Friday, July 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi



Alarming fall in Amritsar’s sex ratio

The Punjab-Haryana-Himachal Pradesh belt in the north is popularly known as “India’s Bermuda Triangle” where girls vanish without a trace. “Of the 20 districts with the most skewed sex ratios in India, 12 are from Punjab”, according to Dr A.S. Nagi, District Family Welfare Officer. Punjab has the lowest female to male ratio of 784:1000.

In spite of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 and the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994 the cultural preference for sons has caused much disparity in sex ratios throughout the State. Instances galore, female foetuses are being aborted, after clandestine detection by diagnostic centres, despite a legal ban on such practice.

After Fatehgarh Sahib, Amritsar is the worst affected district in Punjab, having the lowest female to male ratio. There are 126-registered ultrasound machines in 30 rural and 70 urban diagnostic centers in the district. The growing availability of pre-natal screening techniques has caused the figures to fall to as low as eight girls for every 10 boys.

Reports reveal that efforts have been made to curb this evil practice in Amritsar by using pregnant women as decoy customers for ultrasound and other sex determination tests. However, these have not yielded significant results. Despite a few diagnostic centres having been hauled up for the inhuman practice, the menace carries on covertly, nevertheless.


Official sources say, only one nursing home at Shivala road has been booked till date and about five to six diagnostic centres have court cases pending for discrepancies in records in the district.



Our Constitution guarantees equal rights to men and women. But women are being selectively killed even before they are born. We have obsession for sons. It is the attitude that results in female foeticide.

Under the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994, selection of the sex of the foetus by taking medicines or pre-natal diagnostic techniques to detect the sex of the foetus is not permissible and anyone giving medicines for selection of the sex or detecting the sex of the foetus or communication of the sex of foetus tantamounts to violating the PNDT Act, 1996. Also legal action is warranted against the person for violating the provisions of the Act. If so many persons are violating the provisions of the PNDT Act openly, why no action has been taken so far?

After the Supreme Court’s directives to all the states, appropriate authorities have been formed at the state and district levels have to ensure that the PNDT Act is not violated. But this menace goes on unchecked.

The Indian Medical Association, the press and religious leaders have an important role to play to educate the masses regarding the ill-effects of the sex imbalance to society and highlight the failure to implement the PNDT Act.

Dr D.S. JASPAL, Past State President, IMA (Haryana), Ambala City

This tourism office doesn’t work!

The Information Centre of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee at Amritsar’s Chowk Ghanta Ghar works daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, the Tourist Information Centre of Chandigarh Tourism located at the Bus Terminus, Sector 17 and manned by the Assistant Director of Tourism, Chandigarh Tourism, does not remain open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. despite a notification to this effect by the Director of Tourism.

Unfortunately, though foreign tourists have filed several complaints about the non-functioning of the above centre from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m, little has been done to keep the Centre operational.

CYRUS CORNUT, Paris, France

Nanak in Baghdad

Much has been written about Guru Nanak’s Gurdwara in Baghdad. I would like to add a little more. During his third great travel (1518-1521-Tiji Udasis), Guru Nanak visited some Arabic Muslim countries along with Bhai Mardana. On his way back from Mecca, Guruji came to Baghdad via Medina, Khuram Shahr (Iran), Basra and Karbla. After Mecca, Madina and Karbla are the two other holy shrines of Muslims.

In Baghdad (1520), Guru Nanak and Bhai Mardana put their camp in a graveyard, outside Baghdad town. Here Guruji had religious discourse with Pir Dasat Gir successor and Seikh Behlol and his son. Guru Nanak convinced Pir Behlol, his son and others that there are so many patals (earths) and Akashs (sky). Pir Behlol and his son were so much impressed by Guru Nanak that they became his true devotees along with others.

Swami Anadacharya also mentioned Guru Nanak’s visit to Baghdad and religious discourse with Pir Behlol long ago in his famous book “The Snow Bird” published in 1918 from London. Later, a Punjabi poet translated Swami Anadacharya’s poem in Punjabi entitled “Sil Te Betha Faquir” (a saint sitting on a big stone). Pir Behlol and his son soon started living there with Guruji. They requested Guru Nanak to stay there for some more time. Guruji and Mardana stayed at Baghdad for 4-6 months.

The Queen of Baghdad had no child. By the blessings of Guru Nanak, a son was born to the Queen and she offered a chola (robe) to Guru Nanak prepared by herself, having the hymns of Quaran on it. That chola is still lying in Gurdwara Chola Sahib at Dera Baba Nanak, Gurdaspur district, Punjab. From Baghdad, Guruji came back to India in 1521 A.D. via Kabul, Jalalabad, Turkey; through Khyber Pass to Peshawar and Panga Sahib (Hassan Ibdal) near Rawalpindi in West Punjab.

Guru Nanak visited many other places in Arabic and South East Asian countries such as Tibet, Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand. Nobody bothered to preserve these holy places. I had a chance to visit Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand and a few Arab countries, especially those visited by Guru Nanak and Guru Teg Bahadur. All are in a bad shape. Only a few local people offer some prayers there. Even the SGPC officials may not know those places; some historic shrines have vanished. We need to take care of them to spread Guru Nanak Dev’s message of universal fatherhood or oneness of God. International brotherhood of mankind, love, peace and harmony can also be spread.


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