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Quality Mark Logo For Dairy Industry: The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) will introduce a quality mark logo to certify dairy products, including milk pouches, to reassure customers that the products are not adulterated. This will be similar to the Woolmark which certifies wool quality and Agmark and ISI marks which certify agricultural and industrial products. Headquartered in Anand, NDDB with its quality mark will thus give dairy cooperatives a valuable brand identity. Dairy cooperatives will have access to funding and technical assistance to enable them to make process improvements in order to qualify for the quality mark. All interested dairy federations, cooperative dairies and government dairy units can apply for the quality mark. (21-07-2017)
Brownfield & Greenfield Medical Colleges Approved: The Gujarat government had recently announced a new health policy under which some government hospitals could be developed into medical colleges run by the private sector. Subsequently, five proposals have been approved for converting government hospitals into public hospitals cum medical colleges (brownfield colleges) and two proposals have been approved for establishing hospitals cum colleges (greenfield colleges). The government wants to double medical seats by 2022 and significantly reduce the doctor-to-patient ratio. Greenfield medical colleges have been approved in Vatrak and Visnagar. In the brownfield medical colleges scheme, hospitals have been approved for Dahod, Vyara, Bharuch, Palanpur and Amreli. The state will give a subsidy of up to Rs. 75 crore to greenfield medical colleges with a 300-bed hospital in rural areas and 50 per cent of this will be given for brownfield medical colleges cum hospitals. (12-07-2017)
VVPAT EVMs May Be Used In Gujarat Elections: Gujarat is likely to be the first state to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) with voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) in the polling booths. This may happen during the assembly elections which will take place in December this year. The Supreme Court has informed the Election Commission (EC) that these machines can be used if the requisite numbers have been procured. The EC has procured 87,000 VVPAT EVMs; 70,000 are needed for the Gujarat assembly elections. Such machines will improve transparency in elections. The ‘paper trail' is an indispensable requirement for free and fair elections. Considering that in general elections all over India, the EC has to handle one million polling booths, the Supreme Court has permitted it to introduce VVPAT EVMs in gradual stages or geographical-wise in the next general elections. (10-07-2017)
Generous Gesture From IIM Ahmedabad Alumni: Raghunandan G. and Aprameya R., the co-founders of TaxiForSure and alumni of Ahmedabad’s Indian Institute of Management (IIM), recently donated Rs. 7.5 crore to support infrastructure funding for conservation and upgrade of the IIM heritage campus. Another alumnus, Vishwavir Ahuja, RBL Bank’s CEO and MD, donated Rs. 2.5 crore for constructing a new classroom in the new IIMA campus. Responding to these generous gestures IIM director Ashish Nanda said that "alumni are a source of strength for the institute ... and contribute in many different ways to support the institute's priorities.” (07-07-2017)
Hookah Bars Banned In Gujarat: The Legislative Bill to ban hookah bars in Gujarat has been approved by President Pranab Mukherjee. The relevant central law – ‘The Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003’ or COTP – was amended by the Gujarat government to include hookah bars in the prohibited category. The amended bill was passed by the state assembly and it has now got the President’s assent. The state government will notify it as the new law. The violation of this law will invite one to three years of imprisonment; there is also a provision for a fine of between Rs. 20,000 and Rs. 50,000. This will be a cognizable offence. It seems that most hookah bars were operating illegally on restaurant licences. It is said that the harmful effects of hookah smoking are: the charcoal used to heat tobacco in the hookah increases the health risks by producing smoke that contains high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and carcinogenic substances; a typical one-hour-long hookah smoking session involves 200 puffs, while an average cigarette involves 20 puffs; the volume of smoke inhaled during a typical hookah session is about 90,000 milliliters, compared with 500 to 600 milliliters for a cigarette; this poses a serious potential health hazard to smokers and others exposed to the emitted smoke. The number of hookah bars against which action has been taken: 62 in Ahmedabad, one in Rajkot, five in Surat, two in Vadodara, and some in other cities. (04-07-2017)
Baldness Uncured, Patient Turns To Consumer Forum: The Gujarat State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission has ordered a Vadodara based homeopathy clinic to refund the fees for a hair growth treatment that failed to cure a patient’s baldness. The patient had paid Rs. 70,000 to the clinic for the treatment, but as he was able to produce receipts for only about Rs. 22,000 he was refunded only this part. The commission also asked the clinic to pay another Rs. 5000 to the patient for the mental agony and towards the litigation cost. (03-07-2017)
Institute of Chartered Accountants of India Revises Syllabus: The syllabus of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has remained unchanged since 2006. Now that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has entered the arena, the Ahmedabad Chapter of ICAI announced a revision of the curriculum to incorporate the various facets of GST. ICAI examinations are due in December and it is not yet clear whether they will be based on the old syllabus or the new one. The first exam based on the new syllabus will be conducted from May 2018. (02-07-2017)
Chemical Companies Will Have To Improve Safety Standards: To ensure that chemical companies in Gujarat comply with Responsible Care (RC) guidelines, the state government will work closely with Indian Chemical Council (ICC) and insist that companies get RC certification. The aim is to improve safety and environmental protection standards. A symposium will be held soon in Gandhinagar to educate companies about the benefits of RC certification. RC compliance covers several aspects: process safety codes, employee health and safety codes, pollution control codes, emergency preparedness and communication codes, distribution codes, product stewardship codes and security codes. If companies comply with RC specifications they will be eligible for several government benefits. Representing 90 per cent of the world's chemical companies, the International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) has mandated ICC to promote and award RC logos to Indian chemical firms. Gujarat is home to roughly 50% of India’s chemical industries. (01-07-2017)
NRI & Management Quota Medical College Seats To Be Filled By ACPMEC: Gujarat’s medical colleges offer 14,000 seats. Out of the total, 4,500 seats are under the NRI and management quotas, and admissions to these seats were decided by the respective college managements. Admissions to NRI and management quota seats in medical courses will now be done by the Admission Committee for Professional Medical Educational Courses (ACPMEC). The roughly 85 self-financed and private colleges in Gujarat will hand over the ‘control’ of these seats to ACPMEC. This decision followed intervention by the Union government. (30-06-2017)
NCERT Textbooks May Replace GSHSEB Textbooks: The Gujarat government may discard the textbooks and curriculum of the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) and instead use those of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for Classes III, V and VII. This may be implemented from 2018, even for the Gujarati medium. The board will remain the same; it will not be replaced with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). (29-06-2017)
Tablets To Replace Textbooks & Stationery: From this academic year, the Gujarat government’s education department will replace school bags, textbooks and stationery with tablets. Under its ‘Gyankunj’ programme it will begin this project for Class VII and Class VIII students in 2,051 select government schools in various districts These schools have been selected from the state’s 34,000 government primary schools. Students in the selected schools will not need to bring notebooks, textbooks and bags; the full course, including home assignments and exercises, will be available in their tablets. Teachers will use the school’s smart boards. This pilot project will be conducted in over 4,200 classrooms of the selected schools. The selected schools are ones where the basic infrastructure – whiteboard, computer, projector, infra-red camera, interactive software, wireless network – is already available. The project cost per school will be Rs. 260,000. (28-06-2017)
India Plans To Build The World’s Highest Railway Track: The first step in the building of the 498 km long Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line will be taken soon with the launching at Leh in Jammu and Kashmir of the final location survey. To be built at a height of 3,300 metres, this all-weather rail network will be the highest in the world. The road route is open only for five months in a year. The rail line will connect Bilaspur and Leh via Sunder Nagar Mandi, Manali, Tandi, Keylong, Koksar, Darcha, Upshi and Karu. This connection between Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh to Leh in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir will result in many strategic and socio-economic benefits. The final location survey, to be carried out by RITES (Railway Infrastructure Technical & Economic Services), is expected to be completed by 2019. (27-06-2017)
Postgraduate Cyber Forensics Course: A postgraduate diploma course in cyber forensics will be started soon at Ahmedabad based Raksha Shakti University (RSU) in collaboration with Israel based HackerU. An MoU has been signed for this purpose. This was announced recently by KV Ravikumar, director of the Institute of Security Sciences and Management at RSU. The university already offers a B.Tech (Computer Science) course in cyber security. The new course will address the emerging challenges posed by social networking sites, online shopping sites, Internet of things, etc. The course will cover crime scene and incidence response, cloud and IoT security, mobile and applications security, cyber security governance, hacking and penetration testing, etc. (26-06-2017)
Environment Clearance Procedure Simplified For Building Projects: Builders will no longer have to approach the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) to get environment clearances for their projects. The government has decided to empower local bodies to issue the necessary clearances. The certificates can now be given by all corporations and urban development bodies like AUDA (Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority), SUDA (Surat Urban Development Authority), GUDA (Gandhinagar Urban Development Authority) and VUDA (Vadodara Urban Development Authority). Earlier, this procedure could take as long as six months. At present, environment clearances from the state environment agency are mandatory for construction projects larger than 20,000 sq m. (25-06-2017)
Yoga Should Also Be Considered A Competitive Sport: Lakulish Yoga University, Ahmedabad, has suggested that yoga should also be included in the category of competitive sports by the sports ministry. Some people want to consider yoga as a sports discipline, others disagree. One opinion is that yogasanas can be included in sports, but yoga cannot. The Lakulish Yoga University was founded in 2013 under the Gujarat State Private Universities Act of 2009. It is supposed to be India's first government accredited yoga university. (22-06-2017)
Passport Procedures Streamlined: Thanks to an understanding between the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Department of Posts (DOP), head post offices will double as Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSKs) for submission of passport applications and delivery of passports. In Gujarat, 8 POPSKs will be opened, at post offices in Anand, Bharuch, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Junagarh, Kheda, Navsari and Valsad. Dahod, Palanpur and Bhuj already have a similar facility. While a person will be able to submit a passport application at a POPSK, the application and the payment will have to be done online. (18-06-2017)
Ahmedabad Prepares For Rath Yatra: The 140th Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad on 25th June will witness the participation of about 200,000 people along its 15 km route. The procession will include 18 elephants, 101 trucks, 30 akhadas and 18 bhajan mandalis. More than anyone else, it is the police force which will be on its toes to ensure that this massive event passes off peacefully. This year will be the first time ever that a team of the National Security Guard (NSG) will also be deployed to strengthen the security; the NSG team will work along with 26 other paramilitary units.Over 20,000 police personnel will be on duty. (18-06-2017)
Sukumar Srinivas Donates Rs. 3.5 Crore To IIM Ahmedabad: The campus renovation and conservation plans of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), have generated a pleasant response from an alumnus. Sukumar Srinivas, a 1983-batch student, has donated Rs. 3.5 crore to finance some refurbishing work; this is among the largest donations given by an individual alumnus. Sukumar is managing director of Shankara Building Products Ltd. (28-05-2017)
NRI Helps His Home Town: Dr. Dinesh Parmar, a 70-year-old US based non-resident Gujarati, has funded the total makeover of the taluka level government library in his home town of Borsad. He has enabled the complete transformation of the library: internet access, new computers, airconditioning, modern furniture. With over 15,000 books and 600 reference manuals, it will also serve as a cultural centre and art gallery. Renovated at a cost of Rs. 1 crore, it will be formally inaugurated on 3rd June. Dr. Parmar completed his MBBS from MS University’s Baroda Medical College. (27-05-2017)
Chemists Oppose Centre's Directive: About 22,000 chemists who are members of the Federation of Gujarat State Chemists & Druggists Association will remain closed on May 30. This step is being taken to protest the Centre's requirement of mandatory registration of all allopathic medicine sales on an e-portal. The association claims that its members do not have the IT infrastructure to implement this directive. It also maintains that digital connectivity is not reliable in rural and semi-urban areas. Many chemists say that the online sale of medicine is hazardous because of unscrupulous persons who sell spurious drugs on online platforms. (25-05-2017)
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