Ugly face of political hoardings
Sushil Manav

Fatehabad, March 20
Gone are the days when one got to see life-sized hoardings of film actors and actresses along roadsides or atop buildings as a part of promotion of their movies being filmed in local theatres. Their place has now been taken by politicians that too with a vengeance.

Hoardings of politicians of all hues are a common sight on both sides of the highways, around bus stands, railway stations, public parks and other places where people could have a glance at their popular leaders.

Though the trend of installing the hoardings started a few years back, it has assumed "epidemic proportions" ever since flex boards, a cheaper and better type of hoardings, have come into vogue.

Flex hoardings not only uses a relatively lighter and cheaper material than the metal sheet used earlier, these also provide perfect picture quality as these are prepared on computers.

Hoardings prepared from flex material are so cheap that one could get a 100 sq ft board for an amount less than Rs 1,000. The hoardings of politicians have now become so common that all major towns are seen flooded with these.

Earlier, such hoardings were used for the publicity of a big political rally or any other mega political event. But now hoardings are readied at the drop of a hat. Come birthday of a state-level or even a local leader or his scion and hundreds of his followers across the state will fill every corner of towns and cities with hoardings of birthday wishes.

This provides an opportunity to smalltime local-level budding political leaders to showcase their own faces in the hoardings along with their leaders.

Every time a political party releases its list of office-bearers at the district or halqa (constituency) levels, markets and roadsides are flooded with hoardings of the newly appointed leaders announcing their newly acquired status.

Watching these hoardings provides interesting observations. Like the erstwhile posters of film actors, characters in these hoardings have varied appearances, that of heroes and villains.

Faces looking like Bollywood heroes are almost negligible while those bearing resemblance to infamous villains with shaved heads, heavy moustaches or big red eyes abound in these hoardings.

Hoardings of women politicians are very few in comparison with that of men, but then the number of women in politics is also equally small.

Colours of the hoardings speak from a distance and one can easily figure out from the colour as to which political party the hoarding belongs.

Activists of a major opposition party of the state use green colour for all their hoardings. The party has green colour for its flags too.

Another national-level political party mixes saffron color with the green, again in line with its party flag. A newly constituted political outfit uses yellow in its hoardings, while a national political party that used colours of the national tricolor earlier, has now shifted to pink colour.

Meanwhile, local residents are of the view that these hoardings besides defacing the public property, act as traffic hazards. Many a times, these hoardings restrict the view of the other side of the road, thus increasing the risk of a road accident.

Although these hoardings have been causing a lot of hardships to motorists, besides defacing the beauty of parks and other public places, a precious little is being done to remove these by the authorities.

With no resistance from the authorities, people are going to have an increase in their dose of political hoardings in future.

Problem of plenty

Hoardings of politicians of all hues are a common sight along highways and other public places

The problem has assumed "epidemic proportions" ever since flex boards, which are cheaper and better, have come into vogue

Activists install hoardings even in cases like the election of office-bearers or the birthday of a leader

With no resistance from the authorities and the approacing Lok Sabha elections, people are going to see more hoardings in the future

Any action?

Although these hoardings have been causing a lot of hardship to vehicle drivers, besides defacing the beauty of parks and other public places, precious little is being done by the authorities to remove these



Banners stand tall in Panipat
Vishal Joshi
Tribune News Service

Panipat, March 20
Despite highlighting the issue of political hoardings along the national highways in Haryana several times in these columns, it seems that nobody bothers to maintain beautification along the highways.

Though the authorities take instant action against hoardings or other publicity materials raised by any private individual, no action has ever been taken against any political party who continue to deface the NH-1, the corridor that connects the national capital with the northern India.

A visit by The Tribune team along the NH-1 revealed that scores of hoardings and posters of almost all the political parties continue to dot the GT Road. It was observed that townships, including Gannaur, Samalakha, Panipat, Gharaunda, Karnal, Pipli and Samalkha wear an ugly look due to the heavy presence of hoardings.

These hoardings mainly contain appeals by the various political parties to attend their rallies, birthday wishes to popular leaders, supporting or opposing government programmes with photographs of chief ministers, ministers and top leaders of different parties.

Sanjeev Pahwa, a resident of Kurukshetra, said the visitors have to cross through the ugly looking stretches of the townships along the GT Road.

Sources said the Supreme Court had given clear directions to keep the national highways and other roads free from hoardings and other display boards for distraction-free driving. But the "generous" district authorities seem to have turned a blind eye towards the violations.

A senior official admitted that hardly any party or a politician was ever warned for discoloring the highways. Torn hoardings hanging at several places confirmed that no official effort had been made to remove the hoardings.

Terming it unfortunate, Suresh Bharti, a Panipat resident, said the politicians defied the orders of the apex court to get cheap publicity.

"This unfair practice where there are separate set of rules of those having 'power' and the commoners," he said.

They should understand that illegal publicity measures cause much inconvenience as it distracts the drivers on busy roads.

Meanwhile, local residents have demanded a strict action against the erring persons and the parties for defacing the NH-1 and other highways.

But will the political leaderships ask the party cadre to restrain from this practice? It certainly remains a million-dollar question.



First rural haat to come up in Jhajjar

Jhajjar, March 20
The rich tradition, folk art and delicious cuisine of Haryana will soon find a market place. The first rural haat (village market) of the state is being developed at Sankhol village of Jhajjar district along the National Highway no. 10.

The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) is developing the rural haat on the pattern of popular Dilli haat. The scheme would provide employment to rural youth and raise the income of the Sankhol gram panchayat. The work on the project has already started on about one and a half acres of land in the village.

The main aim of the project is to provide exposure to the Haryanavi culture, cuisines, folk songs, music and art etc. The haat would provide the ambience of a traditional rural market but it would be suited to more contemporary needs. There would be a synthesis of crafts, food, and cultural activities in the haat.

According to additional deputy commissioner Ajit Joshi, about 25 shops would be constructed in the haat, which would be rented out to self-help groups. These groups could showcase and put up for sale their handicrafts items and other products manufactured by them.

A special eating zone would be the centre of attraction for urban visitors. Besides, an exhibition hall, an open-air theatre and office would also be constructed. The sources said the DRDA had also prepared a proposal to organise an annual fair at the haat. A well located at the site would also be given a facelift.

Sarpanch of the village Azad Singh said the work of land filling was going on and soon the construction work was likely to begun. He said a pond adjacent to the site would also be filled and leveled to develop a park in the memory of a martyr of the village, Brig Hoshiar Singh.



Hotels under Factories Act
Owners term move as illogical
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The move the union government to bring hotels under the Factories Act, 1948, has raised heckles in the hotel industry, which feels that the step would be retrograde and restrictive for the trade, particularly when the nation is preparing to host the Commonwealth Games.

At present, the hotels come under the purview of the Shops and Establishments Act. When the industry would be brought under the Factories Act, the hotels would have to fix working hours and overtime hours for employees, besides other things essential to be maintained by the industries under the Act.

The industry feels that if the move materialises, it would have to deal with the factories inspector also, besides the labour inspector at present.

The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI) has already made a representation to the government through the department of tourism to resist the change.

The representation says, "In case, we are brought under the Factories Act, we would have to give our employees a break of 30 minutes after five hours of continuous work. Secondly, spread over (continuous work) is a maximum of 10 hours. This is not possible in hotels which are service-oriented".

President, Hotel & Restaurant Association of Haryana, Manbeer Choudhary says the government's proposal fails to appreciate the fact that the "factories" and "hotels" are two distinct segments. The nature of activities in the hotel industry is different and cannot be equated with the activities carried out in the factories, where essentially involves the manufacturing process.

Choudhary, who is also a former president of the FHRAI, feels that such a proposal, on the face of it, is arbitrary and unjust as by no stretch of imagination can the activities under the hotel industry be categorised as a "manufacturing process." The proposal, he says, appears to be the result of complete ignorance of reality. It will cause major prejudice to the growth of industry and will psychologically affect the minds of potential investors in the hotel industry.

Pleading for "a high degree of interaction" before the decision is taken, he says any legislation of this sort would have a far-reaching effect and would be detrimental to the hotel industry. In his view, the government should give enough time to organisations so that they can put forward their views after consulting their members.

The proposed move, sources in the industry say, will pose a problem to the mid-market hotels. Since international brands are already concerned about their employees' welfare, they need not worry.

Choudhary says factories and hotels are totally contrary to each other in policies and work ethics. Hotels don't have fixed hour as their first aim is to give the best 24x7 service to its guests.



Deswal focuses on ‘creative liberty’
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, March 20
It is the responsibility of an artist and literary writer not to misuse his art or writing in the name of liberty, says Rajbir Deswal, a police official and an eminent writer.

At a seminar on "encounter with new insights into English literature", held here recently, Deswal dwelt largely on "creative liberty" issue as raised by none other than Shah Rukh Khan as subterfuge for his inability to quit smoking when union health minister Ramodas exhorted the thespian to shun the stub.

Deswal says such liberties can be taken but with a meaningful purpose in mind. "Like if you give graphic details of a murky and a morbid thing in your narration, it is not appreciated when it claims credit for being a literary activity. For research, it may be all right but not as a piece of literature".

Deswal recalls a recent article written by Dr Shamim Sharma on female foeticide wherein she gave details of the surgery involved in the gory activity of killing daughters for added impact. And as such, the liberty taken was acceptable according to Deswal.

"In defence of a war against female foeticide, any liberty that is required, should be taken, not only in literary creative writing but in all forms of the projection of viewpoints, against the barbaric practice which is abhor able and condemnable in the strictest possible terms," he added.

Deswal feels that the strongest feeling in one being projected through the ornamental phraseology makes the narration very ear pleasing. Creative writing cannot be confined to any techniques but rather anything that comes straight from the heart and that can be clothed in a diction that has all ingredients of the art possessed by a connoisseur or a narrator, should create the desired effect.

He also cautions against biases and prejudices in journalistic writings as well. He quotes Mathew Arnold who said, "Journalism is literature in a hurry".



Villagers cautioned against genetic drain
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, March 20
With a view to encouraging members of the Schedule Castes to adopt a comprehensive farming system approach to become self-reliant, the local chapter of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) organised a special training programme on dairy farming here recently.

An interesting aspect of the two-day training programme was that a number of women belonging to the Scheduled Castes participated. The session was part of the awareness campaign launched by the KVK under the aegis of Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar.

Addressing the participants, Dr Rajender Singh, animal science expert and course director, apprised them of effective ways of making dairy farming a profitable venture. He along with other trainers exhorted the participants to go in for artificial insemination for breed improvement.

The experts maintained that preserving germ plasm was also a must, especially in view of the large-scale export of good-quality animals to other states. Expressing concern over the genetic drain, especially in case of Murrah buffaloes, the trainers awakened the participants about its consequences.

The participants were also given tips on newborn calf management, reproduction management, economical and balanced feeding of animals, clean milk production, animal health, financial viability of dairy farming and record-keeping. A booklet on buffalo keeping was also distributed among the participants.



Assembly Bypoll
Cong unlikely to benefit
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hisar, March 20
The expulsion of two Congress legislators, Dharampal Singh Malik and Rakesh Kamboj, and the subsequent resignation of Kuldeep Bishnoi from the Lok Sabha is unlikely to benefit the Congress.

Instead, the byelections caused by their expulsion and likely resignation of former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal later this week will give the Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) an opportunity to show a discernible foothold in the state's disturbed political backwaters.

While it is still not clear whether Bishnoi's resignation will cause a byelection from the Bhiwani Lok Sabha seat, it is certain that the Gohana, Indri and Adampur assembly segments will go to the polls by October next. Bhiwani's fate hangs onto whether the UPA government will last till May 2009, or the Congress will go in for a snap poll to reap the "benefits" of the loan waiver.

Historically speaking, the results of byelections generally go in the favour of the ruling party because it is in a position to win voters through innumerable favours. In that case, the Congress should emerge winner in all three seats. Applying this yardstick should there be a byelection in Bhiwani, the Congress should retain it as well through a new candidate. But is the picture so rosy for the ruling party?

The answer is no. In Adampur, Congress candidate will find it hard to even save his or her security deposit. This segment has been Bhajan Lal's stronghold for five decades or so and his grip on the seat is not showing any sign of weakening whether he contests as the Congress candidate or not.

The wily politician that Bhajan Lal is, he has nurtured this segment so much and for so long that any member of his family can emerge victorious from here for the next decade or so. Even the INLD has limited presence in the area.

Talking of Gohana, the Congress can and will in all probability retain this seat in a byelection. Dharampal Singh Malik has little chance of winning from here against the Congress nominee mainly because Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda wields ample influence in the area to ensure his party's victory. The spoils of power will further increase the margin of victory. Besides, it is a Jat dominated constituency.

But Indri could prove to be an altogether different preposition. It is dominated by non-Jats. The INLD and the HJC will go all out to make it a three cornered contest in which the HJC will certainly have an edge. If the HJC wins the seat, it would have bagged three out of two, which is enough to temporarily project it as a potent opponent in the 2010 elections.

Now let us assume that the Congress wins the Indri seat too in addition to Gohana then the score would be two to one in favour of the Congress. In that case, the Congress would end up one member less in the assembly not that it would make any difference. But, academically it is still a loss for the Congress.

A Congress win in Indri and Gohana will mean the HJC and the INLD competing for the second place. If the HJC ends up at the second spot in both, it would be perceived ahead of the INLD, which again will add to the strength of the Bhajan Lal camp at the cost of the Chautala camp.

The third scenario could be that the HJC ends up at the third spot in both Indri and Gohana behind the INLD. In that case, the INLD will certainly hold the advantage. But the HJC does not end up as a loser in any way as this result will be interpreted as the emergence of a third political force in Haryana after the Congress and the INLD.

The BJP will certainly mark its presence in the fray. However, as of today, it stands no chance in any of these constituencies. If it goes it alone, it will end up at the fourth spot.

But what happens if Bhiwani, too, goes to the polls? The Congress today stands badly divided in the area.



Honour for NDRI scientist
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
Dr R.S. Gandhi, principal scientist, Dairy Cattle Breeding Division, NDRI, Karnal, has been awarded Dr D. Sundrasen Award for pioneering research in the field of animal breeding during the golden jubilee celebrations of Dairy Science College, NDRI, a deemed university.

Born in 1960, Dr Gandhi has done his M.Sc and Ph.D in the discipline of animal genetics & breeding. He joined NDRI as S-1 in 1986 after clearing the ARS examination. He has completed 13 research projects and has worked as principal investigator in four projects. He has been associated with the breed improvement program of Sahiwal cattle for the past 22 years and has contributed to the research work on Sahiwal cattle.

He has published 80 research papers in international and national journals, three review articles, 16 popular articles, 31 technical articles and 39 abstracts. Dr Gandhi was deputed by the Indian Council for Agriculture Research to undergo two months training in the area of in vitro fertilisation in cattle at the University of Wisconsin, USA.



Old age home project hangs fire
Nishikant Dwivedi
Tribune News Service

Jagadhri, March 20
HUDA had earmarked one acre of land for the construction of an old age home in Sector 17 here about six years ago, but there is nothing that suggests that the construction will start soon.

The local senior citizens council has taken up the matter with the authorities concerned several times, but till date no action has been taken.

On May 5, 2008, then deputy commissioner R.K Rao during a public function announced that the construction work would start soon. President of the council R.K Jain said the DC had announced that Rs 40 lakh would be spent on the construction work. "We have been taking up the matter with the government for the past several years, but in vain," he said.

The council members feel that the old age home should be built at the earliest in the wake of increasing incidents of the abandoning of old people by their children. "Only last week, a 73-year-old widow was thrown out of her house by a her daughter-in-law.

Luckily for her, the police and the media intervened otherwise she, too, would have been forced to live at the mercy of others," Jain said. The council collects newspaper cuttings highlighting the plight of old people and use the same to create awareness among the younger generation to respect their parents.

Jain said the land was allotted to the society for old age home on 99 years lease with the condition that the land would not be used for any commercial purpose.

The council said the union minister of social justice and empowerment had been repeatedly saying that old age homes should be built in all district headquarters but "it seems no one is interested to help the aged in distress".



Serving special kids his motto
Sushil Manav

Fatehabad, March 20
Dr Davinder Singh, a Fatehabad-based physiotherapist, has been working for the cause of mentally and physically challenged children with missionary zeal for the past three years.

While providing physiotherapy to patients here, he was so moved by the plight of poor children that he decided to organise free camps for them three years ago.

Since then, he has been organising free camps for special children every month in which he not only examines them but also provides medical treatment and physiotherapy.

He also provides splints, sticks, crutches, wheel chairs and functional garments to such children with the support of the District Red Cross, Rotary International and other social organisations.

Dr Davinder Singh says with proper postural guidance and the use of proper splits, a physically challenged child can be made to lead a normal life. Such help is of little use in case of grown up persons, he adds.

He says he is moved by the plight of such children, many of whom are from very poor families whose parents cannot afford to get their wards examined from a doctor, what to speak of providing treatment.

He says that these children will have to suffer for life if they are not provided timely help. He informs there are many welfare schemes of the government for the disabled but a majority of them are not aware of such schemes.

Dr Davinder Singh has also been creating awareness about these schemes among the parents, who, he says, can avoid their children being born with a physical deformity if they take certain precautions during pregnancy and delivery.

Not taking nutritious food and vaccines during pregnancy or going for delivery from untrained quacks can lead to the birth of a physically challenged child.



Inside Babudom
Officers say no to finance dept
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
The alacrity with which Haryana IAS officers get themselves shifted out of any posting in the finance department may appall their counterparts from some other states where getting an assignment with the finance department may not be necessarily considered a poor posting.

Most of the IAS officers posted in the department by the present regime have managed to bid goodbye to finance and have landed themselves other jobs. As a result, there are only two IAS officers who are posted in the finance department of Haryana now. While one of the two IAS officers is principal secretary S.P. Sharma himself, the second officer is special secretary Hardeep Kumar.

The latter is having a rather long innings in the department and plays a key role in the preparation of budget estimates. The only other senior officer in the department is special secretary Kulwinder Singh, who is an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, on deputation with the state government specifically for looking after finance department-related work.

Sharma is slated to retire soon. As it is, finance secretary does not mean a bad assignment though other postings in the finance department apparently do. With various officers saying quits to the department, sending representatives of finance for various meetings is becoming a problem.

A representative of the department is required to attend virtually every meeting that the state government holds. But, with only two deputies assisting the principal secretary, sending a representative is becoming a tough call.

But why is that the IAS officers of Haryana dread a posting with the finance department? A senior officer says this can be because a job in the finance department usually does not entail some of the perks that may be attached to work in some other department. It also confines an officer to the secretariat, something that scares middle-level officers.



Over Rs 16 cr for Sirsa’s development
Sushil Manav

Sirsa, March 20
A sum of Rs 16.42 crore has been recently sanctioned for this district for various developmental projects under the backward region grant funds. The money will be released by the central government before March 31.

The union ministry of panchayati raj, it may be recalled, had identified two districts of Haryana namely Mahendragarh and Sirsa for facilitating the preparation of perspective plan for the 11th five-year plan period and annual plan for 2008-09 under the backward region grant fund.

Deputy commissioner V. Umashankar said all developmental projects prepared by the district authorities under this scheme had been approved by the government.

The authorities plan to spend Rs 3 crore on the construction of additional rooms in government schools of the district.

A further sum of Rs 3 crore would be used in the construction of buildings of anganwadis in some villages, he said.

The authorities will use Rs 2.50 crore on ameliorating the supply of potable water in the district and Rs 70 lakh would be spent on improving health services, he added.

The DC informed that a community centre would be built on the local Khairpur road at a cost of Rs 60 lakh and streetlights would be set up on several roads.



Indifferent Weather
Decline in wheat output likely
B.S. Malik

Sonepat, March 20
After registering an increase in per hectare production of wheat in the past four years, the farmers in the district are estimated to witness a loss in the production up to three quintals per hectare due to indifferent weather conditions during this winter season.

Moreover, the cost of production had also increased during this season as the farmers made excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides and spent lot of money in arranging irrigation of the crop with the help of diesel-run pumping sets.

In the opinion of the agriculture scientists, it is for the first time in five years that there had been no rains during the entire winter season and and the season was marked by unprecedented frost. As a result of these adverse climatic conditions, the growth of the wheat plants was stunted as well as the sowing was delayed by 20 to 30 days.

According to details given the agriculture offices here, the average per hectare production in cropped
area of 1.35 lakh hectare in 2004
was recorded at 37.89 quintals
and it increased up to 46.5 quintals
per hectare in 2007 when 1.40 lakh hectare of was brought under
wheat cultivation.

Talking to The Tribune, the subdivisional agriculture officer, Sonepat, O.P. Dalal, said for want of rains during the months of January to March, the farmers could not arrange timely irrigation of the cropped areas and it checked the growth of plants. The errs (baale) of the plants remained immature resulting in the shrinking of grains and it would definitely result in bringing down the production, he added.

In fact, Dalal said, at least seven irrigations were required from the time of sowing to harvesting; but due to insufficient supplies of power and canal waters, the farmers could hardly complete four irrigations that too with the help of diesel engines.

He also informed that sowing was delayed in about 50,000 hectares of area for the want of irrigational supplies and it would also result in less production due to early maturity of the crop. As the mustard crop was affected by aphid (chepa) disease, the wheat crop in the fields adjacent to the mustard cropped areas, was also affected.



Ambala moves ahead on education front
Suman Bhatnagar

Ambala, March 20
The education scenario in Ambala is undergoing a sea change with the historical town emerging as a premier centre of academic as well as professional education.

Before the Partition of the country, students willing to have higher education have to go to Lahore. After the Independence, a number of DAV and SD institutions were shifted to Ambala City and Ambala Cantonment.

But it is only during the last one decade that a number of degree and professional colleges have come up in the region. MM Educational Trust has set up a series of colleges in Mullana, including a medical college, besides dental, engineering, physiotherapy, nursing, hotel management, pharmacy, MCA and MBA institutions. An engineering college has also been set up in Mithapur village, near Ambala cantt.

There are three exclusive colleges for girls. These colleges i.e. Dev Samaj Girls College, MDSD College and Arya Girls College have attracted the guardians who do not want to send their girls in co-education institutions. Maharishi Markandeshwar University, set up in Mulana last year, has boosted the educational scenario of Ambala.

Around six colleges offering postgraduate degree courses in a number of subjects have benefited the local students. Besides the oldest B.Ed college of DAV management in Ambala City, three more B.Ed colleges have come up here in the past two years. DAV, Jain and Santan Dharm managements have also been running a number of educational institutions, including several public schools.

A few years back the students of this district have to go to southern states to pursue professional courses. Chancellor of MM University Tarsem Garg said during the next five years, Ambala would become a prominent educational focal point of the state.

Kiran Angra, principal of MDSD Girls College, is also hopeful that Ambala would soon be identified in the state for its educational institutions. J.S. Nain, principal of DAV College, is of the view that the state government should develop the region as a hub of higher education.





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