Two gems of education, architecture
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Two great educational institutions, Aitchison School, Lahore, and Khalsa College, Amritsar, may have ended up in two separate countries by the Radcliff Line in 1947, but they still share a common architectural heritage.

The design of the two educational institutes is identical, right down to graphics and layout.

Partition rendered it impossible for boys from east Punjab and its states to have access to Aitchison College, Lahore. A big void was thus created in the sphere of education. To meet the need of the hour, and to further the cause of sound education, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala decided to start a boarding school in Patiala to be run on the lines of public schools. This led to the foundation of Yadavindra Public School on February 2, 1948.
Noted alumni of Aitchison School include former maharajas, Prime Ministers, Governors and noted cricketers from India and Pakistan. The personalities include Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala; former Prime Ministers of Pakistan, Mir Balakh Sher Khan Mazari, also chief of Mazaris, Sir Malik Feroz Khan Noon, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali; Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, assassinated chief of Bugtis and former Governor of Balochistan; Nawab Mohammed Amin Khan of Loharu, former Governor, Himachal Pradesh, Romesh Bhandari, former Indian Foreign Secretary; Imran Khan, Majid Khan, Rameez Raja, Javed Burki, all former captains of the Pakistan cricket team and Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi, former captain of Indian cricket team

The two buildings were designed and built by Sardar Bahadur Ram Singh, who successfully blended Sikh and Muslim architectures to produce two gems for education. The students of the Aitchison School visited Khalsa College for the first time after the Partition. They were stunned to see that the majestic building of Khalsa College was identical to their own. A new dimension was added to India-Pakistan relations when staff and students and of the 120-year-old Aitchison College, Lahore, met the students and faculty of the 114-year-old Khalsa College, founded on March 5, 1892, by the then-Lt-Governor of Punjab, Sir James Broadwood Lyall.

Aitchison College was established on November 3, 1886, six years before Khalsa College. The foundation stone was laid by the then Governor-General of India, Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, Earl of Dufferin. The college was named after Charles Umpherston Aitchison, Lt-Governor of Punjab.

Major Mazhar Pervez Akhtar, Senior House Master, Aitchison College, was extremely excited to meet the Principal, Dr Daljit Singh, and students of Khalsa College. However, he expressed surprise over the decrease in the number of students at the college.

The main purpose of the visit of students and staff of Aitchison College was to collect information on Ram Singh, who had designed both the educational institutions. They were also desirous to know the whereabouts of Sardar Ram Singh’s family. Mr Onkar Singh Sandhu, president, Ramgarhia Foundation, immediately contacted Mr Jasbir Singh, a national cricket umpire and great grandson of Sardar Ram Singh.

Aitchison College is a boys boarding university-preparatory school in Lahore.The college owns 186 acres in the city and surrounding area. Taking advantage of spacious campus, Aitchison is well-equipped for all kinds of sports activities where international teams come to practice. Compulsory participation in games has been a strong tradition. Physical development and good health of boys is part of good schooling. Games are supervised and there are regular opportunities to play formal matches within and outside the college. Boys take advantage of this broad-based curriculum in activities like debates, where they have represented Aitchison College and Pakistan at the world level many times.

Sardar Bahadur Ram Singh Sohal, MVO (Member of Victorian Order), is considered a great inventor in Sikh architecture. He rose to become the Principal of the prestigious Mayo School of Arts, Lahore. His woodcarving had impressed even Queen Victoria, who invited him to England in 1891 for designing a Darbar Hall in her Palace. Impressed with his art and craftsmanship, Queen Victoria honoured him with the Order of British Empire (OBE). He was given a warm send-off by the Queen. Thus, Ram Singh was promoted as the Principal of Mayo School of Arts, Lahore, on his return from Britain.

Later he was honoured with other awards, including Keser-e-Hind Award (1902). He was given the titles of Sardar Sahib (1904) and Sardar Bahadur (1909). He rose to the highest position on the strength of his potential and hard work. None of his successors have been able to surpass his work.

Sardar Ram Singh was born at Rasul, a non-descript village in Gurdaspur district in 1858 in Ramgarhia community. His father Sardar Assa Singh was a carpenter by profession. He was picked up as an intelligent student of arts and craft from a wood-carver’s shop where he worked on daily wages.

Specimens of Ram Singh’s art, particularly his design of a monument in Indian style, attracted the attention of the top ranking European architects of the day. The jury adjudged Ram Singh’s design as the best, and recommended him for the highest award.

Ram Singh then started to work as an architect in addition to his duties as the Principal. Almost all important buildings such as the Senate Hall, Panjab University, Foreman Christian College; Aitchison Chiefs College and the museum attached to the Mayo School of Arts, Lahore, were designed by him. He invented Indo-Sarcenic style of architecture which is a mixture of Indian traditional and Mughal style of architecture. Perhaps, the best of his designs in this new style is the historic building of Khalsa College, Amritsar.



Ban on hoardings flouted
P.K. Jaiswar

Hoardings mask a portion of the Nehru shopping complex in Amritsar.
Hoardings mask a portion of the Nehru shopping complex in Amritsar. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

At the Nehru shopping complex in the Lawrence Road area., a private company has fixed a hoarding on traffic norms . It has been put up beside a Congress party hoarding with pictures of senior party leaders and Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, chairman, Improvement trust.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has banned the installation of hoardings in the state.

The hoardings have encroached upon the pedestrian walking space on the left of the shopping complex. Most showrooms, shops and offices are in this section . This has inconvenienced both the shopkeepers and visitors.

One of the shopkeepers said that powers responsible to keep the city clean were defacing the city with some ugly hoardings, blocking the view of the main shopping plaza.

The hoarding had obstructed not only the free movement of people but also marred the view of the three-storied building, he added.

The shopkeepers have raised serious objections to this mindless race to put up hoarding around the complex.

Although, they added the area did not have severe traffic, but it had created inconvenience to the commuters.

The two huge hoardings have blocked the view of Lawrence road chowk. Interestingly, a police post functions from a building near the hoardings. The police would not be able to keep watch on anti-social elements.



My City
Change, not all for good

Locations assume immense significance in narrative of lives. Homi K. Bhabha in his book “The Locations of Cultures” reiterates that locations have vital importance to reorientalise the cultural configurations and they stick in ours memories like live associations. During my stay away from my native city Amritsar, this happened with me too.

Though, I was physically hundreds of miles away, yet emotionally and spiritually it has always remained with me. Remembering my morning stroll along the Upper Bari Doab canal, long cycle rides on spacious roads, daily visits to newspaper stalls outside the historic Hall Gate, halts at Thandi Khoohi in front of lush green company garden to quench my thirst, unlimited gluttonous experiences and my Saturday evenings with my writer friends at the open air theater, would rejuvenate me.

However, soon after I joined new assignment in the holy city after a self-inflicted exile of 18 years, I started to realise that my beloved was in shambles and my mood of tryst became ephemeral.

No doubt, the city has developed in many aspects, but the lamentation is that it is mindless and non-planned. Many unauthorised and unsanctioned structures have sprouted up like mushrooms. I wonder where the agencies had gone who were supposed to control illegal acts by unscrupulous elements. Shortfall in power, water, sewerage /drainage and other civic amenities worry me; if the city would be able to cope in the future when the shortage of all sorts is at its peak already.

Green belts are almost extinct. Canal has turned into a drain. Theaters have been demolished and transformed into malls.

This mindless growth has led to mammoth pressure on roads. The traffic is erratic; that at times it is better to stay home. Going to Harmandir Sahib to pay obeisance has become tedious due to irregular traffic, one prefers to watch the Live transmission on TV. Moreover, encroachments have further decreased the available road space. I feel the present traffic and parking space will not be enough to cope with the requirements with the coming up of new malls and mega projects. I hope with construction of the some new-elevated bridges the problem will be resolved to some extent.

Health sector in the city also presents a grim picture. Government health services have crumbled and private nursing homes and clinics are growing. Even then people don’t get proper treatment and are being exploited ruthlessly.

Despite so many higher educational institutions in the city, the scenario is far from satisfactory.

Dismal annual results, high proportion of young students on drugs, poor performance in linguistic skills, lack of confidence, poor understanding of information technology are the areas need to be looked into.

However, in the field of art, literature and theatre, the scenario is not so dismal. Amritsar was known for its literary activities. Even now, some poets and writers are active.

I still miss that ‘open air theatre’ at Gandhi Ground where veteran Bhaji Gursharan Singh had performed so many times.

Now, with the ‘Punjab Natshala’ theatre is attaining new mechanical heights with the introduction of new theatrical techniques.

City’s culinary habits have not changed much. However, the presence of so many wine vendors on every nook and corner has the potential of spoiling gullible youth who are already reeling under drugs abuse.

In spite of all these deficiencies, I still love my city Amritsar with a hope and prayer that it will prevail over these very soon.



400 medical posts lying vacant
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Even as the Ayurvedic and Homeopathic systems of medicine are gaining importance worldwide, these two systems are being ignored in Punjab.

Although the state government claims to promote Ayurvedic and Homeopathic systems, a good number of posts in both Ayurvedic Department and Homeopathic Department have been lying vacant for several years now. This has hampered the proper working of the departments.

As many as four hundred posts, excluding those of the class-four employees, have been lying vacant in both departments.

Holding the Director of the Ayurvedic Department (who is an Allopathic doctor), responsible for this, Mr Jaswant Singh Jalal Usma, Chairman, Medical Cell, and member, Working Committee, SAD (1920), in an open letter to Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Health and Finance Minister, Mr Surinder Kumar Singla, has urged them to take effective measures in this regard. He has also urged them to initiate a vigilance enquiry into the delay in implementing the new service rules.

The posts of joint director, deputy director, superintendent pharmacy, 16 posts of Ayurvedic doctors in 19 districts, 15 posts of senior physician (SMO) in 17 Ayurvedic health centres, 122 posts of Ayurvedic medical officers, 110 posts of Ayurvedic pharmacists, 171 Ayurvedic nurses (midwives), besides 10 ministerial posts, have been lying vacant.

When contacted, Dr Vipin Chander Sharma, Joint Director Health, Ayurveda, expressing his deep concern over the situation alleged that bureaucrats and Allopathic doctors were not interested in promoting the Homoeopathic system of medicine. He alleged that the present arrangement by the state government was against the national health policy. He said the government should redraft the present-day service rule of 1963, which had become obsolete. He said if the government really wanted to promote these two systems of medicines, it should give the additional charge to the persons concerned with Ayurveda.



H.P. Singh chief of GND varsity body
Our Correspondent

Dr H.P. Singh, Senior Medical Officer, Guru Nanak Dev University, was elected as president of the Guru Nanak Dev University Officers Association at the election held here today.

In a straight fight, he defeated Mr J.S. Walia, Director, Press and Publications, with a margin of 30 votes. Dr H.P. Singh got 76 votes, while Mr Walia was polled 46 votes.

In an interesting contest, Mr Amarjit Singh Bai and Mr Balkar Singh Sandhu polled equal votes (59) for the office of secretary.

The returning officer, Dr M.D. Singh, declared Mr Bai as secretary for the first six months. Mr Sandhu would act as secretary for the remaining period of six months.

Mr Mukesh Sharma, Executive Engineer, was declared elected as vice-president with 81 votes.

He defeated Mr A.C. Sood, Superintendent (Accounts), who got 37 votes.

The office of joint secretary was won by Mr Kuljeet Singh, Superintendent (Conduct), who secured 62 votes.

He defeated Mr H.S. Tina, Assistant Engineer, who got 56 votes. Mr Naresh Nandan Singh, Programmer (University Library), was elected treasurer with 62 votes.

He defeated Mr Suman Kumar (Superintendent), who secured 54 votes.

Mr Ravi Sharma, Superintendent (vehicles), Mr H.S. Randhawa, Deputy Director, Campus Sports, Mr Manjit Singh, Superintendent, Mr Paramjit Singh, Deputy Registrar, Mr Mohinder Singh, Superintendent, and Mr Narinder Singh Oberoi, PA, were elected executive members of this association.



Rotary honours achievers
Ashok Sethi

To receive honour from their own brethren was satisfying for the five top achievers of the city who had turned the tide in their favour through grit and determination.

Topping the list was paper tycoon, Mr Brij Mohan Khanna, Chairman and Managing Director of Khanna Paper Mills limited, followed by Mr Gulshan Kumar Sahni, General Manager, Punjab National Bank, Padma Shri Kartar Singh, international wrestler, Mrs Jasmeet Nayyar, Principal, SR Government College for Women, and Mr Parminderjit Singh, Shiromani Punjabi poet.

Rotary Club, Amritsar Cantt, organised a function for the chosen five. The president of the club, Mr Maninder Singh Sakhi, said it was difficult to select the best for the annual vocational award function.

Speaking on the occasion after receiving the honor, Mr Khanna said he was proud of the city which had given him much and he would like to return the debt. He advised the youth to work hard with single-minded devotion to turn opportunities into success.

Mr Gulshan Kumar Sahni, said it would be his endeavor to take banking to doorsteps of needy and the poor so that the benefits of the country’s growth reach them. He said the bank would make all out efforts to provide hassle-free services to its customers.

The principal of the GCW, Mrs Nayyar, said she had started a new concept in educating the needy by launching ‘each one teach one’ drive in the college. She said that a number of people had volunteered to donate for education of the deprived lot.

Kartar Singh urged the youth to become health conscious and take up daily exercise and walking to keep healthy. He said the present-day generation should work hard to meet the challenges of the highly competitive global world.

Shiromani poet Parminderjit Singh regaled the audience with his writings. The function was presided over by the Mayor, Mr Sunil Datti.



Commercial activities in residential areas
P. K. Jaiswar

Even after the Supreme Court order commercial activities are being carried out in the Ranjit Avenue area here.

The Ranjit Avenue C-Block Welfare Association wrote to Chief Secretary to remove such illegal commercial activities.

The residents had urged the authorities a number of times to take stern action against the owners of these buildings.

They pointed out that the area was residential and commercial activities were prohibited.

In spite of this, spokesman for the association alleged that two private hospitals were being run in the area.

They said rush in these hospitals creates parking problems besides noise and pollution from heavy-duty generators. He alleged the hospitals have no arrangement of bio-waste disposal.

The spokesman said C-block Ranjit Avenue was developed by the Improvement Trust as per Master Plan.

However, a large chunk of trust’s land worth crores has been encroached upon in Faizpura Abadi. He said the association had asked the authorities to construct a wall to save the trust land from encroachment.

The association said the authorities sanctioned the estimate of compound wall the allotted the work to a contractor. However, only a small portion of the compound wall was constructed. The work was stopped on the plea that the residents of Dhaka colony in Faizpura Abadi were resisting the construction.

Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, MLA and Chairman Improvement Trust said that the trust had already served notice on the hospitals to stop the commercial activity. 



Fashion parade in college
Tribune News Service

Women empowerment is the key to the progress of any nation ,said the Vice Chairman of DAV College Managing Committee, Mr R. S. Sharma , inaugurating the cultural programme evening at the five-day international conference cum workshop on the Impact of Technological Revolution on Visual Arts.

Lauding the effort of BBK DAV College for Women, which has emerged as the model college for vocational education in this region ,Mr Sharma said that the DAV institutions throughout the country were giving major thrust to improve the socio-economic status of women.

He said that the present advances in technology, especially in the field of information technology , have opened new vistas for women.

Expressing his delight that the present day women have shown tremendous character and fortitude to overcome many social hurdles and have reached new heights.

He said that the UGC had selected BBK DAV College as a centre for potential of higher education and offered it a large grant to add more vocational and job-oriented courses for girls.

A fashion show was also organised during the five-day international conference in which students sashayed the ramp in self-designed fusion dresses.

About 90 students took part in the fashion show organized by the Fashion Designing Department of the college.

The show consisted of seven rounds, and each round displayed separate dresses for the different seasons.

Mr S.S. Srivastava, district police chief, was the chief guest.



Quiz — new way for docs to exchange information
Our Correspondent

Four top hospitals, including government medical institutes of the city, have adopted a unique way to exchange information regarding latest and advance ‘critical care’ techniques — by holding interactive quiz contest.

The contest was definitely not easy.  The four teams participated in the hard-fought contest organised by the Anesthetic Society of Amritsar.

Dr Sonika Thukral and Dr Manpreet Singh, both senior attending cardiac anesthetics at the Escorts Heart and SuperSpecialty Institute, emerged the winners, beating teams from Guru Ram Das hospital, Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and Amandeep Hospital.

Hospitals authorities and doctors opined that the quiz would refresh them regarding the latest techniques, besides relieving stress and providing better care for patients. Dr H. S. Pannu, Chief, Cardiovascular Surgery, Escorts, said such contests were a right step in exchange of medical expertise in this specialised field available only in tertiary hospitals.

He said it tested the preparedness level of doctors. Such exchanges also relieved stress for the doctors, who worked in demanding situations. Dr Thukral and Dr Singh said the contest was tough and required a combination of presence of mind with knowledge. The questions with multiple options tested the grasp of the subject and actions required for on-the-spot critical decisions.



UGC grant for Botany don
Our Correspondent

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has sanctioned a research project amounting to Rs 3 lakh to Dr Renu Bhardwaj, Reader, Botanical and Environmental Sciences Department, Guru Nanak Dev University, for holding a sensitisation and awareness workshop under UGC programme on “Capacity building for women managers in higher education” as its coordinator.

She would be assisted by Dr Balwinder Arora, Reader, Department of Sociology of the university.

Giving details of this project, Dr Bhardwaj said the programme on capacity building workshops was initiated by Commonwealth Secretariat, London, in association with the Association of Commonwealth University, London, and University Grants Commission, New Delhi.

It made a Pool of trainers among senior women managers in higher education.



Cadets educate rural people
Tribune News Service

NCC air wing cadets of DAV College interact with residents of Ghanupur Colony in Chheharta in Amritsar.
NCC air wing cadets of DAV College interact with residents of Ghanupur Colony in Chheharta in Amritsar. — A Tribune photo

NCC Air Wing Cadets of DAV College, Amritsar, interacted with the residents of Ghanupur Colony, Chheharta town in the border district of Amritsar recently.

Cadets Ms Prabhjot Kaur, Ms Garima Verma, Mr Sukhdeep Singh, Mr Raghav Talwar and 21 others interacted with the residents and apprised them of the importance of education. They also highlighted the benefits of good education and also enlightened them about computers.

The residents of the area showed lot of enthusiasm in listening to the cadets and large number of parents came out in large groups and expressed their willingness of to send their children to join the armed forces. However, they expressed ignorance about how to get the required information.

Lauding the role of the cadets, the Principal, Dr V.K. Sharma, said this type of education awareness programmes in the rural and semi-urban areas were very significant for the national development.



Cassette released

A musical evening dedicated to the memory of the ‘Nightingale of Punjab’, Surinder Kaur was held at Punjab Naatshala. “Vele Shaguna De”, a cassette of Punjabi folk songs by Dr Jatinder Kaur, Lecturer in music, Khalsa College for Women, was also released.

Gurmit Bawa and her daughter Lachi Bawa sang old songs of Surinder Kaur. The president of Chief Khalsa Dewan, Mr Charanjit Singh Chadda, complimented Dr Jatinder Kaur, who produced the album in association with CJ multimedia. She dedicated the album to Surinder Kaur. — OC



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