L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Custom spells their doom
A family of four fell victim to AIDS after a widow followed the custom of marrying the younger brother of her husband who died of AIDS
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
The custom of marrying a widow to the younger brother of the deceased has landed a family with AIDS.

For the family of Lalton Kalan village this custom has proved to be a disaster. Except for a 10-year-old boy and his grandparents, all four family members are infected with HIV.

The unfortunate couple and their children -- a two-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son -- feel they are doomed.

Harpreet Kaur (name changed) married a daily wage earner 12 years ago and gave birth to a boy, who is now 10 years old.

After four years of marriage, her husband died and they later learnt that he had died of AIDS.

After his death, Harpreet Kaur was married to his younger brother. She had two children from her second marriage.

They came to know about AIDS only when all four started suffering from a similar ailment. A doctor suggested them to get a blood test done, which confirmed they were HIV positive.

The case came to the notice of Jagjit Singh Mann, president of the Punjab Networking for Positive People. “Initially, I had a tough time convincing the family as the husband became a drug addict soon after he came to know that he was HIV+ and the family did not have enough money for the treatment. Moreover, they were reluctant to admit publicly that they were suffering from this disease.

“I told them that I could help them in getting free treatment only if they cooperated,” he said. He convinced them that they could still spend 10 to 15 years of healthy life if they regulated their diet and took timely medication.

“This is a glaring example of how customs and ignorance can further compound the AIDS crisis. It shows the inefficiency of the Punjab State AIDS Control Society as it has failed to provide proper treatment and encouragement to those affected,” Mann said.



Power Tariff
Industry threatens stir
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
The local industry has threatened to launch an agitation against the state government if the electricity board continued to send e-bills as per the increased tariff.

“During a meeting with our association, the Chief Minister had accepted our demand that bills should not be based on revised tariff. The meeting was held two months ago and was attended by Cabinet minister Hira Singh Gabria, chief parliamentary secretary Harish Rai Dhanda, MP Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, H.S. Sekhon, technical member operation, PSEB, and Y.S. Ratra, chairman of the PSEB, among others,” said Charanjit Singh Vishwakarma, president of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.

The association said the revised tariff was being charged in e-bills. Criticising the government for its failure to keep its promise, the association said there was resentment among consumers.

“The government should direct the PSEB to refund the excess amount charged from consumers,” the association said, adding that if it did not happen this way, it would launch an agitation.



SAD leader ‘misbehaves’ with naib tehsildar
Patwaris, deed writers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 19
A local SAD leader allegedly misbehaved with a naib tehsildar and threatened to kill him on Wednesday. Though the matter was reported to the police on the same day but case has not been registered till now.

Officials and activists of the Patwari Union and the Deed Writers Association staged a dharna to urge the police to register a criminal case against the leader and his associates.

Rupinder Manku, naib tehsildar at Koom Kalan, alleged that SAD leader Sukhdev Singh Namdhari had misbehaved and threatened to shoot him, at his office on Wednesday. However, the SAD leader while denying the allegations leveled against him, alleged that he ( naib tehsildar) had demanded a bribe for getting his work done and staged dharna after he refused to pay the amount on Wednesday.

Though, the Punjab Revenue Officers Union, the parent association of the complainant, was yet to come out in naib tehsildar’s support, a few activists of the patwari union and the deed-writers union staged a dharna at sub-tehsil complex yesterday. Accusing the police of acting under political pressure, the activists demanded action against the SAD leader and his associates.

However the dharna was lifted after the police initiated probe into the incident.

Gurmel Singh, who has been entrusted the task of investigating the case, told Ludhiana Tribune that the official and the leader had leveled allegations and counter-allegations against each other. A case would be registered after seeking opinion from the legal authorities.

According to him, Rupinder Manku had accused Sukhdev Singh of using unparliamentarily language and pointing revolver at him.

“When I refused to oblige and do illegal work he wanted, he started abusing and even threatened me,” Manku told Gurmel Singh. He further alleged that Sukhdev Singh had pointed the revolver at him inside his office on Wednesday.

Shukhdev Singh, on the other hand, accused the revenue official of exploiting his official position by trying to implicate him in the false case. Denying charges leveled against him, Sukhdev Singh told Gurmel, “Though I had paid substantial amount to him on pretext of ‘unavoidable expenses’ earlier, he demanded more money from me on Wednesday. When I showed my inability to pay more, he threatened to involve me in a false case and staged drama of being misbehaved,” Sukhdev told the police, demanding registration of a case against the official.

Gurmel Singh claimed that the investigation report had been forwarded to higher authorities for getting legal opinion. 



Panchayat panel to gherao CM
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
The panchayat association, Punjab, has threatened to gherao Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, acting SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and others if their “genuine” demands are not met with within a month.

President of the state unit of the association Sukhdev Singh announced this after a state-level rally organised at the local grain market. A large number of panchayat association activists and that of allied organisations took part in it.

The association was particularly peeved at the recent government’s decision for changing the mode for the head of the village panchayat.



PAUTA lambasts leaders over pension
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
In a letter written to MP Sharanjit Singh Dhillon and chief parliamentary secretary Harish Rai Dhanda, the Punjab Agricultural University Teachers’ Association (PAUTA) today said the issue of pension could be resolved immediately if leaders showed willingness.

The members appreciated both Dhillon and Dhanda for giving a hearing to pensioners’ grievances during their rally on January 14.

They said both leaders blamed university for creating “mess and mismanagement of funds” but it does not mean that government should sleep over the matter and allow the university to deteriorate to the point of no-return.

The letter said PAU authorities as well as various employees’ association/ unions had been asking the government to provide budgetary support to the depleting funds of pension for the past six years, which had been repeatedly denied by the state government.

The letter said: “As you commented that holding rallies and raising anti-government slogans would not help solve the problem. Well Sir, what option do we exercise when all negotiations become futile? The rally was the fallout of failed efforts to persuade people at the helm of affairs (including the chief minister) to support and bail out the university from the current crisis. The government at one point agreed for financial grant but later backed out. The rally was a compulsion imposed on pensioners and was held to express their resentment and disbelief on non-payment of pension. It was rightly supported by all serving employees of the university.

“The question is whether the government will realise its responsibility and provide funds immediately or whether it will allow further deterioration and lingering on of the prevailing situation, thus inviting litigation by pensioners and ultimately legal selling off of PAU assets to pay the pension. Here lies our suspicion and mistrust. We feel that the lethargic approach of the government is deliberate so as to push the PAU into a financial mess where it has no option but to toe the government line of commercialisation of PAU lands. Honourable representatives, you should play a positive and leading role to dispel the fear of current uncertainties.”

PAUTA members Dr M.S. Mahal and Mukesh Siag further added that the major excuse that government was starved of funds too ran contrary to government liberal perusal of new development projects and doling out subsidies. “PAU seems to be no longer a priority of the government, which is quite in contrast to this government’s claim of being pro-farmer,” they said.



Execute policy drafted for bus operators: Union 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
Mini bus operators today urged the government to ensure speedy implementation of the new policy for mini buses, which has already been drafted.

At the Ludhiana Mini Bus Owners Association meeting held here today, operators from all over the state discussed issues plaguing this sector. While condemning the plying of auto-rickshaws outside the corporate limits that too without permits, the association stated that these should be immediately stopped as it was resulting in heavy losses to the mini-bus operators.

Talking about the policy, Jaswinder Singh Grewal, district president of the association, said: “There are over 5,500 mini buses in the state, including a large number of small operators. The policy, which has already been drafted, should be implemented at the earliest for the benefit of this sector. It is our long pending demand and the government should pay heed to it.”

Sahiber Singh, president of the Jagraon unit of the association, said there was a need to check the practise of not paying the bus fares and manhandling of mini bus drivers and conductors.

Surjit Singh Moyeta, general secretary, Punjab, Harinder Sharma, president, Harmit Singh from Pampura Phull, Jarnail Singh Patti, Darshan Singh Billa, Lachhman Singh and Tarlok Singh were among others present on the occasion.



Khamano to have biomass power plant 
Our Correspondent

Khamano, January 19
Lakshmi Energy and Foods would shortly open a 30 MW biomass power plant. This was stated in a meeting of all stakeholders. The meeting was presided over by chairman of the Lakshmi Group Balbir Singh Uppal. MLA Jagjivan Singh Khirnian was also present on the occasion.

Uppal said the plant would be less polluting then the present one. The company would also take up social issues like education, employment besides the health and agriculture sector. Harbant Singh, B.K. Dhawan and G.S Dhiman addressed the stakeholders.

Social, environmental and economical impacts of the project were discussed by Karan Sharma, head, CDM of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and industry (FICCI), New Delhi, and officers of the Lakshmi group. D.K. Dhawan, CEO, spoke on steps taken for transforming agriculture, education, health and development for the overall development of villages falling under Khamano subdivision. The company would pump substantial amount for the benefit of farmers. Dhawan said officials would shortly meet the deputy commissioner of Fatehgarh Sahib, dean, Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, principal of the local government school in this regard.

Stakeholders also passed a resolution for giving 24-hour power supply to villages falling under the Khamano subdivision. Janak Singh Uppal, executive director, LEAF, Harbhinder Singh, president, Khamano nagar panchayat, and a few others were also present at the meeting. 



Government to recruit safai karamcharis: Kalia
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
The government has decided to launch cleanliness drives in all major cities and towns of the state.For this,the government has decided to shortly recruit sweepers on regular basis. He even assured that all genuine demands of the sanitary inspectors would be fulfilled. A meeting in this regard would shortly be organised.Representatives of association and local bodies would take part in the meeting.

This was stated by Manoranjan Kalia at a function organised by the sanitary inspector’s association,Punjab,here today. He also released the diary and calendar of the association for 2008 on the occasion. 



Joginder Panday remembered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
Nehru Sidhant Kender Trust commemorated the 21st death anniversary of Shaheed Joginder Pal Panday here today. The samaroh was largely attended.

Rakesh Panday, former minister of state, accompanied by his brother and other family members paid tribute to Joginder Pal Panday.

Floral tributes were paid by Prem Aggarwal, general secretary of the trust and other trustees. He described Joginder Panday as a dynamic leader who, during the days of terrorism, strove hard for the unity of the country.

If Punjabis were leading a peaceful life, it was due to the sacrifices of men like Shaheed Panday, he said.

D.B. Sharma, organising secretary of the trust, highlighted the qualities of Shaheed Panday and said he had shown the path of bravery and patriotism.



US scientists visit PAU, discuss water issues 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
For exploring the possibilities of scientific collaboration aimed at enhancing water resource management on a sustainable basis, an 11-member delegation of US scientists participated in a two-day agricultural knowledge initiative project workshop on sustainable water resource management at the PAU, which concluded today.

Delegate members, led by Dr Wendy Graham, director, Water Institute, University of Florida (UF), held meetings with Dr G.S. Chahal, dean, College of Agriculture, PAU.

Dr Graham said water was the number one issue in agriculture and emphasised on a systematic effort for addressing the issue.

The project also has a provision for the exchange of graduate students to undertake part of their degree programme at the UF in the US.

Dr Chahal viewed the project as an important step towards a long-term relationship in solving water management problems.

Dr Ramesh Reddy of soil and water sciences at the UF said there were many opportunities of a collaboration between the PAU and the UF on capacity building and mobilising assistantship for students in agricultural schools on need-based subjects.

Dr S.K. Mann, dean, postgraduate studies, highlighted the need for student exchange by developing a system of courses and research at participating institutes.

Dr Chahal said the PAU had already established facilities for distance learning in collaboration with Iowa State University.

Dr Reddy said the entire degree programme could be handled online.

The delegates were honoured with mementoes by the Ludhiana chapter of the Indian Society of Soil Science.

Dr V. Beri, head, department of soils, said the workshop had been organised as part of a collaborative research and education project between the US and India.

Giving details of the workshop, Dr S.K. Jalota said the workshop covered deliberations on specific researchable areas, including water resource management, water quality and remediation, use of simulation models in water resource-agricultural-eco management and improved water and nutrient use efficiency.


Prof Paul Moughan from Massey University, New Zealand, is on a 15-day visit to Punjab Agricultural University to pursue research collaboration with food and nutrition scientists of the university.

Dr Moughan is a nutrition scientist and member of the FAO/WHO/UNU expert committee on protein and amino acid requirement in human nutrition.

Dr Moughan met the vice-chancellor yesterday and discussed the possibilities of exchange of postgraduate students and scientists of the two universities.

He also delivered a lecture on functional foods to postgraduate students of department of foods and nutrition, College of Home Science, and dietitians of the city.

Citing example of peptides, Dr Moughan discussed the research endeavours by Massey University and the researchable areas needing collaboration before the PAU and Massey University by the department of foods and nutrition.

Dr Neelam Grewal, dean, college of home science, PAU, said the exchange of ideas with Dr Moughan and brainstorming session with select researchers would not only strengthen research programmes with Massey University but also give an impetus to the PAU research endeavour in the area of foods and nutrition.



From Schools
Gurleen creates best rangoli
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
A rangoli competition was held at Guru Nanak Public School here today. Thirty-two pupils of class 5 took part in the competition.

The ground was tastefully decorated by students with their rangolis. They created intricate floral, geometrical and traditional designs to exhibit their skills.

Coloured chalks, sawdust, mirrors, petals, rice, etc. were used.

Principal R.S. Gill, headmistress Pamela Lotey graced the occasion.

The function concluded with a prize distribution ceremony.

Gurleen Kaur came first followed by Harleen Kaur and Jasdeep Singh. Two consolation prizes were given to Noorinder Singh and Guntaas Kaur. Certificates were given to the students.

Declamation contest

The PTA of SDP Senior Secondary School hosted Ram Lal Bhasin Memorial Inter-School’s declamation contest here today. The contest was held in memory of Ram Lal Bhasin, a freedom fighter and philanthropist, at SDP School.

Raman Aggarwal, DGM, Union Bank of India, was the chief guest. The president of the SDP Sabha and Institutions, Balraj Kumar Bhasin, presided over the function.

About 15 schools of the city participated in the contest. Rohit of KVM, Karan and Prince of SAN Jain School and Shallza of Greenland school stood first, second and third, respectively, in the declamation contest.

Principal Jasveer Singh Chauhan highlighted the life of Ram Lal Bhasin.

The chief guest gave away the running trophy to SAN Jain Senior Secondary School and other prizes to winners.

Balraj Bhasin motivated students to inculcate a competitive spirit.



From Colleges
Placement drive on RIMT campus
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, January 19
RIMT-Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), Mandi Gobindgarh, organised a pool placement drive for Gurgaon-based Wipro Infotech Ltd in which students from over 50 colleges took part.

Welcoming company officials, group chairman Hukam Chand Bansal said the company offered integrated IT solutions.

Principal Dr Pritpal Singh welcomed the company officials. He said the company was offering MS course from BITS, Pilani, which would not only help students grow professionally but also academically.

Training and placement department head Harmit Singh Taluja said the company had invited colleges from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to take part in the drive.

He added that another campus drive by the company would be held on January 24 for BTech students.

Vice-principal Prof Harsh Sadawarti said more software and engineering companies would visit the campus in the near future.

Magic show

Desh Bhagat Institute of Management and Computer Sciences organised a magic show for students and faculty members in association with the local unit of the Lions Club at auditorium of the DBIMCS campus today.

Inaugurating the show, institute chairman Dr Zora Singh and general Shalini Gupta said the show was organised to help the needy, as the proceeds would go to the poor through the Lions Club.

Gupta said magic was a fading art form and organising such shows was an effort to educate younger generation on art.

Magicians G.C. Sarkar, Mogambo and Jadugar Kumar Pasha performed their tricks and kept the audience captivated.


Ludhiana: GGN Institute of Management and Technology (GGNIMT) organised a workshop on “Resume preparation and interview guidance” for MBA and MCA students here today.

Gaurav Garg, CEO of Shake Hand-Public Solutions, was the guest speaker.

Garg gave students tips on drafting resume and winning over the interviewer.

He advised students to make a covering letter along with the resume mentioning candidate’s name, position applied for, name of the company, etc.

He added that the resume should be a well-structured description of one’s profile, including data on personal information, professional objective, educational qualification, computer skills, extracurricular activities, experience and references.

He suggested students to dress appropriately for the interview.

He emphasised the importance of parameters like eye contact, body language and expressions during an interview. The workshop concluded with a round of mock interviews.

Institute director Kuldip Singh and co-ordinator Gunwant Singh Dua thanked the resource person.



PAU feels the pinch; Centre yet to pay Rs 70 cr 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 19
Who will lessen the financial loss suffered by Punjab Agricultural University? This is the most-debated topic on the campus. The university, being the state-funded one, is solely dependent on the financial grants provided by the government. Thus, none other than the state government can only mitigate the loss suffered by it.

However, its attitude towards the university has so far been lukewarm. It has been reeling under severe financial crisis for the past many years. The immediate crisis has erupted due to its failure to pay pension to its retirees for the past three months. The university has a sanctioned strength of 1,426 teaching faculty. To cut the expenditure, the board of management decided to prune the faculty’s strength to 1,066. Thus, a large number of posts pertaining to the state-funded projects are lying vacant.

Similarly, during Dr G.S. Kalkat’s tenure as the vice-chancellor efforts were made to reduce the strength of the non-teaching staff. At present 3,500 employees are working in the university. Even the posts of the non-teaching employees are lying vacant. The sanctioned strength of non-teaching employees is 6,782.

During Dr K.S.Aulakh’s tenure as the vice-chancellor, expenditure incurred on steps like merger of department, pooling of vehicles, restricted use of air conditioners and other electric appliances were cut. This led to saving of Rs 72 lakh per annum. Thus, university’s annual savings in the committed expenditure was Rs 15 crore during 2005-06.

Though the state government was giving a block grant of Rs 80 crore per annum to the university, yet there was a deficit of Rs 10 crore every year and was not enough for meeting the salary component of the university staff.

Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal had agreed to enhance the university’s annual grant to Rs 100 crore during the current financial year. Even this is not enough for meeting the salary expenses of the staff. The Central government had in its 2005-06 Budget sanctioned special grant of Rs 100 crore to the university for upgrading its infrastructure. But, the university has received only Rs 30 crores so far.

The Chief Minister had asked the vice-chancellor to generate its own resources by putting the front portion of the university to commercial use. A committee has been set up to study the proposal and find out how much money could be raised by commercializing its front portion.

However, faculty members are of the view that commercial shopping complexes in front of the university will not only destroy its landscape but also look like a fish market.

The Chief Minister has asked the vice-chancellor to generate its own resources by putting the front portion of the university to commercial use. A committee has been set up to study the proposal and find out how much money could be raised by commercializing the portion.



Federation for promoting Punjabi in private schools
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 19
Terming language to be necessary tool for acquiring knowledge in any stream, Sikh Students Federation president Gurcharan Singh Grewal has impressed upon organisers of private schools to focus their attention on improving standard of languages of instruction in general and Punjabi language in particular.

He announced that the federation would launch a movement to upgrade standard of Punjabi language in educational institutes from next academic session. 



For Lowen India is second home
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 19
The diversity of culture that India has to offer is attracting people from abroad for learning classical dance forms, Sharon Lowen, an Odissi dancer from 
the USA, said here today.

Lowen, who performed at a function organised by the Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam (LSS), said today that it was this that prevented her from returning to the USA since 1973.

Having imbibed Indian culture, Lowen, donning a sari and looking every bit an Indian, said she was proud to be a part of this place. “Now I am devoted to teaching classical dances. I have students from Brazil, Japan, China and Nepal apart from India. I am dedicated to spreading the Indian classical dance forms among as many people as I can.”

Lowen presented “Sculptures in Motion” dance form along with her troupe. A disciple of Padma Vibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra, she would present Oriyan traditional Mangalacharan, umar Sambhava and Geet Govindam. She is a recipient of a few awards, including the Indian government’s Acharya Narendra Dev Sarokar Samajik Samman and Delhi Sahitya Kala Prishad’s Samman. She has also authored a few books on dancing.



GND varsity beat PAU 3-0
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, January 19
A brace by Lakhwinder Singh fashioned 3-0 win for Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, over hosts Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, in the super league of the North Zone Inter-Varsity Hockey Tournament for Men being played at Prithipal Singh Memorial AstroTurf Stadium at Punjab Agricultural University, here today.

Though, star studded, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, dominated the proceedings, PAU players gave them numerous anxious moments before caving in. Lakhwinder Singh converted two penalty corners while Ajay Kumar added one to complete the tally.

The second match played between Kurukshetra and Panjab University, Chandigarh, ended in a 1-1 draw.

Both teams played attacking hockey and made forays into the rival’s territory but could not translate the chances into a goal. Eventually, Panjab University scored the much-needed goal in the 19th minute through Amit Bhargav.

In the second half, Kurukshetra University made relentless assaults on the opponent’s territory. These pressure tactics finally bore fruits in the 58th minute as Rohit Singh scored a fine field goal to restore the parity. 



Team India’s win echoes in city
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, January 19
Ludhianavis celebrated India’s win over Australia in the third Test match at Perth today by coming out on to the streets and distributing sweets.

Cricket fans burst crackers and distributed sweets to celebrate India’s historic victory over their opponents at their home pitch.

As R.P. Singh bowled last batsman Shaun Tait to help India register a 72-run win, which also marked the end of Australia’s winning streak (16 matches on the trot), local residents glued to the television sets came out on to the streets and celebrated the victory by distributing sweets and dancing to the tunes of “dhol”.



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