Wednesday, July 26, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Report recommends adoption of computer education in schools
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 25 — Punjab, which has ushered in many a revolution like the Green and White Revolutions in the post-Independence period, is now heading for an information technology (IT) revolution. With the setting up of a Rs 500 crore IT park in SAS Nagar, a new era of development in this field has been ushered in. The state government, in its strenuous efforts to make IT a mass movement, is moving towards incorporation of information technology in the school curriculum.

A report on “Adoption of Information Technology in Punjab schools”, prepared by Dr Major Singh of the Government Polytechnic for Women and Dr Harbans Singh Rataul, a former Professor-cum-Head in Punjab Agricultural University, here, says that the present school curriculum was outdated and irrelevant to its surrounding developments. It is necessary for the students now to be fully armed with computer knowhow and use IT to keep pace with global developments.

The report pointed out that there was a need to revise the old school curriculum and develop a new one, which should be need-based, computer-oriented and IT user-ability-competent. This required huge amounts of technical manpower, latest equipment and massive funds to maintain them so that the programme kept going uninterrupted.

In order to enlarge the IT network in schools the state government needed to establish a few centres of computer and IT training and have adequate trained manpower. The report suggested that the government should draw a meaningful and constructive conclusion from the village school education where it has not been able to provide even minimum of school requirements such as building, staff and teaching material with the result that symptoms of failure were surfacing.

Impressing upon the government to plan computer education in schools, the report has listed a number of suggestions to achieve the goal. Among these are establishment of five IT centres to exclusively deal with the training of selected persons for a specified period, preferably located at Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala and Bathinda. Further, each of these centres, equipped with the latest infrastructure and Internet connections. Should have a team of five experts who prepare a crash course on IT of the minimum duration of three to four months.

The report stressed that the instructors for IT centres should be drawn from various engineering colleges and polytechnics and must be proficient in computer applications. Similarly, the trainees must be drawn from high and higher secondary schools of the state and should have a genuine interest in teaching and a keen desire to learn. While the age of the trainees should be no bar, it would be advisable to select those below the age of 45 years.

The five IT centres set up for this purpose, the report adds, could have a batch of 50 trainees each, to receive an all-expenses-paid training so that at the end of the term, 250 teachers should be trained. If the course were run thrice a year, 750 trained personnel would be available for deployment in schools and could act as catalysts in their respective schools for information technology teaching.

The report disagreed with suggestions from various quarters that teachers and students be given bank loans for the purchase of computers, saying that many would not like to obtain loans for this purpose, nor was it likely to be of any use to them on an individual level. Moreover, a majority of the parents in rural areas were not in a position to buy computers or pay for Internet connections for their children. It therefore, becomes necessary that the government should provide computers, Internet connections and other infrastructure free of cost to the schools.

The report concludes with a word of caution for the government regarding the condition of the schools in rural areas, many of which do not have buildings, and lack basic facilities for the students. Under these conditions, the task of creating a computer culture at the village level appears to be a far-fetched dream. While it would not be wise to overlook the deficiencies in the existing system, efforts must be made to improve the infrastructural facilities in the schools. Earnest and relentless efforts on the part of the government would bring the desired results. What Andhra Pradesh and Delhi have done, Punjab can do better the authors of the report observe.


Kila Raipur, a centre of bovine trade
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 25 — An illegal racket of bovine trade has emerged here allegedly in connivance with some officials of the district administration and the Railways. Even the milching cows are transported in special rakes by the agents to various parts of the country where these animals land up in slaughter houses.

The trade continues to thrive as the district administration is sleeping over the issue. This is despite the fact that various non-government organisations (NGOs) are working for the prevention of cruelties to the animals and other social and political organisations having brought the issue to the notice of the authorities, not once but on several occasions.

Thousands of cattle are transported daily and almost all of them in most cruel conditions to various slaughter houses in the country. Kila Raipur, a village about 30 km from here, has emerged as main centre of this trade. The traders here are supplying various types of animals to different slaughter houses in the country under various pretexts. The cattle arrive here not only from various other districts in the state but also from various places in Haryana.

Not surprisingly the traders are reportedly doing it in connivance with the district authorities. On August 17, 1999, Mr Rachhpal Singh, Inspector- General, Eastern Railways, in a communication to the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar Goel, brought to his notice the supply of animals from Kila Raipur to West Bengal. The communication revealed that these animals were brought to West Bengal for smuggling them out to Bangladesh..

The communication revealed that 859 oxen had been brought from Kila Raipur by two persons namely Chail Ahmed and Mehfooz Ahmad on the "basis of a special license issued by the Additional District Magistrate, Ludhiana" for agricultural purposes. However, Mr Rachhpal Singh disclosed that these animals were being openly smuggled to Bangladesh for slaughter.

In his communication he identified Satpal Passi, son of Sivji Singh of Bathinda district, and Ram Kumar, son of Mitha Ram of Barnala, who were allegedly involved in the trade. They reportedly charged Rs 300 per cattle for sending them through special rakes in collusion with the Commercial Department of the Northern Railways, Ludhiana. The agents also furnish false details while applying for special license and had reportedly deposited Rs 10 lakh as surety for getting the animals released in West bengal on the promise that they will get the certificates issued from the Deputy Commissioner's office in Ludhiana.

The communication made it clear that none of the animals were being used for the agricultural purposes and all of them landed in slaughter houses. It also revealed that the racket was thriving in connivance with some officers of the Animal Husbandry Department in Punjab.

So far the district administration has reportedly not taken any notice of the issue. Sources said except for one or two raids here or there on illegal transportation of animals, the trade is allowed to go on unchecked.


Blast victims admitted to DMC
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 25 — Three persons, including one woman, injured in the recent bus bomb blast near Jalandhar, were today shifted to Dayanand Medical College here today. Their condition though serious is stable, according to the doctors attending on them.

Onkar Singh (28) having burn injuries in most of the left side of his body, Raj Kumar having 15 per cent burns and sarabjit kaur having 20 per cent burns were recuperating in the ICU of the hospital.

"There were three blasts in quick succession in the bus," recalled Onkar Singh who was in a position to talk to mediapersons, while the other two were still unconscious. He said there was a blackout after the first blast and no one could know what had happened. The second blast caused fire and the third one aggravated it.

A dealer in spare parts business, Onkar Singh used to ply daily from Tande to Bhagpura but on that fateful day he decided to go home by a bus. "The rain had made the road slippery and I thought travelling by bus would be safer," he said. However, he had no idea of the tragedy he was going to meet on the way.

According to him, the bombs were placed in the centre of the bus as the persons who had died and others injured were sitting on the centre seats. While Onkar Singh could not escape injuries in spite of rolling down the seat after he heard the blast, one of his friends travelling with him had a providential escape. The injured dealer said his friend had just shifted near to the front door of the bus as he had become wet in the rain and went to dry his clothes. The friend escaped unhurt in the blast.

The relatives of the other two injured were worried about their fate. Relatives of Sarabjit kaur said her eight-year-old son had died in the blast and she was not yet told about the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner S.K. Sandhu accompanied by other staff of the district administration visited the patients. They announced that on the directions of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, all expenses incurred on the injured persons treatment would be borne by the administration.


When love goes bust after marriage
From Ruchika Mohindra
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 25 — Dalip and Neelam had a love marriage after an affair for over six years. Another six years into married life and while Neelam got busy with the home and hearth, Dalip found a new love interest in Radhika, a sales executive in his dyeing mill. With Neelam's mounting tension and the frequent quarrels that ensued between the couple, Dalip decided to elope with his new love and they are now on a rendezvous in London even as Neelam continues to suffer here.

Says Neelam," I often wonder at the way human relationships are forged and then go awry. I just sit back and think of the old times when we were both very much in love and could do anything for each other. It is then that I wonder if I knew the real Dalip even for a passing moment."

This is not just a stray incident where love went bust up after marriage. The new age mantra of the dotcom generation is speed up to take no time to form a relationship, carry on with it as long as possible and when it fails, have no regrets..

With a lot of liberalisation of thoughts and the growing equality of sexes in the upper and middle classes, love marriages are quite common in this town. Generally, giving liberty to the girls by the parents is regarded as a proof of one's being fashionable and of moving with the times. Under this backdrop, most parents in the city are increasingly becoming open to their children making efforts to finding a prospective partner- be it for marriage or for a date.

In spite of the fact that most denizens in the city are suckers for a run- of- the- mill romance and the affair culminating into a marriage, where everyone lives happily ever after, the reality is quite different. Other than this in a lot many cases, the couple breaks off miles before the aisle, but the degree of hurt and the pain of a relationship that could not work out remains just the same.

Take the case of Rohit and Tammana, both college students, who had been going out from their school days. After the couple finished with their graduation, Tammana decided to stay here for her postgraduation, but Rohit moved out to do MCA.Initially, the couple was in regular touch over the telephone, but slowly Rohit grew apprehensive when his calls to Tammana always met with the response that she was away. Later, he learnt that she had met another guy and the two were now a cosy twosome, with no place for him.

Depressed over the loss of his love, he attempted suicide unsuccessfully. Today, almost two years after the set back, he has lost his own ethereal charm, his ambitions and dreams and prefers the solitude of the four walls of his room.

Mr Anil Gupta, father of two teenage children, says " It is good to give liberty to one's children, but only if they also realise their responsibilities. Many parents think it is fashionable if there children are having an affair or have a love marriage, but don't teach them the value of adjustment. This is when the trouble begins and with no one acting counsellor, love is bound to go bust, but because of family and social constraints, many a times the couple carries on a loveless relation."

The case of Amarinder Singh and Inderpreet Kaur is another example in this regard. The couple had an affair for over 11 years and later decided to tie the knot. Barely a month after the marriage, the couple realised that they were actually not made for each other and other than their emotional attachment, they had nothing much in common. Soon the harsh realities of life took over the emotional attachment. Though the couple still lives together for the sake of there two- year- old daughter, their house is more a place for quarrels and fights than a place where love thrives.

Dr Rajiv Gupta, a consultant psychiatrist, says" The difference in love marriages and arranged marriages is that in the former the emotions go downhill as the intensity of emotions has already reached its climax before marriage. But in arranged marriages, the relationship develops from a zero to reach the peak "

He argues that after two people in love decide to get married, they generally fail to accept that in reality, life is different from what they had expected before marriage. "Both partners are unwilling to take on the responsibility and the blame and it is then that the friction begins between them. Most often, unlike in arranged marriages, families too fail to act as a support system and the responsibility of making the marriage work rests solely on the shoulders of the couple."

(The names in the story are changed in order to protect the identity of the persons involved.)


Amarnath yatra fever unabated
From D.B. Chopra

LUDHIANA, July 25 — In spite of landslides on the Pahalgam-Amarnath cave route, city residents are making a beeline to respite themselves for the holy yatra.

According to bus travel company representatives based in Bhadaur House, all Jammu-bound buses which ply after 10’o clock at night are full of passengers, a majority of whom are headed for the Amarnath cave.

A bus operator said that people were still going up to Jammu in the hope that the blocked routes would be cleared in a day or so.

Meanwhile, Mr Rajan Gupta, president, Bhole Bhandari Charitable Trust, today called upon the J and K Government to ensure that the stranded pilgrims at Jammu were provided with food, clean water and other basic amenities. There are many yatris who are facing economic hardships as well, on account of the unprecedented delay in registration.

Mr Gupta also criticised the J and K Government for adopting a discouraging attitude towards the pilgrims. He said that when the government knew about the landslide-prone spots enroute, it should have the necessary machines and men ready in case of any mishap, also the blocked points should be cleared within hours.

Mr Gupta attributed the rush at Jammu to the negligence of the state government which started the registration of yatris as late as July 11, a process which should have commenced much earlier.

Mr Rajan Gupta said that the devout and the regular visitors were not discouraged by landslide reports and were moving towards the holy cave. Only those planning their first visit had been deterred by such reports.

However, Mr Gupta expressed complete satisfaction with the security arrangements along the holy route. He reiterated his demand for the formation of a shrine board on the pattern of the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board so that the offerings at the cave were utilised for the welfare of the yatris. 


YRJD to fight for migrants’ rights
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 25 — The Yuva Rashtriya Janata Dal, the frontal organisation of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, headed by Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, has vowed to carry on a relentless battle to safeguard the rights of migrant workers in this part of the country.

Addressing a rally of the migrant population at Noorwala road here, the YRJD state president, Mr Vijay Mahajan, charged the SAD-BJP government in Punjab with hatching a conspiracy due to which the industry, fed up of the faulty policies of the government, was forced to shift to neighbouring states like Haryana so that the unemployed migrant workers had no choice but to return to their native places. The ruling party in Punjab in this way could further consolidate its position on the basis of its vote bank among local population, especially the farmers.

Mr Mahajan lambasted the BJP, an alliance partner in the state, for what he described as the party’s complete betrayal of the masses. He said the state unit of the YRJD was in constant touch with the national president of the party, Mr Ashok Singh, and the RJD chief, Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, who had assured that all issues affecting the migrant workers would be raised in Parliament at an appropriate time and the government would be asked to take remedial measures.Back


Bal Thackeray not above law: Ghalib
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, July 25 — The Congress MP from the city, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib has said that the non-acceptance of resignations of Shiv Sena ministers from the Union Cabinet by the Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, was an indicative of this weakness. By buckling under the pressure, Mr Vajpayee had proved that he could make any compromise in order to keep clinging to the office.

In a statement here today, Mr Ghalib said, double standards being adopted by the National Democratic Alliance government would pose dangers to the unity and integrity of the country. The government’s attempt to save the Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray from being arrested and prosecuted was unfortunate, because no one, including Mr Thackeray, was above the law.

Meanwhile, the district president of the Nationalist Congress Party, Mr Rachhpal Singh, has said in a statement that whenever any government had committed the folly of treating any particular person above the law, the decision had always boomeranged. He has called upon the Maharashtra Government, not to bow under any pressure and to go ahead with its proposed action against Bal Thackeray.

He further remarked that if the NDA government, headed by Mr Vajpayee, found itself unable to uphold the Constitution and the law of the land, it should quit.


Inculcating traffic sense among people
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 25 — The Ludhiana police has launched a campaign to create traffic sense among general public, transporters, policemen and school children.

Currently traffic training sessions are being held daily in the Children Training Traffic Park in Model Town. Besides senior traffic police officials, a traffic missionary, Mr S.S. Juneja, holds regular classes for the trainees.

According to the Superintendent of Police (Traffic), Mr S.S. Bhatti, over 1,000 school children from various schools have been trained so far about the traffic rules. Everyday about 100 children from a school are imparted training in a three-hour session. The courses will run for several days more till the maximum number of students covering most of the schools in the city is covered.

Today a special session was held for autorickshaw drivers who ply their vehicles in the city. Mr Bhatti said about 500 drivers attended the training session. They would be briefed about various aspects related to traffic, including pollution control, avoiding overloading, unauthorised stoppages and maintaining proper documentary record of their vehicles.

It was a healthy interactive session between the traffic officials and the autorickshaw drivers. The drivers asked various questions and sought clarifications on various subjects. Besides Mr Bhatti, the DSP, Traffic, Mr Satish Malhotra, and Mr Juneja replied to their queries.

A batch of 30 cops is also being trained about the traffic rules. The cops have come from Police Recruits Training College, Jahankhella. Mr Bhatti said, besides being given lectures on various aspects of traffic rules and regulations, the cops would also be taken around the city to give them practical exposure.

Mr Bhatti said the current training programme was part of an overall campaign to create awareness among general public for observing the traffic rules and regulations. Given the heavy concentration of vehicles on the roads, it had assumed paramount importance to educate people about rules and regulations relating to traffic.

According to Mr Juneja, traffic missionary and the main instructor at these sessions, if traffic rules and regulations are followed properly, roads will become safe for driving. He pointed out at place like Ludhiana where the vehicular traffic is too much, awareness among general public is essential.

Mr Juneja has been actively involved in the awareness campaign about traffic rules and regulations for a long time. He wants to make roads safe and secure for all sort of driving.


Around any corner of the town, you will find construction activity going on. Almost every road has some building material — heaps of sand, bricks or gravel — lying on the ground.

There has been an unusual increase in construction activity in the town. Persons are either constructing new houses or adding portions to the old ones. They are either building shops or carrying out intensive renovations.

If one seeks the reasons for this frenzy, one does not have to look far. The population of Ludhiana has grown manifold. People are looking for accommodation, so, more persons than ever are constructing new floors in their houses to have incomes from rent. Builders have also acquired plots and are busy building flats. Many persons are constructing new floors to accommodate their expanding families.

Another major reason could be the availability of finances from institutions like the HDFC or the LIC.

The whole town, therefore, presents an untidy look. Since building material is lying on roadsides, traffic cannot move fast causing jams at many places.

Earlier, the DC had said that anybody leaving building material on road would be punished. However, the threat has remained a threat.

The strike by brick-kiln owners and high cost of bricks have not deterred anyone from carrying out the construction activity. Build, but do not clutter roads.

Dirty linen

Don't wash your dirty linen in public, is an old saying. However, in this highly populated town, a large number of migrant workers and the other poor persons are literally forced to not only wash their linen but also bathe in public.

With no space to live, these persons have encroached upon any vacant space they can lay their hands on. One finds a large number of worn-out tents hooked to a tree, wall or some other thing, under which, big families live. How they manage to make space to sleep is not hard to guess. One can easily assume that few of them may have slept fully-stretched in their life.

The conditions for bathing and washing clothes are worse. These persons have to travel to a Municipal Corporation tap to fetch water and have a quick bath before the town wakes up. When taps malfunction or they rise late, the ritual has to be performed in broad daylight. One is hurt after watching futile efforts of women and girls to hide themselves from staring eyes in these circumstances.

Not only the streets of the town but also Sidhwan Canal and Budha Nullah present such a view. A number of persons utilise these waters for bathing and washing. Apart from the picture of penury one witnesses on the banks of these, one is also concerned at the water pollution caused by detergents.

With few public toilets and bathrooms in the town and the tight financial situation of the MC and the government, one only hopes that organisations like the Sulabh come forward to help these persons.

On time, for change

Heavens don't fall if you are late for any function in Ludhiana. Arriving late at a function or a party is not unusual here, rather, being on time is. Even if you are late by an hour or two, you have still arrived "in time".

The only condition is that you should arrive before the end of the function, which usually begins at least an hour-and-a-half late. This holds true for functions of most organisations — social, political, business or industrial. If they say 8 pm, they will not begin before 10 pm.

Surprisingly and pleasantly so, there is one exception — the Ludhiana Management Association (LMA). It means what it says, at least as far as the timings of its functions are concerned.

If an LMA invitation says that the function will begin at 8 pm, it will begin at that time only. Although, the LMA is purely a Ludhiana organisation as its name suggests, the Ludhianvi "late culture" does not appear to have affected it.

Most members of the LMA are the also associated with the organisations notorious for not being punctual. Perhaps these persons adopt different habits when they have to attend a function of the LMA. The LMA has made a beginning in encouraging punctuality among the otherwise latecomer Ludhianvis. By the IST, the LMA means the Indian Standard Time and not the Indian Stretchable Time.

Parking pangs

Parking your vehicle at any designated place in most commercial areas of the town is an unpleasant experience. Those visiting the railway station have to bear overcharging and misbehaving by parking-lot attendants.

While those who have undergone the humiliating experience on earlier occasions, give in to the dictates of burly and ill-tempered attendents. They have to pay a parking fee which is not mentioned on the slip. At times, they even have to pay without getting the slip if the attendant stares hard. There are others who overestimate themselves, particularly when accompanied by family members or women, and choose to take the bull by its horns. Without exception, they get nothing else but bruised egos if not bruised limbs.

There have been numerous occasions when persons have lodged complaints with the local railway officials and their superiors in Ferozepur and New Delhi, but nothing has happened.

Fleecing conductors

Some time ago, we had highlighted in these columns, how private mini-buses were posing a traffic hazard and how some unscrupulous conductors were fleecing passengers. Sentinel has got some more evidence on how these conductors overcharge passengers.

Almost all bus operators hire out the buses to conductors on daily basis. Conductors are supposed to deposit a certain amount, say from Rs 900 to Rs 1,200 per day depending on the bus, with the owner at the end of the day.

Whatever a conductor manages to collect besides this amount, belongs to him. Under these circumstances, can the conductors be blamed for overcharging passengers?

There is a need to review the town's local transport system. The question is, who is going to do it?

The City

About forty years ago,

I set foot on its sleepy soil,

A haven of joy,

A place of honest toil.

I wove yarns of longings,

Immortal and sublime,

They wove yarn

To make woollens of each kind.

Sahir sang of his burnt fingers

At the forbidden flame,

Patar, today, doles out laments

That shake the five-element frame.

When gazaboes come to gazeboes

To flaunt their frocks and frills,

Cynics raise their brows,

I admire their forebears' sweat and skills.

They came —

With the saw, the hammer and the spade,

They roused the cottage artisans

To make you the Manchester of the state.

A city of three Ws —

Wool, Wheel and Wheat,

You upsurge in exuberance

Like nature on heat.

Marriage palaces lit with

Mercury lamps to enliven dark nights,

An Aladdin's dream —

of coyish maidens frolicking

under neon lights.

Move city move,

Carve a niche for yourself on the globe,

Remember those Three on Jagraon Bridge —

You are the fulfillment of their pledge.

Dr Kulwant Singh Gill, Professor and Head of the Department of Journalism, Languages and Culture in the PAU, has sent us this poem.

Coleus in bloom

Coloured leaves of coleus plants lend charm to the dull and dreary monsoons. When most of the flowers wither away, coleus with its myriad hues takes over.

Though it is a perennial plant, in monsoons, it grows rapidly and its colours become richer. Those who are familiar with this plant, know that it is found in attractive combinations of red and green, golden and brown, mauve and deep mauve as evident from the photograph. It can lend colour to any garden during the rains.

It can be planted in pots. The plant can also be placed in the living room to enhance its beauty. If you want to plant coleus, just break a twig of it and push it in the ground. You will be surprised to see how well it will grow.

— Sentinel


Community policing scheme launched 
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 25 — In order to bridge the gap between the police and the public, the Punjab police will launch a community policing in the state in August.

Stating this in a press note issued here today, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, Director, Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, said the scheme aimed at sensitising the field police officers about the new concept of policing.

An orientation programme has already been started at the PPA, Phillaur, on July 24. All SHOs will attend this new orientation programme in batches of 50 each.

Mr Siddiqui said that under the new scheme, programmes were being planned to involve law-abiding citizens to assist police in ensuring peaceful environment in the state. Dr D.J. Singh, Programme Coordinator, informed that in all subdivisions; police officers, SSPs and DIGs would also be briefed about community policing programme from August 1 to 3 at the PPA, Phillaur, by the DGP Punjab, and other experts.

Experts on community policing from various parts of the country are being invited to interact with the officers. Among others who will be the resource person for the new plan are Mr Chander, IGP, Mr Dinkar Gupta, DIGP (Intelligence), Mrs Anita Punj, Deputy Director (Indoor), and Mr Praveen K. Sinha, Deputy Director (Outdoor), PPA.


2 bookies held, bailed out
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 25 — In a special operation launched, a team of CIA staff raided the premises of two prominent bookies last night.

It is learnt that Yash and Gopi Kothari were rounded up by the police last night and booked under different sections of the Gambling Act. They were later released on bail.


One booked for attempt to rape
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, July 25 — The police has booked a youth, Harpreet Singh, on the charge of an attempt to rape a four-year-old girl.

According to an FIR registered under section 354 of the IPC at Model Town police station, Harpreet Singh attempted to rape a four-year-old girl when she was playing in a street near her house, but the mother and uncle of the victim reached the spot.

One held: Vijay Kumar, alias Kaka, was arrested by CIA officials from Mohalla Singhpura for gambling. He has been booked under sections 13-A, 3 and 67 of the gambling Act and Rs 255 along with some slips have been recovered from him.

Liquor seized: Nine bottles of country liquor have been seized from Shingara Singh from Raian by ASI Kuldeep Singh of Sahnewal police station. A case under sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered.


New import policy rakes up controversy

Ludhiana’s business community is living under gathering dark clouds of uncertainty. As time passes, implications of the WTO agreement have begun to become clearer and have succeeded in making the businessmen restless and led to an increase in their anxiety levels.

Under the agreement, by the year 2003, imports are going to be completely liberalised. “WTO agreement” and “Ludhiana after 2003” have become the most commonly debated topics in all formal and informal meetings of the business community. Even during morning walk in Nehru Rose Garden and the PAU campus, one can listen to the heated discussions about the consequences of liberalisation on the Indian economy and the industry of Ludhiana in particular. Even ladies kitties have not remained untouched by these discussions, because the future of these high profile kitties is directly linked with the future of city’s industry.

In India, for the first time the Indian consumer has experienced quality ACs, fridges, cars, electronic goods and a host of other consumer items. For five long decades, the Indian consumer had little choice, and was forced to buy substandard goods. For decades, there had been long waiting lists for poor quality. Fiat cars and Lambretta scooters. It was a great privilege to book a Vespa scooter with foreign exchange. Thanks to the entry of multinationals and a liberal import policy, today, the consumer has a wide choice before him. Now, he has realised how in the name of socialism and protection to local industry, he had always been taken for a ride by the successive governments.

Reacting to the effects of the liberal import policy on Ludhiana industry, Mr Rajiv Lochan, former District Governor of Lions International and Managing Director, Engineering Enterprises comments: “The cycle industry, sewing machines and machine tools are facing immediate threat from China and Taiwan.” He blames the bureaucracy for throttling the growth of the Indian industry. The atmosphere was never made conducive for industrial growth. He adds that unless free enterprise is allowed, industry cannot grow and become competitive. He feels that bureaucracy must change its mindset and develop progressive thought processes to allow the Indian industry to develop without any negative pulls and pressures. “How can you win a race with tied legs?”, he asks.

Mr Ajit Grewal, Managing Director, Hotel Grewalz, feels that liberalisation is going to bring competition and in the long run, the consumer is going to get maximum benefits. He admits that socialism has failed badly in Russia, China and in India too. According to him, one can grow and give the best results in the open market only . Mediocrity has no place in the present-day world. He feels that Indian industry is still handicapped by antique labour laws and anti-growth state controls. He admits that after Independence, politicians and bureaucrats have been the major gainers. He is of the opinion that unless there is discipline from top to bottom, no country can survive in the world market today. He gives example of China, Korea and Taiwan which lay a very high premium on discipline. For decades, the Indian Government kept on giving licences and quota indiscriminately, which encouraged corruption, indiscipline and laziness.

Dr Surinder Likhi, a leading child specialist in Ghumar Mandi,feels that competition, external or internal, is a must to improve the quality of products. He gives the example of the fast-growing competition among various newspapers in the city. Today, newspapers give better coverage and are much cheaper. There is a strong competition to draw the attention of the city readers. He is of the opinion that liberalisation will help the Ludhiana industry to put its best foot forward. He is confident about the entrepreneurship quality of the city business community.

Mr Bal Mahajan, a chartered accountant, does not share the enthusiasm. He says that many industries in the city have already been hit by global and local recession. He adds that the balance sheets of many Ludhiana industries already show huge loans. According to him only those businessmen will survive who have their own resources and are well aware of the outside world. Those who used to borrow money to run factories and have a narrow outlook, will have no future in the market.

Mr Avtar Singh, General Secretary, Chamber of Commercial Undertakings, Ludhiana, feels that for once everyone will be shocked. Most of the small-scale units will be completely wiped out in the future. Medium and large-scale industry may survive, if they tie up with foreign companies or produce high-quality products. He feels that the precision industry in the city, i.e. units making hand tools and cutting tools, will, be badly hit, since alloyed steel is cheaper outside. He believes that hosiery may be a gainer, because people in the hosiery line had already modernised about four-five years back and have geared themselves up to compete in the international market.

One thing appears clear, the future belongs to those who are more resourceful, educated, courageous and have strong controls on the purse strings. There is no place for those who remain protected in selfmade shells. Sums up Rajiv Lochan, “Ludhiana’s industrialists have successfully faced all kind of challenges and crises in the past, there is no reason why they will not emerge victorious this time also.”

— Dr Rajeev Gupta

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