Dollar delight for desi land

As one drives down one of the rural roads in Jalandhar district, or almost anywhere in the Doaba region of Punjab, it will not be long before one comes across a towering gate on the outskirts of a village. Large memorial gates built in memory of one’s parents or some other similarly deserving people have been one of the hallmarks of NRI (non-resident Indian) contribution to the home village. But in recent years, NRI contributions have moved from the ubiquitous memorial gates dotting the countryside and sports festivals to development projects like schools, hospitals and village infrastructure.

There has been a spurt in philanthropic contributions from overseas Punjabis for religious and development purposes in their native villages during the past five years. A survey conducted in the Doaba region has shown that overseas Punjabis have almost doubled their contributions to the home villages during the past five years.

A survey conducted by a Jalandhar-based organisation, Vichar Manch, in 2002 of 477 villages located in seven tehsils of the Doaba region showed that NRIs had contributed more than Rs 2 billion in the 477 villages, which is about Rs 4 million per village. A second survey conducted in December 2007 of 28 villages out of the 477 villages surveyed earlier showed startling changes in the pattern and amount of contribution made by the overseas Indians.

The total foreign contribution to the 28 villages till 2002 was Rs 140 million, but in five years these villages had received Rs 115 million. Not only had the amount increased enormously but the purpose of the contributions has shifted from largely religious donations to development works.

The initial contributions were mainly for religious places, later memorial gates and sports festivals became popular among NRIs as both festivals and gates attracted attention and were a visible proof that the émigré had prospered in his new life. In Aur block, almost Rs 8.6 million were spent on sports tournaments, while Phagwara block had spent Rs 6.3 million on memorial gates by 2002. But in the following years, NRIs have been contributing for setting educational institutions, dispensaries, hospitals, crematoriums, sports stadiums, street lighting, sanitation and clean drinking water projects.

Till 2002, almost 96 per cent of the contributions were religious donations, though several hospitals and educational institutions were also constructed by religious leaders who collected donations from the NRI community. By 2007, in 18 of the 28 villages surveyed the contributions for development work far exceeded religious donations. According to Satnam Chana of Vichar Manch, the NRIs have learnt from Western influence on the pattern of philanthropic donations and their own changing preferences. “The NRIs are more active and aware now, they feel money is wasted in unproductive projects, such projects have become mere monuments of their ego. That is why they have started considering the usefulness of the project.”

In recent years, there has been a move towards planned contributions that have led to bigger projects being taken up. The gram panchayat and development committees in villages have identified projects that the village needs and sought funds from NRIs belonging to that region. Alternatively, some NRIs have come together and contributed funds for a project selected by the village committee. This has led to an increase in contributions.

However, it is not always a rosy picture throughout the region. On occasion, political factionalism and petty, local conflicts in the villages have reared their ugly heads and seriously hampered the implementation of projects, putting off the NRI donor from involvement in village activities. Three out of the 28 villages had not received any contribution in the past five years, though they had received contributions worth Rs 2.9 million earlier, while a fourth village got a donation of merely Rs 10,000 during this period.

In 2005, the Punjab government launched a scheme under which the state government would provide a matching grant to any development project initiated with NRI funds. At the NRI Sabha meeting in January 2008, the government announced that it would raise its grant allocation.

The lack of guidance and spontaneous, unorganised contribution by NRIs had led to unplanned and unorganised activity, Chana explained. The government policy of matching grants has helped to some extent in diverting NRI contributions to development projects, but there is not much awareness of the government scheme among the NRIs and villagers as yet. The NRIs see what is happening in other villages and “the desire of NRIs to contribute is deepening further,” he added. — IANS



Ready for love? Carry a loaded wallet
Gifts are getting expensive with each passing V-Day
Kusum Arora
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 12
With Cupid’s arrows flying thick and fast, the stage is set for the most romantic day of the year. And helping the love struck are an array of gifts to make those special words sound even more sweet.

The youngsters are thronging the card shops looking for that perfect valentine present for their loved ones. The markets abound with chocolates, candies, candles, mugs, cards and the all time favourite red roses, which have, for ages, served as the perfect way to express those hidden feelings.

The markets are full of activity, with the city youth bunking classes to sort out that perfect valentine gift for their perfect crush at the Hallmark and Archies’ Galleries. No matter how expensive the gifts, the youngsters are doling out huge amounts of money to make “the day” for their loved ones.

“The latest range for Valentine’s Day gifts include cups and saucers at a starting price of Rs 1,950 and going up to Rs 3,000; mushier hearts ranging from Rs 49 to Rs 2,500; heart sticks priced at Rs 40 to Rs 900; artificial feather roses priced at an initial cost of Rs 20 to a maximum of Rs 100 and cards ranging from Rs 30 to Rs 900,” said Ravinder Singh, proprietor of Archies Gallery.

Aditya, a businessman, says, “As this is my first Valentine’s Day, I want to make it all the more special. I have bought a big card and a teddy bear for my wife. Above all I think moments spent with your love count more rather than exchanging gifts. Therefore, I have plans to go in for a long drive and spend a quality time with her.”

One good thing this time is that V-Day would be a working day as a result of which youngsters can look forward to a rocking time with their friends.

“It will be easy for me to get along with my girlfriend on this day. Being a working day, I think all the girls will be able to enjoy the day with their sweethearts. And we have plans to celebrate the day with a good party at one of our friend’s place,” puts in Harjeet Kahlon, an engineering student.

“Naturally this time, we are expecting a good turnover as Valentine’s Day is on Thursday. Youngsters would definitely have a rocking time and would organise parties. This will certainly boost up our sales,” said Harinder Singh, owner of Meera Florists.

He added that the sale of roses had increased during this period. A single stick of rose, which cost Rs 10 on routine days, varied between Rs 15 and Rs 30 on Valentine’s Day. “We have seen both youngsters and oldies buying roses and bouquets worth Rs 3,000 on this day. Above all, the online sale of roses, too, has affected our business.”

“During this period the sale of roses is all-time high and we witness a booming business. As Punjabis are spread worldwide we get good response from countries like America, England, Canada and even Singapore,” he maintained.

Though the love-birds hope to enjoy a good time in the city, the traffic police is ready with its squad to keep a regular tab on the eve-teasers. SP (traffic) Rajesh Kaushal said, “It would be our first priority to maintain law and order in the city with the help of PCR teams everywhere.”



Red rose reigns
Rashi Sharma

Feel the rapture of being someone’s valentine. Hear the emollient surging steps of love ‘n’ passion as the whole atmosphere is blooming with the fragrance of Valentine’s Day. Listen to your heartbeat and get wooed by your soul-mate. Love has always been an unfathomable and inexplicable feeling. No chapter of human history is devoid of this serene feeling.

Linda Goodman, the diva of astrology, in her bestseller “Love Signs” writes about the magical chemistry that exists between the two souls. She writes, “It sometimes happens that a man and a woman meet and instantly recognise the other half of themselves behind the eyes of each other… Almost from the first moment they meet and gaze upon each other, their spirits rush together in joyful recognition… Inexplicably, often without a world spoken, they know that only through each other they hope to find wholeness - only when they’re together can they be complete in every way.”

Though love needs no ceremonial calendars to be adhered to, still Valentine’s Day has become an established norm of conduct for the lovers today. Worldwide, this passion has become a rage among youngsters. Just have a look and you will find “red rose reigns” everywhere.

Earlier in India, we used to celebrate this as “Madanotsav”. In our mythology “Madan” is “Kamdev” who wears a flowery bow to pierce through the hearts of the people, thus enabling them to drift their thoughts towards love ‘n’ romance. “Madanostav” was associated with the advent of Basant, the season of sparkling, gaudy beauty. Basant is the culmination of resurrection i.e new birth. Nature sheds her passivity and becomes gaiety. The charming season creates ripples in the hearts of lovers and stimulates their clandestine desire to woo their dream-figure.

Today’s high-tech generation is unaware of this ancient Indian “utsav”, though they do not lag in celebrating February 14 with great gusto. A huge rush can be seen in malls and gift shops. Scarlet colour marks its presence in almost every object that we tend to look at. But the hue of this scarlet colour gets evaporated as quickly as the fading of the day itself. The reason behind this waning love can be traced in the transitory nature of these love-birds. Most of the lovers treat this sanctimonious feeling as an ostentatious show completely bereft of the needed warmth and snug.

Love does not lie in the cheap flaunt of one’s affectation or partying all night in some club. This is the most sublime feeling one can ever experience in life. Therefore, let the red rose reign and enrich your life with its purgative prowess.



Young World
Apeejay bathes in hues of yellow
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 12
Students and staff of Apeejay School, Rama Mandi, celebrated Basant Panchmi with great fervour. A special assembly was conducted to mark the occasion. Goddess Saraswati was worshipped, tiny tots recited poems and senior students delivered speech on the importance of the festival. Kite flying competitions were held on the occasion. Principal RK Walia elaborated the importance of the day.

Tech fiesta

Students of Kanya Maha Vidyalaya participated in an inter-college Tech Fiesta-2008 at Khalsa College in Amritsar and came back home with several prizes. Chashanpreet of BSc-I was awarded first prize in paper presentation. Web designers Kiran Sandhu and Mandeep Kaur too won the prize in the contest. Nisha and Prabhjot from BCA second year were declared second in poster presentation. In on-the-spot programming, Harpreet Basra of MSc computer science and Kanwaljeet from BCA-II won the third prize.

V’ball tourney

PTU Inter-College Volleyball Tournament concluded at Lovely Institute of Technology on Sunday. Twenty three teams participated in men’s category and seven teams took part in women’s event. In the first category, DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology, Jalandhar, won the championship by defeating IET Bhaddal, whereas the women’s title was clinched by Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana by defeating Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College Fatehgarh Sahib.

Fashion show

The dress designing association of PCM SD College for Women organised a fashion show. Twelve rounds were held to adjudge the talent of the students. Hema won the prize in suit round, Parveen in saree draping, Maninder in skirt round, Neha Sethi in top round and Honey in party-wear round. Sunita Bhalla, incharge, organised the event.

Art workshop

The department of fine arts of the Apeejay College of Fine Arts organised a two-day workshop that concluded on Saturday. Renowned painter Ashwini Verma was the resource person. He gave demonstration in water, oil and acrylic colours. He painted landscapes and abstracts and taught students new techniques in the three mediums.

The postgraduate students who participated in the workshop created beautiful pieces under his guidance.

Table manners

A workshop on table manners and etiquettes was organised for students of Delhi Public School. The students of classes VI to XII were taken to a restaurant, where they were served a five-course meal comprising starters, soups, salads, main course and dessert.



More healthcare facilities for city
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 12
Satguru Partap Singh Apollo Hospitals, Ludhiana, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Apollo Clinic here to offer its medical expertise and technology. Jugdiep Singh, managing director, Satguru Partap Singh Apollo Hospitals, and G.S. Ghosal of Apollo Clinic signed the MoU today.

Talking to mediapersons, Singh said networking of tertiary care hospitals with smaller health care centres could transfer the expertise of the large infrastructures to other areas to offer quality health care and bring quality health care within the reach of every individual in Punjab.

The hospital will make its super specialist doctors for cardiology, cardiac surgery, orthopaedics, gastroenterology, endocrinology, neurology, skin and cosmetology available at Apollo Clinic in the first phase followed by integrating all other speciality departments in the next phase, he added.



Blast in Gurbachan Nagar house, 5 kids hurt

Jalandhar, February 12
Five children were injured in an explosion in the Gurbachan Nagar locality falling under Maqsoodan police station while they were preparing firecrackers for bursting during a “shobha yatra” on Wednesday.

Maqsoodan SHO Sakattar Singh told The Tribune that the injured, Rajkumar (15), Sandeep (12), Rahul (11), Sunil Kumar (10) and Kamal (6), were admitted to nearby Sacred Heart Hospital. The condition of one of the injured is reported to be serious. Three of the injured, Raj Kumar, Sandeep and Kamal, are brothers. The SHO said they were trying to mix sulphur and potash powder, which is used in making crackers, when the blast occurred, resulting in the house catching fire. — TNS



Shop gutted
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, February 12
Fire broke out at a shop located on Shalamar road here on Monday night.

Short-circuit is said to be the apparent cause for the fire which the fire brigade took over an hour to put out. Clothes worth several lakhs were reportedly damaged.



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