The Missing Element
A beginning has been made but it’s not looking up in non-tribal backward districts
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service








Lahaul Spiti
































*Education Development index

While Shimla has done quite well in strengthening infrastructure for elementary education, non-tribal backward districts continue to lag behind in implementing special programmes like district primary education project (DPEP) and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

Latest analytical report reveals that three of the four districts, i.e. Chamba, Sirmour and Kullu, covered under the Rs 329-crore DPEP, are still languishing in education development index (EDI) table. The fourth district, Lahual Spiti, a tribal area with less population, has moved up to second place after Hamirpur.

No doubt, education programmes helped in creating the required infrastructure in these neglected districts but it failed to yield desired results as far as the outcome is concerned.

The state boasts of a vast network of schools. Children do not have to walk more than 1.5 km to attend school. The student teacher ratio has further improved to 1:17 from 1:22 in 2004-05 as against the norm of 1:40.

The average of slightly more than three classrooms per primary school is also reasonable. In fact, the state has ranked seventh in the country infrastructure wise, but the quality of education remains a matter of serious concern.

The state has 12 districts and Hamirpur tops the table at the elementary level with an EDI of 0.70, followed by Lahaul Spiti (0.69) and Bilaspur (0.59). Sirmour is at the bottom (ranked 12) with an EDI of 0.28, while Chamba (0.42) and Kullu (0.34) are ranked 10th and 11th, respectively.

Thus, only one of the DPEP districts, Lahaul Spiti is in the top three and the other three are at the bottom. There is a marginal difference in ranks of Kangra (0.57), Kinnaur (0.56) and Una (0.54), which are ranked as 4th, 5th and 6th, respectively, and Solan (0.49), Mandi (0.47) and Shimla (0.47), the next three districts.

Interestingly, the tribal districts are even better placed at the primary level. Lahaul-Spiti is at the top with an EDI of 0.70, followed by Hamirpur (0.65), tribal Kinnaur (0.60) and Bilaspur (0.59).

The DPEP districts, Sirmour (0.34), Kullu (0.40) and Chamba (0.42) are placed 12th, 11th and 9th, respectively. Shimla with an EDI of 0.41 is ranked 10th.

However, as per the outcome index that reflects the quality of education, Hamirpur (0.84) and Kangra (0.76) are ranked first and second, respectively, at the primary level, followed by Lahaul Spiti (0.75) at the 3rd position.

The DPEP districts of Sirmour (0.37), Kulu (0.49) and Chamba (0.52) are at the bottom of the list. At the upper primary level, Hamirpur retains the top position with an EDI of 0.85, followed by Una (0.81) and Kangra (0.71). The DPEP districts of Sirmour (0.34), Chamba (0.39) and Kullu (0.42) are again at the bottom.

The main reason for the fact that DPEP districts are even worst placed than the tribal area is that the government has failed to post teachers in schools in these remote areas.

A large number of posts remained vacant, as those posted avoid joining duties. Unlike tribal areas, there is no incentive for postings in the non-tribal areas, many of which are more inhospitable than the tribal areas.

As the literacy rate is low in these areas, parents are mostly illiterate and have little interest in the education of their children. Unable to provide regular teachers, the successive governments came out with ad hoc schemes like voluntary teachers, vidya upasaks, para-teachers and the controversial PTA appointments to fill the posts.

Recruitment was made mostly on political recommendations and appointees were neither trained nor had any commitment to the profession.



At the top
Kuldeep Chauhan

An eight-member expedition team from Kullu has conquered the hostile 5,928-m Hanuman Tibba peak in the Pir Panjal range. Along with the glory they have also brought with them trash littered by mountaineers along the way to the peak.

The team of a Manali-based club, Himalayan Youth Adventure Sports (HYAS), was led by Yuvraj Singh. The team members, who belong to Kullu-Manali, were part of the first all-Himachal expedition.

The young mountaineers have set an example for others to follow. Most mountaineers dump plastic bags and other waste material along the fragile mountain treks that has adverse effects on the beauty and ecology of the mountains.

"We scaled the Hanuman Tibba peak on August 22 in the early morning," informs Yuvraj Singh. "It started snowing at the top. On the way from the base camp we were drenched in rain and then by snow on the higher slopes. We had almost decided to quit as it was pitch dark due to thick cloud cover over the Tibba, but with the blessings of Lord Hanuman, we scaled the peak, and also stayed there for 20 minutes," says Vinod and Rajesh, other members of the team. The team also included Vikram Katoch, Tek Chand, Naveen and Manoj Kumar.

"We stared on August 18 from Manali. After hitting the base camp, it took four days to hit the arduous peak,” says Yuvraj, adding, “But what pained us was the sight of trash and junk that littered the beautiful streams and treks leading from the base camp”.

“We collected trash that included discarded tinned food packets, plastic bottles etc and brought them to Manali,” says Yuvraj. “We have our loads of backpacks, but we brought maximum that we could lift clearing the treks.”

General secretary, HASC, Praveen Thakur says, “There should be a code of conduct for mountain expeditions for bringing back the wastes from the mountains lest they become dumping grounds. The club has been training its members in rescue operation during disasters like fire, flood and landslides.”

All team members were trained at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering Adventure Sports (ABVIMAS), Manali.

General secretary of the club Vishal Thakur say the idea behind collecting the trash was to promote Himalyan friendly trekking and mountaineering and adventure spirits among youth in the state. Deputy director, ABVIMAS, Mahavir Thakur, who honoured the team members in Manali, said, “The institute only train mountaineers and trekkers and provide equipment to the team. It was the first all Himachal expedition, which scaled the peak for the first time in the state. We will launch more such expeditions in future to promote true adventure spirit among the youth”.



Job fair in Kangra from Sept 27
Jagmeet Y. Ghuman

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and the Baddi, Barotiwala, Nalagarh Industries Association (BBNIA) will jointly organise a job fair at Polytechnic College in Kangra on September 27 and 28. Various government departments, including industries, labour, employment and technical education would also support the fair.

On-the-spot selection, short listing for helpers and others, job placements for graduates would be done. Besides this, selection and short listing of professional students and postgraduates, ITI, SCVT, diploma holders, B.E., computer applications, B.Pharma, M.Pharma, D.Pharma etc would also be done.

More than 50 MNCs and companies based in the state would participate in the fair where around 6,000 applicants are expected to take part. The companies seek to fill more than 1,000 positions in various categories. President of BBNIA Rajender Guleria said the motto of job fair was to bring all stakeholders at one platform to ease the process of recruitment.

He said the inclination of unemployed youth was more towards government jobs, particularly in Himachal Pradesh. Such types of fairs acted as a medium to achieve 70 per cent employability standard set by the state government to employ Himachali youth and to find quality workforce at the nearest venue, which otherwise remained untapped, he added. 

He further said the fair would also help in creating awareness about what were the employability criteria for corporate sector and to educate about better employment opportunities in the private sector as compared to other sectors for competent persons. It would also spread awareness about the work standards in private and corporate sectors. That was to provide employer competent workforce and to give the unemployed an opportunity at their doorsteps, he maintained.  

In the past, such fairs had proved a success. This is for the first time that the CII and the BBNIA are going to organise a job fair in Kangra with focus on Kangra, Chamba, Hamirpur, Una and part of Mandi districts.  Prior to this, two such job fairs were organised at Solan and Mandi. Around 2,000 vacancies were filled in these fairs with participation of more than 50 state-based companies.



Countering drug menace
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

At a time when tobacco and liquor companies and the drug mafia are finding new ways to target India’s large youth population to promote their products, intellectuals in the state call for mass social drug awareness campaigns to fight the menace.

More and more people are coming in to join hands with promoters and supporters of anti-drug campaigns to make the youth, including school and college students, aware about drug addiction.

Taking the lead under the state government’s Nasha Niwaran Abhiyan (NNA) in the Mandi central zone, the department of public relations recently organised a debate titled “NNA: role of media and intellectuals” where participants emphasised the need to launch a sustained social awareness campaign on the issue.

It was felt the problem needed attention as the average age of youth taking to drugs reduced from 28 years in 1990 to 19 years in 2000, it has gone below 15 years and still decreasing. In Himachal Pradesh, the most vulnerable section was its 18-lakh youth population.

Tobacco and liquor companies were luring the youth by way of star-sponsored shows and brand promotion through events like twenty20 cricket matches. While liquor companies named league teams as Royals, Kings etc, tobacco companies had branded their products like Wills Styles (readymade garments) and ITC apple cider.

SP Mandi M Chandra Sekhar said, “Over 40 per cent of the persons arrested in various theft cases are drug addicts. The NDPS Act is meant to check contrabands, narcotics and psychotropic substances, but there is no law to check unconventional addictive substances like shoe polish, tablets etc. being used by addicts”.

Rajan said the state government would impose a ban on smoking from October 2 in the state.

Mediapersons suggested that NGOs should come forward in making youth aware about the drug menace through dance, dramas, plays, debates and proper education. On the other hand, the police, the Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) and the administration should take action when media highlighted such issues from time to time.

President of the Progressive Writers Association Dinu Kashyap said the government had dual policy on the issue as liquor and tobacco were a major source of revenue. “Mass awareness is the only solution and all trappings and lifestyles associated with high society should be exposed as youth are influenced by them at social gatherings,” said B.N. Kapur, a cultural writer.

Sunder Lohia from the Mandi Sakarshta Samiti, an NGO, said the problem was multi-pronged, since youths had no jobs, they became frustrated and took recourse to drugs. “The addicts should be given a humane treatment as they are victims of circumstances,” said Ravi Rana, an Urdu poet and a senior lawyer.

The participants said the government had double policy on the issue as on one hand it saw liquor as a source of revenue while on the other it started NNA. Suresh Sen Nishant, a young poet, recited a heart-warming poem, Sharab, portraying how a family came to terms with the trials and tribulations of an addict.

They said local politicians were encouraging farmers in the remote villages to cultivate cannabis and poppy crops. They should stop this and encourage farmers to switch over into growing of other cash crops.

CMO Mandi D.K. Arora said a de-addiction centre was being opened at Mandi zonal hospital. “Drug addicts need better treatment as social stigma is attached to addicts. The campaigns should focus on schools and colleges as youth are the vulnerable groups targeted by the drug peddlers”.

Deputy director and in charge of the state, NNA, Rajinder Rajan and deputy director PR, Mandi zone, Satish Dhar, who coordinated the debate, said the department hold such debates in schools, colleges through plays and contests to make the NNA a sustained effort.



Dairy farming turns milky
S. R. Pundir 

Milk production in the state has taken a beating in the absence of proper support from the successive governments even as dairy farming is an economic breather profession for the people in the hilly areas.

The HP Milk Federation has increased the sale price of milk from Rs 10 to Rs 18 in past three years and Rs 4 has been increased in just one year.

But producers are given only Rs 4 during the past eight years. Surprisingly, farmers are not given any hike in the procurement price for the past seven years, which resulted in sharp fall in milk production in the state. 

The idea to adopt milk production as main occupation was given by state’s first Chief Minister Y. S. Parmar. Picking his words as a success mantra, farmers of Sirmour district adopted milk production on a large scale and the district became number one milk producer in the state.

But due to the indifferent attitude of the successive governments this profession became unprofitable and Sirmour slipped to third place. 

Till 80’s, Sirmour retained its leading position in milk production with over 60 cooperative societies producing 18,000 litre of milk per day. The production has decreased to 8,000 liter and nearly 20 societies are closed down.  

After assuming power, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal immediately announced Rs 2 increase in the procurement price of milk that brought some cheer.

For the past eight years, farmers have been demanding prices in proportion to the sale price of the Milk Federation but the previous government did not give any heed to their demands, allege producers. 

A leading milk producer, Suresh Kumar of Renuka says over 92 per cent milk producers are dependent on the HP the Milk Federation for selling milk, making them vulnerable to harassment.

Another milk producer of Anj Bhoj, Om Lal, says the Milk Federation is selling milk at Rs 18 per litre, making profit of Rs 7 to Rs 8 per liter while producers are getting an average Rs 10 to Rs 12.80 per litre.

He says in neighboring Haryana and Punjab producers are getting Rs 20 per litre at their doorstep.  

He charges the previous governments of favouritism as under the agreement with a private factory, the Milk Federation is not allowed to purchase milk from Paonta Doon and Anj Bhoj area although the factory never purchased milk from the producers and has been closed long back. This area has a potential to produce at least 5,000 litre of milk daily, but government has left them to fend for themselves.

As per official figures, over 5,000 producers are selling milk to the federation at present which is being processed and chilled in the eight milk chilling plants in the district but none of these is situated in the Anj Bhoj or Paonta Doon area.



Sanjauli A dangerous huddle
by Shriniwas Joshi

Birth to burial, cradle to cremation, Sanjauli is the only self-contained colony in Shimla. It has the toddlers' joints, crèches and nurseries, schools and colleges, private and public hospitals, IGMC, Indus and Walker being rebuilt, modern malls, shops, coffee and cyber cafes, police post, church at CJM, temples, including ancient Dhingu Devi, gurudwara, mosques, Tibetan monastery of Geluk-pa (Yellow Hat) sect and of course, a crematorium and a burial ground. It was abode to dimpled Preity Zinta and India's consul to Mashad professor Abdul Majid Khan.

It was the only colony that linked Shimla main with vehicular drive when the town carried a veto for wheelers. One could hire a bicycle at Sanjauli in the 60s for quarter of a rupee and drop it at Lakkar Bazaar covering in minutes about three km downhill.

The road with pleasant sounding name, Ladies Mile, leads to St Bede's and Sanjauli mall connects it with Lakkar Bazaar. The 78-year- old rain shed near the college on this mall is due to initiative taken by one Vidya Nath Kohli.

The main Sanjauli was part of the Koti princely state till the formation of Himachal Pradesh. On January 25, 1950, it along with Bharari was merged with Punjab in lieu of Kotkhai and Kotgarh, and returned to Himachal Pradesh on the reorganisation of Punjab in 1966.

The British generally meddled in the affairs of Koti in administering Sanjauli. The vice president of MC in 1884 implored the lieutenant governor of Punjab to bring Sanjauli under the jurisdiction of British for improving sanitation and to decongest it. People living there huddled together in dangerous manner and it became a fearfully suitable nidus for the development of epidemic diseases.

Survey of Sanjauli conducted by the lieutenant governor revealed that there were 42 shops, 60 dwelling houses and their population was 299 and 92 respectively, besides, a floating population of 371 so the charge of overcrowding was baseless as there were less than five persons to each habitation.

The lieutenant governor also reported that the case of insanitation has failed as Sanjauli was not worse than other villages not under European supervision but the chief defect was that the sweepers employed by the Rana of Koti shirked work.

In 1890, Cholera took the life of 13 men in Sanajuli, all Ladakhis and president MC Colonel John Robertson wrote to the deputy commissioner in 1894, "Sanjauli has a population, fluctuating from five or six hundred to about 1,000 persons, three- fourths of whom may be said to be Ladakhis of notoriously dirty habits."

Muslims from Baltistan (now in Pakistan) also settled in Sanjauli thereafter and Baltis (Shia) even today claim that they manage themselves the two mosques and not the Waqf Board of Shimla. The aged remember the shops of Abdul Quadir, Ghulam Hussain and the Koti police station housed in, perhaps, the oldest Ram Dass building. It was a Muslim majority locality then.

Today, it surely is huddled dangerously with a population of 13,000, including floating, and dwelling units touching 2,500.

Regular water supply to Shimla was started in 1883 with the operation of two reservoirs at the Ridge and Sanjauli, storing 1,20,000 gallons of water.

The 4,154 square feet at Sanjauli reservoir had a piggery, J. Jones and Company, owned by Martha Hoffman. Ignoring Martha's objections of raising compensation, the assistant engineer MC B. Parkes acquired the land on February 18, 1878 and the construction of reservoir started there, while a fixed ground rent of Rs 25, later raised to Rs 50 per annum, plus two free hydrants, were sanctioned in favour of Rana Koti. Engine- ghar side of Sanjauli has developed so fast that there is a separate municipal ward by its name.

Why is it called Engine- ghar? An Englishman A. Younghusband had established an Engine- shed (presently open- space car parking) for his manufacturing unit of mortar and lime surkhi, used as cement then, in 1895. It's functioning till 1927 is on records but with the widespread use of cement, the engine probably was plugged up in l930s.


The Bishop of Lahore dedicated the 600- grave cemetery in Sanjauli on July 29, 1921. But Joseph Multani, the first to be buried here, preceded the date and was laid to rest on May 12, 1921.



A hospital stands and waits
Lalit Mohan

A 10-bedded hospital building built 20 years ago is yet to be made operational even as healthcare infrastructure in the state is in peril.

Constructed by Khaniara panchayat, the building is lying in a state of neglect due to the failure of the government to put it to use.

Sources say the hospital was constructed during a period when Khaniara was one of the richest panchayats of the country. The panchayat was flushed with funds that came as royalty from slate mines located within the jurisdiction of the village. This income has since dried up due to ban on mining by the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

The panchayat constructed the hospital after assurance from the government that appropriate staff would be posted to make it operational and provide better healthcare facilities to the people of the village and remote habitations on the surrounding hills.

However, after the building was constructed the government failed to sanction a 10-bedded hospital. The building remained unoccupied for over a decade. It is only recently that the primary health centre (PHC) has been shifted to the building. Just one doctor sits in the hospital that too in the morning hours only.

The sources say the bureaucrats did not sanction the hospital at Khaniara as the village is just 10 km away from Dharamsala. The town already has a zonal hospital due to which the viability of hospital in close proximity was not there.

The villagers, however, say the town is not easy accessible to the villagers as Khaniara is located on a mountain and there are no roads connecting it to the town. The villagers have to cross local rivulets with rope bridges. And in case, the villagers require some emergency treatment, it is very difficult for them to reach Dharamsala.

The villagers have urged the government to post more doctors at the hospital so that they could at least get emergency aid.

Moreover, the government has been asking villagers to contribute at least five per cent in development schemes while in this case the panchayat has constructed an entire hospital building and the government has failed to even make it operational.



Shimla diary
High charges may cost MC dear
Pratibha Chauhan

Successive governments in the state have been talking about promoting film tourism but much lacks when it comes to extension of the facilities and infrastructure creation.

Film producer and director Harry Baweja has a similar tale to tell. Having shot his film “Main Aisa Hi Hooon” starring Ajay Devgan and Sushmita Sen in Shimla, he is all praise for the beautiful locales in the state but has a complaint against the local municipal corporation.

“We did not have much problem in seeking permissions but the MC hiked the charges for shooting on the Ridge and the Mall overnight which took us by surprise” he said. The MC charges fee from those wish to shoot in various parts of the town and has fixed different rates for different areas.

Recently, mayor Narender Kataria announced some concessions and cut in the charges to be made from film crew so that more producers choose to shoot here. Though there are film crews who come and shoot here on and off but film tourism has not really picked up.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali shot most of his acclaimed film “Black” in Shimla with Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee.

The tourism and civil aviation department has plans to set up a film city but the proposal has remained on paper for several years. “Why would Bollywood producers want to bear extra expenditure for shooting in Shimla or elsewhere when all the artists and other facilities are there in Mumbai that are much cheaper than these,” he quipped. He says having a film city makes sense if there are regional films being made.

Avoidable expenditure

Can the cash strapped Himachal government afford to spend crores on constructing a Himachal Bhawan in Bangalore? Announcement by Chief minister that the government would consider the proposal for setting up of a Himachal Bhawan in Bangalore has already generated debate about the need for it. Majority feels that it is an unnecessary expenditure.

In fact they have a bright and sensible suggestion to give to the chief minister. “It would make much more sense if the government considers to make a serai at Haridwar where people from the state go to perform last rites of the dead,” said one such person.

Best part is that it would also be in line with the Hindutva agenda of the BJP as it is only Hindus who go to Haridwar.

Reviving the lost glory

They have seen Shimla when it was an idyllic hill station that gave peace and tranquility to the visitors and a peaceful existence to the locals. Seeing the town in such a deplorable condition hurts these senior citizens who want that concrete steps be taken to stop further degradation.

It is with this very purpose that the Himachal chapter of the Age Care India organised a conference on decongestion and beautification of Shimla” where suggestions were given to solve the problem of overcrowding, haphazard constructions and traffic congestion in the erstwhile summer capital of the British. Secretary of the organisation V.K. Sharma said it was sad to see so much strain on civic amenities and the people facing problems like water shortage and parking problem.



Doll museum to come up in Shimla
Pratibha Chauhan

It is the spirit to keep the memory of his loving daughter alive that inspired Kapur V. Bhan to set up Charu International Doll and Natural History Museum in Shimla.

With very few places of tourist interest in Shimla, the coming up of a doll and natural history museum would be a major gain for the town. Be it art, culture, music, theatre, dance or varied folk art forms, Bhan, a Ghaziabad-based artist, is at the forefront.

He has requested the state government to provide him land in the town for the project and after completion of the museum he would hand it over to the authorities for maintenance and running. “The entire expenditure on construction will be borne by me and after completion I would hand it over to the government which could take care of it,” he says.

The museum would have over 2,000 dolls, including those from about 50 countries. A section based on natural history and science would deal with solar system, earth, mountains and more importantly creating awareness about the need to protect environment and ecology.

Despite hailing from UP, Bhan chose Shimla for setting up this museum because his daughter Charu loved hills. “Charu, a student of College of Arts, Delhi, was completely dedicated to art but she fell victim to dengue at the age of 20,” he says. It is in her memory that he has decided to set up the museum.

The Chief Minister has asked the tourism authorities and the language, art and culture department to work out the details of the project and provide him land.

With the expenditure on the project estimated to be about Rs 50 lakh, he says it will be met totally through donations from friends and well wishers. He also plans to set up a girls arts college with vocational courses and academics up to plus two level.

Bhan, who runs a school in Gaziabad, is a painter himself and has practically dedicated his life to art. He was also honoured with the President’s Award in 1992.



The root cause: Age-old law
According to a British era rule, farmers are not allowed to cut existing trees on their own land
Rajiv Mahajan

Farmers of Kangra, Hamirpur and Bangana tehsil in Una have been running from pillar to post seeking abolishment of a 90-year-old British law that prohibits them to cut trees on their own land.

The villagers, who want ownership rights of the trees grown on their private land, are now pinning hopes on the Dhumal government that had already evinced interest in abolishing the law.

Inquiries reveal that a law known as “Khudrao Drakhtan Malkiat Sarkar” enacted by the British in 1919, which is still prevalent in some parts of the merged areas of the hill state, has been causing losses to the farmers who can neither cultivate their land nor cut existing trees.

However, they have ownership right of their land but it is of no use to them. In 1999, the then Dhumal government took certain steps to grant the right of trees to the farmers, but the forest working plan acted as a major hurdle.

Farmers are raising their demand through the Regional Farmers and Mazdoor Sabha (RFMS). President of the sabha Sukhdev Samyal laments that it is the indifferent attitude of the bureaucracy in the state forest department that has failed to solve this longstanding problem.

He had submitted sabha’s representation to the Chief Minister in May, who ordered the forest department to put the case before him, but the authorities have failed to act so far.

The RFMS has appealed to the Chief Minister to intervene and render justice to the farmers. It has also demanded to exempt the affected merged areas from the forest-working plan that ceased on March 31, 2006.



Scheme for poor patients
Dharam Prakash Gupta

The launching of Dr Ambedkar medical aid fund scheme by the Dr Ambedkar Foundation, New Delhi, has given a new hope to hundreds of poor patients belonging to the Scheduled Castes.

Poor patients from the Scheduled Caste community with an annual income of less than Rs 50,000 would now get a financial aid up to Rs 1 lakh for their treatment in specialised hospitals throughout the country under this scheme.

For seeking financial help, the patients are required to apply on a prescribed form with an income proof, estimate for treatment from the medical superintendent of the hospital along with a certificate from MP, DC and officers from the welfare department etc.

However, the money for treatment would only be available to patients suffering from kidney problems, heart disease, liver problems, cancer, neurological problems, spinal and knee problem and other life threatening diseases.





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