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August 23, 2001 - August 23, 2001

HC orders I-T rebate on backwages Thursday, August 23, 2001

VADODARA: The Gujarat High Court has ordered that the amount received by a trainee employee of a leading company as backwages, after he was reinstated following a court order, should be given income-tax rebate.

The Gujarat State Fertilisers and Chemicals (GSFC) employed the petitioner, Tulsi Pipaliya, as a trainee technician in its fibre unit at Kosamba in 1988. However, his services were terminated in 1989. On this, the employee moved the labour court at Surat, which ordered his reinstatement.

GSFC moved the High Court against the decision, but the application was dismissed. Another appeal against the decision was filed by GSFC in the High Court. During the course of the hearing the employee and GSFC reached a settlement and Pipaliya was paid a sum of Rs 5.51 lakh.

The employee moved the court again demanding that he should be granted income-tax rebate on the amount as it is his earning of 12 years. Justice JM Panchal and Justice HH Mehta observed in the judgment that if the company proceeds to deduct income-tax, Pipaliya would be entitled to the relief under section 89 of the Income Tax Act. The court held that in such cases the income is assessed at a rate higher than it would otherwise have been done.

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

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'Israel, Gujarat have much in common' Thursday, August 23, 2001

VADODARA: There are many similarities between Israel and Gujarat, both in terms of culture and geography, and the interaction between the two regions has grown, said consul-general of Israel Dov Segev Steinberg, who was in Vadodara on his third visit.

He was here to inaugurate the Israel and Parsi food festival at Hotel Surya palace here on Sunday organised with the joint collaboration of the hotel and the Friends of Israel Society. Several eminent artists and intellectuals from different parts of Gujarat attended the function.

Steinberg said Israel and India share trade volumes of over $1.2 billion and that from Gujarat a large number of diamond traders work in Tel Aviv. He said the two countries share several cultural and educational exchange programmes.

Food he said was the best way to introduce the culture of one country to the other. "The Jewish dietary laws are such that Israeli cuisine has a lot to offer to the India vegetarian palate. Indians relish our cuisine due to similarities in tastes and the spices that we use. There is influence of Middle Eastern spices in our cuisine and vegetables and fruits too are an important part of our cuisine," he said.

Nikitin Contractor of the Friends of Israel Society said their aim is to develop cultural and friendly ties between the two countries. "Unlike the Indo-Russian friendship which could not go beyond the government level to the peoples of the two countries, Friends of Israel society aims to translate the friendly relations of the two governments into a more concrete form by developing ties between people. He said that cultural exchange programmes help in this.

Chef Ankur Singhal, who is managing the Israeli food festival here, said it was his five-month stay in a Kibbutz in Israel (due to joint efforts of Hotel Surya Palace and the Friends of Israel Society) that he was able to learn the nuances of the cuisine. He said Israeli cuisine is an amalgamation of cultural influences of over 70 countries where Jews have stayed.

"The cuisine is unique- in that it is developed from recipes and spices contributed by Jews in Germany, Poland, South America, Arab, India, China, and several parts of the globe. That is what makes it an interesting cuisine" he says.
According to him it is ironic but true that Israel - despite its geographical conditions- being a dessert land has been a major contributor in the agricultural exports in the world. This he said is due to the innovative use of water management through drip irrigation- a method that Israelis have developed to survive the rough desert conditions of the country.

Speaking about acts of violence in some parts of his country, Steinberg said terrorism could never be a solution to the problem of Palestinians. We are keen to start negotiations with them but this would not be possible unless they continue terrorist attacks (referring to last week's incidence of suicide bombers). He added that both the parties would be able to find a solution only through peaceful means.

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

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Politician triumphs in GEB power games Thursday, August 23, 2001

VADODARA: How does a politician function when he becomes head of a commercial organisation?

Answer: He acts and talks as if he were a "split personality". The politician in him makes him pull in one direction while the commercial position dictates that he swing in the other.

Welcome to Nalin Bhatt, chairman of the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB) which is nowadays losing some Rs 2000 crore a year and, of late, has floated bonds in the market to raise 'working capital' required to run day-to-day operations. After losing the elections in the last assembly polls, Bhatt was accommodated at the helm of GEB.

On Monday, Bhatt's GEB appealed to the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) that it be allowed to 'meter' supplies to the farm sector in five years, instead of the three years ordered by the latter.

'The Times of India' asked Bhatt as to why such an appeal was filed at a time when GEB can't make its ends meet.

Bhatt replied: "Nature had been unkind to farmers in the last two years. There was a severe drought. You can't make impositions on them when they are recovering."

So, what is he doing to ensure that GEB's losses are reduced? Bhatt reeled off measures the GEB was contemplating. Not satisfied, TOI probed further. At the end of it, Bhatt threw up his arms in desperation. "What can I do if 40% of the power generated by GEB is sold to the agricultural sector at subsidised rates? How do you turn it around?"

But, a moment later, Bhatt was back to his political self. "Our government has brought Narmada waters to Gujarat. Farmers were demanding power because there was no water available and they needed power to run pumpsets. Now with more and more Narmada waters coming in, the demand for power from the agricultural sector will be at manageable levels," he claimed.

A little later, the chairman was questioning _ without realising _ the raison detre for delaying metering of power to farmers. "In April, we opened a 'tatkal' scheme to give new power connections to farmers. They had to agree to metering and also pay 70 paise per unit and a one-time application fee of Rs 500. Nearly 55,000 farmers availed of this scheme", Bhatt said. In other words, if the farmers need power they are willing to pay for it.

It is this doublespeak and contradictory actions of the GEB that is irritating staff unions. " Why are we talking of privatisation of GEB when we know that this unviable tariff and cheap supplies to the farm sector are the root cause of the troubles," wondered J C Marathe of the GEB Engineers Association.

Since GEB is forced to subsidise power to the farms, there is no money left for investments. Since 1991 no plan funds are being allotted to the power sector, so no money for investment comes from the government. But demand is growing every year, leading to the need for more power plants.

"In these circumstances, GEB has to buy power from private power companies at exorbitant rates. Sometimes at a price as high as Rs 6.50 per unit. This is leading to further emasculation of GEB," Marathe pointed out.
Needless to add, the burden of GEB has to be borne by its non- agricultural consumers. GEB has a monthly revenue realisation of around Rs 680-690 crore, whereas its monthly costs work out to around Rs 900 crore. GEB now plans to install 4 lakh new meters over the next two years. New meters, as experience shows, almost always translate into higher readings and higher bills for consumers.

The catch is that these meters will be installed in areas which yield the maximum revenue for GEB. "Naturally, what is the point of concentrating on areas which don't bring much revenue?" asked Bhatt. So if you are paying to GEB then Bhatt the businessman will ensure that you pay more. If you are not paying anything, then Bhatt the politician will see that you don't have to pay!



So if you are paying to GEB then Bhatt the businessman will ensure that you pay more. If you are not paying anything, then Bhatt the politician will see that you don't have to pay!

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

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Students for more inter-faculty interaction Thursday, August 23, 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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BHARUCH :: Excellence awards given to Sumul Thursday, August 23, 2001

BHARUCH: Surat District Co-operative Milk Producers Union Limited (SUMUL) team and Indian Rayon workers' team bagged first and second prize respectively in the state level Grasim Birla Cellulosic award of excellence awarded by Grasim Birla Cellulosic Company. Seventeen teams from all over the state took part in the competition.

Minister of state for labour Bhupendra Lakhawala handed over the awards and cash prizes to the winners at a function here on Tuesday. He said India had not gained much through liberalisation but agreed that enhancing multiplicity skills of staff would help industry during crisis.

Keshubhai Thakkar, trade union leader and national vice-president of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, said the country was on a wrong track as far as globalisation was concerned. Wealth was now concentrated and controlled by some. India had signed the WTO treaty without discussing it in parliament. The government should have gone into the ramifications of the WTO impact before rushing to sign the documents.

Management expert R C Dutta in his keynote address resented the government attitude to human resources. He disapproved of the voluntary retirement schemes and retrenchment. He regretted the trade unions had failed to show the zeal to help their colleagues in matters of their rights.

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

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