Friday, October 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

IT education in schools fails to take off
Dharamsala, October 4
The much publicised launch of IT education in government schools has failed to take off, as even after three months there are no computers in 64 Senior Secondary Schools of Kangra district.

Attitudinal change ‘must’ to end gender bias
Shimla, October 4
Eminent writer and film personality, Gulzar today said that constitutional guarantees, legal framework and slogans alone would not help in the “empowerment of women” and gender bias could only be removed by bringing about an “attitudinal change” towards women in the society.
Film writer and poet Gulzar addresses participants during the inaugural session of the National Seminar on Women Studies, Research and Curriculum being held at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study at Shimla today. — Photo by Anil Dayal

Dalai Lama ‘against’ conversions
Dharamsala, October 4
In his first-ever reaction to media reports about the Dalai Lama planning to convert a million Hindus to Buddhism, Tibetan in-exile Prime Minister Samdhong Lobsang Tenzin today said the Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel laureate had never converted any Hindu and nor did he intend to do so in the future.

Cops to look after welfare of senior citizens
Shimla, October 4
The police department has decided to make arrangement for the welfare of destitute senior citizens.



YOUR TOWN
Dharamsala
Mandi
Shimla


EARLIER STORIES
 

Panchayats to account for funds use
Shimla, October 4
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has said Rs 12.42 crore has been allocated to panchayats on the recommendations of the 11th state Finance Commission for the current financial year out of which Rs 6.22 crore have so far been released.

Security around girls’ hostels tightened
Shimla, October 4
The security around the five girls’ hostels of Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) has been tightened. At present the doors of the hostels are locked from 8.30 p.m. till morning. It was after the gap of a few years that the authorities decided to use wire fencing for these hostels.

BC status for Chuhar residents sought
Mandi, October 4
The state Assembly Speaker, Thakur Gulab Singh, has pleaded before the State Commission for Backward Classes that the people of the landlocked Chuhar Valley of the district should be included in the list of the backward classes.

Cong MLA warns CM on expansion
Kangra, October 4
The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary and MLA from Nagrota Bagwan, Mr G.S. Bali, today warned the state Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, against the proposed Cabinet expansion in view of the acute financial crunch in the state.

Students smash bus panes
Shimla, October 4
Activists of the Students Federation of India smashed the windows of a bus of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation at Sandhu near Theog, even as the police arrested three persons in connection with yesterday’s violence.

Virbhadra’s remarks ridiculed
Shimla, October 4
Mr Ganesh Dutt, spokesperson for the state BJP, has ridiculed the statement of Mr Virbhadra Singh, a former Chief Minister, alleging discrimination against Kinnaur in the matter of development and said the Congress lost the seat to the BJP due to perpetual neglect of the tribal area by its own government.

Patrol vans to check overspeeding
Shimla, October 4
The Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, today flagged off three police patrol vans for the highways in Himachal Pradesh.



Chief Minister P. K. Dhumal flags off the highway police patrol vans at Shimla today. — AD

The Chief Minister, Mr. P. K. Dhumal, flags off the highway police patrol vans at Shimla today.

Wife shot for not cooking chicken
Mandi, October, 4
In a bizarre incident, ex-serviceman Dharm Singh shot his wife in Lakarhar village in Jogindernagar tehsil of Mandi district, 60 km from here last night. Superintendent of Police J.R. Thakur said Dharm Singh returned home drunk around 2200 hours last night and was enraged when his wife told him that she had not cooked chicken for him.
Blind seeking quota block traffic
Shimla, October 4
Members of the State Association of Blind Persons today blocked traffic in front of the state secretariat to highlight their demands. 

Visually handicapped protesters being removed by the police from near the Secretariat at Shimla today. — AD




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IT education in schools fails to take off
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, October 4
The much publicised launch of IT education in government schools has failed to take off, as even after three months there are no computers in 64 Senior Secondary Schools of Kangra district.

Seeing the state of affairs of IT education in the schools, a large number of students, who had opted for computer education, have dropped out of the subject. With just four months left for their final examinations, these students have realised that the pace at which things are moving, it would be difficult to complete the syllabus.

Due to unsatisfactory handling by RBA Softech, 32 out of 64 schools have now being given to another firm. The Himachal Pradesh Government has given the contract for starting IT education in its Senior Secondary Schools, to a Hyderabad-based Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL). They have further granted the franchiese to RBA Softech.

Resentment prevails among 206 teachers, who have been appointed by RBA Softech in these schools. After imparting them a 15 days training for Rs 1,000 they were appointed, on a condition that they will have to pay Rs 5,500. “Today the strength of IT students in my school has dropped from 300 to 150, as even now we have not been provided with the system nor any salary for the period we have worked,” said one of the faculty member. Interestingly, the RBA Softech, has put up a notice in its office, that all faculty members must get 75 per cent of the total strength of the school enrolled for IT, failing which they would be terminated from service. So far, IT education has been started for Class XI, XII, IX, X in the schools.

The Deputy Director, Education, Mr R.C. Chawla had written to the Directorate, as a result of which 32 schools had now been given to a new firm. “The systems have not been installed in majority of the schools, as a result the students are dropping out of the subject, as it would be difficult to complete the syllabus,” he pointed out.

On the other hand the students said that even after paying fees of Rs 130 for class XI and XII and Rs 97.50 Class IX and X they were not being properly trained. At the same time, the Principals of these schools have not sent the money charged from these students to the ECIL, Hyderabad, as the services they were to render have not been provided.

The Director of RBA Softech, Mr Randhir Chaudhary, when contacted said there had been delay in providing the equipments in the schools and they had got an extension from the government, to complete their task by October 1. He denied that contract for 32 schools had been given to another firm and added that they had a joint venture with Janak Computers, who have got the fresh contract. “There has been delay but all work will be completed by October 1, along with payments to the teachers,” he assured.

He said they had not been provided with proper rooms in the schools for installing computers, to the extent that they had to get the white washing and electrical fittings done on their own. He added that the rooms were not safe and there had been thefts at two places.

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Attitudinal change ‘must’ to end gender bias
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 4
Eminent writer and film personality, Gulzar today said that constitutional guarantees, legal framework and slogans alone would not help in the “empowerment of women” and gender bias could only be removed by bringing about an “attitudinal change” towards women in the society.

Presiding over the inaugural session of the three-day seminar on “Women’s studies, research and curriculum” at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, here, he said the basic attitude and convictions of writers, poets, painters and other creative persons were reflected in their works. Any feminist movement must strive to bring about attitudinal change to succeed in its objective.

The reality of the past had been amply reflected in the literary works when women of the affluent classes had a fair deal, while the middle and lower classes struggled throughout their life. It is more or less the same story after 50 years of Independence. The upper class urban women were educated and enjoying all rights, however, those belonging to the middle class were still facing problems due to gender bias.

In her keynote address Mrs Sarojini Thakur, a former joint secretary, Women and Child Development, Government of India, who was associated with the formulation of plans policies and programmes related to the empowerment of women, underlined the need for greater coordination among various institutes engaged in studies on women. She said the ensuring equality to women in various spheres of life virtually meant redistribution of resources and power. Those who were in power would not easily give in. She cited the example of Women’s Reservation Bill in this regard. Those who amended the Constitution to devolve power to Panchayati Raj institutions were not willing to give up their own constituencies. For effective change the mindset had to be changed. She said that proposed law to curb domestic violence would go a long way in removing gender inequality in households.

Dr V.C. Srivastava, Director of the institute said feminists in the country should not follow on western parameters but chart out their own course keeping in view the cultural background. About 50 scholars from all over the country are participating in the seminar.

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Dalai Lama ‘against’ conversions
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, October 4
In his first-ever reaction to media reports about the Dalai Lama planning to convert a million Hindus to Buddhism, Tibetan in-exile Prime Minister Samdhong Lobsang Tenzin today said the Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel laureate had never converted any Hindu and nor did he intend to do so in the future.

“In fact, the Dalai Lama is always against the conversion of people from one religion to another. Nor has he encouraged anyone, including the Hindus, to convert into our religion,” he stated. Mr Samdhong said though such reports had been appearing in the media for the past some time, but there was no reaction from Tibet.

He said it was only after his meeting with Jagadguru Shankaracharya, Matha of Puri, yesterday, that he became aware of such news reports regarding conversions being circulated. “Hearing from the Jagadguru, I was deeply shocked and I felt that it was necessary to give our clarification on such baseless reports, which, I feel are being published with ulterior motives,” he said.

“The Dalai Lama has always advised people to remain true to their traditional religion while stating that anyone could study any facet of Buddhism to supplement their spiritual growth,” said Mr Samdhong. He added that to study Buddhism, one did not need to embrace Buddhism and give up one’s own religion. He warned people not to be misled by such irresponsible news reporting.

Mr Samdhong further said there had been several cases of Hindus embracing Buddhism in various parts of India, but clarified that neither the Dalai Lama, nor his followers, were involved in these conversions. Two days ago, the Peethadheesh of Puri, Swami Nishchalanand Saraswati, had accused the Dalai Lama of converting Hindus.

Interacting with mediapersons at Brajeshwar Temple in Kangra, he had stated that the Dalai Lama would convert 10 lakh Hindus to Buddhism in New Delhi. Media reports had indicated that the plans of the Dalai Lama on mass conversion had been postponed and now the conversions would take place in Delhi on a specified date.

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Cops to look after welfare of senior citizens
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 4
The police department has decided to make arrangement for the welfare of destitute senior citizens.

According to Mr A.K. Puri, DGP, under this scheme all police stations in Himachal Pradesh will prepare lists of senior citizens who are living alone. These lists will be prepared with the active cooperation of the local community policing team. Following this exercise, a policeman or a community police volunteer will visit the residences of senior citizens at least once a week to inquire about their welfare and to render such reasonable assistance as they may need.

This assistance can be in the shape of purchase of medicines, arrangements for medical aid, payment of bills for water supply, electricity, telephone etc.

It has also been decided that senior citizens, unless they are accused of

heinous crimes, shall not be called to police stations. In cases where they have to give statements, the same shall be recorded at their residences. This scheme shall be initially launched in 22 urban police stations and extended to other areas after evaluations of results, Mr Puri added.

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Panchayats to account for funds use
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 4
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has said Rs 12.42 crore has been allocated to panchayats on the recommendations of the 11th state Finance Commission for the current financial year out of which Rs 6.22 crore have so far been released.

He said the government had initiated steps to strengthen the Panchayati Raj institutions in the state and had made massive devolution of funds and powers besides entrusting them with various works.

Mr Dhumal said to ensure that money allocated to the panchayats was utilised in a transparent manner, the present government had made it mandatory to hold meetings of gram sabhas on every first Sunday of January, April, July and October every year in which the schemes being executed in the panchayats and selection of beneficiaries of various welfare programmes would be discussed.

He said ministers and senior officers would attend such meetings to be held on October 7 in various parts of the state to ensure their participation in the development works of the panchayats. He said besides having detailed discussions on the budget, the beneficiaries of the National Old-Age Pension Scheme would also be selected.

Attending meetings by the ministers and senior officers was part of the government’s endeavours to take the administration at the doorstep of people, he added.

Industries Minister Kishori Lal would participate in the gram sabha meeting at Tundi in Chamba district, Forest Minister Roop Singh Thakur at Bandali in Mandi district, Agriculture Minister Vidya Sagar at Samela in Kangra district, Irrigation and Public Health Minister Ramesh Chaudhary at Jakhotha in Kangra district, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister, Prakash Chaudhary at Riyur, Minister of State for Technical Education Ravinder Ravi at Majhin in Kangra district, Minister of State for Town and Country Planning Hari Narain Singh Saini at Ramshar in Solan district and Parliamentary Secretary Urmil Thakur at Kot and Ropa in Hamirpur district.

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Security around girls’ hostels tightened
Our Correspondent

Shimla, October 4
The security around the five girls’ hostels of Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) has been tightened.

At present the doors of the hostels are locked from 8.30 p.m. till morning. It was after the gap of a few years that the authorities decided to use wire fencing for these hostels. The hostels are close to one another and the girls would be able to move around freely from one hostel to another even during the night, which was earlier banned.

The issue came to fore last year when some miscreants threw stones at these hostels causing panic among the girls and forced the authority to take this step.

“There is hardly any security in the evening. The university has deputed about 28 of its employees on security duty at different places. The Students Central Association (SCA) have repaired the street lights of these hostels.

The fencing would be eight feet from the ground and cost about Rs 5 lakh. The newly constructed Chander Bhaga Hostel lacks basic facilities like mess, guest room, telephone. The post of warden has been lying vacant for several years. For all these basic facilities they have to depend on the other hostels which themselves are in bad condition. At present 120 girls are sharing accommodation with Manikarn Hostels.

Moreover, the plight of other girls’ hostels are same. The SCA has demanded that separate mess, warden, guest room should be immediately provided to the girls of Chander Bhaga Hostel.

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BC status for Chuhar residents sought
Our Correspondent

Mandi, October 4
The state Assembly Speaker, Thakur Gulab Singh, has pleaded before the State Commission for Backward Classes that the people of the landlocked Chuhar Valley of the district should be included in the list of the backward classes.

He told the commission, a team of which visited the valley during the past three days, that the valley was more backward than those of the other parts of the state which had already been included in backward classes.

He lamented that the people of the valley were deprived of the basic amenities like schools, health institutions and proper roads. The residents of this remote area were reeling under acute poverty and deserved special attention to get out of extreme backwardness. The rugged valley was cut off and there were no avenues of employment, as a result of which people lived from hand to mouth.

Mr Justice Surender Sarup, chairman, and Mr Mohinder Lal and Dr Gulshan Kumar, members of the commission, have recorded their findings and are likely to submit the report to the government shortly.

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Cong MLA warns CM on expansion
Our Correspondent

Kangra, October 4
The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary and MLA from Nagrota Bagwan, Mr G.S. Bali, today warned the state Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, against the proposed Cabinet expansion in view of the acute financial crunch in the state.

Mr Bali stated this while addressing a press conference here today. He said the state was under a debt of Rs 10,000 crore and bearing the expenditure of more than 24 ministers in the state government.

He said the Chief Minister was planning a Cabinet expansion allegedly to appease some BJP MLAs because of the power struggle going on within the party.

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Students smash bus panes
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 4
Activists of the Students Federation of India smashed the windows of a bus of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation at Sandhu near Theog, even as the police arrested three persons in connection with yesterday’s violence.

Fortunately, there were no passengers on board the bus, which was returning to Theog when the students attacked it. The situation in Theog, otherwise, remained, peaceful.

The arrested persons, Rakesh Sharma, Vinod Kumar and Suresh Kumar, are reported to be activists of the SFI and the DYFI. The police has registered two cases, one of rioting under Sections 147 and 148, and the other of assault on a public servant on duty. Some more arrests are likely.

Meanwhile, activists of the SFI boycotted classes at the Kotshera and Sanjauli degree colleges and held a demonstration in protest against yesterday’s lathi charge and police firing at Theog.

The state committee of the CPM condemned the “unprovoked” firing in which, it claimed, 65 persons were injured. It alleged the BJP government had unleashed a reign of terror to silence the voice of the people. It demanded the release of all those taken into custody, besides a judicial inquiry into the incident.

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Virbhadra’s remarks ridiculed
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 4
Mr Ganesh Dutt, spokesperson for the state BJP, has ridiculed the statement of Mr Virbhadra Singh, a former Chief Minister, alleging discrimination against Kinnaur in the matter of development and said the Congress lost the seat to the BJP due to perpetual neglect of the tribal area by its own government.

Terming the charge as false, baseless and politically-motivated, he said Mr Virbhadra Singh, who posed as ‘Masia’ and well-wisher of people of Kinnaur virtually did nothing for the development of the district, except giving false assurances to gain political advantage.

Mr Virbhadra Singh, he said, remained a silent spectator to the devastation caused in Kinnaur by floods and when government agencies were undertaking relief measures on a war-footing, did not even bother to visit the affected area.

Mr Dutt said it was the present government which had carried out restoration works, besides providing necessary financial help to people.

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Patrol vans to check overspeeding
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 4
The Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, today flagged off three police patrol vans for the highways in Himachal Pradesh.

These vans have equipment for checking overspeeding, drunken driving and pollution. These patrol vans will be deployed in the southern, northern and central police ranges at Shimla, Mandi and Dharamsala.

The Director-General of Police, Mr A.K. Puri, and senior officers were present at the ceremony at the official residence of the Chief Minister.

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Wife shot for not cooking chicken

Mandi, October, 4
In a bizarre incident, ex-serviceman Dharm Singh shot his wife in Lakarhar village in Jogindernagar tehsil of Mandi district, 60 km from here last night. Superintendent of Police J.R. Thakur said Dharm Singh returned home drunk around 2200 hours last night and was enraged when his wife told him that she had not cooked chicken for him.

When his wife, Suneeta, told him that he was drunk and should behave, he went to his bedroom, brought out his gun and shot her in the chest. When she cried for help, the villagers gathered at her house and she was taken to the local doctor, who referred her to the Zonal Hospital. There she was declared dead by doctors. The police has arrested Dharm Singh on the charge of murder and seized the gun along with cartridges. PTI

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Blind seeking quota block traffic
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 4
Members of the State Association of Blind Persons today blocked traffic in front of the state secretariat to highlight their demands. The protesters were immediately removed by the police and taken to the Chhota Shimla police station, where they raised slogans against the government.

They were demanding filling of posts against the one per cent quota for the blinds as promised by Mr P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, on whose assurance they had ended their agitation in May.

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HPU to constitute Students Council
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 4
Himachal Pradesh University has decided to constitute the Students Council after eight years. The University all these years could not complete the election process. The ABVP, which swept the SCA election in the university, had made the constitution of the council a prestige issue. It maintains that the SFI, which ruled the campus for about two decades, had deliberately made the body defunct in connivance with the university authorities. Dr Narinder Sharda, the Acting Vice-Chancellor, said the council would be constituted in the next few days. The council would be notified as soon as the exercise was complete.

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Bail plea of rape accused rejected
Legal Correspondent

Shimla, October 4
Mr O.P. Sharma, District and Sessions Judge, Shimla, yesterday rejected the bail plea of Col Ramesh Chander of the Army Training Command who was arrested last week for allegedly raping a Mumbai-based girl. She had reportedly fled her house in Mumbai a few days ago due to some family dispute, and reached here where she was allegedly raped by the Army officer.

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Tributes paid to Scindia
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 4
The Public Accounts Committee today adopted a resolution to pay tributes to Mr Madhavrao Scindia. The meeting of the committee was held under the chairmanship of Mr J.B.L. Khachi, MLA. The resolution said the Congress had lost the stalwart.

It also mourned the death of journalists accompanying Mr Scindia.

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