C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


MC service charges to burden UT Education Dept by Rs 1 crore
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service


  • The service tax for government buildings varies between Rs 6 per sq ft to Rs 13 per sq ft per month, depending upon the area.
  • Private schools may pass on the burden to the students
  • No possibility of the Education Department hiking the fee in government schools.

Chandigarh, January 30
Imposition of service charges on government schools and colleges in the city has put an additional burden of around Rs 1 crore on the UT Education Department.
The resource constraint is being faced by the department, which is already spending around Rs 700 on each student per month against an average income of around Rs 15 per month, may force the government to seek funds from elsewhere.

While ruling out the possibility of an increase in the fee, a senior officer said the department had no option but to seek relief from the Administration. In case of private educational institutions, the burden was likely to be passed on to the students.

The Municipal Corporation has categorically told the department that it has to pay service charges at the rate of 75 per cent of the property tax calculated on buildings as per the rate applicable in the respective sectors. The charges have been levied on account of the services being provided by the civic body.

Officers in the Administration said paying the amount, totalling over Rs 1 crore, including that for government colleges, could affect the functioning of the Education Department. The department has been asked to pay the amount by February-end under the self assessment scheme, failing which the Municipal Corporation would assess the properties.

As per statistics, the Education Department was imparting highly subsidised education to over one lakh children in model and non-model schools located across the city.

While the department was charging anything between Rs 6 and Rs 25 per month from each student, it was spending around Rs 600 per month per student. Moreover, a number of students from economically weaker sections were being given free education.

A senior officer in the department said while it was easy for the private educational institutions in the city to pass on the burden to the student, the department was not in a position to do the same. Some of the government senior secondary schools in Sectors 10, 16, 18, 23, 35, 46 were located in large areas and have multi-storied structures.

An officer in the corporation said the government buildings were exempted from property tax on land and buildings but they were liable to pay the service charges on account of services being provided to them. The city had been divided into five groups comprising various sectors and each group had four zones.

If the department does not pay the amount during the scheme period then the corporation would assess the annual rateable value of the property and for that purpose will charge 25 per cent over and above the rates prescribed for the first year of assessment.

“The Administration may exempt the government educational institutions to pay the service charges till March 2005 if the case was taken up with it”, said the officer.



Congress a divided house over candidates for committee poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
The rival camps of the local unit of the Congress today failed to decide on the candidates to be fielded for the election, to the two posts of the Finance and Contract Committee, scheduled for tomorrow.

The divided camps of the local Congress spent yet another day in finalising the list of candidates. There were five names in fray for the two posts. These included Mr Subhash Chawla, Ms Lalit Joshi, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Kuldeep Singh and Mr Rajesh Gupta.

Mr Chawla and Mrs Joshi are former Mayors. All except Mr Gupta (Bharatiya Janata Party) are from the Congress party.

Mr Chawla and Mrs Lalit Joshi were said to have the backing of the group of Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, Member of Parliament, and the other two were said to be backed by Mr B.B.Bahl, president of the local unit of the Congress.

A meeting of the office-bearers convened in the evening by Mr B.B.Bahl decided the names of Mr Kuldeep Singh and Mrs lalit Joshi. An office bearer of the party said in a meeting, following the MC elections in 2002, it was decided that no office-bearer would be repeated in any seat.

This meant that Mr Subhash Chawla could not enter. This left three other candidates and it was decided that Mr Surinder Singh be asked to withdraw.

A Chawla camp member said the logic given for not filing Mr Chawla's name did not make any sense as even Mrs Joshi had been a former Mayor so she naturally had been a member of the Finance and Contract Committee too.

Mr Kuldip Singh was away to Ambala campaigning for Mr Venod Sharma in the Haryana Assembly elections. "I will do whatever the party commands says," he said. Similar views were expressed by Mr Surinder Singh.

An officer-bearer of the party, on a condition of anonymity said, "all candidates are claiming backing of the party high command. There is confusion among party workers as to who is the high command — the MP or the president of the local unit?"

One seat was created following the election of Mrs Anu Chatrath as the Mayor. The second seat fell vacant during the tenure of Mrs Kamlesh, the outgoing Mayor.

She had also been a member of the committee before occupying the seat of the Mayor, however, no elections were held for the vacant seat during her tenure.

It is reliably learnt that Mrs Kamlesh met the Commissioner of the corporation asking her to be inducted as a member of the committee following completion of her tenure as the Mayor.

The request had been turned down following legal opinion, it is reliably learnt.

The election to the committee coincided with the meeting of the MC tomorrow, however, there was nothing significant on the agenda.



Woman, son injured in LPG cylinder blast
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 30
Two members of a family, including a 53-year-old woman, were severely injured in an LPG blast at their residence in Phase 11 here this afternoon. The impact of the blast, which took place in their kitchen, was so tremendous that the entire house was left with cracked walls, broken doors and shattered windows.

The victims, Ms Rajinder Kaur and her son Ajay, were the only two persons in the house when the blast took place. Both were rushed to the Government Medical College, Sector 32, Chandigarh, and are said to be in a critical condition.

The blast took place following leakage of cooking gas from the cylinder in the kitchen. According to the police, the leaking gas had collected in the house and the moment Ms Rajinder Kaur lit the LPG stove to cook lunch, it caught fire and led to a blast. Ajay (23), who was standing right outside the kitchen was also severely injured as he was hit by splinters and shattered glass. Three LPG cylinders lying in the kitchen were found intact.

A fire engine was rushed to the spot. The mother and son were taken out of the house by the neighbours with the help of the firemen.

The entire facade of the house was damaged due to the blast. The kitchen walls cracked. The kitchen and the main doors of the house were severely damaged. The main door of the house was found lying near the lawn. All windows were shattered and broken glass pieces were strewn all over the house.

The kitchen, the dining room and the drawing room were damaged due to the blast.

Hundreds of persons, who had come to attend a wedding that was taking place in the park opposite the house, collected outside the house following the blast. Onlookers said they heard the blast while standing in the market on the main road. The windows of the neighbouring houses also broke due to the impact.

Mr Surinder Singh, a neighbour, said Ms Rajinder Kaur lived in the house with her son and daughter. Her husband, Mr Sucha Singh Chopra, was serving in Libya. Her daughter Pinky was away for a ‘satsang’ with her daughter Simran when the incident took place.



Legal notice to Punjabi singer Gurtej
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 30
A Kharar court today issued a notice to Punjabi singer Gurtej Singh Tej for February 8 following a petition filed by lyricist Baljit Singh alleging that the singer owed him
Rs 55,000.

Baljit Singh alleged before the court that the singer and the recording company of his latest cassette ‘Gypsy’ was to pay him Rs 60,000 for the song “Ishq Mushq”. However, he alleged that only Rs 5,000 had been paid by the singer.

Admitting the petition, Judge Poonam Ratti issued a notice to the singer and the music recording company Big B, Mohali.



Determined to set up a special cell for war widows
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Ms Anupama Singh Chandigarh, January 30
Ms Anupama Singh, wife of the new Army Chief-designate, Lt-Gen J.J Singh, has a heart that beats for war widows and their children. As she will now take over as the Chairperson of the Army Wives' Welfare Association ( AWWA), she is all set to start a special cell for the war widows, who lost their husbands in action.

Shortly before she left for Delhi, Ms Singh in an informal chat with TNS said the cell would enable them to be in constant touch with the widows all through their lives and not only when they were coming to terms with the tragedy of having lost their sole bread earner in the family.. Special attention would be paid towards the education of their children and their growing needs, she said.

The light might have gone out of their lives but they will be made to come out in the open and stand on their feet,'' she added.

The AWWA has done a lot for the ` veer naaris' - these widows, and also for the physically and mentally challenged children of the Army personnel and I would like to contribute my efforts towards that,'' she said. The focus would also be more on meeting the changing needs of the wives of jawans and their children such as making available computer education or teaching English to them. She would also strive to improve the living conditions of the wives of officers and other ranks alike.The corporates, if they wish to, were most welcome to chip in their bit to promote such activities, she added.

Since AWWA products have made a name for themselves, Ms Singh wants to promote them as a brand in the niche market. These would include a host of items, including handicrafts and artifacts. `` We would make a small beginning but would make it big eventually.'' Incidentally, Ms Anupama has a background of designing handicrafts, artifacts, furniture and tapestry and runs a design studio of her creations. This would also come in handy in her new role. She is also doing some projects for the Ministry of Textiles and interacting with artisans from other states.

While two Paraplegic Rehabilitation centres ( PRC) are already functioning from Pune and Mohali, a few more will be added if the need is felt. The welfare of the wives of exservicemen would also be foremost on her mind and efforts will be made to provide them with more economic empowerment.

On being asked on how she was feeling while leaving Western Command for Delhi, she said, `` I take great pride in the honour the country has bestowed on my husband.'' Even though it entails lot of responsibilities and commitments, we together can shoulder them and keep up our plans and promises.'' 



Stress disorder great challenge for tsunami survivors
Neelam Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dr S. Nambi Chandigarh, January 30
It may have taken the killer waves of tsunami a few ill-fated minutes to devastate most of the southern shores.

But for many its survivors, the moments of unparallel devastation may have permanently etched in their memories, resulting in continual stress and depression. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), fear the psychiatrists, is the biggest challenge before the survivor-victims of tsunami, who witnessed the colossal loss of lives and belongings. In PTSD, the survivors of the tragedy continue to recall the sites of devastation and begin to live with them. This results in a state of extreme anxiety and depression.

"Previous disasters in India, including earthquakes in Latur and Gujarat, have established that the PTSD is found in 6 to 13 per cent of the victims who survive the tragedy, while in western countries the incidence is as high as 30 to 40 per cent. Tragedy affects everyone who is witness to it, be it the immediate victims or the relief workers, including the doctors and the NGO workers,'' says Dr S. Nambi, President of the Indian Psychiatry Society, while speaking to The Tribune during the 57th Annual National Conference of Indian Psychiatry Society (ANCIPS) at the PGI today.

In fact, to study the aftermath of the tragedy on the psychology of the survivors, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is initiating a research project on the ``Mental health problems of the tsunami tragedy.''

Psychiatrists advocate that the key in fighting the disorder does not lie in constructing expensive orphanages or letting the wealthy adopt the children. But the healthy post-calamity living would be integration of the survivors within the community, which has also been witness to the tragedy.

“We have recommended to the government that orphanages are a short-term solution for children who have lost their elders. Nor are the adoptions by the outsiders going to help much. Children should rather be adopted within the community itself, or otherwise their chances to develop long term depression becomes greater,” says Dr Nambi.

Thus a Task Force has been formed, which comprises 250 qualified psychiatrists in Tamil Nadu and is imparting training to around 50 nursing colleges in the state, which will further adopt one or two affected villages each to listen to the tragedy survivors.

However the doctor says that the persons who are already depressed are likely to suffer from PTSD. “Though it is common for anyone to be stressed and depressed for a short duration after witnessing mass-scale devastation, but those who are otherwise depressed due to a previous event, are likely to have depression for a longer duration,'' explains Dr Nambi. 



Conventional wisdom saved Jarawas from tsunami
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, January 30
What has tsunami, which devastated coastal areas in Asia, established is that the conventional wisdom is even now superior and more dependable to the know- how gained by the modern man through scientific mode to save itself from natural calamities.

And it was the conventional wisdom passed on to them by their ancestors which saved endangered tribes such as Jarawa, Sentinelese,Shompen, Onge and Great Andamanis in the Andaman and Nicobar tribes from Tsunami. These tribals, the total number of whom is just 756, are the only surviving link of the modern man with lost generations.

Tsunami failed to hit them. They all have survived this tragedy. It has been officially confirmed by Mr K.C. Ghoshal, Assistant Commissioner and Executive Secretary of the Tribal and Adamjanjati Welfare Samiti at Andaman and Nicobar.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone, Mr Ghoshal said " there was not a single loss of life as far as endangered tribes are concerned".

How did they survive? Mr Ghoshal, who had a meeting with Jarawas living in the forests on Western Coasts of Middle and South Andaman, had an interesting story to tell. As the earthquake tremors hit the islands, elders in the Jarawa tribe started screaming, asking their folks to run to hill tops and to stay away from the shadows of trees.

Mr Ghoshal said that Jarawa elders told him that they had guessed from the unusually long duration of tremors that big catastrophe was about to hit the islands through the sea. That was why they told their folks to go to hill tops and stay away from trees, which they apprehended, would be uprooted by the quake.

Mr Ghoshal said from their conventional wisdom passed on to them by ancestors, elders of Jarawas had predicted that another earthquake would hit that region in June or July at the time of ripening a particular fruit. But that quake would not be of the scale that came as tsunami few days ago. " Because of the conventional wisdom, endangered tribes protected themselves during tsunami and no one should be in doubt about it", he added.

On the other hand, having vast resources of communication and immense scientific support at its command, the so-called modern man failed to save thousands of people from the tsunami.Mr Ghoshal said that soon reconstruction work would be started in Katchall, Campbell Bay and Trinket areas which were hit hard by tsunami.

Meanwhile, scientists are on the job to study whether any part of the islands have moved away from its original location or have come up by a few millimeters from the sea or gone down by a few millimeters .

There have been lot of rumours floating in the islands that some parts of the islands have moved from their original place and some have gone down in the sea by a few millimeters. But there is no confirmation of it by scientists yet.



5.8 per cent problematic internet users in cyber cafes, says study
Neelam Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
If internet is an impulsive habit for you, surfing often becomes uncontrollable and there is no real purpose behind going from one website to another, then these might well be the indications of the ``problematic internet use'' psychiatrist disorder.

Presenting what is claimed as the pioneering study in India on the internet-related psychiatric disorders, neuro-psychiatrist, Dr Sanjay Khanna, in his theses at Government Medical College, Amritsar, has found that around 5.8 per cent of the internet users who throng the cyber cafes are the problematic internet users. The study is based on detailed questionnaire filled by 517 randomly selected internet users.

What differentiates between a problematic internet user and a normal internet user is not the quantum of time that is spent on surfing, but the utility and the purpose behind the search. A corporate manager who is hooked on the internet for the entire day may not be a problematic user but a teenager who is surfing internet for three hours for fun may fall in the category.

``The finding have established that the incidence of the disorder is as high in our country as that in the western countries, where the penetration of technology is much higher,'' said Dr Khanna, who presented the study at the 57th Annual National Conference of the Indian Psychiatric Society at Post Graduate Institute (PGI) here today.

The problematic internet use is also considered a co-morbidity with the other psychiatry illnesses as the study has highlighted that 66.67 per cent of those found suffering from the disorder suffered from ``impulsivity,'' in which they act upon their desires without much thought.

``E-mails and chatting with anonymous cyber world are the main segments where the problematic users spend their majority of time in. In our study we have also found 93.33 per cent of these users used emails and 73.33 per cent of them spent their time of chatting, which is higher when compared to the use of emails and chatting by the internet users who are not suffering from the disorder,'' explained Dr Khanna.

While chatting is found common in 49 per cent `normal' users, the access of the porn sites too were found to be higher in the problematic category (16.66 percent) against those not suffering from the disorder (where the incidence of access is 6.66 per cent). 



Indian involved in latest research on spinal implants
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Vijay K. Goel Mohali, January 30
Bio-medical engineering as a discipline is not so new in India. But it would surprise many that an Indian bio-medical engineer has not just made it to the top in the USA academically but is also responsible for some of the latest inventions in spinal implants.

Professor Vijay K. Goel, a graduate from Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala, left for the USA in 1979 and is now heading the Bio-engineering Department at the University of Toledo, Ohio, and is also the director of the Spine Research Centre, Department of Orthopedics, Medical College of Ohio.

Involved in path-breaking research on spinal implants, Dr Goel's department is now testing the latest fabricated or artificial inter-vertebral spinal discs that are transplanted to replace degenerated and fractured spinal discs. "Traditionally in case of spinal fractures and old age disc degeneration, orthopedic surgeons fuse the discs. This method has been in vogue for the past 40 years. But fusion of discs leads to a marked decrease in the range of movement of a patient. Artificial discs, on the other hand, replace a fractured or degenerated disc and work like new," he explained.

But is this not similar to a hip transplant that surgeons have been using for many years now? "Exactly. But somehow research on artificial discs lagged behind research on hip transplants by about 10 years," he said.

In India, though I do not foresee an indigenous breakthrough in this field among the bio-engineers, in five years they can design and develop spinal discs using American technology. These discs would be cheaper and easily available," he added.

"The Indian medical fraternity is fast catching up. Doctors are aware of the availability of artificial discs. A medical centre in Chennai is already using an artificial disc, the only one that is available in the USA market. These are very expensive though," pointed out Dr Goel.

Beyond spinal discs, look out for ceramic vertebrae. "Doctors have been using bone graft vertebrae as transplants. But with the risk of AIDs increasing, bone grafting of one person to another is now avoided. Ceramic vertebrae are being preferred,"he said, adding that these technologies were specially useful for India where hundreds were handicapped each year in vehicular accidents due to injury to the back bone and spine.

A PhD from Australia, Dr Goel taught for a year as Assistant Professor in IIT, Delhi, and AIIMS, Delhi, before leaving for the USA. "Bio-medical engineering is available as a course in all IITs in India but needs to be spread more, "he said. 



Passing Thru

Tarlochan Singh
Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Minority Commission and Member of Rajya Sabha

...You have been actively associated with the turban issue in France. Why the students of a particular community were banned from attending schools?

Drawing from my close interaction with the French Government officials, I firmly believe that the people in France hold us, especially the Sikh community, in high esteem. The ban was mainly applicable on Jews and Muslims. Except three students, all have been taken back by their respective schools and as per my follow up, during the month of June, next suitable amendment in their law will be carried out.

You have been recommended to Rajya Sabha by the ruling party in Haryana and you have also served in the Punjab Government, how you feel on issues like SYL Canal and others?

— As it is always observed and even in the ensuing Assembly elections, the issues for all political parties are mainly corruption and wealth amassed by their opponents. Knowing fully well that none has the concrete evidence to prove their allegations, the leaders resort to the acrimonious verbal propaganda caring little about the prime issues of development. Besides, SYL, unfortunately, has become a issue of political prestige than the development.

— S.D. Sharma



Braving cruel strokes of destiny
Swarleen Kaur

Chandigarh, January 30
Misery struck this hapless woman Ram Devi, hailing from Kangra, the day she came to the PGI for the treatment of her daughter Santosh, who is suffering from severe fits.

Santosh receives fits at least three times a day. When the fits become severe, she is unable to see and injections have to be administered to her immediately.

Though a single injection costs Rs 1500 yet Ram Devi is carrying on with the treatment and hoping that her daughter would be cured.

However, attending to the girl has been rendered difficult as Ram Devi met with an accident on January 11 while crossing a road.

She has received a fracture on her foot and is unable to walk. Left alone to fend for herself, the girl's condition has worsened. She has started vomiting blood.

Santosh Devi's husband is taking care of their children in the village. They are without money and no relative has offered any support or help.

To make matters worse, she is being denied monetary help promised by the person whose vehicle was allegedly involved in the accident.

The person, Anil, has now refused to give money for her treatment. Initially, he gave Rs 5500 but has refused more help.

Ram Devi, with tears in her eyes, says, "Our only attendant Kuldeep will go back to resume his job very soon. I don't know who will take care of us."

They have exhausted their resources on the girl who is under treatment for the last one year but showing no signs of improvement.

Three of them don't have any place to sleep and are spending their nights in corridor of the PGI from January 3 braving the chill.

Their hopes are now pinned on some good Samaritan whom nature might send.



Modification of anti-encroachment policy sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
The alleged high-handedness of the enforcement staff during the recent anti-encroachment drive has hit shopkeepers of the furniture market in Sector 34 hard, with commercial activity almost coming to a virtual standstill.

The shopkeepers have again urged the Chandigarh Administration and the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, (MCC) to modify the anti-encroachment policy in accordance with the requirements of the furniture trade.

Certain activities like polishing of the finished wooden articles, display in the open and loading and unloading of wooden goods are our professional needs, claims Mr Seva Singh Rayat, chairman of the Nehru Shastri Furniture Market Union.

The enforcement staff should distinguish between encroachers and shopkeepers. We are not against the removal of encroachments but the furniture shop owners should be allowed to use verandahs on nominal user charges, he demanded.

Earlier, the enforcement staff wanted us to vacate the verandahs and do the polishing work at the backside of the furniture shops. However, recently the staff had even asked the shopkeepers to clear the backlanes and give affidavits that no encroachment would be done again.

Shopkeepers highlighted the fact that while the furniture shops in Sectors 51 and 52 on the Chandigarh-Mohali road were allegedly operating from encroached land, they were being victimised by the authorities concerned.

The furniture shops were registered under the Small-Scale Industries Act and manufacturing was a very much a part of the industrial activity. Mr Rayat alleged that their long-standing demand for the construction of an extra floor on the booths seemed to have been forgotten by the Administration.

Demanding a reasonable encroachment policy suited to the needs of different trades, Mr J.P.S. Kalra, Chandigarh Beopar Mandal spokesman termed the shopkeepers’ demand for the construction of the extra floor as genuine.

He came down heavily on red-tapism of the Chandigarh Administration in coming out with a comprehensive policy on the need-based changes in the building bylaws.



Workshop on Dalit rights concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
The high rate of discrimination, social segregation, caste violence and atrocities against Dalits in Punjab came under severe criticism at a two-day workshop on “Dalit rights and legal intervention” which concluded here today.

The Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) and a Supreme Court advocate, Mr Colin Gonsalves, stressed the need for meticulous drafting of facts, prompt registration of the FIRs and general awareness about Dalit atrocities and various provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The Regional Director of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes,Mr Tanzin Wangyal, lamented that no compensation was paid to the Dalit victims of atrocities and the conviction rate was as low as 3 per cent in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal.

The secretary of the Punjab unit of the National Campaign on Dalit Rights(NCDHR), Mr Rajesh Angral, discussed various atrocities on Dalits such as rape, suicides by victims, kidnapping, bonded labour and murders. The Director of the local HRLN centre, Ms Veena Kumari, highlighted her organisation’s work in ensuring legal defence mechanism for the victim of caste oppression in Punjab.

Prominent among those, who spoke on the occasion, included Mr B.C. Rajput, Member of the Punjab State University Teachers’ Association, Dr Ronki Ram, president of the Panjab University Teachers’ Association, Mr Mohinder Singh, Punjab state convener of the NCDHR, and Ms Pratistha, legal secretary of the Delhi unit of the NCDHR.



Search Within
A warning to the living, a lesson to remember

The anti-Sikh riots of Delhi (1984), the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the carnage of Muslims in Gujarat and the burning of Dr Graham Staines and his two sons in Orissa are recent events in the annals of Indian history that gave a true measure of intolerance and religious animosity that lay buried in the Indian psyche.

Last week, the world commemorated one of the blackest periods in human history, in which some six million Jews perished: not in the depredations of war, but in factories of extermination created by Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. The 60th anniversary of the Soviet Red Army’s liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz on January 27, 1945, has been marked for the first time at the United Nations, as well as in ceremonies throughout Europe.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the horrors of the Nazi era engender shame today, and an obligation not to forget. “Remembering the Nazi era and its crimes is a moral duty,” he said in Berlin before an audience that included Auschwitz survivors. “We owe this not only to the victims, the survivors and their relatives, but also to ourselves. The overwhelming majority of Germans living today bears no guilt for the Holocaust, but they do bear a special responsibility.”

On Wednesday, US Vice-President Dick Cheney, who is representing the United States at the ceremonies, told a small gathering of survivors of the death camp that the world must teach its youth tolerance and moral courage to avoid a repetition of the Holocaust.

“We have to remind our youth that these great evils of history were perpetrated not in some remote uncivilised world but in the very heart of civilised Europe,” Mr Cheney said at a museum in Krakow that recounts the history of Jews in southern Poland.

“We must teach the values of tolerance, decency and moral courage. In every generation the free nations must maintain the will, the strength to fight tyranny,” he said.

The generation that witnessed the Partition riots and the subsequent flames of hatred that marked the relations between Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan may be getting aged and disappearing. Yet the bitterness and enmity between the peoples owing allegiance to the two faiths have not lessened to the desired extend despite all confidence-building measures that are being undertaken by way of restoration of rail and air links. Mutual distrust and suspicion of intention continue to rule the minds of politicians on both sides.

However, it must be noted that the civil society in both nations has woken up to the challenge posed by militarism and diversion of precious resources to development and amassing of weapons. And this at a time when the masses live in poverty and misery unable to have even their basic minimum needs met. Delegations of lawyers, journalists, writers, generals and peace activists have made extensive contacts in each others’ territory and their pronouncements to renounce the past and begin a new era of harmonious relations are making an impact.

Not only with a neighbour like Pakistan, but also between communities within this nation, there is need to work positively for peace and reconciliation. Very often communal elements have threatened to disrupt unity and peace. Further the education of future generations should ensure that they are not to view others differing from them with prejudice and hatred. ,

Now back to Auschwitz. Speaking at a special session of the United Nations held to commemorate the victims of the Nazi death camps, one eminent survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel said in effect that the indifference of the many to the holocaust when it was happening was indeed shameful. The catastrophe that has traumatised history should change man’s perception of responsibility toward other human beings. According to him much of the tragedy could have been prevented if the western nations had intervened in time.

The Nobel laureate wants that the “shameful indifference” be “remembered” so as to avoid similar catastrophes in future. Also to be remembered are those who had risked their lives to save some of the victims. One may not also not forget that in respect of many death camps, the help came too late.

Elie Wiesel concludes that he is bearing witness to the atrocities with today’s children in mind. “ It is for their sake alone that we bear witness. It is for their sake that we are duty-bound to denounce anti-Semitism, racism, and religious or ethnic hatred. Those who today preach and practice the cult of death, those who use suicide terrorism, the scourge of this new century, must be tried and condemned for crimes against humanity. Suffering confers no privileges; it is what one does with suffering that matters. Yes, the past is in the present, but the future is still in our hands.

“Those who survived Auschwitz advocate hope, not despair; generosity, not rancour or bitterness; gratitude, not violence. We must be engaged, we must reject indifference as an option. Indifference always helps the aggressor, never his victims. And what is memory if not a noble and necessary response to and against indifference?

The people of this land with its many religions and creeds need to take the words of the Nobel laureate with all seriousness.

MPK Kutty



Lions Club office-bearers honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
The Lions Club International was among the first international organisations to send the emergency grant of nearly $5 lakh to the tsunami- affected areas and Lions Clubs of southern states are working to provide shelter, medicines, drinking water and other help to the victims. This was stated by the District Governor of district 321-F, Mr Jaswant Rai Garg, here today. He was addressing the regional conference, Rainbow, of the Lions Club International, Region XI, held under the chairmanship of Ms Renu Bali at hotel Sunbeam, Sector 22.

Chairpersons of different zones of the region, comprising clubs in Chandigarh, Mohali, Kharar and Kurali, gave details of various service projects undertaken by the clubs in the region during the past year. Blood donation camps, eye and medical camps and cataract operations, help for poor students, grant of sewing machines to needy women and widows and public awareness seminars were some of the activities taken up by clubs of the region 321-F.

The District Governor honoured the clubs and office-bearers for projects and their dedication to fulfill the goals set by the Lions Club International. He also honoured eight past region persons for their contribution.



Dog show held at Leisure Valley
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 30
Dog lovers from various parts of the country gathered at Leisure Valley, Sector 10, along with their pets to show case them in a dog show organised by the Chandigarh Kennel Club here today.

Around 410 dogs exhibited their sharpness in obeying their masters’ command.

Radha Krishan from Mumbai and Keven Harris from Australia were the judges. Trophies and certificates were given to owners of the winners. The participants included canine species of more than 30 breeds, including Labrador, German Shepherd.

According to Mr G.S. Sidhu, general secretary of the association, the show drew better response as compared to the last year’s show when only 350 dogs had participated. Dogs of foreign breed also took part in the show.

Nearly 20 stalls were put up that offered latest products, to pamper dogs.



Kidnapping case registered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
A Sector 15 resident, working with a private company, was last night allegedly kidnapped by three persons from his house. He was, however, dumped near Ropar by the car-borne kidnappers after asking him to behave.

Amit Bansal, who lives alone in a rented accommodation on the first floor of house No. 236 in Sector 15, told the police that there were frantic knocks at his door last evening.

Amit told the police that he jumped from the first floor of his house and tried to run away but the alleged kidnappers still managed to catch him. Two of the suspected kidnappers were Sikhs.

Interestingly, Amit was not interested in getting a case registered. The police was given initial information by a rickshaw puller who was a witness to the drama on the road.

Amit told the police that he did not have any enmity with any person or personal or professional rivalry.

No injury marks were found on his body, the police said.

The Sector 11 police station has registered a case under Sections 365 (kidnapping), 506 (threatening), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 452 of the IPC.


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