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Gujarat local body polls acid test for Anandiben

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Gandhinagar: With more than half its population of 63.8 million going to the polls on November 22 and 29, the elections to 323 local self-government bodies in Gujarat will be a major popularity test for Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.

Anandiben Patel will face her first full-scale election after taking over as chief minister from her mentor and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014. There were some assembly and local body by-elections last year, which produced a mixed bag of results.

The local body elections will be held with the state’s first woman chief minister in office for close to two years. Since the electorate of 35.5 million will be from both urban and rural areas, the results will be a referendum on her rule without Modi around. The term of the present state assembly expires in December 2017.

Agreeing that the elections will be a true test, the seniormost minister and government spokesperson Nitin Patel told IANS: “Every election is an acid test. Our party has begun preparations for the polls and has started the process to select candidates.”

Anandiben Patel is confident that people will again repose faith in the Bhratiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress however seems confident of overcoming the BJP challenge.

Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki says: “We are exposing the failure of the BJP in municipalities. There is dirt, filth, corruption, everywhere. These are the real issues.”

Another task was to consolidate the Congress rank and file and iron out differences,says Solanki

According to State Election Commissioner Varesh Sinha, polling will be held first on November 22 for the municipal corporations of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar, all of which are controlled by the BJP, and have 9.49 million eligible voters. The votes will be counted on November 26.

The terms of two other newly-created municipal corporations of Gandhinagar and Junagadh, also under BJP rule, expire after six months and four years respectively.

The November 29 voting will be for 230 taluka (tehsil) panchayats, 56 nagarpalikas (municipalities) and 31 district panchayats. The vote count is due on December 2.

There are 3.66 million voters in the municipalities, while the taluka panchayats account for the largest electorate of 22.3 million voters. The mandate from the taluka panchayat areas is considered crucial since they comprise a mix of urban and rural population.

At present, the BJP controls 150 taluka panchayats, 42 municipalities and 30 district panchayats, excluding that of tribal-dominated Tapi in south Gujarat which is with the Congress.

The uncanny nervousness in the BJP government was evident when it promulgated an ordinance postponing the local body elections citing law and order concerns in the wake of the agitation by the Patel community.

The BJP had to face these elections after the State Election Commission was pulled up by the Gujarat High Court, which described as unconstitutional the move to put off the electoral process. It wondered why elections to local bodies could not be held when polling could be conducted in strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir.

(Darshan Desai,IANS)

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Monsoon Bliss: Drenched in Rain Kutch is a Must Visit (Environmental Feature)

The monsoon brings out a different facet of Kutch, the brown transforms into green

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Kutch
Rann Utsav in Kutch. Pixabay

Bhuj, Sep 09, 2017: White, fluffy clouds hanging low over green hills, little pools of still water teeming with migratory birds and an omnipresent cool breeze — the semi-arid region of Kutch in Gujarat transforms into a completely different avatar during the monsoon.

And although winter — the time detailed as “ideal” to visit this region — shows you a side of hers that’s truly unique, Kutch makes for a pretty picture during the rains, perfect for a rejuvenating holiday.

Nestling on the country’s western border, close to the Arabian Sea, Kutch had recently been in the news for the cyclonic storm-induced thundershowers that lasted five days. Before that, and like the rest of the state, floods had also hit the region in July.

“Heavy showers are normal during the monsoon,” local taxi driver and long-time Bhuj resident Anwar Khatri said, indicating that the heavy rainfall was not out-of-the-ordinary. “But in the last three-four years, we have had very scanty rainfall. The monsoon brings out a different facet of Kutch, the brown transforms into green.”

Kutch occupies an important geographical location when it comes to birds, said ornithologist Jugal Kishor Tiwari, since it falls on their migration route. His organisation, Centre for Desert and Ocean (CEDO), works on wildlife conservation and promotes nature tourism.

And although the winter is a brilliant time to spot a host of migratory birds, one can indulge in some bird-watching during the monsoon as well. CEDO, which is based out of Moti Virani village, some 400 km from Gujarat capital Gandhinagar, organises tailor-made tours of such nature.

A visit to Kutch would however be incomplete without witnessing its rich treasure trove of handicrafts. Ajrakh (block printing), camel leather craft, Bandhni, different forms of weaving, bellmetal craft, Kutch embroidery — the list is endless — and nothing beats the wonder of watching an artisan work on his or her craft.

After the devastating earthquake in 2001, several NGOs took up the initiative of supporting artisans and their art, even reviving some, and helping them find suitable markets to showcase and sell their products beyond the state’s and the nation’s borders.

There are many such NGOs within a radius of 10-15 kilometres from Bhuj — the point you will either fly down to or reach by train — and one can visit their campuses to see some of these exquisite crafts take shape and understand the story behind them from the artisans themselves. Some names to look out for would be Shrujan, Khamir, and LLDC (Living and Learning Design Centre).

About eight kilometres from Bhuj is a village called Bhujodi, which has the Ashapura Crafts Park set up for artisans to display and sell their work. Again, one can meet weavers, tie-dye artists, block printers and others here. Needless to say, it will leave you wanting for more shopping bags to fill!

From the well-known to the lesser known — a monsoon visit to Kutch would also remain wanting without a trip to one of its pristine beaches. Mandvi is the closest to Bhuj and there are many resorts close by with their own private beach enclosures. The high point of the beaches here — Pingleshwar, about 98 km from Bhuj, a hidden gem — is witnessing the marine life. Jelly fish and hermit crabs are a common sight and the multi-coloured sea weeds look extraordinary.

Also Read: History of Rigvedic river Saraswati

If the children are more in the mood for some fun and frolic, Mandvi has ample opportunity for water sports as well — which may be restricted when the weather is grey. But a ride on a camel would more than compensate for that!

With the temperature hovering on the pleasant side of the scale and a constant breeze, one can also opt for some historical sight-seeing. The Aina Mahal, with its blue tiles, Venetian-style chandeliers and walls studded with mirrors, is a must-visit. Next door is the 19th century Prag Mahal, a brilliant example of Italian-Gothic architecture.

As you travel around the place and move on the fringes of the main town of Bhuj, it is difficult to miss the vast expanses of agricultural land with acres after acres of pomegranate plantations, palm groves and cotton fields — all this thanks to drip-irrigation, which has brought about a sea-change in the region’s crop pattern. With the green hills in the backdrop, it’s a sight to behold. Soak it in, for, with the changing season, Kutch will soon reveal a different face. (IANS)

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Indian-Origin Doctor Arpan Doshi to Become Britain’s Youngest Physician to Start Working at Hospital

An Indian-origin medical graduate broke the record to start work in the UK by 17 days

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Indian-Origin Doctor Arpan Doshi
A Sheffield University graduate becomes the youngest physician to work in Britain. Wikimedia
  • An Indian-origin doctor breaks record and becomes the youngest physician in Britain to start working 
  • He received scholarship of 13,000 pounds from University of Sheffield
  • He will start his two-year training at York teaching hospital in August

London, July 21, 2017: An Indian origin doctor named Arpan Doshi is becoming Britain’s youngest physician to begin working at a hospital located in the northeast of England. He completed his graduation with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree from the University of Sheffield on Monday. Doshi, whose age is 21 years and 335 days, will start working in York as a junior doctor the following month.

The record of the youngest doctor starting work in the UK was broken by him by only 17 days. He said that he didn’t even realize that he became the youngest individual to qualify till his friend checked the internet. He has not told his parents till now but he knows they’ll be proud of his achievement, mentioned PTI report.

ALSO READ: Indian-origin Doctor Balvinder Mehat held for ‘illegal’ Circumcision of 3-month-old Baby in London

He was sent to a school situated in Gandhinagar, Gujrat, till the age of 13 after which Bharat Doshi, his father who was a mechanical engineer, was employed in Aix en Provence for an international project causing his whole family to shift to France.

Arpan, in his statement, said that he realized that he had already studied the things being taught in his school in France which made him skip a year.

Soon after his 17th birthday, he started sending his applications to universities. He faced one rejection but the other three accepted him. The University of Sheffield offered him a 13,000 pounds scholarship after being impressed with his credentials.

To fund his doctorate degree, he received some financial aid given by his parents but he also had to work part-time as a local school’s lunch supervisor and in the service of careers.

“My dream is to become a heart surgeon but it is a very competitive field. It is not really a surprise I have ended up as a doctor,” he said.

Arpan broke the record of Rachael Faye Hill, the former youngest doctor eligible to qualify, who graduated from University of Manchester with a medical degree when her age in 2010 was 21 years and 352 days.

Doshi, with his doctorate degree, is all set to break her record in August when he begins with his training of two years at York teaching hospital as a junior doctor.

-prepared by Harsimran Kaur of Newsgram. Twitter Hkaur1025


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New caste group surfaces to counter Patels in Gujarat

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Ahmedabad: To counter liquor addiction in dry Gujarat, a group of OBCs, SCs and STs  held a show of strength under the banner of OSS Ekta Manch, telling the Gujarat government that it had not done enough for socially and economically backward people caught under the whip of illicit liquor and deprivation.

Starting as a trickle, the Vyasan Mukti rally grew into a huge gathering at the sprawling GMDC Grounds at here, with its spearhead Alpesh Thakore, who is his in 30s, claiming it was not a political show but one that aimed at bringing together deprived sections of Gujarat on a single platform for their rights.

“This is a rally to fight addiction indeed, but also for empowerment and unity of people neglected in Gujarat. Though dispersed without a support structure, the OBCs are aggressive here, and if the Thakore community opens a third eye, it could be lethal,” said Thakore, whose Thakore Ekta Sena has been quietly working in rural Gujarat for years.

Interestingly, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel wished well to the rally, as did Hardik Patel, the convenor of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti which is demanding reservation for high caste Patels in jobs and education under the OBC category.

The rally had a conglomeration of other backward classes with a majority of Thakore and Kshatriya communities joined by Dalits and tribals.

“We are not with the BJP or the Congress, but wish progress for the OBCs,” declared Thakore, a few months after a similar claim by Hardik Patel, whose father Bharat Patel is a BJP worker.

In his speech that lasted about half an hour, Thakore read out a pledge for the audience to fight addiction and come together to create a social and economic muscle that no one can ignore – like successive rulers have so far have.

“Social space, strong health and educational growth will be the result of de-addiction. If we have this no political party in Gujarat can give us the short shrift that we have been getting,” he said.

“This is the clarion call to you and this is my message to the political class in Gujarat,” he said to widespread applause.

Coming exactly four months after a massive caste rally at the same location by the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti demanding reservation for high caste Patels in jobs and education under the OBC category disrupted the political firmament, the OSS Ekta Manch gave out a strong message that they also intend to become a force in state politics.

With Patel and now Thakore, a new socio-political order is seen to be emerging in Gujarat with voices that political parties would ignore at their peril.

Political analysts like Vidyut Joshi and Achyut Yagnik say the major reason for this is that neither Patel nor Thakore are believed to have personal political ambitions, and so their support bases see them as genuine.

The new grouping can emerge as the counter to the Patel community, the youth of which has got together under the leadership of Patel, 23, over the past months – and sent the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party into a panic.

After nearly three decades, the BJP faced an unexpected debacle in the local self-government bodies, with a major role in this outcome of the Patel community, which had otherwise been the backbone of the party’s political strength in the state.(IANS)