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August 24, 2001 - August 24, 2001

Seminar on mass transit system today Friday, August 24, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), with the support of Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board (GIDB), will organise a seminar on "Regulation and Development of Urban Mass Transit System" here today.

The objective of the seminar is to look at the government's initiatives in the development of infrastructure in the state through the 'Gujarat Infrastructure Vision 2010' document, and to discuss and deliberate issues on urban transportation and develop a road map, which would accelerate development in infrastructure sector by identifying areas in urban transportation.

On the occasion, B S C Rao, the executive director of Bangalore Metropolitan Railway Transport Ltd (BMRTL), would make a presentation on 'Institutional and Legal Framework for Development of Mass Transit System in India'. James McClung, the vice-president of Louis Berger International Ltd, would make a presentation on 'Comparative Analysis in Urban Transit Authorities _ An International Experience' during the seminar while Pankaj Jain, the executive director (railway board), would make a presentation on 'Models for Self-Sustaining Urban/Sub-Urban Rail Transportation'.

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


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Gandhians harbour doubts on BBC film Friday, August 24, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: The Gujarati community in the UK had hounded him a decade back. He had received death threats over phone and people had urged a Hindu saint to declare a 'fatwa' against him.

And, with the BBC coming out with a documentary on Gandhi's philosophy from a unique angle _ his body language _ Lord Bhikhu Parekh, academic consultant to the film 'Gandhi and the Body', may go through the travails yet again for what admirers of the Mahatma claim is "lack of understanding of the great man's experiments with celibacy".

Three senior Gandhians interviewed by 'The Times of India' had serious reservations about the motive behind the film. One of them pointed out that the suspicions were not mere speculation, given Parekh's background and his earlier writings on Gandhi.

"It was a chapter in a book I wrote in the eighties that had sparked a controversy, especially among the Gujaratis in the UK. The book, 'Colonialism, Tradition and Reform' had a chapter titled 'Sex and Energy' where I had explored Gandhi's experiments with celibacy. It was a reverential and sympathetic look," said Parekh while speaking to TOI on phone.

Parekh said at that point of time, his plight was similar to that of Salman Rushdie. It was in February 1990 that Ayotollah Khomeini issued a 'fatwa' against Rushdie. The same month, Morari Bapu visited London and was urged to declare a 'fatwa' against Parekh. Though Morari Bapu did not oblige, Parekh was at the receiving end of the Gujarati expatriates' ire. He was punched and showered with abuses. Then came the phone calls threatening to kidnap his son.

The matter died down when he issued a press note in his defence and told detractors that "if you are followers of Gandhi, you should not be threatening me". Besides, he wrote that Gandhi's experiments were the means to an end, which to him was 'moksha'.

Parekh, however, felt that the film would not evoke a response similar to the book, because "the theme is larger, self explanatory and reverential towards Gandhi". But Gandhians in Gujarat are not convinced.

Veteran Gandhian Narayan Desai, who has been interviewed for the film, feels it has been given a twist by vested interests. But, it would be unfair to comment till he saw the documentary.

Desai, son of Mahadev Desai, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, told TOI that he was not aware of the theme of the documentary. He said during the two-and-half hour filming of the Verchi ashram, he was under the impression that the crew were interested in canning shots of the ashram and eliciting his brief opinion about the Mahatma.

He recalled that the crew, comprising two woman journalists, had posed one question in particular _ whether Gandhi had used his body as a weapon. Desai told them Gandhi considered his body as a temple of his soul.

Asked whether he agreed that Gandhi's philosophy could be interpreted through his body language, he said, "I am not sure whether that would be right."

In Ahmedabad, senior Gandhian Chinubhai Vaidya was more forthright. "This seems to be another conspiracy to indulge in character assassination of Gandhiji," he remarked. He felt the serial seemed to be in the same league as the plays 'Gandhi versus Gandhi' and 'Mi Nathuram Godse Boltoy', which had projected Gandhi in poor light. He said after reading the TOI report on the BBC film, he felt it had "potential for mischief".

He said Gandhiji's experiments with celibacy were likely to be misinterpreted. "I don't understand what is the big deal in Gandhiji being bare-chested getting massaged by women; I see a conspiracy behind this whole thing to bring down a great man."

Another senior Gandhian, Prakash Shah, said Bhiku Parekh had spoken about a dichotomy in Gandhi _ his preoccupation with his body and the insignificance he attached to it. "Actually there is no dichotomy, this seems to be a problem of perception." Shah felt that though the film may not deliberately try to denigrate Gandhi, there may be a problem with the filmmakers' understanding the spiritual aspect of his experiments with celibacy and feared it would lead to distortions.

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


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Samvatsari celebrated in Ahmedabad Friday, August 24, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Samvatsari, the most important of all the Jain festivals, which marked the end of the week-long 'Paryushan Parva' was celebrated in the city by observing all the religious rituals attached with it like penance and pujas.

The Jains observed penance like Upvas (fast), month-long fasting (maas kshaman) and other religious rituals to mark the occasion.

One of the largest gathering in the city was at the four-century-old 'Sammet-shikhar' temple located in Mandavi Ni Pol in the Manek Chowk area. From the morning hours, long queue of devotees were seen at the temple to offer prayers and for performing puja.

Large gathering of people were also seen at other important Jain temples including Hathising-na-dehra and Dharnidhar-derasar.

In the evening, the annual Pratikramana ceremony was also held at a number of upashrayas in the city to repent and express sorrow about the deeds during the year.

A number of 'parna' ceremonies marking the end of the fasting observed during the paryushan will be held on Thursday morning.

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


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North Gujarat :: Tribals now demand Narmada water Friday, August 24, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
IDAR (Sabarkantha district): With the Gujarat government having "in-principle" approved the plan to build the Rs 1,400-crore link canal -- starting from Gandhinagar -- to take excess Narmada water to fill North Gujarat's dams, a fresh demand is now taking shape in North Gujarat's eastern tribal and other backward areas for having their share of the dam water.

Nearly 300 representatives from the tribal regions of the Panchmahals, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts gathered here on Wednesday to demand, for the first time, dam water to cultivate the backward eastern tribal belt.

"If the water could be lifted to fill the Vanaj, Dharoi, Hathmati, Meshvo, Vatrak and Gohai medium-irrigation projects, why can't it be further lifted to the hilly backward areas of the three districts to cultivate land allocated recently to the tribals?" asked Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry, addressing the tribal representatives who had gathered here under the auspices of the Ekalvya Sangathan, the biggest tribal union in the state. Of the 67,000 families, nearly 32,000 families have been given land rights in the eastern tribal region.

"With ploughing rights intact, the tribal and other backward farmers of the region should also be given irrigation water as a right," Mistry said. "Nearly five lakh of the 25 lakh relief workers worked in these three districts alone. Yet, these regions were deprived of any new checkdams. Saurashtra's drought was indeed not as severe. Still most of the 13,000 checkdams were built in the preferred area of chief minister Keshubhai Patel." He wanted the MLAs of both the BJP and the Congress of the region, including ministers Ramanlal Vora and Ranjitsinh Chavda, Opposition leader Amarsinh Chaudhary, and deputy speaker Upendra Trivedi, to raise their voice on the issue.

Currently, all upstream waters in Sabarmati, Vatrak and other rivers on which dams have been built are "notified". Which means, no waters from any of the rivers can be drawn by the tribals to cultivate their hilly terrain. "This deprives the people of the region of their rights to have water from an area which gives it to the dams, " Mistry said.

The strong demand from North Gujarat BJP MLAs in the state Assembly led by Jay Narayan Vyas has led the state government to announce a new scheme to provide Narmada water to those areas of North Gujarat that do not form part of the Narmada canal command. Mistry feels the scheme would give "enough waters" to the North Gujarat dams, and tribals should not be left out.

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


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N Gujarat's tribals now demand Narmada water Friday, August 24, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
IDAR (Sabarkantha district): With the Gujarat government having "in-principle" approved the plan to build the Rs 1,400-crore link canal -- starting from Gandhinagar -- to take excess Narmada water to fill North Gujarat's dams, a fresh demand is now taking shape in North Gujarat's eastern tribal and other backward areas for having their share of the dam water.

Nearly 300 representatives from the tribal regions of the Panchmahals, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts gathered here on Wednesday to demand, for the first time, dam water to cultivate the backward eastern tribal belt.

"If the water could be lifted to fill the Vanaj, Dharoi, Hathmati, Meshvo, Vatrak and Gohai medium-irrigation projects, why can't it be further lifted to the hilly backward areas of the three districts to cultivate land allocated recently to the tribals?" asked Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry, addressing the tribal representatives who had gathered here under the auspices of the Ekalvya Sangathan, the biggest tribal union in the state. Of the 67,000 families, nearly 32,000 families have been given land rights in the eastern tribal region.

"With ploughing rights intact, the tribal and other backward farmers of the region should also be given irrigation water as a right," Mistry said. "Nearly five lakh of the 25 lakh relief workers worked in these three districts alone. Yet, these regions were deprived of any new checkdams. Saurashtra's drought was indeed not as severe. Still most of the 13,000 checkdams were built in the preferred area of chief minister Keshubhai Patel." He wanted the MLAs of both the BJP and the Congress of the region, including ministers Ramanlal Vora and Ranjitsinh Chavda, Opposition leader Amarsinh Chaudhary, and deputy speaker Upendra Trivedi, to raise their voice on the issue.

Currently, all upstream waters in Sabarmati, Vatrak and other rivers on which dams have been built are "notified". Which means, no waters from any of the rivers can be drawn by the tribals to cultivate their hilly terrain. "This deprives the people of the region of their rights to have water from an area which gives it to the dams, " Mistry said.

The strong demand from North Gujarat BJP MLAs in the state Assembly led by Jay Narayan Vyas has led the state government to announce a new scheme to provide Narmada water to those areas of North Gujarat that do not form part of the Narmada canal command. Mistry feels the scheme would give "enough waters" to the North Gujarat dams, and tribals should not be left out.

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


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