Who is afraid of Nishabd, anyway?

The debate over sexuality is a non-issue. The freedoms provided to the individual to express himself emotionally, intellectually, socially and usefully is the issue. A social order based on repression and non-negotiable edicts will crumble before long. It will also lose its life-force which stems many a time from moving away from the norm and experiencing a new set of emotions, says Ashwini Bhatnagar

Romance knows no age and the heart knows not any laws. It is all in the mind really, and when it ticks, it causes righteousness to erupt. It then channelises people towards socially acceptable stereotypes. Lives are thereby ordained to be laid out in immaculately cultivated patches and relationships become the well- manicured tapestry of a planned garden. Neat pathways, luxuriantly green lawns and rows and rows of flowers ‘nodding their head in a sprightly dance’ is the design envisioned by the Great Social Gardner.

The crafted garden is the mind at work; away from it, it is a jungle out there – a jungle of raw emotions, dimly-lit moisture-laden, soft- to-touch feelings, frightening uncertainties about the future, dark shadows of the past and the tangled vines of memories. The jungle reclaims the garden every day even as the garden fights back to retrieve its plan.

The battle between perfectly non-conflicting social order and individual liberty is endless and within its ebb and flow lie relationships that cease within the garden but begin in the jungle. The unspoken relationships are therefore relationships of denial. They exist in tangible life-altering terms but never find their due voice and expression. The individual accepts them but society would rather wish them away. They are like bad ghosts from the jungle casting their horrible shadows on a perfect plan.

Certain relationships therefore remain unspoken. They cannot scuffle with social righteousness. They exist in their silence and thrive away from social mores -- in private peace. They are non- judgmental about themselves and sprout because of an overwhelming need for immediate expression between two people. They may be ephemeral or long-lasting relationships; but whatever they are, they are an individual’s response to a feeling that overrides righteousness for a moment or forever.

An 18-year-old girl’s love for a 60-year-old man and vice versa is a strict na-na. The 18-year-old may be forgiven in most cases because a large part of her affection may be assigned to her immaturity. But for a 60-year-old to accept her love at the cost of responsible behaviour towards his family is virtually unpardonable. Similarly, many taboo relationships, which vary from community to community and religion to religion, are impossible to solemnize in face of social wrath. Definitionally, they ought not to exist and therefore cannot be allowed to survive. Maintenance and furtherance of social order therefore carries with it the premium of snuffing out ‘deviant’ attempts.

There are good reasons to think so too. Winter-spring liaisons or taboo outreach bring with them complexities that are irreconcilable with community life. They are not practical and hence out of the question. Intolerance is the answer to such liaisons. But can we be judgmental to the extreme? Is there some elbow room for those individuals who choose to express rather than repress a deep and strong urge?

Traditionally, the sub continental culture has followed the restaurant approach to living. Strict codes of conduct have coexisted with liberal ways. The maryada of Ram has been venerated alongwith the raas of Krishna. Sculptors, poets, writers and even ordinary people have enjoyed a licence that it unknown in any other part of the world.

On the other hand, penance, fasting, piety, negation and complete detachment have been the hallmark of many an Indian philosophy and way of life. Conversion from one line of thought and action to another has traditionally been entirely an individual’s choice.

Relationships too have been similarly routed. Gays and lesbians have been as much a part of the fold as has been immaculate conception. Other ‘deviant’ behaviours have also been assimilated likewise. The only strictly enforced code of conduct concerned the preservation of the genetic pool. Licentious procreation has been a taboo; not licentious recreation. Interestingly, most ancient texts describe sex as a sport (krida) but elevate it to dharma for propagation of the vansh.

Nearly all societies in the world have only two categories of relationships –taboo and non taboo. However, Indian society has a third group between the two – the joking relationship. This special category provides room for light flirtation and involves the relationship between devar-bhabhi, jija-saali, samadhi-samadhan, etc. It recognizes that the interaction between two set of people can neither be completely sexual nor non sexual. Flirtation has therefore been socially legitimized within an extended household and, in case of a slip up, the genetic pool remains unsullied.

Containment of deviancy first and thereafter its assimilation has been the special feature of the Indian ethos. It takes care of the needs of an individual by creating that space within a system, which, ironically, appears to be an unbending steel frame to casual observers.

The typecasting of morality has been Queen Victoria’s gift to her colony. Victorian or middle-class morality or even the present-day messy mix of moral police and liberal western mindset is perhaps a more deviant social behaviour than all other behavioural licences put together. This type of morality achieves none of the social assimilation and acceptance of individual’s special needs. Rather, it bears down from the point of a stand-off. It results in social friction, normative tension and argumentative politics. The I-am-right-because-I-say-so logic deprived of its holistic approach hurts the individual without benefiting society. In the long run, it damages the social fabric irreparably. The tom-toming of gay and lesbian rights after years of Victorian subjugation in the West is a case in point.

The debate over sexuality is therefore a non-issue. The freedoms provided to the individual to express himself emotionally, intellectually, socially and usefully is the issue. A social order based on repression and non- negotiable edicts will crumble before long. It will also lose its life force which stems many a time from moving away from the norm. The wheel was invented thus and the best artistic expression flowed from some so-called deviant behaviour.

A carefully maintained garden as well as a jungle, individually and collectively, go towards preserving a conducive environment. The jungle of feelings and emotions gives life breath to the well-ordered garden of community living. The threat lies not in the uncertainties of a jungle but in the rigid regimentation of a grid plan.



Two eyes set for a new voyage
Parwinder Blaggan
Tribune News Service

Even though Ved Prakash Arora, 65, is dead but for many he is still alive and can see them. Before succumbing to his heart ailment a fortnight ago, Ved pledged his eyes for donation to the needy. And now he can see the world through his donated eyes.

This act has inspired his neighbours at the Bikrampura locality in Mai Hiran Gate of the city. Not only his family members but also neighbours have decided to donate their eyes and other body parts after death.

He worked with a private company after his business failed. Ved was always there with financial or material help for the known ones. It was only at the time of death that he decided to donate his body.

Talking about last wish of her husband, Sushma Arora, 52, said that the deceased pledged his organs a month before his death. “He was suffering from heart enlargement and was admitted in the hospital. A month before his death Ved told me and my nephew, Dr Manoj Sachdeva, his wish to donate his eyes and various body parts for the needy.

However, when doctors told us that his kidneys were not healthy and could not be donated, we decided on donating the eyes ,” said Sushma controlling her tears.

“All those who came at the cremation and other rituals not only praised his act but also sought help in the process of eye donation,” she added.

Providing a fresh lease of life, Rajvir Singh and Kamlesh Singh (name changed) residents of Moga and Amritsar, respectively, got their eyesight back owing to the cornea transplantation. “After watching them seeing us, we felt Ved hadn’t died ,” said Sushma.

“Moreover, who has seen what happens after death, but I am sure through this noble deed God would definitely give something better to Ved in his next birth,” she added.

However, the journey to accomplish this noble cause was not easy for the family. They had to run from pillar to post to locate the right agency for eye donation. “I tried to contact the various eye surgeons of the city but none dealt with eye donation. At last somebody gave me reference of an eye surgeon in Ludhiana who is dealing with eye donation.”

“It was only few hours before the cremation that we were able to extract the eyes for donation,” said Dr Sachdeva, who now plans to start an association dealing with eye donation.



DCI chief praises Govt Dental College
P K Jaiswar

The government should immediately close the dental colleges which do not fulfill the norms laid down by the Dental Council of India (DCI) .No new dental colleges should be allowed till the existing colleges have adequate faculties.

DCI president Dr Anil Kohli said that the dental colleges which did not fulfill the requirements should not be allowed to run from the next session. He was here to preside over the annual prize distribution function of Government Dental College .

He said although Government Dental College didn’t have adequate staff, but it was still doing good work.

The government funds for the improvement of infrastructure of the college have been well utilised. However, he quickly added that the equipment in the college was outdated. The government should allocate funds for the procurement of latest equipment.

He said the council had no objection to the opening of new dental colleges in states like North Eastern states, Jharkhand. There was a definite advantage in some states like Karnataka ,45colleges, Uttar Pradesh 25, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh 20 each. He said there were 241 dental colleges in the country ,out of which 31 were government run. The DCI was more concerned about the quality of dental surgeons than about their numbers.

Dr Kohli said there was an urgent need of time -bound promotions of the faculties besides making new recruitments in the dental colleges of Punjab as the quality of education was deteriorating due to lack of staff in the colleges.

It was also the need of the hour to increase number of MDS seats besides restricting the BDS seats.

He said about 17,000 graduate doctors pass out of 241 colleges every year. But there were no jobs for them and it was difficult for them to establish private clinics.

Earlier ,the college magazine "Sadhr" was released jointly by Dr Kohli and Director General Dental Services Lt Gen Dr Paramjit Singh.

As many as 52 prizes for outstanding performance in academics and 71 prizes in the sports were presented to the winners. In addition to this 41 dental students who topped their respective classes in all 11 colleges of Punjab were honored with scholarships carrying an amount of Rs 4000 each sponsored by Colgate India Limited.

Principal Dr Vimal Sikri reading the annual report of college said that an amount of Rs 8.37 crore was sanctioned by the government. While Rs 2 crore was spent on the upgradation of facilities ,including Rs 10 lakh for library, renovation of administrative block and girl's hostel, installation of 66 K.V. generator, expansion of the college building.

There were plans for setting up a clinic for senior citizens, promoting research, involvement of NGOs and the public sector in dental care, exchange programmes and a community dentistry department.



Verka-Wagha road to be four-laned
Our Correspondent

The four-laning of 49-km highway from Dhilwan to Verka is expected to be completed by this year with the expenditure of Rs 263 crore. This was stated by Akil Ahmad, project director, National Highways Authority of India, at a function of the Rotary Club Amritsar Midtown here recently.

He said the Amritsar-Pathankot highway project was expected to be started by the end of this year and would incur a total expenditure of Rs 850 crore. This highway would take three years to complete.

Mr Ahmad said the highway from Verka to Wagah border would be four-laned at a cost of Rs 206 crore. A crash barrier would be constructed along the Ganda Nullah on the by-pass road. He said 14,000 trees had been axed so far.

On the Verka-Wagha section, he said seven minor bridges, one underpass, service lane of 12.9 km besides 18 bus bays would be provided.

The Amritsar-Jalandhar road was based on BOT (build transfer operate) basis and private companies would impose toll tax to recover their investment on two points along the entire stretch.

The project would have 11 minor bridges and nine underpasses that would be located at Beas, Rayya, Khilchain, Tangra, Jandiala, Umranangal and Daburji, while the Amritsar-Pathankot highway plan would have l6 large bridges, four small bridges and five flyovers. 



Course on architectural practices
Our Correspondent

The contemporary architecture is under rapid transformation throughout the world. The development in architecture is the result of an integrated approach towards architectural form and aesthetics.

The continuous development is taking the man to new heights of comfort and secured spaces to carryout various activities, Surinder Bahga, an architect from Chandigarh, stated this while delivering the keynote address during the five-day short-term course on “Contemporary architectural practices in India”.

The course is being organised by the department of architecture of Guru Nanak Dev University here.

Bahga compared the planning and architectural principles of Chandigarh with that of Islamabad and Brasilia.

Dr T.D. Narang, dean, academic affairs, while inaugurating the course said globalisation had thrown many challenges, especially to the academic world.

The teachers should update their knowledge to impart latest instruction to their students.

He said the requirements of society had been increased manifold.

More than 40 teachers and practicing architects from the region are participating.

Delegation: A three-member delegation from Scotland, led by John Flanagan, Managing Director, Go Study, visited Guru Nanak Dev University and interacted with the vice-chancellor, Prof Jai Rup Singh. They explored the possibilities to promote educational programmes.

Flanagan offered fellowships for the students of the university who are interested to pursue their higher studies in Scotland universities.

He said the students of physiotherapy, engineering, science, life sciences and humanities could avail these benefits.



Weekly round up
Yoga championship held
Our Correspondent

The yoga team of the BBK DAV College for Women won the Guru Nanak Dev University inter-college yoga championship held here recently. The college team won 414 points, while HMV Jalandhar and BD Arya College, Jalandhar, were runners-up with 382 and 368 points, respectively.

Navjeet, Sakshi, Ruhi and Mukta represented BBK DAV College.


Dr K.J.P.S. Puri, Dr M.L. Gambhir, Dr Premjot Singh Girgila and Dr Rakesh Bharti have been elected office-bearers of the Amritsar Society of Dermatologists. The executive members are Dr A.S. Sachdeva, Dr Shikha Verma, Dr Anurag Mahajan, Dr Jasleen Kaur, Dr Ravinder Kaur, Dr R.K. Gupta and Dr Puneet Kumar.


The following have been elected office-bearers of the managing committee of the Northern India Regional Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India: chairman - Ashwani Kalia; vice-chairman - Rajan Kumar; secretary - Mr Anil Khanna; and treasurer - Mr Gaurav Arora.


The Save Planet Society, an NGO, organised a two-day organic farming training programme at Jandiala Guru. This is the third training camp organised by the society.

The camp was sponsored by the National Centre for Organic Farming, Ministry of Agriculture. Nearly 20 farmers were trained in the different techniques of compost preparation, vermiculture, pest control, microbial pesticides and bio dynamic techniques of organic farming.

Dr Rajinder Singh, secretary of the society, said the training was provided free of cost.


The Swami Satyanand College of Management Technology and Management has organised an inter-school essay writing competition in the college.

The top honour was given to Simrat Grover of Holy Heart School. Sahil Kumar of Holy Heart Presidency School was runner-up, while the third position was secured by Mehnoor Kaur of Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School.


DAV College organized its 13th lecture on biotechnology in collaboration with the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology. The lecture highlighted the importance of modern biology in the current environment and also dwelled at length the understanding of emerging areas of life sciences. The lectures were delivered by Dr Jatinder Kaur Arora, joint director, biotechnology, Dr Gurcharan Kaur, Prof and Head of the department of biotechnology, Guru Nanak Dev University, and Dr Balwinder Singh, a scientist with the Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh.

Alexandra alumni meet

It was celebration time at Alexandra High School as the 1968 batch of Alexandrians got together for the get together.

Amidst an atmosphere of bonhomie and comradeship, where the past met the present, experiences were shared and old memories were brought alive.

Talking to The Tribune, Kamal Uppal, an organiser, said it was a proud moment for all of us, including Nisha Khanna, Sunita Saggar from Canada, Manpreet, Ms Bhatia, Anju Aggarwal and Sadhwi Kapur from Bangalore, to come down to the school for a memorable get together.



Tourism plans for Sultanpur Lodhi
Tribune News Service

Sultanpur Lodhi will be developed as religious tourist destination, said Punjab minister Upinderjeet Kaur at Gurdwara Ber Sahib.

According a holy city status to the town from April 1, 2007 by the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government was a mere political stunt.

The Amarinder government had made this declaration on November 23, 2006. Earlier, she paid obeisance at Gurdwara Ber Sahib and State Gurdwara, Kapurthala.



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