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October 12, 2001 - October 12, 2001

Modi may opt for mid-term poll: Amarsinh Friday, October 12, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: State Congress president and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Amarsinh Chaudhary on Thursday said here that if Chief Minister Narendra Modi was unsure of his victory in the by-election to enter the House, he might go in for mid-term elections in which case Gujarat Assembly elections would be held along with those in Uttar Pradesh.

Addressing newsmen, Chaudhary asserted that his party was determined to defeat Modi from wherever he contested the by-election. Not a single seat out of 182 in the Assembly was safe for the CM.

Amarsinh welcomed the change of guard, but said he would have to see the performance of the new dispensation.

He described the new ministry as "extravagant" and pointed at the huge amount spent on the swearing-in ceremony of the new ministry.

He said the Congress leaders would attend the swearing-in ceremony of the ministry expansion if it was a simple function.

Chaudhary alleged that with one more 'pracharak' taking over as CM, saffronisation of the administration has increased further.

According to his information, the CMO and other ministries have been asked to appoint staff with political leaning towards the RSS and the VHP. Thus Mahatma Gandhi's Gujarat is in total control of the RSS, he remarked.

Referring to the transfers of government officials, he said it was unfortunate that they were shunted out in a humiliating manner. The government should have taken legal action if they were found involved in corruption and other irregularities, he added.

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

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Narendra was a self-willed boy: Teachers Friday, October 12, 2001

MEHSANA: Life in the time-ravaged structures in the dirty, narrow and undulating streets of the ancient village of North Gujarat moves on as usual.

The vegetable or fruit vendors or the ordinary men and women buying things in the congested market do not seem particularly enthusiastic about one of their own folk becoming Gujarat no naath (the ruler of Gujarat).

Most of the small shopkeepers and commoners whom the TNN spoke to in the streets of Vadnagar though felt happy about Narendra Modi becoming chief minister, but were not sure if this would improve their lot or change the land-scope of Vadnagar.

"Anand ni vat to chhej pan Vadnagar ke amne sheon pher padvano" (Of course, we are happy, but what difference it will make for us or Vadnagar!) was the refrain.

But 77-year-old Rasikbhai Dave -- a veteran political and social activist -- living in Kuniya no madh explained that since Narendra did not come to Vadnagar for 32 years after he left this place in 1967 for further studies, people did not know much about him to be excited about his ascendancy to chief ministership and the pride he had brought to the place.

After being away from Vadnagar, Narendra came here in 1999 to attend the Golden Jubilee celebration of his school, Rasikbhai said.

The septuagenarian recalled that on that occasion, he was surprised that Narendra remembered the names of all his four sons and daughters who had by then become parents themselves. And Narendra had never met them before in his 32-year-long absence from his village.

His wife Saralaben -- an eminent scholar herself -- said that she was very touched by the gesture when Narendra touched their feet during his last visit and asked about the welfare of their children by remembering their names.

Rasikbhai said that this great power of retention had helped Narendra a great deal as an organiser.

That Narendra has had an elephant's memory was corroborated by his past teachers and schoolmates. Recalling his sudden meeting in a train a few years ago, Modi's Sanskrit teacher at B N High School, Dr Prahladbhai Patel -- now a retired college teacher, said that he was surprised when he touched his feet and asked him if he remembered him and went on asking about his friends and others recalling each one by names.

In fact, the teacher could not immediately recognise him. Rewinding further, Patel said that during his three years of schooling (1963-66), he found Narendra a determined, self-willed boy with great power of persuasiveness.

Patel recalled that whenever he asked Narendra to get his lessons checked by the class monitor, he insisted that he would show his lessons only to the teacher. He argued with his teacher and was satisfied only when the teacher himself had gone through his lessons.

Dr Sudhir Joshi, one of Modi's classmates, recalled Narendra showed qualities of leadership from his schooldays. He fought election for CR (class representative) and refused to budge when cajoled or threatened by rivals.

His argumentative skills and power of persuasion showed themselves when he was in the school on many occasions. Another schoolmate Narendra Shastri -- now a principal of the same school -- agreed with Joshi and added that besides being frank and fearless, Narendra was a self-disciplined student.

Though short and thin, he commanded respect. Shastri also recalled that he and Modi were together as NCC cadets. Recollecting Modi's schooldays further, Patel said though he was not an extraordinary student, he was interested in other activities like drama.

He recalled that in 1965 Narendra acted in a play 'Jogidass Khuman' directed by him. Though he was originally given the lead role of the outlaw, he was shifted to a minor role later due to his weak built up.

Narendra accepted the change sportingly and acted well in the role of Vajesinh Maharaj. Vinod Nayak "Raagi" who was given the lead role remembered that Narendra was keen on learning the nuances of acting from him saying that he was doing this for the first time and Vinod had in his blood.

He also played as a soldier in another play 'Hariyali no Hatyaro' in 1966. The play was based on the Chinese aggression and Narendra charged with political fervour acted convincingly, Patel said.

Rasikbhai Dave, a close friend of the Modi family, recalled that Narendra's father ran a very small canteen at the railway station here and had a big family to support. Narendra had a very humble bringing up.

In Ahmedabad also, he stayed in the canteen at the central ST office and studied. He was a man of conviction and commitment even in those days. His commitment to the RSS kept him away for more than 30 years.

But, when he had accepted to come here at the school function in 1999, he rushed here from Wagah border where he had to leave an important national programme.

Dave was sure that Modi's voice would be heard at the Centre and many long pending matters would be resolved in favour of Gujarat.

He said that Narendra's attachment to his school and respect for his 'gurus' was evident at the function.

Some eight teachers of his time were specially invited from different places at the function and he met them later separately to pay his respects to them. He had also roped in a donor who announced a donation of Rs 7 lakh for the school.

Jayantibhai Modi, president of Milkat Trust, Ambaji and Vadnagar Modi Samaj, told TNN that his community was proud of Narendrabhai and planned to felicitate him.

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

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Distance education through Techsat catching up Friday, October 12, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The higher and technical education department has launched an ambitious project involving all engineering and polytechnic colleges in the state to take them beyond mere classroom activity.

Since July 20, it has been running Technical Education through Satellite (Techsat), a project which beams live expert lectures to these institutions through satellite.

A telephone line is also kept open after the lecture to ensure that there is interaction between the students and the expert so that doubts can be cleared. This is the first experiment in the country where a project is live and interactive.

"The primary aim is to have more interaction between the industry and the institutions through these supplementary lectures," says the head co-ordinator, Prof N V Ghunchala, of the Government Engineering College, Gandhinagar.

"We can't expect one expert to individually visit all 22 engineering colleges in the state. Techsat, therefore becomes the best bet," he adds.

For the project, the directorate of technical education has tied up with the Gujarat Council on Science and Technology (Gujcost) and the state Remote Sensing and Communication Centre (Reseco) which provides the television studio and uplinking facilities.

State higher and technical education secretary Gauri Kumar, who is heading the review committee in charge of the project, wants to take it a step further.

"We are talking to premiere institutes outside the state like IIIT at Bangalore, and the Goa state government which have similar projects," she says. "We would like to share each others knowledge," she adds.

For the time being, however, officials are busy fine-tuning the project, keeping an eye on the responses of the students and whether the educational institutions are participating or not.

Sources suggest that many of the institutions are nagging infrastructure problems like not having LCD projectors to ensure that the students get a clear picture or a phone line for interaction.

As many of the experts use Power Point in their presentations, these are not visible on a TV screen.

Kumar accepts there are technical details that need to be worked out as they are still in the nascent stage.

"I would also like the students to send e-mails and faxes. I hope this will happen soon," he says.

Although students interest in the project has remained sporadic, many say they are getting a taste of what to expect when they approach the industry for jobs.

"Some of the speakers from the industry have no idea what out level is," says final year instrumentation and communication student Vivek Dhankar.

"Often, we are left clueless as we know nothing of what is being said, but then you also come across speakers who enlighten you about specific subjects," he adds.

For six months Pradeep Ahuja, another final year student, could not work out a way to measure frequency on a PC. He finally could manage when he heard a Techsat lecture and has been attending the sessions ever since.

Senior engineer (instrumentation) with the Ahmedabad Electricity Company J A Gandhi, who regularly gives lectures at Techsat, says most students are only 50 per cent ready for the industry after spending four years in classrooms.

"Such projects give them another 20 to 30 per cent which is what we expect when they come for jobs," he says. Officials are also planning to make the lectures available on CD Roms and Betacam cassettes so that they can be used as reference material.

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

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Security beefed up in Surat city Friday, October 12, 2001

SURAT: Following US-led attacks on Afghanistan, the Surat district administration has tightened security at several places.

A high-security cover has been thrown around all vital industrial installations at Hazira. Strict vigil is being maintained at the Atomic Power Station, Kakrapar, and Ukai dam in the district.

Sources in the district administration said a high-level co-ordination meeting was held early this week to review the situation following the developments in Afghanistan.

A number of measures were chalked out, including surveillance along coastline in co-ordination with authorities of South Gujarat districts.

Elaborating on the security measures, police commissioner Vineet Kumar Gupta said patrolling had been intensified by the mounted police; strict security measure had been taken at all check posts in the city; and watch was being kept on suspicious arrivals into the city.

Industrial establishments such as KRIBHCO, NTPC, ONGC, Larsen and Toubro, Reliance Industries have been instructed to sensitise their internal security and to co-ordinate with the local police in maintaining vigil in their respective areas.

In Monday's meeting, collector Sangeeta Singh, district superintendent of police KLN Rao and Gupta reviewed the security needs of the city and nearby areas.

Gupta said additional check posts had been set up. Extra precautions had been taken at Ukai dam and the Atomic Power Station, Kakrapar.

Rao said security intelligence at Kakrapar and Ukai had been intensified. A quick reaction team (QRT) had also been set up, he added.

In addition security measures initiated in the non-coastal areas, the entire coastline -- from Valsad to Bharuch -- is being patrolled by motor boats.

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

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CM agrees to BKS demand for more power Friday, October 12, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: After holding discussions with officials of the Gujarat Electricity Board, Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked GEB to increase power supply to the farm sector in north Gujarat to 10 hours from existing period of nine hours a day.

The decision has been taken following a representation to Modi made by Bharatiya Kisan Sangh on Wednesday.

State energy minister Kaushikbhai Patel told reporters that though power supply position of the state was critical the government had agreed to the demand in order to save the standing crop in the region where the last leg of monsoon has failed.

Patel said the GEB has been compelled to regulate power supply to meet the requirement of agriculture sector.

Even industries have been put on two days staggering since the last few days to spare the power for Kharif crop withering away for want of water.

Though the GEB has been drawing additional power from the central grid, it was finding it extremely difficult to manage the power crisis with shortfall of at least 2000 MW.

As against the state's requirement of over 7200 MW the power available from all sources, including the GEB, central grid and private sector is around 5506 MW.

The minister said that both Ukai and Kadana hydro power plants with total power generation capacity of 556 MW were closed as there was no adequate flow of water in Tapti and Mahi.

The GEB has worked out a plan with Chhatisgarh government to procure 150 MW power for the state while the Central government has been requested to supply additional power from the central grid from the quota of states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

It is learnt that the chief minister is to make a strong plea for an increase in supply of natural gas to the state as current allocation of natural gas was meagre and was badly affecting the gas-based power plants.

Modi is to submit a detailed memorandum to the prime minister highlighting the pending demands, including that of more royalty on crude oil produced in the state and additional allocation of natural gas and clearance of power plants.

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

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