Thursday, December 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


FMD virus catches authorities off-guard
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 12
The authorities are groping in the dark for tackling the foot and mouth disease (FMD) which has already spread in the central parts of Punjab.

Making a frank admission, the Director, Animal Husbandry, Dr G.S. Chahal, told Ludhiana Tribune yesterday that in the absence of adequate provision of funds by the state government to the department, it was unable to supply the FMD vaccine for preventing the dreadful disease.

In fact, vaccines have not been provided for the past two to three years as the Punjab government was not able to spend 25 per cent amount on the purchase of the vaccines. A single dose of the vaccine was priced at a subsidised rate of Rs 3 for the farmers. The difference between the cost price and selling price to farmers was to be shared by the state and central governments in equal proportion.

Dr Chahal said the Central Government had not released the matching grant for the past one year as the state government had not submitted the utilisation certificate of the previous grant.

The government had taken the note of the spread of the disease among the cattle of a dairy farm in Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). He said the PAU was not to be blamed for the outbreak of the disease as the animals were properly vaccinated.

He said the scientists concerned were working to find out the cause of the outbreak. The FMD had become a common phenomenon in the state. Last year, the disease had affected 30,000 animals in Moga alone, out of which over 2,000 had perished.

Meanwhile, the PAU has been awaiting the results of the samples taken from the sick animals even a week after these were collected. The samples were sent to the Diagnostic Laboratory at Jalandhar for investigating the typed virus responsible for the infection. Sources in the laboratory said the samples had to be recollected as the experts were not able to determine the type of the virus. But the PAU officials said no team from the laboratory had come to take the samples yesterday.

The outbreak of the FMD is not only reported from the PAU farms but farmers in many villages told Ludhiana Tribune that though the cases were being reported they were being kept secret by the Veterinary Department.

The Veterinary Department has also not confirmed the spread of the disease.

While many cases of the FMD have been reported from the PAU farms as well as the Haibowal dairy complex, no alert has been sounded either by the PAU or the state Animal Husbandry Department. Experts say that the disease is air-borne and the virus can travel upto a distance of 300 km, there are chances of further spread of the disease. But the PAU has not released a single message of caution to the farmers about the disease.


Training camp on vegetables ends
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 12
A two-day training camp on cultivation of summer vegetables, organised in the Department of Vegetable Crops, Punjab Agricultural University, for the benefit of horticulture development officers of the state concluded here today.

The importance of cultivation of the vegetables was emphasised by the technical coordinator, Dr D.S. Khurana. The impact of the WTO on the Indian agriculture was emphasised by Dr Harjit Singh Dhaliwal. The scientist from the Department of Vegetable Crops, PAU, delivered a lecture on scientific cultivation of summer vegetables.

Scientific methods for the control of insect pests, disease and weed control were demonstrated by the scientists from the various departments of the university. The trainees visited the research farm of the Department of Vegetable Crops and the research hall of the College of Agricultural Engineering where they were acquainted with the latest techniques and agricultural machinery required for the cultivation of vegetable crops.

The camp concluded with the remarks of Dr J.S. Hundal, Professor and Head, Department of Vegetable Crops, PAU. Dr B.S. Deol, Associate Professor coordinated the programme. 



College teachers continue rallies
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 12
On the call given by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, over 700 teachers and non-teaching employees assembled outside the Mini Secretariat and held a rally demanding release of 18 teachers arrested at Chandigarh and implementation of their long-pending demands.

The teachers raised slogans against Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, and resolved to continue strike till the arrested teachers were released. The rally was addressed by several principals, teachers, MLAs and leaders of other teachers’ unions.

Principal Harmit Kaur from Ramgarhia Girls College said that the government was withdrawing from its responsibility of giving 95 per cent grant to the colleges. She said that it was impossible for the colleges to generate the funds for paying salaries to the teachers. Prof Parminder Singh, district convener of the union, said that teachers were being forced to resort to agitation to get their demands fulfilled.

Extending his support to the teachers, Mr Harmohinder Singh, MLA, blamed the Punjab Government for spoiling the academic atmosphere in colleges. He assured them that he would demand immediate release of the arrested teachers.

Dr Hari Singh Brar, president, Punjab Agricultural University Teachers Association, condemned the government for not implementing the demands of teachers and non-teaching staff. He lambasted the government for ignoring higher education in the state.

Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Mr Hira Singh Gabria, both MLAs, also addressed the rally and assured full support to the teachers.

Meanwhile, the teachers have decided to continue the strike till December 18. The teachers will hold rallies in their respective colleges tomorrow and at Banur, the constituency of Capt Kanwaljit Singh on Friday. 



Govt plans to make rural youth computer savvy
Bhushan Sood

Amloh, December 12
With a view to provide computer training to the rural youth and to enhance the IT professionals in the state, the government has chalked out a comprehensive plan to open more computer training centres in the villages, where training in different computer courses introduced by Punjab Technical University would be imparted at the affordable charges, said Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance and Planning Minister Punjab, while addressing a gathering after inaugurating a computer training centre established by the village panchayat at a cost of Rs 18.57 lakh at Bhambri village, about 30 km from here.

The Finance Minister said that though the state had launched its IT adoption programme much later than the other states, yet within a period of five years Punjab had made substantial achievements in this field. Moreover, with the setting up of an informational technology park at SAS Nagar, a large number of computer software industries have come up as a result of which the software export had been increased manifolds. He informed than an international-level information technology institution was also being set up in the state and the computer training have been introduced in 500 high and senior secondary schools and 42 colleges of the state.

Giving detailed information about the first computer training centre set up by the panchayat in the district, Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, said three computer courses of Punjab Technical University including accountancy of three-month duration would be provided to the students. After the training, the government would also help the trainees in getting gainful jobs. Later the Finance Minister inaugurated a newly constructed yard of grain market at a cost of Rs 11 lakh and laid the foundation stone of parking place to be set up at a cost Rs five lakh at Amloh. 



DEO accuses teachers of harassment
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 12
Alleging harassment, defamation and threat from few school teachers, Ms Usha Sidhu, District Education Officer (Secondary), has filed a case against them here yesterday evening.

Ms Sidhu has accused Mr Harbhajan Singh of Government High School, Dad village, Mr Bhajan Singh, Hindi teacher at Government Middle School, Khanna, and 15 other members of the Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF) of gheraoing her for half an hour on November 22 evening in her office. She has also complained of publishing and distributing “defamatory” note among teachers and principals of government and aided schools.

The defamatory note is an open letter to Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, Punjab, demanding transfer of Ms Usha Sidhu and her stenographer, Mr Inderjeet Singh. In the note, the DTF members have alleged that the DEO was pleasing her sychophants, transfering and suspending teachers opposing her directions and ignoring some of their genuine demands.

Following the registration of case, the members of DTF organised a protest rally outside the Mini Secretariat against Ms Sidhu. They raised slogans against the DEO and said they were being falsely implicated by her.

Supporting the DEO, 28 teacher unions met Mr S.K. Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Kuldip Singh, SDM (East), and told them to stop the DTF members from holding rallies and further harassing the DEO. These unions included Government Teachers’ Union, Government School Lecturers’ Union, Physical Training Instructors’ Union, Punjab Aided School Union and Association of PSEB Affiliated Schools.

Commenting on the situation, Ms Sidhu said she had written to the Education Minister as well as the DC that she was being repeatedly threatened by some members of the DTF.



Award for PAU scientist
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 12
Dr Mukand Singh Brar, Senior Soil Chemist, Department of Soils, Punjab Agricultural University, has been selected as Fellow Indian Society of Soil Science (FISSS). It is the highest honour bestowed by the society to its few selected members. The society selected Dr Brar as a fellow in view of his outstanding contributions in the field of efficient nutrient management of field and orchid crops and impact of sewage water irrigation on the quality of vegetable crops.

The award was presented to him by Justice Anshuman Singh, Governor of Rajasthan, at an inaugural function of 66th annual convention of Indian Society of Soil held recently at Udaipur.

Dr Brar has worked with world renowned scientist Dr F.J. Stevenson at University of Illinois, USA. He has also received training at the Centre for International Agricultural Development and Corporation, Shefyium, Israel. 



18 centres for ETT examination
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 12
The District Education Department is gearing up for conducting the examination for Elementary Teachers’ Training (ETT) to be held at 18 centres on December 16.

To allocate the duties among the staff of the aided and government schools, the District Education Officer (secondary) organised a meeting at Nauhria Mal Jain Senior Secondary School, Bharat Nagar, here today. While the JBT teachers will supervise the examination, school lecturers and headmasters of the schools have been appointed as superintendents. The principals of the respective schools have been assigned the duty of examination controller. Eighteen centres have been set up. 



Lawyers’ strike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 12
Lawyers at the local courts will observe a two-day strike from tomorrow in protest against the shortage of judges. Mr Rajeev Duggal, general secretary of the Bar Association, Ludhiana, said in a press release that at least six more judges were required in the District Courts. 



Indian customs fascinate Danish girls
Asha Ahiuja

Ludhiana, December 12
Ludhiana is a city of ever smiling and hospitable people. And, of course, of beggars and traffic. This is the opinion of two Danish girls who are in the city to attend the marriage of their Indian friend from Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.

They visited a beauty parlour in the city today. The groom’s sisters had accompanied those Danish girls to the parlour as the girls were told that everyone goes to the parlour for a hair set.

Daria (24) is studying for postgraduation in chemical engineering and her boyfriend who is accompanying her to her first visit to India, is doing postgraduation in pharmaceuticals were overwhelmed by the large number of people they saw. Daria said, “We do not go to beauty parlours back home for the cost of labour is very high. Here we find the labour is very cheap. Rippy of Shanaz parlour has given us personalised service. Today these are celebrations at the groom’s home. So we have come to get our hair set. We like the bindis. Tomorrow we are looking forward to getting our facial and may be manicure and pedicure done. In Denmark we don’t have helpers or servants, We like to do our own work.”

She was very baffled by the class distinction that prevails in India. She said, “Though we are new but we could make out there is a wide gap between the poor and the rich. I gave may shorts for ironing and he just charged Re 1. I was wondering how many shorts or shirts will he have to iron to make enough money to feed himself and his family. In Denmark there is no class distinction. No one distinguishes between a driver or a millionaire. Rich people also do not show off their wealth. Most of the women just make do with slight make-up”.

“Our country takes half of our salaries in taxes. But we do not mind as the government takes care of our education and medical expenses. We socialise but the parties are till midnight only. We do not have D.Js playing for our parties. Coming to India was a cultural shock to us. The people drive in a most haphazard way and it is very scary, but the people are very hospitable and smile a lot.

Dorjhe, working in a supermarket in Copenhagen, was surprised to see so many beggars. Infact this was the first time that she had seen beggars and incidentally the first time she was visiting the beauty parlour. She said:” We can’t afford the luxury of a beauty parlours back home. They are rather expensive. I find the experience of coming to the beauty parlour very pleasant. It is a real luxury to have one’s hair done up, and that too in a stylish manner. No, we don’t want henna to be applied, though I love ‘bindis. I love the food and we are excited to know about India’s customs during the wedding I find the people friendly, and though we are here for a short period, we have settled very well,”

Both found the weather warm and felt comfortable in their half sleeves and T. Shirts, and were quite taken aback to see people dressed in jackets. In Copenhagen it was extremely cold. Surekha Kohli and Sunita Sharma, the sisters of the groom, were their escorts. Sunita , the elder sister, said: “Though we settled in 70’s in Denmark, we feel good when we come to India. Our roots are here. What we find amazing that women and girls are more under the western influence. We want to be connected with our traditions, but the Indians living here seem to be moving away from their roots. That we find very sad.”

The younger sister Surekha Kohli said: “Actually we do feel isolated in Denmark. There are a few Indians. No cultural troupe or singers or dancers ever come to Denmark for performances. We do get in touch with the Indian Embassy and plead with them to arrange some Indian cultural programmes but so far nothing has been done. There is a void in our lives as far as culture is concerned. It is a shame that we are deprived of our culture specially when the world has become a global village. Our roots are here. Ludhiana is specially dear as our forefathers belonged to this city.”


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