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November 5, 2001 - November 5, 2001

Technical snag hits telephone service Monday, November 5, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Telephone users under the Naranpura exchange had a tough time after their phones went dead following a technical snag on Friday evening. The problem persisted throughout Saturday as the department took time to set things right.

A senior exchange official said the service collapsed after the data-processors were "bugged". He said the software programmes, which automatically routes telephone calls, were corrupted leading to the malfunctioning of the system. "Even the back-up system failed. The service is expected to be fully-restored by Sunday," he said.

The exchange has a working load of nearly 60,000 telephone connections and covers Naranpura, scattered pockets of Sabarmati, Ellisbridge, Gurukul, Ashram Road and Vastrapur.

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

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30-year-old man murdered Monday, November 5, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: A 30-year-old man died of stab wounds inflicted on him by an unidentified person while he was sleeping outside his house near the Ideal factory in Vatva on Saturday morning. The victim has been identified as Masubhai Damor.

The victim's brother, Rasubhai Khumanbhai Damor, lodged a complaint at the Vatva GIDC police station in this connection. According to the complainant, an unidentified person stabbed his brother Masubhai around 5 am while he was sleeping outside his chawl. He was admitted to the L G Hospital where he succumbed to the wounds on Sunday morning. Murder attempt: A vegetable vendor survived an attempt on his life when another vendor stabbed him after a fight at the Rajnagar market in the Karanj police station area.

Nimesh Rajnikant Patel, who lives in Vejalpur and has a shop in Rajnagar market, had an argument with one Jamal Sajjanbhai of Manekchowk over some money he owed the latter. Sajjanbhai apparently abused him, and consequently the altercation ended up in a fight. Sajjanbhai then brandished a knife and stabbed Patel on the stomach and left wrist injuring him seriously.

The Karanj police have filed a case of attempt to murder in this regard. However, the police are yet to arrest the accused.

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

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Glimpses of recession visible at handicrafts fair Monday, November 5, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: With the help of a metal tong, he deftly puts bamboo peels inside an empty glass bottle. After an hour, much to the amazement of onlookers there is a miniature ship floating inside the bottle made of bamboo pieces.

Anthony Joseph, an artisan from Porbander, has mastered the skill of making decorative items from bamboo pieces to eke out a living. Last year, he was in Germany for 45 days and did business worth Rs 1.5 lakh.

Similarly, Kailash Mochi puts soft hide layer by layer on a wooden skeleton to create a tiny animal, as a drawing room art piece. Mochi, an artisan from Anand, too went abroad and earned Rs 60,000 during his four-day stay at Hong Kong.

Both of them were here in the city to showcase their products along with other artisans from across the state at the Rural Enterprise Summit organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

When all industries are trying hard to beat recession, handicrafts is one sector which is abuzz with the feeling of hitting good fortune. "We expect exports worth about Rs 80 lakh, up by Rs 20 lakh from last year," says Hitendra Rami of Nandanvan, a co-operative of artisans from Ambaji in Banaskantha district.

Nandanvan, a 180-member co-operative society, has put up a stall for its handicrafts manufactured from coconut waste for official and domestic use. "We have gained a lot of experience while dealing directly with exporters in terms of product quality and their choices during trade fairs," Rami adds.

"There is a lot of scope for further expansion of the handicrafts market provided artisans know the specifications of the international demand," says Sanjay Nirvan, exhibition in-charge, Rural Technology Institute (RTI), Gandhinagar.

RTI which extends conducts refresher programmes, besides providing working capital for state artisans, feels that handicrafts market remained largely unaffected from global recession. "The sector does have an effect from international market but still we are on the higher end of the graph," says S P Singh, a leather technologist with RTI. "We have to continuously fine tune our handicrafts as per international preferences," adds Singh.

With a contingent of artisans from Kutch RTI would represent Gujarat at the forthcoming India International Trade Fair in New Delhi from November 14 to 22 for the third consecutive year. "This time we have kept our focus on Kutch, cashing on the sympathy wave after the quake," says Nirvan, adding that artisans expect more exports this year.

RTI won export orders for embroidery, leather products, patch work, bamboo work, 'Kutchi' shawls and crafts last year from the Us, Hong Kong and Germany, and are anxious to repeat the same this year too with increased profit margins.

Experts also feel the sector was independent of international sentiments and insulated from the overall economic slowdown. The insulation from international markets was largely due to the lack of competition from large corporates, they say.

The sector continues to flourish despite the overall recession as people have to buy gifts for Diwali, Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Moreover, the exposure at trade fairs resulted in developing a sustained market for Indian handicrafts in the international arena, which today stands at Rs 12,000 crore. As per data compiled by the CII, Gujarat contributes Rs 800 crore worth of export orders.

"The sector remained largely unaffected due to various contractual schemes, charity donations, besides the uniqueness and innovative nature of the products," said a senior official of CII (Gujarat).

Regular interaction between artisans and exporters was another reason cited by CII for sustained increase in the sector's turnover which negated the role of middlemen to a large extent.

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

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Dalits under forced 'house arrest' in Rantila Monday, November 5, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
Ten days ago, Chief Minister Narendra Modi surprised Patan collector M K Das by asking him about a comparatively small issue - the displacement of 29 Dalit families harassed by higher caste members at Rantila village. Promising immediate action, Das has sent the families back to the village under SRP protection. Since then, they have remained under a state of house arrest.

Fearing a backlash, the Dalits have not stepped out, preferring to confine themselves to their homes. On account of not being able to till their land, they have spent the last few days fighting hunger and have had to live on crumbs.

Activists working with them say this is not complete justice. The chief minister may use technology to force the administration into action, but how is he going to ensure that the oppressed will get back the rights they have been deprived of for ages, they ask. For them, it is more a matter of freely exercising their right over their own land without fear, rather than merely occupying it.

"I have spoken to the families and asked them to go back to their land," says Dinesh Parmar of the Banaskantha Dalit Sanghathan, one of the voluntary bodies working with Dalits in the region. Parmar, who had attended the United Nations meet against racism in South Africa recently, says if the SRP is providing protection, it is their responsibility to ensure that the Dalits are not attacked. "We are also planning further legal action if the families are attacked again."

Patan's resident deputy collector and additional district magistrate M B Patel believes their role is limited once a piece of land is handed over to a private organisation. "All the same, we have removed the encroachments and provided the necessary protection," he says. "We are even ready to keep the policemen there till tensions subside, and increase the number of personnel if the need arises."

Sources at the collectorate, however, added that they were aware the SRP cannot be a shield between the two communities forever. They are planning a conciliation meeting to find a more permanent solution.

Having formed a co-operative in 1984, this land has been the only form of livelihood of the Dalit families. Agriculture has remained the mainstay of the community in a region where there are negligible industry and employment opportunities. Afraid that they would lose their only source of income, the Dalits, led by leaders like Hathibhai Chauhan, started opposing the encroachments and registered police cases against attempts to take away the land.

With rumours of an imminent attack by the higher caste members rife and little chance of help from the police, the families, including 33 men, 16 women and 12 children, camped outside the district collector's office till they were forced to go back.

This form of protest against higher caste Hindus, however, is rare in the Banaskantha region where thousands of acres of land, given to Dalits after the implementation of the Land Ceiling Act, is still controlled by other communities. The Behavioural Science Centre (BSC), another NGO working with Dailts in Banaskantha, conducted a survey in three villages at Vav taluka and found that more than 200 acres of land were legally in the names of Dalits, but were used by other communities.

"Our estimate is that nearly 700 acres of land in Vav taluka alone has not been given to Dalits even if it belongs to them," says Geeta Oza of the BSC. "With little help from the authorities, it is difficult to fight against such atrocities. The police, for instance, may register a case, but the FIR will be extremely diluted and the investigating will have huge hole in it. As a result, no action is taken against the culprits."

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

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Mysterious fever claims boy's life Monday, November 5, 2001

The Vadodara district health team has rushed a team of medical experts to the Navgam village in Naswadi taluka after a mysterious fever affected more than 180 villagers claiming the life of a 10-year-old boy here on Friday.

Chief district health officer Dr S C Khasgiwala told TNN that the village, which has a population of 1,172 with 215 houses, was hit by a mysterious fever from October 25. So far, 181 cases were detected out of which one has tested positive for malaria and the rest tested negative.

"We have sent samples to BJ Medical College in Ahmedabad to ascertain the cause of the fever which appears to be some kind of viral infection. We have launched a major clean-up operation in the village. Anti-larval measures, cleaning of all homes, water tanks and fogging of the area has been done. We have also set up a hospital at the village. Six medical teams have been sent to the village, and a physician too is there to handle the situation," he said.

Sources at the district health office said some people in the surrounding Kawant and Amalvat village too had been similarly affected. The boy who died, Pinti Bhil, was suffering from the mysterious fever since October 29, and had received medical treatment from the district medical team. Later, he developed high fever and suffered fits, and collapsed within 45 minutes.

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

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