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September 22, 2001 - September 22, 2001

JAMNAGAR :: Reliance to spend Rs 20 cr on infrastructure in 270 villages Saturday, September 22, 2001

JAMNAGAR: Reliance Petroleum Limited has set up a registered body called Reliance Rural Development Trust (RRDT) to create village infrastructure on a large scale.

The outfit, the company said, is the culmination of its chairman Dhirubhai Ambani's concern for the development of areas surrounding Reliance's complexes. The RRDT has already begun implementing the Gokul Gram Yojana (GGY) -- the dream project of the Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel.

Parimal Nathwani, a Reliance executive, while addressing a press conference here, informed that for the purpose of creating village infrastructure, Reliance has identified about 270 villages in Jamnagar district to start with. In the first phase, around Rs 20 crore will be spent during this financial year, he said.

He said a high-power committee consisting of district collector Rohit Kumar Pathak, district development officer RC Meena and director of district rural development agency Bhalala from the state government, on the one hand, and Hemant Desai, VK Gandhi and Nathwani himself on the other, has been formed. This committee will ensure speedy implementation of the work, he added.

He also said a special cell has started functioning at RRDT headed by Dr Nanak Bhatt. A fleet of civil engineers and extension co-ordinators having degrees in rural services is being created to executive and supervise the work at the grass-roots level.
Nathwani said gradually the work will also be taken up in other villages of Jamnagar district.

He said Reliance will ensure that no village of the district is deprived of the prescribed facilities within the frame-work of the Gokul Gram Yojana. He also said the company desires to extend the same facilities to villages near Hazira in Surat district, later on.

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

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Fashion, not passion driving professional course admissions Saturday, September 22, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Students in Gujarat are completely clueless when it comes to selecting a lifetime profession, especially in technical fields like engineering and medicine. Trends at the Centralised Degree Admissions Committee of the last three years show students have been merely following fashion rather than selecting a field that they are passionate about.

Information technology was so much in demand last year that students with the highest marks opted for it and all the seats were filled up even before medical and dental colleges could fill their seats. This year, however, 201 payment IT seats in 10 institutions were vacant as on September 20, two weeks after the admission process began.

Medical and dental admissions, on the other hand, were completed within the first few days this year, with admission for free seats in the open category stopping at an extremely high merit of 420 marks (approximately 93 per cent). Last year, the same admission stopped at 404 marks.

The seesaw battle has been going on for the last three years. Chemical engineering was the hot favourite in 1999. In 2000, students were lured by IT because of the hype, both in newspapers as well as by the government. This year the time-tested medical profession has made a strong comeback.

While electronics and communications is the first choice among engineering students, it is followed by computer engineering, IT, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering.
Education department sources said Gujarat is the only state in the country which has not given students the choice between selecting either biology or mathematics in standard X. Such a division often helps students in making a choice early on instead of waiting till the last minute and merely being swayed by a fashionable trend.

"A profile of top businessmen of the world will show you that none of them were driven by money," says president of the Society for Promotion of Technical Education and Research Rasu Vakil. "Money is, in fact, the last thing on their mind."

Vakil insists that the current trend is only a reaction to the sudden slowdown in the world economy. "Only those IT professionals, who just had a three-month course under their belts and rushed for an H1B visa, are facing a severe job crunch. Those with proper engineering degrees are facing fewer problems in getting jobs." However, he accepts that it is very difficult to forecast manpower needs in an age of rapid technological development.

Education department officials would also like an entrance test for medical and engineering courses, and separate them from standard XII results. They believe that an aptitude test will not only bring out the best in students, it will also remove many of the administrative tangles they face today.

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

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Job consultants 'vanish', police complaint lodged Saturday, September 22, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A complaint at the Navrangpura police station has been filed against a local placement agency-HR Consultants-by 15 young aspirants who had dreams of a flourishing career abroad.

The complainants have accused Hemant Joshi and Kavita Joshi of decamping with payments, ranging between Rs 18,000 to Rs 22,000, which each of them had paid.
Vikash Jain, a bachelor in mechanical engineering from Rajasthan, gave Rs 8,200 in cash as the initial payment for "documentation fees" to HR Consultants and also handed over a cheque of Rs 10,000 to the firm. The firm has its office at Premium House, opposite Gandhigram railway station.

"After I saw that the office was locked on Monday and the receptionist giving some vague replies about Joshis' whereabouts, I went to their residence at NRI Tower in the Satellite area. There I was told by the security guard that the Joshi-family had left early on Sunday morning," Jain said.

Dilipbhai Shah, a resident of Paldi, who had given Rs 18,200 to the firm to get his son, Hardik Shah, a good job abroad says: "I may have lost hard-earned money, but we will ensure no other unemployed youth is befooled by these people."

Though nobody was available when TNN tried to contact HR Consultants' office, their landlord said the couple may have gone on a vacation and it seems the complainants against HR Consultants may have jumped the gun.

But, not many are convinced with this reasoning. Niraj Choksy who was looking to shift base abroad with his IT-experience says: "I paid Rs 25,000 to the firm but since Monday they are not available and even their whereabouts are not known."

Amol Shah of Vadodara says: "I don't think this is just a vacation-trip. The Joshi couple have left us in the lurch and not even bothered to inform us about this sudden outstation trip. The police should take quick action for this lakhs of rupees and many careers being at stake."

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

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Polls brings to fore differences in BJP Saturday, September 22, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: The two Assembly and parliamentary by-polls -- the results of which will be known on Saturday--have thrown up sharp differences within the ruling BJP.

Top sources said here on Friday that at least three BJP heavy-weights -- ex-minister and senior BJP leader Ashok Bhatt, state education minister Anandiben Patel and minister of state for home Haren Pandya -- felt 'sidelined' during the whole campaign.

A top minister said these three apart, there were at least half-a-dozen other senior leaders who gone only to show their face and completed a formality during the party's poll campaign.
Bhatt, despite initial reports of having been given charge of organising electioneering in Sabarmati, did not make his presence felt. A senior BJP minister said, "Bhatt felt he was not being consulted during the poll campaign; he decided to remain aloof for most of the time, except for some fleeting appearances." This has surprised the BJP because Bhatt has always been at the forefront of any BJP campaign.

Anandiben, who lives in the Sabarmati constituency area, was more concerned about ascertaining the voter turnout in various areas, say insiders. The dissident camp was happy to know that few people had gone to vote in BJP strongholds.

As for Pandya, sources revealed, he gave "clear cut instructions to the state police not to take sides". The Sabarmati bypoll, considered crucial from a BJP perspective, was being managed mainly by two BJP general secretaries -- Sanjay Joshi and Gordhan Zadaphia. Those who took "considerable interest" included state energy minister Kaushik Patel and irrigation minister Nitin Patel.

Yet, said a Cabinet colleague of the CM, "mistrust for the local BJP workers was complete". Whether it was Sabarmati or Sabarkantha, even polling agents were brought from as far away as Saurashtra. "Many of the agents present in booths did not even know the local voters," the minister added.

Joshi, an RSS appointee from Nagpur in the state BJP, was particularly keen on analysing the voter sentiment. It is under his guidance that a fortnight before the polls a Gallup poll was carried out in Sabarmati, revealing sharp resentments among middle class voters over the Madhavpura bank scam. The poll revealed that if the bank was not revived, the party would lose heavily.
A mere 15 per cent supported the BJP. Based on the Gallup poll, the CM went into action and ensured that the banks' shutters were opened a couple of days before polling-day, leading to some hope that the party might manage to retain the Sabarmati seat.

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

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Waghela says complainant's credibility doubtful Saturday, September 22, 2001

AHMEDABAD: State prohibition minister Fakirbhai Waghela has denied the allegations lodged with the Gandhinagar district police against his son, stating that the complainant, Ashok Keshavlal Sharma, was no "poor labourer", but a "gangster and an anti-social element".

Waghela shot back at the allegations saying that Sharma's intention was cheap publicity. The minister alleged that Sharma had been booked for attempt to murder, kidnapping, rape and for possessing illegal arms between 1984 and 1998.

He pointed out that "Sharma is lodging a complaint referring to an incident which occurred five months ago for which he did not bother complaining to the police then". "By sending an application to the police after so long and going straight to the court, he is trying to bring me and my sons into disrepute. Further Waghela added that if his sons were found guilty during investigations, he would not come in the way of any proceedings.

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

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