Friday, January 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Saathi raps bureaucrats
Woeful utilisation of funds by Govt departments
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 10
After pulling up the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for poor utilisation of funds, Finance Minister MS Saathi has directed his ire at bureaucrats heading key departments of the Government of NCT of Delhi for committing the “sin” of leading the government up the garden path and rendering utilisation of Plan Expenditure “anbormally low.”

An exasperated Mr Saathi, according to well placed sources, was “disappointed” with certain departments for not utilising funds properly. In the quarterly review meetings undertaken thus far, some departments had been found to have not utilised the funds at all. The minister is understood to have categorically told officials concerned that revised budgets would henceforth be “revised” only once, unlike now when departments pleaded for time and delayed intimating the ministry about schemes to be undertaken.

“Cautioning” the army of bureaucrats against adopting an ad hoc approach, sources said the minister sought to fix the responsibility and making officials concerned accountable for acts of omission and commission. They added the government was toying with a proposal of holding the heads of department and principal secretary-level officials responsible for the lapses with the suggestion of making adverse entries in their confidential records thrown in for good measure.

In fact, sources claimed, several ministers had sought the powers of writing the CRs of the bureaucrats under them so that they could be galvanised into activity. The power of writing CRs of senior bureaucrats lies only with the chief minister and this too has to be ratified by the Lieutenant Governor.

According to sources, the finance minister had thus far reviewed the departments of development, education and social welfare and also the Delhi Jal Board. The review of the MCD was in progress. The Bharatiya Janata Party-dominated MCD, which has been at the receiving end of the government’s ire, continues to be the favourite whipping boy as the elections to the civic body draw near. The finance minister had recently threatened to freeze the funds until a proper utilisation report of the funds was submitted to him.

The Delhi Pradesh BJP leadership, however, has been dismissing these insinuations.

MPs meeting L-G
New Delhi: Members of Parliament drawn from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress on Thursday evening called on Lieutenant Governor Vijai Kapoor. Also present on the occasion was Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. Issues central to the NCT of Delhi were discussed in the meeting. According to sources, law and order and development came for particular mention. The guest list included Lok Sabha members Sahib Singh Verma, Madan Lal Khurana and others from the Rajya Sabha. TNS



Chautala pays homage to soldiers
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, January 10
The Chief Minister, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, today visited two villages to condole the death of two jawans. Speaking at the condolence meetings, organised at Bhulwana and Banchari villages of Hodal sub-division, Mr Chautala lauded the supreme sacrifice of the soldiers of Haryana since Independence. He said that Haryana and the nation would remain indebted to the martyrs and it was the duty of the Government to look after their families. The Government would extend free education to their children.

Mr Chautala also handed over a cheque of Rs 51,000 to the widow of Havaldar Shamsher Singh of Bhulwana. The payment is sponsored by the district Red Cross. In Banchari village, the Chief Minister gave a cheque of Rs 51,000 for the marriage of the daughter of Havaldar Deepchand, killed in Manipur recently. Havaldar Shamsher had lost his life on the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir on December 28 last. A sum of Rs 51,000 was also given to the widow of Deepchand by the Cooperation Minister, Mr K S Bhadana. It may be recalled that Haryana Government has revoked the facility of ex gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh for jawans of paramilitary forces, killed in anti-insurgency operations. It has also reduced the payment to Rs 2.5 lakh for jawans in the Army.


Commuters cool their heels for hours in fog-hit Sonepat
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 10
Thousands of passengers, mostly commuters, government servants, schoolteachers, students and businessmen remained stranded for hours together in Sonepat and nearby railway stations today following the late running of long-distance mail, express, superfast and Shatabadi Express as well as the suburban trains, running on the DUK section of the Northern Railway.

According to official sources, almost all the suburban trains, running between Delhi and Panipat as well as Delhi and Kurukshetra, passed through Sonepat behind schedule. The passengers had to wait for hours at the platform.

Dense fog and poor visibility were the main cause of the disruption. A thick blanket of fog has engulfed the region for days now, throwing the normal life in total disarray.

Similarly, the traffic on the National Highway No.1 and other state highways, remained disrupted because of a spate of accidents due to fog. The drivers of auto vehicles even used headlights during the day.

A bus carrying the schoolchildren dashed against a JCB machine on the Sonepat-Gohana Road near Gohana town 35 km from here yesterday, resulting in the injuries to the bus driver and at least 20 students.

According to a report, the bus was on its way from Barota village to Gohana town amidst thick fog. The injured students and the driver were rushed to the Community Health Centre at Gohana where they were discharged after the first-aid. The condition of the driver was serious.

The bus fell down in a roadside ditch. Fortunately, the people succeeded in bringing out the children safely. The police have registered a case and further investigations are in progress.

The schools in the district had reopened on Monday after the four-day closure ordered by the District Magistrate, Sonepat, on account of fog and cold. An accident, involving a school bus, had taken place during the period, resulting in the death of a student and injuries to others.


MCD teachers’ suspension revoked
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, January 10
The suspension orders of nearly 300 teachers working in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi-run schools, who had been on a month-long strike, have been revoked.

The decision was taken yesterday in a meeting chaired by the Mayor, Mr. Shanti Desai. It was decided to reinstate the teachers against whom suspension orders had been issued.

“We do not want to victimise anyone. We have always been on the teachers’ side. The suspended teachers have been reinstated and we are examining the case of all others whose salary had been stopped. We are discussing with our Chief Law Officer how to accommodate those teachers, who did not attend the school at all.”


Guru Nanak Girls School lift title
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, January 10
Shri Guru Nanak Public Girls Senior Secondary School, Shahabad Markanda (Haryana), capped their brilliant run in the eighth Nehru-NDMC Girls Hockey Tournament when they scored a comprehensive 5-0 victory against Birsamunda Vidyapitha, Rourkela (Orissa), to lift the title at the Shivaji Stadium in the Capital on Thursday. The Haryana girls were awarded a cash prize of Rs 50,000 while the Orissa girls were presented with Rs 25,000.

The Guru Nanak girls were too good for the comfort of their rivals, and scored two goals in the first half and three in the second, to squash the title aspirations of Orissa.

Centre-forward Balwinder Kaur, who was the live-wire of the Guru Nanak School forays, scored two quick goals in the 20th and 22nd minutes. Barely a minute into the second half, the Haryana team increased the tally to 3-0 when Jasjeet Kaur despatched home the ball with a clean hit, off their seventh penalty corner. The fourth goal also came off a penalty corner, when Harjinder Kaur’s strike, off their ninth short corner, created a goalmouth scramble, and Jasjeet Kaur cashed in on the confusion to hit home the goal.

Saravjeet Kaur completed the tally with a top of the ‘D’ flick (5-0). The Orissa girls made some sporadic attacks to earn four penalty corners, but their weak shots posed no problems for the Haryana goal. 


The Silver Street of Delhi

Chandni Chowk, is literally the street of the silversmiths, is more an area than a single street branching out into a bazaar of splendour and squalor. Indeed, one of the most fascinating things about this area is the persistent contrast that it presents on the one hand of the choice and valuable jeweller it stocks and on the other of masses of simple people walking, or cycling, or traveling by cycle rickshaw up and down its old lanes and by-lanes. Where, three-and-a-half centuries ago, there was space, now there are crowds of jostling people. Chandni Chowk caters to everyone. Where once princes and princesses rode in palanquins, milkmen on cycle today weave their way through pedestrians, insistently ringing their cycle bells. Where once there were processions with "roses, roses all the way", today there is the fragrance of roses and of those attars (perfumes) that recall the Mughal past, but there is also the tempting smell of today's parathas and kebabs. In season there are jasmines. There are marigolds always. And in the huddled shops there are tinseled garlands awaiting the wedding receptions that are taking place throughout the year. There are fabrics of all colours and textures; there are toys, balloons biding high on tall sticks; there is colour, sound, scent.

A melodious treat

As for sound, listen and you will hear the muezzin call, for the Jama Masjid is not far away. You will hear cries of cyclists, of rick shaw-wallahs and sometimes of pedestrians in warning or fear. At some point cars must stop, for the lane is not wide enough for them to pass, you mush take a rickshaw or walk, keeping clear of the gutters on either side, but you always hear the sound of car horns or the screeching brakes of buses. For this is amongst the most populous of Old Delhi's area. You are aware of thousands of people all day, every day.

To those who do not fear crowds, have always been attracted by mixed sounds and the human tapestry of colour, smell and noise, Chandni Chowk presents no real problem. Two English women spent several days here last year, and wrote in superlatives about all they found on their walks. Cross again to the left of Chandni Chowk. Enter the main Jain Temple Complex on the corner and take off your shoes. A man stands ready to collect leather goods, handbags and shoes. Climb the marble steps and enter the temple. Knowing the Nook and Corners of Chandni Chowk Leave the temple, turn right and enter the Jain Bird Hospital, an amazing place, very clean and extremely busy, with about 60 birds admitted and treated every day in summer. The staff is dedicated and welcoming.

Leave the Jain complex, walk along Chandni Chowk keeping to the left, past the flower-sellers and cross Esplanade Road, a straight thoroughfare unlike the winding roads west of it, because it was built so much later.

After 1857, the British demolished many of the lovely 17th century mansions and made a parade ground. And now kalans. First is the Dariba Kalan or the street of the incomparable pearl. The word "Dariba" is made up the Persian Dur e be baha. That means pearl without compare. This is to the left of Chandni Chowk proper meet; there was once a gate across the road that was called Khuni Darwaza or the Bloody Gate. In 1739, Nadir Shah, the Persian invader, defeated the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah at the Battle of Karnal and then marched to Delhi. Dariba Kalan was then full of gold and silversmiths, but with Nadir Shah's invasion, it became a street of the dead. Hundreds of bodies littered the street and were piled up against the gates.

But you are now looking for Kinari Bazaar (braid-shops/street). As you walk down Dariba Kalan and take the fourth opening on your right, you enter Kinari Bazaar, which has the most glittering shops in Old Delhi. It is the centre of the wedding ceremony trade, full of gold, groom's turbans, currency-note garlands and huge rosettes.

Shoppers Paradise: Chandni Chowk The shops have large stocks: they sell to both wholesalers and retailers. Brides and their families, of all religions, come here to buy their wedding apparel. In October, the street becomes magical, for the shops stock Ram Lila bows and arrows, extra heads for Ravana and cardboard swords for hundred of schoolboys. Walk along Kinari Bazaar until the narrow street opens up; there's a road to your right that will lead you back to Chandni Chowk proper. This road is part of Paratha Walan the street of paratha sellers. Hence you watch parathas being made, stuffed and fried. On the right, you can see the handsome Red Fort. But close by there is a famous old sweetshop Ghantewala - established in 1790.

Tourists’ mecca

You must be a little tired by now. Stand and listen to the voices and the footsteps, real and unreal of present and past, for you stand on a historical ground. Three-and-a-half centuries ago it came into being with the building of Shahjahanabad in 1648. Between then and now, millions of people, Indian and non-Indian, have walked the area in search of cloth, jewelry, savories and sweets, toys for children, apparel for brides and bridegrooms, for it caters to all ages, all tastes. The foreign travellers-French, Italian, English have recorded their glowing impressions of what they saw. In 1988, W.H.D. Adams wrote "The shops of Chandni Chowk literally coruscate with their show of gold and silver embroidery, beads and bangles, sheeny silken stuff, delicate lace work, fantastic toys, gorgeous headdresses and marriage caskets." Eleven years later, G.W. Stevens said, "The houses in Chandni Chowk totter and lean together. The street is a mass of squatting, variegated people; bulls, in necklaces of white and yellow flowers, sleep across the pavements; donkeys stroll into the shops; goats nibble at vegetables; a squirrel flights with a caged parrot."

In 1902, Lovat Fraser saw Chandni Chowk at sunset and wrote: "I have not seen any spot which so nearly approximates to the accepted idea of the oriental bazaar as does Chandni Chowk just now." He describes its mass of traffic-bullocks carts and four-wheelers, camels, elephants, and people - many shops "each holding a king's ransom, where jewelers display their wares." Sellers of fruit block pavements. Glaring lights, noise and hubbub. And you see the rose-red walls of the fort flushed with the glow of the setting sun. Then Chandni Chowk is "that marvellous artery of Delhi which epitomizes the magic and mystery of an eastern city."


Painting a vivid picture of historical Mewat
Rana A. Siddiqui

Pratiwish RoyMewat. Does the word remind you of anything? Maybe the town of yore that figured in the bedtime stories that your grandfather narrated to lull you to sleep. Maybe its vibrant, cultural life. Or the patriotic fervour of its people, which lent to it the sobriquet, ‘Backbone of Hindustan’ Never mind, if you can’t recall anything. This is what happens when we don’t care two hoots for our rich heritage and cultural ethos.

But there is one person who cares: Pratiwish Kumar Roy. Who is he? If you try to look him up in a Who’s Who, you will probably draw a blank. Yet he has carved a niche for himself in a short span of seven years, painting contemporary and ancient Mewat, vividly in oils and water, poster colour as also in ink and pen. Sandwiched between Haryana and Rajasthan, Mewat has a glorious history – of warding off the invaders, especially in 1857. Here lived Meos and those who spoke Mewati, hence the name Mewat, historians tell you.

The contemporary Mewat is economically feeble and almost illiterate, thriving on obsolete occupations like animal-breeding and rope-making. People of Mewat, or Meos, as they are known, reside mainly in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Alwar and Bharatpur.

Nestled in the Aravalli range, Mewat is portrayed in different hues in the 39 paintings currently exhibited at the Lalit Kala Gallery (on view till 13 January). One painting shows an isolated rest house, called the ‘Talab of Chunni Seth,’ at ‘Nuh,’ a forested area in Mewat. Chunni Lal was a salt trader who built a rest house for his sojourns when he would come hunting in the region. Another work shows the tomb at Pingwanga, built by the King of Pingalgarh. Interestingly, Roy has painted the Mughal architecture of those times in mosaic.

Here, the cubic forms, as depicted in the realistic paintings of today, are a deviation from his similar works in oils and water colours.

What rivets attention is the mundane lives of the villagers, their mud houses, the way they stored their animal food – ‘in a Bonga’ – a rounded hut, the entrance of which is called Phatak. In turn, these paintings are testimonials to the religious harmony that existed 100 years back and to the gender- friendly environment, in which women supported their families like men folk at home..

“The realistic life in this area is etched on my canvas after a thorough study of their lifestyles,” says Roy, whose leisure time after teaching at a school in Haryana is devoted more to art than his family of four. “I can’t help it. I only wish a historical place was not neglected. In Mewat, too, people have the right to live and educate themselves, which seems a far cry,” he moans.

Roy has pegged the prices of his paintings very low — between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000; the price would have soared, if the paintings belonged to a famed artist. “I don’t want to take the risk of keeping the price high, even though I have spent Rs 3,000 and more on each painting. I am not a known artist. I have to eke out a living by selling my labours of love at a throwaway price. I can’t take them back, which would mean incurring transportation cost all over again,” says the illustrator of ‘Bhavi Bani Sarpanch,’ his book, which was published by the National Book Trust and the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation last year.

Works of art, which portray life on the other side of glamorous India, which lies neglected and is decaying, must be preserved and encouraged. They might soon vanish, engulfed in the blind rush for the West and the Western culture. Picassos will be preserved, even if we don’t. Who will preserve the dying India? Are the corporate houses and the Govt listening?

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