C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Entrance for BEd goes
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
From the next session, there will be no entrance test for BEd course and the admission will be held on the basis of merit in colleges affiliated with three universities of Punjab.

This decision was taken by the Punjab government as the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed last year to abolish the entrance test for this course and consider the merit as the criterion for admission.

All BEd colleges affiliated with three universities in the region, Panjab University, Chandigarh, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and Punjabi University, Patiala, will adopt a centralised admission system for the course from the next session.

The eligibility criterion for admission of general category students will be 45 per cent marks and for the reserve category 40 per cent in graduation in any stream. As per records of the government, there are 190 B.Ed colleges affiliated to these three universities having 22,000 seats on roll for this stream.

Sources revealed that last year, around 32,000 students appeared in the B.Ed entrance test out of which 12,000 cleared the test and 10,000 seats remained vacant.

The sources stated that even the National Council for Teachers Education had recommended that there was no need of conducting entrance test for this course and the universities should grant admission on merit. Sources revealed that self-finance association of colleges of education had also given a representation to the government to abolish the entrance test.

Higher education secretary, Punjab, Anjali Bhawra, stated that the government had approved this proposal but due to imposition of the code of conduct due to the Lok Sabha elections, the decision was yet to be executed by the universities. She said for timely implementation of this decision, they would send the proposal to the election commission for approval.



Drugs in City
Role of volunteers in NGOs under scanner
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
The Tribune expose on rampant drug-trafficking in the city has brought into focus the dubious role being played by the so-called “volunteers” of some NGOs connected with the State Aids Control Society (SACS).

Police sources disclosed that both suspects, identified as Prem Pal and Dharminder, alias Kala, alias Sobti, of Ram Darbar were volunteers of an NGO working for SACS and were carrying identity cards of the NGO “Sehat” also.

The police arrested one of the suspects Prem Pal last night and found that he and his accomplice were drug addicts.

They used to carry syringes and other schedule H drugs and gave the same to the addicts at high prices. A police official informed that the accused procured drugs from Ambala and they were not alone in the nefarious trade in the city.

Dr Vaneeta Das, director, State AIDS Control Society (SACS), Chandigarh, said, neither we issued any identity card nor we knew about this activity. We will start to become more vigilant and would direct the NGOs to issue cards after verifying the credentials of the volunteers and also to keep a check on their activities.

Sources said even after the arrest of Prem Pal, the police called one Ramesh Sharma, an activist of the NGO, and told him about the activities of his volunteers. The police said the activist feigned ignorance about the illegal sale of drugs by his men.

A police official, preferring anonymity who remained posted in the slum areas of the city, said he had arrested several youths involved in drug-trafficking under the garb of volunteers of the NGO active for the prevention of AIDS. The drug-peddlers were arrested repeatedly by the police, but under the innocuous sections, which failed to act as a deterrent to their activities.

Another police official said one Sheeru of Sector 25 and Kulwinder of Sector 56 were arrested around six-seven times for indulging in the sale of schedule H drugs. Besides, there were several volunteers of the NGO working for the prevention of AIDS who were arrested time and again by the UT police.

He said the accused used to call officials of the NGO and apprised them of the activities of their volunteers. However, the NGO washed its hands of the issues on one pretext or the other. Sometime, it feigned ignorance about the illegal activities of its volunteers. Their role came under scanner when the same persons were arrested time and again using the name and identity cards of the same NGO.

Sources said slums, rehabilitation colonies, jungle areas in and around the city, liquor vends and roadside cigarette and bidi vendors are the popular hangouts for these sellers of schedule H drugs. They carry syringes and other drugs in their bags posing as volunteers, telling AIDS victims not to use needle and syringes used earlier.



2 chemist shops sealed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
After Chandigarh Tribune exposed the easy availability of Schedule-H drugs in the city, the Administration today sealed two chemist shops, including one at Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, which were selling these drugs without prescription.

A decoy customer was sent by Health Secretary Ram Niwas to purchase the Schedule-H drugs (Augmenting 625 Duo Tablet & Eltroxin tablet) from Hospital Medical & Surgical Store, GMSH, Sector-16, and Nav Bharat Medical Hall, Sector-16. Both sold these drugs and issued the cash memo to the customer without prescription and without mentioning the name of patient/doctor.

Later, drugs control officer inspected these chemist shops. And after it was proved that these firms had sold these drugs without prescription, the sale/purchase of both chemist shops were stopped with immediate effect till the decision on the reply of show-cause notice issued to the firms.

According to the drug control officer, the shops were sealed as they were violated Rule 65 of the Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Home Secretary-cum-Secretary, Health, Ram Niwas, held a meeting with the staff of the State Drugs Controller, Chandigarh. During the meeting, Niwas emphasised that chemists should strictly follow the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act.

Meanwhile, as a result of the meeting of the health officials called by the Home Secretary, the chemists have been directed to maintain a register for sale of certain Schedule-H drugs which have high sedative nature, eltrocin, lam, acetrome, augmenetin, tramazac, warfarin, digoxin and ativan.



Suspect nailed but under mild section
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Though the police today arrested a suspect Prem Pal, who was captured by The Tribune on camera selling schedule H drugs in Ram Darbar on Monday, it seems to be soft-pedalling on the case.

Instead of booking the suspect under relevant sections of drug trafficking, the police arrested him under rather an innocuous Section 109 IPC, which is more of a preventive nature. Legal experts dubbed the police action as “common practice” aimed at providing a “safe escapade” to those involved in the trade. They also said such an attitude of the police was directly resulting in the flourishing of the drug trafficking in the city.

Explaining the reason behind not invoking harsher provision of the law to book the accused for drug trafficking, a police officer said they could not make any recovery from the accused, which was “mandatory”. Besides, he also added that there was no complainant and witnesses to the incident.

While condemning the police inaction, Hemant Goswami, a city-based Right to Information Act activist, told TNS that the police could book the accused under the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and under the Drug Control Act. Not only this, the Indian Penal Code has also certain provisions under which such persons could be booked for indulging in trade of the drugs. The police played down and hush up these cases by invoking milder provisions of the law, thus indirectly encouraging the drug peddlers.

Goswami said even after unearthing the drug trafficking by the media, the police had not invoked criminal provisions despite the fact that the crime had taken place. Rather the police took action to prevent the anticipated crime.

Goswami added that in case of murder, the police required two witnesses for trial. They had photographs and could take the statement of the person buying the drug if they wanted to take any action.

He further said the district magistrate had already issued orders for removal of 162 roadside cigarette and biri vendors in the city, but the police had failed to implement the orders. These vendors under the garb of selling tobacco products were the prime couriers of the drugs in the city.

Meanwhile, the accused was produced before a local court, which remanded him to judicial custody. About the recovery or the channel or the sources from where the drugs were procured by the accused, the police has no answers. A police officer said Prem Pal, in his forties, and his accomplice identified as Dharmnider alias Kala alias Sobti, are drug addicts.



Peddlers off streets for now
Neha Miglani

Chandigarh, March 25
An air of suspicion hangs around the bylanes of Ram Darbar, a day after Chandigarh Tribune exposed the flourishing racket of drug trade in the area.

Day-long checks by the police on Tuesday coupled with the arrest of a suspect Prem Pal has apparently sent the drug traffickers underground, at least for the time being. However, a majority of residents, who were tired of the nuisance, are elated at the exposure but are skeptical about the peddlers remaining off the streets.

When Tribune team visited the area today, residents were apparently scared to speak openly but admitted that since yesterday the usual “hustle-bustle” at the known “hangouts” of these peddlers - near the park and the market - was missing.

Shopkeepers, who were quite vocal on Monday about the menace, refused to say anything on record on the plea that these peddlers may be down at the moment but they were certainly not out. A shopkeeper revealed that these peddlers had connections and people were generally afraid to speak against them.

Incidentally, when this reporter was talking to another shopkeeper, some local youths signalled him to keep quite. The shopkeeper flatly refused to talk even though he had willingly shared all information on Monday.

A housewife Nirmala (name changed), said, “They had been operating here for quite some time now. But nobody was taking any action. We are extremely happy that finally something is being done about this case but only hope that it stays this way,” she said, adding that the drug addiction was high in the area with even schoolchildren buying illegal drugs from such peddlers.



Notice to Students
Parents of Gurukul students block NH
Tribune News Service

Parents of Jainendra Gurukul schoolchildren block road in Panchkula on Wednesday. A Tribune photograph

Panchkula, March 25
Parents of students of Jainendra Gurukul School, Panchkula, living in the Gurukul colony, blocked the traffic on national highway while protesting against the affidavit asking from the students regarding their residential status by school authorities here today. More than 100 parents sat on dharna at Panchkula-Kalka national highway No 22 and raised slogans against the school authorities, leading to a traffic jam.

The traffic could be normalised only after 20 minutes when DSP Rajesh Kalia, along with SHO Baljit Singh, intervened and pacified the protesters.

The residents of Gurukul colony informed the police that recently, school authorities had issued notices to 60 students, asking them to submit affidavits regarding their residential status, failing which their names would be struck off. Today again, similar notices were handed over to 70 students.

The school authorities and tenants in the colony were under legal dispute in the court over the tenancy right of the residents. The school authorities claim that many people are illegally living in the colony. There was a possibility that many of them could be criminals, said VK Jain, secretary of school management.

It was only early this month that a family had fled the colony after duping locals of more than Rs 20 lakh, said Jain.

Following the protest, the management, however, scrapped the notices.


MC hires vehicles to pick leaves
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Deflecting from the practice of burning dry leaves, the MC, this season, has hired six private vehicles to ensure that the leaves are not burnt and are taken care of.

Every year, around this time, the city is literally in the grip of dry leaves scattered all over. Consequently, either the residents get the leaves burnt causing pollution or the leaves rot on their own and mixing with garbage start emanating foul smell.

It must be mentioned that deepening on the nature, type and age of a tree, on an average, a tree sheds tonnes of leaves in this season.

To tackle the chronic problem, initially, six private vehicles have been hired and five more will be added to the fleet, besides MC’s own four. All these vehicles would be allotted sectorwise areas to pick all the dry leaves from the localities. Interestingly, while earlier, MC was facing problems as to where the leaves should be dumped. With its garbage processing plant in Dadu Majra, even that problem has been addressed.

The collected leaves would be dumped in the storage tank of the garbage processing plant. Also, each vehicle would make three rounds in the sector allotted to collect as much in a day and dump it in the storage tank.

Informing this, Dr Dewan, medical officer of health (MOH), MC, said the decision had been taken today with the approval of the MC Commissioner, Roshan Sankaria.

The vehicles would start the collection from tomorrow itself, though a permanent solution for this pertinent problem would be figured out soon as well.

On the lines of European countries, on-the-spot grinders and blowers can also be considered,” he added.

According to sources, the move to dump dry leaves in the storage tank would work both ways as the garbage processing plant was as it’s not getting enough garbage up to its optimum capacity, due to want of dry garbage.

But with dry leaves being dumped, this will only add to the calorie factor of the plant.

It must be mentioned here that recently, the plant as closed for some time on the pretext of installing new machines.

The period of closure also expired today and the MOH had issued orders to the officials concerned to comply with the decision of dumping leaves.



Recession, bickering take toll on residential project
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Recession and the tug-of-war between real-estate giant Parsvnath Developers and the city administration seem to have taken toll on the ultra-luxury residential complex, Prideasia, in the IT Park here.

Even as the mega project is under the scanner of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the developer reportedly seemed to be having second thoughts on the Rs 4,100-crore high-priced residential-cum-commercial complex in the up-market area.

Now, the developers of the housing project, which has been mired in controversy from the beginning, have reportedly sent three options to the administration-- terminate the contract, restructure the deal or continue with the project on pro-rate basis. In fact, developers' recent communication to the administration seems to be surprising as no decision could be taken till the CVC clears the project.

Sources said the troubles for the project seem to be never-ending. While the UT administration delayed on providing encumbrance-free land for the project spread over 123 acres as the developers had defaulted on an amount of over Rs 300 crore to the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB). The Parsvnath had bagged the prestigious project, being developed in public-private partnership with the CHB for an amount of Rs 821 crore.

The project, whose first phase is to start later this year, is already running behind schedule, sending investors who had invested lakhs of rupees, in a tizzy. The current recession, which had hit the real-estate industry hard, seems to have compounded the already-complicated problems of the developers.

In fact, inquiries at the project site today revealed that the pace of work had slowed down over the past several months. With sword of uncertainty hanging over the project in the wake of various problems being faced by the developers, questions are being raised over the completion of the project. The latest communication to the administration demonstrates the Catch-22 situation, in which the developer is caught over the project.

Official sources said that final decision on the project would only be taken after a go-ahead from the CVC.



GMADA spends little on basic amenities
Rs 600 crore spent on land for roads

Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 25
If one goes by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA)’s spending during the current fiscal year, it seems that a major part of its funds has been spent on acquiring land for new roads and to strengthen some of the existing roads in the city. On the contrary, little has been spent on upgrading the basic amenities in the already developed urban area.

Though the acquisitions for all the major road projects would run into several crores, the authority during the fiscal year has so far spent nearly Rs 600 crore on land acquisitions for roads, scheduled to provide direct connectivity to the proposed international airport and for upgradation of existing roads. Around Rs 1,700 crore have to be spent to acquire around 1,200 acres for multiple access to the airport.

Another Rs 250 crore were GMADA’s share in paying land compensation for the 300 acres acquired for the proposed international airport. A few crore rupees more have been spent on acquiring land to provide road connectivity for the mega project in Mohali’s master plan.

By the acquisitions, the authority might have surplus land for future projects, but the existing roads in the city and peripheral areas are crying for attention. The only saving grace for the government has been that it has made the GMADA spent roughly Rs 70 crore during the current fiscal year to lay new roads and strengthening of the existing roads.

Of this, around Rs 16 crore alone have so far been spent on strengthening and widening of the road around Sector 62, the proposed central business district, widening of the road running from of Phase 3A to SCL and widening of the road from Sector 48, Chandigarh, to Industrial Area, Phase 9, here. Nearly Rs 9 crore of the total Rs 34 crore have been spent on the road that would ultimately connect Sector 48 road with the Chandigarh-Kharar road at Desumajra.

“Akali government is hard selling the future projects, which are going to attract investments in the coming years. It should focus on strengthening the existing basic amenities in the developed city. Roads with the MC are in a bad condition, and water supply and sewerage systems need to be improved. There is a parking chaos in markets, and streetlights are not working,” said Kanwaljeet Singh, a resident of Sector 69.

Defending the spending on infrastructure, the GMADA officials said the best road infrastructure would act as a catalyst to attract investment. This had been envisaged by Jurong Ltd, Singapore-based consultants.



12 officers deputed to help voters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
In order to facilitate residents of Chandigarh to be enrolled as electors or to change their address, the Administration has divided the Chandigarh constituency among 12 officers designating them as Assistant Electoral Registration Officers (AERO).

According to a press note, the residents, who are not enrolled till date, can apply with their respective AERO till April 7.

Residents of Sectors 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 and Kaimbwala can apply to Assistant Estate Officer Ashwani Kumar. Residents of Sectors 11, 12, 14, 15, 24, 25, Dhanas, Housing Board, Milk Colony, Dhanas, Aman and Chaman Colony, Sarangpur, Lahora, Lahora Colony, Kalyan Labour Colony, Kumhar Labour Colony, Janata Labour Colony, Sector 25-D, Rehabilitation Colony, Khuda Jassu, Khuda Ali Sher can contact Director, Social Welfare, Amandeep Kaur.

Inhabitants of Sectors 16, 22 and 23 can apply to Joint Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, T P S Phoolka, whereas residents of Sectors 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 can contact SDM (East) Niharika Rai. SDM (South) Prerna Puri will look after Sectors 7, 26, 27, 28, Grain Market, Bapu Dham Colony Phase I, II and III, Sansi Colony, Bardana Colony, Madrasi Colony, Mahatma Gandhi Colony, Timber Market and Sanjay Labour Colony. Residents of Sectors 29, 30, CSIO Colony, MW House, Industrial Area Phase-I, Labour Colony No. 4, Poultry Farm, Daria and Raipur Khurd can apply to Director, Information Technology M S Brar.

Residents of Sectors 31, 47, Industrial Area Phase II, Labour Colony Phase II and Sector 31, Hallomajra, Ram Darbar, Phase I and II, Bhagat Singh Colony and Behlana can contact Secretary, Municipal Corporation P.K. Sharma, whereas residents of Sectors 32, 33, 34, 44, 45, 46, Burail, Colony No 5, Faidian, Nizampur Farm, Kesho Ram Colony, Sectors 48 and 49 societies can apply to Additional Director (Administration), Government Medical College and Hospital R.S. Verma.

Inhabitants of Sector 35, 36, 42, 43,Kajheri, Kajheri Colony, Nehru Colony, Attawa, Kuldip Colony, Mazdoor Colony, Pandit Colony, Sector 50, 51, 52 and 61 can apply to Director of the CTU P. S. Shergill while residents of Maloya, Palsora, Maloya Rehabilitation Colony, Lal Bahadur Shastri Colony, Palsora, Ambedkar Avas Yojna, Badheri, Adarsh Colony, Dadu Majra, Site and Service Complex Dadu Majra, Buterla, Shahpur, Rajiv Labour Colony, Sector 55 and 56 can apply to Secretary of the Chandigarh Housing Board Kamlesh Kumar.

Residents of Sector 37, 38, 39, 40, 41 can apply to Assistant Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation Parminder Pal Singh while people of Kishangarh, Bhagwan Pura M.M. Railway Colony, Shivalik Enclave, New Indira Colony, Gawala Colony, Village Mauli Jagran, Mauli Jagran Colony, Makhanmajra and Raipur Kalan can contact DPI (Schools) Samwartak Singh.



Past record matters

A candidate’s past record is on what I will base my decision of choosing him or her over others. Caste or religious affiliations should not be the deciding factors while voting in the elections.

This has sadly been the case in our country where political parties field candidates purely on their caste or creed associations so that they can exploit the religious or casteist sentiments to get the maximum votes.

This disturbing trend should be checked and youngsters by not supporting such parties can give a befitting reply to those, who thing masses can be divided on these issues.

The right to vote is a precious one and all should use this opportunity responsibly so that only deserving people get a chance to govern our country.

The youth of our nation has an added responsibility in ensuring that the secular foundations of our Constitution remain intact.

I am sure the youth of today will not waste this chance of making their voice heard this time around by choosing able and competent politicians.

Jeetpal Singh



39 polling stations sensitive
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 25
The six very sensitive polling stations of the SAS Nagar assembly constituency (053), in which 17 booths will be set up, are located in Mohali town itself, even as 39 polling stations have been declared sensitive in connection with the Lok Sabha elections.

These polling stations are: Paragon Senior Secondary School, Sector 71, (four polling booths), Public Health Complex in Industrial Area, Phase III-A, (two booths) , office building of the District Industries Centre ( two booths), Sant Isher Singh Public School, Sector 70, (four booths), Government Senior Secondary School, Phase III-B (three booths), and Gian Jyoti Public School , Phase II (two booths).

As many as 74 polling booths, to be set up in 39 polling stations, have been declared sensitive. Many of these are also located in Mohali town. Among these are Shastri Model School, Phase I (4), Public Health office, Phase II (2), Khalsa College, Phase III-A (3), BR Ambedkar Institute , Phase III-B2 (3), Sherwood Convent School , Phase IV (3), Shivalik Public School, Phase VI (4), Government Elementary School, Phase V (4), Government Elementary School, Phase IX (3), Government School, Phase VII (4), Ajit Karam Singh School, Phase XI (4), and Government High School, Phase XI (4).

There will be a total of 170 booths in the Mohali sub-division and there are 1,62,861 voters as registered on January 21 this year.



AWWA not substantially funded by Army: CIC
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Laying the controversy over the source of funds for the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) to rest, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that AWWA is not “substantially” funded by the Army. Consequently, it does not come under the purview of the Right to Information Act.

The CIC also ruled that the public should not get the impression that Army personnel and facilities were being misused for AWWA and they should take “remedial measures” in this regard.

“A written statement has been submitted to CIC certifying that no substantial funds were given to AWWA by the canteen stores department,” Col S Balasubramanian (retd), representing AWWA said. “It was also our contention that the time devoted by officers and jawans towards AWWA activities was not substantial,” he added.

A local lawyer, Maj Guneet Chaudhary (retd), had sought information on the sources of funds for AWWA and the role and extent of involvement of Army manpower and other facilities in its functioning.

The issue had led to a considerable debate within the establishment and some controversy was also generated over the contents of earlier replies and contentions filed by the Army before the CIC. Every formation, from Army Headquarters down to the unit level, has an AWWA establishment, which is involved in welfare measures, including running vocational training centres and limited commercial activities.

The lawyer had sought information on the sources and quantum of funds, number of serving officers and jawans deputed to AWWA offices and establishments, audit reports and orders issued on the subject by Army HQs.

During the earlier hearings, the Army had claimed that it had no link with AWWA as it was an NGO. However, AWWA was represented by Col GS Bhandari, a serving Army officer working as staff officer to the AWWA president.

The appellant had contended that copies of posting orders produced by the Army showed that AWWA was substantially using the human resources of the Army. Records further revealed that the audit of AWWA accounts was conducted at the behest of the Army authorities.



Disabled CRPF trooper struggles for pension
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
A disabled Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan, who invalided out of service after being injured in anti-terrorist operations, is struggling for the past seven years to get his monetary dues. Initially, he was retained in service and hence the question of pension did not arise. By the time he was invalided out, the stipulated period from the date of injury for applying for pension had expired.

Jaswant Singh, a resident of Jalandhar, has claimed that although he was eligible for disability pension under existing provisions in addition to invaliding pension, the same was not granted to him.

He was severely injured in a terrorist attack while serving in J&K in 1994. His disability was held attributable to the risk involved in government duty. He was invalided out in 2002 after a medical board found him unsuitable for duties in the CRPF.

On discharge, Jaswant made a representation for extraordinary disability pension, but it was rejected on the grounds that he had not applied within five years of being injured and was hence ineligible under pension rules. Jaswant has contended that under the rules, personnel injured in militant attack are to be paid a lump sum compensation in lieu of disability pension within five years if they are retained in service irrespective of the fact if they are later invalided.

He approached authorities several times but his claims were returned on the ground that he did not apply within the stipulated time period.

He has claimed that initially he was retained in service in a disabled state and later invalided out of service seven years later. Consequently, he has been deprived due compensation. The matter is now pending before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.



e wild wild web
Indian elections 2009 and Web 2.0
Anil Maheshwari

The use of the cyberspace for poll campaign by political parties of various hues and colours figure prominently in election strategies for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.. The BJP is apparently having an edge over its national rival the Congress Party in using cyberspace.

Skeptics, in particular the academics and commentators turn election experts are out to debunk the strategy of the BJP to borrow the Obama’s successful use of the Web 2.0 in clicking the US Presidential elections. These experts opine that the penetration of the internet in India is very low. Therefore, a high-profile electioneering on the net is unlikely to net desired result.

Arun Kumar of the School of Social Sciences in New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) says the BJP campaign is unlikely to help it garner too many votes because "Internet-savvy people are a small portion of the population". His colleague, Dipankar Gupta, too opines: "The Congress seems to think there is not much advantage to be had by going for an Obama-style Internet campaign. The BJP campaign is unlikely to help it secure too many votes, just as it is unlikely that Congress's prospects will be harmed as most real voters don't surf the Internet." According to him, what really matters are face-to-face interactions based on issues that matter to the people. Similarly, he says, the lack of an Internet campaign is unlikely to harm the Congress.

Such skepticism on the importance of the internet in Indian politics has some valid reasons, given that less than five per cent of Indians have internet access. If the percentage is converted into number, it would come around 50 million, majority of whom falling in the age group of 25 to 35 years. The high-profile campaigning on the net may fail to net votes accordingly but will go a long way in creating a perception about Advani and his party BJP. And the election game veers around perception. And the budget for the net advertising is only Rs. fifty million, a small pie in the total electioneering budget of a major political party.

Moreover, technology can not only be used to present a prime ministerial candidate to the Indian electorate, it can also be used to showcase him to an International audience.

With about 700 million voters only two months away, the BJP seems to be targeting voters who are mostly young and net savvy though the projected Prime Minister by the BJP has turned 81 only a few months ago. "Advani for prime minister" is the theme of five campaigns by the BJP on more than 2,000 web sites, including those of the US, British and Pakistani media which Indians frequently visit. The detractors of the Internet-campaign of the BJP points out that the BJP advertisements are too run on some porno sites. They fail to understand that a search engine, given the task of selecting 2,000 web sites, picks up any site on the basis of visitors.

A few days ago, a national newspaper carried an anchor story on the BJP-Advani advertisements on the site of the Pakistani newspaper The Dawn. Perhaps the writer of the news story was callously ignorant about the large number of Indian visitors of the Pakistani newspaper site. Little wonder, the search engine included the web site of the Dawn in the list of 2,000 web sites.

Prodyut Bora, an IIM-A graduate who is the convenor of the BJP's IT cell, has claimed: "We are the leaders in the use of Internet for elections."

All major parties such as the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) have their official websites.

The CPI-M website has comments on a whole range of issues.On the coming Lok Sabha polls, it says: "The party should conduct a vigorous political campaign in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls. We should call for the defeat of the BJP and the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) to ensure that the communal forces are kept out of power at the centre. The campaign should attack the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government's anti-people economic policies. The Left parties, along with the secular parties, should work together to make a non-Congress, non-BJP alternative realisable."

The Samajwadi Party's official website says: "This website aims to communicate with the masses and let people understand the party better. As time changes, technology changes; Samajwadi Party believes in staying up to date with technology and using it for betterment."

The website of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) welcomes visitors to "join our cause and make a difference".

The BJP is reported to be treading a cautious path after its bitter experience in the 2004 Lok Sabha election, when the "India Shining" campaign had boomranged.

It is campaign time of the political kind. Close on the heels of Congress party unveiling its ‘Jai Ho’ campaign and roping in the ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ kids, BJP has roped in Frank Simoes-Tag and Utopia to carry forward its ‘Majboot Neta Nirnayak Sarkar’ poll campaign. BJP will use diverse platform like television, FM radio and print media to woo voters in the forthcoming general elections.

Frank Simoes-Tag and Utopia have won the contract for the media campaign from among 12 leading advertising companies. Frank Simoes is credited with the "Incredible India" campaign of the Union Ministry of Tourism, while Utopia had given some earthy campaign material in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections last year. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had a landslide victory on the basis of the media campaign.

The BJP would begin with television advertisements and hoardings, to be followed by a blitzkrieg in the print media and on radio.

The BJP has also planned to send SMSes to around 35 crore mobile users across the country. advertisement campaign, the BJP is planning to launch a radio campaign through 280 FM stations across the country.

Frank Simoes-Tag will take care of the television and print campaigns, besides outdoor media, while Utopia will be in charge of the radio campaign. The party has also roped in popular playback singers Shaan and Roop Kumar Rathod to sing the jingles, which will run on television and radio. The party has already tied up with Yahoo! India for its online campaign.

Anil is an editor with Instablogs.comanilm@instablogs.com



Employees burn effigies of govt, pay panel
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 25
Members of the Punjab and UT Employees Joint Action Committee burnt the effigies of the Punjab government and pay commission near PUDA Bhawan here today in protest against the failure of the authorities concerned to implement the pay commission recommendations.

The protesters, comprising class III and IV employees and carrying black flags, said the protests would go on till March 31 in all districts of the state. They said the government was not protecting the interests of employees. They said it had talked about the pay scales before the elections but later a silence was adopted even when the implementation of the recommendations of the pay commission had nothing to do with the Lok Sabha elections.

Union leaders said the pay commission had failed to submit a report even when the term of the commission expired on March 3 which was totally unjustified and it appeared that the commission was not acting independently but was allegedly under the influence of the government.

The protesters threatened that if the commission failed to submit its report to the government at the earliest , they would hold protest march towards the residences of commission members and also gherao ministers to remind them of the promises they had made.



Kathak performance enthrals audience
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, March 25
Glamour, grace and grandeur marked scintillating Kathak classical dance recital by Dr Swapnil Karmahe organised by regional chapter of the ICCR in collaboration with Pracheen Kala Kendra at their auditorium here today.

The young Kathak exponent of Lucknow gharana commenced with an invocatory Vandana “Banmore mukut natvar” in raga darbari depicting the virtuous and awesome persona of Lord Krishna through dance mudras.

She then delineated all syllables of fundamental (Nritta paksh) kathak like tode, tude parnas before presenting two “Aamad” compositions of Raja Chakradhar Singh and Lachhu Maharaj in romantic feel (Lasya ras) laced with graces.

After an ashatpadi of Bindadin Maharaj, Dr Swapnil concluded her recital with a captivating “Chaturang”. With a melodious mix of sargam, taranna, pakhawaj syllables, kavit bols and entrancing dance spell Swapnil lived up to her reputation as the star in the making.

Classical vocalist Prof Rita Gangahar led an array of accomplished musicians, including Sunil Sharma, on harmonium and vocals, Parkash Nepali (flute), Mehmood Khan (tabla) and Rajesh Kumar on sarangi.

Gyan Chand, regional manager, ICCR, welcomed the chief guest Rajiv Sharma, who honoured the artistes.



Road safety campaign ends

Chandigarh, March 25
ArriveSafe, a city-based NGO, today concluded its special road safety campaign 2009 conducted on behalf of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

Rupinder Singh, general secretary of the NGO, said persons were urged to adopt safe and responsible behaviour on the roads. The campaign was designed to sensitise masses about leading human factors responsible for the road fatalities and it also consisted of streetplays, distribution of educational material and putting reflective tapes on cycle, rickshaws and rehris.

HS Doon, the UT SP (Traffic and security), appreciated the work of the NGO in promoting the road safety in the city. He promised all possible support to help the NGO in achieving their goal of making Chandigarh “a road safety model city” of India. — TNS



Govt under transfer fire
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 25
Already under attack for allegedly allowing officials to remain in their home districts after the enforcement of the model code, transfer and then re-posting of a tehsildar by the Punjab government has raised many eyebrows.

Three days after being transferred from Kharar to Anandpur Sahib, Rajesh Dhiman, tehsildar, was posted back at Kharar on March 2, the day the model code came into force. Interestingly, other tehsildar Malkiat Singh, who replaced Dhiman at Kharar from February 27 to March 2, before being transferred back to Anandpur Sahib.

Enquiries reveal that on February 27, the office of the Financial Commissioner, revenue, passed orders stating that Malkiat Singh and Rajesh Dhiman will swap their place of posting. Accordingly, Malkiat Singh joined at Mohali. Then after three days, the Financial Commissioner cancelled its own orders on March 2.

Accordingly, Rajesh Dhiman joined back the same day in the evening at Mohali. The entire day, Malkiat Singh worked at Mohali tehsil and worked as sun registrar.



Weather turns pleasant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Light showers, accompanied by cool breeze, brought the soaring temperature down and lead to a chilly evening today.

The weather that had been getting warmer since last few days turned pleasant last evening with mild showers, which continued in phases today. The markets that had born deserted look for last few afternoons had people visiting and enjoying. Even places like Sukhna lake drew a large number of visitors.

The maximum temperature recorded for today was 25.2 degree Celsius and the minimum was 17 degree Celsius.

According to Chattar Singh, director, meteorological department, “The weather will remain pleasant for next few days. Though it will be cloudy and chilly tomorrow but rains can only be expected day after.”



Bees sting 10 in Sector 4
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
More than 10 persons in Sector 4 suffered the wrath of honeybees, which stung them today when they were on their way to home.

“The swarm of bees besieged visitors at leisure valley and stung them. More than 10 people received injuries on various parts of their bodies,” said one of the injured. “It is not the first time when people have been attacked by bees near the water tank,” said one of the victims. According to doctors, bee attack can prove fatal in allergic and hypersensitive cases.

Expert says always squat whenever bees attack, try covering yourself with any sheet, drink plenty of water for maintaining the blood pressure and scrap off sting sideways with knife or fingernail, don’t squeeze.



PU selected as node
Networking of national, international institutes

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) has selected Panjab University as one of the nodes for the envisaged networking of universities, education institutions, research organisations and other organisations of importance at the national and international level.

The selection of the university as a node has been possible on its strength in research and useful technical and research information available.

According to BS Sohi, director, UIET, Panjab University, is sending a proposal to the national knowledge network (NKN) for setting up a node to be connected to the NKN through a high-band connectivity (of order of 100 mbps), which will enable the university for collaborative research and sharing of useful data with the national educational institutions, research laboratories, state data centres and Edusat.

This will allow complete integration of the university at the national and international level by sharing of high performance computing facilities, e-libraries, virtual classrooms and other large data bases.

This will meet the objectives of establishing a high-speed backbone connectivity, which will enable knowledge and information sharing, collaborative research, development and innovation, facilitating advanced distance education in specialised fields like engineering, science, medicine, facilitating an ultra high speed e-governance backbone and connection between different sectoral networks in the field of research, education, health, commerce and governance.



Trick to hack ICSE papers on the Net
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Every year, the board exams bring with it the rumours of papers leak and this time social networking sites have emerged as the first choice of rumour mongers.

This online mania that came to light after the cancellation of ICSE geography paper yesterday after it being leaked in Bangalore perturbed the authorities and students alike. While on sites like Orkut, one of the members from Kerela with the profile name ‘!!?»??Ñ Í?ÅÅEÀ«? <http://www.orkut.co.in/Main>’ has not only offered to share trick to hack ICSE papers but also is ready to share the software claiming to have procured it from the ICSE Board.

He has invited around 2,000 members of the community to share their mail addresses and, interestingly, has even got numerous requests. Similarly, another user with the profile name BRING IT ON !!!! <http://www.orkut.co.in/Main>, who, claims to be from the city itself, had previously claimed to have possessed the CBSE maths papers and invited responses.

Not only these sites, but also referral forums like icseguess.com has users like extravagant_dude, who has offered to share the ICSE 2009 papers which he claims to have procured from Delhi.

While this rumour business continues to flourish, the authorities are yet to work out a way to curtail it. Jerry Arathoon, Additional Secretary and officiating CEO, ICSE, said, “We are facing such a situation for the first time, so will have to work out how to counter Net mania? I got to know that one of the sites has made many communities about it.”



Lecture on significance of police admn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
A special lecture on role and significance of the police administration organised by the police administration held at Panjab University today.

Jagbir Singh, DSP, Operations and Principal Training Centre, Chandigarh, delivered a lecture to postgraduate students on the occasion.

Jagbir spoke on the significance and role of the police, particularly at the police station level. He pointed to several lacunae in the working of the system, such as non-registration of FIRs, violation of human rights and behavioural problems constraining effective working of the police organisations.

According to him, the Chandigarh police, however, is delivering the best of its services and emerging as the model police organisation in the country. All 11 police stations in Chandigarh have been ISO certified.

Prof B S Ghuman, chief coordinator, the Centre for Emerging Areas in Social Sciences, said this series of the special lectures had been specifically designed aiming to expose the postgraduate students of the police administration course to the applied aspects of the working of the police force.



Refresher course ends
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
An UGC-sponsored refresher course in library and information science organised jointly by the academic staff college and the department of library and information science concluded here today.

A total of 33 participants from various parts of the country participated in the refresher course.

Prof R C Sobti, Vice-Chancellor, highlighted the importance of librarians, who were most sought after by the academic community.

Prof SK Sharma, director, academic staff college, talked about the importance of the refresher course, as it would help the participants to improve their library services.



Law institute wins moot court
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 25
The team of Army Institute of Law, Mohali, has won the third National moot court competition held by Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, from March 5 to 8.

The competition saw 44 teams, including seven national law colleges, locking horns and displaying their legal skills to be adjudged the eventual winners and win the coveted trophy.

The team comprising of Zorawar Singh, Sumit Kumar, Tanya Chib and Nanki Grewal, after beating Indra Prastha University in the quarterfinals and Utkal University in the semi-finals, clinched the trophy by defeating National Law School of India University, Bangalore.



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