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July 30, 2001 - July 30, 2001

Knowledge of English can improve pass percentages Monday, July 30, 2001

VADODARA: About 8,187 students were registered in M S University FY BCom last year, out of which 3,653 passed indicating a pass percentage of merely 46 per cent.

Similar low pass percentages are common in other streams in the first year at MSU where over 70 per cent of students who are admitted come from vernacular medium schools.

Teachers at M S University feel that in addition to the inherent problem of overcrowded classrooms and a lopsided student-teacher ratio, the medium of instruction too is an important factor that contributes to poor results.

Many suggest that all schools including, Gujarati, Hindi medium, should adopt a more "practical approach" to teaching of English rather than an archaic and pedantic one. This would help students to cope better when they are exposed to English as a medium of instruction at the university level in the first year.

"English is the language needed for higher studies. Many first year students feel handicapped due to their lack of familiarity with the language. It therefore becomes a problem for most students who have to work harder to understand, not just the language, but also the subject, says MSU department of English lecturer Deeptha Achar.

According to her, teaching English in schools has so far not taken into account the need to learn the language as a tool for one-to-one communication. "Most schools have a pedantic approach and that limits the language skills, creating a problem for students once they face the challenge of higher studies where books and medium of instruction are English, he says.

Teachers in the faculty of commerce feel that a majority of the first year students (most of who come from the non-English schools) face the problem of adjusting to English as a medium of instruction. "This could be the main reason why coaching classes have proliferated in the city. Many students fear that they would be unable to cope with the medium of instruction, and coaching classes would be useful," says faculty of commerce Prof Khedkar.

"Despite our best efforts to explain concepts in simple English, it is often difficult for students to cope as they are not exposed to the language," says S Parikh, a lecturer teaching first year students at the faculty.

"Another problem is that most of our students opt for coaching classes even before the university classes begin. In such classes, they are asked to study by rote. This creates problems. When we teach, we try to explain the concept in a simple fashion in English," says another lecturer.

MSU faculty of arts dean Prof P J Patel says the medium of instruction does indeed create problems even in their faculty. "Many students learn to cope eventually, but for them it is tougher. And, most students who are uncomfortable with the language feel diffident and lack confidence," he says.

"Many students approach us and ask for suggestions to improve their language skills. We encourage them to read more, listen to English news and use the language as far as possible," says department of English lecturer Rani Dharkar.

According to Achar, the best way students can improve language skills is by using it often. "Leaping into the language and gradually sharpening it is the best way to learn English," she says.

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

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Triplets born in city Monday, July 30, 2001

VADODARA: Premature triplets weighing 1,060 gm, 990 gm and 870 gm, currently under treatment at K G P Children's Hospital, were born in a private hospital and were later brought to KGP Hospital. All three babies are female and were under intensive care. According to doctors, statistics indicate that the birth of triplets is a rare phenomenon with a ration of 1 to 8,000 births.

New courses: The MSU faculty of social work will open two new diploma courses on Monday. Minister for labour and employment Bhupendra Lakhwala will inaugurate the programmes. These comprise of the diploma course in human resource management and another course in health management and intervention. The function would begin at 9.15 am.

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

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Software industry-institute interface initiated Monday, July 30, 2001

AHMEDABAD: If there was one thing that came out clearly at the first-ever meeting between IT professionals and educational institutions in Ahmedabad on Saturday, it was that there was very little interface between the two. This despite the industry regularly complaining that students from Gujarat lack even the fundamentals, and that companies have to invest heavily in training new recruits to bring them to the industry level.

Headed by Einfochips managing director Pratul Shroff, the meeting was attended by representatives of some of the top institutes in Ahmedabad and around, including L D College of Engineering, Nirma Institute of Technology, GCET Vallabh Vidyanagar, Rolwalla Computer Centre of Gujarat University and Som Lalit Institute of Management Studies. Top officials from IT companies in the state were also present.

Among some of the top names attending the meeting from the industry were Net4nuts' MD Chirag Patel, Chirag Mehta of Icenet, Madhu Mehta of Anjaleem Enterprises, K Thyagrajan of Dalal Consultants and Piyush Shah of Hiral Electronics Limited.

While industry representatives, like Shroff, felt students often do not have even the basics, like data systems and algorithms in place, educational institutions felt the industry was not coming forward with enough initiatives. Jyoti Pareek of Rolwalla Centre admitted, "Students often don't want to learn the fundamentals, focusing instead on skills and tools." She felt that if more professionals came as guest lecturers to various institutes and told students of the need for fundamentals, it would have a greater impact.

"Companies should start sponsoring industry cells in various colleges where students and faculty work on special projects," suggested L D Colleges's MCA head professor B V Buddhadev. "Such programmes have been very effective in universities in the South."

At least three major decisions were taken during the meeting for educational institutions to start producing students who were more up-to-date with industry requirements. They will draw up a list of professionals who are ready to visit institutes as guest lecturers, hold a one-day teacher training programme on September 15 and organise summer training programmes for teachers to understand the needs of the industry.

The slow upgradation of the syllabi despite overnight changes in the industry also came up for discussion with both sides accepting that changes cannot actually be made overnight. Nirma Institute of Technology director H V Trivedi insisted that more professionals should be ready to be consulted before the syllabi are prepared. They should actively take part in the board of studies of the universities, and make whatever changes possible to make education more relevant, he said.

Shroff, put forward a very optimistic face after the meeting. "We may disagree on many issues, but at least we have started interacting," he said. "This is a beginning, and we hope to start making a difference in the next two years."

It is an excepted fact that students from Gujarat hardly ever match up to industry requirements, often requiring retraining. However, this meeting between the creators of professionals and their consumers may help in bridging the yawning gap between the two at a time when Gujarat is being seen among the top IT destinations of the future.

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the demand for IT professionals will remain. As Mahukar Mehta put it: "The current slow-down is only a long overdue correction of the hype in the industry. We will come out much stronger now with sustained growth."

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

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JUNAGADH::::Police raid gambling den Monday, July 30, 2001

JUNAGADH: The Junagadh police raided a gambling den and seized Rs 20,000 and arrested 12 people in this connection recently.

TV centre develops tech snag: The Junagadh TV relay centre recently stopped functioning due to some technical snag. However, experts from Mumbai were called and the necessary repair work was done. The transmission had become poor some 15 days back.

Collector told to expedite inquiry: Congress leader and former municipal president Narsinh Padhiyar has sent a letter to collector Sunayna Tomar to expedite inquiry into the cement purchase made on January 17.

In the letter, Padhiyar has stated that the president incharge was involved in a fraud and municipal member Ranmal Sisodiya and some others had submitted all the required proof and papers. He stated that more than six months have passed, and but for talks that complete investigation will be done, nothing seems to be happening.

Lawyers accused for presenting bogus bail: Two lawyers here have been accused for presenting bogus bail application in Junagadh court. The two lawyers have been identified as Dharmishtha Joshi and R V Dev Murari.

According to the 'A' division police, one Ganga Leela Maher of Rajkot had in the name of his father on July 21, 2001 presented a bogus bail application through Junagadh-based lawyers Joshi and Murari.

Jayantibhai Himmatbhai Jani of the sessions court has lodged a complaint with the 'A' division police in this connection against the two lawyers and Maher.

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

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Drought caused Rs 6,881 cr loss to agriculture Monday, July 30, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Agriculture in Gujarat sustained an estimated loss of about Rs 6,881 crore during 2000-2001 following two years of successive drought, an official spokesman said here on Saturday. However, normal monsoon this year will not only help tide over the problem of water scarcity, but the state's rural economy will also be back on the track with good agricultural production.

The deficit monsoon in 1999 and 2000 had severely affected water resources, leading to a serious drinking water and fodder crisis in the state. Agriculture was badly hit and 9,449 villages were declared scarcity-affected in 1999. Again the failure of monsoon in 2000, had forced the government to declare 13,133 villages scarcity-affected.

The state government supplied drinking water to people through pipelines, borewells, tankers, trains and ships. The Mahi pipeline scheme, which facilitates Narmada water to reach several villages and urban centres of Ahmedabad, Amreli, Junagadh, Bhavanagar and Rajkot districts, was successfully implemented.

As on July 21, normal rainfall was reported from most of talukas in the state. Ninety-nine talukas have received 51 to 70 per cent of the season's total rain, 37 talukas have received 75 to 100 per cent rain, and 20 talukas received more than 100 per cent rain. Thus, about 75 per cent talukas have received over 50 per cent rain.

During 2000-2001, the shortfall in agricultural production or loss from kharif crops was estimated to be 41 lakh tonnes, which is about 49 per cent of the production level of 1998-99, a normal year. The value of shortfall in production of crop was over Rs 5,442 crore. Shortfall in production in the kharif season of 1999-2000 was 42 per cent for cotton.

There was substantial shortfall even in crops like bajra and jowar. The expected loss in the production in the rabi season was about 63 per cent of the production level of 1998-99. The value of shortfall in production of crop was over Rs 1,439 crore. So the total loss during the year 2000-2001 was over Rs 6,881 crore. During the rabi season, the estimated shortfall in the production was as high as 86 per cent for gram, 66 per cent for irrigated wheat, 63 per cent for isabgul, 51 per cent for rape and mustard and 55 per cent for jowar.

The production of total foodgrains during 1999-2000 was estimated at 40.52 lakh tonnes as against 55.67 lakh tonnes in the previous year showing a decline of 27.2 per cent over previous year. The production of cotton during 1999-2000 was estimated at 20.86 lakh bales as against 39.03 lakh bales in 1998-99. The production of total oilseeds during 1999-2000 was estimated at 17.28 lakh tonnes, which is 55.4 per cent lower than that in 1998-99.

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

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