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August 2, 2001 - August 3, 2001

MSU plans constituent commerce colleges Friday, August 3, 2001

JAHNAVI CONTRACTOR, The Times of India News Service
VADODARA: M S University plans to de-centralise operations of the faculty of commerce. It plans to hive off the faculty into four separate constituent colleges which will work independent of one another.

A special committee comprising senate and syndicate members has been formed to formulate rules and regulations for setting up these independent units.

These constituent colleges will operate at the undergraduate level. By decentralising operations and taking it away from the dean's office -- which can then focus on postgraduate studies -- it hopes to create a smoother administrative process.

MSU officials also say this move will help solve the current problem of overcrowding in commerce college classrooms, and improve the skewed student-teacher ratio since each unit will have separate staff and principal.

MSU vice-chancellor Anil Kane told 'The Times of India' that the four units will share the existing infrastructure.

"As for the moment, no new building are planned. We will use the main building of faculty of commerce, the girls' college, the General Education Building and the Padra College."

"Each of these will have a separate principal and teaching staff, but academically, and, even administratively, they will continue to remain under M S University," he explained.

According to him this arrangement will help in the better management of classes and ensure greater student-teacher interaction. He said one of these units might function under the payment seats system where students can gain admission by paying a higher fee.

University sources reveal that though, in the initial phase, MSU plans to hive off only the commerce faculty into constituent colleges, later on, other faculties might follow the same model.

The ultimate objective is to separate postgraduate studies from undergraduate studies.

"The committee formed to look into the rules and regulations of the constituent colleges are deciding on the norms that would govern the rights and powers of the principal and vice-principal of the constituent colleges," university sources said.

Sources said though there are provisions to start such constituent colleges in the university rules, the specific ordinances and statutes regarding financial and administrative powers of the principals of such colleges have not been decided, and, therefore, the committee has been formed.

The committee is expected to finalise these norms in the next two months. The draft will then go to the MSU senate for approval, and later authorities will decide how soon the constituent colleges can be set up.

Kane expects the latest move to help make available quality education to all students.

He said as the state government had no plans to sanction funds for higher education such a system would help in better management of the educational process. He suggested that, if required, the constituent colleges could also function in shifts.

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

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Saurashtra faces coin shortage Friday, August 3, 2001

RAJKOT: Saurashtra region continues to experience coin shortage and the Saurashtra Sankalan Samiti (co-ordination committee) which has been agitating to secure enough coins for the region, has asked the Reserve Bank of India to clarify the position on the supply of coins to the region.

In a letter to the RBI regional director, Ahmedabad, samiti convener Parag. C. Tejura has alleged that an agitation on short supply of coins to the region was suspended following an assurance given to them by the RBI authorities. However, the situation did not improve.

Tejura said each of the 4,000 villages of Saurashtra has been experiencing coin shortage and most of these villages do have at least a nationalised bank branch. Unless each of these branches is provided coins amounting to Rs 1 lakh, the coin shortage would persist and add to the agony of traders and consumers alike.

There are villages in the region which have no bank branch. Tejura wanted to know as to what steps the RBI was taking to provide coins in these villages. He suggested that villages which did not have bank branch should be provided coins through a mobile van.

He said while the RBI authorities claimed that the nationalised banks in Saurashtra had been asked to accept all soiled notes, however, the people's experience was altogether different. Most of the banks have been refusing to accept the soiled notes. In some cases, banks did accept the soiled notes but did not pay the equivalent amount.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of business and trade organisations convened by the samiti demanded that each nationalised bank branch in Saurashtra should be provided coins worth Rs 1 lakh, in areas where there were no banks, mobile vans should be pressed into service to distribute coins against soiled notes.

The business in soiled notes going on in various Saurashtra towns should be banned forthwith as it aggravated the coin shortage problem.

The meeting resolved that if immediate steps were not taken by the RBI authorities, the samiti would once again launch an agitation on the coins issue.\

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

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It's a jungle out there, but new PCCF is no lamb Friday, August 3, 2001

BY SHYAM PAREKH, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: It is a jungle out there with danger lurking at every corner. That's the message one gets from the latest developments in the forest department where the dark horse Sanat Chavan has just got elevated to the top job of principal chief conservator of forests.

While the news came as surprise to many, his nearest rival, who was hoping for an appointment letter for the PCCF's post, has instead been handed a chargesheet. And there are reports that the outgoing PCCF, too, has not been given the NOC required for availing the retirement benefits.

The Machiavellian behind-the-scene activities, which took place before the departmental promotion committee meeting on Tuesday, were a manifestation of the absolute politicisation in the higher echelons of the department.

Till Tuesday, there were three main contenders for replacing outgoing PCCF D P S Verma-Ashok Kumar (CCF, social forestry), Chavan (CCF, Narmada) and GA Patel (CCF, wildlife).

It was becoming apparent since last week, that Patel was losing out fast. He is believed to have antagonised forest minister Kanjibhai Patel on many counts, which the latter has not taken lightly.

Patel, who played the 'merit' card against 'seniority', had a 'demerit' of sort. He is perceived to be close to the deputy forest minister Prabhatsinh Chauhan who does not see eye-to-eye with Kanjibhai.

Though Verma had lobbied for Kumar and Kanjibhai himself was keen on seeing Kumar appointed, he was handed over the charge-sheet for an old charge, instead of an appointment letter!

The innocuous charge was that he had not taken strict action against a range forest officer who had delayed payment of a guard's salary!

A file containing seven charges against Kumar has been with the forest minister for the past six months but it was never sent to the CMO.

According to sources in the department, what worked in favour of Chavan was the fact that he had avoided getting into controversies or using influence to bag the post. The fact that he stayed away from the vitiated atmosphere of the forest department for almost a decade-serving the Sardar Sarovar Project-helped in keeping his record unblemished.

It was a surprise for the state government that an additional secretary from the Government of India also attended the meeting as the murky goings on in the Gujarat forest department have become legend even in New Delhi.

After the DPC meet, its recommendation is sent to the general administration department which forwards it to the forest minister. It is the chief minister who finally endorses the appointment. However, on Tuesday, possibilities of the forest minister acting as an impediment in the process were foreseen.

"The CM was informed by the chief secretary about the situation. Therefore, he summoned both Kanjibhai and his deputy to his office and asked them to just sign on the dotted line, when the DPC report came in. This pre-empted chances of sabotage," reveals an insider.

In spite of all the fears that he will soon come under fire from enemies within, Chavan says, "I am quite comfortable. I don't foresee any difficulties from the department...there are many friends." Known to be lacking in those 'abilities' necessary for dealing with the big sharks in the department, Chavan says dismissively, "I will apply shark repellents."

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

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Kalpesh's death snowballs into controversy Thursday, August 2, 2001

VADODARA: Forty-eight hours after he breathed his last in hospital, 16-year-old Kalpesh Solanki's death has snowballed into a major controversy.

A delegation of Dalits, representing Samast Bavanchal Panch (SBP), has termed the 'incident' as yet another chapter in the oppression of lower caste.

The SBP is protesting against the fact that supporters of the witch doctor Gopal Kalidas Mali -- who was accused of killing Kalpesh by branding him with a hot rod -- were allowed to take out a public rally on Tuesday.

The SBP contends that despite the fact that 'Mali killed Kalpesh, the police allowed his supporters to take out a public rally and the district administration accepted a memorandum that hailed the "witch doctor" as an innocent and religious person blessed with "daivi shakti" (divine powers) to drive out ghosts from human beings'.

"Instead of dealing strictly with this practitioner of superstitions the district administration and police allowed their supporters to take out a rally and even accepted their memorandum," said angry representatives of SBP.

"Just because we are Harijans, our voice is not heard," a senior member of the SBP told district collector Bhagyesh Jha on Wednesday.

The SBP had met Jha to seek justice on the Mali issue. "We have come here to urge you that this witch doctor should not be spared," the SBP said in its memorandum.

Laxman Solanki, father of deceased Kalpesh Solanki, was also a part of the delegation. "I have lost my son. The police should not spare the witch doctor. He should be punished. I want justice done," Solanki said.

He and his wife demanded justice from the police and district administration. Both lamented that Mali's supporters were allowed to take out the rally.

"They are trying to save him. If he is pardoned it will set a bad example, and superstition will be encouraged," Solanki said. He, however, was at loss why he took his son to a witch doctor in first place.

Jha, on the other hand, said there was little that the district administration could do in the case. "This is a police case. A criminal complaint has been lodged. We can send the memorandum to the police commissioner's office if they want to use it as a document in the case," Jha said. He admitted that the case had the potential to take on caste colours. "Whatever is within our powers we will do to diffuse tension," Jha said.

Deputy commissioner of police (north) V J Gautam, however, termed the incident an open-and-shut case. "We have lodged a murder offence under section 302 of the IPC. The boy body's bore signs of torture with a hot rod. This is a very strong evidence. We have arrested Mali and put him behind bars; now the law will takes it own course", Gautam said.

He dismissed the caste fears, saying the tension will be diffused. "I don't think there is any need overreact to the rally. This is a simple case of crime where the police have done their job; now the court will decide the fate of the alleged guilty," Gautam said.

Kalpesh had been rushed to KGP Hospital on July 26 after Mali branded him with a hot rod. He was branded thrice. He had suffered severe head injuries and had collapsed on July 31.

Kalpesh was the only surviving son of Laxman Solanki.

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

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Gujarat lacks a marketing strategy for tourism Thursday, August 2, 2001

VADODARA: Despite an envious coastline and a distinction of being among the most industrialised states of the Union, ever wondered why Gujarat fails to figure on the itinerary of most tourists?

Well, lack of a well-rounded marketing strategy for promoting tourism, together with a lack of efficient infrastructure within the state, is responsible for the dismal state of tourism, believes Travel Agents Association India (TAAI) chairman Pradip Madhavji.

According to him the travel operators, along with the government, should take the initiative to promote tourism, as is being done in other parts of the country. He said the TAAI could seek association of the FICCI, or the CII, in promoting tourism here.

Madhavji was in Vadodara here on Wednesday to inaugurate the South Gujarat Committee of the TAAI which will be a part of the Gujarat chapter and work in co-ordination with the Saurashtra Committee, to be inaugurated on Thursday at Rajkot.

Madhavji said poor marketing, not only by the government but also by travel and tour operators, is responsible for Gujarat not being a part of the itinerary of international tourists.

"The international image of India does not include the image of alcohol, unlike Paris which is known for its wines. Most tourists do not come to India or Gujarat for alcohol. If tourism is not doing well in Gujarat the prohibition policy alone cannot be the sole reason.

"It might be a significant cause but the main problem lies elsewhere. For example Paris is known for its wines, a prohibition policy there might have affected tourism; but the international image of India does not include alcohol as an attraction," he said

According to him Gujarat should think of other options for promoting tourism. In the south for example, five states, along with Pondicherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, got together along with the FICCI to organise the 'Look South' tourism promotion programme. Similarly, in Rajasthan, a special 'Rural tourism in Udaipur' is being planned in September. This project too is being planned in association with the FICCI.

"In Gujarat, too, similar projects can be taken up and the FICCI or CII can be invited to associate with it. It would be possible for the neighbouring states to join hands for such a tourism project. This would help market the package better as also help in reducing financial liability," he suggested.

He said though Gujarat has the maximum number of air strips in the country, it has not used them effectively to link up its towns and cities. "For example, getting to Rajkot from Vadodara entails spending six hours by road, or travelling all the way to Mumbai to catch a flight. The internal communication network needs to be strengthened," he said.

According to him Gujarat also has a large number of heritage sites and landmarks which are in a dilapidated condition; these need to be explored, he said.

Meanwhile, South Gujarat Committee co-ordinator D Gopinathan said the newly formed committee plans to take up several issues with the government.

He said the several local aspirations that they plan to take up include creating a separate passport office for South Gujarat, starting more trains to Delhi from Surat and Vadodara, and bringing in more tourists to South Gujarat.

Gopinathan said a lack of infrastructure for tourists and the prohibition policy are the two main deterrents to tourism in the region.

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

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