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March 7, 2001 - March 8, 2001

Consumer magazine comes out with issue on epileptic drugs Thursday, March 8, 2001

AHMEDABAD: The Consumer Magazine brought out by Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS), Ahmedabad, has published its in-house laboratory findings on six brands on phenytoin sodium, an anti-epileptic drug in its January-February 2001 issue. Phenytoin Sodium is used as the first line of treatment for several types of epileptic attacks in both adults and children.

Of the six brands tested, two were sugar-coated tablets (Eptoin and Phenytoin Sodium-Generic), three were film-coated tablets (Epsolin M-toin and Phenyto-S 100) and one was a capsule (Dilantin).

The five tablets were tested again with specifications of the Indian Pharmacopoeia (IP) and British Pharmacopoeia (BP) while Dilantin capsule was tested as per BP.

Dissolution, an important parameter which measures the release of the drug from the tablet, is not included as a parameter in the IP or BP for Phenytoin Sodium tablets/capsule. Hence, all six brands were tested for dissolution according to the US Pharmacopoeia.

The two sugar-coated tablets, Eptoin and Phenytoin Sodium-Generic, did not conform to the dissolution test specifications which require a minimum of 85 per cent dissolution in 30 minutes. These drugs were, therefore, ineffective and unsafe.

All six brands, Phenyto-S 100, Epsolin, M-toin, Epsolin, Dilantin and Phenytoin Sodium-Generic, complied with the various other parameters specified in the IP and BP which include Assay, Identification, Related Substances, Uniformity of Weight and Disintegration.

As Phenytoin Sodium, a preferred anti-epileptic drug, is expected to give quick and effective relief we have rated the brands giving 60 per cent weightage to dissolution and 40 per cent to assay. Phenyto-S 100 was ranked first followed by Epsolin and M-toin, in that order. The sugar-coated tablets, Eptoin and Phenytoin sodium-Generic, were not considered for ranking as they did not conform to the parameter for dissolution. The capsule Dilantin was also not ranked as it was the only capsule in the Phenytoin Sodium category.

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Vajubhai, Gujarat finance minister, denies nexus with builders Wednesday, March 7, 2001

GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat Finance Minister Vajubhai Ala has described as "baseless and politically motivated" press reports that he and his family members were allegedly involved with "tainted builders" of Rajkot and Ahmedabad, whose buildings collapsed in the January 26 earthquake, killing scores of people.

In a statement here, Vala said he was planning to sue the newspapers which associated him with the builders whose multi-storeyed structures, built with "poor quality materials" collapsed in the quake, killing and injuring several people. Vala alongwith Gujarat government, Ahmedabad municipal corporation, Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority and Chiman Garwal, builder of Shivalik, multistoreyed complex in Ahmedabad, were issued notices in February by the Gujarat High Court in a public interest litigation (PIL).

The petitioner Subhash Ramani has alleged that Shivalik, which has been rendered unsafe for living after the quake, was not being demolished fully due to the builder's nexus with people like Vala holding powerful positions. The matter, adjourned on earlier occasions, will come up or hearing tomorrow.

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Amdavadis dance their blues away Wednesday, March 7, 2001

AHMEDABAD: If Ahmedabad was badly shaken up and despondent after the disastrous earthquake, there was no indication of it at the Artists for Artisans concert held on Sunday evening in the city.

The audience with their cheers, applauds, dance steps and hoots were like any other zestful spectators and the revelry belied any hardship experienced during the disaster. The concert was the first major entertainment event after the quake, and from tiny tots and young musical wannabes to middle-aged enthusiasts and families it appeared to be the perfect getaway to unleash their pent-up fears and apprehensions.

"We are meeting in a relaxed atmosphere after a long time and it's fun talking about something other than the earthquake," gushed an excited 20-year-old Pinal Patel of H L College of Commerce. "In fact, we wanted to shut away any thought concerning the disaster." A viewpoint, also echoed by other youngsters present in the venue. Any reference of the earthquake or the suffering thereafter by compere Ruby Bhatia or the other artists was met with either boos or uncomfortable titters by the youngish audience.

More than an hour's delay in the programme had perhaps frayed the nerves of impatient crowd. So speeches and sermons by the organisers and the officials were a strict no no. Even "a few seconds silence in memory of the earthquake victims", was not without giggles and comments passed by a fidgety few.

The barriers demarcating various audience categories didn't prove much of an obstruction, with the excited crowd on one side jumping over the hurdles to occupy seats on the other. For Sameer Jain and his friends, students of Gujarat Law Society, however, such a response was not in the 'right' spirit of the concert. "Though the atmosphere speaks volumes about the unbeatable spirit of Amdavadis, I think it's a wee bit irreverent," said Jain.

However, as the evening progressed and the musicians urged the audience to forget their woes and enjoy their performance, the crowd sprang into action, swaying to the tunes of Bombay Vikings' Woh Chali, Sagaraika's Disco Deewane, with requests of 'once more'. "The past few weeks have been really grim for the people. The concert is not only for a good cause but has also lifted our spirits," enthused Kendriya Vidyalaya student Akanksha and her parents.

Though the concert was in aid of the artisans in Kutch who have been badly affected by the quake it certainly wasn't a grim reminder of the disaster. At least not from the crowd prancing into the late Sunday night.

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Kashiram Rana expects boom in textile industry this year Wednesday, March 7, 2001

SURAT: Union Textile minister Kashiram Rana is optimistic that reduction in custom duty on import of machinery will boost investment in the textile industry during the next financial year.
He said at least 50,000 new shuttleless looms and 2.50 lakh semi-automatic looms were expected to be engaged in production. However, it was difficult to quantify in rupees the exact investment in high-tech machinery, he said.

Rana admitted his calculations were based on the post-budget responses he got from the industry. He dubbed as unwarranted the fear expressed by traders that they would be harassed by the excise department.

He explained the rationale behind imposing excise duty on domestic goods as a compulsion under the GATT treaty. The government can impose higher custom duty on imported garments only after imposing tax on the domestic goods. He was replying to a question on why the government imposed additional burden on local industry that would cripple it further while facing international competition. The Finance minister had no option but to impose excise duty on branded ready-made garments, he explained.

He assured the local industrialists and traders that he would convey their feelings to the Finance minister. Rana is likely to meet the Finance minister on Wednesday.

According to the union minister ad valorem duty has been imposed on processed fabric because of increase in production. Rana accepted that excise evasion had reduced after the implementation of compound levy on independent proccessing units. He accepted that there was a largescale excise evasion two years back when ad valorem duty was applicable.

Textile ministry had suggested to the finance ministry to continue the compound levy. Rana said since the revenue collection was dwindling, the Finance minister was adament on reintroducing the ad valorem duty on processed fabric.

Rana said that cotton and man made fibre yarn could not be compared for obvious reasons.

He rejected the observation that people were going for only pure man made fabric (MMF). He said blended fabric and not pure MMF was in vogue.

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National Safety Week brings in feeling of being unsafe Wednesday, March 7, 2001

AHMEDABAD: National Safety Week (NSW) which began on February 4, doesn't seem to have many observers in the city. What seems even more surprising is that even the earthquake failed to be an eye-opener. NSW which focusses on the safety of human life, is meant to promote safety awareness among people.

Be it work-places, homes, roads, schools, or any other place, people need to trained to prevent and overcome accidents, both manmade and natural. A call to various government bodies and educational institutes, was met with total abeyance. "We are not observing the week. For us it's national safety year," replied Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic), Sammiullah Ansari. And when asked about any laid-down guidelines for observing it, Ansari answered in the negative saying that it was done informally.

In accordance with the week, Fortune Hotel Landmark, has chalked out programmes to spread the message of safety among its staff. "People have been assigned their roles of what they should do in case of an emergency," informed their chief engineer, Shyamal Barooh. The exercises to be carried out are fire extinguisher drill, demonstration of fire hydrant usage at main security gate, an evacuation drill with fire brigade claimed to be held for the first time in the city, a lecture on road safety, first-aid training, a talk on AIDS, drugs and alcoholism etc. "We meet every month to discuss and revise safety measures," further stated, general manager, Ram Mishra. The hotel follows the safety guidelines laid down by ITC.

However, there are those who are opposed to the idea of celebrating the week. "Where's safety?" questioned H P Mishra of Kamdhar Swasthya Suraksha Mandal, Mishra who runs his non-government organisation with the help of Participatory Research in Asia said that last year, too, mill workers had boycotted the celebrations. "The management doesn't abide by laws and rules. For example, according to a Supreme Court order, there should be no contractual labourers but this is not the case here," notified Mishra, reasoning that such workers who died in the quake will be forgotten, without their families receiving any compensation.

When chief inspector of factories, B N Mehta was contacted he denied the allegations of any boycott. "We have sent directives to all industrial associations and workers' unions in Gujarat about celebrating the week. It is done every year." Celebrations in factories and industries , Mehta said, included of rehearsals for fighting accidents, displaying posters carrying safety measures and points and safety slogan competitions.

Whatever the case may be, one thing comes clear that safety of human life does not seem to be primary on the minds of all. It is considered an extra thought and effort. While following safety measures comes automatically in certain areas such as factories and industries, evacuation drills at high rises, hotels and theatres, health awareness programmes and road safety emerge as demanding attention during the celebrated week, if not at any other time of the year.

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