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November 25, 2001 - November 25, 2001

Reconstructing history from traditional bead-makers Sunday, November 25, 2001

VADODARA: When Inayat Hussain, Anwar Hussain and Pratap Parmar from Khambat sit chipping, polishing and drilling stones to create beads in the museum of the MS University's department of archaeology, they bring to the city an activity that has its roots in the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic eras, around 10,000 to 8,000 BC.

Their display of the centuries-old bead-making technology is a part of the national conference on archaeology and ancient history jointly organised by the Indian Archaeological Society, Indian Society for Pre-historic and Quaternary Studies and the Indian History and Culture Society being held here.

"We are doing this for five generations. A lot has changed in the technique. Like, the 'sheek' or rod we use to hold the stone was made of copper once. These days we use iron rods," says Inayat Hussain, who does the work of chipping and grinding to provide shape to the beads.

And, a tradition is passed onto the new generation as his son Anwar sits beside him, polishing the bead before it is given for drilling.

"The idea was to study this craft as bead making is a highly specialised craft that was practised by artisans who were producing goods primarily for trade. Archaeologists trying to understand the origins of urban society have always been interested in defining the role of such specialised crafts," says Professor KK Bhan, the curator of the exhibition.

According to him, stone bead making is one of the oldest specialised crafts in South Asia, with roots going back to about 10,000 BC, the major technological developments for bead making using hard rocks such as jasper and agate began in the Neolithic period extending from 7,000 to 4,500 BC. "By 2,500 BC, with the rise of the urban Indus civilisation, we find evidence of intensive use of agates and carnellia from the rich mineral deposits of Gujarat," says Bhan.

Explaining why the craftsmen were invited to join the exhibition, Bhan says that "when we see the first evidence for specialised craft, it is a period when there is no written documentation. In order to understand these developments, archaeologists develop theoretical interpretative models which are often based on ethnographic observations. In this exhibit, you will see how the ethno-archaeological study of traditional bead industry in Khambat can be used to better understand the structure and complexity of the ancient bead industries."

"We are also in this profession for generations. We get to drill beads of various lengths and longer the beads, more difficult the drilling process becomes. The place to be drilled is marked with a single diamond bit driller and then the entire perforation is executed by using a double-diamond bit perforator. The bead is drilled from both the ends. It takes less than a minute drill a bead of one centimetre diameter. The powder that is derived is then used to polish precious stones like rubies, sapphires and emeralds" says Pratap Parmar, who has also come from Khambat, one of the largest agate working centres of the world today.

"The agate industry in the Khambat region can be traced back even to the cities of the Indus civilisation, dated to around 2,500 BC. Because of this long continuity of agate working, Khambat provides a unique opportunity to study the organisation of a specialised craft and understand how different aspects of social, economic and political organisation is reflected in the archaeological record," head of the department of archaeology and ancient history VH Sonawane.

"The ethnographical study of Khambat bead-making is an attempt to record a wide set of data relating to this traditional specialised industry before it is completely transformed by modern technological changes," he adds.

BPBEAD1: Inayat Hussain from Khambat chips stones to get the shape of a bead at the MS University's archaeology museum.
BPBEAD2: Anwar Hussain from Khambat polishes beads at the MS University's archaeology museum.
BPBEAD3: Pratap Parmar goes about the tedious task of drilling a bead using a diamond-tipped drill.
BPBEAD4: PASSING ON A TRADITION: Inayat Hussain (left) passes on centuries-old tradition of bead making to his son Anwar Hussain.

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

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Hand of housebreaker suspected in Rajkot case Sunday, November 25, 2001

RAJKOT: The police team probing into the theft of cash and jewellery worth Rs 5.50 lakh from a house in the city on Wednesday are focussing on notorious housebreaker Ramesh Gaghji Vaghri.

"The modus operandi indicates the hand of Ramesh," investigating officers told 'The Times of India' on Friday. The police have also come to know that Ramesh had purchased the spray which was used to make the couple unconscious a few days ago from Rajkot itself.

Jewellery worth Rs 5 lakh and cash worth Rs 56,000 were stolen from the house of one Bhupat Parekh in Navjivan society in the wee hours of Wednesday.

Police commissioner Sudhir Sinha said that Ramesh, who hails from Rajkot, is a habitual offender. He had been put behind bars under PASA earlier, Sinha said.

According to the police, he had left the city some time ago and was active in South Gujarat and Central Gujarat. But he might have come to Rajkot for the Diwali celebrations and, in all probability, struck gold while going back.

Ramesh, who is familiar with the topography of Rajkot, might have kept a watch on some of the posh areas, investigating officer JJ Dhranga feels.

The crime branch is also dwelling into the police records as it is probably for the first time that a spray was used to make the victims unconscious while carrying out the theft in the city.

Dhranga said there were every possibility that Ramesh could be hiding somewhere in Ahmedabad. A police party had left for Ahmedabad after receiving a tip-off, he added.

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

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Exhibition on Indus Valley technology Sunday, November 25, 2001


ADODARA: It's a peek in history, ancient history. Times when boilers were not born and jets did not zoom across the skies. It's a story of the days when civilisations were young and unfolding in Egypt, Mesopotamia and in the Indus Valley.

M S University's department of Archaeology and Ancient History through its exhibition on the 'Technology and Crafts of the Indus Valley Civilisation (2600 BC to 1900 BC)' is trying to retell that story, born out of earth, buried in history and excavated by man to explore the mind of his ancestor _ the prehistoric man.

"Egyptians made Pyramids, while our people in the Indus Valley made small, beautiful ornaments, tools and equipment of utility. The engineering skill required in making these things was no less than that of required in making pyramids. This exhibition is an attempt to show the masterly talent and artistry that people of Indus Valley possessed," exhibition curator Kuldeep Bhan.

The exhibition addresses some of the current aspects of craft production and technology in the Harappan phase of the Indus Valley Civilisation (2600-1900 BC). The highlight of the exhibition is some of the recent discoveries about Harappan technology that serves to distinguish this society in the context of other early state level societies.

Archaeological studies suggests that the ancient craft professions in proto-historic societies were based upon the local versus non local availability of raw material and the simple or complex character of the technologies involved. The said exhibition showcases different stages of these technologies on the basis of which Harappan craft is divided into four categories.

Harappan people used local raw material and simple technologies for woodworking, terracotta, ceramic production and house building. They used non-local raw material and simple technology for stone working and flint knapping.

Works like stone ware bangle production, other elaborate ceramic industries and inlaid woodwork were made using complex technologies and local raw material. While non-local raw material and complex technology brought forth agate bead products, seal production, metal working etc.

One of the exhibits shows that Harappan metallurgy had a well-developed and highly specialised technology, but oddly enough this is on of the least studied craft tradition.

Similarly another exhibit throws light on the copper and zinc industries. Interesting observations are made. For instance, the presence of copper objects and no moulds could be taken as an indication of importation of finished metal objects but this seems unlikely. Since, Harappan metal-ware is very different in style from the contemporaneous products in other regions.

A model of ancient zinc mines at Zawar in Rajasthan, zinc distillation furnace, stone ware, pottery kilns at Nageshware and gold cap shape ornaments are also put up.

This sections show that stoneware bangles were formed by throwing clay cylinders on a fast wheel and trimming and burnishing them with pointed tools which left on their surface a distinctive mark. Vessel forming technique, copper vessel, lost wax/lost wax model casting done in the Harappan phase is also put up.

Archaeologists however say that while studying the craft traditions of the Harappan phase they were hampered by the fact that the Indus script has not been convincingly deciphered and there are no graphic representations of the craft organisation. This means that unlike Egypt or Mesopotamia, we have no written record of graphic illustrations with which to compare and test our observations of craft traditions.

However, say archaeologists, this handicap has led to more rigorous methods of recording and analysis of archaeological material, which has opened up totally new spheres of investigation.

'No written documents on specialised crafts'
The period of time when first evidence for the specialised crafts in pre-urban and early context is period when there is no written documentation. In order to understand these developments, archaeologists develop theoretical interpretative models, based on ethnographic observation.

The study of ethnographic situations for understanding the archaeological record is referred as ethno-archaeology. The current exhibition on technology and crafts of the Indus valley civilisation shows how ethno-archaeology and ethno-experimental of traditional crafts along with analytical studies of archaeological material can be used to better understand the structure and complexity of the ancient crafts.

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

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Less buyers for locally-made garments in Surat Sunday, November 25, 2001

SURAT: It is somewhat perplexing, but the fact is that in the city of textiles, demand for locally-produced dress materials and garments is less and more for those from Mumbai, Delhi, Amritsar and several other places. The paradox, however, is that Surat accounts for over half of the country's total fabric production.

For many dealers in the ready-made garments in the city, the products brought from Mumbai have been having more takers here than for those manufactured locally. Reasons for such fascination for the dresses from outside among the locals could vary _ from comparative low price, better design and print combinations.

Says Kamleshbhai of the Kumar Textorium, "We do not sell anything made out of cloth manufactured in Surat. The reason is that the cloth is of sub-standard quality. Customers here usually demand for the best." In such a case one cannot risk selling something which is not even value for money and would translate into losses in the long run. Also, customers are willing to pay a little more for good quality, he adds.

Another Nitesh Patel of Kekoo Garments says that none of their stock is from locally-made cloth. The dresses come from Mumbai, he says. Sureshbhai of Santoshi Textiles gets the cloth from Mumbai and get them embroidered in Lucknow and Bareilly, he informs.

But, when it comes to having products from outside, even Mumbai-made dress materials are sometimes little costly. So for Devendra Gupta of D K Textiles, preference is always for having these ready-made garments from Delhi and Amritsar. Apart from low price, there are varieties too, he adds.

Many other ready-made garments shop owners clearly said that dresses of the locally-made synthetic fabrics lose their appeal soon compared to products from other parts of the country.

It is estimated that locally-made ready-made garments account for only around 40 per cent of the total sales in Surat, according to Surat Artsilk Manufacturers' Association president Arun Jariwala. He puts the blame for this less demand for local products on the high prices charged due to high cost of production _ mainly due to high power tariff.

Even dobby and jacquard designs, having lots of intricacies attached to it, consumes more electricity while it is manufactured, Jariwala forwarded. With the cost of electricity being over 25 per cent of the total production cost in Surat, the garments manufactured in Bhiwandi in Mumbai with electricity cost component accounting just 10 per cent of total cost, the garments from Mumbai with same inputs are cheap compared to those produced here, Jariwala elaborated.

On the whole, the total cost of production is cheap in Mumbai compared to Surat, resulting in preference for garments produced from outside even among the locals, he added.

Several representations have been made to the state government in this regard, according to several industrialists. But, so far nothing has come out positively and the effect could be seen in loss of share in the local market for the locally-produced ready-made garments, Jariwala pointed out. But, with the government allocating land for setting up a garment park with measures for centralised production by units and a collective market strategy would probably be the answer to the crisis the industry is facing at present, according to South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Praful Shah.

High cost of production due to high power tariff main reason.

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

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Pratappura reservoir repair to begin in Jan Sunday, November 25, 2001

VADODARA: The much-awaited repair work of the Pratappura reservoir is likely to begin early next year. The reservoir was badly damaged last monsoon after heavy rains lashed the city.

The reservoir had developed a breach about 100 feet in breadth and had to be temporarily plugged using boulders and soil. Three villages were inundated in the incident and a large area of agriculture land was waterlogged.

The incident had raised the issue of the safety of the reservoir that was constructed in during the rule of the Gaekwads. According to officials in the corporation, Pratappura lake was constructed about 70 years back. Several other such reservoirs located in various parts of Vadodara district have been constructed in the same period.

Samples of the soil of the lake and other details were collected by experts after the breach took place. The damaged portion has been presently covered with plastic sheets to prevent the erosion of soil from the banks of the reservoir.

Officials in the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) said that the design for the repair and upgradation work of the reservoir was being prepared by the central design organisation of the state government. The corporation has submitted the necessary data to the organisation.

VMC city engineer B S Trapasia said that the process of preparing the design was on and would be ready by the end of next month. "Following this we will decide on the agency to be roped in for the purpose of the work. This will depend on the estimates of expenditure," Trapasia said.

Trapasia said that the repair work of the breach would be the first phase of work on the reservoir. "This will deal with the first problem of plugging the breach permanently. The work will be completed by monsoon," he said.

In the second phase, the work of upgrading the reservoir according to the present safety and construction standards will be taken up. "The standards adopted at that time and those prevalent now are very different. The reservoir will have to be made according to the present standards," Trapasia said.

Trapasia added that measures like increasing the breadth of the banks of the reservoir and other such steps would be taken to make it stronger. The first phase would take about two months to complete.

Notably, Pratappura was the first reservoir to be breached in the district during the monsoon. This was followed by another breach in a pond in Manorpura village near here. The pond was an irrigation reservoir and district panchayat officials had to work overtime to plug it. Paddy crop in the area was badly damaged due to the breach.

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

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