Tuesday, March 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


When School Board needs to be examined
Class X Maths paper cancelled at the eleventh hour, leaving students high and dry
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panipat, March 25
The Haryana Board of School Education, Bhiwani, cancelled the Maths paper today after the alleged leakage of the paper at Charkhi Dadri on Sunday. It was chaos all around as the board took over 15,000 Class X students of 60 centres of the district for a ride by cancelling the paper at the eleventh hour. The examinees reached their centres after the last-minute revisions only to be told by the staff that the paper had been cancelled. The reason: the papers were leaked and their Photostat copies sold for an amount ranging from Rs 200 to Rs 1,800.

It is alleged that the paper was being “sold” in the open market at Charkhi Dadri. However, the board took quite some time to react to the situation. Anger was writ large on the faces of the students. “The board has played a cruel joke on us by cancelling the exam. It was its duty to take the help of the media and inform the students well in time,” lamented a girl student.

The examinees alleged that they had wasted several precious hours, which they would have otherwise utilised in preparing for other important papers. Several of them, accompanied by their parents, were seen exchanging words with the staff on exam duty. In fact, the staff were at the receiving end for a major part of the day as the anxious students and parents repeatedly quizzed them. The officials, on the other hand, expressed their helplessness as they also came to know about the cancellation this morning only. “We have nothing to say in the matter as the higher authorities had decided to cancel the exam,” remarked a superintendent of the exam centre.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Board, Mr Mohinder Singh, when contacted on phone at Bhiwani, claimed that the Board acted promptly as soon as the information about the leakage had been received late on Sunday night. He said that all examination centres were directed to cancel the exam. It was only a few centres where the board directive did not reach on time that the examinees sat in the exam centres for sometime. Now the Maths paper will be held on April 2 from 2 pm to 5 pm.

Confirming that the leaked paper was genuine, Mr Mohinder Singh, informed that a committee, under the chairmanship of Mr Ghanshyam Bhardwaj, Deputy Secretary, had been formed and the committee would submit its report in a week. He also informed that some persons had been arrested in Charkhi Dadri in this connection.

Suicide over exam blues

Faridabad: A woman, whose son did not do well in one of the papers.

In the board exams held recently, not only beat him, but also committed suicide, feeling guilty over the incident. The deceased, Asha of Hassanpur village, flew into a rage after her son, Manoj, a 10th standard student, told her that he had not done well in one of the papers. The boy began weeping bitterly and did not stop for some time due to the thrashing. The woman, it is learnt, felt guilty over the incident and consumed celphos tablets kept in the house. She was rushed to the Escorts Hospital but could not be saved. She was a mother of three children.



Delhi house at mercy of executive
Ramesh Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 25
Even as political parties fight over it, the biggest casualty of the quasi-statehood accorded to the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi has been the Legislative Assembly, which is perhaps the only one of its kind in the country to transact business without the requisite financial and administrative autonomy as enshrined in the Constitution.

Politicos cutting party lines have time and again raised the issue of granting complete statehood to the NCT of Delhi. On one occasion, Deputy Speaker Kiran Choudhry had moved a Bill for independent statehood to Delhi. It was withdrawn and the House instead passed a resolution protecting the independence and autonomy of the Assembly. “Things have slightly improved since then,” say officials but cite the still-to-be-amended Article 239 A (a) of the Constitution as the “stumbling block.”

The anomalous dispensation stems from the fact that the departments of finance and personnel rest with the Government of NCT of Delhi. And if one factors in the distribution of powers between the state government and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the authority of the Assembly stands diminished further. The “imbalance” is therefore attributed to the “partial statehood” accorded to the NCT of Delhi. This, in spite of Parliament and Legislatures enjoying the same rights and privileges. And the Legislature ranking above the Executive such that the latter is made answerable to the House.

The Assembly, sources say, does not have the designated powers to create posts. As things stand today, the Speaker has to move a file to the Executive and wait for it to respond. “This is perhaps the only Legislature,” says an official, “that is surviving on personnel sent on deputation”! Arguing for a greater autonomy in making appointments, the official adds: “Own choice of staff is a must because of the nature of duties, suitable training and integrity.… An official sent on deputation from the Directorate of Sales Tax might not be suitable for the job or simply not interested.” Assembly Secretariat postings are not perceived as “lucrative.” Compounding matters are frequent transfers of officials that deprive the Secretariat of seasoned hands who have gained expertise in administrative matters after putting in a certain number of years in service.

Article 187 of the Constitution stipulates every Legislature of a State should have an independent secretariat of its own. “Complete administrative and financial autonomy,” explain Assembly Secretariat sources. Yet, in the NCT of Delhi, “for small things the Assembly has to approach the government.” According to sources, a request has to be made to the Executive even as much for the appointment of private secretary to Speaker. Again, at the time of appointing the Secretary, Assembly Secretariat, the Executive had sought to include a panel of names besides that suggested by the Speaker. If the government had had its way, sources say, it would have rendered the secretary answerable to the chief secretary.

Convention is the Secretary, Assembly Secretariat can summon the Chief Secretary but not vice versa. But, as things stand today, say disgruntled officials, files have to be sent to the Executive even for clearance of a tour programme. “The Speaker is empowered to suggest names of officials to go on tours but,” says an official, “under the present circumstances prior approval of the government is required…. The Assembly is virtually dependent on the Union Government and the Government of NCT of Delhi.”



Trust the Ghaziabad cops to deliver the ransom
Parmindar Singh

Ghaziabad, March 25
While there have been numerous instances in western UP of criminals donning the police uniform to commit a crime, it is a trifle surprising when the guardians of the law indulge in illegal activities.

Of late, the UP police have been accused of stage-managing kidnappings and even arranging the ransom money from the families of the victims. A former DG, UP Police, is on record having said that kidnapping for ransom was the most lucrative crime in western UP. It is against this backdrop that Mr Baleshwar Tyagi, former Minister of State for Home in Kalyan Singh’s first government, has requested the UP Governor to order a thorough and high-level probe into allegations that the UP Police, especially the Ghaziabad police, had acted as a conduit between the kidnappers and the families of the victims.

Mr Tyagi told the ‘NCR Tribune’ on Friday that he had not yet received any response from the Governor to his letter written on March 14, 2002. Mr Tyagi has cited a kidnapping case of November 7, 2001, in which Bhagwan Sharma alias Sarpanch, a notorious kidnapper of Sonepat, had freed a businessman Shashi Kant Goel of Pilkhua after receiving a ransom of Rs 35 lakh, allegedly through the Ghaziabad police. The Ghaziabad police had then claimed that no amount had changed hands between Mr Goel’s family and Sarpanch and that former had been freed because of intense police pressure.

The truth was known only when Sarpanch was arrested by the Saharanpur police and he confessed that a ransom of Rs 35 lakh was paid. (Sharanpur cops had recovered Rs 5.50 lakh from Sarpanch and this is in the police records) Mr Tyagi has requested the Governor to order a probe into the role of the Pilkhua police station in Ghaziabad, especially their hand in arranging the ransom amount and delivering it to Sarpanch.

After Sarpanch’s arrest by the Saharanpur police, the Ghaziabad police secured the custody of Sarpanch and his three accomplices. While they were being ferried in police custody, Sarpanch was separated from his accomplices and a lawyer who was escorting them as per the court’s order. At 8.30 pm, a message was received that Sarpanch had been killed in an encounter. The police version was that “a gang of criminal friends had tried to free Sarpanch”. Interestingly, no other casualty was reported in the encounter.

However, after a week, it was alleged that the encounter was stage-managed to eliminate evidence as Sarpanch had told the Saharanpur police about the role of the Ghaziabad police in arranging the ransom amount. Way back in 1990-91, a case of an ex-SSP of Ghaziabad is worth mentioning. During his one year tenure in Ghaziabad, some 300 cases of kidnapping were recorded. The SSP was allegedly a kidnapping mastermind. This officer, who had served Ghaziabad in 1990-91, went on to became a DIG in UP Police.



1,500 jhuggis razed in Faridabad
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, March 25
A major jhuggi cluster in Sector 25 faced the demolition squad of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) here on Sunday. As many as 1,500 jhuggis were demolished, which had come up on about 10 acres. The Huda officials, who had come with a heavy police force, used 10 JCB machines to remove the alleged encroachments in Ambedkar Nagar. While the residents claimed that they had obtained a stay order from the court, the authorities dismissed the claim. About 11 jhuggis caught fire in the melee, though no one was injured. Some of the Congress activists, including the general secretary of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC), Mr Anand Kaushik , staged a demonstration and tried to stop the demolition campaign.

They were arrested but later released on bail. The affected residents claimed that the colony was about 15 years old and they even had ration cards apart from water and power connections. On other hand, the Huda authorities claimed that an announcement had already been made about the demolition drive and the cost of the encroached land was about Rs 10 crore. Huda proposes to build a shopping complex here.



Hundreds for funeral

The body of Mr Naresh Kumar, an owner of a dhaba who allegedly died in police custody after a severe beating, was cremated in his native village Nahra, about 25 km from here in the presence of thousands of villagers. People from nearby villages also attended the cremation. Not a single chullah was lit in any house in the village in protest against the alleged police brutality. Earlier, a meeting of the Maha Panchayat, attended by people from at least 12 villages, strongly condemned the police excesses and demanded the immediate arrest of the guilty police official. OC



No re-poll, counting on March 27
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27.
The counting for the 134-member Municipal Corporation of Delhi will take place on Wednesday with the state Election Commissioner, Mr M P Tyagi, ruling out repoll in any ward or polling centre in the Capital.

A total of 49.57 per cent of the 79-lakh voters exercised their franchise on Sunday to decide the fate of 1165 candidates, including over 600 Independents.

The Commission had received 218 complaints, but it found little substance in any of them.

The sealed ballot boxes, he said, have been kept in strong rooms located at eight counting centres with an adequate number of armed police forces. The centres are Delhi Engineering College, Bharat Nagar Senior Secondary School, Kendriya Vidyalaya number 2 at Palam Road, Kendriya Vidyalaya Andrews Ganj, two centres at Pusa Road ITI complex, AGCR Complex in East Delhi and ITI Vivek Vihar.

Most of the result will come by the afternoon. However, in some wards like Narela and Alipur, where polling percentage was more, the results would be available by late in the evening, he added.



Youth gave MCD polls a wide berth
Rohit Wadhwaney

New Delhi, March 25
They are referred to as the ‘future of the nation’. But the big question is are they really bothered about the future of the country. Ironically, the answer is no. While the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls got under way on Sunday and engaged newspaper columns and minds of several residents of the Capital, Delhi’s youth maintained they had better things to bother about.

“Elections! Are they today?” questioned Sarita Cheema (20), a second year degree student of Delhi University, as she walked away towards PVR Cinema in Saket for a movie with her friends on Sunday.

Sarita’s friend Kanchan Sehgal (20) seconded: “Even if I knew the elections were today, I wouldn’t have voted. I do not know any candidate and moreover, all these politicians are corrupt to the core. I can’t waste my time on them.”

Though Kanchan’s parents spoke much about the elections, she could never develop an interest in politics. “I feel most of the youngsters in Delhi don’t care. I am not the only one, so why should I feel ashamed?”

Twenty-two-year-old Manik Sethi, a postgraduate student, said he knew about the elections but he just could not waste his time by going to vote. “It won’t even matter to be honest. I have my exams coming up. I don’t have time to think about who is going to come to power,” he said candidly.

Manik said he thoroughly went through the daily newspapers to know what was going around in politics, but that was just about the limit of his interest in politics. “I don’t intend to make a difference in the world by being patriotic and making sure that I make use of my right to vote. It has been more than 50 years since we became independent. Has there been any significant improvement in the living conditions? This country can never ever change,” Manik maintained.

At the Gyan Bharti School polling booth in Saket, there were hardly any youngsters seen. However, the PVR Cinema complex, just about 100 yards away from the booth, was jam-packed with youngsters enjoying the Sunday afternoon.

Some of the candidates contesting for the elections said it was a “pity” that the educated youngsters on whom the country’s future lied were so “weak”. Mr Kedar Nathan, an independent candidate contesting from a Saket ward, told the ‘NCR Tribune’: “They (youngsters) will talk about how corrupt the system is but they will not try to make a difference. It is unfortunate. They’d rather spend five years cribbing, but won’t spend an hour to cast their votes.”

Mr Nathan added that the youngsters were the ones who would benefit if the right candidate were chosen. “After all, they are the ones who have their whole life in front of them. They should feel more responsible.”

If some of the youngsters are just not interested in politics, there are others like Piya Kapoor (19) who is annoyed with the elections for another reason. Piya, a part time tele-marketing executive in a call centre, was more bugged as Delhi went dry this weekend because of the elections. “It is so irritating. I work hard the entire week waiting for the weekend and the city goes dry because of the stupid elections, which don’t even serve a purpose,” she said.

“I don’t care about the elections and I don’t know why. And I am not even so bothered that I should have a reason for it.” Incidentally, Piya does not know even the full form of the MCD.

There were many such youngsters who said they did not vote because the procedure was “most uncomfortable and time-consuming”. However, almost all of them were eagerly waiting for the polls to get over. Not because they wanted to know the results, but so that they could get back to the pubs to get the “nightlife back”.

Busy with her coming exams, Sabina Scott (18), a first year degree student, said she was not interested in voting as there were no politicians the youngsters could identify themselves with. “In today’s politics, there are no idols. The politicians should be younger so that we could identify with them. All the politicians are dying of old age and they promise to make a difference. They talk crap. That is why the interest is almost dead among youngsters.”

She further added that there wasn’t much information on how to get a voting card made. “I don’t have a voting card. The election people came to our house but they did not make my card. I don’t know how to go about it. Why should I go through the trouble?”



Nomination of UP man for RS seat flayed
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, March 25
The president of the All India Youth Congress, Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, has accused the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, of betraying the people of Haryana by nominating Mr Harinder Malik who belonged to Uttar Pradesh for the Rajya Sabha seat from the state quota.

Talking to mediapersons at Gohana town, 35 km from here, on Sunday, he alleged that Mr Malik had been rejected by the people of his own state in the assembly elections and his imposition on the Haryana MLAs for the Rajya Sabha poll was totally unjustified. He also blamed the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) legislators for not raising any voice against the nomination of Mr Malik.

Replying to a question as to why Mr Dinesh Singh belonging to Uttar Pradesh had been nominated from Haryana by the Congress on an earlier occasion, Mr Surjewala justified it by saying that the country needed at that time the services of eminent people for handling foreign and other important matters.

He praised Mrs Sonia Gandhi who, he said, was the only leader who could encourage youths to participate in the party affairs. This had, in fact, infused a new direction among the party workers, he observed.

Mr Surjewala also denied that there was any factions in the party and said that differences of opinion among leaders were a good sign for the growth of democracy. He claimed that the Congress was united under the leadership of Mrs Gandhi. The party, he said, had always worked for the uplift of the poor and downtrodden and it would continue its secular and pro-people policies.

He declared that he would quit the post of the Youth Congress president the day he crossed the age limit. He said that Mrs Gandhi had always worked within the parameters of the party constitution.

Addressing a rally of the party workers, Mr Surjewala called upon them to remain united and continue their struggle against the anti-people, anti-worker and anti-farmer policies of the Chautala government in the state.

Expressing his grave concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in the state, he alleged that a jungle raj was prevailing and no body was safe in the present set up.



Sonia to address rally on April 2
Tribune News Service

Panipat, March 25
The Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, is likely to address a rally at Kurukshetra on April 2 to be organised in protest against the “anti-farmer” policies of the central government by the Haryana Krishak Samaj, the samaj president and former Haryana Minister, Mr S. S. Surjewala, said here today.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Surjewala came down heavily on the economic and liberalisation policies of the government and alleged that the policies in the wake of India’s entry into the WTO would wreak havoc on the farming community. The dismantling of the administered price system for oil and diesel would hit the transport and agricultural sectors hard as the prices of both would be at a par, he alleged.

Flaying the government for delay in the announcement of minimum support price (MSP), Mr Surjewala demanded Rs 700 per quintal as the MSP for wheat and Rs 2,500 per quintal for sarson.

On the phasing out of the subsidies to the farm sector, he charged that this was being done to destroy the farming community as even the advanced countries like the USA and Australia had been providing heavy subsidies to the farm sector. Criticising the “pro-MNC” policies of the NDA government, Mr Surjewala said the entry of farm commodities of other countries would deal a deathblow to the farming sector here.

He alleged that the INLD led by Mr Om Prakash Chautala, which was supporting the central government, had been a mute spectator to the “anti-farmer” policies of the Centre. He alleged that law of the jungle prevailed in Haryana as was evident from the soaring crime graph.



Budget session to be the longest
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 25
The Finance Minister of the Government of NCT of Delhi will seek a Vote on Account in the 12th Budget Session of Delhi Legislative Assembly that begins on Tuesday. The session, the longest in the second assembly, will conclude on April 16.

The Lieutenant-Governor will address the first day of the session after which obituary references would be made. The House, according to Speaker Prem Singh, would be adjourned soon thereafter as a mark of respect to the departed souls. The Finance Minister will seek a vote on account on the day after. Four days each would be devoted to discussing the Budget and the Lieutenant-Governor’s address. Short-duration discussions will be conducted on the state of government hospitals and the falling standards of education in the Capital. The Speaker on Monday told mediapersons that adequate security measures would be put in place for the duration of session after a high-power joint security review committee comprising senior officers of Delhi Police and other agencies took stock of the security measures for the assembly. 



VDCs come a cropper as funds get bungled

Jhajjar, March 25
The Village Development Councils (VDC) constituted in every village by the state government for expediting development activities have failed to meet the expectations of the people as well as the administration. The condition is no better in the implementation of other development schemes taken up by the village panchayats under the supervision of the Block Development Offices.

If one goes by the inspection report of the Sub-Division Office at Bahadurgarh town here, the non-performance, coupled with rampant embezzlement of funds meant for development, has exposed the hollowness of the government claims on the effectiveness and efficiency of these schemes, especially the VDCs, which were constituted amid controversy after overruling the objection of the opposition parties.

According to this report, the construction of a gali (common pathway) in the Kulasi village was never started while on the papers, it had been completed and. Rs 1 lakh spent on it. The amount for the gali was released under the Employment Assurance Scheme. The Centre and the state government released funds in 80:20 ratio.

The SDM, Mr Dinesh Yadav, has completed his inquiry in the case and his report recommends action against the Junior Engineer of the block office, Yudhvir Singh. He found that around Rs 1 lakh released for the gali was siphoned off by the JE.

In Damnauli village, the material used in the construction of a chaupal for the Dalit community was of inferior quality and not as per the records, which showed that the mixture of cement and reti had been in the ratio of 1:8. During inspection, it was found that the ratio of the mixture had been 1:15, the report said. Besides, the newly constructed walls were not drenched properly. An amount of Rs 1.25 lakh was released to the VDC for this work.

Another major shortcoming was in the construction of retaining walls of village ponds, the report said. It said that the work of ‘pointing’ on the walls by the masons was never taken up in most of the cases. A major chunk of the funds had been consumed on this account, as it was entirely a labour work. Specific instances where such irregularities had been detected were in Khairpur, Ladrawan and Kanonda villages where Rs 4,31,600, Rs 3,67,700 and Rs 1,25,000 had been released, respectively, to the VDCs.



Excise officials ‘hand in glove’ with liquor smugglers 
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, March 25
The representatives of various political parties, social and voluntary organisations as well as trade unions today urged the state government to order a high-level probe into liquor smuggling and sale of liquor. They wanted transfer of the Excise Department officials found to be involved in the racket.

It is alleged that the authorities of the Excise Department have failed to check the mafia engaged in the smuggling.

The gang brings the liquor from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and sells it in the urban and rural areas of the district in connivance with certain officials of the Excise Department.

The sales of liquor continues unabated in the dhabas, restaurants and hotels on the National Highway No. 1 and other state highways where liquor is served to the customers on demand. Most of the customers include the truck drivers and passers-by as well as the long distant travellers.

Similarly, liquor is freely available in the villages where liquor pouches are the main source of the livelihood of most shopkeepers. Some shopkeepers used to stock pouches which are generally good quality liquor but following police raids, many shopkeepers appear to have discontinued the practice.

During the last one year, the police had seized thousands of bottles of country liquor, liquor pouches and English wine worth several lakhs of rupees and challaned hundreds of people under the Excise Act. The action of the police, however, has led to considerable decline in the cases of liquor smuggling during the past two months.

Many people who buy liquor from the eatable establishments said that they get the pouches right under the nose of the Excise Department officials who are said to be in league with the liquor mafia.


Poetry flows out of Anuradha’s soft fingers
Rana A Siddiqui

Willing suspension of disbelief - thus said the famous poet Coleridge in his landmark poem 'The Ancient Mariner.' You realise his words holding water when you witness a very delicate and soft spoken, 30-year-old Mumbai-based Anuradha Paul, India's first and the only female professional tabla player, play the instrument with remarkable ease. Her docile demeanor, long silky hair and traditional looks are just contrary to her profession that demands a tough looking, damn-caring attitude. Her soft fingers beat the hard instrument making her come out with rhythms, which are not a usual sight in tabla concerts. She will hypnotise you with the steam engine thumps on tabla, her own 'rain' composition, Lord Shiva's nritya, the sound of damru, along with rhythm on Punjab gharana, Benaras gharana, Faizabad gharana and Delhi specialty in two fingers and a lot more.

A disciple of the world renowned tabla maestro, Late Ustad Alla Rakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain, Anuradha has performed extensively in India, USA, UK, Europe, Australia, Japan and the far-east with most of the top ranking musicians like Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Pt. Jasraj, Sultan Khan, Shahid Parvez, Smt. Veena Sahasrabuddhe amongst other veteran & young vocalists, instrumentalists & dancers in prestigious festivals all over the world.

Not only that she was also featured in the BBC Radio's World Service Program as one of the 'Five Prominent Women Musicians of India' in 1991. She has been widely featured on, ITV (USA), BBC World Service Television and Radio, Australian TV& Radio channels Star TV, Zee, Doordarshan and Radio amongst others around the world. Anuradha is on the prestigious panel of artists on the Indian Council of Cultural relations. She represented India in the 'Asian Performers Summit' in February 1999 where she spoke on performers' rights amidst an august gathering of International Musicians in Japan.

The Films Division of India made a documentary film titled 'Aaj ki Nari' and featured Anuradha along with a galaxy of great women achievers in 1999. Recently, the renowned USA-based Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) made a film titled 'Adventure Divas' featuring Anuradha Pal as one of the great women achievers of India and the World. This film was telecast in USA in September 2001.

Anuradha is an A grade artist of the All India Radio and a recipient of many prestigious awards. She has several cassettes and CDs both as a tabla soloist and accompanist released both in India and abroad. She is also lauded by the prestigious Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Asian-American's Who's Who journal and Indo- American Who's Who journal as well as the Limca Book of Records for her contribution to music not only as India's first and only female professional tabla player but more for her well balanced musicianship, Anuradha Pal has established herself, as one of the brightest young stars amongst the tabla players, both as an accomplished soloist and a versatile and sought after accompanist.

The uniqueness of Anuradha Pal lies in her irrepressible creativity, tremendous clarity and a fine tonal quality along with exciting rhythmic improvisations and spontaneity. As also the fact that she has not allowed herself to be overshadowed by the male fraternity dominating the tabla world. She speaks about her world of music, the pleasures and pains associated with it.

How come despite being a woman you decided to play an instrument that is not usually associated with women?

I used to see my younger brother playing tabla when I was a four-year old. I grew fond of it and decided to go for it. I expressed my desire to my parents. I come from an educated family but having no connections with the world of music. My mother is a painter and father a pharmacist. Though they never discouraged me but insisted that there were unbearable hardships to follow. But I had made up my mind. By the time I was ten-and-a half, I had started learning it from Ustad Madan Mishra and decided to take it as a profession.

How did you persuade Ustad Alla Rakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain to be your gurus?

It was not easy because I had no advantage of a musical ‘virasat’, hence any godfather. I went straight to their place when I was 13. I requested the late Ustad to take me as his child and not a disciple. I told him-- beat me, slap me as you do with your children, but teach me tabla. I won't go unless you say yes. He was generous enough to surrender to my will and determination

What was your experience with them?

I put through the hardest of drills. I was given no concessions for being a lady. Theirs were a total non-compromise attitude. I used to be repeatedly tested all the way through. They never gave me any preferential treatment. But the tough time they put me through was only to extract best out of me, I believe.

What was the initial response of the musicians and audience when you started giving stage shows?

There were always left-handed remarks like, ‘despite being a girl she played well’. They would never acknowledge my worth and bestow a large-hearted compliment. I would get hurt a lot. They always equated gender with profession. It was not at all easy to change the generations of mindsets that still follow.

Surprisingly, you were hardly seen with your gurus on stage. Does it help to be a disciple of great gurus?

It does. You are enveloped in the pink of perfection. But you always have a fear of being overshadowed by their giant image. I knew, despite being their disciple, I had to find my own way to establish myself. Hence, I started giving solo shows creating my own different style. I also became accompanist many times. By and by, connoisseurs were a fond gentry in my performance everywhere in India and abroad. Slowly film makers and musicians abroad started approaching me to be party to their musical ventures.

What are your landmark compositions?

I scored background music for M F Hussain's Gaj Gamini, I have come out with a CD called Shanti- in search of peace'. Here I present a never-done-before spiritual essence of India using material from the ancient religious texts like the Upanishad, Bhagwad Geeta, Gyaneshwari and Vedas combining vocal shlokas with a range of other instruments and moods. Besides, I am also doing many important projects abroad.

Did you teach Indian women also?

Yes, in 1996, I formed India's only All female percussion-based instrumental and vocal fusion group called ‘ Stree Shakti’.

Stree Shakti has performed extensively in India and UK in the WOMAD Festival, Rhythm Sticks festival, BBC Music Live Festival, Asian Music Festival, amongst others. An amalgamation of Hindustani-Carnatic combination. (North and South Indian music), the performance proved to be a record breaking success.

What is your suggestion to aspiring female tabla players?

They should not get into it unless they are ready to execute all their energy in the profession, face all kinds of hardships, embarrassments, pains if they do not hail from a strong lineage of music. Reward will only come if they realise in the very beginning that they have to prove themselves doubly everywhere.



Admn flayed for water shortage

Rewari, March 25
Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, Deputy Leader of the Haryana Congress Legislature Party, has flayed the administration for the acute drinking water shortage being faced by residents of various colonies of Rewari city and called for setting up an additional reservoir for solving the problem. The daily water supply from the Sahibi Waterworks as well as the canal-based Kalaka Water Supply Scheme totalled about 23 lakh gallons while the minimum requirement of the citizens here was 27 lakh gallons per day.

Thus, there was an urgent need for the construction of an additional water reservoir (storage tank) as well as the reducing the off-period of release of water in the J2N canal here from 27 days (at present) to 15 days immediately to augment the quantum of the daily water supply from the canal-based Kalaka Water Supply Scheme. He warned that if such remedial measures were not taken immediately, the citizens would be put to much more hardship in the summer. The growing shortage of drinking water in Khijoori and several other surrounding villages indicated that augmentation as well as better management of rural water supply also required special attention, he added. OC



Sewers to be laid in 490 regularised colonies 
by 2003
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 25
The work on laying of sewers in 490 out of the 567 regularised unauthorised colonies would be completed by March next year even as the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has formed a high-powered committee for the maintenance of minimum flow in the Yamuna.

The ministry said this in reply to a Parliamentary Committee’s observation on the Yamuna Action Plan that the quality of the Yamuna had deteriorated because of the discharge of domestic and industrial effluents. The observation was made in the 98th report of the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests. Under an Integrated Action Plan to clean the Yamuna, the government was increasing the sewage treatment capacity, creating sewer facilities in regularised unauthorised colonies, refurbishing the trunk sewerage, removing/relocating jhuggis from the banks of the Yamuna and the drains, and constructing 15 common effluent treatment plans, the ministry said.

The work on 81 km out of the total of 91 km on refurbishing of the trunk sewers would be completed by the end of next March while the number of jhuggis on the river banks and drains had been revised by the Slum and JJ Wing of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi from 62,000 to about 75,000. However, the removal/relocation of these jhuggis would depend on the availability of land and resources, it said.

The ministry said that all the proposed 15 common effluent treatment plants under construction would be completed by the end of this year. The ministry also said a high-powered committee had been constituted under the chairmanship of member (Environment), Planning Commission on the maintenance of minimum flow in the Yamuna. The Chief Secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan were member of the committee, which had held several meetings, it added.

This committee had recommended certain short-term and long-term measures like increased sewage treatment capacity, timely completion of sewage treatment plants, water conservation measures and installation of upstream reservoirs for maintaining of a minimum flow of 10 cusecs in the river.



DSGMC sends census format to Census Commissioner
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 25
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has sent the format of the questionnaire for the Sikh census to the Census Commissioner.

The Census Commissioner, Mr J. K. Banthia, had sought the questionnaire format as the DSGMC had carried out the headcount in Tilak Nagar municipal ward to counter the Census 2001 figures.

According to the unofficial figures available with the DSGMC, in the Census 2001, out of the Delhi’s total population of 1.33 crore, the Sikhs are said to be 5,99,557.

The Census Commissioner, who had earlier threatened to take legal action against the committee if it did not stop the headcount process, had reportedly sent two officials last week to the DSGMC office to understand the headcount process.

The DSGMC census fact-finding committee had completed its house-to-house survey process and is now in the process of compiling the data and providing an opportunity to those who had been left out to enlist themselves.

Stating that the commission had raised objection to “our democratic act”, the DSGMC president, Mr Avtar Singh Hit, said the committee would look after the interest of the Sikhs in the Capital. He said the final tally in the headcount process would be available by the end of this month and the DSGMC would wait till the Census Commissioner released the official figures. “If need be, the DSGMC, would undertake such headcount throughout the Capital to contest the Commission’s figures,” he added.



MDU teachers’ union opposes closure of dept
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, March 25
The Maharshi Dayanand University Teachers’ Association (MDUTA) has appealed to the Governor-cum-Chancellor of the university to withdraw the decision recently taken by the university administration regarding the closure of its Rural Development Department.

In a telegram sent to the Chancellor today, Mr Vazir Nehra and Mr Himmat Singh Ratnoo, president and secretary respectively of the association, said it was the only teaching department of rural development in north India. They alleged the university administration had already decided to close down the department and it got approved a resolution in this regard at the recently held meeting of the Academic Council of the university.

However, the teacher leaders warned that the association would strictly oppose any attempt of the university authorities which could adversely affect the interests of the students, especially those hailing from rural areas.

Workers hold rally

Members of the Haryana State Electricity Board Workers’ Union held a demonstration in the town this afternoon in protest against the state Vidyut Prasaran Nigam authorities’ decision to hand over the job of meter reading to the private sector. Mr Bharat Bhushan, assistant press secretary of the union, claimed that such an attempt was made by the authorities earlier also, but it had miserably failed. He alleged that the nigam administration had been misinforming the government regarding the issue.

He warned that the union would launch a statewide agitation if the decision was not withdrawn by the authorities.

College teachers’ union

Mr K. S. Dhillon of the local SD College was elected as the president of the Haryana College Teachers’ Union (HCTU), elections to which were held at Pehowa on Sunday. According to the information available, Mr Pawan Kumar Sharma of MN College, Shahabad, was elected as the general secretary. For the post of vice-president, Mr Daryao Singh of Jat College, Sonepat, and Mr R. K. Nain of Janata College, Kaul, were elected. For the lone post of finance secretary, Mr S. S. Nandal of Jat College, Rohtak, was elected. Mr Naveen Gulati of SD College, Ambala Cantonment, and Mr Attar Singh of Vaish College, Bhiwani, will be the secretaries. Mr Dhillon informed that the 25-member executive committee would be announced early next month.

Ban orders

The District Magistrate has promulgated prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC banning the assembly of five or more persons and carrying of firearms within the radius of 200 metres around the examination centres set up by Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU), Rohtak for the annual examinations in the district. According to official sources, the order, which comes into force with immediate effect, would continue until the end of the examinations. This step has been taken to ensure the smooth conduct of the examinations and check outside interference as well as the menace of copying in the exams.

Young doctor ends life

New Delhi
A doctor, Deepak Gupta (28), reportedly committed suicide by injecting himself with poisonous medicine in his hostel room in Lady Harding Medical College. He was a student of M.S. second year in the college. A suicide note was recovered, which Deepak addressed to his parents and other members of his family. He wrote that nobody should be held responsible for his death. “I am taking the extreme step as I am not well off financially. My monthly income is Rs 16,000 while the expenses are Rs 25,000,” he wrote in the note. The doctor had to join duty in RML Hospital at 9 pm. The incident came to light at 11 pm when his friend, Himanshu, saw the two-wheeler of Deepak Gupta in the parking lot of the hostel. When Himanshu went upstairs to ascertain why Deepak had not reported for duty, he found Deepak’s room bolted from inside. He and other doctors broke open the door and found him lying in bed. He had breathed his last. He and his hostel mates called the police, which recovered the suicide note. A bottle of injection was also recovered from the room, the police said.

Tehsildar attacked

Some miscreants beat up a tehsildar and damaged his official vehicle in an attempt to free their associate who had defaulted on a payment and was being taken to Rohtak by an official team led by the tehsildar. According to information, the tehsildar, Mr Vatsal Vasishtha, and other members of his team had gone to Makrauli village to nab Randhir Singh, who had not paid the ‘abiana’ for use of canal water despite several notices. However, their vehicle was intercepted by a group of villagers who insisted on releasing the defaulter. They attacked the members of the official team and damaged the vehicle when the former refused to free their aide. The police have registered a case under sections 353, 332,186, 427 and 506 of the IPC against Fateh Singh, Pradeep and Raju in this connection.

Two labourers in sleep run over

Two labourers were mowed down by a truck while they were sleeping near their jhuggi in Sector-11 here on Sunday night. Both of them died on the spot. Besides, eight persons were injured in the incident. According to a report, the truck which lost control rammed the jhuggies built on Byepass Road in Sector 11. Mukesh and Jabbar who were asleep near a jhuggi were run over by the truck. Others who received injuries were discharged after the first-aid at a civil hospital this morning. The bodies of the victims are lying in a mortuary after the post-mortem examination. The driver of the truck reportedly fled. A case has been booked. Meanwhile, the railway police have arrested four youths here for cases of thefts in the moving trains. According to police, as many as 48 ceiling fans had been stolen by this gang. TNS



17-language Gurbani project in the offing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 25
The translation of Japuji Sahib and Sukhmani Sahib, part of the Gurbani project to translate the Guru Granth Sahib in 17 Indian languages, was released here today.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee project to translate the holy works of Sikhism has been undertaken by Dr V Bhanu Murti.

The DSGMC president and office-bearers said the gist of the Guru’s message was that truth itself is God. Onkar is the first expression of truth. In Kaliyug, the biggest enemy is the ego.

Man has to work hard to achieve the grace of God through meditation. The scholar was honoured with a siropa by the DSGMC.



24 councillors revolt against chairman
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, March 25
At least 24 of 31 councillors of the Sonepat Municipal Council have revolted against the Chairman, Mr Satpal Goel, and have signed an affidavit, which will be submitted to the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, asking for his removal from the post. Mr Chautala is visiting the city on March 31.

According to a report, the main demand of these councillors is to remove the chairman from his post without any further compromise as they have lost confidence in him.

The revolted councillors alleged that the Chairman had discriminated against them and no development work had been started in their wards.

They also alleged that the Chairman had misappropriated public funds meant for the development works and a high-level probe was likely to expose his misdeeds.



Delhi Ad Club elects new chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 25
Mr G. K. Dhawan, chairman of Mode Advertising and Marketing Private Limited, has been elected president of the Delhi Advertising Club. Mr Kailash Arora has been elected honorary treasure and Mr P. D. Hidwan of NTPC and Mr Balbir Kumar of Lintas have been elected vice-presidents of the club. Other office-bearers are: Mr Narender Sharma - honorary secretary; Mr Vipin Kharbanda of Swatantra Bharat - joint secretary; Mr V. K. Chopra, J.S. Malhotra, Subhash Satsayan, Ajay Gupta and Kunal Banerjee - executive members.



Four commit suicide, two crushed under trains
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, March 25
Four persons ended their lives by swallowing poisonous substances while two others were crushed under the wheels of trains in separate incidents on Sunday.

Chhotu, a resident of L-Block in Sector 9 of Vijay Nagar, used to manage a sari shop in the area. He swallowed some poisonous substance on Sunday and was moved to the hospital in a serious condition where he died soon after.

Vijay of Manakpur village in Modinagar was rushed to Narinder Mohan Hospital in Sahibabad after he swallowed sulphas tablets. He succumbed later.

Kamlesh of the Nar Sena area in Bulandshahar died at a hospital where he was admitted after he consumed some poison. Anil, a resident of Atore village under Sihani Gate police station, also ended his life by swallowing a poisonous substance. Police are investigating into all these cases.

The bodies have been sent for post-mortem examination. Meanwhile, Sher Singh, an employee of Rama Steel factory in Site-VI under Link Road Police Station, and another youth were killed when they were run over by a train near Sahibabad Railway Station. 



Police clueless about robbery
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 25
The police are still clueless about a robbery which took place five days ago in the house-cum-clinic of doctor and cricket commentator Narotam Puri in Civil Lines in which Rs 45,000, jewellery and other valuables, including a cell phone, were stolen by two unidentified persons.

The incident occurred on March 20 when two unidentified persons posing as patients sought an appointment at Mr Puri’s house-cum-clinic. As soon as they entered the house, the duo brandished a knife and revolver and tied Mr Puri and his domestic help with a rope and decamped with money and valuables. The police said someone close to the family must be behind the robbery. They questioned the servants and guards of the house.

Consume chemical: Two persons died and one person was admitted to a hospital after consuming some chemical remover which they thought was alcohol in the Kashmere Gate area on Sunday night. The victims, Devnath (50), Ramu alias Langra (45) and Raj Tilak (35), consumed the liquid which looked like spirit. While Devnath and Ramu died on the spot, Raj has been admitted in Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital.



All polluting units to be shifted to Bawana by 2003
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 25
In a move to remove the hurdles which come in the way of the proposed Metro rail project, the Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation (DSIDC) today stated that all the polluting industrial units would be shifted to the newly set up industrial area, Bawana, by next year.

The managing director of DSIDC, Mr R. K. Verma, said, “By early next year, all polluting industrial units will be shifted. Over 70 per cent of the development work that includes laying of roads, waterlines, storm water drains and sewage lines is complete.” The industrial units located in Sadar Bazar, Wazirpur, Malka Ganj, Trinagar and Shahdara would be shifted to Bawana.

Spread over 1900 acres, Bawana has 15,000 plots. It would have different types of units, including garment, pharmaceuticals and engineering factories, he said.

Of the 15,000 plots, 7,000 plots had been handed over to allottees and almost 600 people had been given possession of land, while another 3,000 would get it by this month end, Mr Verma said.

Meanwhile, the water polluting units like electroplating were being accommodated in Narela.

There would be two 220 KVA substations, eight 66 KVA substations, 45 switching stations and 700 transformers for the power distribution.

The BHEL had already started construction works on 220 KVA substations, he added.


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