C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


HIV cases in forces down
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Proactive measures adopted by the armed forces in combating AIDS has resulted in the number of military personnel testing positive for HIV dropping to just 37 from 300 cases detected three years ago.

Revealing this here today, the Director-General Armed Forces Medical Services, Surgeon Vice-Admiral V.K. Singh, said that despite some cases of troops testing positive for the HIV virus, there has been no AIDS case in the services this year.

“Getting affected by the HIV virus is no crime, but hiding it is,” the Admiral said while stating that personnel could be punished if they do not disclose any contact they may have had with sex workers.

“This way we can begin treatment and remedial therapy immediately and prevent another case of AIDS,” he said. “It is now established that if treatment begins within 24 hours of sexual contact, it can kill the HIV virus, if any, present in the body,” he added.

“More importantly,” the admiral said, “we are trying to remove the stigma attached with the disease. We are also sensitising officers and jawans about the dreaded disease and bi-monthly lectures, slide-shows and video presentations are held at the battalion level.”

The rate of HIV cases in the armed forces is 0.028 per cent while that among civilians in India is as high as 0.09 per cent. In the US Army, where pre-recruitment HIV screening is mandatory, it is 0.026 per cent. HIV affected persons are not removed from service and treatment is at government expense.

“A proposal to introduce pre-recruitment screening for HIV has been cleared by the three service chiefs and it is presently with the Defence Ministry for final approval,” he said.

Among other measures awaiting the ministry’s approval was a proposal for pre-induction as well as post-induction HIV screening for troops deployed in vulnerable areas like the North-East and some border areas. They would be screened again after five years.

On the issue of stress among troops deployed in hard areas like Jammu and Kashmir, Admiral Singh, who is also Honorary Surgeon to the President and Senior Colonel Commandant of the Army Medical Corps, said that an in-house study conducted by the Army had revealed multiple causes and the services had gone into them in great detail.

“The most important factor for stress is the family left behind by soldiers posted in remote areas,” he said. “Unlike as in some Western countries, the Indian soldier is emotionally very attached to his family. Leaving them behind under changing socio-economic conditions, with an unresponsive civilian administration and no joint family to look after their needs, leaves him insecure,” he added.

The Admiral, who was here on an official visit to the Command Hospital, Chandimandir, also said all hospitals and field units under the Armed Forces Medical Services are being modernised.



Indian weddings, roundabouts amuse SA cricketers
G. S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
A history of sorts has been created in the game of cricket with the bilateral and reciprocal 40-day-long cricket tour of South African u-17 team of Alberton Cricket Club, Johannesburg, to India.

Bowled over by the hospitality of Indians, the SA u-17 troupe is excited to be part of the tour which was the brain child of Ranjit Bajaj, Managing Director, DAV College Centre of Cricketing Excellence. It is not only cricket but cricket with loads of fun thrown in for good measure where the children get to know how young people of both sides live.

“Some members of the DAVCCE side had toured South Africa this year in June and had extended an open invitation to them which they gladly accepted”, said Ranjit Bajaj.

The temptation to learn proficient spin bowling was what prompted the upcoming South African cricketers to come to India. Linton Deans (16) is the biggest fan of Harbhajan Singh and want to be like him. “I am basically a left arm spinner but I want to learn more about the finer nuances of spin bowling.”

This being their first visit for almost all, they are understandably excited. “We have heard about the City Beautiful but I doubt if anyone of us know much about Chandigarh. We have plans after the matches to go sightseeing but from what we can see, the city is neat and a place where upper class people live,” they opined.

Chandigarh will always remain cherished in the mind of Nicolas Botha who will turn 15 tomorrow. “ I will celebrate my birthday tomorrow and would never forget the City Beautiful’.

Another thing that amused Nicolas Botha (15) was a well ornamented person sitting on a horse. “I was told later that it was an Indian wedding and the bridegroom is supposed to sit on ‘she-horse’. The large number of persons accompanying them also looked fascinating”.

The roundabouts of the Chandigarh were another thing which caught the visitors’ fancy. “We went to some place which was two and-a-half hour drive away from the city. On our way back, we could feel only that we are in the city through ‘the big circles on the road”, said Jannie Botha, manager of the visiting team.

The Chinese origin brothers, settled at SA, Matthew Lee, and Mark Lee are astonished to find bicycles on the main roads. “The traffic here is too different and confusing. Autorickshaws are not a new thing for them as they have almost the same kind of transport in South Africa by the name of ‘Tak-Tak’. Gulab jamun and paneer curry is what Mark likes to eat when it comes to Indian food.

Mathew knows about a bit of the Indian culture as it is his second visit to India. He along with Izak Strydom (16), the captain of the visiting team, had a chance to visit India two years back to play a cricket series. “Actually, we happened to play a match at Chaman Vatika School, Ambala. The school had had a cultural programme on the very day. We danced to the tunes of “Balle Balle” song.

Izak said that they watched “Dhoom” movie. Though they do not understand Hindi language but the “Dhoom Macha le” song was their all time favourite. Wesley (16) would always miss the fast Indian pitches and of course, the spicy food especially ‘chicken tikka’ and ‘rotis’.

The coach of the SA team, Saurav Chatterjee, who basically belongs to Calcutta (W. Bengal), has played first class cricket in 1991-92. At present playing for Highveld Lions at Gautang province, Saurav was bestowed with the ‘best cricketer of the year’ award.

Saurav stated that the main aim of their visit to India and play at different venues here was to provide exposure to upcoming trainees of Alberton Club. “Playing against Indian spinners will help our players to develop techniques to counter the spinners effectively at higher level of competitions,” said Saurav.

All of a sudden, Robin Bower (16) chipped in to remind Saurav about something. “ The players here too have fully grown beards and looked much elder than their age.” Saurav consoled him by saying that if they are made to play opposite to more matured and experienced players, this would in turn help them more in learning about the game.



Night golf comes to city
Donald Banerjee

Chandigarh, December 12
Night golf has come to Chandigarh. After Delhi and Bangalore, the Chandigarh Golf Club has become the third night-golf destination in the country. The floodlights on nine holes of the club were switched on by the Punjab Governor, Gen S.F Rodrigues, this evening.

General Rodrigues opened a bottle of champagne and toasted to the night-golf facilities before taking his first tee shot. He missed the first tee-shot, but his second effort saw the ball sailing into the hole.

The club president, Mr G.S. Sandhu, said during his meeting with General Rodrigues he had realised how keen he was on the welfare of caddies. Mr Sandhu said Chandigarh had become floodlit barely one month after the Bangalore course switched on the floodlights. But he said the amount spent by Chandigarh was much lower as compared to the Bangalore course.

General Rodrigues appealed to the officials to make the club more broad-based.

He said the Administration would try to improve the quality of treated water supplied for irrigating the fairways in the club.



Admn move irks sports associations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
A move by the Sports Department of Chandigarh Administration to organise sports events has left the city-based sports associations fuming.

For the past few years the department has been conducting football championship. But this year the department started Administrator Cup for cricket for college students of the city. A cycle race for those above 35 will also be organised by the department this month.

Criticising the move, Mr Ravinder Talwar, general secretary, Chandigarh Olympic Association (COA), said, “Organising sports events is the prerogative of sports associations whereas the infrastructure and financial support have to be provided by the sports department. The associations have been conducting events which the department has started these days. So there is no fun to waste the efforts and time of all those concerned twice”.

“Instead of organising the events by itself, the department should provide funds to the associations concerned. The events should be organised by the associations only”, added Mr Talwar, who is also president of the Chandigarh Football Association.

Echoing his views, Mr C.K. Jairath, general secretary of the Chandigarh Boxing Association, said, “By organising the sports events, it seems that the Sports Department has been taking away the rights of the associations. The officials of the association know better about the needs and requirements of the sports and sportspersons. So the money being spent by the department on organising the events should be given to the associations to help these to achieve their goals. We will raise the issue at the Chandigarh Olympic Association’s meeting”.

However, Mr Jairath, who is also joint secretary of the COA, was of the view that the department should stop grants to associations, doing nothing.

Denying any kind of interference in the working of the associations, the Joint Director of Sports Department, Chandigarh Sports Department, Mr J.P..S. Sidhu said, “Our sole motive behind organising the events is to popularise sports. Besides the events provide exposure and encourage competitive spirit, the incentives we offer to the winners motivate more and more people to take on sports. We have no intentions of interfering in the associations’ working”.



DC Rao gets another year
Tribune News Service

R.K. Rao
R.K. Rao

Chandigarh, December 12
The Ministry of Home Affairs has given one-year extension to Mr R.K. Rao, Chandigarh, Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Rao will remain as Deputy Commissioner till May 2008. He had joined as DC on May 30, 2005, for two years. Prior to joining at Chandigarh, he was DC Yamunanagar.

In Chandigarh, the main work of the DC is revenue collection and Estate matters.



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