CM’s assurance on medical college status
Vacant posts to be filled soon
P. K. Jaiswar

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was in Amritsar during ‘Vikas Yatra’, assured medical and dental teachers that the Government Medical College, Amritsar, would not be de-recognised.

He gave the assurance to the delegation of the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association led by Dr Baljit Singh Dhillon, chairman, Dr Tejbir, state coordinator, and Dr Amrik Singh Bhatia, secretary. The vacant posts would soon be filled, the Chief Minister added.

The college faces the prospect of de-recognition following the visit by the Medical Council of India (MCI) team recently, due to a large number of vacancies. The team found the college functioning unsatisfactory and disallowed the authorities from granting admission from the new academic session.

Earlier, Dr Balit Singh Dhillon, forwarded the demands of the doctors and urged the Chief Minister to fill the vacant posts from the parent cadre of the PCMS. The delegation also appealed to him to disallow the Punjab Public Service Commission to recruit teachers for the medical colleges. It would help in filling up the 39 per cent vacant posts in the three medical and two dental colleges in Punjab.

The delegation also requested Capt Amarinder Singh to temporarily raise the retirement age of doctors from 58 to 62 years, to bring them at par with their counterparts in All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, PGI, Chandigarh, and medical college at Rohtak. About 30 medical teachers are on the verge of retirement while 32 are likely to retire next year.

The association appreciated the government for releasing the grant of Rs 7 crore for the Amritsar medical college. The grant includes Rs 4 crore for instrumentation and Rs 2.5 crore for construction, besides Rs 50 lakh for repair work.

The government also granted Rs 2 crore for establishing a radiotherapy unit in the college. The medical fraternity in Punjab must have been relieved now with the assurance by the Chief Minister that the Government Medical College, Amritsar, would not be de-recognised as was feared earlier.



My City
Hotel industry in shambles
Binny Chadha

If we look 40 years back to the hotel industry in the city then we see a lot of difference. There were hardly any good as lesser number of tourists visited the city then. There are only a few hotels operating in the holy city.

Hotels Astoria, Blue Moon, Airlines, Grand and Ritz cater to the demands of tourists. Hotel Amritsar International, a profitable government enterprise was sold recently. It was the only three-star hotel run by the government in the state. It came into existence in 1980 but failed to take off due to huge losses.

Amritsar is a centre of attraction for Indian as well as foreign tourists. Unfortunately, nothing has been done by the government to promote tourism in the region. Many other states are ahead of Punjab in the sector. Punjab has been ignored for the past 60 years by the government. The Golden Temple attracts tourists spontaneously by the grace of the Almighty. So because of less tourism, rooms demand in the city was not much.

The industry started languishing due to militancy and lack of good industrial policies by the government. If Hyderabad can be IT hub of India why Amritsar can’t be the textile hub, as it used to be. Now with Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister, development in Amritsar is looking up, be it airlines, shopping malls or the setting up of a special economic zone.

But again, I see the future of the hospitality industry in the dark zone because so many eyes are on this trade that it is generating a lot of unplanned hotels and resorts and guest houses in the city. The vanishing industry has also added fuel to the fire since lot of capital was spared due to closing down of the industries.

Approximately 500 rooms have been added in past two to three years. The situation is alarming as about 3000 rooms would be added and another 2,000 rooms are in the pipeline. Majority of the malls have the facility of rooms for the tourists visiting the holy city.

The demand is not that high. The pinch is already being felt. After three years hotel industry would be another sick sector. Every industry shed is being converted into a banquet hall and hotel rooms. Even in the walled city many residential houses have been converted into small lodges, guesthouse and even hotels, lacking basic amenities which will bring a bad name to Amritsar.

Good planned hotels should be constructed. The government should see that all basic amenities are provided to give maximum comforts to tourists. Since the Wagah border is opening slowly, trade between the two countries is expanding; a need will arise to provide hotels of international standard in the city.

During my last visit to Lahore in Pakistan I was surprised to see the hotels there; they were comparable to international standards. I want to stress upon developers to make the hotel industry better than our neighbours. That could be achieved only when we act responsibly with the help of the local authorities.



Technology weds religion
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

“Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh. May I help you?” asks a “metalled” sewadar. The sewadar is not a human but a robot supporting a siropa. Then it asks your preference for language of conversation. After that it takes you around the museum. In the 16-minute trip, it stops near every painting and narrates you the history of the event like “Bhai Lehna listening Gurbani from Bhai Jodh in the ambrosial hours”.

Most of the paintings are based on the epitomes expressed in the Janamsakhi written by Guru Angad Dev. The museum, Multimedia Sikh Museum, on the premises of Khadoor Sahib gurdwara in Tarn Taran district was opened to the public during the 500th birth anniversary of Guru Angad Dev in April 2004.

If you don’t want to take the help of the robot, then there is also another option. You can press the manual audio button installed near the painting and listen to the citation of that painting in any of the three languages.

“The aim of the museum is to help the common man understand about the Sikh history with the help of modern technology,” says Baba Sewa Singh, Chief Organiser, Kar Seva Khadoor Sahib.

The brain behind the museum is Dr Raghbir Singh Bains, a Canadian Sikh and author of Encyclopaedia of Sikhism. “The museum is the first of its kind in the world on robotic and liquid crystal display touch-screen technology. It is equipped with latest software, electronic scrollers and projectors to make events more visual, lively and understandable. The moment you touch the screen, information is ready for you. The museum has 16 big and 40 small paintings, depicting artifacts, history, culture, heritage and spiritual beliefs of the people, especially the Sikhs,” says Dr Bains.

“There is no need to be an expert in handling touch-screen computers. One can just touch the icons prepared in three languages and listen, watch or read the information. In addition to general public, hundreds of school and college students visit this museum daily to know the history, culture and their heritage.

It widens their vision for development of personality as a whole,” believes the creator. Free guides are available and there is no entry fee. There is also provision of free board and lodging for the visitors in the gurdwara complex.

“For a long time there has been a need to spread the Sikh values. So, I studied museums in the USA and Canada,” says Dr Bains.



Weekly Roundup
Sehar, Sania win junior b’minton titles

Sehar of BBK DAV College for women won the Open Punjab Junior Badminton Championship held at Patiala. Saniya of the same college finished runner-up. Sehar and Saniya teamed up to win the doubles title while in the mixed doubles event Saniya and her partner took the title while Sehar finished second with her partner.

Annual day

The Mastermind International School celebrated its third annual day. The function was presided over by Mr Prem Mahendru, Director, Punjab Channel, the UK. Tiny tots between ages of two to eight years mesmerised the audience various dances, rhymes and an English play. Mr Mahendru donated Rs 2 lakh to the school.

Theatre festival

The annual theatre festival of Spring Blossoms School was held at Amritsar recently. Children presented talent in colourful attires, depicting the rich Indian cultural heritage.

Over 1,200 children participated and took the audience on a nostalgic journey from pre-Independence era to the current hi-tech Indian economy highway.

Ms Jaspreet Kaur, Principal, Army School, and Mr Vijay Mehra, Principal, Senior Secondary Study School, presided over as chief guests. Mrs Manveen Sandhu, Principal, said it was an overwhelming occasion of the parents of the little ones. 



School sans building

The Government Elementary School No 3, Tarn Taran, established in 1973 has been running without a building since.

The school started in a gurdwara in Mastaran Wali street by the Education Department with an assurance that arrangements would be made for the building. The plan has not materialized till now due to reasons know only to the department concerned. The residents have written a number of letters to the department but to no avail.

The school has about 50 students, belonging to the schedule castes and backward classes, according to Ms Vijay Kumari, Head teacher of the school. School authorities have been permitted to use the courtyard of the gurdwara by the residents.

There is neither drinking water nor toilet facilities either for the students or the teachers. Three women teachers face great problems in the absence of even basic facilities. Lady teachers knock the door of the nearby houses for the purpose.

In summers the students and teachers face the scorching sun and winters the biting cold. In the winter season most students fall ill. Dr Tarsem Singh, Golan Municipal Councillor, said he had approached the officials to solve the problems but his pleas fell on deaf ears.



Research throws new light on first Hindi novel
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

It was believed by now that Lala Sri Niwas was first novelist of modern Hindi period but the research conducted by the Dean Languages, Guru Nanak Dev University, Prof Harmahendra Singh Bedi, has established that it was not Niwas but Pandit Shradha Ram Phillauri who had written first novel in modern Hindi period. Not many people are aware of the fact that it was Pandit Phillauri who had created Aarti (prayer) “Om Jai Jagdish Hare”.

Prof Bedi’s research work about the creations and life of Pandit Phillauri has been published in three volumes as “Shradha Ram Granthawali”.

While one volume deals with his prose, the other with poetry, whereas the third volume deals with different aspects of Pandit Phillauri’s life.

“Pandit Phillauri had written ‘Bhagyawati’ novel in 1878, however, it was published 10 years later in 1888.”

Prof Bedi says: “Whereas Lala Sri Niwas wrote ‘Priksha Guru’, which was earlier considered as first novel of modern Hindi period, in 1902.”

In other words, the Granthawali by Prof Bedi revealed that “Bhagyawati”, which advocates education to women and supports widow-marriage and raise voice against child marriage, was written 14 years before Priksha Guru.

Interestingly, the Bhartiya Sahitya Akademi has now also accepted him as the first Hindi novelist, following the publication of “Shradha Ram Granthawali”.

The study of Prof Bedi that Pandit Phillauri’s creation, “Bhagyawati”, was the first Hindi novel, have compelled the rewriting of the history of Hindi novel.

Bhagyawati, the main character in the novel, makes her husband understand on the birth of a daughter that there is no difference between the male and the female child.

At that time, as per Hindu customs a widow’s status as an unwanted burden was also a result of the taboos that prevented a widow from participating in the household work as her touch, her very presence was considered “unholy” and “impure”. Thus, without her husband a woman’s existence was not tolerated and an extreme but logical outcome of this was immolation by widows.

In the same way, during those dark days child-marriage was common. Newly-born girls used to be killed by drowning them in a tub of milk. But through “Bhagyawati”, Pandit Shradha Ram made earnest efforts to create awareness about women’s liberation.

Prof Bedi says that the book used to be given to daughters at the time of their marriage as a part of the dowry. Coincidently, the first Punjabi novel “Sundri” was written by Bhai Vir Singh in 1899 a decade after the publication of “Bhagyawati”.

The main character of both novels is a woman. It was a revolutionary step on the part of Pandit Phillauri to advocate widow marriage and condemn child marriage in “Bhagyawati”.

Prof Bedi says that Pandit Phillauri knew five languages, Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Persian. He also wrote two books in Punjabi “Sikhan De Raj Di Vithia” (story of Sikh rule) and Punjabi “Baat Cheet” that earned him the title of “Father of modern Punjabi prose”.

Prof Bedi says, he also wrote “Mahabharat” in verses. Interestingly, Pandit Phillauri also wrote “Murkha Shatkam”, hundred verses on fools.

Talking about his life, Prof Bedi says that Pandit Phillauri was married to a Sikh woman Mehtab Kaur. He was born in a Brahmin family at a small town Phillaur in the year 1837. Interestingly, he learnt Gurmukhi script in 1844 at the age of seven. Later, he learnt Hindi, Sanskrit, Persian, astrology and music in 1850.

Prof Bedi further says he met Christian priest Neutan in 1858 and translated one part of Bible in Gurmukhi for the first time in 1868. He died on June 24, 1881, at Lahore.

His father, Jai Dyalu, was an astrologer by profession. Pandit Phillauri himself was a great astrologer.

Interestingly, he was charged with conducting propaganda against the British government through his forceful lectures on the Mahabharata and was exiled for some time from his home town, Phillaur. He played a significant role in freedom struggle and opposed forced conversion, Prof Bedi adds. 



Fishing diversification
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

The government may have been motivating the farmers in the state to diversify from the paddy-wheat cycle but some farmers in Amritsar district have successfully taken strides in diversification on their own and set an example for others to follow.

On such farmer is Mr Sukhdeep Singh Bajwa, a resident of Ranjit Avenue, Amritsar, and a former wildlife warden. Mr Bajwa took to fish farming adopting scientific approach and achieved the highest fish yield in the region at about 50 quintals per acre, which gives him an income of Rs 1 lakh per acre.

Better known for nabbing SDM Pathankot for poaching the national bird peacock, he has converted his 20 acres in Qadian into fish ponds.

Mr Bajwa said farmers in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are generating incomes of Rs 1.5 lakh per acre following a scientific approach. He was also aiming at that target at his farm. Frustrated at poor income from the wheat-paddy rotation cycle, he first started fish farming on an experimental basis.

The depth of the ponds is about 4 ft, where sunlight can penetrate and fish can feed. The soil lifted from the field to make ponds is used for embankments, on which poplars are planted.

He has converted about 2 acres into fish nursery. He gets the fish seed from Kolkata, which is put in the nursery.

After a year, the fish is transferred into other ponds. They grow to 1 kg in weight within six months. This is ideal size for the fish to market as after this the food conversion ratio does not remains profitable. The fish also needs proper feed and aeration of water for growth.

There is ready market for fish in Punjab these days. Due to large population of migratory labour in cities, the demand sustains even in summers.

Contractors send their labour and farmers are paid on the spot. The price in the wholesale markets range from Rs 30 to Rs 35 per kg, Mr Bajwa said.

Recently he successfully reared a boneless variety of catfish that fetches high market price. The carnivore fish is reared with the common carp, on which it feeds.

Fish farming requires lesser labour as compared to traditional crops of wheat and rice. It also helps in maintaining the water level as groundwater recharging take places in the areas around the fish ponds.

The present efforts by the Department of Fisheries are not enough as most farmers have succeeded due to their own effort rather than government support. 



Bio-diversity decreases in Punjab
Our Correspondent

The Post Graduate Department of Zoology, Khalsa College, Amritsar, celebrated the National Science Day in collaboration with Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, Chandigarh.

Dr Malkit Singh Saini, Head, Department of Zoology, Punjabi University, Patiala, delivered a lecture on “Changes in Environment of Punjab - a Retrospect”. He stressed upon the point that the environment in the state had suffered a great loss in flora and fauna diversity since 1964-65 due to the changes in the agricultural pattern and urbanisation. He urged the students to come forward and save environment.

Dr Saini viewed that the worst affected by the changing environment were native fresh water species of fish, owls, crows, eagles, sparrows, vultures among the birds and animals like porcupine, hedgehog, anteaters, fox, which had disappeared or migrated from Punjab due to loss of habitat and scarcity of food.

Prof G. S. Sappal, Head, Department of Zoology, stressed upon the need for change in agricultural pattern of crop rotation to save native flora and fauna of Punjab. All the members of the faculty of Zoology Department, along with students, were present.



Laddi adds more medals to athletics kitty

Surinder Pal Singh
Surinder Pal Singh

Surinder Pal Singh, alias Laddi, (44) of Tarn Taran won a silver medal and a bronze medal at the recently concluded 14th Asian Masters Athletics Championship held at Bangalore, adding another feather to his cap.

Laddi won the bronze medal in 3,000m steeplechase and got the silver medal in 4x400m relay, at the championship was organised by the Karnataka Athletics Association from November 14 to 19 at Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore.

The world masters championship is scheduled to be held in Italy in September next year.

Laddi, ASI in the Punjab Police, is a keen sportsperson who took to athletics during his school days. He has won about 10 gold medals at national meets, besides many medals at the university and inter-university levels.

His national record of 3.55 minutes in 1500m at the National School Games is still unbeaten. He practices in the morning and evening daily at the ground of Sewa Devi SD College, Tarn Taran. He also coaches a number of youth of the town and surrounding villages.

Laddi is now preparing for the World Masters Athletic Championship. 



Krishna’s latest avatar
Smriti Sharma

Lord Krishna arrived in the city today with a heady mix of Sanskrit-Hindi and long spiritual messages. And by the time we stripped him off his Krishna avatar, we got to know about his new one, this time as a narrator of Sony Entertainment Television’s Man Mein Hai Visshwas.

No we are not talking of the real Lord Krishna instead we are talking of reel-life Krishna aka Nitish Bharadwaj straight from B. R. Chopra’s epic Mahabharata. In the city to talk about his serial it seemed that Nitish couldn’t forget his dialogues from the epic which made him a household name.

For an actor who has more than just lived the character of Krishna, philosophy is a science of living which “if not practised becomes a book on the shelf”. About his eternal character of Krishna, Nitish says “I believe God used me as his representation.” So what keeps multi-faceted Nitish, who is a veterinary surgeon, a theatre director, an actor, a politician and a director (he directed a documentary Karam Yogi), going?

Prompt comes the reply, “Spirituality”. He even goes so far as to describe Man Mein Hai Visshwas as a “first spiritual and not mythological attempt” in Indian Television history. “Each episode showcases experiences of people whose lives have changed after they experienced incidents that can be described as nothing but miracles.”

So where does all this spirituality comes from? “My parents fed me on a constant diet of Gyaneshwari and Bhagwad Geeta”(Interestingly his mother happens to be a Ph.D in Bhagwad Geeta). Nitish, who started his acting career as a child actor, was spotted at a school function by late Smita Patil where he was directing a play and from then on his career moved.

Very soon Nitish would be seen donning the director’s cap when he launches is first commercial film. Not spilling any beans on this one, Nitish says, “This will purely be a commercial film.” With life coming a full circle, all one can say to this otherwise happy and content man is Dhanya ho Krishna!



Goldsmiths allege harassment by Railway cops
Manish K. Singhal
Tribune News Service

Madhukar Ganpati Chachar, president of the All-India Swarnkar Sangh has alleged that the government was unconcerned about them and did not pay any attention for the development of the goldsmiths. This has increased the unemployment rate in the swarnkar community.

“More than 200 swarnkars (goldsmiths) have reportedly committed suicide during the past two years in southern India, including Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, following the losses incurred by the fluctuation in the gold rates.”

The Punjab Swarnkar Sangh (PSS) also came down heavily on the Railway Police for allegedly harassing goldsmiths travelling in the trains.

The traders need to register themselves and the quantity of gold at the railway stations. From there itself, the Railway Police starts harassing them and pass the information to the other policemen to register the case under Section 411 and 411-A to take money from them.

Mr Satnam Singh Kunda, general secretary, Punjab Swarnkar Sangh said, “The counters of sales tax on the railway stations are open doors for criminalisation. These counters should be closed and if the sales tax department wants to check the goods, they could check it elsewhere in the city by opening their separate counters.”

According to Jagjit Singh Sehdev, president of Punjab Swarnkar Sangh, “The government should take stringent action against such railway police officials and should give protection to the traders.”

He said Section 411 and 411-A has become curse for gold traders. Naresh Abrol from Jammu and Kashmir said the police use these Sections unwisely and use them to extract money from the traders.

Similar allegations were also levelled by the other traders, including Pentachari from Hyderabad, Kailash Soni from Kolkata, Ravi Verma from Uttar Pradesh, B. L. Soni from Rajasthan and Satnam Singh Kanda.

They all were present here to attend an all-India meeting organised by the Punjab Swarnkar Sangh. They appealed to the government to provide backward class status to Swarnkar community.

Mr Kunda further said volatile rates of gold and silver duo to future market options had an adverse effect on traders. It has rendered a large number of goldsmiths unemployed. It should be banned, he added. 



Rural mela rejuvenates traditional kabaddi
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Effort to rejuvenate traditional sports like ‘kabaddi’, are proving to be success in Umranangal village in Amritsar district. Sports mela organised by Jathedar Jivan Singh Umranangal Sport Club this week attracted over 20 kabaddi teams from villages and 25 teams from sports academies across the state. Large crowds spoke of the popularity of the sport in rural areas.

The organiser of the mela, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, started organising the mela in his village in memory of his late grandfather Jivan Singh, who used to organise a mela at the place. He used to call ‘bazigaars’ tribe members from the area to display their acrobatic skills.

However, the mela lost momentum after Jivan Singh Umranangal’s death. The mela got converted into a political event, with leaders delivering political discourses at the venue every year.

However, for the past four years only traditional sport competitions are held the mela and no political discourse is allowed.

Prizes are attractive too. The winners get Rs 61,000 while runners-up get Rs 52,000. The next three teams receive Rs 31,000, Rs 21,000 and Rs 15,000, respectively.

The prize money has slowly started attracting teams from all over the state. In areas surrounding Umranangal village, many sport clubs have formed the Kabaddi teams. “We intend to rejuvenate the sport in the area through melas where players are offered attractive prize and a platform to compete,” say the organisers.

Non-resident Indians (NRIs) have also shown a keen interest in the mela. Many, including Mr Guri Bhunder and Sukh Bhunder from Canada, Mr Tika from Norway, Dhillon from Australia, Mr Sunny Ghuman, Mr Mat Ghuman and Bawa from Los Angeles (the USA) have contributed benevolently towards prize money for the mela.

However, the real success of the mela would be when international players are produced from Umranangal or its surrounding areas.

Besides organizing the mela, the local sports club has also constituted a Shaheed Sardar Sukhdev Singh Umranangal fund to help families of terrorist victims in distress and providing education to their children.

The mela is also marked by cultural programmes in the evening, where folk singers entertain the spectators.



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