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September 18, 2001 - September 18, 2001

Disaster management authority to be made statutory body Tuesday, September 18, 2001

BY RAJIV SHAH, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GANDHINAGAR: The state government has taken an important decision to convert the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority into a permanent statutory body, thus steering clear of all speculation about the type of organisation the GSDMA should become.

Well-placed Secretariat sources told TNN that several other options suggested by world-renowned consultants Arthur Andersen on the GSDMA have been "rejected". Plans are now underway to come up with a new Act providing the GSDMA with statutory powers.

The options rejected include converting the GSDMA, formed in the wake of the quake in Kutch, into a new department under the state government; making it a totally independent body like the human rights commission with all the rights of asking the state government to work out and implement specific disaster management plans; and forming it as a think-tank with all the data base on disasters guiding the state government during emergency with its collected facts.

Seeking to imitate the USA's Federal Emergency Management Authority, the GSDMA would, however, work as an "autonomous body with strong linkages with the state government," a senior government official said. Its chairman would continue to remain the state's chief minister, but its chief executive officer will be either a bureaucrat or a top expert in disaster management.

"The option would be kept open," the official said. Currently, the GSDMA is a society, registered under the societies Act.

Confirming the decision to make the GSDMA into a constitutional and a statutory body, its current CEO P K Mishra, an IAS bureaucrat of the 1972 batch, said, "We have been studying the model disaster management Act sent by the Central government for consideration and finalising details on how can the GSDMA become a powerful co-ordinating agency that would acquire strong powers to act against disasters by declaring emergencies."

The Arthur Andersen report 'Evolving a framework for managing disasters: Organisation, strategy and structure of the GSDMA', dated June 18, had assessed that the current dispensation lacks mandate, co-ordination, funds and resources, with disaster focus being plagued by short-term perspective, absence of statutory powers, limited integration with Central bodies, and poor community awareness.

In short, it is "not ready to deal with disasters of huge magnitude and impact." Its main focus is "mere relief and rescue."

As statutory body it would be an inter-disciplinary organisation, and take under its wings 31 different type of disasters, natural, health-related, industrial and environmental, an official source said.

It would identify resources and mobilise them, customise relief packages and supervise implementation, monitor and audit emergency relief operations, prepare, co-ordinate and mobilise rapid action teams, contribute to policies and guidelines, do hazard mapping, and carry out community awareness work.

The rapid action teams would consist of personnel from the police, paramilitary forces like the BSF and the CRPF, fire brigade, doctors and nurses, engineers, equipment manufacturers and contractors.

The line departments would be placed under the statutory body to implement guidelines through technical expertise and resources, available with training institutes, seismological observatories, national and international disaster management bodies, and so on.

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


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'BJP misusing govt machinery' Tuesday, September 18, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee chief Amarsinh Chaudhary has alleged that the "BJP had roped in the state information department for indirect electioneering by issuing a press release to appease the Jain community which comprises a majority of votes in the Sabarmati Assembly constituency".

In his letter to the chief election commissioner and election officials of the state, Chaudhary pointed out that the Keshubhai government had "manipulated an old announcement to establish an Ahimsa university, in a press release issued on September 15 to appease Jain voters".

The copy of the release, which was attached with Chaudhary's letter, talked about a meeting held at the Gujarat Vishwakosh Trust premises to discuss the scope and syllabus of the university.

"The Gujarat Vishwakosh Trust is a private organisation, and there was absolutely no need for the government to have sent an official release about this meeting," Chaudhary added.

Accusing the state government of misusing government machinery, Chaudhary urged the election commissioner to take stringent action in the matter.

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


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Too many management institute in state Tuesday, September 18, 2001

BY HARIT MEHTA, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Ten years back, Gujarat was regretting for not having enough management schools to meet the needs of a burgeoning industry. The flip side, obviously, was that those who passed out got good jobs with envious starting salaries.

Ten years down the line, the state has enough (perhaps, more than enough) B-schools. The flip side is not all managers-in-making are making good beginnings.

The B K School of Business Management was the only respectable B-school that Gujarat had till five years back, if we keep IIM-A out, churning out 30 MBAs every year. A fresh management graduate could easily draw Rs 10,000. Today, there are 18 B-schools across the state churning out 1,400 MBAs with starting salaries touching an all time low of Rs 3,500.

Is this a simple case of supply exceeding demand, or are there other factors, like the global recession squeezing out job opportunities? Admits K S School of Business Management director professor Narhari Parikh, "The supply is much more than the demand. If a fresher gets Rs 5,000 per month job today, I feel he is lucky."

Echoes GLS School of Business Management director Dhaval Mehta, "With an industrial recession across the globe and a disappointing growth rate, the job market is bound to suffer. For the past few years, there have been no recruitment in government and semi-government bodies and that too is one of the main reasons for the sorry state of affairs."

While most institutes claim 100 per cent placements, they avoid details on starting salaries. Instead, they would underline the average placement salary. B K's placement committee head professor Gopal Krishnan says their placements have been 'relatively good'.

"The average placement salary is over Rs 15,000," he says. "The lowest salary is Rs 9,000." But then, B K has an edge over other B-schools, toppers at the centralised admission test prefer the school; its cheap fee structure being a major draw; and partly because of its reputation as the oldest B-school in the state.

Understandably, the mood at B K school seems to be upbeat. "When one takes into account the overall scenario of placements, I don't think we have any reason to rue at the given moment," says Pranav Jha, a second year student. Seconding the opinion is Vikas Rawal who passed out from Som Lalit Institute of Business Management (SLIMS).

However, Umang Brahmbhatt who is doing his MBA from B K worries, "If companies continue to get cheaper alternatives, things may become difficult for us in the coming days."

The picture is not as rosy elsewhere. Take Padmaja K who despite being an MBA in human resource management from Chimanbhai Patel School of Business Management (CPSBM), she had to take up a Rs 4,000-a-month marketing job. "The money part was not the only problem," she says. "I did not get what I wanted."

Like Anuja, most students can't afford to pursue higher studies abroad, particularly when they find it difficult to pay even their fees here. Most B-schools being self-financed institutions, the fee-structure is often burdensome for middle class students. While the regular course costs Rs 10,000 a year, payment seats cost Rs 47,000.

The most expensive of all is, of course, the NRI seat, for which institutions charge Rs 1.60 lakh every year. After paying such high fees, students like Anand Gupta, another CPSBM pass-out, have to begin with a Rs 3,200-a-month job in a car finance company.

The million-dollar question is: Is MBA a course as lucrative as it used to be say five years ago? According to Gopal Krishnan, the number of traditional job avenues - MNCs and other big companies - may be decreasing, but there are new avenues opening up.

"Several NGOs approached me but our students did not want to take up such jobs," he says.

Also, many freshers have taken to teaching due to shortage of trained staff in many institutes. "With so many institutes coming up, the need for teachers is always going to be there," says Mehta.

So what is in store for the wannabe MBA? IIM-A director Jahar Saha, sums it up in one sentence, "As long as quality is maintained, jobs are not going to be a problem."

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


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MSUSU takes up payment seats issue Tuesday, September 18, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: The newly elected MS University Students' Union (MSUSU) issued an ultimatum to the varsity administration on the commerce faculty payment seats issue here on Monday.

In a tersely worded memorandum, the MSUSU general secretary Mehul Lakhani and vice-president Bharat Dangar fixed September 21 as the deadline for MSU authorities to act in the larger interest of students.

Lakhani and Dangar have asked MSU administration to revise downwardly the fees from the current Rs 6,100 to an affordable fee structure. Besides bringing down the fees, the two leaders have also asked to pay back fees paid under the payment seats fee structure to those students who have taken admission to FYBCom.

The leaders have also demanded that surplus seats in Padra college be converted into regular seats and admission be granted to eligible students.

"We have given a memorandum mentioning our demands. If the MSU does not act in the greater interest of the student community we will be forced to protest. Also, this time the protest won't be from individual leaders but the students' union as a whole," Lakhani and Dangar told TNN.

The deadlock over MSU commerce faculty payment seats issue has continued to haunt the administration for a long time now. With the newly elected MSUSU determined to fight to finish, the varsity administration has a tough task ahead of it.

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


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BSNL to set up customer service centre Tuesday, September 18, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Wanting to become more customer-friendly in the face of heavy competition, BSNL is launching a computerised customer service centre at its new Navrangpura administrative building, adjoining the exchange on C G Road in Ahmedabad.

Chief general manager P.K. Chanda will inaugurate the centre on Tuesday.

The centre is the first to implement the single-window concept and provide all services instantaneously under one roof. BSNL has spent Rs 16 crore on the administrative building and Rs 12.5 lakh on the centre.

A large number of services will be available at the centre, including instant registration of a new line for Rs 1,000, on-the-spot booking and supply of WiLL telephones, sale of ITC cards in various denominations and selling of application forms for all services.

In future, the centre will sell latest telephone instruments, apart from issuing duplicate bills immediately and have its own cyber kiosk, providing video-conferencing, and internet services.

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


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