Shrill start to poll campaign
Ashok Sethi & P. K. Jaiswar

The war of words has hotten up with the BJP’s national general secretary, Mr Arun Jaitley, calling the Congress government as ‘Aish-and-Cash’ government, while the Congress nominee, Mr Surinder Singla, calling the BJP candidate, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, as a ‘murderer’.

The think tank of both the parties, planning the poll campaign, felt that the Lok Sabha by-elections, where Mr Sidhu is pitted against Mr Singla, will have a direct impact on the polls to the Assembly in this region.

Battle lines have already been drawn between the three parties. All the candidates along with their supporters have been pooling their resources to counter each other’s campaign which in coming days will see new lows.

The no-holds-bar election campaign is being unleashed to woo the voters through allurements and temptations. At present, all political parties have been shying away of directly dolling out gifts in cash or in kind to muster support.

The electioneering in the political and religious capital of Punjab has hotten up with the entry of the political celebrity and star campaigner for the BJP, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, into the electoral battle.

The stamp of Mr Sidhu was visible as he managed to get his protégée, Mr Anil Joshi, nominated from the city’s key north constituency by keeping the favourite and the RSS old horse, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, out of the race.

On the other hand, the problems of dissention in the Congress rank and file are likely to create heartburns for the official Congress candidates at least in north, west and central constituencies.

The fact of Mr Singla joining the electoral battle for the Lok Sabha by-elections has not gone down well with the Congress workers.

The woes of congress contestants have been compounded by the influx of rebels as in the case of north constituency, Mr Yoginderpal Dhingra, who has recently filed nomination papers on the last day. His nomination has come as a major shock to the official candidate Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma.

Although Mr Singla tried to be a peacemaker, he could not manage to bring the rebels fall in line to back the candidature of Mr Sharma.

In the Amritsar Central, a triangular contest seems to be in the offing as all three opponents, including Prof Darbari Lal of the Congress, Ms Lakshi Kanta Chawla of the BJP and Mr Arun Kumar Pappal, an Independent, will again fight for bitter polls. Interestingly, Ms Chawla and Mr Pappal both lost to Prof Darbari Lal in the last 2002 polls.

The firebrand BJP leader, Ms Chawla, not only faced her political opponents but her defeat was also attributed to the manipulations and machinations of her own party men. She is determined to bounce back as she has been rated as the most clean and honest candidate, capable of trouncing her political rivals.

Another,interesting development is the induction of the erstwhile Congress leader and former president of the Durgiana Committee, Mr Surinder Arjun, a third-front candidate with the backing of the BSP, who has joined the fray to disturb the applecart of the two national political parties.

The Amritsar Central, being the smallest constituency in the state with 68,000 voters only, has been alternately choosing candidate from the Congress and the BJP and offers a close contest.

It is interesting to mention here that more than 20,000 voters have left the highly congested walled city constituency for other areas.

It is outsiders’ show

Call it a twist of fate that two major political parties – the Congress and the BJP- have found it hard to select a local nominee to fight the Lok Sabha by-elections as it had fallen on the two Patiala-based political leaders to fight it out on the holy city turf. While Mr Sidhu had managed to get an overwhelming response during his 2004 maiden political debut to oust seven-time MP, Mr R.L. Bhatia, he has once again got a chance to redeem his political career in view of the high court ruling convicting him in a road rage case of 1988.

In another irony, the BJP have nominated Mr Anil Joshi, who enjoyed the full backing and confidence of his mentor, Mr Sidhu, for the Amritsar North Constituency. He is also a rank outsider.

There was a lot of murmur in the BJP rank and file over the induction of Mr Joshi by overlooking the merit of local candidates, including that of Dr Baldev Raj Chawla. 


Declaration of assets by different candidates have brought forth startling facts about the personal fortunes of various candidates.

Interestingly, Mr Anil Joshi of the BJP have more assets than the Congress candidate and former Improvement Trust Chairman, Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, and rebel Congress candidate, Mr Yoginder Pal Dhingra, put together.



My City
‘Garbage pickers are preventive doctors in real sense’
Dr Ranbir Singh Pannu

This city has the dubious distinction of garbage transportation in open trolleys. Garbage is splashed all over main roads during transportation that hurts the residents, more the foreign- returned ones.

Garbage collectors and sweepers should be highly paid and respected. They should be provided with gloves, plastic uniform, long shoes and covered small rickshaw-trolleys. They are the pillar of any clean city.

Garbage picker is a dedicated worker whom I see picking garbage from one house to another daily in his open rickshaw whether it is biting cold winter or scorching sun. The day they are not there, the city will start stinking .

I often wonder how much cleaning these insignificant workers have been doing for meager remuneration between Rs 20 and 30 per month per house !

The Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Rules 2000 require municipalities to extend themselves to primary collection of garbage (door-to-door) instead of the earlier practice of secondary collection from the common collection points (containers) on the street.

The rules are explicit in offering a range of choices that the municipalities can adopt for this purpose..

He is another ‘doctor’ of the town who is doing so much preventive work to save us from epidemic, he himself living in utter poverty and most unhygienic conditions while a regular doctor treats patient for very heavy fee. Even then the contribution of such worker is ignored by the society.

A garbage-picker is not respected by society. He works in filth; garbage bins and dumping ground from morning to evening. They have no water or other sanitary facilities on the dumping ground or their living places.

He smells of dirt. Nobody from the society likes to touch or give them respect and dignity. Their boys don’t go to school and are unemployed.

Young and adolescent boys in the community just wander aimlessly. Most of them lack proper education and employment opportunities. They often fall into bad company.

The atmosphere in the community is getting worse with alcohol shops, video parlours and gambling dens mushrooming at every corner.

Then, imagine the plight of a garbage-picker when they return home after a hard day’s work. They mostly belong to the poor of the poorest strata. There are no proper facilities of electricity and water and their toilets are open spaces.

Their women-folk have to wait till it is dark to go to toilet. They suffer from innumerable skin diseases as well as other serious ailments. The conditions of work should improve, and they are able to work with dignity. They should be adopted by social organization tike Rotary Club and Loins clubs etc.



Natural farming is his passion
P. K. Jaiswar

Subhash Palekar
Subhash Palekar

Mr Subhash Palekar, popularly called ‘Krishi Ka Rishi’, is a man with a mission.

A pioneer and strong supporter of natural farming, he had been instrumental in popularising ‘Zero Budget Farming’ using natural means and process in Maharashtra and South India.

Acknowledging his contribution to agriculture, the Karnataka Government honored him with prestigious “Basavashree’ award in 2005 while the Maharashtra Government approved his zero-budget technology and the Agriculture Department was introducing0 this technique to the farmers.

He spread out this technology to each and every village of Karnataka and Kerala. A graduate in agriculture, he developed ‘Zero Budget Farming’ technique (which he used to term as spiritual farming) after observing ‘mechanism of forests’ and eight years of his research in that field.

Bring Sahiwal back

Mr Subhash Palekar said the Punjab lost its treasure of Sahiwal (desi) cow breed, which was in abundance in this part of country before the advent of pesticides. The ‘Krishi ka Rishi’ said it should be brought back as its milk had more nutritional and medicinal value.

He said its waste like dung and urine had more characteristics important from agricultural point of view than Jursy and Holastin (foreign) breed of cows currently in use.

During this period, he had to sell the ornaments of his wife, lost all money and even his land to meet the research expenditure.

“Initially it was very hard. People used to call me insane disapproving my technology. All relatives, friends and people have virtually ex-communicated me and my family,” said Mr Palekar.

But after seeing the amazing results of this technique, more and more farmers started to follow his technique and later it became a farmers’ ‘Andolan’ he said.

Mr Palekar was recently here on the invitation of Kheti Virasat Mission- Vatarvarn Panchayat, an NGO, to participate in the seminar of ‘Zero Budget Farming’ held in Pingalwara Society here.

Sharing his experiences with The Tribune, he said nature had created vegetation and since million of years, this vegetation was living without any assistance of mankind.

He said forests gave a large number of export-quality fruits every year without cultivation, without manure, fertilisers, spraying, hybrid seeds and irrigation and without any human assistance.

He said God had established his special self-developing, self-nourishing and self-sufficient technology to grow and to give in severe famine also. “That is why I decided to conduct research in this field,” he said.

Mr Palekar said for 12 years, he experimented in his own farmland and after getting results, he asked other farmers to follow.

After successfully started his voyage in the southern states of the country, spreading his concept of natural farming, he has now turned towards the North, especially in Punjab, which was major contributor of country’s food stock.

He expressed hope over getting good response from the farmers of northern states. He said he had started with 25 models in various villages of Punjab and hoped that it would swell manifolds in near future.

He was very critical of the agriculture universities, which, he said, were inculcating inadequate and dangerous education by advocating chemical and now organic farming.

He said during the so-called ‘Green Revolution’, production increased. However, after 1985 production decreased drastically.

He said he experimented with all such techniques but the production decreased while input increased.

Mr Palekar said by practicing the chemical farming and organic farming we are destroying the soil, polluting water, atmosphere and total environment.

Mr Palekar said there should be a debate in Parliament and political debate over the issue of chemical and organic farming as majority of people were falling prey to the diseases due to pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Unfortunately there was no debate at all at any level, he rued.



Don selected for fellowship
P.K. Jaiswar

Navdeep Singh Sodhi
Navdeep Singh Sodhi

Dr Navdeep Singh Sodhi, Reader, Department of Food Science and Technology, Guru Nanak Dev University, has been selected for the BOYSCAST Fellowship for the year 2006-07 by the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.

Under this fellowship, Dr Sodhi would conduct advanced research in the area of “NMR-imaging” for 12 months at the International Centre for Food Industry Excellence, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA.

He said: “NMR-imaging is an advanced technique used in developed countries for quality estimation of different food grains and to assess their suitability for different food products. These days in India, the awareness of food quality by the consumers results in demand for products that are highly uniform in quality. It becomes important for the Indian food industry to apply on on-line and at-line methods like NMR-imaging to sort raw materials and use according to their suitability for a particular application.”

Presently, Dr Sodhi is conducting research on characterisation and modification of starches obtained from different botanical sources.

He is using latest sophisticated techniques/instrumentation like scanning electron microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, texture analyzer, dynamic rheometry, rapid visco analyser, etc, for evaluation of these starches. He has published his work in various journals of national and international repute and has 28 research publications to his credit.



Meet a numismatologist
Manmeet Singh

Every soul in the world is in quest of recognition. It wants to achieve excellence in his field through unique activities. One such lad, Bhupinder Singh, could be seen roaming in and around the Golden Temple aiming at making friends with pilgrims from various parts of the world.

He has a unique collection of currency of 25 countries, including rare Indian one paisa coin with a hole in it (moriwala paisa) and a pre-Partition coin dated 1940, with a picture of King George 6, inscribed on it.

Bhupinder, while talking to The Tribune, claimed that he had never bought any coin but his friends, he made at the Harmandir Sahib, gifted him these. A student of Plus Two in Ashok Senior Secondary School, Bhupinder aims to do MBBS from Australia.

“I started collecting coins from Class 6 when my American friend Spike Peter gifted a US coin. I had met him when my bicycle accidentally hit him near Ritz Plaza,” revealed Bhupinder.

Besides collection of coins and currency notes, he is also fond of collecting rare postal stamps.

He is a pride possessor of 700 rare postage stamps.

Bhupinder feels indebted to his foreign friends for helping him in collecting currency of various countries.

He said he was still in contact with them through e-mail and they send him new coins even now.



“Do away with permission to play DJ”
Sanjay Bumbroo

Problems are galore for the Amritsar Light and Sound Association (ALSA) with the start of the marriage season, as they have to seek permission each time for running their DJs at various marriage palaces from the SDM concerned. Mr Kulwant Singh, Chairman, ALSA, talking to The Tribune said sometimes in case of emergency when some parties immediately seek their services they were unable to get approval from the local administration due to the time constraint.

He demanded that the ‘permission’ should be done away with as they had to send back the customers otherwise they had to grease the palm of the police officers present there.

Ms Mamata Datta, Councillor, and a close relative of the Mayor, Municipal Corporation, who presided over the eighth foundation day of the association, assured the association that she would look into the matter and try to solve the problem in consultation with other counsellors. The association also honored its office-bearers and executive members of the association by giving them mementos. The distinguished guests and members were also given the diary for the year 2007 released on the occasion.



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