C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Poor dropouts on mind, UT embarks on fresh survey
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Driven by the objective of enrolling out-of-school children of hard-to-reach groups, like children of working mothers, ragpickers and street children, the UT Education Department today started a two-day survey of the entire city.

About 3,800 government school teachers have been put on the job of making door-to-door enquiries in the 2,06,465 listed city households. Of these, 22,580 are rural.

The survey, second of its kind during the year (the first was held in February), is being conducted under the Sarva Shikshan Abhiyaan (SSA) programme of the Government of India (GOI) and seeks to create a fresh database which can be used to advance the mandate of the literacy mission.

Right now, the number of illiterates in Chandigarh are 2,57390, of which 1,24,252 are in rural (village) areas.

Speaking to The Tribune about the new survey, being conducted on the basis of a fresh form sent by the Union Government, the DPI (Schools), Mr Ashwini Kumar, said the idea was to assess the number of dropouts.

“Once the actual figures and reasons become known, we can chalk out fresh strategies to achieve the SSA’s objectives of universalisation of elementary education (UEE),” he said.

Apart from the funds available with the Education Department, the GOI has approved a budget of Rs 1,162.54 lakh for various interventions under the SSA during 2006-07.

As for the new survey, it is different from the old as it provides ways of identifying the roadblocks to education.

In Chandigarh, the attainment of the UEE is challenging given the migratory character of its population.

Also, the city has seen unprecedented increase in population due to high immigration of poor labourers.

In slums alone, the population has grown from 9.08 per cent n 1991 to 11.8 per cent in 2001. The projected slum population growth for 2010 is 17.25 per cent.

The trend is obviously negative, and is challenging the UT Education Department to design new strategies.

Following the new Child Labour Law, it is unlikely for people to tell the surveyors that they have domestic servants, leave alone sharing the information on their literacy level. The attempt is on nevertheless, although those on the job are very unhappy with it.

A government school teacher says: “We come from dignified families. It is humiliating to stand on the roads, waiting for people to unlock their doors and speak up. The job should have been entrusted to a professional agency.”

The DPI (S), however, feels the department has done enough to compensate the teachers on job.

“In lieu of their duty today and tomorrow, we have given them off days on October 23 and 24. It is the teachers’ duty to conduct surveys under the SSA,” he says.

Teachers from 110 government schools were surveying the city today to ascertain the number of dropouts in the Chandigarh region.

Challenges for SSA in city

1. Rise in population, increasing pressure on government schools.

2. After the High Court ordered closure of 133 residential schools, 20,000 students were affected.

3. Rise in pupil-teacher ratio due to shortage of classrooms.

4. High ratio of out-of-school children among the SC population.

5. Unauthorised slums and their frequent shifting.

6. Malnutrition resulting in absenteeism among poor children.

7. Child labour is difficult to check.

8. Scarcity of land and sites for new schools.



From Colleges
GC-11 to host youth fest from Oct 16
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Government College, Sector 11, will host the Panjab University Zonal youth and heritage festival for Zone A from October 16-19. The college will be hosting the festival for the second consecutive year.

It is for the first time that any college will be hosting the youth festival for the second time. Fourteen colleges from the city will participate in the four-day-long event. Eight colleges have been included this year in the Zone A. According to college officials these colleges were earlier under the professional colleges category.

Four venues have been set up within the college for the youth festival and two stages have been set up. The Principal of the college, Dr A.N Garg, said, ‘‘We have tried our best to invite professionals for the various events.’’

The colleges participating are DAV College, Sector 10, GGDSD College, Sector 32, Government College, Sector 11, Government College, Sector 46, Panjab University Campus, Chandigarh, SGGS Chandigarh, Sector 26, Chandigarh College of Architecture, Sector 12, PGI, Sector 12, Government College of Arts, Sector 10, Government Medical College, Sector 32, SD Ayurvedic College and Hospital, Sector 46, Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology, Sector 26, Homoeopathic Medical College and Hospital, Sector 26, National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research, Sector 26.

More than 10,000 students are expected to attend the festival. ‘‘The festival is open for everybody, even parents can come and watch it,’’ said Dr Garg.

Ghazal, giddha, bhangra, embroidery, debate and skit competitions will be held on the occasion.

Poster-making contest

Yuvsatta and Eco-club of Government College of Arts and Department of Forests & Wildlife, Chandigarh Administration organised a poster-making contest on the theme of ‘‘Let City Breathe and Wildlife Flourish’’ at Lakeview Cafeteria, Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh.

As many as 20 young artists from Government College of Arts led by Mr Ravinder Sharma, wellknown artist, participated in the endeavor.

The work of art prepared at this event will now soon be displayed for public viewing at an appropriate place. Sharing his concerns Mr Sharma, who is also in charge of the eco-club of Government College of Arts said we need to take suitable steps to secure the survival of fauna and flora for the present and future generations.

Five students were honoured for five best posters prepared in the programme. They are first year students, Neeraj and Shivshanker Singh, Sawan and Robin (second year) and Ms Navneet Kaur (third year).

In his message on the occasion Mr Ishwar Singh, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Chandigarh Administration, said India is rich in biodiversity and wildlife and is one of the 12 mega biodiversity zones of the world. Northern India though primarily agrarian, holds a wide range of wildlife and biodiversity, which are an integral part of our surroundings.



Rishab bags prizes in photography
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Rishab Kochar from St John’s School today clicked his way to top. He bagged the first and third prizes in photography in an event organised by Punjab Engineering College and the University Institute of Engineering and Technology (U.I.E.T) at the English Auditorium in Panjab University. The event related to documentary making, film making and photography.

The second prize in photography went to Ritesh Desai, while Utsav Bains from Panjab University bagged the first prize in the documentary-making competition. The team of Neha Durani, Ashish Gauba, Swapnil Barai, Anshu Grover and Atibha Garg from U.I.E.T. bagged the first prize in the abstract video contests.

In encased institutions, the team represented by Harleen Kaur, Arpit Pandya, Aditi Bhatnagar, Garima Wadhera, Anoop Tiwari, Abhinav Jain, Akshay Puri and Jitin Mehndiratta from the U.I.E.T. won. The students were supposed to make videos on their institutions.

The judges for the event were director of award-winning movie “ANTS” Sunil Babbar and photo-journalists Pradeep Tiwari, Sanjeev Sharma, Swadesh Talwar, along with the chairperson of Panjab University’s Department of Mass Communication Jayant Petkar. An interactive session with students was held by an eminent lecturer, Dr Avinash Jolly, on AIDS awareness.



A dazzling show by students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Showing concern for downtrodden, Mr Pawan Bansal, Union Minister of State for Finance, today announced a grant of Rs 3 lakh from the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund for setting up a computer laboratory for underprivileged children adopted by Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School, Sector 26, here.

The minister made this announcement on the occasion of the grand finale of the school’s annual function — ‘Rainbow Razzle’.

The lighting up of a lamp marked the commencement of the programme which was followed by a school prayer sung by a choir. Jeevan Dhara, a classical dance performance, was just the beginning of an exciting evening.

Kerala, with its multicultural identity, was depicted with a riot of colours and flowers casting a magical spell on the audience.

The dynamic Bhangra and Haryanvi dance got a thunderous applause. Lazium, a Maratha dance with its resounding cries of ‘Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Ki Jai’, was a patriotic feast for the eyes.

Thereafter, the ‘Fitness Freaks’ performed by Class II students displayed various techniques of breath control. The grand finale ‘Heal the World’ was a huge sensation which received a tumultuous applause.



A heady mix of rhyme, race & rhythm

Chandigarh, October 14
St Kabir Public School, Sector 26, celebrated its 33rd Founder’s Day with a two-day ground show —“Rhyme, Race and Rhythm” which concluded at the school today.

The programme started with the chief guest, Gen V.P.Mallik, PVSM, AVSM (Former Chief of Army Staff), being escorted by pilot team of the school’s NCC cadets while the school orchestra played the “swagatam” song.

The gathering was soon transported to the vibrant and alluring world of dynamic drills and spirited dances especially the ‘Fusion Dance’ and the dances performed by the students of the primary section.

The synchronisation on the rhythmic stretching and flexing feats by the students of aerobics, yoga, and gymnastics was worth watching. — TNS



Bhullar’s film on AIDS to be released tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Known for his films on social issues, Canada-based film producer Gurdip Bhullar is back with another meaningful production, this time on the reigning issue of HIV/AIDS. The last time he was in news was when he made a quality film titled, “Kammo” that explored the predicament of the unwanted girl child.

The film was screened in Chandigarh and then across the villages of Punjab six years ago. It opened to encouraging responses though it does not seem to have impacted the minds of people much, as the problem of female foeticide persists in ever-dangerous proportions.

But that does seem to have discouraged Bhullar from contributing his bit to the improvement of the existing rot. That explains why he has now made “Tilkan” — a Punjabi film that deals with the risks of HIV/AIDS in a subtle and balanced way. In Chandigarh to promote the film, which is to be screened at Punjab Kala Bhavan, Sector 16, on Monday (October 16), Bhullar told Chandigarh Tribune, “The film was long due. We have been living with the dangers of HIV infection but we have never quite mustered the courage to talk about them. Art, I feel, is an apt medium to spread the relevant awareness message. We have made the film in such a way that it offends no one’s sensibilities. It is a complete family film which even children can watch and learn from.”

Directed by B.N. Sharma, a famous Punjabi actor who also featured in “Gadar”, the film explores the risks of HIV/AIDS in the most casual of settings. Finally, it talks about a man who contracts HIV following one unsafe sexual encounter. The man, who succumbed to temptation in one weak moment, must now bear its burden for a lifetime, especially when he finds out that his son and his wife are also infected.

In lead roles are Shaminder Malhi and Anita Shabdish, both acclaimed theatre artistes from the region. In the role of the child is Naqsh Deep, who was earlier seen in the Ajay Devgan starrer “The Legend of Bhagat Singh”.

Sensitively scripted and conceptualised, the film seeks to achieve the objectives which state governments have long strived to achieve. It has dialogues by the renowned Punjabi litterateur Ajmer Singh Aulakh and a song penned by the celebrated Surjit Patar. Music is by Gurdip Bhullar, who has earlier practised theatre with Kamal Vidrohi and Lok Kala Manch in Punjab.

These days he lives in Canada and finances meaningful films like “Tilkan”, which will be shown in Punjab after it has been screened in Chandigarh on Monday.



Lending grace to Mohiniyattam dance form of Kerala
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
At a time when Kerala was best recognised for Kathakali, Bharati Shivaji was working on lending it an alternative identity.

At the core of her mission was the resurgence of Mohiniyattam — a dance form that had long remained hidden in the cultural landscapes of Kerala. It was like a lesser known cousin of Kathakali and Bharatnatyam, stripped of an individual identity. This despite the world of grace it had been traditionally bestowed with.

It was, as if, the form was seeking a protector. And it got one in Bharati Shivaji, who not only revived Mohiniyattam but lifted it to a position where it stood shoulder-to-shoulder with other celebrated classical dance traditions of India. Soon came a Padmashri in recognition of Shivaji’s efforts.

Looking back, Shivaji can’t help marvelling at her journeys into the cultural heartlands of Kerala where she spent years absorbing the richness of a diverse and hugely blessed tradition. She was handpicked for the job by the then Chairperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay, who was keen to revive Mohiniyattam under the akademi’s programme for the revival of dying art forms.

“Mohiniyattam was one of the two art forms chosen for revival. The other was dhrupad. My passion for the dance took me to Kerala. I did not want to see Mohiniattam in isolation. I wanted to explore it in the backdrop of culture. I travelled through Kerala and documented the land’s traditions, including the Sopana Sangeetam,” she says.

All this came very handy in the repertoire of Shivaji, who was coming out with her own theory of Mohiniyattam Soon she published two books on the form, titled “The Art of Mohiniattam” and “Mohiniyattam”. “I sourced my themes from texts that dated back to the medieval period when poets were showering generous attention on the courtesans.

Shivaji along with her daughter and disciple Vijaylakshmi performed at Shantikunj for Chandigarh Administration’s Festival of Dance and Music today.

Her recital was perfectly conceptualised to depict the languor and sensuality of Mohiniyattam, which literally means “Dance of the Enchantress”. The presentation was based on Shivaji’s traditional repertoire though she would have loved to show her contemporary productions in Chandigarh.

Yet another classic production in Shivaji’s repertoire is “Unniyachha” — an interface between Kalaripayattu and Mohiniyattam. Choreographed by her daughter Vijaylakshmi, the dance is based on the life of Unniyachha, a kalaripayattu artiste who lived in North Kerala some 350 years ago.

“Unniyacha was much ahead of her times. A legend goes that she, on her way to Shri Ayappa Temple, was intercepted by miscreants. But the interception could not deter her plans to offer worship at the temple. She uses kalaripayattu techniques to take on each one of the miscreants. Her journey continued, despite the odds,” says Vijaylakshmi, who is carrying forward the tradition her mother nurtured with care.



Gabbi doles out poetic verses
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 14
A literary organisation, the Kavita Kendra, organised a mushaira, an interactive face-to-face programme

with upcoming Punjabi poet Govardhan Gabbi, and a symposium on his latest book “Ateet De Parchhvaein” at the Punjab Kala Bhavan open-air theatre today.

Gabbi recited verses from his published books and the forthcoming volumes, besides sharing his passion for poetry writing.

As a student, civil engineering professional Gabbi had no liking for poetry till he was enamoured of the lyrics of a song — “Meinu tera shabab lei baitha” — penned by Shiv Batalvi. He later studied the works of Shiv Batalvi, Mohan Singh, Amrita Pritam, besides others with a zeal to emulate them. Inspired, he discovered his poetic veins and attempted to translate his feelings into words.

The themes of his poetic creations like “Karoombla” and “Parchhvaein”, weaved into simple vernacular, are close to the realities of life and represent the ethos of the common man, observed Punjabi scholars, Dr Gurdarpal Singh and Dr Baljit Singh, in their papers read out today.

Those who spoke on the occasion and read out their verses in the mushaira included film personality Vijay Tandon, Bhushan Dhyanpuri, Dr Surinder Gill, Sri Ram Arsh, Manjit Indra , Bishamber Shambi, Parwaz Pannu, Surinder Basra, Gurbax Saini and Kedar Nath Kedar.

Noted litterateur Mohan Bhandari was the chief guest while Karam Singh Wakil of the kendra conducted the proceedings.



Musical bonanza at Plaza Carnival
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 14
The weekend crowd at the Plaza Carnival was treated to a magnificent musical bonanza of popular film songs and dances here today. The mega event organised by the Centre for Carnival Arts in association with the Tribune Group of newspapers as the media sponsor, was a big draw.

After the orchestra in attendance played lilting ‘dhuns’ the noted vocalist Ms Nikhat Ali took the centre stage only to mesmerise the audience with her rich and melodious voice. Nikhat opened up doling out the sublime hit songs like “Lag jaa gale”, “aage bhi jaane na tu”, “Chura liya hai tumne”, “har kisi ko nahi milta” and many more. The melody got augmented as well known singer Pradeep Dutta joined her for the duets like “Kora Kagaz tha”, “Tujhe dekkh”, “Milti hai zindagi mein” and more on request by the audience.

Seven young dancers who were declared winners in CIPA dance competition held at Kalagram enthralled the crowd with captivating dance spells. Suresh Nayak, Subhash Nayak, Ashu, Vijay Raju and Om Parkash provided the musical accompaniment. Sandeep Dhawan and Ms Kavita anchored the programme.

At the artists corner Prof Ravinder Sharma, demonstrated painting in oil pastels, while students of the Government College of Art sketched portraits of the public and also painted Divali greeting cards on demand.



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