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December 1, 2001 - December 1, 2001

New police station for Gandhigram Saturday, December 1, 2001

SOURCE - TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: State home minister Gordhan Zadaphia inaugurated a new police station at Pradyumannagar in Gandhigram on Friday evening.

Speaking on the occasion, the minister said the strength of the police force would be increased soon due to the expansion in city limits and the rising crime rate. Zadaphia said vacancies in the lower rank of constables would be filled up at the earliest.

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


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IFS goes corporate, ropes in Tata for survey Saturday, December 1, 2001

BY SAJID SHAIKH, FOR TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Call it a corporate fad or an exercise in introspection, the Indian Forest Services (IFS) is checking what its stock has been up to, further needs and how best it can reach its targets. No jungle talk this, indeed the IFS has embarked upon a task commonly associated with corporate companies.


The IFS cadre of five states _ Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttranchal and Madhya Pradesh _ is being put under a magnifying glass and the ones that are making notes are experts from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).


This week, TCS scouts men (read consultants) turned IFS officers in the state _ right from senior most officers to the just joined juniors _into students, rather specimens. More crudely samples. They handed them an exhaustive questionnaire, asked them to fill it up and return with notes on certain specifics. The question list covered everything that affects the functioning of an IFS officer, from his knowledge quotient, field expertise to current developments in wildlife forestry.


"We are trying to identify the training areas of those in IFS. How best to provide this training, make requisite modules and even identifying those study or training inputs that have become obsolete or redundant but still taught in the academy", said a senior TCS consultant who was in Vadodara on Tuesday.


He said the study/survey has been commissioned by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and scattered over five states classified as 'Eco-zones'. "These states are referred to as eco-zones. We are meeting IFS officers in each state and probing into their professional requirements", the Delhi based consultant said.


In Gujarat, so far the TCS team has covered officers in Surat, Vadodara and Junagadh. TCS's sample, as it is referred, in state is over fifty in numbers. "The questionnaire is no doubt very exhaustive but it is so prepared to extract out psychological profile of an officer.

A certain pattern will emerge after the sample survey here is completed. So is the case with other eco-zones in the country", he said and added that each state had peculiar need of training in lieu with the state's forests, wildlife requirements as also the political administration under which it falls.


"The conclusion of this study/survey will be sent to the ministry. We will suggest what needs to be done on the basis of which certain changes will be brought about in the method of teaching, course contents and actual training of IFS officers", the consultant said.


IFS officers who have been helping the TCS team in terms of their responses, say the exercise is timely. "Such reviews help improve the services, upgrade the knowledge base and most importantly it extrapolates where we stand currently and what is the distance that we need to cover in a certain time period", said a senior IFS officer and respondent of the TCS survey.


For officers in a cadre mostly shunned and turned on, more often for criticism, the TCS survey has provided the proverbial 'for a change' exercise having its own 'humour' value.

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


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Women to rule 158 villages in Kutch Saturday, December 1, 2001

SOURCE - TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: The earthquake-ravaged border district of Kutch is poised for a dramatic change. With 2002 fast approaching, about 158 villages in 10 talukas of this far-flung and second largest district of the country would have women at the helm of affairs.

This is perhaps the first time that the border district would have such a large number of women in command as the countdown for the village panchayat elections begins. The 'sarpanchs', or village headmen, in these 158 villages would be women.

It is sheer coincidence that the Kutch women would head the village panchayats during the Women's Empowerment Year, that too in a big way.

The present president of Kutch district panchayat is a woman, Jagrutiben Shah, the daughter of former state finance minister Babubhai Meghji Shah.

The panchayat election process in 480 villages of Kutch district has already begun as part of the statewide exercise to hold panchayat polls in 10,368 villages on December 23.

The posts of 'sarpanchs' in 10 talukas of Kutch have been reserved for women. In Abdasa taluka 28 out of 81 villages will have women 'sarpanchs', while in Gandhidham two out of seven villages will have women 'sarpanchs'.

The number of villages where women would occupy the 'sarpanchs' post in other talukas of Kutch are Mandvi -- 19 out of 62; Mundra -- 6 out of 19; Anjar 11 out of 29; Bhachau -- 16 out of 50; Nakhatrana -- 25 out of 66; Bhuj -- 27 out of 85 and Lakhpat -- 9 out of 27.

The phenomenon of a woman occupying the ruler's position at the village level is not new to this border district. Several Kutch villages have women 'sarpanchs', including Jawaharnagar and Dhaneti in Bhuj.

However, it is too early to say how many of these 158 villages, ready to elect the fairer sex to the top post in the village, will have 'samras' status. A clear picture will emerge only after December 3, the last date for filing nominations.

All said and done, the border district of Kutch is set to write a new chapter in history.

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


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Women to rule 158 villages in Kutch Saturday, December 1, 2001

SOURCE - TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: The earthquake-ravaged border district of Kutch is poised for a dramatic change. With 2002 fast approaching, about 158 villages in 10 talukas of this far-flung and second largest district of the country would have women at the helm of affairs.

This is perhaps the first time that the border district would have such a large number of women in command as the countdown for the village panchayat elections begins. The 'sarpanchs', or village headmen, in these 158 villages would be women.

It is sheer coincidence that the Kutch women would head the village panchayats during the Women's Empowerment Year, that too in a big way.

The present president of Kutch district panchayat is a woman, Jagrutiben Shah, the daughter of former state finance minister Babubhai Meghji Shah.

The panchayat election process in 480 villages of Kutch district has already begun as part of the statewide exercise to hold panchayat polls in 10,368 villages on December 23.

The posts of 'sarpanchs' in 10 talukas of Kutch have been reserved for women. In Abdasa taluka 28 out of 81 villages will have women 'sarpanchs', while in Gandhidham two out of seven villages will have women 'sarpanchs'.

The number of villages where women would occupy the 'sarpanchs' post in other talukas of Kutch are Mandvi -- 19 out of 62; Mundra -- 6 out of 19; Anjar 11 out of 29; Bhachau -- 16 out of 50; Nakhatrana -- 25 out of 66; Bhuj -- 27 out of 85 and Lakhpat -- 9 out of 27.

The phenomenon of a woman occupying the ruler's position at the village level is not new to this border district. Several Kutch villages have women 'sarpanchs', including Jawaharnagar and Dhaneti in Bhuj.

However, it is too early to say how many of these 158 villages, ready to elect the fairer sex to the top post in the village, will have 'samras' status. A clear picture will emerge only after December 3, the last date for filing nominations.

All said and done, the border district of Kutch is set to write a new chapter in history.

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


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Saffron Brigade at the receiving end Saturday, December 1, 2001

SOURCE - TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GANDHINAGAR: The Congress seems to be hitting the BJP and the VHP with the same weapon: Hindutva. Call it the saffronisation of the main opposition party in Gujarat. But the new Leader of Opposition in the assembly Naresh Rawal would prefer to call it a 'Dharmayudhha'.

He has taken up the issue of a book published under the alleged auspices of the General Administration Department, government of Gujarat, making references to Hindu gods and goddesses that 'hurt' the sentiments of the people of north Gujarat.

The book, Gujaratnu Prasiddh Yatradham Bahuchraji (Gujarat's Famous Pilgrimage Bahuchraji), has been written by senior VHP activist Narottam Vanand, former dean at South Gujarat University. It tries to shatter some 'myths' around the origin of goddesses after whom temples are named in the state.


For example, the book says Bahuchraji Mata's vehicle was a kukkad (cock), not a mayur (peacock) as is generally believed. About Goddess Ambaji, the book quotes folklore which state that her name was Ambika and she was born to Sarvadev and Satyawati, a Brahmin couple.

She was married to Shubhshanker, a Brahmin of Kodinar. Once a sadhu came to seek alms at her house and Ambika gave him something to eat. Enraged, her husband threw her out of the house. Ambika left home and went to the hill-top where a temple of Nemijin was located and ended her life by jumping from the peak. Her husband, filled with remorse, also ended his life in the same way. In her next birth, Ambika became a Goddess.


Rawal felt the book made derogatory references to Kshatriyas and Brahmans, too.


Goddess Mahakali at Pavagadh, the book says, was born in a Gurjar family. Once when a Badshah's army was camping near the village, she had the curiosity to see the king. She went to the camp on the pretext of selling curd. When the king saw her, he was attracted to her and kept her captive. The woman was released but her mother-in-law refused to take her back saying she had been violated.


The book has been brought out by the Bahuchraji Mataji Temple Trust whose management vests with the state administration. Rawal said the book gives a distorted version of Goddesses and brings them down in people's esteem. He said when he was at Bahuchraji recently, people took strong exception to the book. He talked to the Mehsana collector, who has printed 5,000 copies (of which 200 have been distributed) to stop further distribution.


Demanding an inquiry into its publication, Rawal said, "There is already Talibanisation of education, here it is Talibanisation of religion. The six earlier editions of the book were mere collection of songs praising the Goddess. The seventh edition turned out different, and what a departure!"


The book carries a foreword by veteran VHP leader and linguist K K Shastri. Suggesting that every village in Gujarat had a Goddess of its own, it says the names of many Goddesses are after villages. The book goes into the epistemology of Khodiyarmata, Ambamata, Mahakali and so on.


A semi-scholarly work that seeks to make a maiden attempt in search of folk traditions behind religion, the book makes as many as 19 research references as the bases of all that it contains. The references include folk literature book Bahucharsmruti by Rajendra Modi, the folk songs by Vallabh Bhatt as collected by Manjulal Majmudar, Durbashakar Shastri's book on Gujarat's pilgrimage centres, Gujarat Sarvasangrah by poet Narmadashankar Lalshankar, Umashankar Joshi's Purano ma Gujarat, and several others.

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


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