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November 3, 2001 - November 3, 2001

Violence spurs at B J; health commissioner holds meeting. Saturday, November 3, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
AHMEDABAD: Barely two hours after state health commissioner C I Joi left B J Medical College on Thursday, some hostel students were beaten up by their classmates. They were also threatened with dire consequences right outside dean K V Bhatt's office.

Joi had a special meeting with the civil hospital authorities to assess the situation after an intern was severely beaten up on Tuesday. Violence has even prompted state health minister Ashok Bhatt to institute a committee to weed out violence from medical education in the state. Among those present at the meeting were civil hospital superintendent Anil Chaddha, assistant dean of the college Usha Shah, deputy director of medical education K K Shah and senior professors.

No sooner had Joi left the campus than some students from the hostel tried to approach Usha Shah complaining that they were being forced against their will into singing memoranda against the non-Gujarati students. They were allegedly stopped right at the entrance by students from the B block and beaten up.

The incident has only helped other students unite against those who are known for violence on the campus. Even as a large number of police officials were rushed in to quell any further skirmishes, students of A and D block of the hostel gathered on the lawns to show their solidarity with the victims. They said they were risking their lives by coming out in the open like this, but they had reached the limit of their patience.

The main culprits, most students allege, come from the B block, considered a stronghold of students from Mehsana. Hostelites from the other blocks are expected to adhere to their demands, which makes an unbelievable list. If a B Block students asked for a student's motorcycle keys, he is not supposed to question, just hand over the keys. Students are also supposed to do their journals fro them, impersonate for them in ward exams, and get beaten up on being seen talking to a certain girl.

There have been instances where a top ranking student was slapped by a senior so hard that his ear drum burst, just a day before an important exam. A faculty member allegedly told him he would be operated upon only if he did not complain to the authorities.

One student told TNN: "There is not a single student, especially among the non-Gujaratis, who has not been beaten up after getting admission here. And despite all the police protection, there is no guarantee we will not get beaten again. They only have to wait till the police leave."

The Junior Doctor's Association, however, says non-Gujaratis who have relatives in the government at the Centre are putting pressure on the authorities to indict B block students. Their main concern, especially of the juniors, is that they may not be allowed to pass as many of their exams are taken by the resident doctors, many of whom are involved in the violence.

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

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Chunibhai Vaidya presented Sardar anniversary award Saturday, November 3, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
GANDHINAGAR: Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called upon the Gujarati Samaj all over the world to channelise energy in proper perspective for creative and constructive work.

Addressing a function to present the Sardar Patel 125th birth anniversary award organised by the Vishva Gujarati Samaj in Ahmedabad on Thursday, he recalled the association with the awardee Chunibhai Vaidya and lauded his commitment to thoughts.

Paying rich tributes to Sardar, he said that millions of people asked questions, "What would have happened had Sardar Patel been the Prime Minister and what would have happened if he were alive today". This is a real tribute to the Iron man of India.

He said that but for Sardar Patel, we would not have understood Gandhiji in true sense. Recalling the proverb, Jyan Vase Gujarati tyan Vase Gujarat (Gujart is where Gujartis live), he said that we should make the proverb true in real sense. He said that the people world over had appreciated the enterprising spirit of Gujarati community.

Former chief ministers Amarsinh Chaudhdary, Chhabildas Mehta and Vishwa Gujarati Samaj president Krishnakant Vakhariya were among those present in the function.

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

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Not many surtis prefer a flight to the west this year. Saturday, November 3, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
SURAT: For many Surtis the Westward march has lost its fascination following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US and the ongoing US-led strikes on Afghanistan.

Even for hardcore trippers during the Diwali season, holidaying abroad, particularly in the US is not in their minds this year. Most city-based travel agencies say international flight bookings are down 70 per cent this year compared to previous year.

The common refrain among travellers is bracketed with 'ifs' and 'buts', on the apprehension of being targeted by American due to mistaken identity. "It would be rational to stay at home or take a vacation within the country rather than take a risk by venturing out," said Jayant Patel.

Meenakshi Vaghela of Govindji Tours of Lalgate area said takers for international tours are down by about 60 per cent. Last year the firm had witnessed around 200 tourists bound for the US during the Diwali season, but this year there are hardly any enquiries. So far there are hardly around 20 tourists willing to take a tour of the US, she said. The global scenario has affected incoming traffic too which in turn has taken its toll in domestic traffic as well, she added.

This clearly points towards a fear of travelling among people. Even those in the US are not very keen to undertake a journey to India due to perceived threats. This has led to a fall in the number of bookings for places within India too.

Anand Shah of Rowel Tours & Travels admits international business is down 40-50 per cent. Though most airlines have slashed their fares -- Delta Air offers a one-way ticket to the US for Rs 18,500 -- there are just not enough takers.

He said domestic bookings have not been affected much, though there has been a slide of 10-15 per cent. During the Diwali vacation, he feels, Surtis will prefer to go to Kerala this year.

Gayatri Soni of Ace Holidays said the Diwali season was definitely better last year. This year, she said, international tours are down 35 per cent. Their firm had witnessed around four to five international tours apart from the frequent trips to Singapore during the Diwali season last year. But this year, there have been hardly any takers for international packages.

In what could be an example of foresight, Sunil Aggarwal of R K Tours & Travels said they started concentrating on domestic tours soon after the September 11 attacks. He said they expected a major downslide in demand for international holidays and accordingly, are concentrating on promoting their domestic packages. This has helped them balance their business, though around 25 per cent of international bookings have been chipped away this year, he admits.

It is not only foreign travel that has taken a beating this year, there has been a marked decline in the number of software professionals who would have liked to land in the US seeking greener pastures.

In the last one month or so, institutes offering specialised training for TOEFL, GMAT and GRE are also getting fewer enquiries and decreased registrations, said an official with Vishu Consultants at Ghod Dod Road.

Shalin Patel, manager of Cosmos Computer Consultants at Bhatar Road, too admits the decline and says enquiries are less, though it would be too early to assess any impact on future aspirants.

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

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Cracker sales down by more than 50 pc Saturday, November 3, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
The spread is wide and varied ... ranging from the popular TV serials like Kaun Banega Crorepati to Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi to Naughty Girls and Magic Crystal. The cracker shops display more than 50 varieties of crackers in anticipation of brisk pre-Diwali sales.

However, there are no takers. The Diwali festival is fast approaching, but as of today all said and done, it is lacklustre. The traditional loud sounds of crackers heard shortly after the Navratri festival is missing.

In any normal Diwali season, the sale of crackers in Rajkot is estimated at Rs 3 crore. But recession and the earthquake has hit the cracker market so much so that the traders do not expect more than 50 per cent of the normal sales.

Perhaps, sensing the economic climate and the mood of the people traders have only 50 per cent stocks as compared to any normal season. Most of the stuff is brought from Sivakasi in South India.

But sales are not picking up, giving anxious moments to traders who apprehend they may not be able to effect even 50 per cent of sales.

A wholesaler of crackers in Rajkot said he never experienced such an unprecedented 'mandi' even though Diwali is hardly 12 days away. The sale of crackers in rural areas is very meagre.

Another major factor which contributed in a big way is the severe impact of the earthquake in the border district of Kutch. Wholesalers aver majority of centres in Kutch like Bhuj, Anjar, Gandhidham, Bhachau etc., procure their cracker requirements from Rajkot. But this year such purchases are practically nil.

The current US-led strikes in Afghanistan has also affected the cracker market. Since imports are badly hit, China-made crackers, which are very popular and has a great demand, are not seen in the local market at all.

Retailers maintain the prices of crackers have gone up by about 5 to 10 per cent this year. They are hoping against hope that cracker sales may pick up, perhaps in next few days, on the eve of Diwali.

An interesting factor which has also contributed to the slump in demand for crackers is the guidelines given by the Centre and the state government on the bursting of crackers in the wake of the recent Supreme Court directive. As a result consumers are hesitant to buy crackers. Traders -- both wholesalers and retailers -- agree that perhaps people have not properly understood the meaning of the directive which has certainly affected the sales.

As merry-makers mostly go for less-sound varieties, the demand for high-sound crackers is non-existent.

The cracker market has some 50 to 60 new varieties this year, which include a number of them named after popular TV serials like Kaun Banega ... , Kyonki Saas Bhi ... etc. There are musical varieties too.

The latest 'fancy' varieties of crackers include Happy Diwali, Subh Vivah, Welcome New Year etc. These names are seen in multi-colours in the sky after bursting.

And the wide range of crackers are fascinating, offering a bait to consumers. The price range of crackers is anywhere between Re 1 and Rs 5,000.

As recession has hit the cracker demand and sales, the Rajkot Municipal Corporation has geared up to streamline its octroi collection on cracker imports. The newly-elected RMC standing committee chairman, Meghjibhai Rathod, who made a surprise visit to an octroi post in the outskirts of Rajkot on October 1 night found to his dismay that a consignment of 55 cases of crackers being brought to Rajkot fetched an octroi collection of just Rs 400!

Rathod immediately summoned the octroi officer and the deputy commissioner and after discussions it was decided to revise the valuation of crackers for octroi collection. The valuation was revised upwards by 25%. It was expected that this may bring some more octroi revenue to the civic body.

In the midst of recession and the lack of demand for crackers, a local organisation has set up a stall selling crackers with the slogan of 'Seva, Bhakti and Sahkar' (service, worship and co-operation) at concessional rates. It was not known how much concession they are offering over prevailing market prices. But people do throng there hoping to save some money.

One hardly hears the loud sounds of crackers these days, thanks to recession, the Supreme Court directive and price hike.

However, on the eve of Diwali the Rajkot Municipal Corporation will organise an 'atashbaji' (fireworks display) at the Race Course ground. This has been an annual feature for the last several years and the people of Rajkot, in thousands, enjoy the fun and frolic in a collective fashion.

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

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Pandesara Weavers' Co-op to cut output Saturday, November 3, 2001

News Source : Times News Network
The managing committee of Pandesara Weavers' Co-operative Society decided to cut production, by having only two working shifts of eight hours each, to reduce growing inventory and maintain quality.

A decision to this effect was taken during a meeting on the sale of the grey fabric on Tuesday, said powerloom industry sources.

Society president Yogesh Mehra said the decision to cut production time by eight hours to 16 hours a day from the present 24 hours would help the weavers celebrate Diwali as well as maintain a market equilibrium.

He urged the weavers to rapidly adapt themselves to modern techniques and trends in marketing to survive the stiff global competition.

Several weavers' associations agreed to abide by the Federation of Gujarat Weavers' Association's decision to reduce production and maintain quality. The weavers also decided to observe a Diwali vacation of 10 days to maintain market equations by supplying their products according to demand in the textile industry, the sources added.

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

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