Messengers of peace
Varinder Walia & Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Sending out an e-mail may be communication method of modern era, but residents of Indian and Pakistani villagers along Radcliff Line still prefer to send their “love and affection” to each other on both sides by using pigeons.

Pigeons have been useful, especially during “love and war” times.

They often got messages through when all other methods failed. Pigeon-flying, once common in Amritsar, is still a craze in border villages.

The primitive and traditional exchange of feelings through pigeons is fascinating.

It’s different from the exchange of mail between the two countries at Wagah where the delivery vans of the postal departments of the two countries arrive daily.

The pigeons with their feathers grubby with Urdu stamps and couplets used to bring cheer to Indian villages like Dauke (Amritsar), surrounded on three sides by Pakistan.

Likewise, kites with portraits of Indian film stars also brought thrill to the people of the neighbouring country.

Notwithstanding the modern era of Internet when one can communicate with relatives and friends easily through emails, the exchange of mail, parcels and newspapers between India and Pakistan is proving to be a strong bond to bring together the people on personal level.

While Border Security Force (BSF), before it is cleared by the Customs authorities for the final destination across the borders, the pigeons could fly with the “love tags” without undergoing such cumbersome screening tests.

The rings with specific designs are used as identity tags.

However, the vans carry not only the letters of various ministries, ordinary citizens and the business community of the two countries, but also those of the prisoners who are held captive by the two countries as “Prisoners of War” and of those who are charged with sneaking into the other country.

Majority of the letters and parcels are from the Muslims residing in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Mumbai, whose relatives are living in Pakistan. 



Dauke: A village too far
Tribune news service

Dauke residents cross a bridge to reach their fields across the fence on the Indo-Pak border.
Dauke residents cross a bridge to reach their fields across the fence on the Indo-Pak border. — Photo by Rajiv Sharma 

Dauke, the small hamlet, surrounded by the border is a non-descript village and is accessible through only one bridge. The fragile bridge connects Dauke, 14 km from Attari, with the rest of India.

In case the bridge gets damaged the residents would automatically be cut off from their near and dear ones in India.

The village with a population of 2,500 is inhabited mostly by illiterate people as the children, especially the girls, find it difficult to attend the classes in the only middle class school which is about nine kilometers from the village. The girls of this village are mostly uneducated as their parents are not ready to send them to the school for obvious reasons.

And it is due to this reason the people of the village find it difficult to find match for their young ones.

Only two members of this village have been successful in getting the government jobs. The residents said it was due to this reason that it had become difficult for them to marry their children.

They said now their children, especially boys, had shown interest in getting themselves admitted to government or private colleges of Amritsar as the girls from outside preferred boys who were well educated and were employed in the major cities. Agriculture is the main occupation of the residents of this border village.

Fed up with the false promises made by political parties to construct a bridge across the nullah, the villagers have constructed the bridge with their own funds.

“No political party bothered to mitigate our problems as they show their faces during elections only,” says Joginder Singh, a villager.

Showing the bridge to The Tribune team, Joginder Singh said LK Advani, the then Union Home Minister, had announced the construction of the bridge over the drain about 10 years ago besides constructing four kilometer road from village to the nullah.

He said the villagers had 500 acres across the drain and earlier they had to cover about eight kilometers on foot to their fields situated across the fence.

This is not over. As it takes about two hours to reach their fields on foot, the peasants are unable to work properly in their fields across the fence due to the time limit fixed by the BSF.

The farmers are allowed to plough and take care of their lands from 10am to 2pm.

The villagers said with the thaw in the Indo-Pak relations their lives had become smooth.



Snarl-up in holy city
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Maddening. The word sums up the unregulated traffic movement and haphazard parking on the roads of the holy city. And this holds true, for not just the narrow lanes of the walled city, traffic bottlenecks have become a common sight on the once-spacious outer roads as well.

The malls and commercial complexes are adding their bit to the problem by piling up construction material on the roadside. The commuters have to not only negotiate their way through the ‘malba’, which turns into mud and slush after a brief shower, they also have to deal with flying sand and dust.

The peak-hour theory from 9 am and 5 pm doesn’t seem to apply on the roads of Amritsar. A visit to the Town Hall area at any time of the day can be a test of your driving skills and finding parking space on the busy roads is next to impossible. Same goes for the Putli Ghar Chowk, where most of the main road has been encroached upon by fruit vendors and vehicular traffic is always snail-paced in the Golden Temple area.

Haphazard parking of autos in railway station area leads to frequent traffic blockades and commuters stranded on both sides of the road can do little but honk their horns.

With private bus operators alighting passengers on the bus stand road itself, most commuters prefer not taking the road. Rickshaw pullers can be seen putting hurdles in traffic all over the road.

The commercial hub of the city, the Lawrence road, is no exception and finding a place to park on a busy day can turn out to be a nightmare. There are cars lined up along the main road almost the entire day and some of them leave no room for movement of smaller vehicles.

With the traffic police having no strategy to manage the flow of traffic at the key crossings, driving even on the Mall Road can also be a hassle.

The rickshaw pullers can ply in the same lane with cars and bikes and there is nothing like fast lane and slow lane.

Some officials of the police department say one reason for the problem is the refusal of vehicle owners to pay for the parking facility they make use of. The hour-based charging of rent in some areas, after auctioning the parking lots had to be withdrawn after opposition by city residents and ‘pressure from different quarters.’

Even the recently-constructed commercial complexes either do not have underground parking facility or the space is used for some commercial activity as convenience of customers seems pretty low on the priority list.

Unlike Chandigarh, the absence of traffic policemen at all main crossings in the city keeps no checks on jumping of red lights by anxious youngsters. “Traffic police personnel can only be seen at the one-way roads or at the police barricade set up at the Lawrence road to divert traffic,” says Beant Singh, a retired Engineer, who is a resident of Tilak Nagar.

Traffic jams inside the walled city are understandable but the well-planned new areas on the fringes of the city should be free from the menace. The traffic police should depute its personnel at every crossing and challens should be issued for breaking the traffic rules. The owners of big showrooms should hire private security guards to manage parking of vehicles of their customers, he added.

The Municipal Corporation has chalked out a detailed strategy to ease traffic congestion on the city roads. Hussan Lal, commissioner of the corporation, said the issue was discussed in detail with the police department at a meeting held last week and a concerted effort would soon be made to ensure smooth flow of traffic on Amritsar’s roads.

As part of the plan, the Corporation would hold meetings with Resident Welfare Associations to spread awareness about the benefits of using the parking lots.

“Till the time people do not mind walking a few-minutes distance from the parking lot to their destination, there cannot be planned parking on the roads. The tendency is to take the vehicle as close to the workplace or shopping complex,” he said.

The Commissioner assured action against builders of shopping malls and commercial complexes if they store construction material on the roadside.

“It is a big nuisance,” he said, adding that he had called a meeting of the Municipal Town Planner has been called to find out what exactly what building norms were approved for these structures and whether or not they are being adhered to,” he said.

He, however, said that there were no immediate plans to start an anti-encroachment drive in the city. On the other hand, SP (City) Kaustubh Sharma, said a set of new parking lots would come up over the next four months, which would check haphazard parking, especially in the narrow lanes of the walled city.

The Golden Temple area would soon have a new parking area, which would have the capacity to accommodate 50-60 cars and over 1,000 two wheelers. Besides, two more parking lots for two wheelers are coming up near the old police post and the Ghanta Ghar Market.

He added that the police department had also decided to take stringent action against the private buses parked outside the bus stand, which lead to complete obstruction of traffic during the peak hours in the morning and evening and steps would were being taken to regulate movement of trucks on the left side of the GT road by impounding the trucks of defaulters.



Award for Sehgal again 
Parwinder Blaggan
Tribune News Service

For Puneet Sehgal, 40, getting an All India Radio national award has become an annual routine for the past 13 years. Zeal to inform and educate youth drives this programme executive at AIR, Jalandhar, to create colourful programmes.

“Getting an award has become my hunger,” says Sehgal whose radio play “Gumshuda Sur” was adjudged as the best in the youth programme category, thus the award. The play based on the lives of Punjabi youth, who allured by the glitz and glamour of singers like Gurdas Mann, end up selling their property, land and sink in debt.

“Being in radio I have come across a number of Punjabi lads who are crazy to bring out an album. To achieve this they not only sell their property but also take loans. This chase of fame hit them and their families hard,” said Sehgal, who joined AIR as programme executive in 1993 at Jammu station.

“Rather than clearing the present it’s wise to shape up the future,” said Sehgal who intends to base his next play on either femicide or AIDS.

Apart from the youth programme award, which comprises a certificate and cash prize of Rs 10,000, Sehgal has also been selected for the best Radio Play Award. The play “31-R, Shakti Nagar,” has been written by Amarjit Singh and produced by Sehgal. The play is about the last night of a family in 31-R, Shakti Nagar,the house in the about- to- be razed colony . The award ceremony is on April 7 at Jammu.

“One needs to be very creative in thinking about the themes. It should be able to strike a cord with the audience and somehow be related to them in one way or the other. I always keep my eyes and ear open for any small incidence could result into a play. The play involves a year of hard work and dedication,” said Sehgal.

“Initially, I used to be desperate for awards. However, once it started there was no looking back,” said the award winner.

Apart from being selected for the youth programme award consecutively for 15 years in row, Sehgal has also bagged award in the various category including programmes on family welfare, innovative programme, national integration, farm and home, to name a few. Sehgal has also helped to turn FM Rainbow, Jalandhar, into a major entertainer and money spinner.



Sudhir’s responsible touch
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Although his characters give an emotional touch to the tele-serials but he has some strong advises for film or serial directors and producers. A veteran actor, Sudhir Pandey, says keeping in mind the impact a film or serial leaves on the audience, these art forms should be handled more responsibly.

Visiting the holy city in connection with the launch of his new tele-serial ‘Maayka’ on Zee TV, the actor says during the past three decades the television has transformed in a big way as daily soaps on TV have become an unavoidable part of every family.

It has been my endeavor to work in those films or serials which are able to give some positive message to the common masses and teach moral values to the young generation.

Sudhir said that most of the TV serials produced these days do not touch the common man and one could visualize the fantasy in them as scenes depicting the high class society have been portrayed superfluously.

He said though they created interest among the viewers but it was in bad taste as the theme and living style of the characters goes beyond logic.

Sudhir who is playing the role of Brij Malhotra in the tele-serial along with Nandita Puri playing Moni Malhotra, as his wife, said that we hope that we would be able to touch the chord with the audience as witnessed during the presentation of serials like Betiyann, Dulhann, Kasamh Se. He said the theme it shows us the bittersweet ties that bind a woman to her place of firth, the family she had been brought up with.

He said Maayka is a place that has its arms, heart and door always open for a woman and the theme is laid in such a way that it brings us closer to the viewers. In the serial we are talking about the strong emotional bond that every daughter shares with her maternal home after her marriage, he added.

Giving details of the serial Sudhir said that setting in Maayka is that of Punjabi family who is well settled and he is playing the role of a typical Punjabi businessman. He is principled, traditional, loving and happy-go-lucky father. He is an honest man who believes in simple thinking and simple living. He loves his wife, three daughters and a son immensely and wants to provide the daughters with nice in-laws.

But more importantly, he wants his daughters to have sweet memories from their Maayka after they get married. The serial tries to maintain the balance between the two families bonded by the marriage of the elder daughter Raaji.

Nandita, who is playing the role of Moni Malhotra was never fortunate enough to have had a Maayka and was sure that she would not let her three daughters feel the absence of one. Moni initially belongs to Kashmiri family and is a complete homemaker and very particular about her house.

The other lead artistes in the serial are Urmila Kanitakar, Arti Singh and Neha Bamb who are playing the role of three daughters as Raaji, Soni and Maahi, respectively.

Rajji, the eldest one, is very simple, docile and above all understanding girl, to the extent that the family teases her as hamari pyari gay mata. Soni is the confused soul who can never make up her mind about anything nor take any decisions on her own. Maahi, the youngest one, is most romantic of the lot. She is a chatterbox and is a very loving soul.



Life goes to seed in urban walls
P.K. Jaiswar

Along with the increase in poverty, the fast pace urbanisation is affecting the quality of life drastically, said Dr K.L. Sharma, a former vice-chancellor, Rajasthan University, Jaipur, during the two-day national seminar on ‘Quality of life in urbanising world’.

Organised by the department of sociology of Guru Nanak Dev University under UGC Special Assistance Programme, Dr Sharma said the western world had nearly 90 per cent urban population, whereas India had less than 30 per cent. He said the urbanisation had improved quality of life of many but also affected adversely other sections of society. More wages did not necessarily imply a better quality of life and vice-versa, he added.

Dr Sharma said today’s young IT professionals receive reasonably high salary packages but excessive demand for work makes their life quite miserable. He said the quality of life was being adversely affected all over the world in the current situation of globalisation. The main problem was how to moderate the ill affects of materialism for the poor and hapless people.

He said the criterion of poverty could be food, housing, utilities, clothing, recreation, education, transportation and communication, household necessities, personal and incidental expenses.

Prof S.L. Sharma, director, Institute of Correctional Administration, Chandigarh, talked about physical improvement of life chances, quality of life, life expectancy, child health, survival and education. Apart from physical aspect of urbanisation, he referred to the civic aspect as well which included freedom, opportunities and human rights. It aimed at well being of an individual in every sphere, he added.

Dr Jai Rup Singh, vice-chancellor of the host university, in his presidential remarks spoke about the need for synthesising the ill and good affects of the urbanising world. He said the fundamental flaw was due to faulty planning and there was need of visionary planners of urbanisation. Deliberations of the scholars would prove useful and helpful for the planners, policy makers, sociologists and the young scholars. He also released the book, ‘Globalising Cities’, edited by Dr R.S. Sandhu, coordinator of seminar.



In love with thorny beauties
P.K. Jaiswar

Ridiculing the belief of Vaastu Shastra that professes against keeping cacti in homes, Manjit Kumar Uppal has been keeping up his obsession for the thorny plants with earnest zeal for the past many years.

“These plants inspire me to stand against all odds of life and are symbols of determination for me,” he believes.

The cacti are more sacred than other flora species as scientists have proved that these plants releases more oxygen than other plants as the pulp of cacti contains water with healing qualities. The terrace of his house is all adorned with these green beauties.

His love story with the foliage began in 1992 but he took it seriously in 1997.

After developing the interest in the succulents, he started visiting various cacti shows and exhibitions in Chandigarh, New Delhi, Panchkula, etc, to have the knowledge of thorny beauties.

The employee of Guru Nanak Dev University, he took the help and guidance of Ram Parshad of botanical garden in the university to nurture his hobby.

At present, he has collection of more than 150 cacti varieties, succulents and aloe species, including notocactus, mammilarias, opuntia and euphorbia obese.

He personally supervises the plants daily. The other reason for his obsession towards these plants is that they need little care.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |