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September 23, 2001 - September 23, 2001

IIM aspirants fret as CAT forms run out Sunday, September 23, 2001

VADODARA/AHMEDABAD: Students aspiring to get admissions to the Indian Institutes of Management and other prestigious schools across the country are facing a hurdle at their very first step.

The State Bank of India's branches, which are distributing the Common Admission Test (CAT) forms, have run out of applications due to an unprecedented demand.
The shortage has spread panic among B-school aspirants as the last date for picking up forms is Saturday. Only IIM-Bangalore will be selling forms till October 1. The last date of submitting forms is October 8.

Admissions committee chairman at the IIM-Ahmedabad, professor Girija Sharan, said they were facing similar shortages across the country, but there was nothing to worry. They have already air-lifted 200 forms from Bangalore to make up for the shortage in Ahmedabad. Speaking from Calcutta, where he was attending a meeting of admissions committee chairmen from other IIMs, he said, "We printed 70,000 forms this year compared to last year's 55,000. Normally, we forecast the increase and print 10 per cent additional forms, but this year the rush was unexpected."

All the same, Sharan insists there is nothing to worry. "There must be a shortage of about 2,000 forms and we have already placed the print order. Students have also been asked to request IIM-Bangalore with a demand draft for Rs 1,050, the additional Rs 50 being for postage.

"I wanted a CAT form for my son but the SBI officially the stock is over," said Deepak Budki, an aspirant from Vadodara. Not aware that the Bangalore deadline has been extended, he was worried he might miss the deadline. He is one of the many students from across the state who are walking in and out of banks with a worried look.

An SBI (Mandvi branch) official, handling distribution of CAT forms, said only 700 forms were send to it from IIM-Bangalore. "They decide how many forms to send. We have no say in the matter. However, when we ran out of forms on Monday, we immediately intimated IIM-Bangalore," said SBI small industries and business manager HT Daryanani.
"They told us then that it was not possible to send forms even by airmail, and asked us to have the students contact IIM-Bangalore. They said the deadline in such cases would be October 1. However, it's advisable that students confirm this fact," Daryanani said.

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

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Arms licencees aplenty, but few actually buying weapons Sunday, September 23, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Ghulam, a businessman of the city, having an establishment on Relief Ahmad Road opted for a gun licence in 1998.

Ground: potential threat to a businessman. He acquired his licence in the earlier half of 1999. But a year later, his licence got cancelled. Reason: he did not purchase any firearm in the given period of time.

Over the last few years, possessing an arms licence has become a fashion _ a status symbol _ in the city. Officials in the home department say, barring those seeking licence for rifles and guns, most of the licence seekers for pistols and revolvers just want to acquire weapons to "show off". Their standard excuse for possessing a firearm being "personal threat".

But not even one per cent of the people, who actually acquire a firearm on personal security grounds, ever get a chance to use it. Due to this, the department in the last one and half years has adopted a strategy to reduce the pace of issuing new licences. An exception, however, has to be made for those coming with political connections, a top official admits.

Furthermore, stringency has come in monitoring the issuance of licences in wake of rise in the number of cancellations. According to officials of the licencing department, there are instances when licencees are unable to make purchases within the stipulated period due to high cost of weapons, leading to cancellations. The city, out of a total of 4,300 firearms, has about 1,550 revolvers and about 155 pistols.

"I am yet to come across a person who has actually used a weapon acquired on grounds of personal safety," says the city police commissioner, P C Pande. He says most of the people who have it "never use it or even if they get a chance, they don't have the ability to use it". It's purely to show off and get a kick out of it, he says. "Or it could be a macho streak to impress the fairer sex also," remarks Pande.

There had been an increase in the number of licence seekers during 1997-98 period where the applications touched around 1,000 mark in the two years. But with the increase in the number of applications and in the case of many people's licences getting cancelled in wake of non-purchase of firearms, the department has put a check on the number of licences being issued. "With every three licences issued these days, only one makes a purchase", says an inspector of the licensing department.
"We reduced the number of days for issuing new licenses to two days in a month initially and then to just one day," says Pande. The commissioner, who is in charge of pistol and revolver licencing, said for more than two years now, the department has selected just on one Saturday of every month to issue licences. While there has been more than 1,200 applications for revolvers or pistols in the last three years, only about 300 fresh licences have been issued.

Speaking on the purchase of arms, a city-based arms dealer Ved Prakash Gupta says though the enthusiasm of the licence seekers is good for business, the number of weapons and ammunition actually purchased has dampened the mood of the gun and ammunition dealers.

Although as per the commissioners office, the number of licences issued in the last one year was more than 100, the number of weapons sold out from the eight different gun dealers in the city were just about 40. "In fact, I could manage to sell only three weapons last year," says Gupta.
Officials in the department say with fees being just Rs 100, applying for arms licences is easy. "But when a person goes out in the market to buy a weapon with the licence, the cost ranging from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 3 lakh for a second-hand Arminius, or a Colt or a Webly Scott, or a Smith-Wesson startles a buyer," says Gupta. And the purchase has to be made within three months from the issuance of the licence.
People then opt for purchases from the government ordinance factories, which is a long tedious procedure that sometimes drags on for a year or even more. While the commissioner says the licence is often extended to one year to facilitate buying of the arms, an official in the arms registration department says most of the licences eventually get cancelled. Pande feels weapons here are not necessary, as the city is not that violent.

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

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Two women commit suicide in city Sunday, September 23, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Two cases of suicide were reported from different parts of the city on Friday. In the first incident, a 21-year-old woman hanged herself to death at her residence here in Chandlodia.

According to the Sola High Court police, the woman hanged herself from the ceiling fan of her house at Gayatrinagar Society in Chandlodia. The incident reportedly took place at around 6 pm. However, the police are yet to ascertain the reason for this extreme step. The police have registered a case of suicide in this connection.

In another incident, 31-year-old Bhartiben Mukeshbhai Jethwa committed suicide by setting herself ablaze here at Odhav. Jethwa, a resident of Odhav, doused herself with kerosene before setting her on fire. According to police, Jethwa took this extreme step due to some domestic problems.

Gamblers arrested: The city police rounded up 22 people after they raided a gambling den in Shahalam on Friday. The police seized Rs 71,450 from them.
Acting on a tip-off, the police raided the house of one Muzaffer Lala Abbas Khan Pathan, who along with five others were operating the gambling.
Besides Muzaffer, the other arrested have been identified as Maqsood Ahmed, Jehangir Khan Pathan, Sarwarkhan Pathan, Sarfuddin and Zafar Khan alias Zafar Batli.
According to the police, Maqsood and Jehangir were involved in Radhika Club murder case and smuggling of weapons, while the other three accused are involved in bootlegging and gambling.

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

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Teachers develop assignments on computers Sunday, September 23, 2001

VADODARA: Teaching generation-next is a challenge. And schoolteachers are now gearing up for a day when computers would be a part of classroom teaching.

At several city schools teachers are turning into students as they prepare to teach the country's future. To make computers an intrinsic part of their classrooms, several schools like the Baroda High School Bagikhana, the Baroda High School Alkapuri and the Navrachna School have initiated special training programmes for their teachers. Training that goes beyond simple computer operations and teaches teachers innovative use of specialised computer software for educational purposes.

"Teaching generation-next is challenging task. More so now when children adopt new technology faster than adults do. As our school has decided to commemorate this year as the year of IT, we decided to impart training to teachers. Some of our classrooms have also acquired computers," says Baroda High School Alkapuri principal Promila Zalpuri.

While some schools have brought computers in classrooms so that children can be taught through the computers, others have created a special computer laboratory where students would work on assignments using computers.

"This is a 13-day training programme for all teachers. But is not a simple computer training. It is specialised training to teach teachers to teach the children," says Baroda High School Bagikhana principal Kasturi Rao.
Training is being given to teachers in all disciplines _ science, mathematics, history, geography, languages (English and Hindi) and music as well, she informs. The software is adaptable and a teacher can mould it to make her classroom teaching unique as per their subjective requirements.
The excitement amongst the teachers is clear, as they innovate with their projects. Music teacher Rohini Vaijeda says she would use the computer to now give special assignment to her students. "I have already prepared an assignment project titled 'National Songs Of different Countries from A to Z'. Students would have to go on the Net, identify different countries' flags, main languages and the national song," she says.
"This software is a special one called the 'Teach to the Future'. It makes teaching for us, and learning for the students, a fun experience. We download information, pictures etc from the internet and then use them for assignments. The use of computers will help as it becomes an audio-visual medium of instruction," says Shiba Zakana who teaches at the BHS Alkapuri and underwent training last week.
Her colleague, Tejal Kharwa, who teaches standard VIII says the colourful pictures, the animation and sounds would help in holding interest of the students. "Earlier, we had to rely on posters to explain formation of the Earth and its geological properties. It would be just another class with lectures. But not any more," says Anukampa Jasra who teaches science.
"Through this software, we can develop a software which explains the earth, its formations, its various layers all through audio and visual medium. We can also give students assignments to do on computers," she says.
Teachers at the Baroda High School Bagikhana had prepared a special computer programme on the Indian Constitution, which gave a concise yet comprehensive explanation of the system _ an otherwise tedious subject of study. "A special software on the Hindi language too has been created. For other subjects like science and maths, we use the Encarta encyclopaedia," says Rao.
At the BHS Alkapuri, kindergarten teachers too are being trained. "It's better to start at an early stage. But teachers of KG do not have to use computerised software in the same way as the primary-level teachers. We are training KG teachers so that they can teach toddlers though exciting computer games which are fun as well as informative," says Zalpuri.

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

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Biotech council plans 'biotech incubator' at MSU Sunday, September 23, 2001

VADODARA: The state may have missed the IT bus. But an ambitious project drawn up by MS University's bio-technology centre here to create an incubator for future technologies and ideas, which is being "actively considered by Gandhinagar", may put Gujarat ahead in a field that's developing very fast.

The department has submitted a Rs 7.5-crore plan for an incubator to the Gujarat Bio-technology Council to help set up an incubator that will facilitate start-ups and a significant university-industry interface.

"Generation of knowledge has always been the major motivation for universities, while industries have been influenced by the logic of the marketplace. This project will create a platform where innovative knowledge will lead to a process and then to a product which can be marketed. And, since bio-technology is a knowledge-intensive industry, this will ensure that the scene of production of technology will shift to places that generate knowledge," says head of the university's department of microbiology and bio-technology centre B B Chattoo.

"The incubator will nurture innovations and take them to a point where they are ready for market evaluation. It will ensure that the intellectuals do not remain ensconced in their ivory towers and the industry realises the potential of knowledge workers," says Chattoo. While the university has agreed "in principle" to provide a plot of land for the project, he is now scouting for funds from the state government, financial institutions and industries.
The incubator will work on the principle of "spotting young talent and providing them a free parking space for a fixed period wherein each would work on a project that can be used by industries."
The first step involves introduction of a one-year post-MSc programme in genetic engineering and bio-technology development process where students will be oriented towards the needs of the industry. "Students who are bold enough to have their own start-ups will be identified. Each individual will make a proposal, which will be studied by an expert panel comprising people from both technical and financial backgrounds to judge its viability," says Chattoo.
An agreement can then be worked out between the student and the university. "This agreement may entail these students paying back a part of the money they might acquire once their project is successfully marketed. The university can use this money to develop and maintain the incubator," says Chattoo.
The second component of the incubator is a Resource Centre that would, on one hand, be a point to access all information on bio-technology and on the other act as a single window providing expertise on promotion and marketing of the projects being worked upon and also liaisoning with agencies for work like getting patents for the innovations.
"The Resource Centre would be mainly a facilitating unit providing logistical support. Not only will it scout for a buyer for the new technologies developed at the incubator, it will also work on protection of intellectual property rights," informs Chattoo.
"Here, we are talking about a developing technology and working with just a spark of an idea. The university is not into business, but it can certainly use the intellectual property it is generating in a better fashion and to everyone's advantage. At a later stage, we can think of developing MS University as a brand. But, that will be after we have some successes," he adds.
While the first step will involve spotting talent, it has to be followed by the brick-and-mortar part of establishing the incubator. Chattoo feels that it will be able to sell technologies within four to five years. He also feels that such a system should also have a fairly high degree of autonomy without severing the umbilical cord with the mother university.
"The idea has worked at a lot of places. It has to take roots in India where the intellectuals are sort of cut off from the realities of the marketplace. A lot of projects of companies like HP, Sun Microsystems, Biogen have originated from laboratories of universities. Similar models have worked in the area around MIT. There have been lots of start-ups in the Boston area with about 30 in the field of bio-technology alone," says Chattoo.

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

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