Hospitality all set to hit high gear
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
With as many as 20 big new hotels expected to come up in Amritsar in near future, the hospitality industry in the city is all set to witness an upswing. The increasing number of international and domestic flights to the city would ensure that there is enough clientele for the hotels.

In the five-star category, Raddison (Airport Road) and Marriot (East Mohan Nagar) would be the two big groups setting their foot here. As of now, the city does not have any five-star hotel. Besides, work has begun on “Holiday”, which is expected to be a four-star facility coming up at Ranjit Avenue. Two other three-star hotels are also in the pipeline.

The upcoming sprawling structures of Metropolitan, Omax and Ansal Plaza would also house hotels catering to the high-end tourists coming to the city.

According to reports, the new five-star hotel Courtyard by Marriot would cater to a niche target group and is being promoted by Emaar MGF Land Limited, a joint venture between one of the world’s leading real estate companies Emaar Properties PJSC of Dubai and a leading domestic real estate developer, MGF Development Limited of India. The group has lined up ambitious mega plans for strengthening the hospitality infrastructure in the country.

The group has entered into an operating agreement with Marriott group to develop a 150 keys “Courtyard by Marriot” in the holy city. It will be a brand for “business travellers designed by business travellers”. The project is expected to be commissioned by 2010.

Ashwani Gupta of Dove Travels in Ranjit Avenue says with more than 100 international and domestic flights per week, the Rajasansi International Airport is already buzzing with activity. The airport is already offering international flights to Europe, the Middle-East and America, including destinations like Birmingham, London, Bratislava, Kabul, Dubai, Sharjah, Ashgabat, Tashkant and Moscow.

On the domestic circuit, the Amritsar airport is linked to Delhi. Different airlines have expressed interest to begin more flights on international and domestic destinations and some of the agreements are expected to materialise soon. The passenger traffic at Amritsar has seen tremendous growth in recent years, from 12,000 passengers in 2000-01 to 1,12,000 in 2001-02.

Hoteliers in the city, however, rue that unlike other state governments, the tourism department of the state government has failed to give impetus to the hospitality industry by giving incentives. “In Delhi, hoteliers have been given special incentives in view of the upcoming Commonwealth Games in 2010. However, Amritsar is yet to enter the priority list of the state government,” says a hotelier.



Now, roundabouts bear hoarding brunt 
P.K. Jaiswa

Amritsar, November 23
Hoarding bane is not new to holy city. Despite the blanket ban by the Supreme Court and Punjab and Haryana High Court it goes on with impunity dotting the city’s every nook and corner. Even the green belts and footpaths have not been spared by leaders of political parties who have put up these hoardings with their pictures for only highlighting themselves on pretext of ‘showing solidarity’ with their immediate political bosses for their vested political interests.

Their latest victims are roundabouts which usually provide beautiful picturesque enhancing the attractiveness of a city. But these roundabouts are now noosed from every side showcasing the faces of political leaders or advertisings mocking at the residents and tourists while the municipal corporation pays little or no attention at all.

Recently, the mayor had stated that no such hoardings would be put up on the roundabouts, but nothing has been done so far for the reasons best known to him and it was an irony that these political leaders was unable to conform to rules and regulations due to their selfish interests. Hall gate, Dr Kitchlu Chowk (Kechahri chowk), New Rialto Chowk etc were glaring example to this.

Earlier, the unipoles were erected on footpaths and greenbelts to put up hoardings, now even bamboo sticks were used for erecting hoardings causing great inconvenience to the residents and pedestrians besides endangering their lives in case of accidental falls, says Jaswant Singh, a resident of the city. “A little function in the city or coming of a delegate is enough for providing excuse to councilors or even ‘mohalla pardhans’ (local area presidents) to make their presence felt through these hoardings besides pleasing their masters,” he added.

The city has virtually turned from ‘Sifti Da Ghar’ (land of values) to ‘Ishtiara De Ghar’ (city of advertisements), thanks to the apathy of the municipal corporation and indifferent attitude of powers that be.

Prahlad Kaul, a visitor from Pune talking to the Amritsar Plus says he was shocked to see the pitiable condition of the city of Golden Temple, which has surpassed many sites in the world to become one of the largest visiting places. He says it had just opposite to what he had dreamt of about the city before coming here. He said the authorities should take this issue seriously otherwise it would be a nightmare of the tourists and the day was not far when the city would witness decreasing number of visitor coming to pay their obeisance at Darbar Sahib. 



Gol Bagh makeover begins
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
Minister for health and family welfare, Laxmi Kanta Chawla, inaugurated a beautification and development project for Dr Shama Prasad Mukherjee Park known as Gol Bagh today. The project to be undertaken by the municipal corporation has been sanctioned a grant of Rs 10 lakh by the minister.

Chawla said the park was a reminder of the country’s freedom struggle as leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri had addressed public meetings here..Mayor Shawet Malik says the corporation has taken steps to ensure that families start visiting the park once again.

He said the Gol Bagh, which had been in a state of neglect, would be developed into one of the best parks in the city.

Located on the north western side of the city, Gol Bagh is an open space with not many trees or vegetation. It is also used by political parties sometimes to hold rallies and even circus shows were held here.

Malik said Navjot Singh Sidhu had visited the area on September 17 and later also discussed the issue of development of Gol Bagh with the two ministers from Amritsar. Now that the corporation would have the required funds to develop the area, work on the project is expected to begin soon, he said.



Notorious woman drug trafficker in police net
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 23
In a significant breakthrough, the narcotic cell of Amritsar rural police arrested notorious narcotics smuggler Sukhwinder Kaur alias Sukhi, infamous as lady don in the region. She was arrested by the police, after a tip off from Khadoor Sahib Road near Goindwal.

Sukhwinder’s husband Tarlochan Singh has been at the Kapurthala central jail for the last 20 years and the family, including her sons, sisters, sister-in-law and son-in-law was involved in this illegal trade and all were wanted in many cases of smuggling of narcotics.

Sukhi had shifted base from Amritsar (urban) after local SSP Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh tightened the noose around drug peddlers and broke their network in the city. She was a headache for the police as her nexus was operating in Amritsar and adjoining areas for the last many years.

Iqbal Singh, SSP Amritsar (rural) confirming the arrest, revealed that Sukhi used to run the business after the arrest of her husband and the death of her mother who was also a notorious smuggler.

The police have confiscated her palatial house and other properties situated in the Inderpuri locality of the Kot Khalsa area in the city. Sukhwinder Kaur and her son Rajbir Singh were also declared proclaimed offenders.

She was wanted in more than 15 cases registered in various police stations of the district and was on the run for more than a year.

The SSP said she was declared PO in a case registered at the police station in which the police had arrested Jogi, a resident of Rajasthan, with a consignment of more than two kilograms of smack in 2006. However, she along with her son-in-law, Manjinder Singh Tolenangal of Rajasansi escaped from the spot.

The SSP said her two sons Shamsher Singh alias Sunny, who was declared PO by Pathankot police, and Rajbir were arrested on similar charges. Her sister-in-law, Chanchala was alsoin jail.



Duhkhakar: If you have this name, you can get rich
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
He takes pride in his name. Duhkhakar Singh, who works with a currency trading company, claims to be the only one on the planet with this name. What’s more, he is ready to give a cash award to his namesake.

“I have spent hours on the search engines, trying to find out if anybody in the whole world shares my name. I’m convinced that nobody shares my name and I have the privilege of having a unique identity,” he says.

It was Duhkhakar’s grand father, a man well-versed in Sanskrit, who christened him. He always thought that his grand son was special and his name should reflect it and therefore he go the name.

“I even approached a newspaper offices to place an advertisement, offering a cash prize for anyone who shares my name. However, I was told that this won’t fit into any column in the classified section,” he says.

“To make sure that my name doesn’t become common, I applied for registration with the deputy commissioner’s office but there too I was told that names cannot be patented,” he rues.

“The English pronunciation of my name is particularly difficult and people often get confused putting the spellings together. That is why I refer to write my name in Hindi or Punjabi to make it easier for people. I even have a website in my name,” he claims.

Though still unmarried, Duhkhakar has already started looking for some rare names for his kids. “I have shortlisted a few names and hopefully my would-be kids would like them when they grow up. In fact, my relatives and friends call me up to seek suggestions when it comes naming their children,” he smiles. 



Spiritual guru casts spell 
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 23
Thousands of devotees thronged the historic Ram Bagh to seek the blessings of one of the most renowned spiritual gurus, Morari Bapu, who started his week long spiritual discourses with a lot of social and religious messages.

In his daily discourse, Morari Bapu had exhorted the people of the country to develop faith and love for the country. He said religion promotes patriotism among the countrymen which helps them to develop a sense of nationalism to work for the welfare of the people.

He said he had seen that during many national calamities and national crisis, various religious organisations had offered their services for the safety of the people.

Giving an example, he referred to the creation of Khalsa Panth by the tenth Guru - Sri Guru Gobind Singh in 1699, wherein the Guru had promoted a strong sense of personal sacrifice as his first five sikh piaras offered their lives on the mere request of the Guru. This kind of strong nationalism has been the hallmark of the patriotic fervor of the Indians and it has produced many martyrs, who led by personal example to free the nation from the yoke of slavery.

Later, Bapu opened his discourse on Ram Charit Manas and strongly favored 50% reservation for women in the parliament. He said the society had failed to respect and honour the women folk.

Morari Bapu laid a special emphasis on developing a broad and comprehensive attitude instead of breeding narrow perceptions about life. He said tolerance, accommodation and traditional resilience were a strong part of the Indian culture, which have evolved the Indian system as amongst the best in the world.



Campus Buzz
38th anniversary: GNDU in jubilation mood 
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
Prof G.S. Randhawa, former vice-chancellor, would preside over the 38th foundation day celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev University on November 24.

A scholar of ethical studies of the University of California, San Diego, USA, Dr Pal Ahluwalia, and a distinguished scientist, Dr Karamjit Singh Rai of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, would present their views on “Good citizenship and role of education” at the main academic function being held at Guru Nanak Bhawan Auditorium.

Stating this, Dr R.S. Bawa, registrar, said an inter-college folklore exhibition depicting the rich Punjabi cultural heritage showing various rare artifacts, old utensils, Punjabi dresses, ornaments, weapons, etc, would be the main attraction of these celebrations being organised at Guru Nanak Bhawan. Dr Bawa said as a part of these celebrations, another exhibition of rare books, manuscripts, portraits and photographs would also be arranged at Bhai Gurdas Library of the university. A documentary “In the Footprints of Guru Gobind Singh Ji” would also be screened at Dashmesh Auditorium in the evening.

The registrar said the university had decided to grant 50 per cent discount on all university publications for which a sale counter would be put up near Bhai Gurdas Library.

Seminar on ‘Guru Nanak and his religious contemporaries’ concludes

More than three dozen research papers by eminent scholars were presented on “Guru Nanak and his religious contemporaries” at a two-day national seminar organised by Guru Nanak studies department of Guru Nanak Dev University, which concluded here today on the university complex.

The distinguished scholars were of the view that the study of the lives and the philosophies of the contemporaries of Guru Nanak are important to understand the universal teachings of the great Guru. They also felt that the teachings of Guru Nanak need to be preached at the global level. A renowned scholar, Aridaman Singh Dhillon, chief director of the International Institute of Sikh Studies, Amritsar, said Guru Nanak’s creed is much more modern, knowledgeable, polished, universal, broadminded and cosmopolitan than all major creeds of the world.

Guru Nanak like Kabir and other bhagats had strived primarily to establish an enlightened egalitarian society. He had succeeded where other had failed in winning equal confidence of the two hostile communities by singing of universal brotherhood of mankind in a language and idiom acceptable to both.

An eminent scholar, Dr H.S. Virk, while presenting his paper on “Guru Nanak and Martin Luther: A comparative Study” said there were a few common features between Martin Luther and Guru Nanak though there were a string of contradictions between these two contemporaries.

Dr Virk said Guru Nanak adopted a mystic approach to religion while Martin Luther had intellectual approach only. Guru Nanak was a prophet in his own right, ordained by God to preach his mission, a kind of true spirituality in the world, while Martin Luther led the protestant Reformation in Europe and can be labelled as a mere reformer of Christian faith.

Guru Nanak laid the foundation of a new religion in India, while Martin Luther revolutionised the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. Guru Nanak always stood with the poor and fought for the exploited people of India, while Luther stood with princes and rich aristocracy.

Dr Jaswinder Kaur Dhillon, while presenting a comparative study of “Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Guru Nanak,” said they were not only contemporaries but also had met. Chaitanya was the last of the Vaishnav reformers.

The life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev and Chaitanya have marked similarities. Dr Shashi Bala, head of the department of Guru Nanak studies, presented her paper on ‘Guru Nanak and his religious contemporary: Vallabhacarya’.



Foggy affair: Acid test for drivers
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
The chilly gusts of wind hitting the city are an indication that fog is on its way now. The decreasing visibility on roads during dusk and dawn has started turning out to be acid test for drivers and it is essential to have effective fog lights to avoid any mishap.

For those confused about fog and mist, though both are made of tiny water droplets suspended in the air, the difference lies in the density - fog is denser than mist. A condition where visibility is less than 200 meters can be safely termed fog. Those with some experience of driving in fog would know that fog is usually patchy and the faster one drives, the less time he gets to avoid danger. Gurmeet Singh of Delhi Motors on Court Road says, “The sale of fog lights has indeed shot up. A new range of high frequency lights are the latest craze among car owners, especially those who frequently take long drives.”While the regular fog lights of trusted brands like Philips start from Rs 150 onwards, the high frequency lights come with a price range from Rs 8,000 to Rs 16,000. “But they are worth it. The high frequency lights emit bluish white light, which can alert the drivers coming from the opposite side,” he adds.

“Those driving within the city prefer to get their headlights replaced with rainbow lights, which automatically turn yellow in fog and bluish in rain. These can be replaced in summers,” says Gurmeet.

As a word of caution, he advises that drivers should keep their headlights on low beam, while driving in fog. 



Strengthen Punjabi to better relations: Pak delegates
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 23
Since Partition we were not allowed to become Punjabis as Urdu language was thrust on the Punjabi community in Lahore and other parts of Pakistan by the powers, said Afzal Saahir, programme manager of the FM 103 Lahore.

Afzal was part of the nine-member delegation which include Bhai Ghulam Mohammad Chand, a descendant of Bhai Mardana, his nephews Mohammed Afzal and Amjad Hussain, noted poet and composer Yasub Tahir, Augustin Arfaan Javedd and Rebecca art and craft teachers of Lahore College for Women and Kannaird College for Women Lahore, respectively, classical singer and teacher Sameena Hassan Sayyad and young film maker Danial Rashid.

Saahir talking to The Tribune rued Punjabi script Shahmukhi was not being taught from the primary school level and it was only taught to those students who opted for this subject as an optional subject at the postgraduate level. He said only those students especially from Lahore took it as optional subject who have love for the mother tongue. He said even some of the persons who are keen to know the literal meaning and the message of Bulle Shah, Baba Farid and Guru Nanak hidden in their poetry showed interest in learning the Shahmukhi.

Another Pakistani resident Yasub Tahir, an eminent composer and singer, said conferences and seminars of eminent classical Punjabi poets should be held in the near future to strengthen Punjabi language in the two Punjabs which would also help in bridge the gap between the people of the two countries.

He said with the thaw in the relations between the two beleaguered nations the misunderstanding between the people of the two countries have started waning. He said now the people have started understanding the ground realities and were coming forth to organise cultural and social functions together.

The delegation would be participating in a function in New Delhi organised by Saanje Rang Punjab De which would be showcasing the similarities between the cultures of two Punjabs. The group will also visit Chandigarh, Jaipur and Agra.

A multi-faceted personality Afzal is also a poet, a drama writer and actor, who has the credit of working in many theatre productions including Saiyan Naina Walion and many other which were being staged in India by renowned producer-directors like Kewal Dhaliwal and Madiha Gauhar.

On his visit to the GNDU, he was amazed that the university students who had assembled there told him that they listened to his programme on FM 103 Lahore and also watches his plays on television.



Market Buzz
Italian giant to invest in garment industry
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 23
During a visit to the city, the founder of Benetton group of companies Luciano Benetton expressed his interest to invest a big chunk in India. He said he was engaged in detailed discussion with his senior group executives to build a bigger base in India for his garment and other businesses. The company is also keen on developing India as a major source to outsource garments.

He said he was contemplating to increase sale outlets in India from 70 to 110 by next year as the country has a large growing middle class with huge spending power.



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