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July 18, 2001 - July 18, 2001

New British visa office in Ahmedabad by year-end Wednesday, July 18, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
VADODARA: The British deputy high commissioner's office has laid out major plans for Gujarat - with a visa liaison office to be opened in Ahmedabad later this year and plans for its trade and investment department operating from the state capital for three days in the first week of September to further trade relations.

Talking at an interactive session with members of the Federation of Gujarat Industries here on Tuesday, British deputy high commissioner, Mumbai, Howard Parkinson, said officials would also be visiting Ahmedabad and Vadodara regularly. The three-day operation in Ahmedabad will see officials reaching out to the people to promote business relations and provide trade-related information.

Stressing on the need for bettering trade relations between the two countries for "mutual interest", Parkinson informed that there was a great demand for teachers in the UK, especially for subjects like mathematics and science in primary levels.

"The UK requires more teachers and the country has been looking for teachers in other English-speaking countries and countries with a similar education system. India fits in the bill perfectly," says Parkinson.

"We are always looking forward to take in Indian expertise, especially in the field of information technology. Out of the 15,000 Indians recruited from overseas last year, 11,600 are Indians," he adds.

Parkinson, however, feels that the "level of disinvestment in India has been dismal." "Many UK companies, including those in the field of power, changed their intentions of investing in India. Companies will invest only when there are opportunities and they would not wait long as opportunities up in other countries too," says Parkinson.

Parkinson feels that the level of trade and investment has been abysmal. "It stood at just two billion pound in the 90s. Only after the stimulation provided by the Indo-British partnership that trade went up to five billion pound in 2000 and is expected to go up to six billion pound by the end of 2001," he adds.

He also felt that the level of education in the states should also be of international standards, which can entice foreign companies to set up shop. "The quality of education is definitely an important factor that companies will keep in mind while thinking of investment," he says.

He said that efforts are being made to promote two-way trade, increase investment, identify partners and sell services and know-how. "Entry into UK ensures an entry into the European market," says Parkinson.

Parkinson on Bradford riots British deputy high commissioner Howard Parkinson feels that violence in Bradford involving Asian communities was more a result of "social depravation than racial issues."

"It's a problem of unemployment and under-education, which is the bane for may countries including the UK. It's the handiwork of a small, fringe, racist, right-wing group. The UK is a multi-racial society," says Parkinson.

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

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Complaint against school for map controversy Wednesday, July 18, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT: The city police succumbed to political pressure on Monday and filed a complaint against management of the Saint Mary's School and Haarshad Unagar the printer of the handbook in which the outline map of India had Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan.

The complaint has been filed under Prevention of Insult to Nation Act of 1971. The entire agitation led by the BJP leaders in the city has led to the burning of the effigy of the principal of the school. The BJP leaders had also called for a lockout of the school on Wednesday.

The voluntary organisation who have taken up the fight have urged the parents not to send their children to school and support their agitation in the interest of the country. The printer clarified that the map was taken from computer graphics and there was no intention to insult the unity of the country.

The controversy broke out when the hand book showed Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan. The students pagla samiti led by BJP and Shiv Sena leaders said that the school management had deliberately allowed the mistake to go through which was against the national interest. When contacted the school principal Thomas said that "the mistake was purely printing which was corrected as soon as it was found. The hand books were distributed with school sticker on the controversial picture since the second week of April. For the past three months there was no problem with the handbook and none of the parents or students had raised any complaint regarding the book."

Thomas said that the 'school respects the feelings of the people who expressed genuine concern over the error in the book through inadvertence. But the indecent haste with which some leaders and organisation accused all the Christian institutions of the city being anti-national and Pakistani agents shows the real motive behind the controversy.

"It is also doubted that some people were trying to settle score with the school for not yielding to their unjust demands in the past", the principal said in a signed statement. He said that Saint Mary's School which teaches their students to sing Vande Maatram and starts all activities with Vande Maatram, is not anti-national and that the error was unintentional.

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

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Farmers lay siege at Rajkot Wednesday, July 18, 2001

The Times of India News Service
RAJKOT: Almost one lakh farmers on Tuesday laid siege , staged dharna and shouted slogans at the district collectorate, the district and taluka panchayat offices for the whole day in protest against the state government decision to announce crop insurance for the beleaguered farmers and other pending problems faced by farmers of the Saurashtra region.

The farmers had gathered at the Shastri Maidan after a call from farm leaders to stay put at Rajkot till the government is forced to make an announcement on the crop insurance money. Veteran farm leaders from the entire Saurashtra region gathered at the venue for the mahasammelan. Bowing down to their demand the state government, through the district collector, announced that the crop insurance money would be paid to the farmers by July 31. Probably for the first time in the history of Rajkot, the entire collector office was barricaded to prevent the farmers from storming the office.

A contingent of police and SRP were deployed at all government offices to prevent any untoward incident. After the government assurance, the farmers took out a rally in the city which passed through the city throwing city traffic out of gear.

Since morning the roads in Rajkot were choked as hundreds of vehicles like buses, tempos, matadors and vans were allowed entry into the city. Traffic snarls were a common site in the rain-drenched city. The farmers sat through quietly beating the light drizzle as they readied themselves to fight a long-drawn battle with the state government.

Earlier at the mahasammelan speaker after speaker launched a blistering attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party government at Gandhinagar and especially on chief minister Keshubhai Patel who has claimed himself to the be the "dharti putra" (son of the soil).

The theme of the attack was that if the chief minister makes such a claim why was he acting against the interest of the farmers. Speakers termed the present BJP government as anti-farmers. The farm and co-operative leaders gave a clarion call to the farmers to unite and steadfastly fight the corrupt BJP government. "There is no solution to your problems unless a sustained fight was launched by the farmers who have been neglected all these years. The farmers were unanimous when asked if they would join the agitation irrespective of their caste or political leanings for the betterment of their folks. The one lakh-strong farmers raised their hands in unison when the 11 point resolution was passed.

The meeting also gave a all-clear signal to the Dhoraji legislator Vithal Radadiya to launch an all-out war against the present government. The 11-point resolution, a copy of which was handed over to the collector by the farmers leaders included points like judicious and early payment of the crop insurance money, remove discrepancy in payment of insurance money to groundnut and cotton growers, include Lodhika and Jetpur together with other talukas in cotton crop insurance, to clear the way of conversion which has been held up due to the government's failure of default guarantee, no hike in power tariff and to supply electricity without installing meters at the current rate, offer remunerative prices to the farmers, give protection to farmers in times of natural calamity, and to set up a pagla samiti to represent the issues pertaining to farmers before the state government.

Addressing the meeting the leader of the opposition and newly appointed president of the state congress, Amarsinh Chaudhary said that after two successive years of drought and a devastating earthquake the state government should have decided upon a package for the farmers but so far not a work has been announced by the state government who was a passive onlooker to the miseries of the son of the soil.

Amidst thunderous clappings he announced that if the Congress was voted to power, the Congress government would first solve the pending problems of the farmers and then take up other issues. This prompted one of the leaders to warn Chaudhary of making such a statement as these very leaders would once again agitate to remind him of his promise made on July 17, 2001.

Chaudhary said that while other chief ministers had arm-twisted the Centre and got the necessary funds and projects cleared from the Centre, the Gujarat chief minister was not even able to register a protest leave aside asking the Centre to give funds and clear projects. "Keshubhai is an expert on giving promises which he seldom fulfils. Do not trust this government" he told the farmers.

The state government had entered into contract with the Asian Development Bank for large projects like roads and ports but not a single project was for the welfare of the farmers, he said adding that this was anti-farmer government.

Kisan leader and convener of the mahasammelan Vithal Radadiya said that while premium money was collected in one go, why should the farmers accept crop insurance money in parts. According to Radadiya, "the kisan leaders had invited all legislators from the region as this was non-political sammelan but not a single BJP legislator had come for fear of antagonising their political bosses. The MPs and MLAs were slaves of the government as they feared that if they attended Radadiya's sammelan they would not be given ticket in the next elections", he said amidst loud shouts.

Radadiya called upon the farmers to be ready for a `jehad' against the fascist government who was out to destroy the farmers by their policies. The other speakers also demanded that water from the irrigation dams in the region be reserved for farmers while Narmada water which was brought through pipeline be distributed for drinking to major towns and villages.

The chief minister, who hails from Saurashtra was the target of the blistering attack by the farmers leaders and sarcasm against the government and the BJP leaders were welcomed with loud shouts and clappings. The leaders warned the farmers not to succumb to any pressure tactics by the local leaders as in case the farm sector succumbed to pressure, the economy of Saurashtra would be doomed.

Leaders like former Union minister Manubhai Kotadiya, former state ministers like Jairam Patel, Dalsukh Patel, district and taluka panchayat presidents also spoke.

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

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Violence at city school; motive still not known Wednesday, July 18, 2001

By a Crime Reporter, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Hosanna Missionary school at Khodiyarnagar witnessed violence on Monday with a mob of at least 100 people resorting to stone-throwing and setting vehicles afire to protest against the suspension of a school teacher.

While the suspension of schoolteacher, Grace Celine Luther, was the apparent immediate provocation for the violence, the versions about the real motive behind the riot differed.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner of Police (zone V) R J Savani told TOI that the teacher was suspended for indiscipline, and that she had come with her colleagues to lodge a complaint at the Odhav police station in the afternoon. According to Savani "some anti-social elements from the neighbourhood gate-crashed into the school soon after and resorted to stone-throwing and damaged a scooter, a motorbike, set a Kinetic Honda on fire and broke flower pots in the premises."

Later in the evening, another complaint of rioting and arson was lodged at the Odhav police station against the violence, after which the school had to be closed.

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Student detained, one injured in lathicharge Wednesday, July 18, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
VADODARA: The week-long agitation against the 'self-finance' scheme introduced by the MSU faculty of commerce continued here on Tuesday with student leaders blocking traffic in the crowded Mandvi area.

The police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the protesting students in which a student, Jignesh Patel, was injured. He was admitted to the Sir Sayajirao General Hospital here, students said.

The city police detained student leader Amar V Dhomse, who along with a group of students were seen urging the shopkeepers in Mandvi to close the shutters, police sources said.

After their attempts to close the shops failed, the students staged a 'rasta roko', creating a traffic jam, the police said. They said students were trying to seek public sympathy for their agitation against the MSU authorities.

MSU students union leader Bharat Dangar said that the students were staging a mock begging spree, by asking the public to sponsor their studies in the MSU which had now started a self-finance scheme.

The main contention of the leaders is that the MSU was started by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad with a view to provide higher education and learning and not to pursue commercial interests as is being done at present.

Meanwhile the Sayajigunj police arrested another student leader Tarang Shah, for not obeying court orders under the Bombay Police Act 68. "He was given bail on the condition that he would not come in the Sayajigunj area for another seven days. But we found him in the campus and therefore arrested him," said an official at the Sayajigunj police station.

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

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