C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Pandemonium marks MC meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
Pandemonium broke out at the General House meeting of the municipal corporation held here today. This led to the deferring of an important issue of loss of Rs 16 crore to the corporation due to the delay in the allotment of a hotel site in Sector 35. Facing little opposition, the ruling Congress was able to approve a recommendation of the Finance and Contract Committee to cancel the auction of two SCO sites in Sector 9.

The opposition BJP Benches led by a former Mayor, Mr Gian Chand Gupta, did not allow the proceedings of the House to continue for more than two hours. The former Mayor had to be forcibly removed from the House by marshals.

Earlier, the BJP councillors, Mr Gian Chand Gupta, Mr Rajesh Gupta, Mrs Kamla Sharma and the SAD councillor, Mrs Harjinder Kaur, walked up to the well of the House before staging a walkout. Later they again entered the House protesting against the stand of the Congress Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla, not to include their table items in the meetings.

“Discussions on the table items, including probing of the Sector 9 SCO’s auction by the Vigilance, the Mayor asking the Commissioner to cancel the transfer orders of SDO’s, an inquiry into the interference in the recruitment of firemen and awarding of the sanitation contract to a Delhi-based party would have exposed the Congress councillors,” Mr Gian Chand Gupta alleged. On the other hand, the Congress councillors, who had pre-planned to corner the BJP on the Sector 35 hotel site, claimed that the opposition councillors wanted to divert the attention of the House.

The House began with some of the councillors, Mrs Kamla Sharma, Mrs Harjinder Kaur and some Congress councillor complaining about procedural delays in the completion of the sanctioned projects. A nominated councillor, Mr P.C. Sanghi, lamented that a tertiary water scheme which had to be developed out of the MPLAD funds had not been implemented. The Member of Parliament, Mr Pawan Bansal, expressed dis satisfaction with the progress of certain projects funded out of the MPLAD funds. Several councillors joined the MP in complaining about the delays in implementing of projects by the Engineering Department. Mrs Anu Chatrath, said it took several days for files to move from one table to another in the Engineering Department for sanctions. The Commissioner, Mr M.P. Singh, assured the House that the factors responsible for the delay would be minutely discussed to pre vent it.

When Mr Gian Chand Gupta raised objection to the alleged spending of more funds on roads development in certain wards, the Mayor got angry and told him to sit down. However, the former Mayor demanded reply to his query and on one occasion marshals had to be called to control the tampers of the BJP councillors.

The MP joined the issue of gas leakage from the Daddu Majra dumping ground with the councillor, Mrs Shyama Negi. Mr Bansal demanded that the issue be settled on priority basis.

The proceedings were again disrupted when Mr Gian Chand Gupta, protested against the pick and choose policy of the anti-enforcement staff in removing encroachments. He demanded an inquiry into the Congress councillor reducing fine on challans issued by the anti-encroachment staff.

While supporting Mr Gupta on the pick and choose policy by the anti-encroachment staff, the MP said it was duty of the officers of the corporation to check the practice. The House passed an agenda on sanitation work in Ram Darbar. The MP objected to the procedure being adopted by the Health Department in allotting the sanitation work to the Mohalla Sudhar Committee, recarpeting of Sector 7 roads and purchase of cement and appointing of a steno to type the matter for agenda items by councillors.



Sharma to be Adviser to Administrator
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has finally cleared the name of Mr Lalit Sharma, to be posted here as Adviser to the Administrator. Formal orders to post him here are expected within one week, sources said today.

A 1971 batch officer of the UT IAS cadre, Mr Sharma is at present the Chief Secretary of Arunachal Pradesh. Mr Sharma’s family hails from Punjab but he has been brought up and has studied in Delhi. He is likely to be replaced by Mr Baleshwar Rai, a 1970 batch UT cadre officer. The name of Mr Lalit Sharma was cleared for posting in August but the orders could not be passed as his replacement could not be found. The issue regarding the transfer of the previous, Adviser Mr Virendra Singh became controversial. He was shifted out on September 10.



Hospitals gear up to tackle cracker injuries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
In anticipation of large number of emergencies due to cracker injuries on Divali, the PGI, Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, and General Hospital, Sector 16, shall remain open with special medical teams being deputed round-the-clock.

Special teams of doctors of the Ophthalmology Department at the PGI shall remain on duty round-the-clock from the evening of October 24 to 27. “There will be two teams one at the male eye ward on the fifth floor in the A-Block of Nehru Hospital, while the other team will undertake the necessary surgeries in the operation theatres,” informed Prof Amod Gupta, head of the Ophthalmology Department.

He said all emergency cases should directly report to the male eye ward on the fifth floor in the A-Block of the Nehru Hospital at the PGI.

Similar arrangements have been made by the GMCH authorities, where the eye and burns unit will remain open both on October 25 and 26, to deal with emergency cases. “In view of the large number of eye injuries and burns on Divali, we have deputed some more junior and senior residents so that there was no delay or inconvenience to the public,” said Dr Raj Bahadur, Medical Superintendent, GMCH.

Doctors at the General Hospital in Sector 16 will be present during all three shifts to attend to all cracker injuries and burns. “The emergency has been stocked with all necessary medicines that could be required and the patients with eye injuries are advised to report directly to the eye OPD,” said Dr G. Dewan, Deputy Medical Superintendent at the General Hospital.

He said eye surgeons will be available round-the-clock and for this a special duty roaster has been prepared.

He further stated that two ambulances, with first-aid box will remain on duty. The ambulances can be called by dialling 100 or 2782457.



Plan for traffic lights at Piccadily roundabout
Tribune News Service


  • Police to challan motorists using short-cuts to reach main roads.

  • Adviser to coordinate with banks to provide security outside ATMs.

  • All illegal openings in rear court yards of houses to be closed.

Chandigarh, October 23
The Chandigarh Administration today decided that the Piccadily roundabout (at the intersection of Sectors 21, 22, 34 and 35) needs Traffic lights. The UT Administrator , Justice O.P. Verma (retd), asked the Inspector-General of Police to initiate the experiment of putting up traffic light signals in addition to rotary at the roundabout.

In the past two or three years, this road has been plagued by traffic problems. During the past one week, the situation due to the festive season is so bad that traffic jams have started occurring during day also. By late evening, it gets worse.

The Administrator, while chairing a meeting of senior officials, said that if the experiment of traffic lights in addition to rotary fails, other alternatives should be explored. He said before initiating any traffic regulation step or experiment on any road in the city, the Chandigarh Police should first notify the public so that it is not harassed in the absence of prior knowledge.

The Administrator said the Inspector-General of Police should identify more such spots where the requirement of putting traffic lights exists in view of traffic congestion. Justice Verma also asked the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, to conduct a citywide survey to identify punctured walls in various Sectors and openings on V-3 roads dividing Sectors. These can be the cause of mishaps. The IG has been asked to launch a concerted drive against vehicles using short-cuts. After the completion of the survey, the Administration would seal all these points to make life safer for the commuters.

Justice Verma, taking a strong note of people breaking open the walls to have access to main roads and also opening doors of their houses on main roads, asked his Adviser to evolve a policy to involve adjoining residents in the drive to make it success.

In view of the increasing snatching incidents, patrolling had been intensified. Keeping in view the festival season, SHOs had been asked to patrol in their areas from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Justice Verma said that besides intensifying patrolling, the police was required to beef up its intelligence network to preempt such incidents. The Adviser was asked to coordinate with various banks to ensure the privacy of those conducting transaction in the ATM booths and also the safety of persons withdrawing cash from the ATMs.

Justice Verma took a strong note of parks being misused by adjoining residents and shopkeepers for commercial purposes as well as for parking vehicles. The Administrator asked the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, to submit a status report of 250 odd parks in the city. He said that for the upkeep and maintenance of green space and parks in various Sectors, residents welfare associations should be involved and accountability for the maintenance of various parks should be fixed.

The Chief Architect was asked to submit the site plan of Dhobi Ghats in periphery areas within 15 days.



Passport stealing racket at airport?
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
A city resident coming from Germany loses her passport and visa at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, a woman loses her Green Card at the same place and a family from SAS Nagar was deprived of six passports with European visas from a hotel in Delhi.

These incidents coming to the notice recently indicate that some racket seems to be operating at places which the people with highly-priced American and European visas are likely to frequent.

A city resident, Ranjit Kaur, coming from Germany on September 16 along with two small children and husband, lost her passport between the exit point of the airport and the customs counter.

She said when she asked the airport authorities to let her in to find out if she had left her travel documents with the customs, she was not allowed to go back. She said the security staff could have easily checked that her claim was fake or not by asking for the air ticket but they did not heed to her pleas.

A harried Ranjit Kaur says when she was standing in a queue at the Regional Passport office in Chandigarh in connection with getting a duplicate passport she found two other persons who had reported their travel documents missing from the airport and one of the hotels in Delhi.

She does not remember the names and addresses of the two persons whom she met in the queue but claims that there was a racket in Delhi to steal travel documents.

Staff working at the Passport Branch in the Police says they did not have any record of such cases.

These cases usually come under the head of lost travel documents. “We did not go into how the travel documents were lost,” a policeman said.

“We have been informing about the lost travel documents to authorities concerned so that the documents could not be used fraudulently,” he said.

The loss of documents comes at a time when the Punjab Police has accused several persons of using forged travel documents to go abroad.

The Public Relation Officer of the Regional Passport Office, Ms S. Bharadwaj, says she also met couple of people who made similar complaints.

Ms Bharadwaj, however, said she could not have a data on such cases as the department did not go into as to how the documents were lost. “We have been informing the authorities concerned only to prevent a fraudulent use of such documents which were either stolen or lost,” Ms Bharadwaj said.

Ms Ranjit Kaur, who suspects a racket operating at the airport, says it was impossible to steal travel documents from the airport without the connivance of certain people there.

She said the policemen posted at the airport should be held responsible for the loss of such documents and they should be asked how crucial documents could be lost in a high security area.



Meera Ali puts rural talent to best use
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
It is impossible to see Meera Ali in isolation with her husband, Muzaffar. As two individuals set apart in time and space, they made sense but so much as they make being each other’s facilitators in the scheme of life and art. They work wonders through their designer label “Kotwara” which has an absolutely rural base and purpose, and their purposeful organisation, “Dwar Pe Rozi” which works to emancipate women in rural Uttar Pradesh by engaging them in traditional crafts.

Even while their trades go international, with supermodels like Naomi Campbell and Jerry Hall sporting Indian sarees crafted by Kotwara, designer Meera Ali makes a humble submission, “Our success is a product of sensitivity and perseverance.” In Chandigarh today as part of the Sufi Foundation of India’s “Sada-e-Sufi” concert being directed by Muzaffar Ali, Meera talked about the objectives of Kotwara which may have a global appeal but which essentially has a social purpose.

“When I went to visit Muzaffar’s ancestral village Kotwara, I was drawn towards the plight of village women and their helplessness. I realised there were better causes to live for than those one had thought of. With my background of architecture which trained in aesthetics and Muzaffar’s intensely creative past, we naturally thought of putting rural talent to the best use. That’s how Kotwara was born. Today our village stands have transformed. Women are earning more than men. That’s Kotwara’s legacy.”

Known for their delicacy, Meera’s creations sell the most in celebrity circles. The designer, who wears her own garments, explains, “Our popularity has a lot to do with the selection of fabrics and the portrayal of traditional elements in design. Our line for women is all about femininity. The one for men is understated, something I feel Muzaffar would feel comfortable in. We use natural fabric, cotton or silk. But we are now experimenting with a crushed silk line which is handy, apart from stretch fabrics which make the garment comfortable.”

A votary of socialism, Meera is playing her part through her NGO Dwar Pe Rozi, which works with rural women in Uttar Pradesh, helping them earn through their art. “We also run a school in Kotwara where 300 kids study and learning crafts.” As of now, Meera is busy gathering inspiration for “Rumi”, the feature film which Muzaffar is making for a world audience. “I am doing costumes for the film, along with New York-based designer Mary Mc Fadden,” she said.

She reasons, “Kotwara is symbolic of our dreams. Muzaffar’s hopes emerge from here. You may remember he reflected native concerns through ‘Gaman’, which mirrored the misery of a taxi driver who migrates to the city from this very village. As Muzaffar’s wife, I stand committed to Kotwara and its people.”



Rise in crime cases against women
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
Chandigarh has seen a 25 per cent rise in cases of registration of crime against women during the last two years.

This was stated here today by Superintendent of Police H.G.S. Dhaliwal. He said the registration of cases was a sign of growing faith of the wronged women in the police.

Mr Dhaliwal was participating in an interactive talk on “Women and child support unit” of the Chandigarh police. The talk was held at the Government College of Education, Sector 20-D, as part of a youth contact programme.

He said the scope of the police unit extended from marital discord to eve-teasing, sexual harassment and rape. The majority of personnel working with the unit were female and all of them had been sensitised to the needs of victims of crime against women.

He explained that a higher number of cases had been registered as the staff working with the unit had been supportive to victims.

Mr Dhaliwal said that this role of police personnel had been leading to a rise in the registration of cases, a lot of which go unreported.

The police officer said that to provide a supportive atmosphere to victims, the unit had engaged non-governmental organisations in dealing with the trauma of a woman and provide marriage counselling to them.

Mr Dhaliwal also informed the audience about the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 and some of the special rights of women.

Earlier, Dr Ms Beanjit Kaur, Vice-Principal of the college, welcomed him and Mr Harjinder Singh proposed a vote of thanks.



Railways plans centenary celebrations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
As part of celebrations to mark 100 years of the Kalka-Shimla railway section, Northern Railway will involve students of schools in the city and neighbouring towns of Panchkula and SAS Nagar in a series of painting competitions.

Best paintings would be displayed at different venues during the celebrations beginning November 9, said a senior officer of the Ambala Railway Division. The students would paint their imagination on the canvas about the railway, ecology, the Kalka-Shimla track and transportation.

The officer said the idea to hold the painting contest was to involve people in the celebrations. A workshop and audio-visual presentation on the interesting facts of the history of the railway section and releasing of brochure were also part of the celebrations. A symposium to invite comments on improving the ecology along the rail section was also on the cards, said the officer.

A meeting to chalk out the final arrangements of the celebrations would be held at the office of the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Ambala, on October 28. Though the major part of the celebrations would kick off at Shimla on November 9, functions would also be encouraged at the Kalka station and other stations en route to Shimla.

The railway has also planned to illuminate its buildings along the Kalka-Shimla route, especially the heritage stations. On the tickets purchased for all categories between October 21 and November 8, the railway has announced lucky draw.



Rise in number of applicants for TA
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
There has been a significant increase in the number of applicants seeking commission in the Territorial Army with the number of candidates being called for the entrance test being about double than last year. This is expected to offset, to some extent, the severe officer shortage affecting the “Citizens’ Army”.

“We have issued about 800 call letters for the written examination,” a TA officer told The Tribune here today. “Last year we had issued 435 call letters,” he added. The written test, being conducted by the Western Command TA Group, is scheduled to be held here on November 9.

The numbers pertain only to candidates from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Jammu and Kashmir as the Western Command Group is responsible for conducting preliminary entrance tests only for candidates from these areas.

Sources said that the TA group here had received about 3,000 applications, out of which 800 candidates were shortlisted for the written examination. Those successful in the written test will be screened by a panel of officers for interview by the regular Services Selection Board (SSB).



Official: council staff threatened
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 23
The Executive Officer of the Panchkula Municipal Council, Mr O.P. Sihag, today said that the MC was forced to stop its campaign against unauthorised hoardings, under the garb of public interest slogans, after it was threatened by the powers that be.

Mr Sihag was addressing the MC House meeting this afternoon. Without disclosing the names of the people who threatened MC officials, he said the MC was losing lakhs of rupees as a result of collusion between private agencies and certain government departments, who have allowed the use of these hoardings.



Bhatti cracks down on crackers
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 23
He conveyed the message in not so comical a manner this time, but in quite an effective tone. Comedy king Jaspal Bhatti and his wife Savita Bhatti, dressed up as fire officers, asked the general public to avoid dangerous crackers.

Addressing a gathering of enthusiastic residents eager to hear him, Mr Bhatti said: “Let firemen also celebrate Divali properly”. “We should celebrate the occasion with lamps, lights and sweets. It should be a festival of lights not a festival of fire’’.

He asserted, “Those having ample black money have the liberty to burn cash in front of their houses, but they should avoid crackers and missiles with which they can burn other people’s properties”.



Dargah caretaker fears threat to life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
Mr Abdul Razaq Khan, caretaker of Sakhi Sarvar Lallawala Pir Dargah at Darua village (UT), has complained to the police that certain miscreants have threatened to grab the dargah land.

He has alleged that inspite of motivating the people of adjoining areas by spreading the message of unity, integrity, peace and brotherhood, these miscreants have attacked him in the past, too.



Don’t look towards Pak, India needs you

THIS is in reference to the news item recently published in your daily, “Lions Club to treat 100 Pak children.” I find that of late some elite groups in India have become more inclined towards Pakistan. They are more concerned about the welfare of Pakistani people irrespective of the welfare of millions of hapless people living a miserable life here. In my opinion these groups are doing this only to draw media attention.

Millions of children are suffering from innumerable diseases, including malnutrition, and thousands are dying of hunger. They are not even able to go to school due to abject poverty. If these groups are really so much concerned about the treatment of ailing children they can find a number of such cases in India. These welfare clubs and elite groups must realise the fact that thousands of our children have become orphan in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India due to militancy. These clubs should adopt these children and give them food, education and shelter instead of inviting media attention by giving such statements.

All groups that visited Pakistan recently, including the Parliamentary group, heaped undue praise on the Pakistani leadership. Whereas the Pakistani groups, whether politicians or intellectuals, that visited India minced no worlds in attacking the India Government once they went back to Pakistan.

It is high time we realise the design of the Pakistani junta. The general public in Pakistan is guided by the military junta which itself is governed by the ISI. A good word from the Pakistani President must not be taken at its face value. We are easily lured by such words.

As Indians we must first love India and its people.

T. Bhattacharya, Panchkula

Change exam date

The UGC (NET) test for junior research fellowship and eligibility for lecturership has been fixed for December 12. The same date has been fixed for the test for recruitment of teachers/masters/PG teachers by kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, New Delhi. It is not possible for a candidate to appear in both examinations.

It will be in the interest of the candidates if the authorities concerned change the date of any one of the above mentioned examination.

Madan Lal Singla, Chandigarh

Novel way to dispose of computers

The Government of Punjab has found a novel way for disposing of costly and old computers, especially laptops, purchased by it recently. Any IAS officer can buy these machines by paying just 10 per cent of its original cost even if it was just a few years old. But the scheme is open only to IAS officers. Other governments can follow suit and take the help of the Department of Information and Technology, Punjab Government in this regard and too free of cost.

Jaspreet Singh, Chandigarh

A new ghazal singer on the horizon

Urdu is not popular these days. So it becomes all the more admirable and courageous on the part of Parteeksha Sharma to sing ghazals under the banner of Hansdhawni School of Indian Music. The ghazals are a unique combination of classical and modern styles. These multifarious compositions of ghazals were traditionally written to read and recite by the poets and others. Now this attempt by Parteeksha to sing ghazals is a major step to promote ghazal singing. The outcome keeps the listener spellbound. The singer tries to produce the real effect of 'soz', which poetry conceals in words and which does not come out through reading. I would’t say Parteeksha has surpassed stalwarts in ghazal singing but her rendering and composition of music are on a par with contemporary singers.

M.M. Fazil, Panchkula

Govt fails to rein in cable operators

From time to time there have been protests from cable TV subscribers individually and through various residents’ welfare associations against the arbitrary and exorbitant increase in monthly cable rent and also the poor service provided by the cable operators. But the government has failed so far to regulate the functioning of the cable operators and the people continue to suffer. The fate of CAS and DTH is well known as the powerful cable lobby has succeeded in getting the matter in a cold storage. Now a committee of MPs is said to have been constituted. Keeping in view the previous experience, it is doubtful if it will serve any purpose. In most of the cities/towns, the cable operators divide the localities amongst themselves. The helpless consumer is left to the mercy of the cable operator of his area. He has no choice but to pay the monthly rent which is fixed arbitrarily.

In such a situation, till final decision on CAS or DTH is taken, the government should take steps to ensure easy availability of free-to-air channels. There are about 40 channels, which as per the government’s own statement, can be viewed by the public by paying only Rs 72 per month. So the government should make it obligatory for the cable operators to give option to the consumers to choose between the two. Those cable operators which offer to provide only free-to-air channels should be encouraged by allowing them some relief. Such a move will not only save the common man from the clutches of the powerful lobby of monopolist cable operators but also go a long way in encouraging healthy competition.

Surinder Sood, Chandigarh

Website for RCs update

Residents of Chandigarh are facing a lot of difficulty in getting their addresses changed on the registration certificates of their vehicles because of the documents required by the Registration Authority. The most benefitted persons are the agents, who are charging exorbitantly from the people to get their work done within the stipulated period. To save the residents of the city from the harassment at the hands of agents, I suggest that a website should be launched to facilitate the RC holders for intimation of new address to the Registration Authority.

Ashok Sharma, Chandigarh

Pensioners’ pleas

The Central Government and the state governments are repeatedly attacking the pensioners. They put the excuse that the budget for pensioners has exceeded the employees’ budget. In fact, the truth is different.

The budget has exceeded due to salaries, allowances and pensions of the politicians. Moreover, politicians increase their salaries and allowances manifold whenever they desire. Accordingly, the burden on the budget increases.

Keeping in mind the intension of Central and state governments, it is necessary that pensioners should face the situation boldly and get united. The pensioners have enough strength to face all the problems.

I appeal to all pensioners to join as members of nearby associations and attend the meetings to face the coming situation.

President, Haryana Sarv Retired Karamchari Sangh, Ambala city

Tips to manage waste

Managing waste, we consider waste of time. That was why we treat the subject very lightly. As the population is increasing, waste is also increasing manifold. If effective steps are not taken, we will overburden our city with waste littering all round. Here are few tips to manage waste.

Reduce creating waste rather than create waste and then treat it; segregate waste at source into two bags, non-biodegradable waste like plastics, rubber into one bag and biodegradable waste like dry leaves, cut vegetables, kitchen waste into another bag; use biodegradable waste into making garden manure which will enhance greening in the neighbourhood and increase in productivity; ensure that non-biodegradable waste is burnt in incinerators as per pollution norms; and recycle waste as far as possible for eco friendly products which do not pollute the environment.

Lieut-Col T.B.S. Bedi, SAS Nagar



Chain snatched from woman on morning walk
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 23
A resident of Sector 37, Ms Surjeet Kaur (55), who was on her daily morning walk, became poorer by her gold chain today. A clean shaven youth, wearing a tracksuit, snatched the chain and ran away. The incident took place near the Fragrance Garden in Sector 36 here at around 5.45 am.

“The youth came close to her and snatched her chain. She tried to repulse him but in vain,” said Mr Ajit Singh, husband of the victim. Ms Surjeet Kaur told the police that the youth was probably following her and finding an opportunity, snatched the chain.

A case has been registered.



Say it with almonds this Divali
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
The Almond Board Of California has urged Indians to get back to basics by gifting a handful of almonds as a health additive to their loved ones. This request was with reference to the changing gifting trends during the festive season, and in tandem with the latest USFDA claim of almonds being good for health.

With India’s biggest festival round the corner, this idea of gifting a handful of health to your loved ones seemed appropriately timed, says a press note.

The almond board through its campaign “Almond Might”, also wants to remind Indians about their rich spiritual values with regard to healthy living, embedded in the Rigveda, which the west is fast adopting.

As part of its efforts to create awareness about healthy snacking during the festive season, the campaign has urged the masses to replace high fat and cholesterol snacks with the nutritious power packed almonds in any form.

Divali, brings with it, the pertinent tradition of gifting. This tradition over the years has seen a sea change in mindsets with regard to gifting patterns. At a time when the west is shifting to all healthy traditional Indian values, Indians are moving heavily towards materialism.

The gifts exchanged during Divali are mostly heavily priced electronic gadgets or other such luxury items. The “Almond Might” India campaign this Divali, is urging Indian’s to concentrate on a heart healthy diet .Coming from a west-based group of almond growers, these trends are a revelation of the shift in eastern and western mindsets and only emphasises. On the fact that Indians need to take a hard look at their dietary patterns for a healthy future.

A new study published recently in the Journal of the American Association (JAMA) has strongly backed the consumption of almonds and other dry fruits. The study found out that eating a certain dietary plan high in heart-healthy foods including almonds is as effective in managing cholesterol as taking a starting dose of cholesterol - lowering drugs. Known as the “Portfolio” eating plan, this dietary approach also lowered C-reactive protein levels, an indication of inflamed arteries and a risk factor for heart disease, in individuals who followed the plan more than in the patients taking statins.

Ms Julie G. Adams, Director, International Programs and Technical Affairs, Almond Board of California, said: “The Almond Board of California wishes the people of India prosperity, happiness and health on Divali. We are looking forward to a healthier Divali. We want to create a greater accountability among the people towards their health and of their loved ones.”

Consumption of almonds and nuts are set for a massive increase with Divali around the corner. The last year’s import figures of almonds saw a steep 10 per cent jump over the previous year to £ 53 million (by volume) to propel India into the fourth place of almond importers worldwide and to the second position in Asia.

Almonds in our country have a rich historical background, since the nut is a way of life for most Indians even today. From cosmetics, culinary delights to medicines, almonds have always been the most precious among all nuts. With reference to Divali, almonds have always been the symbol of prosperity, hence have been extensively consumed during the festive season.


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