Youth shackled by tradition, dream big
Varinder Walia & Ashok Sethi
Tribune News Service

Students of Guru Nanak Dev University pass by the Summer Palace of Maharaj Ranjit Singh
In keeping with times: Students of Guru Nanak Dev University pass by the Summer Palace of Maharaj Ranjit Singh in Amritsar. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma

The world has changed dramatically with techno-savvy youth slowly taking over corporate responsibility. They are a force to reckon with in the global business scenario while youth of Amritsar continue to be shackled by parental control. They are obsessed with eating, gossiping, clubbing, movies and fashion.

Tradition, the mainstay of local psyche, has not allowed youngsters to chalk out their own course and establish new and innovative business. The city offers few options, except trade, as industry has been on the wane.

However, the boom in real estate business has provided the youngsters with opportunity to try their hand at property dealing. Some of them have already proved their mettle and succeeded in carving out exciting ventures.

A number of youngsters have opened up offices in almost every locality, soliciting business in the booming segment.

A quick survey by Amritsar Plus revealed that even post-graduates find it difficult to plan the future they had dreamt of. The city offers limited scope for professionals as the lack of corporate culture and the working environment has forced them to flee to metro towns for greener pastures.

Malls and multiplexes have opened a new vista for ambitious young professionals and managers. Some talented youth are carving a name for themselves in the innovative fashion world.

A group of all women college band of BBK DAV College has broken the male bastion by taking up the mission to preserve traditional Punjabi music.

The challenging task before them was to teach students to play the ‘dhol’. The bulky ‘dhol’ on the shoulders of dainty women provides an ideal backdrop for an all-women orchestra. The inspiration behind this youthful orchestra is highly talented music Lecturer Ms Ritu Sharma, who wanted to experiment with musical instruments of the past which had become extinct. The all-women folk orchestra has found a place of honour at the August 15 celebrations at the Wagah border for the past three years. The occasion is a rare treat for the Pakistani audience too. Ms Sharma has experimented with old folk numbers. The traditional ‘shankh’ and ‘been’ provide breathtaking music.

The student artists of BBK DAV College find the folk orchestra as morale-booster. It has brought laurels to the college, especially at the Youth Festival by Guru Nanak Dev University. Many other women colleges are planning to follow in their footsteps.

The youth of Amritsar have become career-conscious and are opting to graduate in areas of information technology, computer applications, MBA, which provide better employment opportunities. They are shunning family-run traditional business.

Women are not far behind in seeking better opportunities outside the city. Young MBA Nitya Kapoor has an excellent job in Gurgaon-based American HR company with a pay package of Rs 5 lakh. She says the work culture of multinational companies offers better scope for growth. The MNCs recognise talent and give the youngsters a chance to grow.

Although tourism, including the hospitality industry and aviation, holds promise for youngsters but lack of high-class hospitality institutions in Amritsar has proved to be a bane for the talented young.

A leading promoter of tourism institute, Dr Gulshan Sharma finds promise among the local youth but the city has not provided world-class finishing school to prepare them in this growth-oriented industry.

A few institutions have come up but only the rich and the affluent find a place in them. The city requires a complete hospitality institute for all so that skills of youngsters can be honed.



Held up at Hall Gate
Manmohan Singh Dhillon

It would not be inappropriate to call Hall Gate as cremation place of effigies of political leaders on the lines of Matka Chowk in Chandigarh.

Various political, religious and social organisations converge on this place every second or third day to register their protest and add to air and noise pollution, besides causing traffic chaos.

Hall Gate is one of the 12 historic gates around the old city. These gates were constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to protect the city from foreign invaders.

The British rulers added Lawrence to its name. After Independence its name was changed to Gandhi Gate. But people here know it only as Hall Gate.

Among effigies burnt at Hall Gate till now are of Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. 



My City
Victim of official apathy
Prof S.N. Joshi

I always loved living in Amritsar – a city with history and traditions and having a lifestyle of its own. One of the younger cities (founded only in 1577 AD) Amritsar grew fast in stature. With five sarovars (sacred tanks), Golden temple and Akal Takht, it soon emerged as the most important centre of the Sikhs. Both Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the British contributed in making it as the most important hub of commercial activity – trading as well as manufacturing (thereby raising it to be one of the most prosperous towns of north India). Traders were inspired by Sikh Sardars (Misaldars and Maharaja Ranjit Singh) to settle here. Very soon it surpassed Lahore, the then capital of Punjab in terms of dwelling and commercial units. In the 20th century Jallianwala Bagh Memorial, Durgiana Temple and temple of Shivala Bhaiyan added more landmarks to the city.

Amritsar made substantial contribution to almost every human activity and has proud privilege of producing a galaxy of legendaries. To name a few, freedom fighters like Madan Lal Dhingra, Dr Saifudin Kitchlu, Dr Satya Pal, Shaheed Udham Singh, Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna, Sohan Singh Josh; literary giants like Bhai Veer Singh, Dhani Ram Chatrik, Nanak Singh, Sadat Hasan Manto, great teachers like Principal Teja Singh, Bhai Jodh Singh, Gurbachan Singh Talib, Sant Singh Sekhon, Master Sunder Singh, Dr Tulsi Dass, Dr Maan Singh Nirankari; devoted artists like Gian Singh Naqqash, S.G. Thakur Singh; public men like Dayal Singh Majithia, Seth Radha Krishan, G.R. Sethi, Mubarak Singh and sportsmen like Lala Amarnath, Bishen Singh Bedi, Mohinder Amarnath, Madan Lal, belonged to this city and its periphery.

People here are known for their enthusiasm to live full life. They are known for their resilience and can withstand any challenge. They bravely bore the brunt of the Partition, Indo-Pakistan wars and terrorism and the life quickly returned to normal. They value friendship and enjoy celebrating almost all the festivals, Lohri, Basant, Baisakhi, Dussehra, Divali and Gurpurbs whole-heartedly. One distinctive tradition of Amritsar is Langoor Dance during the Navratras in the month of October. People lead their sons dressed as langoors at the beat of drums to the temple of Lord Hanuman in fulfillment of their prayer seeking the birth of a son. They relish eating to their heart’s fill. They enjoy and serve to their dear and near ones a variety of delicious and nutritious delicacies, which are available right from the beginning of the day till midnight. The result is that all the eating-points, cooking different types of food, are very popular. Due to the easy availability of food of their liking and taste, ladies occasionally skip cooking and take their families out for breakfast and dinner.

With growing awareness and hassle-free availability of resources Amritsar is now fast expanding. More residential colonies are coming up all around. This is putting extra pressure on the existing infrastructure and reducing green patches. Ram Bagh Garden, founded by Maharaja Ranjit Singh is the only open green park, which is thronged by thousands of morning walkers and evening strollers. Many more such parks are needed.

Most residents rarely pay any attention to cleanliness and sanitation. Even the municipal corporation does very little in this regard. Choked sewers and flooded roads and streets even at the slightest shower narrate the indifference of the people and authorities. Streets remain, for most of the day, littered with filth. Amritsar also suffers from economic depression as the development in the city is at a snail’s pace.

The state enthusiasm for developing Amritsar, witnessed during the Sikh and British periods, started withering in the post-Independence era. Being a border town and total lack of political initiative has very severely affected the economic growth of the holy city. The flight of industries and commercial interests of the people has reduced Amritsar, once know for its textile and processing industry, into insignificance in face of rapid growth of towns like Ludhiana and Jalandhar. The center of All India Radio and Doordarshan Kendra initially established in Amritsar were gradually shifted to Jalandhar.

Apathy of government and political leaders to this border town looks very strange and unreasonable when we notice that similar geographical position of Lahore has not at all blocked the progress of the city. The fact is that but for Golden Temple, Amritsar would have lost its identity. If we have to put the city back on road to regain its lost glory, then people must resolve to make it clean, green and pollution free. This resolve has to be strongly backed by political and official initiative to provide the necessary infrastructure so that Amritsar is able to soon join the club of the developed cities of the country.



PUDA-approved colony sans basic amenities
P.K. Jaiswar

Residents of PUDA-approved Preet Vihar situated on the GT Road near Chheharta Chungi have complained of lack of basic amenities like proper water facilities and poor roads in the absence of proper maintenance and repair to the PUDA authorities.

Office-bearers of the Preet Vihar Welfare Association said there was no proper entrance for the colony as there was government post office situated at the entrance road of the colony. They said the colony was provided entrance from adjoining lane, which was against the rule.

The area did not have proper drinking water. They alleged that the water provided to the colony was inconsumable. They had little facilities as promised earlier. In the absence of proper boundary walls unwanted elements roam in the area. The absence of proper lighting arrangement had further added to their woes.

They said the width of the roads were also less and passed colony map was not followed during its development.

However, the promoters of the colony refuting the charges said they themselves had been requesting them to delay the repair of roads as the construction of a number of houses were in full swing and building material was stacked outside houses.

They said they would undertake the roadwork provided the whole roads were cleared of the building material.

About the problem of the main entrance of the colony, the promoters said initially the post office had offered to vacate the premises and shift to somewhere else, but delay in the shifting had held up the building of main entrance road. 



Public Grievances
Traffic blues
Tribune News Service

The Amritsar Vikas Manch has sought some effective solutions to frequent traffic jams on the Bhandari Bridge (the GT Road) being used by protesting groups between 10 am to 2 pm, the period when business people and students are held up in traffic jams.

Prof Mohan Singh, a former president of the manch, has urged the Deputy Commissioner that some park or a peripheral area be made available for the agitators. He said the traffic at the Bhandari Bridge should be regulated by police personnel.

Elderly lose homes

Mr B.R. Preenja, general secretary, Punjab Employees Rights Protection and Welfare Union, Amritsar, has urged the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment that it must take note of senior citizens who had been forced to vacate their houses by their children.

He said the government had made a special provision in the national policy that earning persons would be motivated to invest in their housing projects when they are working so that they have no problems of shelter when they grew old. He said it would be in the fitness of things if a provision is made in the proposed legislation that no child would stay in the house constructed by his father if he was not inclined to look after his parents and maintain their dignity in their twilight.

Reimburse medical fee

The state government on the one hand was paying income tax on the incomes of the MLAs and ministers while on the other it was not reimbursing the amount spent on the treatment by the government employees. As the fee for the treatment in the private hospitals had become costly it had become unbearable for the pensioners and low-salaried employees.

Mr Charanjit Gumtala, a former president, Amritsar Vikas Manch, has urged the state government to reimburse the medical fee paid by the government employees. 



Upwardly mobile
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

The city youth is fast emerging more conscious about securing their career in the field they desire. With specific targets set on their minds, they are moving in a much planned way keeping marriage as their secondary issue.

But they make it a point that the work pressure does not become too much as they often ease themselves out by partying, going on a “geri” route, enjoying a cup of coffee with friends or watching a movie with them in a theatre. The youth is also slightly getting more conscious of their personality and dressing sense.


A media hub for the past many years, the city youth seem to have more penchant of choosing a career in the media.

Simer Sethi, an M.Com student of Lyallpur Khalsa College, has planned to take entrance examination tests of a few journalism schools, including Panjab University, next year.

“I have always loved mingling with people and knowing them closely, for which I think becoming a journo is the best choice”, she explains.

Having won accolades for making a documentary on suicide cases of farmers in Punjab, Mehboob Pal Singh Brar, a passout mass communication student from Regional Campus of Guru Nanak Dev University, Ladhewali, aspires to become a film-maker.

“Being a Punjabi, I feel for the people here and I wish to help them out with my documentaries. I have tried to project the problems of farmers while also providing them possible solutions,” he makes a point.

Kamal Mittal, an MBA student at Lovely Institutes, however, has chosen the traditional way. He wants to carry on his father’s business in petrol pumps.

“I will off course try to expand it further in a planned way”, he says.


“I am much more enthusiastic about securing my career. I am not for getting married so soon. Even my parents are not pressuring me for it. People keep on coming to them coaxing them to get me married but so far they have been able to withstand these pressures and kept me out of it”, says Simer adamantly.

Marriage is quite far for Mehboob as well.

“How can I even think of running in for matrimony without being able to settle down with my career? I am still learning the art of making films at the Films and TV Institute of India, Pune, taking up various projects there. At this point of time, my expenses are soaring high and my dividends are far too low. After everything stabilises, only then will I be able to think of marriage,” he tells.

Even Kamal Mittal believes that he is too young to get married.

“Though money is flowing in smoothly and the business I am involved in with my father is also quite settled, I believe that the right time for marriage is still far off,” he opines.

But Kamal Pramar, a teacher and a counsellor at Apeejay School, has a rather unconventional belief.

“I am with my parents. I will get married at the time and with a guy whom my parents choose for me,” he tells affirmatively.


“Since most students of my college come from a rural background, they are clad in suits but I feel most comfortable in jeans. But this season, I have purchased a few shrugs which I love to wear with T-shirts in bright colours,” tells Simer. While till recently, wearing accessories and jewellery had been common among boys here but Kamal Mittal prefers doing without it.

Freaking out

Barista, a coffee shop near Milk Bar Chowk, has off late become the most happening place in the city. Says Mittal: “Headquarters and Café Coffee Day have become too crowded at times.” Partying is also common among girls here.

“Few days back, we got a hall and a DJ booked at Hotel President. All those friends in our group who contributed Rs 350 each had a rocking party there. A ‘geri’ route with friends from Model Town, Jawahar Nagar to Lajpat Nagar is a must though we used to do that more often while we were in Plus One and Two,” Simer explains.

Going abroad

The opinion remains divided on the issue. Despite a strong wave on moving abroad, Kamal Pramar is of the opposite opinion.

“I am not leaving India by any means. I have certain charm about my motherland and I am attached to it emotionally,” she tells.

Likewise, Mehboob too tells that he will settle down in India only.

“I wish to work here with my loved ones instead of going to an alien land,” he believes.

But Simer tells that she was trying to convince her parents to send her abroad for higher studies. Even Mittal wishes to settle down in the UK and Australia.



Children’s Meera play
P. K. Jaiswar

Tiny tots of Senior Study School recreated the magic of the eternal love story of Meerabai, which was appreciated by the audience who gave them a standing ovation.

The one-act play on Meerabai, known more for her devotion to Lord Krishna, depicted various nuances of Meera for her idol.

Children of 5-11 years performed the play. They left all spellbound with a faultless presentation. The play was written and directed by the Principal, Ms Kanchan Mehra, in English, Gujarati and Hindi.

Mr Jatinder Brar, founder of the Punjab Naat Shala, praised the tiny tots for the excellent performance. “Though I have done a lot of theatre and worked with so many theatre artists, I have never seen such a beautiful performance with so much excellence by children of this small age”.

Even theatre personalities would eat a humble pie after seeing splendid performance of the children, he added. It was a complete theatre performance and it was fantastic to see them performing before a large audience on stage.

Children also acted as puppets to introduce the audience to the next act. 



Save folk music: Dolly Guleria
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

There was need to protect the folk music as it was fading out due to the limited number of good quality singers practicing the art of rich folk of Punjab, said renowned Punjabi folk singer Dolly Guleria.

Dolly Guleria was addressing the national seminar on “Indian Folk Music and Punjab” held here at Sarup Rani Government College For Women. The seminar sponsored by University Grants Commission and dedicated to the memory of legendary singer of yesteryears late Surinder Kaur.

Expressing her deep anguish, Dolly Guleria pointed out present generation of singers were not sincerely dedicated to music and wanted to become famous overnight



Pir Qadri against female foeticide
Sanjay Bumbroo

Chann Pir Qadri of Pakistan and descendent of Sai Mian Mir, who laid the foundation of the Golden Temple in 1588, stressed upon to take stringent measures against female feticide and violence against women.

Qadri, who was in Amritsar to pay obeisance at the Harmandir Sahib, said decreasing ratio of women in Eastern Punjab (Indian Punjab) was a matter of concern as only 65 women were there against 100 men as per records.

“The mother plays an important part in one’s life. It is the mother who educates the young about the religion to which she belonged,” he asserted.

He said he was pained when learned about violence against women for bring in more dowry in this part of the Asian continent. He said it was unfortunate that women were being burnt or killed if they failed to fulfil the demands of her in-laws. He said the Sikh clergy should educate the masses about violence against women and female feticide.

The day was not far when the Sikh youths would have to seek match from other communities who would not be as devoted to the religion as the Sikh girl.

Concerned over the shearing of hair becoming the fashion among the Sikh youths, Qadri said the authorities concerned should take the matter seriously as the youth was drifting away from the Sikh maryada. He feared apprehension that the community may lose its identity if the present trend went on like this for some more time.



Amity mosque gets facelift
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

The mosque which shares a wall with Jallianwala Bagh where Sai Hazrat Mian Mir performed namaz after laying the foundation stone of the Harmander Sahib stands testimony to the composite culture of the city.

However, the structure has recently been given facelift without having any clue about its archeological significance.

The mosque is just 100 yards away from the sanctum sanctorum. The Union Government has identified 3,378 Sunni properties, including mosques, graveyards, takkias and khankahs in Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts. This was notified on January 9, 1971.

Of these, 1,259 Sunni Wakf properties exist in Amritsar city and its periphery. There are 416, 867 and 834 Muslim properties in Patti, Tarn Taran and Ajnala, respectively.

Most of them have either been encroached upon or are in dilapidated condition.

The mosque is perhaps the oldest in Amritsar city. The mosque was damaged during Partition.

Interestingly, a Nihang took the possession of the mosque and continued its caretaker for 47 years.

Sai Hazrat Makhdom Syed Chan Pir Qadri, who claims himself to be 19th direct descendant of the “Gaddi-Nashin” of Sai Mian Mir, says it was the Fifth Sikh Master, Guru Arjun Dev, who got this area (of the present mosque) earmarked for Muslim devotees who had accompanied the Sai (Mian Mir ji). He claims that handwritten manuscript of the “Roznamcha” (daily diary) written by Sai Mian Mir had mentioned the great gesture of Guruji for making arrangement for offering daily namaz by the Muslims.

Syed Qadri claims that the diary is a complete autobiography of Sai Hazrat Mian Mir Sahib, having minute descriptions of contemporary circumstances.

As per the personal diary maintained by Sai Mian Mir, he performed namaz for 14 days. This diary has been preserved by Syed Qadri in a bank locker in Lahore.

Sayyad Mohammad Ikram Rehmani Qadri of the Muslim Janta Welfare Action Committee says the Nihang handed over the possession of the mosque to them on July 12, 1994. With the collections, the committee started renovating the mosque which was in dilapidated condition. Now more than 500 Muslim brethren perform namaz on every Friday. The mosque remains opened on 365 days of the year for prayers.

Sayyad Ikram admits that the width of the walls of the demolished part of the mosque was from six to eight feet. The committee now plans to make it three-storey building with beautiful domes.

Sai Hazrat Mian Mir Qadri was one of great mystic in Islamic history. He was true lover of Allah and his Prophet and a real devotee of Hazrat Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jillani. His family traces back to 2nd Great Islamic Caliph Hazrat Umar. He had pioneered the highway to interfaith harmony and uniformity among religions.

Syed Qadri claims that the “Roznamcha” had also mentioned description of the great event in Sikh history - the foundation laying of the Harmander Sahib.

Syed Qadri rues that the SGPC had not put up any signboard to establish the visit of Sai Mian Mir. Instead, some of the Sikh intellectuals have lately raked up a controversy. 



On foreign beat
Sanjay Bumbroo

Dance troupes from Poland and Bulgaria performed at various educational institutions, including Khalsa College Public School, on Tuesday in collaboration with the Punjab Cultural Promotion Council.

The performance of 47 artistes, including 26 from Poland, enthralled the audience. The traditional folk dance mesmerised the audience through excellent foot-tapping dance.

Giving the brief history of his team troupe, Stefan Chapkanov, chief artistic director of the dancing ensemble “Strandja”, said it was established in 1965 for the purpose of investigating, saving and transforming for stage performing of the songs, music and dancing folklore of the Strandja area and the whole country. He said the ensemble has carried out over 5,600 concerts all over the world since its existence and has also performed in programmes broadcasted by the Bulgarian National Radio and Television.

Mr Davinder Singh Chhina, Director of the Punjab Cultural Promotion Council, speaking on the occasion said their folklore ensemble was working for highlighting the rich cultural heritage of Punjab all over the world. He said the people of Punjab were front-runners in promoting peace and goodwill development mission of humanities as described in Guru Granth Sahib.

After viewing the 114-year-old Khalsa College building, Stefan Chapkanov said he had not seen such architectural spectacle in his life and was all praise for the management of the college for maintaining the heritage marvel of the holy city.



Lead by examples, Kiran Bedi tells jail managers
Ashok Sethi

Initiator of jail reforms in the country Dr Kiran Bedi has exhorted jail officers to take bold steps to uplift the life of inmates.

She was addressing a two-day training programme on “Seeing and Learning” for the senior jail officers from the North under the aegis of the Bureau of Police Research and Development here recently. Dr Bedi said the officers must provide an environment to the prisoners so that they accept the reforms.

Dr Bedi felt that teamwork help change prisoners’ life. The involvement of NGOs in various programmes, including education, vocational training, health and legal aid, can offset the problems of resource crunch.

She urged the jail officials to lead by example. She said the rapport would help to set in motion initiatives for improving the life of the prisoners.

Appreciating the efforts of the DIG (Jails), Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, for starting Guru Nanak Dev University vocational courses for inmates, she urged the prison managers to devise ways to enhance the education through the involvement of university colleges and schools.

Earlier, C.R. Garg, DIG (Prisons) from Tihar, gave a brief account of the efforts made by Sehat, an NGO, for educating prisoners on drugs, HIV and AIDS.

Mr Gary Lewis, Regional Representative of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), South Asia, recently visited Central Jail to preside over the session on “Prison: Community Interface”.

This programme was organised by the India Vision Foundation in collaboration with the UNODC.

Appreciating the reforms set in motion by the jail authorities, Mr Lewis said he had never seen this kind of pro-active cooperation between the jail officers and inmates.

Expressing his delight over the experiment where everybody plays his role in this transformation process, he said it had now become an example for others to follow. He emphasised to implement this model in five other prisons in India and in other countries too. He lauded the progress of social education and health advocacy training launched by the India Vision Foundation and the UNODC.

He also visited the de-addiction centre in the prison complex and interacted with addicts.

Dr Jayadev Sarangi, Prison Expert, UNODC, Ms Medha Agnihotri and Ms Amrita Bahl from the India Vision Foundation and Mr C.R. Garg, DIG, Tihar Jail, were present, among others, at the session. 



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