The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 24-06-2022 | 12:35 am
The sari veil covered her face as Meenaba Zala, the first elected woman sarpanch of Rantej village in North Gujarat’s Mehsana district, stood on stage. She was tasked to hand over a souvenir — a framed picture of Bahuchar Mata, the deity after which the taluka Becharaji gets its name — to state Education Minister Jitu Vaghani.Meenaba got on to the stage from a bunch of women, all in similar veils, from her village who were sitting on the floor on one side while the men from the village sat on plastic chairs. What happened next was unprecedented.To the surprise of Meenaba and the scores of villagers at the event, the minister insisted that she removed her veil before he accepted the souvenir as part of his felicitation. “If the elders allow, I would request Meenaba to come out of this riwaaz (tradition),” Vaghani said in front of villagers who had gathered at the school for the launch of the annual Shala Praveshotsav (school enrolment) and Kanya Kelavani (bringing up of girls)–the state government initiatives to ensure maximum enrolment of children, especially girls, in primary schools and arrest the drop-out rate.Soon came a voice of opposition when a man from the crowd said, “Saheb, ame darbar chhiye (Sir, we are Rajputs).” “What does caste have to do with this? Darbar, Patel, Vaniya or Brahmin… see how happy the women are and the blessings they will give you,” the minister was quick to respond. “Maan maryaada (respect and modesty) is alright but when you are a Sarpanch you have to come out of these traditions. Let the village decide. Look around, where the world has reached… by doing this (removing veil) we do not lose our maan maryaada. Follow everything but at home. I do not say this riwaaz is bad but we have to change as per the time and come out of this so that we can move forward,” Vaghani said insisting that all other women in the crowd reveal their faces.Eventually, one of the village elders, who was also on the stage, agreed with Vaghani. Following the cue, Meenaba reluctantly pulled back a part of her saree and revealed her face. An extra chair was also arranged for her on the stage, albeit in a corner. “The minister is right. We should keep our ghunghat at home and need to come out of this (tradition). We are anyway behind our veils at home but we need to move forward with time,” Meenaba, who defeated four male candidates to get elected six months ago, later told The Indian Express.A mother of two–a 10-year-old son and a two-and-half-year-old daughter–Meenaba hails from Ahmedabad. “I really wanted to join the police force but could not as my brother was strict. So, I was made to drop out of college in the first year of B.Com” she said.On the villagers’ resistance to the minister’s suggestion, Meenaba said, “There is resistance from elders because they lack education. But things are changing slowly. Now, girls are getting educated. Look at my brother only… his daughter is now in the police force.”More than 60 per cent of the village, which has 3,200 residents, is from the Zala community. As per Census 2011, Rantej has a male population of around 1,650 as against 1,552 females. It has a literacy rate of 71.59 per cent, including 80.99 per cent literate males and 61.66 per cent literate females.Becharaji taluka is still weighed down by patriarchy as most of the women in the villages have to still cover theirfaces with a long veil using their sarees. Incidentally, during the enrolment drive at the Ruppura government primary school in the same taluka, the village elders made a demand before Vaghani–to include Classes 9 and 10 in the school. “…because in our community, we do not allow girls to move out, even for education,” a member of the school management committee told the minister.“It becomes a problem for the family and community when a girl gets into an affair. So, girls are not allowed to travel to other villages or cities even for education. This is still prevalent in this community. They have to go as far as 8 kms for higher education. Girls here do not study after Class 8. My daughter dropped out one year ago, after Class 8,” Surat Municipal Corporation Chairman Manoharsinh M Zala told The Indian Express.As per Census 2011, Ruppura has a total population of around 2,900, including 1,410 males and 1,453 females. The literacy rate is at 49.67 per cent with that of males at 65.18 per cent and females at 34.62 per cent.
Ahmedabad-based Gujarat State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Bank Ltd, popularly known as Kheti Bank, Tuesday declared a 20 per cent dividend–the highest yet in its 70-year history. It also amended its rules to provide gold and education loans to farmers.“For the first time in the history of Kheti Bank, we announced a dividend of 20 per cent. The 70th Annual General Meeting (AGM) was called after four years. We could not call the meeting earlier due to the absence of the custodian. The meeting falls under the purview of the custodian,” Dollarrai Kotecha, chairman of the bank, said on the sidelines of the AGM. The dividend declared by the bank has never been above 12 per cent.In the financial year 2021-22, Kheti Bank clocked a net profit of Rs 29.29 crore, more than double the Rs 11.5 croreclocked in 2020-21. During the AGM held Tuesday, the bank also amended some of its rules and provided more credit to its three lakh members, who are mostly farmers.Under the changed rules, a farmer-member can avail 85 per cent of the valuation of the gold in his possession as a loan. Members have also been allowed to loan up to Rs 20 lakh if any of his kin is planning to travel overseas for studies. Similarly, a farmer could get a loan of up to Rs 10 lakh for building a house or purchasing a car or motorcycle. Under the changed rules, loans from the bank have also been made available for marriages and for incurable diseases within the family.🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨“We have always wanted to give gold loans. But we did not have the supporting infrastructure needed for this. Now, we will begin from six to seven locations,” K B Upadhyay, managing director of Kheti Bank, told The Indian Express. The bank will also be giving out education loans and credit for purchase of house, car or for marriage for the first time. “We will be asking for gold or property to be mortgaged against such loans,” said Upadhyay, a retired IAS official.The bank disbursed total loans worth Rs 158.28 crore during the financial year 2021-22. Officials from the bank said it disburses loans for more than 300 activities under the farm and non-farm sectors.
The Labour Skill Development and Employment Department of Gujarat signed an MoU with BBZ Arnsberg, Germany, to enhance the quality in technical, vocational education and training institutions.The MoU aims to create better job opportunities for students. The state labour department and BBZ intend to carry out knowledge sharing, joint workshops, exchange of experts, students and faculty. They will also exchange ideas for curriculum development and examination.Principal Secretary Labour Skill Development and Employment Dr Anju Sharma and senior officials attend the MoU signing ceremony. Anju Sharma said, “Focusing on dual vocational, education and training system, which is very effectively working in Germany, this MoU will help bring trainingexpertise and best practices with the collaboration of industries in Gujarat.”
Gujarat’s billionaire industrialist and philanthropist and one of the top two richest men in Asia, Gautam Adani and his family announced their commitment to donate Rs 60,000 crore for a range of social works.The announcement on Thursday marks the centenary birth anniversary of Shantilal Adani, father ofGautam Adani, and the 60th birthday of Gautam Adani on Friday.The funds will be utilised in healthcare, education and skill development, and will be managed by the Adani Foundation, the company said in a statement. The money pledged for charity is just over 8 per cent of Adani’s $92 billion wealth.Gautam Adani, Chairman of the Adani Group said, “In addition to being the 100th birth anniversary of my inspiring father, this year also happens to be the year of my 60th birthday and therefore the family decided to contribute Rs 60,000 crore towards charitable activities related to healthcare, education, and skill development, especially in the rural regions of our nation.”“This contribution from the Adani family intends to draw upon some of the brightest minds that have a passion to make a difference in the Adani Foundation’s journey to do more towards fulfilling our ‘Growth with Goodness’ philosophy,” the statement added. On this occasion, Azim Premji, chairman of Azim Premji Foundation and founder chairman of Wipro Ltd and widely recognised as one of the greatest philanthropists, said, “Gautam Adani and his family’s commitment towards philanthropy should set an example that we can all try to live Mahatma Gandhi’s principle of Trusteeship of Wealth at the peak of our business success and need not wait for our sunset years.”
The first STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) laboratory in Gujarat was set up in Adarsh Primary School at Telav village of Sanand taluka of Ahmedabad. According to the Directorate of Information, “STEM laboratory project is a project-based, hands-on learning solution that enables students to use their knowledge. It is a mini science centre which is benefiting children from surrounding schools.”The laboratory has been set up with the help of two voluntary organisations Yuva Unstoppable and Curio O Box. “It took 15-20 days to build up the lab. Around two months back the lab was set up. It has 35-40 table tops equipped with experimental equipment. It allows 4-5 students at one such table,” said Utsav Patel, from Yuva Unstoppable.“STEM- Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths laboratory is provided by us to various schools. It is in tandem with the New Education Policy (NEP) of the government,” said Kushal Thakkar, the founder of Curio O Box. Principal of Adarsh Primary School Vijaybhai Patel said the initiatve was made possible with the help of Mukesh N Patel, the District Primary Education Officer, Ahmedabad“The lab was set up before the summer vacation. It’s been just a week that we have reopened the school and it is yetto become fully functional,” said Vijayabhai Patel.
Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel said on Thursday that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the state had done well in education, health and security—the three basic factors that he said were required to make progress in any field.Patel was addressing a gathering after launching the 17th edition of Kanya Kelavani & Shala Praveshotsav, the annual school enrolment drive, at Memadpur in Banaskantha district’s Vadgam tehsil.“Three factors can be listed as the basic requirements for progress in any field–education, health and security. With an aim to make Gujarat a growth engine and strengthen the foundation of education in the state, Narendrabhai (Modi) started Kanya Kelavani & Shala Praveshotsav in 2003. If the foundation of education is strong, we can make progress in each and every field,” the chief minister said.In Banaskantha district, more than 15,000 children were enrolled in Class 1 under the drive. According to district primary education officer Sanjay Parmar, “A total 71 eligible children were enrolled in Class 1 by the CM at two government primary schools (one each for boys and girls) in Memadpur village. Thirty-five children (in the age group of 3-5) were enrolled in the Anganwadi of Memadpur.”The chief minister said education was necessary for making better use of technology and that because of the state government’s efforts, the dropout rate had fallen significantly, adding that the government had made available the best facilities for engineering and medical education.Patel then referred to the state government’s Covid-19 response. “During the Covid pandemic, we have seen that even big countries felt exhausted. But under the guidance of Narendrabhai and his slogan ‘Sauno Saath, Sauno Vikas, Sauno Vishwas and Sauno Prayas’, we have given free vaccination to each and every person. And to ensure that nobody sleeps hungry, arrangements were made for free ration. (Modi) attempted to get us out of the pandemic and today we have come out (of the pandemic),” he said.Patel also talked about the government’s Ayushman card initiative, under which an eligible person can get medical benefits worth up to Rs 5 lakh for any ailment.Talking about security, the chief minister said, “We all know that security is also equally necessary…Earlier, before going to Ahmedabad, people here would first get it checked if everything is fine there. Many elders must have seen that two decades back. (But) the young ones, who are 20-22 years old, do not even know what unrest is.”“Today, under the instructions of Narendrabhai, police are doing very good work. Along with that, we also know that they did a very good job of assisting us during the Covid-19 pandemic,” Patel said.Minister of State for Education Kirtisinh Vaghela, who is the MLA for Kankrej in the district, and a number of local BJP leaders were present on the occasion besides district collector Anand Patel and superintendent of police Akshayraj Makwana.The Vadgam Assembly constituency, under which the Memadpur village falls, is represented by independent MLA Jignesh Mevani, who has pledged support to the Opposition Congress.