Neglect a byword for education
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Foggy mornings, hostile weather conditions and powerless classrooms, that’s the state of government schools this winter season in 2008, being observed as the “year of education” in the state.

Whether it is Noorwala village in Panipat where 1,600 students are packed like a tin of sardines in nine rooms or Jalbera’s Government High School (Ambala) where the building, in urgent need of repairs, is practically of no use or Bandaga in Mewat where arriving late is a norm for teachers, students are at the receiving end and studies are being compromised.

In a survey of government schools in various districts, The Tribune team found students sitting in the open, braving the biting cold to attend classes. While teachers sat on their chairs teaching lessons, students had to make do with sitting on mats in classrooms and in corridors to attend classes.

In still other schools, teachers and students arrive at their own convenience to school, unmindful of the reporting time of 8 am. While teachers prefer to take it easy in view of the prevailing weather conditions, the attendance of the students continues to hover around 80 per cent.

One common problem plaguing the schools is that of “powerless” classrooms. With power playing truant and given the foggy conditions in the morning, running the school inside the rooms with near zero visibility and outside in the fog, is a big problem. In dingy classrooms, the writing on the blackboard is practically illegible and students are forced to sit out in the cold where it becomes impossible for them to focus on studies.

In Mewat, though classrooms are aplenty, students choose to bunk school often. At Gorpuri’s primary school, desks and benches are a luxury and limited to one classroom only while Sudaka’s school invariably begins a couple of hours late because transportation is a problem and the teachers cannot make it in time. It, however, gets over at the stipulated time.

If transport is a problem in Mewat, encroachments bug Yamunanagar schools where locals have “usurped” school land to make cowsheds and students literally study in the company of the cattle and garbage.

Already plagued with the paucity of teachers, students of government schools of the district are forced to attend classes in the open and sit on gunny bags and in many cases on the cold concrete floors.

At the government school of Marwakalana village in Bilaspur block, buffaloes dot the school compound and teachers spend the better part of their period shooing away the cattle. The Head teacher, Parvesh Kumari, said a few days ago two buffaloes went berserk and the students had to run for their lives.

In Aamwali, both roads leading to the school have been encroached upon by villagers and are lined with garbage dumps. Moreover, basic amenities like toilets, drinking water are practically non-existent in this school, which is without a boundary wall and surrounded by a slum.

While the situation of primary schools appears worse than the middle and high schools, proper water supply, power, classrooms and play grounds are too much to ask for.

In Sirsa, if Bajekan is in dire need of classrooms to accommodate its students, Dhani Satha has only two dingy rooms to house students of the primary school.

Government High School at Noorwala village is bursting at seams, struggling hard to accommodate over 1,600 students. No assembly sessions, crowded rooms and the holding of classes on the rooftop and the school’s little compound are the only way to adjust in limited resources. The lack of playground, insufficient furniture and no power is particularly troublesome even where rooms are available when the rains come calling.

Declaring their building as “unsafe” with the roof requiring immediate repairs, the staff at Government High School, Jalbera, says their repeated pleas failed to make any impact. They choose to hold classes in the open for the safety of the students while Dangderi has good student strength but hardly any rooms at its disposal.

Panchkula’s Billa village has frequent complaints of leaking classrooms. On routine days, they are dirty and musty while slightest drizzle is enough to bring the rain right in. Manakya’s primary school has three rooms but six classes to hold. More often than not, the three teachers are forced to hold two classes in one room and the rain only makes matters worse.

With the government ready to loosen its purse strings in the name of education and offering various incentives to encourage learning among students, infrastructural issues, sources say, will hopefully be addressed this year when education is a priority.

(Inputs from Aarti Kapur from Gurgaon, Nishikant Dwivedi from Yamunanagar, Kiran Deep from Sirsa, Vishal Joshi from Panipat, Suman Bhatnagar from Ambala and Arun Sharma from Panchkula)



  Even CM’s village no exception
Sunit Dhawan
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, January 10
Their only fault is that they have chosen their mother tongue over the Queen’s English as their medium of learning. As many as 350-odd boys of a government school in Sanghi, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s ancestral village, are being nearly “penalised” for choosing to study in Hindi. A few months before the final examination, their fate continues to hang in balance and nobody seems to care.

After being “disowned” by their parent school, which was changed to a model “Sanskriti” school last year, these boys are “unwanted burden” being thrust upon a girls’ school. They are being taught in a separate shift even as teachers and villagers claim the academic atmosphere in the girls’ school has been adversely affected.

The downfall began when the state government decided to make one school from every district a model “Sanskriti” school. The boys school was selected for the purpose from Rohtak district.

The boys studying at the school were shown the door. They were eventually sent to Government Girls Senior Secondary School located in the same village.

Initially, these students were accommodated in the same shift as the girls. Girls’ school Principal Anil Sharma asserts that the school staff tried their level best to cope with the situation. “All of them put in sincere efforts by teaching the additional students as well,” he maintains.

Nonetheless, the fact that the teachers shouldered the additional responsibility cannot justify the abrupt decision to burden the school. Moreover, keeping the top and bright students at the model school and sending the remaining ones to the girls’ school also speaks volumes about the callous attitude of the authorities concerned.

Later, on the insistence of the village panchayat and in view of deteriorating atmosphere, the boys were put in a separate shift. Teachers from other schools were brought here on deputation to teach the boys in the evening shift.

The process of arranging teachers was carried out haphazardly and took much time. In the meantime, some teachers who were not willing to work here approached the department authorities and even the court. All this went on for several months, as a result of which the studies suffered a great deal.

According to the district education officer (DEO), Dr Kiranmayee, teaching posts have recently been sanctioned for the school.

However, the evening shift does not have lecturers in English or Geography till date. Neither does it have a regular principal, clerk or even a peon. Due to the lack of a well-defined approach, the future of the boy students of this girls’ school remains uncertain.

A girl student of the school has recently committed suicide, and this incident is being viewed as an outcome of the unhealthy atmosphere prevailing in the temple of education. To prevent the recurrence of such incident and to maintain good results shown by the girls in the past, it is high time that some proper arrangement regarding the boy students is put in place.



Come April, poor to get social security cover
Scheme to provide insurance, maternity benefits and old-age pension to families living below poverty line
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, January 10
Haryana is all set to implement social security scheme of the Rasthriya Swasthya Bima Yojana for workforce in the unorganised sector from April 1. In the first phase, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Yamunanagar and Panipat districts would be covered under the centrally sponsored scheme by early next year along with states of New Delhi, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

According to sources, the scheme seeks to provide health insurance, life and accident insurance, maternity benefits and old-age pension and any other benefits that may be decided by the centre. The much-awaited scheme was mooted under the Unorganised Sector Workers Social Security Bill, 2007, introduced in Parliament in September last year.

Under the scheme, families living below poverty line (BPL) will be covered and the central government would contribute 75 per cent of the premium amount for the next five years. The scheme envisages issuance of a smart card to the beneficiary. Under the current scheme, the total sum insured would be Rs 30,000 per family per annum. The salient features of the scheme include cashless attendance to all covered ailments, hospitalisation expenses, taking care of most common illnesses, all pre-existing diseases and reimbursement of transportation costs within an overall limit of Rs 1,000.

Labour commissioner N.C. Wadhwa said the scheme would not only provide social security to a large number of workforce employed in unorganised sector but also ensure the availability of more workforce to sustain industrialisation in the years to come. The scheme would make Haryana a preferred place to work and motivate more and more state domiciles to get employed within the state.

Wadhwa revealed that Rs 5 crore would be spent under this scheme every year and all districts would be covered in the next five years.



 Bhavan Vidyalaya kids get innovative
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 10
An energy saver chulha devised by students of Bhavan Vidyalaya, Panchkula, will prove useful for the people living at high altitude, who use wood as fuel for cooking. Simultaneously, the chullah, which is a modified version of traditional chullah, can be used as a geyser and roaster.

It will also help in making rooms warm without the risk of carbon monoxide effects. The benefits can be availed by spending merely Rs 1,000 and producing the device at large scale can bring down the cost.

The chulha is designed by Mayank, a student of class IX, and Kanika, a student of class X, under the guidance of their teacher Asha Vashishta.

The students were motivated to invent the chulha making the maximum use of fuel during their visit to Kaza, a remote area in Himachal Pradesh, in the recent past. Each household there uses wood or dung cakes as fuel to cook food, keep houses warm and to get hot water.

Asha says in traditional chullah made of bricks, 2 kg twigs of wood is used to cook meal for four persons while the same amount of fuel in the modified chullah can fulfill many other needs. The size of the chullah can also be modified according to the size of the family, she adds.

The innovative chullah consists of two cylindrical iron tanks filled with water, a wire mesh to light fire, a sliding tray to collect burnt coal, a safety valve, and an insulated tank. The energy saver devise reduces the fuel consumption to at least one-third and utilises heat energy from all directions.

The two water tanks are put on both sides of the chullah instead of bricks. One water tank is connected with water inlet hose while the outlet to water is provided from the other tank where hot water is transferred from the first tank through a pipe, which joins both tanks with each other. A safety valve is fitted with a pipe attached to the hot water tank.

Hot water can be procured from the outlet or it can be collected in an insulated water tank for household activities throughout the day. Burnt coal wood or coal is collected in the sliding tray, which can be used for room heating or roasting vegetables, says the teacher.

The school students have one innovation on the same pattern for the urban areas as well. A tandoor used to prepare chapattis can also be used as geyser.

Creating an additional enclosure along the walls of tandoor the provision can be made to get hot water. The coal procured through the sliding trays can be used for the purpose as in case of chullah, says Asha. 



 Industrial units on way out of Ambala
Suman Bhatnagar

Ambala, January 10
A number of pharmaceutical and mixer/grinder units of Ambala have shifted to Himachal Pradesh during the past three years. This has particularly discouraged other entrepreneurs who wanted to expand their business in this region.

The union government has provided several incentives to new entrepreneurs for setting up their units in specified states, including Himachal Pradesh. Besides this, the state governments too offer a host of benefits.

In addition to the exemption of income tax, central excise duty is also abolished for a specific period in Himachal Pradesh, which is a big boost to the entrepreneurs. Ambala has remained an industrially backward district and no efforts were made to set up industrial units here. Due to limited resources only cottage industry could develop here.

During the last Lok Sabha elections, MP from Ambala and union minister Kumari Sailja had promised to make Ambala an industrial hub, but only negligible efforts have been made.

A few years back Ambala City was known for its mixers and grinders in the country. Around 300 units were functioning here at that time but now only a few units are in existence .The big and resourceful companies have shifted their units to Baddi, Paonta Sahib and other parts of Himachal Pradesh.

Former chairman of the Haryana Chamber of Commerce and Industry Rajinder Nath said Himachal Pradesh had offered a number of incentives to new entrepreneurs. Besides, the power problem was one of the major factors that compelled them to settle in other state.

Similarly, there were as many as 24 pharmaceutical units in Ambala City and Ambala Cantonment having the turnover of around Rs 100 crore which has come down to Rs 10 crore.

General secretary of the Haryana Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association T.C. Kansal said they had been demanding to reduce central excise in Haryana for the past several years, but when the government did not yield the companies shifted their units to Himachal Pradesh. 



 Motoring drives women to training schools
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, January 10
The graph of enrolment of women learners is shooting up in professional driving schools being run in the millennium city. It is now above 50 per cent of the total learners. Interestingly, the age of women who are joining these schools vary from 18 to 58 years.

One of the instructors of Maruti Driving School reveals that the company has started three driving schools in Haryana one each at Faridabad, Panchkula and Gurgaon. Out of these, the enrolment of women at Gurgaon is above 60 per cent whereas at the other two stations.

He says the trend of joining driving schools is picking up at Gurgaon as most of the couples are working and they require independent vehicles to cater to their professional and personnel needs. To become more independent the women are going for such training before taking to driving.

The owner of one of the private driving schools of Gurgaon states earlier only 15-20 women learners were enrolled who only want to learn driving but had no interest in the technicalities of the vehicle. But now the figure has gone up to 20-25 learners a week and these women want to know about the ins and outs of the vehicle as well.

General manager of Apra Auto R.K. Parimoo says the number of the women learners is no doubt at the higher side due to changed lifestyle in the cities. Keeping in view this trend, the company is planning to open 80 driving schools in important cities by the end of this year, he says.

Parimoo further says the cities where the branches are likely to be opened this year are Srinagar, Mysore, Karnal, Rohtak, Patna, Jamshedpur and Baroda.

Meanwhile, Haryana financial commissioner of transport G. Prasanna Kumar while talking to The Tribune said to promote the professional learning of driving, the state government is framing a policy in which private players would be roped in to open driving schools in the state. He said initially five driving schools would be opened one each at Kaithal, Rohtak, Bahadurgarh, Mewat and Madhuban. Except Madhuban training school, all other would be run by private companies and funded by the government.

Kumar revealed that there are plans to open professional driving school in each district of the state. There is also a proposal that the drivers for the Haryana Roadways would be recruited from the professional driving schools so that good drivers could be selected, he added.



 Industrial accidents
Panipat hospitals ill-equipped
Vishal Joshi
Tribune News Service

Panipat, January 10
Even as the state government is encouraging the industries to join the ambitious upcoming petrochemical hub in Panipat, no serious effort has been made for the safety and welfare of hundreds of industrial workers who are functioning at fire-prone workplaces.

Besides major units namely, IOCL refinery and National Fertilisers Ltd, and a thermal power project, there are about 4,000 fire-risk industrial units, comprising of the handloom, dyeing and other related divisions.

Owing to the use of highly inflammable products, including chemicals, petroleum products and a large amount of fabric, in different industries; the risk to the lives of workers always remains high. The local industries are highly vulnerable to fire as scores of these are reportedly not fully equipped with firefighting facilities.

On the other hand, the staff-crunched Bhim Sain Sachhar Civil Hospital and other government-run and private institutions in the nearby districts are not well equipped to treat burn cases. Sources say in the absence of doctors and facilities, the hospital is functioning as a mere referral centre.

Though the building of the burn ward has completed on the civil hospital premises, the architect department has not passed the same due to certain anomalies in the structure.

Keeping in view the probable risk of fire injures from the local industries, a well-equipped dedicated burn ward is a must, say doctors.

The civil hospital functionaries argue that with just existing three doctors on rolls against the sanctioned 12 posts, the hospital cannot handle any such emergency situation related to burn cases.

Last year, victims of Samjhauta Express blasts were rushed to New Delhi, as no quality treatment for the patients was available locally. Similarly, some time back when fire broke out at IOCL refinery, the workers were rushed either to certain local private hospitals or New Delhi.



 Fatehabad cops to ease language tangle
Sushil Manav

Fatehabad, January 10
The police stations in Fatehabad district are in for a pleasant change. The authorities have decided to improve the Hindi language used by police officials while performing their duties like registering an FIR or writing an official letter.

The police department has now decided to shun the use of heavy and cumbersome Urdu words while writing reports in Hindi. The step has been taken on the directions of the inspector-general of police (Hisar) A.K. Dhull, who has not only directed the superintendents of police falling under his range to ensure that only Hindi words are used in official work but has also supplied a list of around 200 Urdu words, commonly used in police parlance, with their Hindi synonyms.

The IG has said the government of India has issued directions time and again to adopt Hindi language in official works, but the police continued to take advantage of Urdu words in their Hindi correspondence, which is not correct.

SP Saurabh Singh said arrangement had been made to display the Hindi synonyms of all Urdu words used in police parlance on notice boards in all police stations and police posts in the district so that the officials did not face any difficulty in finding proper Hindi words for the Urdu words in practice.

The move will not be beneficial to the general public, who found it hard to understand the contents of FIRs but it would also come in handy for judges, advocates and officials working in courts, who are always seen struggling to comprehend the meaning of some words.



 Haryanavi films have ‘limited scope’
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hisar, January 10
Not many Bollywood producers are willing to take the risk of making a Haryanavi film, says noted film actor Yash Pal Sharma of Lagaan fame.

Yash Pal, who hails from this town, was here to meet his parents on his way to Chandigarh for the shooting of Akshay Kumar starrer “Singh is King”. Katrina Kaif, Om Puri and Javed Jaffery are other co-stars in this film.

He says Haryanavi films are not being even considered seriously in Bollywood because of their limited appeal. “A Haryanavi film needs fast dances and lots of raw humour. That was what made ‘Chandrawal’ successful. However, after that no one is prepared to take the risk.”

Yash Pal says he would love to do more meaningful roles than he has played so far adding that since he is greatly influenced by the likes of Balraj Sahni, Om Puri and Naseerudin Shah, he would naturally want to play diverse characters.

Regarding his tag of a villain, he says in Bollywood success is what determines your career. And there is no harm if a negative role brings fame to you. But the industry never ignores talent and he is sure he will do serious roles too.

The actor, who is an avid cricketer and was also an important member of Aamir Khan’s rustic cricket team in Lagaan, is highly critical of the lack of sportsmen spirit among the Australian cricket team in the current test series. He says he is shocked to see biased umpiring in the Sydney test and the attitude of Ricky Ponting and his men. “Cricket is a gentleman’s game and it must be kept so under any circumstances”.



 Haryana Delicacies
It’s hard to resist Hansi’s pedas
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hansi, January 10
Haryanavis are born with a sweet tooth and nothing satiates their hunger for sweets more than the famous Hansi pedas. For close to a century, this confection has maintained its originality and quality.

The delicacy was introduced by a father-son team Duni Chand and Chhabil Das and the former’s great grandsons are still in the same business. Deepak Mittal, who now manages the business, says the secret of their success has been the uncompromising quality though at the cost of limited production.

Hansi’s pedas are prepared early in the morning under the supervision of Deepak and his brother. “Though we have trained persons to help us, we never let them prepare pedas in our absence. That’s the way my great grandfather ran his business and we maintain that tradition”, he says.

Milk quality is what makes these pedas unique. So, the day’s production depends on availability of quality milk. In summers availability is low and thus the counters of three Duni Chand Chhabil Das peda outlets in the town are emptied before noon itself. But production is higher in winters and one has a better chance of buying these till the afternoon. This ensures that you either get fresh pedas or not at all.

Hansi peda is different from Mathura peda both in colour and texture. While Mathura and Vrindavan pedas are light brownish in colour, Hansi peda is milky white and granular with a mild flavour of cardamom. It can keep for weeks, but it is best enjoyed fresh.

Several Duni Chand Chhabil Das clones have come up over the years where pedas are available anytime. But the quality is not the same. Deepak explains: “Our process is so slow that mass production is just not possible. Other peda outlets use milk powder or mass-produced khoa for making pedas. So they can produce more but at the cost of quality”.

Hansi’s pedas are popular among Haryanavis settled in the UK and the US. Relatives visiting NRI Haryanavis place orders weeks in advance.

Recently, the Trade Fair Authority of India approached Deepak for putting up a stall at the just concluded trade fair in Delhi. “We politely refused because we could not have prepared the quantity required for such a fair. We then recommended the second best producer in Hansi who put up a stall there”, Deepak said.

Duni Chand’s successors have since added gajarpak to their menu, which has earned the same reputation as pedas again because of stringent quality control. “After all we have to guard a century-old reputation”, says Deepak.



 Inside Babudom
New appraisal system on anvil
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
While periodic attempts are made to manage the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) cadre on scientific lines, the Haryana Civil Service (HCS) continues to be the poor cousin of the premier service.

About 15 years ago when P. Chidambaran was the union minister in charge of the department of personnel, the annual confidential report (ACR) form for IAS officers underwent a change, aimed at bringing in the concept of self-appraisal by the officers.

Last year, the ACR form for the IAS was changed to that of the performance appraisal report, which was communicated to the IAS officers so that they could improve on their deficiencies.

But no such exercise was ever undertaken for the HCS officers after the state came into existence in 1966.

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was keen that the HCS cadre, which provides the cutting teeth to the administrative set up, should also be scientifically managed, which would free the service from political interference, at least to some extent.

Chief secretary Promila Issar, principal secretary to Chief Minister M.L. Tayal and special secretary, political and services Dheera Khandelwal, put their heads together to carry out the wish of the Chief Minister.

Informed sources say they have now come out with a performa which has elements of the ACR as well as those of the performance appraisal report for the HCS officers. The new system is likely to be implemented immediately.

In another move, it has been decided to change the gradation lists for the IAS and HCS officers. Now, besides particulars like the date of birth, batch and the native place of the officers, the gradation lists will also have their photographs.



  Writer who sells guns
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, January 10
Having the essential traits of a creative litterateur Sirsa-based playwright, storywriter and poet Sukhchain Singh Bhandari has been able to score over his contemporaries.

What keeps him a cut above the rest is his ability to sculpt and stage meaningful dramas, especially for the radio, besides scribbling ghazals, short stories and books on humor for children and elders both in Hindi and Punjabi with an admirable competence.

Credited with six each short story collections and drama books with one each ghazal and humor for children and elders his best is yet to come. His literary works are richly laced with subtle metaphors, allegories and suffused with native vigour with an in depth appeal for didactic awakening. “And out of my 15 literary creations seven had won prestigious state awards instituted by the Haryana Sahitya Akademy and Haryana Punjabi Sahit Akademy while many had been translated in different languages,” claims the septuagenarian Bhandari, old in wisdom and young in spirits.

He shared his literary voyage, which, in fact, is a rare phenomenon of contradictory attributes as Bhandari is striking an appreciable balance between his passion for creative writing and profession of selling arms and ammunitions to valid license holders at his Bhandari Gun House, Sirsa.

He proudly made a mention of his latest book “Bonney Rishtey” which he remarked in lighter vein, had been actually penned under the shadows of his own guns in his commercial office. A collection of four radio plays, “Bonney Rishtey” is an insight into the fractured relations of a young couple, acrimonious trifles in daily life, the rampant dowry menace ailing the society and the daily fights on petty domestic problems. The award winning script had been published by C.R. Moudgil, director, Haryana Punjabi Sahit Akademy.

Born at Mintgoomri (now in Pakistan), Bhandari’s family settled at Sirsa where he had his schooling before completing postgraduation in Punjabi literature from Punjabi university, Patiala. During his formative years at Government College, Sirsa, he sculpted and directed plays playing male lead roles. His theatrical potential rose to national eminence as Bhandari created history by winning the All India Radio’s coveted first prize for four years in succession (1961 to 1964) as a playwright. All these plays were translated in all regional languages and broadcasted later, he disclosed. 



Citizens’ Grievances
‘Unfair’ pension policy

The old formula for calculating the value of commuted pension is made applicable to government employees retiring on or after October 31, 2006. Whereas this facility has not been extended to employees retiring between April 2003 and October 31, 2006. I retired from the PSEB on December 31, 2004, and thus could not avail this facility. I request the Punjab government to look into the matter and extend the privilege to the pensioners retiring between this period, as they suffer financial loss for no fault of theirs.

V.K. Kalia, Karnal

Service, Citibank style

The use of Indian Oil Mastercard of Citibank will be fraught with the risk of falling in the trap of age old ‘sahukara system’ was beyond my comprehension when I opted for it 10 years ago. Despite regular payments the bank levied interest charges for no fault of mine. All my requests fall on deaf ears. It appears that the bank is more concerned with snatching an opportunity to pin you down with exorbitant rates of interest and other charges rather than providing efficient and satisfactory customer service.

J.C Sharma, Panchkula





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 |