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August 19, 2001 - August 19, 2001

Visa restrictions fox foreign students Sunday, August 19, 2001

BY ROBIN DAVID, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Praful Desai, a successful Gujarati businessman from California, is one of those who would like his teenage son Rahul to know India and his roots. He, therefore, wanted him to obtain his masters degree in computers from an Indian university, especially one in Gujarat.

However, when he approached the consulate for a student visa last year, he found out that Rahul would first have to get approval from the ministry of human resource development (MHRD), then get the nod from the ministry of external affairs (MEA) and follow it up with a second approval from MHRD.

The rule has been revoked since then, but Desai is still apprehensive. The existing cumbersome process has discouraged him from trying again.

This is a perfect example of how the right hand of the Union government has no idea of what its left is up to. The MHRD recently allowed educational institutions in the country to admit more foreign students in an effort to reverse the brain drain phenomenon. It wants to tap into the massive Indian diaspora scattered across the globe.

Its officials, however, forgot to tell the MEA to relax visa norms for students. The result is that many Indians, among them Gujaratis, are finding it increasingly difficult to take advantage of the scheme.

The All India Council for Technical Education was the first to jump on to the bandwagon and notified state governments on March 31 that all technical education institutions, including self-financed ones, could admit foreign students to 15 per cent of their seats.

Sources in the state government confirm that many Gujaratis settled in the US and UK have contacted them to enrol their wards to local institutions, but stringent visa norms are a major deterrent. This is especially true for those who are not NRIs and are technically called 'persons of Indian origin'.

Gujarat's higher and technical education secretary Gauri Kumar admits there is a bottleneck and says she will soon speak to officials in the MHRD to have the restrictions removed.

"Indians, especially in the US, would like to send their children to India as the cost of education is still quite high there," she points out. "The $5,000 annual fee we charge is obviously cheap for them."

Interest among NRIs could be gauged from the fact that the Non-Resident Gujarat Foundation in Ahmedabad had organised an open house on education for vice-chancellors in January.

Experts from New Delhi were flown in to advise them on what kind of courses would attract more foreign students. The foundation's core group on education is also working out the details on how there could be a two-way traffic - Indian students studying abroad and foreign students coming to India.

"The creation of NRI seats and the craving for cultural affinity have seen Indians abroad gravitating towards their roots," remarks NRG chairman Hari Desai.

"It is about time we revived the 'dead' foreign students departments in our universities, because the sky is the limit with the new policy," he adds. Interestingly, only MS University, Vadodara, has an active department today.

The policy, however, does not make sense to Society for Promotion of Technical Education and Research (Sopter) president Rasu Vakil.

"Education is the last bastion of the Permit Raj in the country," says Vakil. "Our institutions cannot flourish unless they are given academic and administrative freedom, as is the case in the US and UK."

Vakil points out that both government-run and granted institutions would have no reason to promote themselves if a major part of the revenue from foreign students was to go back to the government. "Also, this is the age of innovation. Our institutions need the freedom to innovate."

Experts also feel that institutes in the state will not only have to upgrade their academic standards, they will also have to provide the best facilities in the classrooms, laboratories as well as in the hostels.

Only after India can come up to the high standards already set by the foreign institutions, can it hope to become a competitive player.

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


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Slowdown in state? Blame it on global recession Sunday, August 19, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
GANDHINAGAR: State industries minister Suresh Mehta has sought to blame global recession for the current industrial slowdown in Gujarat. However, he claimed that the impact here was "not as strong as is being projected in some quarters".

The issue cropped up in the state Assembly on Saturday after senior Opposition leader Naresh Rawal accused the state government of "not doing enough" to infuse confidence in foreign investors willing to come to Gujarat.

Raval, the Congress high command's favourite for the post of Congress Legislature Party leader, to be decided at a crucial meeting on August 24 here, substantiated his argument by saying that in 2000-01, foreign direct investment in Maharashtra was $2,087 million, followed by Tamil Nadu's $1,268 million, Karnataka's $1,118 million, Andhra Pradesh's $671 million and a mere $462 million in Gujarat. Gujarat came a poor fifth in FDI terms, he added.

Raval said, "Clearly, the state government's efforts to bring in FDI by holding such fairs as Intechmart in Ahmedabad, in December 1998, as also the foreign trips by chief minister Keshubhai Patel, have not created the desired climate for foreign investors to come and invest here.

Though memoranda of understanding worth crores were signed, few were implemented." Mehta told The Times of India later, of the 80 MoUs signed at the Intechmart fair, 25 projects worth Rs 140 crore investment are under implementation.

Giving more figures to paint a gloomy picture, Raval said, "Of the 256,000 small scale units registered in the state, 50,000 have been closed down. The electricity production went down by 12 per cent in a year. The cargo traffic at Kandla and other ports is down by 35 per cent. New transport vehicles' sale is down from 5.11 lakh to 3.87 lakh. Sugar production is down by 54 per cent. Salt output is down by 34 per cent. The production of iron and steel, fertiliser, cement, too, has gone down."

Raval said, "Investors are fast leaving Gujarat for other states. We have lost Rs 5,000 crore investment so far." Denying sharp shortfall in capital investment, Mehta quoted Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy figures to say that there is little let down in the intentions to invest in the state.

In 1998, the state received proposals worth Rs 4,936 crore from 238 investors, in 1999 as many as 241 investors sent in proposals worth Rs 15,048 crore, in 2000 the figure was 271 investors and Rs 10,097 crore and up to June this year 145 proposals worth Rs 4,855 crore.

Mehta argued, "The growth in US gross domestic product is down from five per cent in 2000 to one in 2001, Europe's from 3.4 to 2.4 per cent, South Korea's 8.5 to 4.5, Japan's 1.7 to 0.6. The slowdown is not as much in India and China. China's is down from eight to seven and India's from 6.4 to 5.6."

Mehta did not, however, recall that the state GDP slipped into the minus for the first time after 1993 - to minus 2.7 per cent in 1999-2000 compared to a positive growth a year earlier, of 8.9 per cent.

When asked to comment on these figures, obtained from the state government's own Socio-Economic Review, Gujarat State, 2000-01, the industries minister told TOI, "I do not have the latest figures."

Mehta told the House, "The latest industrial policy document insists on the cluster approach to development. We have identified 67 clusters in the state. We have given approval for the development of 10, and have started developing three of them. Capital and interest subsidy is being provided to the units wanting to invest here. We want that issues like certification, registration, quality and employment be addressed simultaneously. We could not implement the policy in full because of the quake."

News Source :
Times Of India News Service
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Cardiac patients lose heart as Aspirin disappears Sunday, August 19, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Aspirin, recommended as a life-line for patients who have suffered a heart attack or a stroke or a stroke, has done a disappearing act from the market.

Several popular brands of the drug are not at all available in the market ever since the Drug Control Authority effected a hefty reduction in the price of aspirin on June 29, 2001, causing a lot of heart-burn in desperate patients.

"Almost 80 per cent of my heart and diabetes-cum-hypertension patients are on daily dose of Aspirin and are facing a lot of problems because of the total non-availability of the drug in the market," confessed senior endocrinologist Dr O.P. Gupta.

It needs mention here that the drug, in small doses of 80-150 mg, is used, daily, as an antiplatelet medicine to prevent blood-clotting. It is also widely recommended, the world over, as a preventive drug for heart attacks and strokes, recurrent angina, venous thrombosis and embolism.

"I must have contacted at least 10 chemists in our area, but no one has Dispirin. I have been taking it for the past six years. Now, suddenly, I am forced to go without it. I hope it does not affect my already ailing heart," worries Shahibaug-resident Surinder Kumar, who suffers severe coronary-heart blockage.

Taking cognisance of the problems being faced by heart patients, the Consumer Education and Research Centre (CERC), Ahmedabad, has called upon the government and pharma companies to take urgent steps to see that aspirin tablets, which have disappeared from the market, are made available to the people.

CERC plea follows with frantic calls from heart patients for help in view of the non-availability of the drug.

In a communication to National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) director Dr P Appaji, CERC pointed out that several aspirin tablets are not available after the drug control authorities slashed prices on 29 June 2001.

"Even the national brands like Ecospirin, Colsprin, Disprin, etc, are not available," CERC letter said.

CERC, while urging the NPPA for immediate intervention in the matter, urged manufacturers of the national brands, pharmaceutical companies to keep supply lines open, "even if it means temporarily, selling with small profit margins".

State food and drug commissioner AD Adeshra, when contacted, said, "We are planning to officially represent the case to the Centre and urge it to look into the matter, keeping the people's interest in mind," Adeshra said.

The drug has been in use for more than 100 years as a mild analgesic and antipyretic drug with an undesirable side-effect of acidity. Recently, aspirin got a new lease of life when it was found to prevent formation of blood clot in heart and brain.

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


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E-business is a reality: Guha Sunday, August 19, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd president and The Times of India CEO Pradeep Guha squeezed out the essence of the latest developments in brand-building while speaking to students of the Mudra Institute of Communication Ahmedabad in the city on Saturday.

For him, 'old economy' and 'new economy' are mere trendy buzzwords. E-business is however a reality. The internet is completely changing the way we do business.

He disagreed that that the new media would make the traditional ones, like newspapers, redundant. Today's customer reads the newspaper while travelling, goes for a movie when he wants a night out, watches TV when he wants to be passive and surfs the Net when he wants to go global.

"This is the age of speed," he told the students. "An age where everything is becoming instant: instant coffee, instant microwave, instant replay... The pace of change today is acceleration."

Guha added that today's customer would soon give birth to a new moral right - the right to be satisfied. "We are moving from an age of mass consumption to an age of mass customisation. From off-the-peg products to tailor-made products. The new consumer will start taking his choice for granted. He will even expect you to anticipate it."

The Times of India CEO identified the hierarchy of four major deep human desires that a consumer expects to be satisfied - entertainment, consumer particitainment, transaction and information, in that order.

Marshal MacLuhan was also bang on target when he predicted that technological developments would make the world into a global village. The only difference is technologies like the internet have accentuated the importance of remaining local. The result is there are many global villages today, making the life of a brand manager very difficult.

In such a scenario the concepts to brand management and marketing have to go through a fundamental change, Guha added. Especially because the consumer is no longer a static entity.

One needs to move from deductive marketing, where you fill the gap between the existing product to the consumer's ideal product, to inductive marketing where innovation induces demand.

"There was no demand for a Windows 98 and now Windows 2000, but Microsoft managed to create a need for it on the basis of pure hype. No one told Sony to come up with a small cassette player which could be strapped around your head and no one told Intel to come up with faster chips."

Guha added that a brand can be successful only if it becomes an experience. "The consumer first experiences the brand. You then brand that experience. In the end you make the consumer into a brand advocate," he said.

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


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E-business is a reality: Guha Sunday, August 19, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
AHMEDABAD: Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd president and The Times of India CEO Pradeep Guha squeezed out the essence of the latest developments in brand-building while speaking to students of the Mudra Institute of Communication Ahmedabad in the city on Saturday.

For him, 'old economy' and 'new economy' are mere trendy buzzwords. E-business is however a reality. The internet is completely changing the way we do business.

He disagreed that that the new media would make the traditional ones, like newspapers, redundant. Today's customer reads the newspaper while travelling, goes for a movie when he wants a night out, watches TV when he wants to be passive and surfs the Net when he wants to go global.

"This is the age of speed," he told the students. "An age where everything is becoming instant: instant coffee, instant microwave, instant replay... The pace of change today is acceleration."

Guha added that today's customer would soon give birth to a new moral right - the right to be satisfied. "We are moving from an age of mass consumption to an age of mass customisation. From off-the-peg products to tailor-made products. The new consumer will start taking his choice for granted. He will even expect you to anticipate it."

The Times of India CEO identified the hierarchy of four major deep human desires that a consumer expects to be satisfied - entertainment, consumer particitainment, transaction and information, in that order.

Marshal MacLuhan was also bang on target when he predicted that technological developments would make the world into a global village. The only difference is technologies like the internet have accentuated the importance of remaining local. The result is there are many global villages today, making the life of a brand manager very difficult.

In such a scenario the concepts to brand management and marketing have to go through a fundamental change, Guha added. Especially because the consumer is no longer a static entity.

One needs to move from deductive marketing, where you fill the gap between the existing product to the consumer's ideal product, to inductive marketing where innovation induces demand.

"There was no demand for a Windows 98 and now Windows 2000, but Microsoft managed to create a need for it on the basis of pure hype. No one told Sony to come up with a small cassette player which could be strapped around your head and no one told Intel to come up with faster chips."

Guha added that a brand can be successful only if it becomes an experience. "The consumer first experiences the brand. You then brand that experience. In the end you make the consumer into a brand advocate," he said.

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


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