Tuesday, October 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India

N C R   S T O R I E S


Small parties’ acid test
As BJP regresses to Hindutva mode, Sonia scripts
Congress’ resurgence
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 21
The survival skills of smaller political parties within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and outside could be put to test as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s regressing to Hindutva mode threatens to consume the NDA and the Indian National Congress (INC) regroups in its quest to offer a credible alternative.

Given the anti-BJP sentiment prevailing in the states, the smaller political parties – particularly those with secular credentials – suspect the there-is-no-alternative (TINA) factor that the BJP put to good use in the run-up to the last general elections could be rendered irrelevant as Sonia Gandhi scripts her party’s resurgence, state by state.

It is, therefore, a ‘testing’ time for some of the smaller political parties. The Lok Janshakti Party, however, appears to have thrown its lot with the INC. The party that severed its ties with the NDA in the recent past believes the TINA factor that benefited the BJP last time round has lived out its utility given the BJP’s ‘divisive agenda’.

The Lok Janshakti Party has instinctively jumped on the INC bandwagon and rallied around that party’s president Sonia Gandhi. “We would like to see her as the next prime minister of the country,” the party’s senior national vice-president Ramvir Singh Bidhuri told a news conference and dismissed the debate over her foreign origins as frivolous. The party says it is reaching out to certain BJP’s allies in the NDA to form a secular ‘umbrella’. Already talks are on for a possible seat adjustment with the INC ahead of the Assembly elections that are due in Gujarat and elsewhere. A similar understanding is not ruled out in Bihar where the party claims to enjoy a better standing.

The Assembly elections apart, the party says it is in touch with the NDA constituents to erect a third force comprising political parties that were a part of the Janata Dal Parivar (family.) “We extend our appeal to the secular parties in the NDA,” Mr Bidhuri told reporters and informed the party would demonstrate outside the Prime Minister’s residence over the weekend to protest against the VHP’s utterances.


BJP sets up Sikh Cell
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 21
The Delhi Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday constituted a separate Sikh Cell that will be besides the Minorities Cell.

Announcing this at a news conference, BJP president Madan Lal Khurana said the office-bearers of the cell had been chosen from all factions of Sikhs in Delhi. “They may be belonging to various factions of Akalis in the Capital but they all share a longstanding commitment to the BJP.”

The BJP had polled a very small percentage of Sikh votes in the last elections to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in which it got a severe drubbing at the hands of the Congress.

Mr Khurana, however, refused to go into the reasons for the ‘disillusionment’ of Sikhs with the BJP. He, instead, criticised the media for creating rumours that the Sikh community in Delhi was going back into the lap of Congress. He also denied the suggestion that Sikhs were unhappy with the BJP as the NDA Government led by the party at the Centre had so far failed to ensure justice to Sikhs in the 1984 riot cases.

Asked what was the need for a separate Sikh Cell when a Minorities Cell already existed, Mr Khurana said the Sikh population in the Delhi was facing several problems which could be better handled by having a separate cell.

Mr Khurana said Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) general secretary Bhajan Singh Walia had been appointed the president of the Sikh Cell. Interestingly, while Mr Walia belongs to Tohra faction of Akalis, general secretary and DSGMC member Ravinder Singh Khurana comes from the Badal faction. Similarly, the BJP had appointed four vice-presidents, four secretaries and one treasurer of the new cell from various factions of Akalis.

The party has also constituted a Sikh Cell (Women) headed by Ms Balwinder Kaur.

To a question, Mr Khurana said the BJP had no plans to contest the Gurdwara elections in the Capital.


Priest shot at in Loni
Parmindar Singh

Ghaziabad, October 21
The situation in Khushhal Park in Loni had hardly returned to normalcy after the murder of a youth, Ashok, four days ago when fresh violence in the area plunged Loni into turmoil again. Two youths riding a motorcycle shot at two persons, including a temple priest, in two separate incidents yesterday. Agitated at the two shooting incidents, people blocked the highway in Loni area. Police and PAC have been deployed to maintain peace. The public stoned and damaged some vehicles too.

The chief of a religious place in Ashok Vihar was taking a stroll on the road at about 8 pm when he was shot at by two youths on a motor bike, who sped away after wounding the priest. He was rushed to Delhi’s Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital.

A person from Baghpat, who was passing by along with his daughter, was also beaten up and deprived of his belongings by the crowd. The man was returning from Delhi after some purchases for his daughter’s marriage. Their car was also damaged by the crowd.

The DM and SSP have ordered deployment of police and PAC jawans. While the DM and SSP were persuading the people to disperse, a youth was shot at and wounded in Kanchan Park by two persons on a motor bike. The wounded man is reportedly a resident of Welcome Colony, Delhi. He was also admitted to Delhi’s Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital. It took the officials about two hours to disperse the crowd but tension still persists in the area. The Circle Officer, Mr D. P. Singh, said as the assailants were unidentified, it would not be proper to link these incidents with the Khushhal Park murder.

Meanwhile, criminals broke into the house of a power department SDO and decamped with jewellery worth Rs 3 lakh and other valuables in RD Colony, a VIP colony of Ghaziabad. The theft was discovered when the family returned from outstation yesterday. The GDA’s RD Colony is situated at the back of the Collectorate and the office of the SSP under Kavi Nagar police station. Interestingly, the padlock on the main gate was intact but when the family went in after unlocking it they found the house ransacked.

With almirahs broken open and shelves smashed, the belongings were scattered around in the three-storeyed house.


Tehsil Diwas flatters to deceive
Our Correspondent

Meerut, October 21
The best of government’s intentions to provide relief to a common man have failed, or so it seems as the government could not build trust in public about the Tehsil Diwas, meant to administer quick justice to a man on the street. The road to hell is paved with good intentions!

Senior government officials are receiving 10 times more complaints in their offices than on Tehsil Diwas. If we look at records of the past four months, more than 16,000 complaints were received by senior officials daily in their offices while on Tehsil Diwas days, only 1,500 complaints were received.

Tehsil Diwas started during the tenure of Mr Kalyan Singh’s BJP government to provide quick justice to the public and check the flood of complaints in government offices. On Tehsil Diwas, a meeting was to be held at the tehsil headquarters to give an on-the-spot justice to the complainant.

The District Magistrate, the Senior Superintendent of police, the SDM, the Tehsildar and other senior officials camped at the tehsil headquarters and heard complaints. They then ordered relief on the spot.

In the beginning, Tehsil Diwas received huge response. The Rajnath Singh-led BJP government also continued with this. Ms Mayawati also gave instructions to senior government officials to make Tehsil Diwas more effective.

The Chief Secretary of UP, Mr D. S. Bagga, also issued an order that action would be initiated against those officials who did not show interest in entertaining public grievances.

But it seems that the officials at the junior level do not bother about the government orders. A total number of 1,497 complaints were received on Tehsil Diwas during the early four months of the tenure of the Mayawati government. Bulandshahr leads with 700 complaints on tehsil days. A total of 125 complaints were received in Meerut, 197 in Ghaziabad, 264 in Gautam Budh Nagar and 123 in Baghpat.

If we look at the complaints received by the officials in their offices, it is clear that the tehsil days have failed in their objective.

A total number of 16,488 complaints were received by the senior government officers in their offices in Meerut Division. Meerut topped with 6,898 complaints from all over district. Probably, being a divisional headquarter could be the reason behind this. About 3,937 complaints were received in Ghaziabad, 1,015 in Gautam Budh Nagar, 1,007 in Baghpat and 3,831 in Bulandshahr. The government sent 159 complaints from Lucknow.

The Chief Minister, Ms Mayawati, gave instructions to all officials to be present in their offices from 10 am to 12 noon during all working days. But long queues of people since the morning in government offices prevent officials from doing their essential work in the offices.


DHBVN for out-of-court solution
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, October 21
The Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN) has offered the consumers to settle all those disputes out of court, where penalty has been levied by paying only 50 per cent of the assessed penalty and surcharge.

According to details provided by the DHBVN authorities, a large number of cases were pending in the courts, where consumers had already paid 40 to 50 per cent of the penalty.

It is offered that consumers of such cases could get the cases settled with payment of a minor amount as the rest of the 50 per cent had to be waived off by the DHBVN.

It is stated that the consumers who had already paid 40 per cent of the penalty amount would have to pay 10 per cent of the amount with simple interest of 12 per cent on balance amount.

In general, the DHBVN levies surcharge at the rate of 27 per cent per annum on compound basis. However, for settling cases where the unauthorised load resulted in change of category from Low Tension (LT) to High Tension (HT), the LT surcharge at rate of 25 per cent of SOP would be payable. Where the court cases had arisen on account of surcharge levied and the principal amount already paid, the consumers could settle the case by paying surcharge at the rate of 12 per cent for annum.

It is added that in cases where theft of power was involved, the FIR, if registered, will be withdrawn by the state government, after the agreement for settlement of case out of court was reached. The scheme will remain in affect till November 15, 2002 and would be available in all disputes pending in courts or arbitration as on July 31 this year.

The DHBVN has also announced to reduce the charges for extension of load, on tubewells from Rs 2,000 and Rs 1,500 per BHP to Rs 100 per BHP.


Fest bonanza: Lollipops galore for king consumer
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 21
For marketing honchos, the brief is terse – sell or be doomed. Even if it means defying fundamental principles of economics.

While economists and policy planners are brainstorming hard to develop ways and means to put more money in the hands of the public to boost demand, marketing gurus are adopting all kinds of ways to woo customers during the festival season.

Almost anything and everything, from the branded to the unorganised, have been put on sale under innovative discount schemes to lure the customer, who, as of now, appears rather unexcited.

Experts opined that sale blitzkrieg is unlikely to cut much ice as the slide in the economy has manifested itself in the form of households cutting corners in their budget.

“Households cutting corners is a clear indication that the economy is not in the pink of health. And sales promotion exercises, however, innovative they may be, is unlikely to give a big push to sales volumes,” a Delhi-based economist said.

The busy season, or ‘dhande ka samay’, for the country’s retailers starts from Durga Puja and continues right up to New Year celebrations.

“This is the time most of the sales take place, especially in non-durable and semi-perishable commodities such as clothes and other garment accessories,” a cloth retailer said.

While some observers term the aggressive sales promotion phenomenon as a clear sign of low-offtake, those offering the schemes do not appear to buy the same line of argument and have unleashed a sale bonanza amidst virtual screams of “Shop! Shop! Till you drop”.

For instance, lifestyle store chain Westside is offering several freebies during the season. Staring from October 2 and going on till November 6, every shopper in Westside making purchases between Rs 1,000 and Rs 2,000 stands to win items such as ceramic platters, mugs, canisters, hair dryers, steam irons and also the bumper article of a car.

Austrian cut crystal manufacturing major Swarovski is running a scheme from October 15 onwards under which any consumer making a purchase of above Rs 2,500 would be gifted an attractive handbag embellished with Swarovski crystal.

Lifespring, a chain of health and beauty stores, has undertaken a string of special promotion designed for women for Karva Chauth celebrations. Various cosmetic companies have joined hands with Lifespring and offering several giveaways, including wrist watches and bags.

As anxious vendors unleash a publicity and price-cut war, the king consumer is having the last laugh.


Parties keep lynching issue alive

Jhajjar, October 21
As the leaders from various political parties continue to descend on the town to ‘cash in’ on the issue of lynching of Dalits, it becomes apparent that the issue is not going to die down as its repercussions are likely to reverberate for long and could give the state government sleepless nights.

While the Congress has demanded the resignation of the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, on moral grounds as it failed to provide security to its citizens, the BJP plays safe by condemning the incident but expressing satisfaction on the investigation progress. The noteworthy point is that all the leaders were unanimous on the ‘doubtful’ role of the police and held it responsible for the murders.

New Delhi: The All India Rajiv Krantikari Sangathan, ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Satya Shodhak Samaj’ organised a dharna protesting against the killings of Dalits in Haryana. The protestors congregated at Jantar Mantar and expressed solidarity with the families of those killed.


Kin of police victims get jobs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 21
Family members of the Delhi Police personnel, who had lost either their lives or were injured during the terrorist strike on Parliament on December 13, were offered appointments by the Delhi Police in a function here today.

One each of the dependents of eight policemen, including five who laid down their lives during the carnage last year, have been given jobs. “The lives of those martyrs who made supreme sacrifices for the country are inspiring and should be emulated,” Delhi Police Commissioner R. S. Gupta said in the function held as a part of the “Commemoration Day” here.

On the occasion, Mr Gupta also paid floral tributes at the martyrs’ memorial, built in memory of the 10 CRPF personnel who lost their lives in the Chinese aggression in 1959. In the function, Intelligence Bureau chief K. P. Singh and other heads of various central police organisations were present.


Pigs’ paradise? That’s Sonepat, for you
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, October 21
The cleanliness campaign launched by the district and civic administration on October 2 last has proved to be a total failure in this city.

The whole town literally stinks and is replete with garbage heaps. About Sectors 14 and 15, residential colonies of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), the less said the better. These are just urban slums. The nauseating sights in almost every lane and bylane are most painful, both for the residents as well as visitors.

Those part of the present municipal set-up are engrossed in mutual fights, criminally ignoring everything that concerns the municipal council. Sonepat is an “A” class city with a population of over two lakh. It remains totally in a state of neglect, thanks to the callous attitude of officials who deploy most of the sanitary staff for the upkeep of their own residences. A municipal official admitted this fact.

Sanitary work in the entire town has collapsed with pigs, stray cattle and street dogs roaming all over the town. They polish off what is palatable for them, leaving the rest scattered for days.

In a way, Sonepat’s residents are thankful to the overwhelming number of pigs for their untiring “cleansing operation”. But they do not hesitate to take liberties with the residents by entering their houses straight from the garbage heap or just after a drain dip. Pigs are known for their fertility but their increasing number hardly bothers the authorities, least of all the menace posed by them. The municipal council is too generous to a fault with its sanitary staff, never caring or even daring to check whether they report for work or not. Employees only report to various officials exclusively at their residences and make their attendance by proxy rather than attending to civic matters. Of course, the mini secretariat area where most officials live is out of bounds for pigs and the “sahibs” are barely aware of the plight of the common man for whom they actually work.

Even a short spell of rain turns Sonepat into a quagmire that stinks for months. Innumerable stagnant ponds and puddles make mobility difficult. The worst affected are the children who find going to school a wading-through-dirt exercise. Almost all roads, lanes and bylanes have been beyond repair for years together. Ugly patchwork is done recklessly and that too once in a blue moon. The entire stretch of the two main arteries of the town— Gita Bhavan and Subhash Chowk— is marked by potholes, now resembling huge craters.


Rainwater harvesting system must in Huda plots
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, October 21
Anyone who constructs a house on a plot allotted by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) and whose covered area of the roof was 100 square metres or more will have to install a proper rainwater harvesting and artificial recharge of groundwater technique system.

According to the Deputy Commissioner, who held a meeting of the officials concerned here today, a committee consisting of architects, town planners, representatives of the Faridabad Industries Association (FIA), engineers of the Huda, MCF and members of the residents welfare associations had been set up to supervise the implementation of the programme.

Although the authorities have announced on several occasions earlier that there was a need to take up such schemes, there has been no unanimity over the process of implementation. While the officials have made such a system mandatory, a section of the residents feels that the cost of providing the system be borne by the department like Huda, which, they say, had been selling the plots after keeping a huge margin. They claim that like providing roads, sewerage, water and electricity supply in a residential colony, it was the duty of Huda to provide the rainwater harvesting system at the plots sold by it.

However, the authorities have made it mandatory on the part of the plot owner to install the system and bear the cost, which is stated to be between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 per house.

The authorities have also advised the plot owners to abide by the norms and regulations associated with the system so that the water to be recharged on the ground should not mix with polluted water and keep or place the system at least 10 metres away from the manholes or sewer lines. Another interesting fact that has come to light is that none of the governments (central and state), Huda, MCF and other department offices and even the Central Ground Water Board, which has propagated the idea, has installed the system on their buildings so far.


Indian agro-climate ‘best for pulses’
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, October 21
The world is going to face acute water scarcity in coming years, according to Dr William Dhar, Director General of International Crop Research Institute (ICRISAT). In such a given scenario, only these farmers who cultivate such crops which survive on less water will prosper. They should sow crops like pulses, he advised. Dr Dhar, who had visited Ghaziabad last week to evaluate the wheat-arhar crops grown under secure inputs techniques in Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Agricultural and Plant Research University, laid special emphasis on the cultivation of pulses. The 45-member council of agricultural scientists from eight countries had inspected rice and arhar crops in Kalloo Garhi, Matyala and Duhai. The delegation included farm scientists from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia etc.

Dr Dhar said, in view of “great domestic demand for pulses and gram in the country these crops have to be imported while India has a very suitable agro-climate for the cultivation of these crops. It is high time the farmers adopted these crops on a large scale”.

The world, he said, could face a very serious water crisis in the years to come. It is, therefore, incumbent for the farmers to adopt such crops which can give better yield with less irrigation.

The Deputy D-G of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Dr J. S. Samra, said that in the age of globalisation it was necessary to bring about revolutionary changes in the agricultural field too. It was necessary for crop research institutions in the country to develop new high yielding crop varieties.


Enact information Bill: Seminar
Vipin Sharma

Rohtak, October 21
Mr Bharat Dogra, convenor of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and an eminent columnist, has stressed the need for right to information for developing a healthy society. He said the struggle for right to information would not end even after the enactment of a Bill in this regard as proper implementation by the government would also be a hard nut to crack for the people.

He was speaking at a state-level seminar on ‘Right to Information’, organised by the Haryana Union of Journalists affiliated to the National Union of Journalists at Maharshi Dayanand University teachers’ common room here on Sunday.

Mr Dogra said the implementation of the right to information Bill would bring transparency in the official functioning and thus check corruption to a large extent. He claimed that the enactment of the Bill in the states, including Delhi, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Assam had showed very good results.

The Speaker of the Haryana Assembly, Mr Satbir Singh Kadian, who presided over the function, also advocated for the enactment of the right to information Bill. He admitted that the people should have the right to know the functioning of various government departments. However, he categorically stated that secrecy must be maintained in certain departments in the larger interest. He claimed that several developed countries, including the USA and Britain, did not make all the pieces of information available to their citizens.

Mr Shiva Sharma, Additional District Judge, Rohtak said the right to information Bill had been floated twice in Parliament but it could not be passed due to disinterest on the part of politicians. He said it was unfortunate that the Government Secrecy Act enacted by the British Government in 1923 was still in force.

Prof B K Kuthiala, Dean, Faculty of Media Studies, Guru Jambheshwar University, Hisar said the right to information should have been provided along with the fundamental rights.

Earlier, Mr Satbir Kadian released ‘HUJ Samwad’, a monthly magazine of the HUJ. Mr Virender Singh Chauhan, district president of the HUJ, said this seminar was the first step of the statewide campaign towards the enactment of the right to information Bill and the union would organise seminars at the district level to raise the issue. He said the union would seek cooperation from non-government organisations, social organisations and political parties in its endeavour in public interest.


‘UGC encouraging private institutes, blinking at standards’
Sanjog Gupta

The recent protest against the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) continuing agenda of curtailing expenditure through dubious policies was a major success. The teachers stood united against the UGC directive to increase workload, interpreted by some as a step that would lead to the retrenchment of teachers.

The issue finally went to the Academic Council, which then resolved the matter through an amiable solution.

The president of the Delhi University Teachers’ Association, Dr Shaswati Mazumdar, played a leading role in the teachers’ agitation against the UGC directive.

She led the teachers through hunger strikes, dharnas, and marches, overridden by the commitment to ensure that the ‘vile intentions’ of the UGC did not take concrete form.

Dr Mazumdar has been a teacher at the Delhi University for the last 24 years. She joined the Department of German and Roman Studies after completing her Masters in German from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and a Certificate Course in teaching from CIEFL (Hyderabad) purely due to her “interest in foreign languages and indecision regarding her career”.

The Department of German and Roman Studies has witnessed a rapid transition since Dr Mazumdar joined its ranks. From being a department primarily for imparting language skills, it has metamorphosed into a holistic learning in language studies.

Over the last decade, the department had introduced a composite Masters course in four languages–Italian, German, French and Spanish–and has launched a Bachelors course this year. The courses now encapsulate elements of philosophy, history of science and geography.

Her association with DUTA began in 1979, and over the years, particularly since last year when she was elected the president of DUTA, she has been deeply involved in the various issues related to the Delhi University.

Are you content with the final outcome of the recent DUTA agitation?

The agitation led to major achievements for us. We have been able to avoid the retrenchment of teachers, which was the intended objective of the UGC directive of increasing the workload of university teachers.

We have also been able to avoid an imminent decline in teaching standards in the university, since an increase in workload would have meant lesser amount of input time on lectures and cut in duration of tutorials /practicals.

In spite of the fact that the Academic Council did concede to the UGC demand somewhat, we have attained a victory in principle.

Why was it that only DUTA expressed its discontentment with the UGC directive while all other universities maintained silence on the issue?

This is a false notion. In fact, the UGC directive disrupted the normal functioning in most universities. Teachers in Haryana had complained to us that they had to conduct ‘demonstrative practicals’, which involved the teachers conducting practicals while students were reduced to hapless observers. A system of passive reception is being promoted by UGC.

The vice-chancellor was targeted by DUTA at various stages of the agitation, what was the role that you expected the vice-chancellor to play?

The vice-chancellor is the academic head of the university and he should not act as the long arm of the funding agency. They are supposed to uphold the autonomous status of the university rather than becoming a puppet in the hands of the government body.

The UGC is enacting the policy thrusts of the government and the university vice-chancellor should have stood up in the face of these irrational directives rather than conceding to their pressure.

In the past, the V-Cs have taken uncompromising stand against the government, which is what was expected from the present vice-chancellor as well. A firm stand by the vice-chancellor would have greatly strengthened our resolve and would have aided us in mobilising opinion against liberalisation in the social sector.

What are the pending issues which are likely to resurface in the near future?

The agitation was primarily against the discriminatory policies against the teachers in this country. There has traditionally been an explicit parity between Class 1 employees of the government and teachers. Lately, however, the government seems hell bent on wiping it out.

The withdrawal of ‘third promotion’ was one policy measure intended to achieve this objective. As a result, there is stagnation in promotion of teachers at the top level of the Reader’s grade. It has led to widespread de-motivation of teachers. Central government employees, who are less qualified than teachers, end up with higher salaries, which contributes to the frustration among the teachers. Until and unless the government discards its discriminatory policies against the teachers, the agitation will continue, albeit in a subdued manner.

More specifically, the issue of librarians’ parity with teachers will be looked into because traditionally librarians have been treated as academicians, who play an active role in imparting education. Surprisingly, however, the UCG has decided not to treat them at par with teachers by way of offering poorer service conditions.

The Executive Council of DUTA will be convened soon to look into matters of ‘service conditions’. Most of these demands are national demands as they find a place on most demand charters of universities in India and therefore, require the collective effort of all universities.

What about teacher’s accountability? One of the primary issues which crops up from time to time is the rampant absenteeism in Delhi University and the lack of accountability of the teachers.

First of all, there is only a certain section of teachers which falls into the category mentioned, which is true for all professions– one section does not take their responsibility seriously which leads to the defacing of the whole profession per se.

I am not trying to justify the lack of accountability, but the fact is that only a faction of the teachers is party to this disintegration of the system. But, a system of accountability must be accompanied with complimenting academic reforms such as in the current evaluation system.

The current system totally negates the requirement for classroom teaching of which the students are also to blame. They believe in the ‘key-book culture’ and adhere to the wide spread norm of learning by rote. If there aren’t enough students attending classes, who are the teachers supposed to impart learning to? Also, there is lack of facilities, which often leads to de-motivation among teachers.

A further criticism levelled against the DUTA is the political schism that has emerged and the resulting politicisation of its actions?

I think this reflects the vibrancy of thought that exists within the DUTA. The fact that there are conflicting opinions being represented in the union lend a dynamism to the process of activism. Association with political parties is synonymous with political thought and they go hand-in-hand. Hence, the characteristic is more of an advantage or a dynamic feature of this union, rather than a drawback.

The UGC has been criticised by DUTA on various fronts. Why is the teaching community so disgruntled with the UGC?

Actions of the UGC are governed by the agenda to liberalise the social sector and curtail investment. They are encouraging private education institutes to function without the compulsion of adhering to any quality standards. Even the Delhi University has been forced to initiate self-financing courses.

The UGC has banned funding of new courses and grants are not available even for course revisions. The UGC is pushing universities to run only ‘marketable courses’. This propaganda has almost caused the disbandment of courses in Modern Indian Languages. If the Indian government is not going to fund courses in our own languages, then, who will? More specifically, the proposition of the UGC to set up a state funding agency to fund colleges will lead to the de-linking of colleges from the university, putting an end to the extremely effective method of ‘co-operative teaching’. The method in which those teaching postgraduate as well as undergraduate courses discuss, analyse and review courses together, is a tried and tested method for effective teaching.

In your opinion, how does Delhi University compare with other universities and which are the areas that can be improved upon?

There is wide room for improvement–better infrastructure for teachers and students alike, increased availability of reading material at affordable prices, recurrent evaluations at the undergraduate level, introduction of teaching aids such as use of A/V equipment and reducing the strength of classes should be looked into.

In spite of its drawbacks, DU remains one of the best in the country. The course revision is rigorous, which ensures that the quality of syllabi is top class and courses remain vibrant.


This Samson dares militants in their lair
Nalini Ranjan

New Delhi, October 21
It was October 1988. Some militant group attacked his father, Mohamad Abdullaha, a senior leader of the National Conference and a vocal opponent of terrorism. His Srinagar-based house was also ransacked. In that attack, his father was seriously injured. That incident deeply perturbed and hurt young Rasheed Firdousi.

At that time Firdousi was studying law in Srinagar University.

After that incident, he decided to do something against the menace of terrorism in the valley. After completing LLB, he did a short course in production and direction from the Pune Film Institute. His first production was `Kashmir Idaria.’

The 100-episode serial was telecast on Kashmir

Doordarshan from 1992 to 1994. The serial depicted the cruel face of terrorism and also countered the false propaganda of Pakistan TV. Terrorist groups were so annoyed that in 1993 his pregnant wife Rukhsana was attacked, resulting in her miscarriage. In 1995 he produced `Gaddar’.

This 52-episode TV serial was a dramatised reproduction of the turmoil suffered by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1998, he started producing `Jawabi Hamla’, a 26-episode TV serial in which he openly challenged the militancy, which won him the hatred of terrorists. In August 1999 during the shooting of that serial terrorists attacked his vehicle with hand grenades. One artist lost his legs in the attack.

Firdousi’s name figures in the hit lists of almost all militant groups active in the valley. Despite these attacks his mission continues.

Talking to NCR Tribune, he revealed that his next venture is `Hum Bhi Muh Me Juvan Rakhate Hain’. This 52-episode TV serial is a painful interaction between violence and terrorism and is scheduled to be telecast on Kashmir Doordarshan next month. He said for the first time the people of Jammu and Kashmir have spoken their mind. “It was very difficult to extract something from broken hearts.

For this, I had to work psychologically while interacting with these people”. Now 38-year-old Firdousi spends his leisure time in his Delhi-based house-cum-office with his wife and two children when he is not shooting in the valley.


Valmiki culture’s true representative: Sonia
Tribune News Service

Congress president Sonia Gandhi paying homage to Maharishi Valmiki on the occasion of Valmiki Jayanti in the Capital on Monday
Congress president Sonia Gandhi paying homage to Maharishi Valmiki on the occasion of Valmiki Jayanti in the Capital on Monday.
— Tribune Photo

New Delhi, October 21
Congress president Sonia Gandhi said that Maharishi Valmiki was the true representative of Indian culture and mythology. What he had contributed to human society could not be depicted through words. Maharishi Valmiki’s divine teachings, concepts and thoughts were not merely for a particular community, he was ‘worshipable’ for all castes and communities.

Mrs Sonia Gandhi was addressing a mammoth rally at her residence on the auspicious occasion of Maharishi Valmiki Jayanti. Like previous years, she also flagged off a Shobha Yatra, organised by socio-religious institutions of the Valmiki Samaj under the leadership of Mr Jaikishan to protect the socio-economic, political and religious interests of the downtrodden. Prominent party leaders like Mr G. Venkataswamy, chairman of the SC/ST department of the AICC, Mr Kamal Nath, AICC general secretary, Mrs Sheila Dikshit, Delhi Chief Minister, and Mr Subhash Chopra, DPCC president, were also present on the occasion. Mr Jaikishan thanked Mrs Sonia Gandhi for respecting the religious sentiments of the Valmiki Samaj.


Work on Badarpur flyover to begin soon
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, October 21
The construction of the much-awaited flyover at Badarpur will start this year. Mr Chautala said at the ‘Sarkar Apke Dwar’ programme for the NIT Assembly constituency today that the Union Government had sanctioned the project. The Chief Minister announced that the sewerage in the area would be improved and strengthened and drinking water would be provided to the residents of various colonies and villages of the constituency. While parks would be developed on both sides of the National Highway, a scheme of providing pucca houses to `jhuggi’ residents would be taken up, he said.

He said senior citizens would be provided free health and medical services with no charge for eyeglasses. About the alleged encroachments within the 900 metre radius of the Air Force Station here, Mr Chautala said the administration had been in touch with the Defence Ministry.

The CM also congratulated sportsman Bhupendra Singh, a silver medallist in athletics at recently concluded Asian Games at Busan. A cheque of Rs 11,000 was presented to him from the District Olympic Association.


Cong activists burn Togadia’s effigy
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, October 21
Congress workers led by Mr Anand Kaushik, a member of the All India Congress Committee, burnt an effigy of the general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, (VHP) Mr Pravin Togadia, at Ballabgarh here on Sunday in protest against the latter’s remarks on Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Earlier, they held a meeting and condemned the VHP and BJP leadership. Alleging that communal forces had been let loose, they said that such irresponsible statements were a blot on the NDA government.

Stone of DPS laid

Rohtak: The foundation stone of Delhi Public School, Rohtak was laid on Jind Road here on Sunday. Addressing newsmen here last evening, Mr Narendra Kumar, chairman, DPS Society, said the school, spread over an area of 20 acre, would start functioning in April 2003. He said the administrative block had already been completed while the academic blocks would be completed by February 2003. He informed that DPS, Rohtak was the 11th school in Haryana and 100th school under the DPS Society.

Cows electrocuted

Sonepat: Five cows were electrocuted in a field at Gumar village, about 20 km from here, last night. According to a report, the Ganaur police have registered a case in this connection and detained a youth, Parkash of the same village, for interrogation. It is stated that these cows have entered the fields of a farmer, Jagat Singh, and touched the barbed wires having electricity. This led to their electrocution.

Jawan killed

An Army jawan, Mr Inder Singh Gulia of Purkhas village in this district, was killed in an ambush by militants in the Ramban sector of Jammu and Kashmir, according to a report that reached here today. Mr Inder Singh Gulia, along with another Army jawan, was returning to the base camp in the night after duty on October 18 when they were ambushed by militants. Mr Gulia died on the spot whereas the other jawan sustained injuries. On the receipt of information, a contingent of jawans rushed to the spot but the militants had fled the scene.

Eight hurt in clash

As many as eight persons, including four women, were injured in a clash that took place between two groups in Sikka Colony here last evening. According to a report, the injured persons were identified as Ms Suman, Ramesh and Kapur Singh (one group) and Bhagat Singh, Anup Singh, Ms Anju, Ms Asha, Ms Babita (another group). All the injured persons were immediately hospitalised and they are stated to be out of danger. The police are still investigating into the case. No arrest has so far been made in this connection.

Three robbers nabbed

With the arrest of three persons, the special staff of the district police has busted an inter-district gang of robbers operating in various districts of Haryana for the last few months. The arrested persons were identified as Tejpal, Rakesh and Rajoo alias Ashok. The police also recovered a number of stolen articles from them, including two cameras, wristwatches, electric fans, TV sets and gold and silver ornaments. The police claimed to have solved a number of loot and theft cases.


Punjabi writer Harbhajan Singh passes away
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 21
Noted Punjabi writer, critic and academician Dr Harbhajan Singh passed away at his residence here today after a prolonged illness. He was 83.

Winner of the Sahitya Akademi award, Dr Singh has authored about 300 books. He served as a Professor in Delhi University for nearly three decades and was later appointed Professor Emeritus for his outstanding contributions.

Born in Luding district of Assam, Dr Singh completed his early education in Lahore. Dr Singh is survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter.

Guru Ramdass’ birthday

To celebrate the birth anniversary of Sri Guru Ramdass, a congregation will gather at the Lakhi Shah Vanjara Hall of Gurdwara Rakab Ganj. The programme will start at four in the morning with the recitation of the Sukhmani Sahib and Nitnem. The Ragi jatha of Bhai Avtar Singh and Bhai Gurcharan Singh will perform the Asa di Var. The head Granthi of Rakab Ganj, Giani Hem Singh, will deliver the Shabad Vichar.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Gurdwara Sewadar Committee headed by president Teahal Singh has appealed to the central government to announce a national holiday on Guru Teg Bahadur’s martyrdom day.

The meeting was held here yesterday in which attention was drawn to the sacrifice made by the late Guru. Convenor Raja Singh Sethi and general secretary Pritam Singh Walia were among those who attended the meeting.

Mandala Pooja from Nov 17

Guruvayoorappan (Sri Krishna) Temple in East Delhi has drawn up big plans for the 41-day long Mandala Pooja celebrations commencing from November 17.

The festivities at the temple in Mayur Vihar will be marked by special rituals like “Ayyappan Vilakku” in the traditional Kerala style and “Sastha Preethi”. Performance by eminent artistes of Carnatic music and classical dance and rendering of devotional songs will also mark the festivities.

During the Navratra festivities, the temple organised special poojas. ‘Saraswati Pooja’ was the highlight where hundreds of toddlers were initiated into learning.

Meanwhile, K. Madhavan Nair was re-elected as president of the Arsha Dharma Parishad, which manages the temple. V N N Pillai and G K Nair were elected as vice-presidents, while K Prabhakaran was elected as secretary.


Hardcore criminal nabbed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 21
The North district police today claimed to have arrested a notorious criminal of Jama Masjid area, Anees Khan, from Bela Road in Daryaganj on Sunday. A country-made pistol with two live cartridges and 30 gram smack were recovered from his possession. He was involved in a number of murder, attempt to murder, extortion and robbery cases. He had also been absconding from appearance in the court in connection with 16 dacoity and snatching cases. He has been declared a proclaimed offender in a robbery case in Panipat and wanted in several other cases of extortion in Haryana. His main accomplice, Fateh Mohammad, was recently arrested in the Capital, the police said.

Bid to kill employer

The Roop Nagar police have registered a case against Vashudev Sharma, who allegedly attempted to kill his employer, Ram Kumar, at his shop and later tried to commit suicide in Kamla Nagar yesterday. The suspect was employed at a suiting shop in Kamla Nagar.

He came to the shop with a plastic can containing petrol in the morning. He poured the petrol on his employer and himself. As Vashudev took out a lighter from his pocket, he was overpowered by customers and salesmen. Vashudev was admitted to Hindu Rao Hospital, the police said.

Snatcher held

The staff of Mobile Patrol Van of the Delhi Police arrested a snatcher, Arun Sharma, from Greater Kailash last evening and recovered a gold chain. The staff of the mobile van, which was parked at M-Block Market in Greater Kailash, heard the voice of a woman, Preetha Thomas, crying for help. The staff acted swiftly and chased and nabbed the running snatcher.

Man poisons wife

The Dabri Police arrested Pawan Kumar, a resident of Sector 1, B-Block, Pappan Kalan, for allegedly killing his wife, Uma (25), by giving her poison. He was arrested on the basis of an inquest report of an SDM.

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