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Fine Arts Fair returns after 9 years: MS University’s Faculty of Fine Arts will hold its Fine Arts Fair on January 11 and 12, between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. It has been held every two or three years ever since it was started in 1961 by late professor Shankho Chowdhary and professor K.G. Subramanyan. However, the last fair was held way back in 2011; it will make its appearance again after a gap of nine years. Over 300 students and staff members are working round the clock to make sure the fair passes off successfully. The fair features several subjects: mobile installations, live puppet shows, theatre, films, creative crafts, affordable arts, children’s books, innovative gate decorations, hand-crafted toys, enamel arts, ceramic crafts, textile designs, handmade jewellery in metal, ceramics, calendars, portfolios, sculptures, etc. The funds generated by the fair are generally donated to some worthwhile causes – victims of earthquakes and tsunamis, riot victims, jawans in border areas, survivors of natural calamities, needy students who require financial assistance, etc. (10-01-2020)
Cherish the girl child, God’s gift to the world: Social activist and former sarpanch Mr. Shyam Sundar Paliwal – living in a village called Piplantri in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district – visited Vadodara recently to interact with students and staff of the Faculty of Social Work at city based Parul University (PU). The story that he narrated has lessons for people all over India, especially in rural areas. He started the ‘Kiran Nidhi Yojana’ in Piplantri after he lost his daughter Kiran in 2007. The scheme starts with the birth of a girl child in the village. When a girl child is born, 111 trees are planted and a fixed deposit of Rs. 31,000 is made – the family putting in Rs, 10,000 and the balance being contributed by the NGO, the panchayat and other villagers. On every Raksha Bandhan day, a thread is tied to each sapling. As the saplings are nurtured they grow into trees and are treated like family members. The entire region now has thousands of trees. A personal tragedy has been transformed into something that is good for the entire village. Also, as the girls in the village grow they are assured of sufficient – and growing – funds to meet their education needs. The village and its surroundings become greener, and the girls become self-reliant. Piplantri has been transformed into a model self-sustaining village where women self-help groups have planted aloe vera, bamboo and rose plants to manufacture products that generate employment at the local level. Out of the population of 5,500, employment generation has been achieved for 1,200 residents; migration to bigger cities has been reduced. Mr. Paliwal interacted with the sarpanchs of villages in and around Vadodara to show them how they too can work for the holistic development of their surroundings. (09-01-2020)
Helmets are likely to be back again: The Gujarat government may have to change its decision to make the wearing of helmets optional in cities and towns. This may be due to the adverse reaction of the Supreme Court-monitored road safety committee, following which the central government issued an advisory to states that they cannot lower penalties below the level prescribed in the new Motor Vehicles Act. The state government now says it will act according to the direction of the Supreme Court or central government. (09-01-2020)
Vehicle sales in Vadodara lowest in Gujarat: Compared to 2018, the registration of vehicles in Vadodara city registered a 72 % drop in 2019. Only 26,000 vehicles were registered in 2019. This is the steepest fall in Gujarat in 2019, more than Ahmedabad, Surat and Rajkot. The two-wheeler segment showed a decline of 68% in 2019. The main reason for this decline could be the economic slowdown. Another reason is the increasing difficulty of parking all over the city. Also, sales have been hit a bit by the shift from BS-IV cars to BS-VI cars. Sales from Vadodara’s dealers were also affected by floods and excessive rainfall squeezing the purchasing power in the city’s neighbouring rural areas. (09-01-2020)
Stiff penalty imposed for dumping garbage into Vishwamitri: A man had recently hosted a dinner at his home on some social occasion. As usual, a lot of food was left over. Instead of asking a municipal van to collect the garbage for a small fee or asking an NGO to pick up the food left over for distribution to the needy, the man chose to put the garbage into a truck and dump it into the Vishwamitri river from Vadsar bridge. An alert citizen happened to see the act. He shot a video and sent the ‘evidence’ to the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC). VMC was able to quickly trace the owner of the truck. The disposal of garbage in a waterbody attracts a very stiff fine and the truck’s owner was fined Rs. one lakh. He paid up promptly. Non-payment can lead to action against him under the Gujarat Provincial Municipalities Act and the Environment Protection Act. (08-01-2020)
Six new flyovers likely in city: The Gujarat government has given in-principle approval for construction of six flyovers in Vadodara. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) will commission a survey to study how seven traffic junctions in the city can be improved. Asked to give details of flyovers that can be constructed within Rs. 50 crore each, VMC had suggested seven locations where flyovers can be constructed to streamline traffic flow. The flyovers will cost about Rs. 270 crore. The state government will also release 10 percent of this amount as grants. VMC will have to bear the extra expenses involved in constructing the flyovers. The surveys will be conducted by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) at seven junctions – Vrundavan crossroads, Khodiyarnagar crossroads, Sardar Estate junction, Sangam crossroads, Vasna Road crossroads, Sama pond crossroads and Manekpark crossroads. The study will cost Rs. 26 lakh plus GST; it will be completed in three months. (08-01-2020)
MSU strengthens academic and research collaborations: MS University (MSU) has signed MoUs with seven international universities to strengthen its academic and research collaborations. The Faculty of Science signed two MoUs with University of South Florida, Tampa, USA, and Arbonaut Oy Limited, Finland. The Faculty of Technology and Engineering signed MoUs St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, USA, Instituto Superior Tecnico, Lisbon, Portugal, and Liuzhov Vocational and Technical College, China. The Faculty of Education and Psychology signed an MoU with Universidade De Vigo, Spain, and Faculty of Fine Arts with the l'École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, France. The MoUs were facilitated by MSU’s Office of International Affairs (OIA). (08-01-2020)
Surat reprocesses 95% of its solid waste: The Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) is doing a good job in quickly reprocessing the solid waste generated by the city. It reprocess almost 95% out of the 1,800 tonnes of waste generated every day; only 80 tonnes is dumped at the waste disposal site. Surat, with 14 lakh households and a population of 50 lakh, spends over Rs. 25 crore to keep the city clean. Nearly 800 tonnes of wet waste is converted into manure, and 750 tonnes of dry waste is recycled into refuse derived fuel (RDF). If the fuel has no buyers it is dumped at the waste disposal site. The material recovery facility separates all the recyclable elements in the waste. Buyers are sent plastic waste, e-waste and construction and demolition waste separately from the site; a 300-tonnes plant segregates the wastes. SMC says that Surat is probably the only city that processes its own waste fully. (07-01-2020)
Vadodara will have India’s first nuclear-grade sodium plant: India’s first plant to manufacture nuclear grade sodium will be set up in Vadodara by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). The plant will come up in the existing Heavy Water Plant (HWP) complex in the city. The industrial level production of high purity sodium follows the successful operation of a demonstration plant. The plant will produce 600 metric tonnes of sodium per year. High purity sodium is presently imported. It is used to manufacture insecticides, synthetic detergents, dyes, vitamins and drugs. It is also needed for fast breeder nuclear reactors. HWP also plans to expand its capacity to manufacture specially deuterated compounds which are imported at present. HWP is likely to collaborate with MS University to develop deuterated drug compounds. (07-01-2020)
Rules relaxed for setting up new schools in Gujarat: The number of new schools approved by the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) dropped by 80% after strict rules were introduced. GSHSEB has now announced more lenient rules for setting up new schools:
… School managements will be allowed to set up schools on land that is leased for 15 years. If the land use purpose is changed during this period, the school will be shut down.
… The area required for the school playground has been reduced from 1,200 sq metres to 800 sq metres in urban areas, and from 2,000 sq metres to 1,500 sq metres in rural areas.
… New rules have been framed regarding safety measures to be taken at playgrounds.
… There should be 400 sq feet of dedicated space for science and computer laboratories for the secondary and higher secondary levels.
… There should be 250 sq feet of office space for the principal and teaching staff.
… The schools must be equipped with CCTV cameras.
… The schools must have the necessary BU and NA clearances.
… If a school has submitted false documents, it will be shut down immediately. (07-01-2020)
Projects sanctioned for corporations and municipalities: The Gujarat government has approved development works worth Rs. 1,800 crores for the six municipal corporations and seven municipalities. The projects involve construction of flyovers, infrastructure development, roads, railway underbridges, storm water drains, water supply systems, fire safety equipment, CT scan machines, MRI machines, urban health centres, cultural centres, multilevel parking, swimming pools, gyms, etc. Vadodara’s allocation is Rs. 179 crores. (06-01-2020)
Rural institute introduces mushrooms to tribals: The efforts of Vadodara based Anil Satapathy may help to change the common perception of mushrooms – from being an exotic food item to becoming an affordable and routine dish on the menu. Satapathy’s Rural Institute for Stimulating Tribal Areas (RISTA) has successfully introduced mushrooms to the tribal people in around 100 villages on an experimental basis. Farmers have gladly accepted the new fungiculture (cultivation of mushrooms and other fungi), and many of them are also consuming the product. RISTA taught the farmers how to grow mushrooms and also how to cook them. Mushrooms are an excellent answer to the problem of malnutrition. Different varieties of mushrooms can be cultivated throughout the year. The Savli Technology and Business Incubator of the Gujarat State Biotechnology Mission has provided space to RISTA for this project. The cultivation and cooking techniques have been demonstrated to villagers, school children and forest department employees from over 100 villages in the districts of Dahod, Panchmahal, Chhota Udepur, Narmada and Vadodara. (06-01-2020)
Gujarat proposes Rs. 1.90 lakh crore investment over 5 years: All state governments are supposed to submit investment estimates in infrastructure projects under the central government’s National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP). For the period from 2019-20 to 2024-25 the Gujarat government has projected investments worth Rs. 1.90 lakh crore in 314 projects from 13 departments. The total for the other states is projected at Rs. 102 lakh crore. At Rs. 50,000 crore, Gujarat’s urban development department had the highest share of Gujarat’s proposed investments, followed by the energy and petrochemicals department (Rs. 40,000 crore) and the roads and building department (Rs. 37,000 crore). (06-01-2020)
Buy unreserved railway tickets via mobile app: The Pune Division of Indian Railways is offering passengers travelling with unreserved tickets a 5 per cent discount if they book tickets through the Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS) mobile app. Tickets for suburban and non-suburban stations can be booked on the mobile app. As part of an awareness campaign, railway employees have been giving demonstrations of the mobile app to passengers at several suburban stations. This easy-to-use facility ensures that passengers do not have to waste time in long queues at ticketing windows. (05-01-2020)
Gujarat rated best performing state for startups: The National Startup Ranking for 2018 has found that Gujarat was the best performing state. This is as per a report of NASSCOM and consulting firm Zinnov. The parameters assessed were incubation support, seed funding support, institutional support, simplified regulations, easing public procurement, awareness and outreach and venture funding support. Thanks to state government schemes 33 nodal institutions and startup incubators are promoting the growth of startups. There are over 236 operational startups in the state, and they are in various fields – pharmacology, medicine, geology, healthtech, food and nutrition, nutraceuticals, envirotech and ecological issues. (05-01-2020)
Unleashed pet dog bites four persons, owner gets jail sentence: A local court in Ahmedabad has sentenced a man to one year in jail and a fine of Rs. 150 because his dog attacked four persons. He had unleashed the dog and the court called this a clear act of negligence. The state government had asked for the maximum punishment of two years under IPC section 338 for causing grievous hurt and putting others' lives in danger. The government wanted to set an example so that pet lovers keep their pets in control. The incident took place in a residential colony. (05-01-2020)
Railways now has a single helpline number ‘139': The Indian Railways now has a single helpline number – 139 – for grievance redressal and inquiries by passengers during train journeys. This number will replace all existing helpline numbers – except 182. 182 is the helpline for assistance related to thefts and other criminal incidents. The ‘139’ number will available in 12 languages and it will be based on the Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS). Calls to it can be made from any mobile phone – not just smart phones. For security and medical assistance, passengers will have to press 1 which will immediately connect the callers to call centre executives. For inquiries, passengers will need to press 2 which will connect to a sub-menu depending on the requirements. (04-01-2020)
Vadodara Marathon will have one lakh participants: The eighth edition of Vadodara International Marathon (VIM) will see 1,02,000 participants starting off from the Navlakhi Ground on 5th January. The Gujarat chief minister will flag off the race. In addition to the four main categories – 42 km, 21 km, 10 km, 5 km – there are other races too, such as Inox Divyang Paralympic Run, Linde Swachchta Run, KYB Conmat NGO Pledge Run and Rameshwar Transport Jawan Run. The marathon is approved by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS). Runners from 11 countries will be participating. The causes that VIM will take up this year are organ donation, plastic-free Vadodara, swachchta and women empowerment. There are 187 registrations in 42 kms run, 1,179 in 21 kms run and 4,175 in 10 kms run. Any Indian runner who breaks the national record in full or half marathon in both male or female category will be awarded Rs. one lakh. (04-01-2020)
Citizen friendly government health centres start evening OPDs: Chhattisgarh has introduced evening OPDs in government health centres for the convenience of workers, office-goers and the poor. The new schedule will feature a two-hour break and two hours of service in the evening. At present OPDs function from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The new timings will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in winter and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in summer in urban and rural health centres. With the revised timings many workers will not have to take leave in order to visit the health centre. Medical college timings will not be changed. Gujarat too is considering the introduction of similar schedules, and officials are closely watching the Chhattisgarh experience. (04-01-2020)
The new year may cost a little more: Some products and some services have already welcomed the new year with new rates:
Railway fares: 1 paise per km for Ordinary non-AC classes; 2 paise per km for Mail/Express non-AC classes; Suburban fare and Season tickets: no increase.
LPG: The prices of non-subsidised Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) or cooking gas has been increased. The prices of LPG cylinders have been increased.
Toll fee without FASTag on national highways: Will be charged at twice the normal rate.
Refrigerators and Acs: Some of these may cost more because of the new energy labelling norms.
Cars: May cost more after the implementation of BS-VI.
Can you think of any product or service which may come down in price? (03-01-2020)
Government will hold roadshows for 'Study in Gujarat' initiative: The Gujarat government wants to attract more students from abroad and other parts of India to pursue courses in the state’s universities. The government has launched a 'Study in Gujarat' initiative and the education minister, senior officials and representatives of several universities will travel to various countries and hold roadshows there to market the state as a higher education destination. The roadshows  in West Asia – Kuwait, Dubai, Muscat and Riyadh – will be from January 15 to 22. Roadshows will also be held in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Bhutan. In India, the roadshows will be in Ranchi, Indore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Patna, Nashik and Srinagar. The state government has roped in 22 government and private universities and four colleges for this campaign. (03-01-2020)
Phone allowances of Punjab government employees are luxurious: The Punjab government is taking a fresh look at the cell phone allowances of its 3.15 lakh employees which add up to a whopping Rs. 101.2 crore annually. The allowance was fixed in October 2011, much before the corporate schemes that phone companies offer today. While the charges have reduced to almost half, the phone allowances have remained unchanged, and the closed user group facility has not been introduced. Some employees get Rs. 500 every month, some Rs. 300 and some Rs. 250. A more efficient way of determining allowances can save the government Rs. 45.3 crore every year. Does anyone know what the allowances are in Gujarat? Incidentally, it seems that Punjab’s government employees get the highest salaries in India; the annual salary bill is Rs. 24,000 crore. (03-01-2020)
Five new medical colleges proposed in state: The Gujarat government wants to start five new medical colleges – with 100 MBBS seats each – under a Central government scheme. The proposed locations are Godhra in Panchmahal, Khambhalia in Devbhumi-Dwarka, Veraval in Gir-Somnath, Botad and Morbi. Of the estimated cost of Rs. 1,625 crores, the Centre’s share will be 60 per cent. Land will be provided by the state government free of cost. With these five colleges the total number of MBBS seats in the state will be over 6300. After the new colleges are upgraded according to the norms of the Medical Council of India (MCI), the existing government hospitals in Panchmahal, Gir-Somnath, Devbhumi-Dwarka, Botad and Morbi districts will be attached to them. To run a medical college, MCI rules stipulate that the attached hospital must have at least 300 beds. The central government has identified 75 districts in India which do not have a medical college. (02-01-2020)
‘Jiyo Parsi’ scheme increases community’s population marginally: The ‘Jiyo Parsi’ scheme was launched in 2013-14 after the 2011 census data revealed that the Parsi population was only 57,264, a sharp decline from the 1941 figure of 1,14,000. There are several reasons for the low Parsi population, including low rate of marriages and delayed marriages. Since the scheme was launched the number of children born to Parsi couples was 230. In order to encourage more couples to have children the scheme offered reimbursements for medical interventions like fertility treatments, Assisted Reproductive Technologies and counselling. Financial assistance of Rs. 4,000 for creche support per child up to the age of 8 is given to couples who fall within a specified income bracket. Because of the large proportion of elders in the community, younger couples have to look after several elders. The scheme therefore provides for a senior citizen honorarium of Rs. 3,000 for childcare per child per month up to the age of 10 years. Assistance of Rs. 4,000 per month per person after the age of 60 years is also provided. Younger couples are now opting to have not only one, but two children. Earlier, the average was one child below the age of 10 in nine families. It is common knowledge that the small Parsi community has by and large played a very substantial role in India’s life. While most Parsis live in Maharashtra, Gujarat too is home to many Parsis. (02-01-2020)
Tourists rush to Statue of Unity to end 2019: The last week of 2019 saw a record number of visitors at the Statue of Unity (SoU) at Kevadia. Between December 25 and December 31 the government earned a revenue of Rs. 3.78 crore from over 1.77 lakh tourists. The largest number of visitors – 39,123 – was recorded on Sunday (29th December). The Narmada district authorities were well prepared to handle the rush, and the parking, drinking water and sanitation arrangements proved to be adequate. Additional buses were also pressed into service on all the routes to the SoU. Between November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2019 the daily average of visitors was 8,653. New tourist attractions have also been added near the SoU – children’s nutrition park, butterfly park, cactus garden, river rafting, boating, etc. (02-01-2020)
Vadodara ranked fourth in Swachh Sarvekshan League 2020: In the second quarter Swachh Sarvekshan three Gujarat cities – Rajkot, Vadodara and Ahmedabad — have ranked in the top ten cities of the country. Rajkot occupies the second position, Vadodara fourth and Ahmedabad sixth. Vadodara which was earlier not even in the top 20 cities with a populations over 10 lakh jumped to the fourth position. Surat, ranked third in the first quarter, dropped to 20th position. The results for the July-September 2019 quarter were announced by the ministry for housing and urban affairs on December 31. Ahmedabad is the only metro city to find a place in the top 10 in the country. The others in the top 10: Indore (1), Navi Mumbai (3), Bhopal (5), Nashik (7), Greater Mumbai (8), Allahabad (9), Lucknow (10). (01-01-2020)
Board examinations from March 5 to 21: The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) will conduct the Class X and XII board exams from March 5 to March 21. The schedule has been posted on the board’s website. About 17.4 lakh students are expected to appear for the exams this year. This is 30,000 to 40,000 less than last year because the number of repeaters and external students has reduced. (01-01-2020)
Gujarat’s lion census will cover 25,000 sq km in 7 districts: Lion Census 2020 will be conducted in Gujarat in May with the help of experts from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII). In the 2015 census the area covered was 15,000 sq km. This time lions will be counted in a 25,000 sq km area spread across seven districts. The earlier census recorded 523 lions in Gujarat. This number may touch 1,000 now. The technology to be used in the census is the one that was adopted by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). About 8,000 to 10,000 cameras will be used to ‘trap’ the lions in this exercise. (01-01-2020)
Celebrate the New Year, but do so peacefully: The Vadodara police have made elaborate arrangements to ensure that New Year celebrations pass off peacefully in the city. Special arrangements have been made to guard against people drinking, harassing ladies and creating trouble on the roads and while driving. All entry points to the city are being monitored closely for the movement of bootleggers. About 25 different areas of the city have been identified where police teams will check vehicles and passengers for signs of drunken behaviour. Female cops are also in the checking teams to administer breathalyser tests to women. One company of the Rapid Action Force and one platoon of the State Reserve Police have also been deployed. Among the spots receiving special attention are Sayajigunj’s Dairy Den Circle, Fatehgunj Main Road and Akota-Dandia Bazar Road. Police personnel will be equipped with LED illuminated batons and shoulder lights to make their presence felt in crowded areas. All anti-social elements are being watched carefully. People celebrating in public after 12.30 p.m. will be requested to go home. (31-12-2019)
Pune civic body to set up children’s library in civic gardens: The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) will start children’s libraries in six of its civic gardens on a pilot basis. The objective is to promote the reading habit among children and keep them away from mobile phone addiction. Members of Pune city’s women and child welfare committee feel that children are today more keen on chatting on cellphones and browsing the Internet rather than reading. Video games and chatting have moved on from being entertainment tools to becoming an addiction. This addiction has an adverse impact on the physical and mental health of children, and many parents fail to appreciate this. Pune Municipal Corporation oversees 199 civic gardens in the city. (31-12-2019)
Gujarat’s forest cover increased by 100 sq km in two years: According to the Forest Survey of India figures Gujarat’s forest cover has gone up by about 100 sq km between 2017 and 2019, but the open forest area has shrunk by 200 sq km in the same period. Forest cover increased from 14,757 sq km to 14,857 sq km. There has been no change in the dense forest area, which remained at 378 sq km. The report says that 75,672 hectares of plantation was done in this period. The area of moderately dense forest went down by 686 sq km. The increase in the open forest area was because of the increased presence of a shrub – Gando Bawal – which is about 6% of the total green cover in rural areas. The state has 1,102 species of trees and 37 species of shrubs. (31-12-2019)
Only 15% attendance in Gujarat's higher learning institutions: Over 84 % of the students pursuing higher education in Gujarat do not attend their classes. Gujarat ranks next to Odisha, which is right at the bottom of the table in India. This startling fact emerged from a report published recently by the Union government on students bunking classes or dropping out at the higher secondary level. The report – Key Indicators of Household Social Consumption on Education in India – reveals that only 15% attendance is recorded in higher learning institutions in Gujarat. The figures are for the period between July 2017 and July 2018. Students in the age group of three to 35 years were considered for the report. Upper class students had a poorer attendance record. At primary level, attendance was 99.1%, at secondary level 88.3%, at higher secondary level 59.2%. In colleges and professional courses bunking was 87.4%. Only 28% of the students from rural areas and 58% from urban areas could complete their secondary and higher secondary studies. In Gujarat only 20.4% of girl students from rural areas completed their secondary and above studies; the figure was 50.5% in urban areas. The report says 41% of the students bunked classes because of economic activities and 21.4% due to a financial crunch. About 15% were simply not interested in pursuing education. One other reason for poor attendance is long distances to educational institutions, specially for girls. Also, children in rural areas are expected to join their parents in earning a livelihood. (30-12-2019)
Radio frequency identification system to be used at MSU libraries: The radio frequency identification system (RFID) will be used by MS University (MSU) to locate books from the hundreds of racks in the various libraries on the sprawling campus. This will make things much simpler and a lot faster for students, teachers and research scholars. The RFID system will quickly – within minutes – locate any book anywhere on the campus. This automated material handling system will also speed up the process of returning books to their library shelves. The RFID tags affixed to books and library materials will contain a microchip which is programmed with identification and security information. Besides the massive Hansa Mehta Library with its 8 lakh books the MSU campus has 25 other libraries. The RFID exercise will cost about Rs. 3 crore. Phase 1 of this project will cover the rare books and manuscripts of the Oriental Institute. Once the system is fully in place students will be able to issue books to themselves. Security will also be improved and pilferage will reduce. Radio-frequency identification uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. (30-12-2019)
Record number of candidates apply for GSET: Over 25,000 candidates appeared for the Gujarat State Eligibility Test (GSET) in Gujarat on Sunday. A record number of candidates – 28,933 – had registered for GSET, of which 25,423 finally appeared for the test. The test was conducted in 23 subjects at 11 centres in the state. The GSET measures a candidate’s eligibility for the post of assistant professor in Gujarat’s universities and colleges. Not only did this year have the highest number of applications but it also saw the highest overall attendance of 88% in the test. MS University is the nodal agency for holding the GSET. (30-12-2019)
Financial assistance cleared for 4,000 MSU students: MS University is the first university in Gujarat to have started a scheme to give financial assistance to students on the basis of their economic status. For the 2019-2020 academic year the university received over 4,000 applications for scholarship. The directorate of students’ welfare (DSW) has selected 4,047 students as beneficiaries under the poor students’ welfare scheme. The MSU syndicate has cleared the proposal to disburse Rs. 90.55 lakh by way of scholarships to 2,389 boys and 1,658 girls. Since the time that this scheme was started the university has handed out Rs. 5.79 crore to 14,595 students. In this scheme the fees paid by students are completely or partially refunded based on their financial status. Financial assistance is deposited directly in the accounts of the beneficiary students. (29-12-2019)
Government may introduce centralised test for board schools: The Gujarat government wants to introduce a centralised standard assessment system for all government and private schools to improve the quality of education in the state. The new system may be implemented across 50,000 government and private schools and assess 1.2 crore children annually. Private school managements may not be too happy with this move. Last year the education department had introduced end-of-term and end-of-year centralised assessment covering over 4.3 million students in grades III to VIII in government schools. Now it is proposed to introduce the Uniform Centralised Learning Outcomes Assessments (UCLOA) for all 1.2 crore children in grades III to XII in all grant-in-aid and self-financed schools and government schools. For consistency of content for the centralised standard assessments, the education department will introduce uniform QR-coded textbooks for all subjects. (29-12-2019)
Broad-gauge rail link to Maruti Suzuki’s Becharaji plant: The Gujarat Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (G-RIDE) will lay a 26.6 km long broad-gauge railway line between the automobile manufacturing plant of Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) near Becharaji and Katosan Road. The Katosan Road-Becharaji-Chanasama-Ranuj stretch will be converted from the existing meter gauge to broad gauge and will include providing last mile connectivity of approximately three kilometres to MSIL. The project is expected to be completed in 24 months. This will be G-RIDE’s first joint venture project and it will cost Rs. 260 crore.  Bahucharaji Rail Corporation Ltd (BRCL – an independent special purpose vehicle (SPV) with equity participation of G-RIDE, MSIL and Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) – will execute the project. The project will also benefit industrial units in the Mandal Becharaji Special Investment Region (MBSIR) and GIDC’s upcoming Japanese business park by connecting these industrial centres to the existing Indian Railways network. (29-12-2019)
Startup launches electric kick-start scooter: A startup incubated by Gujarat University Startup and Entrepreneurship Council (GUSEC) has developed an electric kick-start scooter. It can cover 25 to 30 km on a single charge. The vehicle is meant for rental-based electric transportation and Gujarat University will be the first campus in South Asia to implement such a technology. The vehicle – called a Booz scooter – was launched recently by Ahmedabad based ‘Hello Skate Mobility’. The electric kick-start scooter takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to be fully charged. It uses online technology for locking and unlocking and mapping the vehicle’s location. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) seems to have expressed an interest in partnering with the startup to promote green mobility; it may consider deploying some of these scooters at the Sabarmati Riverfront. GUSEC – according to its website – is an early stage, zero-day, zero-cost, startup support system with a mission to convert 1% of the 1.5 million students in Gujarat who have opted for higher education into entrepreneurs from within the university ecosystem. Initially funded by the university, GUSEC is backed by a NIDHI-TBI grant along with other state government and non-government grants. (28-12-2019)
Few people are aware about the rights of consumers in Gujarat: Out of a population of over 6.50 crore in Gujarat only about 25 persons approach a consumer court on an average day. The Consumer Protection and Awareness Committee (CPAC) believes that this is due to a lack of awareness about the rights of consumers. The CPAC, a body that promotes consumer rights, organised an event recently in Ahmedabad to mark 34 years since the Consumer Protection Act was passed in India. According to the CPAC president, “Consumers are cheated on a very large scale, but the lack of awareness about their rights is responsible for the dismal number of cases filed in courts.” Even literate people do not know how and where to file Consumer complaints. (28-12-2019)
Many government schools do not provide safe drinking water: A recent report by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) stated that the Gujarat government’s nodal agency WASMO (Water and Sanitation Management Organisation) did not set any target to provide safe drinking water in village schools. The Gujarat assembly public accounts committee (PAC) has now criticised the government over the lack of adequate drinking water facilities at state-run schools. Of the 31,324 government-run schools, only 11,674 (37%) schools are getting proper water. At most schools the water treatment systems were substandard. Water samples were taken but no records were kept for scrutiny. Also, WASMO did have a proper system for the maintenance of the water treatment machines after installation in schools. (28-12-2019)
Ahmedabad will try out vacuum-based sewage system: Municipalities mostly use underground gravity-based sewage systems, but such systems suffer from frequent breakdowns and clogging. Often there are punctures which result in leaks. These factors combine to sometimes cause cave-ins which lead to traffic disruptions and chaos. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is now going to try out a vacuum-based sewage system; this system uses vacuum pumps to continuously suck sewage from the lines. Vacuum pressure and gravity will be used to collect, convey and dispose of waste water through a pipe network that can also be placed above the ground. RCC pipes will be replaced by high density polymer pipes which are four times smaller in diameter than the existing pipes. The first trial will be made in a congested area of the city; if the system can succeed in such an area then it should be adequate for the rest of the city. (27-12-2019)
Gujarat’s climate change department has unspent grants: Gujarat government’s climate change department had a budget allocation of Rs. 1,048.26 crore in the 2019-20 budget. However, it spent only Rs. 40.23 crore – just about 5% of the total allocation – in the first three quarters in the current financial year. A sum of Rs. 940 crore was given as subsidy for roof-top power generation schemes, and Rs. 108 crore was for other schemes. It seems that the energy and petrochemicals department is implementing the rooftop power generation scheme but power distribution companies are not buying the power. The other schemes – environmental research and ecological regeneration, e-rickshaw subsidy, energy audit of gram panchayats and other government agencies, climate change studies, etc. – have not really taken off; most of the grant has been spent on salary and administrative expenses. The climate change department ranks last among all the 27 departments in terms of spending budgetary allocations. (27-12-2019)
Biometric attendance system implemented in ITIs: The Gujarat government’s Directorate of Employment and Training has activated a biometric attendance system in all the 287 government-run Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the state. The system is expected to bring in more transparency in the functioning of ITIs. Over 6,800 instructors in the ITIs have been enrolled for the system. Hopefully, complaints about irregular employee attendance will come down. Employee attendance has already started improving. The ITIs are a big source of skilled workers for industrial and commercial establishments. They offer courses in several trades and vocations. Many students complete their courses and move on to start their own businesses and industries. (27-12-2019)
Traffic offenders hide number plates from CCTV cameras: Vehicle owners have started resorting to hiding a part of their licence plates so that the CCTV cameras on roads cannot identify the vehicle’s number. The methods used are to bend the number plate slightly or tie a piece of cloth like a ‘chundadi’ over a part of it or hang a helmet over a part of it. The reason for doing this is to avoid paying the fines when they violate the traffic rules. The traffic police need to know the vehicle number in order to track down the name and address of the vehicle’s owner, and without this information the driver cannot be penalised. To put an end to this nuisance the traffic cops have now started to stop all vehicles with improperly visible number plates. The drivers of such vehicles are now fined on the spot. (26-12-2019)
MS University has Gujarat’s first policy research centre: The name of MS University’s Institute of Policy Research and International Studies has been changed to Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Policy Research and International Studies. This was done on December 25 on the birth anniversary of the former Indian Prime Minister. The ceremony was attended by Gujarat chief minister Shri Vijay Rupani. December 25 is national good governance day. Three places in India have a similar policy research and international studies institute. Vadodara is the fourth, and the first in Gujarat, to have such a centre. The Gujarat government has given a grant of Rs. 4 crore for the construction of the building. (26-12-2019)
Vadodara Central Jail gets sanitary napkin vending machine: The Vadodara Central Jail has made arrangements for a sanitary napkin vending machine and an incinerator to be installed for the convenience of female inmates. The vending machine and the incinerator were inaugurated by the secretary of Gujarat State Legal Services Authority. The Vadodara Central Jail is the second in the state to get a such a facility, the first being the Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad. The Chief Justice of India had some time back suggested that every jail in the country should have such a machine so that female prisoners can protect themselves from infections. The inmates will not have to pay for the sanitary napkins. (26-12-2019)
Amusement rides will have to follow new safety rules: Following several accidents, all amusement rides at local village fairs or large entertainment zones will now adhere to an operation policy being framed by the state government. A special district level technical committee will give technical approval to joyrides after thorough inspection. After this the the police will have to give the relevant approval. The primary responsibility for periodic safety checks of the rides will be that of the operators. The district committee will consist of the local superintendent of police (SP), PI, experts from government departments or local engineering colleges specialising in civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering. The operators must seek clearances at the design stage, construction stage and the maintenance stages of the rides. The primary licensing authority – the area police inspector  – will be held responsible if any amusement ride is found operating without a licence. The technical committee will physically inspect the location of the ride and check whether the periodic audit reports filed by the operator match the ground reality. (25-12-2019)
Non-electric and affordable water purification system: According to the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) and ministry of health and family welfare 2,439 persons died in India in 2018 due to four water-borne diseases – cholera, acute diarrhoea, typhoid and viral hepatitis. Researchers at IIT Gandhinagar (IIT-Gn) have prepared surface-engineered particles (SEP) to arrest bacteria from microbe contaminated water. This method of water disinfection without the use of electricity and any disinfectant got a good success rate in laboratory settings. Turbidity levels are also reduced; this improves water quality visibly. The filter material cost is less than Rs. 10 and the whole SEP-based filtration unit can be prepared for less than Rs 50. Water-borne diseases affect a large number of people and many of them cannot afford high-tech water purifiers. This is a non-electric and very affordable water purification system. This system is also ideal for armed forces deployed in remote areas with difficult access to safe water. (25-12-2019)
Vulnerable witness deposition centre opened at Chhota Udepur: Gujarat’s Chhota Udepur district court now has a specially designed vulnerable witness deposition centre (VWDC).  It is specifically for victims of sexual offences and child witnesses of heinous crimes because they need to be shielded from undue influence or pressure from the accused. It has a court hall attached to the waiting room with pantry, toys and deposition rooms with a provision for audio-video transmission between the room and the court hall. There will be no direct physical communication between the judge, the advocate or the accused with the child witness or victim. The child witness or the victim will have a support person sitting beside her or him to assist the court in communicating with the child. It has an exclusive entry to the courtroom for the child witness or victim. The child visiting the court will not feel the atmosphere of a conventional court as the room has an attached pantry and washroom and is also equipped with a collection of toys and a television set. It was inaugurated at Chhota Udepur by three justices of the Gujarat high court. (25-12-2019)
User fee likely at revamped railway stations: Indian Railways plan to introduce some sort of user charge from passengers at modern railway stations. This will be similar to the charges levied at airports. The charge may perhaps be included in the ticket price. It will not be clubbed with the platform ticket charge and will be applicable only where railway stations are revamped with private participation. The reasoning behind the move seems to be that the private players who invest in the station revamping exercise must have some avenues to earn revenue. The Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation (IRSDC) has already handed over two railway stations – Habibganj in Madhya Pradesh and Gandhinagar in Gujarat – to private companies for development under the public private partnership scheme. Bids have also been invited for Nagpur, Gwalior, Sabarmati and Amritsar railway stations. According to the scheme a private player gets the station area and built area on a 60-year lease; for residential development on station land the lease period is 99 years. In the first phase 50 railway stations will be taken up for development. (24-12-2019)
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Fine Arts Fair returns after 9 years (10-01-2020)
Cherish the girl child, God’s gift to the world (09-01-2020)
Helmets are likely to be back again (09-01-2020)
Vehicle sales in Vadodara lowest in Gujarat (09-01-2020)
Stiff penalty imposed for dumping garbage into Vishwamitri (08-01-2020)
Six new flyovers likely in city (08-01-2020)
MSU strengthens academic and research collaborations (08-01-2020)
Surat reprocesses 95% of its solid waste (07-01-2020)
Vadodara will have India’s first nuclear-grade sodium plant (07-01-2020)
Rules relaxed for setting up new schools in Gujarat (07-01-2020)
Projects sanctioned for corporations and municipalities (06-01-2020)
Rural institute introduces mushrooms to tribals (06-01-2020)
Gujarat proposes Rs. 1.90 lakh crore investment over 5 years (06-01-2020)
Buy unreserved railway tickets via mobile app (05-01-2020)
Gujarat rated best performing state for startups (05-01-2020)
Unleashed pet dog bites four persons, owner gets jail sentence (05-01-2020)
Railways now has a single helpline number ‘139' (04-01-2020)
Vadodara Marathon will have one lakh participants (04-01-2020)
Citizen friendly government health centres start evening OPDs (04-01-2020)
The new year may cost a little more (03-01-2020)
Government will hold roadshows for 'Study in Gujarat' initiative (03-01-2020)
Phone allowances of Punjab government employees are luxurious (03-01-2020)
Five new medical colleges proposed in state (02-01-2020)
‘Jiyo Parsi’ scheme increases community’s population marginally (02-01-2020)
Tourists rush to Statue of Unity to end 2019 (02-01-2020)
Vadodara ranked fourth in Swachh Sarvekshan League 2020 (01-01-2020)
Board examinations from March 5 to 21 (01-01-2020)
Gujarat’s lion census will cover 25,000 sq km in 7 districts (01-01-2020)
Celebrate the New Year, but do so peacefully (31-12-2019)
Pune civic body to set up children’s library in civic gardens (31-12-2019)
Gujarat’s forest cover increased by 100 sq km in two years (31-12-2019)
Only 15% attendance in Gujarat's higher learning institutions (30-12-2019)
Radio frequency identification system to be used at MSU libraries (30-12-2019)
Record number of candidates apply for GSET (30-12-2019)
Financial assistance cleared for 4,000 MSU students (29-12-2019)
Government may introduce centralised test for board schools (29-12-2019)
Broad-gauge rail link to Maruti Suzuki’s Becharaji plant (29-12-2019)
Startup launches electric kick-start scooter (28-12-2019)
Few people are aware about the rights of consumers in Gujarat (28-12-2019)
Many government schools do not provide safe drinking water (28-12-2019)
Ahmedabad will try out vacuum-based sewage system (27-12-2019)
Gujarat’s climate change department has unspent grants (27-12-2019)
Biometric attendance system implemented in ITIs (27-12-2019)
Traffic offenders hide number plates from CCTV cameras (26-12-2019)
MS University has Gujarat’s first policy research centre (26-12-2019)
Vadodara Central Jail gets sanitary napkin vending machine (26-12-2019)
Amusement rides will have to follow new safety rules (25-12-2019)
Non-electric and affordable water purification system (25-12-2019)
Vulnerable witness deposition centre opened at Chhota Udepur (25-12-2019)
User fee likely at revamped railway stations (24-12-2019)
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