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October 2, 2001 - October 2, 2001

Teacher Keshubhai puts off fast unto death plan Tuesday, October 2, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Keshubhai Patel has decided to put off his plan to embark on an indefinite fast in wake of the current political crisis in the state.

No, we are not talking about Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel but president of the Gujarat Rajya Shaikshanik Sankalan Samiti who had spearheaded the controversial teachers' strike in the state recently.

This CM's namesake had announced to go on fast unto death from October 2 if the state government failed to revoke all notices directing punitive measures against the erring education fraternity during the fortnight-long strike.

But with the CM himself under fire, prudence prevailed on this Keshubhai who has now decided to put off the fast for the next 10-12 days till things cool down politically.

"It has been decided that the indefinite fasting should be put off by 10-12 days because of the political instability in the state", confirmed Keshubhai. The decision was taken in a working committee meeting on Sunday that was attended by more than 130 representatives from all across the state.

Interestingly here, the teachers apparently saw no sense in letting their leader go unnoticed without food and water, as the spotlight is likely to be firmly fixed on the outgoing CM and the new incumbent in the coming days. "Who would care for the teachers' issue in this political mayhem? We saw no point in going ahead with the fast when we know that any decision in our favour will have to wait until the political situation becomes stable," confessed another samiti leader, Naranbhai Patel.

It may be noted here that the samiti had demanded that the state government revoke all the disciplinary measures including non-payment of grant and building rent, cancellation of recognition of minority trust-run schools, suspending erring shikshan sahayaks and other measures against erring teachers and school managements after the teachers withdrew the 15-day strike on September 13.

But, the government has not initiated any such move. On the contrary, it is reported that in a recent meeting held in Gandhinagar, all district education officers of the state were directed to keep the notices slapped on teachers and managements in implementing stage.

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


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Gaffes at MSU leave students high and dry Tuesday, October 2, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Studying hard for a year and burning the midnight oil may not be good enough for a student to get the result he deserves at MS University.

The student might have to make several trips to the examination section, thanks to errors, which makes the testimonial as good as any other sheet of paper.

Petty mistakes in mark sheets, like wrong spellings and absent remarks even when a student has appeared for a particular paper, have always been given the benefit of the doubt.

However, of late, the errors have gone to the extent that mark sheets without the signature of the deputy registrar (examination) were distributed. Some other mark sheets carried broken three-dimensional holograms of the university.

Declaration of results on time had been a track record that MSU was trying to set since the last couple of years. However, this year things seemed to have gone haywire with the university finding it difficult to declare the results on time.

On several occasions student leaders created a ruckus at the university office demanding that results of a particular examination must be declared as they were long overdue. So much so that, Faculty of Technology and Engineering students found themselves in a piquant situation when their semester examinations were round the corner, but the ATKT examination results of the previous semester were not declared.

Said MSU Students' Union vice-president Bharat Dangar, "The issue had to be brought to the notice of the then vice-chancellor Anil Kane. It was only then that the results were declared on time." Dangar is just one of the several leaders who have found the department an easy target this year. Since the month of June, the department had been amidst one controversy or the other.

Jigar Thakkar, a student said, "Faculty of Commerce students have been the most to be on the receiving end. After the declaration of every result there are several mistakes detected in the mark-sheets."

While the declaration of results in general was an issue that came handy for the leaders, students are often forced to approach leaders to obtain certificates like duplicate mark sheets or attempt certificates. Akash Patel, a student who had applied for an attempt certificate, said, "The procedure is simple and should not take much time. Printed certificates are ready with the university and only the result sheets have to be checked for filling them up. Even a simple procedure as this takes days."

Another student wishing to go abroad had to wait for days before the university verified his certificates for the visa officials. "I had to make several trips to the university to get the job done. Officials said that several persons like me were in the waiting and it would be some time before my job was finished," the student said.

At the other end, officials in the examination section point out that the section is acing acute shortage of staff. "The number of students has increased substantially over the years. However, the staff in the section remains the same," an official said.

Another official pointed out that a large portion of work in the section had to be done manually. "For instance we have to stamp the signature of the deputy registrar (examination) and stick the hologram manually. Doing this task takes a lot of time. Besides, if it is done manually there are chances that we might leave out some mark sheets unsigned or without the holograms," he said.


M S University pro vice-chancellor VD Pathak Several old hands at the examination section retired around the same time. The work there is such that it requires experience. New persons appointed there are facing some problems, but will get used to it soon. It is an episode of change and will pass soon.

Also, it seems that things have been blown out of proportion this year. Such minor mistakes are likely to take place when thousands of mark sheets are prepared. Things are being viewed through a microscope these days.

As far as the problem of staff is concerned, there is little that we can do. The government has imposed a 20 per cent cut on recruitment. No new appointments can be made.

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


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Last date to pay property tax extended Tuesday, October 2, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation's decision to waive off 18 per cent interest on the delayed payments of property-tax has earned it a tax revenue of above Rs 8.5 crore in the last three days only. The AMC has now decided to extend the scheme for another 20 days.

The AMC had earlier announced to waive off the interest which was to be levied on the pending property-tax payable by the residents.

However, mayor Himmatsinh Patel issued a statement on Sunday extending the last date by 20 days from September 30 onwards.

He added that the AMC had registered a record income in the last three days _ on Friday it received Rs 2.54 crore, Rs 3.50 crore on Saturday and Rs 2.51 crore on Sunday _ and there was a major rush at all the zonal offices of the AMC to pay the tax. As a result, the tax counters had to be kept open beyond office hours.

Patel justified the extension of the last date claiming that a large number of people, who wanted to avail benefit of this scheme, have been left out because of number of reasons. Besides, several Assembly members, corporators and leaders have demanded that the date be extended.

Considering this, the AMC appealed the tax-payers to pay their taxes before October 20 to take advantage of the scheme.

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


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AMC looks for WB funding for e-governance project Tuesday, October 2, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: All those who have been at the receiving end at the hands of babudom at offices of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation may have reason to rejoice.

E-governance, with World Bank's blessings, may soon sweep the AMC, overhauling the years' old work culture that is often accused of inefficiency and corruption.

The civic body on Saturday submitted a proposal worth Rs 7.42 crore to World Bank officials for installation of e-governance at AMC. The commissioner of AMC, K Kailashnathan, said: "E-governance at the corporation is targeted at strict monitoring on all departments and better work efficiency."

Aided with a 64 kilo bytes per second (KBPS) dedicated connection to be provided by Reliance, the corporation is hoping for a financial grant from World Bank (under its capacity building programme) to finally turn computer savvy.

Once the system is in place, the municipal commissioner sitting at his office will be able to see whether his fellow officers have met their targets or not or even whether the safai kamdars have reported to work or not. And, all that with the tap of a few buttons on the keyboard.

The AMC has asked for more than 100 64 KBPS lines for its zonal and ward-level offices while a connection having capacity of two mega byte per second will be installed at the corporation headquarters _ Sardar Patel Bhavan _ in Astodia.

Departments like town planning, health, birth and death registrar's office and legal will be put online for intra-departmental use. "Progress of official files, jobs assigned, response to public queries and complaints, updates on legal cases will all be available online at once for the civic authorities to monitor. There will be greater transparency in all our departments and a high standard of efficiency can be maintained," said Kailashnathan.

Apart from efficiency, the masses would be able to lodge and follow-up their complaints and queries through emails to AMC or by registering their grievances at the corporation's website _ Ahmedabadcity.org.

The deputy municipal commissioner of north zone, Utpal Padia, who is in-charge of information technology at AMC, said: "While it will mean less leg work and no more standing at queues in corporation's offices, e-governance will see speedy disposal of applications, complaints and clearance of new projects or revamp of civic infrastructure."

Padia informed: "We are also working on a system that would enable Amdavadis to call up and feed their complaints or queries directly into our computer system through voice mail. E-governance will mean paperless work at all offices under AMC. And a total change in our work culture, one that will be geared to face challenges of a new millennium."

AMC authorities say that once the WB grant is passed, e-governance _ complete with a new set of rules for all corporation employees _ will be in place at the civic body in a period of six months.

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


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Modi likely to replace keshubhai Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Source Rediff.com
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary Narendra Modi, backed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, BJP president K Jana Krishnamurthy and RSS bigwigs, is likely to be Gujarat's new chief minister.

"Modi is best suited for the job. There is a TINA [there is no alternative] factor working even amongst the alternatives!" a senior Gujarat minister quipped.

Over the last two days, at least 20 top BJP politicians and ministers from Gujarat have been summoned to New Delhi, ostensibly to seek their views on Patel's successor. Krishnamurthy and his predecessor, Shashikant 'Kushabhau' Thakre, met them.

One legislator, however, said the session "was more like a briefing why Modi will be good for Gujarat".

The MLA said the party's central leadership had only one concern: how to win the assembly election due in 18 months.

Interestingly, most of the ministers rediff.com spoke to were not comfortable with Modi, but agreed that there was no alternative.

Modi is believed to be a man of strong likes and dislikes. And some ministers are afraid of his 'arrogance'. They claim that over the last three years he has not even bothered to keep in touch with any of them. One senior minister remarked, "He never even smiled at us."

Gujarat's bureaucracy is also averse to Modi becoming chief minister, believing that his lack of administrative experience will be a weakness. But as a BJP politician put it, "When the Centre asked us for an alternative, we had no name."

Gujarat Industry Minister Suresh Mehta was one of the names in contention, but a confidant said Mehta "finds this seat too hot" in view of the problems facing the state.

Kashiram Rana and Vallabhbhai Kathiria, both willing candidates, lost out because neither has impressed the party leadership or cadres by their performance in Delhi. The official line, however, is that both are Lok Sabha members and the BJP cannot afford to lose any support in the House at this time.

Modi's supporters say he is being chosen because of his strong belief in Hindutva, his refined media skills and his ability to mobilise the cadres. He will rouse Sangh affiliates like the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. "We lost the recent by-elections because the Sangh Parivar was inactive," they argue.

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