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Children say no to crackers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
To spread the message of “Say no to crackers”, the Eco Club of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 46, took out a rally, carrying banners and placards. Mr Ravinder Talwar, Principal of DAV Senior Secondary School, Sector 46, flagged off the rally.

Mr Om Prakash, President of the Eco Club, highlighted the achievements of the club. Mr RS Goraya, Principal of the school, urged the students not to burst crackers as it created environment pollution.

On the occasion, painting, slogan-writing and placard making contest was held.

Spring summer: Tiny tots of kindergarten of St Joseph’s Senior Secondary School presented the beauty of five seasons, spring, summer, rains autumn and winter in a function held in the school premises here today.

Little angels of St Joseph’s came out with a message that each season was important and had its own charm.

Ms Simar Grewal, Director of the kindergarten school, said the activity instilled confidence among students. The students of the school were gearing up for the annual function to be held in December. 



Fitness Trail
Sugar-free but not calorie-free
Renu Manish Sinha

It’s that time of year once again. The hot and sultry summer is gone. There is nip in the air and merry-making all around with many festivals round the corner.

Divali, the mother of all festivals, is just a few days away. The markets are full of all kinds of goodies, colourful sweets, delicious mithais, all waiting to tempt you down the calorie lane.

But the ingenious health-conscious enthusiasts have found a way out of it too (or so they think) in the form of sugar-free mithais, sweets, bakery products etc.

And so they gorge on these without guilt, happy in their belief that it is sugar-free. But the mithais being sugar-free do not give them the leeway to stuff themselves and yet cheat the scales, says Suneeta Bhargava, a diet consultant, working with a health and beauty spa in Sector 8, Chandigarh.

These mithais and sweets may be sugar free but are not calorie free, cautions Suneeta. Because only the sugar calories are missing from these mithais. Other contents like khoya, mawa, ghee or oil (fat), nuts along with other add -ons and substitute sweeteners are present in a good quantity in these mithais. And remember while one gram of sugar provides only four to five calories, a gram of fat gives you nine calories, reminds Dr Neelu Malhotra, a Mohali-based nutrition expert.

She recommends jaggery (gur or shakkar)-based mithais over the sugar-based ones as sugar provides only empty calories while jaggery, while giving equal number of calories, has nutritive value also. Jaggery contains carotene, B vitamins, iron and magnesium.

And if you have to have mithais then make a wise choice, advises Dr Malhotra.

Chhenna or Bengali mithais are better than other fried mithais or halwas. Also chhenna or paneer-based mithais can provide some amount of protein at least.

Moreover, the sugar syrup can be squeezed out which in no way decreases the taste but definitely lessens the calories, quips Dr Malhotra.

She also recommends home-made mithais over the commercially prepared ones. Because, this way one can control the sugar and fat contents and also the other ingredients. Plus the hygiene will be ensured along with a heap of compliments for your culinary talent, she adds smilingly.

Portion control, restraint and balancing the calories elsewhere are the other mantras for a license to gorge on these mithais. While restraint or abstaining would be the healthiest choice, limiting your intake of mithais is the other wise choice. if you have had one piece then avoid cereals after that. Also increase your fibre and liquid intake to flush out the sugar. Also limit your calorie intake during the rest of the day. Have light meals next day as well to compensate for the excess mithai calories.

The markets are flooded with sugar-free mithai tempting the die-hard health enthusiasts, lulling them into a false sense of security about their calorie intake. According to the FDA, these low-calorie foods actually encourage you to eat more and many people end up putting on more weight instead of losing it. So think twice before you reach for that piece of barfi or ladoo, it is only sugar free and not calorie free.

Most of sugar-free mithais are prepared by using a powder or sweetener containing Aspartame. Earlier, Saccharin was used as a low-calorie sweetener. Saccharin is 300 to 700 times sweeter than sugar. But since it had a bitter aftertaste it was replaced by Aspartame which had a more natural taste.

Some US studies in the 1980s had also claimed that Saccharin was carcinogenic in nature and could cause cancer but nothing was proven in the long run.

Aspartame is a combination of two amino acids Phenylalanine and Aspartic acid, says Dr Sudha Khurana, Consultant Dietician, Department of Dietetics, PGI.

Taken in low doses, it can certainly curtail your calorie intake, she adds.

The US Environmental Protection Agency defines safe consumption as 7.8mg per day. When Aspartame, which is not chemically stable, is heated beyond 86°F, it degrades into a number of byproducts such as methanol, diketopiperazine (DKP), aspartate, formaldehyde and formic acid, says Dr Malhotra, quoting a US study. DKP is a known tumorigenic substance known to cause brain tumours.

Small amounts of Aspartame, may be safe but its cumulative effects may be harmful if it is taken with high-carbohydrate foods with a low protein portion, says a British study. Possibly due to its methyl alcohol content, constant use amounting to large intake over time may result in headaches, fainting, seizures, memory loss, hypertension, chronic fatigue, vision impairment, mood swings, carbohydrate cravings, increased hunger pangs, hair fall etc adds the British study.

A high dose of Aspartame can affect serotonin levels, a chemical in brain controlling hunger and regulating mood swings. This slows down the metabolic rate which either slows down the weight decreasing rate or at times increases the body weight. It also mimics symptoms of multiple sclerosis, adds the British study. So gorge on sugar-free mithais but very very carefully.



Pop icon finds time to soak in ‘shabads’
Aditi Tandon

There’s more to pop icon Sukhbir than meets the eye. Behind the dark glasses that literally define his image worldwide, Sukhbir hides a world of clarity about what he wants to do with his music and where he wants to head. Not just that, he springs several surprises about his musical moorings which have everything to do with Gurbani sangeet.

In Chandigarh to perform at a private function tomorrow, Sukhbir struck the conversation with a revelation. “Whatever little I know about music is due to Gurbani sangeet which my father practised all his life as a raagi. I still remember those long spells of musical offerings my father used to make at several gurdwaras in Kenya where I spent 18 years of my life. I used to take pride in being a part of my father’s group,” said the singer who we thought knew nothing beyond his high energy rhythms until of course yet another revelation came.

“I am now making music for my father’s Gurbani sangeet album,” declared Sukhbir, who has armed himself well enough to handle the delicate shabads. Rooted in Gurbani, Sukhbir recently learnt Gurmukhi to be able to justify his latest assignment. He is also reading the English translation of Japuji Sahib which offers solutions to almost all the problems one encounters during the course of living.

Philosophically inclined, the singer says knowledge of religion helps him in his pursuit of music. A composer of his own melodies, he has long been known for his penchant for earthiness—the kind that imbued his very first composition “Punjabi munde” with an infectious charm.

Ever since the first song he composed, Sukhbir has religiously fed his passion for sweet melodies which have endeared him to many across the world. An added advantage with him has been his knowledge of the keyboard and other percussion instruments that make live pop concerts click on world stages.

Uncomfortable with the connotation of the term “pop”, Sukhbir says, “I wonder why people make distinctions between popular ghazals and popular songs. In a way, both form part of a genre that spells popularity. The whole idea of pop is quite misplaced.”

For his part, Sukhbir manages to strike a balance by beautifying his vast canvas with varied musical styles, from the so-called pop to the so-called light classical. Given a chance, he would love to sing for Jagjit Singh rather than any of those Bollywood music makers who take ages to decide what they want out of their singers. Incidentally, Sukhbir had been approached to render background scores for the film “Mela”, but nothing concrete resulted from the three sittings he had with Anu Malik.

Now, he has neither the time nor the inclination to sing for films. He will rather concentrate on making his own music in the gambit of reggae, rap and Gurbani than wasting time moulding his voice to suit the demands of film music. For credit, he has some fairly good albums, including “New Stylie”, “Oye Terista” and “High Energy”.



Gifting with style pays
Swarleen Kaur

The season of gifts is here and from the lowly businessman to corporate honchos, the current mantra is— nothing succeeds like gifts. In fact, a new ‘gift idea’ which has value as well as aesthetic appeal is much in demand.

According to market sources, the total turnover of Divali gift industry is over Rs 10 crore in the city itself.

“Divali is a nice excuse to give something valuable to your client, boss or political and bureaucratic movers and shakers. It is no more our sweet will as to what to gift. It has become customary to load people with gifts and many of them take it out on business dealings if the gift is not appropriate enough for their rank and status,” says corporate bigwig. “It is bribery in another form,” he admits candidly.

“The days are gone when a token gift was acceptable. For the last few years, the expectations of people in position of authority, specially bureaucrats, have gone up dramatically,” he adds. “Moreover, they not only want an expensive gift but also something which is out of the ordinary. Something that will catch their fancy and they will remember you for it,” he laments.

Hence, mithai and good wishes on the festive occasion are out. Expensive champagnes, wines and single malt classic Scotch whiskies are in. Most bureaucrats, reveal a harassed gift giver, prefer to have rare liquor brands as Divali gifts. Santosh Sood, a businessman based in the Industrial Area, remembers that when he gave a very expensive five-litre bottle of single malt Scotch to a bureaucrat last Divali, his file started moving at a healthy pace. “Besides, he called me and complimented me on my choice of the brand. Now, I have ready access to this Punjab bureaucrat.”

In a way, giving gifts on Divali makes good business sense and most businessmen use the opportunity to either break the ice or cement their ties with influential persons.

According to corporate buyers, weeks of brainstorming goes in selecting appropriate gifts for different echelons of power. Liquor works quicker and is therefore the most favoured. Next in line is the ethnic selection comprising expensive diyas, mithai, dry fruit, silver or gold statues of Ganesh and Laxmi, besides gold coins in the name of shubh mahurat.

Diyas, according to market reports, are now available in all material from the lowly china clay to porcelain to blue pottery and heavy silver. Exotic dry fruit, fruit and scented candles complement this ‘thali.’ Most businessmen buy these Rs 5,000 plus assortment to gift to people who are non-drinkers.

Crystal and glass Figurines are also in because of their opulent look. The range starts from Rs 1000. Beautiful glass vases, waterfalls, lamps and Chandeliers are also preferred Divali gifts.The range starts from Rs 8000.

Crockery is also a traditional gift item. A survey of he market reveals a variety of choices —- dinnerset, tea set in glass, steel and even in silver are in great demand.

But a small handy tip from a habitual corporate gift-giver. “What ever you give remember to pack your gift well. Gifting with style pays.” he says wryly.



Handicrafts given the go by at CII fair

The ninth edition of the annual CII Chandigarh fair 2004, which concluded here on Tuesday, drew a mixed response from the visitors, both in terms of bookings of various products and the business inquiries generated during the four-day show. Though the mega show had on display a wide array of things, from designer candles to computers and cars, it did not offer much variety.

While companies like LG, Samsung, Philips, Haier, Electrolux, IFB received a good response, most of the exhibitors at the craft bazar, and stalls catering to beauty, hair and skin care products and on decor did average business as some of them were not even able to recover the payments made for hiring stalls.

Exhibitors displaying handloom and khadi products in different state emporia stalls, including those from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir and Karnataka were also not happy as their businesses were limited to enquiries only. “We will not be able to break even this time as there have hardly been any sales,” said one of the exhibitors manning the stall of the Madhya Pradesh emporium. He blamed the organisers of mismanagement as the last two days of the show were working days and not week ends as was the general trend.

Most of the kitchenware companies which exhibited their products in the kitchen ware were also not happy at the response as they got more enquiries than sales.

Exhibitors of interior decoration items and modern to traditional furniture also had more passers-by than buyers. Maximum inquiries and orders were for drawingroom pieces like the gramophones, watches, ladder chair, lamps, cabinets and almirahs since the buyers found them affordable and eye catching.

Meanwhile, the stalls put up by leading mobile and computer companies had dance floors and loud blaring music even at the cost of being indecent’ In some cases, the loud sound was hampering with the inquiries being made at the neigbouring stalls. The same went for the auto companies.

The exhibitors also rued about lack of proper basic amenities at the venue and poor toilet facilities. TNS



Bheem Malhotra’s countryside adjudged best entry

The eighth Bank of Punjab annual art exhibition wrapped up today with the best entries on this year’s theme of “Countryside” being awarded. Of the 296 works submitted by artists from Chandigarh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, Bheem Malhotra’s representation of village life got the Panth Ratan Sardar Inderjit Singh Memorial Award of Rs 25,000.

Among other award-winning entries are Madhushree A. Pawar’s “Paradise on Earth”, Ravinder Sharma’s “Village Jharnu”, Mahesh R. Prajapati’s “Tranquil Countryside” and Anand Kumar Sharma’s “Ganga-Ladki-Ladki-ki-Puja”. All these four works that reflect countryside charms in myriad shades received cash awards of Rs 15,000 each.

Besides these regular awards, the jury comprising eminent artists Dr Anita Singh, Dr P.N. Mago and Prem Singh selected the following works for special awards of Rs 7,500 each. These include Anand Shende’s “My Village”, which captures a foggy dawn in countryside; Rakhi Sahni’s “Countryside” which portrays the vibrancy of village life through the art of murals; Seema’s “That Night” which bares the strikingly beautiful elements in a nondescript village and Ishwar Chand Gupta’s “Landscape” which uses the village temple as a frame for artistic reference.

The awards were distributed by UT Home Secretary R.S. Gujral at a special ceremony at Government Museum and Art gallery in Sector 10 on Tuesday. TNS


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