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August 24, 2001 - August 25, 2001

Israel ties up with state institutes for education Saturday, August 25, 2001

VADODARA: Israel and Gujarat have a lot in common. With a view to furthering the already-existing cordial relationship between the two countries, the Israeli consulate-general has worked out alliances with several institutes in Gujarat, and is now planning more interaction with the MS University.

The tie-up aims to develop exchange programmes with institutes in Gujarat like Amul, IRMA, CEPT and the Gujarat Agricultural University (GAU) for an exchange of educational and technical know-how.

The IRMA and Amul aims to exchange know-how on the co-operative movement and management. Israel has one of the largest co-operative movements in the world. Many teachers and researchers have visited Israel as a part of this exchange project.

With help from the Friends of Israel Society here, the consulate plans more interactions with the MS University. Two interactions are already in the pipeline -- one that involves a lecture series of Prof Wakankar, director Oriental Institute of Baroda, on Sanskrit. Sanskrit and Hebrew have several similarities that would be explored during the paper presentations, said Nikitin Contractor of the Friends of Israel Society.

Similarly artists from the MSU faculty of fine arts too would be involved in such exchange programmes.

"We now want more alliances not only with other institutes in Gujarat but also with the MS University, faculty of fine arts," said Israel consul-general Dov Segev Steinberg, who was here on Sunday on his third visit. He plans to visit again for such exchange projects.

Giving details about the exchange programmes in Gujarat, Contractor said exchange programmes help students not only in knowing the culture of different countries but also in learning different skills. Such exchange projects are held individually as well as through institutes.

In Ahmedabad, they have tied up with the Centre for Environment Planning and Technology (CEPT) and SEWA.

For the past couple of years, meritorious architecture students of the CEPT are sent to the Bezalin Art Academy in Jerusalem for a period of six months as a part of their academic programme. The scholarship that is offered covers the cost informs Contractor.

According to him the exchange programme with SEWA works at agency level for uplift of women and other social activities.

Hotel management students like Anil Singhal, who recently visited Israel, say that such exchange programmes help to learn at a practical level what one learns in academic institutes. "I was able to live in a Kibbutz and mingle with other chefs and learn their cuisine much better through such an exposure," Anil says.

Similarly, Rajesh, another student of the department of architecture CEPT, was able to work with private architects in Israel as a part of his exchange programme.

"I travelled the country to Jordan and was able to explore the architectural works in those regions. Such exposure is invaluable in professional life later," he says.

A student of the faculty of fine arts, Chanchal Banga was awarded a special scholarship for a four-year course at the Bezalin Art Academy. "He works in an agency there as well as studies at the academy-experiences that are enriching as well as fun. The Bezalin Art Academy has in fact sought more of such interactions with the faculty of fine arts here," he says.

According to Contractor, many researchers from the GAU have also visited Mashav, the training and exchange wing of the department of agriculture in Israel. These programmes involve studies on drip irrigation techniques, soil conservation and soil transfer efforts along with floriculture.

He said similar exchange programmes are also conducted with students of the Delhi University and the JNU, where many media and communications students have done research work in Tel Aviv University.

According to him many such projects can be explored by the MSU for more interactive programmes.

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

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MSU students leaders prevent freshmen from entering classes Saturday, August 25, 2001

VADODARA: It was to be their first day in college, but it turned out to be a damp squib. The first year students of the MS University faculty of commerce -- both those who sought admission through the regular college fees, and those who sought admission by paying Rs 6100 -- were left waiting outside their college doors with students leaders and NGOs blocking their way.

They were demonstrating against the payment seats scheme. They said no classes would commence till the scheme was scrapped.

"I was excited about my first day in college, but this is a bad start. We could not enter the building," said Ridhi, who, along with her friends, waited outside the commerce building. Similar was the fate of students who had paid Rs 6100 to seek admission.

"Our fate is the worst. We paid, yet lost out. I understand the arguments of those who are opposing the payment seats scheme. But education is more important. I consider getting a degree more important," said Pratap, a student who has paid to get a seat in the GEC building.

Some students like Rajiv, who has got admission in the regular classes, felt that the student leaders were not fair. "We worked hard and were able to get admission. By stopping our classes how can they be fair on us. One faces competition at all stages, and some would lose out," he said.

Members of the All-India Students Democratic Organisation and several other students leaders had planned their strategy much before the classes were to begin at commerce colleges at 2.15 pm on Thursday.

While the AIDSO blocked entrance to the GEC, other leaders had the regular classes dismissed. They fanned out across the three main centres -- the main building of commerce, the Girls College and the GEC -- where the payment-seat students were to be accommodated.

Some formed human chains near the gates, and blocked the entrance; others appealed to students to stay away from classes.

"Please, keep away from this building. We want to show to the media that the classes have not begun. No classes are possible until the payment seats scheme is abolished. Education should not be unfairly taxed," said student leaders to freshers.

However, MSU pro vice-chancellor VD Pathak said though no classes could be held on Thursday, they plan to go as per schedule on Friday.

"We did not want to use force on Thursday, therefore, the dean did not call in the police. But the university has not dropped the plan. FYBCom classes would be held as per schedule on Friday."

Though none of them took action against the demonstrating students, a few plain-clothed policemen were present on the campus.

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

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Students for more inter-faculty interaction Saturday, August 25, 2001

VADODARA: 'We just wanna have fun' is a refrain that many students echo on the MS University campus where youth festivals, one-act play competitions, debates, elocution, Just-a-Minute games and sports have disappeared for over a decade now.

It's a university that is unique. Despite the diverse faculties, each one -- be it the faculty of performing arts, fine arts, technology and engineering or any other -- works in isolation. There are no inter-faculty competitions, or interaction; students who want to be more than just book worms have little to choose from.

'The Times of India' spoke to students on campus. The unanimous opinion of students is that the university would be a fun place it there was more 'out of class' interaction among students, not only from the same department but also from different faculties.

"We want more interaction. At the end of our graduation we want to take with us more than just a degree. It helps to have more certificates and medals to show," says Jagmal Singh, a second-year student of the faculty of commerce.

Aditya Singh, a first year arts students, says, "I was hoping that there would be lot of events such as debates, elocution, fun fair, plays and other interactive competition. But my seniors here in the hostel tell me there isn't much here. Unlike in places like Delhi, where one-act plays and activities such as debates and quizzes are held regularly, there isn't much here," he says.

"If we have such projects it would not only help in providing us with a platform to explore our creativity and talent but also increase our ability to interact with other students, and thereby, learn more about other subjects," says Juhi Sutaria, a third year student of the faculty of arts.

According to her, many faculties in the university hold their own programmes. These are all isolated, involving their own students, she says.

Member of the syndicate Cassim Unia says the main problem is that though the university has a Campus Diversity Fund that is financed by Ford Foundation. This fund is used in isolation by the various faculties and departments rather than in a unified manner.

"For over a decade now the university has not organised a combined youth festival. Most faculties work in isolation. But I am ready to take up the initiative of organising such a festival, which will involve every student of the university," says Unia.

According to him funds will be a problem. "More than funds we need voluntary participation from students and staff of the university."

He said the university has received more than $70,000 from Ford Foundation as a part of the 'Campus Diversity Fund' for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

Something's cooking on campus: Campus Diversity Fund (CDF) co-ordinator Anil Navle said, "We plan to organise events. I have already sent letters to all department heads and deans of faculties informing them about the aims and objectives for which the CDF was given. I have sought feedback."

Navle said the proposals send various faculties would be studied by a special advisory committee. The committee is headed by the vice-chancellor.

MSU students union general secretary Bharat Dangar says the students will love to organise such functions. After the students' election next month, such activities can be planned.

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

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Sceptics frown upon GU's disaster mgmt course Saturday, August 25, 2001

AHMEDABAD: With the January 26 earthquake having become an important part of Gujarat's psyche, one would expect a disaster management course to hit bull's eye with both students and professionals. Instead, the Gujarat University's plans to start a special course in disaster management has only led to scepticism.

Both academicians and NGOs believe such a course would not have the necessary edge unless it takes a more multi-disciplinary approach with a heavy dose of practical on-field experience.

As an initial step, officials at the university have got together and suggested that the postgraduate geography department of the graduate-level geology department would combine their resources to start a diploma course next year.

Speaking to TNN vice-chancellor Naresh Ved said this is the age of multi-disciplinary courses and the disaster management course would be only the first step in that direction. "At the joint board of vice-chancellors, state governor and chancellor of universities Sunder Singh Bhandari said universities should play a more active role in this direction," Ved said. "We have already received an outline for such a course from the two departments."

Many, however, feel this is the crux of the problem. The postgraduate geography department is not the most popular with students. They have been admitting fewer students than the seats available with them for the last many year. This year for instance the department admitted only 39 students for their 50 seats.

For geology on the other hand the university does not even have a separate department, the bachelors course at M G Science the only one available. Even they have not been receiving more than 15 students every year, even going without a single admission at times. With such low-key interest, scepticism is running high.

Founder of the National Centre for People's Action in Disaster Preparedness (NCPDP) Rajendra Dave is not impressed with the latest crop of disaster management graduates from various courses. "There definitely are many job opportunities with the frequency of disasters that Gujarat has been facing," he says. "But people with only theoretical knowledge seem to be teaching students who have no idea of what to do when they come into the field. They have to merge hands-on training with classroom teaching."
A structural engineer involved in design and technology transfer of earthquake-proof housing, Dave has worked in Latur and served as advisor to the state governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra. He is currently involved in training government engineers for rebuilding houses in Bhachau and Anjar.

"No one seems to have a long-term perspective to rehabilitation which is what you would expect from a trained professional," he feels.

Even the regional director of Indira Gandhi National Open University Kalpana Mishra is sceptical of a disaster management course in a university, despite running a six-month diploma course herself. "Students should not get themselves admitted to such a course just because they could not get admission elsewhere," she says. "It is important they are interested in it. Perhaps a separate institute would make more sense and it should be treated like any other management school."

Experts also believe a course that includes only geology and geography would focus on earthquakes. Instead it should bring under its umbrella an entire gamut of disasters. "In today's world, professionals should be capable of handling both natural as well as man-made disasters, like industrial ones," Dave says. "And believe me, there is a demand out there for such professionals."

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

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Strike call paralyses courts in city, district Friday, August 24, 2001

VADODARA: Work at courts in Vadodara city and district came to a standstill on Thursday owing to a strike call given by the Baroda Bar Association.

As many as 1,800 advocates in the district refrained from work to press for their various demands. BBA functionaries claimed that work at courts in all the taluka headquarters of the district was also affected due to the strike.

Several cases had to be rescheduled because of the strike. Parties whose hearing was scheduled on Thursday had to go back as arguments could not take place in the absence of advocates.

The advocates have gone on strike to press for their demands of setting up Benches of the Gujarat High Court and Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) at Vadodara. The demand is based on the argument that substantial amount of cases in the two bodies were from Central Gujarat, Vadodara, in particular.

BBA president Narendra Tiwari claimed that the DRT Bench at Vadodara was on the verge of being set up, but the process got delayed due to political interference. According to Tiwari, politicians in Surat were making attempts to take the tribunal there. At the other end, he says, those in Vadodara were ignoring the issue.

The advocates will now intensify their agitation by conducting programmes everyday at the Nyay Mandir in Vadodara. Announcing the future course of action, Tiwari said agitation programmes will be held everyday between 2.30 pm and 3.30 pm.

Representations regarding the demands will be made to the Union ministers of law as well as finance for the DRT Bench. A delegation of advocates will visit Delhi shortly.

Also, BBA will raise the issue with the minister of state for law Hemant Chapatwala and officials of the Gujarat High Court.

Meanwhile, it was announced that the two-day strike will continue till Friday.

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

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