Thursday, June 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


No homework for us please, we are Ludhiana kids
From Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, JUNE 21 — Necessity is the mother of invention. But in Ludhiana it has taken an entirely new and unexpected form. Thousands of students, who do not or can’t do their homework for various reasons, are having it done by outsiders, thus defeating the very purpose of homework for the kids.

As a matter of fact, an entire cottage industry seems to have sprung up in Ludhiana specialising in undertaking homework for school children. As one concerned educationist pointed out, morality seems to have become just like any other commodity, which can be purchased by money.

The negative role of money power is already much in evidence while seeking admission to schools and colleges where parents do not hesitate to “donate” lakhs of rupees to secure admission for their wards.

Hefty tuition fees are also paid by the parents for extra coaching for their children. But the manifestation of money power in the area of doing homework for school kids is absolutely bizarre. The students appear to have adopted these short cuts and readymade solutions right from the primary to higher secondary level.

A visit by this correspondent to the Kitabanwala Bazar adjoining Chaura Bazar today showed that those offering these rather unusual services were having a brisk business. Some shopkeepers in the books market undertake this job openly. Students, most of them from eighth standard onwards visit these shops and settle the terms for doing their homework.

Shipra Brothers (not the real name) make project files for the higher secondary students at different rates depending on the project. It also prepares physical education notebooks at the rate of Rs 80 per notebook. Besides, it also undertakes homework for all other school classes. For this, they take Rs 30 per subject.

Two other college students, Karun and Rahul, went to National Stationeries (assumed name) for their physical education work to be done. They were asked to pay Rs 100 for that and Rs 50 for every other subject. The notebooks and the information required for the homework has to be provided by the student.

The homework assigned to students is so voluminous that a child has little time for anything else. Looking at the sad and pitiable plight of the overworked children, parents give in to the temptation of getting the homework done from outside. They become part of the unscrupulous game by giving permission to their loved ones to have their homework done by paying for it.

These services are easily available at College Road also. The work is done by various skilled persons for typical drawings, science experiments and other technical projects. The rates at Soni Book Shop varies from Rs 50 to Rs 80, depending upon the length and nature of the work to be done.

After meeting a large number of school and college students, who regularly get their homework done by these people, one can easily observe the tendency of shirking work.

The parents find themselves between the devil and the deep sea financially as well as morally because their child learns nothing. Munish (not the real name), a ninth standard student, happily says, “Why should I do it myself? My work is done easily and I enjoy my holidays, that’s all.”

The mother of a child says ,”Don’t you think it is the moral duty of students, teachers and parents to stop the unscrupulous elements from exploiting the situation before it is too late?”


Colonisers want PUDA laws revised
From Our Correspondent 

LUDHIANA, June 21 — The Punjab Colonisers and Property Dealers Association has called for revision of Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) laws in such a manner that rather than serving as deterrants to the colonisers and impeding the much-needed-housing development activities, these should promote and encourage colonisation in order to tide over the acute shortage of houses in the towns and cities.

In an interview with The Tribune, the president of the association, Mr Kultar Singh Jogi, pointed out that for various reasons, PUDA could not take up housing projects in a big way but at the same time stringent rules and regulations stood in the way of colonisers and property developers. For example, a coloniser had to deposit about Rs 14.5 lakh per acre as internal and external development charges with PUDA for an approved colony. Added to the cost of land, these charges pushed the prices of plots in Approved-approved colonies beyond the reach of average people.

He said the increasing demand for residential houses was a big allurement, both for the fly-by-night operators who washed their hands off after selling plots in undeveloped and unauthorised colonies and for genuine colonisers who had no choice but to unwillingly offer plots in colonies which were not approved by PUDA.

Mr Jogi suggested that like PUDA and other government agencies involved in housing development offered residential plots in different categories like HIG, MIG and LIG, PUDA should also have different schedule of development charges in approved colonies depending upon the locality and plot sizes.

A member of the PUDA advisory committee and general secretary of district unit of ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), Mr Jogi rued that criminal cases were being instituted by PUDA against colonisers, who had developed residential colonies prior to 1995 when PUDA Act came into existence but having offered plots on easy instalments, were getting the sale deeds executed now.

“Indiscriminate prosecution of colonisers would achieve nothing positive except for harassment and prolonged litigation for the developers. Rather that proceeding against such colonisers, the government would do well to collect development charges at reasonable rates at the time of execution of sale deeds or issuance of ‘no objection certificates’ for those colonies which were within the jurisdiction of civic bodies,” he suggested.

Further, the state government, Mr Jogi urged, should introduce suitable provisions for transfer of plots after five years of grant of possession in PUDA and Improvement Trust colonies to promote legitimate housing deals which would also bring in much needed revenue by way of stamp duty.


A chaotic mix of well-maintained houses and slums
From Kuldip Bhatia

LUDHIANA, June 21 — Model Town Extension Colony was developed as a posh extension to the elite Model Town area which was considered to be a jewel in the crown of the city as the old-timers recall. But poor maintenance and utter disregard for sanitation and landscaping, first on the part of the Improvement Trust, which developed the colony, and later by the local Municipal Corporation, to which the area was handed over, has turned it into a chaotic mix of aesthetically built and maintained houses along with patches of slums and jhuggi dwellings. The colony has tastefully landscaped kitchen gardens developed by residents in their backyards and public parks, including a long stretch of green belt all along the 120 feet road which are in a pathetic condition, to say the least.

As one proceeds towards Block-B and Block-C along the main road, the well-maintained and fenced green belt suddenly turns into proliferating weeds, congress grass dotted with garbage and house waste littered in heaps, all over. Since, the entire stretch of green belt is unfenced and totally neglected, a large number of tree guards put up by the horticulture wing of the Municipal Corporation around plants of shady and ornamental trees fail to serve their purpose.

Says Mr V.K. Biala, general secretary of the Citizens Welfare Council of the locality: "After our repeated pleas with the civic officials failed to elicit any response, the residents had taken upon themselves to improve the condition of the green belt. We spent money from our own pockets for laying grass, planting trees and erecting fencing to protect the area from stray animals and other miscreants. But to our shock and dismay, the civic authorities, instead of appreciating the endeavour of the residents, termed it as an unauthorised act and demolished the fencing.”

A big vacant plot on the left side of road where Block-C ends is another eyesore for the residents but a happy hunting ground for stray animals and pigs. The stagnated water, heaps of filth and garbage and swarming flies and mosquitoes, not only make passing from the area a harrowing experience but also pose a serious health hazard, observes Dr Mohinder Pal.

Many other residents, including Mr H. S. Bithla, Mr Pritam Singh and Mr Sahib Singh Virk point out that even within the colony, the maintenance work leaves much to be desired.

While the main road has no streetlights, although the poles have been erected for the same. The streetlight points inside the area are also non-functional for all practical purposes because those entrusted with the job of switching on the lights seldom turn up. Similarly, the unkempt parks and vacant plots create a score of other problems. At many a place in the locality, the plots still lying vacant have not been levelled up and are being used as garbage dumps by the people living around.

According to Mr Bithla, the area does not have any common facility like a community centre. “The residents had approached the authorities to allow a community centre to be raised at the site earmarked for a park in Block C which was turned down. Now the site is just a neglected piece of land. There is no park and no community centre.”

The entire stretch of the land shown as green belt on the right side of double road, along the Sidhwan canal also cries for attention. Some pockets of this are already under occupation of certain unscrupulous elements, with a religious dera and stray jhuggis coming up.

If the authorities did not wake up and took in hand the proper maintenance and development, the prime land would turn into another slum and jhuggi-jhopri colony.

The area, with a large number of residential colonies all around, could be developed as children parks and with proper upkeep and landscaping could emerge as “lungs for the residents”, say residents.

They also complain regarding emergence of increasing number of big commercial establishments in the purely residential locality. “We wonder how the PSEB and other government agencies have allowed commercial activities which are a nuisance in the colony,” say many of them, especially women.


How doctors handle stress

STRESS, a bane of modern life, is hitting hard everyone. Doctors, the healers of the diseases, are also feeling its impact to a great extent. Long working hours, dull routine, difficult work and rising competition are fast increasing their stress levels. Stress-induced disorders like high blood pressure, heart illnesses, acid peptic disease, migraine, diabetes, depression, smoking and alcohol abuse are quite common among city doctors. How Ludhiana doctors cope with stress and how they successfully beat it to remain, active, alert and vigilant, remain an interesting area of introspection.

According to Dr Mohan Gupta of Dayanand Medical College stress is definitely there, and being in an administrative post, one experiences it a lot. He manages stress by playing harmonium, watching TV, sitting with family and participating in club activities. He finds reading fiction and medical literature highly relaxing.

He says attending surgical conferences regularly has very soothing and refreshing effects. One meets lots of old friends and new people. He shares everything with his medico wife, Dr Achla, and the couple jointly employs their skills and experience to find solutions to their day-to-day problems.

Dr Ajit Sood, a senior gasteroenterologist in the city, is of the view that stress is completely unavoidable. He feels that one has to learn to live with stress. He feels that it is the negative attitude of a person that creates stress.

When you criticise others or try to put them down, you increase your stress levels. When he is away from work, he makes himself completely mentally cut off from the work and tries to talk about simple and light matters with his family and friends.

When asked how he manages stress, Dr Hemant Chopra, an ENT surgeon, reacted with a query, “who has the time to relax and think about reducing it?” He said he was passing life on a day-to-day basis, without any proper planning of reducing it. He feels that medical work is highly taxing and exhausting. He admits that he has got used to daily stress levels since they have become part of his life.

Dr Satish Jain, Medical Director of Oswal Hospital, feels highly relaxed after a successful surgery. He finds his work quite relaxing. Once he is able to meet the work challenges, he feels relieved. Dr Jain also enjoys his evening walk after dinner and feels relaxed after watching a TV serial or reading his professional literature. He also feels satisfied once he sees his junior colleagues doing good surgical work.

Dr Arjun Gupta, a medical specialist in the city, finds relaxation while sleeping or taking a walk. When under stress, he remains quiet for sometime and calms himself.

— Dr Rajeev Gupta



Scientist for steps to raise rice output
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA: Professor Joginder Singh, Head of the Department of Economics & Sociology, PAU, and a reputed scientist has underlined the need for adopting suitable policy measures to break the stagnation in rice productivity.

The collaborative project with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines, on ‘Sustainability of rice farming under intensive rice-wheat system’, was finalised by Mr Joginder Singh, and later presented at the ‘International workshop on constraints to increasing rice production in Asia — insights from a study on farmers’ perception’.

In this report which is based on the sample of farmers crop management practices, was studied in detail. Economics of rice vis-a-vis other crops were brought out. The interesting part of the report is that the farmers of Punjab have almost realised the potential yield of rice.

Their main concern is the stability and decline yield caused by biotech constraints such as insects, pests, diseases and abiotic stresses confronting higher yields such as lodging salinity, alkanity of soil and deficiency of micro-nutrients were assessed to have caused a loss of 330 kg per hectare which amounts to a loss of $ 134 million every year.

The study brought out some deviation of farm practices from the recommended ones. The early transplanting, adoption of un-recommended varieties, low seed rate, imbalance fertiliser use and higher use of irrigation water were observed. The return over paid out cost from rice was estimated at $400 per hectare. To make rice cultivation still more remunerative, the evolution of short duration varieties with better quality are required. The average productivity of rice was nearing the potential level and variation from farm to farm was low. The cost advantage comparative to other parts of the country calls for higher stress on developing varieties with export quality grains.

The important research priority area indicated by the farmers include grain quality and yield improvement, evolving early maturing varieties, direct seeding method and eco-friendly pest control possibilities.

Suitable policy measures are required to arrest the environmental degradation associated with increasing rice cultivation in the state.

Water pricing, proper use of by-products, measures to check early transplanting of rice, use of organic manures, availability of the short duration varieties of rice, educating farmers to check indiscriminate use of agro-chemicals and research prioritisation on the basis of farmers’ perceptions would also be greatly helpful to relax some of the constraints to increasing rice productivity in Punjab.


Seminar for beauticians
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 21 — Grace Beauty Clinic and Institute, Model Town, held a beauticians’ seminar here recently. Well-known beautician Blossom Kochhar of Pivot Point, New Delhi, gave her precious tips on beauty therapy.

The seminar was attended by various beauticians, facialists and hair-stylists. The latest techniques in beauty therapy and aroma therapy were discussed. The gathering was provided knowledge on various facials like gold facial, pearl facial platinum facial, aroma facial and skin lightening.

A range of beauty queries and problems were solved by Ms Kochhar and Mrs Indra Ahluwalia, organiser of Grace Beauty Parlour. It was also informed by Mrs Kochhar that aroma therapy balances depression, tensions and other problems. It makes a person calm and cool”.

There was so much rush for the seminar that more than 80 beauticians were sent back because of lack of space.


Farmers told to use minimum pesticides
From Our Correspondent 

LUDHIANA, June 21 — The whole agriculture scenario of Punjab will soon change and it is important for farmers to understand it fully to reorient their farming accordingly, Dr M.S Bajwa, Director, Research, Punjab Agricultural University, said while presiding over a farmers committee meeting at PAU today.

Dr Bajwa said that intensive and extensive nature of Punjab has caused many problems in the agriculture like degradation of soil, declining water and environment problems and it was very necessary to make efficient use of inputs and other recommended practice to overcome such problems. He cautioned the farmers not to use the nondescript varieties which might give short-term gain but create long-term problems causing a great economic loss. He laid stress on the quality farm produce which could compete in the international market.

Dr Jaspinder Singh Kolar, Director, Extension Education, said the present agriculture was very challenging and it was very necessary for the farmers to make use of the recommended technologies for achieving desirable results. Dr Kolar said the university would provide necessary training to the farmers needed in agriculture, animal husbandry, fruits and vegetables. He said that sunflower cultivation had given a boost to bee keeping, but the area under sunflower had now decreased to about 40 per cent which needs to be checked.

Dr Darshan Singh, Head, Entomology Department, advised the farmers to use insecticides and pesticides on vegetables and fruits to the minimum so that there was no bad effect on human health. Mr Mohinder Singh Dosanj, a farmer from Hoshiarpur who has visited many developed countries of the world to study agriculture, said it was necessary to have thorough knowledge of WTO document so that we could face the new challenges in agriculture after coming into force of WTO.

The farmers raised many wide-ranging issue of vegetables, fruits, dairy and animal husbandry to which the experts of the PAU gave the tips.

Dr S.S. Sokhi, Additional Director, Extension Education while proposing a vote of thanks said that these farmers of the state as members of this committee give useful feedback to the university which was mutually beneficial.


‘Badal strengthening Congress’
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 21 — The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) has charged the SAD(B) president and Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, with persuing such policies that had weakened the Akali Dal groups, while the Congress had regained strength.

Speaking to mediapersons at Gurdwara Akalgarh here yesterday, the SHSAD general secretary, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, cited poor performance of the ruling Akali Dal and other Akali factions in the nagar panchayat elections held recently as proof of his allegations.

Mr Bhaur further said that there was no place for loyal soldiers of the Akali Dal, who had made sacrifices for the sake of the panth in the ruling SAD(B). “If the party headed by Mr Badal felt threatened by persons like Mr G.S. Tohra, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal and others like them, god alone could save the ruling party,” he observed. The move to expel legislators owing allegiance to a former SGPC president, Mr G.S. Tohra, went on to establish that Mr Badal preferred only sycophants

The SHSAD activist observed that the SAD(B) supremo was guilty of political interference in religious affairs and denigrating the institution of Akal Takht — supreme temporal authority of the Sikh community. Akal Takht Jathedars had been treated with scant respect and all rules were broken and traditions violated in removals and fresh appointments of head priests.

He said the next Panthic government succeeding the ruling combine would not only hold probe against the misdeeds of the government led by Mr Badal but would also take such corrective steps which would ensure that the political leadership would not be able to interfere in the religious matters.


Mystery shrouds abduction case
From Loveleen Bains

SAHNEWAL, June 21 — The case of the kidnapping of Ramesh Kumar, son of Raghbir Singh, a dhaba owner at Mangali village, has remained shrouded in mystery for the past eight months.

It was on October 1,1999 that Mahesh Kumar, brother of Ramesh Kumar, handed over a written report to the Sahnewal police and a case was registered under Section 364/34, IPC. Senior Police officials informed that Raghbir Singh of Jaiton village and Durga Das of Datarpur village bought a four-wheeler on installments.

The four-wheeler was driven by Mahesh and Ramesh and installments too were paid by them. The report said on the fateful day Durga Das, the partner of Raghbir Singh, came to the dhaba and forcibly took the tempo and driver Ramesh along with it.

When Ramesh did not come back for some days, Raghbir inquired about him at Durga Das place. No trace of Ramesh was to be found. After that, he left no stone unturned to find his son but to no avail.

When the case was handed over to the police, it arrived at the conclusion that there was no truth in the matter. Even the CIA staff could not discover any truth in the report.

A few days back, a police party found Ramesh Kumar roaming about at the bus stand here and on inquiring he admitted that during the intervening time he had joined a job at Delhi.

According to Section 182/120, IPC, a case has been filed against those responsible for submitting a false report and thus harassing the police in the matter.



Special squad to check fraud in PO savings
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 21 — Alarmed at the regular detection of frauds in the saving accounts of the public at the post offices and in financial transactions through VPP, the divisional postal authorities here have formed a special squad to carry out surprise visits to various branches for keeping an eye on any dubious activity and also asked the public to maintain a constant check on their accounts.

The team comprising an Assistant Superintendent of Police and two Inspectors will specially inspect not only the financial transactions of the department but also the routine working of the department. The team was formed after the detection of a fraud in a two lakh rupee transaction allegedly committed by a lady clerk at Dehlon post office in the Ludhiana division.

According to sources, detection of the fraud has sent alarm bells ringing in the postal Department. This is the second major fraud in Ludhiana. In early 1999, another clerk defrauded the public of money transacted through VPP.

The authorities were worried that several minor frauds of a few thousand might be going on unchecked and might continue if special checking was not done.

Sources revealed that most of the frauds occur in public saving accounts or in the VPP transactions. Most of the times it is the accounts of the rural people that are tampered with. Rural people especially women, have full faith in the postal employees and even keep their account books at the post office.

When contacted, Mr M.L. Summan, Superintendent, post offices, Ludhiana Muffasil Division, said the department was worried at the detection of such a fraud since earlier too some cases had come to notice. Mr Summan asked the public to maintain a check on the entries in their saving books so that the possibility of such crimes could be minimised.

He said the public ought to follow the guidelines of the saving account books that they should not leave the account books at the post offices.

They should also not sign on entries without proper verification. He said only a few aware people asked the postal authorities to make entries of annual interest in their saving accounts and books.

Mr Summan said it had come to his notice that several women had opened secret accounts in the post offices in order to save for the family. These women leave their account books at the post office in full trust, and could be the worst sufferers.



Seminar on applied electronics held
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 21 — The programme Director and Executive Secretary of the Indian Society for Technical Education, Dr H.P. Sinha, on Monday called upon for more private entrepreneurship to accommodate engineers being churned out from the hundreds and thousands of engineering colleges each year.

Dr Sinha was presiding over the inaugural function of a seminar on “Applied electronics instrumentation and its application in various fields” held at Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, here. The purpose of the seminar is to expose the participants on recent advances in applied electronics instrumentation and its applications in various fields, like industry, agriculture, environment and medicine.

Replying to a question on increasing number of engineering colleges and hike in tuition fees in these courses, Dr Sinha and Mr R.P. Singh said, unlike the past, these colleges were not government-aided hence the fee hike. He admitted that there was a hike in fees during the past two years.

He pointed out that the government was facing a financial crunch these days. He said as population was increasing and the government was not able to set up the required number of colleges this resulted to the increase in the number of self-financing institutions everywhere in the country, particularly in South.



Professors invited to USA
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 21 — On invitation from The Asian Forum, North America Dr Kewal Dheer, General Secretary, Adeeb International (Sahir Cultural Academy), and Prof M.S. Cheema, Vice-President, will visit the USA and Canada.

They will also visit the UK on an invitation from the Institute of Third World Art and Literature, London, from third week of June to the first week of September, 2000. During their visit they will participate in International Urdu Conference, being held in collaboration with United Nations in New York and seminars in Washington, New Jersey, Chicago, Los Angles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Surrey, Calgary and Toronto. In addition Dr Dheer and Prof Cheema would deliver lectures on various aspects of Indian literature and culture at different platforms.

According to information, Adbi Sangam (New York), Urdu Society and Urdu Markaz International (Los Angles), South Asian Performing Arts Council (Chicago), Progressive Writers Association (UK), Idara-e-Adab (London), Hindi Samiti (UK) and many other literary and cultural organisations in these countries are going to hold special functions in honour of Dr Dheer and Prof Cheema.

It is worth mentioning that the BBC London and the Voice of America will arrange special radio and TV recording sessions with them.

Dr Kewal Dheer will present papers on the subjects of “Role of Urdu literature in universal brotherhood”, “Future of Urdu in Indian-subcontinent”, “Cultural links between East and West”.

Prof MS Cheema will deliver lectures on the topic of “Role of Sufi Mysticism as a message of peace”, “The concept of Khalsa” and “The potential of Punjabi culture” at various places.

The Signature, a bi-annual publication of Adeeb International (Sahir Cultural Academy) and edited by Dr Kewal Dheer and Prof M.S. Cheema will be launched in Nehru Centre, London by H.E. Mr Nareshwar Dayal, Indian High Commissioner to UK The function will be presided over by Mr Girish Karnad, Director, Nehru Centre, London.


Big showrooms v small shops
From Deepkamal Kaur

LUDHIANA, JUNE 21 — A fresh visitor to Chaura Bazar really wonders as to why big showroom owners sell readymade garments which look almost the same as those sold in small shops across the road, but at almost double the price. While talking to both types of sellers, several facts came to light.

A regular visitor to these shops can easily observe that all the latest patterns are first displayed at the big showrooms and within almost a fortnight, some of these patterns can be seen in almost all the small shops. Mr Anil Chaudhary of ‘Sunil’s Selections’ says, “We do almost all the purchase from Banaras where we pay the designer for the selected patterns. Our patterns are then copied by the local market and this copy is cheaper”.

Though the copy appears to be the same but there is always some quality difference in the original and the imitated product. The stuff used is inferior and the work done on it is also of relatively poor quality. But buyers realise this only after they purchase and use it. Agrees Mr Lalit who has his shop in the same market, “Since we are getting the garments from the local Akal Market as well as from Karol Bagh in Delhi, quality difference is certainly there”.

Says Mr Mukesh, another shopkeeper, “We pick the garments in lots from Delhi and, therefore, these are cheaper”.

It is also a common observation that the big showroom owners incur heavy expenses owing to more electric consumption and more employees. Salesmen, foremen, accountants — all have to be paid. All these expenses result in an increased price for the buyers.

Says one employee of the ‘First Lady Boutique’, a showroom in Chaura Bazar, “Since the expenses of a showroom are quite high and the facilities provided to the customers are more, the amount charged is bound to go up. “It is common for all the showrooms to have a try room and alterations are made in the suits as desired by the customers.

While talking to several garment sellers, it was inferred that these days their business is facing off-season slump. The market has a major share of revenue from the foreigners or NRIs who generally visit during the winter season.



Oil movement ban may go
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 21 — The ban on the interstate movement of furnace and other oils is likely to go within a day or two. Well-placed sources told TNS that the Union Petroleum Minister had taken note of the difficulties faced by the industry on account of the ban.

Although the ban had effected the industry in every state, the Punjab industry was worst hit as the capacity of the depots in the state was very small as compared to the requirement of these oils. Besides the sales tax was highest in Punjab.

According to Mr P.D. Sharma, president of the Apex Chamber, the matter was taken up with the Punjab Government through the Minister for Local Bodies, Mr B.D. Tandon. The industry wanted that the sales tax should be charged at the rate of 4 per cent instead of 22 per cent on furnace oil and LDO. This will give additional revenue to the state government as industry used to pay the 4 per cent CST to other states and Punjab Government was not getting any revenue on these oils.


Making a fortune out of a hobby
From Vimal Sumbly
 Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, June 21 — From a part-time hobby to a full-time vocation. That is how Mrs Sheel Nanda popularised cookery education in Ludhiana. There may be a number of cookery institutes in the city, but Mrs Nanda credits herself for being a pioneer in the field.

Today Ludhiana can boast of hundreds of students of Mrs Nanda. A good number of them have already started their own institutes. Hundreds of ladies learn the art of cookery from these institutes, making Mrs Nanda proud.

Primarily, it was the fascination for partying that led Mrs Nanda to start the classes. She recalls the time when way back in the sixties, she moved with her Chartered Accountant husband to Ludhiana from Delhi. “I was fond of throwing parties and would prepare all the food myself. The guests would enquire about the preparations and subsequently learn about them from me, she says.

More and more enquiries made her start regular and organised cookery classes. She said that at first the students belonged to the social elite. Since all of them belonged to well-to-do families it was a hobby for them. Over a period of about three decades her classes have seen a sea change. Cookery classes are now no longer restricted to the elite only. Girls from middle class families also come to learn from Mrs Nanda.

How did she learn the art of fine cooking? She goes back down memory lane: “When I got married, I did not know anything about cooking. It was my mother-in-law who prompted me to attend cookery classes with Mrs Balbir Singh in our neighbourhood. I found the idea interesting and became an expert very soon”. Mrs Balbir Singh was a well known cookery teacher of her time and Mrs Nanda takes pride in having been her student.

After taking regular and round-the-year classes for 25 years, Mrs Nanda has now taken a break. Nowadays, she takes classes during the summer months only and then only for three hours daily. She has to sometimes turn back a number of students because of the rush.

Mrs Nanda has developed about a thousand recipes of her own ranging from ice creams to traditional Indian dishes. She is also fond of experimentation. Recently she introduced Mexican, Thai and Italian recipes in her schedule of training.

Mrs Nanda has kept pace with the changing food habits of people. Although Chinese and other recipes are finding a good number of students, yet the maximum number are keen to learn about traditional Indian foods, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. She is an expert in the preparation of butter chicken. One point that the grand only lady of cookery in Ludhiana emphasises in her training is, that her dishes can be prepared from readily available things in every kitchen so that the housewives need not rush around hunting for ingredients.

Mrs Nanda has also given demonstrations in America and Europe. She has also presented her preparations at St Louis in America as well as in London and Scotland. She says, she also learnt a lot from travelling, in terms of different food habits of people across continents. She also topped the competition for BPL microwave-oven trainers for which she was presented with an award and a citation.


New cyber cafe at PAU
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, June 21 — A new cyber cafe has come up in the library of Punjab Agricultural University, here. This is the result of combined effort of students and faculty, who realised the pace at which the Internet has spread its wings in the city.

Dr K.S. Aulakh, Pro Vice-Chancellor, inaugurated the cafe yesterday. The cafe has been launched by Excel Computer Peripherals.

At present, there are five computer terminals and five more are expected to come up within a week. Pentium III has been used and the cost of using the Internet is Rs 30 per hour. There are 3 faculty members. 

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