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September 25, 2001 - September 25, 2001

New-age criminals make cops change ways Tuesday, September 25, 2001

VADODARA: Changing times, and with it the fast changing profile of the criminal and his mind, has led the district police here to take a total re-look into crime patterns and the ways to deal with them.

A massive study, going on for the last three months in the five districts that fall in the Vadodara range -- Vadodara (rural), Panchmahals, Dahod, Narmada, and Bharuch -- will lead to new standards and benchmarking in policing in order to effectively tackle "the new-age criminal."

"The profile of a criminal has changed dramatically over the years. There has been a marked change in his psychology, his modus operandi. Keeping this in mind, the police too need to change its parameters for detecting crime," says special IGP (Vadodara range) Deepak Swaroop.

Swaroop is now studying detailed profiles of persons with criminal background sent to him by superintendents of police from all these five districts. While formulation of the parameters will take some more time, Swaroop has already begun orienting his men towards this new method of policing during crime conferences.

"We are also putting this new theory to test as we go about step-by-step developing it. We are trying this out to detect any criminal act that is taking place now so that it becomes a trial and error process," says Swaroop.

"We studied some striking changes in the profile of the criminal. First, there has been a shift from the basic factor of poverty being the prime motivating factor for any crime. Second, a shift in modus operandi has also been seen. Criminals now do not necessarily follow traditional patterns. Then, there no more clear markers - a person into house thefts may also commit crimes like a highway robbery," he adds.

For the police, tracking crime isn't what it was. "Earlier, you could find out exactly from where and which community a criminal belonged to by his actions. There are a type of criminals who would have food at the house after committing theft. There are also criminals who would defecate after committing the crime. The way crime was committed would tell us about the upbringing and social background of the criminal. It is not so now. There has been a change in the static technology they are accustomed to. So, we need a change in policing patterns," says Swaroop.

The police have also noticed introduction of new methods like a shrewd planning process and gathering of information. "An incident of theft of tyres from a truck was reported. It revealed elaborate planning as the truck carrying the goods originated outside Gujarat and its destination was out of the state. They must have planned the dacoity well in advance and gathered exact information about its movement. This was a good case for us to put our new theory to practice," adds Swaroop.

"We are trying to find out why crimes are committed - whether its because he has earn his bread, or just get a kick out of crime or is there a psychological factor," he says.

Swaroop is now going through criminals' profiles to find out details like their marital status, age group, social background from where he believes a "new pattern is emerging".

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

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Wave of superstition sweeping Saurashtra Tuesday, September 25, 2001

RAJKOT: Saurashtra and superstition are synonymous. In the midst of oft-heard, oft-repeated words like E-governance, E-mail and E-commerce. people in Saurashtra, particulalry women-folk, are in the grip of a temporary wave of superstition. Often, it takes the form of a cyclonic storm!

And, at the root of such waves lies the chain of rumours, or here-say. Nobody bothers to verify, but would simply follow suit, blindly though.

For the past few days, women, young and old alike, have been thronging the bangle shops in Rajkot and other towns of Saurashtra. And, they make a virtual scramble to buy bangles, particulalry white, locally known as 'safed chudli'.

Why such a heavy rush suddenly? One would be tempted to ask. The reply to this querry elicits twin response _ serious and funny.

The white bangles are being offered as 'gift' to their sisters-in-law to ensure 'protection' for their dear husbands.

The 'safed chudli' gift is given by the 'bhabhi' to her 'nanand' a s prescribed by some unknown, unidentified people _ supposed to be astrologers or soothsayers.

The heavy rush for the purchase of white bangles is confirmed by the shop-keepers, who say the buisness is brisk though they are unable to tell the reason for the sudden spurt.

When questioned about this unusual phenomenon, some women confided that they were directed by astrologers to do so as their husbands faced evil forces this month, 'adhik mahino' (Purushottam Maas).

However, nobody was prepared to name any astrologer or sooth-sayer. Some of them did say. It may be true, may not be. But, why take risk?

A few others said: We don't go for any expensive purchase, but get only moderately-priced white bangles for our sisters-in-law, just to get our husbands 'insured' against the evil forces.

The scourage of rumour-mongerng and bange purchase spree is perhaps more deep in the country-side, where superstition still rules the roost.

This phenomenon was earlier preceded, a few days back, by yet another such rumour that the 'adhik mahino', which commenced just a week before, was full of tragedies and adversities.

However, the rumours took Saurashtra by storm when the people were told by so-called astrologers that the extra month would bring in a lot of miseries and evils, since it starts with Tuesday and also ends on Tuesday.

The rumours got circulated, like wild fire, in the name of astrologers, saying that the people should refrain from doing any fasting or taking any vows during this entire month. Nobody gave any reasoning.

Hardly had such rumours died down, came the second wave of rumours, directing women to buy 'safed chudli'. Even educated women, with modern outlook also fall prey and join the bangle-bandwagon. Though they take it rather easy, but say, with good humour what is the harm if they spent a few bucks to purchase white bangles to 'protect' their life partners?

Traditionally, the phenonmenon of 'adhik mahino' is not considered auspicious for house warming, marriage, engagement and similar acts.

But, some astrolgers do agree that there was nothing like evil-effects befalling the people during this month. Some say it may be the cumulative psychological effect in the wake of terrorist attacks in the United States and its fall-out. Maybe, some may fear that worst is coming.

Intrestingly, last year, it was reverse. It was the turn of 'nanand' (husband's sister) to give a gift of 'saree' to her 'bhabhi' (sister-in-law) to give protection to her dear brother. At that time, the rumours had spread that the married men-folk were facing evil forces and their sisters could come to their rescue. How? By giving a gift of 'sari' to sister-in-law which was known as 'Bhabhi Sadlo' all over Saurashtra.

From 'Bahbhi Sadlo; to Bangle Bandwagon. Two sides of the coin. called superstition!

Though the literacy rate and social awakening might have gone up in the Saurashtra region over the recent years, superstition is still not left behind. On the contrary, it has a firm grip, all said and done.

About four decades back, the 'Miracle Girl' phenomenon in the tiny village of Zinzka in the Amreli district had resulted into a great tragedy, when over a hundred people were killed in a stampede. A village girl, known as Devuba, posed herself as goddess, later named as Zinzka-wali Mata had taken the region by storm so much so that thousands of people used to throng the small village, from far and near.

And, on fine morning, the small village turned into a sea of humanity, with thousands of people, vying with each-other to have 'darshan' of the so-called Goddess, created a stampede. The tragic episode had, at that time, hit the world press. Subsequent to the Zinzka tragedy, every now and then, such incidents do take place, but the gullible don't care or bother.

And, the show goes on. The shrwed shop-keepers make merry and the so-called astrologers have the last laugh as the bangle-bandwagon is on here, there and everywhere.

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

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Govt still flouts GPCB chief appointment norm Tuesday, September 25, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Retired bureaucrats, in-service bureaucrats, Army officers, builder-cum-politician _ Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) has seen them all as its chairpersons, but never an environment expert.

Although it is mandatory to have either specialised knowledge or practical experience in environment protection for a person to hold the GPCB chairperson's post, the state government has been outrightly violating this ever since GPCB's inception in 1974.

Barring a couple of exceptions when the chairpersons were engineers in public health or water, most of the 19 chairpersons that the GPCB has seen did not qualify for the post as per the law.

Now, even the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has taken a serious note of this violation in its recent report for 2000. It has criticised the state government. "Under Section 4 of the Water Act, the state government should appoint as a chairman of the GPCB such a person who has special knowledge and practical experience or administrative experience and knowledge related to such institutes. Between 1990 to 2000, three chairmen have been appointed of which one was an active politician and two retired bureaucrats, one of who was appointed under a chief minister's direction," the report says.

The CAG has also noted that the forest and environment department did not even have information about their knowledge and practical experience, hence the auditors could not verify whether their appointments were in accordance with the legal provisions!

The Section 4(2) of the Water Act 1974, which was amended in 1980, clearly lays the pre-requisites for chairman's nomination.

"A chairman, being a person having specialised knowledge or practical experience in respect of matters relating to environmental protection or a person having knowledge and experience in administering in institutions dealing into matters aforesaid, be nominated by the state government."

Critics believe that retired bureaucrats, who are appointed solely at the mercy of their political masters, fail to take any action of consequence. The result is that the pollution keeps increasing and the board remains inactive and ineffective.

"Environmental experts are not appointed and by violating all legal provisions, political persons are appointed. Such people naturally fail to understand the technical matters. The same holds true for other techno-administrative issues," says Mahesh Pandya, an environmental engineer with the Centre for Social Justice.

A retired bureaucrat, R Parthasarthy, who is also an environment expert with specialisation in a number of environmental subjects, commented, "Such posts are usually filled by bureuacrats and political appointees who don't have any technical knowledge."

While refraining to comment on the issue, Central Pollution Control Board chairman Dilip Biswas told the Times News Network that the issue has been discussed in details at a conference in Coimbatore in January, 2001.

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

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BJP leaders counter Jaspal Singh Tuesday, September 25, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Senior BJP leaders in charge of Sabarmati and Sabarkantha by-elections -- Ashok Bhatt and Jayantilal Barot -- have strongly criticised the statement made by jails minister Jaspal Singh on the party's defeat in the by-elections. They said, "Singh, who was away in America during campaigning, has no right to hurt the feelings of party men by making such irresponsible utterances."

In a joint statement, they said Singh should have discussed the issue in party forum instead of going to Press. And, by doing so, he has tarnished the image of the party and the government.

Bhatt and Barot said, in fact, both of them were responsible for the drubbing, but Singh, who stayed away from canvassing, should not have aired his views in a manner that had tarnished the image of the party and the government.

Taking strong exception to Singh`s statement, the BJP leaders have faxed a strongly worded letter to state BJP president Rajendrasinh Rana, saying such statement by Singh would not have any adverse effect on the party since he was known for making such controversial statements and later disowning them.

However, they have not demanded any disciplinary action against him.

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

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Demand for seats in Ayurveda colleges continue Tuesday, September 25, 2001

AHMEDABAD: You supply where there is maximum demand. Even a standard XI student studying elementary Keynesian economics will tell you this. The Gujarat government's health department, however, does not seem to have understood the doctrine going by the way they have been treating the nine Ayurveda colleges in the state.

There is a whopping increase in students opting from the colleges this year but increase in the number of seats can only be termed as a trickle.

In fact, there was a straight 50 per cent increase in students applying to the colleges with the Centralised Degree Admissions Committee receiving 9,000 applications this year, compared to last year's 6,000. In stark contrast the colleges have only 369 seats, some of which were received only this year. Many heart-broken students were forced to take up engineering courses instead despite having a genuine interest in the field as both medical and dental, as well as Ayurveda colleges, closed at 90 per cent and above.

One can gauge the neglect of the field in Gujarat from the fact that fields like homeopathy which have lesser demand among students, has more than 1,000 seats to play with. Seventy-five seats were added only this year. After 15 days of the admissions process, CDAC was able to fill up only 42 homeopathy seats while all medical, dental and Ayurveda seats in the open category were taken.

State health secretary S K Nanda however says the government has realised the international potential of the field and will add another 200 more seats by next year. "Only because of the excessive demand did we make the nine colleges part of the centralised admissions process from this year," he says. "We have realised that the colleges need to be regulated. We are already speaking to the Central Council of Indian Medicine and the Centre to increase the seats."

Sources in the state government add that the colleges have so far functioned autonomously having their own admissions process at Gandhinagar every year. The government had noticed a number of malpractice, forcing them to make them part of the centralised admissions process. Influence and money governed admissions in many of the college. Students with less than 50 per cent marks were also given admissions, not even following the prerequisite.

Some stringent norms of the central council have also deterred colleges from demanding increased seats. It demands that the college should have three beds per student. Uncertain about whether they can handle more patients, colleges to keep the number low.

"We have to turn back about 15 patients every month, either because we don't have space or because they need immediate modern medical methods," says Arya Kanya Shudh Ayurveda Mahavidhyalaya principal Natu Joshi. "If we increase the existing 90 beds to 120, find the staff to take care of the increased patients as well as increase the inventory which is not possible immediately."

Vice-chancellor of the Gujarat Ayurveda University, only university of its kind in the world Dr PNV Kurup puts the picture in perspective. Increased interest in Ayurveda is not a local phenomena specific to Gujarat, he says. It is an international one with growing demand for herbal medicine across the globe. "I receive at least four queries from institutions in other countries asking me if I can depute a teacher for their course," he says. I do not know where to get them from."

His university runs a special course in Bachelor in Ayurveda Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) for foreigners but only 15 students graduate every year after a two-year course. Not supported by either the state or central government, the course is run solely on the $ 300 that the students pay every month.

When the entire world is going herbal, perhaps its is about time that Gujarat takes full advantage of the spurt in demand.

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

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