C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Canada introduces student exchange programme
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
After exploring business avenues in India, the Canadians are back again, this time with education topping their agenda. The growing strength of the Indian diaspora abroad has prompted them to explore a student and faculty exchange programme and, further, use it as a platform for promoting cultural interaction.

On a recee of the country before the Premier of British Columbia lands in India in February for the “signing” ceremonies with various educational institutions of Panjab University and the IITM, Chennai, Prof Rendall Martin, Director, International Cooperation and Mobility, Simon Fraser University (SFU), Surrey, holds that India has a tremendous potential in terms of students wanting to arm themselves with degrees from foreign universities.

“We at the SFU want to project British Columbia as an option. Most students, as of now, are only targeting the USA, the UK or Australia for higher studies. Our effort is to change that and create a market for ourselves in India,” he said, while talking to The Tribune at Vivek High School here today, after a talk with the students.

The student and faculty exchange programme has been introduced to provide students an opportunity a peek into the education system at the university, and, in the process, market the country as an “education destination". "We have a large number of Indo-Canadian population but there are very few students coming from India. Out of 22,000 students on our campus, only 40 are from India, speaking volumes of the efforts we need to put in to project ourselves,” he adds.

Professor Martin is of the opinion that once the process of exchange gets going, it would, inevitably, lead to a cultural enrichment of both countries. "We are targeting three students from all universities we tie up with. However, the umbrella of concern is the funding of such a project. We are still working things out at various levels,” he states.

Into the “business” of marketing his university for the past 12 years, Professor Martin, during his visit to India, has been to various schools and colleges. "The idea is to inform the students who are ready to step into college and university that opportunities exist at places other the USA, than UK or Australia. Our USP is that we provide a safe place for visiting students. My experience of exchange programmes has shown that students studying abroad come back with loads of confidence and a feeling of self-sufficiency and are more tolerant. It is a worthwhile experience,” Professor Matin explains.

The other area of interest besides exchange of students and faculty is that of joint research on various projects. "Pharmaceuticals is big business in British Columbia, while research on genetically modified food is a close second along with biotechnology. We are looking at using Indian and Canadian expertise to make headway in research, and, hopefully, things will work out by the time we return,” he concludes, optimistic of eliciting a response in the coming months.


Martin interacts with students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
While students of Vivek High School, Sector 38, were provided a complete guide to study in British Columbia, by Mr Rendall Martin, Director, International Cooperation and Mobility, Simon Fraser University, tiny-tots of Rainbow Preparatory School, Sector 27, had a brief interaction with the visiting professor.

Answering questions from facilities available at the university to courses offered by the Simn Fraser University Professor Matin spoke to students of Vivek High School about the climatic conditions, the culture and the population that made up British Columbia.

While he explained to them that no concessions would be offered to students applying for admission, he informed them that getting selected would be a matter of pride for them. "We reject applications more often than we accept them. You would be lucky if you managed to get in, “ he told the students of Class XI and XII during his 30-minute session.

At Rainbow School, Professor Martin went round the school and appreciated the well-decorated classes with colourful charts of cartoons and fruits.


Suspension of Hansraj Principal stayed
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 11
The Principal of Hansraj Public School, Ms Rajni Thareja, who had proceeded on leave from October 29, after her transfer and suspension, today joined school. A local court had yesterday granted stay on her suspension, while extending a status quo on her transfer orders till November 18.

Mr Vijay Kumar, Principal, DAV Senior Public School, Surajpur, who had been transferred here in her place, was also present in the school today. Though the court had granted a status quo on Ms Thareja’s transfer orders, the local DAV Managing Committee had delegated all powers for operating the school’s bank accounts to Mr Vijay Kumar.

Ms Thareja and Mr Vijay Kumar reportedly had a closed door meeting in the morning, with the former insisting that after yesterday’s court orders, she had been granted permission by the local management to attend school today, following which, Mr Vijay Kumar left the school.

CULTURAL FEST: The three-day cultural festival at DC Model Senior Secondary School started with great enthusiasm today. Mr C.R. Rana, Administrator, Haryana Urban Development Authority, Panchkula, was the chief guest.



Institute being spruced up for Kalam‘s visit
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, November 11
Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India, will be visiting the town to inaugurate the Army Institute of Law (AIL) on December 1.
The institute authorities had a meeting with the Army Commander in this regard today. The campus is being spruced up.

Brig Promod Bhanot (retd), Director, Administration, said here that the preparations were going on though the visit of the President had yet to be officially communicated to the authorities concerned. He said the President would be staying for over an hour at the institute.

Talking about the AIL, which has been set up by the Army Welfare Education Society, Brigadier Bhanot said the institute was being made fully computerised. 


Forms for private students soon

Chandigarh, November 11
Scores of hapless students wishing to apply as private candidates at Panjab University are doing the rounds of the university counters these days in the hope of getting forms. The staff on duty at the counter says they have not received either the forms or any intimation regarding these.

Dr Sodhi Ram, Controller of Examination, said the university was making a new set of forms which would cater to the recent university decision of collection of examination fee along with the admission forms. The decision was taken only at the last Senate meeting in October. He said the problem would be sorted out within the coming couple of days. TNS


Guru Teg Bahadur School kids enthral audience
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 11
Students of Guru Teg Bahadur Public School, Sector 15, presented a cultural programme to mark the annual prize distribution function of the school at Tagore Theatre here today.

Besides Bhangara and giddha, Rajasthani dance and English play ‘Dear Departed’ were also staged on the occasion. A special presentation on the sacrifice of Shaheed Udham Singh, who avenged a massacre of innocent people at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, was the attraction of the function. Mr Mohinder Singh, the chief guest distributed prizes among students.


Murderer’s wife surrenders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Baljinder Kaur, wife of the alleged murderer of Khuda Alisher resident Avtar Singh and wanted in connection with the case, today surrendered before a local court which remanded her in judicial custody.

With the surrender of Baljinder Kaur, seven of the accused in the murder case have been arrested. Jinder wanted in the case is yet to be arrested.

The alleged murderer Makhan Singh along with his wife, servant Nasim and Maan Singh allegedly murdered Avtar Singh and disposed of the parts of his body at different places on September 25.

The police recovered skeletal remains of the deceased on October 10 and later also but a post-mortem could not be conducted for almost a month as the family members of Avtar Singh were insisting that the missing torso of the deceased be produced.

In another development, Avtar Singh’s mother Naseeb Kaur today gave her blood samples after long resistance to facilitate the police get a DNA test conducted to confirm that the bones found were that of the deceased.


City’s first multiplex by month-end
Shop, eat, watch movies, play video games under one roof
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

A whole new concept in mass entertainment is expected to open up in the City Beautiful with the commissioning shortly of Chandigarh’s first multiplex located at Mani Majra on the highway to Kalka.

Christened Fun Republic, the multiplex is actually the first such facility in this part of the country offering as many as four cinema theatres under one roof together with restaurants, food courts, shopping stores, kid’s play area, including video games and music stores. The multiplex has blocked two movies, Sharukh Khan-starrer ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ and Fardeen Khan’s latest offering ‘Janasheen’ for the launch of the complex on November 28.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that everything proceeds as planned to enable us to launch the multiplex as scheduled”, says Mr Girish Pande, Business and Corporate Head, Fun Republic. “But there so many small things yet to be tied up. So let us see…”

The project is a part of a chain of such multiplexes being set up by the Essel group across the country. Two such complexes are already operating in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. The group also owns Zee TV, besides Playwin Lotteries, Agrani Switches, Essel World and Water Kingdom. The project in Chandigarh is estimated to cost about Rs 16 crore and replaces what used to be known Dhillon theatre. As Mr Pande points out, multiplex is actually the answer to the needs of the changing times. There was a time in none too distant a past when cinema theatres used to be big and majestic, offering up to 1400 seats. But with the arrival of the video and sattelite TV, cinema houses stopped pulling in crowds. Even big banner movies would not have a full-house after the second or third week. Running a cinema house became a losing proposition. A large number of them either closed down or switched to other businesses.

It was then that the concept of multiplexes offering four or more small theatres with 200 to 300 seats under one roof was evolved. A movie could be run in all theatres of the multiplex to begin with and then taken off gradually as and when it stopped pulling in the crowds. Alternatively, each theatre could screen another movie offering a wide choice to the visitors. A cluster of four or more small theatres together with a shopping mall offering a variety of facilities could be an unbeatable combination. It had been tried out successfully abroad and it was only a matter of time before it arrived in India. It has been doing well so far wherever it has been tried out in the country.

The shopping area in the multiplex complex in Chandigarh has been able to attract some of the best brands in town. They include McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Levis, Dockers, Lilliput, Giny and Jony, Reebok, Rockport, Greg, Norman, Oleega, Café Coffeeday, Ethos, Planet M, Ruby Tuesday, Nzyme, Provogue, Numero Uno, Hangten, Fen Feng, Gwalias, Sagar Ratna and Tikk-a Express. “We are now totally sold out and are having to turn away prospective customers”, says Mr Pande.

A visit to the multiplex is like an outing. “One can start about two hours before the start of the movies”, says Mr Pande. “I may like to have a coffee while the wife could opt for Chinese food. The kids could try their hands at the video games. I could even get myself a shirt I had been planning to buy for a long time. They are all available there under one roof”. The four theatres are also almost complete. Entry ticket has been set at Rs 80 for the “silver” class and Rs 100 for the “gold” class.

Film-makers like Subhash Ghai, Mahesh Bhatt and Ram Gopal Verma have already got the message and started making movies for the multiplexes. Movies too are changing. They are becoming more focused, deliver a definite message, lay a lot of stress on technique, content and time. A movie now seldom exceeds two hours. Mr Pande feels that prophets of doom who predict a dark future for the cinema are wrong. Things are changing for the better as far as movies are concerned. Going to a movie will remain an obsession for an average Indian family. All over the world, the cinema revenues are growing, actors are commanding fatter fees. And everybody wants to adopt acting in the movies as a career. How can anyone say that the cinema is dying? he asks.


It’s my life
Dream to rise

Everybody has dreams. And one must dream if he wants to rise in life. But at the same time, one has to be contented and at peace with oneself.

God has been kind to me. Life has treated me well. I was born, brought up and educated in Lucknow.

After doing Masters in Business Administration, I did Masters in history. Since my dad was an IAS officer posted in Uttar Pradesh, I also wanted to become a civil servant. I even cleared the preliminary examination. But then I realised that bureaucratic life was too rigid and too strait-jacketed. So I changed track.

After I got married to a chartered accountant, Sanjay Srivastava and came to Chandigarh. I took up job as General Manager (Franchise Operations) at the National Institute of Fashion Designing. I found the job very interesting and challenging.

From a small outlet in Chandigarh in 1997, the NIFD now has 160 centres across the country and abroad. We also have franchises in Dubai, Bangladesh and Tanzania.

The rapid expansion has involved a lot of travelling, interaction with people from various cultures.

Besides being a good manager in office, I try to be a good mother to my three-year-old son and a good home-maker. I think I have been playing that role very well.

— As told to ASP


Cool Joint
O for a coffee break at Student Centre!
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

The coffee house at the Student Centre of Panjab University is one of the “hottest places” for small breaks during classes on the campus. South Indian delicacies, including “vada-sambhar”, “dosa” and “idli” are always in huge demand as is evident from the rush.

According to Vinay Singh, a student of B.Sc(hons), spicy meals is surely a recipe for a perfect outing. A category of the crowd here consists of the old-timers, who had passed out long ago and are working in private and government offices. They come here during lunch hours and sit for about an hour, particularly over cups of cof fee.

Managers, Joy and Roy, said the coffee house services started here in 1972.

“The place has lost a little charm since nearly all departments have opened their own canteens and students have more options.”

Sushil Chandra, Department of Statistics, said we eagerly await for a coffee break at the student centre. The coffee house was the perfect place for long hours of discussion over cups of coffee, he added.

Vivek Bhanot, a student of the Geology Department, was all smiles after he was surrounded by more than 25 girls and six boys to celebrate his birthday. “The place is fabulous. Good services at very cheap rates is the biggest attraction to be here”, he said.


Sunil Babbar comes home with ‘Ants’
Awarded best foreign film to release on Nov 14
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
About two years ago when Chandigarh-based actor -director Sunil Babbar set out to analyse human relationships on screen, many doubts were raised. Not only because he was going to attempt something never attempted before, but also because he was pronouncing his film titled, “Ants”, as international.

Two years down the lane, Babbar has put most doubts to rest. He is back to Chandigarh to finally launch his dream project, “Ants” — the international film, which bagged the best foreign film award at the Yellowstone International Film Festival held in Montana, USA, last year. Relegating Mrinal Sen’s “Amar Bhuvan” , the jury chose Sunil’s venture for the prestigious award, not only because he had something very interesting to tell, but also because he just knew how to tell it.

Back home, where he had introduced the film by getting the former Governor of Punjab, Lt Gen JFR Jacob, climb up the Hop-on-hop-off bus near the Sukhna Lake to give the muhurat shot, Sunil is dedicating the film first to the audience of his city. The national premiere of the film will take place at Jagat Cinema in Sector 17 on November 14 at 11.30 am. Some time later, the film will hit Nandan theatre in Kolkata, to proceed for an India-wide release from December.

In the city after gathering credits from the international market, Sunil talked about the film yet again. Significantly, the famous Hollywood distribution house, Lucine Enterta-inment, has picked up the distribution rights of “Ants”. About the theme, Sunil said, “It is the story of a man and a woman, who meet en route Delhi to Devprayag, share priceless moments of pain and pleasure and finally move on, leaving moments behind as if they never existed”. The concept of the film comes from ants, who seem to share something by suddenly breaking into each other along the straight line of their journey. They pause and then get on with life.

In the lead roles is Chandigarh-based actress Karishma Randeva, who is the new find of Balaji Productions and is featuring in all their serials on air on Star Plus. The male lead is Sunil himself. He is also the producer and director of the film. Based on his personal experience, the film has been worded by Sunil’s writer wife Bharati Babbar, who has to her credit the Haryana Sahitya Akademi award as well.

Back to “Ants”, it deals with a journey that is a symbolic one. The 27 passengers on board the bus represent different sections of Indian society. The focus lies on the lead actors, who are living their parts, their pain and pleasure, until they begin to share. The journey ends at Devprayag, which spells the union of two tributaries Alaknanda and Bhagirathi which join to make the Ganges. The film thus suggests redemption, as the passengers take off at Devprayag.


Freezing the beauty of flowers on ice
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
There is breath of ice in her frames. Still, soft and subtle, the moments of her creativity lie frozen on the walls of Alliance Francaise gallery in Sector 36, enticing your senses endlessly. Enter the colourful world of Madhu Pandit, whose masterly handling of the lens forces you to ask her: “Are you sure this is your first exhibition of photographs?”

Breaking into smiles, the brand new artist of City Beautiful, makes a humble admission, “Yes, it is my first one, but certainly not the last.” A product of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Sector 27, Madhu has gone straight to nature for inspiration. And earthy as the inspiration itself is, the results were bound to be earthy too.

Titled from the heart, the show is called, ‘Fragrance of eternity’. While fragrance is taken care of by the host of flowers the budding artist has picked up from city gardens, eternity is underlined by ice, which has been employed as a symbol of preservation.

The works are purely experimental and refreshingly beautiful. Proceeding cautiously with the fragile theme, which sought to freeze the beauty of flowers in ice, Madhu Pandit has succeeded in creating striking impacts here and there. Pansy, carnation, lilies, gladioli and a host of other vibrant flowers lend beauty of her works, which draw on ice and on flowers — both beautiful manifestations of nature. The artist explains, “The silent creations are not identical to the extent of being mere print reproductions. Each work speaks a different language and the viewer’s response to each image of joy is as distinct as are expressions to different moods in life.”

And what about the process of creation? Well, it took off sometime back when a newly wedded Madhu (incidentally she is married to a city based photographer), discovered her passion afresh. “I realised that it was time to go to nature, seek some fresh counsel, come back home and create. I collected flowers, petals, sticks; took them home; decorated them with some photography colours and froze them in all their beauty. I used to repeat the process every night and capture the effect every morning. Finally sifting the best from the better, I structured this show.”

Inaugurated by the first lady of Punjab, Ms Shobha Verma, the exhibition is a tribute to the spirit of experimentation and risk in art. It is also an attempt to keep beauty from withering and placing it in moments that spell eternal bliss.


Rashmi brings alive Banaras tradition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Rashmi Agarwal traces her tutelage to the Banaras gharana, enriched by the classical contributions of the legendary vocalist, Siddheshwari Devi. Trained in stylistic techniques of the Banaras gharana like thumri, chaiti, kajri, dadra and hori by none other than Siddheshwari Devi’s daughter Savita Devi, now based in Delhi, Rashmi has come a long way on the concert circuit.

Although academically trained in classical music, which she studied as a vocal music student and later also during the masters degree course at Allahabad University, Rashmi does not call her-self a classical singer. In the city for a vocal recital at the 82nd monthly ‘baithak’ programme of Pracheen Kala Kendra, Rashmi talked about her fascination for light classical music, from ghazals to thumri — a form which signifies emotive values more than anything else.

An approved AIR artiste and lyricist, Rashmi also writes songs for herself and pop singers like Usha Uthup. “Balancing comes easy because music is finally all about words and music. I write lyrics for my songs. I have also composed a few thumris on my own,” said Rashmi, who mesmerised the audience with her style in the evening.

Commencing her recital with her favourite form, thrumri, “Jaayo wahin tum Shyam”, Rashmi went on to present a Bhojpuri composition, followed by a presentation in Raga Mishra Peelu, set to taal dadra. Equally at ease with ghazals, the vocalist presented a ghazal made famous by Jagjit Singh-Chitra Singh, “Ek na ek shamma andhere mein jalaye rakhiye....subah hone ko hai maahaul banaye rakhiye...”

Accompanied by Badlu Khan Nizami on the harmonium and Abhijit Aich on the tabla, Rashmi concluded her recital with a Sufiana qalaam of Baba Bulle Shah — Gal samajh laye te raula ki....”

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