It’s pointless

As mobile phones allow people to track each other down, Scandal Point is fast losing its reputation of a famed meeting spot, says Saurabh Malik

The Scandal Point you are trying to reach on The Mall is no longer a gathering point for social bonding; be it with the natives or the tourists. All routes to the point are simply inactive as upwardly mobile tourists, even localities, are now calling each other up on cell-phones. Instead of networking around the area, the once celebrated assembly point; people are now calling each other up.

Pant up the narrow stairs winding through the old charm of the lower bazaar to reach the famed rendezvous immortalised by Rudyard Kipling in his works, and you find the lure missing. There is just no point in looking around. You hardly see people savoring softy from Lovleena or sweet buns from Trishul.  All around, you have people connected to each other through mobile phones.

Call from past

“At one point of time, evening meetings at the Scandal Point was an established actuality that required no mention,” recalls Ankit Gupta of Himani bar and restaurant on The Mall. “Meeting at six meant a get-together around the point at the specified time” In fact, Scandal Point’s name itself provides a testimony to the distinguished status of the place as a legendary rendezvous. “Though, the tittle-tattle and the local legend say the place was named after a British officer’s daughter who eloped from the spot with the Maharaja of Patiala; some historians do not agree to this,” says Punjab and Haryana High Court advocate Raman Sharma, now settled in Chandigarh after spending his childhood in Shimla.

Familiar with the hill station, Sharma says, “In all probability the out-of-the-ordinary name has nothing to do with the British or the Maharaja; it is more likely a name that is the outcome of the fact that Scandal Point was for long a gathering point for the people to hold conversations.”

Point blank

But, now things are different. Ringing in a new era of connectivity in the hill state, mobile phones are pointlessly calling away attention not just from the Scandal Point, but also from nature. “The chirping of birds has lost its charm in the noise of polyphonic ring tones,” laments Sharma. The infiltration of mobile phones in the lives of the Himachalis is there for all to see. The state already has seven players — the latest to enter is Aircel Limited. The company in the near future plans to capture 15 % of the market, which is registering an annual growth of 60,000 mobile connections. Telec-om experts say Hutch also plans to come to the state.

At present, there are approximately 15-lakh mobile phone subscribers in Himachal, registering a monthly increase of seven per cent. Airtel, the largest mobile service provider in the state, has over 5.5-lakh subscribers. The sources in Airtel assert that the number of mobile connections in Shimla alone is over 70,000. Approximately, 33 per cent of the district’s population owns mobile phones. Well fellows, there is just no point. Technology is taking the charm away, point blank.

No longer in the limelight

Scandal point is not the end, but also the highest spot on The Mall. Due to its scenic location, the area around Scandal Point is generally occupied by tourists. In fact, the large open square provides a nice view of the town, and also distant snow clad peaks in winters.

The statue of Lala Lajpat Rai there was re-installed after being brought all the way from Lahore post-Independence.

Next to the Scandal Point is the wooden building of Shimla’s General Post Office. At one point of time, mail was brought from Kalka on Tongas driven by Pathans on Kabul horses. The Kali Bari temple is a few yards from the Scandal Point; it is believed that the idol of Goddess Shayamla is enshrined there.



Why the name?
by Shriniwas Joshi
The long and short behind the naming of Scandal Point

I am lost on Scandal Point. If you ask any old Shimla wala the reason behind baptising the 56x112 ft open space as Scandal Point, right in front of the unblinking eyes of Lala Lajpat Rai, he would unhesitatingly bring three players and two stations on the scene.

The players are the then Commander-in-Chief, the Viceroy and the Maharaja of Patiala (no names only designations) and the stations are Shimla and Chail. The story varies from person to person and a few say that the Maharaja forcefully lifted the wife or daughter of the Commander-in-Chief; others say that it was the daughter of the Viceroy. This lifting was done a la Prithviraj-Sanyukta style from this place and hence its name – Scandal Point. Legend has it that the Maharaja’s entry in Shimla was banned so he built Chail to have his own ‘Shimla’ within the territory of Patiala state.


In the fifties, there were display boards at Scandal Point advertising films being screened in local theatres. Once the title Cleopatra was handwritten in Urdu. Innocent villagers read it ‘Kullu Batera’ and felt cheated as the film ran in English. 

I refer to Shimla Past and Present by Edward Buck published in 1904. He writes about a “post office situated in the centre of Simla” and not near Scandal Point. Nowhere does he mention Scandal Point. Doz writes in Simla in Ragtime in 1913 “a little further up, opposite Hussain Bux’s Stores is the area known as Scandal Point.” And Hussain Bux was there where Alpha is. It is reasonable to infer that the scandal, if any, occurred between 1904 and 1913. O.C. Sud writing The Simla Story in 1997 confirms the year ‘a great scandal that rocked the Simla Society in the early 1900’s emanated from this point.’

The first reported player was Lord Kitchener who had Hermione Baker as his first love but she died in her teens in 1885. In 1902, he unsuccessfully courted Lord Londonderry’s daughter Helen Mary. Unfortunate in love, he was buried unmarried — so he is out. The second player Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, was here from 1899 to 1905. He had married the beautiful Mary Victoria Leiter in 1895. But she died in 1906 leaving daughters Irene, Cynthia and Alexandra in his care.

Anne de Courcey writes in The Viceroy’s Daughters “instead of spending time with his family after his wife’s death, Lord Curzon was busy carousing around the chintz-draped bedrooms of many a country estate.” He also says, “Curzon’s daughters inherited their vigorous libidos from their lusty papa.”

The third player got married in 1908 but K. Natwar Singh in his book The Magnificent Maharajah characterises him: “…till almost the last few weeks of his life, the attraction to women was to remain very high on his life’s agenda. Every temptation was available to him and he resisted none.” These quotes reflect amorousness of the suspects but in 1905 when Curzon left Shimla, his eldest daughter Irene – a known sex kitten in the later years — was nine and the Maharaja was only fourteen. Though Charles Allen, in his Lives of Indian Princes, speaks of banning of the Maharaja’s entry into Shimla for his amorous overtures towards the Viceroy’s daughter, yet the age-factor of the two compels me to shut it.

I agree with Pamela Kanwar who calls the scandal ‘a timeworn myth’. The Point is scandalous because here, according to Harrop, “the transmitters of gossip are ever at work and savory and unsavory secrets of our society are flashed to the uttermost limits of Simla with all the speed of wireless.” And the Maharaja’s entry was probably banned because ten citizens of Patiala state presented a memorial ‘an indictment of Patiala’ to the Viceroy. It brought infamy to the prince, who really was magnificent because of his multidimensional personality. Later, he was exonerated of the charges through Lord Willingdon’s enquiry.

About Chail, the palace was built there in 1891, the year in which the Maharaja was born. The highest cricket ground was ready in 1893. He, therefore, did not build Chail, may be declared it the ‘summer capital of Patiala state’.



The lure of gold
Money is no bar for art afficionados. Tanjore gold-leaf paintings that come with an astronomical price tag are selling like hot cakes in the hill capital
Pratibha Chauhan

The ongoing exhibition of artifacts from Tamil Nadu here is attracting big crowds.

Tanjore paintings depicting deities like Tirupati Balaji and Lord Ganesha are hot favourite among the buyers. And price is not a deterrent for art aficionado. In fact, some of the paintings, priced at Rs 1 lakh, have already been sold. The exhibition will be on at the Indira Gandhi Sports complex till May 14.

Besides this, exquisite wood carvings, brass lamps and bronze figures from various parts of Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu are also being appreciated.

“Though traditionally artisans make Balaji and Ganesha figures but keeping in view the demand we are now making Saraswati, Lakshmi, Krishna and other deities too,” informed Salesh Kumar from the corporation. The palm leaf paintings and copper embossing, peculiar to the Kanyakumari region too offers paintings that range from ethnic ones to modern abstracts.

Apart from this there are Bastar art works, which has always been popular all over.

The handloom sarees, both in silk and cotton, come in a wide range and variety and are pocket friendly. The evergreen kanjivaram silk sarees too are available in a lot of range.

There is a lot of range even as far as the handloom dress material is concerned. Some items like the kalamkari from Andhra and ceramic paintings from Orissa are also on display.

Gaiety an Army mess?

The government might have spent crores of rupees on the preservation, conservation and restoration of the Gaiety Theatre but it has failed to impress the members of the INTACH as far as the interiors and the ambience of the Amateur Dramatics Club (ADC) is concerned.

Convener of the Shimla chapter of INTACH B. S. Malhans has written a letter to the president of the ADC, which in under the control of the Army. “The interiors of the club are uninviting, cold, impersonal and an awkward place to sit and moreover it looks more like an Army mess than an amateur dramatics club,” says Malhans.

He says the portraits of Army chiefs, formation shields and other memorabilia is befitting of an Army mess but definitely not a dramatics ambience. He has suggested that advice from the National School of Drama, its former head Ebrahim Alkazi or even the British high commission, who have in the past informally come to Gaiety Theatre should be sought in this regard.

The blame game

The delay in finalising candidates for four municipal corporation (MC) wards by the BJP has given a chance to the ruling Congress to blame it on infighting in the main Opposition party, keen to create history by gaining control over the prestigious body.

Having taken the lead in announcing its complete list of 25 candidates for the MC polls and that too with complete unanimity between chief minister Virbhadra Singh and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Viplove Thakur, the Congress leaders say they have won the first round. “What else does one conclude from the fact that the BJP could not decide the names of candidates even after two days of nominations,” remarked a senior Congress leader.

The Congress has had control over the lone MC of the state since its inception in 1986. As for the BJP, they have each time been talking of finally creating history but failed so far. This time, there seems to be a tough fight but it remains to be seen how many wards the BJP, which at present has seven councillors, can win.



Unplanned building continues unabated
Palampur, Baijnath, Paprola: Waiting for disaster to strike?
Ravinder Sood

Despite the fact that Palampur falls among the most sensitive earthquake-prone areas of the country, the haphazard and unplanned construction of residential houses and buildings has been going on unchecked.

In the past five years Palampur, Baijnath, Paprola and Nagrota Bagwan towns in Kangra district have virtually turned into concrete jungles.

After the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, the state government had taken serious measures to regulate construction activities in this region and brought all important towns of the district within the purview of the Town and Country Planning Act.

But it is more surprising that hundreds of buildings, including residential and commercial, in the district have come up without approval of the authorities concerned.

Such illegal constructions can lead to a major disaster like the Gujarat quake. What to speak of private parties even government agencies have not followed the norms laid down by the Town and Country Planning Department.

Since the Dhauladhar ranges in Himachal Pradesh fall in Zone 5, experts from the Seismology Department of Roorkee University had recommended earthquake-proof constructions in the region.

But it is a sad state of affairs that the authorities concerned have not followed these measures. Most of the building plans in Palampur and Dharamsala lack such norms.

The towers erected by cellular companies on the roofs of buildings in various parts of the district is an open example of the violation of norms. No action has, however, been initiated against these companies by the authorities or the municipal councils. No one in the administration knows as to who had permitted these towers since the roofs of the buildings concerned did not have the capacity to bear their load. 



It’s high time, freeze land use
PECULIAR CHAOS: As NHAI is acquiring land for four-laning of the Kalka-Shimla highway, the government is busy granting permission to builders for new projects Ambika Sharma

This is a case of right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing! A chaotic situation dominates Kalka-Shimla National Highway. While the state government is granting permissions to carry out construction works of new projects along the highway, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is planning to make it into a four-lane road.

With virtually no coordination between the National Highways wing of the PWD and NHAI, no freeze of land use has been put in place. This will not only mean that the new buildings would have to be demolished once the process begins but also the government would have to pay compensation to these builders.

A survey for four-laning was conducted by NHAI in 2003. A Delhi-based agency Span Consultants had submitted a detailed report. Now a fresh survey is being conducted at places where the cost of land acquisition is huge. Once this is finalised, the tenders will be called.

Despite the project being in an advance stage, the two crucial departments have not coordinated to put an end to fresh constructions.

Interestingly, a number of petrol pumps have also come up on the highway after the first survey. Though they had to take a ‘no objection certificate’ from the NHAI, even this central authority did little to discourage fresh constructions. According to the survey report a width of at least 30 mt built up road is required to convert the highway into four lanes. It has been proposed to acquire at least 20-mt land from the hillside and another 15 mt land from the valley side.

The cutting of the hill will be undertaken in a scientific manner so that the hill strata is not destablised. A 1.5 mt median bifurcating the two double lanes with to-and-fro tracks are proposed to channel the traffic.

Interestingly, according to a survey conducted a few years back as many as 22 high-rise buildings on the NH-22 were considered illegal. Even after the issue was raised at a Vidhan Sabha session, not a single building has been demolished. Rather successive governments have been bringing out retention policies to regularise such structures.

This lackadaisical attitude of the government will now spell doom. Since the road width has to be enhanced by 20 mt on the hill side many of these structures will have to be acquired. Would this mean that the government will pay compensation to the illegal structures? This is a moot question as the builders wield a lot of influence in the corridors of power. For instance, the government has failed to acquire, despite HC orders, a private multi-storey hotel at Barog despite the court’s May 5, 2005, judgment. This case was a reflection of the government’s attitude towards checking illegal structures.



Kullu experiences spiritual bliss
Thousands made a beeline to Dhalpur Maidan to seek blessings from Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Kuldeep Chauhan

Tribune photoThe historic Dhalpur Maidan, venue of world-renowned Kullu Dasehra was in a state of spiritual euphoria last week. The guru-founder of Art of Living (AOL), Sri Sri Ravi Shankar cast his magic spell on followers, including politicians and dignitaries from the state.

Followers witnessed a rare oracle session of 20 devtas, who were in Kullu for the AOL session. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar got the blessings of devtas and said, “Oracles are not about myths, but they are scientific, and it is a deep topic of research.”

As many, as 6000 people attended the spiritual Shivir. Over 900 people were a part of the advanced state chapter of AOL. The bhajans sung by Hema Sardesai, who is also an AOL follower made the spiritual session all the more unforgettable.

For Khullar family based in Baragrah, it was a blessing when Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, accompanied by his younger sister Bhanudidi and Hema Sardesai, and 150 others followers made way to their farmhouse to enjoy the beauty of the valley of gods. The spiritual guru said, “I have not seen a more beautiful view of snow peaks and gliding valley than this.”

Khullars are not the only ones who have been attracted to AOL; hundred others have been a part of these spiritual sessions. AOL’s state coordinator, Bhawani Singh Thakur said, “AOL was not known much in Kullu, but now over 8000 people have attended the Dhayan shivir and have become its practitioners.” Vastrika, Sudrashan Kriya and breathing exercises that are a part of the session de-stress the pent-up feelings and emotions, and lend positive energy to the mind and body.



No time to grieve
Life falls apart for kin of I&PH employee electrocuted on duty
Kulwinder Sandhu

While chief minister Virbhadra Singh was launching a job guarantee scheme in Nurpur, Bishambar — a Class IV irrigation and public health employee — was battling for life. He had been working after office hours on the night of April 10, ahead of the CM’s visit, pitching up flagpoles on the roadside. One of the poles came in contact with a high-tension electricity wire and Bishambar and his colleague were seriously injured.

Bishambar Lal (40) of Balla Baldhun village of Nurpur sub-division breathed his last in the wee hours of April 11 while on way from a Nurpur hospital to Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College and Hospital, Dharamsala.

Life couldn’t have been crueler to wife and five daughters. Five-year-old Sapna and seven-year-old Renu refuse to go to sleep without their father. “He used to tell them a story every night,” remembers Sharda Devi, the deceased’s wife. “What will happen to my daughters? My husband wanted to educate them and make them independent. Now, my children will grow up without their father.” The eldest daughter Bindu (13) studies in Class IX.

Sharda is traumatised by what she saw that fateful day. “The person I loved most in the world was sprawled on the ground, gasping for air, not able to breathe. I couldn’t do anything. Nothing can get that image out of my head,” she says.

The younger two daughters just cannot understand that they will never see their father again. “Bindu, Anu and Kiran have somehow understood that life would be a struggle but what do I tell the younger ones?”

The state government had announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the family and also promised a job to one of Bishambar’s daughters. “But how will we survive till then? None of my children are old enough to work,” worries Sharda. “I don’t know how I will make them study.”

Says Malvika Pathania, former chairperson of the state women commission and state women welfare board, “The state government should realise that it is the protector and guardian of its employees and has to take responsibility of family members of those who die on duty.”

Pathania alleged that when members of Bishambar Lal’s family were returning after his cremation, the CM and his colleagues were attending a function organised in his honour at the Shaheed Ram Singh Memorial, Nurpur. Neither the chief minister nor the district magistrate has visited Bishambar’s family.



S.R. Pundir

The increasing number of cases of telephone cables theft has given way to a new flourishing business for the thieves; they make thousands of rupees by selling several kilometer long cable wires. More than 60 such thefts have been reported in the Paonta area alone. The police seem to be helpless in this matter, and it is evident from the open statement of officials of Telecom department that the police do not even register FIR in most of the cable theft cases. In addition, the carelessness of the Telecom department in providing quality services to the consumers has added woe to the suffering of the consumers.

The theft has created havoc especially in the rural areas of Sirmour. The residents held BSNL responsible for its sheer negligence in providing quality services. Telephones in many villages have remained dead for the past six months, either due to carelessness of BSNL or due to non-availability of staff to run the telephone exchanges. The telephone system in most of the parts of Paonta valley of Sirmour district has almost collapsed.

Thousands of residents connected with Tonru Telephone Exchange are facing similar problem and were not aware as why hundreds of telephones in their area were out of order for the past three to four months. Residents of over 16 villages of Badahana, Danda Kala Amb and Neghata Panchyats said that have been depositing bills for their dead telephones.

The phones were even dead in several other villages including Badhana, Kalatha, Killaur, Moni and KalaAmb. In Khodowala in Trans Giri track, telephone cable had been stolen more than ten times as per departmental sources. Ram Gopal, Junior Telecom Engineer, Paonta said that over 60 incidents of cable theft had taken place in Paonta and ten stations where department had laid telephone cable more than three times but was stolen after a few days. He admitted that there was no regular person posted to look after Kafota telephone exchange after the transfer of its caretaker employee.

People alleged that BSNL was not paying much heed to restart the services in the areas where cable theft had taken place. Experts suggest that BSNL should use wireless technology and erect more mobile phone towers in the Trans Giri and other rural areas. 



The big fight
 Man vs Leopard
The forest dept is on its toes to look for a solution to the cat menace in the state. Rakesh Lohumi reports

Killing the big cat will not provide respite to the villagers but only bring more trouble -This is the central theme of the strategy being worked out by the forest department to control the increasing human–leopard conflict in the state.

With the leopard population registering a sharp increase over the past two decades, instances of the beast making frequent forays into villages, attacking people and pets have become frequent. Consequently the ferocious animal is being killed at every available opportunity.

In the past six years, 72 leopards were killed by villagers using traps and snares. The last cat census was carried out in 1997 and latest data was required to work out long-term plans to find a permanent solution to the problem. There were only 199 leopards in 1984 when the first cat census was conducted. The number increased to 539 in 1989 and finally to 682 in 2004.

The increasing conflict has forced the forest department to take steps something so that the two living beings can survive side by side. The forest department has decided to provide training to staff and make people aware that killing leopards is not the solution. The department has even called in experts from Pune, who have been working on the human–animal conflict in Maharashtra. They would be training field functionaries like forest guards and deputy rangers so that they could further educate villagers and change their mindset.

Experts say the leopard is a territorial animal. It establishes control over large area, once done no leopard could enter. But once the animal is killed, two or three other weaker leopards, struggling for their own territory, occupy it.

As the area does not have enough prey for three animals to feed on, the big cats frequently turn to inhabited areas for food.

Villagers have also been taught to use a tranquiliser gun. However, the most important part of the training, according to additional chief conservator of forests, Vinay Tandon, is controlling the crowd. “Whenever, a leopard is trapped in and around a human habitation, a large crowd gathers on the spot and makes it difficult for forest officials to rescue the leopard. The problem is compounded by the fact that the staff is not trained to handle crowd. Our staff often becomes the target of people’s ire for no reason. There have been a few instances when the animals were killed even before the rescue team arrived,” he said.

Besides the tranquiliser gun, teams will also be equipped with gap-sticks, blowpipes and cages. In the first phase, teams are being raised in Dharamsala, Nurpur, Hamirpur, Una and Bilaspur where the problem is severe.



Bear with us, please...
D. P. Gupta

There has been no decrease in the sale of animal organs in the region, despite endless campaigns being held to highlight the issue of cruelty towards wild animals.

While, the wild life protection act has put a complete ban on it, still large numbers of animals are suffering at the hands of greedy jugglers and hunters. The sale of the organs is adding to the misery of a chained monkey or a bear dancing to the tunes of the jugglers.

Many cases of sale of hair, flesh, and nails of beer by jugglers to local people have been reported from many parts of the state. The hair of a bear is sold for one hundred rupees, the nail of the animal fetches some thing about three hundred, and while horns are sold at much higher prices.

Few nomads and other hunting tribes have also been found selling skin, nails, horns, and other part of wild animals. The erroneous belief among people that hair, nails and horns of bear, leopard and barking deer ward off evil spirits and bring good luck is contributing to this inhuman practice. Many people tie these organs on the necks of children. Also, some of these organs are being used to prepare traditional medicines and also as decorative pieces.

The wild life wardens say that this practice can only be stopped with the help of public awareness and support. DFO Wild Life Hamirpur, S.K Guleria, says, “The wild life protection act completely bans the sale of animal parts and one can report the matter to a forest employee or police about any such instance.”



A cry for peace
Strife between locals and Tibetans is not uncommon in McLeodganj
Kulwinder Sandhu

The scuffle between a group of local taxi and auto-rickshaw operators on one side, and a few Tibetans on the other; led to widespread protests and unilateral boycott of Indian hotels, shops, taxis and auto-rickshaws by the refugee community.

The incident took place last week on Wednesday at McLeodganj, when an auto-rickshaw driver brushed aside a Tibetan youth by a moving auto rickshaw. The Tibetan youth, accompanied by his friend and two women, threw a glass bottle on the driver in retaliation.

The incident took a more violent shape, when some more local Indians from the local taxi and auto-rickshaw unions turned up at the scene and attacked the Tibetans. The two Tibetans were beaten severely and later hospitalised. Later, hundreds of Tibetans assembled together and protested outside the local
police post demanding registration of a criminal case against the members of the taxi and auto-rickshaw unions.

The next day, the Tibetan community decided to shutdown their shops for two days and to boycott Indian hotels, shops, taxis and auto-rickshaws. Window panes of few cars owned by the local people were also found broken which further aggravated the situation, leading to deployment of extra police force to avoid any further clash.

The Tibetans say that this was not an uncommon incident as there have been many instances of local taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers thrashing Tibetans for trivial matters. Fed up of the discriminative atmosphere, the Tibetans alleged that the police personnel on duty too harass Tibetans.

The community alleged that the police personnel posted on night duty at McLeodGanj stop only Tibetans to produce RC book. The Tibetans further said that on failure to produce the book, which is not mandatory for them to carry it all the time, the police personnel beat them and charge a fine, and in some cases snatch away their cell phones. “We are facing frequent injustice from both the local drivers and police”, said a Tibetan youth.

The Tibetans have a grudge against a section of the local media also. They allege that the crucial incident was reported in certain newspapers with biased views, without keeping true reference to the facts. Anguished over describing the Tibetan’s behaviour as dadagiri (bullying or bossing around), the Tibetans appealed to the media to act responsibly.

Towards harmony

Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, while addressing the Tibetan community on Saturday evening urged them to maintain communal harmony. “We are peace loving people and should live with harmony with other communities,” he said. He announced the setting up of a three-member panel to keep vigil on local activities.

Ajay Yadav, Superintendent of Police, convened a meeting of both the communities on Friday evening. In the meeting, both the communities were asked to cooperate in maintaining peace in the area. More than 200 people from both the communities attended the meeting and agreed to bring about a peaceful solution.

Dawa Tsering, representative of the Tibetan government-in-exile; Sonam, welfare officer, and Lodup, home secretary directed the members of the exile community to cooperate with the authorities in restoring the situation.



What’s your choice?

Rapid industrialisation has opened job avenues for the youth but are they geared up to take the challenge? Kuldeep Chauhan finds out

Two job melas organised by CII at Mandi and Solan have exposed that not only there are chinks in the supply and demand of manpower in the industrial sector, but also the rigid mindset of youth who still prefer government jobs. It has also exposed double-standard of politicians and lack of facilities in the industrial-belts.

No doubt, private sector and self-employment avenues have developed in the state, but ITIs still need to produce skilled manpower to keep up with the need of the industries.

Political parties are contributing to the antiquated mindset that government job is a panacea for unemployed youth and private sector or self-employment and individual entrepreneurship are last refuse for those who can not get government jobs.

Industries need qualified and skilled manpower, which is in short supply so far. It is obligatory for am unit to employ over 70 per cent of local manpower. To fulfill this they held two job melas at Mandi and Solan, selecting over 2,250 and 500 persons respectively for jobs. Still there is an acute shortage of technical manpower in most industries, sources from the industry say.

General Secretary of BBN Industries Association Arun Rawat says industries are serious about recurring 70 per cent manpower from the state provided they get the right kind of people. “Industries need technical persons including machinists, instrumentalists, textile engineers, fitters and electrical technicians, which so far are in short supply.” They add persons having bachelor degree in arts are available, but people having B.Sc and M.Sc (chemistry) needed for pharmaceutical companies are in short supply. Even 200 girls came most of them were BAs and 50 of them have been selected even as many companies need more girls, who are technically qualified.”

Industries minister Kuldip Kumar says the mindset that a government job is more secure and permanent needs to be changed as the private sector has emerged as a better employer by creating 3.14 lakh jobs in over 8883 units that have come up in the state.

But the youth are not happy working in the BBN belt as they face accommodation problems. “We get Rs 2,500 per month for putting in 12-15 hours daily. A room costs about Rs 1,000 a month,” workers rue. The government and companies should join hands to construct cheep hostels so that they can at least live to tough out the initial years.”

CII president, HP state council Rajinder Guleria has an encouraging word for all, “Initial hard work pays and ultimately one ends up in best packages unthinkable in government sector.”



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