Page 1

Sabhne Naye Saal Ki Subh Kaamna

Vol. 1 No. 19  Pages 32  ` 7

{Inside} Multimedia Art

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overage of FRAGILITY, a multimedia exhibition held at Art Alive Gallery. The exhibition features 14 artists known for their stylish experimentations. ...Pg 6

SEET

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multi-faceted NGO, that provides both help and advice – through its Health Intervention Policy, promoting the health of the urban and rural poor. ...Pg 10

Know Your Councillor

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e catch up with Ravinder Kataria, Councillor of Ward No. 20, who talks about the problems his Ward is facing, and the challenges that lie ahead. ...Pg 11

Shakti Vahini

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eaturing the NGO, Shakti Vahini; and how it’s Childline Programme has helped many a child. ...Pg 13

A Noble Pastime

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refreshing off-line club in these fast times, and a webbed world. The Gurgaon Book Club is fast gathering fans and members alike; those who consider reading a passion. ...Pg 19

Astro-Science

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ontinuing our series, we offer information on Rashis, and the houses of Jyotish. Also learn how astronomy effects the zodiac signs... ...Pg 20

Regular Features Cinema Listings & Helplines ...Pg 7 The Week That Was ...Pg 7 Learn Haryanvi ...Pg 10 Realty Rates ...Pg 25 Food Prices ...Pg 8 Jokes ...Pg 23

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

RNI No. HARENG/2011/39319

HUDA Chief Praveen Kumar

Setting A Standard { Abhishek Behl / FG }

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UDA Chief Praveen Kumar takes his karma religiously. He begins official work at 5 am, and when we requested him for an interview he had a twinkle in his eyes. He asked us to catch up with him in the early morning any day, knowing it was a tough task. Friday Gurgaon caught up with him when he came to meet a senior ex-bureaucrat who lives in Gurgaon. This meeting, described by Kumar as the ‘meeting of the old and not so new’, also pointed to the fact that Gurgaon has a wealth of experience; and the civil society and administration must tap this vast reservoir of knowledge, to make Gurgaon a truly Millennium City. In a freewheeling chat, Praveen Kumar tells us his grand plans for the City. How HUDA is going to make it encroachment free, cleaner, greener – and a place to live and enjoy life, rather than being worried about the next pothole on the road. He also categorically said that no one will be spared if he has violated the law; and even the most powerful and influential will have to vacate land, if they have encroached upon it illegally. The HUDA Chief told Friday Gurgaon that his organisation is working on at least fifty points to improve the civic and social infrastructure. But he considers his ‘Clean the City’ drive to be the most important for Gurgaon. He asserts that a new mechanism is being devised for garbage disposal, so that waste is picked up in

front of the houses, and taken straight to Bandhwari (garbage disposal site). I think the most important job presently is to clean up the City. There is so much garbage, dirt and solid waste to be disposed off”, says Kumar; adding that he has hired 250 additional men, and put them on the job to clean up Gurgaon. As part of this plan, a couple of workers are assigned a specific area, and they have to keep it clean, to earn their wages, informs Kumar. This way HUDA has given jobs to labourers who were not employed, and the city is getting cleaner. For a change, HUDA is also planning to go for plastic sheet dustbins, instead of the fixed plastic and iron ones that have been the standard feature of Indian cities. “We have bought 1 lakh meters of high quality plastic at a very reasonable price, and this would be converted into large plastic dustbins – to be placed in front of the houses”, says the HUDA chief. The six newly-bought garbage trucks, that are state-of-the-art, would either pick the dustbins or the garbage, depending on the delivery mechanism that evolves in the coming days. Gurgaon being totally dependent on private vehicles for commuting, we ask him about the measures being taken to streamline the parking. Kumar says HUDA is working with market associations in the city, and a model of free ticketing system is being developed, that will help resolve the issue. Contd on p 8 

The Aftermath { Maninder Dabas / FG }

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eople often say that the government agencies are toothless tigers, who neither have courage nor ability to strike down the wrong doers. But in the last two months, Gurgaon has seen another face of its civic agencies; where they not only have shown their teeth, but along with it an ability to bite too. The anti-encroachment drive carried out by various agencies is testimony that the State, at its sovereign best, is capable of doing anything. Be it Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), Muncipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG), Public Works Department (PWD) or Haryana Housing Board (HHB) – every single agency has ‘left no stone unturned’, to eradicate the menace of encroachment in their respective jurisdiction. HUDA, however, seems to have taken all the limelight. Maybe deservingly so. With the arrival of its new Administrator, it took the lead in taking swift, effective action against encroachments on their land, in various parts of the city.

Contd on p 9 

Gurgaon Needs A Nodal Body

{ Abhishek Behl / FG }

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o bring Gurgaon back from the brink of infrastructure disaster, the Millennium City needs an over-arching body, that combines the planning and supervision role – but in no way substitutes the Police, HUDA, MCG and the local administration. This suggestion must be taken seriously, as it is made by none other than the former Chief Secretary of Haryana, M.C Gupta, who lives in Gurgaon after his retirement from the service. Having vast experience in administering the state of Haryana, the former Chief Secretary says that this nodal agency could be on the pattern of the Noida Development Authority, and could even be better than that. “The Gurgaon Development Authority (GDA) could be an umbrella organisation, that takes a comprehensive view of the Contd on p 8 


02

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

RNI No. HARENG/2011/39319 VOL.–1 No.–19  30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

Editor:

ART  FOOD  CELEBRATION

Annual Exhibition

Atul Sobti

@Quills and Canvas Art Gallery, DLF South Point Mall Date: December 28 to December 31 Time: 10.30 am to 8.30 pm

Sr. Correspondent: Abhishek Behl Correspondents:

Hritvick Sen Maninder Dabas Shirin Mann

Sr. Photographer:

Prakhar Pandey

Sr. Sub Editors:

Anita Bagchi Shilpy Arora

Designers:

Manoj Raikwar Virender Kumar

Circulation Head:

Prem Gupta

Circulation Execs.:

Syed Mohd Komail Sunil Yadav

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group show of 25 upcoming art students, with each student showcasing two original creative art works, in different media.

Gratitude

@National Art Centre, Art Centre Complex (Near Plot No. 258, Udyog Vihar Phase-IV), Sector-18 Opening Ceremony Date: December 31st 2011 Time: 5:30 pm Show Date: January 1 – January 15 Time: 10 am - 5 pm, Daily

Accts. & Admin Mgr: Deba Datta Pati Head – Sales & Marketing:

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Ad Sales Manager: Lokesh Bharadwaj Sr. Ad Sales Execs: Bhagwat Kaushik Design Consultant: Qazi M Raghib Illustrations:

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Business Consultant: Sanjay Bahadur Editorial Office 213, Tower A, Spazedge, Sector 47, Sohna Road, Gurgaon 122001, Haryana Phones: +91 124 421 9091/92/93

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Indraprastha Art Fest 2011 @ Studio Art, C-751 A, Sushant Lok-1(Near Hotel Marriott Courtyard) Date: January 1st – January 31st 2012 Time: 10 am to 1pm & 5 pm to 7 pm, Daily

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n exhibition of paintings and ethnic art on fabrics, displaying the works of Sanjay Mehta, Sajal K. Mitra and Vanita Bhatnagar. The mediums vary from water colours and fabric canvas.

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n art show by 33 Gurgaonbased established and upcoming artists. The show is an attempt to promote local artists. Artists include Ashok Mahakur, B. Jaya Lakshmi, Charru Goel, Deepa, Deepti Rao, to name a few.

New Year's Eve celebrations

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Golfworx

Fun,entertainment and adventure – all in one night! Sip on champagne, groove to the beats of one of the country’s best DJs, and watch the bartenders put up a display. Venue: Golfworx, Level 4, Ambience Mall Packages: Rs. 6,000/All Inclusive per couple (Premium Spirits) Rs. 9,000/- All Inclusive per couple (Imported Spirits) Purchase 10 packages, and the 11th one is on the house ** Private VIP lounge options available For enquiries, contact #8800723688

Galaxy Hotel

New Year Eve Dinner Authentic Oriental cuisine with a five-course set menu. Venue: The Monk Time: 9 pm onwards Price: Rs. 2,250 (all inclusive) per person

Specials@Spaghetti Kitchen @27 & 28, City Center, Sector 29 Date: Till January 15 Price: from Rs.495/- (for Pizzas) & Rs.595 (for Pastas) Time: 12 Noon to 11pm

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hef Bill Marchetti, the man behind Spaghetti Kitchen, adds a special touch to the season’s festivities, with his Signature Special Pizzas and Pastas. Savour Italian food with select wines recommended by the chef.

Regenta Hotel & Convention Centre, NH-8, Rajokri

Date: December 31st La Cabana Bring in the New Year with Cabana Night 2012, featuring Open Bars, unlimited drinks (specific), and renowned DJ's playing an International Mix of the Best Dance Music. Venue: La Cabana Resto & Bar (Opp. Kingdom of Dreams) Time: 9 pm onwards Price: Rs. 4000 per couple (inclusive of taxes) Contact: 9818147574, 0124-4284337/38

Food

Ring in the New Year with western dances and belly dancers. Get entertained with a special fire show and flaring bartenders. Groove to the beats of a live performance by a rock band, along with a DJ.

New Year's Eve Fiesta Usher in the New Year with freshly brewed beer, exotic cocktails and rocking music. Venue: Howzatt Time: 9 pm onwards Price: Rs. 5,999 (all inclusive). Couple entry only New Year's Eve Celebrations A specially crafted dinner buffet with a selection of world cuisines and traditional dishes. Groove on the dance floor to the beats of the DJ, and live performances by dance troupes. Venue: Zinnia Time: 9 pm onwards Price: Rs. 3,800 (all inclusive) per person Rs. 1,800 (all inclusive) per child (below 10 years of age) For reservation, contact 0124 – 4868000

Destination 2012

Dance away to the beats of DJ Tarun (Todoo Nite Fame) & in-house Dj Rubal playing EDM/Retro/Bollywood and much more. Ring in the New Year with unlimited drinks, snacks and dinner. Venue: Tab 01, Food Court, DLF Cyber Greens, DLF Phase 3

Time: 9:30 pm onwards Contact: 0124 4283200, 0124 4283201

New Year JammDancing to 2012

Enthralling live music with the house band, Jamm Trio. Also playing, live audio video remixes by Rocker KK. Savour exotic drinks, while munching on specially crafted starters, barbeque snacks and pizzas, followed by a lavish buffet. Venue: Downtown – Diners and Living Beer Cafe, SCO 34, Leisure Valley Road, Near Crowne Plaza Hotel, Sector 29 Time: 8 pm onwards Price: Rs. 5,000 (all inclusive) per couple

The 3 Some Party

Enjoy the three-some DJ Rummy team – who rocked New York, Tokyo & Bangkok! Blu O offers a musical battle between the 3 international Djs. Take a break in between and opt for bowling. Venue: Blu O, Level-4, Ambience Mall, Time: 8 pm onwards Contact: 0124 4665613, +91 9990800600

Venue: Tulip lawn Time: 9 pm onwards Price: Rs. 6,500 (inclusive of taxes) per couple Contact 9717311228 & 8130591860

Welcome 2012

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New Year Weekend Package 30th Dec 2011 to 1st Jan 2012  Contemporary or Neo-Classic Rooms, on Twin-sharing basis only  New Year's Eve Gala Dinner  Gourmet Breakfast (by the poolside at the Roof Top on 1st Jan 2012)

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For reservations, please call our Festivity Desk +91 124 4915055 +91 9711878509 (Duty Manager) +91 9711878531 (Asst. Manager-Sales) email: contact@pllaziohotel.com Children below 6 years with our compliments. Children between 6 and 12 years of age at 50% charge * Maximum distance cover from the hotel should not exceed 25 kms for a one way trip Specific brands

Ring in the New Year with us


04 FOOD

Mind Blowing Aalok Wadhwa

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ooks like Gurgaon is in for a mindboost. The Mind Café, a recently opened board-game-cumfood joint, promises to enrich the way we hang out. It has the right paraphernalia—a large space with comfortable seating, ample natural lighting, three hundred plus games to challenge kids, teenagers and working professionals – and a promising menu. “The Mind Café is an ideal meeting place – for families, colleagues and friends to meet up for board games, over good food, snacks and drinks,” says the proud owner Umesh Hora. The menu is intelligently planned, with an extensive choice of beverages, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, pastas – all chosen to ensure that you can focus on the game as you nibble on the food. Many items, like the angry birds sandwich, slamwich, and meat monopoly pizza are named after popular games. I start with the iced caramel latte (Rs. 185). Charged with the coffee, I explore some of the ‘corporate’ games in the café’s repertoire. There are games here that are familiar, and those that are surprises; ranging from party fun to finance, management, strategy and adventure. As the table at the far ends starts cheering a good move, I get my first bite—falafel, lettuce, hummus and aioli pitawich (Rs.

175). It is an interesting dish, faithful to its middle-eastern roots. Inside the pita bread are a mélange of freshly prepared ingredients, making it comforting and tasteful. The much recommended spaghetti bolognaise (Rs. 325) is a treat. Here is a popular Italian dish that one can find in every country other than Italy – very much like the Indian chicken tikka masala. In every mouthful I enjoy a perfectly cooked al-dente spaghetti with olives, and a rich meat sauce. The Mediterranean carnival pizza (Rs. 195) looks good on paper – with vegetarian toppings like zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, roasted garlic, basil and mozzarella; but is let down by its base. A good thincrust pizza requires dough kneaded out of an equal combination of flour (atta) and refined flour (maida). Here it is all maida, which makes the base brittle, and deprives it of the crunchy-chewy texture. The gooey chocolate pastry (Rs. 125) is as gooey as promised, but for mecould have been a bit less sweet. Given that the café is in its first month, the occasional misses are understandable. And, the Mind Café is more than just a café; it is a club for people who love board games, and that is an area where it excels. I can easily see myself spending hours here with friends, very much like those lazy Pictionary sessions of the past. And have a range of food and beverage along the way! u The Mind Cafe 2nd Floor, Cross Point, opposite Galleria market, DLF Phase 4, Gurgaon Phone: 0124 98114-88830 Cuisine: Multi-cuisine Timing: 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM Cost: Rs 1000 for 2 (without alcohol)

CINEMA

Just Won’t Do Vijaya Kumar

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n the last four weeks or so, in a novel attempt to promote Don 2, a few of its punch-packed dialogues—called Donisms—had been released to the media. But these very Donisms have failed to make an impact on the big screen – they clearly lack the setting, and the punch. This, however, is the least of the detractions of Don 2. The earlier remake of Don had succeeded partly, because the director, Farhan Akthar, tweaked the original script and gave it a modern touch; and cleverly inserted a twist in the tale. In Don 2, the story itself is different – that of a heist, and the associated crossings and doublecrossings. To be fair to Shah Rukh, the plot doesn’t require much of emoting; and he therefore sails through with a couple of wigs, and his usual swagger. The others—Priyanka, Lara Dutta, Om Puri and Kunal Kapoor—have even less room to act, and almost sleep walk through their roles. The only exception is Boman Irani, who manages to infuse life and expression into his character. The music directors, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, have created some fairly forgettable compositions. A thriller could still redeem itself with sheer, relentless pace. However, even here Don 2 does not set the screen on fire. The movie picks up some good pace in the second half only, after a first half

The Other City

ly, chronicles his story around the mega-city – through the prism of the brutal bombing of a Shia Procession on December 28, 2009. ndoubtedly, Pakistani writers—and According to Steve, the reasons for widePakistan as a theme—are the flavour spread violence that is prevalent in Karachi, of the season. ‘Instant City’ is an epic saga is because of the turf battle between its on Pakistan, unfolded by the formidable principal ethnic groups – the Mohajirs (from writer and National Public Radio host Steve India), the Pakhtuns and the Inskeep. Steve seeks Sindhis (who are the natives of to unravel the chaos, the city). Steve delves deep into violence and turmoil that history, as he contemplates on have become an integral the mistakes by Muhammad Ali part of Karachi. Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan; “Cataclysmic events who failed to enforce secularseemed to tilt the surism as the law of the land. The face of the earth,” writes result was widespread Steve, “raising the angle sectarian strife. until human beings In his engaging style Steve tumbled downhill into writes, “There are red streams the city – at the bottom going down the streets, that of the slope. The Indiapeople say are pollution from Pakistan partition was tanneries. There’s raw sewage the greatest convulsion going into the harbor. But at of all, tilting the ground Instant City: Life And the same time, it’s a city full of on which millions of Death In Karachi incredible life and incredible Indians stood. And Author: Steve Inskeep improvisation.” Muslims began tumbling PUBLISHER: Penguin The most compelling acdownward into Karachi’s PRICE: Rs 599 counts are about Abdul Sattar reluctant embrace.” Eidhi, who runs a voluntary Owing to partition, the Pages: 284 ambulance service that ferries colonial port town of KaraGenre: Non-Fiction the dead and the wounded; and chi doubled its population, also about Tony Tufail, a close from 400,000 in 1947, to aid of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who built a glossy a crowded polluted city of thirteen million casino that never opened. people. Hence the author titled his book- ‘InEven though the book is an ambitious stant City’. and enthralling account, it is tough to capThe reader gets an intriguing insight of ture Karachi – in one book. u Karachi; as the writer, somewhat whimsical-

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DON 2 Directed by: Farhan Akhtar CAST: Shahrukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra Lara Dutta, Om Puri, Kunal Kapoor GENRE: Action plod. The much-touted car-chase scene is good, but fails to create those edge-ofthe-seat moments. The photography and the technical aspects are excellent; not always a given in glitzy, costly ventures like these. I am told that Shah Rukh has joined Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in being the very few to have shot in Germany. In addition, the German government has also earned credit as a co-producer, for funding some shots in Berlin. Will Farhan, after this, dare a sequel of Don Two? The answer is hidden in the anagram – Wont Do. u

Movie Round-up 2011

BOOK

Alka Gurha

Reviews

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

Vijaya Kumar

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his folks, is a quick summary for those who did not have time to watch the movies, and who would like either to go by my views – or act just in the opposite manner! Just one movie, Chalo Delhi, gets top rating. It was simple, heartwarming, and a good clean comedy – with outstanding acting. I would vote for it as the Best Picture for 2011. The runnersup are: The Dirty Picture, No One Killed Jessica and Delhi Belly. Each of these is of a different genre, and made beautifully. In the also-ran category, were Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Mere Brother ki Dulhan, Dum Maaro Dum, 7 Khoon Maaf, Dil to Bachcha Hai Jee, Dhobi Ghat, Not a Love Story, Double Dhamaal, Bbhuddah Hoga Tera Baap and Shagird. The rest of the movies are seriously worthy of being missed! My choice for the Best Actor would be Ranbir Kapoor, for his portrayal of the errant character in Rockstar; with Vinay Pathak in Chalo Delhi being a runner-up. From the heroines, Vidya Balan easily takes the numero uno position, for her role in The Dirty Picture; my choice for runner-up would be Priyanka Chopra, for her role(s) in 7 Khoon Maaf. Abinay Deo would easily walk away with the Best Director Trophy, for his work in Delhi Belly; Ram Gopal Verma would be a runner-up for his treatment of the shocking Not a Love Story. A.R Rahman deserves the award for Best

Music for his compositions in Rockstar; Mohit Chauhan has been the Best Male Singer for his rendering of Sadda Haq in Rockstar; Shreya Ghoshal’s rendering in Teri Meri from Bodyguard makes her deserving of the Best Female Singer award; and Irshad Kamil gets the Best Lyricist place for his lyrics in Kun Faya Kun – also from Rockstar. The award for the most disappointing movie (in relation to expectations) easily goes to Mausam; Ranveer Singh and John Abraham share the credits for appearing in the skimpiest of costumes (male) in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl and Desi Boyz respectively; Anushka Sharma wins that award for the female category, for her appearance in a bikini in Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl! The award for the most hyped-up (yet flimsy on delivery) movie goes to RA One. It is a difficult choice as to which of these sequels is the biggest let-down: Murder 2, Bheja Fry 2 Or Don 2. It is best that they share that award. As far as 2012 is concerned, a producer had asked me for advice on a new picture he wishes to make, called The Dirtier Picture. He wanted names. My choices – Rayon Revathi, Nylon Nalini, Polyester Padmini, Cotton Kamini...they were all extras! u


30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

L ifestyle

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Musical Tribute Epicentre paid a tribute to the late Dev Anand and Kishore Kumar by hosting a musical evening in their memory. Singers Ramesh Nautiyal, Col. R.C Chadha, Anuja and Lilly Singh belted out popular numbers of Dev Anand movies, that were sung by Kishore Kumar. The evening brought back cherished memories for many.

Striking a Chord Striker Pub hosted a musical night, 'Ustaad Meets the Master'. The evening saw jazz guitarist Igor playing Indian classical instruments. With Advait's Suhail Yusuf Khan on Sarangi, Amit Kilam on the drums, Mario with the Spanish bass guitar, and Gyan Bhai on the tabla, the evening was a treat for music lovers. Suhail also provided the vocals.

Recognising Talent INTACH Gurgaon Chapter organised its first Crafts Bazaar at a couple of popular malls. The Bazaar creates a platform for crafts persons in various Gurgaon urban centres. The Bazaar included metal, leather and woollen products from Rewari and Kullu.

Viva la Vida! Vivafit, the womenonly fitness club, celebrated Christmas with its members. Besides a lavish spread of delicious goodies, a salsa workshop was also held. Santa was present too, and distributed gifts to the members, and their children.

Capital Christmas Spirit Gurgaon-based Lorraine Music Academy performed at the National Christmas Celebrations held at the Ashoka Hotel in the National Capital. Eminent guests included Members of Parliament, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. The joyous celebrations included solo recitals and Christmas carols; with participation even from some Ministers.


06 “The town is frozen solid, leaden with ice. Trees, walls, snow, seem to be under glass. Cautiously, I tread on crystals.” Anna Akhmatova

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n the Art Alive Gallery stairwell in Gurgaon’s Sector 44, these words by the 20th-C Russian modernist poet are emblazoned as the leitmotif of a new multimedia exhibition entitled FRAGILITY. They seem to echo the mindscape of an extreme winter, as well as the fragmentary delicacy of glass. “... If a gag should blind my tortured mouth / Through which a hundred million people shout / Then let them pray for me / As I do pray for them ...” Akhmatova had written in her 1940 poem REQUIEM. These words too, could embody this cutting-edge exhibition – whose haunting, mysteriously-emblematic works seem like a muted scream in the dark. Showcasing theatrical artworks in varied media, by 14 artists known for their stylistic ex-

Filaments Of Fragility ART ALIVE GALLERY was opened to Gurgaon’s public on 27 August 2011 by Sunaina Anand, who felt that larger and newer gallery-spaces were required for artistic experiments to fully develop. For those tired of conventional art-displays, a walk through this layered show would be a welcome change. Described as “a new moment in contemporary art that locates ruptures through artistic materials”, FRAGILITY uses actual building materials from a rapidly-expanding Gurgaon, among a spectrum of other natural substances. The fragile counterparts of consumerism—breakable, evanescent and psychical matter of so many kinds that surround us—are used here in a rather interesting fashion. For instance, Susanta Mandal’s installation,  ADDING FIRE TO WATER,  comprises two handlaid walls of red Gurgaon bricks, protecting a symbolic ‘eternal flame’ within them – a fire that is both fragile as a wisp which can

Sunaina Anand with her FRAGILITY (Installation)

be blown-away, as well as strong enough to burn. This fire creates ‘forms’ of needle-like points towards the simmering water being constantly heated on a tawa – inspired by typical Indian roadside dhabas and shelters. Mandal explained his work to me thus: “To me, a process is more important than a ‘final production’ in Art”.  The curator, meanwhile, told me that she had conceptualised this exhibition as “three chambers of fragility: ‘Air’, followed by a descent into the ‘basement-level’ display of ‘Earth’ and ‘Body’ “. An empty cordoned square in Room One denotes ‘Air’, while a square filled with Gurgaon mitti earth in the basement signifies ‘Earth’, and a large mirror on the floor symbolises the ‘Body’. This exhibition took two years to conceptualise and complete .  I noted that seven different art-forms, by twice this number of artists, have been employed here – installations, drawings, paintings, ‘sculptural’ objects, photography, and video. The show attempts to Anita Dube with her FRAGILITY (Installation) blur the divisions of east

perimentations, the exhibition is curated by Rakhee Balaram; who holds Doctorates in French Literature and Art History from Cambridge University, and is currently teaching at JNU’s School of Arts and Aesthetics. The artists—from within, and the diaspora—include Anita Dube, Pooja Iranna, Susanta Mandal, Manisha Parekh, Ashim Purkayastha, Mithu Sen, Om Soorya, Masooma Syed and Sisir Thapa.

Lifestyle JIT KUMAR

{ Srimati Lal }

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

hung at the entrance of the gallery. These evoke the bulbous yet fleeting presence of both natural clouds and gas-pipelines. Artistic draftsmanship is more clearly displayed in the ‘painterly’ works of Om Soorya, Pooja Iranna and Mithu Sen, who depict varied forms—from ‘negative and positive images’ of sharp, daggerlike skyscrapers and fish-bones, to sliced apples—with a play of electric light. They convey the disparate drama of transience. I would point out Anita Dube’s works as the more successful, mature and skilful art-installations in this exhibition. Dube’s masterly juxtapositions—constructed of mirror, wire and velvet, creating vast calligraphic ‘reflections’—are symbolic of the

TO LIFE (Installation) by Masooma Syed

and west, and display shared psychological locations and mindscapes. “The exquisite tension between aesthetic beauty and its possible shattering” is explored in this exhibition in a variety of styles. Masooma Syed, a Pakistani artist who did her MA from Lahore’s National College of Art, and moved to Delhi in 2009 after her marriage to an Indian artist, has created two small ‘sculptures’ of a nerve-wracking delicacy. These are painstakingly made from her own hair and nails! Syed’s ‘Hair sculpture,’ titled ‘TO LIFE,’ embodies the actual shape of two human feet, that carry all the weight and pain of the body, the mind and heart; her ‘Nail-sculpture, called ‘NO-MAN’S LAND’, has a strangely calligraphic look to it, with nail-clippings suspended like scripted curves from a hairstrand! The amazing fragility of both flesh, hair and nails is a visually fascinating concept of this show’s theme. Ashim Purkayastha’s intricate, whisper-like ‘NeedleDrawings’ of butterfly-forms, very delicately created with needles and meticulous ‘puncturings’ on white paper with no inks or paints—contrasted by his rather totemic wall-hanging of a recreated tattered Indian quilt, in the Bengali ‘lep’ style—evoke yet another subtle drama of fragility. Ashim, who was born in Digboi, Assam, told me that

“danger, bomb-blasts, violence and turmoil were considered a part of life while growing up,” and that the gentle visitation of butterflies at any home were viewed as an evanescent ‘good omen’. His subtle, near-invisible needle-butterflies thereby celebrate a tangential optimism. Manisha Parekh’s vast, looming 10-foot by 5-foot horizontal installation of jute rope-sculptures, ‘MURMUR’, of 30 large coiled ‘murmurs’ – hand-twisted in earth– and- yarn-tones, and suspended against a deep sap-green background – seem to be afloat in a metaphorical limbo between hope and despair. The work is rather like a stage set. Manisha, who studied Art at MS University Baroda and the Royal College of Art London, is the daughter of senior painters Manu and Madhvi Parekh.  Similar in vastness and theatricality are the Northeastern artist Sisir Thapa’s white papyrus-like tubular suspensions,

MURMUR (Installation) by Manisha Parekh

corporeal or physical manifestation of Fragility. The viewer is literally ‘drawn-into’ the exhibition, by being ‘reflected’ in a horizontal mirror placed upon the gallery floor. Dube’s sophisticated installations effectively utilise the dramatic and theatrical, with the impact of space – while retaining subtlety. Thus Dube manages to capture and convey the personal poetry that the cultivated eye looks for in all forms of Art. FRAGILITY is an experiment in a variety of forms, manners and media. With 14 artists in a single show,  there is the dilemma of ‘too much going on’ – diluting the sanctity of an individual artist’s aesthetic impact. The idiom of installation-art is also a very difficult one, and can be prone to clichetic ‘projections’, politicised ideas and repititive ‘symbols’ – rather than direct artistic expressions. (For samples of more ‘direct’ artistic expression, one can check-out the NIFA (National Institute of Fine Art) Exhibition, by students of the 2010-11 batch – from Dec 28 to 30 at the QUILL AND CANVAS GALLERY. Unique artistic talent is often found young; and a fresh mind can convey painterly depth and beauty that a jaded palette is unable to retrieve – despite all the predictable  paraphernalia of scholarly and academic discourse).u

Susanta Mandal with his FRAGILITY (Installation)

The writer is an Artist & Curator


L istings

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

CINEMA

THIS WEEK Big Cinemas: Ansal Plaza DON 2 Time: 11am, 12.30 pm, 1.45 pm, 3.25 pm, 4.40 pm, 6.20 pm, 7.35 pm, 9.15 pm, 10.30pm Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (HINDI) Time: 12.45 pm, 6.45pm The Dirty Picture (A) Time: 3.45pm, 9.45pm Address: 3rd floor, Ansal Plaza, G Block, Palam Vihar Website: www.bigcinemas.com

PVR: Ambience Premier SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS Time:10 am, 12.40 pm, 3.20 pm, 6 pm, 8.40 pm, 11.20 pm TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Time:3.50 pm, 9 pm Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Time: 6.25 pm, 11.35 pm Alvin & The Chipmunks 3 Time: 10.30 am ONE DAY Time: 1.40 pm DON 2 – 3D Time: 12.15 pm, 3.15 pm, 6.15 pm, 9.15 pm DON 2 Time: 10 am, 11.30 am, 1pm, 2.30 pm, 4 pm, 5.30 pm, 7 pm, 8.30 pm, 10 pm, 11.30 pm The Dirty Picture Time: 11 am Address: 3rd Floor, Ambience Mall, NH-8 Website: www.pvrcinemas.com PVR: Ambience Gold SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS Time: 11.20 am, 2 pm, 4.40 pm, 7.20 pm, 10 pm DON 2 Time: 10.45 am, 1.45 pm, 4.45 pm, 7.45 pm, 10.45 pm

PVR MGF: MGF Mall SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS Time: 10 am, 12.40 pm, 3.20 pm, 6 pm, 8.40 pm, 11.20 pm DON 2 – 3D Time: 10.45 am, 12.15 pm, 1.45 pm, 3.15 pm, 4.45 pm, 6.15 pm, 7.45 pm, 9.15 pm, 10.45 pm DON 2 Time: 10 am, 11.30 am, 1 pm, 2.30 pm, 4 pm, 5.30 pm, 7 pm, 8.30 pm, 10 pm, 11.30 pm Alvin & The Chipmunks 3 Time: 10.30 am PVR Europa: MGF Mall Alvin & The Chipmunks 3 Time: 1.30 pm One Day Time: 3.15 pm TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY Time: 5.30 pm, 10. 50 pm Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol Time: 10.20 am, 6.25 pm, 9 pm, 11.35 pm KSHETRAM (TELUGU) Time: 10.30 am KYA YAHI SACH HAI Time: 8 pm Ladies V/S Ricky Bahl Time: 3.40 pm The Dirty Picture Time: 12.55 pm Address: 3rd floor, MGF Mall, MG Road Ph: 0124- 4530000 Website: www.pvrcinemas.com

PVR Sahara: Sahara Mall KSHETRAM (TELUGU) Time: 5 pm DON 2 Time: 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm, 7 pm, 10 pm DON 2- 3D Time: 11 am, 2 pm, 8 pm, 10.55 pm, Address: Sahara Mall, MG Road Ph: 0124- 4048100 Website: www.pvrcinemas.com

THE WEEK THAT WAS ♦ Car gang returning. Multiple cases of taking owner hostage, looting wallet and cards, taking out cash from ATMs, beating up person, and throwing him out of car. ♦ 2 engineers of Hero Motocorp killed in road accident. ♦ Call centre executive found dead in car. ♦ 2 held for property dealer murder

Time: 10:05 am, 08:55 pm, 11:20 pm SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS Time: 10:15 am, 12:45 pm, 06:05 pm, 08:35 pm Don 2 (U/A) Hindi Time: 10:45 am, 01:40 pm, 03:05 pm, 04:35 pm, 06:00 pm, 07:40 pm, 10:35 pm Don 2 (3D) (U/A) Hindi Time: 3:15 pm, 11:05 pm Ladies v/s Ricky Bahl (U/A) Hindi Time: 12:30 pm

Year Round Up - 2011 The Cyber City got many new projects during the year 2011, for improving connectivity. The administration took steps to bring transparency in its functioning, and to curb corruption in the registration of immoveable property. The time limit for delivery of 15 essential services to the public was also fixed during the year.

The Projects:

DT City Centre: DLF Phase II SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS Time: 10:45 am, 03:35 pm, 08:50 pm, 11:15 pm Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (U/A) - English Time: 01:10 pm, 05:50 pm, 11:10 pm The Adventures Of Tintin (3D) (U) - English Time: 12:55 pm Don 2 (3D) (U/A) Hindi Time: 10:00 am, 02:55 pm, 08:15 pm Don 2 (U/A) Hindi Time: 11:00 am, 01:55 pm, 04:50 pm, 06:00 pm, 07:45 pm, 10:40 pm DT Star Mall: Sector 30 Don 2 (U/A) Hindi Time: 10:00 am, 11:25 am, 12:50 pm, 02:15 pm, 03:40 pm, 05:10 pm, 06:40 pm, 08:05 pm, 09:35 pm, 11:00 pm Website: http://dt-cinemas.com

DT Mega Mall: DLF Phase I Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (U/A) - English

♦ 3 vehicle thieves caught. ♦ Rs. 20 lakh property loan fraud with bank. Person caught. ♦ Pet (fish) shopowner nabbed, with rare animals, corals/shells. ♦ Power supply continues to be extremely poor. ♦ Various local bodies send notices of non-compliance to commercial establishments – on status (illegal), and on safety (mainly high-rises). ♦ Demolitions of encroachments continue. ♦ HUDA checking road quality.

07

► Clearance of metro rail link between Gurgaon and Indira Gandhi International Airport, via Dwarka. ► Bio-Diversity Park being developed in about 600 acres near Nathupur; it will have an Amphitheatre. ► The Gurgaon General Hospital got a new Intensive Care Unit (ICU) facility, which is first of its kind in any Government Hospital in the State. ► 100 bedded ESIC Hospital in Manesar. ► Community College of IGNOU opened in Government Polytechnic College of Manesar. ► The Gurgaon Municipal Corporation (MCG) got its first elected body. Municipal Councillors were elected in all 35 wards of MCG. Vimal Yadav was elected as the first Mayor, while Yashpal Batra and Parminder Kataria were elected as Senior Mayor and Deputy Mayor respectively. ► The efforts of the Deputy Commissioner PC Meena helped in saving about 1900 acres of land of Municipal Committee Sohna, and about 165 acre Panchayat land of village Nainwal, from going into the hands of land grabbers; and in fact the land was restored to the respective government agencies. ► The MCG started a new facility

Contractors warned, will be fined, and even have FIRs filed against them. Even responsible HUDA engineers warned. ♦ The plan for a 100 buses, operating from February 2012, is shelved. It was found non-viable, and a PPP plan is being proposed now. Public transport will remain a mess. ♦ MCG launches a new portal – Pragati - for public convenience. ♦ Smart cards to replace Ration Cards. Gurgaon a pilot site. ♦ Govt. school timings changed for winter.

(dpro)

for citizens to apply and obtain Birth and Death Certificates online. The new facility of delivering the registered sale deed of the immoveable property on the same day to the buyer was started; three counters for registration of sale deeds of immoveable property in Gurgaon Tehsil, to check corruption. ► HUDA built 560 flats for the Economically Weaker Sections of society, under the Ashiana Scheme. ► Widening of Gurgaon-Faridabad road, and construction of a new road from village Ghata to the Gurgaon-Faridabad road. ► The road crossing near sector 23 was dedicated to the Rezangla martyrs, and its name was changed to ‘Rezangla chowk’. ► Rajendra Park colony got a boosting station. ► Special mutation camps were also organized in various tehsil offices of the district, to clear the backlog of pending mutations ► CCTV Cameras were installed at 16 different locations in the Mini Secretariat. ► The Head Office of newly formed Farmers Commission was also set up in Gurgaon. It is housed in the Kisan Vishram Greh. National Projects Construction Corporation Limited (NPCC) selected Gurgaon for its corporate office ► Gaushala in Carterpuri. ► A ‘Ved Pathshala’ was set up in the famous Sheetla Mata Mandir - where the teaching of Vedas is being given by the preachers of Shankracharya Sharda Peeth Shrengeri.

Police .................................................100 Fire Station ........................................101 Ambulance..........................................102 Railway Enquiry ................................................ 139 Women Helpline...............................................1091 Children Helpline..............................................1098 Senior Citizens Helpline...................................1291 LPG Helpline.........................................011-155233 Weather Helpline................................18001801717 Car Breakdown Helpline....................011-43676767 Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway Helpline.............................. 0124-4787828/817/853 DMRC Helpline......................................011-155370 Disaster Management Helpline........................1077 Municipal Corporation (MCG).............18001801817 Ambulance Service for Animals............................................9873302580


08

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

 Contd from p 1 We have started this system in Sector-29, and got a very good response. The same would be replicated in the entire city in time to come. We will also change the face of Leisure Valley, and turn it into a hub of cultural activity – where people can come and spend time with the family”, says Kumar. His secretary comes up to him, so he can take a call on his mobile. The HUDA chief, dressed in blue jeans, a brown tweed jacket, a white home - made sweater, and brown cap gives instructions in his trademark style. He also tells the official on the other side that he will read the relevant papers in the car, as he needs to go home. “Ghar se daant pad rahi hai bhai’, he says, pointing to the fact that the man, who has given hope to Gurgaon in just a few months, is also a human being. And perhaps others can also do their job as diligently, if they are willing. Demolition is another important subject that Kumar dwells on, but it is clear he is not willing to show his cards. Despite hitting the roads with vengeance every day, the HUDA chief admits it is still a long way to go, “We have completed just one per cent of the task. A lot more needs to be done. I have made it very clear that the land encroachments, and the covering of roads and nullahs to extend

C ivic/Social

Setting A Standard the plots, would be considered a serious violation”, says Kumar. While on his way here, Kumar and his men had demolished a boundary wall of a leading shoe manufacturing fnear Bata Chowk. As the firm had concretized a portion of the road, it was demolished, and so were many other such encroachments on MG Road – from Bata Chowk to IFFCO Chowk. He also cites an instance when earlier, as the additional Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon, he had taken on one of the the most powerful and influential property owners near the National Highway 8. “I went to the building at 2.30 am (dead of night) and asked my people to demolish the illegal road. This happened after a month of requests and instructions, and when they would not budge. Pressure from the highest quarters was put on me, but anything wrong cannot be condoned”, he says. The illegal portion was removed then, and the same will happen even now. Like Lalu Yadav, the HUDA Chief promises that roads in Gurgaon will become as smooth as butter – there would be no bumps, no potholes and the cars will glide over the surface. “We have tied up with leading organ-

isations, that have come up with several solutions – and we have taken the best one”, says Kumar. Within the next three months, driving on the MG Road will be an unbelievable experience, promises the HUDA Chief. “After fixing the road, it will be coated with a special material, ensuring that this road become a paradise for drivers”, he says with the enthusiasm of a child. Kumar also mentions a recent meeting with the Direc-

tor General of Roads, where he discussed matters relating to Gurgaon roads, and discussed possible solutions. “We have realised that water harvesting and proper drainage must be the top priority, to preserve roads. This will also help in water conservation, and improve the water table”, he says. HUDA is working with private agencies, including the Sehgal Foundation, to come up with a rain harvesting structure that is cheap, and works in Indian conditions. “We have devised a structure that costs only between Rs. 30 to 40 thousand, and works quite well”, informs Kumar. Of course, he also wants the citizens to be more responsible, and follow the water harvesting guidelines seriously. When asked about the endemic corruption in the system, Kumar says that he will not tolerate it in any form. “I have told my officials that this has to end. I am ready to go to any extent, to ensure that it does not happen in my organisation. I am ready to go to jail to protect the truth”, he asserts. Kumar also says that the officials should be ready to take pressure from the top. “We have to fight for the truth and what

is right. If we are not ready for this, we can not do the job”, he says. He admits that the State Government has backed him to the hilt, in this exercise of turning Gurgaon into a glorious city. The CM and the entire political class is backing HUDA and all other organisations in the State – including MCG, HSIIDC, Police and the District Administration – to change the way things happen here, he reveals. “We are certain that things will improve, and Gurgaon will see great days ahead”, promises the HUDA chief. In his last posting as the Deputy Commissioner in Faridabad, Kumar tells us that people used to appreciate the work being done by the Administration. The politicians also realised that he had tried to give an honest and responsible administration, he says. Kumar has a unique style. He has the knack of stumping out the opposition with wit, and actions that come from ‘out of the box’. After slapping a peon for accepting money, driving a rickshaw, and hitting himself with a shoe, he is being seen as a maverick. However, his bold actions have endeared him as a saviour. Will he continue to deliver the goods? Would he be allowed to take on anybody and everybody? And what after him? – remain the big questions. For now, full marks to Mr. Kumar u

Gurgaon Needs A Nodal Body  Contd from p 1 situation. Some of the people can come from government, and some can be included from outside to take advantage of private expertise”, says Gupta. He has had the distinction of serving Ch. Devi Lal, Ch Bhajan Lal and other doyens of Haryana politics.

All the stakeholders in Gurgaon can be guided by this Agency, and it can also plug the loopholes in the system. When asked about the basic problems in the administrative set up of the city, Gupta says that the structure of governance for and in Gurgaon has not evolved with time. It today cannot keep pace with the

Reminiscences of a former bureaucrat My first memory of Gurgaon is of May, 1967, just six months after the creation of the state of Haryana – when I was travelling from Delhi to Narnaul on May 27 in a private car. The City then gave a distinct impression of being a very small place, and even the much touted Railway Road had hardly a dozen shops. During my stay at Narnaul as DC, Mahendragarh, I had the chance to visit and pass through Gurgaon several times. I was deeply impressed by the DC’s residence, and a huge campus around it. My colleague Meera Seth was the DC, Gurgaon at that time, and she lived all alone in that imperial bungalow. Gurgaon continued to be an old-fashioned city for a long time, till suddenly the Haryana government—the Department of Town and Country Planning, and its agency HUDA—decided to give a new shape and push to Gurgaon. It is the highly venerable citadel of Guru Dronacharya – the legendary teacher of martial arts in the Mahabharata. The government of the day was both assisted, and may be inspired, by private developers like DLF, Unitech and Ansals – the first three to travel on this road. I remember a couple of meetings with Captain K.P Singh of DLF, Sushil Ansal of Ansals, and Ramesh Chandra of Unitech in 1984-85. During that time I was Secretary, Town and Country Planning and Urban Development for Haryana, under Chief Minister Bhajan Lal. As I looked through the papers and development plans of Gurgaon, I could never have imagined—nor would anyone else including perhaps these developers (who are often referred to as colonizers)—that Gurgaon and its neighbouring areas would develop in this remarkable fashion. From a sleepy small town of hardly 50,000 people in 1966, it now has a population easily between 15 to 20 lakhs. It has expanded, blossomed and burgeoned into a colossus among cities.

challenges of the times. “The appointment of a number of supertime scale officers in Gurgaon is also a drawback; as the Deputy Commissioner—the pivot of Administration in the District—is still in the time scale. These loopholes need to be fixed, if the system has to run smoothly. Whatever you do, senior officers cannot be commanded”, asserts the former bureaucrat. When asked about the corruption plaguing the government bodies, Gupta says that it is not only in the establishment, but also outside. He says there is need to fix the system with

some innovative solutions, as is being done by the current HUDA Administrator. He cites an incident when, as the Home Secretary of Haryana, he helped in the reconciliation of two caste groups fighting over a religious congregation. Gupta says that he asked one of the parties to invite the other, and in this way the tension fizzled out. Gurgaon, he says, has benefited from the state’s dynamic leadership, the entrepreneurial spirit, and the phenomenon of globalization. The city offers absolutely modern facilities for shopping and entertainment, and it has both local and global

connectivity. However on the flip side, one is bothered by poor traffic management, inadequate water and power supply, and above all, absence of high quality normal educational institutions, particularly the lack of a university. “I would also like people not to blame the government for all the problems in the city. We should also ensure that our behaviour and conduct is up to the mark. The chaos in parking is caused by us, and we are spreading the muck”, he says; adding that an enlightened citizenry will never behave like that. u

As of December 28, 2011 All Prices in Rs/kg.

Food Take Area/ vegetables

Palam Vihar

Sector 54

South City 1

DLF City Phase 5

Sadar Bazar

Sector 23

Safal

Reliance Fresh

Potatoes

10

10

5

8

7

7

5.90

5.5

Onions

10

12

10

16

8

10

14.90

13

Tomatoes

20

15

15

20

14

10

13.90

15

Cucumbers

24

20

20

30

18

15

20

18

Spinach

20

16

15

20

14

10

12.90

15

Cauliflower

20

18

18

22

12

15

17.90

15

Radish

10

10

10

12

8

8

6.90

2

Carrot

20

16

15

20

14

16

13.90

14

Mushroom

20

25

20

25

20

20

25

20

(old/new)


30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

 Contd from p 1 “Gurgaon is the city of Guru Dronacharya, and hence it ought to be a perfect place to live in. HUDA is committed to make Gurgaon a perfect city. The anti-encroachment drive is just the first step toward this distant, yet achievable goal. Once we rid the city of these encroachers, we will focus on the infrastructural development, which the city urgently needs,” said Dr. Praveen Kumar, the Administrator, HUDA. Will this demolition drive yield something fruitful, or it will turn into another well-begun-but-half-done attempt made by various civic agencies, to get the city back on the track of development and growth?

C ivic/Social

The Aftermath

Are encroachment drives completed?

“No, not at all. We will continue to evacuate encroachers from our land. Whatever has happened till now is just a sample of our drive; because this problem is not confined to one or two places. The whole city is in its grab. We will continue our drive, and that too with a faster pace. Nobody will be spared. We have around 500 acres of land under encroachment; it is a mammoth problem,” said Dr. Praveen Kumar. Kumar is not the only one who seems to have this demolition spirit; HUDA officers too have geared up. “We are with doctor Sahab. Nobody will be spared, and HUDA is committed to get all its encroached lands back. After all, nothing is more precious than land in Gurgaon,” said another senior official in HUDA. Although MCG, and other civic bodies have also carried out demolition drives in their respective jurisdictions, they have not caught the limelight, nor received adequate kudos from the city. “We are not really concerned with the media limelight; we are totally committed to our cause of removing encroachments from our areas, and making this city more open and spacious. We started our campaign

DURGADATT PANDEY

along with HUDA, but we never got much attention. We will continue our drive. For example, after the demolition drive in Sadar Bazar, the market has got a new look, and the public can better enjoy their shopping now. We have also made it a vehicle free area,” said another very senior official in MCG.

What about the homeless?

For most of the citizens, this demolition drive is the best thing that has happened to Gurgaon in the recent years. But somebody’s gain is always somebody’s loss; and if that loss hits the havenots, the situation can become grim. Thousands of families have lost their shanties (for them these shanties are nothing short of bungalows) in this demolition, and have been left at the mercy of this spine chilling winter. “Yes, some people are suffering, and are homeless. But

Mass opinion The city has welcomed this initiative taken by different agencies, to wipe out the encroachments. Almost all the residents, be it in old Gurgaon or new, have praised this drive. “This is the best thing to have happened to Gurgaon in the last few years. HUDA is seriously committed to get its land back from the encroachers; and whatever they have done by demolishing the shanties etc. is totally justifiable – because there is nothing wrong in telling an encroacher to vacate your land. To me, a fine job has been done, and I hope they will not let any re-encroachment happen,” said Sudhir Kapoor, the Secretary General, the DLF City Resident Welfare Association. “This HUDA Administrator seems to have some guts; because prior to him no other Administrator had shown such courage to take on these encroachers. He is doing a fine job,” said Jolly Bhargav, President, Garden Estate RWA. In various markets, where this anti-encroachment drive was carried out,

a hard approach is the only measure against encroachment, and we have to be harsh in life sometimes. However, we have already set plans in motion for temporary winter shelters, based on models working in various other cities of the country – e.g. Mumbai. Within a week, you will see people able to get comfort,” said Kumar. MCG, too have made people homeless; but the numbers are negligible, as most of the areas set free were used for commercial purpose. “Our main aim is to remove encroachment, and make the area more spacious. However, our night shelters are already in function in the different parts of the city – with the name of ‘Rainbaseras’,” said the official.

Steps to avoid re-encroachment

A few instances of ‘re-encroachment’ have been reported from different parts of the city,

the shopkeepers are happy. “The hawkers used to encroach the whole space here, and we used to face great problems in attracting customers. They would misbehave with us too. Now nobody is here, and look at the change. The market has a lot of space now,” said Ramavatar, an owner of a sweet shop in Sector-14 market. The city may bestow a lot of pats on the back of civic agencies like HUDA, but there are people who lost their homes – and now have no where to go. “I used to live here with my family, and now I am homeless. These people have no mercy, nor this city has any space for the poor. I am going back to Bihar,” said Rajesh Kumar, while standing at the threshold of the ruins of his former home – confined by a metalled wire fencing at the Genpact Chowk.

Construction at Sikanderpur

People have started reconstructing their demolished shops; but this time within the boundary of their own legitimate land. “We are just refurnishing the damaged outer appearance of the shop. The HUDA Administrator

and HUDA is aware of it. “This is expected, isn’t it? Who-so-ever has lost his home, or means of income, will definitely try to get it back. But we are on our toes to thwart any such possibility. We have already done the wire-fencing of the vacated areas, and placed a warning board at each corner. Serious action will be taken against the people who will try to test our patience again,” said a grim Kumar. “We are keeping a tab on every area we have got vacated till now. And we are ready to take action,” said Amarjeet Dangi, SDO, Enforcement, HUDA. MCG too doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned, to keep the encroachers at bay. “Definitely we are keeping an eye on the encroachers, and our bulldozer is always ready to take care of any such trial of re-encroachment. We will not let it happen,” said the official.

is nothing short of a despot. He didn't even abide by the law, as we had a stay order from the Punjab and Haryana High Court. We are fighting our battle in the Court now; and if the Court's judgement comes against us, we are ready to vacate the whole place. But he is nobody to break our source of livelihood,” said an angry youth, whose shop had been demolished during HUDA's anti-encroachment drive. Kumar has been issued a contempt of court notice for this. The hearing against the HUDA Administrator, for this contempt of court (during the demolition drive carried out at Sikanderpur), has been extended to 11th January, 2012. Mir Singh, an advocate and owner of various shops at Sikanderpur's demolished market, told Friday Gurgaon, “Earlier, the date for the hearing was 19th December, 2011; but now the Punjab and Haryana High Court has extended the date till 11th January, 2012. The HUDA Administrator has demolished our shop, acting against the stay order of the Court; and we are committed to prove that nobody is above the law of the country.”

09

Rehabilitation Plan, if any?

Demolition drives carried out by various civic agencies in the city have left many people homeless and unattended in the winter season, and a proper rehabilitation plan for this population is clearly needed. HUDA seems to have taken this seriously. “Rehabilitation of these poor people is at the top of our mind. For now, we have planned for temporary measures (shelters), to save them from the cold; but we are definitely working on a permanent plan, based on a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) model – to give these people a proper life. We are planing to build 25-30 storey building apartments for them, and that too under low cost housing scheme – with modern facilities,” confirmed Kumar. “Yes, the current apartment system is for the rich. But now, HUDA will build low cost apartments on the various HUDA lands set free from encroachers recently. Earlier, we thought of providing a space of 32 sqm. to each family in the building; but later we thought that 32 sqm. is not enough – and now the space provided would be 40 sqm. We will take care of all the requirements of

Major Demolitions till now 

Sikanderpur Nathupur  Genpact Chowk  DLF-III  Sector-14 Market  Sadar Bazar  Fazilka Jharsa  IFFCO Chowk  Sectors-10, 15, 18, 39, 44, 45, 56  NH-8  MG Road  Faridabad Road  Sukhrali Road 

the masses – ranging from good parks to good schools. Another scheme we would like to introduce is ‘workplace combined with the apartments’ (a walk to work facility); so the people can earn their livelihood just a few minutes away from their homes,” informed Kumar. However, he was non-commital when asked about the time duration and places for such a huge enterprise. “As of now, we can’t say anything. Obviously it will take time; and as far as the places are concerned, it can be anywhere – in old or new Gurgaon, depending on the availability of land.” It is obviously more in Kumar’s mind today, than on paper. No other HUDA official has anything to say in this regard. “I don’t have any knowledge about this sort of plan. As of now I am unaware of it,” said an Estate Officer. u


10

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

C ivic/Social

Society for Education and Environmental Training (SEET)

Multi-faceted Initiatives { Shirin Mann / FG }

M

ost of the focus on challenges that Gurgaon faces, is on poor, civic infrastructure. However, the gravest issue of any society would always be something that impacts its inhabitants directly – economically and socially. And especially the poorer and under-privileged. Gurgaon has an ever-growing problem of migrant labour. About 3 lakh migrants have flocked to Gurgaon and the surrounding villages, in search of work. They lack basic medical help, safety and security. The health status of the urban poor residing in the slums around Gurgaon is even poor than the rural poor. And the degradation in their health status, dealing with communicable and non-communicable diseases, is being ignored by the health departments as well as the government. Society for Education and Environmental Training (SEET) is a voluntary, non-profit organisation, set up in 2000, and has designed its ‘Health Intervention Policy’ to promote the health of the urban and rural poor in and around Gurgaon. Dr. Sarvadanand Arya, Founder of SEET, former Vice Chancellor of MDU Rohtak, Kurukshetra University and CCS Harayana Agriculture University, Hissar says, “Through our Health Intervention Policy, SEET has been organising

and also work on spreading awareness of common ailments, family planning methods, nutrition and hygiene, and sanitation. They provide services free of cost, and are organised with the support of government bodies and individual volunteers. To date, thirty two health care camps have been set up in the villages in and around Gurgaon, and have benefited thousands of people. SEET also conducts MultiDisciplinary Mega Health Camps, which are specialised camps set up in villages, and provide investigative and surgical interventions. These are done in make-shift hospitals, by a team

Future Project in Gurgaon A Project for working women in the unorganised sector starts end of January, 2012; and will be funded by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. This project will lay emphasis on 3 aspects (i) Organising working women and educating them about their rights/duties; legal aid to working women; also awakening women about the legal remedies against sexual harassment at work. (ii) Seminars and workshops aimed at raising the general consciousness of the society about the problems of women labour. (iii) To start income generation Projects for women labour. Health Camps for Tribal and other underprivileged people in Orrisa and Hissar. SEET is now also working for the migrant labour population that lives in and around Gurgaon. The medical facilities are extremely expensive here, and a labourer can’t afford such expensive care. So we organise free health camps, and roll in hospitals like Medicity and Artemis – who come and set up OPDs, and give free health care and medicines to those effected. Our efforts are funded by the Ministry of Labour.” As a part of the Health Intervention Policy, SEET organises General Health camps, based on the health needs of a specific area or village. These camps aim at promoting a healthy lifestyle,

of doctors. The Mega Camp provides free diagnosis, medicines, food, accommodation and surgical care. These 10 days camps, catering to several villages, provide benefit to almost 2,000 people. Along with 100 beds, the camp has 25 specialist doctors and paramedical staff – from surgery, ophthalmology, gynaecology, orthopaedics, medicine, ENT, anaesthesia, radiology, paediatrics and pathology. They provide voluntary services in the camp. Dr. Arya says, “Along with the care of migrant labourers, we also provide education and care to their children. In most cases both the parents are labourers, and as a result the child is ignored. We provide primary edu-

cation to the children, till Class 6. After which he/she receives formal education in schools.” The project is carried out in the Gurgaon and Mewat Districts of Haryana in the slums of DLF, Sushant Lok, Saraswati Vihar, and South City. Also villages like Wazirabad, Ghata, Jharsa, Tigoa; and residing colonies like Ram Nagar, Bhim Nagar, where a large migrant population from UP, Chattisgarh, Bihar and W. Bengal are in very large number. Further, Nuh, Taoru, Punhana, Ferozpur Jhirka and adjoining Meo-dominated areas of Mehwat—where problems of dental, eyes and gynaecology exist—are also a part of the policy. Business Continuity Planning and Disaster Management for Corporates in NCR Falling under a high (Zone 5) seismic zone of the country, Gurgaon is susceptible to natural disasters like earthquake – apart from man-made dangers such as fires and bombs. There are thousands of highrise offices and residences. Even though we might fall into high impact zones, most corporates fall short in the expertise to manage and deal with such disasters. SEET through its Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and Disaster Management and Disaster Recovery Planning, aims to provide assistance and training to employees of the corporates – so that effective measures like first aid, fire fighting, emergency evacuation can be taken up. The idea is to help corporates to help themselves. Dr. Arya informs, “Most of the corporates claim that they are well-equipped in case of a fire, bomb threat or a natural calamity. But the real picture is that none of the employees are trained, or have any idea about what must be done in case of an emergency. We provide training, knowledge, and development and execution of the plan – which is very important, especially in a place like Gurgaon. Gurgaon is

a city of multinationals and big corporate houses, where lakhs of people work. In case of a disaster many lives can be lost. So disaster management and recovery is a discipline that is a necessity. It involves a process of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery – through various activities like training, mock drill, testing of equipment and plan preparedness.” The advisory board for the Gurgaon project comprises of – Dr. Satish Yadav, Chairman, Dronacharya College of Engineering, Gurgaon; Mr. Neil O’ Connor, Former Director Mar-

keting, Indian Airlines and Tierra Infotech Pvt. Ltd. Gurgaon; Mr. N.S Grewal, GM, Orient Exports, Gurgaon; Lt. Gen. Aditya Singh PVSM (Retd.) Delhi; Dr. Markanday Ahuja, MS (Ophthalmology), Director, Shri Baba Mastnath Group of Institutions, Asthal Bohar, Rohtak; Mr. Anupam Dev, MD, Resources International and SLDEV&CO., Gurgaon; Col. Rattan Singh (Retd.) Chairman, JAFRA, Gurgaon; Sh. B.D Pahuja, Gen. Sec., RWA, Sector 14, Gurgaon; Sh. Parween Kumar Bansal, MD, Bhakti Buildwell Ltd., Gurgaon and Sh. Mahesh Dahima, Former District Councillor, Zila Parishad, Gurgaon. The view from the 20th floor might picture a beautiful skyline of the city—from your balcony or office window—but it has become equally important to understand the risk that might accompany it; and be fully prepared for it. SEET, through its initiatives in and around Gurgaon, is making a difference for not only those who live and work in them; but also the unorganised labour that helps build them. Let’s be a part of the Project, and help make a difference and do our bit for humanity. u To volunteer contact +91 9213366339, 0124- 4209080 or log onto www.seet.in for further information about the NGO and their extensive work in Rajasthan, Orrisa, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Haryanvi Made Easy Get a taste of the local lingo 1. What are you doing on 31st night? Tu 31 ki raat ne ke karya hai? 2. Are you going out of the city? Ke tu shaher te baar ja se ke? 3. I am celebrating at home Main apne ghar ne manaunga 4. Come home to celebrate new year’s eve Ghar ne aaja, yede manavenge 5. Can I bring anything? Ke ke lena hai?

6. Happy New Year Sabhne naye saal ke subh kaamana


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Well Connected, Well Off, Ignored {Sector 39} { Maninder Dabas / FG }

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lmost all the sectors in Gurgaon are away from the two biggest blessings of the city – the NH-8 and the Metro. However, a few sectors are lucky enough to have both! Sector-39 is that Sector of envy; it is not only situated on the threshold of NH-8, but the Metro – another glittering marvel is just at a stone’s throw away. The Sector connects directly to the HUDA City Centre Metro Station. But at ground level, the Sector stinks. “There is no worthwhile road inside the Sector, and the village Jharsa remains

under-developed – it seems HUDA does not want to work in an MCG area,” says Krishan Kumar, a resident. However, the sector boasts a world class hospital in the form of Medanta, and a commercial building (Cyber Park), where thousands of youngsters come daily to earn their bread. “I can’t do anything for the Sector, because it doesn’t come under my jurisdiction. Yes, this sector is neglected by the authorities. My village Jharsa too is not in good shape, but we are trying to bring it back on the track of development. Both Medanta and Cyber Park have become a boon for the village and the Sector; because 70 per cent of the people working here are from outside the city, and need a place to stay. Both Sector-39 and Jharsa take maximum benefit of this and people have become rich on rentals. But when it comes to facilities outside the home, this area falls miserably

Struggling With Basics

What’s good

1. Location 2. Connectivity to NH-8 3. Connectivity to Metro 4. Proximity to a world class hospital – Medanta 5. A commercial powerhouse: Unitech Cyber Park 6. Rent: a great source of income

What’s no so good 1. Pathetic inner roads 2. Poor Sanitation 3. Lot of unutilised land 4. No school

short,” says Poonam Devi, the MCG Councillor of the area. “Not a single road here is good enough to walk on, forget driving. Now in winters it is still bearable; had you come in the monsoon season, you would have seen an ocean here, with tides daring to enter our houses. It is a pathetic place,” says Ramesh Chauhan, a resident

{ FG Bureau }

Ravinder Kataria

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Ward No. 20 Area: Hari Nagar, Anaaj Mandi, Raj Nagar, Shakti Park, Shivji Park age. In contrast to the problem of potable water scarcity, the monsoons turn my Ward into a slush-zone. Earlier, the sewage connections in my Ward were never enough to drain the water away. Then, the residents built their own drains, which lessened the problem – but added to the sewage connection confusion. But the good thing is, I’ve had the entire road—from Anaaj Mandi to Chaar Aath Marla—remade. That includes the water and sewage connections; and the road is made of reinforced concrete cement,” he says, satisfied. [It is to be noted that even though the Corporation did remake the road, the consequent elevation of the road has left the residents and shops on the right side much lower than the left side. “Although it is much better now, I guess the next rains would result in a flood-like situation on our (right) side of the road,” says Anuj, a resident.] What challenges is he facing in the upcoming year? “Mainly, the issue of development in unauthorised colonies. My supporters and I had promised the people of faster development at the time of elections. We are waiting for the villages to get authorised, so that we can start work on what is needed. The people had trusted us, voted for us. I can’t let them down,” Kataria says. u

Chola-Kulcha stall here for the last three years, and it is a good source of income; because a lot of people come here to work. But you can see there is literally no road left here; and during rains, it becomes a total mess. With the demolition drive going on, I pray that they don’t come here,” says Avinash, the stall owner. u

Traffic Run On New Year’s Day

{ Hritvick Sen / FG }

itting in his home on a freezing December evening, Ravinder Kataria candidly says, “I haven’t done for my Ward as much as I had thought. It has been a trying time.” As the Councillor for a Ward which is one of the most congested, under-developed and overpopulated areas of the city, Kataria has hardly sat down for a chat when two men, very agitated, rush into the room. The issue is that one man has spoken out against a neighbour’s ill-treatment of a minor girl, and this has escalated into a full-blown fight. Phlegmatic, Kataria listens to both the men, and advises them to cool it – until he calls them over for a face-to-face discussion. Resuming, he says, “What can I say about my Ward? I’ve lived here all my life. I know almost all the people, and I know all the problems. Water is the problem. My people have little or no access to potable water. And this has been a burning issue as long as I can remember. There is only one booster station which provides water to my Ward. That water booster station also has to send water to other areas; which means my Ward does not receive timely water supply – let alone its quota.” What has he done to address that problem? “I’ve installed two tubewells to provide water to the people. The water quality is not that great, but at least the people have some water. Besides that, I’ve sent a request to the Corporation for four more tubewells. As soon as they are installed (and it will happen soon enough, one to two months), the problem of water scarcity will lessen drastically.” “Then,” Kataria pauses for breath, “is the problem of sew-

who owns a beautiful bungalow just a few metres away from the Cyber Park. Eating outlets just adjacent to Cyber Park are another positive point of the sector; because they not only provide cheap yet good quality food to people working there, but also provide a great source of income to people of the Sector and the village. “I have been keeping my

or those who run for a cause, or just run for running’s sake, put on your track shoes – again. Jan 1st -7th is the ‘Road Traffic Safety Week’; and to kick this off, the city’s Traffic Police is organising a 5-kilometre and a 10-kilometre run on January 1. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Bharti Arora will flag off these runs. “We hope to get people out and running on the first day of the New Year. It is a dedication to the people

{ FG Bureau }

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who have fallen victim to road accidents.” She added, “Let’s pledge to make our roads safer in 2012, and every year going forward. That is why we have the run going through older and newer parts of Gurgaon.” These are free runs organised by Running And Living Infotainment, a Gurgaon-based enterprise. Rahul Verghese, the founder of Running And Living Infotainment, said runners in India mostly use roads – and they need to be aware of road safety norms. “If Gurgaon can lead the

way, other cities can surely follow.”

Registration And Runs:

Interested runners are to assemble at 10:00 am on Jan 1, outside Optus Sarovar Premiere Hotel, for free registration and bibs with road safety signs. The run is to start at 10:30 am – it will go via Crowne Plaza, Signature Towers, Bata round-about, Kalyani Hospital, Agrasen Chowk, Gurudwara Road, Railway Road, Park Inn Hotel and Mor Chowk – and back to the start. u

Traffic Week

he Gurgaon Traffic Police is gearing up to observe the 23rd Road Safety Week from 1st to 7th January 2012 - during which it is planning to undertake a number of activities to educate the masses about road safety. Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Traffic Gurgaon, Smt Bharti Arora explained various activities that wopuld be undertaken for the better management of the Traffic System: A ban on parking on arterial and primary roads; Restricting use of goods vehicles during the day at crowded places; Clearance of road encroachments; Allowing only one pillion rider on a motor cycle; Ensuring motor cycle drivers wear protective headgear; Ensuring school buses have a uniform color (preferably yellow) with a display card in front indicating that the ‘bus is carrying school children’; Vehicles carrying goods including tractor-trollies not being allowed to carry passengers; Ensuring enforcement of regulations in respect of vehicles carrying hazardous goods; Ensuring strict adherence to load ceiling, in order to curb overloading. Smt Bharti Arora said that checking of over-speeding, over-loading, unauthorized parking, drunken driving would be intensified. She said that though the Traffic Police generally undertakes these activities as part of their duty, but during the Road Safety Week, special emphasis will be laid. The Traffic Police has invited entries for slogans on Road Safety, through newspapers - and the best entries will be awarded, she said. Apart from these actions, the Traffic Police will also lay

thrust on making the concerned authorities take up the improvement of road infrastructure - like taking up periodic road maintenance, grade separation of traffic to avoid a mix of fast and slow moving vehicles, and proper road marking works on National Highways, State Highways and other major roads. She said that the emission norms - like fitness checking drive and inspection of fuel dispensing unit - to check adulteration, will also be undertaken. Besides, there would be awareness/education programmes: Holding of meetings on Road Safety, in which Senior Officials of concerned departments and public representatives would be invited; Public announcement on road safety at important intersections, using mobile vans; Banners, Road Signs, Dos and Don’ts regarding Road Safety would be displayed at Traffic Junctions; Organizing exhibitions, seminars, lectures, and screening of documentary films in public places; Pamphlets and folders for children, road users and drivers would be distributed, to educate them on road safety aspects; Special training programmes for school/college students in traffic rules; Traffic training to children who visit the traffic training parks; Practical traffic education campaign by the Police Department and Voluntary Agencies, particularly among cyclists and pedestrians. Further, medical check-ups and eye-sight testing camps, and free distribution of spectacles to drivers would be taken up. The Traffic Police would set up a 24×7 call centre, with a dedicated number ( 1073 ) for the State, to attend to accident victims with ambulance/crane services; and also organize first aid training programmes for police and road construction workers, drivers and volunteers, Smt Arora added. u


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Stray Love

DOGS’ BEST FRIEND: Nadir Khan and his wife Pia, surrounded by their best friends

{ Manjula Narayan }

“A

ao, aao,” bellows Nadir Khan, as we stand in an open ground in Sushant Lok III – and immediately about 15 stray dogs, tails wagging furiously and faces plastered with happy grins, rush towards his red Maruti van. Sudhir, one of Khan’s two assistants, opens the back of the vehicle, that contains a first aid kit and a huge heavy-gauge vessel – the sort used by caterers to make biryani. It is full of a porridge made of dalia and meat. The dogs can barely contain their joy, and leap about excitedly, as Sudhir slops generous portions into their bowls. A few shy females observe the action from the fringes, waiting patiently for the riff-raff males to finish, before they come forward for their share. “I think she might have been stolen and brought here, because someone thought she’d have cute puppies,” says Khan, pointing to a gentle-eyed brown dog watching the action from afar. Apparently, the boys at the local car garage once took Khan to task, because they believed their friendly neighbourhood dog wasn’t having pups because Khan had mixed birth control pills in her porridge! “Whoever brought her here didn’t know she had already been sterilized,” says Khan. Khan feeds about 150 stray dogs in Gurgaon every morning, and is “in touch with about 1,800 dogs here.” The residents of Sector 57 ensure that

all his canine friends are sterilized, and vaccinated against rabies and distemper; and that those suffering from a variety of ailments—like mange, fever and broken bones—are treated. Even as we speak, Sudhir prises open the mouth of a mangeafflicted pooch, and stuffs a pill down its throat. Khan seems to know every  tyke in the area, and points out the family who were rescued by the security guards at Hong Kong Market – when their mother was run over. Next to them is their buddy Tintin, who once was a scrawny abandoned pup, but is now a magnificent white hound. “I’ve named many dogs after my friends,” laughs his wife ecologist Pia Sethi adding “they aren’t too happy about it!”   “This one is Puran,” Khan says affectionately, patting the head of a friendly  mongrel. Puran, flouting all territorial rules revered by pack dogs, regularly follows the van unhindered, as it travels through various sectors. Puran actually ‘belongs’ to a human with the same name. “I used to say ‘Arre where is Puran’s kutta?’, when he didn’t show up; and eventually I started calling the dog by the owner’s name,” Khan laughs. But doesn’t Puran’s owner look after him? “Many of these people are poor, and they think giving a dog a few rotis a day means looking after him,” says Khan. He is often approached by impoverished dog lovers, for advice and medicines. At one stop, a young workman shows Khan his black pup, rather absurdly named ‘Sandy’. “Keep her warm, and when she’s a little

older, bring her to me for vaccinations and medicines,” says Khan. He advises the boy on the right diet for the pup. Pia reveals that Sandy is a replacement for another much beloved black dog—also called Sandy—who was snatched off the street by “some men who came in a car”. “Can you imagine a desi stray dog being kidnapped?” says Pia shaking her head; “but in Haryana they consider black dogs lucky, especially ones with a single white marking on their bodies. So that’s probably why they took her.” Since organisations like FriendicoesSECA and PFA (People for Animals) Sadrana have been sterilizing dogs in Gurgaon—with the assistance of

JIT KUMAR

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individuals like Nadir Khan—very few pups are now born here; which is why the original Sandy’s grieving owner had to trudge to Delhi to find a new companion. “Most of the dogs here are old,” says Khan. A few very senior dogs now live in the couple’s home, which serves as a kind of doggy sanatorium. Many who benefitted from their treatment - like the dog who broke his forelegs when he was thrown off the first floor of a building by construction workers -- now live in the barren land outside, keeping a constant watch on their saviour’s residence.     “Dr. Anuj Synghal, who is a qualified vet, helps us with many cases,” says Nadir. Nadir too has learnt to treat particular canine ailments, in the years since 1998 – when he began feeding strays. “I had two German Shepherds, and I started feeding street dogs with their leftover food,” Khan reminisces. One thing led to the other, and soon he was setting aside a large amount of his time and resources—Rs 40,000 per month—towards feeding and treating the loveable and very intelligent desi stray. “I’ve given up opportunities to work abroad. When my wife was in the US for eight years, I never went there, because then who would look after and feed these dogs,” says Khan. He is a senior executive with a logistics firm in Delhi.  Besides good karma, his work for stray dogs has earned him many friends within the community; as everyone, from pujaris at local temples, to beat constables and humble workmen, approach him for assistance with their animals. “I help out those who don’t have the money to look after their desi pets; but I tell the richer folk with their German Shepherds and Labs to get things done themselves,” says Khan. He laughs as he recounts the tale of someone with a fleet of cars asking him for a jacket for his dog! As Pia and Nadir leave for the rest of their morning 15-stop round, you realise you’re as happy as a cheerful Gurgaon stray to have met them. u

Outsourced Parenting? { Alka Gurha }

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t is a strange paradox. While we crib about the hordes of illegal migrants who have descended on Gurgaon, we cannot seem to have enough of them. Recent news of a maid kidnapping a child shows how vulnerable working parents are. If the maid had the gall to kidnap the child, I dread to think how she treated the toddler in the absence of the parents. The news also revived memories of the horrible story in Bangalore, where a maid rented out the employers’ drugged baby to a racket of beggars. A walk in the park reveals that more maids now escort children, in the absence of parents. It is the maids who feed them, escort them to school, and also play with them. It is the maids who play and fuss over children, when they get hurt or throw a tantrum. Other than the regular house-help for cleaning and washing, urban families now prefer a live-in maid, who doubles up as a cook and a nanny. Cashing on this phenomenon, builders now provide an attached servant room with most new apartments It is understandable that working women living in nuclear families need some help to look after their children. However even stay-at-home mothers, with a single child, are increasingly opting to leave children in the company of maids. Grandparents also prefer a solitary walk or chat sessions among their own peer group, rather than huffing and puffing after grandchildren. A decade ago, the concept of ‘outsourced parenting’ was not in vogue; and parenting did not allow the luxury of pursuing a hobby, a weekend getaway, a movie at the theatre, or the simple pleasures of socialising. As I recall my motherhood, the challenges of diaper changing, sleepless nights, potty training, and running after my son remain a treasure. The images, over time, have become hazy – more akin to a dream than reality. Though I was sleep deprived and stressed as any new mother, given a chance I would love to relive those moments – of running after him in the park, playing hide and seek, or clapping deliriously as he took his first baby steps. Parenting is a full time job, and there is no experience quite like having children. Despite the challenges, raising a blessed family remains a most satisfying experience. However, with changing times, nuclear families, and both parents wedded to career and finance, the all-time, all-purpose maid is here to stay. The least that one can do is ensure that diligence is never compromised.


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Shakti Vahini: The Childline victims are from different states of India. The states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, and Orissa are highly prone to child trafficking. As a part of this project we are providing direct assistance—like medical, shelter, protection from abuse, repatriation, intensive counselling—for the long-term rehabilitation of the needy children,” informed Nishikant.

How it works?

“Shakti Vahini’s Childline programme is based on the concept of four Cs – through which it reaches out to every child in need, and ensures that their protection and rights are immediately taken care of. The four Cs are: 1. CONNECT through technology, to reach the ‘last mile’. 2. CATALYSE systems through active advocacy. 3. COLLABORATE through integrated efforts between children, the state, civil society, corporates and community – to build a child friendly social order. 4. COMMUNICATE to make child protection everybody’s priority.”

A few cases solved by ‘Childline’.

{ Maninder Dabas / FG }

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o doubt, children are the future of India. But are they safe enough from the reach of the evils of our society; that not only enslaves them to its malice desires, but also separates this nation from its prosperous future? Children are the most vulnerable section of our society, and hence they need to be protected, in order to keep the hopes of a bright future alive. Unfortunately, India doesn’t seem to bother much about its future, as almost 1.4 million children are forced to indulge in child labour – and the number is increasing at a rapid rate. The country neither has a dearth of plans to rehabilitate these kids, nor of the NGOs working for their welfare yet the situation is getting grimmer day by day. Shakti Vahini, an NGO that works for the welfare of these poor kids, is among thousands claiming to change the world for these kids. Yet, this one is different – it has given results, and that too in good number. This organisation has not only saved children from being labourers, but has also provided them assistance – to become good future citizens of India.

An Introduction

“Shakti Vahini is an NGO taking care of Childline 1098 – an initiative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. The purpose is to provide care and protection to the children that have been harassed by the evils of society. It works in 370 districts of the country, and offers a toll free number, 1098. It takes care of children who are either forced into child labour or harassed in any other mean (it includes sexual crimes against children too),” says Nishikant, the Executive Director, Shakti Vahini. Gurgaon too is among those lucky 370 districts. “Childline, Gurgaon has been in operation since 2006; and since then, we have unearthed many cases of child trafficking and children forced into child labour. Dhabas are among the most common places, where you can find these children forced to work against their will. Shakti Vahini not only sets them free from the shackles of slavery, but also helps them in getting their life back on track – by provid-

ing them education. We not only respond to the emergency needs of children, but also link them to services for their longterm care and rehabilitation,” informed Subhir Roy, the Director, Programmes and Projects.

Childline Gurgaon: an overview

Shakti Vahini is working in close co-ordination with the Government and NonGovernment set-ups. It has developed a good partnership with the Police, Labour, Health, and Education departments, along with the Ministry of Social Development, Corporates and NGOs working in the area, and Village Panchayats. “Childline, Gurgaon, has rescued 450 children in need of care and protection. It is the only Childline programme in Haryana. We have conducted many rescue operations of the child labourers in the brick kilns, dhabas, tea stalls and other business establishments – with the help of the Labour Department. Most of the victims —317 of them—have already been united with their family, and the rest are in shelter homes. The

CASE-I It was on 5th January 2011 that Childline, Gurgaon, received a phone call regarding a case of a child who was being kept in a house in Gurgaon as a bonded labour; and subjected to continuous physical and mental torture. The Childline team planned for the rescue, and rushed to the Police Station in DLF Phase I. The child was rescued with police help. The child, named Anil

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(8) – S/O late Vishnu and Noorjahan temporary R/O Railway Fatak, Surat Nagar, Dhanwapur Gaon, Gurgaon and a permanent R/O Faidpur, Haldaur, Dist: Bijnaur, UP – was full of scars all over his body. Anil disclosed that he was subjected to continuous physical and mental torture, and was forced to do the entire household work. The child was then produced before the Child Welfare Committee, Gurgaon, after the Medical examination, and the custody of the child was given to his mother. The case was taken up by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), and the Secretary, Department of Social Welfare Haryana. The Gurgaon Administration has released Rs. 20,000 to the victim, under Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act. Case-II Sonu (13)—S\O Vedpal, R/O krishna Colony, Sector – 4, Gurgaon—was apprehended by the Gurgaon Police in an alleged theft case of a motor bike. The police subjected Sonu to torture at the Sector-4 police post in Gurgaon. While talking to his father, he revealed that the policemen poured petrol in his rectum, and sprinkled chilli powder in his eyes, during the investigation – before he was sent to the Rehabilitation Centre in Faridabad. His father got the boy released and admitted him in civil hospital, in a serious condition. The child also confirmed the torture there, and told them that the police had threatened and forced him to admit his involvement in the theft case, before sending him to Rehabilitation Centre. When Shakti Vahini came to know about the errant police officials involved in the torture of a juvenile, it collected all the information and raised the matter to the NCPCR. Shakti Vahini also wrote to the Commissioner of Police, Gurgaon, to take immediate action against the errant police officials. NCPCR constituted a team that visited

Programmes organised by Childline, Gurgaon ♦ Awareness Programmes like talk shows, with the School Children, on Child Rights. ♦ Awareness Programmes with the shop owners, on CHILDLINE (1098) functioning. ♦ Awareness Programmes with Bus Drivers, Conductors, Rickshaw pullers. ♦ Sensitization Programme, in the form of a signature campaign, with the general public. ♦ Campaign on “Cycle To Liberate Childhood”: a 320 km ride from Gurgaon to Ajmer, in 22 hours. ♦ Awareness Programmes with slum children. ♦ Awareness programmes in the form of Community meetings in the different slums. ♦ Programmes with Residence Welfare Associations. ♦ Awareness Programmes with mixed group of people.

Childline programmes cater to the needs of ♦ Street children ♦ Emotionally disturbed children ♦ Child labourers ♦ Children who have been abused ♦ Child victims of the flesh trade ♦ Child addicts ♦ Children in conflict with the law ♦ Mentally ill children ♦ Children in institutions ♦ HIV/AIDS infected children ♦ Children affected by conflicts & disasters ♦ Differently-able children ♦ Children whose families are in crisis

Gurgaon and Faridabad. The team met the child, his family, the PMO of the Civil Hospital, the DCP, the DC, and the Superintendent of the Rehabilitation Centre at Faridababad. The Commission found discrepancies on various facts and circumstances as narrated by the child, versus the police testimony personnel involved in the incident. The Commission took serious note of the discrepancies, and issued summons against the accused police officials – and asked them to appear before the Commission on 11th of April 2011. The Commission recorded the statement of the involved DCP; and the Head Constable, the investigation officer in this case, was suspended. Along with him, a constable who also tortured the child has been sent back to the Indian Reserve Battalion – the parent body from where he was deputed to the Gurgaon Police. u


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Comment

Actions and Outcomes

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t is perhaps expected that politicians have short and convenient memory – real or feigned. It is bothersome that we in the media suffer from the same malaise. The two current hot Bills - The Lokpal Bill and the Food Security Bill - have provided enough fodder, to confirm this. The headlines are about people drama, not action against corruption; and about outlays, not outcomes. Also, lessons on being more responsible, and less sensational, may perhaps be learnt from the Hindi/vernacular press.

EDITORIAL Atul Sobti

The background to the Lokpal Bill was simple and clear. The rot of corruption, that has enveloped every citizen day in and out, and that has looted the nation, needs to be aggressively tackled. It is an extra-ordinary situation today, alongwith the high food and fuel prices that have crippled us for 2 years now. Nothing brought our deep-seated angst and anger out better than the strong, heartfelt response given to Anna. Hope swelled, nurtured by a person with high moral authority. To deny this, because crowds have now thinned, is again seeing a few trees, and missing the forest. And being surprised soon once more – with even more people power. Politicians, parliament, successive governments, for decades, have not been interested, inclined, willing to take on this monster – maybe since more than a few are themselves compromised. And of late, coalition politics has been the irrelevant excuse for inaction. Rather than accept failure on corruption humbly, the govt. is smarting – and seemingly waiting for the Bill to fall, while making the right noises. If it works, take credit; otherwise, debit Anna. How does a bizarre last minute entry for minority reservation find its way in? So beautifully co-incident with the polls announcement for UP. It seems a sickening one-upmanship and opportunism at play; not a serious play at uprooting corruption. Given this background, it is astounding that the Lokpal Bill be now just left to parliamentarians to finalize. You cannot ignore something like corruption for decades, then have to be pushed to do it, and finally decide to do it – but only on your terms. And specially when you are an interested party – by omission or commission; corruption in high places is at an all time high. In fact, for a telling effect, political corruption would have to be prioritized, and aggressively tackled. That is precisely what Anna is driving at. He wants Action, not just a Bill.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

V

isitors to Gurgaon especially by night cannot imagine the nightmare in store for them. Unlike NOIDA, Greater NOIDA and even Dwarka, there is no signposting for Sectors/Phases and Roads in Gurgaon. Recent changes in one way traffic without adequate signposting make it worse. One has to keep directing visitors on mobile how to reach your apartment. There appears to be no move on part of the administration to rectify this void. I have not seen any write ups on this count either, the focus being only on potholes, garbage

disposal, traffic congestion etc. I wonder if the administration realizes that lack of signposting adds to the traffic congestion as visitors keep driving in circles.   Lt. Gen (Retd) PC Katoch. DLF Phase IV, Gurgaon

W

e (are) all with you bhaisahab. When Delhi Cantt is near to (the) Airport and Gurgaon, then why this Depot (is) required in Gurgaon? And if IAF (is) not in mood to shift this, then they have to make changes as IAF Training Centre or IAF Technical Centre, as Guragon is already an IT Hub; if IAF

will do this, it (will be) also appreciated by the world Satish Ahlawat, on the article Supreme Justice

A

part from (the) above, I (have) personally known him as a man of principles and high morale. Perhaps that transformed him into (being) very successful and proactive businessman. Wishing him for doing the best as always BHG, on the article From Energy Manager to Power

T

hanks. Keep it up Pawan Kumar, on the article Supreme Justice

It is action, and the right actor(s), that has been missing. He wants a Lokpal system that would have the independence, the authority and the willingness to take aggressive action – against anyone. What we have lacked is this – not just a new Bill. And yet, we now have even editorial space asking Anna to back off; arguing that any solution needs to be a panacea for corruption (or nothing?); and realizing suddenly that Parliament is supreme. The supreme inaction on corruption for decades is just a byline. TV focus is on various Anna statements on any topic, and Anna crowds – anything but the sole matter of corruption. As it stands, we may well have a new Bill; but will get no worthwhile action. We would be worse than where we started from. The Lokpal system would be ineffective; it will then be questioned and ridiculed, Anna blamed, and corruption forgotten. The Food Security Bill is no different really. Again, for decades we have wrung our hands at the waste of our state-sponsored schemes for the underprivileged. We sadly acknowledge that perhaps 20 to 40% reaches the right people. Yet we do precious little to improve the situation – it is a given. The role of the incumbent govt. is to announce improved, different, new offerings – much like a soap. One bigger than the other in outlay – with fancy acronyms. A Finance Minister some years ago had promised to table outcomes, and not just outlays. Sadly, that never happened. And now we have the Food Security Bill. Another outlay that will find its way to the non-deserving over-privileged majority. Another pre-election ploy. A timely Santa Claus for the non-needy; and perfectly timed for the upcoming elections. And again, the editorials talk of us being not caring enough for the under-privileged. That India needs to do this. No questioning of where all the food and money has gone, for decades. Why is there no improvement in effective delivery? Why outlays, without any status on outcomes? And this at a time when the coffers are running dry; and the fiscal deficit is alarming. When will we see aggressive Action on Corruption? When will be know the Outcomes of our Outlays? It surely cannot be a few more decades. Somewhere, sometime the patience will run out.... even in a democracy. We, The People are surely supreme. u

Famous Quotes A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. Nelson Mandela As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round. Ben Hogan By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. Confucius

Please send your letters to:

letters@fridaygurgaon.com

Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day;

wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit. Elbert Hubbard I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done. Lucille Ball The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions. Oliver Wendell Holmes When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity. John F. Kennedy


Kid Corner

15

Solutions Spot The Difference 1. Tank gun nozzle longer. 2. Mailing slot shorter. 3. One less bottle. 4. Cat’s tail disappears. 5. Tank wheel vanishes. 6. Neigbour at window. 7. Chimney appears. 8. Flower vanishes. 9. Patch on trousers. 10. Bird bath changes.

Solutions

Sudoku Kids

Kids Brainticklers

Spot The Difference

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012


16

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

DPS Ju gets Spnior orty D

K id Corner

Books Bloom at Lotus Valley

elhi P ub Gurga lic Schoo l on Sport s Day held its an n for th Scho e Jun ual ol. ior decla The Meet was red o pen b Princ y the ipal M s. The s tuden Aditi Misra . ts their sport displayed s m active anshi p pa the m rticipation with arch p in as drill a nd ae t, yoga, robic perfo s rma won-d nces, Tae ko, gym and a n thletic astics field event s. were Results de the Ju clared by ni Head or School mistr ess, M Gune s. et otus Valley International School organised a Scholastic Book Fair in the winne Ohri. The school premises. Inaugurated by the Principal, Mrs Anita Malhotra, rs rec eiv certifi the fair had a plethora of books, that both students and children browsed cates ed and meda through with interest. The Principal emphasised the importance of good ls. reading habits among children.

L

C

CA School, Sector 4, organised a Sensitization Workshop on Disaster Management, to prepare its students for disasters. The workshop included a mock drill, along with briefs on safety rules, and precautionary measures to be taken in case of emergencies. Students from Class IV to Class XII participated in this workshop. The Principal Mrs. Nirmal Yadav, and the Chairman Colonel Kr. Pratap Yadav were also present.

ood Shepherd Public School celebrated Christmas with great fanfare; the Christmas cheer was contagious. The School organised a magic show for the kids. Goodies like candy floss and muffins were distributed, along with Christmas cards. The kids, who wore costumes of Santa Claus, a shepherd, kings, Mother Mary, and sheep.

Shepherd and C d o o hris G e h tm T a

Scottish High on Elixir

S

cottish High celebrated its sixth anniversary with ‘Elixir’ – the colours of diversity.
The students presented a colourful extravaganza of the different cultures of the world, through dance & drama. Students from nursery to Grade XII participated in the show – that included Polish, Spanish and Indian dances. The Principal, Mrs.Sudha Goyal, Chairman, Mr. Kartikay Saini, Junior School Head, Ms. Seema Bhati and Initial School Head, Ms. Rupa Chauhan were also present at the occasion.

Ryans Meet the Press!

S

'We Meet Again!'

Y

ou don't need to be studying to have great memories of school! This was clearly seen at the CCA reunion, organised at the school campus. The alumni nostalgically went down memory lane – enjoying the events planned specially for the reunion.

tudents of Ryan International School, Sector 40, visited the Thompson Press (one of the largest printing presses in North India), in Faridabad. 34 students of Class V got a guided tour of the printing process. Besides seeing the latest techniques of printing, the students also learnt about the high-tech equipment used for printing. The trip concluded with a quiz organised by Scholastic Publications, for the visiting students.

s

Disaster Management Workshop at CCA

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Tiny Ryan Tots Clean Up A

Cleanliness Drive was organised by Montessori Ryan International School, at Sector-14, Sector-31, and Huda Market at Sec56. The drive—inspired by the recent Cleanliness Drive by HUDA—was held to make the students aware of the three Rs-Reduce,Reuse and Recycle. The tiny tots set out with brooms, to bring about a positive change in society. The school head, Ms. Peeya Sharma accompanied them.


30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

Artistic Strokes

Kid Corner

Drawing Them In

Creative strokes of art by underprivileged children of Happy School

Title: out for a walk Aman, Class: V

Title: COLOURFUL BIRD Raghav, Class: V

Title: ANGEL princess Aditi, Class: V

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Title: x’mas time Avantika, Class: V

Title: happy snowman Krishna, Class: V

Title: colourful vase Saksham Kumar, Class: II-A

Hey kids, do you have a painting or a poem/short story that you want to see published on this page? Send in your contributions to contributions@fridaygurgaon.com

Euro Inernational School

The SYLVAN TRAILS SCHOOL

Mosaica American School

Christmas Celebrations in Schools


18

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

K id Corner

Hitopadesha is a collection of ancient Sanskrit fables written by Narayana Pandit. It is dated around 11th or 12th century AD. The four stories chosen in this group have simple moral tales to tell. Lions, jackals, monkeys, cats, dogs and donkeys are protagonists who teach common sense lessons in how to judge for oneself; how not to succumb to rumourmongers; how to mind one’s own business and how not to be greedy.

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1

4

2

5

© 2011 Amar Chitra Katha Private Limited, All Rights Reserved


30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

Booker’s Club

durgadatt pandey

{ Shirin Mann / FG }

I

t’s somewhat like the movie— The Jane Austen Book Club— where six Californians get together to form a club where discussions on her books take place, every other weekend. After watching the movie, more that its entertainment factor the concept of having a book club— where you can share your passion for reading with other readers—definitely got you thinking. We looked for similar clubs in our vicinity. Well we have here our own Gurgaon Book Club. It is not limited any single author, but is a lively club, where enthusiastic readers come together, to read and discuss books written by various Indian and International authors – of all genres. Started almost seven months ago, by Manish Kinger—till then not an aggressive reader,

{ Shirin Mann / FG }

S

ometimes moving to a cosmopolitian city—where you might not know anyone and have to start life afresh, without any friends—can be a bit daunting. But not anymore in Gurgaon. Gurgaon’s Friends’ Circle, a local activity group, started over two months ago with a view to get like-minded people, of all age groups, together. Today the Circle has 60 friends who meet at least twice a month, and plan fun activities in and around Gurgaon. Started by Meenakshi Batra, Country Head of Warchild Canada, and Gaganpreet Uppal, Director Buisness Development of Avon Beauty Products, this cool Circle is open to all, from children to senior citizens; and they plan varied activities that involve the whole family. Gaganpreet Uppal says, “I am a part of many Gurgaon activity groups, but I realised that at most of the activities you can’t take

but enthusiastic to be one—today Gurgaon Book Club has about 52 passionate readers as its members. The books to be read are picked by a majority vote; and through Facebook page sharing, the strength of every session of the Club is defined. Depending on the genre and the book, each session does not exceed 7 to 8 readers – making sure that the analysis and discussion of the book is free flowing, interesting and extremely interactive. Manish Kinger, Copywriter at Noah’s Ark Creative says, “I moved to Gurgaon from Punjab about three years ago, for work. When I came here I started looking for some social groups. I was not much of a reader, but wanted to develop the habit of reading; and so was looking for a social group to help me do that. I wanted to be a part of a

group;starting one was not even a remote thought. But when I joined some coffee meets and other groups, I realised they weren’t serving any purpose. So came about Gurgaon Book Club. Slowly a few friends joined in, and now we are about 52 members; and all of us who meet for book analysis are people who love reading, or those who want to get into it. We meet, have coffee, and talk. But the main objective of reading and discussing a book stays in place; that’s the essence of this club.” The Gurgaon Book Club gets together every alternate Thursday at 7.00 pm at the Barista Crème Lavazza, Grand Mall, MG Road. After the discussion on the previous book, the readers discuss the next genre or author to read; and on mutual agreement, the readers head to the Landmark

Pastimes

Book Store that is below Barista. That’s the fun part. The readers spend good 45 minutes to an hour, scanning and then picking different books. Once the group decides on a particular book to read, they then order the book from Flipcart, the online website – offering discounts, and so, cheaper. The book takes about 3 days to arrive, and gives the readers ample time to be prepared for the analysis, that happens 2 weeks later. At the sessions, the readers get an idea of the book, and discuss what they thought was exceptional; and what they liked or disliked. Everyone’s perspective on the book can vary, and that brings about several ideas and angles to the book. The Club follows no fixed pattern of discussion or reading; its a free flow conversation. If there is something that you feel extremely excited about, or something you found terrible and want to talk about to someone who has also read the same, then this is the perfect platform for that reader in you. Dr. Simi John, Clinical Psychologist and a member of the Club says, “Reading books or even literature is a mirror into life. It sort of reflects what happens in real life. Also we are all so caught up in our work life and pressures, and reading provides a breakthrough. It gives you that escape route. For example, if I am reading about France, it takes me there for those five hours that I am reading. It makes you live what you read. Reading is very important. The Gurgaon Book Club is a group of people coming together, reading and discussing how the book was, and making a sort of critical analysis of the book. We share what we like and dislike about the book; but its all very light. Discussions on the book give you different perspectives. The gatherings of the Book Club we like the most, are the ones where most disagreements happen (laughs). Also on the books that everyone disliked, and outdoing each other on what we disliked. One of my favourite

The Family Circle your parents along – because it many not be physically possible for them, or not of their interest. They see us going out every weekend and having fun, and it’s unfair for them to sit at home. So we decided to start a friends group, where you can bring your kids as well as parents, meet new like-minded people, and have a great time together. We have people from all ages and interests as part of our Circle.” It is a non-commercial group; the membership is absolutely free. Members planning an activity chip in for the travel and activity expenses. Any group activity – coffee meetings, meals together, picnics, heritage walks, bird watching, cultural shows, theatre, photography, spirituality; or even something as simple and fun as going for long drives – is encouraged. The Gurgaon Friends’

Circle has a core group of 3 to 4 members, that plan, discuss and sketch activities, and post them on Facebook, and who ever is interested can go for it. “Like last Sunday, we went to the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary again, for a Christmas picnic. It was freezing, but we had a great time taking pictures, watching the stunning birds, and having our picnic.” says Gaganpreet. The Circle is now preparing for

their ‘Breakfast with the Butterflies’ at the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary in the coming month. Besides the picnics, the Circle has organised a ‘stress management workshop’. Encouraged by the high participation at that workshop, the Circle is now preparing for a ‘workshop on anger management’ that will be conducted by leading psychiatrists, on the 29th of December. Several other activities are in

19

books is Love In Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.” The Club has read various genres of book- Romance, Classical, Comedy, some screen plays, and various Indian and International authors. The next gatherings of the Club have other genres like Horror, Thriller, Science Fiction, Travel Log lined up. Its is a non-commercial group, with no membership fee, and the expense only pertains to the cost of the book – or what you order at Barista. “We have a new member in the Club, who has an immense passion for reading, and is a special educator. She is physically disadvantaged, and has problems in communicating as well; but is just so full of life that she brightens up our sessions. She is now enthusiastically a part of the discussions, and initiates more discussions than we have ever. That’s the essence of our club – the readers who love reading and sharing it with other readers. We all come from diverse backgrounds and professions, but what’s common is the passion for reading,” says Manish. Reading is not only supposed to be limited to your study desk, bed, class or library. Bring it out, release all the excitement in the book. Tell the rest how much you hated or loved Eat, Pray, Love; or how much you disliked or adored Dexter and Emma from One Day. Let loose those emotions and excitement, and get more in return, responses to yours at the fun and interesting Gurgaon Book Club. Amindya Gupta, Entrepreneur and member of the club concludes, “The Gurgaon Book Club is a great platform for avid readers, or those who want to inculcate the habit. Before I joined the Club, I wasn’t much of a reader; and now I read so often and love it. I particularly like the thrillers, but in the Club we read all genres of books. Reading is a great recreational activity, and doing it in a club, just makes it so much more fun.”u To know more about the club or be a part of it, join them on http:// www.facebook.com/groups/ gbclub/ or search for Gurgaon Book Club on Facebook!

the pipeline. Most are planned for the weekend. Ranbir Singh, 65, a friend of the Gurgaon Friends’ Cirlce says, “I am the senior most member, and am also part of several other groups; but I really enjoy being a part of Gurgaon Friends’ Circle for three reasons – you get to make new friends in your city, and so does your family; second, my passion is photography, and this group gives you many opportunities to do that; and third, it keeps you in good health, as we do a lot of walking in our activities. I take my wife and grand daughter—who is only 9 years old—along, and they absolutely love it. We are now looking forward to out-of-NCR trips; we are planning to go to Amritsar and Bharatpur in the near future. And that will be a lot of fun, with all the varied families together experiencing a new city.” u To be a friend with the Gurgaon Friends’ Circle, join them on http://www.facebook.com/groups/ gurgaonfriendscircle/


20 What’s Your Rashi? { V.K Gaur }

T

he Horoscope is a plan or map representing the accurate picture of planets, stars and heavens at the time a baby is born; or on the occurrence of an event. It is based on an exact time, place and date. All the three ingredients are essential to prepare a horoscope. Accurate

time is crucial for making a horoscope. The first cry of a new born is the exact time of birth, for making a horoscope. Horoscopes can be made with the help of Panchang (ephemerides). A horoscope has 12 houses, each occupied by a Rashi. Nine planets(Grah) are located in more than one house. There could be one to eight (very rare) planets in a house.

Rashis and their characteristics No.

Rashi

Sex

Motion

Lord

Element / Nature

1.

Mesha / Aries

M

Movable

Mars

Tejas (Fire)

2.

Vrishaba / Taurus

F

Fixed

Venus

Prithvi (Earth)

3.

Mithuna / Gemini

M

Common

Mercury

Vayu (Air)

4.

Karkata / Cancer

F

Movable

Moon

Jal (Water)

5.

Simha / Leo

M

Fixed

Sun

Tejas (Fire)

6.

Kanya / Virgo

F

Common

Mercury

Prithvi (Earth)

7.

Thula / Libra

M

Movable

Venus

Vayu (Air)

8.

Vrishchika / Scorpio

F

Fixed

Mars

Jal (Water)

9.

Dhanus / Sagittarius

M

Common

Jupiter

Tejas (Fire)

10.

Makara Capricorn

F

Movable

Saturn

Prithvi (Earth)

11.

Kumbha / Aquarius

M

Fixed

Saturn

Vayu (Air)

12.

Meena / Pisces

F

Common

Jupiter

Jal (Water)

The Houses of Jyotish (Vedic astrology) Kundali Houses

1

2

3

4

5

Type

Body Part

Mars

Body, soul, name, fame, glory, character, age, head, brain ,aspirations. Exalted planet brings name, fame. Malefic brings misery and all round losses.

Trine or Trikona Angle or Kendra

Head, body in general

Venus

Domestic happiness, fate, old age. Family, Wealth, Speech, Food. Represents gold, silver, nose, eyes, ears and beauty.

Maraka

Face, mouth

Sahaja / Siblings

Mars

Refers to relatives, brothers, illness, courage, patience. Moon in this house confers long life, and saves from death and misfortune.

Upachaya

Breasts, ears, arms

Sukha / Happiness

Refers to happiness, home, landed property, conveyance, Mother, Moon possessions, good conduct, wealth. Mercury Saturn and Mars in this house are malefic.

Angle or Kendra

Heart, chest

Trine Trikona

Belly, womb

Tanu / Body

Dhana / Wealth

Karakas Main Rulerships

Intelligence, Creativity, Children, Entertainment, Deity, Fortune, eminence, writing books, wisdom, education etc, Malefic Saturn and Venus exercise bad effect.

Suta / Children

Sun

6

Ripu / Enemy

Enemies, thieves, cuts and wounds Mercury in body, disappointments, miseries, sorrows, debts, diseases, paternal Ketu relatives, sinful deeds.

7

Jaya / Spouse

Venus

8

Mrityu / Death

9

Dharma / Religion

10

Karma / Work Profession

11 Labha / Gain

12 Vyaya / Loss

A stro S cience

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

Dushtana (Difficult)

Lower abdomen

Spouse, partners, contracts, married life, love, lust, sex desire, affairs with women other than wife, passion for ornaments, perfumes.

Angle or Kendra Maraka

Lap area

Mars

Death, disasters, disease of, sex organs, defamation, violence, loss of fortunes.

Dushtana (Difficult)

Genitals, anus

Jupiter

Religion, God, Guru, fortune, father, law, faith, protection, humility, status and wealth.

Trine Trikona

Thighs, hips

Saturn

Career, prestige, rise, success, relation with government, material success, Angle or livelihood, trade, father’s blessings and Kendra general success in life. Royal status. Conquest over enemies

Saturn

Jupiter

Gains, desires, friends, income gains, investments, acquisition of gold and Upachaya precious metals, speculations and gains from lottery. Donations, liberation, losses, old age, pilgrimage, imprisonment, losses, theft, expenditure on medical treatment.

Dushtana (Difficult)

Knees, back

Astronomical So wrote Aryabhatta about 1500 years ago.

The Equator is called the Great circle, and all other circles not passing through the centre of the earth are known as small circles. The Space around earth extends to infinity. For an astrologer, the extension of space upto the Zodiac is important. Celestial Sphere, an imaginary extension of the plane of terrestrial equator into space, is called celestial equator. Just as parallels of latitude and meridians of longitude help locate a place on the surface of the terrestrial sphere, the extensions help locate heavenly bodies on the celestial sphere.

The earth rotates on its axis in twenty four hours, It also revolves around the sun in a year, or 365.2422 days (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds). This span of time is called tropical year. The path of the earth, which we feel is path of the sun around the earth, is known as an ecliptic. The Equator runs through the middle of the earth in an east-west direction, and divides the earth into two hemispheres. However, the path of the sun around the earth does not run along the equator. It is obliquely placed to earth at an angle of 23.28 degrees. Half of the sun’s path thus lies to the north of the equator, and half of it to the south. The sun crosses the equator twice a year. It results in two equinoxes-the vernal equinox (around 21 March), when the sun is on its northerly course; and the autumnal equinox (around 23 September) when the sun is on its southerly course. On both the occasions, day and night all over the globe are of equal length. After vernal equinox, the sun progressively declines to a maximum of 23.28 degrees, around (21 June). It is known as the summer solstice. The sun is then vertically above the Tropic of Cancer, giving the longest day and the shortest night. The reverse happens in the southern hemisphere. Here, the sun pursues a southward course, and reaches a maximum declination of 23.28 degrees at the time of the winter solstice (around 22 December). The sun is vertically above the Tropic of Capricorn at this time. The Northern hemisphere experiences the shortest day and the longest night. The Southern hemisphere experiences just the reverse of it. The obliquity of the ecliptic to the equator results in the formation of seasons. As result of the earth’s rotation on its axis in 24 hours, all heavenly bodies appear to revolve round the earth― from east to west―once in 24 hours. The Zodiac (Bhachakra in Sanskrit), the Nakshatras and the Rashis fixed upon it, also appear to revolve round the earth once in 24 hours. The commencement of the Zodiac is reckoned from the first point of Aries (Mesh). Each of the 360 degrees is divided into sixty minutes. Each minute is di-

The Astrology Chart or Horoscope Gemini

2

5 Leo

Feet

Pisces

Taurus

3

Cancer Legs

vided into sixty seconds. Thus the total extent of the Zodiac is 21,600 minutes or 12,96,000 seconds. All the signs, Nakshtras on the Zodiac, appear to successively rise in the eastern horizon once in 24 hours; and set in the western horizon. Six of the signs appear at the eastern horizon during the day, and the remaining six during the night. The sign that rises in the eastern horizon, at a given time, is important. It is called the ascendant or the lagna. This is the sign where the ecliptic cuts the eastern horizon. In a horoscope, it is known as the first house. When a particular sign rises in the east, its opposite sign is setting in the western horizon – where the ecliptic cuts the western horizon. In a horoscope, it represents the seventh house. Each sign takes time to rise at the horizon, from 0 degree to 30 degrees. All signs are not of equal duration. Therefore some signs take a longer time to completely rise above the horizon, compared to others. The signs are divided into three groups, depending upon their rising period-rashi maanas. 1. Mesh, Kanya, Tula, Meen. 2. Vrish, Simha, Vrishchika, Kumbh. 3. Mithun, KarkaDhanu and Makar. All signs of a group take equal time to rise from the equator. Six signs, from Karka to Dhanu, lengthen – and the remaining six become shorter – as one proceeds from the equator to the north pole. As against this, signs from Makar to Mithun lengthen, while the remaining six shorten – as one moves from the equator to the South pole. The rising period for every sign is fixed for each latitude. Moving away from the equator, the rising periods of certain signs lengthen – while those of others shorten. Thus certain signs remain on the horizon for a longer period. In winters, days are short. The Zodiacal signs that rise one after the other during the day, have a shorter duration; while the remaining six have a longer duration. As we near the north pole, certain Zodiac signs fail to rise. The rotation of the earth around its axis in 24 hours makes a solar day. This earth rotation has a reference to the sun. The earth completes its one rotation, with reference to any fixed star in the Zodiac, in 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.09 seconds. This rotation of the earth, with reference to a fixed Zodiac star, is called sidereal day. A sidereal day is shorter than the mean solar day by about 3 minutes and 56 seconds. Sidereal day comprises of sidereal hours. Time reckoned thus is called sidereal time. It is based on the angular rotation of the earth, in relation to the fixed stars. The earth retains the same position with reference to the Zodiac every day, at the same sidereal time. Therefore astrologers work on sidereal time, to make the astrological chart. Ephemerides (Panchang) contain details of sidereal time, and also software programmers have made it easy to accurately prepare a horoscope chart.

6

Virgo

Aries

4

1 7

10

Libra

12

11

Aquarius

Capricorn

9 8

Sagittarius

Scorpio

North – Indian Style Chart

12 Pisces

1

2 Aries

3

Taurus Gemini

11

4

Aquarius

Cancer

10

5 Leo

Capricorn

9

8

Sagittarius

Scorpio

7 Libra

6 Virgo

South – Indian Style Chart


30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

Bad Was Never This Good { Alka Gurha }

A

t one of the countless award functions Vidya Balan was asked the classic question, “Aapko kaisa lag raha hai?” She gushed, “If only I knew that sleeping with men, exposing, and using expletives would win me accolades, I would have done it much earlier!” The truth is that today the characters portraying shades of grey bag all the accolades and awards. The new movie, Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, reminded me of the Gurgaon-based Citibank employee who was booked for siphoning money, and cheating clients. The hero of Ladies vs Ricky Bahl is a similar con man, albeit with thirty two cases of cheating and fraud. So what if the hero cons and cheats? He does it in style. And he doesn’t get caught. If at all he does, he brazens it out. Ricky Bahl dupes his girlfriend’s father, and later abandons the girlfriend. The besotted girl remains indifferent to the hero’s swindling ways. She says, “So what if my boyfriend conned my father? He came up with a clever idea. Dad should have been more careful.” The contemporary heroine is a complete antithesis of the erstwhile female protagonist, who protested against any deviation from the accepted moral norms. Little surprise then that the Badshah of Bollywood, Shahrukh says, “When I’m good, I’m good; but when I’m bad, I’m even better.” Recalling a dialogue from his film Don, where the character played by him is told that his mother would have killed him if she were alive, Don replies, ‘you don’t know my mother’.

Whatever be the case, the archetypical honest, upright lead characters have made way for abusive cops, and swindlers with doubtful morals. And the new hero is… the one with bangla, gaadi and paisa. Not the one with ‘Ma’. The balancing act comes into play towards the end, when the hero has a change of heart, and morphs into an ‘Oh-so-honest and righteous’ avatar. Maybe this too will change. With the avalanche of stylish conmen, affable cheats and awesome dons, Sooraj Barjatya’s saccharine sweet hero is likely to cause diabetes to present day cinema enthusiasts. Now that the lead actors are revelling in portraying darker shades of grey and getting applauded by the audiences, cinema is portraying reality. I am not sure whether real imitates reel—or it is the other way round—but as corruption scandals bounce off the television screens and scream out of newspaper headlines, they find an echo on the big screen. Movies are celebrating nuances of more realistic grey characters, and the audiences are not complaining. The previous year belonged to Salman, who featured as a corrupt cop blurting flatulent jokes about stink making; this year is likely to bring glory to Don Shahrukh, Dirty Vidya and Conman Ranveer. Robin Hoods are in vogue after Dabangg; cheating is cool after Ricky Bahl; and abusing is fashionable after Delhi Belly. The viewer gets to decide how much bad is good for him. When Don says, “Don’t call me Sir…Sir bahut shareef lagta hai. Call me Don,” I wonder if sharafat is passé? u

Use It Or Lose It { Alka Gurha / FG }

A

lmost every part of our body follows the same mantra; use it or lose it. Just as it is important to exercise our heart for unclogging the arteries, it is essential to exercise our brain cells too. It may be difficult to gauge the health of our brain cells, and the impact of mental exercise, but we have to consciously keep building a better brain at all times. Doctors advise that the first thing we should do is to avoid living on autopilot; which means that a routine, day after day, is not desirable. At work, we unfortunately follow a routine, which does not stimulate our hippocampus – the part of our brain responsible for memory. It is important to learn something new. It could be anything – learning a new language, engaging in a new hobby, or practicing a new instrument. The idea is to use parts of our brain that are normally dormant. We do have diverse interests, and so can opt for activities that will stretch our mind. Many people think that the ideal way to stretch the mind is to take a vacation. Vacations are a good idea for relaxing the mind; not stretching it. But when we study maps, plan an itinerary, or study the subway system of a new city, we do exercise our visual-spatial skills – which contributies to the brain-building process. Just as there are aerobic exercises for the body, there are ‘neurobic’ exercises for the brain. Activities like solving puzzles, crosswords, and other brain teasers help in strengthening the neural pathways. A puzzle a day keeps dementia away! Generally, food that is harmful for our heart is also harmful for our brain. Saturated fats, which clog coronary arteries, clog the brain arteries too – increasing the risk of a brain stroke. A brain healthy diet includes – omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, olive oil, and nuts. Dark colored fruit and vegetables—which contain more antioxidants—also help in protecting brain cells. The most important element, of course, is education. The more we want to know, the more we stretch the brain’s capacity for learning. People with higher levels of education, and those who continue to be involved in activities that stimulate the mind, are mentally younger. The idea is to keep learning – keep testing and taxing the brain. u

P astimes 21


22 Health & Vitality... Naturally! { Jaspal Bajwa }

A

W ellness

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

s we discovered last week, seeds contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients – necessary to create new life. Some seeds are indeed ‘superfoods’ – when it comes to packing a nutritional punch, as well as satisfying the taste buds. Health wise, some of the benefits associated with these superfoods are lowering blood pressure, easing arthritis, and promoting brain and heart health. The fun part of growing up is when, as kids, we discover that all seeds make a wonderfully healthy snack choice that is portable and tasty. The wider definition of seeds includes all nuts, beans, grains and sprouts. Instead of mindlessly choosing chips, crackers or other junk foods, seeds can easily form the ‘snack-of-choice’. Most nutritional experts recommend 4 to 5 servings of seeds each week, as part of a wholesome heart-healthy diet. Seeds come in all kinds of colors, textures and tastes. Most seeds contain high levels of phytosterols. These are compounds found in plants that have a chemical structure very similar to cholesterol. When

Snacky Seeds

present in the diet in sufficient measure, they are believed to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune response, and decrease risk of certain cancers. In a study reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, of all the seeds typically consumed as snack foods, sunflower seeds and pistachios were found to have the highest phytosterol content (270-289 mg/100 g) – followed by pumpkin seeds (265 mg/100 g).

Tip of the week

Always have bowls of seeds on the table within easy reach. For school-going children, consider packing a small box of seeds for lunch. Easy availability helps kids learn to reach for a healthy snack, when they feel hunger coming on. Having a boost of nutrients in-between meals will curb pangs of hunger and stimulate digestion – actually helping kids eat with more calm at meal times. When possible, choose seeds in their raw form, over the deep fried, salty, seed snacks! Making a ‘Trail Mix’ is easy. Mix pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, and your choice of nuts. For a twist, coat the mix in a bit of olive or flax

oil, and sprinkle with paprika, cayenne, sea salt and onion powder – or any other favourite spice. When adding seasonings, be sure to only add just enough salt to flavour the seeds. Too much salt makes your lips dry, and of course is not healthy! As a sweet alternative, try coating (glazing) the seeds with some honey and cinnamon. A good way to powercharge the morning bowl of porridge oats or yoghurt, is to top it with a sprinkling of sunflower or pumpkin seeds and dried raisins. It is

Happy New Hangover

a power-house of nutrition, full of healthy unsaturated fats, protein and fibre; and is a tasty and convenient way to provide essential nutrients – such as vitamin E and selenium – which help to keep the skin youthful.

Nature’s Wonder Foods of the week:

Sunflower seeds: Perhaps the most popular seed food, a quarter cup of these kernels contains more than 90 per cent of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E. As an antioxidant, Vitamin

Not Just Beauty Sleep { Alka Gurha }

A

{ Jyoti Arora }

E

veryone wants to bring in the New Year with a spark. Sometimes the fun of the New Year party gets lost the next day – when you have had one too many the night before. Let’s start the new year with a bang; not a hangover...

Before you say good bye to 2011

Alcohol can cause dehydration; so please consume fluids before stepping out for a party. You can take water/ fruit juice or milk shake. Never take alcohol on an empty stomach; eat a small meal or a snack before. Eat food that is high in fat— like a pizza, cream roll, cheese sandwich—as it slows down the absorption of the alcohol. How to deal with the

(morning-after) hang-over

Eat a high protein/carbohy drate breakfast. Do some form of exercise, to get rid of lethargy. While it is a common belief that taking coffee helps to recover from a hangover, actually caffeine works as a dehydrating agent, and must be avoided. Instead, have black tea with lemon. Do not have more than a glass of orange juice or lemonade, as too much of Vitamin C can cause diarrhoea. Banana shake, milk shake or even tomato juice can help a hangover. Blend some apples with ice, and turn it into a smoothie – this will reduce nausea. Replenish the electrolytes. Sports drinks like Gatorade help immensely. The most effective remedy is to rest, and drink lukewarm water mixed with a spoonful of honey. Group Team Leader – Nutrition & Dietetics Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon u

E is reported to protect cells from dangerous free radicals, suspected of causing cancer and heart disease. Also, when it comes to having the highest amount of cholesterollowering phytosterols, sunflower seeds beat all the other edible seeds. Pumpkin seeds: These are filled with minerals essential to maintaining good health. Pumpkin seeds are believed to be beneficial for prostate health, bone strength and arthritis. A mere quarter cup (35 gm) provides 187 calories, and more than 40 per cent of the recommended daily allowance of manganese (1.04 mg) , magnesium( 185 mg), and phosphorus(405 mg). Each element is important for maintaining bone and blood health. Additionally, you get 8.5 gm of protein, and important quantities of iron (5.2 mg), copper(0.5 mg), Vitamin K 17.8 mcg), zinc (2.6 mg), and tryptophan (0.48 mg). (For education purposes only; consult a healthcare practitioner for medical conditions.) u Registered Holistic Nutritionist (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition)

part from diet and exercise, sleep is essential for good health. Although most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, to function well, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) Women and Sleep Poll found that the average woman, aged 30-60, sleeps only six hours and forty-one minutes during the workweek. A more recent study revealed that women have more difficulty in falling and staying asleep, resulting in more daytime sleepiness. Getting the right amount of sleep is vital; but just as important is the quality of your sleep. The changing levels of hormones that a woman experiences throughout the month, and over her lifetime, have an impact on sleep. Also, since women tend to multi-task, they work their brains— especially the cerebral cortex—harder.

Could sleep be the new feminist issue?

Enjoying more snooze time is the next big issue for young American women, who are increasingly sleep-deprived due to work decisions, relationship challenges, children and house-hold chores. And women in particular can’t function well if they are sleep deprived. Scientists say that an extra hour of sleep has more impact on how women feel throughout the day, than earning more money for a whole year. Feminists, supported by scientists, are spreading the good news that compared to men, women need twenty minutes of extra sleep per night.

Slumber Tips

The cure to sleep difficulties and

daytime fatigue can often be found in your daily routine. Your sleep schedule, bedtime habits, and day–to– day lifestyle choices make an enormous difference in the quality of your nightly rest. The following sleep tips will help you optimise your nightly rest, minimise insomnia, and lay the foundation for all–day energy and peak performance. Relax and Calm down: Postpone worrying and brainstorming. Tea, coffee, alcohol or any other stimulant is not advised before bed time. Turn off the computer and television! Go by the Hour: For a regular sleep pattern, it is important to go to bed at the same time on all weekdays. A Ritual Helps: Drinking warm milk, listening to soothing music, or reading a book help your brain to recognise the signals for sleep. Dress Comfortably: Any loose comfortable cotton clothing aids sound sleep. The right bed, the correct mattress firmness, and the right pillow are essential. A warm shower or a relaxed bath also helps some people. Stay Away from late big meals: Avoid a heavy meal and rich oily food just before bed time. Heavy meals cause hyperacidity and flatulence, which can interfere with the normal sleep pattern. Switch off the Light and Sound: A dark bedroom, devoid of any light and sound, always helps. If nothing works, try meditation. And since sleep is the next feminist issue, as soon as you finish reading this article, simply lie down and take a short nap. It helps. A-men. (Inputs from National Sleep Foundation) u


W ellness

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

Laughing St

ck

On New Year’s Eve, Ann stood up in the local pub and said that it was time to get ready. At the stroke of midnight, she wanted every husband to be standing next to the one person who made his life worth living. As the clock struck, the bartender was almost crushed to death. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jemima was taking an afternoon nap. On waking up, she confided to her husband Max, ‘I just dreamt that you gave me a diamond ring as a gift. What do you think it all means?’ ‘Aha, you’ll know tonight,’ answered Max smiling. At night, Max went to Jemima & handed her a small box. Delighted, she opened it quickly. It was a book titled, The Meaning of Dreams. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Customer asked the shopkeeper, “What do you have for graying hair?” The Shopkeeper replied, “Nothing but the highest respect Sir.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A man wakes up in a hospital bed after a terrible accident and cries – “DOC, DOC… I can’t feel my legs, I can’t feel my legs!!! “Well of course you can’t silly!”, replies the Doc… “I’ve cut off both of your arms. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Teacher: “George Washington not only chopped down his father’s Cherry tree, but also admitted doing it. Now do you know why his father didn’t punish him ?” One Student: “Because George still had the axe in is hand.”

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be the change you want to see

23


24

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

JIT KUMAR

An Intelligent Network

Bhupender Singh, CEO of Serco Intelenet, with his team

{ Abhishek Behl / FG }

T

he BPO industry has made a major impact on the Indian economy. It has not only given millions of jobs to the youth, but it has also brought India to the world table; and proved that Indians can run the service industry with great efficiency

and productivity—and at almost half the cost—than the United States and Europe. This young and relatively new sector has spawned many success stories. One of these is Bhupender Singh, Chief Executive Officer of Serco Intelenet, a company that grew from 25 employees to a whopping 40,000 men – in just a decade.

Question: In just a single decade, Serco Intelenet has grown from 25 people to almost 40,000. How did you manage to do this? What was the killer idea to achieve such a spectacular growth? Singh: The growth has been achieved by following a two-pronged strategy – focusing on the domestic market, and smart acquisitions. The Indian BPO industry has itself grown from less than 100 million dollars in 1999 to 11 billion dollars in 2011; and we have been growing well within the industry. In 2005, we decided to focus on the domestic market, despite the price point being one-third of the international price. Serco Intelenet changed the entire business model, by shifting to non-metros and tier II and III cities. Half of the work being done by our company, particularly for the domestic market, is done in nonmetro centres. We have a strong base in Mohali, Karnal, Dehradun, Agra, Ajmer, Lucknow, Pune, Aurangabad – and several other cities. While competitors have been talking about shifting to non-metros, we have managed to do it. What strategy was used by Serco Intelenet to enter the global league, after realising that getting business was increasingly tough for a domestic BPO company? With top Indian IT companies entering the BPO space, we realised that Intelenet will have to become a global player, and have a footprint that spans multiple countries. We acquired companies smartly. Similarly, the Indian operations began only after taking a 51 per cent equity in a local BPO called Sparsh. To enter the global league, the company also evolved a combination of on-shore, offshore and near shore strategies for its operations – that ensured that while cost remained under control, the quality of service and processes could be constantly improved. What are the key value propositions of Serco Intelenet? How it is different from the competitors and what is the co-sourcing model developed by the company that has helped it to grow? Honestly, the BPO industry started on the basic premise of cost arbitrage. ‘Whatever you do, we can do it at half the cost’; but with passage of time, price cannot be the only differentiator. The customers now want solid value-add – which can be delivered by being innovative, and improving the processes and systems. Apart from standard metrics, the call is now to reduce working capital requirements, reduce transaction costs, and similar things that add value to the service and process. As far as co-sourcing model is concerned, the goal is to ensure that the customer become our partners. Unlike the major IT players, who have been forced into this sector, we tell our clients that our expertise and core competence lies in processing. We do not differentiate on the delivery side, and even help our clients set up captive BPOs

Singh, like his employees, is young. He understands the lingo of the BPO crowd, so essential for an industry where people are the prime assets. “A real estate company is assessed by its land bank, a bank by its deposits; a BPO company is measured by the quality of its people, and the ability to hold them”, says Singh.

B usiness

Singh was part of the McKinsey team that predicted, in 1999, that the BPO industry in India will grow to $ 8 billion – a claim that many believed was farfetched. “We proved to be right; the industry grew to almost 11 billion dollars in 2008”, says Singh. Singh graduated from IIT Delhi, and later obtained his MBA from the prestigious IIM, Ahmedabad. From class four onwards he has studied on scholarships. He was a student of Sport School, Rai in Haryana; and is probably the only alumni who went on to become the CEO of a global company. Singh says that more than a CEO, he likes himself to be defined as a sportsman, who is proficient in basketball and athletics. I did the Delhi half marathon recently”, he proudly states with a smile. Since he was not sure about which sector to join after his management degree, Singh decided to join Booz and Co. as a consultant. “I was the first employee of the company, and it was like working in a start-up. I hired people, and set up the office in Mumbai. It was a great learning experience”, he says. After working there, he decided to join McKinsey, as Booz

Interview – as we did in the case of Barclays Bank and ANZ. What has been the role of Blackstone group in the growth of Intelenet? What are the learnings? Blackstone has helped us grow in two big ways. It gave us capital to acquire companies. It also helped us get business – we were introduced to almost 60 companies in their portfolio. Almost 20 per cent of the business of Serco Intelenet comes from 6 to 7 of these companies today. With double dip recession looming over the global horizon, unemployment in Europe, US a major concern, inflation being high worldwide, where do you see the growth coming from? No doubt there are fears of double dip recession globally, but this means a huge opportunity for the BPO industry worldwide. Our value proposition of being more efficient and productive becomes stronger and more attractive in these conditions – as companies are looking to cut costs. Despite the slowdown since 2008-09, our company, as well as the industry as a whole, has witnessed robust growth.

There would be short-term problems due to inflation, as well as the political environment in US and Europe. With US elections next year, it is likely there would be blips like additional taxes, talks of banning outsourcing – but this is going to be short term. The economic driver is so strong that it would not be possible to shackle the BPO sector. Serco Intelent clocked 15 per cent growth in international operations in 2011, while domestic growth was even more robust at 20 per cent. This is because the Indian economy is still growing, and our focus on local business has helped us to remain in good stead. Which business verticals do you think are the most promising for the Indian industry in the coming years? It is being predicted that there would be a shift from BFSI to other sectors? Globally, BFSI and Telecom have driven the

exited India. “It was in McKinsey that I was exposed to the BPO industry. I also worked with NASSCOM, and realised that this sector offered great opportunity – especially after the dotcom bust”, he says. In 2001, he made a career defining move, and joined First Source, a BPO company being set up by ICICI Bank. “Since most of the business came from abroad, I moved to the UK, to be closer to clients – and this helped a lot”, he says. After taking First Source to a critical level, Singh decided to look for new pastures and joined Cendant, a US 5 Billion dollars company that wanted to set up its own captive BPO – that could later serve third parties. In 2007, the Blackstone Group bought the BPO business from Cendant, and merged it with Intelenet – an Indian company owned by HDFC and Barclays jointly. It is now called Serco Intelenet, after Blackstone exited in 2011. Singh, in a tete-e-tete with Friday Gurgaon, tells us the story of these momentous years, the growth of Serco Intelenet, and the growth of the Indian BPO industry into a global powerhouse – that has helped India assume the mantle of the ‘back-office of the world’. u

BPO industry – and these will continue to grow. In India, the relative penetration of outsourcing in these verticals is just 20 per cent, and there is plenty of room for growth. Apart from that, health care is an upcoming sector that has lots of processes; and there is pressure to reduce costs globally. In addition, there are several government projects that are offering a lot of scope for outsourcing. How do you manage the challenges of talent acquisition and retention amid the global business changes? We have evolved ourselves as a caring company that empowers its employees, and ensures that they grow with the company. We have systems and processes that ensure that employees are keenly involved in the work they are doing. BPO jobs can be monotonous; so we try to keep a college-like atmosphere, where people are enjoying their work, learning on the job, achieving targets, and getting rewarded for performance. In addition, the shift to non-metros has helped us not only to cut costs, but also ensure that employees stick to their jobs – as they are closer to their homes. They would think twice before changing jobs, just for a little extra money. Being based in Gurgaon, how does the city fit into your plans? What are the challenges you face while operating from here? Gurgaon has become a challenge for us, as the costs have gone up significantly in terms of real estate, utilities and manpower. The cost of living is also high here, and it impacts the workforce. In fact, Gurgaon and West Mumbai are the most expensive locations for us. We used to have 12,000 employees in Gurgaon, but currently have 6,500 people – as half of the work has gone to non-metros. We need to fix the problems here, and it is not only our issue but that of the entire industry. We are ready to help the local authorities and partner with them, but they need to take the initiative. The Metro service needs to be extended fast. We are a people intensive industry, and need quality infrastructure and a safe working environment. Other states are giving us grants for setting up base; here we are not asking for this, but at least the state needs to upgrade the infrastructure, and make it bearable for the people living and working here. As a Gurgaon resident, what is your message to citizens and the civil society? In the last six months, the local authorities have begun to act. The MCG and HUDA have made some changes that are visible. The people in the city need to become more responsible and also need to support the officials, who are willing to work and deliver the goods. There is need to have a five year plan for the city so that development takes place in a planned manner. u


B usiness

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

25

Associations Sprout Even As Industry Shrinks { Abhishek Behl / FG }

L

ast week saw another Industrial Association being formed in Gurgaon, ostensibly for the purpose of uniting the industrialists, fighting for their cause, and providing a platform to pursue issues of common interest with the government and its agencies. No doubt it is tough to deal with the establishment anywhere in India, but is multiple lobby groups the answer? Or are they merely being used by vested interests to further their own agenda? This is at a time when manufacturers, whom these associations claim to represent, are facing a question mark over their future. Irregular power supply, water supply, parking, high cost of labour, labour conflicts, and rising cost of living is forcing the industry to shift to newer locations outside Gurgaon – and even Haryana. Despite the reducing factory output, Udyog Vihar has at least four industrial associations that claim to represent the interest of the owners. Insiders says that most of these associations, while fighting for the cause of industry, are often at loggerheads. Udyog Vihar is a small turf, but every group here has carved out its zone of influence. The chieftains have their own agendas; while some of them are running industries, others are landlord industrialists, and some of them have rented out buildings to other industry. In addition to the differences among themselves, they also have to contend with national associations like the CII and Assocham. However, they do often co-ordinate action when dealing with HSIIDC. HSIIDC is their main ‘opposition’, as the agency is responsible for managing industrial areas in Gurgaon, as well as other parts of the State – for issues like External Development Charges (EDC), the new Estate Policy, the New Industrial Policy, the lack of civic infrastructure. One of the association heads told Friday Gurgaon that there were only two methods to get things done in Gurgaon – either sit on the table, or go to the courts. “No one listens to protests, and agitations do not result in any positive action”, he says. He adds that there has been a growing tendency among people to form associations, but it is very difficult to run these – as members will not devote their time, money and energy for common cause. Another point that he raised was that when multiple associations are formed, then the authorities are able to easily follow the ‘divide and rule policy’, and play one against the other. It is important that industrialists understand the importance of being united, so that the cause is not lost, he suggests.

Gurgaon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI)

The Gurgaon Chamber of Commerce and Industry was formed in 1979, and currently it has around 350 members. Its area of operation includes Gurgaon, Manesar, Pataudi, Dharuhera and RozkaMeo Industrial areas. GCCI President P.K Jain says that the chamber was formed to provide a common platform, to put issues before the government. Jain also revealed that GCCI is the only body in the city that has been recognised by the Government of India, to issue a Certificate of Origin. The Visa recommendations made by GCCI are accepted by embassies in Delhi. However, as far as formation of several associations is concerned, the GIA

Secretary S.K Ahuja believes that such groups are not sustainable in the long run – and often hurt the cause of industry. The members must be interested and willing to give time for its activities, he says, adding “an organisation is successful if it is respected by the government and the industry”.

Gurgaon Industrial Association (GIA)

The Gurgaon Industrial Association (GIA) is the oldest industry body. It has played an important and active role in the development of local industry, as it aims to create an environment that is conducive to the growth of business. GIA was formed in 1966. It has around 400 large, medium and small enterprises as its members, and it believes in acting as a catalyst to bring about change in the business environment. GIA President V.P Bajaj, an industry veteran, says, “We have good relations with government, and actively engage with it in the formation of new industry policies, decisions and guidelines”, he says. Recently, the association also took up the labour problems being faced by the industry. Bishan Mehrish, Secretary GIA,

by the HSIIDC. In a most positive development, a UVIA case against the imposition of EDC by HSIIDC was upheld by the High Court recently. It accepted the demand of withdrawing the EDC imposed by HSIIDC on entrepreneurs of Udyog Vihar (@ Rs. 348.00 per sqmtr.), as also an earlier decision of the then Commissioner, Industry P.K Chaudhry, IAS. UVIA is an authorised Contract Exchange center for Industrial development activities. It organises Skill development programmes and Buyer Seller meets, in association with NSIC, Govt. of India. UVIA also takes up various issues of entrepreneurs with the relevant Govt. Agencies, and helps in resolving them.

Gurgaon Udyog Association (GUA)

The Gurgaon Udyog Association was formed in 1995, to help the industrialists in Udyog Vihar. The current President Parveen Yadav, says his father started this association after being exasperated by the inability of local HSIIDC officials to take any decision. The association has 450 members at present. “It was because of the efforts of GUA that decision making has been

IDC Industrial Association: The latest entrant IDC Industrial Association is the latest addition to the growing list of industry groups in the Millennium City. Led by noted social activist and industrialist Dharam Sagar, this association aims to take up the issues being faced by industrialists located in IDC Gurgaon, the oldest industrial area in the city. The most important issue, says Dharam Sagar, is to change the land use regulations of IDC so that these plots can be used for commercial activities. The industrial area, Sagar says, covers only 50 acres; and it lies now in the heart of Gurgaon – making it very difficult to run industrial units. “The industrial area in the centre of the city puts tremendous pressure on the infrastructure and other civic facilities. As such we want to shift the units to someplace outside, and use these plots to construct commercial facilities”, says Sagar. The association members say that soon this matter will be taken up with the Chief Minister. They also cited instances where IDCs in Panipat, Sonipat, Bahadurgarh and Yamuna Nagar have been declared commercial, as they fall in the municipal areas – like the IDC in Gurgaon. Government agencies have also made positive recommendations in this regard, says Sagar; adding that other issues concerning the IDC will also be taken up by the association. informed that the association also helps local entrepreneurs to explore opportunities in different geographies, and works closely with government to further economic growth. Mehrish, however, was not very optimistic over the formation of new associations in the city, and opined that this only harms the cause as a whole. “Forming an association with 20 to 30 members, without an objective, does not serve any purpose”, he asserted.

Udyog Vihar Industries Association (UVIA)

This association was found in 1992, to provide a platform to the small and medium enterprises operating in Udyog Vihar Industrial Area. The association has currently 400 members, and is led by A.P Jain, who is of the opinion that government policies and regulations must be implemented in a fair manner. The most important issue concerning them recently has been the poor parking facilities in the industrial area, and the EDC charges imposed

decentralised. Now many important decisions – like transfer of property, leasing, and paying different fees – can take place in Gurgaon itself”, says Yadav. His current agenda is to ensure the power situation improves in Udyog Vihar, as well as improvement in parking facilities. He also wants the crane service used to tow the wrongly parked cars to stop, as it has become a harassment for local industry. As far as the formation of different associations is concerned, Yadav says that some people have assumed that running such groups is a profitable activity. “They also want to wield influence with the government and the local officials, but it actually hurts the industry as a whole”, he asserts.

IMT Industrial Association, Manesar

IMT Industrial Association President Manoj Tyagi says that the association has come a long way since 2003, when it was formed. It has managed to get a number of demands fulfilled by the government and HSIIDC. “We had asked for housing facilities, proposed the metro to be extended to Manesar, and several other things. Many demands have been met, and more developments are in the pipeline”, says Tyagi. Tyagi says that he has learnt that patience and perseverance help in getting things done as far as government is concerned. “The association has managed to get sites approved for two dispensaries, a fire station, and an additional police station in Manesar. This is a great achievement”, he says, adding that the setting up the ESI hospital in the industrial area was the best thing to happen here. Forming associations is an easy part, but running them is difficult. “Everyone wants to be the boss, but is not willing to devote time and resources. India is a free country; people can form associations, but they must realise that multiple associations only harms the cause”, says Tyagi.

Chamber of Commerce and Industries Gurgaon

Led by Colonel Raj Singla, this Association has been very active in taking on the HSIIDC and the government, over what it says have been autocratic decisions and policies. Singla is particularly peeved over the new Estate Management Policy that he says has been imposed by the bureaucracy in incomplete disregard to the interests of the small and medium enterprises. u

Realty Rates

(in Rs. as of December 28, 2011)

MG road residential property 2 BHK Aptt 10,000/ sq ft

3 BHK Aptt 9900/ sq ft

Residential Plots 14,000/ sq ft

Commercial property rates Offices 17,000/ sq ft

Shops 23,000/ sq ft

Commercial Plots 11,000/ sq ft

Golf course road residential 1 BHK Aptt 7800/ sq ft

2 BHK Aptt 7400/ sq ft

3 BHK Aptt 8600/ sq ft

4 BHK Houses 9800/ sq ft

5 BHK Houses 13,500/ sq ft

Residential Plots 25,000/ sq ft

Commercial property rate golf course road Offices 14,000/ sq ft

Shops 16,000/ sq ft

Commercial Plots 7500/ sq ft

3 BHK Houses 9100/ sq ft


26

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

The Barn

T ime Pass Love is...

The Grizzwells

Arctic Circle

9 to 5

Animal Crackers

Dogs of C-Kennel

Pearls Before Swine

Star Fun


30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

T ime Pass

Zits

Andy Capp

Daddy’s Home

Solution 06/03/11 6. The next domino always has one dot more.

Ipso facto The Born Loser

Two Wise Men

Tiger The Better Half

Baby Blues

27


28

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

G lobal

Automatic Skin-Making Machine { Marco Krefting / Stuttgart / DPA }

S

cientists at Germany’s Fraunhofer Society research organisation have developed a machine that makes artificial skin automatically. If it receives approval from the relevant control bodies in Europe, it could make animal testing in laboratories obsolete. The machine is seven metres long, three metres wide and three metres high. Inside, small robot arms take care of the work of producing skin samples. The machine can also make connective tissue and pigment cells. At the moment foreskins from male infants provide the cells that initiate the process. “The older the samples are, the less efficient cell production is,” says Andreas Traube, an engineer at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation in Stuttgart. Work is being carried out on using stem cells to initiate the skin production process. “It’s very important that the initiating cells come from a uniform source, in order to avoid variations during production,” says Traube. Between three and 10 million cells are extracted from each of the initiating skin samples. These cells are then incubated to increase their number by a hundred-fold. The cells are then placed on a layer of collagen inside a one-centimetre-diameter test tube. The new epidermis that grows is less than one millimetre thick. When the scientists com-

bine the collagen with connective tissue they can create a skin with a thickness of up to five millimetres. The entire process takes six weeks. “We can’t speed that up in the machine. Mother nature has determined it takes that long,” says Traube. The machine is completely sterile inside, while in the incubating chambers the temperature is a warm 37 degrees Celsius. It can handle up to 500 trays,

containing 24 test tubes each at the same time. Testing is still being carried out to see if the skin samples produced by the machine produce the same results as the animal skin used in laboratory testing. “I think that in about eight months we’ll get official approval, and can go into full production,” says Traube. Commercial industrial operations are likely to be the ma-

chine’s main buyers. Rolf Hoemke from the trade organisation the Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies believes one area where the new machine will find a home is the area of developing new active ingredients. “We think cells found in artificial skin are comparable with those in real skin,” he says. Until now artificial skin samples have only been produced in small quantities. “It makes sense that we can now make skin on a large scale.” Hoemke thinks artificial skin will be used in research on cancer, pigment disorders, allergic reactions and fungal infections. However, he also thinks it could be years before artificial skin made by the machine is routinely used in testing new drugs: “The terms of reference for testing new drugs are standardized around the world. You can’t interchange the procedures.” Artificial skin is already often used in hospitals to treat patients. Two companies dominate the market for so-called skin bandages, which are between eight and 10 centimetres long, according to Ulrike Schwemmer from the German Society for Regenerative Medicine. There is a market, however, for even larger skin sections, such as those used to treat burns. Traube says it will be some time before the machine can make skin sections that big. Right now, the next step is to produce cornea, the transparent tissue at the front of the eye. u

Appy New Year: Sydney Updates New Year’s Eve Fireworks Display { Sid Astbury / Sydney / DPA }

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ydney is out to make the most of its guaranteed annual slot on the world’s television screens, by accessorizing the New Year’s Eve fireworks display with hi-tech goodies – like a smart phone app and a downloadable theme song. There will also be a firstever digital radio broadcast of the shindig, so blind people can share in the fun, officials said Friday. “We want to ensure that people with visual impairments have the chance to appreciate the excitement and wonder that our celebrations inspire,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said. Every year, thousands camp overnight on the foreshore, to bag the best spots to watch the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve fireworks display. Next week spectators will have the benefit of an interactive map, showing ahead of time which places are full, and where spots are still free.

Moore said all the extra effort was worth it, because more than 1 million will converge on the harbour for the fireworks; and hundreds of millions more will be watching on television. The performance will cost the city 6.3 million Australian dollars - that is 315,000 Australian dollars up in smoke for each of the 20 minutes of pyrotechnics. Event producer Aneurin

Coffey worked out that spending was around 4 Australian dollars for each spectator, “which is damn good value in any language.” And for those who begrudge the contribution to global warming, Moore insists that the New Year’s Eve fireworks are a “carbon neutral” event because of tree planting, recycling and other environmentally sound endeavours. u

Meat Alternatives More Climate-Friendly { Vienna / DPA }

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roduction of meat alternatives such as soy meat, tofu and seitan causes about 95 per cent lower emissions of climatedamaging gases than production of ground meat, according to a recent study by the Sustainable European Research Institute (SERI), a Vienna-based think tank. Commissioned by the German Vegetarian Society (VEBU) and the Austrian branch of the international environmental activist network Greenpeace, the study found that producing one kilogram of soy meat released about 350 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, compared with about 7,200 grams from the same amount of ground meat. The heat-trapping greenhouse gas CO2 contributes to global warming. Large amounts of it are released, for example, when forests are cleared to provide pastureland and grow crops for animals raised to provide meat.

On average, VEBU said, 98 per cent less land is needed to produce meat alternatives. In the study, SERI examined the environmental impact of eight food products made either from soy granulate or seitan - also known as wheat gluten - and then compared it with that of ground meat. The factors that were considered included water consumption, transport and the use of both renewable and non-renewable resources. VEB Managing Director Sebastian Zoesch said that ground meat was especially easy to substitute with plantbased alternatives because it would be nearly impossible for those eating it to tell by the texture of such small pieces that they were not chewing real meat. He added that if Germans replaced their annual per capita consumption of 12 kilograms of ground meat with meat alternatives, the CO2 savings would equal the emissions from 4 to 7 million automobiles. u


30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

Tips On Getting To The 2012 London Olympics

{ Patrizia Schlosser / London / DPA }

T

he run on tickets for the London Olympic Games (July 27-August 12, 2012) already began some nine months ago. So trying at this point to get a remaining ticket is a highperformance challenge. And if you don’t want to pay exaggerated rates for some

dump to stay in, you had better get started soon. On your marks, get set, go! One method is to go directly to the British Olympics organizing committee. Ticket sales by this committee (the LOCOG) are offered via this homepage: www. tickets.london2012.com. “At the moment there are still tickets left for some football matches, as well as for various events

of the Paralympic Games,” notes LOCOG press spokesman David Paull in London. Trying your luck that way, you have to log in on a page, and then start picking and choosing for tickets yet available for the desired date, event, or sports category. So much for the theory. In practice, things look a bit different. “In the first sales phase that

G lobal 29

began last March, so many people applied that the tickets had to be raffled off,” said Christian Klaue, press spokesman for the German Olympics Sports Federation DOSB. For example, more than 1 million people ordered tickets for the men’s 100-metres sprint race, an event for which only 40,000 tickets were available. “Tickets have never been sold so quickly or thoroughly,” Klaue said. “It is the most successful ticket sale in the history of the Olympic Games.” And if you don’t get a ticket to the Olympics? A trip to London in 2012 can still be rewarding. Many events such as bicycleroad racing or early-round cricket matches are free of charge. And besides which, the games will be shown on huge screens in public areas around the city so that every sports fan can join in watching the action close-up. “There are three public areas with outdoor screens: Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square,” says Andrea Hetzel of the British tourism office VisitBritain in Berlin. “All three areas offer a mixture of sports and concert broadcasts.” In order to secure a spot in front of a screen, people can register online at www. londonlive.uk.com. For 3.50 pounds (about 5.25 dollars) one can order up to four tickets, which allow people early entry

to the public viewing area. Contrary to the ticket offerings, there is still a wide variety of available lodgings in London. “For visitors with a small budget, staying in a hostel or on the campus of a university is a cheap alternative,” notes Ingo Frieske, managing director of the German sports travel company Vietentours. The disadvantage is that such lodgings are not very centrally located. It is more expensive in the city centre. Those who like things more exclusive can book overnight stays on cruise ships, which will be steaming towards London next summer. The round trip, three nights’ stay and an Olympics ticket, can be booked for between 1,548 euros and 3,988 euros per person. “Such all-round packages are suited for people who don’t want to have to bother about arrangements,” says Torsten Schaefer, press spokesman for the German Travel Association in Berlin. A further advantage is that the all-included package offers are often less costly than trips a person organizes on his own. “If you go about doing your own planning, then you should start to book very quickly, in order to obtain favourable offers - whether by bus, train or airplane,” Schaefer advises. “But don’t be expecting super-cheap bargains at such a high-season period as the Olympics.” u

Mars In Sight At The End Of A Turbulent Year In Space { Wolfgang Jung, Andreas Landwehr and Marco Mierke / Moscow/Beijing/ Washington / DPA }

F

ifty years after the flight of the first man into space, the three major space powers - the United States, Russia and China - have entered an era in which co-operation is more important than ever. 2011 saw the US space shuttle fleet retired after three decades, as well as successes and failures for Russia; and the rise of China as a new star in the heavens. Europeans also took part in the spectacular simulation, Mars 500, in Moscow. Milestones looming in 2012 include a US next-generation rover, scheduled to land in August on Mars; and China starting to build its own space station. Russia remains the sole transporter of astronauts to the International Space Station, while the US  will move toward ‘planned for commercial spaceflight’, with firm Space X expected to make its first unmanned test flight to the ISS. 2011 began for Moscow with celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering 1961 flight; but went downhill as a satellite was lost, and a cargo rocket unexpectedly crashed. Finally, the Phobos-Grunt Mars mission ended in failure.

After 15 years of planning, Russia had hoped to begin a new era in interplanetary exploration, but the 160.6-million-dollar satellite failed to make it out of Earth’s orbit. The Russian space agency Roscosmos could take some consolation from its new, higher profile role as the sole provider of rides for international astronauts to the ISS, on Soyuz space capsules. Since the US spacecraft Atlantis completed the final shuttle flight in July, the United States has had no vehicle of its own to transport astronauts. Charles Bolden, head of the US space agency NASA, tried to put the best face on it, saying a great future lay ahead. “Contrary to popular belief, this has been an incredible year for NASA,” Bolden told the US Congress in November. In addition to completing construction on the International Space Station, plans were laid for world-changing missions, he said – with a human mission to an asteroid by 2025, and to Mars 10 years later. Both projects are enthusiastically backed by US President Barack Obama. The largest rocket in NASA  history has started to take shape, as well as a new space capsule to carry six astronauts. Unmanned test flights are to start in 2014.

But it’s not certain whether NASA will get the annual 3 billion dollars in development costs. And the missions are not uncontroversial. No one at NASA knows for sure how experts can develop the complicated technology to land on an asteroid in only 14 years, the Washington Post wrote. Nor is it even clear which asteroid is the target. NASA faces a heavy workload in 2012. China made decisive steps in 2011, toward building its own

space station, with its first experimental docking test on the orbiting Tiangong 1 (Heavens’ Palace). The space station is to be finished by 2020. China’s unmanned spaceship Shenzhou 8 (Magic Ship) docked twice at Tiangong 1 in November. China co-operated with Germany in space, using a German laboratory facility, Simbox, on Shenzhou 8 – in which the side effects of weightlessness on organisms are to be studied. With its successful docking

The Phobos-Grunt Mars Mission, that lost its way just after launch

experience, China has joined the large space-travelling nations—United States and Russia—which have commanded the technology for four decades. The world’s second-largest economy has ambitious plans: If the space station is built as planned, China will be the only nation with a steadily-occupied space presence by 2020. The young space-faring nation is building a satellitebased global navigation system, and plans to send spaceships to the moon and into deep space, for which powerful rockets are being developed. Experts say that China could harvest extensive political capital out of its space programme. Domestically, the communist leadership can bask in the success of its space programme while earning strategic merits on the foreignpolicy front. Forty-two years after the first moon landing, Mars has advanced as the next goal for human space travel. There is hope that the first flight to the red planet could occur as early as the 2030s, says Johann-Dietrich Woerner, head of Germany’s space programme. But such an ambitious project is only imaginable with intense international co-operation, he says. u


30

G lobal

30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

Makeup, Heels And Dim Light; A Night In The Life Of A Drag Queen

T

he he-to-she transformation of Basti to Babsi – takes rouge, a wig, two large wads of cotton, and nearly three hours. The change results in the diva Barbara Vogue - Babsi for short. Recently, as Basti prepared for a Lady Gaga contest at a Berlin gay bar called SchwuZ, he allowed reporters a glimpse into his lifestyle. The transformation starts with his face. Patting powder on his forehead and turning his head right, then left, he holds his eyes fixed on the image of his face in the mirror. “Quite mask-like. That’s nice,” he said. His red dress is short, he admits, but that’s OK because he has nice legs. When a friend teases him about it, he turns away, pulls his face to show his dimples—without really smiling—and rolls his eyes. That is his way of responding when people don’t understand him. “I don’t know,” he says. ‘I do it for fun.” Two years ago Basti and a friend decided to throw a Hollywood-themed party, and they needed the appropriate guests – including transvestites. Initially, Basti took the name Coco Couture. She eventually became Babsi, and the party became a fixture in Berlin’s gay social calendar. Basti talks about it casually, rolling his eyes, flexing his wrists and showing his dimples

- without smiling. He’s wearing blood-red lipstick and nail polish, eye-liner and light eye-shadow to make his eyes look wider - too much rather than not enough. “It’s OK to look a little cheap,” he said; transvestite lore that he loves to cite. He struggles to get his makeup just the way he wants it. Using a piece of paper, he draws a sharp-edged line in pink under his cheekbone to create a contour; but he wrinkles his forehead in disappointment, and sighs. “Ah, I think I’ll just leave it the way it is. It won’t matter inside the dark club,” he said. “Transvestitism functions best in the dark. Darkness is my friend.” Basti, 23, studies fashion design, which comes in handy when he’s choosing clothing for Barbara Vogue. His Gaga imitation is a patchwork of garments; some designed by himself, but usually he buys Babsi’s clothes. Her wardrobe is full of colourful frocks, trimmed in feathers, tassels, lace – and even aluminium foil. He is small around the middle, and thus can wear a medium women’s size. Though his foot is the largest standard women’s size, he can still find high heels. When it’s time to get dressed, he lets his pajama bottoms slide to the floor, and pulls the red dress over his head – slipping it on with a wiggle of his hips.

{ Aliki Nassoufis / Munich / DPA }

H

e’s a dream, but his friend is pretty cute too. What’s a girl to do when another guy - such as her boyfriend’s friend - starts to shake up a relationship that she thought was going pretty well? Experts say that before rushing to break up, she should examine the reasons why she suddenly is falling for her boyfriend’s friend, or someone else in their circle of friends. “There is nothing at all reprehensible about noticing these kind of feelings toward another person,” said Beate Friese of a children’s hotline in Germany. “Swooning over someone is often superficial, as in being crazy about a movie star.” Usually, the object of one’s affection is only an acquaintance - someone who looks cool or seems like a sweet person - and not someone who is already a friend. It’s also important to know that enthusing about someone else doesn’t mean you are no longer in love with your boyfriend of girlfriend, said Jutta Stiehler, director of an advice column at a German magazine for teenagers. Swooning over someone or finding them attractive is not the same as being in love, said Stiehler. It has a lot to do with dreaming and “bringing a little bit of suspense into your life.” But when does it become serious enough to worry about? Experts say it can be a sign that the relationship isn’t going well. “At the beginning of a relationship there is a lot of excitement and tingly feelings, but after a certain time it

A drag queen performs at a drag show in Germany

The dress is backless and tight-fitting, except at the bosom. To create feminine curves there, Basti uses wads of cotton stuffed into pieces of nylon stockings, and pins them in place. “At least I have a pretty decollete at the back,” he

said, looking at his justformed breasts. “Too high?” The left one, yes. A little tug and a twist and it’s in place. But a glance in the mirror reveals another problem: He needs a shave. Careful not to disturb the makeup on his chin,

Get A Crush, But Think Hard Before Breaking-Up Diagentur

{ Johanna Uchtmann / Berlin / DPA }

A crush on someone can be intense, but it is best to be honest with your partner about what is happening.

can fade,” said Friese. Meeting a third person can be thrilling, but you should pause and look at what strengths your partner has that are important to you, and what the other person could offer in a relationship. She added that it’s important to remember that one single person cannot fulfill all one’s desires. When one partner doesn’t like going out, but his friend does, it’s natural to feel drawn to that person. “You might think: ‘I’m sure to have more fun with him,’” said Friese. But that could possibly be the only thing. If that’s the case, it’s best to tell your boyfriend you would like to do more things with him. Another thing to consider is how it feels to flirt with two people at the same time. This can be exciting and it can make a person feel more sought-after. It’s good for self esteem, said Friese. “Everyone wants to be liked and loved, even better

Basti gets it done quickly, and then it’s time for him to put on his heels and call a cab. He sits in the taxi as elegantly as a queen. Babsi avoids the underground. She occasionally has been accosted; but at more than 2 metres tall, Basti is an imposing figure. The real enemy in the underground is the light. Basti is not sure how to define himself. Drag queen is not a term he can relate to. It sounds too much like “an old, ill-tempered transvestite.” Near the SchwuZ, one of the oldest and most popular gay bars in Berlin, is Drama, another bar that Babsi likes. On this night, the red lights have a fatal effect on her outfit, making her red dress look grey. Barbara Vogue orders vodka and cranberry, and takes a seat at a table – while other transvestites course through the club. They greet her with kisses on each cheek, careful not to smudge each other’s makeup. She contorts her face to show her dimples - without smiling - even more frequently now. Though all the contestants have been called over to SchwuZ for a group photo, Babsi remains seated in her corner, sipping her drink. But eventually, she looks at the floor, then over at the bar. Surely, anyone getting a glimpse of her face would think - as he did earlier in the evening - “Quite mask-like. That’s good.” u

from several people,” she said. However, you should ask yourself whether it’s the other person you like, or just the feeling of being the object of affection. “A person also can fall in love with this feeling.” For many people this is exactly the reason they constantly change partners. The problem is they want to experience the excitement of a new relationship over and over again, but this never leads to a deep relationship, Friese said.”In a relationship you have to be able to endure everyday life together, which is not always that exciting,” she added. Sometimes an innocent attraction develops into true loving feelings; and when that happens, it should be clear that this is playing with fire. It’s something that can hurt one’s partner badly. “If it becomes serious or if you pay more attention to the other person than your boyfriend or girlfriend, then it’s time to ask, ‘Do I like him or her better, and do I have to say something?” said psychologist Elisabeth Raffauf. Stiehler added that when it’s more than just a little crush, the partner should be honest. “It hurts to be left, but it is better to speak honestly about one’s feelings in order to avoid hurting the partner even more,” she said. Going beyond a flirtation is a “no-go” because it has to do with trust, Friese adds. “Your partner has to be able to trust you,” she said. No one wants their partner to start fooling around with their best friend behind their back. If possible, spend some time apart, and if the feelings still exist, only one thing will work: “Be honest in order to avoid unnecessary pain.” u


30 Dec–5 Jan 2012

G -scape 31 DURGADATT PANDEY


Friday Gurgaon, December 30-January 5, 2011  

Gurgaon's Own Weekly Newspaper

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