Sunday, December 31, 2000,
Chandigarh, India
C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Making friends with children

IN this city of parks and gardens where festivals and shows are aplenty, the recently concluded Chandigarh Carnival stands out for some unique impressions it has made on its participants and spectators. One of the big draws at the festival was the Friends of Children Corner which offered numerous free activities to the children. Anyone who wanted to know who was ‘behind’ it, or who had ‘organised’ it and who had ‘conducted’ it, got the answer that the Friends of Children group had grown from the spirit of a community working together. It is a community of parents, college students, and organisations who work with children and love them. It is made up of volunteers who disappear into their respective worlds and surface at carnival time to organise activities for the children.

“Madam, are you an educationist?” a gentleman with a 7-year-old child asked a woman volunteer, as she stood cutting and pasting masks for the children at the mask-making stall.

“No, sir. I am a parent like you,” came the answer.

Why were parents like her building sand pits for the young to frolic in, painting eager young faces that crowded around them, moulding clay into crazy misshapen toys, and handing out reams of paper to children to draw on? Where was the institution, the society, the commercial group that had organised this popular Children’s Corner? And why no one was there with a bunch of coupons asking people to pay for having their children participate in these activities?

Why were they doing this? Who do they come and work for three days for something that does not pay them any money nor bring them into the limelight. Being in this environment and community is to them a reward in itself. “Parents and adults like us, who do not often find time to ‘enjoy’ with our children, rediscover in the sandpit what it feels like to just be with kids without the pressure of homework and household chores, to spend a few days watching children create things in an atmosphere free of competition,” says Renu Soni a volunteer at the Corner.

“What I enjoy the most is the feeling of being with people who have similar views about work and fun. There is nothing like ‘my children and your children’. Everyone shares their time and creativity with all the children who come to the carnival. There is a feeling of joy of shared labour, of caring,” says Neerja Chaitely, another parent and volunteer who has been there for all the three days of the carnival.

Over the one and a half year period of its existence, this group that came spontaneously together has spawned an animated discussion on education among some of the volunteers. The discussion grew out of watching the immense potential for learning that grows in children when they are free from competition and are placed in an atmosphere of fun. These volunteers began to look for schools around the country that may be providing such an environment to their students and finally, some of them went to Bangalore to familiarise themselves with one such school that has grown in a community of loving and thinking parents and teachers. Efforts are now being made to open such a school in Chandigarh. — Nishi Malhotra


Year of turbulence
By Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 30 — The year saw unprecedented turbulence in Panjab University where the Vice-Chancellor and the Chandigarh Administration appeared up in arms against each other. The Senate had its own group leanings on issues.

The university deliberated till August 26 before a final nod by the Senate to the campus budget. The delay was unprecedented in the history of the institution.

The second half of the year, when Prof K.N. Pathak took over as the new Vice-Chancellor, saw peace ushering in, at least for now. Group battles for supremacy in the House had a substantial fall.

Prof M.M. Puri, the outgoing Vice-Chancellor, cleared 42 appointments on his last day. The new VC turned them down. The government stopped the university grant for the first time in its history. Things came to the open to the extent of Professor Puri saying that the finance officer of the UT, Mr Rakesh Singh, exerted pressure on him to appoint his wife as lecturer.

The Syndicate cancelled more than a dozen appointments of retired officials by Prof M.M. Puri. “The final decision came after a few months. Who paid them salaries during this period needed to be pointed out”, a senior Fellow said.

The university examination branch made significant improvements in certain areas. Delay in the system had become evident. This time, the date of declaration of results was declared along with the dates of conduct of examination.

The year began with the Syndicate elections. Power politics saw a big change, with the Deepa group being reduced to a minority with 5 out of 15 candidates. The Deepak Manmohan group started to be identified with the Gopal Krishan Chatrath group. However, later, the ratio changed to 9 from the Deepa group and 6 from their rival. The VC noticeably started to lose his grip on administrative control as was visible from the incidents which followed.

One big issue which figured on the list earlier this year was the fees issue. The Syndicate had cleared the hike on the GNDU pattern. However, when the issue came to the Senate, it was hotly debated and a very big hike was disallowed.

The April 30 Syndicate meeting saw an abrupt end, with the VC walking out of the meeting following generation of heat over the matters of appointments.

In a surprise event, the university on May 9 saw an order, asking Mr Sanjiv Tewari from the Public Relations Department to be shifted. The decision was condemned. A member said the decision of transfer was against the Senate because the Senate was the appointing authority. However, nothing changed till Professor Pathak assumed charge. Several questions arose over the move of the earlier VC and the issue went to all quarters for discussion.

A team of Syndicate members met the Governor earlier this year. A complaint on misuse of funds and misappropriation was made.

June 6 was a sad day for the university, with the CBI arresting Dr Sodhi Ram, the Controller of Examination for alleged paper-leakage in mathematics (honours). A special Senate meeting was called to decide on the issue and a decision was taken that the CBI was not to be granted permission to prosecute him till the university decided on the matter. Nothing happened on the part of implementation of the decision.

Dr Sodhi Ram went on with a statement that he was not naming certain influential people on the campus who indulged in examination malpractices.

The budget was passed in the June 29 Syndicate meeting but or July 16 Senate did not pass the budget. There were again noisy scenes in the Senate. One question was on a letter of the Vice-Chancellor to the HRD that the Senate be made a deliberating body and not a decision-making body.

Prof K.N. Pathak took over on July 26. He presided over the budget meeting on August 26. The Senate election for 49 elected seats concluded on September 17. Some big names, including Dr Ram Prakash, Ms Sneh Mahajan, Mr Kher Singh, Dr Joginder Yadav, Mr Mohammad Khalid and Prof I.M. Govil, are missing from the House. The university still awaits a Punjab and Haryana High Court decision on the fate of candidates in the graduates constituency.

The list of nominated members this time carries a very big representation of eminent persons from all walks of life, including academics, politics and journalism.

The last Senate also failed to take a final decision on the case of Dr B.B. Goyal from the University Business School, who allegedly gave 42 marks to a student who deserved zero.

The last few days saw students and parents agitating for the university to change the popular BCA course to BIT. The university decided to offer a one-year additional course as BCA (Honours).


PU professor invited
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 30 — Prof (Dr) I.S. Dua, Professor, Plant Physiology in the Department of Botany, Panjab University, Chandigarh, has been invited to deliver a lecture at XV National Photobiology Conference at Goa from January 11.


A joshila welcome to New Year
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 30 — It was quite a recharging experience this evening at a picturesque city resort which reverberated with sounds of powerful music beats. Holding the fort were three men from Delhi who call themselves Joshilay and accompanying them was the sweet hostess of MTV Classic and MTV Fresh, Mini Mathur, who was very much in town today to see the gathering through the last few moments of the year.

Some real and great music played at the resort by Jolly, Jasmeet and Julius, the musical trio which shot to fame with the interesting remix of the Kishore Kumar number — Pinjare wali muniya. Earlier during the day the three singers performed at the most happening music store of the city — Planet M in Sector 17 and about 500 people gathered inside to see the singers. But there was no expression of fatigue on the faces of the three men when they took to the stage towards the evening.

The singers doled out some real good Punjabi numbers, one after the other. As Jolly explained, ‘‘Do in Rome as Romans do.’’ Another major attraction on the stage today as Mini Mathur, the MTV VJ who also features in the music video of Muniya. Talking to The Tribune today, the three friends said they were planning to make a video of another song from their album — Chhadke na jaa.

Interesting is the way in which Jolly, Jasmeet and Julius got together. While Jolly and Jasmeet are the singing types and had already done a number of shows before they met, Julius was composing music for a number of jingles. Jolly and Jasmeet are the ones who sung the famous Pepsi jingle in which Karisma Kapoor featured some time back.

When the three formed a group titled Sound Design. They began doing shows all over the country. ‘‘We began with Lucknow,’’ said the chirpy Julius,‘‘and then there was no looking back. We did a lot of Punjabi, Hindi and English music, more of Punjabi because it is this music which really suits every mood.’’

The trio is mainly concentrating on dance beats. Also, they have been into a lot of remixing. ‘‘But we have a specific arrangement manner which makes us so different to the other remixers in the market,’’ said Jolly, adding that their group wanted to put across the word that there was a music group around which could tell you what the sense of chilling out with music is all about.

All this apart, the group has been visiting the city quite often. ‘‘This is our third time,’’ laughed Jasmeet who reminded us that the first time they came to Chandigarh was on the occasion of Sunbeam’s rooftop launch. 


Year of artistic might, cultural glory
By Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, Dec 30 — The same feeling, which Napoleon Bonaparte had voiced centuries ago about the passing glory and the persisting obscurity, fills one’s heart today as one watches another splendid year go by. Glory is fleeting, obscurity is forever — he had said.

And truly so. Today as one stands at the crossroad to the next millennium, the year gone by flashes across one’s mind in all its artistic might, its cultural splendour and its magnificent glory. It was a year laced with events which served as a pointer to a major trend that Chandigarh was on the minds of all the culturally and artistically charged people. And hence it saw celebrities paying sojourns every now and then, and it saw artists heading towards it to showcase their talent, also it saw big corporate houses trust its market to bless their sales.

This year the city saw too much of pampering — be it at the hands of Dimple Kapadia who chose Mount View to exhibit her candles, or the sunny Karina Kapoor-Abhishek Bachchan duo that was in the city to promote Refugee, along with director J.P. Dutta, or even the great ustaad in Mehndi Hassan, who flew from Karachi to perform for members of the Chandigarh Club.

The year, which had dawned bright and gay, is passing by in the same tone. The cycle of glorious citizens visiting the city beautiful came a full circle today, with the not-so-mini MTV VJ Mini Mathur recharging emotions, along with the famous Delhi pop group Joshilay who breathed josh into the last few hours of the year 2000 as they sung the rocking Muniya o muniya to revellers at the Choice Resorts, Zirakpur. That takes the memory back to VJs Maria and Cyrus junior, who came lapping up the city kids for a special episode on children some time back.

The fun circuit of the city was kept alive all the time, with pop stars coming here for routine performances. Hans Raj Hans visited Chandigarh at least five times this year; Shankar Sahney, Jazzy B, Bhupinder Bhuppi, Mickey Narula launched of their music albums from here; beauty queens Lara Dutta, Priyanka Chopra, Yukta Mookhey came jiving to the city; models John Abrahim, Rahul Dev, Sheetal Mallar, Mehar Bhasin, Madhu Sapre, Rajlakshmi and Fleur were here on professional tours on many an occasion.

Interesting to note was the frequency with which the city hosted beauty contests this year. From the very routine Ms Punjab and Mr Punjab to the reputed Ms and Mr Monte Carlo (which was the Oswal’s debut show in beauty arena, and Mr Grasim, the city had it all.

Yet another interesting trend was the focus of corporate houses on the city’s market potential. Vardhaman group launched its latest Aao bune pack in Chandigarh. The launch function was graced by Renuka Shahane, brand ambassador for the group; held quizzes for students of city schools to tap the Internet market here, and the city was also one of the centres for the launch of Maruti Alto, the little car in town. Big music stores came up — like Music World and Planet M. The latter, of course, is too big to be captured in words — in fact, the largest Planet M store in India. Topping the list here is World Gold Council’s venture, Swarnanjali 2000, the gold jewellery contest which was held in the city this time. Chandigarh was chosen as the focal point for North Zone contest by the council. Not to miss the mention of Agrotech 2000 held in the city which had, for the first time, a record number of foreign companies participating. While on the one hand, the pointer is towards the rising commercial interest in the city, on the other, it is also towards its fathoming artistic might.

A record number of exhibitions were held in the city’s art galleries — right from the gallery of the Government College of Art, Sector 10, to the Sector 8 Indus Ind Art Gallery to the Art Folio in Sector 9. Many artists from all over the country visiting the city in the hope of gaining admirers.


A westerner in love with Hindi
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 30 — Her fine diction and pronunciation of Hindi would give any Indian a complex. Mariola Offredi, an Italian by birth, is the associate professor of Hindi Language and Literature at the Department of Eurasiatic Studies, University of Venice. Call it love for the language or call it anything under the sun, the fact is that this woman from the land of the seven hills has published several research works on Hindi literature. Apart from that she has written the foreword for many books and effected a large number of translations of Hindi books into Italian.

Mariola was in the city today on the invitation of Sahit Chintan Society and she spoke to Chandigarh Tribune about her passion for Hindi as a language and also about her subsequent literary pursuits in the field. ‘‘As a child I used to read story books which my father got for me. From a vast source, I was attracted best towards the Persian stories for the great visual appeal they had. I loved their bright colours. The next love was Hindi. Japanese came last because I found their layout too dull to bear,’’ said Mariola who grew up with the colours which she fondly cherished in her story books.

Later, she got a chance to study any Eastern language and her obvious choice was Persian. But since this language was not being taught, she ended up taking a three year diploma course in Hindi, which she found to be more than just fascinating. Today, Mariola has a number of literary endeavours to her credit and she is recognised as a master in the subject by many. Immediately after taking her diploma, she even had a chance of visiting India on a scholarship from the Indian Government. ‘‘That was when I visited a number of Indian towns and villages. I almost fell in love with the country,’’ she said.

Ever since 1960s, Mariola has been visiting India for furthering her love for Hindi language. Recently she translated Kalikatha via bypass, a novel by a Calcutta-based writer Alka Saraogi. Apart from that she has done a lot of current research in the field of medieval studies. Presently she is working on a manuscript of the Ramavali, a minor text ascribed to Gorakh. Among poets she has been most inspired by Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh and has done research on his compilations — Andhere mein and Chand ka muh tera. Other researches are on works by Kumar Narayan (Atmajay), and also on Dhumil.

Mariola now plans to study the works of Vinod Kumar Shukl who also inspires her a lot.

Millennium musical blast on Lashkara
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Dec 30 — To welcome the New Year a special New Year entertainment programme, “Millennium Musical Blast’ will be telecast on Lashkara Channel on Dec 31 from 11 p.m.

According to the director, Mr Jarnail Basota, this special programme will feature the top stars of Punjabi music world including Sardool Sikander, Harbhajan Mann, Malkit Singh, Shankar Shani, Surjit Bindrakhiya, Sarabjit Cheema, Amar Noori, Sunita Bhatti, Suchet Bala, Satvinder Bitti, Gurkirpal Surapuri, Karan Jasbir, Boota Mohammad followed by Punjabi Bhangra by the International Bhangra group of Paramjit Sidhu. The programme will be anchored by Satinder Kaur and Rimpy Gill and will be retelecast on Lashkara on January 1 at 12.30 p.m.Back

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