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July 16, 2001 - July 16, 2001

Special :: A grassroots professor in the ideas market Monday, July 16, 2001

By Swati Sucharita, The Times of India News Service
He represents what could be referred as the social face of a business school, arguably the best in the country. Such labels, however, do not mean much to Anil K. Gupta, professor, centre for management in agriculture, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Gupta isn't too enthused, either, about the way the recently-conferred BusinessWeek Stars of Asia award has singled out his individual efforts. "What we are doing for grassroots innovators can never be achieved individually, it involves the entire team. Besides, it was a bit embarrassing that the media reports picked out only the paragraph in the award citation about our earthquake efforts," says the bearded professor.

What he would like to talk about, however, is rural innovators like Amritbhai Agrawat from Junagadh, and the tilting manure cart or the wheat sowing box that Agrawat designed. Or about how women innovators never get the recognition they deserve.

"Do you know that way back in 1898, a widow, Gangaben Yagnik from Mansa village in Mehsana, wrote a best-seller called 2080 Hoonar (skills) for people seeking self-employment? Records say that the book sold 1,000 copies in the first three days," says Gupta.

Born at Bulandshaher in Uttar Pradesh, Gupta went to the agriculture university at Hissar, Haryana, where he graduated in agricultural science and then MSc in genetics. Joining the Syndicate Bank as an agriculture finance officer was an eye-opener, working as he did in the rural districts of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and UP.

It was at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) in Delhi where he worked on project planning for six drought-prone districts in Gujarat, AP, West Bengal, Haryana, etc that he was introduced to economics. "I wanted to study how market forces could be applied to the farm sector and it was at IIPA that I gained some useful insights on this. It was also here that I could publish a few papers," informs Gupta.

Gupta, who joined IIM in 1981, credits the institute for being extremely supportive in helping him implement his philosophy. "It was around 1987-88 that I did an honest appraisal of whether my so-called brilliance was fetching me the global acclaim or was it thanks to the faceless people I was writing about? Wasn't I guilty of being an exploiter of the ideas market? Try as I might, I could not really find satisfying answers," he recalls.

Out of this dilemma was born the Honey Bee Network, which is now 12 years old, and which remains close to Gupta's heart. Honey Bee, which is a quarterly newsletter published in Spanish and Portuguese, besides Tamil, Kannada, Hindi, Gujarati, Pahari (or Himachali) and English, is "A voice of creative farmers, artisans, pastoralists and other grassroots innovators."

The Honey Bee Network is backed by the more formal structure of SRISTI or the Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions, which Gupta founded in 1993. "We wanted to provide an identity to the hundreds of nameless farmers by helping them register patents for innovations devised in their daily means of livelihood," says Gupta. Sample: the afore-mentioned Agrawat is on the board of directors of SRISTI. Also, SRISTI has registered more than 10,000 innovations till date.

Not one for decrying the corporate face of modern India, confesses Gupta, "Let us be honest, we need our marketing guys to endorse and license our grassroots technologies, and sell them globally, besides providing the much-needed financial and infrastructural support. Many of my ex-students who work with MNCs overseas still have some regard for SRISTI as a philosophy, it is in their hearts. They help in whatever way possible."

After SRISTI, followed GIAN (Gujarat Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network) Society and Trust set up in 1997 to scale up grassroots innovations and convert these into viable products or services with appropriate benefit sharing arrangements, with a corpus of Rs 50 lakh in collaboration with the Gujarat government.

"Now, we have been asked to set up four GIANS in the country and the Rajasthan government has been extremely supportive," says Gupta.

What was remarkable for Gupta, however, was the establishment of the NIF (National Innovation Foundation) announced by the Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha in March 2000, with a view to help India become a global leader in sustainable technologies by scouting and sustaining grassroots innovations, working to develop a national register of innovations, helping link informal and formal sciences, converting innovations into products through linkages with investment and enterprise, helping set up incubators etc.

While NIF has Dr R.A. Mashelkar, the director-general CSIR, as its chairperson, Gupta is its executive vice-chairperson.

Besides writing poetry (my son is a better poet, he says), Gupta also dabbles in art. "I can't be fired, Slaves have to be sold", says the writing on the wall in his room at IIM. On being quizzed, Gupta laughs it off saying, "Maybe it reflects my general predicament."

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


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Vested interests interfering in varsity affairs Monday, July 16, 2001

By Radha Sharma, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: In his 25-year-long illustrious career as a senior academician and as principal of H.A. Commerce College, not once did C.B. Raval have to suffer such humiliation at the hands of wayward students.

He was obviously in for a rude shock on Thursday when a bunch of rowdies roughed him up and slapped him right in the middle of the college campus!

Here, some with vested interests may want to dismiss this as a violent act by agitated leaders to ensure that all colleges downed their shutters and conform to the bandh call given to protest against the police excesses on the students of homeopathy colleges of North Gujarat University. But the fact is that the students were actually out to settle scores.

"Their main grouse was why the college had refused to concede to their demands to transfer a few Gujarati medium students to English medium. College policy demands that for such transfer, the student should atleast have 65 per cent marks in English. How on earth could we have relented and transferred students with lesser marks?", says Raval.

The 60-year-old Raval confesses to have been badly hit on the shoulder and instinctively nurses the wound at the mere mention of the physical assault on him.

But did the NSUI not claim that they were forced to ransack the college as authorities resisted to close down? "It is all nonsense. Our college had not even begun, so where was the question of arguing over closing it down?" questions Raval.

One is not surprised as student leaders in the GU campus have increasingly got habituated to the principals and college managements granting favours like admitting recommended students, giving mid-term admissions, etc. and buy peace.

For those who refuse, they know what to expect: A group of rowdy boys creating a riot, breaking furniture and once in a while breaking the jaw of the principal himself.

Ask Dharamsinh Desai Commerce College principal, Nadiad M K Trivedi who was punched on the face with a knuckle-duster not so long ago by a group of student leaders led by an MLA for refusing admission to a relative.

Or J D Acharya of C U Shah Arts College who was manhandled by a self-proclaimed student leader for refusing admission. Even the police initially refused to file a complaint fearing the leader's political connections!

It is well-known that for Rs 8,000, student leaders can get you admission to what is known in GU circles as the 'super six' colleges - H A Commerce College, H L Commerce College, Navgujarat, L J College of Commerce, H K Arts College and the C U Shah College. Lesser known colleges are cheaper, with admissions available between Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000.

"The system actually works because each year has a share of gullible students hitting the campus who gladly run into the arms of sympathetic student leaders who promise them a seat in the college of their choice", points out a senior GU official.

Take the case of one Jyotsna who had scored 81 per cent in HSC (general). Given the extraordinarily high result declared this year, she was led to believe that she stood no chance in getting admission in H L, H A Commerce Colleges or other reputed colleges unless she took favour of the clout enjoyed by student leaders.

Insecure as she was, Jyotsna counted upon the leaders and willingly handed over her marksheet to them. Two days back, she did get admission in H A Commerce College but through the centralised process for left-out students who could not get admission anywhere because of low marks!

"Jyotsna is not an isolated case. There are atleast eight students with above 76 per cent marks who have been referred to us by the GU as left-out students. What pains here is that all of them could have easily got admission in our college on the first day itself on merit-basis", Raval says.

Only on Friday, the GU, encouraged by co-operation promised by the state government and police department, has drawn a comprehensive plan to thwart any more violent incidents on the campus.

"But managements themselves have been widely known to use the student bodies to gain political one up-manship in the university. Unless they give up on this and put up a united front, this violence menace is bound to come again," points out a senior GU academician.

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


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Keshubhai in Kutch to supervise rehabilitation Monday, July 16, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel on Sunday came down heavily on those who have criticised the state government for doing nothing for earthquake-shattered Kutch at a time when the administration has, in fact, mounted a major rehabilitation programme for creation of a new Kutch.

Keshubhai, who arrived in Bhuj with industries minister Suresh Mehta and a team of senior officials to supervise rehabilitation, was addressing a function after handing over keys of newly constructed shops by Bochasanvasi Swaminarayan sect.

He regretted that leaders of the Opposition Congress and some vested interests had spread this canard which had tarnished the image of the state.

Quoting the Asian Development Bank officials Keshubhai said it was really unfortunate that "even when such an international agency recognised and appreciated the quake rehabilitation package implemented in short span of four months some people, opposed to the development, should level false charges about rehabilitation undertaken by the government in Kutch." This is the politics of negation and has to be condemned by all.

Lashing out at those who were making a mountain out of a molehill, he observed that such controversies made the government cut a sorry figure, that too when the World Bank, the ADB and other international agencies had come to the state's rescue.

The state government, he said, has made an all-out effort to concede demands of the people of Kutch while evolving various rehabilitation packages aimed at reviving the economy.

The chief minister said, "We do not want any appreciation for the work being done but at least have to look at facts."

Addressing another meeting of representatives of trade and commerce, organised by the Bhuj chamber of commerce and industry, Keshubhai lambasted the management of nationalised banks for not rising to the occasion in rehabilitating Kutch.

He warned that the state government had decided to take up the complaints, received from various quarters, before higher authorities in New Delhi. The delay in granting loans on the part of banks has adversely affected the revival of trade and business activities in Kutch.

Industries minister Suresh Mehta also joined the chief minister, saying the banks should have played a more effective role in dealing with the earthquake victims. The state government, he said, was committed to the speedy development of Kutch, and for that massive efforts were being made in the earthquake-affected areas.

He said more than 80 per cent of industrial units, which had suffered losses in the earthquake, have re-started following assistance from the state government and other agencies such as the banks and state corporation such as GIIC and GSFC which have so far disbursed loans totalling Rs 22.50 crore.

The cottage industries and commercial sector have been sanctioned Rs 16 crore and Rs 61 crore as loan from financial institutions.

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


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Keshubhai in Kutch to supervise rehabilitation Monday, July 16, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel on Sunday came down heavily on those who have criticised the state government for doing nothing for earthquake-shattered Kutch at a time when the administration has, in fact, mounted a major rehabilitation programme for creation of a new Kutch.

Keshubhai, who arrived in Bhuj with industries minister Suresh Mehta and a team of senior officials to supervise rehabilitation, was addressing a function after handing over keys of newly constructed shops by Bochasanvasi Swaminarayan sect.

He regretted that leaders of the Opposition Congress and some vested interests had spread this canard which had tarnished the image of the state.

Quoting the Asian Development Bank officials Keshubhai said it was really unfortunate that "even when such an international agency recognised and appreciated the quake rehabilitation package implemented in short span of four months some people, opposed to the development, should level false charges about rehabilitation undertaken by the government in Kutch." This is the politics of negation and has to be condemned by all.

Lashing out at those who were making a mountain out of a molehill, he observed that such controversies made the government cut a sorry figure, that too when the World Bank, the ADB and other international agencies had come to the state's rescue.

The state government, he said, has made an all-out effort to concede demands of the people of Kutch while evolving various rehabilitation packages aimed at reviving the economy.

The chief minister said, "We do not want any appreciation for the work being done but at least have to look at facts."

Addressing another meeting of representatives of trade and commerce, organised by the Bhuj chamber of commerce and industry, Keshubhai lambasted the management of nationalised banks for not rising to the occasion in rehabilitating Kutch.

He warned that the state government had decided to take up the complaints, received from various quarters, before higher authorities in New Delhi. The delay in granting loans on the part of banks has adversely affected the revival of trade and business activities in Kutch.

Industries minister Suresh Mehta also joined the chief minister, saying the banks should have played a more effective role in dealing with the earthquake victims. The state government, he said, was committed to the speedy development of Kutch, and for that massive efforts were being made in the earthquake-affected areas.

He said more than 80 per cent of industrial units, which had suffered losses in the earthquake, have re-started following assistance from the state government and other agencies such as the banks and state corporation such as GIIC and GSFC which have so far disbursed loans totalling Rs 22.50 crore.

The cottage industries and commercial sector have been sanctioned Rs 16 crore and Rs 61 crore as loan from financial institutions.

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


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Keshubhai in Kutch to supervise rehabilitation Monday, July 16, 2001

By A Staff Reporter, The Times of India News Service
AHMEDABAD: Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel on Sunday came down heavily on those who have criticised the state government for doing nothing for earthquake-shattered Kutch at a time when the administration has, in fact, mounted a major rehabilitation programme for creation of a new Kutch.

Keshubhai, who arrived in Bhuj with industries minister Suresh Mehta and a team of senior officials to supervise rehabilitation, was addressing a function after handing over keys of newly constructed shops by Bochasanvasi Swaminarayan sect.

He regretted that leaders of the Opposition Congress and some vested interests had spread this canard which had tarnished the image of the state.

Quoting the Asian Development Bank officials Keshubhai said it was really unfortunate that "even when such an international agency recognised and appreciated the quake rehabilitation package implemented in short span of four months some people, opposed to the development, should level false charges about rehabilitation undertaken by the government in Kutch." This is the politics of negation and has to be condemned by all.

Lashing out at those who were making a mountain out of a molehill, he observed that such controversies made the government cut a sorry figure, that too when the World Bank, the ADB and other international agencies had come to the state's rescue.

The state government, he said, has made an all-out effort to concede demands of the people of Kutch while evolving various rehabilitation packages aimed at reviving the economy.

The chief minister said, "We do not want any appreciation for the work being done but at least have to look at facts."

Addressing another meeting of representatives of trade and commerce, organised by the Bhuj chamber of commerce and industry, Keshubhai lambasted the management of nationalised banks for not rising to the occasion in rehabilitating Kutch.

He warned that the state government had decided to take up the complaints, received from various quarters, before higher authorities in New Delhi. The delay in granting loans on the part of banks has adversely affected the revival of trade and business activities in Kutch.

Industries minister Suresh Mehta also joined the chief minister, saying the banks should have played a more effective role in dealing with the earthquake victims. The state government, he said, was committed to the speedy development of Kutch, and for that massive efforts were being made in the earthquake-affected areas.

He said more than 80 per cent of industrial units, which had suffered losses in the earthquake, have re-started following assistance from the state government and other agencies such as the banks and state corporation such as GIIC and GSFC which have so far disbursed loans totalling Rs 22.50 crore.

The cottage industries and commercial sector have been sanctioned Rs 16 crore and Rs 61 crore as loan from financial institutions.

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


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