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August 23, 2001 - August 24, 2001

Hawkers attacked at Vatva; 10 hurt Friday, August 24, 2001

AHMEDABAD: At least 10 persons were wounded, three of them seriously, when ruffians attacked them on the pretext of extorting money on Tuesday evening near Vatva Magdumnagar. The Vatva police station has registered a case of dacoity and attempt to murder.

The victims were hawking ready-made clothes near the Cadilla bridge when someone called Mahendra came in a Matador with some 10 people and demanded money for squatting.

The complaint lodged by one of the victims, Qutbuddin Majmuddin Vora at the Vatva police station, stated that the gang of extortionists were armed with knives, metal pipes and sticks. When the squatters refused to pay them, they hit Qutbuddin on the brow, stabbed him in the back and stole their goods and money.

Besides Qutbuddin, the ones who were seriously wounded were Yusufbhai Musabhai Saiyed (42), Mohammad Yusufbhai Saiyed (42), Ashfaque Mohammad Abdul Gaffar Ansari (30). All are admitted to Shardaben Hospital.

Meanwhile, the Lok Janshakti Party has threatened to stage a demonstration at Lal Darwaja from 11 am on Thursday to protest against "the atrocities being meted out to the Dalits and the minority communities".

In a press release, LJP spokesperson Pankaj Parmar and others demanded the immediate arrest of the miscreants. They alleged that the miscreants were aligned to fundamentalist groups "since they wore saffron sashes".

The other victims of this incident include Kalidas Ramabhai, Bharat Poonambhai Dataniya, Murlibhai Krishnadas Murvani, Harishbhai Bhimandas Sindhi, Arif Ayubkhan Shaikh, Abdul Kadar Abdul Karim Meman, Mohammad Arif Shahbuddin.

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

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AMC's cattle drive may be next victim of pork-barrel politics Friday, August 24, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Guess what could be a hot election topic for the Sabarmati hustings. Cows! Impounded ones, that is.

The reason: on Wednesday two cows at the Mirzapur cattle pound of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation died. A hindrance on the city thoroughfares, that are over-crowded with stray cattle, the AMC had started rounding up cattle this week. But, after the deaths, the Samajwadi Party has vowed to take up the cattle owners' plights.

With cattle-owners and politicians crying foul over violation of cow rights, AMC's drive could well be short-lived. "Not more than a fortnight," predicted corporation sources.

But, this could well be just the beginning as many a political party would find the cow issue close to their hearts, more so as it literally translates into around 5,000 votes in the Sabarmati ward -- there are at least 5,000 cattle owners in Sabarmati who stand to be appeased by anyone who takes up their cause. The Sabarmati by-elections are due on September 20.

The corporation's move to register police complaints against stray cattle owners could find many political opponents, especially with the Sabarmati polls round the corner. AMC began an anti-stray cow move on Monday to clear city streets of these obstructions. "Especially during monsoon, the cattle owners let their cows to stray as it would mean less dirt and pollution in their localities. This can only be stopped by something as strict as our drive," said an official of AMC.

Dissuasion of negligent cattle owners include shuttling between elusive corporation officials and police personnel to get their cattle released which could take no less than a couple of days.

"Till last week there was fine of Rs 250 for each stray cow and Rs 50 every day of its stay in any of the 12 cattle-pounds owned by the corporation. But, this was not working out as even after paying nothing less than Rs 1.35 crore during past five years as penalty for letting cattle go stray there was no improvement visible on roads of Ahmedabad," said Capt Dilip Mahajan, officer in-charge of Cattle Nuisance Control Department.

In consideration of the cattle menace and egged on by its health committee the AMC revived its 1995 plan -- to file police complaints against cattle owners who allowed their cows to go astray. On Monday 76, on Tuesday 109 and on Wednesday 82 strays cattle were rounded up and a total of 52 police complaints lodged against "rogue" cattle owners.

But, now with the death of cattle heads and Samajwadi Party threatening to hold a protest rally in Memnagar on August 25 and planning to storm the corporation premises on Thursday, the AMC drive may soon come to a naught.

And this will not be the first time. In 1995, a similar move of AMC was thwarted by "popular demand" and pressure from Gandhinagar. Ever since, several measures have been taken, like the one of 1997 to charge negligent cattle-owners Rs 1,500 as penalty. The move, that was initiated by the Gujarat government, later saw the state ministers pressured into paying Rs 1,350 of the penalty-amount as a "Diwali gift" to cattle owners who got away by paying Rs 150.

With the 2001 cattle drive of the AMC turning political, it could once again turn out to be a case of much ado about nothing.

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

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PALANPUR :: Swaminathan counsels better ways to harness technology Friday, August 24, 2001

PALANPUR: "Let's covert adversity into an opportunity and tragedy into a happy ending", said eminent scientist and a former Director of Philippines based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) M S Swaminathan while speaking on the satellite conference on Kutch rehabilitation plans linked with 115 centres and relayed at all 25 district headquarters in the state last week.

The century's worst calamity which had shaken the country and probably the first of its kind bringing such a vast destruction will take years to repair. Generations would continue to recall its horror.

The best way, however, was to harness the latest technology so as to convert the tragedy into an opportunity. The toiling Kutchis are frustrated but not hopeless. "Many scientific innovations can be taken to the farms for availing the opportunity which has been largely graced by the rain gods, too.

The unique satellite conference device held by Gujarat Agricultural University (GAU) with the assistance of Gandhinagar based studio of RESECO for the first time in the country focused on the assessment of progress and review the activities and programme undertaken by GAU and other NGOs. It would also try to extend the activities for holistic rehabilitation, if needed.

During the two-hour event on Thursday a team of experts at the RESECO studio, through satellite established live conversation and discussed issues with participants through different centres at remote places in Kutch.
Vice-chancellor M H Mehta, who had been working overtime for the success of the programme, said he would be happy if GAU could bring the smile back on the face of Kutchis. "Right from the day of the disaster, GAU had been on its toes to rehabilitate the affected people, particularly in Kutch. The university would continue to adapt technology for the holistic rehabilitation of the quake victims. It was a great pleasure to work for the suffering humanity. My scientists and I are proud to contribute our mite", he said.

Representatives of various organisations, including Brahma Kumaris, Sewa Viksat, Srujan Trust, Bhuj, who have undertaken R & R projects in Kutch attended the programme.

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

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Infighting ruining Cong prospects in Gujarat Friday, August 24, 2001

By Deccan Herald News Service
Gandhinagar: The Congress, which has the prospect of returning to power in Gujarat, may not be able to make it if infighting continues in its state unit.The party high command recently took cognizance of groupism in the Gujarat unit and appointed a steering committee to bring the top leaders together. But even before Mr Kamal Nath, the chairman of the committee who is also the the national party general secretary in charge of Gujarat affairs, could convene its first meeting, two feuding factions of the party drew battle lines by calling simultaneous rival meetings at two places.
While state unit president Amarsinh Chaudhary and national general secretary Ahmed Patel addressed a Sadhbhavana rally to commemorate the Rajiv Gandhi birth anniversary at Borsad, the home town of veteran leader Madhavsinh Solanki, the Solanki group organised a public meeting at Surat, the home town of Mr Chaudhary. The Borsad assembly seat is represented by Mr Bharatsinh Solanki, (son of Mr Madhavsinh Solanki) who preferred to remain absent from the Sadbhavna rally. He led a parallel rally in his constituency.

This war of attrition between the two groups began when Mr Amarsinh Chaudhary was appointed as state unit president (with support from Mr Ahmed Patel) in June 2001. Madhavsinh Solanki too was a contender for the post. Within a week of the appointment, the Solanki group organised a meeting to draw up a strategy to counter the duo (Chaudhary-Patel) in the state. The followers of Mr Solanki believe that they may be wiped out of state politics if their leader does not open a front against the duo. The old Janata Dal group in the state too has backed the duo to cut the Solanki group to size.
At the very first meeting of his followers, Mr Solanki said, “We will not ask for any post in the organisation at any level. Instead we will increase our group’s strength and concentrate on organising meetings in various parts of the state to get the support of the masses.”

He kicked off his campaign by holding meetings in Bardoli (Surat) and Ankleshwar (Bharuch), the home towns of Mr Chaudhary and Mr Ahmed Patel respectively. This prompted the two leaders to take on the Solanki camp in Borsad.
At the Borsad meeting, Mr Chaudhary made it clear that no one will be allowed to hold parralel meetings in the name of the party without the permission of the president of the taluk or district or city unit concerned. Without naming Mr Solanki, he hinted that from now onwards all his meetings would be considered unofficial.

But sources said the Borsad meeting of the duo too had been held without the permission of the taluk committee and in the absence of the taluk committee president. Even the Borsad Youth Congress Commitee, under whose banner the meeting was held, was a new entity floated by the duo.Sources in the Solanki camp claimed that such noises from the state party president would not stop Mr Solanki from organising meetings in the state. It seems Mr Solanki has decided to take on Mr Ahmed Patel on his home turf by addressing meetings in each and every taluk of Bharuch district.

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It's survival of the fittest for 'sari czars' Thursday, August 23, 2001

SURAT: They are the 'sari czars' of Surat, whose annual turnover must be an object of envy for even some of the big diamond merchants who stand tall in the social heirarchy of the city. Almost without exception, they all had rather humble beginnings before striking it rich. Today, a single manufacturer in Surat sells enough saris in a year which, if placed end-to-end, could drape the entire circumference of Earth!

Till 20 years ago, women buying saris were not bothered about the brand. Even the few companies manufacturing the branded stuff and popularising these on a large scale were not really a cause for concern. Then 'Garden' happened, with the pouting Persis Khambatta featuring in one of the most memorable and sensuous advertising campaigns with had the catchline, 'You fascinate me'.

Today Surat alone accounts for about 18,000 brands. But names which stand out are just a few _ Parag, Prafful, Tarang, Kunwar Ajay and Garden. While Garden set the trend in advertising saris, the brand which really adopted an aggressive strategy to popularise its brand was Parag, now a household name.

Unlike the Surat-based Garden, which has been in the business since 1930s, the owners of Parag Saris _ Virmani brothers Charanjeet and Harish _ were sari retailers in Gwalior. Originally farmers in Haryana, they decided to sell saris in Gwalior in 1975.

"We started getting saris from Surat, including brands like Garden and started retailing from our shop in Gwalior," says Charanjit. "Later, we thought if we could do business selling other brands and do well, why can't we have our own brand."

Harish then purchased the grey (raw fabric), got it processed and started marketing all over the country. In 1989 the business required a base in Surat and an office was set up. But it grew so much that by 1994 the company also had a processing unit at Sachin. Today, the annual turnover is Rs 125 crore and the Virmanis are hesitant to speak about their bottom-line.

Even Prafful has a similar story behind it. Leaving behind their traditional cloth business at Delhi's Chandni Chowk, the Aggarwals migrated to Surat. Pankaj Aggarwal, the youngest of three brothers, came to Surat in 1989 much against his will. "Being a Delhiite I could never imagine life in Surat, but the profit generated from the first few assignments was so immense that I stayed back."

Aggarwals also started by sourcing raw material, getting it processed and then selling it in the north Indian market. By 1995, backed by the previous loyalty of the Delhi cloth market, a niche market was created for the Prafful brand, which soon figured on commercial spots on popular channels.

The group today has its own weaving and processing unit. The eldest brother Jaynarayan manages the factory, Srinanarayan manages the administration while Pankaj looks after the marketing.

"Starting a business here in Surat is not a big task, but to take it to the level some of these people have done needs a lot of hard work and hard selling," observes Rajesh Desai of Harmony, a public relations firm handling publicity and advertising of many sari and dress material brands.

Parag started with an annual turnover of Rs 1 lakh in the '70s, says Charanjeet Virmani. "The struggle is still on to maintain the position and carry forward the expansion process." The group has now launched its latest brand, Tarang, and aims at expanding its retail outlets in the country.

Competition is tough, admits Alok P Shah, vice-resident of Garden. Though the company is a pioneer in sari branding, Shah says as far as the sector is concerned, more focused promotional campaigns are required to maintain the market share. Garden now has pulled out of advertising heavily on the audio-visual media and is concentrating more on showrooms and the product range. It puts out 60 designs and four to five new fabric qualities every month, says Shah.

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

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