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November 14, 2001 - November 14, 2001

Diwali also brings a 'deafening silence' Wednesday, November 14, 2001

BY AMARENDRA JHA, TIMES NEWS NETWORK
SURAT: The city would slip into a festive tranquillity in the coming days with a long Diwali vacation commencing on Wednesday. All commercial establishments, government offices and educational institutions will remain closed for days together.

Several senior police and other officials, expecting the city to remain peaceful during these days, are all set to use this period as a 'cooling off' time, chalking out holidays in and outside the city.

Diamond units have a longer holiday and with good rainfall in the Saurashtra region this year, a good number, out of the over five lakh diamond workers here, has already left for their native places for cultivation. Even 'angadias' have a vacation of nearly ten days.

Due to these factors, there will not be any law and order problems in the city, additional police commissioner Mohan Jha says. Trading and business activity, where a lot of money changes hands, will come to a halt and this would mean less number of crimes and criminal activities, sources say.

On the other hand, chain-snatching and looting are the possible crimes during the festival seasons. Police have been directed to keep a vigil on suspicious elements and intensify 'nakabandis' at all strategic points.

Sources said a special drive has been launched to check influx of liquor into the city. Police commissioner Vineet Kumar Gupta has issued necessary directions to this effect.

The police commissioner said he would remain in the city and hopes to celebrate Diwali with his family here.

Things appear to be perfect within the district administration and the district collector Sangeeta Singh is already on vacation in Delhi. There is no activity, nor are there any slogan-shouting groups outside the collectorate.

The Surat Municipal Corporation would remain closed for five days, including the weekend, with political infights too taking a break.

However, essential services would remain open. The fire brigade personnel would be on their toes in view of the possible fire mishaps during the season.

Diwali means extraordinary vigil for fire-fighters, says deputy chief fire officer S K Acharya.

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


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Water problems in Rajkot to continue Wednesday, November 14, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
RAJKOT: Drinking water problem seems to have come to stay with the people of Rajkot. The water woes is likely continue for the third consecutive year despite the average monsoon.

Sources in the Rajkot Municipal Corporation told TNN on Monday that even though there was average rainfall in the city, it was not adequate to solve the drinking water problem. Additional water cut, therefore, will have to be imposed from early next year.

It was also pointed out that, given the water stored in the dams, the situation won't pose much of a problem till December provided no additional water was released for irrigation from these dams. In case water was released, then the period from March to June may turn critical.

A report regarding the water situation has already been sent to the chief minister.

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


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Sanskrit Varsity: 'Priority' is simply fallacious Wednesday, November 14, 2001

IF I stumbled upon another kind of fallacy, it was again at Somnath. This time it was the Chief Minister Narendra Modi's announcement here on October 31 that the government would open a Sanskrit university at Somnath, to cherish the memory of its eternal existence as a symbol of Hindu nationalism!

Can you justify this decision, even if you revere "cultural nationalism" and our hallowed Sanskrit language? How far would it be useful to our new generation? What are the other bare minimum educational requirements to lift Saurashtra out of its medieval condition? How to utilise to the maximum the unparalleled resources of Saurashtra's coastal belt for the purpose of higher education? Has the government ever tried to seek answers to these questions?

Let us try to do that. Saurashtra has two universities right now. The Saurashtra University at Rajkot and another at Bhavnagar. It badly needed at least one more university serving the developmental needs of industries such as fisheries, marine food, marine engineering, ship-breaking, ship-building, geology and marine biology, coastal land reclamation and technology to generate electricity from oceanic waves. Only one college teaching fisheries exists at Veraval, but people do not take any pride in it as the college is not functioning properly.

There are 7,500 arts and commerce colleges all over Gujarat at present. Many of them are now run by private parties which at one period opposed any kind of privatisation of higher education (so called 'dirty dozen' around Gujarat University). They are all out to exploit this field for plain commercial purposes in connivance with the educational department mandarins.

These colleges have hardly any link or relation with the job market or with the sweeping global information revolution. In fact, the University Grants Commission's new policy of giving a social or market orientation to higher education failed in Gujarat due to half-hearted understanding and tardy implementation. Some of the universities sprung up due to political pressure all over India, including Gujarat. Gandhi or Ambedkar universities had hardly anything to do with those great men. Now the talk about Sanskrit university equally matches such a political motivation.

Further, those Gujarat-Saurashtra universities which existed since long were told to 'stand on their own' overnight. Funds were slashed. Moreover, Saurashtra is not only poorer in primary education but also behind other states in higher education, resulting in mass production of unemployed. The lowest rate of illiteracy existed in Surendranagar out of the seven districts of Saurashtra - 37.57 per cent! Junagadh came next with 33.20 per cent!! Somnath is part of this district.

State governments have now been told by the UGC to match their grants to all the universities, which the 'poor' Gujarat has failed to do. Saurashtra's coastal belt and its resources have so far been utilised by the fishermen or ship-building workers on their own entrepreneurship and guts, without much help from either the fisheries department or the Gujarat Maritime Board. Universities have become almost defaulters.

Students don't get to learn any marine engineering or related modern professions anywhere.

Bhavnagar-based Salt Research Institution has discovered a method for generating power from the ocean waves. The Ghogha coast is nearby if the government wanted to take up the project. But this science has not spread beyond the institution's gates, as neither the Centre nor the state has thought of setting up the project.

May be such a project would not involve any 'Hindu nationalism?'

Gujarat can increase the haul of fish from its present level of 6 lakh tonnes annually to 20 lakh, says fisheries expert N. Mashru of Jafarabad, only if here is some scientific input and tools and of course, the required training for young fishermen.

They have just 9,000 mechanised boats which is considered totally inadequate. coastal towns such as Veraval, Mangrol, Porbandar, Okha, Dwarka, Ghogha, Jamnagar, Gulf of Kutch and Navlakhi have been lying largely untapped for any other modern marine business. It would be highly appreciated if NaMo would concentrate more on such basic tasks, rather than following his predecessor's example of making worthless announcements, most of which remained on paper.

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


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PSUs celebrate vigilance week Wednesday, November 14, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: Two major public sector units _ Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited _ celebrated Vigilance Awareness Week here recently.

Both the PSUs organised various programmes to focus on the central theme of the week _ creating awareness about the 'malaise of corruption and its harmful effect'.

IPCL held its celebrations at its complexes at Vadodara, Nagithane and Gandhar. Chairman-cum-managing director Ashok Chawla administered a pledge to employees at the corporate office here.

During the week, competitions on essay, elocution, debate and skits were organised for students of IPCL schools and employees. Panel discussions and seminars were also held.

At ONGC, banners and posters were put up all over, and an inter-school debate and poster competition was organised by Kendriya Vidyalaya, ONGC, Vadodara. Essay, slogan and other competitions were also held for employees at Vadodara and those at its other projects.

Both IPCL and ONGC distributed booklets on 'How a Citizen Can Fight Corruption' and 'Citizen's Guide to Fight Corruption' respectively, among its employees.

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


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'We need a social movement' Wednesday, November 14, 2001

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
VADODARA: We have issued a notice banning bursting of crackers after 10 pm. With whatever limited resources we have, we will do our best to enforce this notification.

However, there are certain practical constraints. Diwali is a festival. It is a social occasion where people from all castes and communities come together and celebrate the 'festival of lights'. Only serving a police notification will not serve the purpose. What we need is a social intervention, a movement. The society as a whole should be educated and made aware of issues that are of concern. Noise pollution is one such issue.
It is the people who have to themselves understand and act. For instance, in New Delhi, one NGO gathered school students and began a movement against bursting of crackers.

It struck the right chord with children. They made a beginning and gave direction to the movement. Bursting of crackers in New Delhi has not stopped, but the campaign has forced people to think. We need something of that sort for our city too.

I am optimistic about our city and its people. Vadodara is a cultural capital of Gujarat, and people here are proactive, concerned about social issues and willing to play a positive role. By next year, I am sure that people will willingly observe the rules.

Meanwhile, we are also ensuring that crackers are not burst after 10 pm as is done during marriage ceremonies. In this case, we would be very strict and would not hesitate to punish those who violate the notification.

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


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