is currently touring Kutch district for two days to see for himself the progress of rehabilitation, appointed P K Mishra, the CEO of the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) as his principal secretary. Anil Mukim, who served as collector of Kutch during those difficult months before he was promoted and shifted to Gandhinagar, has become the additional principal secretary in the CMO. Mukim continues to be the chairman of the Bhuj Development Authority. And Arvind Sharma, who is the chairman of the Rapar Development Authority, has also joined the CMO as secretary.

Bureaucrats said the hand-picking of officials with experience in earthquake rehabilitation shows the attention that Modi would like to pay to the issue, apart from it being a recognition of the appreciation that he has for the previous regime's record in this area. Mishra has in fact been allowed to retain his position as CEO of GSDMA. "It will effectively mean that decisions at the authority level will be speedily cleared by the CMO and the policy of the CMO will be effectively executed by the GSDMA," said another official.

However, there is also criticism that Modi had disturbed the GSDMA which had emerged as a powerful co-ordinating body for earthquake relief and rehabilitation after the initial period of confusion. Only M Sahu, the additional CEO of GSDMA, remains in the authority at the senior level because it is felt that Mishra's time would be occupied more by the CMO.

P Pannervel, the other additional CEO in the GSDMA who was also serving as relief commissioner, has now been moved to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation as commissioner. Pannervel was handling the crucial job of housing reconstruction in the affected areas and the speed of reconstruction had even surprised the World Bank and Asian Development Bank who are the main funding agencies for the job. Modi, of course, has also replaced Sanjay Gupta, who was chairman of the Anjar Development Authority, with P N Roychoudhary. This is one of the many posts that Gupta had to lose after the new dispensation took over.

Currently, a battery of senior officials led by chief secretary G Subba Rao and chief co-ordinator L Mansingh, are touring Kutch along with the chief minister. Mansingh's continuance is crucial for industries minister Suresh Mehta, who also hails from Kutch and who has excellent rapport with Mansingh, also the secretary of the industries department. During the Keshubhai regime, Mehta had the grudge that the chief minister used to give more importance to the speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, Dhirubhai Shah, also a Kutchi strongman, whose political interests often clash with that of Mehta.

Officials say Modi's two-day visit to Kutch, which will end on Saturday, may shape the changes, if any, he plans to bring about in the elaborate administrative structure of the government's earthquake rehabilitation machinery.

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


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Garba inspires Bollywood, but with no thanks Sunday, October 21, 2001

BY JAHNAVI CONTRACTOR, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: The city has been dancing to its tunes every night since Wednesday. So have Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan on celluloid. It's the garba.

Think of hit film songs such as 'Dholi Taro', 'Adha Hai Chandrama, Raat Aadhi', C Ramchandra's 'Badal Ki Palkhi Par Sawar' or the current favourite 'Lagaan' number 'Kisliye Radha Jale' _ all have one element in common, they owe their origins to Gujarat. All have drawn inspiration from Gujarati film songs, garba, raas, garbis or lok sangeet.

Gujarat may have fared badly in terms of the quality of films it produces. But, when it comes to songs and music, it is Gujarat that Bollywood draws heavily upon. From the first talkie, 'Alam Ara', to the present day 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' and 'Lagaan', Gujarati garba and lok sangeet have left their indelible mark on Bollywood.

For instance, the Madhuri Dixit starrer 'Lajja' has a monologue rendered by her that is based on 'Ram Tame Sitaji Ne Tole Na Avo', a song composed by eminent Gujarati poet and composer Avinash Vyas. The song has also been rendered by Asha Bhonsle as a bhajan in one of her albums.

Eminent Gujarati litterateur Sitanshu Yashchandra says Gujarat has a rich tradition of garba songs, poems, bhajans and lok sangeet which has influenced many a filmmaker. According to him, music and literature are woven into Gujarati tradition and have been an important part of the Indian music tradition. In this connection, Vyas is still remembered in Bollywood for his rich repertoire of Gujarati garba, songs and bhajans, he says.

Mukesh Mawlankar, who has scripted as many as 45 Gujarati films, says, "Gujarati films may have failed to make their mark, but Bollywood should always remain indebted to our rich culture."

"Many have been clear cases of copying, but not much can be done as these come under the genre of lok sangeet which does not have any copyright protection. Even if they don't come from the genre of lok sangeet, the process of litigation is too complicated and most of this 'plagiarism' goes unnoticed and Gujarati music and lok sangeet do not get the respect due to them," he says.

According to Mawlankar, many old hits like C Ramchandra's song 'Badal Ki Palkhi Par Uthke Sawar' are inspired by Avinash Vyas's garba, 'Mehendi Te Vavi Mandve'.

Siddharth Bhatt, retired professor of political science, feels that apart from the new breed of films, many Bollywood classics like 'Saraswati Chnadra', V Shantaram's 'Navrang', 'Mother India' (the background music for the famous cart race), 'Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje' and 'Manthan' are influenced by Gujarati garba and lok sangeet.

A number of Amitabh Bachchan's hit numbers have been drawn from Gujarati garba. "Manmohan Desai has used many Gujarati garbas as a base for his film songs. 'Sabse Bada Tera Nam O Sheronwali', for example, and 'Ke Pag Ghungaroo Bandh Meera Nachi', were first written by Gujarati poet Ragunath Brahmbhatt from Nadiad," says Bhatt, who has compiled more than 40,000 old and new Hindi film songs in old record format and also hosts an All India Radio programme on the progress of Indian cinema.

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


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