C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


454 students get prizes at annual day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14
As many as 454 students of GGDSD College, Sector 32, received prizes on the annual prize distribution of the college here today.

As many as 142 certificates of distinction, 20 college colour and 292 certificates of merit were awarded in academics, cultural, extra-curricular activities and sports.

The Principal of the college, Dr A.C.Vaid, in his address said over the years, the college had a tradition to clinch top university positions in academics and win important prizes in various inter-university sports and cultural events. In fact, the college had been shortlisted for the status of ‘Potential for Excellence’ by Panjab University and the UGC, he said.

The UT Home Secretary, Mr R.S.Gujral, was the chief guest. Mr Gujral in his address said academics, sports and extra-curricular activities were equally important in grooming winners. Participation in cultural and other activities at the college-level helped to develop confidence and instill a desire to go higher in life, he said.

Earlier, Mr Upkar Krishan Sharma, president of the college managing committee welcomed the chief guest.



Mumbai management institute set to empower poor women
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14
If all goes well with Vama, a project that a Mumbai-based management institute has undertaken in villages of Chandigarh, the women of these areas will have a lot to look forward to.

Entering into a collaboration with the Chandigarh-based voluntary agency, Youth Technical Training Society (YTTS), the SP Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), Mumbai, has decided to explore the potential of women residing in the colonies of Chandigarh. Launched on International Women’s Day, the project will be the first of its kind to assess the market potential of backward colony areas. Most women to be targeted under the project are migrants.

On behalf of SPJIMR, one of the top 10 B-schools of India, Amit Khanna, a second year student, has chosen to execute the project instead of accepting offers from the corporate sector. Starting with New Indira Colony, Mauli Jagran and Burail, Amit will cover all villages of the city. Yesterday, he was in New Indira Colony, encouraging the women to list their potentials, which will serve as a database to work out a financially sustainable model for them. The effort will involve volunteers of YTTS which has been active in the colonies for the past 20 years.

Talking about the project, Amit says, “Voluntary agencies sometimes lack managerial skills. The idea is to offer expertise to them so that they can achieve their goals in real terms. I have been in the city for a few days now. The research shows that although the NGO presence is heavy, the desired results have not been achieved in spite of several stitching and training centres. The result is that the women are not using the skills for income generation. I am here to help YTTS achieve that.”

Equipped with management learning from his institute and backed by support from the faculty and experience of YTTS, Amit is looking forward to covering all villages in six weeks. “Once we have analysed the potentials of the specific areas, we will tap the markets for buyers of the products which the women will be trained to make. Handicrafts, pickle-making, jute and cane furniture are some of the possible trades for this city,” he says.

Limited as he is by resources, Amit is looking forward to help from the local NGOs. “I wish management students come forward to assist Vama. We may also have to stage street shows to reach out to more women. The idea is to inculcate attitudes and values in management students who are going to be future managers, besides sensitising them to the realities of the underprivileged,” he says. Those who wish to join the project can contact vama_empower@yahoo.co.in or ramit@spjimr.ernet.in.


Cycle yatra to focus on education for all
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 14
Demanding equal educational opportunities for all, the National Conference of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR) today launched a cycle yatra from Kalka to Kanyakumari.

Addressing a press conference here, the national coordinator of NACDOR, Mr Ashok Bharti, said the main aim of the yatra was to urge the Union Government to introduce a common school system. As many as 50 per cent of the children did not go to school, making India the largest illiterate nation in the world, Mr Rohit Singh Negi, a filmmaker and member of the cycle yatra said.

Another activist, Mr Sanjiv Kaura, said the inputs from the yatra would be used to produce an India-centric development paradigm, focussing on development solutions.

Mass meetings,”nukkad nataks”, press conferences and meetings would be be organised at educational institutions to spread the message of equal education for all. They would urge the electorate to question prospective MPs as regard development and education.

The 47-day yatra, would traverse a distance of 3,662 km and would culminate at Kanyakumari on April 30.



Emerging out of Archana’s shadow
Aditi Tandon

PARMEET Sethi has not taken long to emerge from the shadow of his better-half Archana Puran Singh. Out there soaring, he has made it to the wish list of several producers not just because he knows what to pick, but also because he knows how to handle his pick the best. His engaging presence in Sony’s “Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi...” is but one highlight of his career which, until some years ago, was too gloomy to be talked about.

In the city to shoot for Manjit Mann’s film also starring Juhi Chawla and Gurdas Mann, Parmeet spoke to The Tribune about the days when he was referred to more as Archana Puran Singh’s still-struggling boyfriend and less as an actor. “Archana was already a star when I met her. Even after we got married, she never wanted me to act, though I was determined. Actually my garment export business was suffering losses due to recession in Europe and I badly needed to shift. I decided to take the plunge and Archana was always there to help me out.”

Casting in Dilwale Dulhaniya....was a dream come true for Parmeet, who admits that the film is the most precious to him. He had, however, not expected the respect he earned for the role. “I was supposed to act dumb and not try to be another hero. It was not easy, but it was certainly challenging,” he says.

Respect notwithstanding, the going was very tough later, as Parmeet mentions, “Not many films did well. Then I entered into production with Subhash Ghai. Our last film did badly and the partnership fell apart. I was not earning for a year. I felt pathetic to be the man of the house and to be not earning. That was when I began exploring the other options, Jassi Jaisi ...being one of them.”

Parmeet had, however, least imagined that his stars would start settling that soon. Television became his springboard to success and even before he realised what was happening, he was already a star. He recalls, “I had many roles to choose from. But the role in Jassi...was the most interesting. It was not the main lead, but it was critical. The actor in me got the better of the star in me and everything fell in place. The serial is now a smashing hit.”

Having reinvented himself on the small screen, Parmeet can now relax, especially when he has finally managed to go it alone. Says he, “Archana used to tell me that the road to stardom was not going to be easy. But I knew I would not remain in her shadow forever. Now that I have emerged, I am proud to look back and recall how wonderful she has been as a wife, always there to cheer me up with her charms. She is now planning to direct a film.”

As for Parmeet, about 10 films are waiting in line, even while Jassi Jaisi is racing to scale better heights.



Morning Chatter
No cover for this insurance!
Taru Bahl

THE phone rings at 7.30 pm sharp on the third consecutive day and the entire family looks at you accusingly. You implore them to take the call and bail you out but find to your dismay there are no takers. You tell your brash younger one, who looks at the entire episode as if it were a comical replay of his worst cartoon film, to make any excuse. And if the excuse works, you can congratulate yourself for stalling him for yet another day.

Deed done, you have a triumphant look on your face only to find the pragmatic elder one cutting short the premature victory. "What will happen when he calls up tomorrow? It is obvious that the calls will not stop till you, dear mum, tell him in no uncertain terms that you are not interested in what he is offering." Aha, sane advice, you tell the kiddo but how do you do it and what do you say to convince him of the finality of your decision without getting into a never ending discussion? The younger one quips irritably, "Are all insurance agents like this?"

He gets his answer the following evening. You walk through the door to find the kids keeping an old friend and her fiancé' company. For once, they have held the fort, actually enjoying the tête-à-tête. They are quite taken in by the handsome, glib, foreign- returned uncle who is witty and has magically connected with two highly impressionable teenagers.

Once you settle in, the younger one with a mischievous glint in his eyes announces, "Ma, this uncle is an insurance agent, too. But he is quite unlike 'your friend' who has been hounding us for the last one month. He has just won an award for bringing in business worth Rs 4 crore this year. He earns Rs 40 lakh as commission." The success of uncle's sales talk can be gauged by seeing the instant career switch the younger one has made. From wanting to be fighter pilot, he now wants to be an insurance agent!

Indeed, ever since the government opened up the insurance sector, newer entrants have in a subtle but sure way impacted client bases with their image makeover. The old and steadfast perception is gradually changing. More like management graduates with impeccable credentials and background, they have been put through the paces.

The city is teeming with pursuants of this preferred vocation. Part or full time, you suddenly find 'financials' a critical part of conversations which mostly veer around to shares or insurance. More than policies, they are selling customised products. Pitching it not just as tax saving instruments or insurance against life but as attractive investment options, you find yourself willingly giving them appointment slots. They don't ramble and chase you with countless phone calls pushing you to convert doubtful silences into confirmed cheque payments.

And, if for some reason, you are cash-strapped and are not looking at an insurance policy you can say "I will get back to you later" and much to your relief see them graciously through the door. Wish you can say this to your 7.30 pm caller tomorrow and be met with the same response!



Combination of beauty, brains
Geetanjali Gayatri

AMBIKA Dhinsa is more than just a pretty face. Her brains complement her beauty and there have been numerous occasions when she has come out right on top.

Her latest achievement is securing the first position in Panjab University in Masters of Finance and Control (MFC). She was awarded at the annual prize distribution function of the Department of Correspondence Studies, Panjab University, held recently.

Oozing confidence and bubbling with life, this 22-year-old has no hesitation in claiming that she is the best.”I give everything my 100 per cent and believe that the rest is destiny. My motto is to strive for perfection and settle for excellence. Accustomed to excel since childhood, my parents have been very supportive of everything I have undertaken. I dance and sing well,” she says.

A topper in the commerce stream at Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi, Ambika is a passout from the local Sacred Heart School. “I began with a strong foundation of values inculcated in school and at home. These kept me level-headed and away from the bad habits of late-night parties, drinking and smoking associated with the glamour industry,” she informs.

Managing her father’s business and property, Ambika claims, “While excellence in academics is important to succeed in any field, a groomed personality certainly holds more weight. A focused approach holds the key to establishing yourself in any field. I managed to strike a balance between studies and beauty contests and have done well for myself.”

With her mother supporting her, Ambika has her heart’s fill of beauty contests.”I won the title of Miss Delhi in 2000, Miss Beautiful and Miss North India in 1996 and was one of the finalists at the Femina Miss India contest. Each contest was a learning experience and satiated my desire for the crown,” she recalls, adding that she has worn a golden crown and sat in front of the mirror since she was five years old.

Despite her success, Ambika has no intention of joining the modeling industry. “Money is not for which I participated in contests. I was there because wearing a crown was a dream I had chased all through childhood. I am content with whatever I have accomplished. The academic achievements are the icing on the cake. For now, it is my father’s business that is keeping my hands full and I plan to concentrate on this alone,” she maintains. TNS



Realistic images from across the border

ROCK Garden is just the right place to host the kind of show Shahid Mirza and Azher Jafri have structured for the lovers of art. Not only does it personify freedom, it also seems to nurture the display with its raw, striking beauty.

The visiting Pakistani artists say, “This place makes our exhibits even more relevant.” Both Shahid Mirza, painter, and Azher Jafri, photo artist and chief photographer with The Dawn in Pakistan, hasten to confess their love for India.

Shahid Mirza, who has often invited the wrath of fundamentalists back home for painting Ranjha playing a flute (an image that resembles Lord Krishna), says, “My Ranjha often troubles the fanatics who think I draw on Hindu mythology. However, there is a lot of similarity between Ranjha and Lord Krishna. Both play the flute and mesmerise women. Whenever I paint this image, I am branded as pro-Indian, but that does not bother me.”

Shahid’s works confirm that he seeks inspiration from Hindu mythology. An active member of Lahore Chitrakar, an organisation engaged in the revival of classical music, visual and performing arts, Shahid also paints nudes. A radical, he admits to the urgency of peace across the border. “Let us hope political parties keep their promises. Peace is more important for Pakistan which, being smaller in size, faces a graver challenge from terrorism than India,” he says.

An alumnus of the National College of Arts (former Mayo School of Arts), Shahid believes in the unity of art. Asked whether Pakistani artists are struggling for roots, he says, “They do waste time trying to understand whose art they are practicing. As a teacher of art, I always emphasise the need to study Indian art instead of Western art. In my references, Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Ajanta and Ellora feature prominently.” Comparing the art scenes in India and Pakistan, Shahid says, “When I visited the National Gallery of Modern Art here, I could hardly find a better work than Amrita Pritam’s. Contemporary art, both in India and Pakistan, is highly decorative. Pakistan still relishes calligraphic works and Mughal miniatures. Since the state is the largest buyer of art, artists often end up painting what the establishment likes.”

For Azher Jafri, showing images in India was an interesting opportunity. He has, however, refrained from displaying controversial images like the one that shows a temple in Pakistan being pulled down in reaction to the Babri Masjid demolition. “Since we are on a peace mission, it made no sense to spark off a controversy. So I decided to show pictures that reflect the reality of times, irrespective of the settings,” he says.

It is hard to tell where the images belong. Universal in appeal, they tell India’s tale, as much as they tell Pakistan’s. The divine flames erupting from the sacred well situated at Sufi saint Shah Husain’s mazaar, the image of Mother Teresa, the poignant frame that captures the pain of a child, bonded by labour — all images portray reality.

And reality is what matters, notwithstanding the lines of control. The show is on till tomorrow in Phase III of Rock Garden. TNS



Prabal Pramanik’s date with children
Tribune News Service

GENERALLY it takes a big team and large budget to create an animation film, but Ustad Prabal Pramanik, the master paper-cutting artist from Bhamlada practices art economically.

In city with a set of six animation films, all of different forms, Prabal Pramanik held the children captive for well over two hours at The British Library. The special animation film show was organised by the library in collaboration with The Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

Even as the children watched the master artist in action, he doled out a series of films. On his list were the following animation films — Fantasy, St George and the Dragon, The Enchanted Palace, The Flight, The Magic Scissors, Glimpses from the Life of William Shakespeare.

Meant for children from the age group of 5 to 11 years, the show offered a great learning experience. The artist not only screened his films for the children, but also handed out to them their own paper sketches, cut to perfection with the magic scissors which is now the identity of Prabal Pramanik.

Prabal was assisted by Arup Chandra and wife Priya. He said he had been into animation for long. “But I practise art in the village in Bhamlada. I believe art should be practised where it belongs. I work on animation films with villagers as the audience. My art is very basic in that sense,” said Prabal, who is also into 3-D vision.

Prabal would screen another set of films at Government Museum, Sector 10, in April. He added, “In September 1998, I screened my animation films at Alliance Francaise, Kolkata. Later, I also brought my show to Chandigarh. But the best thing is to work with children, as I did today. They are the best appreciators of art.”



Artisans get a platform

TO promote art and craft of various states, Manjit Singh, a city-based entrepreneur, has set up Aakritik Creations that will provide a platform to artisans.

He has roped in about 10 artists from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Displaying their products at the head office, he says, “We have traditional marble furniture created by Rajasthani artisans and host of decorative items that have been intricately cut and designed in marble”.

Traditional paintings from Kolkata and Uttar Pradesh and phulkari from Punjab are on display too.

When it comes to the marketing of products, he approaches clients directly. “We are approaching restaurants and hotels for popularising the Indian look for their interiors. We are also planning to organise exhibitions,” he adds. OC


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