Bureaucratic reshuffle on expected lines Saturday, December 2, 2000
GANDHINAGAR: In a major bureaucratic reshuffle, G Subba Rao, the senior-most IAS official in the state after chief secretary L N S Mukundan, has been made Gujarat's new finance secretary.
He will take charge from K V Bhanujan who retired on Tuesday. Subba Rao was posted as additional chief secretary, industries, for the last more than a year.
L Mansingh, principal secretary, social justice and empowerment department, would take over from Subba Rao as the state's new industries secretary.
The reshuffle, which has taken place on expected lines, involves 17 IAS officers. Subba Rao, who is expected to be the state's chief secretary in May next year when Mukundan retires, said he would be "involved in an interesting task of solving the state's finances in a difficult drought year at a time when economic reforms as agreed upon with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are an essential requirement".
Mansingh, on his part, said it would be "quite interesting" for him to work with industries minister Suresh Mehta. Mansingh's place has been taken over by R M Patel, who had been working as secretary, home department (transport). B K Sinha, land reforms commissioner, takes over in the transport department from Patel.
Chaman Kumar, secretary, panchayats, rural housing and rural development, takes over as the state's expenditure secretary in the finance department. He takes over from Nethra Shenoy, who becomes the in charge of non-resident Indians, administrative reforms, training and coordination under the general administrative department, which were till now under the additional charge of the state's IT secretary J S Rana.
Gauri Kumar, managing director, Gujarat Agro-Industries Corporation, one of the main brains behind the new agro-industries policy, has been appointed as secretary, higher and technical education in the place of S C Sanehi. Sanehi is the new land reforms commissioner in the place of B K Sinha.
The state will have a commissioner of agriculture, a newly created post for implementing the agro-industries policy, in Arvind Agrawal. Agrawal, till now commissioner higher education, would also hold additional charge of the Agro-Industries Corporation till further orders. P K Parmar, commissioner of schools, would hold the additional charge of higher education commissioner too.
In other transfers, S M F Bukhari is the new commissioner of cottage and rural industries instead of his present assignment as managing director of Gujarat Handicrafts Development Corporation; Sanjay Nandan, who was project director of the District Primary Education Programme is the new joint secretary with the Narmada, water resources and water supply department, and N C Dave, managing director, Gujarat Communications and Electronics Ltd, Vadodara, will hold additional charge of secretary panchayats, rural housing and rural development in place of Chaman Kumar.
A S Sutaria, commissioner of departmental inquiries, is the new settlement commissioner and director of land reforms; G K Makwana, member-secretary, Sangeet Natya Akademi, is the new managing director of Gujarat State Warehousing Corporation; Pankaj Joshi, who worked as Jamnagar Municipal Commissioner, goes to the grievances redressal committee of the Narmada dam oustees; and P N Sharma takes over as the new Jamnagar municipal commissioner.
Institutes cashing in on demand for plants Saturday, December 2, 2000
VADODARA: Flowers, medicinal herbs and ornamental plants are the latest in the list of commodities that reap a 'good harvest' for investors, and this time it's an academic institution that has decided to cash in on the floral demand.
M S University's botany department has identified a niche area and designed a course that relates plant science to industry. After an intensive study of demand for professionals in horticulture and floriculture the department here has proposed a three-year degree course in horticulture.
The programme is aimed at producing graduates who can be absorbed by the growing pharmaceutical and flower industry. Agencies like Gujarat Ecological Commission and the Gujarat Ecological Society are learned to play a decisive role in starting the horticulture programme. Once sanctioned, the botany department will become the third institute in the country to offer professional course in horticulture.
"It's Amsterdam beckoning, if not at least Bangalore," botany department head G P Senan said while indicating opportunities in flower, ornamental plants and medicinal herbs business. Amsterdam is the global auction market for flowers while Bangalore is getting the status of country's flower auction centre.
Senan said that commerce in medicinal herbs and floriculture was increasing and Vadodara can play a major role in plant industry in the coming years. "Industry people have been coming to the department for expert advice on industry application of plant sciences. I think the time has come when we need to realise the potential and design a course meets the industry requirement," Senan said.
At present a handful of florists in city have been procuring and culturing flowers to meet the city requirement. Several nurseries have also cropped up in and around city while many hotels have been getting fresh stock of ornamental plants and exquisite flowers from Mumbai and Bangalore.
"Demand for medicinal herbs is growing in the foreign markets too. Through this course we want to act as a resource centre for technical inputs as well as trained students", Senan said.
Experts at the botany department say that the soil and climate condition in the region were conducive to harvest exquisite flowers and ornamental plants. Medicinal plants, experts say, are obtained aplenty and are frequently found growing naturally. Among the exquisite flowers that fetch good price and picked up in export market are anthurium, gerbera, dahlia, gladiolus, carnation, heliconia, ixora, chrysanthemum, roses and lillies.
"We have plans of setting up green house, wire house and plastic house to control and administer the climatic conditions. Floriculture and horticulture are growing industry. This is the right time to resource the needs in the said to industries," botanist Arun Arya said.
Professor Yogesh Jasrai, another expert in botany and winner of professor Hirallal Chakravarthy national award in botany, observed that the timely introduction of horticulture programme would attract students.
"Many developments are taking place in horticulture and floriculture. Our course divided in six semesters will train students in plant culture, collection, documentation and identification methods. Other techniques relevant to industry application will also be taught," Jasrai said.
Other organisations associated with horticulture are also trying to create awareness among the people vis a vis the business potential of plant sciences. The Baroda Agriculture Horticulture Committee (BAHC) has decided to put up a flower, fruit and vegetable show in February 2001. The BAHC is also organising a convention on India nurserymen and horticulturists. About 100 horticulturist from across the country will be participating in the event likely to be hosted at C C Mehta General Auditorium in MSU campus.
SPU fixes fees for self-financed colleges Saturday, December 2, 2000
AHMEDABAD: Sardar Patel University, Vallabh Vidyanagar, has finally decided to follow the fees structure in private self-financed professional colleges fixed by the state-level committee for this academic year.
SPU vice-chancellor V S Patel issued a notification only on November 17 under emergency powers, asking all private non-aided professional institutions to follow the government notification on May 18 and had it approved by the executive council on November 18. Other universities in the state are already following the prescribed norms.
The decision was taken after BJP's Dhandhuka MLA and party spokesman Bharat Pandya requested governor and chancellor Sunder Singh Bhandari to institute an inquiry into the university's functioning.
Pandya had accused self-financed colleges under the university of charging fees above the prescribed limit, refusing to abolish the management quota in B Ed colleges and the number of court cases that the university had lost in the past five years.
He claimed colleges were charging a whopping Rs 16,000 from students instead of the prescribed Rs 6,000 for a B Com degree in English. For a BBA, they are charging Rs 12,000 instead of Rs 7,500 and Rs 27,000 instead of Rs 12,000 for a BCA.
Speaking to The Times of India, university registrar B Natraj refuted the charges saying they (the varsity authorities) had delayed the notification only because they had asked for certain clarifications from the state government.
"We had felt that the fees prescribed by the state-level committee were less compared to the ultra-modern facilities that we provide," he said. "We had no intention of not following government norms and would have implemented them after receiving a clarification."
Natraj takes pride in the fact that the university had one of the best maintained campuses in the state, apart from providing one computer for every two students and paying UGC-scale salaries to its teaching staff.
Sources in the education department on the other hand said if a notification had been issued now, it only meant the colleges had following their own set of fee structure.
It is believed that the seven colleges running BBA, BCA and
B Com (English) courses would have to collectively give back nearly Rs 1.60 crore to the students if they did not followed the norms. "I don't believe that colleges have been charging more," Natraj added.
The registrar also disagreed with the charge that B Ed colleges affiliated to the university had 10 per cent management quota with higher fees despite not being part of the centralised admissions process. In fact they would enter the centralised process from the next academic year according to the decision taken by the last executive council meeting.
The state government had written to the university to abolish the quota and implement the centralised process. The colleges were charged with taking Rs 1.5 lakh for the quota seats.
Korea, state keen on industrial exchange Friday, December 1, 2000
AHMEDABAD: Gujarat has evinced interest in developing its industry with Ulsan Metropolitan City, which happens to reflect Korea's industrial abundance with its natural harbour, seaports and industrial centres.
Speaking to The Times of India, Ambassador of Republic of Korea Lee Ching-Moo said Gujarat has proved itself as an industrialised state while Korea boasts of some of the biggest companies like Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), Hyundai Motor Company (HMC), oil refining companies SK and Ssangyong.
"Sectors in which Gujarat could stand to gain from Korean expertise are automobile, ship-building and petrochemicals. These areas could provide opportunities for developing relationships based on exchange of information," said Lee.
According to Mayor of Metropolitan of Ulsan Shim Wang-Gu the total trade volume between the two countries stands at a whopping $2 billion (as in the last financial year), up from a meagre $100 million in 1991. "This represents the quantum of jump in bilateral trade," he said.
Total investment in India has touched $2.5 billion, ranking fourth, out of which Hyundai Motor and Daewoo Motor have pumped in $1 billion each.The two auto companies have together produced 120,000 cars for India and have set up factories at NOIDA (Daewoo) and Chennai (Hyundai).
On the ongoing problems plaguing the parent Daewoo company, Lee said it has not had any impact on the Indian operations as Daewoo India functions almost independently of its parent firm. "Daewoo India has already purchased spare parts and engines for three months and therefore does not foresee any problems."
With its vast experience in the Middle-East and Indonesia, Korea is in a position to offer expertise in infrastructure too, said Lee adding that Gujarat has shown special interest in ship-building as well.
Incidentally, since 1960, when the industrialisation process began in Korea, Ulsan has been playing a pivotal role in industry-building. "Particular emphasis is made on road and port development and power and water facilities in Ulsan and we are ready to share our expertise in these fields with the Gujarat govt as also other Indian states. Two of Korea's ace companies, SK and LG have already successfully bid for a World Bank-funded road project in the state," added Shim.
In the information technology (IT) sector, Korea, which has a stronghold on hardware, has invited co-operation from Indian states in software development which could be exchanged for Korean hardware knowledge, said the Ambassador.
About 2,000 parts and components manufacturing companies are operating in Chennai with Hyundai's co-operation as the Korean major has localised almost 80 per cent of its components, said counsellor Han, Jae-Young
He said more number of small and medium Korean companies are interested in coming to India. "But for these companies to start business here, the auto market needs to grow at a lucrative pace," said Han.
"Hyundai is already exporting cars to Algeria and Indonesia and the more number of companies that set up shop in India, the better it is for India in terms of forex earning as there is demand for cars manufactured here," he said.
The focus today, for these companies have shifted to newer markets like India, the domestic market having been largely saturated by now.
However, one area that has proved to be a hindrance has been the same rate of tariff for exports. The rate of customs duty is causing Korean small and medium companies to lose out to other foreign companies. "We would like the Indian government to introduce different slabs of customs duty," said Han.
Controversy dogs appointment of MSU permanent teaching staff Friday, December 1, 2000
VADODARA: MS University is facing fresh allegations regarding appointment of teachers for the psychology department. Earlier, the controversy was over appointment of temporary lecturers. This time it concerns appointment of permanent teaching staff.
"The university has flouted appointment norms. It had advertised for the post of reader with specialisation in clinical psychology. The appointment was made of a person with specialisation in industrial and social psychology," says one of the applicants Renu Sharma.
The university had advertised three posts of readers, one each in a specialised area, for the department of psychology. Interviews were held on June 23.
Sharma alleged that MSU had committed lapses in appointing a person of its choice rather than one who met all specifications.
"The selected person had not even applied for clinical specialisation. Moreover, the candidate never taught clinical psychology in MSU nor has any publication in the subject," said Sharma, adding that even in the syndicate resolution and appointment order, the specialisation area for which the candidate is selected is not mentioned.
Sharma has sent letters to MSU vice-chancellor Anil Kane, pro vice-chancellor VD Pathak and all syndicate members. They mention about another vacant post which needs specialisation in industrial psychology. "The selected candidate has specialisation in social psychology and not industrial psychology," says Sharma.
"I think these are glaring lapses and that too in a university which is the only institute in western India to offer post-graduate programmes in clinical and counselling psychology," says Sharma.
The department of psychology has denied the allegation. "The appointment was made by a committee and not any individual. It's a community of senior administrators and teachers who make appointments. If any person has any grievance over appointments, he or she should have raised objections at the time of appointments through proper channel," says psychology department's head Bimla Parimu.