Tuesday, June 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


A baby girl arrives without fanfare
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
This time round, the stork came calling at 10 Janpath without the ostentatious paraphernalia. Circa 2002 turned out to be much more subdued among the Congress ranks, as the first family of the party was blessed with a baby girl.

In contrast to the birth of the first child - a boy – the birth of the second child of Priyanka Gandhi (nee Vadra) — a baby girl — today did not spark off spontaneous celebrations among the rank and file of the party, raising murmurs about deep-rooted gender bias beneath a seemingly liberal countenance within the leading Opposition party.

Party workers today were not seen distributing sweets, exuding collective happiness about another addition to the family. Congress top guns did not rush either to 10 Janpath, 24 Akbar Road or even Ganga Ram Hospital, where the baby was born. Party insiders said that most of them preferred to phone in congratulatory messages to grandma Sonia Gandhi.

The reverberation of drums and cymbals amidst resonating slogans eulogising the Gandhi family was surprisingly missing as was the case when the tender Rajiv Rehan Gandhi Vadra, all of two years now, arrived in the family. Hours after Rehan was born on August 29, 2000, he earned epithets such as the “future Congress president” and “saviour of the Congress” etc.

Rehan’s sister, however, has not so far got any such special projections. The media-hype surrounding Priyanka’s pregnancy this time has also been far less speculative. Of course, the self-proclaimed well-wishers of the family let no opportunity pass to indicate that they were in the know of things. At the regular parties attended by the gossipy socialites, the due date of arrival of yet another scion of the Gandhi family was discussed in hushed tones.

Missing were also the ranks of the Indian Youth Congress and National Students Union of India (NSUI) who are normally in the forefront of any vociferous activity – be it political or social.

Party workers did not react in the immediate aftermath. As the news reached the Congress headquarters, as somebody said, they were in fact goaded and cajoled to distribute sweets.

Meanwhile, the soothsayers, astrologers and stargazers, who are believed to be close to the Gandhi family, have already got down to serious brainstorming, working out the finer details of the astral position of the newborn. Thanks to the computers and information technology revolution, many are learnt to have e-mailed their predictions to the family. 



A taste of pre-monsoon showers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
For Delhiites, the week started on a pleasant note with sharp showers in the morning bringing an end to the prolonged spell of searing heat and humidity. However, the flip side was the water logging on the roads, resulting in traffic snarls and disruption of communication links. Hundreds of telephones in various parts of the city went into coma, much to the chagrin of subscribers.

According to the Met Department, 31.7 mm of precipitation was recorded till about 11 am today. The monsoon is expected to hit the Capital on June 29. The Met Department expects more rain in the next 48 hours. The rain brought down the temperature from 35 degree Celsius to 26 degree Celsius.

Among the perennial trouble spots, the road in front of the police headquarters at Inderprastha Estate, the road under Minto Bridge and several areas in East Delhi and central Delhi were flooded. This despite claims by the authorities that the desilting work on the drains had been completed during the annual pre-monsoon exercise.

For drivers of CNG vehicles, particularly auto rickshaws, the water logging entailed another problem – that of vehicles grinding to a halt in the middle of the road and adding to the traffic chaos. Hundreds of auto rickshaws were stranded on the Nizammuddin Bridge and near the ITO as moisture seeped into the engine and “solidified the gas”. Drivers said that it took them half-an-hour to 45 minutes to start the vehicles.

But the little ones were perhaps the only ones who were not complaining. Youngsters could be seen frolicking in puddles of water, splashing to their heart’s content.



Tohra joins verbal duel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
The former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharn Singh Tohra, today launched a scathing attack on the rival SAD (Badal) faction, alleging that it was no longer the custodian of the Panthic tradition even as his arch rival, Parkash Singh Badal, accused him and his faction of rubbing shoulders with the perpetrators of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

“The SAD no longer represents the Sikhs and has ceased to be a custodian of the Panthic tradition and interests. The SAD has joined hands with the BJP, which is known for its anti-Sikh and anti-minority stance,” Mr Tohra told newspersons here.

He said: “The minorities, particularly Sikhs, are feeling threatened by the Sangh Parivar, which is actively working to assimilate the distinct Sikh identity into the Pan-Hindu fold and convert the gurdwaras into a version of Hindu temples”.

Ignoring this threat, Mr Tohra said, the former Punjab Chief Minister has “advocated and justified” the participation of Sangh Parivar in Sikh religious affairs.

With less than a week left for the DSGMC polls, the senior leaders have taken upon themselves the responsibility of leading the campaigns of their respective factions and have started accusing each other of opening the doors of the religious body to other political parties.

Mr Badal had accused Mr Tohra of joining hands with the Congress and campaigning with those allegedly involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. The SGPC chief accused the former Punjab Chief Minister of “deliberately and mischievously downgrading and diluting the supremacy of the Akal Takht, disobeying the `hukamnama’ and unceremoniously removing the Akal Takht Jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh.”

Referring to the action being taken against Punjab Ministers for their alleged corrupt practices, Mr Tohra said: “These Badal nominees plundered the resource-rich DSGMC and raised their personal estates and rendered the body bankrupt. The DSGMC-run schools and colleges were turned into personal fiefdom of a few governing body members.”

Stating that the Badal group, which controls the DSGMC had not fulfilled the promises made seven years ago, Mr Tohra promised that if SAD Delhi is voted to power, it would set up a three-member judicial commission, on the lines of the one in existence in SGPC, which would act like a Lokpal with powers to inquire into the financial and religious wrong doings of the members. The body would also have the power to disqualify a member, if found guilty, he added.

The SAD Delhi president, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, alleged that most of the SAD (Badal) candidates had filed false affidavits stating that they were `amritdharis’. Mr Badal, too, campaigned in different parts of the Capital, highlighting the work done by the DSGMC and the state government during its tenure. The claims ranged from Khalsa tercentenary celebrations to religious constructions in the Capital.



Narnaul protest turns violent
Ravi S.Singh
Tribune News Service

Narnaul(Mahendragarh), June 24
The police today resorted to a lathi-charge to disperse a violent crowd, which had blocked the main road at Mahavir Chowk to press its demand for adequate supply of water and electricity in the district.

The violence erupted after a public meeting, which was organised at the local municipal park under the banner of Haryana Yuva Sangharsh Samiti. The president of the Samiti, Mr Naresh Yadav, was the main speaker.

After the public meeting, the protestors led by Mr Yadav headed for the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Mahendragarh, to submit a memorandum. When the procession reached Mahavir Chowk — the main junction connecting the town too various parts of Haryana and other parts of the country — they blocked the Mahendragarh road. The road is a vital corridor to Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

The protestors allegedly became aggressive when some of them insisted that the Deputy Commissioner should personally receive the memorandum at Mahavir Chowk.

The activists of the Samiti have alleged that the police resorted to a lathi charge without any provocation. According to them, a large number of persons, including Mr Naresh Yadav, received injuries.

The DSP, Narnaul, Mr Singara Singh, however, said that the police pleaded with the protestors to clear the road, but in vain.

Finally, when the police tried to clear the blockade, the protestors resorted to violence and damaged a jeep. Two police personnel were also injured in the clash, he added.

The police have registered a criminal case against six persons, including Mr Naresh Yadav. Two of the accused, including Mr Yadav, have been arrested.

Earlier, speakers at the public meeting charged that the state government was discriminating against areas of South Haryana, especially the Ahirwal belt, in distribution of canal water. (South Haryana consists of Gurgaon, Rewari, Mahendragarh and Faridabad districts.) They alleged that although the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of Haryana with regard to construction of the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal project, the Haryana Government was not pursuing the matter with the Punjab government in the earnest. Water from Ravi and Beas in Punjab is intended to flow to Haryana through the SYL canal. The work on the SYL project is complete, except for the portion in Punjab.



Gang of computer thieves smashed
Parmindar Singh

Noida, June 24
With the arrest of five persons, the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Noida police has smashed an inter-state gang of thieves who used to target computers and cellphone shops. The SOG also seized 20 computers and cellphones worth Rs 4 lakh. Two country-made revolvers, cartridges and knives were also recovered from the criminals, the SP City, Mr Vijay Bhushan, said. They were tracked down on a tip-off by an informer. The police team, comprising Circle Officer R. B. Singh, SOG in charge Devinder Kumar Sharma, SO Sector 20 station S. K. Pichauri, intercepted Zen car in which the criminals were travelling on the Delhi-Noida flyover at 10.35 pm last night. On seeing the police, they fired on the police party, which however managed to overpower them.

The police seized about 20 computers, seven computer monitors, four CPU keyboards, 14 mobile phones, two country-made pistols of .315 bore, four live cartridges, two knives, two empty shells of cartridges and a shutter cutter. The Zen car and the flat of the criminals have also been made case property. One member of the gang has absconded.

They had been operating in Ghaziabad, Noida, Delhi, Faridabad and Panipat but had, surprisingly, evaded the police so far. They were identified as Hans Raj of Azam Garh, who was the kingpin, Munna, Chander Pal, Mehraju Din and Chiragu Din, all in the age group of 25-35 years. They used to sell the stolen equipment to Shahid, a dealer of computers in Chandni Chowk in Delhi. The SP City said that the gang members were clever and used to employ different techniques during each crime. That was why they could not arrested so far.

They had committed seven robberies in Noida. “We hope to round up a number of more criminals in this connection,” the SP said.

They used to scout the areas and identify the shops for theft during the day. They would arrive in a Zen car and park it at a distance. They would cut the shutters of the shops with electric cutters. While two of them would go inside, the others would pose as sweepers and clean the area with brooms so that nobody could suspect any foul play. They would loot the equipment and cash at about 4 am and load them in the car and return to their flat.

The arrested persons have confessed to their involvement in seven incidents of theft. However, the SP claimed that they had been involved in about two dozen loots using their novel methods.



Fall-out of ban on mining: Water table is rising
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, June 24
While the Haryana Government and the `mining mafia’ are still reeling under the impact of the Supreme Court order banning mining within 5 km of the Delhi border, the decision has had one welcome outcome. The water table in the region has started rising perceptibly.

Prior to the SC order, the water table in these villages, where mining was rampant, had been depleting steadily. Perforce, farmers had to bore tubewells each year to meet their water requirement.

The water table in many such villages has gone up by eight to ten feet.

Similar reports have also poured in from villages near the Delhi border, where the water level had earlier dropped sharply.

The villages where the water level has risen include Anangpur,

Faridabad, Bhadkhal, Bhakri, Lakadpur, Mewla Maharajpur, Ankhir, Pawta, Kothra, Salawati, Pakhal and Nangal. Reports have also trickled in from villages near the border, such as Devli, Fatehpur, Asola, Dera and Chandni Hola.

It may be recalled that environmentalist M C Mehta had claimed in his writ petition that excess dewatering during the mining activity had led to a steep fall in the water level in the region. Both human beings and animals were not able to tap underground water resources and this had created a dangerous situation in the area.

The Delhi Government had also submitted an application in this connection in the Apex Court, seeking a ban on mining in the region. The court passed an interim order on May 7 banning mining in the region. It’s next hearing is likely to come up after July 8.

According to experts and environmentalists, the ban order Is significant as it could help restore the green cover in the Aravali hills. It is further contended that the wells and hand-pumps in the area would get activated and re-charged due to the increase in the water level. This, in turn, would mitigate the acute water shortage in villages and colonies, including HUDA sectors.

The problem had also adversely affected farm operations in the region as boring a tube-well was an expensive proposition, lamented a resident of a nearby village. The lakes of Bhadkhal and Surajkund had also dried up. This, in turn, had affected the inflow of tourists and visitors to these spots.

Incidentally, the State government is considering filing a review petition in the Supreme Court as it stands to lose about Rs 140 crore annually due to the ban. At least 85 per cent mines have been closed.



And now, a transport declaration
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
The Government of NCT of Delhi is coming out with Transport Declaration 2002 to meet the anticipated crisis of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and streamline the transportation system in the Capital. Also to prevail upon the errant transporters who have hitherto shown little or no respect for rules and regulations.

“There is,” Ms Dikshit said, “a need for more CNG stations. The Declaration will also dwell on the framing of suitable rules and regulations to regulate the transporters.” The need for such a Declaration, she continued, had been felt for long as a hundred odd buses join the bus pool every week. The Declaration is expected to be for a period of five years after the expiry of which it will come up for review. The chief minister was to later confer with officials of the Department of Transport for drawing up a plan to decongest the roads. The meeting was attended among others by Public Works Minister AK Walia, Joint Commissioner of Police Maxwell Pereira and officials of the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI.) It was decided that Delhi Traffic Police’s assistance would be taken to enforce the plying of buses in the lane demarcated for them.

It was also decided that bus ways would be constructed at certain places along the roads so that buses could offload passengers without blocking the passage of vehicles on that particular stretch. Instructions have been given to PWD officials to draw yellow lines on the roads to earmark the exclusive lane for buses. Also deliberated upon was the proposal of connecting the Outer Ring Road so that the stretch of road between Nizamuddin and Wazirabad via ITO is completed. Accordingly, sources said, it had been decided that the Delhi Govt would write to the Union Ministry of Surface Transport for grants etc.



Yamuna Action Plan II: Aid talks in final stage 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
The Centre is negotiating with the Japan Bank of International Cooperation for assistance in the implementation of the second phase of Yamuna Action Plan. Union Minister of Environment and Forests T.R. Baalu made the announcement while speaking at the workshop on “Towards a cleaner Yamuna,” organised here by Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI).

The minister said negotiations with the Japanese bank were at an advanced stage and a broad agreement would be arrived at in a month’s time. “During the extended phase of the Plan, a Rs 166 crore project dealt with the growing problem of sanitation in the unsewered areas of the city, particularly in the slums. The project consists of nearly 1,000 community toilet complexes besides several decentralised sewage treatment plants and sewage cleaning equipment,” he said.

The minister said the second phase of the Plan would primarily focus on diversion of all the major drains, which were discharging partly treated or untreated waste into the river.

Mr Baalu said additional sewage treatment capacity would be put in place with a decentralised approach. “The emphasis will be on locating the new STPs as close to the river-mouth as possible so that the use of conveying pipes is minimised,” he added. The minister said the second phase would also focus on disinfection of treated sewage to ensure that not only the organic pollution but also the bacteria-caused pollution was tackled fully.

“With the commissioning of all the 15 common effluent treatment plants in the 21 industrial estates that are presently under construction, the treated wastewater that would be discharged into the river would be of safe quality,” he added.



Slow or sudden death: Sonepat road users left with Hobson’s choice
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, June 24
Moving through most of the roads belonging to the Sonepat Municipal Council, the PWD (B and R), the Market Committee and the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) here has become dangerous not only for the drivers but the pedestrians as well. Experts say there are only two possibilities if one has to take the roads here: a quick death in an accident or a slow one due to the degeneration of health, especially the effects on bones and joints.

The autorickshaw drivers find themselves jumping, swaying, cursing and clutching on the handles tightly as their vehicles try desperately to avoid a large number of potholes and patchworks on these roads.

Almost all the roads in the interior parts of the city are cracked and punctuated with gutters, small and big. A majority of them are not properly surfaced. It seems that no thought has been given to road engineering or safety and several roads are merely country paths ‘painted’ with tar.

A number of surveys conducted by road and traffic experts in the past have noted the poor condition of the city roads. The experts say that most of the roads are laid haphazardly, surfaced indifferently and are neither repaired nor maintained properly.

Experts point out that the normal life of a road should be 10 years but in this city, a road lasts not more than a year. And if it rains, the newly laid surface disappears in half-an-hour.

Besides the lack of tar and proper asphalt mixture, the city roads are littered with badly designed manhole covers that either stick out of the surface or lie partly overturned. Experts say these are potential killers. “They are like mines,” said an official of the traffic police. Such obstacles are not easily visible, especially in the dark, and can often cause accidents and even death. There is no dearth of open manholes either.

The hue and cry raised by the public after a few accidents occurred due to these open manholes recently has awakened the authorities. Now, only a few manholes are without lids, particularly along the old DC road. However, since the covers have been laid in haste, they are not fixed properly causing a lot of accidents on busy roads.

This has become the new menace in almost all the areas of the city where one can find the covers either below the surface level or literally protruding out of the road surface. This disruption on a road surface, that is not easily visible to the human eye, can lead to sudden breaking of the vehicles or cause them to jump, the natural consequence of which could be more mishaps.

Besides accidents and damage to the vehicles, the poor roads also take a toll on the health of the users. A senior orthopaedic surgeon of the city said that driving on the potholed or badly surfaced roads could cause a lot of strain on the spinal cord and joints. Constant jarring and shaking could lead to early degeneration of the spine and several joints and ligaments in the body, he added.

Traffic experts are unanimous in their opinion that one of the major reasons for the increasing number of accidents in the city is faulty road engineering and poorly surfaced roads. First, the roads are not designed properly. They are built in the manner streets are carved out in unauthorised colonies. No thought is given to spillways, bays, pavements, dividers and a host of other factors, which are extremely crucial for the main roads that have thousands of vehicles passing through them everyday.

Other than the proper design, experts also find fault with the mixture used for building roads. They say that with the right asphalt and bitumen mixture, the city will have smooth and clear roads. Though there is a set standard of asphalt and bitumen mixture to be used in the construction of roads, the contractors hardly bother to even look at these procedures. The authorities on their part never monitor the work.

For instance, experts point out, stone chips and bitumen, a petroleum product, are heated separately before being mixed. The mixture should be in correct proportion and should be heated in a specific temperature. If the mixture is not heated properly, the bitumen comes out and creates a thick, slippery layer on the road surface. In case the mixture is overheated, the bitumen becomes thin and offers no cover for the asphalt mix, thereby hastening cracks and potholes.

All these defects can be rectified only if the authorities concerned keep a watch on the contractors and make them adhere to the standards laid down by experts.



Hooting during Bhajan Lal rally flayed 
Our Correspondent

Rewari, June 24
The behaviour of a large section of the crowd, which hooted at former Chief Minister and Haryana Congress Legislature Party (HCLP) leader Bhajan Lal at the party rally in the Ramlila Grounds in Delhi on Friday, has come in for sharp criticism from prominent Congress leader Rajendra Singh Yadav and numerous other party activists of Ahirwal.

Mr Yadav said that it was shocking that all this happened at the rally that was the culmination of the 10-day padayatra undertaken by the HPCC president, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, to espouse the cause of the agitating farmers. It was all the more detestable that all this happened before the senior leaders like AICC general secretary Mohsina Kidwai, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, former union minister Arjun Singh, former Speaker Balram Jakhar, AICC secretary Hanumantha Rao and several others.

Mr Yadav said that if certain recent Press reports were to be believed, a change in the state leadership of the party was on the anvil and Mr Bhajan Lal was going to be entrusted with the reins. Now it could be anybody’s guess why Mr Bhajan Lal was hooted at by the rallyists in Delhi. The shabby incident had done more damage to the party than to Mr Bhajan Lal, Mr Yadav commented.

Mr Yadav and his supporters urged the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, to take a serious note of the above incident and take action against all those leaders and activists responsible for it.

They also made a fervent appeal to the Mrs Sonia Gandhi to entrust the reins of the party with Mr Bhajan Lal who, they asserted, was a stalwart by all accounts, and who alone could be instrumental in expediting the ouster of the Chautala-led INLD government, the mis-governance of which had virtually become unbearable to the hapless masses.



Historic Qutabpur waits to solve some of its 
age-old problems 
Nawal Kishore Rastogi

Rewari, June 24
Qutabpur, which is now the biggest locality of Rewari city, was founded by Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muhammadan Emperor of India, in the year 1207. Qutabpur, which was only a small hamlet then, has now grown into a big locality of about 25,000 residents. At present, it comprises three wards — 24, 25 and 26..

This historic hamlet has seen many ups and downs during the past eight centuries. It reached the pinnacle of its glory during the first half of the 16th century when Hemu’s father Rai Pooran Das, along with his family, abandoned his native place, Devti Machheri, then a hamlet of the Alwar region of Rajasthan, and made Qutabpur his abode in the 1520s.

When Rai Pooran Das joined the Radha Vallabh cult and became its preacher, Hemu, who was the eldest son of the family, was burdened with the responsibility of earning a living for the family. He started his career as a salt merchant. In 1545, he was appointed as a high official of the Royal Army in Delhi by then Emperor Islam Shah, son of Sher Shah Suri.

Due to his ceaseless efforts and superb capabilities, Hemu gradually rose to supreme heights and then, with the title of Maharaja Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, became the first Hindu Emperor of Delhi in Medieval India on October 7, 1556 in the historic battle of Panipat, which he fought most valiantly against the forces of the would-be Mughal Emperor Akbar led by Bairam Khan.

However, with the fall and demise of its imperial patron, Qutabpur too fell on evil days that dogged it for a long time to come. Though Hemu now lies buried deep in the chronicles of medieval India, his once magnificent palace, which is now in ruins, still provides some glimpses of the glorious past of Qutabpur.

After Independence, Qutabpur enjoyed the status of a village panchayat for several decades till it was merged into the municipal territory of Rewari in 1981-82.

Things began to move in the right direction for Qutabpur when Mr Rajendra Singh Yadav was elected a municipal councillor from here in 1987-88. He virtually remained at the helm of affairs for two consecutive terms, once for over one decade. Provision of civic amenities like construction of roads installation of streetlights, water supply connection etc covered a major part of Qutabpur during this period.

Now with a new team of councillors — Mr Pradeep Bhargava (Ward 24), Mrs Prem Wati (Ward 25) and Mr Daulat Singh Pindal (Ward 26) — in the saddle, efforts are on to boost the pace of development in Qutabpur.

However, some of the problems of Qutabpur still remain. First, the entire locality is devoid of sewerage. The dirty and muddy water of a major portion of the locality now accumulates in Ram Talai Ohar (village pond), spreading the stench all over the surrounding houses.

According to Mr Rajendra Singh Yadav, a Rs 1-crore project for providing a sewerage in Qutabpur was sanctioned by the state sanitary board in 1998. However, owing to the apathy of authorities, its implementation had been pending.

Water supply in the locality also remains mostly erratic. The whole of Khadda-Basti, which comprises Ward No 24, is devoid of water supply as well as roads. The residents here also complain that their demand to include Qutabpur, now a part of the Bawal constituency (Reserved), in the Rewari constituency has been unheeded for a pretty long time. The ongoing exercise of delimitation of constituencies has kindled their hopes that their demand would be met shortly.



BPL people not getting PDS items on time
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, June 24
The Haryana unit of the Dhanak Harijan Sewak Sabha has expressed its grave concern over the malpractice in the distribution of rationed commodities among the families living below the poverty line (BPL) in Sonepat district and elsewhere and demanded a high-level probe into the public complaints in this regard. In a memorandum submitted to the Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Dr Satya Narain Jatia, a copy of which was released to the Press here today, Mr Sham Lal, a former BJP municipal councillor and the president of the sabha, alleged that the Food and Supplies Department had failed to supply wheat and other rationed commodities to the families living below the poverty line on time. The quality of wheat and sugar, he alleged, was sub-standard and unfit for human consumption.

The memorandum further alleged that the department had become a den of corruption and all the public complaints on the working of the same had been ignored by the higher authorities.

The memorandum urged the central government to launch special schemes for the welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes and these should be aimed at improving the financial condition of such people.

Meanwhile, resentment prevails among the BPL families and those holding yellow and pink ration cards against the non-supply of wheat and other rationed articles for the current month. These consumers have made several complaints about the issue to the authorities of the department but to no effect.

Some depot holders alleged that the officials of the CONFED had failed to release the stock of wheat and other rationed articles though they had deposited the amount with them. It is, however, alleged that corrupt officials in the department have added to the common man’s woes as they were reluctant to take any action against the unscrupulous depot-holders.



‘Standard of colleges is going down 
every passing day’
Tarun Gill

Dr Amrik Singh
Dr Amrik Singh, chairman of the Education Council of DSGMC. 

From the Partition of India in 1947 to the founding of University Grants Commission (UGC), Dr Amrik Singh, chairman of the Education Council of the Delhi Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (DGMC), has seen it all. Being the first professor to join Khalsa College in 1951, Dr Amrik Singh has witnessed all the ups and downs and is ardently trying to bring about changes in the teaching system of Delhi University.

A BA and MA in English, he calls himself an unpopular figure in the university as people tend to think he is too rude and candid. Dr Singh did his PhD from University College, England in English in 1960. Since then, there has been no looking back.

At the start of his teaching career, he kept shifting from one university to another, from Punjab to Shimla, and finally to Delhi University. He preferred Delhi University because it had all the state-of-the-art facilities.

Dr Singh was also the first Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) secretary in 1954. Dr Singh gave a push to the activities of the association that used to be inactive those days. Officially, Dr Singh retired from the teaching profession in 1982. However, he is still very much active in the university teaching affairs. A prolific writer, Dr Singh has also written many books on how the teaching in India can be improved and what are the responsibilities of teachers towards their students. Some of them have also fetched him many awards. Dr Amrik Singh spoke to NCR Tribune about him and his experiences in the university. What are the changes the university has undergone over the years?

There are many changes, some of them are good and some of them disappointing. I wouldn’t like to highlight the good points, as they are limited in numbers. But as far as the other points are concerned, they are endless.

These days, students are not serious towards their studies. They take everything for granted. It’s not only students but teachers are also disinterested and there is no coordination between them.

I can recall one incident. When I visited one of the most reputed colleges of Delhi University, I saw many students standing outside the classes. I got curious. I went up to them and asked why they are not attending the classes. Though they hesitated for a while, they later told me that they had already studied in their schools whatever the teacher was teaching in the college then.

The school education has improved tremendously because of the proliferation of many private schools. However, the standard of colleges is going down with every passing day. In some of the colleges, both students and teachers don’t bother to even come to the campus.

What is your educational background?

I was always keen to do journalism but destiny had something else in store for me. And I landed up being an English teacher. I did my Bachelors in English from Khalsa College, Amritsar in 1942. Later, I realised that I should do the Masters in English as well if I wanted to pursue journalism as the language will provide me a solid base. So, I went on to do my Masters from Government College, Lahore in 1942. I consider myself to be very lucky. I got a job as an English teacher after finishing my Masters. Those days, Lahore was the only place where journalism was taught as a subject.

But, I guess, I somehow changed my plans in 1948; I went to Shimla as a teacher since it was considered to be the hub of education. But the water in Shimla was very rough and my stomach always used to be upset.

Then I shifted to Khalsa College in 1951. I was the first professor to join the college. That time, there was no evening or morning colleges. The main building of the college was situated at Dev Nagar. It was a great experience as there were very limited teachers in the faculty and I had a major responsibility on my shoulders.

In 1954, due to my active participation in the college affairs, I was made the member of EC in Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA). And in 1955, I was promoted to the post of secretary of the EC. The colleges were looked after by the Ministry of India and universities by the University Grants Commission (UGC) then.

At the same time, I was also interested in higher studies, so I went to London in 1957 to join University College for my PhD in English. 1960s were the time when colleges actually started expanding. There were merely 500 colleges in the 1950s but in the 1960s, the number increased to 5,000 colleges.

When I came back to India, I saw there are number of problems in the universities, which need serious consideration. To address these problems, I started a ‘Journal of University Education’ in 1962. Due to this journal, I got the recognition, as I was also noticed by the UNESCO. In 1965, I was appointed the secretary of the Association of Indian Universities. My hard work and perseverance completely changed the outlook of the body, as it became more active. I retired in 1982, but still I write Punjabi plays and I love creative writing.

What are the problems of Indian universities?

I think the Indian universities are not systematic, especially the Indian teachers. What they want is full-time pay for their part-time work. I criticise them openly. That is precisely the reason why they don’t like me. All teachers are fighting against the excessive workload on them.

The Indian teachers need to be devoted to their students. The education system here is being misgoverned. These days, vested interests interfere with the affairs of the universities. This is responsible for the downfall of many a university.

Although, as a DUTA Secretary, we did raise all the problems to the authorities concerned and to some extent we succeeded also, no one seems to care anymore now.

What should be done to improve the standard of Indian universities?

The whole educational system needs to be revamped, not just a few people. The teachers’ attitude should also change, as they need to be more serious. The universities of our country are very politicised.

Still, there are some teachers who are really serious and take immense pleasure discussing all these problems. But the ratio is far less. At the same time, the students should also make an effort. I remember the time, when I stepped into the teaching profession, the students actually used to come up to me to discuss their various problems.

But now, the students are too complacent and they think they know everything, which is not true. Given a right direction and a goal, the Indian students can do wonders in the world.



Probe sought into MDA’s working
Tribune New Service

Faridabad, June 24
The president of the Haryana unit of the Janata Dal (U), Mr Ved Prakash Vidrohi, has sought a probe into the functioning of the Mewat Development Agency (MDA) and release of funds to the voluntary bodies.

In a statement here today, Mr Vidrohi said although the state government had now stopped the financial aid to various agencies in the area, provided through the MDA, aid worth crores of rupees had been pumped in the past several years but the region had not developed adequately despite this. He said there had hardly been any development in the basic infrastructure and sectors like roads, water, power education and medical facilities in the area, which happens to remain the most backward part of the state.

He said there was no basis for releasing funds and creating bodies like the MDA when the end result was unsatisfactory and poor. He said a high-level inquiry should be instituted to know where and how the `funds’ had been used and to identify the corruption in related activities. He said Mewat covered four assembly constituencies but there was no proper development despite the tall claims of various bodies of social awareness.

Claiming that the majority of Haryana government officials, including doctors and teachers, do not want to serve in the area, he said those posted in the villages often shirked their duties and several of them did not regularly attend their duties. Lack of basic amenities, including education, and unemployment had led to several problems. The crime rate had gone up as several youths had taken up illegal activities because there was no source for earning their livelihood, he added.



Common tubewell at each village mooted
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, June 24
The president of the Haryana Pradesh Janata Dal (U) president, Mr Ved Parkash Vidrohi, has urged the state government to install a joint tubewell in each village and ensure the supply of electricity free of cost to it for providing potable water to the residents in the rural areas. This, he said, would solve the water crisis prevalent in the villages of the state. In a signed press statement issued here, he said that the southern parts of the state and the Mewat area were the worst-hit with the water crisis as these areas had been discriminated against by the successive governments in the matter of development.

Expressing his grave concern over the acute shortage of drinking water in the urban and rural areas, Mr Vidrohi charged the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, with befooling the people on this issue. Repeated announcements made by Mr Chautala that his government was trying to ensure the supply of 110 litres of water per head per day had proved a hoax, he alleged.

He also opposed the Mr Chautala’s foreign tour and alleged that the tour would put a great financial burden on the state exchequer, as none of the multinational companies were inclined to set up their units in Haryana, which had been facing power crisis for the last three to four decades.



More power for DVB
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
A power purchase agreement (PPA) was signed between Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) and the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) on Monday for the sale of power from the Koldam Hydro Electric Power Project.

Under this agreement, NTPC will be supplying 87 MW of power to Delhi upon completion of the project. The PPA was signed by Member (Technical) I of DVB HR Sethi and Director (Commercial) of NTPC HL Bajaj.

Koldam is NTPC’s first venture into hydropower sector with approved capacity of 800 MW. The project is located in Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh. The project is being set up as a regional station for the benefit of northern states.

NTPC is already supplying 1,483 MW of power to the DVB. The Capital will be further receiving about 100 MW from NTPC’s 1,000 MW Rihand Project Stage II the PPA for which has been signed between NTPC and DVB.



One killed in truck-scooter collision 
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, June 24
One person was killed and another injured when their scooter collided with a truck near Bamnoli village on the Bahadurgarh Road here on Sunday night.

According to reports, the deceased Sanju and Ishwar Singh, both residents of Ladpur village in Delhi, were on their way to their village from Bahadurgarh when a truck coming from the opposite direction collided with them.

Both were rushed to the Community Health Centre at Bahadurgarh, where Sanju succumbed to his injuries later.

The driver was arrested and his truck was taken into custody by the Bahadurgarh police.

CA robbed

Mr Ajay Tanager, a chartered accountant (CA)was allegedly robbed of Rs 5,000 and a mobile telephone by three unidentified-armed youth, near the Ankur Public School in old Housing Board Colony here last night. According to a report, Mr Taneja was returning to his house on a motorcycle when he was stopped by the youths. His money and the mobile phone were snatched from him by threatening him with lathis and knives. Mr Taneja has not yet lodged an FIR with the police. The incident has, however, caused panic among the residents of the area.

Suicide committed

The body of one Samsher Singh was found hanging in his house at Jataula village, about 15 km from here on Sunday night. According to a report, the police believe it to be a case of suicide and have sent the body for a post-mortem examination.

According to another report, a youth Pappoo was reported to have taken sulphas tablets in his house in Mohan Nagar here Sunday night in a bid to commit suicide. He was immediately rushed to the local Civil Hospital where he died after a few hours.

Snake bite

Maninder, a youth of Murthal village was rushed to the Civil Hospital here on Sunday after he was bitten by a snake while working in his fields. According to a report, the youth was discharged after being administered first-aid treatment.

Housewife burnt

Mrs Sheela Rani, a 30-year-old housewife sustained 80 per cent burn injuries when a stove burst in her house at Ahmadpur Majra village, about 50 km from here last night.

According to a report, she was rushed to the community Health Centre at Gohana from where she was later sent to the PGI, Rohtak, for further treatment. Reportedly, the stove burst while she was preparing tea in her house.

Road repair

The Haryana Government has released Rs 23 lakh for the repair of the old DC road and some other roads in this city. This was stated by Mr Dev Raj Dewan, an independent MLA, while inaugurating the repair work of the old DC road near the Mamoon-Bhanja Chowk here last evening.

Large number of prominent citizens and municipal councillors were present on this occasion.

He said that this amount transferred to the PWD (B and R) authorities to complete the work before the onset of the monsoon season. He announced that other roads in the city would also be repaired by the government.

Mr Dewan also lauded the campaign launched by the district administration to give a face-lift to the city and appealed to the people to extend their support to the administration, which was taking keen interest in the job.

On this occasion, Mr Dewan heard the grievances of the people. Sufi Rashid Miyan, a Muslim leader, presented a `pugree’ to Mr Dewan and felicitated him.

Woman killed

An unidentified woman was killed on the spot when she was hit by a vehicle on the G.T. Road near Qumashpur village, about 13 km from here on Sunday night.

According to a report, the victim was crossing the road when the accident occurred. According to another report, two youths, Manoj and Kapil, were injured when their scooter was hit by a car on the G.T. Road near Biswan Meel, about 15 km from here on Sunday evening.

Both the injured youths were hospitalised and the condition of one of them was described as serious.

Jai Bhagwan, a resident of Gumar village was also injured in a road accident on Saturday. According to a report, he was hit by an unknown vehicle, while he was crossing the road. 



Truck driver arrested for death of helper
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
Sangam Vihar police today arrested a truck driver, Kuldeep (28), a resident of Faridabad on charge of causing death due to rash and negligent driving. The truck (HR-38-3099) which was driven by the suspect reportedly hit an electric pole and a tree near Tughlakabad Shooting Range this morning, resulting in the death of his helper sitting along with him in the vehicle.

In another incident in Nand Nagri in North-East district today, an unknown person was reportedly hit by an unknown vehicle. An empty purse was found in possession of the deceased, the police said.

Man killed: Resistance to give money for liquor, resulted in the murder of a resident of Bapa Nagar in Central district area of the Capital this afternoon.

The incident took place when the victim, Prabhu Dayal (40), who did a job of denting-penting in Bapa Nagar, was sitting in front of his house along with his brother Raju and one another person. While the victim was talking to his brother, one of his neighbours, Kishan alias Babli, demanded money for liquor. When the victim refused to give the money, Kishan stabbed him. The victim was taken to the Lady Harding Medical College where he succumbed to his injuries. The suspect was absconding, the police said.



Parvinder murder suspect held
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
The main suspect in the Parvinder Arora murder case has been arrested by the Haryana Police from Gurgaon. Parvinder was the owner of Gola restaurant in Model Town.

The suspect, Manoj Kumar, was hiding in Gurgaon since the murder as he had connections with some bigwigs in the state. He is also wanted in another murder case in Gurgaon, the police sources said.

According to sources, Parvinder was one of the bookies in the Capital and had connections in Mumbai. The suspect was reportedly hired by one of the business rivals of the deceased.

Parvinder was shot while he was talking on his mobile phone after coming out of the restaurant on April 30. The suspect shot at him from point-blank range, killing him on the spot. At that time, an Inspector of the Delhi Police was sitting in his car parked nearby.


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