Thursday, January 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S



Out in the cold with none to care
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
While you snug up in your quilt in your warm cosy home, spare a prayer to thank the God Almighty that none of you is attending to a dear one admitted in one of the city hospitals.

Out in freezing temperatures trying desperately to keep warm huddled together in worn-out shawls, the worst place to be is probably the PGI, waiting on patients, with no money and nowhere to go without money. The sarai which has room is too far for convenience, the nightshelter is closed to be pulled down and the old sarai is damp and even colder.

Relatives and friends attending on patients sleep in porches in the open, and when the porch is full, on the ground in the lawn. Plastic sheets, old tattered shawls is all they have to call a bedding. Lighting fires is not allowed.

“There is no way these people can be allowed inside. Outside there are almost complete villages coming with a single patient. They cook here in the open through the day but if you ask them to go to the sarai, they refuse. They don’t want to spend money,” informs a PGI employee.

As the temperature falls with the day, the PGI emergency waiting hall gets full to the walls. “It’s warm in here but we have to take turns at staying in the waiting room. Another relative of ours is outside and he will come later.” Says a resident of Jammu, who is here with a patient in the emergency.

The Gurdwara in the hospital is also providing a stay-for-the-night facility but “there are times when we have to refuse people from staying here. There are people who drink and smoke and sometimes even refuse to remove slippers in the premises. No one can tolerate this,” says another PGI employee.

Those working in the PGI pity their condition but are fairly helpless in what they can do for them. there are rules about how many people can be brought inside the hospital premises and ‘‘there are enough places in the campus of PGI where these people can easily be accommodated. Very rarely does it happen that there is so much rush that people are forced to sleep in the cold without a roof above their heads,” informs a PGI official. “In reality, many a time it is these people’s fault only. They are saving money on the nominal rent of the sarai. Even people who can afford it want everything provided to them free of cost. Secondly, these people come in too large a number. Even upto 8 people accompany a single patient. Thirdly, these people come laced with all cooking material, stoves, atta, dal, tea, etc. How can they be allowed to get into the hospital premises and cook? Many drink, smoke, and so many constantly spit paan around themselves. These things are not acceptable to many of the others who are here in genuine need of a place to stay,” he continues.



Book on healthcare released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
Justice Kuldip Singh, a former Judge of the Supreme Court, today released a book titled ‘World Bank Funded Health Care — A Death Certificate for Poor’ authored by Dr Vineeta Gupta at the Chandigarh Press Club.

During his speech Justice Kuldip Singh said the forefathers of our Constitution had incorporated in the Constitution a chapter known as Directive Principles, which promised provide health care to all residents of India. He regretted that even after more than 50 years after the Constitution came into force the government had miserably failed to provide medical care to the people in general and the poor people who lived below the poverty line, in particular.

He said he remained on a Supreme Court Bench for a long time. He said he also did not enjoy good health. He had to undergo operations. But the government denied to reimburse the amount he had spent on medicines and treatment. No wonder he had to file a case in the Supreme Court for getting the amount reimbursed.

Dr Gupta served in Punjab Civil Medical Services for about 10 years before she resigned under protest in 1997. She is the founder General Secretary of INSAAF International, an organisation working for social, economic and political rights of the people, in particular for the marginalised and vulnerable sections of society, especially women.

She investigated and reported many cases of human rights violations, corruption in government and World Bank funded projects risking her career and person.

She said she was subjected to constant persecution, humiliation and harassment. She said her case of harassment was taken up by international organisations like the National Human Rights Commission and the Amnesty International.

She told mediapersons that under various states Health Systems Development Projects, the World Bank was slowly organising health sector in the whole country in the name of a alleviating poverty. She said: ‘‘The World Bank promotes health care as a commercial activity with no money on treatment dictate, resulting in denial of right to health and undermining state responsibility in providing basic health care to its citizens.’’ It was virtually denial of basic health care to poor people, especially women, who were poorest of the poor.

She added access to Yellow Card, an identity card for poor to make them legible for various government schemes for poor, including exemption from user charges in state run health services, was made nearly impossible by the government itself. Provisions of yellow card benefits were projected as the steps taken to alleviate poverty was nothing but a farce and it was made sure that poor did not have access to it. The restriction on number of yellow cards served a double purpose of the government, on one hand the resources were not ‘drained’ by the poor and on other hand the low numbers were used as deception of decrease in poverty. Punjab, once a most prosperous state, was under debt of Rs 35,000 crores.

Mr RS Bains, a human right activists and a practicing advocate at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who was with Dr Gupta at the Press Club, said that he did not have knowledge about a health organisation, which was created for providing medical care to the poor. The health organisation was nothing but a smoke screen. The government was trying to wash its hands off its responsibility.


4 city residents pledge bodies for research
Tribune News Service

Rakesh Gupta

Jagtar Singh Benipal

Neatynder Khanna

Yogesh Sood

Chandigarh, January 2
Four city residents have pledged to donate their bodies after death to the cause of medicine. All four are members of the Indian Donors Club and have decided to launch a week-long awareness campaign to motivate people for this cause.

The president of the club, Mr Rakesh Gupta, a 40-year-old government servant, who lives in Sector 15 stated at a press conference held here today that the PGI and medical colleges are always short of bodies to work on and “what better way to leave this world than to be able to ensure that even after one is dead one’s body is being used for education.” Mr Gupta has already pledged to donate his eyes after his death.

These feelings are shared by the four’s family members also. Jagtar Singh Benipal, a 47-year-old government employee, has donated blood over 60 times and his wife 29 times. He, too, has decided to donate his body after his death and instructed his family members that the needful be done after his death. His son, Raman, states that when the time comes, he will ensure that his father’s will is respected.

Mr Neatynder Khanna, a 48-year-old senior assistant in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, too, has willed to donate his body for the cause. “I have donated my eyes also and had I known that complete bodies are required by medical research institutions and colleges, I would have also donated my father’s body. He died in February last year.”

Mr Yogesh Sood, the fourth in the group, has donated blood at least 58 times. His wife has also been donating blood regularly.

Dr Madhur Gupta of the Department of Anatomy, PGI, says that although she is glad that such a beginning has been made “but mere pledging is not enough. The relatives of the person who has pledged his or her body for the cause has to be responsible enough to leave the body at the hospital. So many people pledged their bodies for the PGI earlier but I have come across only one body received here through donation”.

But she agrees that there is always a shortage of human material to work upon. “Human material is never wasted and since it is something which cannot be bought, it’s always in short supply. And we have sometimes many people working on the same body. And both medical and paramedical students of almost every department come to us to work on bodies. Even senior surgeons sometimes need bodies to work on for new surgical techniques”, says Dr Gupta.


Roller skating on decline in city
‘Association doing little to promote game’
Our Sports Reporter

Chandigarh, January 2
Roller skating in the city might head towards a disaster, if the corrective steps to rejuvenate the working of local skating association was not taken immediately. Despite the presence of abundant facilities for skating and the recent mushrooming of rinks of national and international standards, the city skaters were not getting the desired boost. The Chandigarh Roller Skating Association is responsible for such condition of the game which for the past many years has limited its job by organising the state meet only and that too without much fanfare.

Many skaters said the state meet was organised customarily to send the UT team for nationals and the sole purpose was to remain in power and surprisingly the present secretary of the association was holding the same position for more than three decades.

An international skater questioned the purpose of new rinks when there was no definite and concrete plan envisaged by the association to boost the sport.

At present, the city has quality skating rinks in Sector 10, KB DAV Centenary School, Sector 7, Bhavan Vidyalya, Sector 27, and Guru Harkishan Public School and many other schools have made alternative arrangements by using basketball court as a skating rink. On one hand, the number of skaters have grown manifold, the association was playing a negligible role to uplift this sport.

Recently the association held its state meet where junior and senior skaters of repute did not participate. Later it was learnt that junior team thus selected also refused to go with the team.

In December 1999, when the 37th senior national skating meet was held, the job of holding the national event at Chandigarh was not given to the local association by the Roller Skating Federation of India (RSFI). It was independently hosted by the national federation.

One of the parents of a budding skater confided this reporter that there was no long-term plan of the association who were misleading the skaters. One of the skaters on the condition of anonymity said the skating officials have never asked any skater of their problems, requirements and became variable only during the state meet.

Interestingly, for the past two years, the RSFI had been conducting the national camps at Chandigarh but these were held with sole initiative taken by the host school principal, Ms Madhu Bahl, of KB DAV Centenary School and at Skating Rink, Sector 10.


SD-32 outplay SGGS-26 in tennis meet
Our Sports Reporter

Chandigarh, January 2
Saurabh was the star player for the Goswami Ganesh Dutta Sanatan Dharma College, Sector 32, Chandigarh, when they outclassed SGGS College, Sector 26, 3-0 in the Panjab University Inter-college Tennis (men) Championship played here today on the Panjab University campus grounds. Saurabh won the first singles tie against L Chourajitt 6-0, 6-0 while in second singles Ankur outplayed Amrinder 6-0, 6-0. In the doubles, Saurabh and Ankur beat L.Chourajit and Amrinder 6-2, 6-2.


The Chandigarh Women’s Hockey Association has selected 21 hockey probables for the Junior National Hockey Championship to be held at Tirupati (AP) from January 15 to 23. These probables were selected after the trials held this afternoon at the Sector 18 Hockey Stadium. The selection committee comprised Ms K. Atma Ram president of the association, Mr JPS Sidhu, secretary, Mr Jaswinder Singh, Ms Manjeet and Mr Ahlawat, all hockey coaches. The players from SAI STC, Sector 18, dominated the list.

The probables are: Geeta, Prem, Mandeep, Savita, Sadhna, Poonam, Smita, Sonia, Prakash Chaudhary, Deepika, EramRizvi, Amandeep Kaur, Suman, Rajnish, Vinita, Bimla, Sangeeta Kadiyan, Anu Jr, Sardha, Saba Anjum and Sunilla.

Selection trials

The UT Education Department will hold the selection trials on January 4 at 10 am for both boys and girls, in various disciplines. For basketball (under-14) at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 33; handball (under-14) at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 23, and kabaddi (under-14 and under-17) at Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 37, for the participation in the 47th National School Games to be held at Raipur (Chhatisgarh) from January 14 to 18.

Hockey meet

The women hockey team of SAI Sports Training Centre, Sector 18, will take part in the Mumbai Gold Cup Hockey Tournament going to be held at Mumbai from January 6 to14. Based on the performance in the last edition of the meet, SAI, Sector18, team have been invited to participate.

Nishi Chauhan, international hockey player, will lead the team. The other members are: Sangeeta Chauhan and Geeta (GK), Prem, Anu Sonkar and Rajnish ( all defenders), Sangeeta, Sadhna, Poonam and Savita (Mid), and Asrita Toppo, Nishi Chauhan, Parkash Chaudhary, Saba Anjum, Eram Rizvi, Anu and Smita (forwards).

Football trial

DAV Senior Secondary School, Sector 8, had been allotted the day-boarding centre in football for boys by the Sports Authority of India, Sector 42. The boys will be selected in the age group from 12 to 19 years and those interested may appear for the trials on January 4 and 5 on the school premises. This was stated by Mr Ravinder Talwar, principal of the school.

Karate championship

The karate players of Chandigarh won three gold medals, three silver and two bronze medals in the 6th Sub-Junior National Karate Championship organised by the Punjab Karate Association at Patiala, which concluded on December 30, 2001.

The medal winners are: boys — (gold) Vishal Sharma (below 45 kg); girls — Sandeep Kaur (below 40 kg), and Ritu (below 45kg); silver medals: Sohit Verma (below 40 kg), Abhishek (below 35 kg), and Parminder (below 40kg); bronze medals: Mohit Verma (below 50 kg), and girls - Anu Chaudhary (below 45kg).

Cricket tourney

The Punjab Financial Corporation Employees Welfare Association (PFCEWA) will organise the 8th Inter-financial Institutions Cricket Tournament beginning January 5 at Gursagar cricket stadium. Team from OBC, Canara Bank, Central Bank of India, LIC, HSIDC, OIC and UIC will take part. The inauguration will take place on January 5 at 9 am.

Taekwon-do meet

The Taekwon-do players of Chandigarh secured two gold medals, three silver and three bronze medals in the XVIth National Taekwon-do (ITF) Championship held at Vijayawada (AP) on December 29, 2001. According to Mr Gurpreet S. Dhillon, president, Taekwon-do Association of Chandigarh, the gold medal winners are: Jaswinder and Sunil; silver medal — Krishan Rana, Manu Bindra and Ravi Kapoor, and bronze — Rajesh, Vikas and Bablu Dharamvir.

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