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August 30, 2001 - August 30, 2001

Turning their backs on a violent neighbourhood Thursday, August 30, 2001

BY RADHA SHARMA, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: A gun shot in Dariapur and horrifying memories come booming back to Vijay Thakkar. Memories of frustrating helplessness of being huddled inside his three-storeyed house, seeing his father almost die of a massive-heart attack, without being able to do as much as go out and fetch a doctor or buy a life-saving pill!

"Dariapur had turned into one communal battlefield. Friends had overnight turned into sworn enemies. I have personally witnessed one man baying for another man's blood, people butchering each other, setting each other on fire," reminisces Thakkar who used to reside outside the Dariapur Khadawad-ni-Pol near Swaminarayan temple till 1985.

His father's illness in the midst of heavy rioting and curfew became the turning-point for Thakkar who immediately shifted to safer confines of a Gujarat Housing Board house in Sola Road. "I could not take that pressure anymore .... the sense of insecurity was too unnerving to live in peace. I had a responsibility towards my family and thought it best in the interest of all to leave the place," concedes Thakkar with a pang of guilt for having deserted his ancestral house of 25 years.

Torn between a similar love for ancestral home and family safety was Prof MM Chunawala. Chunawala used to live in a majestic 16-bedroom haveli near Nagar Sheth na Vanda outside collector office for over 50 years but was forced to shift residence to a modest flat in Muslim Society in Navrangpura in 1992.

Reason? Prof had started feeling insecure as more and houses in his area were bought over by Hindus. "I had started feeling a little insecure what with communal violence becoming a way of life in the walled city. There was not a single family of my community residing till far and I felt this need to be with my own people, to feel secure in a group," confesses Prof Chunawala.

He has some exceptionally sweet memories of his Hindu neighbours during the 1985 riots. "My neighbours had been very nice to me, very caring, protective. I remember we people staying in one house during the riots and they even buying even vegetables and milk for me. They had tried to dissuade me from moving out like nobody's business," recalls Prof Chunawala.

Having shifted homes away from the sensitive areas, how safe do they feel now? Bank officer Bihari Patel, who shifted out of his home of 25 years in Khanpur to an apartment in Gurukul on December 4, 1994 to strategically avoid the possibility of communal violence on the first anniversary of Babri Masjid demolition, too is happy about his decision. "I have seen lived through many curfews and frankly, it is not worth it. Here, I am a free man. There is no fear, no worry", says Patel.

"Whenever there is news of communal disturbance, I feel assured of having taken the right decision. But I have not been able to break-free of the fear totally as some of my family still stays in the walled city," says Thakkar.

Prof Chunawala too shares similar sentiments but confesses that somewhere he and those of his ilk in both communities are falling victims to ghettoisation, a phenomenon that can prove dangerous in the future.

"What is happening is dangerous for the city, the police and even for the government. As parts of the city turn into fiefdoms for respective communities, it will become virtually impossible for the police to penetrate and check the simmering communal feelings," fears Prof Chunawala.

News Source : The Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]


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Govt can do little to check thalassaemia Thursday, August 30, 2001

BY YOJANA YADAV, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: What can the Gujarat government do to eradicate thalassaemia ? "Not much," says health secretary S K Nanda, considering it is a 'specialised field' that needs NGOs to carry out mass screening and counselling.

"Thalassaemia cannot be eradicated. It can only be controlled", feels Nanda and adds, "Control cannot be restricted to the government sector for our primary and community health centres are not equipped to handle specialised areas like thalassaemia".

But his statement has failed to take the steam out of the thalassaemia eradication drive launched by NGOs who are now carrying out screening tests in Jamnagar district.

Says project director Dr Sushmita Dave, "The health secretary is right. The government has other problems to bother about like polio and malaria. But it will do us a lot of good if it introduces a legislation making chromatography (the thalassaemia screening test) a compulsory part of pre-natal check-ups."

Noted paediatrician Manorama Mehta, however, feels the government has a far greater role to play. "The government can start from the basics and introduce a chapter on thalassaemia in schools. Every student in Saurashtra must know what thalassaemia is and how it can be prevented."

Doctors and staff at the primary and community health centres should also be 'sensitised' about the issue to make the drive a success, she says.

Most importantly, Manorama Mehta believes the government can help in enlisting the support of social and religious bodies. "Their involvement is vital because engagements and marriages in our society are generally conducted with their consent. They can insist on a 'thalassaemia screening test certificate' while matching horoscopes," Dr Mehta suggests.

The government can generate awareness among the masses about the facilities for thalassaemia major patients in the state's medical college hospitals such as the fact that it offers free and regular blood transfusion for all registered cases.

But Dr Mehta adds a word of caution here. "The government should ensure all regular donors at blood banks are vaccinated against HIV and Hepatitis B. This is important because if a person donates blood during the three-month 'window period' he/ she will not test positive and can transmit the infection."

This will prevent recurrence of the recent case at Jamnagar where a thalassaemic child was infected with HIV reportedly following transfusion.

Dr Sugandha Doshi, head of the paediatrics department at the Civil Hospital here, admits the hospital does not have the ante-natal check-up equipment needed to diagnose if a foetus is thalassaemia major or not. At present, the nearest such facility is available at two private hospitals in Mumbai.

The installation of this equipment should be expedited in at least all district-level hospitals of Saurashtra.

News Source : The Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]


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Govt can do little to check thalassaemia Thursday, August 30, 2001

BY YOJANA YADAV, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: What can the Gujarat government do to eradicate thalassaemia ? "Not much," says health secretary S K Nanda, considering it is a 'specialised field' that needs NGOs to carry out mass screening and counselling.

"Thalassaemia cannot be eradicated. It can only be controlled", feels Nanda and adds, "Control cannot be restricted to the government sector for our primary and community health centres are not equipped to handle specialised areas like thalassaemia".

But his statement has failed to take the steam out of the thalassaemia eradication drive launched by NGOs who are now carrying out screening tests in Jamnagar district.

Says project director Dr Sushmita Dave, "The health secretary is right. The government has other problems to bother about like polio and malaria. But it will do us a lot of good if it introduces a legislation making chromatography (the thalassaemia screening test) a compulsory part of pre-natal check-ups."

Noted paediatrician Manorama Mehta, however, feels the government has a far greater role to play. "The government can start from the basics and introduce a chapter on thalassaemia in schools. Every student in Saurashtra must know what thalassaemia is and how it can be prevented."

Doctors and staff at the primary and community health centres should also be 'sensitised' about the issue to make the drive a success, she says.

Most importantly, Manorama Mehta believes the government can help in enlisting the support of social and religious bodies. "Their involvement is vital because engagements and marriages in our society are generally conducted with their consent. They can insist on a 'thalassaemia screening test certificate' while matching horoscopes," Dr Mehta suggests.

The government can generate awareness among the masses about the facilities for thalassaemia major patients in the state's medical college hospitals such as the fact that it offers free and regular blood transfusion for all registered cases.

But Dr Mehta adds a word of caution here. "The government should ensure all regular donors at blood banks are vaccinated against HIV and Hepatitis B. This is important because if a person donates blood during the three-month 'window period' he/ she will not test positive and can transmit the infection."

This will prevent recurrence of the recent case at Jamnagar where a thalassaemic child was infected with HIV reportedly following transfusion.

Dr Sugandha Doshi, head of the paediatrics department at the Civil Hospital here, admits the hospital does not have the ante-natal check-up equipment needed to diagnose if a foetus is thalassaemia major or not. At present, the nearest such facility is available at two private hospitals in Mumbai.

The installation of this equipment should be expedited in at least all district-level hospitals of Saurashtra.

News Source : The Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]


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SPECIAL :: Dragon spews out ghaghra-cholis Thursday, August 30, 2001

BY MIHIR MISTRY, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Fiona Styraus, a Dutch national was recently on a trip to Ahmedabad. Kutch was high on her mind after the earthquake made international headlines. She inquired and was told about the culture, tradition and crafts of Kutch - the exquisite Kutchi apparel with their inimitable art, mirror work, embroidery and garments. She decided to go for it.

She settled for a local boutique, not having enough time to go to Bhuj, and packed herself with the 'inimitable' chiburi, suf work, Ahri and hand-made batik pieces. Fiona carried with her to Amsterdam embroidered cotton blouses and ghaghras (long skirts) without realising that all these fabrics and garments were sourced several thousands of kilometers away from Kutch. In China, in fact.

Says Bimal Mehta, proprietor of Pooja Boutique, a well known ready-made garments shop in up-market Navrangpura, "I am getting traditional Kutchi and Gujarati garments from China which are much better than what I can find in Gujarat at the same price.

Yes! Kutchi prints made in China and available at a fourth of the cost (to the wholesale buyer). It is happening in Amazing Ahmedabad.

Ashish Christian, who exports his Jaishi Brand of traditional fare, says he participated in an international handicrafts trade fair in Hong Kong in July and instead of selling the one container of Kutchi craft that he took from Ahmedabad, he ended up networking manufacturers from Hunan and Guangzhao to supply him replicas of Gujarati handicraft samples that he left behind.

"From exporter I have become an importer sourcing Kutchi prints and Jetpur bandhnis from hinterland China and exporting it to USA and Canada" he told TNN. "I dont know the economics and cost dynamics that the Chinese work on but I know they are give a better bargain," he says.

Says Mehta, "I will go on my 17th visit to China on Thursday and this time I plan to get them to make rabari tanko and cross stich garments, I am a patriot but then I am also a businessman and if this is globalisation then so be it."

According to Mehta, Chinese manufacturers share the same cultural and traditional ethnicity as Indians and they have fantastic market friendly (not worker friendly) labour laws. So, he adds, they are able to give me a suf work or an ahri work at the fifth of the price that I get in Kutch.

And such is the conveyor belt system in Hunan, Yunan and Quincho that they are able to deliver 500 sets of ghaghra-cholis of better quality in a week that Kutch would take months to make . "They are far more efficient, have a stringent no-holds-barred work ethic and a no-nonsence business mind", Mehta added.

Several companies in China are available for sourcing of patolas, baandhinis and chaniya cholis like Shenzen Friendship Trading Corporation (Shenzen), Zhaoquing Metals Import-Export Corporation (Guangdong), China Art Tech Corporation (Shenzen), Hunan Yueyang Company Limited (Hunan) ,Beijing Hualian International Commercial Company (Beijing), Fujian Ruri Trade Import-Export Corporation(Fujian), Gino International Trading Shanghai Company Limited (Shanghai).

Adds Jagat Shah of Global Network, an international trade consulting firm, which has taken trade delegations to China and South East Asia several times, ``you just give them a sample and they will do it for you at less than half the price." He said our delegates are surprised during exhibitions in China and Hong Kong when instead of selling wares they end up contracting manufacturers.

News Source : The Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]


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Threats to MSU professor raises hackles of teachers Thursday, August 30, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: The alleged verbal threats and abuse hurled at an MS University professor by a professor of another university, who is also the member of a UGC committee, has angered teachers and students on campus. The university is also contemplating a move to register a formal complaint with the UGC.

According to university sources, political science professor of Ujjain Vikram University CS Panwar, who is also an advisory committee member of the UGC's Departmental Special Assistance (DSA), allegedly threatened the head of the MS University's department of political science, HC Shukul, recently. Panwar had threatened to stop DSA grants to the department and abused Shukul over the telephone, sources said.

The department has passed a resolution, noting the "unseemly events" and forwarded it to the vice-chancellor and other university authorities.

The resolution alleges that "Panwar threatened Shukul with life, hurled abuses and said he would stop the UGC grant -- all this because his daughter Smita Panwar, a Ph.D student of the MSU political science department, was not appointed as temporary lecturer".

The MSU political science department had organised a series of interviews for appointment of temporary lecturer on August 9. According to the sources the selection committee that interviewed the applicants were looking for a candidate who specialised in public administration, while Smita Panwar's area of specialisation was international relations.

Department sources reveal that "we have been following the guidelines of our predecessors in filling the posts. For the last six years, we have had temporary lecturers to teach public administration where there is always a vacancy".

"The department, however, has adequate staff to teach international relations and the selection committee followed a precedent," the sources added.

The resolution said such unfair pressure tactics through threats and abuses for not selecting a candidate cannot be tolerated. "We therefore request the university authorities to write to the UGC about the behaviour of one of its advisory committee members," the resolution says.

According to Baroda University Teachers' Association (BUTA) president A Pepalla, the BUTA governing council meeting to be called later in the week would take a decision on the matter and they may write to the UGC regarding the incident.

"We would also take up this incident with the university authorities," he said.

MSU vice-chancellor Anil Kane said though allegations of abuses on the telephone may be hard to prove, a copy of the resolution might be forwarded to the UGC.

"In case the UGC-DSA stops grant to the university in future, we can show the resolution indicating the animosity that one of its advisory council members harboured against the university," he said.

News Source : The Times Of India News Service [ Lightning News ]


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