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November 25, 2001 - November 25, 2001

Computer courses thrive in Surat Sunday, November 25, 2001

SURAT: The city is yet to make a mark in the field of education as proved by the high drop-out rate in several colleges. Reason: many students try to balance between academics and business pursuits a difficult proposition.

Hence, serious academic endeavours are yet to gain foothold in this city of business enterprises, many of them family-owned, with the second generation often being prompted to join soon after high school.

Any wonder, the city of silk and diamonds has the distinction of lagging behind in higher education. But for many to keep pace with the time and technology, pursuing computer learning abilities have become a sort of necessity, for reasons ranging from managing family business to keeping a date through E-mail and to obtain a qualification in computers with the hope of building a career abroad.

Take the case of Jaffer Sheikh, a first year BA student at Navyug College. He is attending a computer course and plans to reach a higher level which will enable him to help out in his uncle's business.

The reasons are different for the 24-year-old college dropout Akshay Seth who aspires to strike it rich in the US. He has enrolled for a software course which, he hopes, will secure him a visa under the quota for software professionals.

But centre manager at NIIT Surat Sanjay Nandwani, says the recent global developments have led to fall in the number of aspirants who wanted to learn computers for the sole reason to go abroad.

Besides, with the US economy facing a slowdown, things are not all that bright even for Java professionals, says Nandwani. But he is hopeful of a positive change in the scenario by January.

Aptech computer centre marketing head Sudhir Gaur agrees that the number of registrations has seen a fall in recent weeks. But, things are appearing bright with a kind of stability ushering in after the sudden shock-waves as fall out of the terrorist attacks in New York two months back.

However, for girls, computer course is still not a must compared to the boys. Both Nandwani and Gaur put the number of girls studying computers to be way below that of boys. With a ratio of 30 girls to 70 boys, they blame the societal attitude towards womens' education. Conservative Surti families do not like daughters to go out to work.

But with many employers preferring computer literates, the situation is changing, though at a slow pace with more girls compared to previous years getting registered for computer education, Gaur explains.

For example, Pinal Patel (20), comes from a conservative background. A commerce student, she has enrolled in a computer course for three months. She plans to work and computers offer a very wide range of careers, she feels. Also, Pinal feels that graduation alone will not help her in securing a job.

For Madhu Beria, a second year BA student, computers have become part of life and cannot be ignored. She has enrolled for a basic course in computers but plans to take up programming in the future and take up a job, she says firmly.

Similar plans have been charted out by Aarti Joshi and Payal Shah. They hail from a business family where women are not encouraged to work outside but have decided to study computers since they feel it gives them the freedom, according to their schedules.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Handicraft week from December 8 and 15 Sunday, November 25, 2001

All India Handicraft week will be observed between December 8 and 15 at Ahmedabad Haat in Ahmedabad. Associations and artists interested to exhibit their wares during the week long event should contact district industries centre, Narmada Bhavan C block, Jail road, Vadodara before December 5.
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SC deletes HC judge's observation on advocate's language Sunday, November 25, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Supreme Court has deleted an entire judgment given by a single judge of the Gujarat High Court, which had criticised an advocate's poor knowledge of language and law, passing strictures and remarks of personal nature.

A Division Bench of the apex court comprising Justice U C Banerjee and Justice Y K Sabharwal, passed the above order recently, following a criminal appeal filed by Arun Oza against the State.

Earlier in July, while passing a judgment in a criminal leave application no 942 of 2000, Justice B J Shethna had made remarks about appointment of Oza as a public prosecutor, and his knowledge.

Disposing the appeal, the SC remarked: "We are anguished at the writings of the learned single judge, and we sincerely hope that this attitude would come to an end with this matter, and there would not be any repetition of the same. We may record that in the past some such incidents have also happened, and this court had to intervene in one or two matters earlier."

Observing that one cardinal principle in the justice-delivery system of this country is "...sobriety, moderation and reserve, read together," the court then added, "The remarks, to say the least, are rather unfortunate and aim solely at an advocate who has been practising at the bar for the last 25 years."

The judgement was deleted excepting the order portion which read: "Hence leave granted. Appeal admitted."

It further said that, "As a matter of fact, except the introductory paragraph, the entire four-page judgment contains disparaging remarks about the concerned advocate. We have had the occasion to look at a photostat copy of the original petition which is said to have been underlined by the learned single judge himself. It is true there are certain typographical errors, but the same are not such as to warrant remarks from the court about the efficiency or lack of knowledge of English literature and that of law so far as the advocate is concerned."

Commenting that this was unfortunate, the court noticed: "We would like to highlight that there should be proper amity between the Bench and the Bar, rather than any element of arrogance or superiority on one side. Proper coherence will bring the best out of the judiciary and make the justice-delivery system of the country more effective."

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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Bhuj rattled by mild earthquake Sunday, November 25, 2001

By A Chalomumbai Correspondent
Bhuj region, devastated by a major earthquake in January this year, was rocked by a tremor of slight intensity this morning around the time northeastern Afghanistan was shaken by a powerful earthquake but there was no report of loss of life or damage to property in both the places.

The epicentre of the quake, which occurred at 8.13 am IST, was near the Bhuj region, which was one of the worst affected places in the January disaster that killed around 20,000 people and flattened homes and towns. It measured 4.2 on the Richter scale and struck at 8.13 am.

The Kutch authorities said there was no immediate report of loss of life or property from anywhere in the region. The quake in Afghanistan struck northeastern region of the country and shook many areas, a report from Peshawar said.

Its magnitude was six on the Richter scale and its epicentre was about 250 kms north of Pakistani border city of Peshawar, in the Hindu Kush Mountain range. The tremor rattled windows and shook buildings in Peshawar and in the eastern Afghanistan city of Jalalabad, according to Pakistan's meteorological centre in Peshawar. It could also be felt in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, 170 km to the southwest.

News Source : [Mumbai's No.1 Portal]

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Modi's noise over Samras may backfire Sunday, November 25, 2001

AHMEDABAD: There are all indications that the aggressive posture adopted by Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the 'Samras' scheme for gram panchayats may backfire.

With polling for 10,334 gram panchayats scheduled on December 23 , it is clear that the more Modi makes a noise about forging harmony in the villages by avoiding contests, the less chances of the villagers biting the 'Samras' bait.

Modi should have, in fact, learnt lessons from the last elections when 3,408, or 25.13 per cent of the 13,557 gram panchayats, had actually co-opted their panchs and sarpanch unanimously rather than having a bitter contest. All this was done quietly and without any fuss. The incentive paid to each panchayat was mere Rs 2,000 but it was not for money that they had opted for a harmonious existence.

A former official involved in the 1995 gram panchayat elections told TNN, "Earlier it was a spontaneous gesture but now the opposition has taken up cudgels to frustrate this exercise". In fact, the joke doing the rounds is that opposition MLAs are planning to go around, promising Rs 60,000 from their constituency development fund to villages that go to the polls.

What has irked the opposition is the 'misuse of government machinery'. "We heard that official circulars were issued to bureaucrats to go to the villages and convince them about Samras", says a senior Congress member.

Informal sources say most of the villages that had no contest, were in Saurashtra and the motive varied from a 'harmonious co-existence' to 'bullying by certain castes'. "Now those with influence (read money or muscle) will stifle the voices dissenting against Samras", says a Congressman.

But now, it is all about money and politics _ even though gram panchayat elections are not contested on party symbols _ with Modi raising the stakes from Rs 2,000 to Rs 60,000 or Rs 1 lakh, depending on the size of the village panchayat.

Already, the administration is feeling the heat with the Congress-ruled Ahmedabad district panchayat passing a resolution deducting a token of Re 1 from the DDO's salary for pursuing Samras to such an extent that it has affected all other developmental work. Officials of other districts, too, admit to being under pressure from the BJP on the one hand, and the Congress-controlled panchayats, on the other.

"We have received complaints of officials pressing for Samras in villages in Saurashtra especially Porbandar, Junagadh, Rajkot and Jamnagar districts, besides Ahmedabad", says GPCC spokesman Hasmukh Patel. "They come there with a team comprising the talati, gram sevak, vidya sahayak to convince the villagers that Samras is good for them".

Bureaucrats say that it would take 'just one knock' to demolish the Samras scheme in each village if the Congress chooses to do so. And it does appear that the Congress is determined to ensure that elections are held in each gram panchayat to encash on its growing popularity which had manifested itself in successive victories of late.

The sources, of course, say that more than the monetary incentives, it is the priority that the Samras villages will be getting in sanction of infrastructure works that should be more attractive to the panchayats. However, the whole scheme will be weighed down by the politics of vote with one party keen on contest for each seat and the other trying to avoid contest in as many seats as possible.

The success of the Samras scheme will be seen two weeks from now. The poll notification will be issued on November 26 and nominations will be accepted till December 3. After scrutiny on December 4 and withdrawals on December 5-6 , the final list of candidates will be out on December 6 evening.

This is when it will be known how many villagers have fallen in line with Modi's wishes.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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