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November 7, 2001 - November 7, 2001

When Somnath's history gets hijacked! Wednesday, November 7, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
SAURASHTRA hangs on the chic body of India as a gorgeously coloured balcony. Somnath on its coastal belt is not the one and only piece of jewel. There are other attractive diamonds too, like those majestic Jain temples on Shetrunjay hill or Asiatic lion in the Gir sanctuary.

But Somnath is being sought to be made into a symbol of "cultural" or "Hindu nationalism" by the ruling Sangh Parivar. October 31st last once again saw a jamboree of almost all the top ruling party leaders and members of Gujarat Cabinet - lock, stock and barrel - including the prime minister and home minister swearing by Sardar Patel, as if the latter belonged to their Parivar! All of them flanked Somnath at the cost of public money. Advani visits Somnath very often at government cost. His infamous Rathyatra left a trail of blood from Somnath.

Let us peep a little bit into the history to find out why they now want Somnath to save them from voters' wrath. Actually, both Sardar Patel and Subhash Bose are being "hijacked" by them, when none of their own Hegdevar, Savarkar or Golawalkar worked with the voters.

Mahmud of Ghazni, the Turkish ruler of Ghazni in Afghanistan, raided Hindustan in 1000 AD, with his first victory against the Hindushahi kings of Peshawar. A Muslim ruler, an Ismaili of Multan, was also his target. In a short period of 25 years, Ghazni is said to have made 17 raids into Hindustan. Mahmud raided Nagarkot in the Punjab hills and Thanesar near Delhi. His most daring raids, however, were on Kanauj in 1018 and on the fabulously rich Somnath temple in Gujarat. He did not annex any of these areas. The rich spoils from the temples helped Mahmud to embellish his palaces and mosques at Ghazni. He died in 1030.

Mahmud's invasions were exceedingly bloody and ruthless affairs. Among other Hindu dynasties, the Chandellas of Khujaraho, the Pratiharas of Kanauj, and the Rajputs of Gwalior - all succumbed to Ghazni's formidable military machine. Places such as Kanauj, Mathura, and Thaneshwar were laid to ruins, but it is the memory of his destruction of the Shiva temple at Somnath which earned him the undying hatred of many Hindus. Mahmud and his troops carried away across the desert an equivalent of 6.5 tons of gold plus large stock of jewellery from Somnath alone. Nonetheless, the "Hindu" fanatics interpreted Mahmud as someone who harboured a special hatred for Hindus.

Actually, the British historians initiated such an interpretation for their own political purpose. But the point of fact was there was nothing he did to Hindus that he did not do to Muslims, especially those Muslims he considered to be sacrilegious. Now our Chief Minister Narendra Modi interprets him as one of the bloody "terrorists" so as to suit his sectarian politics.

Though Mahmud destroyed Hindu temples and broke idols, he acted as any ruthless warrior bent on looting might do; indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find other conquerors at that time who behaved any differently. Many of his deeds struck even future Muslim historians as indefensible. If Mahmud pillaged Hindu temples, he did so because huge wealth was hoarded in these temples; but there was little to suggest a particular animus towards Hinduism.

Contemporary records indicated that one of his most notable generals was a Hindu by the name of Tilak! It is also a fact that Mahmud's ferocity and barbarism scarcely prevented him from cultivating the great minds of the time. He was animated by an ambition to make turn his court at Ghazni into a haven for scholars and artists, and he turned Ghazni into one of the cosmopolitan cities of the world. The famous Persian poet, Firdausi, author of the epic - Shahnamah - was enticed to make his home in Ghazni, as was the Arab geographer Alberuni.

The more substantive question pertained to why the then Hindustan fell so easily to Ghazni or Ghori's swords on so numerous occasions. Mainly, it was caste division in Hindu society that played its part in weakening the resistance of Hindu kings, and secondly, the professionalism and egalitarianism of Muslim armies, many of which allowed Hindu slaves to rise to the top, was nowhere to be seen among the Hindu armies.

Rajput rulers protected the privileges of Brahmanas and of the caste system. Between the 10th and the 12th century, temple-building activity in north India reached its zenith. It was simply a crazy Brahmanic custom that made them to hoard so much gold in the "gods abodes," while the lower castes slaved. It is this background which is conveniently hidden or hijacked by our stalwarts of "cultural nationalism," that has now become their tool of power-politics on the line of Ayodhya, when they seem to have nothing else to offer to the people.

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

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Passing marks for class VIII and IX raised to 40 Wednesday, November 7, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
Students of class VIII and IX will have to work a little harder as the passing marks have been increased from 35 to 40.

The revision was under consideration for long after it was okayed by the Gujarat Secondary Education Board (GSEB) last year. The same, however, had to be put on hold in view of the earthquake so as not to add to the woes of the disturbed children.

"We have sent directives much in advance to increase the pass percentage to 40", said GSEB chairman PV Trivedi, adding this has been effected to improve the standard of education.

Interestingly, the 35 per cent was fixed by the British in 1857. Since then, no one really made any effort to change it even as the rest of the world made giant leaps in education, changing the scenario completely until two years back when the issue was aggressively pursued by the GSEB.

Board sources say this is just the beginning and soon 40 per cent will be passing mark in SSC and HSC within a couple of years. In fact, the aim is to gradually raise it to 50 per cent, but of course, after the trial with standards VIII and IX. No time frame has been fixed for it, though.

The move has evoked mixed reaction from academic circles. "It was long overdue. Given the way standard of education is improving in other states, it should be raised to 50 per cent if we want our students to be more competitive", says principal of MK Secondary and Higher Secondary School Dhiraj Jogani.

A few on the other hand believe that this change will only help the upper middle class children who can afford coaching classes. A 50 per cent passing mark will not make a difference to them. "Schools in the poorer areas have students who work to pay their fees," says principal of a school in Bapunagar. "Similarly for rural students the 35 per itself is a boon. Neither do they have facilities nor can they afford tuition."

Educationist Sudhir Nanavati says increasing the passing mark is no solution. "This will not improve standard of education as long as you have the system of grace marks," he says.

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

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Customs inspector in the clutches of ACB Wednesday, November 7, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: The Anti-Corruption Bureau booked a case of bribery and disproportionate assets against a Customs inspector posted at Jamnagar for taking a bribe of Rs 80,000 from a trader Kantilal Bechardas Patel of the Ishwarlal Bechardas company.

Kantilal approached the ACB in Rajkot stating that the Customs inspector Rameshwarprasad Gupta had demanded Rs 2 lakh to clear his consignment from the checkpost.

Over a month back, Patel had sent a consignment through Arvind Kantilal angadia service to Rajkot from Ahmedabad which was intercepted at the Morbi octroi checkpost. Customs officials, including Gupta, also checked this vehicle and 15 days later, Gupta contacted Patel and told him that if he wanted to avoid checking of his goods he would have to pay Rs 2 lakh.

He said Patel would have to pay him Rs 80,000 at his home. Patel alerted the ACB who laid the trap at Gupta's house at Jamnagar and caught him in the act. Then ACB men searched Gupta's house and found Rs 2 lakh in cash besides fixed deposits and Kisan Vikas Patra.

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

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Padmaben Ambani dies Wednesday, November 7, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Padmaben Ambani, wife of Ramnikbhai Ambani who was on the board of directors of Reliance Industries Limited, died in Ahmedabad on Monday evening.

Ramnikbhai is the brother of the RIL chairman Dhirubhai Ambani. Padmaben's son, Vimal, after whom RIL's textiles division got its brand name, is flying down from the US to attend the funeral which will take place on Wednesday morning. Members of Dhirubhai Ambani's family are expected to arrive from Mumbai to attend the last rites, RIL sources said.

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

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Students on strike at BJ, parents too join in Wednesday, November 7, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Infighting between the two groups of students at the B J Medical College reached a flash point on Tuesday with both the factions sitting in dharna in front of dean K V Bhatt's office.

Students of the A, C and D blocks of the hostel, who are alleging atrocities by some students of the B block have also gone on a indefinite hunger strike demanding justice.

According to the striking students, at least three girls and a boy had fainted by late Tuesday evening on account of the hunger strike.

They identified the students as Megha Sharad, Shikha Khandelwal, Mahima Mittal and Arvind Nanora.

Adding a new twist to the tale were parents of inmates from the first three blocks who have joined the agitation, claiming their wards' education is suffering because of anti-social elements in the hostels.

The green lawns outside the college were converted into a sea of white as the students, dressed in their traditional coats, divided themselves in three groups. On the one side were students from Saurashtra and those who have come from outside Gujarat after passing the pre-medical test. They were supported by the girl students, living in block C of the hostel. On the other side were students from B black, dominated by students from Mehsana. They brought with them girl students from the nursing college, who are not directly associated with the issue. Parents created the third group.

With the strong presence of policemen outside, meetings between representatives of the two factions, the authorities went on till late afternoon inside the dean K V Bhatt's office, but he failed to broker peace between them. "After listening to both sides, we feel there is no need for further action," Bhatt said. "When the Shahibaug police are already investigating the matter, there is not much that we can do after suspending the 14 students from the hostel for six months."

Dissatisfied with the meeting, students from the A and D blocks say they will continue with their strike until they were assured of complete peace in the campus. They say some of their serious allegations were shrugged off and their parents were not even given a chance to speak.

Sitting under trees to protect themselves from the blazing sun, the parents say they can't remain mute spectators any more. "The very fact that we have had to come down from different parts of the state in support of our wards, is proof enough that things have gone out of hand in this campus," one parent from Junagadh, himself a doctor, told TNN. "My son has been beaten up for refusing to complete another student's journal. This can't go one day after day."

Many of them also feared their wards may be singled out later by their professors for "special treatment" if they came out openly against the authorities, but had no choice this time. They are demanding that those found guilty should be suspended from the college for six months, not just the hostel as an example to rowdy elements.

The suggestion for more police presence till tempers subside too has not gone down well with the students. As one of them put it, "They can beat us anywhere, inside the campus or outside it. The police can't follow our every step."

The B block students on the other hand maintain there was no need for this strike. "We already had meetings with state health minister Ashok Bhatt who has promised to resolve the issue," they say. "With this strike, we are only prolonging an issue that could have been solved with the minister's intervention, who has refused to help until there is complete peace on the campus."

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

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