Poor children need no ban
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

The legislature has enacted a law banning child labour in the country. No child below the age of 14 can be employed legally.

Though the ban has desisted some from employing child labour, which come cheap, the problem of poverty and sustainability still persists among poor children. The minor children even below the age of 10 can be seen picking rags from the solid waste dumps around the city.

The child, who can legally not be employed, can be seen working in a hazardous condition, picking rags from the solid waste dumps. The administration cannot stop them from carrying out this work that can have ill-effects on their health.

It is the poverty that drives them into doing work in hazardous and exploitative conditions. A social organization, working for elimination of child labour, says it is unable to help such child.

The problem of such children is two-square meal rather than exploitation at the hands of their employers. The legislation banning child labour has to be more humane. With the implementation of the Child Labour Act, many poor children would stop getting work as domestic help or at any other place.

Bereft of the employment, how much exploitative it may sound, the children would find it hard to get two-square meal. Their poor parents would have no option but to force them into doing some work and earn in conditions that can be more exploitative than working at many places as domestic help.

According to many social organizations, while working in the field the real problem for many such poor children is of sustainability. Rather than banning the child labour altogether the government should have framed laws to create better working conditions for such children.

Working hours for minor children should be fixed and the employers asked to take the onus of feeding and educating them. Minimum wage should be fixed.



Dora-makers need protection
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Avtar Singh has been preparing dora (thread for flying kites) around the streets of Amritsar since 1956. Even after putting about 50 years of labour in the profession he is finding it hard to make both ends meet.

Tedious work of making dora leaves him with little energy to reply queries of passers-by. “There is nothing in this profession. All margins are pocketed by traders and big shopkeepers. We are even finding it hard to recover the amount paid to the corporation for hiring the footpath on which we are preparing the threads”, he says without a pause.

Avtar Singh is not the only labourer who makes dora. Thousands of other labourers engaged in dora making can barely make both ends meet. They are allegedly not given the minimum wage fixed by the government by their employers.

They are given the raw thread by kite traders. They have to make dora of it using their own resources. The traders give them just Rs 10 per thread role for the finished product.

The labourers lament the corporation charges exorbitant fees from them for renting the footpaths. For certain spots they pay thousands of rupees per annum. The corporation should earmark an open space for their use at a nominal rent.

The laborers prepare special dora used in flying kites. They have been protecting this traditional art despite hardships involved in the profession. The work is seasonal in nature. Generally, dora making goes on from October to January to meet the demand on ‘lohria’ and ‘basanta’ festivals when thousands of residents fly kites.

For the rest of the year the laborers have to take up other work to earn livelihood.

The government should come out with schemes for saving the traditional art form of dora making. The artists connected with traditional art forms get subsidies. The dora makers too need protection from the government to sustain the traditional art. 



From fishing to nets
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amir Hussain came to Punjab from Bijnaour district of Uttar Pradesh about 50 years ago. Belonging to Mahigeer, a fishermen tribe of UP, he came here to catch fish in rivers.

However, here he did not find any shop to buy new nets for fishing. So, he decided to establish the first shop of fishing nets in Amritsar. It is only shop in Amritsar that deals with fishing nets.

Grandsons of Hussain run the shop in the fish market. The shop is popularly known as “Mianji jal wale” in the area.

Khursheed Ahmed, a grandson of Hussain who runs the shop, says the business of fishing nets has gone sea change in the past 50 years. There entire family is involved in the trade of making and trading in fishing nets. Initially, the fishing nets were prepared manually. Strong cotton thread was used to prepare the nets.

However, in the past 10 years the nylon nets are being used. The nets are now made mechanically. Their entire village in Bijnour is involved in the trade of making the fishing nets and selling it all parts of the country.

In Punjab, the business of fishing nets was good. Fish contractors from all over the state used to buy fishing nets from them. The fishermen from Harikae, Ferozepore and other parts of the state who used to take contracts for catching fish were their regular customers. All kinds of fishing nets meant from catching small and big fish were sold.

However, the fish catch in the rivers of Punjab has gone down due to pollution and indiscriminate poaching. In many district the fisheries department fails to find contractors for catching fish from the river. At Harikae the catching fish is not allowed as it international wetland area.

This has adversely affected the business of fishing nets also. As no fish is being caught on commercial scale in the rivers there are few buyers of nets. The fish farmers are their only major customers these days. However, numbers and requirement is meager to sustain the business.

The competition has also affected the business of fishing nets. Now fishing nets shops have also opened at Jalandhar and Ludhiana. Traders in these cities procure fishing nets from Goa and trade them in these districts. This has affected the market of Bijnaour-based fishing nets of Amritsar. 



My City
Elevated road: A blessing?
Balvinder Singh

Amritsar, known as the city of Golden Temple, has seen various ups and downs in the short history of its development. Initially, Mughals had destroyed the temple as well as the city up to 1765. However, it continues to face destruction, not by foreigners, but by our own people.

The period of Sikh misls and Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1765-1849) is considered the golden period for the development of this historic city. Various bungas (rest houses), akharas (centres of learning), havelis, forts, beautiful buildings, gardens, narrow streets, open spaces, streetscapes, frescoes, sarovars, temples, wells are the basic components of the city besides the mohalas, katras, typical bazars, wall, moat and the gates. The city developed around Sri Harmandar Sahib, the landmark.

During the British rule, the wall was demolished, moat was filled in and gates were dismantled. The only historic gate left is Rambagh Gate, which is in a dilapidated condition. Rambagh Garden and Gobindgarh Fort suffered extensive damage.

During 1947-2005, under the name of the redevelopment, many areas were demolished. A major project “approach road to Golden Temple and Jallianwala Bagh” was prepared. The access to both these historic places was widened. At that time nobody thought of involving conservation professionals due to their unavailability in the country. Perhaps nobody examined important documents while going for “Corridor Plan” or “Beautification Project”.

The latest threat to the city is elevated road projects, especially the one which will be constructed in the walled city.

This elevated road would not only disturb the character and aesthetics of the area but may also cause damage to Sri Harmandar Sahib. No environment impact assessment study has been conducted before finalising the project.

The wind direction of the city is north-west south-east. The proposed parking lot will come up in the north-west of the Temple. Pollution caused by the vehicles will damage the environs as well as the gold covering on the shrine. Public participation is another ignored area.

Can’t we find some other alternatives? There are solutions both long-term and short-term. The short-term solution is to start battery-operated buses from different points outside the walled city and long-term being the introduction of Metro.

The following guidelines must be considered before starting the elevated road inside the walled city.

“Charter for the Conservation of Historic Towns & Urban Areas”

Principles and Objectives: (a) The values to be preserved include the historic character of the historic city and all these material and spiritual elements that create character.

(b) New activities should be compatible with the character of the historic town.

(c) Traffic inside the historic town must be controlled; the parking areas should not disturb the historic fabric or degrade the environment.

(d) When urban and regional planning provides for the construction of major motorways, they must not be permitted to penetrate an historic town, rather they should improve access to it.

(e) Historic towns should be protected against natural disasters and nuisance such as pollution and vibration.

National Commission on Urbanisation 1988: Sir B.M. Feilden’s “Guidelines for Conservation: A Technical Manual”: “Modern developers have too often failed to understand the cultural value of historic centres and with unquestioning acceptance of the needs of motor traffic have driven wide straight streets through sensitive historic centres.

The small and human scale, the refined traditional structure of the urban fabric, the narrow winding streets reflecting the necessities of climate, as well as the relationship between public and private space are destroyed.” Going by the above guidelines, the proposal of elevated road in the walled city should be given a rethinking if we want to conserve the character of this great cit. As a conservation professional, to me it will be a bane of this city.



Indo-Pak Saanjh highlighted 
Sanjay Bumbroo & Ashok Sethi

“Saanjh”, the multicultural festival featuring top artistes of India and Pakistan, has laid the path to create a seamless bonhomie among the divided group of folk and drama artistes of both countries.

The “Saanjh”, organised by the Springdale School fraternity here, concluded on Monday. It created some nostalgic moments. People enjoyed the Sufiana music, which have lost its original glory in the wake of the Partition.

Sain Zahoor of Haveli Lakhan in Pakistan, lending his rich voice to the kalams of Baba Farid, won hearts of the people with his wide repertoire of his ability to give finest performance. He finds his inspiration in the great Sufi tradition. He has carved out a special niche for himself and for his Sufi music.

Spreading the message of love with kalams of Baba Farid and songs of Meera Bai, while wearing ghoongru on the feet and carrying a tumba, Sain enthralled the audience on the second day of the show held at Spring Dale Senior School here late last night.

Winner of the BBC Best Voice of the Year Award, Sain held the audience spellbound as he danced and sang “Ki Jaane Mein Kaun Bullya…”. Seeking more such Sufiana kalams, the audience kept pestering him to render some of his earlier songs.

The co-organiser of the show from Pakistan, Rafi Theater, and its chief executive officer and theatre and TV personality Usmaan Peerzada said artistes could play a significant role in sustaining the thaw in the relations between the two nations. Expressing his satisfaction over the peace process initiated a few years ago, he felt that people contact through the exchange of cultural delegations would lend a more meaningful substance to the Indo-Pak relations.

He said both governments had realised the importance of cultural ties that both neighbours enjoy. The strong bridges being built across the Radcliff (border) would definitely bore fruit in future.

Advising artistes of both countries, Usmaan said, “Let’s build the atmosphere of love and not allow hatred ever to come near us”. Taking dig at some Bollywood films, which portray Pakistan in a different light, felt that producers in Mumbai film industry would take note of the present scenario and would not repeat the old folly.

He offered a sage suggestion to the present group of Punjabi artistes to revive the old composite culture, which had once lit the literary light in this region. Based on his proposition, his theatre group has once again extended a hand of friendship and collaboration with the Punjabi counterparts in India to re-establish the new-age theatre.

His father Rafi Peerzada had made a humble beginning four decades ago to bring back into focus the rich Punjabi theatre and revive its old glory.

Commenting on the show, Usmaan said the live show had managed to bring the peoples of the two countries closer and acted as a bridge between the long lost friends and brothers.

Such shows should be held regularly so that the artistes could showcase their talent and got connected to the generation next through rich culture and tradition of both countries.

Mushaq Hussain and Innayat Hussain, who returned to their place of birth after 60 years, felt that as if they had discovered a treasure trove. Sentimental about their visit to their native village of Nangli, the Hussain brothers said the smell of soil of the village had brought back the memories of their childhood. Innayat said he was just five years old and his brother seven when had Partition forced them to leave their native place.

Narrating nostalgically the stories about his father Jalaldin and grandfather Haider Ali, who were famous artistes of the bygone era, Innayat Hussain said they used to tell a number of stories about their life in their native village.

During their visit to Nangli, both brothers were received with great affection by the villagers. Their father used to mention about his friend Nambardar Harbans Singh, they added.

The Hussain brothers, with their voice choked, vowed to return back to renew their connection with the village.

A 90-minute documentary “Laatoo”, directed by Faizaan Peerzada and Alix Phillippon, was also presented during the four-day Saanjh festival.

It presents dance as a celebration of life, not as a vulgar form. It chronicles the diversity of dance forms practised in Pakistan, with images of the techniques from kathak, bharatnatyam and Oddissi to the mujras. It has drawn a contrast between spiritual classical dance forms and vulgar fashion shows and dance parties.

Another documentary film on Sufi music, “The mystic music of Islam”, screened at the festival has been produced by Daniel Abdal-Havy Moore. It depicts the finest nuances of Sufism. The producer has explained traditions of Sufi music in Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, India and Morocco in the documentary.

Allahditta Lonaywala, a disciple of late Nusrat Fateh Ali, along with his son Nadim Abbas, visited India for the first time. Allahditta, who belonged to the Punjabi gharana, Taalwandi, spellbound the spectators with his dexterously woven melodies.

The surprise event of the evening had Saida Begam of the ‘Puranchoti’ of the Patiala gharana establish common linkage between folk and Sufi. The audience was treated to a beautiful fusion of the dhamal and dhol by the tabla maestro Waris Ballu from Lahore and the drummer of Spring Dale School’s in a jugalbandi.

Salmaan Peerzada’s international award-winning feature film “Zar Gul” was presented on the last day of the festival. It portrays political corruption and oppression in contemporary Pakistan in the fight of a near-mythical hero for human right. 



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