Khalsa spreads light of education 
Gurbaxpuri

Sawinder Singh Pannu
Mr Sawinder Singh Pannu, Principal, Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa Secondary School, Sarhali.

Amarjit Singh Bhullar
Mr Amarjit Singh Bhullar, Manager of the Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa Management Socity, Sarhali.

TARN TARAN: Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa Educational Institutions, Sarhali, have an historic and long tale to be told. It starts from the year of its establishment in 1917 and sheds light on the efforts of Baba Kehar Singh, uncle of a Gursikh and patriot, Sardar Teja Singh Samundari. They belonged to the family of traditional Army personnel.

Mr Sawinder Singh Pannu, Principal of GGS Khalsa Secondary School, Sarhali, said Baba Kher Singh initiated work on G.G.S. Khalsa High School in 1917 with the cooperation of 22 villages of Sandhus (a subcaste of Jat Sikhs known as “bhaea”. He succeeded in getting about 60 acres for the noble cause from the responsible personalities of adjoining villages.

He might not have imagined that the institution would take the shape of a cluster of institutions one day.

Sardar Teja Singh Samundari, the father of Mr Bishan Singh Samundari, founder Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, become the first manager of the Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa High School Trust and Management Society in 1938. He had been associated with Khalsa High School, Layyalpur, Bar Khalsa High School Chak 41, Khalsa Middle School Chak 140 (all three in Lahore, Pakistan) and Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa High School, Sarhali.

The school was upgraded and hostels were constructed on the pattern of historical Khalsa College, Amritsar, where academies, sports and moral education were part and parcel of the campus education. Mr Mohan Singh (1918-1956), the first head of the institution, shouldered all responsibilities of the school with his team of learned teachers like Master Sujjan Singh, Mr Teja Singh, Mr Ranga Singh, Mr Harbans Singh Sabra, Mr Basant Singh, Mr Chattar Singh, Mr Inder Singh, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Channan Singh, Mr Niranjan Singh and many others.

The campus used to abuzz with activities and it become the comprehensive centre of attraction for the people from far-off places. Most students preferred to stay in the hostel. This institutions have produced personalities like late Bishan Singh Samundari, Brig Jaswant Singh Sandhu (retd), late Puran Singh, former DIG, late Sardar Partap Singh Cheema, former Scientific Adviser to the Northern Command, Mr Parveen Kumar, Bhima of Mahabharata serial, late Dharam Singh Olympian, Mr Charanjit Singh, DIG of the CRPF, Mr Teja Singh, gold medalist in athletics, Mr Paramjit Singh Sandhu, an engineer, Prof Darshan Singh, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, late Col Rajinder Singh, late Col Makhan Singh Mohanpur, Principal Nishan Singh Dhillon.

Moral education is an indispensable part of the curriculum at the institutions, India being a nation of multi-religions. Recently, the Gurdwara on the school campus was renovated. It was constructed in 1926.

The campus is spread on 30 acres and comprises six institutions. It is situated on the Amritsar—Ferozepore highway, about 20 km from Taran Taram in a pollution-free and peaceful environment.

The main characteristics of G.G.S. Khalsa High School Trust and Management Society are that it is non–political in nature and its projects are run on a no-profit-no-loss basis.

The institutions boast of Internet facility, well-equipped laboratories, spacious playgrounds, well-furnished classrooms and experienced staff. Students of the institutions of the Trust have won laurels at the tehsil level and national level.

The management committee, which is headed by Brig Jaswant Singh Sandhu and Mr Amarjeet Singh Bhullar, has plans to develop the campus and introduce professional courses at the school and college levels. These include a nursing college and an educational college for the benefits of rural people who cannot afford to send their wards at far-off places because of their weak economic condition.

Really, these institutions are playing a fantastic role in this area of Sandhus, imparting quality education in the entire of Majha region.

The sister institutions of the Trust are G.G.S. Khalsa Public School (English medium), G.G.S. Khalsa Primary School (Punjabi medium), G.G.S. Khalsa Sen. Sec. School, G.G.S. Khalsa Computer Centre, G.G.S. Khalsa Vocational Centre for women. They are affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College for Women is imparting education to the students of downtrodden families and those from less developed areas.

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No government input for export crop
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

The Celery seed, an export-based crop of Amritsar
The Celery seed, an export-based crop of Amritsar. — Photo by Lalit Mohan 

The government has been trying hard to motivate farmers of the state to diversify from the traditional wheat-paddy circle. However, it has failed to promote a totally export oriented crop cultivated in Amritsar.

The farmers in some pockets of Amritsar have been growing celery seed crop popularly known as ‘Karnoli’ that is exported to the USA, Canada and Europe for the past four decades. The crop is grown exclusively in Amrtisar. However, now, some of the farmers, migrated from Amritsar, are also growing it in Patiala and Kurukshetra in Haryana.

An interesting fact is that there is no consumption of crop in India. It is grown exclusively for export to Western countries where it is used for seasoning and preservation of food. It is also used for making Celery salt that is very popular in the USA.

The crop is grown in December. The farmers grow it along with peas or exclusively. It is also sown in areas near the natural drains in the district. The farmers get about Rs 22 or Rs 25 per kg of Celery seed. They do not know at what price the product is exported as it is a closely guarded secret of the traders. If the government helps the farmers they can get better price of their product, the farmers said.

Though the octoroi is now abolished, the farmers a few months ago had to pay octoroi on the celery seed crop. That speaks of the apathy of the state government regarding the crop. The state should, in fact, promote the cultivation of the crop by giving subsidy and easy loan facilities to the farmers. It would motivate more farmers to grow the crop.

Sources here said seed for the crop was first brought by some farmer in early fifties from France. The crop produced good results here and became popular among the farmers. However, for unknown reasons the crops remained limited only to Amritsar district.

Now the celery seed crop is not grown in its native country France. India and China are the only countries that are meeting the demand of the produce around the globe. In India over 90 per cent of trade in the crop is limited only to a Amritsar district. However, the sources said China was moving fast to capture the market of Celery seed.

Owing to a lack of government support, the trade in India is depending just on the traders of the Majeedh mandi, who have protecting and carrying out the trade.

They have been exporting the crop for the past four or five decades. One such exporter, Mr Sanjay Khurana, said the trade of Celery seeds in Amritsar had been going without any government support. The annual production of Celery seed in the country was about 6000 tones. Out of it about 5700 tones was grown only in Amritsar.

Though the seed is an exclusive product of Amritsar the Punjab government has not given any concession despite it being a totally export-oriented crop. While the Haryana has exempted the crop from VAT, in Punjab 4 per cent VAT has been imposed on the crop.

The government should give concession on trading of crop as it brings much valued foreign exchange to the country. Moreover, if concessions are given for the crop the traders can give better price to the farmers.

The government should also give other concessions for the trading in the crop on the lines of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) benefits. The industries in SEZ are being given concession just on account of promoting export.

The freight from Amritsar to ports is also an area of concern. The traders have to spend huge amounts on transportation.

If the government gives some concession in freight, the same can be transferred to the farmers, Mr Khurana said.

The sources said now the big companies like ITC had entered the trade of Celery seed. They had entered into long-term agreements with the local traders for procuring the seed. The export companies further exported the seed to Western countries.

With the entry of the export companies in the trade, now farmers have an assured market for their produce.

However, its benefit has not percolated to the farmers who still have to sell their produce to the traders at comparatively meager prices.

The Celery seed is also being used by some companies for extracting oils from them. Its oil has medicinal value and is used in various medicines. The oil is also exported to foreign drug companies.

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My City
Walk on Mall Road not easy
Arun Kapur

It is rightly said that you can’t live beyond your dreams. I have dreams for my city where our family lineage dates back to more than 300 years. Amritsar, the holy city, used to be an attractive destination for pilgrims and food lovers and was known for its exquisite green cover.

The most prominent residential address of the city, Mall Road, used to be the best road in Punjab. Erstwhile government of Late S. Lachhman Singh Gill had made this road four-laned, with two service lanes and footpaths. He had claimed that construction of the road was one of the main achievements of his nine-month rule as Chief Minister of Punjab.

Now, unfortunately, the service lanes and footpaths have been replaced with brick pavements. The result – cyclists use the pavement and pedestrian are always at a risk of being hit by a vehicle.

There used to be a huge “pear” orchard in the area surrounding Mall Road, Court Road, Income Tax Office Chowk and Kichlu Chowk. Now, several malls have come up on the orchard area. The city is heading for an ecological disaster.

The pedestrians never had it so bad as it is now. Verdant surroundings of historical Rambagh Gardens got a jolt when the footpath inside and around the garden gave way to hoardings with faces of politicians mocking and staring at all road users.

I remember that I frequently used to walk down to our shop at Hall Bazar with my grand father. But, now I shudder to even think of doing so for the fear of being traumatised by speeding vehicles.

I am reminded of an incident in Mumbai where benches meant for old people along the footpath from the Church Gate station to Flora Fountain were sought to be removed by the Municipal Corporation.

The NGOs, which were vigilant to the cause of the elderly and infirm, got into action and ensured that pedestrians as well as senior citizens got a fair deal at the hands of the corporation. The benches were not removed.

Amritsar has nine Rotary Clubs and several Lions Clubs, but they are mute spectators when it comes to taking up the cause of the city. Undoubtedly, the Rotary Club has done a good job in Polio eradication, mass marriage, healthcare, de-addiction, etc, and the Chinmaya Mission is sowing the seeds of spirituality among the youth, but still the NGOs have not done enough for the city regarding sanitation, cleanliness and environment.

Every 100 yards, you will find a garbage dump and many people strongly believe that the best place to throw garbage is outside your neighbour’s house. Encroachment on all roads is a rule rather than exception. Every house in posh Ranjit Avenue/Green Avenue has encroached on half the road – leaving the pedestrians at the mercy of speeding vehicles.

The public transport system in the city is shambles. In the sixties, local transport buses Nos. 70, 81 and 82 would cover all prominent areas of the city, right from the Mental Hospital to Lahori Gate. Now, instead of improving upon the system, the government has been done away with the service. Poor commuters are at the mercy of auto-rickshaws drivers, who are a law unto themselves.

The encroachment problem on Majitha Road and Lawrence Road is less said the better. The traffic chaos at Husainpura Chowk and Bus Stand is perennial. Condition of Batala Road and Focal Point Road is crying for attention.

However, I am not depressed and dejected, but highly optimistic that residents of my great city shall wake up from their deep slumber and become active and vigilant towards their rights and obligations. Indians are the most disciplined lot abroad but while in India, particularly in Amritsar, they close their eyes and throw garbage in every corner.

I have a dream that my city shall again care for its pedestrians, vehicle users refrain from blowing horns, people living in harmony promoting goodwill to all and hatred towards none.

I am sure people of my city will treat the old virtues of sharing and caring as top priority. Let us make Amritsar a cradle of joy and happiness. You can’t do it, I can’t do it – but we all can do it together. Long live Amritsar ! 

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HIV patients seek help
Ashok Sethi

A large number of NGOs working for the uplift of HIV/AIDS patients have enabled them to overcome trauma and live a hopeful life. Mr Shalini Eddens, Director of Education and Training with World (community based women organised to respond to the life-threatening disease) said it was amazing that how the women patients had gracefully responded to live with the dreadful disease.

Talking through her experience, she said over the past three decade people carrying HIV virus had lived in fear, uncertainty, social stigma and sickness. But, the care and support provided by drug therapy and the concern shown by some NGOs had brought about transformation in their lives.

India with more than 5.7 million HIV patients requires national support and efforts to bring them to the mainstream. She said more than 38 per cent of such patients were women.

Talking about the global effort, she said the US had pledged $15 billion under a five-year international health initiative to combat the disease in more than 120 countries across the world. It had special emphasis on 15 nations in Africa , the Caribbean and the Asia, which had approximately half of the world’s HIV patients.

Through an emergency plan for AIDS relief, the country was working as partner and supporting national strategies to promote sustainable, integrated prevention, care and treatment programmes. India and the US had been working for the past 25 years at various levels for this common cause and were carrying out research in new drug therapies.

At present, Mr Eddens, said four medical treatment system initiated by the National AIDS Committee were being used to alleviate the suffering, allowing the patients to live a more purposeful life.

She pointed out that it not only drained you physically but put a severe crunch on the economic health of the family as the medicine had to be taken for the whole life. Majority of patients were in the age group of 25 to 44. The family of the patient had to totally reorient its life style and it needed support of NGOs and the government.

Ms Eddens, who was here for a day-long visit, interacted with women HIV patients to get the first hand feel of their problems, both emotional and economical. Later, she addressed the students and the faculty of the Guru Nanak Dev University.

Ms Eddens, who have worked closely with women carrying the deadly virus, said it was indeed a gigantic task to bring them out of trauma and required constant counselling and drug therapy. Efforts were being made to make these women lead a healthy and productive life through working out self-employment modules so that they could become economically independent.

The US and other nations were considering a legislation making it mandatory for all women to undergo tests at the time of pregnancy so that children could be saved from this dreaded infection.

The NGOs were also concerned about the human rights violations of the HIV-afflicted patients and pointed out that they must be given complete respect and all support to cope with the trauma.

She has worked in Karnataka said the disease had afflicted more than 40 million people worldwide, out of which 8.6 inhabitants were in Asia. She said it required a global approach to fight the scourge. 

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Coming of age

Inder Singh
Inder Singh

Age has been no deterrent for Mr Inder Singh, perhaps the oldest Quality Control Manager assigned the job to certify aircraft about their air worthiness. Mr Inder Singh, who will be turning 90 in January next year, is presently working as an aircraft maintenance engineer at Birmi Flying Academy in Patiala. His feat has won him an entry in “Limca Book of Records”.

After completing his schooling in Jamshedpur, Mr Inder Singh joined Tata Technical Institute to complete five-year mechanical and electrical engineering course. He later moved to Banaras to work as Instructor in the Directorate of Civil Aviation Training Scheme for imparting training to young pilots.

Later he moved to Hindustan Aircraft (now known as Hindustan Aeronautical). In 1948, he got the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) licence from the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). He is now perhaps the oldest DGCA approved working AME in the country. He was initially endorsed in categories A and C aircraft which included Tiger Moth and Gipsy major Series1 engines.

He subsequently moved to Northern India Flying Club at Jalandhar in 1949 and continued there for 16 years.

Mr Inder Singh has worked at Flying Clubs in Amritsar, Patiala, Julana (Haryana), Ludhiana, Pinjore, Karnal and Hisar. He is at present licensed to certify light aircraft, and all aero engines composite and all metal weighing upto 3000 kg and engines upto 300BHP. Even at this age, he works for long hours to match his much younger colleagues. — TNS

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