P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



“Lesser” children of rural Punjab
Share in higher education dismal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
There is disturbing news on the higher education front from the rural areas in Punjab where about 70 per cent of the farmers are stuck in indebtedness and poverty though the state at the national level is considered one of the most prosperous and developed ones.

In a widening gap between rural and urban Punjab, the share of rural people is woefully low at the university level. The rural-urban divide is so pronounced in the state on the higher education front that it deserves immediate corrective measures.

A study conducted during the last academic session (2005-06) by Punjabi University in this regard has revealed that there were only 4.07 per cent students from the rural areas in various universities of Punjab. Of the total of 22,360 students enrolled in Punjabi, Panjab, PAU, Ludhiana, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and their regional campuses, only 911 were rural students. And a minimal number — 2.20 per cent — is in Panjab University and 8.16 per cent in Punjabi University.

The study, conducted by Dr Ranjit Singh Ghuman, Mr Sukhwinder Singh and Mr Jaswinder Singh Brar under the guidance of the Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, was released here today by the Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. It is a comprehensive study that throws light on all aspects related to rural students at the higher education level.

After the release of the study, Mr Boparai said that it was a disturbing scenario. There was need to take corrective steps.

Dr Ghuman said there had been widespread exclusion of rural students in Punjab from higher education, particularly professional education, in the past two decades.

The collapse of school education in rural Punjab, admission through entrance tests, costly education in private schools, the gap in rural-urban amenities and awareness, the information gap and the lack of guidance and coaching may be some of the reasons. The study covered students who had passed their matriculation or senior secondary-plus two — examinations from rural schools situated anywhere in the country. Schools which do not fall within the jurisdiction of any municipal corporation or committee ,etc, are considered as rural schools.

On the Punjabi University campus, rural boys comprised 10.50 per cent and girls 5.72 per cent and at its regional centres, the figures were 10.39 per cent boys and 6.24 per cent girls. Overall, the percentage at both places was 8.16.

At GND varsity, the percentage of rural boys on the campus was 3.76 and girls 2.19, and at the regional centres, 2.79 and 4.09, respectively, with the overall percentage at both places being 3.01.

At Panjab University, the figure for rural boys on the campus was 2.34 per cent and girls 0.83 per cent. At its regional centres, the figures were boys 7.74 per cent and girls 12.64 per cent, with the overall percentage at both places being 2.20.

At Punjab Agricultural University, the percentage of rural boys was 4.99 and girls 4.37, and the overall percentage of boys and girls was 4.73.

Facultywise, the proportion of students in education and information sciences was the highest followed by the faculties of arts and culture, the social sciences, agricultural and agricultural engineering and languages. However, the share of rural students in the professional courses was just 1.41 per cent on the campuses of various universities and 4.48 per cent at the regional centres.

The medium of instruction of 21.95 per cent of the students was English at the high school level of the rural students who made it to various universities in Punjab. At the higher secondary level, the percentage of such students was 40.07. A majority of the rural students who make it to the universities receive education at the school level in Punjabi.

It has been recommended that the state must allocate at least 6 per cent of its income to education with a bigger share to educational institutions in the rural areas. The other recommendations include a special incentive for rural students for higher education, strengthening of the existing government and aided schools, handing over the administration and control of government schools to universities in their respective jurisdiction and the regular recruitment of teachers to fill vacant posts.


PM to hear Gurbani in Harmandir Sahib
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 17
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will spend at least two hours in the Golden Temple to listen Kirtan in the sanctum sanctorum and ‘Hukmnama’ from 6 am to 8 am on December 20, the SGPC has decided to honour him with a ‘Siropa’ (robe of honour).

Mr Avtar Singh, president SGPC said arrangements had been made for the visit of the Prime Minister.

He said a memorandum would be submitted to Dr Manmohan Singh to seek end of ‘Black list’ of the Sikh youths, who could not visit India after militancy. An amendment to the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925 to enable cooption of foreign Sikhs in the general house of the SGPC. would be sought. The SGPC general house has already submitted to the government of India to increase one-year term of the president and other office-bearers but it won’t be part of the new memorandum. He said rare manuscripts and books of the Sikh Reference Library which was burnt by Army during Operation Blue Star in June 1984 could not be returned to the SGPC. These are in the custody of the CBI.

A delegation of the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann will also plan to meet the Prime Minister to submit memorandum on issues of Punjab. Mr Ram Singh, general secretary SAD (A), said the party had already urged the district administration for a meeting with the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, the city has been converted into police cantonment with heavy deployment of the force. The Gurdaspur police, headed by the SSP would be deployed at Rajasansi Airport to mark arrival of the Prime Minister on December 19.

Security of Ranjit Avenue, B Block where the Prime Minister would address a rally and lay foundation stones would be the responsibility of the Tarn Taran Police. Whereas the 5 battalion and 9th Battalion would be deployed at Circuit House where Dr Manmohan Singh would halt for the night on December 19, and outside the Golden Temple, respectively . Mr S.S. Srivastva, district police chief said all arrangements were being made as per the Blue Book.

Representatives of the Akal Purkh Ki Fauj headed by Mr Jaswinder Singh, an SGPC member will also meet the Prime Minister demanding end to construction of high building by the galliara (beautification of the surroundings of Darbar Sahib) officials. The fauj feels the construction of multi-storey building will eclipse front view of the Golden Temple. The SGPC has already written to the officials concerned to stop undesired buildings in the vicinity of the Golden Temple.


Female foeticide a social malady: CJI
Maneesh Chhibber & Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 17
Chief Justice of India Justice Y.K. Sabharwal today lamented that being a Punjabi, he was ashamed of at the stigma of female foeticide attached to the forward-looking state of Punjab.

“I am a Punjabi and coming to the state is pleasant homecoming for me. But, when I hear about female foeticide gripping Punjab, I feel ashamed. But I have a hope that things will improve and the next time I am here, I will have reason to be happy,” the CJI said here.

He was addressing participants of a state-level seminar on ‘Eradication of Female Foeticide’ organised by the Punjab Legal Services Authority at the YPS stadium, here.

Sounding a note of caution to the people of Punjab, Mr Justice Sabharwal said if the unhealthy trend of female foeticide continued for some more time, it would change the demographic composition of society leading to many problems.

“Punjabis have always taken the lead in fighting wrong practices and I see no reason why they should not do the same to tackle this menace. I hold the opinion today, girls are a better choice than boys. In almost all spheres, one sees girls outshining boys. Then why this discrimination against girls? This is not so much a legal problem as it is a social malady and for that we need to change our outlook,” he said.

Saying that infanticide was a crime akin to murder and its punishment should be given to both parents. “There ought to be stricter control over clinics that offer to identify the sex of a foetus and stronger check on abortions to ensure that they are not performed for the wrong reasons. Doctors must also be sensitised and strong punitive measures taken against those who violate the law,” he asserted.

Earlier, Chief Minister, Punjab, Amarinder Singh, whose home district Patiala is the worst-affected as female foeticide is concerned, said he was ashamed that Punjab was among the leading states on this count.

“But, we have initiated steps to control it. The judiciary must recommend severest possible punishment to the culprits who abet or perpetrate this gruesome crime,” he suggested.

“It is a matter of sheer shame and dejection for all of us because we the inhabitants of one of the most advanced states are responsible perhaps for the lowest adverse sex ratio in the country with 876 females against 1000 males in the year 2001”, he added.

He also enumerated various incentive schemes launched by the government to bring awareness amongst people to motivate them to reverse the trend of adverse sex ratio.

Incidentally, the Chief Minister, who was the first to speak after the welcome address, left immediately after finishing his speech without waiting to hear what the other dignitaries had to say on the subject.

In his address, Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Vijender Kumar Jain, described female foeticide as a slur on the fair name of prosperity and development of the state. He declared that year 2007 would be dedicated to spreading awareness amongst people to put an end to this social evil.

Mr Justice Ashok Bhan of the Supreme Court said he was perturbed over the declining female birth ratio over the past few years in Punjab and corrective measures which were already overdue should be taken without any delay.

Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar, Executive Chairman, Punjab Legal Services Authority, outlined the objective of the seminar, Mr Justice M.M. Kumar and Mr D.S. Guru, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, gave details of the steps being taken by the government to check the menace.

The CJI also released a book published by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, “Come What May She Will Be Born”.


‘It is murder’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
Chief Justice of India, Y.K. Sabharwal, termed female foeticide a disturbing act. No person, no humanity, can justify it. It is a social problem. What causes more concern is the fact that the problem exists more in states which are considered better states, more developed. However, this is not to say that female foeticide does not exist in underdeveloped states,” the CJI told The Tribune yesterday evening at an interaction.

Talking of the need to deal with all cases under the PNDT Act on priority, the CJI said society as a whole should rise against the practice. “What makes me all the more concerned is the fact that such a thing is happening in a country like India where we actually treat our mother and sisters with high respect. This is outright murder. What is worse is that first you don’t give an opportunity to a human being to enter the world and if she does, you don’t allow her to live. Can there be a greater crime? he asked.


New study on immigration from East Punjab throws fresh light
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The impact of trans-national (immigration) activity from East Punjab to the UK is not always positive as projected by several past studies.

In the latest study conducted on the impact of East Punjabi transnationalism on the diasporic communities in the UK and their places of origin in Doaba, researchers have shown how transnational activity is helping maintain caste inequalities in Punjab.

Conducted by Dr Steve Taylor, Principal Lecturer, Sociology at the University of Teesside, UK, and Prof Manjit Singh from Panjab University, the study questions the exclusive focus of recent researches upon positive aspects of transnationalism on Indian development policy and practice.

In Chandigarh recently, Dr Taylor talked about his project which is truly transnational in appeal. Not only does it focus upon practices of the immigrated communities in the UK, it also retraces their roots to Doaba and challenges long-held views. Dr Taylor says, “There have been some progressive consequences from transnationalism for the Doaba region, but there are several flip sides too.”

By profiling the respondents in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK) and their families in Doaba, researchers argue that immigration from East Punjab is encouraging caste inequalities and deterring development.

“The relationship between Eastern Punjabi transnational activity and Indian development policy and practice is more complex than portrayed by previous studies. India is the largest overseas remittance receiving country in the world and we don’t want to denigrate the flow of this finance to development projects. We, however, want to say that the majority of these remittances are directed towards personal consumption. NRI support for state development within East Punjab is at best currently producing uneven development policy and practice,” says Dr Taylor.

The study, published in “International Migration Journal”, shows how only certain villages have gained from NRI investment. Prof Manjit Singh explains, “We have recounted how some Indians claim to have lost more than they have gained from NRI investment through the soaring costs of agricultural land, the erosion of traditional forms of family life and the monopolisation of NRI finance, for example, investment in caste-specific religious buildings by particular caste groups.”

The study also questions if a phenomenon that encourages large numbers of the state population, mostly educated, to leave the country and seek fortunes elsewhere can ever be seen as bolstering ‘development.’

Besides, researchers show increasing evidence of division between UK respondents and their families in Doaba. There is little evidence of material commitment to the well-being of extended family members in India on behalf of the East Punjabi diaspora studied. This finding is contrary to the earlier ones.

Dr Taylor says, “The main aspiration of our UK respondents is to distinguish themselves, in status terms, from those in Doaba. This assertion of diasporic wealth within India is sufficient for western migration to be seen as the primary route to “dignity” within contemporary Eastern Punjabi culture. Also, although UK-Doaba transnational activity offers radically enhanced patterns of opportunity to some in South Asia, this appears largely restricted to Jat Sikhs. The continued dominance of this caste within East Punjab means it is largely those from this group who can cultivate and achieve NRI status.”


Vikas Yatras: Cong High Command happy
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, December 17
The Congress High Command is reported to be happy with the turn of events in Punjab and is planning a strategy so that the party can retain power in the state.

According to sources close to the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, reports coming from Punjab show much improvement for the Congress during the past three months and the organisation is geared up for the ensuing elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha. There is a feeling in the Congress High Command in Delhi that the situation has improved much in favour of the Congress and the party rank and file is in the election mode.

According to a senior party leader close to the Congress president, the reports are that the Akali Dal cannot have a cake-walk as was felt earlier. Rather there is a strong feeling that the contest between the two major political parties of Punjab will be quite tough.

The Congress High Command is of the opinion that the strategy should be to select candidates with a good reputation and clean image and winnability should be the criteria. There should be no hesitation in easing out those Congress legislators, including ministers, who have a poor image and whose conduct and performance have not been up to the mark. If the selection of the candidates is good, the Congress is sure to put up a good fight, the sources said.

The Congress High Command is also satisfied with the fact that there is no anti-incumbency wave in the state so far. The High Command has also received reports that a section of the bureaucracy has already started making efforts get near the Akali Dal leadership and is guiding them.


CM gave undue benefits to Kewal Dhillon: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, today alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, passed on undue benefits to senior Congress leader and close friend, Mr Kewal Dhillon, in approving a series of mega projects for the latter’s company, Messrs Silicon Construction.

Mr Badal alleged that Mr Dhillon did not have the money to fund the projects and would sell these off in collaboration with a partner who would pump in the money. “His gain would be huge concessions to the tune of Rs 3,258 crore industrial projects and multiplexes will get on account of exemptions on stamp duty, electricity duty and entertainment tax,” Mr Badal alleged.

The application of Silicon Construction to set up hotels, multiplexes and industrial parks was given on just three pages and the same was approved in January this year within a few days of submitting the application. The company had promised an investment of Rs 1,400 crore in eight industrial parks, Rs 1,600 crore in 12 multiplexes and Rs 622 crore in seven hotels. This totalled up to Rs 3,622 crore. The company also projected that it would provide employment to about 52,750 persons, said Mr Badal while producing a balance sheet which he claimed was of Silicon Construction. “ Mr Dhillon had a paid up a capital of just Rs 1 lakh when he promised this mega investment”, Mr Badal alleged.


Triangular contest in Delhi gurdwara committee elections
SAD to contest all seats
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
There will be a triangular fight in the elections of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) in New Delhi. The main parties in the contest will be the Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Delhi Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna and a joint front set up by Bhai Ranjit Singh, Mr Manjit Singh and others.

The polling will be held on January 14. The last date to file the nomination papers is December 20 and symbols will be allotted on December 22.

The SAD will put up its candidates in all 46 seats of the committee. It has already announced the names of 22 candidates and the remaining names will be announced in a day or so. Among the veterans, it has fielded Mr Avtar Singh Hit, former president of the committee and president of the Delhi unit of the SAD. Its other candidates include Mr Kul Mohan Singh, Ms Daljit Kaur and Mr Manjit Singh Gobindpuri.

Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, former president of the committee, will contest the election from Punjabi Bagh. His party has put up Mr Rajinder Singh Techno, Mr Shamsher Singh Sandhu, Mr Harinder Pal Singh, Mr Nirvair Singh, Mr Bhajan Singh Walia and Mr Harmohinder Singh. Mr Sarna's party, which will contest all seats, has declared 33 candidates so far.

Last time Mr Sarna's party had won 27 seats and Mr Badal's 14 seats. Five seats had gone to independents. However, as far as total polling was concerned, Mr Badal's party had got only 1,099 votes less than that of Mr Sarna's party. Of the total 3,20,419 votes, Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, secretary of the SAD(Badal), said 2,73,679 votes were polled last time.

The total house is of 51 members. While 46 members are elected, two are selected from various Singh Sabhas through a draw of lots and one is nominated by the SGPC. And two are coopted by the general house of the DSGMC after its constitution.


PM’s visit: Akalis ‘misguiding’ people
Tribune News Service

Lalru, December 17
A day after the senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Capt Kanwaljit Singh, objected to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s proposed Punjab visit, a senior Congress functionary today accused the Akali leadership of the “misguiding” people on the visit.

Addressing a gathering after laying the foundation stone of three link roads to be built at a cost of Rs 40 lakh here, Mr Deepinder Dhillon, vice-chairman, Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), alleged that by opposing the Prime Minister’s visit, the SAD was harming Punjab’s interests.

If the Prime Minister announced any economic package for Punjab, the Akalis should not have any objection to it, the Congress leader, who is also in charge of the Banur segment for the Congress, asserted.

The Congress was set for a landslide victory in Punjab as was evident from the massive response to the Punjab Vikas Yatra of the Chief Minister, Capt Amrinder Singh. With hardly any issue for the coming elections, the Akalis were resorting to “disinformation campaign”, he alleged.

The laying of the link roads, to be built by the Punjab Mandi Board, would go a long way in improving the road network in the Lalru area, Mr Dhillon added.


BJSP may have poll pact with SAD
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 17
Uma Bharti’s Bhartiya Jan Shakti Party (BJSP) is looking to form an alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in the coming Assembly elections in Punjab. Ruling out the possibility of a coalition with any party except the SAD, the national General Secretary of the BJSP, Mr Vishwanathan, said the party had decided to have an alliance with the SAD only and was hopeful that things would workout in a right manner. He was here to attend the party function in Sector-68 here today.

He said the party had decided to contest the elections only the areas where it had a strong base. Our national president Uma Bharti will decide the share of seats with the president of SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, he added.

When asked that the BJP too had contested elections with an alliance with the SAD, would it be possible for the two rival parties to stay together, he said if we could not able to form alliance. Then the party would contest the elections all the assembly constituency in the state and hopeful of winning at least 25 seats in the elections, he added.

He said they had been mobilising like-minded people throughout the country. The BJP had left the Ram temple issue game, but his party would launch a campaign to built Ram temple in Ayodhya, he said. He announced Mr Anil Kumar would be their party candidate in the next Assembly elections from Kharar.


Badal lying: Dhillon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
Reacting to allegations levelled against him by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Kewal Dhillon today said, “It is a political propaganda and based on falsehood as all concessions are within the parameters of the existing policy”.

He went on to challenge Mr Sukhbir Badal to prove the allegation that he was a defaulter of any bank or financial institution. “In case Sukhbir Badal proves the allegation, I will leave politics, and if he cannot prove the accusation, he should quit politics”, said a statement of Mr Dhillon. He said,“ I do not owe a single penny in debt to any bank or any financial institution”.

The industrialist went on to claim that in his personal capacity he had no connection with Silicon Construction as he was neither a shareholder nor a director. He added: “The allegations of Mr Badal are politically motivated, false, fictitious and show the frustration of his party which is losing its foothold in the Malwa region, especially in the Barnala area”.


Dams out of bounds for visitors
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur December 17
Security around the dams in the state has been tightened after intelligence inputs of terrorist threats on vital installations in the country. The visitors have been totally banned from visiting inside the Ranjit Sagar and Bhakra dams the two vital irrigation and power projects of the state.

No visitor, however important he might be, is now being issued permits for seeing the dams. Even the guests of the Punjab Chief Minister and senior bureaucrats had to return dejected as they were not allowed to visit the dam in the recent past. These days only vehicles are allowed in the dams. The sources available here told that the ban on visitors after death sentence was awarded to Jaish-e-Mohammed militant Mohd Afzal responsible for attack on Indian Parliament.

At Bhakra and Ranjit Sagar dams, red permits were issued to visitors for seeing the dams from inside. A Sub-divisional officer (SDO)-level officer used to escort the visitors inside the dams. However, now instructions have been issued to dam authorities that no such permits would be issued.

The sources available here told that security has been tightened flowing inputs from central intelligence agencies. The agencies have issued warning that terrorists might strike to create pressure on government to commute the death sentence awarded to Afzal.

It is for the first time that the entry to the dams has been banned totally. Even during the terrorism days in the Punjab the entry to dam was totally banned.

The authorities said that they have been directed against allowing anyone inside the dams. Even the district officials can visit the dam on official duty and not with their families.

The ban on visiting the dam has dejected a large numbers of tourists and visitor. Thousands of visitors come to see the engineering marvels.


Commutation of pension rate cut only on paper
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, December 17
The failure of the Department of Finance to make any policy for giving commutation of pension has left many pensioners in the dark.

The commutation is a part of total pension paid in advance to its employees by the government at a nominal interest rate. The Punjab Government in July, 2003, increased the rate of interest on commutation pension from 4.75 per cent to 8 per cent, much to the disappointment of the retiring employee.

However, now with elections in sight, the government once again lowered the interest rate on commutation pension for retiring government employees to 4.75 per cent from October 31, 2006.

Since the increase in interest had made the commutation pension scheme unattractive, many employees, retiring between July, 2003, to October 31, had not opted for the scheme. However, now that the interest rate has been decreased they want to avail the commutation pension.

While talking to The Tribune, pensioners said as per service rules, when a person sought commutation of pension, the formula existing at that time would be applied.

However, the department had not clarified whether the date of retirement or the date of filing an application for commutation would be used for applying the interest rate for commutation pension. Many offices were not giving commutation pension at 4.75 per cent interest even to employees who had retired just a month before the old formula was readopted.

Many representations have been made to the department for clarifying the issue but no action has been taken.

In absence of any policy, thousands of pensioners had not been able to avail the benefit of the scheme, they alleged.


Love okay, but ‘no unification’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana December 17
For a while last night, the Indo-Pak bonhomie over the growing 'people to people' relations appeared to turn sour, when a former Pakistan ambassador to Norway and Thailand, Mr Ata-ul-Haq-Qasmi, objected to the observations of the Minister of State for Cultural Affairs, Punjab, Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, that the two countries (India and Pakistan) should ultimately unite.

The occasion was the thirty fourth annual international mushaira, Jashn-e-Sahir, organised in memory of great Urdu poet, Sahir Ludhianvi, by the Adeeb International at the Nehru Sidhant Kender, here last night.

Ms Gurkanwal Kaur was the chief guest. Speaking on the occasion, she welcomed poets from Pakistan. She said: “let the two countries unite as that would be in the mutual interest of the two countries".

While the crowds, who had come to listen to the mushaira cheered aloud, Mr Ata-ul-Haq-Qasmi, an eminent poet and playwright from Pakistan and an ex-ambassador to Norway and Thailand, rose to speak out and clarify, unsolicited. He said while the mutual love and confidence between the people of the two countries was a good thing, the idea of unifying the two countries was beyond imagination and highly intolerable to the people of Pakistan.

Mr Qasmi, who could hardly conceal his disappointment and anger over the "unity" remarks of the minister, asserted, "while the people of Pakistan would welcome growing confidence between the two countries, they do not like the idea of unity".

Spelling out the Pakistani mindset and apparently reflecting the inherent fears among the people over there that India might ultimately “gobble up” that country, Mr Qasmi said the idea of a united India and Pakistan is the most abhorred in Pakistan. It is the ideas like this that "irritate and provoke" Pakistanis and create mistrust and suspicion.

"Let us restrict ourselves to the love and respect only and not go beyond that...because nobody likes the idea of unity between Pakistan and India and such statements only create mistrust and suspicious among Pakistanis about India", he said.

His spontaneous outburst against the minister's remarks which were obviously made at the spur of the moment, surprised everybody among. However, things cooled down the moment Mr Qasmi concluded his address to the audiences, who had come to listen more to his poetry than his politics.


RSS organises “samajik ekta sammelan”
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 17
A largely attended social unity sammelan, dedicated to the first birth centenary of the RSS second chief, Rao Golwalkar, was organised here today.

The programme was organised by the local Sri Guruji Janam Shatabdi Samaroh Samiti headed by Mr Amir Chand Sood. Sant Kamalpuri, Sant Atamanand, Sant Suraj Parkash, Sant Nandgiri, Mata Neelam Deva, Sri Sri Darshan Kaur Deva and other religious personalities gave their messages for the world peace and human unity.


Accept challenges to build India: Rodrigues
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, December 17
The youth, by accepting new challenges, should come forward to build a new India. Governor of Punjab S.F. Rodrigues, stated this while addressing student-artistes of northern states who were here to participate in the five-day north zone inter-university youth festival which opened at Guru Nanak Dev university here today.

The Governor, inaugurated the festival by lighting the candles the festival is sponsored by the Association of Indian Universities and the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Government of India. The festival opened with Gujarati, Haryanvi, Rajasthani and Punjabi folk and ballet dances presented by students of the host university.

The Governor advised the youth to meet global challenges with courage. With the advent of science and technology, “we can innovate with more practical thrust.” He said the country today has been providing opportunities for human development and growth of our youth but they should have strong will to excel in life, he added.

In earlier our students went to other countries to gain knowledge but now India has developed the state-of-the-art infrastructure to meet needs of our students.”

Highlight of the festival was cultural procession by students dancing troupes in their traditional dresses and performance in front of the university’s library to mark the occasion from Heritage Centre to Dasmesh auditorium. The Governor, Vice-Chancellor Dr Jai Rup Singh, Dean, Academic Affairs, Prof. T.D. Narang, Registrar, Dr R.S. Bawa and other senior faculty members, officers and managers of the participating teams took part in this procession.

More than 1100 student-artistes of 25 universities of northern states of India from UP, Haryana, Himachal, New Delhi, J&K, Uttaranchal and Punjab are participating in 26 items of music, dance, literary, fine art and theatre.

Welcoming the Governor, AIU officials and the participating teams, Prof Jai Rup Singh, said Punjab had rich heritage and the university had steps to preserve and promote it. He said such events help strengthen national integration, cultural understanding and harmony between different states.

Mr David Sampson, member secretary, Inter-University National Cultural Board (AIU) told about aims and objectives of the festival. He said the winners of festivals would participate in the All-India Inter-University National Youth Festival to be held at Madras university, Chennai from January 21 next year.


Music teacher wins award
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 17
Ms Mukta Ratnam Setia, a music teacher in the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV), Longowal (Sangrur), has received a national award for the year 2006 for her services in the field of education and contribution to the academic, moral, physical and cultural development of students.

The award carries, besides the certificate, Rs 5,000 and a shawl.


Package for textile industry sought
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 17
The Communist Party of India (CPI) Marxist has urged the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to announce a special economic package to revive the textile industry of the border district during his visit to the city.

Mr Vijay Kumar Misra, state secretary of he CPI (M), talking to the media here today demanded that there was no need for announcing any other package as it was not viable. He said only an economic package could revive industry in the state.

He alleged that there was lack of coordination between the state and the Central governments due to which industry of the city had to suffer economic losses. There was need to strengthen the basic structure for improving the industrial scenario.

Mr Misra said the Punjab Government was not serious in setting up the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) as the land acquired by the state government was not barren. He said the land acquired by the state government should be barren or single crop yielding but the land acquired was yielding three or four crops during the year.

He said the economic package should include the extension of railway line passing through Tarn Taran and Goindwal Sahib to Ferozepore, double laning of railway line between Amritsar and Pathankot and extension of freight corridor from Ludhiana to Amritsar so that products produced in the country could be exported to Pakistan and European countries.

The state secretary said the government should announce economic sops on the lines of those offered to the Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir to revive the vanishing industry.


Bank holds roadshow
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 17
The State Bank of Patiala organised an impressive road show and on the spot painting competition as part of a special campaign to boost deposit mobilisation and create awareness among the students to inculcate the habit of saving, at its Bhupindra Nagar Branch. Diwakar Gupta, Chief General Manager, State Bank of Patiala inaugurated the campaign. More than 200 students of DAV school participated in the various categories of the competitions.

In Group A. - Mr Shivam, Pavain Verma and Zubha Sapra won the first, second and third prize, respectively. In Group B- Vineet Baba, Sapna and Shakshi Mittal. In Group C- Shivam Kumar, Siddhant and Harshnigm got the first, second and third prizes, respectively.


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