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October 17, 2001 - October 17, 2001

'Gutkha' ad ban deprives 'garba' of lifeline Wednesday, October 17, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD/SURAT/VADODARA: Being a prude is not a quality you appreciate during Navratri, but many district authorities have chosen just the moment to bare their moral fangs. Collectors of all major cities across the state have banned tobacco and gutkha companies from advertising at 'garbas'. Vadodara is, perhaps, the only major city not to have imposed such a ban till Tuesday evening.

The decision has squeezed out at least 50% of the sponsorship cash flow to a number of prominent 'garba' organisers. Many are starting to feel the pinch as even big sponsors like Coke and Pepsi are going slow, not sponsoring as many 'garbas' as they used to earlier.

In Surat, the municipal corporation's health officials are even banning sale of cigarettes, 'paan' and 'gutkha' within 200 metres of the 'garba' sites. Deputy commissioner (health) I C Patel admitted it would be difficult to enforce a complete ban, but claimed it was part of their campaign to create more awareness among the youth about the harmful effects of tobacco.

"Most of us agree that tobacco is injurious to health but you can not have double standards on the issue," says Himanshu Shah of SOI Entertainment, one of the largest 'garba' organisers in the state. "Cigarettes and gutkha are not prohibited by law, like liquor is in the state, then how can you stop anyone from putting up their banners? You can't allow such companies to advertise in the print media 365 days a year and suddenly clamp down on them during Navratri. A complete ban would make more sense."

The decision has angered the organisers as it eats into their already dwindling incomes. The cut in sponsorship ranges between 20 to 50%, leaving the event managers with peanuts for profits. "The funny part is Manikchand can sponsor special fluorescent night vests for traffic policemen in Ahmedabad, but not 'garbas'," an organiser remarked.

Add to this the fact that the ban has also not been effectively communicated to the organisers, leading to a lot of confusion. Shah, for instance, believes the decision is only effective in Gandhinagar, not in Ahmedabad and even threatens litigation if the larger of the two cities is brought under its purview. Ahmedabad's additional district magistrate Manorama Bhagat, however, says they have so far implemented the ban in Ahmedabad and will soon be bringing in Ahmedabad district as well.

Hemant Shah of Ace Promotions, another large 'garba' organiser in the state, believes the ban is effective even on surrogate advertising, like a cigarette company having a subsidiary making tea. Gandhinagar collector S J Haider on the other hand believes that would be stretching it a little too far. "I don't think we can go that far," he says. "We are only against direct advertising by these companies, targeting the youth during the nine days."

Interestingly, Manikchand, one of the largest gutkha companies in the state, has decided to wash its hands off Navratri this year. An official release from its Vadodara office added that although they considered supporting 'garbas' as a religious duty, they preferred to divert their funds for rehabilitation of quake victims. The focus is on rebuilding schools in villages. Sources, however, added that confusion over what the ban actually entails has been responsible for keeping the 'gutkha' companies away even when they have other products.

The organisers, however, are questioning the logic behind the ban. "National dailies carry 'gutkha' ads prominently on page one that reach almost every home," points out Jaydeep Mehta of True Innovations. "If you don't have a problem with that, how can you have a problem with a banner hanging at a garba venue?"

As Gujaratis are more used to free passes rather than paying for a 'garba', most organisers register only 50% ticket sales. With large sponsors staying out, they are now bracing for one of their leanest years ever.

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


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'Gutkha' ad ban deprives 'garba' of lifeline Wednesday, October 17, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD/SURAT/VADODARA: Being a prude is not a quality you appreciate during Navratri, but many district authorities have chosen just the moment to bare their moral fangs. Collectors of all major cities across the state have banned tobacco and gutkha companies from advertising at 'garbas'. Vadodara is, perhaps, the only major city not to have imposed such a ban till Tuesday evening.

The decision has squeezed out at least 50% of the sponsorship cash flow to a number of prominent 'garba' organisers. Many are starting to feel the pinch as even big sponsors like Coke and Pepsi are going slow, not sponsoring as many 'garbas' as they used to earlier.

In Surat, the municipal corporation's health officials are even banning sale of cigarettes, 'paan' and 'gutkha' within 200 metres of the 'garba' sites. Deputy commissioner (health) I C Patel admitted it would be difficult to enforce a complete ban, but claimed it was part of their campaign to create more awareness among the youth about the harmful effects of tobacco.

"Most of us agree that tobacco is injurious to health but you can not have double standards on the issue," says Himanshu Shah of SOI Entertainment, one of the largest 'garba' organisers in the state. "Cigarettes and gutkha are not prohibited by law, like liquor is in the state, then how can you stop anyone from putting up their banners? You can't allow such companies to advertise in the print media 365 days a year and suddenly clamp down on them during Navratri. A complete ban would make more sense."

The decision has angered the organisers as it eats into their already dwindling incomes. The cut in sponsorship ranges between 20 to 50%, leaving the event managers with peanuts for profits. "The funny part is Manikchand can sponsor special fluorescent night vests for traffic policemen in Ahmedabad, but not 'garbas'," an organiser remarked.

Add to this the fact that the ban has also not been effectively communicated to the organisers, leading to a lot of confusion. Shah, for instance, believes the decision is only effective in Gandhinagar, not in Ahmedabad and even threatens litigation if the larger of the two cities is brought under its purview. Ahmedabad's additional district magistrate Manorama Bhagat, however, says they have so far implemented the ban in Ahmedabad and will soon be bringing in Ahmedabad district as well.

Hemant Shah of Ace Promotions, another large 'garba' organiser in the state, believes the ban is effective even on surrogate advertising, like a cigarette company having a subsidiary making tea. Gandhinagar collector S J Haider on the other hand believes that would be stretching it a little too far. "I don't think we can go that far," he says. "We are only against direct advertising by these companies, targeting the youth during the nine days."

Interestingly, Manikchand, one of the largest gutkha companies in the state, has decided to wash its hands off Navratri this year. An official release from its Vadodara office added that although they considered supporting 'garbas' as a religious duty, they preferred to divert their funds for rehabilitation of quake victims. The focus is on rebuilding schools in villages. Sources, however, added that confusion over what the ban actually entails has been responsible for keeping the 'gutkha' companies away even when they have other products.

The organisers, however, are questioning the logic behind the ban. "National dailies carry 'gutkha' ads prominently on page one that reach almost every home," points out Jaydeep Mehta of True Innovations. "If you don't have a problem with that, how can you have a problem with a banner hanging at a garba venue?"

As Gujaratis are more used to free passes rather than paying for a 'garba', most organisers register only 50% ticket sales. With large sponsors staying out, they are now bracing for one of their leanest years ever.

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


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'Gutkha' ad ban deprives 'garba' of lifeline Wednesday, October 17, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD/SURAT/VADODARA: Being a prude is not a quality you appreciate during Navratri, but many district authorities have chosen just the moment to bare their moral fangs. Collectors of all major cities across the state have banned tobacco and gutkha companies from advertising at 'garbas'. Vadodara is, perhaps, the only major city not to have imposed such a ban till Tuesday evening.

The decision has squeezed out at least 50% of the sponsorship cash flow to a number of prominent 'garba' organisers. Many are starting to feel the pinch as even big sponsors like Coke and Pepsi are going slow, not sponsoring as many 'garbas' as they used to earlier.

In Surat, the municipal corporation's health officials are even banning sale of cigarettes, 'paan' and 'gutkha' within 200 metres of the 'garba' sites. Deputy commissioner (health) I C Patel admitted it would be difficult to enforce a complete ban, but claimed it was part of their campaign to create more awareness among the youth about the harmful effects of tobacco.

"Most of us agree that tobacco is injurious to health but you can not have double standards on the issue," says Himanshu Shah of SOI Entertainment, one of the largest 'garba' organisers in the state. "Cigarettes and gutkha are not prohibited by law, like liquor is in the state, then how can you stop anyone from putting up their banners? You can't allow such companies to advertise in the print media 365 days a year and suddenly clamp down on them during Navratri. A complete ban would make more sense."

The decision has angered the organisers as it eats into their already dwindling incomes. The cut in sponsorship ranges between 20 to 50%, leaving the event managers with peanuts for profits. "The funny part is Manikchand can sponsor special fluorescent night vests for traffic policemen in Ahmedabad, but not 'garbas'," an organiser remarked.

Add to this the fact that the ban has also not been effectively communicated to the organisers, leading to a lot of confusion. Shah, for instance, believes the decision is only effective in Gandhinagar, not in Ahmedabad and even threatens litigation if the larger of the two cities is brought under its purview. Ahmedabad's additional district magistrate Manorama Bhagat, however, says they have so far implemented the ban in Ahmedabad and will soon be bringing in Ahmedabad district as well.

Hemant Shah of Ace Promotions, another large 'garba' organiser in the state, believes the ban is effective even on surrogate advertising, like a cigarette company having a subsidiary making tea. Gandhinagar collector S J Haider on the other hand believes that would be stretching it a little too far. "I don't think we can go that far," he says. "We are only against direct advertising by these companies, targeting the youth during the nine days."

Interestingly, Manikchand, one of the largest gutkha companies in the state, has decided to wash its hands off Navratri this year. An official release from its Vadodara office added that although they considered supporting 'garbas' as a religious duty, they preferred to divert their funds for rehabilitation of quake victims. The focus is on rebuilding schools in villages. Sources, however, added that confusion over what the ban actually entails has been responsible for keeping the 'gutkha' companies away even when they have other products.

The organisers, however, are questioning the logic behind the ban. "National dailies carry 'gutkha' ads prominently on page one that reach almost every home," points out Jaydeep Mehta of True Innovations. "If you don't have a problem with that, how can you have a problem with a banner hanging at a garba venue?"

As Gujaratis are more used to free passes rather than paying for a 'garba', most organisers register only 50% ticket sales. With large sponsors staying out, they are now bracing for one of their leanest years ever.

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


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Hajis from Gujarat to travel by Saudi Airlines Wednesday, October 17, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: The Central Haj Committee has computerised its functioning with all information regarding the annual Haj pilgrimage available on its website www.hajcommittee.com for the Haj pilgrimage of 2002.

This will enable a Haj pilgrim to know well in advance about the flight schedule, accommodation at Mecca and other details related to Haj for which pilgrims had to go seek information from different sources.

Tanvir Ahmed, chairman Central Haj Committee on a visit here on Tuesday told TNN that the committee had taken several other measures to ease the hardships faced by pilgrims from India in Saudi Arabia.

The Haj committee chief said that for the first time, the committee would provide Saudi rials instead of drafts. Pilgrims have to go to different places to encash drafts, which is a time-consuming process. Each pilgrim would be given Saudi rials right at the time of landing at the Jeddah airport or before their departure for Jeddah from different destinations in India.

Tanvir said the civil aviation ministry has already engaged Air-India, Saudi Airlines and Indian Airlines to fly pilgrims to Jeddah. The civil aviation ministry has already signed a MoU with Saudi Airlines to fly 30,500 pilgrims, and all the pilgrims from Gujarat will travel by Saudi Airlines, he said. Every year nearly 72,000 pilgrims go on Haj pilgrimage from India.
The Haj committee has added one more embarking point at Srinagar, while the Cochin embarking point has been shifted to Calicut, following a demand made by the people from that region. The other emplaning points are Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad.

With the commissioning of the website, Tanvir Ahmed hoped that this would minimise the hardship of pilgrims as it will contain the names of 'Muallims' (guides), information on accommodation in Jeddah, important telephone numbers and other relevant details. It will also provide information on the return journey so that pilgrims could plan their return journey accordingly instead of crowding at Jeddah.

The Haj committee, he said, had saved nearly Rs 5.86 crore during the Haj season of 2001 in foreign exchange, as the committee had bargained to reduce the commission charged on money exchange. This amount would now be distributed to each pilgrim who had gone on Haj in 2001. Similarly, the Haj committee has also decided to provide a refund of Rs 1,110 each to nearly 14,000 Haj pilgrims of 2001, who had travelled from Medina to Bhopal and Mumbai.

The Central Haj committee, Tanvir Ahmed said, has also decided to start district-level orientation and training camps for the Haj pilgrimage of 2002.

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


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MSU students shrug the idea off Wednesday, October 17, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Their leaders might face court cases, allegations of hooliganism and even threats of rustication. Yet students on the MSU campus are not complaining.

The general feeling on the campus is that student leaders are a reflection of politicians at the national level. "If they can be embroiled in criminal cases, face allegations of corruption then a mere university student leader can hardly fare better" is an oft repeated statement.

Another feeling among students is that if their leaders do not make a noise about certain issues then the MSU authorities would not heed them. "They have to be like that", say some students.

After the student union elections, university general secretary Mehul Lakhani faced court order questioning his election. The charge against him was that Lakhani had not indicated that he was working in a government school. Questions are being raised on the validity of having Bharat Dangar as vice-president when officially he ceases to be a student after December.

Serious allegations have been levelled at faculty of arts general secretary Nitin Patel. Indulging in hooliganism and misbehaviour on the campus and fraudulently seeking admission to MSU are some of them. He was also punished in the past for cheating in exams.

But students on campus are unmoved. "I do not approve of hooliganism and disrespectful behaviour nor in cheating. But student leaders are a reflection of the world outside. If a defence minister like George Fernandes can face corruption charges, politicians with criminal cases pending against them can be elected as CM then a student leader indulging in a few instances of misbehaviour can hardly be blamed", said Nirav Desai of the commerce faculty.

"Furthermore, the MSU administration deserves the kind of student leaders that it gets. Student's complaints are heard only if they turn violent and raise their voices", said a leader.

"The university staff is rude and will not listen to a student. But if a student leader approaches them they take prompt action", says Afzal Ansari of TYBCom.

"The university staff misplaced my mark-sheet. They said it might have been given to another student by mistake and that I would have to file an application for a duplicate mark-sheet. They delayed the procedure, kept asking me to return later _ all this because I went as an ordinary student. If a student leader goes to them they give prompt service. If the staff listens only when a student leader turns violent then they are in a way motivating hooliganism and violence", he says.
Similar feelings are echoed across the campus. "Student leaders have to be assertive to get themselves heard. Besides, if the MSU allowed these students to contest elections it is their fault. They should not allow students to run for students union posts if they are not fit to do so", said Farooq Chauhan, third year arts student.
According to him, students with good academic record and those who are not interested in hooliganism could not stand for elections anyway. "If all the candidates are bad we have to choose the lesser evil. Just like in national politics choose the least corrupt leader", he adds.

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


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