L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Man immolates himself at mini secretariat
Mohit Khanna/TNS

Ludhiana, December 20
In a horrifying incident a 58-year-old man committed suicide by setting himself ablaze after pouring petrol on his body in the city’s crowded mini secretariat today afternoon.

The man, identified as Ajit Singh, a resident of Guram village near here who retired as a senior laboratory assistant in Government Senior Secondary School, Dehlon, was rushed to the Civil Hospital with critical burns. However, soon after reaching the hospital, he succumbed to his injuries. Doctors stated he had sustained 100 percent burns.

The incident took place at around noon when Ajit arrived at the mini secretariat. According to an eyewitness, he was carrying some books and a bottle filled with petrol. For some time he reportedly kept staring at the deputy commissioner's office. Suddenly he poured petrol on his clothes and turban and set himself afire.

Before anybody could react Ajit turned into a fireball and rushed outside the DC’s office. Bystanders tried to douse the flames and someone even threw his coat at the victim in a bid to put them out but all efforts to save him proved futile.

It was later learnt a tea stall vendor poured a bucket of water and managed to douse the fire. Ajit was rushed to the hospital in a privately owned vehicle. Deputy commissioner Rahul Tewari has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident.

Police station house officer Gurpreet Singh, who retrieved a suicide note from Ajit, stated the latter had not specifically named anyone in the note. “However the victim has stated in his suicide note that some people were conspiring against him and his family was in danger. He has also mentioned in the note he was not satisfied with what he termed the ‘decision’ and it was imposed upon him. The note however failed to throw any light on the ‘decision’”, Gurpreet added.

Ajit’s son, Varinder Singh, 25, who was visiting the Civil Hospital, said his relatives informed him about the tragedy.

"Soon after the news broke that my father committed self immolation I rushed to the hospital only to see him dead," said a visibly shocked Varinder, who was accompanied by his friends and maternal uncle.

He refused to provide any information about the factors leading up to his father’s death. However, when asked by the police he stated Ajit had a “minor dispute” with the state education department and because of that he used to visit the mini secretariat frequently.

The police has begun proceedings under section 174 of the CrPC.

Suicide Note (translated from Punjabi)

I am disturbed beacuse of false allegations levelled against my family members. A few anti-social elements are creating problems for me and my family. We are innocent and being harassed. This is a one-sided decision which favoured the accused. No one is addressing our grievances. The whole family is being pushed to death. Had law existed in the country, we would have not been in such a pathetic condition.


We ignored warning signs, rue villagers 
Mahesh Sharma

Guram (Ludhiana), December 20
With a pall of gloom descending on this nondescript village, friends and relatives of Ajit Singh are cursing themselves why they had not taken notice of his repeated threats to commit suicide after hearing about his troubled family life.

Apprehending “danger” to his life from various quarters, Ajit had stated a number of times he would kill himself if his “grievances” were not heard. However, every time an inquiry into his complaints was conducted, he failed to substantiate his suspicions with any plausible evidence.

Observations revealed Ajit had been upset after his wife, Manjit Kaur, began living separately in her parental home in Sangrur district. Though all their three children - two daughters and a son - used to meet their mother, no one was able to persuade the couple to live under one roof.

Though Singh was drawing a handsome salary at the time of his retirement eight months ago, he did not change his lifestyle. He was usually seen traveling between various localities on his bicycle.

Villagers admitted he used to often file complaints against area residents as well as colleagues, every time apprehending a threat to his life. Besides accusing a family of attempting to kill him he had accused some of his colleagues of wanting to harm him in 2004.

When the inquiry officer, finding no substance in Ajit’s complaints, tried to persuade the latter to change his attitude, Ajit he threatened he would commit suicide one day. However he could not name anyone due to whose behaviour he intended taking the extreme step to end his life.

Accepting the tragic end as “fate”, the deceased’s close relatives said they could not understand why he took this step at the fag end of life. “What we fail to understand is that he faced the adversaries for all these years silently and shocked us when we felt assured future of his children,” said Bhag Singh, a cousin, adding “Rajwinder Kaur, Ajit’s eldest daughter, was married recently”.

Jaswinder Kaur and Varinder Singh (Ajit’s daughter and son) were living with their father.

Meanwhile the deceased’s body was cremated at the village crematorium today evening.



Traffic marshals flex muscles, annoy commuters
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 20
Instead of teaching traffic violators’ benefits of obeying the rules, newly appointed traffic marshals are seen blatantly exhibiting their newfound powers and indulging in heated arguments.

A few commuters have complained that the marshals were quick to take the keys of vehicles. Instead of emphasising the hazards of reckless driving, the marshals entered into arguments, the commuters claimed.

At least 30 traffic marshals were appointed to help the police in controlling traffic at some of the worst bottlenecks of the city. The idea was to encourage public participation in community policing. The marshals were appointed to help the police control traffic during the rush hour.

Besides, giving lesson on safe driving, the marshals were instructed to manage traffic outside the schools and the colleges, but ever since their appointment, none of the marshals have been spotted outside the educational institutions.

Sources in the police revealed that Sajjan Singh Cheema, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (ADCP), Traffic, was inquiring into the complaints. Two marshals have also been shifted following the complaints.

However, he refused to give details, stating that it was internal matter of the department.

A shopkeeper said marshals were doing the job of the traffic police in plainclothes. “Not even once have I a seen a traffic marshal giving lesson on safe driving. They are busy prompting the police to challan commuters for violating rules,” he alleged.

While the police department is organising orientation courses for low-rung personnel to improve their communication skills, no such programme has been initiated for the marshals.

Kamaljit Singh Soi, vice-chairman, State Road Safety Council, said the job of a traffic marshal was to support the cop, not become one. Traffic marshals should supplement and not substitute a traffic cop. Their job was only to counsel 
traffic violators and not harass them.



IMA elections
Slanderous SMS leaves docs fuming
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 20
Even as all professional ethics and decency were thrown to the winds by the warring groups in the elections to the Ludhiana branch of Indian Medical Association (IMA) here yesterday, an SMS, purportedly sent by a member of the group led by Dr Kulwant Singh on Sunday morning to the voters, has evoked strong reaction from a section of IMA members, who were also contesting for different posts.

The doctors targeted in the SMS are contemplating about lodging a complaint with the police to investigate the issue, identify the sender of the message and other conspirators and bring the culprits to book.

Through the SMS, attempt of character assassination was made against almost the candidates fielded by the group led by Dr Hardeep Singh, who incidentally lost the election on all seven posts of the IMA.

In a joint statement here today, Dr Hardeep said the SMS was a personal attack. “Since it (the SMS) levelled false and unfounded allegations against candidates fielded by us, it is obvious that it was sent by a supporter of the other group in an attempt to influence the voters.”

He maintained that winning or losing election to the professional body was another thing, but making personal attacks and attempts at character assassination of the opponents in order to influence the voters was reprehensible.

“All decent and right thinking persons ought to condemn such unprofessional and undesirable tactics just to garner a few more votes and win elections through unfair practices.”

Dr Hardeep and other signatories to the statement - Dr Satish Nauhria, Dr Satish Ohri and Dr SC Garg - said they would meet the Commissioner of Police with a complaint against the sender of the defamatory SMS, demanding stern action under the law against those behind the dirty act.


Through the SMS, an attempt was made to malign the image of almost all candidates fielded by the group led by Dr Hardeep Singh, who lost the election on all seven posts



Contracts going to favourite few
Others cry hoarse; PAU denies allegations
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 20
A few contractors working with Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) have levelled allegations that authorities were giving contracts of major works to some “blue-eyed” contractors, without even floating the tenders in any section of media which was against the Building Contracts Act. In a complaint lodged with the Chief Minister, Vice- Chancellor, members of the board of management, director (Vigilance) and the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), one of the contractors has said extensions of works were being given to the “lucky” ones while they were left in the lurch.

Giving details about certain projects, which are in the eye of storm, Tilak Choudhary, a contractor, alleged that works above Rs 5 lakh could be not be distributed among contractors unless their tenders were floated in a section of media. “But the tender purchase committee approved the work of renovation of Thapar Hall to the same contractor, who was given earlier contract of Rs 17 lakh. This new allotment was for work worth Rs 29 lakh for which separate estimate had to be given. This was in violation of the Building Contracts Act. The variation of works could be up to 25 per cent, but here percentage was much more,” rued Chaudhary.

Gaurav Sharma, another contractor, who has been working with the university for more than eight years said, “The Vice-Chancellor is supreme in the PAU. But the contract of extension of the boundary wall at the Farm Regional Centre, Faridkot, was given to a contractor, which was worth Rs 24.50 lakhs, without getting approval from the Vice-Chancellor. As per rules, tenders of works, which are above Rs 5 lakh, were to be floated but these were not done and the contract was given to another contractor.”

Deepak Gupta, PAU executive engineer, said the contractors, who were unable to execute their works on time, were levelling false allegations against the committee. “They are being penalised, so they are submitting false complaints. I did not take any decision on my own. Everything has been approved by the committee,” he added.

Estate officer-cum-chief engineer, PAU, Gurkirpal Singh, when contacted said: “Every work is being done as per procedure. The committee constitutes experienced persons like the registrar, PAU, Comptroller, head, civil engineering and the head, electrical wing etc. All experts had approved these works for the benefit of the PAU. And the Vice-Chancellor, too, had approved everything. These are mere allegations,” said Gurkirpal Singh.



Habit-forming drugs worth Rs 8 lakh seized
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 20
In a major breakthrough, a team of health officials headed by Balram Luthra, drug inspector, seized habit-forming drugs worth Rs 8 lakh from a godown located at Kalia complex in Pindi street. Nearly 4.95 lakh tablets, 57,180 capsules, 1,049 syrups and 9,794 injections were seized from the godown owned by an “unidentified” person.

The raid was carried out following a tip off by health authorities pertaining to the stacking of “illegal stock” of scheduled H drugs in the godown. The habit-forming drugs seized from the godown were being sold to the youths in the city and rural areas.

The drug inspector, when asked about the brand names of the pharmaceuticals, said more than one company had manufactured the seized drugs. “We have noted down the batch numbers and the manufacturing dates and an inquiry will be conducted into the sale of the drugs in the absence of any bill,” he added.

The Pindi street is the hub of drug trade, which is carried out by the city-based mafia and those in other districts of the state.

A wholesale drug store owner said, “I tried hard to make the drug control authorities see loopholes in their action against the erring drug wholesalers/retailers, but due to political interference they failed to make the right moves.”

Another chemist pointed towards numerous such godowns being used by the drug mafia to store and sell habit-forming drugs. These had never been checked by the dug control authorities, he added. A police party from Moga had recently tried to arrest a drug store owner, who used to sell habit-forming drugs to a few drug dealers in Moga, but they failed to do it. Reason: An “influential uncle” of the particular dealer intervened.

Interestingly, even the drug inspector when asked about the raid had expressed ignorance about the issue. 

Shift Base

Drug control authorities should shift the wholesale market from the Pindi street. The Ludhiana Wholesale Drug Association had tried to shift these stores twice. The lanes and bylanes are suitable for the drug mafia to operate fearlessly. As soon as the raiding party enters the area, the drug dealers get to know about it and escape. Political interventions deters the authorities from taking any action against them later on



Admn clueless
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 20
District administration officials continue to grope in the dark to ascertain the reason that led Ajit Singh of Guram village to take the extreme step. Though the deceased is said to have lodged several complaints with various officials the authorities have failed to zero in on any particular complaint that could have been the trigger that led him to commit suicide. In a late-evening development, a suicide note was, however, found. (see box)

Allegations levelled by Ajit’s relatives regarding alleged harassment in getting his superannuation dues from the state education department carried little weight as he had already received and spent the funds. The only pending pension case was reportedly cleared at the treasury office in Ludhiana only ten days ago.

Investigations by the Ludhiana Tribune revealed Ajit had worked at the Government Senior Secondary School in Dehlon, near here, since 1992. He retired as senior laboratory assistant on April 30, 2010 and no departmental inquiry was pending against him at the time of today’s incident.

Refuting various accusations made by survivors of the deceased, Balwinder Singh, principal of the school, claimed he (Ajit) had been paid all his dues including provident fund and gratuity in routine without any delay. Referring to information received from various offices, he asserted the pension case of the retired employee was cleared by the AG’s office in Chandigarh and the treasury office in Ludhiana had approved the case on December 11.

While the Dehlon branch of Punjab & Sind Bank was yet to receive documents regarding his pension, all other dues had been withdrawn by Ajit after being credited to his account number.

Further investigations revealed though the deceased filed a number of complaints against residents of his village, and his colleagues and seniors too, none of them was pending at the time of his retirement. In an inquiry conducted in connection with one such complaint, the then Ludhiana deputy district education officer had suggested Ajit should be transferred from the Dehlon school.

The Dehlon police also remained on their toes gathering information on the deceased’s antecedents and pending complaints lodged by him or filed against him.

It has been established that though Ajit and his wife, Manjit Kaur, had been living separately for about ten years, no case filed by either of them was pending with the police.

The administration’s apprehensions about the possibility of a pending dowry case also proved groundless when Manjit joined the deceased’s family members in Guram village after receiving information about his death.



Amenities elude this bus stand
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 20
Despite State Transport Minister Master Mohan Lal’s promise to provide all facilities and generate revenue through entry fee of buses and rent of shops situated at the local bus stand, the authorities have failed to provide even basic amenities to people.

With potholes dotting exit gate of the bus stand, the situation has turned from bad to worse.

Admitting laxity on part of the authorities, chairman PRTC (PEPSU Road Transport Corporation) Ranjit Singh Balian, who visited the bus stand after being apprised of the situation, assured that the needful would be done to provide facilities to passengers.

The bus stand is in a state of neglect. Though the corporation is earning huge revenues through entry fee and rent of shops constructed at the bus stand, not even a single penny is being spent on the maintenance of the bus stand.

Stink emanating from lavatories leaves passengers breathless. Weeds have enveloped the place. The place virtually turns into a lake during rainy days.

Sources revealed that grants were sanctioned for the renovation of the bus stand, but the authorities, instead of making amendments, remained inactive on the pretext that a new bus stand would be constructed.

Residents had appealed to the higher authorities, including the CM and transport minister, to improve the condition of the bus stand. Though the transport minister, during his visit to the town had promised to get necessary repairs done, no action was taken on his reported recommendations.

After being approached by residents of the area, PRTC chairman Ranjit Singh Balian visited the bus stand to take stock of the situation. 



Faulty construction bothers motorists
Gap in corner of bridge a virtual death trap
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 20
A gap in one corner of a bridge on the Sidhwan canal, which connects Sarabha Nagar with BRS Nagar, has made the life of commuters a hell. A motorcyclist, recently, had a miraculous escape after he failed to locate the gap due to darkness. Though the man saved himself by jumping from the motorcycle, his bike fell into the canal.

The ordeal got further compounded when the motorcyclist had to pay hefty amount to a JCB driver for taking out the damaged motorcycle from the canal.

The manner in which the expressway, alongside the Sidhwan canal, has been constructed has also become a bane for residents of Dugri. They, too, have complained of frequent traffic jams due to the faulty construction on this expressway.

But it seems that the company, which constructed it, is paying scant regards to a broken railing of the bridge and iron rods protruding from the drain constructed alongside the roads. This place has virtually become a death trap for the residents.

Right from the beginning, the expressway was marred by controversies. Well over 20,000 trees were axed alongside the canal for constructing the expressway, which drastically affected the green cover and scenic beauty of the area.

One of the engineers, who was associated the with construction of the Sidhwan canal, stated that roads were constructed on both sides of the canal, but with the passage of time only one road remained functional whereas another was encroached upon by the residents.

“The government could have saved the ecology of the area had the authorities bothered to increase the width of both roads by few a meters and constructed bridges at key intersections,” the engineer added.

The residents of Dugri pointed out that that the company had failed to install even a single delineator and erect a fence on both sides of the canal for commuters’ safety.

“Everyone is busy minting money. No one seems to be concerned about the safety of human beings. The motorcyclist was lucky. But, the construction company seems to have learnt no lessons from the incident. I believe they are waiting for some tragedy to happen only then they would wake up from slumber and start taking safety measures,” said Sarabjit Singh, a resident of the BRS Nagar.



Spurious cosmetics’ sale causing skin ailments
Anshu Seth/TNS

Ludhiana, December 20
The unrestricted sale of spurious cosmetics has led to a sudden increase in the cases of "contact dermatitis" in women and girls, thereby causing severe damage to skin, lips, eyes, nose, face and the scalp.

Markets are flooded with duplicate lipsticks, fairness creams, hair dyes and deodorants, which when used indiscriminately, result in severe skin allergies and reactions which at times cause permanent damage to the skin.

Despite having taken up the case of spurious cosmetics at various platforms, city dermatologists have failed to wake up the authorities concerned to take action against the erring companies and individuals.

Excessive use of ingredients, including hydroquinone and penaphylene deamine (PPD), in spurious fairness creams and hair colours/dyes cause serious allergic reactions on the face and scalp.

There is no check on the outlets and wholesalers/retailers selling these “duplicate cosmetics”, which is a violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Dr Alka Dogra, head, department of dermatology, DMCH, said, “Every day I get three-four patients of contact dermatitis, wherein women having used whitening (fairness) creams end up having skin eruptions or leucoderma (white patchy skin). Similarly, commonly used hair dyes, including kaali mehndi and colours, also cause irritant reactions, resulting in redness of skin, water discharge and hyper pigmentation,” said Dr Dogra.

Advising against the use of night creams and sun screens with SPF more than15 without the recommendations of a dermatologist, Dr Dogra stated that uncalled for cosmetic use for beauty treatments can spoil healthy skin.

Local companies having aped cosmetics manufactured by the leading brands, are selling these on the retail as well as wholesale outlets in the city. A night cream, when used by a young woman who is doctor herself, caused serious eye reactions "episcleitis", for which she had to take prolonged treatment.

So much so that even the sun screen creams and lotions have been reproduced to dupe the customers. Looking at the craze in women and girls to apply sun screens, shopkeepers are procuring duplicate packings at lesser rates and selling them at a high price.

Types of skin

People across the world are classified under six types of skin as per the tone. Sunscreens with SPF 20 and above are recommended for people with fairer skins. Indian skin type falls under the fourth category, for which dermatologists do not recommend sunscreens with more than SPF 15, as sunscreens with more SPF block the sun, thereby resulting in deficiency of Vitamin D.

Tips for healthy skin

Dermatologists say using excessive cosmetics cannot bring glow to the skin as the mantra of young and good skin lies in the simple truths of life which include:

n Regular exercise n Positive thinking

n Meditation n Being happy

n Right attitude n Ample sleep



Engg industry in dire straits
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 20
The engineering industry, especially in the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector, is bearing the brunt of persistent and unprecedented hike in steel prices — their basic raw material. The alarm raised by the affected units against arbitrary increase in prices by the cartel of major producers of iron and steel has failed to move the ministry concerned and the union government.

Focussing on the plight of bicycle, auto spares, sewing machine, hand tools and machine tools manufacturing units, the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) has said the ever-increasing prices of iron and steel are having a cumulative effect on the prices of finished products, in most cases rendering the units located in this region uncompetitive in domestic and global markets.

Claiming that competitive input prices of steel in India are less than 30 per cent as compared to China, despite the fact that steel prices here are 20 per cent higher, CICU general secretary Avtar Singh urged the union steel ministry to evolve some mechanism to regulate the prices of essential raw material and rid the SMEs from the grip of cartels formed by steel producers, dealers and suppliers.

“Even otherwise, the prices of steel being charged by the cartel from the local industry stand at least Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 per metric tonne higher as compared to international prices.”

He said the steel consuming industry as well as the CICU were of the firm view that prices of steel ought to be fixed on the basis of input prices of the steel and not on the basis of import parity.

“Secondly, the cartel system in India is the sole price controlling factor that ultimately has an adverse impact on competitiveness of the engineering industry both in home market and abroad.”

The CICU functionary asserted that the system (price fixation by cartel) needed to be combated on a priority basis so as to save the SME sector that booked orders on prices of the raw material prevailing during that period.

“Imagine the plight of small and medium units that book the order on the basis of steel prices at a certain level, but have to purchase the raw material at higher prices as the prices are jacked up in an arbitrary manner.”

The chamber has made a fervent plea with the union steel ministry and the Prime Minister to intervene and save the SME sector from exploitation by cartel of steel producers by way of evolving an effective mechanism for price fixation of iron and steel. 



10-yr-old battles cancer, needs help
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 20
Abhay (10) battling for his life at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, needs to undergo bone marrow transplant at the earliest.

Having been diagnosed with apalstic anaemia, Abhay, son of Om Shakti Singh, a resident of Indira Puri on Tajpur Road, was admitted to the hospital under Dr Deepak Bansal, associate professor in the department of paediatrics.

The family is unable to pay for the cost of the bone marrow transplant, which is estimated to cost over Rs 5 lakh.

Om Shakti Singh said: “I am a driver by profession and cannot afford to pay for the treatment of my son, who is suffering from a life-threatening disease. Every minute is precious to save my son as the doctors have to start with the therapy at the earliest.”

The father has appealed for generous donations to save Abhay’s life.

Those interested helping Abhay can deposit money directly with the PGIMER in the account created for the patient (CR No. 02828803; PHC No. 2790). Om Shakti Singh can be contacted at 9316478550.



Needy patient seeks help for surgery
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 20
Kamaljit Singh (38), suffering from duodenal ulceration, is in dire need of surgery. However, the economic background of the family is making it difficult for them to bear the cost of around Rs 50,000 needed for the surgery.

A resident of Shimlapuri, Kamaljit is a sanitary worker but owing to his deteriorating health has been unable to work regularly in the past two years.

Kamaljit lives with his wife, two children and aged parents and making two ends meet is a tough task for the family.

Living at the mercy of family and friends, Kamaljit wants to get healthy again to support his children’s education.

“Had it not been for our neighbours, who incurred the expenses of the tests, even the diagnosis would have been impossible for my husband’s problem,” said his wife.

She has appealed to residents to come forward and donate money for her husband’s treatment.

Those interested can contact Kamaljit Singh on 9915081633.



Don’t follow the trend blindly: Fashion designer
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 20
Fuchsia pink and gold are the colours for the coming wedding season, says fashion designer Amit Kashyap after opening his designer studio at Ghumar Mandi. After getting regular clients from the city at his stores in Noida and Gurgaon, Amit is now ready to serve them in their hometown.

“Ludhiana is the first city in Punjab where I have opened the store. People here have rich and royal taste and above all they are spendthrift when it 
comes to satisfying their fondness for clothes and jewellery,” he says.

Kashyap, who started his career as an electronic engineer, ended up becoming an interior designer and then a fashion designer.

Everything depends on how one carries the outfit. “One should know what suits her and should not blindly follow the fashion. Everybody has her own sense of style and can even look elegant and fashionable by wearing simple clothes. But sadly people here follow the new trends without caring about their physique,” he adds.

We at our studio try to educate the customers and tell them about the kind of clothes that will suit them. “I have designed for anchors of numerous award functions and actors of various television serials. The kind of dresses we design for the TV stars are entirely different as sparkle and glitter is all they want for on the screen,” he added.

The range of dresses at his studio starts from Rs 2,000 and can go up to Rs 6 lakh. 



City decks up for Christmas celebrations
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 20
Santa Claus is almost here! And fun-loving city residents are leaving no stone unturned to welcome him into their homes. Christmas frenzy is in full swing across the city.

Floral decorations, festive lighting, lavish spreads of exotic food, puddings, chocolates and cakes across the tables is a common site at the homes of Christian families as well as in city’s eateries and restaurants.

Eateries are decked up with mouth-watering chocolate cakes, puddings, pies, pastries, exotic wines and champagnes.

Restaurants and confectioners are offering legions of options to make the festival special. One can choose from plum pudding, chocolate rum balls, black forest pudding, dark chocolate pudding, sweet buns, rum chocolates, coffee cake, apple crumble pie, brandy custards, fruit pudding, hot chocolate pudding, raisin gathos and barum muffins. You name it and they have it!

And since Christmas is no fun without the traditional Christmas cake, preparations for the same, too, are in top gear. It takes days, sometimes even months, for making the perfect Christmas cake mix. Keeping this in mind, all major bakeries and hotels in the city have already started the mixing process for scrumptious and delicious Christmas cakes. “Christmas is synonymous with yummy cakes and pastries. It is one festival that we really look forward to since it is at this time that the local bakeries produce the yummiest of cakes and pies,” says Lisa R, a student. She adds that for this Christmas, she has already placed an advance order for six plum cakes, three chocolate truffle cakes, apple pie and banana pies, walnut muffins and pastries in myriad flavours.

“We are going to binge on goodies this Christmas,” says Lisa’s sister Kalpana.

Septuagenarian Geeta AL, too, has lavish Christmas plans. “I am going to bake special cakes for my grandchildren, who are flying down from Canada, especially to be with me during Christmas. But my special rum and raisins Christmas cake will be a real surprise for the entire family.”

Grandmother of four teenagers, Geeta says, “Every moment of baking this cake is such a pleasure, right from the first step of pouring in the rum to stirring it, baking it and seeing my grandchildren relishing it.”

City markets and malls, too, are wearing a festive look. And since this time Christmas tree becomes the cynosure of all eyes, stores are cashing in upon its popularity and high demand. Beautiful Christmas trees in a wide variety are lined up across gift stores, embellished with glittering tinkles, bells, stars, flowers and buntings.

In addition to that, there is an array of gift options available in the market. From fancy silver candle stands, crystal vases, chocolates, goodie sweet packs to dainty fashion accessories like brooches, bracelets, earrings, rings, necklace, pendant sets, all adorning the shelves of gift stores.

So go ahead, take your pick and make this Christmas a memorable one for your family and friends.



Miss World Panjaban
This trio wants to promote Punjabi
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 20
Arshdeep Kaur Gosal, Navreet Kaur Sandhu and Harpreet Kaur Johal have much more in common than just their Miss World Panjaban crowns.

The winners of the most coveted beauty contest for Punjabi mutiyars are keen to join the Punjabi film industry and work towards the promotion of their mother tongue, Punjabi, and to take the Punjabi culture to unprecedented heights on the international circuit.

Surprisingly, the trio shares another similarity. All damsels are much against gyrating to Bollywood tunes, unlike other beauty queens. Ask them the reason and be ready for a quick reply.

“No Bollywood for me. I prefer to stick to my Punjabi roots and would rather work in meaningful Punjabi films,” says the 18-year-old winner of Miss World Panjaban crown, Arshdeep.

Born and brought up in Toronto, Canada, Arshdeep is a trained giddha dancer and has been performing for the last seven years.

“I want to explore the vibrant world of Punjabi films if given the right opportunity, otherwise I would stay away from the glamour world,” she said.

Just like Arshdeep, Navreet, too, would stay away from Bollywood. The 21-year-old student from the USA and first runner-up of Miss World Panjaban contest, Navreet reasons, “For me, my Punjabi roots and upbringing are precious. I will never give up on my Punjabi values at any cost. And to work and survive in Bollywood, one needs compromise on a lot of things which I will never do.”

Navreet elaborates, “I am Punjabi at heart. I will never wear the kind of clothes our Hindi film heroines wear on screen. Instead, I would love to work in Punjabi films which are far cleaner and family oriented.”

Navreet, however, says her first love is penning Punjabi poetry and she would love to continue with that along with her studies.

“The glamour world is not my cup of tea but Punjabi movies excite me for their sheer simplicity and their close-to-home feel. But yes, if I get an offer which would enable me to depict Punjabi culture on a wider level and take it forward I will accept it,” says Navreet.

When it comes to the glamour world, choice of the second runner-up of Miss World Panjaban contest, Harpreet is strikingly similar to Navreet and Arshdeep.

“I always wanted to be a Punjabi film actress and I guess my victory in the contest will help me go far in the direction of my aim,” says the 18-year-old student from Ropar. On Bollywood, Harpreet says, “I want to shine as a great Punjabi star and that is my dream.”

The girls are presently high on their recent victory and want to take each day as it comes. Amazingly, all three are extremely conscious of their responsibility as role models to thousands of Punjabis, especially girls.

“We have suddenly grown up overnight and know that we cannot afford to go wrong anywhere,” remark the trio in unison before signing off.



Fair deal, finally, for two local girls
Win scholarship to pursue higher studies
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 20
For city girls Kamalvir Kaur and Manpreet Kaur, winning the “Fair and Lovely Scholarship” is a dream come true. The success means much more to them than just proving their mettle and bringing laurels to their home town. It is a beginning of a new life for the nursing students who come from families with humble background.

Both will now be able to fulfil their dream of completing their higher education with the help of financial assistance provided by the scholarship and support their families.

“I am on cloud nine. Now my dream of completing MSc will come true. I just hope, I come out with flying colours and become capable enough to support my family,” says Kamalvir, an MSc-I student.

BSc-II student Manpreet, too, shares her sentiments: “I am very happy. With the scholarship money, I will be able to pursue MSc and look forward to getting a teacher’s job.”

The girls concede that without the scholarship, their dream of higher studies was not possible.

“My father is a poor farmer. He dreamt of making me a doctor but due to financial constraints, his dream could not be fulfilled,” says Kamalvir.

“I completed my graduation in nursing with great difficulty for which my father had to sell his land and family’s gold. The scholarship will give me the much-needed financial help to complete MSc and gain employment,” she quips.

Kamalvir wants to serve the poor and needy and also support her father.

“My father has done so much for me and my sister’s education.

He sold all his belongings to educate us. Now it is my turn to pay back,” quips the proud daughter.

Manpreet’s story is no different. This 19-year-old girl also belongs to a poor family. After the death of her father some years ago, Manpreet’s mother had to borrow money from her relatives to pay the nursing college fee of her only child.

The girl, in turn, started taking tuitions to keep the kitchen fire burning.

“I wanted to become a doctor but settled for nursing course as we could not afford the exorbitant fee of the medical college,” said Manpreet.

She adds: “My dream of pursuing higher education was crushed several times and I was forced to compromise on the quality of education. However, with this scholarship, I am sure my dream of becoming a teacher will be fulfilled.”

Both had applied for the scholarship after coming across an advertisement in a newspaper from the company.

The girls are lucky winners along with 210 other girls from all across the country. They were selected after a rigorous selection process conducted by experts. All applicants were from economically weaker section of society and were selected on the basis of their zeal to excel, their need and their spirit to achieve.

These students will now be supported with course fee, accommodation, local travel, books and stationery costs, depending on the need.

Kamalvir and Manpreet were declared winners of the scholarship at a ceremony at YB Chavan Auditorium in Mumbai recently.

Effort Fructified

The two are among 210 needy girls from all across the country who have been selected for the scholarship. They were chosen after a rigorous screening process conducted by experts



‘Sensitise students against social evils’
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 20
Appreciating the role of sophisticated modes of telecommunication and electronic media in dispersal of knowledge among masses, Braj Bhubneshwari, a disciple of Sant Kirpalu Ji Maharaj, urged policy makers in the education department to exploit the innovation for sensitising students against social evils, including voracity, radicalism and drug addiction.

Maintaining that humanity is the largest sect of the universe, Bhubneshwari said, “Faith in one’s own good deeds followed by spiritualism, is the only way to lead a tension free life.” Bhubneshwari said the advancement in science and technology had not been exploited properly for educating the youth about significance of spiritualism in their life.

“Though there are sufficient number of websites on ethics, human values and spiritualism, no organised attempt has been made to apprise youths of these sites. An extra effort to persuade youths in general and students in particular to adopt elements of pious life will certainly prevent them from falling prey to social evils, including drug addiction and hypothetic routine,” said Bhubneshwari. 



Woollens given to needy students
Our Correspondent

Amloh, December 20
Punjab Sabhyacharak Club in collaboration with Nehru Yuvak Kender organised the 20th annual sabha charak mela “Mehak-Punjab-Di” here yesterday.

Morning session of the programme was inaugurated by property adviser Bahadur Singh, while SAD chief Darshan Singh Cheema presided over. Chief Parliamentary Secretary Bikramjit Singh Khalsa inaugurated the second session. Woollens were distributed among needy students of middle, high and senior secondary schools of Amloh.

Chetna Manch from Mandi Mullanpur staged a play on social evils.

Nehru Yuvak Kender district youth coordinator Parmjit Singh, Dr Karnail Singh, Karnail Singh Matorda, Akali Dal (Swatantar) chief Parmjit Singh Saholi, Rashpal Singh Toor, co-operative societies district manager Surinder Singh Salana, former municipal council chief Baldev Sedha (all patrons) of the club were honoured. 



PAU Notes

Ludhiana: A four-day science camp “Inspire” (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research) started today at Punjab Agricultural University.

More than 200 senior secondary students from various PSEB city schools are attending the camp. The programme is being organised by the College of Basic Sciences and Humanities (COBS&H), PAU, under the aegis of department of science technology (DST), New Delhi.

Chief guest Dr SS Johl, former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, and the PAU, exhorted students to adopt scientific attitude in life. Expressing his concern over the dwindling number of science students in rural areas, he encouraged students to embrace science as a profession and emphasised on the need for developing scientific temper.

Deputy DEO Paramjit Kaur lauded the efforts of the PAU in organising the camp that would "Inspire" the future generation to learn, discuss and familiarise them with the basics of science and technology. The programme would motivate not only the students, but teachers as well, she said.

Earlier, Dr RS Sidhu, Dean, COBS&H, welcomed the chief guest, students and teachers of various schools and the faculty members of the PAU. He stated that the programme aimed at motivating students to become scientists and contribute to society.

Dr SS Gosal, director of research (DR), PAU, delivered a lecture on “Biotechnology in relation to Agriculture”. Dr PK Khanna, coordinator of research, COBS&H, proposed the vote of thanks. Those present on the occasion were PAU Registrar Dr RK Mahey, comptroller of PAU AC Rana, Dr Neelam Grewal, Dean, College of Home Science, Dr Jaswinder Kaur Sangha, Dr Jagtar Singh Dhiman, additional director of communication, Dr HS Dhaliwal, additional director of extension education, Dr BS Sohal, coordinator of the programme.


“Diet plays a vital role in promoting good health and longevity. Consumers’ concern for healthy and functional food has stimulated the food technologists to develop innovative ways to bring enriched food products,” stated Dr SS Gosal, director of research, PAU, here today.

Dr KS Minhas, head, department of food science and technology, said in the present scenario, health, convenience and time-strapped consumers had sparked off the development of convenient and nutritious food products. Therefore, in this direction, the department had developed the technology for protein enriched pasta, using different quality protein sources (legumes, milk and eggs) singly and in combination.

Dr Minhas said enrichment with variable proteins improved the nutritional and product quality of pasta. The resultant product had high acceptability at mass consumer level.

As the pasta supplies nutrition to health conscious consumers; the addition of increased level of protein in a long way improves the health status of vast majority of growing children. Prof Savita Sharma presented a research paper on “ Protein enriched pasta: Optimisation and Quality Characteristics” based on this technology at the International Conference on Traditional Foods (ICTF 2010) held at Puducherry University from December 1 to 3 and was awarded the “Best Poster Award” in food and health section. She presented an overview of the PAU research achievements made in the area of pasta enrichment. — TNS 



From Schools

A student of Chanda Mama School dressed as Santa Claus to celebrate Christmas in Ludhiana
A student of Chanda Mama School dressed as Santa Claus to celebrate Christmas in Ludhiana on Monday. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan 

Ludhiana: Tiny tots of Chanda Mama Play School celebrated Christmas here today. They sang carols and enacted plays depicting the life of Jesus Christ. Thy also enjoyed the yummy Christmas cake and goodies.


After the completion of exams, tiny tots of kindergarten section of BCM School, Dugri, enjoyed a picnic on the school premises here today. Students gathered on the school ground where many rides were put up for their enjoyment. They enjoyed jumpers, swings, merry-go-round and giant wheel. The presence of many Disney characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck amused them. Tortoise, rabbit jumping, Mickey Mouse sliders and car rides were the source of entertainment for one and all.

They were later given eatables. The kids had fun and frolic tapping their feet to the beats of the DJ, along with their teachers, on the latest hit numbers. Principal of the school Dr Vandna Shahi said, “Such events act as stress busters.”

Sports meet

Peace Public School concluded its fifth annual sports meet yesterday. It was an eventful day, with students displaying their stamina, speed and strength in various track and field sports. A colourful cultural programme replete with dance and synchronised exercises followed. Chief guest of the day was commandant Col HPS Ahlawat. Prizes for inter-house basketball, kho-kho, badminton and table tennis were also given to the winners, besides track and field events. The chief guest encouraged students with his enlightening speech. Chanpreet Singh was declared the best athlete among boys, while Arshpreet Bahngu was declared the best athlete among girls.

President of the school Prof SC Jain thanked the audience and chief guest.


Kundan Vidya Mandir, Civil Lines, organised a workshop on goal setting by great motivator, mentor, success coach and icon of power speaking Akash Gautam.

Dr Manisha Gangwar formally welcomed and introduced the resource person.

Sonia Verma, in charge, middle section, Annu Sehra, in charge, primary section, and Ranjana Dhanda, in charge, KG section, were also present.

The resource person presented a beautiful multimedia presentation. It was a great presentation. He made it interesting by involving the audience to the maximum extent to get his message conveyed. He made students aware of the difference between purposefulness and business, living and existing and medium and message. He told students that there was no point in being indecisive. — TNS



Patwari nabbed for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 20
The vigilance bureau has nabbed a patwari of Siarr village for accepting graft of Rs 10,000 from a resident of Rosiana village here today.

The patwari, identified as Ram Singh, was arrested, while he was allegedly accepting money for transferring mutation of revenue records in favour of Kulwant Singh.

Singh had stated in his complaint that following his father’s death he approached the patwari for transferring the mutation in the revenue records. But the patwari was seeking Rs 10,000 as bribe to transfer the mutation.

Giving details, SP vigilance Amandeep Kaur said department officials laid a trap following the complaint of Kuldeep Singh and nabbed the patwari red-handed.



Hockey Gold Cup from tomorrow
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, December 20
Top hockey outfits of the nation will be seen in action during the 8th ediion of the Gold Cup Hockey Tournament to be organised by the Doraha Hawks Club at Mehta Gurukul Academy campus ground, Doraha, around 35 km from here, from December 22 to 26.

According to chief organiser Anil Prabhat Mehta, teams like Sports Authority of India (SAI), Orissa; SAI Bangalore; SAI Bhopal; Sports Hostel, Lucknow; Air India Academy, Delhi; Punjab National Bank Academy, Delhi; Punjab and Sind Bank, Jalandhar; Maharaja Ranjit Singh Academy, Amritsar; Sangrur Academy, SAI, Patiala; Surjit Academy, Jalandhar; Sports School, Jalandhar; and Mehta Gurukul Academy, Doraha, will take part in the tournament.

Also, over 10 teams will take part in the 3rd Kabaddi Cup Tournament to be conducted at the same venue between December 22 and 26, added Mehta.



Lawyers try hand at table tennis
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 20
The three-day Table Tennis Tournament being organised by the District Bar Association, Ludhiana, started at the local bar room, District Courts Complex, here today. Over 30 members of the association are taking part in the tournament. 

District and Sessions Judge SP Bangarh declared the meet open. DBA president Naval Kishore Chhibber, secretary JS Virk and vice-president ND Chopra welcomed guests. Former chairman of the Bar Council, Punjab and Haryana, BK Goel, Harpreet Singh Garcha, Bir Inder Sekhon and Bhupinder Singh participated in the singles category. 



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