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September 13, 2001 - September 13, 2001

Manhattan attacked, Surat feels the pain Thursday, September 13, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
SURAT: Uncertainty has engulfed the already recession-hit diamond industry following the devastation of New York's twin World Trade Centre towers on Tuesday.

On an average, of annual exports worth Rs 36,000 crore from Surat, more than half was accounted for by the diamond market located in Manhattan, New York.
With major commercial centres in the US -- a major buyer accounting for over 60 per cent of total exports from India -- suspending operations, the diamond, gem and jewellery industry in Surat is headed for further recession.
It is feared that the trade in precious metals will suffer losses running into several millions of dollars in the short run. In case the attacks on New York and Washington get translated into an escalation of conflict at the global level, the overall impact on the diamond trade will be far worse, opined several foreign trade experts.
According to Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council's (GJEPC) Gujarat region advisor KK Sharma, the US was already reeling under an economic slowdown. With Tuesday's incident, the impact on global business, including the diamond, gem and jewellery business, would be severe. Sharma is also head of the city-based Indian Diamond Institute.
Closure of Manhattan's diamond market for three days will translate into a daily loss of $1 million in terms of foreign exchange for Indian traders, Sharma explained. No trading and no disposal will result in no payment, he added.
The long-term impact can be assessed only after the American reaction to tackle the unprecedented crisis is known, said Surat Diamond Association president Pravin Nanavati. If the situation snowballs into an international conflict, things will definitely be worse. In such a scenario industries such diamonds will suffer heavily, he said.
GJPEC Gujarat region convenor Chandrakant Sanghvi said the already recession-hit diamond industry will find the new circumstances hard to overcome as incidents in New York will have a major impact on global precious metals trade.
The immediate future of the country's diamond industry appears bleak. Efforts to contain the fallout will largely determine the future of diamond exports, Sanghvi opined.

News Source : Times News Network [India's best Newspaper]


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Rural development in Saurashtra goes high-tech Thursday, September 13, 2001

BY NARANDAS THACKER, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: "Gam-no-Choro"(village meeting place) has been a focal point, for the cluster of actives in the rural areas. Over the ages. But, that may not be so now, perhaps.

A new wave of change, that is sweeping the countryside, is poised to reshape the traditional "Choro' into a modern, multi-purpose community tele-centre.
The rural scene in Saurashtra is undergoing a dramatic transformation.
Thanks to the hi-tech revolution. And, also to the sustained efforts of the technocrat-wizard Sam Pitroda.
Technology for change. . is the refrain in the villages, which are poised to take a big leap in the sectoral growth.
UNESCO and the ITU-International Telecommunications Union are the main sponsors and collaborators of this new concept of having tele-centres, which could serve as "super store of services".
About a dozen such centres, known as "Multi-purpose Community Tele-centres" are to be set up in Rajkot district of Saurashtra. This is for the first time in India that such a new concept is taking off.
Maheshbhai V. Joshi, district development officer of Rajkot, said that telecentre is a new concept for rural and remotely located people to foster the community participation and to bring new opportunities for their economic development. The centre makes use of the latest tele-communications and computer technology to provide the services that can be used by everybody.
The tele-centre is a friendly local community centre, equipped with hi-tech facilities, he said, where the people in the rural areas can get, at their door-step, almost every service for which they have to rush to Rajkot.
The people in the rural areas can get current market rates of agriculture produce and sell their produce at the best prices without the middle man; can have access to education packages developed for specific target groups; consult specialist medical services through video-conferencing; register themselves at employment exchange; send their growing children to become familiar with computers.
They can also get information of various welfare schemes of the government and file applications in the various departments of the state government; pay telephone, electricity and water bills; avail STD-PCO, Fax, Internet, E-mail, word processing services.
The services, to be provided at such tele-centres, would be, of course, at a price. The tariff is yet to be decided, DDO Joshi said and added that the whole concept was to make it self-sustaining. The District Project Management Committee, with representatives from different departments and agencies, has been formed. A similar committee has also been formed at the state-level.
He said that the modalities for running these centres were being worked out. The current thinking was to have a local management committee, which will ensure the involvement and participation of the rural folk. The tele-centre would be run by a manager, with competent staff. . all of them paid. It was also proposed to involve NGOs-Non Government Organisations too with this project.
According to Joshi, it was a perspective planning, spread over next five years, designed to give a new exposure to the rural-folk. Before the project was taken up for implementation, a survey was done by a team from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.
The project can sow the seeds of computer literacy and network culture in the rural India, which can develop a demographic cohort of future users, thereby reducing imbalances in regional development and sectoral growth.
The basic objectives were to develop co-operative efforts, integrate the role of tele-communications in the strategies for health care improvement, employment generation, administrative and other needs of rural development.
A note-worthy feature of the Tele-centre project is to bridge the gap between info-rich and info-poor, serving as a short-cut for fulfilling the universal social obligation.
P C Gupta, former general manager of Rajkot telecom district, had contributed, in a big way, to initiate this project. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by department of tele-communications, UNESCO and the government of Gujarat to set up a chain of such multi-purpose tele-centres in the rural areas.
Recently, a four-member team of officials visited Australia, where such tele-centres were working for the past 10 years or so. The team included Sheela Benjamin, additional commissioner, rural development, Mahesh Joshi, DDO, Rajkot, Akhilesh Kumar Pande, deputy general manager, Rajkot telecom district and B D Parmar, civil surgeon of Rajkot.
The team, which spent about a week, saw seven such tele-centres in Western Australia, mostly in Perth and surrounding areas. These centres are self-sustaining.
From traditional to modern. . a far-cry indeed, over the past five decades. . the rural development had taken off in the form of "Community development projects" of the early fifties'. . three decades later came the IRDP-Integrated Rural development Programme. . and now, the rural development goes hi-tech. .
The villages, which have been identified, to be covered under the Multi-purpose Community Tele-Centre project are: Moti Marad, Bhayavadar, Jam Kandorna, Derdi, Malia Miyana, Khareda, Mahika, Vinchhiya, Paddhari, Lodhika, Kotda Sangani, Charan Samadhiyala. It is understood that the first tele-centre may take off shortly in Paddhari, about 25km. from Rajkot.

News Source : Times News Network [India's best Newspaper]


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CM offers to send doctors to US Thursday, September 13, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: An emergency meeting of the Cabinet was held here on Wednesday to mourn the victims of terrorist attacks in the US.

It decided to keep ready a 200-strong team of doctors to be sent to US if required. It is not known as to who will lead the team. The US reaction to the government's offer was also not known.

The Cabinet decision was taken in the absence of Suresh Mehta, who holds the
health portfolio. He was attending a conference in New Delhi.

State information minister Bharat Barot told newspersons that Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel had contacted the US Consulate General in Mumbai and made the offer. He also thanked the US for its help in the wake of the quake.

The Cabinet also decided to sound a high alert in the state. Police commissioners, district magistrates and district police chiefs have been asked to keep a watch on sensitive places like airports, power plants and government buildings.

Earlier, two top-level meetings were held to prepare a list of likely terrorist targets.

News Source : Times News Network [India's best Newspaper]




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Information on NRIs, to tough to have it Thursday, September 13, 2001

Information about non-resident Gujaratis in the World Trade Centre disaster was hard to come by despite frantic attempts made by friends and relatives of those New York residents who are yet to confirm their safety.
While some families heaved a sigh of relief on hearing from their relatives, scores of others were still awaiting a word from across the seas.
The control room set up by Non-Resident Gujarat Foundation here has received over 150 telephone calls from the state inquiring about well-being of their friends and relatives in New York as they could not contact them due to clogging of the communications network.
Kashyap Choksi, a chemicals trader of Ahmedabad, said that his brother-in-law Nitin Contractor, who runs a convenience store at Manhattan, had been injured as the crumbling debris of the World Trade Centre fell on him. Contractor, who has been staying in the US for the past 20 years, was hurt when flying glass splinters pierced his eye and a burning piece of debris fell on him.
Another Ahmedabad resident, Ankit Talati, a Satyam Infotech employee who has been sent to New York on a four-month stint, had a narrow escape. He was on the fourth floor of the World Trade Centre tapping away at his computer terminal when all hell broke loose. With the first massive explosion rocking the 100-storey building to its foundation Talati had rushed down the already overcrowded staircases.
By the time Talati had put a safe distance between his crumbling office building a second impact shook Manhattan. The second aeroplane had rammed into the other WTC tower. His uncle, Harshad Talati, back in Ahmedabad, could finally be reassured at 11.30 p.m. on Tuesday when he managed to get through despite the clogged lines and heard those magic words: I am safe.
The NRG staff has started short listing survivors on the basis of help line service of the TV channel which has stated that at least 1,300 Indians from New York have informed the channel that they were safe. The NRG has is identifying the Gujaratis from this list. They could number around 250.
The state government at the instance of Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has set up two control rooms _ one at secretariat in Gandhinagar and another at NRG Bhavan here _ to find out about the well being of Gujaratis in New York.
NRG director Mukesh Shah said that 'by Thursday we would be able to provide specific information regarding casualties and injured as we have sent e-mail messages to the functionaries of the Gujarati Samaj and NRG branches in New York and other places'.
State NRG minister Bimal Shah said, "We are trying to contact NRG functionaries in New York and other US cities to ascertain if any one from Gujarat was killed or injured in the attacks". The state government officials were in touch with the US consulate in Mumbai and US embassy in New Delhi to find out more about Gujaratis in New York.
Chief Minister has dashed off a letter to external affairs minister Jashvant Singh to convey that the state government was prepared to provide whatever help it could to the US where a large number of Gujaratis have settled. "We will if need be dispatch teams of doctors and para-medical personnel to assist the US in rescue and relief work in New York." The government has asked health department officials to keep ready stock of drugs and other equipment to be flown to New York.
"The US government and other agencies had extended full support to Gujarat in dealing with post-earthquake situation in Kutch and it was our duty to reciprocate in a befitting manner in this hour of crisis", the chief minister said.
BOX
Help Line
The NRG chairman Hari Desai said that helpline control rooms with computer and internet and e-mail facilities are functioning in Gandhinagar and in Ahmedabad so that the friends and relatives of NRGs could be informed about their well-being through control rooms.

The telephone numbers are: ( 079-2854764-65-66-and 67.Fax no.2854768. The E-mail service is NRG@Guj.petro.com or nrgbhavan@hotmail.com and mail@Gujindia.com)

News Source : Times News Network [India's best Newspaper]





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Manhattan burns....Surat feels the heat Thursday, September 13, 2001

SURAT: Uncertainty has engulfed the already recession-hit diamond industry following the devastation of New York's twin World Trade Centre towers on Tuesday.

On an average, of annual exports worth Rs 36,000 crore from Surat, more than half was accounted for by the diamond market located in Manhattan, New York.
With major commercial centres in the US -- a major buyer accounting for over 60 per cent of total exports from India -- suspending operations, the diamond, gem and jewellery industry in Surat is headed for further recession.
It is feared that the trade in precious metals will suffer losses running into several millions of dollars in the short run. In case the attacks on New York and Washington get translated into an escalation of conflict at the global level, the overall impact on the diamond trade will be far worse, opined several foreign trade experts.
According to Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council's (GJEPC) Gujarat region advisor KK Sharma, the US was already reeling under an economic slowdown. With Tuesday's incident, the impact on global business, including the diamond, gem and jewellery business, would be severe. Sharma is also head of the city-based Indian Diamond Institute.
Closure of Manhattan's diamond market for three days will translate into a daily loss of $1 million in terms of foreign exchange for Indian traders, Sharma explained. No trading and no disposal will result in no payment, he added.
The long-term impact can be assessed only after the American reaction to tackle the unprecedented crisis is known, said Surat Diamond Association president Pravin Nanavati. If the situation snowballs into an international conflict, things will definitely be worse. In such a scenario industries such diamonds will suffer heavily, he said.
GJPEC Gujarat region convenor Chandrakant Sanghvi said the already recession-hit diamond industry will find the new circumstances hard to overcome as incidents in New York will have a major impact on global precious metals trade.
The immediate future of the country's diamond industry appears bleak. Efforts to contain the fallout will largely determine the future of diamond exports, Sanghvi opined.

News Source : Times News Network [India's best Newspaper]



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