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October 15, 2001 - October 15, 2001

Mega mart to boost farm products export Monday, October 15, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: The new BJP dispensation headed by Chief Minister Narendra Modi is contemplating on a proposal to set up a mega market for inter-state trade and export of value-added agro products, including high-quality groundnut, castor and fruits like mango and banana, green vegetables and medicinal herbs like Isabgul which have good potential in West Asia and Europe.

The proposed infra-structure to sell and export agro products under one roof has been recommended by the expert committee on strengthening and developing agricultural marketing set up by the government of India.

This committee has in its report to the Centre has suggested setting up of at least 50 mega markets in joint ventures as growth centres, mostly export oriented, along with agri-park nearer to sea and air port and production catchment zones. And two such markets have been sanctioned for Gujarat.

The Union government will provide financial support of Rs.500 crore for each market project under which several agriculture park, godowns, cold storage and food processing units will be created for organised marketing of agricultural commodities through a network of regulated markets.

Experts committee chairman Shankerlal Guru who hails from Unjha in North Gujarat having the country's biggest agricultural marketing yard made a strong representation to the new finance minister Nitin Patel and pleaded that the government should give a serious thought to the proposal as such infra-structure of marketing was crucial for Gujarat as its agricultural production was to reach whooping Rs.25,000 crore once the Narmada project was commissioned.

Now the state's agricultural production is around Rs.10,000 crore but because of non-availability of any marketing network the state`s export is negligible as compared to other states like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.

A three-member committee set up by former chief minister Keshubhai Patel has made some preliminary study on the proposal.

Nitin Patel who was then entrusted the job told TNN "We have already studied the suggestions made by the committee for making agriculture economy more vibrant through innovative approach and the state government would take some concrete decisions on the basis of the experts committee report".

The state government, he said, would also sympathetically consider the plea made by Guru that all agriculture produce market committees under agriculture department for smooth implementation of new programmes on strengthening of agriculture produce sector.

The APMC federation functionaries have requested Chief Minister Narendra Modi to decide on the issue soon in the larger interests of the farmers. The Karnataka government has made changes in the Act and brought APMC under the control of agriculture department.

Under the proposal farmers will get more remunerative prices for agriculture produce as the committee has recommended that 'allow direct purchase from farmers at his place without licence and government should facilitate rather than control and regulate market system'.

The committee has also suggested scrapping of essential commodities Act and review of 27 other acts to make them enable free trade and competitive system as in South Africa by amending and adapting it to India.

The other important recommendation is that 'Agriculture, co-operation, food, PDS, and consumer affairs should be converged by bringing a Convergence Bill as proposed in case of Prasar Bharati, IT and Communication.

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

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Ankleshwar :: Silver worth Rs 18 lakh found on rly track Monday, October 15, 2001

VADODARA: Huge quantity of silver, weighing 260 kg, found on the railway tracks near Ankleshwar has become a major cause of concern for the Railway Protection Force officials.

While people have made claims to the silver, the authorities are taking no chances.

Sources said silver bars and biscuits were found lying on Saturday morning at a small bridge on the Piraman nullah near Ankleshwar.

The stock was in two gunny sacks packed neatly. Value of the precious metal is estimated to be about Rs 18 lakh.

RPF officials immediately seized the stock and sealed it after noting down the details on the bars. The silver is said to bear the name and emblem of a company based in United Kingdom.

Initial investigations in the case have indicated that the stock might be Mumbai-bound, but dropped off accidentally at the spot.

"It seems that the stock was loaded in the front brake rack of the 2902 UP Gujarat Mail going to Mumbai. People have come to Bharuch with documents to claim the stock," said RPF commandant S N Pandey.

Pandey, however, added that the authorities were being very careful in the matter. "We would like to ensure that the actual owner gets the stock. Also, the legality of the stock is being looked into," Pandey said.

Customs officials were also called by the railway officials to take stock of the situation. This, sources said, was being done to check whether the stock had been obtained through legal means.

RPF officials have rushed to various destinations, including on the railway route to Mumbai and Ahmedabad. Another major aspect being probed is the way in which the stock fell out of the train.

Fingers are also being pointed at the role of the parcel staff in the entire matter. What has come as a surprise to many is that the stock fell off the train despite the fact that brake vans have to be closed and sealed properly.

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

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NSS centre kicks off AIDS-control drive Monday, October 15, 2001

VADODARA: To create awareness about HIV-AIDS a special Universities Talk Aids (UTA) programme was started nation-wide.

In Vadodara, MSU Training and Orientation Centre National Services Scheme launched the second phase of the UTA plan which involves training university youth to spread the message through peer group talks.

At a function organised here, MSU Pro-V-C V D Pathak and additional director Gujarat State Aids Control Society inaugurated the programme.

Kiran Shinglot spoke on 'Human Sexuality and Responsible Sex Behaviour' during the inaugural function.

A session on epidemiology and clinical manifestation of AIDS was also conducted. A three-day training programme too was kicked off here on Friday.

"The UTA plan aims to train the NSS training officers in such a manner that they are able to extend awareness to college youth through conducting AIDS campaign and strengthening the youth group for peer education," said Navle, director of the orientation and training centre.

He said the uniqueness of the programme is that it reaches the most vulnerable groups and highlights the need for sex education for control of disease, and this is done through talks by peer groups.

It uses college students to built networks in the communities and would also focus on values and character building among the youth.

As per this plan, university students would create awareness on HIV-AIDS through talks and NSS students would visit villages for the awareness campaign. This has proved successful in its first phase, he said.

The three-day programme will focus on subjects enclosed in the programme schedule along with training and development of requisite knowledge skill and attitude to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the AIDS awareness and education programme.

The UTA programme includes nine major universities of the state. The project is sponsored by the National Service Scheme Union ministry of youth affairs, culture and sports.

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

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Prime minister to visit Somnath on October 31 Monday, October 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Prime Minister Vajpayee will participate in the concluding golden jubilee year celebration of the 'Pran Pratishtha' of Jyotirling at the historic Somnath temple on October 31.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Delhi, had extended the invitation to the prime minister to attend the function, which Vajpayee promptly accepted.

The function coincides with the celebration of the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the Iron Man of India who first planned the renovation of the Somnath temple.

His dream was realised on May 11, 1951. Union home minister L K Advani, who is a devotee of the Lord Somnath, will also attend.

The Somnath Trust had organised a year-long programme for the celebration of the golden jubilee year which concluded on May 11.

But due to the devastating earthquake, the celebration function was deferred to October 31. Gujarat is also celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of the Sardar.

Vajpayee will also dedicate the drinking water project for the people and the coastal areas along the Arabian Sea near the Somnath temple in memory of late prime minister Morarji Desai. Later, he will address a public rally.

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

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Demand for thrillers rise after WTC attacks Monday, October 15, 2001

RAJKOT: The fall-out of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in the US capital is visible with the escalating sale of thriller books in Rajkot these days.

During the last one month, since the September 11 terrorist attacks, the reading tastes of the people of Rajkot has undergone a sea change.

Normally, Rajkotians do not spend much on buying books. Most of them would prefer to spend on their favourite 'paan' rather than on books. 'Paan' shops in every locality attracts lots of people, from morning till midnight.

But, not so with the book shops or book stalls, which in normal times hardly do normal business, not to speak of brisk business!

However, things have taken an interesting turn of late. People have evinced interest in books on spying, thrillers and astrology. Nostradamus' books are in great demand.

Similarly, the special issue of the 'Time' magazine is also in good demand. Booksellers confide this was rather an unusual phenomenon. They feel it may be a temporary phase.

Whether the trend to buy and read books indicates any major shift on the approach of the people and the trend continues to stay in the coming days, remains to be seen.

The current year has been designated as the 'Year of Books' by the government of India, but hardly has any institution taken note of it.

The only exception seems to be the Sister Nivedita School of Rajkot, which is always in the forefront of education in Saurashtra and Gujarat.

It has been relentlessly carrying on the campaign to popularise the book-reading habit. Ushaben Jani and Gulabbhai Jani, the couple running this educational institution, has implemented a number of innovative ideas and schemes over the last two decades.

One of them is the regular interaction on books. The Janis invite those interested in book reading and discuss their impressions every Wednesday.

The day is called 'Granth Goshti' (interaction on books). Some 40 to 50 people participate in the 'Goshti', with most of them being regulars.

The interaction covers a wide range of books, from poetry to prose, essays to fictions, travelogues to philosophy, spiritual to educational, and what not.

The group may be small, but its impact is widespread, as participants belong to various walks of life.

Sister Nivedita School also organises field programmes called 'Vachan Shibirs' in the quiet, sylvan surroundings of rural areas, far from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The school owns a van, donated by a foreign agency, known as the 'School on Wheels' that takes books to the doorsteps of the people in rural areas.

A recent survey indicated that people in Rajkot do not prefer to spend money on buying books. As such, the booksellers say, with the inroads made by the electronic media in the last few years, hardly 25 per cent of the people show interest in reading.

And those having an urge for reading books take recourse to the public libraries, which were lying 'idle' in the recent past. But, now the libraries are active with the new breed of readers like students, senior citizens etc.

The survey revealed that since books are costly, those who want to read the same would enrol themselves as members in these libraries, which offer them 'rich fare' at a nominal cost.

Students mostly go for books on computers, personality development and the like, while others go for books on ayurveda and vastushastra. The most popular ones are novels -- both Gujarati and English.

The booksellers agree that after the launch of the 'Kaun Banega Croreparti' last year, the sale of books on general knowledge has picked up considerably. And here there is no age bar! People of all age groups purchase books on general knowledge.

Coming to specific age groups' tastes, the booksellers aver that youngsters mostly opt for books on computer training and management, while those above 40 go for books on philosophy, psychology and serious subjects like yoga.

However, the survey says the reading habit and reading interest, which had dwindled in the last few years in the wake of the advent of TV channels, has been revived.

Another notable feature is the rising trend of reading is that the younger generation is in the forefront in this respect. Librarians at some public libraries vouch for this and say the majority of their new clients are in their twenties.

Again, this age group has preference for books on spying, thrillers and mysteries apart from books on computers and management.

The demand for the books on religion, social affairs, poetry etc., has also gone up, though not on a large scale. But the trend does show that the reading trend is making inroads again.

Perhaps, this new trend indicates the inner urge of the people that there is no other alternative to reading.

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

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