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Schools and colleges advised to urgently destroy mosquito breeding sites: Following the outbreak of dengue and other vector-borne diseases (VBD) in Gujarat, many district education officers (DEOs) have instructed schools to advise their students to wear full-sleeve shirts and trousers. Also, school authorities have been advised to carry out regular checking of premises to identify mosquito breeding sites. Extra precautions should be continued till Diwali. Civic authorities must also increase the speed with which they identify and destroy mosquito breeding sites in all the areas under their jurisdiction. (14-10-2019)
Even a monk must maintain his parents: A family court in Ahmedabad has ruled that a sanyasi too must pay a monthly maintenance to his parents. In this particular case, he has been ordered to pay Rs. 10,000 per month to his parents. The court said, “As a son, it is his responsibility to maintain parents and he cannot escape from the responsibility." The case involves a man who gave up a lucrative corporate job in June 2015 to became a monk. Devoted to his work of service, he severed all ties with his parents. Unable to convince the son to return home, the parents sued him for maintenance in Ahmedabad's family court. The parents said they are both physically challenged and do not have any source of income. They had spent their savings for the son's education in the hope that they would be looked after by him. The court said that it is a settled principle of law that a son has to earn and maintain his parents. It asked the son to pay Rs. 10,000 per month. The parents may approach the high court for an increased amount. (14-10-2019)
Mosquito breeding sites found on medical college campus: Ahmedabad’s Dr. M.K. Shah Medical College has been fined Rs. 50,000 by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation after the city’s health officials found mosquito breeding sites at many places on the campus. The college has been strictly warned and asked to ensure that anti-vector measures are taken. Ms Milcy Sheth, a medical student of this college, had recently succumbed to dengue spread by mosquito bites. This death may perhaps have been prevented had vector-control measures been taken on the campus. (13-10-2019)
Gujarat University will offer PG diploma in clinical hypnotherapy: On the occasion of World Mental Health Day Gujarat University announced that it will start a postgraduate diploma course in clinical hypnotherapy from December 2019. There will be no age limit for admission, but a basic knowledge of hypnotherapy and psychiatry will be helpful. There will be 30 seats available. The fees for the programme will be decided later. The programme will be offered by the Department of Psychology. (13-10-2019)
Applicants for learner’s license can do online test at any ITI or polytechnic college: The Gujarat government has announced that those seeking to get learner’s licences can take the online test at Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and polytechnic colleges. There are over nine lakh applicants every year for the learner’s licences; this accounts for half the total workload at the Regional Transport Offices (RTOs). After applying online for a learner’s licence, applicants have to take a computer-based test (with multiple choice questions) on traffic rules and regulations. The applicants can now take this test at any polytechnic college or ITI in the state; a visit to the RTO will not be necessary. Applications for duplicate licences, hypothecation, renewals, changes in address and birth date and conversion to CNG, will now have to be done online. (12-10-2019)
New medical colleges in Rajpipla, Navsari and Porbandar: Following recommendations from the Gujarat government the central government may start three new medical colleges in Rajpipla (Narmada district), Navsari and Porbandar. The centre had planned to start 75 new medical colleges in areas without such facilities, and Gujarat had been asked to suggest five districts. In addition to the three recommendations, the state will suggest the other two shortly. The state also wants to start medical colleges in Mahisagar, Morbi, Botad, Aravalli and Devbhoomi Dwarka. Under the scheme, 60% of the cost will be paid by the central government, the remaining by the state government. The total cost will be Rs. 325 crore – Rs. 195 crore to be spent by the centre and Rs. 130 crore by the state. (12-10-2019)
Posh areas generate more waste than slum areas: The waste generated by people living in apartments, bungalows and housing societies is higher than that generated by people living in row houses, slums and gamtal areas. It seems that the moneyed generate more waste than the poor. This fact was unearthed by a recent study conducted by Ahmedabad based CEPT University. CEPT University takes its name from the 'Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology'. The study revealed that housing type is a big factor in waste generation. For example, bungalows and housing societies in a posh locality generated about 20 tonnes of waste daily whereas row houses and semi-detached houses in a poorer neighbourhood generated 11 tonnes. The survey was done by CEPT faculty members and academic associates, along with 150 students, in 14 blocks – seven areas in western Ahmedabad and seven in eastern Ahmedabad. Higher the income, higher the consumption, and higher the waste. Waste generation increases as incomes rise. (11-10-2019)
The single-use plastic ban has its advantages, and disadvantages: A Gujarati thali restaurant in Ahmadabad handled 100 takeaway orders daily. Then came the ban on single-use plastics. The thali had 11 items, so these had to be packed in 11 separate non-single-use containers, which inflated costs and hurt the profits. The biodegradable alternative meant a packaging cost of Rs. 42 added to a Rs. 140 thali. As a result, takeaway orders had to be discontinued. Thanks to app-based food delivery platforms, the city had 75,000 food parcel deliveries a day, and this figure is now falling. The restaurant industry is awaiting clear and specific guidelines on what exactly is permissible – and what is not permissible – from the government and municipal authorities. Single-use plastic has been banned, but economic alternatives are not yet available. (11-10-2019)
Please verify your information in the electoral roll: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has launched a mega Electoral Verification Program (EVP) to update and authenticate electoral details. All citizens should participate in the verification program so that the Commission can provide better electoral services in all forthcoming elections. The program will continue till 15th October. Under this program, the existing voter will be able to alter, add, modify, and verify details in the electoral roll by logging on to the National Voter's Service Portal (NVSP), mobile app and various other facilitation centers. Each person will get a username and password through which he/she can also update details about family members. These details will be further verified by the concerned Block Level Officer. Voters can easily access the electoral details which they can authenticate and get rectified in case of any mistake. The main objective behind the launch of this program is to improve the electoral rolls by removing errors. The EVP has however not generated much interest with the 4.5 crore voters of Gujarat. So far only five per cent of the state’s voters have verified their data. (10-10-2019)
GNFC’s neem products may be sold in Vadodara’s gardens: The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) is considering a proposal to permit Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd. (GNFC) to open sales outlets in some of the city's gardens to sell the latter’s neem-based products. The proposal is before the civic body’s standing committee. GNFC, a joint sector enterprise promoted by the Government of Gujarat and the Gujarat State Fertilizers & Chemicals Ltd. (GSFC), was set up in Bharuch in 1976. GNFC’s Neem Project involves the rural poor, mostly landless labourers and specifically women, in neem seed collection. The collectors sell the seeds at nearby Village Level Collection Centres (VLCCs). These seeds are transported through a well-established supply chain to the oil expelling and extraction units. The oil extracted is used for coating Urea and in manufacturing a range of products including neem cake fertilizer, neem soap, neem oil (for personal care and domestic use), neem repellent and neem pesticide. (10-10-2019)
Parents will be penalised heavily if their underage child is caught driving: The traffic police in Ahmedabad will be taking strict action against parents of underage drivers. The punishment can be as high as Rs. 25,000 and a jail term of up to three years! Parents of minors caught driving a vehicle will be called to the spot to pay the fine and will be booked under sections 199A and 199B of the amended Motor Vehicles Act. If a minor is driving a vehicle belonging to somebody other than his or her parents, the police will book the vehicle owner. If a motor vehicle is used by a child, registration of the vehicle may be cancelled for one year. Thereafter, a fresh application will have to be submitted for registration. Also, the underage driver will not be able to get a learner's licence till the age of 25 years. (09-10-2019)
Gujarat government will add more old age homes: To help out the elderly who do not have family support, the Gujarat government is likely to increase the number of old age homes. The state government currently runs five old age homes. Ten more have been sanctioned – in Amreli, Porbandar, Botad, Somnath, Dev Bhoomi Dwarka, Dangs, Aravali, Tapi, Chhota Udepur and Valsad districts. The government already gives grants to 45 social organisations that run old age homes; funding to these organisations will also be increased. Plans are being made to set up old age homes in all districts. Each old age home will take in 50 persons, and this number will be gradually increased. The state government will not fund private old age homes. Support will be extended only to those persons who cannot afford private old age homes and do not have family support. (09-10-2019)
Crocodile census shows 168 crocodiles in city stretch of Vishwamitri river: According to the crocodile census conducted in February this year there are 168 crocodiles in the Vishwamitri river between Sama bridge on the northern end of the city and Talsat located on the southern end. Of these 168 crocodiles, 117 were in the 9.5 km stretch between Narhari Hospital to Kalaghoda and Munj Mahuda to Vadsar bridge. There are more crocodiles in the river close to the densely urban areas because the river in this stretch has more greenery and is open from both sides. At the same time, the riverbank is relatively undisturbed. The crocodile census, initiated by the NGO Pagdand, was carried out by 90 people, including 30 forest department employees. (08-10-2019)
Ahmedabad-Mumbai private train to start in November: Tejas Express, the privately-run train service between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, is likely to begin operations from November. The train will run six days a week (except on Thursday). It will have two classes – executive and AC chair car. Bookings will be done only by IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation). Tickets will not be available at railway reservation counters. The train will start from Ahmedabad at 6.40 a.m. and reach Mumbai Central at 1.10 p.m. (Vadodara-8.08 a.m.; Surat-9.35 a.m.). For the return journey, it will start from Mumbai Central at 3.40 p.m. and reach Ahmedabad at 9.55 p.m. (Surat-6.57 p.m.; Vadodara-8.20 p.m.). The fare will be flexible in nature. No concessions in fares will be given. The Ahmedabad-Mumbai Tejas Express is the second private train under IRCTC. (08-10-2019)
Restoration begins of two more MS University heritage buildings: MS University (MSU) will soon begin work on the renovation, restoration and conservation of two heritage buildings – the Faculty of Education and Psychology and the Faculty of Science. Several months back the university had received a grant of Rs. 15 crore from the Gujarat government to give a facelift to the heritage buildings on the MSU campus. Restoration work has already been completed on four heritage buildings – the Population Research Centre, the English department, the D.N. Hall and the Centre for Continuing Lifelong Learning. The work that will now be taken up will also include the Experimental School building and the open air theatre. Work orders have already been placed and the amount involved for these two buildings is Rs. 3 crore each. Considering that these are heritage structures no additions or alterations will be made, and no foreign materials will be used. (07-10-2019)
State education department stipulates 40-hour week for lecturers: A Gujarat state education department circular issued recently states that lecturers affiliated with state-run or grant-in-aid colleges must compulsorily work for seven hours a day – Monday to Friday – and five hours on Saturday. The total should be 40 hours a week. It further stipulates that there must be a minimum of 180 educational working days a year. This decision is based on guidelines from the University Grants Commission (UGC). The existing timings are six hours – Monday to Friday – and five hours on Saturday. The new stipulation is likely to affect the timings of those colleges which function in two shifts. (07-10-2019)
Deadline for helmets and PUC extended to October 31: The Gujarat government has extended the implementation date of the amended Motor Vehicle Act by postponing to October 31 the date for imposing the helmet rule, the deadline for getting the Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate and the deadline for installing High-Security Registration Plates (HSRP). The deadline has been extended due to the impending festive season. Fines will be collected as per the old norms. Those who do not renew their driving licences for over a year will have to get a learning licence through an online application; they will not have to appear for the computer test but will have to give the driving test before a new licence is issued. All RTOs will remain open on all public holidays, including Sunday, to meet the increased rush of people. However, October 8 (Dussehra) will be a holiday. Those who buy new two-wheelers will have to be provided with an ISI mark helmet by showrooms. (06-10-2019)
Gujarat’s schools will get environment laboratories: All primary and secondary schools in Gujarat will be equipped with an environment laboratory. In the first phase 6,000 schools will be covered. There are about 45,000 primary and secondary schools in the state. The objective is to make students aware of nature and the advantages of environment protection. Students will be introduced to subjects like kitchen gardens, herbal gardens, organic fertilisers, greenhouses, drip irrigation, rainwater harvesting, rooftop harvesting and living without single-use plastics. The state education department has instructed all concerned officials to begin implementing the new initiative. (06-10-2019)
MS University students are happy with campus facilities: Students of MS University (MSU) seem to be generally happy with the basic amenities and facilities on the campus. MSU’s Internal Quality Assurance Cell recently conducted a student satisfaction survey to get feedback on campus cleanliness, canteens, hostels, wi-fi connectivity, sports and library facilities, laboratories, equipment, classrooms and auditoriums. Over 32,000 students were given a questionnaire featuring 34 questions. The analysis of the survey was done by students of the statistics department at the Faculty of Science. MSU authorities will draw up future plans based on this feedback from students. (05-10-2019)
Gujarat eases norms for setting up new schools: The Gujarat government has made it easier for people to set up new schools in the state. The rules regarding land requirements for setting up new schools have been relaxed. The government seems to be reacting to the fact that there has been a substantial decline in new self-financed schools after stricter norms were implemented by the state education board this year. A major hurdle was that many applicants could not meet the condition that school trusts should own a large piece of land. The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) will now re-introduce the earlier norms which permitted school managements to even lease land – for 15 years – for new schools. Companies wanting to set up schools as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity will be exempted from the land lease agreement requirements. (05-10-2019)
Gujarat may amend MSME Act: The Gujarat cabinet has approved a draft ordinance to amend the MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises ) Act so that entrepreneurs can start production without waiting for approvals from government agencies and secure clearances once their business stabilises. Formal approval is awaited. About 100,000 MSMEs get approvals annually through the industries commissionerate portal. They need permissions from 12 different departments (such as industry and mines, urban local bodies, village panchayats, pollution control board, revenue department, etc.) and the start of production can get delayed by up to three years. With about 33 lakh MSMEs, the sector is the largest employer in the state. MSMEs will now get three years to stabilise their businesses before they need clearances. This will reduce delays and minimise avenues for corruption. (04-10-2019)
Teacher spends Rs. 1 lakh to buy 1000 umbrellas for students: To encourage students to attend school on rainy days, an elementary school teacher in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu has distributed one thousand umbrellas to financially weak families. She spent Rs. one lakh. She had observed that students were often forced to skip school during the monsoon season as they did not have umbrellas or raincoats to protect themselves from the rain. She distributed umbrellas to students from 16 schools. The teacher is a mother of two daughters, both MBBS graduates. She has been teaching students from classes 1 to 5 at the school for the past 28 years. (04-10-2019)
Rahul/Sandhya Gajjar to speak at University of California, Berkeley: Barodians Sandhya Gajjar and Rahul Gajjar will deliver a talk – 'Champaner-Pavagadh: From the unknown to the well-known – on 11th October at the University of California, Berkeley. Photographer Rahul Gajjar and curator and art historian Sandhya Gajjar will talk on the archaeological, heritage, environmental and architectural aspects of Champaner-Pavagadh, UNESCO World Heritage Site in Gujarat. The illustrated talk will trace the challenges of heritage protection and preservation faced by countries like India with ancient civilizations (and therefore with a lot of built heritage all over the country). How was Champaner-Pavagadh unearthed? What was the importance of its architecture on Mughal India? How did Heritage Trust, a small non-profit based in Vadodara, take on the cause of Champaner-Pavagadh and successfully get it designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site? The talk will also cover the man-heritage conflict issues raised. Sandhya Gajjar has been writing extensively on contemporary Indian art, architecture, cultural issues and social development subjects over the last 35 years in newspapers and magazines. She has written extensively for art catalogues and also been invited on juries for art shows. She has collaborated with art galleries in India and UK to curate exhibitions. She undertakes research projects related to cultural documentation and has been involved with art management, organisation and consultancy. Rahul Gajjar studied Graphic Design and Photography at the Faculty of Fine Arts, MS University of Baroda. He has had exhibitions of his photographs and digital fine art prints in the UK, USA, UAE, France, Peru and Italy and all over India. He has been honored with the Gujarat Gaurav Puraskar in 2011 for his contribution for photographic documentation of Champaner-Pavagadh. (03-10-2019)
MS University alumnus wins Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize: The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has announced the names of the recipients of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for 2019. The list includes twelve eminent scientists from various research institutions across the country. The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, an annual award in science and technology, is named after CSIR founder Director Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar. The award recognises outstanding contributions in the Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Engineering Sciences, Medical Sciences and Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Sciences. The award is announced each year on the 26th of September to mark the CSIR Foundation Day. It comprises a citation, a plaque, a cash award of Rs. 5 lakh and an endowment of Rs. 15,000 per month up to the age of 65 years. One of the winners this year is an alumnus of MS University of Baroda (MSU) – Prof. Dishant Mayurbhai Pancholi. He won the award in the field of Mathematical Sciences; he is currently with the Institute of Mathematical Science, Chennai. Prof Pancholi works on differential geometry, a field of mathematics that uses calculus and algebra to study problems in geometry.  He did his B.Sc. from MSU (1993-96) and M.Sc. Mathematics also from MSU (1996-98). He did his Ph.D. from the School of Mathematics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai (1999-2006). (03-10-2019)
59 percent of women in rural Gujarat are self-employed: Data from the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) indicates that 59 percent of women in rural Gujarat are self-employed. This is 11 percent higher than the urban figure of 48 percent. Here is a true story from the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA). Ms Veena Panchal did her cooking using a firewood ‘chulha’ in her village in Aravalli district. Given an LPG connection under a government scheme in 2014, she went on to help 5,000 other women to get an LPG stove. She took training from SEWA and started a small gas stove repair business. She subsequently trained seven other women to start such a business. The SEWA spokesperson says that rural women are mostly in the food processing, beauty, wellness and trading sectors. Considering that job opportunities in rural areas are limited, self-employment is often a very viable and sustainable alternative. (02-10-2019)
Cops will get basic firefighting training: The Vadodara fire department will be giving some basic training to the city’s police personnel on handling fire emergencies. The city’s fire department is a bit understaffed and can use some additional help in big emergencies. Also, there are more police personnel than firefighters, so they can reach an emergency area faster than the firefighters. Because they are usually closer to the action the police personnel can quickly start tackling the emergency until the fire department personnel arrive. The cops can play a very critical role by assisting the firefighting force. (02-10-2019)
Plastic ban is hurting the plastic industry: To highlight its opinion that the proposed blanket ban on single-use plastic will make about 60 lakh people jobless and entire plants will be turned into scrap, the Vadodara Plastic and Disposables Association (VPDA) held a protest rally in the city on 30th September. Halol’s plastic bag manufacturers also took part in the rally. The association members submitted memorandums to the Vadodara district collector and the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC). The association wanted VMC to stop its officials from arbitrarily seizing plastic even if it is over 50 microns thick. The association feels that better facilities should be set up to segregate plastic and recycle it; this will be a better option compared to the outright ban. (01-10-2019)
Dizziness is not a mental illness: A cement company employee had a bout of dizziness and a headache in January 2015. He was admitted to a private hospital, treated and discharged after five days. As an indoor patient at the hospital he had consulted a neurologist. He claimed the hospital expenses from the insurance company. The insurance company rejected his claim on the grounds that his medical policy does not cover psychosomatic disorders (a psychosomatic disorder is a condition in which psychological stresses adversely affect physiological functioning to the point of distress). The Vadodara district Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has ruled against the insurance company and directed it to pay the employee Rs. 30,000 for the treatment cost, along with Rs. 3,000 by way of compensation. The patient’s lawyer had submitted medical documents and certificates confirming that his headache and dizziness was an acute condition and not a mental illness. (01-10-2019)
Fancy phones at the civic body’s cost: There has been a lot of criticism recently about some senior functionaries of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) getting costly cell phones paid for by the civic body. The phones were procured for a few officials of both the elected as well as the administrative wings. Some such incidents were also reported about the Surat Municipal Corporation. The subject surfaced after someone sent an email to the Gujarat chief minister complaining about such extravagance. The cost of the phones is between Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 1.2 lakh each. Following the adverse publicity some of the ‘beneficiaries’ have returned their phones. (30-09-2019)
Parul launches integrated BTech plus MTech programme: Vadodara based Parul University has started an integrated BTech plus MTech programme with ESIGELEC, a French school of engineers in Rouen, France. This is the first programme of its kind between India and France. Parul University students will be able to pursue their degree programme for three years and six months and then go abroad for their masters programme for one year and six months. Engineering students can take this comprehensive programme from the point of admission. Parul is a private university established in 2009; it was given university status in 2015. (30-09-2019)
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