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November 4, 2001 - November 4, 2001

He lived for the 'social cause' Sunday, November 4, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
Long before the advent of professional management and catchwords like 'corporate citizenship', textile luminary Kasturbhai Labhai reintroduced to modern enterprise, an old philosophy. The function of business is to transcend profit motives, and social causes are the best vehicle to repay one's debt to society. Gujarat's people remember him more for his philanthropy and public service, than his entrepreneurial achievements.

Kasturbhai was born in 1894 in the walled city of Ahmedabad to industrialist Lalbhai Dalpatbhai and his wife Mohinaben. The fourth of seven children, Kasturbhai began his education at municipal school number 8 at Teen Darwaza. He had to give up his higher studies at Gujarat College because of his father's untimely death in 1912. Kasturbhai began to work as a time-keeper at the family-owned Raipur Mill. Through hard work and a keen business sense, he went on to build up the Lalbhai Group of Companies, the flagship company of which is Arvind Mills.

Kasturbhai's public career began in 1918. He began to work for the Famine Relief Committee in Gujarat, which brought him close to Sardar Patel. Because of Sardar's persuasion, Kasturbhai contested and won the election for the mill-owners' seat in the Delhi Legislative Assembly in 1923. Due to the parliamentary efforts of Motilal Nehru and Kasturbhai, the Indian Government was compelled to scrap the 31/2 per cent excise duty on Indian textiles, which had been unjustly imposed for 30 years, to counterbalance the duty on imports from Lancashire.

Kasturbhai also associated with Gandhiji during the freedom struggle. During the boycott of foreign textiles, Kasturbhai assured Gandhiji that Indian mill owners would not increase their prices. And after the Quit India resolution of 1942, Kasturbhai and Khandubhai Desai of the Majoor Mahajan engineered one of the most unique strikes in world history. In order to paralyse the British war efforts, 100,000 textile workers were sent to their hometowns for three months. Though they did not receive their wages for this period, several welfare agencies helped them with food and money. Kasturbhai was nearly arrested.

Despite his political leanings, the government of British India respected Kasturbhai's position in the industry and frequently used his talents in difficult trade negotiations. He was a delegate to the ILO conference in Geneva in 1929. All through his career, he was on the board of countless government committees and organisations representing industry and commerce at the regional and national level. Soon after Independence, he headed a committee responsible for choosing and developing Kandla as an important port in western India. Kandla was meant to replace Karachi which, of course, went to Pakistan.

It was, perhaps, his unfulfilled desire for higher studies that fuelled Kasturbhai's life-long interest in education. He was pivotal in establishing the Ahmedabad Education Society (AES) in 1936. Most of Ahmedabad's premier colleges were founded with the support of the AES. And through his important collaboration with Vikram Sarabhai, he helped to create other institutions of great import _ ATIRA, PRL and IIM, to name a few. He was an efficient fund-raiser, with large contributions coming from his family coffers, also. As a trustee of the Gandhi Smarak Fund in 1948, he mobilised Rs 5.19 crore in just one year.

Kasturbhai's social concern emanated both from family tradition and a deeply religious self. The L D Institute of Indology, which houses rare manuscripts and books on philosophy and religion, is his creation. As the chairman of the Anandji Kalyanji Trust, he was actively involved in restoring some of the most significant Jain temples from 1932 onwards, at a cost of over Rs 70 lakh. These included the Dilwara Temples at Mt Abu, the Palitana temples, the temples at Girnar and Taranga and the Ranakpur temples. In a small biography published three years before Kasturbhai's death in 1981, architect B V Doshi describes him thus: "He is a man of vastness, a classicist...He has a feeling for the grand, for the memorable and hence is the right person to build institutions and renovate temples. He represents things that are good, grand and of permanent value."

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


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City News Roundup 4th Nov Sunday, November 4, 2001

Plea to govt
RASTRIYA Avami Anjuman Education Trust has appealed to the state government to observe November 16 as 'Sadhbhav' day. Trust general secretary in a press release said as Gujarati New Year and beginning of the holy month of Ramzan fall on the same day, it should be observed as 'Sadhbhav Day'.

Diwali mail
Special arrangements have been made by the department of posts for faster transmission and quicker delivery of Diwali greeting cards. Specified bags for a specific destination would be put at special pandals erected at important post offices in the city instead of letter boxes from November 8 to 21. Customers have been requested to post greetings early and write addresses and pin codes correctly.

Digvijay Singh coming
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh will visit Ahmedabad on Saturday to attend Rural Enterprise Summit organised by Confederation of Indian Industry. He will arrive at 2 p.m. from Jabalpur and would leave for Bhopal at 7 p.m.

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Sunday, November 4, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
The Ahmedabad chapter of Sangeet Sankalp has organised a week-long music festival from October 29 to November 5. The festival is being managed by Saptak.

The opening was marked by a vocal recital by Avdhesh Kumar Goswami of Bareilly. He began with Mohe manavan aaye ho in Raag Bageshri. However, the long phrase added to the mukhada of the composition, could have been avoided. It is a practice in classical music to present a composition in its original form. A drut composition aali akeli mohe chhand gayo li was an interesting rendering and well received by the audience. The artist concluded with a tarana.

The violin recital that followed the vocal recital was a surila presentation. Himanshu Vishvaroop has been groomed in music by several musicians of repute. He has received training from the Gwalior and Agra gharana. He has also received training from Pt Bimalendu Mukherjee and Ustad Latifkhan. Himanshu began with a vilambit gat in raag jhijhonti. It was marked by skilful exposition of tihais, and well rehearsed imdadkhani taans .This was followed by a well-known bandish composed by Pt Ratanjankat 'Mero mana har lino savariyane'. The artist did ample justice to the flow and laya of the composition. It was reminiscent of a kathak thumari bhava projected by the legendary family of Pt Bindadinji Maharaj. The expression of subtle dance movements inherent in the bandish added beauty to its delineation. Himanshu concluded with a drut composition in jhinjhoti.

The day concluded with a khayal in raag jayajayvanti sune le mana rendered by Sitanath Biswas. The artist concluded the programme with a short rendering of a bhajan.

A feast of folk music was delivered by Mahendra Trivedi and his group on the second day of the festival. They presented various forms of folk music such as dooha-chhand, shaurya geet, lokgit, garba and bhajans. It was a collective effort. The core of this form of music is the exhilarating influence evolved by the drum and manjira. The skills of rhythm on dholak and manjira were smartly executed. Trivedi was supported by Sangeeta on harmonium, Narendra on tabla-dholak, Vinod on manjira, Harihar on violin and Shivraj giving him vocal support. He concluded the programme with a Kabir bhajan.

Vocal recital by Satish Indoorkar bore a stamp of authenticity of the Gwalior gharana. The gayaki with all its finer points and technicalities could serve as an eye opener to other artistes. Satish began the recital with a vilambit khayal-karata juthi batiya-in raag chhayanat. His performance revealed that he has a thorough grasp over the structure of melody. The raag unfolded with emphasising of its focal points. The main phrases of the melody were repeated to evolve the spirit of the melody. The bandish - sandesha va mora - in drut ektaal was a smart presentation. Satish concluded the recital with a beautiful composition _ he nandalala _ a composition woven exposing the romantic aspect of raag sohani.

The vocal recital was preceded by a sitar recital. Ragini Prasad presented raag malkaunsa with aalap and two compositions set to teentaal.

Accompanying artists Vinod Vaishnav, Shabbir Hussein, Tansen Shrivastav, Vinod Mishra and Matang Parikh, all on tabla and Hasmukh Patadia, Amit Thakar, Raju Gandharva on harmonium provided excellent support to respective artists.

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


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Experts arrive at Gandhar Sunday, November 4, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
VADODARA: Two experts from Huston Wild Well Company, US, and a crises
management team from Rajamundri (Andhra Pradesh) arrived at the well fire site of Gandhar oil fields on Friday. They have started preliminary assessment of the situation, ONGC officials said.

Meanwhile, the fire is yet to be controlled at well no. 345. Officials expect results in 3-4 days' time. The ONGC well had caught fire on Tuesday after a pilferage attempt. Two persons died in the accident.

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



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Hidden chambers, statues found as floor of Khadia house caves in Sunday, November 4, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Praveen Mehta, a retired bank employee of Ahmedabad, had an unusual experience last month _ he descended into a dark, unknown chamber of the past just beneath his house!

These days all he can think about is the dark underground chamber, guarded by three disfigured statues of dancing girls with six hidden channels on the walls providing air to support life inside.

The chamber is believed to be one of the secret cellars, belonging to a bygone era, which could have been used for performing secret 'yagnas'. Or may be it is the outer chamber of a secret treasure trove!

In the January 26 quake, portions of the floor of Mehta's house _ an old building located at Khadia _ were damaged. So was the foundation. No one knows when the house was built. Mehta says it was purchased by his grandfather Girdharlal in 1898.

One night, towards the end of August, Mehta got up from his sleep, feeling thirsty. Half asleep, he was fumbling for the light switch when he realised that the ground beneath him was sinking. "I soon realised my body was half under the soil."

Efforts to repair the living room floor led to a small chamber underneath. Its scrutiny revealed a channel, suggesting the existence of more chambers below. "It was an interesting co-existence _ living with the mysterious history beneath you," remarks Mehta.

The main underground chamber is about 10 feet high and can be accessed through a staircase, big enough for an average-sized person to go through. On the other side of the entrance is a carved facade in limestone about a foot wide. Towards the end of the facade, just above the floor, is the figure of a woman in a dancing posture. At her feet is a pit.

The construction has elements of ancient temple architecture with arched cavities on walls. The design reveals the influence of Hindu culture. "We have contacted people at the Archaeological Survey of India to get a detailed study done," says Mehta. But 14 such slots, which normally have statues placed inside them, are empty, showing intrusions into the area.

Mehta's case is not unique. Similar incidents have been reported in the past from Raipur-Khadia. In 1919, a similar case came to light when Mahatma Gandhi was laying the foundation stone for Vanita Vishram. Ganesh idols dating back to the Solanki Dynasty around 1100 AD were discovered from the site.

"But not much attention was paid to it," laments Ashutosh Bhatt, a Khadia resident, who is working to maintain the cultural heritage of the area, under the banner of Khadia Iitihas Samiti.

Mehta is, of course, quite excited about the finding, even though it significantly alters the lay-out and architecture of his house. He says there could be more hidden underground chambers beneath as some of the walls are giving out a hollow sound.

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


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