Amritsar love surfaces in New York
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 7
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur love to read letters written to them about the development of the holy city of Amritsar.

This fact came to the fore during the PM’s visit to New York during the last week of September. He was there to address the annual session of the UN General Assembly.

On the sidelines, he met scores of world leaders including the President of Pakistan and the PM of China.

For a day, he visited Washington DC to have a one-on-one with President Bush, which was very successful.

On his return to New York on September 27, he addressed a selected gathering of 400 Indian Americans invited from all 50 states of the USA including far off states like Alaska and Hawaii.

The reception party was thrown in the PM' honour by India's Ambassador to
America Ronen Sen.

Unlike all his predecessors, Dr. Manmohan Singh shook hands with all the invitees.

However, when a noted columnist and writer introduced himself as Harjap Singh Aujla, the PM's eyes lit up in happiness.

Before the PM recollected as to who this person was, his better half Gursharan Kaur promptly recognised him.

She said “Beta we have been getting a lot of well meaning letters from you, thanks.”

At this, the PM recollected Aujla’s correspondence with him and smiled. Aujla shook hands with him and touched his wife’s feet.

In fact, Aujla had written 45 letters to Dr. Manmohan Singh. The subjects being development of India, Punjab and especially the accelerated economic development of Amritsar. Occasionally, the PM would reply to his letters.

Aujla said the meeting was a golden day in his life. “Now he knows me not only by my writings but by face too”, says Aujla filled with a lot of excitement.

“Let us hope it will result in something better for Amritsar- the home town of the Prime Minister”, he says.



Makeover Mantra
Historic Gobindgarh Fort on revamp list
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, October 7
The state tourism department has unfolded an ambitious plan to make the holy city an important tourist destination in coming years.

A high-level meeting, presided over by senior IAS officer Geetika Kalla from the department of tourism, which was also attended by special secretary, tourism, D.P. Reddy, deputy commissioner K.S. Pannu, commissioner, municipal corporation, D.P.S. Kharbanda reviewed the ongoing restoration projects at various historic sites.

Briefing The Tribune, Kharbanda said the tourism department had approached the Asian Development Bank to provide soft loans to develop some of the most significant monuments and sites in and around the city to make Amritsar a complete tourist hub where the visitors could get the feel and flavor of ancient history and culture of this important township.

Kharbanda said the government had already released Rs 25 crore for various works, including the restoration of six historic gates of the walled city and setting up of a heritage village on a 25-acre plot in Guru Nanak Dev University.

Besides, the tourism department had also started major conservation project of the historic Gobindgarh fort, which was an army garrison for a long time.

The fort which was the home of the dreaded British army general 0’Dyre, the perpetrator of the major massacre in Jallianwala Bagh in 1919, was handed over to the state tourism department at a special function held on October 6.

The deputy commissioner had requested the central government to give a grant of Rs 50 crore for the complete restoration of the ancient fort to its original glory and making it a major tourist attraction for the visitors.

The army, which was presently controlling the fort, would handover its possession to the Punjab government during this month as the transfer formalities had already been formalised by the district administration.

The Punjab government planed to develop it as a model for tourists to explore the rich Indian history of the fort which was under the occupation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who had kept all his treasures and precious artifacts in the fort.

The government was planning to give a facelift to the Wagah check post where thousands of tourist witness the beating the retreat ceremony daily.

He said the loan offered by the Asian Development Bank on soft terms would further help to built more tourist spots and more monuments and sites.



Legend relived: Batalvi nite bowls over residents
Tribune News Service

Amritsasr, October 7
Sabrang, a cultural society, organised the first-ever Shiv Kumar Batalvi nite last evening at Naatshala here which has lately emerged as the hub of Indo-Pak cultural activities.

Though Batalvi had become a legend during his life-time and he belonged to Batala which is merely 40 km from here, nobody bothered to organise a programme after his death on May 7, 1973.

Batalvi had died in the 36th year of his life at his father-in-law’s house at Kir Mangyal, near Pathankot.

Interestingly, while oldest singer Jagjit Singh Jirvi sang the sad songs of his close friend Batalvi, youngest singer Hargun Kaur, a class VIII student, earned a lot of applause in a unique way.

The function was started with the song, “Nee ik teri akh kashni…” sung by
Simrat Kaur, while senior bank employee Ramesh Bhagat sang famous ghazals
and songs of Batalvi.

The jam-packed hall of Naatshala listened to the singers with rapt attention.

The chief guest of the function was Dr Avtar Singh of Amandip Hospital, himself a great Batalvi fan.

Urvinder Singh Bhasin and Manmohan Singh Dhillon, president and general secretary of Sabrang, respectively, announced to organise an annual singing festival in the name of Batalvi from next year.

Creator of Naatshala Jatinder Brar urged the office-bearers of Sabrang to organise at least two such functions every year.

Punjabi lecturer of Khalsa College Baljit Kaur Riar conducted the stage.

The singers were honoured with citations and shawls. Speaking on the occasion, Jirvi said there were a lot of poets but very few of them created works which immortalised them. Out of those few, Batalvi stood apart.

He said it was pity that Shiv had to leave this world so early but in his very small life span, he created works which were going to be remembered and respected forever.

In 1965, Shiv won the Sahitya Akademi award for his verse-drama “Loona”. He got married on February 5, 1967.



Mela to strengthen love for roots
P.K. Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 7
Students of as many as 101 schools are participating in the various competitions being organised to celebrate the “Maa Boli Punjabi mela” being conducted to strengthen the cultural roots of all the Punjabis.

The students, who are divided in seven clusters, named after great freedom fighters from this land, are taking part in nine events - declamation, debate, folk singing, poetry recitation, poster making, calligraphy, clay pot decoration, essay writing and multimedia presentation.

On the fifth day , the events of the festival were conducted at Government Senior Secondary School (Girls), Dhun.

As many as 22 students participated in seven events today. Prabhjeet won
the first position in the declamation contest, while Jasmeen got the first prize
in poster making.



Tourist complex gets second foundation stone
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, October 7
The sight of two foundation stones installed side by side at the Neem Chameli tourist complex on the Attari-Wagah checkpost raises many eyebrows.

Last year, union tourism minister Ambika Soni, along with then Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, had laid the foundation stone for the renovation of the complex.

While today another stone was laid next to the previous one by Soni and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for the inauguration of the complex, which had only been upgraded with a bit of a face-lift.

In a major faux pas at the inaugural function, the minister for information and public relation, who was first asked to speak on the occasion, was immediately restrained and tourism minister Hira Singh Gabria was requested to give an opening remark.

In a major embarrassment, articulate local BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu was also denied a chance to address the gathering.

This has perhaps happened for the second time as during the opening of the regional passport office, Sidhu was not allowed to address or even sit on the dais.



Fervour marks Ashtami puja
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 7
Durga Ashtami was celebrated with great religious fervour in all homes and various temples in the city today.

People made beelines to all the temples to offer prayers on the occasion.

A large number of young girls were worshipped on the occasion. The temples were tastefully decorated.

Meanwhile, the historic “langar” festival culminated today with a large number of families offering prayers at the ancient Hanuman temple.

Durga puja started at the Durga temple on Majitha Road here. Orissa Durga Puja Committee president Hari Om said the religious ceremony had commenced on October 5 and the immersion of Durga’s idols would be held on October 10.

Final touches were being given to the effigies of Ravana and his ilk by craftmen for their final burning on Dasehra.



‘Buta Prasad’ for 70,000 women
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 7
More than 70,000 saplings of various trees have been distributed under the newly launched ‘Nanhi Chhaan’ scheme by Punjab government in collaboration with SGPC and Impact Projects Pvt Ltd group.

The project was launched to in the Golden Temple premises in a bid to protect environment besides spreading awareness against female foeticide which has assumed an alarming proportion in the state.

The Impact group has set up two stalls, one at information office and other near
the sarai, to distribute saplings among female devotees who pay obeisance at the
holy shrine.

“The Golden Temple attracts a large number of visitors not only from the country but abroad too. So we decided that it would be a perfect place to deliver ‘Buta Prasad’ and spread the anti-femicide message,” said Sanjay Joshi, marketing manager of the corporate house.



DAV school lifts youth fest trophy
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 7
The DAV International School won the overall trophy in Mahatma Hans Raj Aryan Youth Festival for the third consecutive year.

The festival conducted at the DAV Public School, Dasuya, and the BBMB DAV Public School, Talwara.

A total number of 16 schools of Amritsar zone participated in the various events.

The school students won top positions in English declamation, bhajan, on-the-spot painting, greeting card making, quiz, vocal solo song and classical vocal solo.

Amanpreet Kaur and Jaspreet Kaur were adjudged the best speakers, while Karanbir Singh and Simranjit Kaur were declared the best singers during the declamation and folk song recitation competitions.

The competitions were organised by Manch Lok president Krishan Davesar in the memory of late Dr Gurdial Singh Phul, a noted dramatist and versatile personality.

The students of Ashoka Senior Secondary School enacted a play “Bhoot Swami” and the students of Khalsa College Senior Secondary School presented songs from “Chirian Da Chamba”.



Biz Buzz
Watches for ‘divas’

Amritsar: Titan watches announced the launch of Raga Diva, an exquisite range of watches for women, here on Tuesday.

Regional retail manager (north) Sanjay Guglani said the new collection of watches expressed the desire of the woman to be a diva.

He said each watch had been launched in a total of seven distinct styles in 24 models. The collection would be available at all the Titan showrooms across the country, he added. — OC

OBC scheme

The Oriental Bank of Commerce has launched a scheme to provide an insurance cover to all the new account holders during the current season.

Deputy general manager S.N. Chopra said the bank had devised the scheme for the people living in rural areas and in the periphery of the holy city to open accounts by depositing Rs 500 and become entitled to a free accident insurance cover.

The bank had decided to provide a bigger insurance cover to those customers who would retain a balance of Rs 500 plus round the year, he added.

Besides, the bank would also give free ATM cards. The bank inaugurated two ATMs at the Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences at Vallah and Ajnala Road. — TNS



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