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October 15, 2001 - October 15, 2001

'State decision on GSCB-GHB merger unjustifiable' Monday, October 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Following a petition challenging the state government's decision to closedown and merge the Gujarat Slum Clearance Board with the Gujarat Housing Board, Justice C K Buch of Gujarat High Court issued notices to the state government and the two boards on Friday.

Notices were issued following a petition by the GHB Employees' Association and GHB Engineers' Association. The next hearing is scheduled on November 5.

The petitioners contended that the GHB, established since three decades, is a statutory board under the GHB Act, 1961 with various duties, powers and functions mainly relating to construction of houses for different groups of people.

It has constructed a large number of lower, middle and higher income group houses for thousands of people.

The board is financially independent and has remained a profit making body, though, of late, its financial condition has worsened. It requires to be streamlined by various financial and administrative measures.

Similarly the GSCB has been established under the Slums Areas Act, 1973. The Act is a welfare legislation for the needs and benefits of slum dwellers.

Being a social service institution, the function of the board is improvement and uplift of slums and construction of houses for slum dwellers. It has very heavy financial responsibility but incurs heavy losses.

The government, therefore, offered voluntary retirement scheme for the employees of the GSCB and after retiring almost all its employees barring 20 to 30 employees, took a decision to closedown and merge it with the GHB.

Senior advocate Girish Patel appearing with advocate A J Yagnik contended that the decision of the government is absolutely arbitrary, irrational, unreasonable and totally unjustifiable and will prove to be financially disastrous for the GHB and its employees.

As the two boards have altogether different objectives namely, the GHB to run on sound business principles and GSCB being a pure social-service institution, both cannot be combined without destroying the very foundation of the GHB.

The government has not considered any expert opinion and has failed to take into consideration all responsible factors.

It was further contended that the decision of the government will undermine the security of the jobs of about 1,500 GHB employees and yet the employees have not been consulted nor have they been taken into confidence before taking the decision.

Though the decision is in the policy areas, it is open to the court to review the decision from the point of view of its decision making process and the government owes an obligation to the court to point out that the decision is rational and is based upon all relevant and important considerations.

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

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Crisis of confidence over Modi's by-election? Monday, October 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Close aides of the chief minister have been scouting around the state for a safe seat to enable him to enter the state Assembly through a by-election, even as the state Congress has started speculating that an early election.

BJP sources said an indication about where Modi may like to contest from may be available when he expands his Cabinet in the middle of this week.

Topping the list of likely seats from where Modi may like to contest are Sarkhej and Ellisbridge seats of Ahmedabad.

Sources said the MLAs representing these seats, Amit Shah and Haren Pandya, are also tipped to become ministers in the first expansion which is likely to be held this week.

Modi may like to induct both these MLAs into the ministry, but if one of them gets left out it will be only because Modi has chosen to contest from that seat.

The Opposition is, however, confident of ambushing him wherever Modi chooses to contest from.

In fact, Gujarat Congress president and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Amarsinh Chaudhary has predicted that if Modi is not too sure of victory, he might go in for mid-term poll.

Elections are due in Gujarat in March 2003, and the Congress feels that the dates could be advanced by one year.

Chaudhary said not a single seat out of 182 seats in the legislative Assembly was safe for the new chief minister, and the Congress will put all stops to defeat him.

Chaudhary believes the Congress is on a roll after victories in the two recent by-elections to Sabarkantha and Sabarmati, the results of which brought about a change in the leadership in the state.

Besides, with the Congress having won the panchayat elections decisively last year, even the rural constituencies were no longer safe for the BJP.

Says Madhusudan Mistry, who recently won the Sabarkantha Lok Sabha seat for the Congress, "There is a crisis of confidence in the BJP after the defeats. If Modi loses a by-election, it may well be the end of his political career. But if he holds early Assembly election, it will not be so much of a personal loss because he can still blame it on the legacy of Keshubhai Patel."

BJP sources, however, said that though about 10 MLAs have so far offered to vacate their seats for the chief minister.

A decision on where Modi would contest from will be taken shortly as he is required to get elected within six months.

The party is aware that this is a difficult task considering the party's losses in the elections of late.

Another seat which is being actively discussed is Unjha in Mehsana district which has remained a traditional bastion for non-Congress parties.

It is significant that this will be Modi's first entry into active electoral politics. And though he has successfully handled election campaigns for the party in the past, it is yet to be seen how he himself fares at the hustings.

BJP sources ruled out the possibility of early elections and said Modi would strive to turn the tide by giving real performance to the people over the next 18 months.

One BJP leader said: "Why would Modi recommend dissolution of the Assembly early when he has the time to turn the tables on the Congress."

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

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Vedic astrology dept yet to get recognition Monday, October 15, 2001

VADODARA: MSU's Baroda Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya's proposal to the University Grants Commission to start a recognised department of Vedic astrology this academic year seems to have received a luke warm response from the UGC.

While some varsities like Lucknow University have already received a UGC grant and have started the course from this academic year, the Baroda Sanskrit Mahavidyalay which had sent its proposal (and a reminder) have not received any good news yet.

BSM principal H M Pande told TNN that he has received a positive feedback from the UGC. "But so far we have not received anything in writing. But I am hoping for a positive reply," he said.

Some universities like Pune University too have not received the recognition yet, and therefore there might be a possibility that the recognition might be delayed.

However, there are many who believe that this optimism is misplaced, and that BSM might not receive UGC recognition for its course in Vedic astrology.

"The UGC prefers to give recognition to a university rather than an institution like BSM which is a college," said sources in UGC.

BSM has a tradition of over 80 years in teaching astrology and 'karmakand'. It was Maharaja Sayajirao who established BSM on September 3, 1915 with the aim to ensure that the science of astrology, religious rites and ancient Vedas should be taught at university level.

When the University Grants Commission announced that it planned to give recognition to courses in Vedic astrology, the BSM principal had sent proposal to the UGC for recognition for its institute.

"We have been conducting courses in Vedic astrology since the past 80 years, and therefore we have the expertise to teach the subject," he says. UGC has written to 35 universities to send proposals for setting up such courses.

However, experts in the field of Vedic astrology believe that merely recognising a course as a science would not work.

"Vedic astrology as a subject which involves three components: astronomy, Vedic mathematics and predictive astrology. Out of these, two belong to the realm of science, and if these subjects have to be taught efficiently then teachers from the science faculty should do so," says L M Joshi of the MSU department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit.

According to Joshi, a new department of Vedic astrology requires teachers from science and arts.

"Just as statistics is taught in faculty of arts, commerce by experts in statistics from the faculty of science, similarly Vedic mathematics and astronomy would require teachers from the faculty of science," he says.

"If students have to emerge experts in the realm of Vedic astrology they should be well versed in 'Lilavati' -- algebra as taught in traditional Indian mathematics, 'Triconjamiti' geometry in ancient Vedic mathematics and Surya Sidhanta calculations based on planetary positions," he says.

Sources say this was the kind of proposal which should have been sent to the UGC wherein students would be taught in a scientific manner.

The BSM has adequate infrastructure to handle scientific teaching of Vedic astrology. It has an ancient 'ved shala' (astronomy laboratory) which was set up 80 years ago.

The old laboratory contains innumerable traditional brass equipment which were used to study astronomy in the those days without the use of telescopes.

Though none of this equipment has an in-built telescope, a person well acquainted in the science of astrology and Vedic mathematics can calculate the exact distance and speed of the various planets from the Earth with the help of these 'yantras' (equipment).

According to Pande, BSM has also sent a proposal to UGC for refurbishing the 'ved shala' and repairing some instruments which are not in proper shape due to years of non-use.

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

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Surat students shortlisted for science congress Monday, October 15, 2001

SURAT: To ensure better participation by the schoolchildren from the state in the coming National Children Science Congress, to be held in Pune from December 28 to 31, the city-based Satya Sodhak Sabha which has been assigned to identify the interested students, will conduct the preliminary search programme in 25 districts and six municipal corporations.

According to the SSS organiser B A Parikh, projects selected at district levels would be represented at the state level, proposed to be held in the first week of December.

The district co-ordinators have been told to complete the programmes by November end, he said.

The science and technology department of the Government of India has been organising the National Children's Science Congress since the past 10 years with the view of inculcating and encouraging scientific attitude amongst school-going children.

This year, the national level NCSC will be held at Pune from December 28 to 31, 2001. The science and technology department has assigned the responsibility of arranging the NCSC at Gujarat state level to the Satya Sodhak Sabha of Surat, an organisation committed to propagation of the scientific attitude, Parikh informed.

The objectives of NCSC include providing a platform to young children for satisfying their curiosity through constructive activities, to provide a practical dimension to teaching of science within physical and social framework, to encourage sensitivity and responsibility of children towards the future of the country and to promote the scientific methodology of observation, experimentation, verification and conclusion among them, he forwarded.

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

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Forged DCP's letter talks of 'anti-Gujarati sentiment' Monday, October 15, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A mysterious letter addressed to Chief Minister Narendra Modi which alleges an "anti-Gujarati sentiment" in the police force -- bearing the signature of Deputy Commissioner of Police (zone 6) B S Jebalia -- has been doing the rounds since Thursday.

Jebalia pleaded complete ignorance about the eyebrow-raising letter, and has already shot off a letter to Modi stating that there has been some foul play. Jebalia, who claimed to have received calls from mediapersons in Rajkot seeking clarification about the letter, denied having written such a letter, an official release on Friday said.

The type-written letter on the letterhead of the office of the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, alleges of "injustice meted out to Gujarati IPS officers by non-Gujarati officers in their cadre, which had scuttled their career opportunities".

The missive, a copy of which was dropped at The Times of India, bears the signature of the said officer in blue ink, and has a three-page attachment attacking two particular officers in the home department and alleging them of favouring officers from their region.

It talks about how "inquiries have been initiated against certain Gujarati officers, while the same against certain non-Gujarati officers have been expunged".

When contacted, Jebalia expressed surprise at the letter and denied all the allegations it contained.

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

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