L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Olympic Gold
Wave of joy
Our Correspondent

Doraha, August 11
The gold medal winning performance of Abhinav Bindra in shooting at Beijing Olympics was received with delight by local residents. Members of the Youth Forum of Doraha were on cloud nine after hearing the news of the historic feat by the ace shooter. They termed the shooter’s achievement a watershed moment in Indian sports.

“He has proved to be the true son of the soil. His achievement will give a fillip to sports in India and encourage players to strive for excellence.”

Dr Nirlep Kaur, head of the physical education department, GNN College, termed it a moment of triumph for Indians, as Bindra played with all his might to enable India to stand on a pedestal that anyone could be envious of.

“Bindra has proved that Indians are in no way weak and if given the chance they can work wonders,” the lecturer added.

Sportspersons of the area felt that the victory that too at the individual level would not only boost the morale of his co-participants but also provide inspiration to budding sportspersons to their best.


Most police stations guilty of power theft
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
The suspension of a police station munshi on charges of power theft at the Shimla Puri police station is not really a big thing for police personnel as 15 of the 20 police stations and a majority of the 30-odd police posts are running on kundi connections.

This has been revealed in a PSEB survey of the city police stations and posts in its ongoing drive to check power pilferage.

PSEB sources said the police department was yet to pay huge arrears to the board. The power supply connection to police offices had been disconnected long ago. Yet, all of these had electricity and ran air-conditioners or heaters.

As action against all police stations and SHOs was not practical, the PSEB took up the matter with senior police officers.

Sources said the SSP had directed all SHOs and chowki in charges to apply for a PSEB meter, which would be installed on priority. Some police stations like those at Haibowal, Shimla Puri and Dhandari installed the meters today.

H.S. Randhawa, deputy chief engineer, PSEB, said the PSEB was suffering losses worth lakhs due to kundi connections.

Police sources said the issue of payment of arrears of power bills was hanging fire. The police wanted the board to pay to the police for providing security to vital PSEB installations. Several FIRs had been registered against power thieves at police stations, which were also stealing power. 

SP can’t handle it

Tempers of senior police officials seem to be running high owing to the PSEB action and media reports on power theft. SP (headquarters) Harish Kumar turned out two reporters of vernacular dailies from his office for asking him uncomfortable questions regarding power theft. A delegation of reporters has complained to the SSP about it.



After spending lakhs on project, GLADA wants it scrapped
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
For five years, the authorities went through the rigmarole of laying a 7 km stretch of southern bypass and spent lakhs of rupees on fighting litigations against acquisition in various courts. Now, the Greater Ludhiana Arbitrary Development Authority (GLADA) has refused to construct a 1 km connecting link of road, stating that the project was not viable.

Funds were used by the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) on a 4 km stretch in SBS Nagar and GLADA (formerly PUDA) laid a 3 km stretch in Urban Estate, Dugri.

The GLADA authorities have written to the state government, saying that the project should be shelved as it would not benefit the executing authority. Sources in the GLADA said formalities to stall the project were already completed and directions from the top would soon be reaching the local authorities.

The road project was started five years ago to provide a direct link between the Ferozepore road and the GT Road through Dugri, Phase-III, and Pakhowal road to ease traffic in Dugri and surrounding areas.

After the project was notified in 2003, a 7-km stretch was completed, but the missing link, measuring .75 km, is still to be constructed. For this, the PUDA was asked to acquire land.

Residents went to the Supreme Court and the National Commission of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, but the project was given a nod and it was said the compensation was good enough.

PUDA had claimed that it would provide plots to residents as compensation. It only had to take possession of houses to make the connecting road link. It had deferred the acquisition in view of the assembly elections. But work could never get started after that.

Instead of going ahead with the project, the authorities wrote to the government to shelve the plan. Additional chief administrator of GLADA S.R. Kaler said he was out of station and would comment after going through the record.

Meanwhile, this development has left residents angry. They say the GLADA woke up only after five years of notification. Virinder Bhakoo, associated with an NGO, has filed a PIL petition in this regard in the High Court.

“We are going to take up the matter with the Chief Minister also. The road would decongest traffic. Why can’t we go ahead with it?’’ he asked. 

Not viable: GLADA

The authorities have written to the state government, saying that the five-year-old road project should be shelved as it was not viable and would not benefit the executing authority



Wrong Vibes
Factory causes cracks in houses
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Mandi Gobindgarh, August 11
Vibrations from a hammering unit in ward No. 14 here has been causing irreparable damage to houses in near vicinity for the past many years. A number of complaints and representations to various government functionaries have fallen on deaf ears.

Though Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) officials tried to solve the issue last year by directing the industry to use vibration control pads and stop using bigger hammers, it has done little to bring relief to area residents.

A visit to the area revealed that over 20 houses have developed cracks on roofs and walls due to vibrations.

“Utensils on kitchen shelves fall off and window panes and doors rattle due to vibrations. This happens at least twice a week in the area,” said Rekha Rani.

Those coming to sleep over fail to get sleep or rest during daytime due, she added.

“We have identified 27 houses that have been badly damaged. Besides damage to our property, it causes noise pollution as well,” said Gurbax Singh, an area resident.

He said around 100 families had been affected by the problem. The gravity of problem could be gauged from the fact that roofs of many houses had fell down.

“A number of representations to senior officials, dharnas and agitations bore fruits just a few months back when one of the bigger hammers used by the factory was shifted to another factory, a kilometre away,” said another resident Gurcharan Singh.

But the problem persists as there is another hammer in the factory. The residents have formed a Nagar Sudhar Welfare Society to curb the menace but in spite of repeated attempts of the organisation nothing has been done by officials concerned, alleged society members.

The residents pointed out that Mandi Gobindgarh was one of the most polluted cities of the country and people of the area were facing both noise and air pollution.

“Many administrative and even senior police officials have visited the area and tried to find a solution but nothing substantial has been done,” the residents alleged.

The PPCB officials gave a clean chit to the factory owners by releasing a letter (No. 1192) in August last year to the executive officer of the MC, wherein they “wrongly” mentioned that the industry had taken effective steps to redress the complaints made by the society and no further action was required to be taken in matter, said society member Nishan Singh.

Meanwhile the owners of the factory, terming residents complaints as farce, said they would fulfil all guidelines of the pollution control board.

“We have shifted a big hammer recently to another place in the presence of area residents. Besides, our factory was established in 1972 when there was no residential area around,” said Anil Aggarwal, one of the owners.

Meanwhile, XEN environment engineer Samarjeet Goel from the PPCB could not be contacted.



Tribune Special Part-III
Traffic surveys yield nothing
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
Cars, buses and trucks travelling at high speed, changing lanes at leisure; helmetless two-wheeler riders zooming through traffic; buses stopping at slip roads instead of specified halts; and pedestrians crossing intersections when light turns green for vehicles. Welcome to the chaotic city roads.

It is said in India, true democracy exists only on roads and the city is a perfect example of that.

It is virtually free for all on the roads.

The presence of traffic cops is hardly a deterrent as without walkie-talkie sets, they can only shout at offenders.

With no vehicles to chase the offenders, the cops can be seen running after vehicles.

These are everyday scenes. Cops battle poor infrastructure, shortage of staff and corruption within the ranks to regulate traffic.

Every few years, there is a traffic survey by the police in which problems are highlighted and recommendations are made. But nothing changes.

Two years ago, the Tribune had carried a survey on traffic bottlenecks. After the report, the government held meetings of various departments, but nothing came of it.

The SSP, R.K. Jaiswal, said the police was trying to improve its working. “We have sent the survey report with a list of black spots of the city to various departments. The police doesn't have the funds to get the infrastructure,” he said.



Junk food takes toll on city kids
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 11
That the premier health institution of the region — Christian Medical College and Hospital — mooted the idea of setting up a juvenile diabetic club is an indicator to the sedentary lifestyle that youngsters in the city are following and falling ill.

Addicted to fast food like burgers, pizza, candies and colas, and with little or no physical activity, children and adolescents are falling easy prey to lifestyle diseases.

Increased number of obese and diabetic youth, and in some cases those afflicted with cardiac problems at a very young age, in city hospitals is evidence of the havoc that the lethal combination of junk food and couch culture is wreaking on youngsters.

“Exercise has become non-existent as no one bothers about healthy food and young boys and girls spend their days, and even nights, surfing Internet, playing video games or watching TV least caring for their health and fitness,” says Dr Parminder Singh, head of endocrinology department at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital.

Dr Harkamal Sidhu, head of department of medicine at Dr BL Kapur Memorial Hospital, agrees with these observations. “Junk food is the main killer. As compared to pizza, which is saturated with cheese and mayonnaise, Indian samosa is much healthier and rich in nutrition. Binging on fast food and inactive lifestyle has led to an alarming rise in conditions like obesity and diabetes among the kids.”

Advising youngsters to guard against aggressive marketing techniques of multinational fast food chains, Dr Arindam Ghosh, bariatric surgeon at SPS Apollo Hospitals, said 10 to 14 per cent of the adolescent population worldwide was affected with obesity. And Indian youth were fast catching up with the global average.

“The fad of junk food, net-surfing and inactive lifestyle with no physical exercise or outdoor games needs to be reversed if the health of kids is to be preserved and the younger generation is to saved from life-threatening conditions like diabetes and obesity,” Dr Ghosh emphasised.

So all those in the habit of going for mouth-watering pizzas, yummy burgers or “black magic” of colas, think again. It is your health that you are compromising in the bargain. Instead, adopt an attitude of moderation in every thing you do. Occasionally, do have a binge, but otherwise, follow a regimen of exercise, outdoor games and give preference to healthy and nutritious food, said Dr Ramanbir Singh, consultant endocrinologist at SPS Apollo Hospitals.



Toxic waste finds way into forest land
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 11
The observance of vanamahotsava fortnight has lost its meanings in this part of Malwa where owners of certain manufacturing and processing units continue to discharge toxic industrial wastes in forest department land along the Bathinda branch of Sirhind canal.

While a large number of trees have already dried, others are on the brink.

Accusing officials of the state forest department of allowing the discharge allegedly by accepting bribe from industrial units, residents of the area have urged higher authorities to book violators under relevant sections of law.

Denying charges levelled against them, officials on duty maintained that forest guards had been directed to inform the police if someone tried to discharge liquid or solid wastes in forest land.

With reports of plantations of saplings of fruiting and shadow trees pouring in from various social and educational organisations of the town and surrounding villages, certain industrial units located on the Ludhiana-Malerkotla road brazenly discharge toxic industrial wastes in land belonging to the state forest department.

Besides other harmful fluids, lumps of burnt fossil fuel resembling coal seem to have harmed plants sharply.

In a communiqué to higher authorities, including chief minister and forest department officials, residents led by councillor Bimal Kumar Sharma have apprehended threat to human and animal life due to contamination of atmosphere with toxic substances produced by hydration of the solid waste during rains.

Investigations revealed that residents of Jagera, Kalarh, Jhammat, Jandali and Butahri villages have restricted entry of their domestic animal to this part of forest cover. There have been reports of cattle having fallen ill due oral administration of certain toxins.



Power Theft
Cases against cops gather dust
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 11
Even as police stations in the district have been directed to obtain power connections forthwith, the fate of numerous cases of power theft registered against policemen with different police stations remains the same — these continue to gather dust and are never pursued in order to take them to their logical conclusion.

Towards end of July, a criminal case was registered against a police constable Parmod Kumar, a resident of police colony on the Chandigarh Road, who was found stealing power through “kundi connection” in the course of inspection carried out by the field staff of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

Sources in the PSEB pointed out that the reason for the police top brass taking action against police personnel caught in the act of stealing power was to save themselves from further embarrassment.

After the PSEB authorities launched a massive drive against power theft in the region during which quite a few residents of police colony in Jamalpur, as also many police stations and police posts in different parts of the city were found with “kundi connections” the police administration decided to get tough and the subordinate staff was asked to obtain power connections.

However, the attitude of the police has not undergone any change as far as cases of power theft registered with them were concerned.

The police stations concerned just made sure that the defaulting consumer had paid the penalty imposed on account of power theft and thereafter the cases registered on this account were either got cancelled or filed as being “untraced”.

Lamenting the apathy and indifference on part of the police, a senior officer of the department, requesting not to be identified, told The Tribune that in a major shift of policy, it had now been decided to get criminal cases registered against all those charged with stealing power.

“We want to instill fear among people so that they should desist from power theft. This is the reason that cases were got registered against many of the consumers in industrial, commercial and domestic categories in the course of campaign against power theft. But the common impression that cases of power theft lodged with the police are just a formality and erring persons are let off the hook once they have paid penalty stands in the way of such criminal cases serving as a deterrent against power theft,” the PSEB officials observed.

Sources in the PSEB revealed that lack of will on part of the police to deal with cases of power theft was one of the major reasons to set up separate anti-power theft police stations in five major districts of Punjab.

“Once these police stations become fully functional in a month or so, the situation will change as the PSEB will have a comprehensive mechanism to pursue cases of power theft and get the offenders convicted as well besides imposing penalty on them.”



Shiv Sena activists block traffic
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 11
Activists of Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) youth wing today held a demonstration and blocked vehicular traffic near Jalandhar bypass on G.T. Road here to press their demand for restoration of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board in Srinagar.

Addressing the protesters, state president of the Yuva Sena Suraj Ahluwalia and general secretary of the party Tejinder Bawa flogged the Central government for blowing down to the pressure tactics of separatist elements in Jammu and Kashmir, which led to revocation of the decision to allot land to the shrine board.

The Sena workers alleged that the government was deliberately closing its eyes to the ongoing agitation in Jammu region, causing widespread resentment and anger among the agitating members of the Hindu community. The party workers threatened that if the government failed to see reason and the land allotted to the shrine board was not immediately given back, they will start sending “balidani jathas” (sacrificial groups) to Jammu and resort to blocking vehicular traffic on Madhopur-Lakhanapur highway in Jammu in a bid to intensify the agitation.



It’s wait ‘n’ watch for Congmen

The recent changes in the top leadership of Congress in Punjab have, for a change, not led to the race among the rank and file to take sides and fall over each other to pledge their support to the new leaders. Known to change their loyalties faster than the party workers change their “khadi” dresses, at least for the time being, the Congress workers here have adopted the policy of “wait and watch” before making it known as to which camp they belong. The dilemma among the ranks is understandable because in the prevailing state of affairs, it is tough to say as to who among former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, leader of the Congress legislature party Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, or for that matter Mohinder Singh Kaypee, the new party chief, has emerged stronger in the new setup.

Degrees in terror

The arrest of a MCA-qualified youth from Pakistan on charges of spying in Indian spurred creative mind experts in SMS-ing to satire at the neighbhouring country. In two years, two qualified Pakistan youths have been caught spying in Ludhiana. Earlier, an MBA youth was caught. On the very morning the news appeared, SMS based on it was circulated. It read: What do students study in Pakistan? BE (Bomb Engineering), MBBS (Member of Bomb Blasting Society), IIT (Islamic Institute of Terrorism), CAT (Career in Al- Qaeda and Taliban), MTech (Masters in Terror Technology), LLB (Learning Licence of Bomb Blasting) and BSc (Bio-weapon Science).

One up on cops

The local police often boasts of acting promptly on report of crime. However, a number of times, mediapersons arrive at the crime scene or learn about the crime earlier than the police. SHOs are supposed to inform senior officials immediately but often officials learn about it from mediapersons only, who call up to seek details or version.

Recently, a crime reporter called up a senior police official to seek details of a highway robbery-cum-murder. Cluesless official said: “How come you guys learn about the crime before?” Another time, the same official was taken aback when a reporter asked him for details of a late-night incident. This time he knew about the incident and said: “It happened just 20 minutes ago and you expect us to give details?”

The humble reporter requested him not to lose temper and remarked: “You can take the details from me, sir. I have got all names, addresses, etc.”

Partners in act

Hidden beneath every hardcore professional is a “jumping jack” who breaks free in leisure moments stolen from strenuous routine. It was indeed a pleasure witnessing an interesting encounter in a reputed hospital where doctors due to ongoing renovation had to take long routes to reach their wards. A group of young interns, in order to avoid long walk in the corridor, crept underneath a broken table to reach the iron grille. To steer clear of another long passage, the young doctors jumped over the railing only to bump into their head of the department who was trying to do the same. After a brief moment of unease, the whole gang was in splits of laughter. It was all the more interesting when junior doctors led by their HOD leaving aside “code of conduct” jumped up the slim pathway on the railing side to reach their respective wards.


Chief parliamentary secretary Harish Rai Dhanda, quite expectedly, was seen patiently answering an unending queue of calls on his mobile set, a little short of a press conference, on Saturday morning. Someone wanted a transfer in his government job, while another wanted it to be stalled. Certain farmer called up to complain about him being wrongly caught by the electricity department. One telephone call, in particular, had Dhanda narrow his eyebrows and listen carefully. After two minutes, he said: “Please call up your local MLA. He will definitely help. I will give you his telephone number.” Dhanda called his secretary and even passed on the number. When questioned about the matter “worth a concern”, Dhanda smiled and said “someone was having problem in the queue waiting for a ‘darshan’ of his guru who had come from Delhi. He was saying the queue of women was very long and not allowing him to go near the guru. I suggested the name of the local MLA, who is a God-fearing man, and might be having the right connections for a ‘guru-darshan’.

Rooftop ride

Daily travellers to the city, particularly from the adjoining towns and villages, can be seen perched comfortably on bus rooftops clearly in violation of traffic rules. The journey continues unabated while the police continues to look the other way. Sathi Samsher Singh, a resident of Dakha, says: “There is nothing wrong in travelling on a rooftop. In the humid weather, it is practically impossible to stand inside overcrowded buses. The moisture and humidity makes breathing very difficult.” Malwinder Garcha, a student, said on a cloudy day during rainy season, the rooftop is a very comfortable place for a journey.”

PR agency’s overkill

An overenthusiastic PR agency, to ensure a high presence of journalists at their event, made telephonic calls informing reporters about advancement of its press conference. As the venue of the event was at a village outside the city, reporters made it well on time. However, the company officials who were to address the conference arrived over an hour late, leaving journos fuming. Worse, none of those concerned cared to even offer an apology. Later, it was learned that the “cautious” agency had given a separate time to the company to ensure that a “good number” of journos were present when top officials arrived, whereas it gave a different time to reporters. Left with little time, reporters were unable to visit the site of the company’s upcoming project. One only wished such uncalled for cautiousness had not been observed.

Dames ‘n’ rickshaws

Women belonging to the so-called “la’ creme” society of the city simply hate to sit in rickshaws. But some of them avoid to take their big cars in congested areas like Field Ganj, Chaura Bazaar and Gur Mandi. Under “unavoidable” circumstances, they hire services of a rickshaw-puller while going in such markets but hide their faces with dupattas so that they are not spotted by their “friends”. At times, they aren’t so lucky, as their friends catch them. Then the former starts with unnecessary excuses: “I asked my driver not to take Civic (car) inside the bazaar, so I took rickshaw, it is more convenient you see.” Another would say: “It is difficult to sit in the rickshaw. But you cannot help in certain situations. Something went wrong with my Skoda, now the driver has taken it to workshop.” When asked about the reason for being so apologetic, a woman replied: “You do not know these women, they degrade others. At one of my kitty parties, a friend asked me why I had gone in the rickshaw? She even taunted me that I could have taken her chauffeur-driven car. She said sitting in rickshaw looked cheap.” Strange is the thinking, isn’t it?

Contributions from Kuldip Bhatia, Kanchan Vasdev, Jupinderjit Singh, Anshu Seth, Sanjeev S. Bariana & Shveta Pathak



At The Crossroads
The forgotten freedom fighter

Kamagata Maru incident is again in the news as Indo-Canadians have rejected the apology of the Canadian Prime Minister tendered in public as they want it in the Parliament. As is well-known, Kamagata Maru was a Japanese ship hired by Malaysia-based wealthy Sikh Gurdit Singh to bring 376 Indians, mostly Sikhs, from Hong Kong to Canada on May 23, 1914 to challenge the racist laws. The dominion government did not permit passengers to disembark and the vessel remained docked at Vancouver harbour for two months.

Later, the ship was forcibly sent back to India where the British India police shot dead many passengers in Calcutta. The rest were sent to Andaman island (Kala Pani) to undergo life imprisonment. The Ghadar Party came into existence that played a prominent role in making Indians politically conscious.

Recently, Surinder Pal Singh, based in Solan, has brought to the notice of his compatriots that his maternal grandfather Bhagwan Singh Gyanee had been deported from Canada on November 19, 1913 due to racist immigration laws.

This incident can be viewed as a prelude to the Kamagata Maru episode as it had occurred six months earlier to that. Gyanee, who had been working in a gurdwara in Hong Kong as granthi, left for Canada in August 1913. He left behind his wife Harbans Kaur, son Harbhajan Singh and daughters Satwant Kaur and Joginder Kaur. At the time of deportation, he was forced to embark a ship sailing to Hong Kong.

On the way, he was successful in disembarking at Yokohama (Japan) where he stayed with Maulvi Barkatulla for a few months. Later, he went to Germany, came back to Japan and then shifted to America. In America, he plunged himself into the movement for the independence of India. There he founded American Institute of Culture and toured the country for delivering lectures. In 1958, he returned to his homeland after 50 years and was happy to be in the land for whose independence he had fought so vigorously. He belonged to the village Varing (Tarn Taran). He died in Delhi on October 8, 1962.

Bhagwan Singh Gyanee was the precursor of the Ghadar Movement that came into existence as the fallout of the Kamagata Maru episode. He served as the president of the Ghadar Party from 1914 to 1920. Indeed he had left India in 1910 at the age of 26 for Hong Kong in search of greener pastures. But, once in a foreign country, he was filled with the zeal to fight for the freedom of his own country. Later, in America, he came in contact with other freedom fighters such as Baba Amar Singh, Sohan Lal Pathak, Mewa Singh and Hari Singh Usmaan.

With a view to acquiring higher knowledge, he pursued his studies and was well versed in the English language. He expressed his views, unique and original, in books such as 'The Art of Living', ' Art of Practical living' and 'Karma and Dharma' in English. In Punjabi, he authored 'Jung Aur Azadi' and 'Ghadari Goonjaan'. 'Ghadari Goonjaan' is a collection of his patriotic poems composed from time to time. Earlier, these had been published in a series of seven books under the title 'Ghadar di Goonj', which contain the poems contributed by Ghadari babas. This book is a landmark in the history of India’s freedom struggle.

The new generation is relatively ignorant of the role of the Ghadari babas like Bhagwan Singh Gyanee in ushering in the independence of India. They made supreme sacrifices but the country, after freedom, accorded them lukewarm treatment. Surinder Pal Singh remembers the sufferings that Gyanee's family, particularly his wife, had to undergo in his absence - ''My maternal grandmother, Gyanee's wife, Harbans Kaur died after she fell from the roof of an old-age home. Unfortunately, she had spent her last years in Ludhiana, unknown, before she died in 1951.”

Still the poems composed by Gyanee, under the pen name Pritam, stand testimony to the aspirations of a son of the soil who passed through a long dark period of his life for the sake of the bright future of his motherland. In a poem he had predicted in 1933 what we gained on August 15, 1947 —

Pritamji dukh chhati dah ke jaraange

Raj angrezan pichchon aap karaange

(Pritam! we shall pass through trials and tribulations with determination. But we shall rule our land after driving away the British from our country.)

— N.S. Tasneem



Won’t allow political interference: Commissioner
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
G.S. Ghuman, newly appointed municipal corporation commissioner, today said he would not tolerate political interference in the functioning of the local body.

He took over charge of the office here today.

Listing his priorities, the commissioner said he took a round of various city roads today and found waterlogging plaguing most places. He said even small showers led to the problem.

He held a meeting with city mayor and discussed pending projects. The mayor told him they were in the process of inviting tenders for the roads and other projects.



Jobless BEd teachers seek appointment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
Activists of the Berojgar BEd Teachers Front (Punjab), led by Ajit Singh Jassowal, handed over a memorandum to MP Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, chief parliamentary secretary Harish Rai Dhanda and cabinet minister Hira Singh Gabhria and zila parishad chairman Manpreet Singh Ayali.

The memorandum listed demands, including their appointment as primary school teachers at various government schools, which had been delayed by the state government.

The ministers assured them of meeting their demands.



Lack of quality education

Government schools besides having poor infrastructure also lack in providing better standards of education. The buildings of government schools are in such bad state that students are forced to attend classes in the open. Scarcity of furniture, water, and laboratory equipments are some of the necessary items, which are neglected in the government run schools.

Moreover, there is an uneven student-teacher ratio in these schools and most of the times the students end up doing the personal work of their teachers. Stress is on futile activities and teachers instead of providing quality education prefer to get their personal work done from students. But then, parents have to bare the brunt of this irresponsible behaviour by the teachers.

The government as well as education department should look into the matter and strong steps must be taken to provide quality as well as effective education system. Besides providing sound infrastructure, steps should also be taken to eradicate erring teaching staff.

Ravi Chander Garg, Ludhiana

Readers are invited to mail letters (not more than 200 words) at "ludhiana@tribunemail.com" or post the same to The Tribune, 1, 2 Improvement Trust Building, Badaur House, Clock Tower, Ludhiana.



Bakers rue hike in costs
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
Bakery items may record a fresh hike if a cost of raw material used by bakers continues to rise. Local bakers rue that costs have increased by roughly 20 per cent within the last one month itself.

From sugar to corn flour and oil, prices have refused to stabilise. “Costs of all the basic raw material have been continually rising. We have not been able to affect the hike in product rates owing to competition from large companies,” said Harjit Singh Bindra, president of Ludhiana Bakery Association.

A quintal of sugar, which cost them around Rs 1,700, is available for not less than Rs 2,100 now. The price of a 15 kg tin of refined oil has gone up from Rs 900 to Rs 1,500, whereas corn flour, which was available for Rs 1,100 per quintal, is now priced above Rs 1,200. While the bakers are yet to give any official word on the quantum of increase that might take place, a 15-20 per cent increase can be expected in short run.

Bakers are also troubled over 12.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT), which they feel is adding to their burden.

“The previous government had exempted us from VAT. However, a notification could not be issued at that time. Now, we are again being asked to pay VAT and at 12.5 per cent it is on the higher side,” said bakers. They have now put forth their demand of exempting them from VAT with the government.



UCO Bank upgraded to CBS
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, August 11
The Jugiana branch of UCO Bank has been rolled over to core banking system (CBS) or anywhere banking from today to provide state of the art services to its customers.

J.S. Cheema, senior branch manager of Jugiana Branch, shared that the bank shall now be providing facilities of Internet banking visa ATM, debit card, RTGC and anywhere banking to its customers. He added that since central banking is the need of the hour, the bank would now be functioning to its fullest capacity. Also, since the bank is mainly catering to the surrounding villages, this facility was urgently required in order to facilitate the customers and increase their reliability in the matter of healthy and speedy maintenance of records.



Shift to crops with good industrial potential, says Dr Minhas
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
A two-day research and extension specialists’ workshop for rabi crops was inaugurated at PAU by vice-chancellor Dr Manjit Singh Kang today.

In his inaugural address, Dr Kang observed that keeping in view the state and national priorities during the past four decades to augment food production, PAU has endeavoured strenuously to develop high yielding crop varieties and matching production/protection technologies. It has evolved and recommended 563 varieties/hybrid of different crops, 98 of which have been released at national and international level.

Punjab contributed wheat and rice up to 60-70 and 40-45 per cent, respectively, to the national pool of food reserves. However, the state had to pay a heavy price for taking on to additional food production in India, observed Dr Kang. He highlighted that there were ecological and socio-economical constrains prevalent in Punjab agriculture. Paddy-wheat system now seemed unsustainable. The use of fertilisers had increased from 1 kg/ha (1960-61) to 216 kg/ha (2006-07). The average farm size was shrinking each year and the cost-risk-return structure of farming was becoming unfavourable, thus farmers were getting more and more indebted. The farmers were shifting form agriculture to non-agricultural ventures.

Punjab joint director of agriculture, Dr Nirankar Singh, while speaking on “Targets, productions and problems in various rabi crops” set an agenda for scientists and stressed on the need for more funds for research to the PAU. He drew the attention of experts towards the rampant micronutrient deficiency in different crops.

He highlighted that tree plantation drive, eco-friendly technologies and need-based application of pesticides should be given due focus in view of the environmental concerns. Dr Singh observed that medicinal and aromatic plants, inter-cropping, machinery like laser leveller, zero till, technology for paddy straw management etc could play a significant role in the state’s agriculture.

“For greater viability of agriculture, a major shift to crops with good industrial potential was needed,” said Dr P.S. Minhas, director of research. He said the agri-business and agri-processing, with enhanced participation of private sector, would help achieve second green revolution. He attributed the progress of agriculture in Punjab to favourable government policies, need-based technologies, diligent peasantry and availability of inputs. He suggested scientists to be pro-active to the emerging food demand scenario on account of changing life style and current urbanisation trend among people.

Dr Minhas highlighted the three improved varieties of wheat (DBW-17), barley (DWRUB-52) and sunflower (PSH-569) that PAU has recently developed.

An exhibition projecting recent technologies of PAU for different rabi crops, farm machinery, plant protection etc was organised on this occasion.



US agriculture scientists stress student-centred learning
Ask PAU to prepare graduates for corporate sector
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
The three-member delegation from the Ohio State University, Columbia, have asked their counterparts at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here to implement a student centred learning programme. They observed since all the agricultural graduates in India could not be absorbed by the government agencies, they should be prepared in such a manner that corporate sector could offer them good job placements.

Talking to The Tribune, M. Susie Whittington, associate professor at the university, told that the delegation had come to PAU to fulfil the objectives of grant issued by the US department of agriculture through Agriculture Knowledge Initiative (AKI) and Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). She said the project had certain objectives, which include implementation of student centred learning, bringing change in higher education, developing relationship with industry, and developing student centred leadership through undergraduate student organisations.

“Universities in the US are cleverly using more student centred projects, but this approach has to be brought to India. To get more benefits, the authorities at PAU must focus on programmes aimed at students. Through education exchange projects, we are positive to get better results,” said Susie.

Robert J. Birkenholz, professor and chair, department of human and community resource development of Ohio University, stressed to prepare students for private sector so that economic development could be brought. “The course curriculum needs to be more student friendly and highly productive. Teachers must recognise the level of learning among students. Once the system is streamlined, there will be no problem of jobs to young graduates,” he said.

Dr V.K. Dilawari from the entomology department of PAU said that a six-member delegation from PAU had visited Ohio University in March under AKI programme, which was very useful. “We need to improve the quality of our graduates so that they are easily absorbed by industry as in the US,” said Dilawari.



From Colleges
Guru Nanak Dev Engg College welcomes freshers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College welcomed its new batch in its auditorium here today. The students were welcomed by principal Dr M.S. Saini. Others present on the occasion were the deans, heads of the departments and advisors of first year students. The students were shown a presentation on the college, showing the glorious history of the last 52 years. The new students were introduced to the advisory system and its benefits. They were also warned against creating indiscipline in the college.

The new students took round of the college. Dr Saini assured them of all facilities and co-operation for making them professional engineers and productive citizens of the nation.

Students enthralled: Ramgarhia Girls College was enthralled when the contestants of Vaar Pariwar’s (Sony TV) “Mausere Bhai” performed live at their auditorium here today. The trio -- Aneet, Arvind and Amit performed numbers like “Sawan mein lag gayi aag” and “dekha jo tujhe”. The performers appealed the students to support them.



Spring Dale’s project selected for national science exhibition
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
A project of Spring Dale Senior Secondary Public School has been selected for the national-level CBSE Science Exhibition - 2008 to be held at Delhi in September.

As many as 186 CBSE affiliated schools from northern region displayed approximately 280 projects exhibits on various themes at regional-level CBSE Science Exhibition held at DAV Public School, PAP Campus, Jalandhar.

Out of 280 projects only 15 projects were selected for the national-level exhibition. The project was prepared by Priya and Amandeep Kaur of Class XI. D.R. Yadava, regional officer, CBSE, Panchkula, and R. Sharma, director, Pushpa Gujral City, Kapurthala, gave away the certificates to the winners.

Director Avinash Kaur Walia and principal Sandeep Raikhi jointly congratulated both the students and their teachers for their efforts in bringing laurels to the institution.



ISKCON holds painting competition
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 11
A painting and on-the-spot colouring competition was organised at Jagannath temple, run by ISKCON, here today. As many as 80 students of different schools participated in the competition.

Children were seen taking keen interest in the competition. Schools that participated in the events were Bhartiya Vidya Mandir, DAV Public School, Jain Girls School, Sarswati Modern School, Sanatan Vidya Mandir, Tagore Public School, Sanatan High School. 



PU syllabus confounds BA students
Lovleen Bains

Sahnewal, August 11
Students of BA (final year) of colleges affiliated to Panjab University are confused over the "mismatch" of syllabus and the book prescribed for the English (compulsory) paper.

English teachers in various colleges complain that it has been happening for the past three years.

"The Silent Song", an anthology of poems edited by K.M. Tharakan, is actually prescribed to part-III students of Panjab University as part of the syllabus. The problem, however, is that there are two books in the market with the same title, but different contents, lecturers rue.

A teacher said 15 poems had been included in the syllabus. The book with a green flap, which students should stick to, contained these poems. The other book has 23 poems and is readily available in the market.

Also, as the printed syllabus of the PU is yet to reach some colleges, certain teachers are teaching poems that are not in the syllabus.

One of the teachers complained: "Private students have to prepare on their own and there is every chance of their being misled and preparing for a syllabus which is not even prescribed," a teacher added.

Students and teachers have demanded that only those books should be allowed in the market which guide students rather than confuse them.

Kusum Narula, a senior lecturer and member of the board of studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh, said the book with the blue flap was misleading and that teachers should consult the syllabus before it was taught in the class. She also said they would soon be issuing a press note in this regard.



Stress on maintaining dental hygiene
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 11
Emphasis was laid on proper dental care and oral hygiene at a workshop organised by the local branch of the Indian Dental Association (IDA) in association with a multinational company at AS Modern Senior Secondary School, Khanna, on Saturday.

Dr Bhagwant Singh, vice-president, Asian Pacific Dental Federation, was the chief guest at the function, while prominent among others present were Dr J.S. Judge, state president, Dr Amar Singh, president, and Dr Vikas Jindal, secretary, IDA (Ludhiana branch).

Dr Kulwant Singh Ghai made a detailed presentation on dental healthcare programme, while stressing proper dental care.

Dr Amar Singh and Dr Jindal exhorted students to visit the dentist regularly to keep their teeth in good shape.

Dr Bhagwant Singh gave a word of advice on proper brushing techniques and appreciated the efforts of the IDA and respective school managements towards creating awareness among children about the importance of oral hygiene and dental health.

Proposing a vote of thanks, school principal Apurav Devgan appreciated the role of functionaries of the IDA and the school management for their cooperation and contribution towards propagating dental health programme in the school.



High protein wheat causing allergy: Doctors
Tribune News Service

Mandi Gobingarh, August 11
Switching over to high protein variety of wheat in Punjab is telling on the health of children, who are coming to doctors with wheat allergy as they are unable to digest the protein.

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, is causing allergic reactions in children, who have to switch over to non-wheat diet and change food habits.

"Earlier, we used to produce wheat which had high carbohydrate, but low protein. But to get a yield of 20-25 quintal per acre, we are risking are children's health," said Dr Muktinder Singh, a paediatrician.

He, along with two more homoeopaths, Dr Randeep Nanda and Dr R.S. Sodhi, had organised a homoeopathy camp for children in Mandi Gobindgarh here today.

The camp was organised by Shri Krishna Homoeopathic Charitable Dispensary.

"We are shocked to see that 10 per cent of children who came to the camp were allergic to wheat. They are losing weight and remaining sick most of the times," the doctors said.

Wheat allergy was thought of as an incurable disease by allopathic doctors who advised patients to stay away from wheat and its products, they claimed. "In Punjab, wheat is a staple food. Homoeopathy has a cure and we have already treated a number of children," Dr Muktinder claimed.



Nine food samples sent to lab
Tribune News Service

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 11
A team of health officials, led by Dr K.C. Goyal, SMO Malerkotla, took as many as nine samples of food items during raids conducted here today. The samples were sent to the office of state analyst at Chandigarh. Further action will be initiated against the owners of the establishments, in case the chemical analysis of the samples prove adulterated with inferior materials.

Dr Goyal claimed that the raids were conducted at random and samples had been taken in the presence of government officials. Dr Karnail Singh, notified food inspector, and Manoj Khosla, food inspector, constituted the team. 



Pranav makes great strides in badminton 
Anil Datt
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, August 11
Starting as a partner to ace shuttler, Raj Kumar, Pranav Chopra has now carved a niche for himself and is all set to give his best shot for the country. The duo of Pranav and Raj Kumar are the current sub junior national champions (doubles) after they overpowered their opponents to emerge victors at Dehradun, last year.

Winning back to back medals in the national ranking tournaments and also making his presence felt in overseas tournaments in the recent past, Pranav has proved that he has the potential to make a cut at the individual level.

Pranav (16) seems focussed and has been spending hours together at courts to prepare himself for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, slated to be held in New Delhi in 2010. His name figures in the probables' list, announced by the BAI, for this prestigious event.

The Badminton Association of India (BAI) has posed faith in Pranav by choosing this upcoming shuttler in the elite group of players to attend as many as seven training camps in different parts of the country and also two specialised camps in Indonesia.

Pranav started playing badminton under the watchful eyes of NIS trained coach, Mangat Rai Sharma at the local Sutlej Club and immediately mesmerised every one with his game. He hogged limelight when he came out triumphant in the singles category in the Punjab State Junior Championship and partnering with Raj Kumar, went on to clinch the doubles title too.

Pranav, then learned the finer points of the game at Mumbai where he joined an academy run by a former international, Uday Pawar. His one-year stay at Mumbai helped him a lot to further polish his game which is evident from the fact that he played a pivot role in Punjab's winning the Junior North Zone Championship and also Senior Championship after a gap of 10 years.

In his first appearance in the senior section in the Tata Open All India Senior Ranking Tournament held in Mumbai, last month, Pranav, pairing with Sai Praneet from Maharashtra, gave an excellent performance to make it to the last eight stage.

Last year, he also gave a stupendous performance by making it to the pre-quarter final stage (doubles) of the Sub Junior Asian Badminton Championship in Vietnam and repeated this feat in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, early this year.

On the basis of his consistent performance, Air India has adopted this promising shuttler. He will be getting monthly stipend besides travelling and daily allowances. Now, Pranav is oozing with confidence to make a sizeable cut in the upcoming Commonwealth Games.



Hockey League
Prabhjot steers Gurukul to victory
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, August 11
Prabhjot Singh scored a hat-trick as Mehta Gurukul Academy of Doraha started its campaign in style with a 5-0 emphatic victory over Khalsa Academy of Bahadurgarh in the inaugural match of the annual Rakshak Punjab Schools Inter-Academy Hockey League (u-14) being organised by the Punjab School Education Board in asociation with Mata Sahib Kaur Sports Club at Jarkhar, near here, today.

The other two goals came off Jaswant Singh's stick. The other matches that were to be played today between Cheema Academy of Batala and Baba Bakala Academy of Amritsar, Malwa Aacademy of Ludhiana and Kothala Academy of Sangrur and Mata Sahib Kaur Academy of Jarkhar and Guru Angad Dev Academy of Khadoor Sahib could not be conducted due to rain.

Earlier, Bhai Surjit Singh, chief sewadar of Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Jarkhar, inaugurated the league in which top eight academy outfits of Punjab are taking part.



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