Sunday, October 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


From a countryside girl to Mayor
By Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

ISSOWAL (Ludhiana), Sept 30 — It has been a long odyssey of struggle, triumph and accomplishment for a countryside Jat Sikh girl who started as a nurse in early sixties here and became a Mayor in England.

After taking over as Mayor of London Borough of Greenwich on May 18, Bibi Jagir Kaur Sekhon came for the first time to her native village here. Although she took over as the Mayor months back, she stated that she had realised it here that she had become the Mayor following the way she was honoured and received by people.

Immediately after her marriage, she migrated to England in 1968 with her husband Mahant Singh Sekhon. She had a degree in nursing and her husband was a graduate. The couple had only £ six with them at the time they landed in London. However, they managed a job and life was not difficult in the alien land.

After two years of her service, the Bibi joined the Labour Party as its member, while continuing with her job. By that time she had also specialised in social sciences. Her first break came in 1996 when she was elected a councillor. This was followed by her election as Deputy Mayor in 1999.

She does not want to stop here, but wants to enter to the House of Commons. She is trying to fulfill the eligibility criteria for getting the party nomination.

While contradicting any arguments about the ethnic discrimination in England, she said she did not have to face much difficulty in rising to the present position. "It is your hardwork, potential and honesty that pays there (in England) and not the race or religion you belong to", she pointed out. But at the same time she said, "the streetside ethnic discrimination may be there, but it is perfectly under control".

The Bibi said, "I have been chosen by a constituency in which the Indians constitute less 4 per cent", adding, "does it not speak about the maturity and outlook of people in general". While the election to the post of the Mayor in England is indirect, for the Deputy Mayor's post it is direct.

During the past three decade England has witnessed a phenomenal change as far as the relationship of the local people with foreigners are concerned. "Earlier we were not much acceptable. At best we were tolerable. Now we are being accepted in all circles, including the social and political", she revealed.

Continuous learning and hardwork is the secret of her success.

"I have never given up studies. Because, I believe there is no end to knowledge and learning", she remarked, in a typical accent that sounded perfectly British, much to the awe of her brother, sister, nephews and nieces.

Being a British citizen does not prevent her from admiring India. "In a cricket match between India and England, we all pray for India's victory", she admitted frankly. She stated her 30-year-old son loved India more than her.

For the past three days, when she reached here, the chain of visitors, mostly from the village, is unending. "That is why, my village is still the best in the world. No matter, where I am and what I am, my heart will beat for Issowal, always", she added.Back


PAU faculty opposes abolition of posts
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept.30 — The teachers of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) are sore over the decision of the Board of Management of the varsity to abolish over 300 faculty positions. They say that such a decision would seriously impair the teaching, research and extension activities in the university.

According to sources, the board at its 190th meeting held at Chandigarh on July 27 under the chairmanship of Dr G.S. Kalkat,Vice-Chancellor, had decided that the university required 1385 posts against the sanctioned strength of 1728. In other words, the board resolved that 343 posts of teachers should be abolished. It was also stated that, "while no employee would be retrenched, as and when the employees in in these cadres retire, the surplus posts would stand abolished.''

When this correspondent talked to a cross section of teachers, they decried the board's decision. Most of the teachers said that it was by dint of the efforts of young scientists that Punjab had witnessed the advent of the Green Revolution and achieved record production of various crops. A ban on fresh recruitment would obviously debar these scientists from entering the profession of agricultural research and education.

A few scientists who talked to this correspondent on the conditions of anonymity maintained that faculty positions were created keeping in view the future needs of the university. The scientists were of the opinion that if the retiring scientists were not replaced by the new entrants, a large number of ongoing research projects would have to be abandoned.

Dr H.S.Brar, president, PAU Teachers Association (PAUTA), said that he along with Mr Sukhdev Singh opposed the decision of the Board to abolish over 300 teaching posts. However, when Mr Brar's attention was drawn to the fact that he was present at the board's meeting when the decision was taken, he said that the board's resolution was announced abruptly by the Vice-Chancellor and that it was not in the original agenda. He stated that the executive committee of the PAUTA would meet shortly to decide its plan of action. He also emphasised that if the decision was adhered to, the continuity of work would suffer. He said that young generation should have adequate representation in the university teaching staff.

The PAU Non-Teaching Employees Union also nurses a grouse against the varsity board. The board's decision to abolish 1307 posts of non-teaching employees of different cadres has been strongly condemned by the PAU Non-teaching Employees' Union, led by Mr D.P. Mour. The union has organised protest rallies during the past few days in which it has warned the varsity administration against implementing the board's decision.


Pin-pricking incidents baffle police
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 30 — After causing terror in the Doaba region of the state, a gang indulging in pricking poison laced pins into the bodies of unsuspecting people is allegedly active in the city.

Though the police has denied the existence of any such gang, cases of people found unconscious in busy places like the bus stand, railway station and at festival venues in the past week has caused concern among people.

The police, apart from categorically denying the reports, has not been able to explain the occurrence of such cases. It says that as no person who had felt unconscious after the alleged pin-pricking has been robbed or physically harmed, the involvement of some gang cannot be ascertained.

About 10 such instances have come to light. The latest in the series is of a middle-aged woman who was found unconscious at the bus stand last evening. Her three-year-old daughter was seen crying beside her. The woman was taken to the Civil Hospital and was unconscious till the filing of this report.

Hospital sources said the doctors and the police has been baffled by the case as no mark of pin-pricking was spotted on the body. The sources said the reality would only come to light when the woman regained consciousness.

Another victim, Balwinder, admitted to Bhagwan Ram Charitable Hospital here on Friday, stated that he felt a pricking sensation at Daresi Ground where he had gone to see a festival. He said he too could not understand the motive as he was not robbed.

Just few days ago, another such victim was brought to the Civil Hospital. He told that he was standing at the railway station when he felt a pin-prick at his back and soon he lost consciousness.

Four days back, five such cases were reported from Clock Tower, Daresi Ground and parts of old city. One such case from a cinema hall had also come to light.

Last month similar cases had been reported from several villages of the Doaba region of the state. At least one person reportedly died due to pin-pricking incident. Reports of the operations of such a gang had come from Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur districts.

While senior police officials were not available for comments as all of them were said to be out of the station, some junior officials stuck to the earlier stand of the police. They said the police had carried out thorough investigation of the complaints and interviewed the victims but nothing concrete had come out. They said as most of the cases occurred in crowded areas, it was being suspected that people fell unconscious due to some kind of phobia from crowds.


Residents resent hike in oil prices
By Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 30 — The curtain has been finally raised to increase the prices of petro products, though not in the day light but at mid night. The Petroleum Minister, Mr Ram Naik, announced the hike in oil prices last night. The Government hopes to collect at least Rs 8000 crore through this measure. Excise duties on petro products have also been lowered to adjust the oil pool deficit.

TNS team talked to the different sections of the society to know their reactions regarding the move. Mr Rajeev Sahni, a leading paper trader of the city while criticising the increase in prices, said: “People do not understand any logic of increase in international prices.

They know one thing that it will lead to increase in prices of all products of day to day use. The increase in inputs prices due to increased transport costs and energy bill will make our products incompetitive in the market.” The transport companies are not ready to stick to their earlier commitments of supplying the material, leading to late deliveries of the orders, he adds.

Ms Nisha Aggarwal, a housemaker while criticising the hike in general and of cooking gas in particular remarked, “The middle class families will have to revise their budgets. In the festival season this will affect the spirit of traders as well as customers. We will have to face the inflation in the coming days.”

Mr Ravinderjeet Singh a big landlord of Latala village who owns 45 acres of land said, “The farmers were already under stress due to higher input costs and lower prices of wheat and paddy in the market. This will further decrease their interest in the agriculture.” “One should not be surprised if there are suicides in the villages of small and marginal farmers due to the developing difficult situation. They have been forced to sell their land due to the anti-farmer policies of the state,” he added.

Mr Ajaib Singh, a retired headmaster of Nathowal village was in complete agreement with him. He said, “The government might have introduced minimum increase but people take it otherwise. In the next few days there will be anti-government protests in every part of the country.”

Mr Tirlok Singh, a labourer, said pessimistically, “The prices of kerosene have been increased. The working class has been overburdened with this increase in prices.

We will have to pay high prices for all the items. Our wages are not increasing but the prices of our consumption goods are always increasing.” Was there no other alternative before the government, he asked.


Ramayana appeals as it is relevant
By Shivani Bhakoo

LUDHIANA, Sept 30 — Ramlila pandals and stages dot the city nowadays for the 10-day performance narrating the Ramayana. There is a great deal of enthusiasm among residents of the city. Pandit Mahanand ji of Dandi Swami Tapowam Ashram informed that Ramlila starts with the birth of Rama, after the three queens of Dashrath — Kaushalya, Kaikayee and Sumitra take the prasaad of yagya and ends on Vijay Dashmi or Dasehra the symbol of victory of good over evil.

The city people are gearing up for karwa chauth and Divali — all in a row. The late night Ramlilas are the centre of attraction in the city these days when people gather and enjoy the whole story of Ramayana. Mr Raj Kumar Khaira, president, Durga Ramlila Dramatic Club said that they had been organising the Ramlila for the past 30 years at the Jawahar Nagar Park. Even the characters of Rama, Sita, Laxman and Ravana had been played by the same people for the past many years. The chairman of the club informed that the costumes were provided by the public. Ramlila usually started at 9.30 p.m. and ended at 1.30 a.m. A permanent stage had been set up for the performance at Jawahar Nagar.

Ramlilas have been organised at various places in the city like Dhuri Lane Basti, near the bus stand, Mahavir Club, Daresi Grounds, Upkar Nagar and Jhansi Road. Various artisans from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have come to the city to make huge effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkarana and Meghnaad. Ramlilas staged at various localities are being organised by different trusts and committees. One of the organisers at Daresi Ground said that different skits and patriotic songs had been prepared to fill the gapes during Ramlila.


Dasehra on October 7
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 30 — The Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar (east) Welfare Society will organise Dasehra on October 7.

Mr J.C. Arora, president, and Mr B S Chabra, chairman, Ram Lila Dasehra Committee, said that dola shobha yatra would be taken out on October 1, which will start from Shree Lakshmi Narayan Mandir and conclude at community centre, where Shree Ram Lila programme would be presided over by Mr Sat Pal Gosain, Deputy Speaker, Punjab. Toppers of various schools situated in and around the colony will be given prizes by the Chief Guest.

The prize distribution function on October 6 will be presided over by Mr S.K. Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana.


Guarding against future shock

It is generally believed that the past is dead and the future uncertain. Such an attitude no doubt relieves the mind of much tension but it is more or less an illusion. The reality is that the past gnaws into the present and the future foreshadows the present. In the words of T.S. Eliot

Time past and time future

What might have been and

what has been

Point to one end, which is

always the present.

It may perhaps be possible to blink the past, at last for the time being, but it is not possible to be unmindful of what is in store for mankind in the future. The futuristic vision of the world is nightmarish. In the year 1948, George Orwell predicted in his novel "Nineteen Eighty Four" that totalitarian regimes will tighten their grips on the common man in the decades to come. It will be instilled into the minds of the people that freedom and happiness cannot coexist. The choice for mankind, therefore, will lie between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness will be considered better. The horrible irony of course is that the people of 1984 and after have neither freedom nor happiness. Happiness has indeed been the first casualty.

The man of today is baffled on account of the environmental changes taking place in too short a time. He is dazed and under a shock, which may conveniently be termed, after Alvin Toffler, as 'future shock'. Future shock is a time phenomenon, a product of the greatly accelerated rate of change in society. Science and technology have brought about a revolution so fundamental that it is difficult to search for a parallel in the past centuries. Automation by itself represents the greatest change in the whole history of mankind. In the words of Sir Herber Read - 'Possibly the only comparable change is the one that took place between the Old and the New Stone Age'.

The spreading use of drugs, the rise of mysticism, the recurrent outbreaks of vandalism and the politics of nihilism and nostalgia are the striking signs of mental strain and stress from which mankind at present is suffering. Environmental over stimulation has disturbed human psyche resulting in the erratic behaviour of the individuals. Men have been reduced to robots and there is a woeful lack of pattern in their lives. Nor is there any destination towards which they may direct energies. There is something disturbing in their mental make-up. Their outlook towards life has undergone a long process of dehumanisation. Their image of reality is distorted.

Nervous irritability of which the modern man is a victim is due to fatigue. He has become hypersensitive to the slightest stimuli around him. Generally he is tense, anxious and heatedly irascible. His mind cannot cope with the big changes that are taking place around him in such a short time and at such a great speed. The resultant confusion has bogged him down in the mire of over stimulation of senses. Disorganised and chaotic state of affairs has bewildered the man of today, besides impairing his mental functioning. The individual has been forced to operate above his adaptive range. He cannot, therefore, help but carry the cross of his sorrow over his shoulders all through his life.

In olden times culture shock was experienced by the traveller who plunged without adequate preparation into an alien culture. His personality could not adjust at such a short notice to the new surroundings and people. Consequently, he suffered from adaptive breakdown. An alien culture can superimpose itself on the mores of a society. The strange society may itself be changing only very slowly, yet for the victim of culture shock it is all new. The unpredictability arising from novelty undermines his sense of reality. He becomes anxious, confused and apathetic. Lundstedt is of the view that culture shock can be viewed as a response to stress by emotional and intellectual withdrawal. The young people flee from reality by opting for drug-induced lassitude, whereas their parents' retreat into video-induced stupor or alcoholic haze.

The symptoms of culture shock as well as future shock are evident in our society. It is difficult for most of us to cope with the high-speed complexities of life. The intellectual and emotional withdrawal is the natural corollary of all these happenings. One wonders where all the feeling has gone. The spring of tears has dried up. Apathy has wrapped up the minds of the people. Now the question arises as to how far one can run away from emotion. Happiness has ever been the goal of mankind. It is perhaps still its goal but the human mind is bewildered, dazed, isolated. His gradual flight from the valley of happiness forebodes him doom. But it is possible to safeguard the future of man's happiness, if he avoids future shock, while riding the waves of change. All his efforts be directed to shaping tomorrow to human need.


Flavour of the month
By Asha Ahuja

ANOTHER month of the new millennium is coming to an end. The atmosphere seems to be charged those who can feel it. The change in the atmosphere has been imperceptible, but there has been a definite change with the beginning of Navratras. This week a delegate of ISKCON from Kanal had come to see off people for the Shri Jagannath Rath Yatra to Puri.

Some ot the devotees of the Hare Rama Hare Krishna had come from countries to participate in the functions. For two nights some of the roads were lit up. On Thursday a colourful shobha yatra marked the onset of Navratras. In many localities the first episode of Ramlila was staged much to the delight of religiously inclined people and children. In many parks and open spaces melas with swings and giant wheels have been set up.

Daresi ground has put up a huge fair and effigies of all demons are under constructions.

We are into new millennium, but the fact remains that melas, religious festivities are woven into the fabric of our lives and we cannot but get involved in them. Probable these are necessary to break the monotony of life.

Kisan Mela had created a quite a controversy regarding seeds. Farmers were not satisfied with the seeds. Moreover, PAU students were on strike for their demands were not looked into by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Farmers had to make a distress sale of paddy. When all their hard works, does not bear fruits, after them. To show their anger, they burnt some paddy.

The oil prices can be linked any moment. Though the government is trying to its best to share the burden, there will be rise in prices.

Abhishek Bachchan has not had a very good start, Dhai Akshar Prem Ke has been to be released this week. It will be an acid test for him. If he fails, one wonders, if will have the capacity to rise like Phoenix from the ashes. His heroine Aishwarya Rai has ably supported him. K.B.C. celebrated its golden jubilee.


3 city residents arrested
From Our Correspondent

KHANNA, Sept 30 — Under a special drive launched against anti-social elements, the police has arrested five persons, including two girls.

According to a press release issued here, a nakabandi was laid near Gurdwara Manji Sahib and the police nabbed three residents of Ludhiana — Sonu Mehta of Hargobind Nagar, Baldev Singh of Moti Nagar and Sunil Sharma of Jamalpur Power Colony along with Jyoti Verma and Sima Kumari (both residents of Ambala cantt) under suspicious circumstances. The police has registered a case under Section 41(1) 109 against all of them.Back


‘Difficult phase for cycle industry’
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 30 — The cycle industry is passing through a difficult phase. Hundreds of units have been forced to close down due government’s anti-industry policies as well as lack of changes in the industry, said Mr G.L. Pahawa, president of the United Cycle and Parts Association. He was speaking at the 33rd general body meeting of the association.

Mr Satpal Gasain, Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, was the chief guest and Mr Apinder Singh Grewal was the guest of honour. Nearly 500 members participated in the meeting.

Mr M.S. Bhogal, a former president of the association, emphasised the need of specialised training programmes for the industrialists. In the changing scenario, the industry should adopt modern technologies to compete in the international market.


Wrought iron furniture is here to stay

Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 30 — Heavy furniture is a passe. And what is in fashion is the beautifully crafted wrought iron furniture. The trend which has its roots in Bangalore and has already picked up in Chandigarh, is the current rage here.

The wrought iron furniture has evolved a long way from being considered coarse and fit to be placed in MC gardens to be considered suave for decorating not just ones bedroom , but even the living rooms. This furniture is available in different finishes like copper, gold, bronze and polished black. Besides being more durable, the furniture is less expensive than the conventional furniture. Moreover, the designers are experimenting with various styles of furniture- Louis IV, Louis V, Victorian or the more modern and comfy American styles.

The designer wrought iron furniture has a wide and varied range. This includes sofas, dining tables, beds, centre tables, consoles, lungers, candle stands, chairs, wind chimes and bells.

These days the latest trends in the wrought iron furniture are on display at an exhibition. The exhibition seeks to create an ambience of a bedroom and drawing room. The aesthetically designed chairs, sofas, beds and tables tend to become at times, irresistible.

A leading furniture house, which has outlets in Bangalore and Chandigarh have introduced the concept of wrought iron furniture in Ludhiana. A senior officials of the company while giving details said, they had for the first time introduced the idea of compact package for the bedroom. The package costs Rs 35,000 with 14 different items, including a double bed, two chairs, table, a dressing table, besides other things. There are other things like chairs with gas lift, priced at Rs 2400.


All set for NABARD Capital Gains Bond
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Sept 30 — All arrangements had been made for the floating of Capital Gains Bond to be issued by NABARD for absorbing the capital gains arising out of the transfer of long-term capital assets in term of new Section 54EC of the Income Tax Act,1961, consequent to the Government of India issuing an ordinance on September 26 last, according to Mr. M.G.Marwaha, Executive Director, NABARD.

He informed in a press release here today that the information memorandum containing the application form would be available to the prospective investors from September 28 onwards at 53 places including the head office in Mumbai, 25 regional offices and selected 27 District Development Managers’ offices of NABARD.

In addition, the bond issue had also been placed on the Net on for the registered users. General information on the bond issue could also be had from NABARD”s own website at, he added.

The bond issue had been made available on private placement basis and would remain on tap. The coupon on these bonds, which will have a lock in period of three years, will be 9.75 per cent per annum, payable annually.The minimum subscription of these bonds has been fixed at Rs.10,000 or multiples thereof. Firm and full allotment at par will be made to all eligible investors. The interest on these bonds will be paid by NABARD on February 1st every year. The first interest will be from the date of allotment to January 31. The date of realisation of cheques/drafts in the account of NABARD will be the date of allotment.

Mr. Marwaha further said that NABARD reserved the right to alter the rate of interest on its capital gain bonds issue. The rate of interest would be made known to the investors before the acceptance of the application. The interest rate at which the application is accepted will be paid to the investor till the maturity of bonds.

He explained that bonds will be redeemed at par on the day following the completion of three years from the date of allotment.


Black market of kerosene alleged
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 30 — Mr Joginder Kumar and Mr Man Mohan Singh Ubhi, president and secretary of the Ludhiana Electroplates Association, respectably, have lamented the decision of hiking the price of petroleum products. They alleged that the rates of petrol and diesel were fixed when the crude oil price was $ 20 but when the price of crude oil had come down to $ 10, the benefits were not passed on to the consumers. The rate of furnace oil was revised in 1999, when the prices of crude oil were rising. The hike in the petroleum products effective from today will have a dampening impact on the industry which was already reeling under recessionary trend.

They pointed out that oil was essentially required for the electroplating industry. The District Industries Centre earlier used to issue permit to the industries that practice had been dispensed with since long ago and the industry was forced to buy it in the black market. They disclosed that when the controlled price of kerosene was Rs 3 per litre, it was sold at Rs 8 to Rs 9 per litre in the market. But when the rate was raised to Rs 6.50, the oil was available in the open market at Rs 20 per litre which was undesirable and uncalled for. They apprehended that with the increase in petroleum products’ rates kerosene rates in the open market would rise proportionately. Black marketing of kerosene was rampant in Ludhiana. Back


LSE poll results
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Sept 30 — Mr Jaspal Singh and Mr T.S. Thapar have been elected Directors in the Ludhiana Stock Exchange Management. The election was held today.

Out of the 219 votes polled Mr Jaspal Singh got 136 votes and Mr Thapar got 107. Mr Sunder Das Arora got just 99 and Mr Rakesh Jain got 94 votes. It may be mentioned here that Mr Jaspal Singh was the opposition party candidate.

The results will have a bearing on the functioning of the management. Mr Vishwanath Dheeri, president of the Ludhiana Stock Exchange while commenting on the election said, “We accept the mandate of the members. We hope that there will no obstacles in the proper functioning of the exchange.”Back

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