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August 20, 2001 - August 20, 2001

Drive to eradicate thalassaemia on in Saurashtra Monday, August 20, 2001

BY YOJANA YADAV, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: Prevention is the only cure for thalassaemia. This is the aim experts have adopted to eradicate the single most common genetic blood disorder in Gujarat, particularly Saurashtra.

A high-prone zone of beta thalassaemia major, the most severe form of the disorder, the region is known to have at least 11 per cent of its population afflicted by the disease. The figure may be misleading considering the fact that many patients are carriers (thalassaemia minor) but unaware of their status.

Although thalassaemia is prevalent world-wide, it is the single most common genetic disorder affecting all ethnic backgrounds and geographic regions in the Indian subcontinent.

The highest frequency of the thalassaemia trait in the country is reported in Gujarat. The communities at high risk are Lohanas, Sindhis, Kutchi Bhanushalis, Muslims and Harijans.

"Our aim is to eradicate thalassaemia major from Saurashtra through mass screening and proper counselling," says Dr Sushmita Dave, director of the Thalassaemia Prevention and Control Campaign.

"There is no effective treatment for this disease till now, but by mass screening and proper genetic counseling we can prevent the birth of every single thalassaemia major child," she adds.

A thalassaemia major child can be born if both the mother and father are thalassaemia minor. If only one parent is thalassaemia minor the offspring may be normal or at the most a carrier.

As a first step towards eradication, the Indian Medical Scientific Research Foundation and Saurashtra University joined hands for identifying thalassaemia minor students in the 149 colleges affiliated to the university through a free test programme last month.

The university has made it mandatory for its 1.60 lakh students to undergo thalassaemia test for being eligible to take their annual examination in March-April 2002.

"We had screened nearly 35,000 students in 1993 at thalassaemia camps. But when we made the test voluntary and not mandatory only 250 students got themselves tested the following year. Hence, we have decided to make it mandatory once again," says Dr Dave.

According to Dr Gupta of the Rajkot Voluntary Blood Bank and Research Centre, who has been instrumental in carrying out the mass screening test in the colleges, so far 28,193 students have been tested in Porbander, Amreli, Junagadh and parts of Rajkot.

In the first round, students are subjected to a test called NESTROFT, which identifies those with a low haemoglobin level or anaemia. "This test is inexpensive and takes hardly five seconds. We distribute iron supplements to the anaemic students and return for the second test after a coupld of months. If the student is anaemic he/ she is subjected to the second test or chromatography which confirms whether he/ she is a thalassaemia minor or not," he explains.

But his team is faced with a piquant situation. "At the outset we thought we would be educating the students about thalassaemia, but we have ended up lecturing them on the importance of a balanced diet as a majority of them (both boys and girls) are anaemic," he says. However, he hopes to complete the process of identification 'within six months positively'.

But noted paediatrician Manorama Mehta believes this approach is faulty considering the fact that most of our children do not get a balanced diet. "My suggestion is that we should first distribute iron supplements among the students and then conduct the NESTROFT to eliminate those who are anaemic and not thalassaemia minor."

Indrani Jani, in charge of counseling, says "Students found to be thalassaemia minor will be counselled so that tomorrow when they decide to get married and plan a family they are aware and would want to find out if their partner is also a thalassaemia minor. In case the husband is also a carrier of the disorder, the wife must make it a point to go in for a pre-natal check-up in the second month of pregnancy to determine whether their child is a thalassaemia major or not."

Dr Mehta says obstetricians and paediatricians of the region should make it a point to screen their patients for thalassaemia in addition to other regular tests. They should make enquiries of the family history of the thalassaemia patient so that the birth of a thalassaemia major child in that family is ruled out.

Dr Dave adds: At least by carrying out these tests in colleges we are educating and motivating 1.60 lakh students and their families. I think the future is bright. Why do you forget we were successful in eradicating small pox despite social resistance. And, thalassaemia is not a disease in the first place."

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


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The faces that shaped MS University Monday, August 20, 2001

BY JAHNAVI CONTRACTOR, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Eminent social activist and freedom fighter, retired High Court judge, poet, an IAS officer, corporate man and academicians - they have all adorned the chair of the vice-chancellor at MS University in the past. While some had fruitful stays, some threw in the towel in a short span.

And, as the university looks for a new vice-chancellor with Anil Kane's term ending on September 7, The Times of India takes stock of the situation - the heated discussions on qualities that mark the 'perfect' V-C - and looks at performances of former V-Cs.

Though most academicians and senate and syndicate members feel that the choice of the next V-C may be a political one, they all are agreed on the qualities they want in the 'perfect' V-C.

The qualities include: someone who is a visionary and well conversant with the functioning of the university; someone who can implement decisions democratically and can keep away from influences that seek to pressure the functioning of the university; a person who understands academics as well as is a good administrator.

"Someone who is a visionary and attracts the best talent for the university - like first vice-chancellor Hansa Mehta who served for the longest period. She played an important role in developing the university. Her biggest contribution was attracting talents from various parts of the country and creating the image of the MS University as one with a national perspective rather than a local university," says an expert.

Since 1981 (after the university laws were amended and the government took over the decision of appointing V-Cs), the MSU has had V-Cs who were not aware of the functioning of the university and most (barring Prof B.C. Parekh) did not belong to the university.

"Most of them were outsiders. Some were unaware of the functioning of the MSU senate and syndicate and blundered. One V-C resigned abruptly, another resigned after a short term of six months," says a senate member.

"Almost all V-Cs have one thing is common", says a university officer who has been around since 1980. "They all come with great hopes - to make a positive impact. The first year is spent in understanding and knowing this huge university. The second year is spent in trying to make changes in the system. The third year is spent in first fighting the system and the next half in waiting to get out of the system. Most V-Cs are tired by the end of the term and wish to discontinue," he says.

Most senate and syndicate members that The Times of India approached said since 1980s Prof B.C. Parekh has been one of the most effective vice-chancellors. He was, to some extent, conversant with the functioning of the university when he joined.

In addition to being a good administrator, he was able to discipline the academics and earned their respect for his ability to nurture talent and promote excellence.

"He introduced the merit-based system of promotions. He was also able to create a handbook of norms that would govern the functioning of various faculties and departments. He mooted the idea of rotation system for heads of department for the first time," say university experts.

Prof M.N. Desai, who succeeded him, resigned abruptly after half his term and was followed by Prof R.C. Patel who had elaborate plans to accomplish many things and developed the university press through new machines. But, he passed away while still in office.

Later, Dr Suresh Dalal, eminent Gujarati litterateur, was appointed vice-chancellor. "He was a sensitive person, a poet and a writer; he could not manage the university and his was the shortest term - six months - after which he resigned, probably due to political influence," said a source.

Prof V.C. Shah would be remembered most for bringing the Indian Science Congress to the MS University. He was followed by an IAS officer, Padma Ramchandran. "She brought in donations and could raise funds for the development of the university," say experts.

Dr Anil Kane, the current incumbent, is a man from the corporate world. His tenure would be most remembered for the discipline and peace that he was able to bring to the university campus.

"His tenure was also characterised by an increase in political interference and the introduction of the payment seats and self-financed course," says a source.

The university awaits the new vice-chancellor.

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


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PALANPUR :: B.K. Gadhvi humbled on homeground Monday, August 20, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
PALANPUR: In a close contest the GPCC-supported candidate Govabhai wrested the district directorship of District Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) Bank in Banaskantha from former Union Minister and stalwart of Madhavsinh Solanki group. In fact, the latter held for the past two decades.

Of 32 elected members' votes, the loser B.K. Gadhavi bagged 12 while his rival Govabahi Desai got 20. Supporters of Gadhavi who were over-confident blame it on the GPCC's intervention in a non political organisation.

According to observers, this result will have repercussions not only in the the district but also at state level politics. An exodus is likely as many disgruntled leaders, including a minister and a bank chairman who had joined the BJP are in a mood to rejoin the congress.

Moreover, it would give a field day to the Samajwadi Party that has begun an exercise to find a foothold in the state. The discontent brewing in the Congress took a new turn last Sunday with an appeal by the DCC president P C Chodhary who openly canvassed for Govabhai Desai.

B.K. Gadhvi's son, legislator Mukesh Gadhavi had stated that he was surprised by the DCC chief's action, specially when GPCC chief Amarsinh Choudhary had approved his father's candidature.

On the contrary, the other camp claimed to be in possession of a letter with the signatures of a GPCC vice president Babubhai Patel that reads "As per order of party president Amarsinh Choudhary, I request all 32 members to elect Govabhai Desai as DARD bank chairman".

Controversial statements and confusion continued to haunt the party workers till the day polling on Thursday. After the results were out, Gadhavi could not be contacted.

However, according to his supporters, the differences are widened and fissures in the Congress are getting deeper. Sorting them out now at this juncture seems a remote possibility.

The group rivalry had percolated to village levels. The party has vertically divided in two camps.

Gadhvi supporters argue that he was a sitting chairman and had bought about a shining name for the DARD Bank and made it quite popular among farmers. The other groups having allegiance to Desai are all for a showdown. They argue that senior leaders should now make way for freshers and train them and lead them selflessly.

Govabhai Desai has made a niche for himself in the party as Yong Turk. He had begun has career as sarpanch of Kuchawada village in Dhanera taluka and was elected as jilla panchayat president in 1988. After Gadhavi lost Lok Sabha election in 1999, differences began to emerge between the two.

Those owing allegiance to Desai consider his victory as beginning of a new wave for the change.

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


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North GU management admissions enthuse all Monday, August 20, 2001

BY V.J. TRIVEDI, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
How interviews for admission to the management schools at North Gujarat University and Saurashtra University could be conducted smoothly was exemplified from August 6 to 10. The collaboration between the two universities on this major front could be a beaconlight to other universities. Over 700 candidates were interviewed at Rajkot and Patan.

With a faculty chosen from Mumbai, Vadodara, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Patan, interviewees were given every opportunity to answer the questions put to them without any fear or nervousness - not an approach easily visible in interviews at other times and other places.

In fact, the faculty represented a cross section of academicians known for their integrity, knowledge and understanding of the kind of education and training given to the students in management schools.

Vice-chancellor of North Gujarat university Balwant Jani and VC of Saurashtra University Mavani deserve congratulations on setting an example. Add to these, the brilliant organising capacity of B.A. Prajapati at the SK School of Management, Patan very ably helped by Pratapsinh Chauhan of the management school at Rajkot apart from the hospitality provided and the picture of a well run academic project will be easily clear.

An important feature of this exercise was the acceptance of a course in English for new entrants by the two vice-chancellors in response to a suggestion made by this columnist.

It was suggested that the course should be made compulsory for all students. Such a course could help the students to overcome to a great extent their inability to communicate in English. The message by the vice-chancellors on this occasion was brief but imaginatively constructive.

Balvant Jani stressed on the need to produce textbooks which had relevance and set the new generation of teachers to think on how best to teach them meaningfully. He said at a seminar and workshop organised by the school text book board (Gujarat state) and the All India Association of Educational Research.

More than 25 teachers presented research papers on different topics. Board director R.C. Raval appealed for help from teachers in making school textbooks readable and enjoyable and informative.

Chandrakant Trivedi. a former vice chancellor of NGU spoke of the need to associate knowledgeable and experienced teachers with the making of text books. The credit for this seminar should go to Balvant Jani and Jitendra Pancholi.

Hardly any university in the state or probably in the country has given any detailed information on the gold medals won by students in various faculties. The first August issue of Udichiya gives a full list of all the medals won by students at various examinations. A laudable practice which deserves to be emulated by all universities.

Balvant Jani is not only playing the role of educational leader but also that of a social reformer. In the newsletter of August 1, he has reiterated that to take is not a virtue but to give is a virtue, indeed. He invites reference to his meeting a French lady Malize, and what happened at their meeting is very enlightening.

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


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North GU management admissions enthuse all Monday, August 20, 2001

BY V.J. TRIVEDI, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
How interviews for admission to the management schools at North Gujarat University and Saurashtra University could be conducted smoothly was exemplified from August 6 to 10. The collaboration between the two universities on this major front could be a beaconlight to other universities. Over 700 candidates were interviewed at Rajkot and Patan.

With a faculty chosen from Mumbai, Vadodara, Vallabh Vidyanagar, Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Patan, interviewees were given every opportunity to answer the questions put to them without any fear or nervousness - not an approach easily visible in interviews at other times and other places.

In fact, the faculty represented a cross section of academicians known for their integrity, knowledge and understanding of the kind of education and training given to the students in management schools.

Vice-chancellor of North Gujarat university Balwant Jani and VC of Saurashtra University Mavani deserve congratulations on setting an example. Add to these, the brilliant organising capacity of B.A. Prajapati at the SK School of Management, Patan very ably helped by Pratapsinh Chauhan of the management school at Rajkot apart from the hospitality provided and the picture of a well run academic project will be easily clear.

An important feature of this exercise was the acceptance of a course in English for new entrants by the two vice-chancellors in response to a suggestion made by this columnist.

It was suggested that the course should be made compulsory for all students. Such a course could help the students to overcome to a great extent their inability to communicate in English. The message by the vice-chancellors on this occasion was brief but imaginatively constructive.

Balvant Jani stressed on the need to produce textbooks which had relevance and set the new generation of teachers to think on how best to teach them meaningfully. He said at a seminar and workshop organised by the school text book board (Gujarat state) and the All India Association of Educational Research.

More than 25 teachers presented research papers on different topics. Board director R.C. Raval appealed for help from teachers in making school textbooks readable and enjoyable and informative.

Chandrakant Trivedi. a former vice chancellor of NGU spoke of the need to associate knowledgeable and experienced teachers with the making of text books. The credit for this seminar should go to Balvant Jani and Jitendra Pancholi.

Hardly any university in the state or probably in the country has given any detailed information on the gold medals won by students in various faculties. The first August issue of Udichiya gives a full list of all the medals won by students at various examinations. A laudable practice which deserves to be emulated by all universities.

Balvant Jani is not only playing the role of educational leader but also that of a social reformer. In the newsletter of August 1, he has reiterated that to take is not a virtue but to give is a virtue, indeed. He invites reference to his meeting a French lady Malize, and what happened at their meeting is very enlightening.

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


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