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August 21, 2001 - August 21, 2001

Tarnetar fair begins today Tuesday, August 21, 2001

RAJKOT: The traditional annual Tarnetar fair will begin at the Trinetreshwar Mahadev temple in the Than area in Surendranagar district on Tuesday with the animal husbandry minister Kiritsinh Rana and former ruler of Lakhtar Balbhadrasinhji lighting a lamp and performing an 'arati' to mark the inauguration of the four-day fair.

According to Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited director Raju Dhruv, the fair will attract lakhs people from various parts of the country and abroad. Dhruv said the fair being organised by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat along with the Surendranagar district administration, will have many prizes for folk artistes to promote and preserve the cultural heritage of 'Zalawad', the region where the fair is organised.

On the inaugural day, a 'Shobhayatra' having decorated bullock carts, horses and 'raas mandalis' along with traditional dancers enter the temple premises from the main door erected by the TCGL.
A series of programmes, including horse race, bullock-cart race and competition for decorative umbrellas are other highlights.

The road leading to the Tarnetar temple from Sayla would be widened and efforts would be made to utilise the income from the fair to enhance facilities at the temple, Dhruv added.

The pond where pilgrims take dip would have a proper ghat and large-scale plantation would turn the temple environs green.

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

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Making education an enjoyable experience Tuesday, August 21, 2001

AHMEDABAD: A standard way of explaining velocity to students in a physics class would be to write the formula _ displacement/time (d/t) _ on the blackboard and ask the students to memorise it for future application. But Kalpak Kothari, a senior physics teacher at St Xavier's Loyola Hall, prefers to teach the formula differently.

He calls for those students in the class who would like to go out and drink water. Of those students who raised their hands, one gets the nod to wet his throat while the rest of the class is asked to monitor the time he took. Then, they all estimate the average distance between the classroom and the water cooler.

When asked to compute the velocity, most students tend to confuse velocity with speed and divide the distance covered, instead of the displacement, by time. And it is here that this exercise comes in handy. "You explain that the student had got up from his desk and later returned to the same desk after drinking water, meaning no matter how much distance he covered, his displacement is zero and therefore the velocity too is zero. It may be difficult to believe but no student confuses speed with velocity after this exercise!" claims Kothari, stressing at the simplicity and practicality of the approach.

But then, simplicity and practicality have always been the forte of Kothari, who after graduating from IIT Mumbai preferred moulding young, impressionable minds rather than looking out for a job in the US.

"I hate to show it off, but I have this very stubborn streak of patriotism in me. I feel whatever I have learnt and earned in life, I need to give it back to my country," confesses Kothari. Incidentally, all his brothers and sisters have preferred to settle abroad.

Regarding teaching, Kothari says his ultimate aim is to explain all theories practically! "Personally, I feel that the lecture method, so widely used in the education system here, is extremely dull. I would eventually want to replace it with practical instances," Kothari concedes. For instance, explaining the technical 'external periodic force' applied in forced oscillations as something as lucid as the movement of mechanically-driven pedal of a sewing machine, which almost all students are able to relate to.

There is another hitch in teaching physics _ the numericals. "Many students are afraid of tackling numericals. This is probably because memorising, rather than application of logic, forms the basis of our education system," he says.
But here too, he tries to simplify things to make the students comfortable. "Instead of giving a numerical that says 'a block hanging from an inclined plane...', I try and put it as 'a man sliding down an ice-slope'. This tends to inspire the students to use their imagination."

Interestingly, Kothari teaches in coaching classes as well. So what does he think about the students attaching more importance to what is being taught in coaching classes than the same being imparted in schools? "I don't really like the way of teaching in coaching classes. It is too exam-oriented," comes the reply.

And what is his idea of an ideal teacher? "Frankly, there cannot be an ideal teacher. Each student needs a different approach and a teacher cannot meet the requirement in a class of 50 students. The idea is to balance it out. My strategy is to plan keeping in mind students who are academically behind in a class and executing it looking at those who are ahead," says Kothari.

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

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ISRO to spot talent on MSU campus Tuesday, August 21, 2001

VADODARA: The Kala Bhavan campus of MS University's faculty of technology and engineering is gearing up to welcome some prestigious guests - five top scientists from ISRO's Vikram Sarabhai Space Research Centre at Thiruvananthapuram.

For the first time, ISRO will be coming down to the campus to spot talent from the faculty.

According to university sources, heads of five departments from the country's
premier space research centre will be reaching Vadodara on August 27 to interview 32 post graduate students from the mechanical, electrical, electronics and metallurgy departments of the faculty. These students will be passing out in June 2002.

The move also marks a major shift in ISRO's policy to spot talent only from the IITs. University sources revealed that it is for the first time that ISRO has decided to look beyond the IITs. "ISRO feels that they thought it necessary to look at other well-known campuses in the country as a large number of recruits from the IITs moved out of the country after training at ISRO. They felt that it might be worthwhile to try students out of the IITs. The team will then go to the engineering colleges in Jaipur and Roorkee," the source added.

The university had sent details of as many as 51 students to ISRO. Of those, 32 students were short-listed for interview that will be held on August 27.

While ISRO's interest in MS University has raised hopes and generated a lot of interest on the campus, the campus recruitment programme, which is on since the first week of July, has seen IT and telecom companies ruling the roost with some of the big names already roping in more than 40 students.

Cyprus-based Amdocs, an IT company providing solutions to telecom industries in the US, has roped in eight students, Tata Infotech three, Cognizent Technology Solutions 17 students and Patni Computer Systems nine. While Mahindra British Telecom has roped in six students, ABB will be absorbing two. These companies have offered anything between Rs 17,000 and Rs 1.20 lakh a month.

And, not just the corporates, 27 applications of students, including those of five girls, have been sent to the Indian Air Force station here. Many of these students are from the electronics department with aeronautical engineering as a subject.

"This year's placements, that is for students who would be passing out in 2002, have been encouraging. The mood on the campus is upbeat too as many of these companies have not only pledged fat pay packets but are also involved with students already. While ABB is paying a stipend of Rs 1000 per month to the selected students Cognizent and Mahindra British Telecom have given students they have chosen company t-shirts and caps that they can wear on the campus," says in-charge of the faculty's training and placement cell GD Karhadkar.

"Not only from the IT sector, we are expecting companies like L&T, Voltas, Telco, Cummins, Reliance would be coming for campus selections. While they will whip up the cream, we are negotiating with the Vadodara Chamber of Commerce and Industry so that students who don't make it outside and those who wish to stay in the city can be placed in the companies in the numerous industrial estates in and around the city," he adds.

"We have also refurnished the conference room so that top shots from corporate
houses and institutions like ISRO feel comfortable when they visit us. It is all about marketing and we have to do it properly," he feels.

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

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Bhadralok residents complain of poor construction Tuesday, August 21, 2001

VADODARA: Residents of the posh Bhadralok Apartments on the Old Padra Road here have demanded action against the builders for poor construction quality of the building.

In a letter addressed to municipal commissioner, police commissioner and district collector, the Bhadralok Flat Owners' Association (BFOA) has alleged that complaints regarding the construction quality had been made in the past, but they were not attended to due to political connections of the builder.

BFOA committee member Anant Kamdar stated that the structures of the apartments
were leaking at several places. Recently, a ceiling constructed on iron rods in Tower B had collapsed. Some children reportedly had a miraculous escape, the letter stated.

According to the complaint, the poor construction quality was exposed after plaster on the ground floor peeled off. A copy of the complaint has also been sent to chief minister and minister of state for home.

Recently, another resident of the apartment Jashuben Patel had moved the court
seeking criminal action against functionaries of Yuvraj Industries Ltd, who constructed the apartments. Summons have been issued to 15 respondents under Section 420 and 114 of the Indian Penal Code.

Patel's counsel, Kailash Jethamalani, pleaded that the builders had made several promises to the buyers. The builders have been accused of promising facilities as per international living standards, but they did not provide the same.

It was also alleged that amounts charged for maintenance and providing other facilities were misappropriated. The complainant said that the builders had stated in writing that the title for the land on which the flats were constructed was clear. However, Patel claims it has come to our notice that the land was subsequently mortgaged with Bank of India's Kalbadevi Branch in Mumbai. This, the application contends, amounts to cheating.

The application has been filed in the court of chief judicial magistrate, R K Parmar. Further hearing in this regard has been fixed on September 27.

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

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Short distances take longer in Vadodara! Tuesday, August 21, 2001

VADODARA: A long queue of autorickshaws waiting for commuters outside the Vadodara railway station may project an image of a city well-connected. But, as you step out, none of them may be ready to give you a ride.

The experience of taking the services of an autorickshaw could be harrowing. As the traffic police posted at the spot hardly bother to check, autorickshaw drivers flatly refuse to carry those travelling short distances in the city. Strangers to the city also find themselves duped by these drivers who skirt the official parking lines and "settle deals" on the sly, charging the unsuspecting travellers hefty sums.

Hiring an autorickshaw from the railway station to a nearby place -- such as Alkapuri, Pratapgunj, Kothi, Sayajigunj or SSG Hospital -- has become quite a task for passengers. Says Ashwini Sharma, a regular traveller from Rajasthan to the city, "Autorickshaw drivers bluntly refuse to take passengers to a short distance. I have to travel to Gokhru Ground on Jail Road. They look for long-distance travellers."

The argument seems sound when one considers the fact that auto-rickshaw drivers swarm persons travelling to longer distances. Another regular visitor to the railway station, Nitin Patel, said, "I prefer having a friend receive me at the railway station, or, better still, walk down some distance outside the station to hire an auto. Since I stay nearby in a hostel, rickshaw drivers bargain for a higher amount, or simply refuse to take me."

Another commuter, Prarthna Ghosh of Karelibaug area, was refused a drop to her office in Alkapuri from the railway station. "When I threatened to lodge a police complaint, the auto driver nonchalantly asked me to go ahead. The police seem to have no influence over these people," she said.

While passengers grumble over the treatment meted out to them, autorickshaw drivers have their own justification.

"We have to wait for long periods for long-distance trains. And, when we get a passenger who wishes to travel a short distance, it becomes a burden for us, " said president of Vadodara Rickshaw Chalak Congress, Kandarp Vyas.

"Every autorickshaw driver has a fixed stand from which he operates. If he does not get a decent fare, he has to come back to the same stand unless someone hires him on the way. This is why they avoid leaving the queue for short distance commuters."

Interestingly, the drivers eagerly accept passengers who want to go to a hotel even if it is very near to the station. The reason being the commission that drivers get for taking a passenger to the particular hotel.

"The drivers might get only the minimum amount as fare, but this is compensated by the tip they get," Vyas said.

And, it is not just the railway station. The writ of these errant autorickshaw drivers runs large even around the bus depot in the city. A board here prominently displays the rules governing auto-rickshaws, but things written there hardly seem to be followed.

Commuters reaching the city by private luxury coaches are caught in a piquant situation as most of these buses start from Saurashtra and other places late in the night. When their passengers reach the city by dawn, they are at the mercy of the auto-rickshaw drivers who make the best of the helplessness of passengers.

Nonetheless, sources in the city police point out that the drivers cannot turn down a passenger. If the passenger complaints regarding such an incident the rickshaw driver can be fined a sum of Rs 75 by the police.

In the Line of Fire

S M Khatri, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic)
It is true that often autorickshaw drivers turn down passengers travelling short distances from the railway station. While it is true that such trips are not profitable some consideration must be given to commuters. It is a matter of chance. If a driver gets such a trip, he must accept it.

The traffic department takes action against any rickshaw driver found erring on these counts. The passenger can simply write a post-card to the traffic department mentioning the number of the auto-rickshaw as well as the time and place when the incident took place. However, few such complaints come to the department.

Who to Contact

City Traffic Police: 423505

Letters regarding complaints may be posted to: Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Third floor, Police Bhavan, Jail Road, Vadodara-390001.

Regional Transport Office: 562497

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

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