Even narcotics need marketing!
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 7
The benefits of extensive marketing as tool to boost sales have caught the fancy of drug peddlers here as well.

Every morning, splinter groups of youths set out in the rural areas of the district with loads of intoxicating capsules and other narcotic material stocked in the tool boxes of their motorcycles and scooters.

SSP Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh says the trend has caught up in Amritsar recently and the police has busted several such groups accused of selling narcotics in villages in recent months. “Even though this is not an organised form of crime, many youths have taken to wooing the rural folks, who don’t have easy access to intoxicants,” he says.

While in the Malwa region of Punjab, poppy husk is preferred by addicts, in Amritsar and adjoining areas the trend has shifted to capsules after a concerted effort by the police to cut the supply line of heroin and other drugs.

There is also a growing trend of involvement of minors in the trade of heroin in the Amritsar area and the state special narcotics cell is focusing on this aspect. Minors are also preferred because they do not have a police record.

On September 24, the special narcotics cell had caught two minors, aged 16 and 14 years, with 2 kg of heroin in the Sultanwind area. The two had been reportedly involved in the trade for a long time and were on the scanner. The father and uncle of one of the minors was also arrested.

Right from its inception, the local unit of the state special narcotics cell has launched a massive drive against drug smugglers across the international borders and the drug abuse in the state.

“It has already effected heavy recovery of heroin, smack and fake Indian currency in a short span of time and we look forward towards more such achievements with public support,” said a spokesman for the cell.

The Punjab police has also launched a drive against pharmaceutical manufacturing units suspected to be involved in the production of drugs, which are eventually pumped into the trade of narcotics to get a high.

Sources say the police has sought a list of pharmaceutical units from the district health authorities and the list of drugs being manufactured will be compared with the items mentioned in the licence.

As per the provisions of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, property of anyone involved in making profits out of unauthorised sale of drugs can be seized by the police. Chemists selling medicines to drug addicts without prescription are also under the police scanner.

To tackle the menace of drugs the narcotic cell was constituted on April 18 by the police in the office of inspector-general of police (border zone) Rajpal Meena. Any tip-off about drug peddlers can be passed on to the officials deputed at the special cell for prompt action.

Information about drugs can be provided at the toll free numbers of the cell (1090 and 1098). The tip-off would be kept confidential and the information provider would be rewarded suitably by the police. The setting up of the cell is a step towards rooting out drug abuse from the area with the help of general public, claims the police.



Upper Bari canal: Where stink is in air 
Sanjay Bumbroo

Amritsar, December 7
Growing concern for the environment notwithstanding, residents can be seen throwing garbage into the Upper Bari Doab canal near Taranwala Bridge within the municipal limits. Residents of surrounding areas can also be seen throwing garbage on its banks which not only makes water unsafe for drinking but also chokes the small exit points at various points in the canal. The garbage thrown in polythene bags gets accumulated at the bottom and the bags get stuck at various places.

Some of the residents have also encroached on the forest land on both sides of the canal. Others have constructed religious structures on the banks allegedly to grab the land. Forest officials responsible fail to take action.

Some meat shop owners throw garbage in the canal thus making the water used by residents for drinking contaminated. They can also be seen washing empty cement gunny bags polluting the canal water making it unfit for irrigation purposes. This is because cement makes the crops or vegetable plants harder accounting for less production. Another point of concern is the deteriorating condition of the road used by commuters from Jandiala Guru or Rayya to reach Tarn Taran road. He said rainwater gets accumulated on the deep pot holes and the road becomes slippery and dangerous for the two wheeler drivers. Amrit Lal Mannan, spokesperson, Amritsar Vikas Manch, said if the district administration and officials of the forest department did not take effective measures against its pollution the canal is likely to be turned into a tungdhab drainage canal, causing genetic disorders among residents of the area. 



Reality Shows
SMS voting promotes bias, says NGO
Our Corresponent

Amritsar, December 7
Celebrity and reality shows based on SMS voting system promote discrimination on the basis of caste and region. This was alleged by Deepak Babbar, executive director of Mission Aagaaz-Earth and Resources Care Group, an NGO, here today.

While condemning TV channels for airing such shows, Babbar the NGO had conducted a survey which revealed that around 70% people feel that the decision taken on the basis of SMS votes was wrong and biased. He said the telecom companies were reaping the benefits of these shows. “People are of the view that it was wrong to judge contests, which bring to the fore some art, on the basis of SMS. The legends in the field should judge the participants,” he said, adding that the SMS-based voting system has completely divided the country.

He said instead of organising such shows, the people feel that shows based on the lives of people working at the grassroots level should be aired.

Awareness on various environmental issues - global warming, conservation of water, preservation of rare flora and fauna - should be spread. He said, in the present times, the country was already passing through a difficult phase with lot of communal forces trying to divide the country. In such an hour an attempt should be made to bring all the communities together on one platform rather than splitting them on the basis of region and religion. Highlighting another problem, Babbar alleged that market was flooded with spurious ghee and synthetic milk.



Presenting, the soft side of turbanators 
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 7
Macho and handsome - you would imagine a Mr Singh to be just that, but now, perhaps, it is time for you to update your vocabulary. The 30 contestants for the second Mr Singh International contest would make you use a different set of words - soft spoken, articulate and presentable.

The day starts early for the contestants, who have to hit the gym at 5 am, followed by “gurmat” classes, lessons in “gatka” (traditional warfare), theatre workshop, table manners…till they are too tired to go on and retire to bed around midnight.

The contest, organised by Akal Purakh Ki Fauj, was launched in 2005, with an aim to popularise the Sikh tenants, especially sporting of turban among Sikh youths settled across the world. The finale would be staged at Khalsa College on December 15.

Tarundeep Singh, assistant coordinator of the training programme, says the training process is very intensive to make sure that the contestants work on every aspect of their personality.

“Classes on Sikh religion are part of the module to make sure that the boys understand their religion,” he says.

It is a coveted contest and the winner would get a chance to star in the Punjabi film to be produced by Akal Purakh Ki Fauj. Endorsements would also come his way as the contest also has an emotional value and Mr Singh would be a representative of the community.

The contestants are already speaking the pageant-language. “Winning or losing does not matter. The whole training process has been very enriching,” they say pretty convincingly.

Damandeep Singh of Pathankot, a qualified engineer, says he slowly got used to the tough, disciplined schedule. “Public speaking is one area where every contestant has shown tremendous improvement.

The training also combines religion and personality development, which has lifted our spirits,” he says. “I have always loved ‘bhangra’ and other extra-curricular activities. The training has not only honed these skills but has also focused on attributes like table manners, communication and confidence,” adds Manpreet Singh of Jalandhar.

Jaswinder Singh Jassi, public relations officer of the Fauj, says unlike the first show, the Mr Singh International contest has ceased to be a local affair. “Last time we had about 1,200 applicants but this time over 2,000 youths showed interest in participating. We also have a contestant all the way from the United States,” he says. “Credit also goes to the main sponsor Frankfinn, which has arranged professional trainers for the contestants,” he says.

Sarabjit Singh Kualtra of Frankfinn, who is giving personality development training, says even while the contestants are casually sitting, taking lunch, they prefer to talk in English. “Even for those who are not crowned, personality development is something that would pay off in every aspect of life. Once the contestants understood this, they went the extra mile to pick up the lessons,” he says.

The Akal Purkh Ki Fauj is headed by SGPC member Jaswinder Singh Advocate, who took upon himself the task of popularising the turban among the Sikh youths. On the initiative to organise the contest, he says it was aimed at infusing a sense of pride regarding the turban amongst Sikh youngsters. “It will reinforce the pride in being a Sikh. It will also provide a platform for the Sikh youngsters to join the world of international fashion, while keeping their identity intact,” he says. The Mr Sikh International contest is one of the half-a-dozen events organised by the Akal Purakh Ki Fauj as part of its Turban Pride Movement.



Cold Calling
Why you have to take a chill pill here?
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 7
Amritsar leaves many surprised when it surpasses Shimla in the minimum temperature column in the winters.

It happened a few days ago, when the holy city was the coldest place in plains with a minimum temperature of 5.5 degrees Celsius as foggy conditions prevailed in many parts of Punjab where at the same time, Shimla recorded a minimum temperature of 9.9 degree Celsius, four degrees above normal.

Amritsar has often attracted attention for being the coldest place in the plains. The reasons for this are related to both geography and location.

According to the meteorological observatory at the Amritsar International Airport, Rajasansi, which monitors the daily temperature and weather conditions, though there are no scientific explanations for the city being the coldest in the winter, the city’s location at the foothills of the Himalayas does make the difference.

However, the airport authorities feel that huge air mass spread over hundred to one thousand square km moves towards low pressure area from the cold regions of Dhauladhar and Kashmir. It descends on this area bringing the temperature down. They add that the phenomenon of excessive dew, especially during the months of September and October, also brings down the ground temperature at night.

The second logical explanation given by geographical experts is that the city is situated between the two major rivers, the Ravi and Beas, which flow into this region through the Himalayas, and bring with them cold and breezy water gushing from the heights.

The river creates a funnel kind of a corridor phenomenon, which also brings in cold condition whenever there is a heavy snowfall in the hills at Shimla or Kashmir. Sometime, the temperature in the city falls below normal in comparison to Shimla and Srinagar during the months of December and January. This could be described as the cold winds with huge air mass flowing into this corridor created by the vicinity of the two major rivers.



China controls Indian flight
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 7
Maneuvering a kite through the congested neighbourhood rooftops is an art perfected over years. And to tangle the kite string with that of another experienced kite flier at the risk of losing it all is no ordinary child’s play.

Those obsessed with kite flying would know that the kite strings are a crucial aspect in winning a contest. The sharper the string, the better it is. So, this season, it is the Chinese-made kite strings which have become a rage with kite fliers, especially in the walled city areas of the city.

The rubber-line strings are finer than the regular local brands and come with a lower price tag. “While a charkhi of Chinese door starts from Rs 180 onwards, the local ones come at a minimum price of Rs 210,” says Jagmohan Kanejia, who has been in the business kites for two decades and runs a shop in Basant Avenue.

However, this is a flip side to it. The Chinese strings are hard to handle. Being a bit too fine, the imported brands can leave scars all over your hand, which take time to heal.

“Most customers who were initially very excited about the Chinese strings are gradually coming back to the local brands. Some of the younger customers even complain that they could not attend school because of cuts on their fingers,” he says.

Besides, tunka or giving soft jerks to the string while the kite is in the air is not possible in Chinese strings because of its elastic texture. “This takes away most of the excitement of kite flying. Without the tunka, this string is not the solo flier’s cup of tea and is suited only for those keen on playing tangling,” he says.

Kite sellers are of the view that the Chinese strings come laced with a metallic material, which makes it stronger and relatively harder to cut with another string in flight. That is why it is only the die-hard lover of Chinese strings who are sticking to it despite the problems it comes with.

The Chinese strings were introduced in Amritsar last year and had sold like hot cakes. However, this year, the sales have dipped a bit. “The Chinese brands had also hit the business of us local string and kite makers and we had to rely only on the wholesale margin. But now the local makers are again smiling as the clientele has got divided between the two makes,” he says.



‘Sat Sri Akal’ likely to hit theatres on Baisakhi
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 7
Dedicated to the 300th anniversary of Gurta Gaddi Diwas of Guru Granth Sahib, “Sat Sri Akal”, a socio-religious Punjabi movie, would have a “Sabat Surat Sikh” as a hero and is likely to be released on Baisakhi next year.

Perhaps this would be the first commercial film to have a “Sabat Surat Sikh”. Another unique aspect of the movie is that it is being produced by the Chandigarh-based Mata Tripta Charitable Trust which had earlier produced a telefilm “Sada Chir Jeevo”. The proceeds from the movie would be used for the charitable works of the trust.

“This is a movie with a cause,” said Arvinderjit Singh, chief trustee, accompanied by Bhoopinder Bhupi, choreographer and secretary general of the trust. Famous Punjabi actor, producer and writer Vijay Tandon also accompanied them.

The movie would cost about Rs 2 crore till its completion. They said almost 75 per cent of the film had already been shot in various places of Punjab, Chandigarh, Sri Hazoor Sahib, Sri Bangla Sahib, Manali and Mumbai. The crew of the film was here to shoot the climax of the film at the Golden Temple.

Manpreet Singh and Kimi would play the lead in the movie, while TV personalities and Bollywood stars, Arun Bali, Avtar Gill, Dolly Mattoo and Vivek Shauq are the others among the main cast of the film.

The film is being directed by Kamal Sahani. Bhoopinder said the movie had seven “shabads”, besides other songs. Jagjit Singh, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sunidhi Chauhan, Alka Yagnik, Abhijit, Sadhana Sargam and Krishna had rendered their voices to the film. He said Jagjit Singh, Kavita and other singers had recorded the “shabads” in the film bare-footed and with their heads covered. Babu Singh Mann is the lyricist.

The film would be released all over the world, including Canada, the USA, the UK, Delhi and Punjab, around Baisakhi next year.

Later it would be released in smaller territories of the country. 

About protagonists

Kimi, who shot to recognition with movies like “Nasibo”, “Jee Ayan Nu” and “Asan Nu Maan Watna Da” with  Harbhajan Mann, said movies like “Sat Sri Akal” are good  for the Punjabi film industry. She said recently a Punjabi  film festival was held which showed that slowly and steadily efforts of the different directors and well wishers of the  Punjabi film industry were bearing fruit and it was once again holding its ground, which was lost due to the ignorant attitude of the authorities concerned.

She said she was playing the role of Harman, a modern girl in the film who renewed her faith in family values and religion. It’s a family drama with a difference, she added.

Manpreet Singh, who plays the male lead in the film and has also worked in television serials like “Yeh Meri Life Hai” and “Desh Mein Nikla Hoga Chand”, said difficulties were always there in the beginning. You have to struggle to get roles when the lead usually doesn’t offer a challenging character. Manpreet claimed that he was now getting roles. After playing the roles of an inspector and a journalist, he got this role.



SAGA 2007
Gurseema bags ‘She Khalsa’ title
P.K. Jaiswar

Amritsar, December 7
A local girl, Gurseema, bagged the “She Khalsa” title, while California resident Sarabjit Singh bagged the “He Khalsa” title in the Spiritual and General Ability (SAGA) - 2007 contest organized by the Kes Sambhal Prachar Sanstha (KSPS) here to inculcate social values among the youth of the Sikh community.

Reality Show “Star Voice of India” winner Ishmeet Singh and Punjabi folk singer Gurmeet Bawa were present on the occasion.

Fifty candidates - 25 girls and 25 boys - from various parts of the state, including Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Delhi and abroad participated in the contest. Dressed up in Punjabi attires, they showcased their talent by walking on the ramp.

The pre-final rounds of the competition were held by four units of the sanstha located in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Delhi. J.S. Paul, chief patron of the KSPS, said most of the boys and girls competing in the contest belonged to the middle-class strata of the society.

He said the main aim of the contest was to raise the level of confidence among the Sikh youth so that they could participate in various competitions being held all over the country and abroad. There were four stages of the contest - personality round, talent round, answering questions on religions and personality development.

In the fourth round of the unique contest, an “antakshri” of hymns of Japuji Sahib and other Gurbanis was held by the chief trustee of the KSPS between the six candidates selected in the earlier three rounds. The winners of the “He Khalsa” and “She Khalsa” titles were awarded cash prize of Rs 11,000 each, while the first runners-up and second runners-up were given Rs 7,500 and Rs 5,000, respectively.

Meanwhile, Paul said more than 10,000 Sikh youths were being taught the art of tying turban free of cost during five-day camps being organised by the sanstha.

He said the organisation hold such camps at various places outside the state to educate Sikh youth about their religion besides educating them about the rich Indian culture.



Burning passion
S.D. Sharma

Eulogising and singing Punjabi poetic creations of his own and others is the obsession of California-based Pashaura Singh Dhillon, a passionate poet and an architect by profession.In city for an interaction at Randhawa Auditorium, the poet delighted the literary elite with his mellifluous rendition of verses from his latest book Deeva Baleh Samundron Paar and other prominent poets. Sharing his love for literature and music with Lifestyle Tribune, Pashaura Singh opined that the vision, impulse, voice and command over language are the essential merits of a poet.

The poet rendered a classic ghazal by Sukhwinder Amrit. He was at his best as he voiced the anguish of a tormented soul, depicted in poet Sukhbir Sandhu’s ghazal Eh sochda hi sochda kabbe ton mud pya, teri dehleez ton bina sajda karaan ke naa. Because of its felicity of the composition, people often credit this creation to Shiv Batalvi.

The poet asserted that the urge to create is born out of involvement with life in all its manifestations.

“During my childhood in Bhasin Dhilwan, near Lahore, our family turned homeless following the Partition and took refuge in the village of great patriot Sohan Singh Bhakna, hero of Gadar movement who was a messiah for us,” he said. “After securing a degree in agriculture, I d started esigning landscapes for City Beautiful. Later I went for Masters in Landscape Architect from London and took up UN assignments in Nigeria, Tanzania, UK, Dubai and finally settled in California,” he added. But the passion for poetic creations and the invariable adulations from the Punjabi lovers abroad kept me rejuvenated,” he further said.

“While sculpting poetry I am never lost in the world of fantasy rather its capturing the sordid realities of life with honesty and courage which are reflected in the social and intellectual content of my verses, very close to the pulse and heart beat of a Punjabi” claims the poet.



‘BJP-SAD govt has failed miserably’
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 7
The district Congress committee president Malkiat Singh Dakha on Friday said the BJP-SAD combine has failed on all fronts. He was addressing party workers at a district-level meeting which was held here in connection with a Congress conference being organised on December 22. The chief guest of the event would be PPCC chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Dhaka said the alliance made tall promises without knowing the ground reality, as a result they have not been able to fulfill people’s expectations. He further alleged that the Congress workers are being booked under false cases. He appealed the party workers and the leaders to be more active to make the December 22 party conference a success. The meeting, held under the presidentship of S.S. Shahbazpuri, was attended the party was the chief guest in the meeting. 



Spring Dales declared best debating team
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 7
Pranav Malhotra and Tarni Khurana, class XI students of Spring Dale Senior School, won the “Best Debating Team” trophy at 10th International Convention on “Student Quality Control Circles.” As many as 140 schools from over 20 countries took part in the competition held at Lucknow.

Manveen Sandhu, principal of the school, said Pranav Malhotra was awarded the best speaker for the motion and Tarni Khurana was awarded the best speaker against the motion. Out of 63 schools taking part in the debate, Spring Dale Senior School, Amritsar, was declared the ‘The Best Debating Team.’

The quiz team comprising Anirudh and Kartik from the school were ranked 8th in the competition. The school also took part in the collage, poster making, quiz and debate competitions.

Meanwhile, the school also bagged medals at National Rock Climbing Championship organised by Nehru Institute of Mountaineering at Uttarkashi. Rakshak Khanna of class X took part in Youth B Category and won a gold medal for speed climbing, Yamuna Thaapa of VIth standard participated in the sub junior category and won the silver medal for lead climbing. 



NRMU wins railway elections

Amritsar, December 7
The Northern Railway Men’s Union (NRMU) created history by securing about 50 per cent votes and winning in 15 out of the 16 zones in the country in the recently held elections for the recognition of a union under the banner of “one industry, one union”.

This was stated by union divisional president Kirpal Singh Gill in a press conference here. The NRMU thanked its workers and railway employees for extending their support in the elections which were held for the first time in the history of the Railways in the country.

The results of the elections were declared on December 3. Four unions had staked their claims in the elections. The other three unions were Uttariya Railway Mazdoor Union (URMU), Railway Men Union (RMU) and Uttar Railway Karamchari Union (URMU). Gill and Ashok Tejpal of the union assured all the employees that they would fulfil the promises made in their manifesto. — OC



SC decision on teachers hailed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 7
The Punjab Heritage and Education Foundation and Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) welcomed the decision of the supreme court that teachers cannot be allotted non-teaching work.

In a joint press statement, foundation president Prof Gurbax Singh Shergill and vice-president Dr Charanjit Singh Gumtala along with manch president Harbhajan Singh Gill and patron Prof Mohan Singh stated that the decision of the supreme court that teachers could not be allotted work like election duty, population census or Pulse Polio was highly commendable.

The supreme court has given the decision on a petition filed by the election commission challenging the Delhi high court decision on a petition filed by the management of Saint Marie School in which the management challenged the duty of the school staff for elections.

The leaders have demanded that the state government should also relieve all teachers from non-teaching duties and send them to schools immediately so that they can teach students, which is their primary duty. 



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