Superstitions make black dog a prized possession
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

An acute scarcity of black dogs has hit the Doaba region of Punjab, thanks to heaping prescriptions by astrologers in favour of these poor creatures to ward off evil spirits or save people from the “bad influence” of Saturn.

Since there is a big gap between demand and supply of black dogs or pups for their increased demand all over the Doaba region and other parts of Punjab, the prices of these creatures have almost touched unimaginable limits.

As a result if a black stray pup was readily available for free about three years back, it comes now with a price tag of up to Rs 2,000 and if a lebrador pup could be purchased for about Rs 2,000 three years back, it could be had now at least for Rs 5,000.

Black lebrador is the most favoured canine species now, particularly if it is below six months of age as its jet black colour is said to be most “beneficial” from astrological point of view.

“In fact, not only black dog, but black cows too are in a great demand. If anybody keeps them and feeds them regularly, he or she is lesser likely to be perturbed by the ‘bad influence’ of Saturn. It is not that people are just following astrologers, but with rising awareness they read readily available astrology books and go in for shopping of black dogs or cows on their own. The trend to acquire these black things, including black clothes, has risen over the past about three months,” said Mr Bhaskar Sharan Bhala, a Hoshiarpur-based astrologer.

Mr Satish Billa, another astrologer, said since the “influence of Saturn has increased on earth so it was advisable for people to keep feeding black animals.

There is nothing wrong in it. But I also keep making people aware against following unnecessary superstitions,” claimed Mr Billa.

However, a Ludhiana-based astrologer differed slightly. “Black dogs are useful in warding off the negative influence of Ketu and not Saturn. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to get a black dog these days.

Breeded black dogs are available for higher prices ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000. It is not easy to find black stray dogs. But people are paying the price whatsoever it is,” he added.



Stevia - nature’s answer to ailments
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Farmers in the state are gradually showing interest in planting stevia rebudiana, popularly known as stevia.

Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar in its natural state and is useful in regulating blood sugar, preventing hypertension, treatment of skin disorders and prevention of tooth decay.

Paramjit Singh, Managing Director of Utsav Agro and Research Centre, Jalandhar, says: “A number of farmers across the state have contacted me for providing technical assistance on planting stevia.”

The centre is working towards providing nature cure to people and is one of the several private groups in the state that are encouraging farmers to grow stevia.

Paramjit Singh says his centre has already planted stevia in around 25 acres located in a village near Ludhiana and soil testing for its plantation in 200 acres is on in different villages located in Jalandhar, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Moga districts.

He adds that the herb has already been grown in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and some southern states.

He got training in the herb plantation from Agriculture University, Pune, he adds.

An alternative to sugar, stevia may be used in powder or tablet form.

The herb is native to Paraguay. It is sweet and fast becoming a source of high-potency bio-sweetener for the rapidly growing market for “natural” foods, replacing chemical sweeteners and even table sugar.

Further, studies show that stevia is a natural antibacterial and antiviral agent. It is calorie and carbohydrate-free and hence a great sweetener choice for diabetic and those watching their weight.

So much so, the World Heath Organisation in its 51st meeting of WHO Expert Committee on “Food Additives, IPCS-International Programme on Chemical Safety 1999” (series 42) recommended the use of stevia as natural remedy to major human ailments.

Even the National Agricultural Bank for Rural Development (NABARD), the National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB) and the National Horticultural Board, New, Delhi are providing subsidy to farmers involved in planting the herb.

Paramjit Singh says stevia can be grown throughout the year. Good results have been seen in all kinds of soil in the state.

As it is a naturally-occurring plant, no harm has been reported to the soil or any other crop even after its harvesting, he says adding that the fertility of the soil under cultivation is reported to have increased.



Defence Notes
Pre-recruitment training
Tribune News Service

The District Sainik Welfare Office is organising a pre-recruitment training for entry into CISF for the wards of ex-servicemen and serving personnel.

The screening process for training will commence on January 8. Those clearing the screening will be put through medical fitness test the next day. Training would continue on for six weeks during which free food would be provided.

Lieut-Col Manmohan Singh, Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare, said the applications for the training should be submitted by January 31.

Awareness week

The Canteen Stores Department, Area Depot, Jalandhar Cantonment, organised a consumer awareness week that concluded on Saturday. A number of electronics, electrical and automobile companies organised a free check-up and service camp for Defence personnel. Handouts on consumer rights and protection were also distributed by the depot among CSD consumers, said Mr K.K. Srivastava, Area Manager, CSD, Jalandhar Cantonment.

NCC officer awarded
Mr Mohinder Paul Vird
Mr Mohinder Paul Virdi

Mr Mohinder Paul Virdi, Associate NCC Officer, Government Model Senior Secondary School, Ladowali Road, has been declared the best NCC officer for the training year 2006-07.

A communication in this regard has been received by the officer from Col M.L. Sawant, Commanding Officer, 2 Punjab Battalion, NCC, Jalandhar.

He had won the best teacher award from the district administration on Republic Day this year.

He also has been motivating youth to participate in various activities, including social awareness rallies, peace march, run for fun, traffic control, pulse polio camps, tree plantation drives, AIDS awareness programmes, NCC day, blood donation camps and adventurous activities. 



Kanav does alma mater proud
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Kanav Khera, a student of Lovely Institute of Pharmacy, has done his alma mater proud by winning its first gold medal in academics.

Having topped in Bachelor in Pharmacy with 79.87 per cent in Punjab Technical University, he received the honour from university Vice-Chancellor Dr S.K. Salwan during a recently-held convocation.

Kanav is now pursuing Master’s in Pharmacy Practice from Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE).

He plans to expand his family business in retailing surgical instruments but only after he completes his doctorate.

“I am keen on going in for clinical research for conducting human trials. In India, there is an emerging trend of launching a drug after its patent period gets over. Such drugs have to be tested for their efficacy on human beings before they are launched. The competition is tough and the market is huge but I want to try my luck, for the dividends are quite high,” he explains.

Kanav believes that topping in the examination from among 14 colleges of the state has not been difficult for him.

“I have not been studious or regular with studies. I have been a late starter, preparing for the examination just a month or two prior.”

He attributes his success to Dr Monica Gulati, Principal, who he said helped him with his problems.

“My father Anil Khera, owner of Kahan Chand and Sons, too has been of much help,” he says adding a word of praise for his mother Geeta Khera too.



Care for your voice
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Dr Ravinder Verma, a local ENT specialist, has been rendering Yeoman’s service to society by making people aware of early symptoms of different laryngeal diseases and by giving them free tips to help them preserve or improve their voice quality.

The Laryngeal Diseases and Voice Disorders Clinic, set up by Dr Verma, who is also heading the Nishkam Sewa Bharti Trust in Gujral Nagar, has been distributing literature specifying the dos and Don’ts amongst common people and the ones suffering from voice disorders without charging any fee for the past about two decades. The literature is in English, Punjabi and Hindi.

“For me voice is the mirror of the soul. All of us like to have a charming face, but I strongly feel that a pleasing voice is equally important. My only objective is to make people aware of the importance of their voice or its quality as most of them don’t give adequate attention to this aspect of their personality,” said Dr Verma.

The dos and Don’ts, which are particularly useful during winters, specify that people could do away with minor throat infections or irritation by resorting to saline water gargles and by avoiding exposure to sudden changes in temparature or dusty and smoky environment. Apart from this, it also recommends people to observe a period of absolute silence. “One should never shout or whisper or lecture for more than 45 minutes at a stretch. Don’t smoke or chew tobacco, betels or betel nuts and lime and don’t hawk to clear your throat,” say pamphlets distributed by Dr Verma.

“Since, the stress of work is increasing nowadays, people, if possible, could observe absolute silence over weekends. One wayout is to use the telephone or mobile phone, if we must use them, by placing the transmitter close to lips and the speech must by in a very low tone,” recommends Dr Verma.



Medical units celebrate corps day
Tribune News Service

Medical units of Vajra Corps celebrated their 243rd Corps Day here today. A sainik sammelan was organised which was presided over by Brig A. Kayastha, Commandant, Military Hospital.

During the sammelan, Brig Kayastha recollected the history of the corps. He said the Army Medical Corps was originally raised by the British East India Company to carry casualties out of battlefields, adding that it had evolved into a highly complex organisation providing comprehensive preventive and curative medical care to millions of servicemen, ex-servicemen and their dependents.

The Commandant said Military Hospital had started functioning in the cantonment here since 1965 and was providing medical care to lakhs of defence personnel, retired Army men and their dependents from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. He added that specialty and super-specialty treatments were available in cardiology, nephrology, orthopaedics, urology and infertility treatment.



Young World
Former students share experiences
Tribune News Service

The Department of Pharmacy, Lovely Institutes, organised an alumni meet on Saturday. Former students gave presentations and lectures, sharing their experiences regarding emerging trends in corporate world, responsibilities, performance and rewards at work places.

The pass-out students, now working at middle-level management positions in various companies, held discussions on the sharp pace with which Indian pharma sector was growing, resultantly increasing scope of job prospects and good avenues for growth.

An alumni committee was also formed with Mr Avinash Mishra and Ms Richa Kaur nominated as president and secretary, respectively. It was decided that the committee would work hand in hand with the department for making the mode of learning more effective and need based. The members of the committee will meet once in three months and deliberations would be communicated to the department, it was resolved.


A workshop for visually challenged students organised at Hans Raj Mahila Maha Vidyalaya concluded this week. It focussed on the production of digital accessible information system (DAISY) which records the books on CD with photo description.

Mr Sandeep Kler from the National Association for Blind, New Delhi, told the participants that the book was a boon, especially for slow learners. He imparted to them an initial training and asked them to pursue advanced training next time.

Mr Rajesh Mohan, general secretary, National Federation of Blind, Punjab unit, also attended the valedictory ceremony of the workshop.

Faculty development

A faculty development programme was organised by ICFAI National College on December 27. The workshop had three sessions.

In the first session, the teachers were trained in computer basics and using Internet. The second session was conducted on examination security. The last session was based on improving soft skills and body language.

Football tournament

JCT Academy won the Sant Baba Bhag Singh Memorial Football Tournament by defeating PAP Jalandhar 7-6.

In the villages’ category, Thogri village football team won the match 1-0 against Dumali village.

Sports officer Surinder Singh and Registrar G.L. Arora organised the event.

Table tennis meet

Vikas Sharma of Chandigarh lifted the McDowell Cup Table Tennis Tournament organised by the Jalandhar District Table Tennis Association.

Lovepreet of Ropar won the triple crown of sub-junior girls, girls and women’s title.

In the boys’ U-10, Abhinav and Roopam were declared joint winners. Neha beat Savi in U-10 for girls. In U-12, Kanchan beat Neha among girls and Bhawak beat Sahibjot.

In U-14 boys’ category, Vitesh beat Simranjit and in U-17 boys, Sahil Jolly beat Vandit.

In women doubles, Ruchi and Jyoti beat Gurwinder and Bharti. 



NSS volunteers adopt village
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers of Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Government College, Kapurthala, adopted Wadala Kalan village during a 10-day camp held between December 24 and January 2.

Attempts were made to make literate villagers and cleanliness drive was carried out in different streets, religious places and the stadium of the village during the camp, said Prof Sarbjit Singh Dhir and Prof Jatinder Kaur Dhir.

In the absence of any grant supposed to be provided by the university to organise the NSS camp, the Lions Club Greater Kapurthala, the Lions Club Services Kapurthala, the Centurion Bank of Punjab and the gram panchayat of Wadala Kalan jointly sponsored it.

The work of making literate adults and children belonging to weaker sections was started on the first day of the camp. At the end of the camp, it was found that at least 25 adults and 30 children had been benefited with the literacy campaign.

On the second day of the camp, the NSS volunteers took the task of cleaning the streets of the village.

The SSP, Mr Rajiv Ahir, accompanied by the DSP, Mr Amrik Singh Pawar, formally inaugurated the camp on December 26. The sarpanch, Mr Jagdish Singh, also patted on the back of the volunteers for their exemplary work.

The volunteers paid obeisance at Gurdwara Taragiyan Wala on December 27 and cleaned the premises of the gurdwara. The stadium adjoining the gurdwara was also cleaned. Trees and the track in the stadium was whitewashed to give it a new look.

The volunteers cleaned Valmiki Mandir the next day. The streets and the drains were cleaned during the remaining days.

A cultural programme was also presented by the volunteers during the camp.



NCC on four-pronged strategy
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Brig D.C. Katoch, Deputy Director-General, NCC, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, has disclosed four new thrust areas of the NCC, including going the rural way.

Addressing a press conference at local Guru Nanak College, Phagwara, after inaugurating “obstacle course and a shooting range”, Brigadier Katoch said under the four new priorities, the NCC would go rural to train and tap the potential of village youth.

The other three priorities include making it job-oriented for cadets, public speaking with fluency in English/professional counselling and sports and games for physical fitness.

He said Lieut-Gen Parkash Chowdhary, Director General, NCC, had sent directions regarding the four-pronged strategy to be adopted during NCC training camps to enable cadets to measure up to modern-day competitive requirements.

He said proposals were also afoot to enhance the strength of the corps from 13 lakh to 15 lakh cadets.

“The NCC was at present the biggest youth body in the world, even larger than the Indian Army,” he claimed.

He said he had taken up with the Punjab Government the matter of making the corps more vibrant and not letting go of the potential of “C” certificate holders.

He said he had presented Punjab Government with the model of Andhra Pradesah, Maharashtra, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh for giving more incentives to cadets, especially “C” certificate holders, including reservation in professional courses, police, state administration, higher studies and various other jobs on the pattern of Andhra Pradesh and other states.

This reservation should be between 1 per cent and 2 per cent, he said.

He claimed that Chandigarh had finalised these proposals and Haryana was also considering these.

He hoped that Punjab and Himachal Pradesh will follow suit.

He said during his recent meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal he got an encouraging response from her.

However, the state was in the phase of elections and there was some delay, he added.

He demanded that since Centre had enhanced its share of funds for training camps from 50 per cent to 75 per cent, the state governments should transfer the 25 per cent surplus budget to the head of Official Expenditures (OE) so that monetary needs of the NCC could be met.

Underlining the need for giving training to more girls, Brigadier Katoch claimed that girls’ strength in his directorate had increased from 20 per cent to 30 per cent.

By the end of the current training year, it will touch 33 per cent, while the target was to take it to 50 per cent, he said.

“NCC nagars, camping grounds and training areas would come up for housing and conducting NCC offices and activities,” he said.

The proposals for land acquisition had been sent to state governments and the Ministry of Defence, he added.

One such NCC nagar would come up near Kartarpur soon, he said.

“Our objective was to see each NCC unit have its own NCC nagar in one or two acres area so that our training was not restricted merely to vacation period in schools and colleges,” he remarked.

“For combating social evils, we were staging tiny ‘nukkads’ against female foeticide, dowry, AIDS,” he said.

Punjab was in bad shape so far as female foeticide was concerned and every effort must be made to curb the evil, he added.

Claiming that 100 per cent eligible cadets were being put through NCC training, Brigadier Katoch said camp sites in Himachal Pradesh, including Dharamsala, Palampur, Dalhousie, had been opened for summer camps.

“Around 75 per cent cadets are now attending training camps and the target was to make it 80 per cent,” he said.

Brigadier Katoch added that from the next training year, newly designed latrines and kitchens would be provided to NCC cadets at camps.

“Adequate tents - 60 to each groups for housing 600 cadets - would also be provided by January next year,” he said, while giving further details of incentives for cadets.

Temporary staff would be recruited for coping with civilian deficiency in administration, he said.

Brigadier Katoch claimed that the directorate would launch its own website in January for documenting records of “C” certificate holders of the past two years.

Around 5,000 cadets got “C” certificate from the directorate every year, but only 120 were recruited to the Army, he said.

The talent of 4,880 cadets went waste, he regretted.

“We will provide information to MNCs and other premier institutions so that they can avail of the trained manpower,” he said.

Air Deccan, Reliance, Airtel had also given jobs to “C” certificate holders, he claimed.

“My message to the government is that it should tap potential, as it was losing its trained manpower,” he remarked.

He was accompanied by Col D.S. Goraya, SM, Group Commander, Jalandhar Group, NCC; Col Raj Kumar, Commanding Officer, 8 Pb Bn NCC Phagwara; Capt Swinder Singh, NCC Officer of the college.

Brigadier Katoch was felicitated by Jatinderpal Singh Palahi, vice-president, Gurmit Singh Palahi, director, and Inderjit Singh, Principal of the college.



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