Friday, September 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Power consumers turn power sellers
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 26
Roti, kapada aur makaan...aur bijli. With the span of sweltering summer months increasing, power supply has become the fourth major necessity.

So, after kundi connections in Rajiv Colony and Indira Colony were done away with by the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN) here, residents have now resorted to ‘resale’ of energy. Hundreds of residents of these two slum colonies, who have a regular power connection, are illegally ‘selling’ power connections to their neighbours.


  • Majority of residents of Rajiv Colony and Indira Colony involved in resale of power.
  • Power connections were released to mere 1700 of 10,000 jhuggis. The rest of the jhuggi dwellers buy power from those who have connections.
  • Rs. 100 to Rs. 400 charged for getting power supply, depending on power usage.

The business has been going on successfully for the past year, ever since UHBVN officials launched a drive against power theft by the residents of these colonies.

According to figures available, there are more than 10,000 jhuggis in these two colonies. While a mere 1700 power connections were released here by the UHBVN, majority of jhuggis have power supply. A visit to these colonies by “Chandigarh Tribune” today revealed a thriving business of resale of power.

Power connections to these colonies were released in the early 1990's, during the Congress regime in the state. It was in and after 1993 , when the Congress candidate, Mr Chander Mohan, won the Kalka Assembly byelection here for the first time that these two labour colonies got importance.

Thus a majority of the residents, who have a power connection, are selling power to their neighbours and most of the jhuggis have power supply.

The customers of these “ bijli wale ”, as they are referred to in the local lingo, vary from one to six. And “bijli wale” can charge anything between Rs 100 to Rs. 400 from each customer per month- depending on the number of electric appliances to be connected.

The business came into existence after the UHBVN authorities replaced a 3.2- km-long aluminum conductor with insulated cable to ensure there were no kundi connections around these colonies.

Subsequently, billing from these two colonies revealed an upward trend. Since then, an additional sum of Rs 1 lakh was earned as revenue from these two colonies alone. Also, with metered power being sold, none of the four transformers feeding power in areas along these slums have been damaged during the year.

Officials in the UHBVN said they were aware of this new trend in the slums , but found themselves helpless in wake of resistance by slum dwellers. Talking of provisions to book such defaulters, involved in illegal selling of power, under the Resale of Energy Act, he said the solution was to release more connections. However, since these slums existed on encroached land, there was no policy for releasing more connections, he revealed. 


PGI faculty sore over selections, promotions
Seek Shotgun’s intervention to check ‘exodus’ of doctors
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
The PGI has been witnessing an ‘exodus’ of senior doctors from the premier institute during the recent past for various reasons. The trend may continue as some faculty members have shot letters to the Union Health Minister, Mr Shatrughan Sinha, seeking his intervention on the sensitive issue of selections, to be ratified by Governing Body on September 29.

Raising serious objections to the recommendations made by the PGI Selection Committee, some of the senior doctors have sought intervention of the minister. The Selection Committee had held interviews for about 15 posts of Professors and 40 Assistant Professors in June.

It is reliably learnt that the implementation of the scheme of granting higher pay scales to 25 per cent of the Professors working on sanctioned posts in the PGI may also lead to a lot of resentment. With about 65 sanctioned posts of Professors, 17 doctors will be made Senior Professors. The matter has been enlisted as item number six in the agenda for the Governing Body meeting.

It is in view of this meeting that the doctors decided to bring the issue to the notice of Mr Sinha. It is this apex body of the PGI, which ratifies the recommendations made by the Selection Committee. Two senior doctors from the ENT Department have sent their representation to the Union Minister stating that the decision taken by the Selection Committee was ‘arbitrary, wrong, irregular and illegal’.

Dr Naresh Panda and Dr Vikas Nehru have alleged in the letter that despite appearing before the Selection Committee for the post of Professor (ENT), on June 17, Dr A.K. Gupta’s name had been recommended for the post of Additional Professor, against the advertised post of Professor.

They have pointed out that the recruitment rules for the faculty posts do not provide for direct recruitment to the post of Additional Professor. As per rules, direct recruitment is done at the level of Assistant Professors or Professors. “The Selection Committee has to make selections in conformity with the terms and conditions of the advertisement and other conditions notified to the candidates,” said a senior doctor.

They have resented the fact that the post for which he was being taken had not been advertised. “Apart from these two doctors’ objection that the recommendation of the Selection Committee would stall their career advancement, we, too, are opposed to any lateral entry into the department,” remarked some other doctors.

Similar resentment has been brewing even in the Cardiology Department, where one of the doctors had moved court in connection with the post of the head of that department. It is reliably learnt that though Dr Harinder Bali, who had moved the court over the issue, has withdrawn the case, but still the issue was far from settled.

“A lot will depend on the view taken by the Governing Body on the recommendations made by the Selection Committee. There might be some resignations, legal wrangling and controversies over the crucial issues,” remarked a senior doctor.

Claiming that some of the doctors had been forced to leave the PGI after being denied their due in promotions and in professional growth, he remarked, “This will be a loss to the institute, where people from the entire northern region come for treatment.”

So the outcome of the much awaited meeting of the Governing Body, may lead to a lot of upheaval, especially in view of the frustration and resentment brewing among senior doctors over the sensitive issue of selections and promotions.


Lukewarm response to bandh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
The bandh call given by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Shiv Sena, in protest against the killings of devotees in Akshardham temple in Gandhi Nagar, failed to evoke a widespread response here today.

The response was, however, visible in the main market of Mani Majra where auto-rickshaws fitted with loudspeakers were seen appealing to shopkeepers to observe the bandh.

Mr Vijay Singh Bharadwaj, VHP spokesman, said the bandh was complete in Mani Majra, Colony Number 4, Sectors 20 and 30 and Bapudham. Muslim shopkeepers also voluntarily kept their shops closed till 1 pm, he said. The police and residents across the city confirmed that the bandh was markedly visible only in the main market of Mani Majra.

The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, led by Mr Satinder Singh, held a one-and-half-hour-long mute protest against the killings. The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad also held a meeting in the Panjab University to condemn the killings. A number of BJP followers voluntarily kept their shops closed despite party’s instructions not to participate in the bandh.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Parag Jain, held a meeting of representatives all political parties and social organisations to seek their cooperation in maintaining communal harmony in the city.

The police said 80 to 90 per cent of shops in the city remained open and the life was least affected and there were no reports of coercion and untoward incident.

The VHP leader said its leaders went around only to see the response of the bandh, but nobody tried to force anybody to participate in the bandh.

Showing his displeasure with the BJP, he said those who stand by Hindus would gain from the organisation’s strength. The BJP and the VHP were separate organisations, he added.

Mr Bharadwaj during the meeting with the SSP said the communal harmony could be ensured only when all political parties condemned ‘Islamic jehad’.

The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) coincided its protest with the bandh call, but claimed that it had nothing to do with the bandh call. Morcha workers, led by Satinder Singh and Shakti Prakash Devshali, put black strips on their mouths and lodged their protest through placards with messages like “NSG ke commando aur shaheedon ko Yuva Morcha ka salam”, “Atankwad hi hi, Musharraf hi hi” and “NSG commandos ko shat shat pranam.”

Congress leaders H.S. Lucky, Shreshta Mehta, BJP president Yashpal Mahajan, BSP leader Balbir Singh, Samajwadi Party president Shivi Jaiswal, Janata Party president Ajay Jagga, Janata Dal (united) president Surinder Bharadwaj, VHP representative Vijay Singh Bharadwaj, RSS representative R. K. Mittal, Muslim Rehnuma Committee president Mohammad Sadik Sheikh, representatives of minority cells of different parties and minority leaders attended the meeting called by the SSP. Officers from the Chandigarh Police, the CID and the Intelligence Bureau attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, the Lok Janshakti Party president, Mr Jaleel Ahmed Qureshi, and Akali Dal (Minhas group) today condemned the killings in the Akshardham temple. Ms Harjinder Kaur, former Akali Mayor, and Mr N.S. Minhas strongly condemned the incident in an emergency meeting of the party.


The bandh call by the Vishva Hindu Parishad and the Shiv Sena saw a mixed response in the district. While bandh was almost complete in Kalka and Pinjore, there was lukewarm response to the call in Panchkula, Barwala and Raipur Rani.

In Panchkula, most of the prominent markets remained closed for two hours. The rest of the day saw usual activity here. In markets of Sectors 7, 8 and 9, shops and other business establishments remained closed for almost two hours in the morning. However, in Sectors 11 and 15, work continued as usual.

A prayer meeting was held at Pinjore in protest against the killing of innocent people in the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar. No shop or commercial establishment in Kalka and Pinjore was open. The police had made elaborate arrangements here. Even in Panchkula, nakas were laid at all entry and exit points.


There was almost no response to the bandh call given by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in protest against the killings at a temple in Gandhinagar in Gujarat.

Commercial establishments, schools and offices remained open as usual and the flow of traffic also went on uninterrupted.


PU diploma toppers will go medalless
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Panjab University has decided not to award medals to the toppers of its diploma courses. The decision will affect the toppers of sessions ending April 2000 and after, who will, now, be given merit certificates instead.

The merit certificates will be given to the toppers of certificate, diploma and advanced diploma courses. The decision came at a recent meeting of the PU Senate. The details were finalised by a committee led by Prof R.J. Hans Gill, Dean University Instructions.

Earlier, the toppers of diploma courses also used to get medals like the toppers of graduate and postgraduate courses. A number of them used to be left out, so, to maintain a pattern, the university has decided to do away with medals for diploma courses. Toppers of graduate and postgraduate courses will, now, get silver medals.

The committee decided that medals would be awarded only on the basis of the performance in the final university examination and not on the basis of semester examinations held every year or six months.

For all university examinations, including diploma-course examinations, an amount equivalent to the normal tuition fee deposited by a candidate for the entire preceding year will be paid to the student in form of a scholarship. This will only be for students standing first in their classes. The reimbursement of the tuition fee will be by the institution concerned. Merit will be determined on basis of results of the university examinations and not rankings in college tests.

The scholarship will not apply to professional courses, self-financed courses and NRI candidates. Merit certificates will be give to toppers of all diploma courses. The university said it had kept in mind “the university’s financial position, finances to support the proposal, desirability and practicability in introducing the scheme.


‘Malaria no. 1 killer in the world’
Situation worst in India
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Limited finances to combat it, increased migrations and drug resistance in parasites has brought a resurgence of malaria, number one killer disease in the world that claims over 2.5 million lives every year.

In his lecture on the diamond-jubilee function of the CSIR at the Institute for Microbial Technology (IMTECH) here today, Dr R.C. Mahajan, a former head of the PGI Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, said 4 million persons died of various parasitic diseases every year. “Factors like insanitary living conditions, poor socio-economic status and complex life cycle of parasites have worsened the situation in the developing countries,” he said.

  • Six million persons in the world suffering from it.

  • Majority of the affected persons are poor, who live close to cattle.
  • The disease kills 170 children per 1,000 before the age of five.
  • Food-borne trematodes through the consumption of raw or semi-cooked food, especially marine food, kills 1 million persons every year.
  • Only one case in India and 400 in the world.

  • Till recently found only in animals.
  • Now, it has travelled to human beings due to environmental changes, increased human population, search for unexplored areas and increased residency in sylvan areas.

Barring Maldives, there is a high incidence of malaria in eight other South Asian countries, with 85 per cent of the affected population living in India. “The situation in Myanmar is so critical that 60 per cent of deaths are due to malaria. In Sub Sahara, 75 per cent of the children affected by the disease die before the age of five,” he said.

Dr Mahajan also said drug resistance in the malarial parasite was rather disturbing. In 1976, due to a failed National Malaria Eradication Programme in most of South East Asia, the incidence of the disease had peaked. With funds being diverted to programmes for family planning, industrialisation and irrigation, in the Manda area of Madhya Pradesh, where malaria had been non-existent, the situation had gone out of control.

Though 30 million malaria-affected persons in the world had developed resistance even to the second line of drugs, molecular biology and some other effective drugs had offered solutions. “In India, the situation is most serious, as 90 per cent of the malaria-endemic area has developed drug resistance,” said Dr Mahajan. Malaria in pregnant woman could cause abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth, depending on the stage of pregnancy. The new-born could be having cerebral malaria and low weight.

“Extensive research for developing a malaria vaccine is being done and success is not far, as trials of the vaccine have already begun in three African countries,” he said. Dr Mahajan said there was a high incidence of visceral leishmaniasis (kala azar) in India, as 85 per cent of all cases in South East Asia were found here.

“There is an alarmingly high risk of kala azar developing as a co-infection with AIDS, as it is a disease of the poor, who live close to cattle,” he said. He said 32 of the 40 districts of Bihar had a high incidence of the disease, with West Bengal coming next.

Dr Mahajan said the transmission of parasites through blood transfusion was a major cause of concern. However, in spite of repeated requests to the government, there is still no detailed testing to check malaria infection through blood transfusion.


Woman kills self after daughter’s suicide
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 26
Less than four months after her 18-year old daughter committed suicide, Chitra Sharma (43) reportedly ended her life by hanging herself from ceiling fan in her Sector 41 residence here yesterday. The incident, however, came to notice only this morning when the police forced opened the door.

According to police sources, the police had found a note written by Chitra on the day of her daughter’s death which had stated that she too would ‘‘commit suicide soon’’. According to the husband of the victim, Mr Sunder Lal Sharma, his wife was okay till last morning, when he last saw her. ‘‘She cooked breakfast and also served it. When I returned home at around 7 pm yesterday, repeated knocks on her door went unresponded’’, said Mr Sharma, who is a scientist at the CSIO here. The police was then called in. No suicide note was found. The body was sent for postmortem. The victim was said to be under depression.

Sharmas’ daughter, Shephalika, had ended her life by consuming some poisonous tablets on June 10 this year. Her suicide note had said she was doing so as she had failed to get admission in MBBS course.


Celebrations to mark World Tourism Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
To mark the World Tourism Day, the Department of Tourism and CITCO, along with other agencies in the private sector, would be organising various activities tomorrow.

The World Tourism Organisation has declared 2002 as “International Year of Eco-Tourism and Mountains” and the theme for this year is “Eco-Tourism, the key to sustainable development.”


  • Special discounts in CITCO-run hotels and other private hotels.
  • Indian classical recital at 6 a.m. at Sukhna lake.
  • An on-the-spot painting competition at 9.30 a.m at lake club.
  • Senior citizens will be taken for a picnic tour to the Nepli forest reserve.
  • A punjabi pop musical nite by Jagtar Jagga.
  • All visitors embarking by the Shatabdi and at the airport will be welcomed with flowers.

In the city the celebrations shall start from 6 a.m. at Sukhna Lake with ‘sumandan’ (a musical welcome) and ‘saras vani’, Indian classical recital by renowned artiste — Subhash Ghosh.

An on-the-spot painting competition on ‘Eco-Tourism and Mountains’ for schoolchildren shall be organised at 9.30 a.m. at the Lake Club. Mrs Vineeta Rai, Special Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, shall be the chief guest for this event.

The Chandigarh Tourism, CITCO, Tourism Promotion Society of Chandigarh along with the students of Institute of Hotel Management, Sector-42, Chandigarh, would welcome visitors with flowers arriving by Shatabdi Express in the morning at the Railway Station. Visitors shall also be given a warm welcome and flowers shall also be distributed at Airport.

A special discount on food and beverages shall be extended in private and public sector hotels and restaurants, including Hotel Mountview, Hotel Shivalikview, Hotel Parkview and at Chef Lakeview which are being managed by CITCO. Members of the Hotel Association of Chandigarh and Hotel and Restaurants Association of Chandigarh have also agreed to extend discount to their guests on food and beverages in their respective hotels and restaurants.

A complementary sight seeing tour on hop-on-hop-off double decker coach shall be arranged for physically challenged and underprivileged children.

Students of night schools shall also be taken on a complimentary sight-seeing tour on hop-on-hop-off double decker coach throughout the day. One group of night school students shall board the hop-on-hop-off coach at 3.30 pm from Hotel Shivalikview.

A picnic tour to Nepli forest shall be organised for the senior citizens of Lajpat Rai Bhavan, Sector 15. The Chairman, CITCO, Mr G.K. Marwah, will flag off the coaches. There will be a Punjabi pop musical nite by Jagtar Jagga at Piazza, Sector 17, Chandigarh from 7 p.m. onwards.


CTU drivers seek action against stray cattle owners
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Besides car drivers and two-wheeler owners, CTU drivers also suffer and meet with accidents on the city roads due to stray cattle menace.

A delegation of the CTU drivers here today urged the Municipal Corporation and Administration to take action against the owners of stray cows, which are responsible for various accidents in the city.

The delegation pointed out that the situation was quite serious in Ram Darbar and its surrounding areas. One of the drivers, who did not wish to be quoted, said, “A number of drivers had to pay up to Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 from their own pockets, to cattle owners, when they accidentally hit such cows. However, action should be taken against the owners, who often left the cows on the roads.” He said that they had repeatedly informed their officials about this problem, but without any result. So they had decided, he said, to bring the problem in the notice of MC officials.


Moulding idols from mud for Durga Puja
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, September 26
Angry eyes glare with hatred as the man in front, with curly dense hair, threatens you with bulging muscles.

You try to ignore him, only to be encountered by another one with bare stomach, clenched fists and the right foot authoritatively resting on a dead animal. Ruthless they may look, but these men in rage are not dangerous, for the obvious reason that they are not living but are mud statues being made for Durga Puja.

The exercise of giving life to mud is on. And if you want to witness the birth of an idol from a handful of mud, and hard work, go to the Kalibari temple in Sector 31 . The sight is amazing as right before you artists create life-size idols.

The process begins by tying hay over wooden and bamboo structures cut into different figures, by the artists and their apprentices.

After this, the idol-makers start applying layers of mud on the structures till the figures begin to look real. As the mud dries, patches of cloth coated with mud, are carefully placed to make hair and bulging muscles before carving out eyes, nose and other features.

And soon men with expressive eyes, grinding teeth and tense brows with distinct expression to match their actions emerge.

If the figure is of a warrior, anger oozing out of his eyes. If it is a goddess, the expression is of mercy and affection. After the initial job is over, the artists start painting the idols in vibrant colours.

Interestingly, a handful of dust from residence of a sex worker also goes in. “It is a tradition going on since centuries. But since the sex workers do not willing offer dust, it has to be stolen,” said artist Govardhan Adhikari, moulding statues in the city since 1979. “I get a handful of dust from Kolkata,” he said.

“It takes one to 10 days to complete an idol,” he said adding that it all depended upon the mood of the artist. And what you see in the end is a dedication of six generations and experience of over 30 years,costing anywhere from Rs 3,500 to Rs 10,000.

Buyers are mostly temple authorities, at times all the way from Mandi and Shimla districts.


Gadar's presents ‘verbal fireball of revolt’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Naxalite poet Gadar made a thought-provoking presentation on “verbal fireball of revolt” in Punjab Kala Bhavan, Sector 16, here yesterday. Gadar, bearer of the torch of revolution, is fighting the new world order with traditional values.

The show was organised by the Krantikari Sabhyachar Kendra.

Gadar, known as a staunch supporter of naxalite-thought followers, gave a presentation loaded with verbal armoury minus the prevalent image of violent revolutionaries. He criticised the Indian Government for mixing up priorities needed for the national welfare. Gadar said political parties, including the Congress and the BJP, were “sold out” to the Western world. His verbal assault was more directed towards the Naidu government in Andhra Pradesh, where he lives.

“Yeh desh hai kisano ka, phir bhi woh bhookha rehta hai,” he echoed in one of the recitals expressing contradictions in life. Exploitation of poor farmers had pushed them to take extreme steps like suicide, as was evident from the figures available, he said.

He spoke against the Andhra Pradesh Government saying that hundreds of crores were being spent in the state to create a hi-tech city while adequate potable water was not available for masses.


Panel report on streetlights
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
The Electricity Committee of the Municipal Corporation here today cleared the privatisation of maintenance of streetlighting in four blocks on an experimental basis.

The committee discussed the terms and conditions for engaging private contractors and decided to hold another meeting next week.

The committee today decided to create four blocks of those sectors where the condition of streetlighting is poor: Sectors 45, 46, 47, 30, 31 and 32 have been clubbed under a block; second block includes Sectors 27, 28 and 29; third includes Sectors 20, 21, 22, 23 and 34; and in fourth block are Sectors 15, 16 and 17.

The committee decided to privatise maintenance in the whole city only after the experiment was successful, committee chairman Jitender Bhatia said.


‘Land fit for construction’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
The Global Consultants and Engineering Services (GCES), a private firm which had carried out soil testing of an area in Sector 48-B, today claimed that the construction of buildings was possible in the area.

Dr I.C. Syal, a former professor and Head, Civil Engineering Department, Punjab Engineering College, who is the chief consultant for the GCES, said that the company had carried out soil testing in the area. From the data obtained from the site, construction of building was possible. The sub-soil water was available at a depth of 6.8 meters from the soil, he claimed.


Delhi resident held; stolen goods recovered
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 26
A Delhi resident, Vinod, alias Vicky, was caught by the police while he was trying to escape after committing two burglaries in Sector 23 here today. The police claimed to recover the stolen goods from his possession and more cases of thefts are likely to be solved with his arrest. His another accomplice is said to be at large.

As per police sources, Vinod broke into two unoccupied houses, no. 2400 and 2401 in Sector 23 sometime between 11 am and 2 pm today.

He stole some cash and documents from 2400.

Its occupant, Mr A.P Khurana, SP at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was away to his work place at the time of theft. Occupants of 2401, Mr and Mrs Sandeep Kumar, were also at their work place.

Vinod reportedly stole a gold jewellery including a necklace, ear rings, nose pins, rings, some silver items and a compact disc player.

Police sources said that he was carrying the stolen goods in a bedsheet and was apprehended after receiving a tip off. He will be produced in court tomorrow.


One arrested with 1 kg of charas
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 26
The police today claimed to have arrested a resident of Bihar, Sheshnag, with 1 kg and 100 gm of charas here. According to police sources, Sheshnag was nabbed at a naka in the southern part of the city. He was booked under the NDPS Act.

Naseeb Chand, a resident of Mani Majra, was also arrested yesterday allegedly with 10 kg of poppy husk. He was arrested from near the Modella traffic light points.

Cheating case: On a complaint of a Sector 24 resident, the police has registered a case of cheating and a criminal breach of the trust against a woman, Jasbir Kaur, who allegedly cheated the complainant of Rs 2.20 lakh. In his complaint, Mr Piare Lal, told the police that Jasbir Kaur, a resident of Nawanshahr, had taken the amount from him for sending him abroad but she neither fulfilled her promise nor returned the amount. The case has been registered under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC.

Eve-teasing: Rajesh of Colony No. 5 was allegedly arrested for eve-teasing from Sector 42 yesterday. He has been arrested under Section 294 of the IPC.

Theft: Mr Bhola Singh, a resident of the Mauli Jagran complex, reported that someone had stolen some gold and silver items and Rs 500 from his residence yesterday.


Gang of thieves busted
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 26
The police has busted a gang of thieves which had stolen taps from a house in Phase XI here.

According to a press note released here today by Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar, SP, it is said that the police had rounded up Kundan, Ashok, Heera Lal, alias Chhotu, Tony and Roshan for committing the crime. They all are residents of Amb Sahib Colony, Phase XI. The stolen taps worth Rs 15,000 have been recovered from them.

The SP said that Ms Anita Choudhary, a resident of Phase XI, has lodged a complaint with the police on September 21 that luxury taps were stolen from her house. The police started investigations and today laid a naka where the criminals were rounded up.


Corporate Honcho
Chandigarh girl flies high in Delhi
Tribune News Service

Sapna GuptaFor 30-year-old Chandigarh girl, Sapna Gupta, it is a dream come true. Successfully managing her own Air Hostess Academy with as many as four branches in Delhi and then making a foray to her home town to open its first branch outside Delhi, she has done the city proud.

"Basically, I am Chandigarh Girl. I was born and brought up here. I had my schooling in Carmel Convent in Sector 9 before shifting to Delhi where again I studied in Carmel Convent", she says. "Every time I come to Chandigarh, old memories come flooding back to me and I turn nostalgic".

Confides Sapna with a confident smile: "I have always wanted to set up my own business and chart out a course of my own. And I am glad that I have made a success of it". Sapna is the Director, Operations of AHA, while her husband, Akash, is the Chief Executive Officer of the academy, but it is clear that it is Sapna who calls all the shots in the business.

Both Sapna and Akash were working together in the same company, Cox and Kings travel agency when they got married. But Sapna says that it was she who made her husband resign his job to set up their own academy. Initially, there were difficulties but they managed to overcome them one by one.

In the beginning, she started delivering lectures in hospitality, travel and tourism at YWCA, Delhi, and was quick to establish a close rapport with the students as well as their parents. She also remained on the faculty of various educational institutions such as YMCA, YWCA, Trade Wings, Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan and South Delhi polytechnic.

The AHA was set up in 1997. "I started with just three girls", she recalls. But next year, the number swelled. By now, the AHA has trained a total of 700 students. Last year, as many as 432 students were trained, of whom approximately 250 have found jobs with various airlines, hotels, air catering organisations, ground services, MNCs and call centres. AHA is the only ISO 9001:2000 certified company in the country and has tie-ups with GE, British Airways, Lufthansa, Taj, Marriott and several other prominent hotels.

"The selection of the students for the academy is done carefully and each batch is limited to a manageable number, enabling them to give personal attention to each student", says Ms Gupta. "We gauge the individual demography, lifestyle, levels of responsiveness, communication skills and past experiences, if any. Only those with a positive attitude and perseverance are enrolled. Once in, they are driven hard because we demand the best out of every one".

Sapna says that the academy rejects a majority of candidates because they do not meet the criteria laid down by her. Last year, there were as many as 1200 rejections. Speaking good English was the first and foremost requirement. And most candidates are not comfortable in this language. Hence, the rejection.

The local centre of AHA will operate from SCO 485-486. second floor, 35-C, Chandigarh. It will also house the language, education and training division, the School of Foreign Language (SoFL), which will teach 10 foreign languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Italian, Chinese and Arabic.

It is also planned to open four more branches of the AHA at Mumbai, Pune, Dehradun and Jaipur. Later, branches in certain foreign countries will also be established.


Shirts launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
Zod, a brand of men’s wear in the country has enhanced its product offering with the introduction of the “two-tone linen collection”. Zod is offering linen in 2 tones; checks and solids, this is unique from other linen in the market. Two-tone linen is available in colours like blue-black and orange-yellow. Solid linen is available in beige and blue and the linen checks are in four colours. The shirts are styled with an easy, open collar. Announcing the launch of ‘the two-tone linen’ collection, Mr Salman Noorani, managing director, Zodiac Clothing Company Limited, said, “A number of couture brands and fashion houses have launched their collections in resplendent linen. The Zod linen shirts have a trendy difference. This linen collection from Zod reaffirms our commitment to offer the best international trends to the fashionable Indian male.”

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