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September 3, 2001 - September 3, 2001

Prior permission was obtained: CM Monday, September 3, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Upset with the Comptroller and Auditor General's objection to his foreign trips, Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel clarified late on Friday that he had obtained prior permission for both the tours from the Centre.

In reality, there is no place for criticism in the CAG report when the Government of India had already given permission for an official tour abroad," Keshubhai said.

The CM claimed in an official release that he had at first applied for permission for a "personal tour" on an invitation from the Patel community, but when the tour was announced "NRIs in Britain and America invited me and had several representations".

"A major convention was arranged for in Philadelphia, where all Indians in America were going to be present; thus the entire tour changed shape and a delegation of the NRG and the GIIC decided to join the tour," the CM explained, adding that the tour was thus changed to an official one.

Further, Keshubhai pointed out that all details of the tour had been placed before the Auditor General at Rajkot by the General Administration Department, through a letter of October 24, 2000, "yet it is unfortunate that such a distorted version has been given out".

The chief minister also observed that the CAG report was only "primary", and it would be first discussed in the Public Accounts Committee after which things would be finalised.

Referring to the CAG report, a six-page clarification from a government spokesperson added that a detailed meeting on this had been held with the AG, in Rajkot, on September 22, 2000, where the AG had approved of the tour.

"Unfortunately the report, without taking note of the government's version, has presented a one-sided picture," the spokesperson said.

The official statement, clarified against the inclusion of two unauthorised persons in the team, said "according to the rules members of voluntary agencies did not need to take GOI permission".

About the inclusion of Shetal Pandya in the delegation, it said the CM was authorised to take a personal assistant. The spokesperson clarified that since an overall approval was taken from the finance department, there was no need for separate permission from the department for use of vehicles.

Denying charges that the daily allowance was wrongly claimed, the government note said every claim was in keeping with the rules.

Related News - CAG report slams purchase of Rs 19 crore aircraft

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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Suresh Mehta rapped for 'excess baggage' of officials Monday, September 3, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has observed that industries minister Suresh Mehta included without any justification four members in the seven-man team of officials he took to attend the Eighth Annual World Economic Development Congress, Washington, and later to London, between September 16 and 24, 1999.

Commenting on the officers who were included in the list to be taken abroad as an afterthought -- ports secretary A D Desai, roads and buildings secretary H P Jamdar, industries commissioner K N Shelat and industrial extension bureau (Indextb) chief A J Shukla -- the CAG says they were taken "in contravention of the instructions of the Government of India."

Pointing out that though the missions abroad were asked to make arrangements, the CAG in its report released on Friday says "payment of conveyance charges amounting to $3,529.35 were made by IndexB to missions abroad without obtaining specific approval of the finance department for hiring vehicles in foreign countries as required."

The CAG specifically says: "A tour report of this delegation led by the minister of industries was submitted by K N Shelat on October 15, 1999, for travel to the US. The report revealed that no concrete proposal for any specific project was discussed during the tour... It was not known whether there was achievement of stated objectives of their travel."

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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Sanskrit epic catalogues Gandhi's life Monday, September 3, 2001

VADODARA: There are innumerable films and books on the life and work of the Mahatma, but a lesser known, yet outstanding, literary work on Gandhiji was 'discovered' and incorporated two years ago into the master's syllabus of the Maharaja Sayajirao University's department of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit.

The work is in Sanskrit in the form of a historical 'mahakavya' (epic), similar to the Mahabharat or the Ramayan, and depicts the life and struggle of Mahatma Gandhi and a description of his work and personality through his words, action and body language.

The old Sanskrit text -- now out of print -- is titled 'Satyagrah Gita' and is written by Pandita Kshma Rao, an eminent woman writer in 1931.

It was first published in 'Parisnagram' (i.e. Paris) in 1932 as no publisher in India was willing to risk publishing a document enumerating India's freedom struggle during the era of Mahatma Gandhi)

"The work is unique not merely for its literary beauty in Sanskrit, but also because it was written by a woman poet and the way she described Mahatma Gandhi's personality.

The poem has 18 'adhyayas' (sub-sections) and enumerates the Mahatma's personality through his body language, his personality and his approach to India's problems of poverty and subservience to British rule," says department of Sanskrit Pali and Prakrit head, Dr Uma Deshpande.

Describing Gandhiji as the Mahatma who took nine vows for the uplift of India, Kshma Rao writes in her mahakavya that his qualities are unsurpassed and respected both in India and in other countries. She mentions Gandhi as a man who followed a 'chatur niti' -- one who is clever in policy to attack the British empire.

"A man who is royal in bearing and yet frugal, without any attachments, conqueror of anger, a votary of satyagraha truth and non-violence, balanced in mind (Sthirbudh) unsurpassed in fame, without pride and greed - royal in bearing like a king".

According to several Sanskrit scholars the work of Rao is unique. "It approaches India's freedom struggle from a special literary point of view that is similar to the style followed in epics like Mahabharat and the Ramayan.

Rao mentions Gandhi as a man with a unique style of dressing- one who had a forceful personality and yet is gentle. The nine vows that Gandhiji took for the country's uplift were: ahimsa (non-violence), satyagrah (truth), brahmacharya (celibacy), non-accumulation of wealth, non-stealing, use of swadeshi goods, shraddha (faith), fearlessness, control on senses and respect for the Harijans.

According to Deshpande, who has written a book on women writers in Sanskrit, the poem has a visual quality as it depicts various events in Gandhiji's life. It gives describes the Mahatma's personality through his use of words, action and his way of dressing.

"Kshma Rao was the daughter of a Sanskrit scholar. In addition to Sanskrit, she was conversant with English, Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi, Italian and French as well and had travelled extensively in Europe.

"She followed up the Satyagrah Gita with another mahakavya titled 'Uttar Satyagrah Gita' when the Gandhi Ashram in Tiruvelanu invited Sanskrit scholars to write a biography in Sanskrit of Mahatma Gandhi in 1944.

"She took up the challenge and completed Uttar Satyagrah Gita in five months. She was awarded by Gandhiji himself for her literary talents," says Deshpande.

The Satyagrah Gita mentions various historical events in the freedom struggle up to the Gandhi-Irwin Pact 1931. The epic also mentions the successful sataygraha of farmers of Kheda in Gujarat who were reeling under drought conditions but were forced to pay taxes.

Rao has also written several English plays and short stories as well as on the work of Saint Tukaram and Gyaneshwar.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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No pension for Gujarat MLAs Monday, September 3, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: The Gujarat Assembly, which passed a law in 1984 to provide for pension to its former legislators, repealed the statute on Friday by enacting a new law - The Gujarat Legislative Assembly Members' Pension (Repeal) Act, 2001 - with retrospective effect.

Piloting the new Bill in the Vidhan Sabha here, parliamentary affairs minister Suresh Mehta said the Bharatiya Janata Party had protested against the law in 1984 itself and its MLAs had staged a walkout from the Assembly when the Act was passed then. He said the BJP government did not favour the provision of pension to MLAs, but some benevolent medical schemes were proposed for the former MLAs.

Even in 1984, some legislators had opposed the pension move, and the provisions of the Act, although published after some hesitation, were not implemented and no MLA was ever paid any pension.

Former MLA Mahendra Desai had earlier gone on a hunger strike demanding scrapping of the 1984 Act. Mehta, however, said that by passing the new Act and repealing the old one, the state government had not "succumbed" to Desai's demand. The new Act had been passed in view of the Gujarat High Court directive that the state government settle the issue by December 20 this year, he said.

Vidhan Sabha sources said a former MLA had moved the High Court citing the 1984 Act and seeking pension, following which the court directed the state government to settle the issue.

Gujarat had nearly 800 former MLAs who were supposed to get Rs 600 as monthly pension as per the 1984 Act. This would have entailed an expenditure of Rs 40 lakh per annum. Mehta said although this was a small amount, the state government had decided to repeal this provision as a policy decision.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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Four more hours of power cut by GEB Monday, September 3, 2001

VADODARA: Rural and urban areas in most parts of the state are going without power for an additional four hours every day due to a severe problem of capacity shortage faced by the Gujarat Electricity Board, a GEB source said on Friday.

During this period these areas do not get even single-phase power supply for domestic purpose. On account of this, most of the villages in the state are left without power for couple of hours during evening peak hours or during daytime for the past several days.

The problem of capacity shortage has led to 12 hours of load shedding from eight hours. This problem of capacity shortage is created on account of a recess in the monsoon activities in the state while kharif season is coming to end and demand of power by the farm sector is increasing.

According to the source, this demand is going up by 100 MW of power every day. The supply to the most of the areas in the state, have to be discontinued for four hours during the evening hours or day time.

GEB has to resort to this step to maintain the power system, lest it leads to cascade tripping. A reliable GEB source told this correspondent that the board has been experiencing a shortage of about 800 MW of power during peak hours, and is therefore compelled to pull out feeders from the power system which supply power to these villages.

News Source : Times News Network [ Lightning News ]

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