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Applicants for post of constable rejected due to tattoos: A recent legal case may be of some interest for young people wanting to join the central armed forces. The case involves three candidates for the post of constable in the central forces. They had tattoos on their arms and were declared medically unfit for this reason. They then removed the tattoos (using laser treatment), and were certified unfit again for the removal of the tattoos (the treatment had left scars on their arms). They therefore approached the Gujarat high court, which asked for an explanation from the central government and also directed the authorities to keep three posts vacant for the time being. The petitioners had applied for the post of constable in central forces such as the Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, National Investigation Agency, Assam Rifles, etc. Their lawyer argued that jawans are supposed to salute with their right hand, they wear full-sleeved shirts, the tattoos would be invisible, and do not affect the efficiency of constables. Also, the petitioners were tattooed at an early age because in many communities tattoos are a part of age-old tradition. (21-01-2021)
Atal Tinkering Labs planned in some Mumbai municipal schools: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to establish Atal Tinkering Labs in 25 municipal schools to promote innovation, scientific temperament and creativity among students. The sanctioned budget is Rs. 3.48 crore. The agency which will set up the labs will also handle the maintenance of electronic and mechanical equipment for five years. The labs will be operational in eight months. The Centre had launched the Atal Tinkering Lab projects across the country in 2017. (21-01-2021)
High court orders authorities to fully assist 13-year-old rape survivor: The Gujarat high court has not allowed a 13-year-old rape survivor to abort a 27-week fetus, because of the risks involved in the termination of pregnancy. The law prohibits abortions beyond 20 weeks and the MTP amendment bill also recommends abortions only up to 24 weeks. SSG Hospital examined the victim and reported that the abortion would not be advisable at such an advanced stage. The court issued several directives:
... The health and family welfare department must immediately provide financial assistance of Rs. 1 lakh to the girl’s family for her nutrition and medical treatment.
... The government must take care of all her needs, as the rape survivor has low intelligence levels.
... The authorities must allow the teen to stay at the One Stop Centre in Rajpipla town for proper care.
... She should be shifted to SSG Hospital in Vadodara 10 days before the due delivery date. A special room must be reserved for her and her family.
... All possible medical care must be provided free of cost.
... The authorities must arrange for adoption and coordinate with the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) for adoption of the child if the girl and her parents are unwilling to keep the child after delivery. (20-01-2021)
Gujarat wants Tesla to make electric cars in the state: Electric car manufacturer Tesla is setting up its research and development centre in Bengaluru and the company is considering several states – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka – for starting its India operations. Its registered office is in Bengaluru. The Gujarat government has offered the necessary assistance and incentives to attract the company to the state. The state is the venue for the manufacturing plants of several major global automobile companies. Gujarat is an automobile hub with crucial MSME players supporting the large companies. Gujarat’s strong points are: it is a hub for renewable energy; the cost of power will be competitive in the state; it has strategic advantages like ports and proximity to all major markets of India. Tesla may begin in India with its Model 3, to be followed later by the Model S and the Model X in 2022. (20-01-2021)
Dragon fruit grown in Gujarat will be named ‘Kamalam’: The Gujarat government has initiated the process of patenting the dragon fruit grown in Gujarat with the name ‘kamalam’. It is said that farmers in Gujarat refer to this fruit by this name and that the shape and appearance of the fruit has a resemblance to the lotus. The Gujarat forest department has sent a proposal to the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) for a change in nomenclature of the dragon fruit to kamalam. The fruit is grown in Kutch, Narmada and some parts of Saurashtra. Under the latest horticulture development policy the state will also promote dragon fruit cultivation. The fruit is known for its medicinal properties. (20-01-2021)
Gujarat government announces Horticulture Development Mission: The Gujarat government has announced a special initiative to accelerate agriculture and horticulture and promote the farming of herbal plants. The objective is also to create employment opportunities by increasing the exports of such products. The proposed horticulture development mission is based on the fact that there is substantial scope for horticulture development and the farming of medicinal crops in fallow and infertile lands. The initiative – it is called the ‘Mukhyamantri Bagayat Vikas Mission’ – aims to double the income of farmers and generate employment through horticulture in infertile and fallow lands owned by the government. The first phase will include five districts – Kutch, Surendrangar, Patan, Banaskantha and Sabarkantha. (19-01-2021)
Passenger vehicle sales dropped by 50% in Gujarat: The sale of passenger vehicles dipped by about 50% in 2020 compared to 2019 – down from 17,800 in 2019 to 8,600 in 2020. The sale of autorickshaws fell from 76,600 in 2019 to 28,600 in 2020, a slump of 63%. The curb on movement of passenger vehicles during the pandemic was partly to blame. The demand for two-wheelers decreased by 36% in 2020, down to 6.83 lakh two-wheelers against 10.74 lakh in 2019. Two lakh cars were registered in 2020 against 2.4 lakh in 2019. Lack of easy finance was also one of the reasons. (19-01-2021)
Vadodara cops launch SHE teams to help women: The Vadodara city police has launched SHE teams – groups of police personnel who are specially trained to deal with complaints from women and senior citizens. When women face harassment or other problems, the SHE team can quickly and sensitively respond to the situation. Swift police action can deter the perpetrators and make them fear the law. The cops say that 90 percent of the crimes that are directed at women are committed by some person known to them. Women are often reluctant to file complaints, and the SHE teams will counsel them and help them to register complaints. Each of the 22 police stations has one SHE team; the Mahila police station has two additional teams. Since women feel more at ease in the presence of female personnel, the SHE teams have more women cops. Only Ahmedabad has such teams. (18-01-2021)
Mask is compulsory even if a four-wheeler driver is alone in the vehicle: The police will now fine car drivers caught without masks even if they are alone in their vehicles. This corrects the earlier report which erroneously said that people alone in their cars are exempted from wearing masks. The decision to impose mask fines even on those alone in their vehicles was taken by the home department on January 1. A letter to this effect has been circulated to all police commissionerates and SP offices across Gujarat. (18-01-2021)
One-time annual fee likely for national permit of tourist vehicles: The road transport ministry may announce the All India Tourist Vehicles Authorisation and Permit Rules to allow tourist passenger vehicles to pay a one-time annual fee for seamless travel across the country on the lines of the national permit fee paid by trucks. The fare may also reduce because of the uniform permit fee. This will provide more options to people for comfortable travel, instead of using their private vehicles for inter-city journeys. The current tax system is different from state to state. The proposed permit fee may reduce by over 50% of what operators currently pay to state governments. There will now be a uniform authorisation fee which will be charged for all states based on the passenger capacity of the vehicle. The annual permit fee for an AC bus carrying more than 23 passengers may be around Rs. 3 lakh and Rs. 75,000 for an AC mini bus with 10 to 23 passengers. (18-01-2021)
Mask not compulsory if you are alone in your car in Ahmedabad: If you are alone in your car while driving and your windows are rolled up, you need not wear a mask. This is according to a notification issued by the police in Ahmedabad. Masks are compulsory if there are two or more people in a car, and at public places and workplaces. Auto drivers, taxi or cab drivers as well as their passengers will have to wear masks. However, it is not clear whether this notification applies only in Ahmedabad, or in other parts of Gujarat too. (17-01-2021)
Cardiac emergency calls to 108 helpline reduced during pandemic: The 108 emergency helpline saw a drop of 30% in calls for cardiac and other related medical contingencies in 2020 compared to 2019.
... EMRI 108 data revealed that cardiac emergencies recorded a fall from 63,916 to 44,797, down from seven calls per hour to five.
... Experts suggested that the fear of hospitalisation during the pandemic may have been a factor.
... Globally too there was a drop of 50 % during the initial months of the pandemic.
... In many cases, patients delayed coming to hospital.
... There was a rise in ‘brought dead’ patients during the peak of the pandemic.
... Lifestyle changes during the pandemic may also have played a minor part. (17-01-2021)
Lower courts in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot to open again: The Gujarat high court has now permitted the lower courts in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot to open their courtrooms and resume their functions physically from January 18. This is happening almost 10 months after the pandemic forced the courts to shut in March 2020. After March 23, court proceedings took place online. Trials were delayed and only urgent hearings took place. On November 4, the high court had permitted all lower courts across the state to open courtrooms, except in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot. (16-01-2021)
Some findings from a survey on the health of the elderly: Here are some interesting figures from a nationwide survey on the health of the elderly (Longitudinal Ageing Study in India, Wave I, 2017-18).
... Physical activity among older women is the highest in Himachal Pradesh. Around 87 per cent women aged 45 and above are physically active, which means they are engaged in moderate or vigorous physical activity for a given amount of time each week.
... Other states or UTs with a high proportion of physically active older women include Dadra and Nagar Haveli (86 per cent), Karnataka (84 per cent) and Puducherry (81 per cent).
... The national average is about 69 per cent.
... Among adults aged 45 and above, women are comparatively more physically active than men.
... Around 60 per cent older men in India were found to be physically active, this ratio being the highest in Assam (79 per cent), followed by Himachal (77 per cent), and Nagaland (76 per cent).
The study covered over 72,000 individuals and their spouses across the country. The survey used WHO recommendations for classifying people as physically active or inactive, which means that an individual engaged in moderate physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week or vigorous physical activity for at least 75 minutes per week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity was termed physically active.
... Moderate physical activities include cleaning house, washing clothes, fetching water, drawing water from a well, gardening, walking at a moderate pace, bicycling at a regular pace, and floor or stretching exercises.
... Vigorous activity includes running or jogging, swimming, going to a health centre or gym, cycling, digging with a spade or shovel, heavy lifting, chopping, farm work, fast bicycling, and cycling with loads.
Physical activity is essential to optimum health and well-being. Regular physical activity is beneficial in many ways because it reduces the risk of non-communicable diseases such as ischaemic heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and depression. It also prevents overweight and obesity and can improve mental health and musculoskeletal problems (osteoarthritis, osteoporosis), and help to achieve healthy ageing. (16-01-2021)
Night curfew will continue in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot: The night curfew will continue as a precautionary measure.in the four major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot at least for the next 15 days. The Gujarat chief minister has urged people to be patient and cooperate with the authorities for some more days. He said that a decision about lifting the curfew will be taken at an appropriate juncture. The state government had imposed the night curfew in November, 2020. The curfew is from 10 pm to 6 am. (15-01-2021)
No increase in retail electricity tariffs in Gujarat: Retail electricity tariffs will not be increased for the financial year 2021-22 by power distribution companies affiliated with the state-run Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL). Private sector Torrent Power Limited (TPL) proposes not to change retail tariffs, but it has instead sought to levy regulatory charge for some time to cover its past under-recoveries. The four discoms affiliated with GUVNL and TPL have filed petitions with the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) for determination of power tariffs for the next financial year. The four state-owned discoms – Uttar Gujarat Vij Company Ltd, Madhya Gujarat Vij Company Ltd, Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Ltd. and Dakshin Gujarat Vij Company Ltd. – have filed petitions with the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission (GERC) for determination of power tariffs for the next financial year. (15-01-2021)
Surat airport will become ‘silent’, like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai: The Surat international airport will become a ‘silent airport’. It will no longer have boarding announcements. Airports at Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai are silent airports where there are no announcements for boarding. All airlines will notify any change in timings and baggage delivery belts through SMS. In case of changes in boarding gates, the announcement will be made. The announcements will be restricted to delays, cancellations, gate change, loss of important documents, last passenger paging or security awareness. (15-01-2021)
Railway line from Vadodara to Kevadiya may be operational by January 17: A Railway Board official has announced that the rail line connecting Vadodara to the Statue of Unity (SoU) at Kevadiya will be operational by January 17. The line as well as the Kevadiya railway station are likely to be virtually inaugurated on that day by Prime Minister Modi. On the same day, eight trains to Kevadiya will also be flagged off from different stations – from Hazrat Nizamuddin, Chennai, Dadar (Mumbai), Varanasi, Rewa, Pratapnagar (Vadodara), Ahmedabad and Kevadiya to Pratapnagar (Vadodara). Except for the Jan Shatabdi Express, a new train linking Ahmedabad to Kevadiya, a majority of the trains are being extended to Kevadiya. (14-01-2021)
Gujarat government will offer affordable online education content: The Gujarat government will incorporate Gujarat Education Technologies (GET) Ltd., a company which may compete with private online education platforms.
... GET will provide rich content for Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 3,000 per year for private schools, compared to the subscription charges of Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 50,000 charged by some ed-tech companies.
... GET will provide content free of cost to government schools.
... It will offer learning content to about 4 million students of private schools at low rates, and to 7 million students of government schools free of cost.
... GET will be an autonomous company of the government of Gujarat, under the administrative control of the secretary, primary and secondary education. (14-01-2021)
Ed-tech startup ArctikCircle launched in Vadodara: ArctikCircle – an ed-tech startup incubated at MS University’s Maharaja Sayajirao Innovation Startup and Entrepreneurship Center (MSISEC) – has been launched recently and it received a seed grant of Rs. 44,000.
... The mobile application offers online academic courses and 18 other conventional and unconventional courses.
... Government schools in Vadodara can choose any two courses for the entire school free of cost.
... The memory mastery course will be free for all students of the country for 30 days.
... ArctikCircle will offer paid summer internships for school children.
... School students can learn robotics, aerodynamics, software applications, coding and website making, personality development, art and designing, yoga and meditation, film making and editing. (14-01-2021)
Gujarat’s new tourism policy announced: Gujarat has announced the new tourism policy for 2021-2025. Special incentives will be given for large-scale tourism projects. Several avenues have been proposed – caravan tourism, MICE (meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions) tourism, rural-based experience tourism, medical tourism, wellness tourism, adventure and wildlife tourism, coastal and cruise tourism, etc.
... Incentives will be applicable only to projects in the high priority-tourism centres across 25 districts.
Kutch, Dwarka, Narmada, Gir-Somnath, Porbandar, Junagadh and Dang have been earmarked as high priority centres.
... In the remaining districts, some talukas have been earmarked as priority centres.
... In the previous tourism policy, there was a cap of Rs. 50 crore for getting 15% subsidy of Rs. 7.5 crore. In this policy that cap has been removed.
... 15% capital subsidy will be given for setting up world-class theme or amusement parks with capital investment of Rs. 50 crore to Rs. 500 crore.
... For capital investment of over Rs. 500 crore for a new project, 15% of the eligible capital investment and, if required, land on lease will be provided by the state government.
... While considering the incentives under the new policy, land prices will not be considered.
... Convention centres having at least one hall that can accommodate 2,500 people will be given incentives. Fifteen per cent of the total investment for setting up a convention centre will be given as an incentive along with land on lease by the state government, if so required.
... Caravan tourism entrepreneurs will get a maximum subsidy of Rs. 10 lakh.
... For setting up tented or container accommodation at the priority centres, subsidy of 15% of the eligible capital investment will be given.
... For adventure tourism, 15% subsidy of the total eligible cost up to Rs. 15 lakh will be given to buy adventure tourism equipment.
... To promote river cruise tourism, capital subsidy of 15% of the eligible capital investment up to Rs. 25 lakh will be given for buying sailing infrastructure.
... To promote MICE tourism, the policy promises assistance of Rs. 5,000 per foreign participant for overnight stay with a maximum assistance up to Rs. 5 lakh per international event. For domestic events, the limit will be Rs. 2 lakh, with a cap of three events per organiser per year.
... For rural tourism, fairs showcasing indigenous culture, dance, handloom, handicrafts, etc, the organiser will get assistance of Rs. 5 lakh per year per fair.
... For pollution-free development of tourism in the identified centres, the government will give 15% subsidy up to Rs. 2 lakh to buy e-vehicles.
... For development of public charging stations, 25% capital subsidy will be given.
... The policy provides Rs. 4,000 monthly assistance for six months to hotels and resorts to appoint tourist guides.
... To increase foreign tourist footfalls, tourists will also be provided e-vouchers and Gujarat Tourism Cards.
... Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Ltd. (TCGL) will sign an MoU with Gujarat State Handloom and Handicraft Development Corporation Ltd. to promote local handicrafts to international tourists.
... The state government will provide assistance and co-operation for marketing through digital media and the TCGL website. (13-01-2021)
You can directly share weather information with India Meteorological Department: The India Meteorological Department has launched its own website –https://city.imd.gov.in/citywx/crowd/enter_th_datag.php – to allow you to upload your images of weather and also comment on the latest weather. You can share your observations in the form of both texts and images relating to fog, rainfall, dust storm, hailstorm, thunder, lightning, etc. You can upload weather data eight times in a day (after selecting the appropriate district and state). You can also report on possible damage caused to houses, uprooting of trees, disruption caused to telephone or power lines, flooding in a locality, loss of livestock or human lives, and damage to crops, etc. (13-01-2021)
Factory inspections in Gujarat go digital: The Gujarat government has introduced paperless inspections of factories by using digital technology. The SIMPLE app is being used by the Directorate of Labour and Directorate of Boilers and SACHET app is being used by the Director of Industrial Safety & Health at the time of conducting inspections in industrial units and construction sites. Over 17,800 inspections have already been carried out using these apps.
... Authenticity of the inspection is assured by the app because it allows geotagging of the location of inspection.
... The app can capture geotagged visual evidence of documents and certificates.
... The app also allows instant verification of the inspection notes and reports.
... The inspection report can be quickly issued to the industry concerned. (13-01-2021)
Sikkim model of organic farming for Dang district: Gujarat plans to adopt the Sikkim model of organic farming in the tribal-dominated Dang district. The objective is to convert the entire cultivable land into organic farming areas and promote the district’s agricultural products as certified organic products. Sikkim has been declared as the first 100% organic farming-based state in the country. Sikkim and Dang have similar geographical conditions. Over the next five years, 53,000 hectares of land in Dang district will be devoted to organic farming. The government will prohibit the use of synthetic external inputs and genetically modified organisms in farming. All shops selling chemical fertilizers and pesticides are proposed to be shut soon in Dang. Large scale third-party certification of products is also proposed under NPOP (National Programme for Organic Production). Local farmers will be given special incentives. Organic practices will also be introduced in animal husbandry activities. (12-01-2021)
Street vendor applied for and got electric connection that violated rules: An interesting case came up before the Navsari District Consumer Redressal Commission. The incident concerns a street vendor who was given an electricity connection which violated the rules.
... The street vendor applied for a single phase connection for his cart, which was granted and electricity was provided to him.
... However, four days later, DGVCL officials cut off his connection informing him that it was against the policy.
... The vendor came to know that the discom’s Navsari sub-division has given two similar connections.
... He approached the Navsari Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission and lodged a complaint accusing the discom of unfair trade practices and demanding that his connection should be restored.
... DGVCL argued that the permanent connection given to him was an error as the discom does not give such permissions as a policy.
... The court refused the applicant’s plea to restore permanent power supply, but observed that the discom’s error made him suffer. However, it ruled that the company cannot be held responsible for the negligence of its officers.
... The court ruled that a compensation of Rs. 20,000 should be given to the complainant due to the harassment he faced owing to the negligence of an officer of DGVCL.
... The court also said that this amount of Rs. 20,000 should be recovered from the officer concerned. (12-01-2021)
Vehicle sales fell in 2020 in Gujarat, two-wheelers by 36%: Two-wheeler demand fell in Gujarat by 36% in 2020. The possible reasons: weak consumer sentiment, depressed incomes, and a rise in vehicle prices. Lack of easy availability of finance also played a part. The buyers who purchase two-wheelers were more affected by job cuts. Most finance companies made their norms much more stringent in approving loans. About 15% of two-wheeler sales came from student buyers; these buyers were absent due to the pandemic and online education reduced the need to commute. Against 10.73 lakh vehicles registered in 2019, the 2020 figure was only 6.38 lakh. Car sales recovered faster than two-wheelers. (12-01-2021)
Schools and colleges reopen in Gujarat: After being closed for nine months due to the pandemic Gujarat’s schools and colleges are reopening in a staggered manner from Monday. Only Class X and Class XII students will resume in the initial phase. For colleges, only final-year undergraduate and postgraduate students will be allowed on campus. All necessary precautions are supposed to be put in place by the educational institutions. More than 17 lakh students are enrolled in Class X and Class XII. Attendance is not compulsory, and online studies will continue according to the Centre’s guidelines. There are about 20,000 schools that are expected to reopen from Monday. Parents who agree to send their wards for physical classes need to send the signed consent form along with their ward. (11-01-2021)
Suppliers of DJ music systems affected by Uttarayan guidelines: The government’s decision to ban loud speakers on terraces during Uttarayan has disappointed the suppliers of DJ music systems and speakers. DJ and other types of music systems can lead to crowding and violation of social distancing norms. Members of the Sound and Lighting Association in Vadodara held a demonstration to protest and put forth their point of view. The livelihoods of the association’s members have been hit hard by the pandemic related precautionary measures. Loudspeakers had been banned during the Ganpati festival, and large garba celebrations too were not held. The wedding season has also been a dampener. (11-01-2021)
In Gujarat, women drinkers increase, figures fall for men: The following are some figures pertaining to alcohol consumption in Gujarat, from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 2019-20 report:
... In five years, the percentage of alcohol consumption among women has doubled, and almost halved among men.  
... A total of 33,343 women and 5,351 men were surveyed during the period. 200 women (0.6%) and 310 men (5.8%) claimed that they consumed alcohol, against 68 women (0.3%) and 668 men (11.1%) during the 2015 NFHS survey when 6,018 men and 22,932 women were surveyed.
... In 2015, 0.1% of the urban women said that they consumed alcohol, while in 2020, 0.3% of the women said that they consumed alcohol.
... In 2015, 10.6% of men said they consumed liquor, and this reduced to 4.6% in 2020.
... In rural areas, the percentage of women consuming alcohol rose from 0.4% in 2015 to 0.8% in 2020. In the case of men, the number fell from 11.4% in 2015 to 6.8% in 2020.
The actual numbers may be higher. Many do not reveal the true picture because drinking liquor is prohibited in Gujarat. (11-01-2021)
Dholera international airport is likely to be ready by 2023: Site development work on the proposed Dholera international airport, near the Dholera SIR, is likely to begin from February. The project SPV for Dholera International Airport Company Ltd. (DIACL) was formed as early as in 2012. The Airports Authority of India is the lead partner, and the DIACL has obtained approval from the ministry of civil aviation. Connectivity to the airport has been taken up by the roads and building department. IIT Gandhinagar has carried out soil testing for soil improvement of the airport site. The land filling tender will be floated soon and work is expected to begin in February. The airport is expected to be commissioned by 2023. (10-01-2021)
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