Friday, July 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India


C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Punjabi to remain compulsory subject
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 17
Putting all speculations to rest, the Punjab School Education Board today announced that Punjabi will remain as one of the compulsory subjects for its students and the board will continue with the system of private examinations.

The announcements came following questions posed by principals who had come from all over Punjab to attend a workshop for principals of affiliated schools organised by the board here today.

Inaugurated by the Chairman of the board, Dr Kehar Singh, the workshop aimed at highlighting the problems faced by principals and encouraging interaction between principals and board officials. The chairman stated that it was time that the board started improving the quality of education. He also said affiliated schools of the board attracted best students in the state and thus played a crucial role in improving the quality of education. “Education is a means to earn money but whatever is being given to the students should be done with a sense of extreme responsibility,” he said, addressing the principals.

The workshop, first of its kind in the state to be organised by the school affiliation branch of the board, was appreciated by the over 400 principal who had come from far fetched villages in Punjab. Delivering the keynote address, the in charge of the affiliation branch, Ms Veena Dada, stated that the results shown by the affiliated schools had been far higher than government schools in all classes. “We realise that affiliated schools are running the show on their own and have shortage of funds but it is creditable that despite all odds the schools are showing very good results,” she pointed out. “There should be more interaction among affiliated schools that can share cultural and sports facilities, she said.

The Controller of Examinations, Ms Narinder Jit Kaur, stated that Punjabi would continue to remain a compulsory subject in the board. “We are the Punjab educational board and it is our duty to encourage our language,” she said. She also clarified before principals that there was no move to follow the Haryana and Himachal pattern and abolish private candidature. “We are a student-friendly board. We take the student as an individual and since everyone has the right to education we will extend services to all,” she said.

Senior officials of the board made themselves available to the principals dealing with all their queries during a special discussion hour in the evening session. Representatives of the two associations of the affiliated schools principals were also honoured.



CBSE approves vocational courses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
Vocational courses in structure fabrication, ophthalmic technician, bakery and confectionery, food preservation and nutrition and marketing and salesmanship being taught at the plus II level have been granted approval by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

The Assistant Director (Vocational), Ms Pritpal Kaur, said while the board had sent a telephonic message granting approval a written approval would be shortly sent to the department. The CBSE had withdrawn the courses in the syllabi declared for the new academic session, stating that it would not conduct examinations for these courses in 2005 before the beginning of admissions to Class XI. Taking up cudgels on behalf of those interested in vocational education being imparted at government schools, the UT Education Department had appealed to the CBSE to reconsider its decision.



Unsigned detailed marks card!
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
It was surely not a pleasing experience for Dinesh Mehta, a BA-final student of Panjab University, when he received his detailed marks card unsigned.

The card also does not mention the date of despatch and the registration number of the student.

Moreover, the card shows that he has been awarded in a paper for which he had never appeared. Mehta, a student of the Department of Correspondence Studies, was shocked when he found that his card showed him to have passed in Punjabi although he had appeared for political science for which the marks column was blank.

Dr Sodhi Ram, Controller of Examination, said he was not aware about it he would take it on priority basis.



Move to privatise polytechnics opposed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
Various unions of government polytechnics and ITIs of the Department of Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, have condemned the state government’s move to hand over 18 polytechnics and 94 ITIs to the private sector.

Officials, employees and representatives of various associations of the government polytechnics and ITIs of the Department of Technical Education and Industrial Training, Punjab, at a meeting here today, unanimously resolved to oppose the move. The Joint Action Committee said that the state government was auctioning public assets at throwaway prices.

Mr Gurbax Singh, president of the association, said the state government had already created a crisis in the education sector by hiking fee substantially in the general education. The latest move, he said, would further deprive the children of lower middle class from taking vocational education.

The committee called upon the state government to reconsider its decision, failing which it would launch an agitation.



Mohali ex-servicemen seek Kendriya Vidyalaya
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
Ex-servicemen in SAS Nagar have sought the opening of a Kendriya Vidyalaya in the township to cater to the wards of defence and Central Government employees.

In a letter written to the Assistant Commissioner of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan at the regional office here, they have pointed out that SAS Nagar is a satellite fast developing town of Chandigarh, with about 3 lakh population and is likely to become a district headquarters of Punjab in the near future.

This city has only one government higher secondary school and no Kendriya Vidyalaya.

Private schools are unreasonably costly with connected problems.

Stating that there are about 10,000 defence families in this area, in addition to Central Government employees, they have added that this area is ideal sanctuary for settling down and children education, and hence urgently needs a Kendriya Vidyalaya up to 10+2 classes.

The township already has 17 well-developed sectors, 10 acquired sectors under process and 8 more new sectors are being acquired in near future.

Two AWHO colonies and Army Law College are already constructed whereas a BSF Group HQ is under construction, where lot of defence families and central government employees are settling down.



100 saplings planted on school premises
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 17
In a sapling plantation camp organised by the Eco Club of Government Model High School, Sector 28, in association with the Parent Teachers Association, around 100 saplings were planted on the school premises here today. The camp was inaugurated by Ms Rajesh Chaudhary, District Education Officer, who was the chief guest. Mr Subhash Aggarwal, Principal of the school, PTA members, staff and students of the school took part in the camp.

A rally to create awareness among residents of the area about water conservation, importance of plantation and harmful effects of pollution, was also flagged off by the chief guest. Around 200 students of the school took part in the rally.

The function concluded with an on-the-spot painting competition on "Environment Awareness". In seniors category, the contest was won by Vipender Singh Negi, followed by Parmod Kumar and Dheeraj Kumar.

In the juniors category, Amrit Pal Singh was declared the winner, while Pankaj Uniyal and Sahil Aggarwal bagged second and third positions, respectively.



School head chargesheeted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
The head of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 10, has been chargesheeted by the UT Education Department and an explanation for poor results has been sought. The Principal of GMSSS-20 has not been chargesheeted as was inadvertently mentioned in yesterday’s report. The error is regretted.



Origins of the Vihara
Dr M. Rajivlochan


  • The important parks where the Buddha put up with his disciples included JetAvana at SrAvasti, Veluvana at Rajgriha, Isipatana at Benares.

  • Important viharas were built at Nalanda and Vikramshila.

  • Caves were carved out of mountains at Ajanta, Ellora, Karle, Nashik and Kanheri to be used as vihara.

  • The Buddha did not stay at any particular vihara but roamed around throughout his life.

WE know that the state of Bihar gets its name from the word Vihara. Few, however, know that the vihara was one of the most important institutions to come up in India. The land of Magadha had a large number of them but there were many viharas spread in other parts of the country as well.

So what was the Vihara? The first point is that it was part of the evolution of Buddhism. Hiuen Tsiang, the Chinese traveller who visited India, informs us that it was the place where the Buddhist Bhikkus rested. The norm for the Bhikkus, those of the Buddhist order as also for others in India almost 2000 years ago, was to constantly roam around. Remaining at one place, it was believed, would encourage special affection towards that place and its people thus inhibiting the Bhikku’s vow of practising and preaching the teachings of Gautam Buddha.

The Buddhist text called MahAvagga gives us an interesting explanation of how the vihara came into existence. Buddhist Bhikkus used to travel all through the year. The seasons, winter, summer, monsoon, did not matter, because the instruction from Gautam Buddha was to travel. Monks of other sects, however, observed the rain-retreat. That is, for the duration of the rainy season they would settle down at one place. The Buddhist practice of roaming around caused much comment. The people began murmuring that the Buddhist Bhikkus, by wandering even during the monsoon, crushed the green herbs and destroyed vegetable and many other small lives. The complaint was reported to Buddha. Since, then, Buddha prescribed that the Bhikkus should not roam during the rainy season and instead should take up residence in some pleasant place, usually a garden. This place came to be known as VihAra, or simply, the vihara. A whole procedure was evolved as to what a Bhikku would do on taking residence. “They are to look after their VihAra “, says Buddhaghosa, a commentator from those times, “to provide food and water for themselves, to fulfil all due ceremonies, such as paying reverence to sacred shrines, etc., and to say loudly once, or twice, or thrice: ‘I enter upon VassA [residence] in this vihara for three months’”.

So did the monks stay in the vihara only during the rainy season or throughout the year?

In early days the Bhikkus entered the vihara only during the rainy season. The rest of the year they lived in the woods, under trees, and on hillsides. That is, at any place which they happened to come by during their travels. But a rich merchant of Rajgriha requested Gautam Buddha to allow the monks to stay in houses too. It is not clear whether Buddha allowed the monks to stay in houses throughout the year or only during the rainy season. Though, we do find some rules in various Buddhist texts laying down rules on how the monks were to share the space inside the vihara, basic stuff like who would sleep where, use which of the seats. There was even one rule about how space would be shared the next year - perhaps to ensure that no one individual had a monopoly over the best spaces.

If rules were being laid down for the sharing of space throughout the year, surely, we wonder, some monks were staying in the vihara even after the monsoon was over. In other words, the vihara was being used as a place of residence in even after the monsoon was over.

The purpose of the vihara, in the words of Buddha was to enable the monks to meditate and think at ease, in safety and peace. He even suggested that the good people of the country to build pleasant monasteries for the use of such learned men. Kings, wealthy merchants and even common people constructed viharas and carved out monasteries in mountains. Some of these viharas became famous centres of learning and abodes of distinguished professors.



School World Helpline

IN recent years, we are encountering an increasing number of children who meet the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). While the disorder is not rare, the majority of children are not diagnosed because of lack of awareness among clinicians. Parents may take their child to a pediatrician only to be reassured that their child is “slow” and would “grow out of it”. Alternatively, the child may be referred to several specialists who may subject the child to various medical investigations with little benefit. As a result, many children with ASD may not receive a definitive diagnosis of autism until the age of 4 to 5 years and hence miss the opportunity of early interventional services that they need.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental, behavioural disorder characterized by deficient and deviant patterns of social interaction, impaired language and communication skills, and narrow, restricted range of interests and activities. Autism has an early onset, and the symptoms manifest within the first three years. However, some children demonstrate regression in speech and social skills, gradually withdraw and become indifferent to their surroundings, after a period of relatively normal development.

The main feature of autism is the qualitative deviant character of reciprocal social interaction. As infants, children with ASD, may make little eye contact, resist cuddling, fail to turn around when called, and resist another person’s effort to engage them in interaction. Children with autism have problems in interpreting tone of voice and facial expressions so that the usual means that parents use to convey wishes and displeasure have little or no effect on the child’s behaviour. Autistic children do not know how to make friends and may remain isolated and many may even seek isolation. On the other hand, some children with ASD may be inappropriately affectionate and may hug and kiss strangers.

Deficits in communication include failure to acquire language at the expected age or impaired communication skills. Indeed, speech delay is the most common presenting complaint for preschool autistic children. When children with autistic disorder start to speak they may at first produce a fluent unintelligible jargon that has little communicative value. This jargon may contain bits and pieces of memorized songs, rhymes or television advertisement jingles. However, these utterances rarely have communicative intent. Many speak in a sing -song or loud voice, and the conversation may focus on a narrow range of topics. Autistic children characteristically speak to themselves and appear to have little need for a conversational partner. They may perseverate and repeatedly ask the same questions, even when they are fully aware of the answers. Verbal autistic children rarely know how to participate in a conversation, maintain topic, take turns, or interpret the tone of voice, facial expression and body language of their conversational partner.

Children with ASD show repetitive movements such as flapping hands when excited, odd finger and hand posturing, running around in circles. Some children engage in verbal stereotypies, e.g. reciting a rhyme or repeating the same lines. They typically lack creative play, prefer not to play with toys or play with them in a restricted, repetitive manner.

Intellectual functioning ranges from severe mental retardation to superior intellectual functioning, with performance skills more advanced than the verbal skills. Some children may demonstrate islands of excellence in some areas of functioning and may be particularly talented in areas such as puzzles, computer skills, art, mathematical calculations and rote memory.

The criteria for diagnosing autism are entirely behavioural and currently there are no laboratory tests specific for ASD. Autism is believed to be a biologically based neuro-developmental disability with a strong genetic basis, however, the exact cause is still unknown. Timely diagnosis is critical in order to provide early, and intensive behavioural and educational interventions that can make a significant and positive impact on the long-term outcome.



Autism spectrum disorders in children
Red Flags for ASDs

If answer to any one of the following questions is “Yes”, do consult a specialist.

Does your child

* have poor eye contact?

* not respond selectively to his name?

* acts as if he is in his own world?

* not have a social smile that can be elicited reciprocally?

* not point to interesting objects to direct your attention to objects or events of interest?

* seem unable to tell you what he wants, thus preferring to lead you by the hand?

* have repetitive, odd, or stereotypic behaviour?

* prefer to play alone?

* demonstrate an inability to play with toys in the typical way?

* show an unusual attachment to inanimate, hard objects?

* not engage in pretend play?

* not bring things to show you?

* demonstrate little use of gestures?

* have unusual visual interests?

* appear to be insensitive to pain, cold or heat?

* show poor imitation?

* prefer to be alone rather than be with other children?

Dr Prahbhjot Malhi can be contacted at:

*Dr Prahbhjot Malhi, Associate Professor, Child Psychology, APC, PGIMER



High Court
Chandigarh Administration draws flak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
Coming down upon the Chandigarh Administration for not “being alive to the dire need of computerising the District Courts” in the city, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked counsel for the Government of India to get in touch with the Ministries of Law, Finance and Home for finding out if the government is willing to provide funds.

Issuing directions, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice K.S. Garewal, directed counsel to seek instructions from the ministries concerned and make a statement before the court on the next date of hearing.

The Judges observed: “Senior Advocate appearing for the Chandigarh Administration states that he has discussed the matter with the Adviser to the Administrator who expressed the inability of the Administration to release the funds for the computerisation of the District Courts at Chandigarh in the absence of specific requisition”.

The Judges further observed: “In our opinion, the Chandigarh Administration should have been alive to the dire need of computerising the courts at Chandigarh which would go a long way in cutting short the delays in the decision of the cases by the courts”.

The Judges concluded: “However, without standing on the technicalities, we have thought it proper to call upon senior standing counsel for the Government of India to get in touch with the ministries....” The case will now come up for further hearing on August 14.



Action thriller set to trap you

All eyes are on this star-packed action thriller "Jaal — The Trap’ directed by Guddu Dhanoa. Sunny Deol and action director Tinu Verma once again team up after "Gadar" in this movie which will be released today at Piccadily, Chandigarh, and Suraj, Panchkula.

Parth Productions’ ‘Jaal — The Trap’ is produced by Vinod Shah and Harish Shah. This film is being touted as action director Tinu Verma’s favourite film in which he has directed some daredevil action scenes. For a slice of nationalism, plug into Guddu Dhanoa’s action venture. Hard truths about the terrorism, yes. Reality, yes. Sunny Deol and Tabu play the lead roles along with Jackie Shroff and Reema Sen.

Shot extensively in New Zealand, Shimla and Dalhousie ‘Jaal — The Trap’ has story-screenplay by Rajeev Kaul and Prafull Parekh, cinematography by Sripad Natu, dialogue by Dilip Shukla, editing by Sanjay Verma and choreography by Ganesh Acharya as major credits of the film. Sameer has penned the lyrics for music director Anand Raaj Anand. — DP

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