C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


RTE Act: UT admn falters on groundwork
* Parents in EWS colonies ignorant
* A majority has never heard the word ‘right’ before
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
“Sarkar hume kyun padayegi? Bade building ke school me padai to chodo mere bete ko gate ke paas bi nai jaane denge. Ye right-wight kisi aur colony me banta hoga. Aap galat aa gaye yahan par: 4 number mein puch lo; sub donation waha hi hota hai (Why would the government teach us? Leave aside giving admission, big schools will not even allow my son to stand near the gates. This ‘right’ must have been donated in some other colony you have come to wrong place,” says Bilisiya, a kabbadi wallah in Shastri Colony, located near Mani Majra.

Hailing from Uttar Pradesh, he had come to this city five years ago and even got his son admitted to a local government school. But his “adventure” with education lasted a mere week after he was slapped by his teacher. Ever since, his seven-year-old son is helping him with his business.

“A teacher did come last month. She asked details about my daughter and told me that she will now be able to go to a big school in a nearby sector and that, too, for free. But she never came back and when I asked the guard of that school about this plan, he replied that someone had played a prank on me,” said Malti, a resident of colony number five, who works as a maid in a reputed private school in Sector 46.

These are not lone cases. Even as education becomes their fundamental right, parents of hundreds of students in the union territory, which has the country’s third highest literacy, are yet to be informed about it.

A tour of several authorised and unauthorised colonies of the city reveals the rampant ignorance about the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act. While some inmates do say that they have been visited by a teacher who apprised them of the possibility of getting free education, a majority of them claim to have never heard of the word ‘right’ before.

In its haste to get the RTE Act notified, the UT Administration has not created an awareness about the Act amongst the residents for whom it has been framed.

This lapse has become more grave in the absence of worthwhile child mapping results, which means that it has been left on parents of prospective students to determine whether or not they qualify as a disadvantaged groud under the RTE Act.

While the UT Administration has been fighting to make elite private schools approachable to disadvantaged groups, there are many like Gobind Singh, a dhobi in Ram Darbar, who is still unable to understand the reason for studying in a private school where food is not served free.

“I did not send my son to a school till last year. But my friend told me about mid day meals and free uniform and even shoes. So I put him in a school. I will not send him to any big school. What will he get there?” he asked.

Admn botches up child-mapping exercise

Shocking as it may sound, the UT Education Department has botched up the child mapping exercise, which is a mandatory requirement under the RTE Act. Investigations reveal that the Administration, which has otherwise been maintaining conspicuous silence about the details of the survey, has been trying to hush up the matter. Instead, the UT Administration appears to be shrugging responsibility by putting the onus on parents to evaluate whether they qualify as eligible for approaching their neighborhood schools for admissions.

While acting DPI (Schools) Ajoy Sharma could not be contacted for his comments, a senior UT Education department official while speaking on the condition of anonymity revealed, “ The survey results proved that the entire exercise had been badly mishandled. It turned out to be unfit for use as a basis for RTE Act admissions. Amongst other disparities, surveys have found very less number of eligible children in contrast to figures obtained from other surveys and sources. It was evident that a majority of poor localities had not even been visited and in many cases the survey seemed to have been simply made up. The result has been held back and rectification is on. But it cannot be used for admissions to be made in April. Hence, we have asked parents to approach schools on their own.”

Chapter 3 of the RTE Act requires the administration to not only identify eligible children for admissions for 25 percent reservation under the Act, but also make this record public. The schools were supposed to make admissions on the basis of this data.

We forgot, admits admn

“Ever since we started working on the RTE Act, there has been a tussle with private schools. Our entire time and thought was spent trying to resolve issues with them. In between, DPI (Schools) PK Sharma relinquished charge. During all this tension, we forgot about creating an awareness among the disadvantaged groups. But now that the Act has been notified, we will do it soon,”
— A senior UT education department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity



Academics take a backseat as unrest rules PU
UBS girls’ threat to move women’s panel
Tribune News Service

Talks at late night

Vice-Chancellor RC Sotbi’s wife Vipin Sobti along with Panjab University Teacher’s Association (PUTA) president and other female teachers of the university spent over an hour late night to convince the M.Com (e-commerce) girl students to stop their protest. The girls, however, continued with their protest late into the night till the filing of this report

Chandigarh, February 12
A majority of female students of the final semester of the M.Com (e-commerce) course at the University Business School (UBS) today threatened to appeal before the National Women Commission (NWC) against their department chairperson for allegedly mistreating them even as they staged a protest outside the Panjab University Vice-Chancellor’s office.

In a series of snow-balling demands, the girls had first demanded a classroom with an LCD projector, then accused their department faculty of not treating them on a par with other MBA students at the UBS, and have now ended up demanding the resignation of the chairperson. The M.Com girls today said that they would sit outside the VC’s all night-long to express their dissent on their chairperson mistreating girls of the M.Com (e-commerce) final semester batch.

A UBS faculty member tries to persuade girl students to give up their protest
A UBS faculty member tries to persuade girl students to give up their protest. PU Vice-Chancellor’s wife Vipin Sobti (extreme left) is also seen talking with the girls at Panjab University in Chandigarh on Saturday. Tribune photo: Parvesh Chauhan

In the absence of the UBS chairperson Dinesh Gupta, who is on a tour overseas, the university authorities twice held a meeting of all its faculty members along with the M.Com girl students to settle the issue amicably. Despite this, the girl students continued their protest.

For a change, student leaders of the Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) and the National Students Union of India (NSUI), who are otherwise expressing their solidarity with the students, are at the same time playing a positive role in counselling the girl students against demanding ouster of the department chairperson.

“We are protesting peacefully and will sit outside the VC’s office the entire night. We are also filing a complaint with the National Women Commission if the PU authorities do not hear our plea,” said a girl student on the condition of anonymity.

The girl students were spotted getting their blankets and quilts from their hostels to prepare for the overnight dharna, while a few others were seen rotating shifts to have dinner.

Taking a cue from the dental college students’ protests, which evoked resentment among PU teachers due to the eventual disgraceful exit of the director, the student leaders were cautious while commenting on the demand on the UBS director’s removal.

“We are supporting the girls only to the extent that no student should be mistreated in any department. But we do not support them in demanding the ouster of department chairperson. No teacher must be subjected to humiliation,” said SOPU president Vikramjeet Singh.



Teachers for Gauba’s reinstatement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
A section of teachers on the Panjab University campus seem to be preparing to replicate the manner in which student leaders created a pressure on the university authorities last week to oust the HSJ Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, director-principal, Dr Krishan Gauba. The difference lies in the reason.

For, teachers from different departments and cutting across political lines have come out in support of maintaining teachers’ dignity after Dr Gauba’s exit.

A signature campaign by teachers demanding an emergency Syndicate meeting to reconsider Dr Krishan Gauba’s resignation and correct the disgraceful exit given to the dental college director is already underway on the campus.

Interestingly, even the two opposite lobbies of teachers on the PU campus, who were otherwise at loggerheads with each other, have also expressed solidarity on the issue. “We are running a signature campaign and will meet the VC along with the Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) general secretary. An urgent Syndicate meeting must be held and the syndics must address the demands of teachers on the decision taken by them,” said Manjit Singh, member of the PUTA executive body. “We have always supported the university and the Vice Chancellor in all circumstances. But if at all a teacher had to go, it was the responsibility of the university and the syndics to ensure that at least the dignity should have been maintained. The teachers are appealing for their integrity and respect because this incident could set a precedent and students will continue to misuse the power given to them,” said another PUTA member on the condition of anonymity.



Students made to apply for fee refund
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
After abruptly raising the examination fees last December and later announcing a rollback last month, the Panjab University administration appears set to further inconvenience students.

Varsity officials have now asked all students studying on the campus and in affiliated colleges to first submit an application to the deputy registrar (examinations) to seek a refund of the excess fees paid by them. The last date for filing the application ends within a fortnight on February 28. While notices have been posted in all campus departments many colleges are yet to put up them up.

In posting the notices the PU administration has put the onus of refunds on the students, some of whom may either never get to read these notices or simply not find it worthwhile to travel to the university from their hometowns in other states to collect the money. Terming the precondition of submitting applications in order to get the refunds as “impractical” and “unreasonable”, PU student leaders asserted it was the university’s responsibility to refund the amount that students had been overcharged. “It’s for the university to verify its own records and issue the cheques to the students”, they said.

“The university didn’t inform the students of a sudden hike in examination and reevaluation fees. Each year PU officials claim they wouldn’t raise the fees but such changes are made arbitrarily without prior notice. What’s the purpose of seeking applications for refunds when nearly 125,000 students have appeared in examinations and PU has all the relevant records?” asked Sunny Mehta, a member of the National Students Union of India (NSUI).

Mehta claimed to have submitted a memorandum to the vice chancellor demanding all refunds be made to students without asking them to file applications.

“A large number of students studying in PU’s affiliated colleges live in far-flung areas in Punjab and other states. Does the varsity expect them to travel all the way to the city to submit applications? For some students the refund is lesser than the amount they would have to spend on travelling. Has anything been done to properly publicize the examination fees are being refunded by PU in its affiliated colleges?” questioned another student representative.

However, PU dean of students welfare Naval Kishore declared: “Students will have to submit applications to get their refunds, but we may extend the last date for submitting them”.


Sexual Harassment Case
In-house probe holds Chief Engineer guilty
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 12
RK Garg, Chief Engineer, Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited, who was arrested for allegedly molesting a girl in his office in May 2009 is once again in the eye of an storm. This time a departmental inquiry has found him guilty in a sexual harassment case against one of his subordinates.

The woman employee of the HVPNL had filed a complaint with the higher authorities on October 10 last and the departmental committee categorically noted in its report that, “The Act/behaviour of RK Garg towards a woman employee falls in the definition of sexual harassment as Garg had made sexually coloured remarks. His verbal conduct was sexual in nature, which offended the victim and put her in an embarrassing and humiliating position. She was also put to disadvantage being junior to R.K. Garg and had to suffer the said behaviour of Garg.” Subsequently Garg was also placed under suspension on December 2 last year.

Interestingly, Garg was promoted as HPVNL Chief Engineer in November 2009 despite the FIR filed by a girl and his subsequent arrest on May 26, 2009. However, the HVPNL authorities justified its act in writing while promoting Garg “RK Garg was arrested on May 26, 2009, at 9 am and remained in police custody till 11 am on May 27, 2009. So in this case, the period of detention is less than 48 hours. And as informed, no departmental proceedings have been framed. Therefore, in the given circumstances, there is nothing adverse against the officer, which may have impact upon his service like consideration for promotion.”

Managing Director HVPNL Jyoti Arora denied extending any favour to Garg in the case, saying rules were followed and legal opinion was taken before Garg was promoted. Still action would be taken against Garg if he was found guilty in the case.

Garg, however, is due to retire from his job this year.

When contacted, Garg denied any harassment to the girl. He told The Tribune that he was a victim of a departmental rivalry and some officials had used the girl to tarnish his image. On his indictment and suspension in December last year in the inquiry conducted by the departmental committee, Garg said he was a victim of fate. “Mera waqt theek nahi hai,” he said.

Meanwhile, Krishan Lal Sharma, father of the girl and a resident of Sector 10, has now approached the Director-General of Police for having a fresh probe conducted into the entire episode. He alleged that Garg, then posted as Superintending Engineer, asked his daughter, who had applied for the post of a computer operator, to join as personal assistant on May 25, 2010. He told her brother to leave her in his office and later allegedly made lewd remarks. He said after securing bail from the court, Garg used his position and clout to launch a counter-offensive against his daughter and other family members by filing an FIR against them for house trespass, obstruction and hurt. However, Superintendent of Police, Amitabh Dhillon, in his inquiry report, had stated that no criminal act had been committed by the girl or her family members and Garg had filed a case against them because the girl had filed a complaint of sexual harassment against him.

Krishan Lal has also raised question mark over the working of the Panchkula police. As soon as SP Dhillon was transferred, Garg used his clout and registered a case against them to force a compromise, he alleged. A case on November 27, 2009, on the day Garg was promoted from Superintending Engineer to Chief Engineer was registered by the local police against me, my daughter and my son,” he said.



Scolded, 10-yr-old goes missing
Returns home
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 12
A distress call made at the police control room (PCR) by a Phase X-based family of a “missing” 10-year-old child kept the Mohali police on its toes today. Apparently annoyed over being scolded, the child, Adesh Veer, left his home at about 1 pm, only to return after three hours.

Before the child returned, the cops fanned across the city, making public announcements about the missing child. While Senior Superintendent of Police GPS Bhullar, along with officials, descended on the child’s house in Phase X to enquire into the matter, the Station House Officer (SHO) made announcements at YPS School as the police suspected that, being a student of the school, he might have gone there with his friends.

The boy’s father Avneet Singh was all praise for the police in showing alacrity in putting its resources to use on getting the call. While looking for the boy, a PCR party traced him while he was returning home on his bicycle.



‘Five Cs’ important for success: Das
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 12
Learning to learn was much more important than mere learning and how to learn requires certain qualities ingrained in a student, said eminent educationist Shomie R Das here today.

Speaking at the 32nd Founders Day of Yadavindra Public School, Das said students should have five qualities to be able to face challenges lying ahead of them. The “five Cs” that were important for success were curiosity, creativity, critical analysis, communication and choice.

Das, who had headed Mayo College (Ajmer), Lawrence School (Sanawar), and The Doon School (Dehradun), said most of the schools did not allow the talent in children to flower and laid more stress on getting 100 per cent marks. They should be allowed to express themselves. It was important for students to “think out of the box” and schools should not “dumb them down”.

He further said “five more Cs” were important for a person to become a good human being. These were courtesy, cooperation, compassion and co-existence and the fifth one could be courage, concentration etc. But it was important for students to remember that it was their responsibility to make the universe a better place to live in.

Das also distributed prizes to students who had excelled in academics and co-curricular activities. The Patiala house was declared as the cock house both in the junior and senior school. The overall sports trophy also went to the Patiala house.

Earlier, school Principal Janajit Ray welcomed the chief guest. He said the school laid great stress on the holistic development of the entire personality of a student.



Triman first in scrapbook contest
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 12
Triman Kaur of Delhi Public School, Sector 40, bagged the first prize in The Tribune Congnizance Scrapbook competition, at an award distribution function held in Panjab University, Chandigarh, here today.

Triman Kaur won the title in the Class VI age group. The competition initiated by The Tribune for the students of tri-city was started in November last. More than 150 schools participated in the competition and about 1,000 students submitted the artwork.

Twenty articles on different subjects were published in The Tribune. Principals and teachers of various schools in the tri-city contributed their articles for the competition. Out of which participants had cut 18 articles after pasting it on the scrapbook submitted it to judges.

After an overwhelming response, the judgement was started in January at two levels. Sanjeev Kakkar, chief manager, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), was the chief guest. He was accompanied by Deepak Srivastava, assistant manager, IOC, and Siddharth Saroop, assistant manager, IOC.

Semifinalist of the famous Boogie Woogie dance show Surbhi performed dance, Master Honey- state awardee for art and culture and Master Money also performed in the cultural performance following with group songs presented by the students of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya.

The first five winners of the competition were given laptops, the winners of second prize were given computers and participants who finished third were given flat screen television sets.

More than 100 consolation prizes were given to the participants. The function was concluded after a vote of thanks by Lily Banerjee, adviser, The Tribune, and by Gulshan Sharda, manager, circulation department.

Rajeshwar Chopra, Assistant General Manager, The Tribune, and Anil Mathur, national head, sales, The Tribune, were also present.

Others winners:

Class vi 1st Triman Kaur Delhi Public School, Sector 40,chd 2nd Reya Kundu carmel convent school, sector 9, Chd 3rd Anushka Tayal Carmel Convent school, Sector 9, Chd class viii1st Prabhakar Bhardwaj st Kabir school, sector 26, Chandigarh 2nd Haya Fatima St Mary's school, sector 46, Chandigarh 3rd rohit j.n.v , Sector 25, Chandigarh class ix 1st Paras Chadha Bhavan Vidyalaya, Sector 27, Chandigarh 2nd Jasmine Kaur yps, Mohali 3rd Tanvi Aggarwal Bhavan Vidyalaya, Sector 15, Pkl class X 1st Navpreet Kaur Shivalik Public school, sector 41b,chd 2nd Deepeet Chauhan Sharda sarvhitkari school, sector 40,chd 3rd pragya gupta Hansraj Public School, Sector 6, pkl class vii class vii1 Stashray Gakharst John's High School, sector 26,Chd2ndHarsimRangmhs, sector 41,chd 3rd Maharvaan Singh st Xavier's sr sec school, sector 44, Chd.



From Schools

Cultural programme

MOHALI: “Kilkari”, a cultural show, was organised by the students of classes I and II at Manav Mangal Smart School here today.

The show began with a prayer for peace. The rising prices and its impact on the common man was enacted skillfully through a skit. Goa carnival was brought live on the stage through a dance with clowns and jugglers.

A message on the Hindu-Muslim unity was also depicted through a poem. A unique presentation on the Indo-Pak conflict was made through a parody of Bollywood songs.

School director Sanjay Sardana said each child was unique and needed to be instilled with confidence.


A seminar was held at Small Wonders School on “Joys and challenges of modern parenting”. The eminent psychologist and mind healer Dr Renee Singh spoke on the topic.

The seminar was held as a part of the “Open House” programme to apprise parents as well as children seeking admission to the school, about the their way of teaching.

Annual function

Audience at St Soldier’s school were transported to the exotic and fabulous fairyland as the tiny-tots from pre-nursery to class II showcased mesmerising fairy tales at the annual function here today.

Students presented a number of items. A fable was enacted to celebrate the victory of good over evil. Class II kids showed their love for nature through the tale of “The Emperor and the Nightingale” reiterating that materialistic attitude of human beings is distancing them from the bounties of nature, thus depriving them of the heavenly happiness.

Neelkanth Avadh, general manager, FCI, Punjab, was the chief guest. — OC



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