Page 1

27 Feb-5 March 2015

{ Abhishek Behl FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon

T

he unprecedented demand and the ever-rising prices of Real Estate till a few years ago had made developers out of builders and builders out of property dealers – and a new project was being launched almost every week. All they needed to do was to accumulate the magical 10.01 acres that was necessary (in Gurgaon) to get a licence for construction. Now the demand – both residential and commercial – has gone, and the supply has been left (literally) hanging. A large inventory across the new sectors remains unsold; a large ‘sold’ inventory lies with ‘investors’, who now desperately want to exit. Builders (and even many investors) are facing strong pressure from their lenders for the repayment of loans. Real Estate experts say that the right option for the

{ Abhishek Behl FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon

P

oor maintenance of facilities by builders, their control over common areas such as community centres, the non-delivery of promised power infrastructure, encroachment of green areas, poor connectivity with main sewer lines, and a leaky drainage system were the common refrains in almost all the ‘posh’ condominium societies that were visited by Haryana Public Works Department (PWD) & Public Health Engineering (PHE) Minister Rao Narbir Singh on Sunday. He is also the MLA from Badshahpur, and these residential areas, off and around Sohna Road, are part of his the constituency. Perhaps nudged by the Party High Command, which seems to have turned a little jittery after the Delhi election, the ministers in the Haryana government, particularly those from Gurgaon, have been trying to become more accessible to the people. On Sunday, Singh visited 10 societies, which house thousands of people from his constituency, and

RNI No. HARENG/2011/39319, Postal Regn. No. GRG/35/2014-2017

When Will It Burst? builders and investors would be to accept lower rates/prices, which have anyway reached very high levels in Gurgaon. However, despite having made many a ‘killing’ in this market, the greed of most has not yet been satiated. Many builders have preferred to take additional loans (sometimes from the same banks!), to service their debt – and are now playing the waiting game. This is despite the fact that the latest data (July to December) shows an over 40 per cent reduction in the sale of new property in the National Capital Region! Experts believe that these are ominous signs of a Real Estate bubble. Sanjay Sharma of Qubrex

says that there is going to be a correction and property prices have to come down, as the lack of buyers is putting immense pressure on builders. Sharma adds that long delays in the delivery of projects, shoddy quality, lack of promised facilities and poor civic infrastructure have also badly dented the image of the builder community in Gurgaon. The crisis is so

deep that a large number of property dealers who had set up their business along the Dwarka Expressway, and even Sohna Road, have closed shop. Pradeep Kumar, a dealer, says that earlier there were a couple of queries for new projects everyday; this happens at best once a month now…and the conversion rate for these is almost negligible. Property experts say that the ‘hope’ of property prices rising later this year is a pipedream; in fact Gurgaon (with its current ‘unreal’ rates) could specifically face a major collapse. It’s 'payback' time for speculators (the socalled ‘investor chain’ of Gurgaon). Reality is fast catching up with their realty. Sanjeev Sharma, a Real Estate consul-

BJP RWA Sabhas listened to their woes. The Minister assured the residents that their problems would be considered on top priority, and directed the retinue of officials accompanying him to fix some of the problems on the spot. The Uniworld Garden (Sohna Road) RWA told the Minister the following problems being faced by the residents: poor maintenance, lack of streetlighting, poor sanitation, encroachment on the road leading to the complex, and the ongoing

prakhar PANDEY

Vol. 4 No. 28  Pages 16  ` 10

mess at and around Subhash Chowk. The residents also complained that the builder has not delivered on many promises, and has still not obtained the Occupation Certificate for the complex. SS Oberoi, a civil activist based in Gurgaon, told the Minister that multiple representations and complaints have been made to the Department of Town and Country Planning (TCP), but it has failed to take any action on the shortcomings of the builder. Responding to the

tant, says that there has been no research carried out to ascertain demand and supply for property in the City and how sustainable it is; there has been no economic research conducted to quantify the likely job growth scenario in this City over, say, a decade. The earlier govt.’s key role seems to have been to 'Master-Plan' the acquisition of land for supply to its favoured sons – the builders. "A number of companies have already left Gurgaon for Tier II, III cities, as the rentals here continue to be very high, the public transport system remains non-existent, and a water crisis is looming large," says Sharma. Another problem is that a large population of home buyers has been ignored by all builders, because they have no ‘product’ to offer them - thus forcing these folk to invest in plots in unauthorised colonies and disputed areas (like around the IAF Ammunition Depot). The State agencies (like Contd. on p 4

complaints, Rao Narbir Singh directed the DTCP officials to take cognizance of the matter, and also promised that his office will take up the issues with DTCP in Chandigarh and try to get all the problems resolved. After listening to the residents, the Minister opined that the setting up of a Gurgaon Development Authority (GDA) - versus the multiplicity of agencies today - could best help in the better delivery of governance. Importantly, the Minister also promised that he would request the CM to constitute a Special Committee, which would deal exclusively with the issues and problems that have come up in the private developer/builder areas of Gurgaon. He said that the Chief Administrator, HUDA and the Chief Town Planner should be the members of this Committee. The role of this Committee would be to mediate between the private builders and RWAs, and thereupon decide the issues, keeping in view the terms and conditions of the Licence Agreements. Singh assured the residents that the promises made to them would have to be made good by the builders; and illegal Contd. on p 4


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27 February-5 March 2015

RNI No. HARENG/2011/39319 Postal Regn. No. GRG/35/2014-2017 Vol. 4 No. 28   27 Feb-5 March 2015

Editor:

THE WEEK THAT WAS

Atul Sobti

Sr. Correspondent: Abhishek Behl Correspondent:

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 D. Suresh is the new Divisional Commissioner, Gurgaon.  HC says that cities like Gurgaon and Faridabad must have an independent DCP for Traffic, as well as facilities like CCTVs on the road. CM promises 24x7 power to all villages where there is no power theft and all bills are paid on time. National Green Tribunal lays down heavy penalties (ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 1 lakh) for the burning of waste (including leaves) in the open – the current penalty is Rs 250 to 500. High Court issues a notice to State govt. after the Head and another member of the Haryana State Commission for Minorities challenge their ‘ad hoc’ removal. Haryana’s new Industrial Policy will be announced by March 31. Haryana cancels the ‘commercial street’ policy. Anna launches an agitation against the Land Acquisition Bill from Palwal; AAP conducts a rally against the Land Acquisition Bill in Gurgaon. CM says that all legal cases filed against farmers who were agitating for their rights, will be taken back.

 

 A 2-year-old missing girl is allegedly kidnapped and killed as part of some ‘ritual’; the accused, a 33-year-old sweeper, is arrested from Mewat.  A 38-year-old man smothers his 3-yearold son to death and then hangs himself – they had left home (near Badsahahpur) after the man had a fight with his wife.  A 30-year-old farmer, who had come to attend his cousin sister’s wedding in Bilaspur, is found dead – he was shot in the head.  A labourer falls to his death at a construction site in Sector 62.  A youth dies in an accident after hearing of his elder brother’s death.  A middle-aged woman from Delhi,

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who was admitted in a premier private hospital in Gurgaon, dies of Swine Flu. A woman applying for a job is lured and raped by a businessman, after she calls his number by mistake. A man is accused of rape after he walks away from a 4-year live-in relationship with his colleague – both are working in a mall. A landlord and his accomplice are arrested for molesting a nurse working in a top private hospital.  A gang of 4 killers is caught, along with a heavy cache of arms and ammunition, while they are planning their next kill; A gang of 3 car thieves is arrested. A group of about 40 women demonstrate in front of the Sector 5 Police Station, demanding the arrest of the wife (coaccused) of a man who cheated them of Rs 2 crores, through a chit fund racket; the man has already been arrested. 4 bikers shoot a guard of a private company and run off with the Rs 6 lakhs that had just been collected from the office of a dairy company. 3 security guards are assaulted in the Mangar forest area. A fresh FIR for fraud (Rs 90 lakhs) is filed against the ‘fake judge’ who is currently lodged in Bhondsi Jail. A person who was promised partnership in a sports firm in Sushant Lok, accuses the current partners of a Rs 10 crores fraud. A real estate company is booked for defrauding many businessmen of a total of Rs 8 crores. A company is defrauded of Rs 20 lakhs by 4 employees. A person is defrauded of Rs 12 lakhs on the promise of partnership in a security company. A youth is held with Rs 23,000 fake currency. A truck carrying 445 cases of illicit liquor

is seized.  A revenue official is suspended, following a crackdown on a land scam.  A fake Swine Flu (HINI) drug racket, operated by a person in Rajender Park, is busted.  A protest by residents of Sushant Lok (Sector 56) against their maintenance company (appointed by builder) turns violent; local Councillors join the residents the next day.  Kendriya Vihar residents protest against ‘ad hoc’ charges levied by their RWA.  MLAs Rao Narbir Singh and Umesh Aggarwal jointly flag off the start of 2 Foot Over-Bridges (FOBs) at HUDA City Centre.  Manesar-Palwal section of the KMP Expressway is now expected to be completed within 9 months; the Kundli-Manesar section will take 2 years.  National Green Tribunal (NGT), while responding to a plea by NGO Hariyali, rules that concrete boundaries should not be built around trees, as it smothers their growth  Locals stop the installation of a mobile tower in DLF I.  A slaughterhouse has been sanctioned for the City; it will come up in Sector 37.  Almost a thousand doctors attending an APICON seminar take part in the formation of a human heart, in Leisure Valley; the ‘event’ was sponsored by Ranbaxy.  A HUDA (all Haryana) Sports Meet takes place in the City.  A team of Tiranga runners from Mumbai, led by Khalid Qureshi, reaches Gurgaon, and is felicitated by students and Milkha Singh; the team started from Mumbai on Republic Day, with India Gate, New Delhi as their destination. On the way they have distributed 30,000 Tricolours (India Flags) and enrolled 60,000 students in a Tiranga pledge – which includes the keeping of a Tricolour at home.

Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi’s mantra to students, during a recent visit to Gurgaon: Dream, Discover, Do. Supreme Court has to step in to grant bail to 2 ex-Maruti employees who were part of the 148 accused in the 2012 worker protest that turned violent and led to the death of a manager. Meanwhile, the rest still await justice. The Mayors of different municipalities across Haryana are called to Chandigarh for a meeting and review with the CM. The Himmat app, for women’s safety, is now available on WhatsApp and Hike; the facility can be accessed at 8800001091.


03

27 February-5 March 2015

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at letters@fr idaygurgao n hile the State of Haryana cies have and its civic not been infrastr able to agenucture, like water, includin provide adequa power, sanitati te g basic isting Gurgao on and roads amenities the previou n city and residen to the exts, the decision pendently s government to relentle (of the NCR by Master Plannin Board) push ssly and indeg (2021, residents 2025, 2031) ahead with its of has The Master even the new sectors most now left the Plans ing more that were vulnera than Real ble. prepare apart from d were Estate allocati noththe shortag gaon is e of naturalons. As a result, now resources, will probabl being envelop ed in a smoky Gury remain unendin so for decades haze g constru ction activity ), thanks (and cupancy being low to the - despite The most and there current pressing being few octer table new buyers. under the issue, however, is that which could City indeed haveis getting dangero the wausly disastro us consequ low, ences,

W

Postal Regn.

No. GRG/35/20

14-2017

of Gurgaon PaNDEY

RNI No. HARENG/ 2011/39319,

{ Abhishek Behl

write to us

C oming U p

II

warn experts . While ciety are discussing the authorities in (curren and civil t) Gurgao ways to tackle sobusy buildin this situatio n, the Real Estate industr n apartments g more castles in the air. y and commer up in the Thousands is new Gurgao cial complex of tened GII es are coming n sectors lines are by FG), while water, (58 to 115 – yet to be power and chrisever, have set up. sewage Several already builders, are now ‘completed’ giving howtheir projects gross violatio possession to , the authori n of the rules, apartment buyers,and with the ties. They in ground collusio are still water for n of deviously is that the all their extracti projects ng . And will now water from these be same illegal the irony water tankerssold to the hapless tubewells (as the official residents dream)! through supply remain It was only s a pipea chance plaza that visit to through brought this illegal the Kherki Doula tankers toll by constru use and sale of water ction compan ies, to the Prakhar

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27 February-5 March 2015

C over S tory prakhar PANDEY

 Contd from p 1 commercial activities would be stopped. At Uniworld Garden the residents were also assured that problems relating to the service roads on Sohna Road would be taken up with NHAI. Moving on to Malibu Towne, the Minister was welcomed by a large number of residents, who appreciated the fact that their representative had come to hear their grievances. Rao Narbir Singh did not disappoint the audience, as he admitted that his electoral victory this time was assured by the high turnout of residents from private sectors and condominiums in Gurgaon. "I have in fact lost in a number of traditional strongholds in this election, but come out a winner in this area, and I am indebted to you for making me win," asserted Singh, much to the delight of the crowd. The Federation of Malibu Towne Residents Associations raised some key points, which included the usage of the community centre and club, which is a part of the common area, for commercial purposes, by the builder. The RWA said that they have approached the Lokayukta, and the Senior Town Planner has confirmed that the club is not a commercial facility, but they have not been able to take control of the facility from the developer. The Malibu Towne RWA further alleged that the developer should be asked to appropriately set up a 66 KVA power sub-station (instead of 33 KVA). The RWA added that the residents would be forced to approach the courts if the promised infrastructure is not delivered soon. The residents also complained of a poor quality of living, with overflowing sewer lines, and excessive noise and air pollution caused by diesel pumpsets. Alka Dalal, a representative of the RWA, also raised the issue of encroachments on green belts and the bad condition of roads. Rao Narbir Singh told the power officials accompanying him to find a solution to the problems being faced by the residents. The officials however pointed out

BJP RWA Sabhas that while HUDA and DHBVN have deposited their share of the funds required, the problem was on the part of the developers – who are now unwilling to spend money for delivering what they had promised to the apartment and plot buyers. When the residents complained to the Minister about such nonseriousness, nay arrogance, on part of the developers, he assured them that the matter would be taken up at the highest quarters in the Haryana government, and a solution would be found. At Mayfield Garden, the residents gave a detailed account of their problems and told the Minister how all the efforts being made by them to secure roads, sanitation and, most importantly, power, had come to nought, because of the unwillingness of the developers to commit to anything. The residents also said that despite several interventions made by top HUDA, DTCP and government officials, there had been no progress. The major problem, said Dharamvir Yadav, President of Sheetal RWA, was the failure of the developers and the State’s Power department to take ownership of this problem, because of which all the residents are still suffering. The Minister assured the residents that he would set up their delegation’s meeting directly with the Chief Minister. He also directed the accompanying officials to fix whatever problems they could locally, while complex issues would be taken up with the seniors in Chandigarh. The residents of South City II (off Sohna Road) also raised the issue of the poor condition of roads and lanes in their colony. The RWA also alleged that the sewer line of A1 block was disconnected from the main HUDA line on the pretext of some work, but the same has not been reconnected causing lots of problems to the residents. A block is suffering

from large scale waterlogging, which has still not been handled by the maintenance agency. The RWA also complained that the road emerging from Sohna Road to South City II has been encroached at various places by building material suppliers, which cause lot of problems to the residents. A hospital on the same road has also encroached on the green belts, which is in violation of the rules, and the hospital is also not allowing the construction of a divider – to avoid accidents. The South City II RWA complained about the lack of proper play grounds, non-delivery of the promised community centres (which have been converted into commercial clubs), and the transfer of a religious site meant for the community to a sect. The RWA alleged that land meant for a dispensary has been sold to a hospital, and sites for schools have been sold to private chains. The residents said that the rainwater drainage line has been choked for past several months, and asked the officials to take timely action. The Nirvana Country RWA, while welcoming the initiative of the Minister to meet the people, said that if the government is serious, then the issues being faced by the people can be resolved in coordination with the authorities. The RWA members said that there are numerous ‘school sites’ that can be used as playgrounds and parking lots, or for setting up small Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs). The residents of Central Park (Sohna Road) also hoped that the promises made by the Minister and the new government would help turn a new page in Gurgaon. A majority of the RWAs also complained about the poor quality of maintenance being provided by agencies, which were hand- in-glove (often subsidiaries) with the developers – this, despite charging high maintenance fees. The residents

demanded that government agencies like MCG should come forward to provide maintenance in the private builder areas as well. While directing the officials to resolve as many problems of the residents at the local level, Rao Narbir Singh reiterated his view that the setting up of a Gurgaon Development Authority (GDA) is paramount; GDA

would act as an overarching body for the maintenance and development of the entire city. Currently, with the multiplicity of agencies, it is hard to get work done, as the accountability is always (conveniently) transferred from one agency to the other, the Minister quipped. The Minister told the officials from different agencies to take the problems of the residents seriously, and try to get them resolved as early as possible. He promised to personally take up the ‘bigger’ issues at the right forums. u

When will it Burst?  Contd from p 1 HUDA) too have retreated from the development of housing for the middle class, and this has resulted in the dominance of private builders. In fact the middle class in Gurgaon has given up; they know that they will never get an affordable flat in this City. They applied in large number for the 2014 DDA scheme (which offered thousands of ready-to-move-in flats). Real Estate consultancy CBRE had warned in September 2014 that an over-dependence on investors was going to hurt the industry as a whole. “In the case of NCR, developers continued to launch projects in far-flung places that had limited infrastructure, promoting them as future hot spots. Although these projects were in the affordable and mid-segment range, buyer interest was limited. The fact remained that these were homes, and not commodities that could be traded." CBRE further said that the large number of (end user owned) residential units that are available in the resale market has also impacted new-build sales. As a result, the number of new launches has halved – with many of those choosing to continue, doing so because they saw it as a lesser evil. However, they are really just adding to the supply, as even subvention schemes and other financial tools that are being used to lure the end users, have failed. What is surprising is that even the coming of a strong and stable pro-business government at the Centre has failed to enthuse the market. The form (sentiment) may have picked up, but the content (substance) is still weak. Weak balance sheets of many banks, which have lent excessively to the infrastructure and Real Estate industries during their heyday, could further spoil any expected party. They have now almost put an embargo on loans to realtors. Simultaneously, the demand for commercial estate, from the IT/ITES industry, has also crashed – thanks to the ongoing global slowdown. The Budget may well turn out to be the turning point. If there is nothing in it to directly stimulate a significant demand growth for housing and property, Real Estate prices should fall. The cost of not doing so could be real scary. A property bubble burst can impact the entire economy, and also leave a black mark on the banking sector. Many a Millennium City Real Estate empire, built on speculation, might just soon vanish in thin air. u


27 February-5 March 2015

MP Monitoring G

urgaon MP and Union Minister of State for Defence, Rao Inderjit Singh expressed serious concern over the blockage of natural drains and channels in the City and the entire district, which has led to the poor (natural) harvesting of rainwater. The Gurgaon MP, while chairing a review meeting of the District Vigilance and Monitoring Committee, asked the District Administration to map the natural water channels using the latest technology, so that these can be revived. Many of these have been encroached by builders, and there is need to get these traditional drains, at Nathupur, Ghata and Sohna, freed. He said that there is need to recharge the ground water, since the water table has gone dangerously low, and also prevent the loss of rainwater. "The rain water first floods Gurgaon and thereafter leads to waterlogging in and around Manesar. It is then wasted in the Najafgarh Drain. This is a major loss, especially for a water scarce city like Gurgaon," he said. Singh proposed the restoration of the centuries old natural channels. He alleged that poor or non-existent urban planning and indiscriminate construction during the erstwhile Congress rule has destroyed the ecology of the area. The Minister also asked pointed questions on the performance of various government schemes, and was particularly concerned about the projects executed under

the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme. He asked the government officials to work hard and with utmost honesty, to ensure that development projects deliver as per their goals and uplift the common man in the State. GL Sharma, State executive member

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of BJP in Haryana, and who is also a member of the monitoring committee, welcomed the move to revive the natural channels, as it would definitely boost the harvesting of rainwater and help improve the ground water level. He also opined that there is need for balanced development in various parts of Haryana; he alleged that the erstwhile Congress government in the State had discriminated against South Haryana in particular. u


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27 February-5 March 2015

GDA is not the answer for the City's development { Bhawani Shankar Tripathy }

E

veryone is aware that the citizens of Gurgaon gave their mandate for good governance in the last assembly elections. The primary problem with Gurgaon is not bad roads or unruly traffic or growing encroachments. These are outcomes of a much deeper problem – bad governance. It is Gurgaon’s governance structure that has led to unplanned and unaccountable development. There are multiple authorities ruling Gurgaon, as a result of which everybody wants to command but nobody wants to be held accountable. However, a Gurgaon Development Authority (GDA) cannot be the best answer to Gurgaon’s governance problems. Replacing one existing development authority (HUDA) by another (GDA) will change little. More importantly, Gurgaon needs democratic and accountable governance, in which every citizen’s right to participate in the development decisions of the City is recognised and respected. The Constitution of India recognised this very early. It therefore mandated Panchayati Raj and Urban Local Bodies as institutions of local governance in rural and urban areas respectively. The Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) is the urban local body in our city. As per the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA), 1993, MCG is constitutionally mandated to function as the institute for ‘local planning, development, and management’. MCG has18 functions, as recommended under Article 243W (Twelfth Schedule) of Part IX-A of the Constitution of India for urban local bodies. The very first function is ‘Urban planning, including town planning’. Together, there are 45 Obligatory and Discretionary functions listed in the Haryana Municipal Corporation Act 1994 (HMCA), covering a whole range of development and management activities. In addition, the 2nd. Administrative Reforms Commission (15th Report of 2006) has recommended further devolution of five functions and resources to municipal bodies. On 16th. February 2006, the Supreme Court, in

M.C. Mehta Vs. Union of India 2006 AIR 1325, stated: ‘Town planning is now part of constitutional obligation on insertion of Part IX-A in the Constitution of India w.e.f. 1st June, 1993’. Most importantly, only our municipal corporation (MCG) allows for the direct participation of citizens in the development decisions of the City – through the democratic election of municipal councillors and the formation of ‘ward committees’ as participatory mechanisms. No other institution allows/ would allow citizens this right – least of all the development authorities like HUDA or the proposed GDA. Constitutionally also, MCG is fully empowered by the Constitution of India to perform all those functions that can be performed by HUDA/ GDA. As a signatory to the 74th CAA, Haryana state must commit to providing the citizens of Gurgaon their constitutional right to self-governance. The 12th Schedule, under Section 42 of the Haryana Municipal Corporation Act 1994 (HMCA), must be notified, and properly backed by operational procedures. All parastatals, such as HUDA, HSIIDC, PWD, Police, Fire, Health and other services/ bodies, should work under the direct superintendence, and the technical and financial control of MCG. GDA will just be another parastatal. ‘India needs a fundamental transformation in governance, and that empowered, citizen-centric, and accountable local governments are the core around which this transformation will take place. There will be no real ‘loss of power’ to the State Governments as feared’: 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission Report 2006. Therefore, the setting up a parastatal such as GDA will be unconstitutional, anti-people, and a direct contradiction to the spirit of empowering local governance and strengthening participatory development. Gurgaon should take the lead in this national quest for good governance. We should urge our representatives in the State government and Cabinet to strongly push for a fully empowered MCG. This will surely usher in 'achhe governance din' for Gurgaon and its residents.u

C ivic/S ocial

The primary problem of Gurgaon is Bad Governance { Dev Chopra (UN retiree) }

M

y family and I have lived here for 17 years. We reside off MG Road, next to Heritage Apartments & the MG Road Metro Station. Gurgaon has grown and continues to ‘flourish’, but the multiple authorities - DC, MCG, HUDA, PWD, HSIIDC, Police, Law & Order, Sanitation, Fire, Local Transport, Health, Education, etc. – need to be made more accountable. MCG has not yet found an effective way or method to charge property taxes; and when those who have paid regularly seek refund, MCG insists that ‘the credit balances will be adjusted’! Why is a city & district that produces 4549% of the State's revenue not able to recruit staff even within the sanctioned numbers (which themselves are woefully inadequate)? The rich get the 5-star schools, hospitals, 100s of multi-storied apartment buildings fitted with generators and hundreds of bars. For the rest there is electricity in bits & pieces, tube wells and water tankers in thousands, wine shops also in thousands, and thousands of 3-wheelers (with 8-10-12 passengers each) spewing black smoke. Water, energy, sanitation, healthcare, law & order, education etc. remain half-done or are in a limbo. Most drains and streetlights are absent or broken down. This indeed is the state of affairs in our Gurgaon.  Meanwhile, there is a big, further ‘MasterPlanned’ expansion of the City in ‘progress’. It all makes one wonder, just who is in the seat of governance? Who is minding this store? The problem of the last 15 years, or more - from the Chautalas to the Hoodas - is now in the lap of the first-ever BJP government and a non-Jat Chief Minister. May be it is too soon to say, but the Ministerial or MLA ranking officials seem to be readying to create yet another body - the Gurgaon Development Authority (GDA). Is this just a copy-catting of NOIDA? It is now 20 years since the 74th. Amendment was enacted by the national Parliament, making the States responsible for replicating effective governance at the city and district levels. If 35 elected Councillors, along with a Mayor & 2 Deputies, remain for ‘show & blow’ only (no work or responsibility), what then is different from the old colonial cum ‘nawabi’ rule of the pre-Independence days? It's just that now it’s commissioners, politicians and contractors who rule the roost! The presence of multiple authorities, with no one really in control & governance dependent upon ChandigarhPanchkula's beck and call, makes a mockery of a supposed citizenoriented democratic self-rule. Ill-planned, faulty, off-the-cuff implementation, despite the availability of funds with the State, has left Gurgaon in the lurch. Does the approach of now recommending GDA (by our new MLA) suggest yet again a role for (new) contractors & ‘consultants’? Why a GDA in the first place? Our Constitution advocates & promotes Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), and Panchayati Raj in the rural areas. The City should have democratic & accountable governance, in which a citizen’s right to participate in its development is valued, respected and promoted. Instead, we are strangulated by experimental websites, low tax collections & ill managed governance. The State legislatures should strengthen local self-govt., and ensure strict and effective implementation & accountability. Today all of that remains on paper and in a dream. I fail to see anything happening in my 81st. year, after investing our all here - after coming from Lahore in 1947. Meanwhile, our home has been burgled twice. Is anyone listening? Or will it all get rounded off with ‘smart cities’ and ‘Swachh Abhiyan’ - slogans that remain but polite and fair queries? My hope is that Friday Gurgaon will raise the issues of residents at the levels where it counts.u

The Toll Hatao Sangarsh Samiti held a meeting this week, in which various aspects and problems related to the Kherki Doula toll plaza were discussed in detail - including the lack of a service lane at the Toll Plaza, and problems being faced by the forty villages located in proximity to the Toll Plaza. It was decided that a massive demonstration will be organised against the government, to pressure it to shift this Toll Plaza. Those present in the meeting included the Chairman of the Samiti, Kanwar Bhardwaj, Vice President R S Rathi, Attar Singh Sandhu, D C Yadav, Shammi Ahlawat and Pushpa Dhankar.


07

27 February-5 March 2015

prakhar PANDEY

AAP ka Abhiyan B

uoyed by the strong Delhi results in its favour, the Aam Aadmi Party has galvanised its rank and file in Haryana to launch a 'Jai Kisan Abhiyan', to protest against the alleged anti-farmer land ordinance, and shortage of power and fertilizers in the State. Yogender Yadav, in-charge of AAP Haryana, addressed a large gathering in Gurgaon, where he said that the land ordinance passed by the Union government would neutralise many pro-farmer provisions that were a part of the earlier (UPA) Land Acquisition Act. A large number of AAP workers, who had gathered at the Kamla Nehru Park, later marched to the residence of Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjit Singh, and handed over a memorandum demanding the repeal of the ordinance. AAP also asked the Gurgaon MP to oppose the land ordinance passed by the NDA government. Earlier, addressing the gathering of AAP workers, Yadav alleged that the State government had created an artificial scarcity of Urea, which is causing major problems to farmers, who are extremely dependent on fertilizers. He demanded an investigation into what had led to this scarcity in the State. Yadav also said that this State government had arbitrarily changed the rules regarding compensation for acquired land, which was an anti-farmer move. "The actual compensation has come down to half - which is gross injustice," he alleged. AAP also exhorted BJP to come good on its poll promise of hiking the Minimum Support Price (MSP) to 50 per cent over the cost of the produce. Manoj Kumar 9873112730 Yadav demanded that the State 7042586272 government and BJP should take their poll promises seriously. AAP activists from across NCR had come together to launch this AC, Fan, Cooler, Motor W., House Wiring, Plamber chapter of the Jai Kisan Abhiyan, which the Party said is mainly Net Working Piping, Pop Plaster, etc. aimed at ensuring that farmers get justice.u

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08

27 February-5 March 2015

K id C orner

Ryan International School, Sector 40

Flower Power

Role Modelling

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ith the advent of Spring, Ryan International School, Sector 40 organised a Flower Show. The Guests of Honour, Ms. Geeta Hooda, a renowned florist and Ms. Nabneeta Mazumdar, were invited to judge the flowers, on the basis of the presentation and the health of the plants.

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yan International School, Sector 40 conducted an Inter Class Role Play Competition to celebrate Director Grace Pinto's birthday.

Top Cubists

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yan International School, Sector 40 won laurels at the  P B Smashathan 2015, Rubik's Cube challenge organised by World Cube Association. Master Srinidhi Joisa, Master Mani Kumar and Ms. Ananaya Gupta of Class VII were in the Merit list and secured 51st, 52nd and 63rd positions respectively. Over 10,000 students participated in the Event.

Photo - Joy

Going Vintage

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he School Council of Ryan International School, Sector 40 was privileged to witness the Vintage Car Rally and Auto Show at the Leisure Valley. There were 200 Royal Vintage cars and 50 Vintage bikes and scooters. These machines are a symbol of pride, beauty and rare technical excellence.

yan International School, Sector 40 organised a workshop on 'Joy of Photography'. The students were given cameras of different models to work with. School Head Ms. Peeya Sharma motivated the students to explore various fields and technologies and infuse them as tools for enhancing their presentations. The students participated in a 'My Snapshot' contest after the Workshop.

Charity begins at home

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ith this mantra, Ryanites of Sector 40 once again joined hands to share some warmth, by donating woollen clothes to the underprivileged working in nearby construction sites. This act was encouraged and appreciated by the local people.

If you wish to be featured in ‘Kid Corner’ (for publishing your school’s activities and achievements), please mail us at fridaygurgaongallery@gmail.com


27 February-5 March 2015

K id C orner

09

American Montessori Public School (AMPS)

Inter-School Fun

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n Inter-School Fun Races event was organised by American Montessori Public School (AMPS). 12 Schools from all over Gurgaon participated in the Event. The overall Trophy was bagged by DPS, Sector 45. AMPS stood Second.

Karate Kids

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tudents of Kaishogun Karate Do, DLF Phase 4 (under Chief Coach Sumit K Virman & Rajkumar) participated in the recent Delhi/NCR Karate championship and won many medals. Niharika Ann Mann (13 years) won a Gold.

Moonwatching

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Space Workshop, titled Moonwatch, was conducted in the School, for the students of Classes I and II. The programme concluded with the students gazing at the Moon, and planets like Venus, Mars and Jupiter, through a telescope.

Budding Ace

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itesh Katana of Class I (AMPS) was declared the Runner-Up in the Under 6 category at the Junior Lawn Tennis Championship held by the Base Tennis Academy

Starry Lecture

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PS gave an opportunity to twenty students of Classes VII-X to attend a public lecture titled 'Hunting the Dragon: On the trail of Active Galactic Nucleii', by Prof. Andy Lawrence, Regius Professor of Astronomy, Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.

Annual Vikas

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School India Winners

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lobal Ryanites of Ryan Global School participated in the School India Contest and won several medals and cash prizes. Aarth Kumar Shah(II A), Shubhika Todi (IIC ) and Swastika Basu won Gold medals.

tudents of Vikas Convent School, Baliawas, Gurgaon presented a colourful programme on their Annual Day. Manish Yadav, Principal of the School, said that the students participated in a number of dances, skits and cultural programmes, which were appreciated by the audience.


10

27 February-5 March 2015

C omment

Dear FM & PM

D

EDITORIAL Atul Sobti

o excite us, but also budget some care. farmers to industrialists…to even politicians. Here are FG’s updated recommendations. It provides us the comfort of Food Security and The focus has to be on Investment, Jobs simultaneously would take us up the (Food) value and a New Deal. India needs to take off to a new, chain – something that our IT Industry has been rousing start through mega investments and novel trying in its field for some time now. With a large initiatives. First off, industry needs some straightand decently robust economy, with the largest talking. Industry does not, and should not, need arable land worldwide, and with farming still in excise crutches. It has earned very well for over a our genes, it is time for this new revolution. The decade and needs to invest from its reserves. The ‘aam farmer’ needs to be kept in central focus, in govt. cannot be expected to just be a downside risk terms of helping to better his productivity, offering mitigator (while being totally ignored during the him a remunerative price and spot payments upsides). In fact industry has always maintained and reducing his wastage. The infrastructure – that it does well ‘despite’ the govt. Industry needs Transportation, Distribution, Warehousing, to get back to its entrepreneurship mode - it is Cold Storage and Power - for this Agro & Food currently in a riskProcessing Industry averse mode. Industry needs to be set up by What is the status/outcome of last year’s should definitely get a either the State (as in flexible Labour Policy, highways) or through initiatives/outlays, on: which should work PPP or even offered Public Sector banks divestment, consolidation, both ways – meaning as a private model. lending norms & NPA reduction that retrenchment Most importantly, Low cost housing should be costly for this Industry and Investment in ports industry. The govt. Policy will lead to a Multiple initiatives for the North East should help speed flourishing Intra- and Kisan TV? up the National Inter-State Commerce Investment & – with its benefits for How many of the thousand on-going PPP Manufacturing Zones a better economic projects are on track? (NIMZs). Beyond this, (and in turn social) industry should not integration of the need any handholding, country. The food even for land acquisiition – and therefore, as rightly chain has to be opened up – horizontally, vertically objected to by most Parties, there should be no and geographically. Various outdated Acts need to dilution to the original Bill. Funds need to come in be modified/scrapped, to aid in the stocking and aplenty for infrastructure investment. We need to movement of food and food products seamlessly get people out of gold and property (and poperty across the nation. Let a thousand cold chains bloom rates anyway need to come down – otherwise there across the country, along with a hundred foodmay well be a crash). We need to facilitate a new processing industries. This will even help bring in IPO boom – but in ‘real’ business. significant FDI as well as provide a base for valueadded (produce) export. There is a need to think big Jobs are critical for our youth, especially for this project, and galvanise top domestic players our unemployed graduates. We need a Youth from across sectors, to partner with specialised Employment Policy, riding alongside a stringent foreign companies. It is a huge long-term play – and Retirement Policy (preferably at 58, max. 60 years). we will play it better than we do manufacturing. We owe this to our youth. It’s time for ITIs across Maybe it’s a DNA thing. the nation to be affiliated with corporates. In fact the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy The ‘care’ has to be for the urban poor and the should be amended to incorporate investments in lower middle class, by means of an an urban skill-development through ITIs. Corporates should version of MNREGA and an Urban Livelihood be given a choice to either spend on CSR or invest Improvement Act. The poor should be given their resources on ITIs. FG also proposes a new MNREGA benefits for setting up EWS Housing and PPP paradigm based on the PM’s ‘Rurban’ vision. Public Toilets in the 5,000 plus cities and towns of Let a hundred private/public sector companies be India. The lower middle class (perhaps the only allowed to ‘adopt’a hundred blocks (in a hundred ‘class’ that has become poorer over the last few different districts), under a 3 year mandate - to years) should be offered fuel/LPG/healthcare deliver agreed civic amenities and facilities, as part vouchers worth Rs 5,000 per family per month, for of their CSR spend. They should be allowed certain 2 years. The vulnerable urban class can be fairly ‘branding’ benefits. easily identified, accessed and monitored. It’s time for a New Deal. It is the opportune season for a Second Green Revolution (GR II) – for an Agriculture-based Farm to Retail Policy. Barring middlemen, this should be welcomed by all – from

Going forward, a quarterly report on status versus Budget should be mandatory – on finances, operations, outcomes and new initiatives. For this year, the first report should be out by July end.u


S piritual

27 February-5 March 2015

Light Up Your Life { Dr. Rajesh Bhola }

S

aints have often talked of an ultimate human experience that is centred around the sighting and feeling of a supernatural light, and the accompanying ecstasy. A number of Hindu scriptures convey expressions of this profound encounter in a compelling, even awesome, manner. However, there are different interpretations to what exactly this means, as also the name for this ‘rapturous illumination’. There is no doubt, however, that an experience of the supreme bliss and brilliance of the Divine is firmly rooted in Hindu tradition. Light is another name for Enlightenment - which means the dispelling of the darkness of ignorance. Enlightenment is the primary term used to describe the experience of salvation in Hinduism and Buddhism (in fact the experience of enlightenment is common to most religions). According to the manner in which Reality is perceived in the different traditions, Enlightenment may be either the intuitive grasping of inner wisdom, the illumination of the Truth of the world, or the direct apprehension of transcendent Reality. During Enlightenment, the true self, formerly obscured by false thinking and vain desires, is suddenly revealed. The inner eye, which was blinded by the defilements of worldly living, opens to a vision of the true Reality. From that moment, life can never be the same for the enlightened person, as he begins to live by the knowledge he has acquired. Enlightenment is inner knowledge, the opening of the inner eye - the ‘eye of the heart’. It is the recognition of our original mind. The experience of Enlightenment is a quantum leap in thinking, a powerful conversion. Jesus spoke thus: ‘I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’. The Quran says: ‘Those who believe will stand alongside [the Prophet], their light streaming on ahead of them and to their right. They will say, Our Lord, perfect our light for us, and forgive us! It is said in the Katha Upanishad: ‘Him the sun does not illumine, nor the moon, nor the stars, nor the lightning…nor, verily, fires kindled upon the earth. He is the one light that gives light to all. He shines’. God is the Light that shines into our souls. The highest light that the emancipated Self reaches is Divine by nature. This divinity is higher than the highest, greater than the greatest, and naturally brilliant. It is all light. This brilliance illumines the entire universe. Within the Divine light abides supreme peace and the eternal abode. Whoever encounters this extraordinary light achieves incomparable bliss, and the highest happiness... happiness beyond end. God is seen as the infinite light. In Indian scriptures God is the limitless light - the shining form that gives heat; unending are the rays of Him. He is self-shining, self-luminous. Many saints have experienced God as a great light. When we meditate and see the light at the point between the eyebrows, we are seeing Him as light. As Christ reveals to us, ‘The light of the body is the eye: therefore if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light’. In meditation we pray to God to come to us as light. If you don’t see light in meditation, then visualise God’s light bathing you, purifying you and freeing you. The Indian scriptures define saintly attributes

as peace, calmness, light, sound, power, love, joy and wisdom. The more consciously we tune into those qualities, the sooner we will reach our goal of union with Him. In the spiritual realm, beyond the material covering, is the unlimited effulgence, which is free from material contamination. That effulgent white light is understood by transcendentalists to be the ‘light of all lights’. In that realm there is no need for the external illumination from sunshine, moonshine, fire or electricity. Indeed, whatever illumination appears in the material world is only a reflection of that supreme illumination. The supreme effulgence spreads through both the material and spiritual skies. As Allah’s Nur is the light of all luminaries, similarly it has been stated by Vedic literature that Krishna’s effulgence is light of all lights as verified in the verses from the Upanisads and the Gita. To perceive and attain this light of all lights, leading to ultimate bliss, the Hindu tradition has several methods. In Yoga, the emphasis is on physical and mental preparation. Various exercises have been devised to prepare the physical body for divine realisation. But unlike some of the Yoga that is being practised in the West, in the Hindu tradition, Yoga is much more than just a get-fit class. The encounter with light and bliss comes through inward meditation. Similarly, in the Indian Yoga techniques, the Yogi is able to obtain the knowledge of the subtle, the veiled and the remote. Finally, the Yogi is able to attain the goal of his quest. 
In Hinduism, encountering God often involves deep feelings of rapture and bliss. The Upanishads tell us that he whose world is pure becomes an ocean, the one seer, free from duality. This is his highest bliss. This supreme bliss is held very dear by saints. An enlightened person is the allilluminating, the form of eternal bliss, the supreme essence. The saint who comes to realise God becomes immersed in an ocean of bliss. Whoever reaches this all-pervading and ever resplendent source of all light also enjoys supreme bliss by attaining the state of ultimate Godliness. The wise, who perceive Him, come to realise that ‘this is it’. They get to recognise the highest, indescribable happiness. The wise can see the blissful immortality that gleams forth. The soul becomes the effulgent light into which the entire universe is absorbed. For the true seeker of divine knowledge, the Self alone becomes his Light. u Dr. Rajesh Bhola is President of Spastic Society of Gurgaon and is working for the cause of children with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities for more than 30 years. He can be contacted at rabhola@yahoo.com

11

Shelf Life of Relationships { Shobha Lidder } Humans invest in human relationships Which have short shelf lives Are fragile, unpredictable Humans invest in human goals And anchor their hopes forever And think their rosy relationships Will never outgrow Then they spend their lives Blaming, complaining of betrayals The laws of karma are absolute Face them without dispute It is more difficult to predict your future Than create it Handle the present with care, beware For what you create today Will pave the way for tomorrow Be it gain or sorrow Walk the tightrope Balance your mind body soul Invest on the gift within you Your talent or aptitude Or just your helping attitude Feel good, take a swig of elixir The aphrodisiac is you, dear Dependency on another is addiction Repetitive compulsive action Don’t feel sad when alone You are the microcosm of the whole. Shobha Lidder Writer, Journalist, Teacher, Trainer, Social Activist, Reiki Master, Pranic Healer

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E

nvironment-friendliness is today a rage the world over. Recognising the serious threat to Nature and the environment, sensitive citizens and governments are promoting organic food, environment-friendly building materials and non-conventional energy resources. Now there is a push for creating fabrics that will not cause health hazards, and also for discouraging the use of animal skin in fabrics. The adverse impacts of the current practices are already visible, and are compelling animal rights activists all over the world to call for a complete ban on the slaying of animals. That the threat to the environment is not illusory or weak is being increasingly realised in India as well. Gurgaon’s premier fashion institute, the Institute of Apparel Management (IAM), recently organised a first of its kind seminar, ‘India towards Sustainable Fashion 2020’, at Apparel House. The aim was to promote ‘Sustainable Fashion’ amongst the young fashion entrepreneurs in the country. Fashion industry leaders from around the globe were in attendance. The event aimed at building sustainability as a short-term and long-term vision of the Indian Fashion industry, with emphasis on future raw materials, and development of new skills and competencies. There were fashion experts, designers, and innovation and sustainability experts. “The Event was designed to help all of us safeguard our future, protect our environment and improve the lives of end-consumers, workers and suppliers around the world,” said one of the student. Sustainable Fashion highlights the fact that the fashion industry is today locked in a non-sustainability cycle – by using more and more of the Earth’s resources, and in some cases continuing to exploit cheap labour (to protect its ever-decreasing profit margins). The views of Maneka Gandhi, Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development, on environment and animal protection are well known. At one of the inaugurals, Mrs Gandhi said, “Sustainable Fashion is the need of the hour. It is not about recycling and reusing, but utilising alternative natural resources and converting them into fabric.” Khadi producers need to adopt new technologies and come out with trendy designs and patterns, the Minister added. This will help revive the Textiles industry, and a big employer. The Event underscored the role of technology and in-

Sustainable Fashion

novation in ‘responsible’ manufacturing, supply chain management and consumption. India has traditionally been a textiles country - one of the largest in the world. However, we have not been able to aggressively export textiles, because of our poor adaptation to the latest technologies – like Sustainable Fashion now. Dr. Darlie

Now, Brewtails!

Koshy, DG & CEO, IAM, ATDC, said, “India has great potential to be one of the largest exporters of Textiles.” He pointed out that despite being the second largest producer of jute, silk and cotton, India has not been able to harness this potential. Dr Koshy added, “Sustainable India 2020 holds many crucial challenges for the global Fash-

ion industry: with changing geographies of production, falling prices, intrinsic values, climate and demographic changes, new technologies, and a paradigm shift in the global economy. Sustainability should be seen in this context. Reducing consumption is not the way to achieve sustainability in fashion. Sustainable Fashion has to be taken as an approach. For example, tendencies to ‘over-shop’ should be avoided.” Experts from across the globe participated in various sessions – some through Skype/Google hangouts. The discussions veered around the need for Sustainable Fashion and deliberated on the roadmap to be followed by India, to not only inspire the fashion industry, but open up a better future for it and the country. Apart from the panel discussions, unique workshops were

B on V ivant also organised. ARS - Crafts Workshop featured a live workshop of rare and exotic crafts of India that are facing virtual extinction due to industrialisation and modernisation. The deliberations were aimed at how everyone could help promote the artisans and their invaluable crafts and techniques, and help them survive and sustain in a fiercely competitive global market. A fashion show, with the theme of Sustainability, was another highlight, wherein the students of IAM designed and showcased clothes and accessories that were eco-friendly. At the conclusion, the legends, veterans and eminent professionals of the Fashion industry, who had done great work in the area of Sustainable Fashion, were recognised. Their outstanding contributions to the crafts of India and the Fashion industry

were also showcased. There was a Star session on High Fashion: Designed for Make in India. This special session was attended by Dr. Darlie Koshy, Rina Dhaka, Sunil Sethi (President, FDCI), a number of Managing Directors and CEOs of different fashion institutes, industry experts from NIFT, Pearl Fashion Academy, IIT Delhi, Walmart, Adidas and Body Shop, and fashion columnists. These experts spoke candidly, prodding the Textiles industry to urgently adopt the global Sustainable Fashion vision, for its own longer-term survival and sustenance. u

The Beer Café has launched an exciting brew-based cocktail menu. Designed by the beverage innovators at MONIN, the innovative Brewtails menu presents popular beers in a refreshing fashion. The Beer Café also launched a swanky Good Earth City Centre outlet, the Chain’s 22nd outlet in the country. On the occasion, the Chain’s Founder and CEO, Rahul Singh said, “We wanted to offer beer enthusiasts another refreshing and innovative way to enjoy and savour their favourite drink. We have associated with MONIN, a century old brand, to leverage their expertise in beverage innovation in order to create the right flavours for our Brewtails menu. We hope this will enhance our patrons’ 'Beering' experience. Going forward we want to build on this menu and introduce more varieties of brew-based cocktails.”


27 February-5 March 2015

Health & Vitality... Naturally!

M

odern lifestyle in large urban areas continues to rev up. In tandem, our inability to cope with the increasing stress is taking its toll. Not surprisingly, our health is getting compromised. The most insidious attack can come from a most silent killer - heightened Blood Pressure, which often creeps up on unsuspecting individuals. Elevated Blood Pressure can lead to a greatly increased risk of heart attack, stroke and many other serious illnesses - such as Type 2 diabetes. Sustained excessive pressure can damage blood vessel linings, leading to atherosclerosis. Alarmingly, the red light on the dashboard often does not show up till it is too late. A cocktail of factors like stress, alcohol, smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity, sometimes compounded by family history and age, can prove to be very heady – even deadly. High Blood Pressure (BP) has now reached epidemic proportions. According to WHO, one in three adults worldwide has been impacted – with the total number having crossed the billion mark a few years ago. This condition alone causes around half of all deaths from stroke and heart disease. In some age groups, the risk of cardiovascular disease can double for each increment of 20/10 mmHg (systolic/diastolic) of Blood Pressure, starting from as low as 115/75 mmHg. All studies indicate a direct correlation of Blood Pressure with lifestyle choice. Quitting cigarettes, losing weight, increasing exercise and making dietary changes can dramatically reduce Blood Pressure. In addition, regular practice of mindfulness meditation, ‘Tai Chi’ or some relaxation therapies has shown significant benefits - in terms of it helping reduce both the systolic and diastolic Blood Pressure.

Tip of the Week

Despite all the serious consequences of sustained high Blood Pressure, the good news is that it is preventable, and even reversible. Taking proactive measures, like maintaining a healthy balanced diet and enjoying an active, healthy lifestyle can help avoid unnecessary risks. It is important to get Blood Pressure checked every 4-6 months – especially since it does not show any overt signs and is usually detected a little too late. From a dietary perspective, a high fibre, plantbased diet, rich in fruits and vegetables (upto 6 servings a day) is most helpful. Excessive consumption of ‘sodium’ (common salt) has to be watched. If possible, for high-risk individuals, the ‘DASH’ (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet recommendations should be followed. In general, high-protein foods that have been aged or pickled or fermented should be avoided. Animal fats should also be avoided… as should the consumption of highly processed foods. The ingredient lists of foods must always be scanned for ‘salt’ as well as for any form of ‘Sodium’ (symbol: Na). Avoid taking Aspartamebased artificial sweeteners. Certain medications, like antihistamines or Over-The-Counter (OTC) products that contain ibuprofen, must be taken under medical advice.

Nature’s Wonder Food(s) of the Week: Natural Foods to control Blood Pressure

Natural foods - several herbs and spices - can offer a high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory punch. Herbs have a low calorie content and can increase the medicinal value of food by lowering Blood Pressure in a more natural manner. They can also easily be mixed in soups, salads, fish, meat and vegetable dishes. As per a 2012 report in the Journal of Nutrition, Beetroot Juice has been shown to be effective in controlling Blood Pressure even in normal, healthy adults. Fresh Garlic has been found to lower Blood Pressure, by as much as 5% to 10%. Antioxidant flavonols, such as Quercetin in onions or Carvacol in oregano, can also help. High Omega 3 Fish Oil – especially with high DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) content - is very beneficial. For vegetarians, organic Flaxseed Oil is a very good option. Spices & herbs that have been used for centuries by traditional healers to reduce Blood Pressure include: Basil, Beetroot Juice, Cardamom, Cat’s Claw, Cayenne (Capsicum), Chamomile, Cinnamon, Garlic, Fennel, Hawthorn, Hibiscus sabdariffa L tisane, Kelp, Parsley, Mistletoe and Rosemary. Three specific herbs have attracted much attention in recent trials: an extract made from the Iranian herb Achillea wilhelmsii; an Ayurvedic herb Eclipta alba (also known as Bhringraja or Keshraja; and a proprietary Ayurvedic herbal combination containing Terminali arjuna. While there is thus no need to excessively rely on ‘Health Supplements’ (pills & capsules), selective supplementation with CoQ10, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Vitamins C, D and E and B Complex (especially Folate & B6) can be considered. High-repute brands containing Theanine (from Black Tea), Green Tea extract, BGA (Blue-Green Algae), GABA (Gammaaminobutyric Acid) or Lipoic Acid combined with Carnitine, L-Glutamic Acid and L-arginine are some other options. These should, however, be considered only under advice from a health practitioner, as some of them can have interactions with prescription drugs.u For Education purposes only; always consult a Healthcare Practitioner for medical conditions

13

Plan the baby with your doctor!

Beware the ‘Silent Killer’ D

{ Jaspal Bajwa }

W ellness

uring the recent Pregnancy Awareness Week, doctors at Columbia Asia Hospitals, Gurgaon emphasised the importance of Pre-Conception Counselling for couples, for helping improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy and minimising the risk of birth defects in their child. The news of a pregnancy has a beaming couple rushing to a doctor, and rightly so. Everything from diet to activity to nutritional supplements is discussed and then followed in detail. However, not many couples tend to visit a doctor and seek medical advice when they are planning a baby. Most do not even know the importance of this crucial intervention. Do you know that pre-conception medical advice can help you avert risks of pregnancy complications and potential birth defects? There are several factors that affect conception and pregnancy, including the age of the couple, their physical and reproductive health, nutritional status, eating habits and even lifestyle. By changing your lifestyle, improving your physical health and treating any hitherto undetected ailment, you can multiply your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child. Yet, more often than not, pregnancies are ‘unplanned’, and it is only after the child has been conceived that most couples think of visiting a doctor. By this time it is too late to check the factors that may cause some birth defects. “In our society, where going to a doctor is often a last resort, nobody even considers visiting a clinic for a preconception consultation, unless the couple are having problems with fertility or the woman is unable to conceive. However, the truth is that if a preconception check up and counselling becomes a norm, a number of unhealthy pregnancies or deficiencies in children can be prevented,” says Dr. Chetna Jain, Senior Consultant – Gynecology & Obstetrics, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon. “By promoting healthy living, improving lifestyles and eliminating bad habits like drinking or smoking in both men and women, we can ensure healthier pregnancies and prevent several risk factors that may cause birth defects or malformations. While antenatal care involves only the mother and the unborn baby, pre-conception care also involves the father, who contributes equally to the formation of the child’s essential genetic pool,” adds Dr. Chetna Jain. During Pre-Conception Counselling, couples are encouraged to make informed choices and understand the health issues that may affect conception and pregnancy. More importantly, pre-conception care helps identify couples that are at an increased risk of conceiving babies with birth defects. For example, some health issues like diabetes or obesity can affect pregnancy; even some food habits or medicines can negatively affect pregnancy. Further, some actions before pregnancy can essentially reduce the risk of unhealthy or pre-term birth. For example, Folic Acid supplementation before conception can reduce the risk of a Neural Tube Defect (NTD). In some cases, keeping in mind the health condition or the specific ailments in a woman, targeted medical interventions or supplementation may be needed to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. For example, Vitamin D deficiency during conception can cause impaired fetal growth. A healthy weight reduces the risk of Neural Tube Defect (NTD), gestational diabetes, pre-term delivery as well as hypertension. Apart from physical health, the doctors will also evaluate your heart, lungs and thyroid, and conduct a screening for hepatitis, HIV and syphilis, as these diseases in parents may affect the child.u


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27 February-5 March 2015

B on V ivant

The Dancing Continent Schuhplattler (Austria)

This beautiful Central European country, lying within the mighty Alps, is home to a traditional thousand-years-old Dance. Schuhplattler is a courtship dance, and is popular in the region of Bavaria; it is similar to another Austrian dance, Landler. As the men jump, they strike their thighs and knees; they also tap their soles and clap their hands to woo the women. Schuhplattler is now also performed by Austrian women.

{ Meenu Thakur Sankalp }

Europe has a rich Dance culture that dates back to the middle ages. Through multiple eras and upheavals - of the Crusades, the Renaissance and Reformation - European Dance has endured. Though almost all the countries of Europe, and indeed many regions therein, boast a rich folk and traditional culture, a few Dance styles have stood out - in terms of their evolution and charm.

Khorumi (Georgia)

The former Soviet Republic of Georgia, a Black Sea bordering country, boasts of a dance called Khorumi, which originates from Adjara (in Georgia). Khorumi is a warrior dance. Ancient Georgians used to perform the Dance when the army was leaving to fight the enemy; the Dance depicts valour. The movements of Khorumi are simple, yet innovative. Khorumi also involves much clapping. The ‘perfect’ movements, synchronised to the sound of a drum and bagpipe, are a visual treat. The celebrative tradition of Khorumi is still alive and well in Georgia.

Legenyes (Hungary)

This Central European country on the Carpathian basin has an excellent cultural ethos. Legenyes is popular among the Romanian and Hungarian origin people around the region of Cluj (Romania). It is essentially a male performing art; the women sing. It is a freestyle dance, wherein men take turns to dance in front of a band. Legenyes is performed to the counts of four or eight. There are many regional variations of this Dance in Hungary.

Zwiefach (Germany)

Unfettered by present day political boundaries, Zwiefach is also popular in Austria and the Czech Republic. It is primarily a German dance, dating back two centuries. Zwiefach means ‘double’: it is a ‘couple dance’, strikingly similar to the waltz. Performing ‘beat by bar’ orchestrated movements, the couple hold each other tight and dance closely, in two different ‘lines’.


27 February-5 March 2015

B on V ivant

15

Kozachok (Ukraine)

Clare Lancers Set (Ireland)

A former Soviet Republic (and very much in the news), Ukraine has a distinct folk culture. Kozachok is a nearly five centuries old dance. It is a ‘couple dance’ that slowly increases in tempo. In a role reversal from the traditional, the woman leads and the man follows her steps. Kozachok is also performed in a circle. The movements change on the claps from the woman. Some variations of Kozachok are the Kuban and Ker.

This beautiful island country in the North Atlantic ocean has a very different culture from neighbouring Great Britain. The Irish love their culture and also love to amuse themselves. The Clare Sea, on which the Dance is named, brushes the shores of Ireland. The dancers’ movements are flowingly smooth and their heels barely scrape the floor. Couples dance while facing each other. There have also been many dance guides that demonstrate the Clare Lancers Set, notable among them being Tom Quinn’s ‘Irish Dancing’.

Osman Taka (Albania)

The Albanians revere their leader Osman Taka, who fought valiantly against the Ottoman Turks. The Osman Taka dance commemorates his valour. A lone dancer begins his steps very slowly and progressively speeds them up. The dancer then turns backwards to form a bridge, while the other dancers step on his stomach, while holding each other. The beauty of balance in the dancers is matched by the strength of the dancer on whom they balance.

Bailarico (Portugal)

The Iberian country of Portugal is home to a folk dance that is performed in pairs. Bailarico is a courtship dance. The men face their women partners; they have their backs to the other dancers. As the dancers bounce, they throw their hands up in the air, while also spinning and hugging each other on turning. Bailarico demonstrates flirtation and prowess in men, while exhibiting chastity and virtue in women.

Calusari (Romania)

This Southeast European country is well-known for its rituals. Romania, during the medieval times, had secret societies. The recruited men participated in a ritual dance known as Calus. The dancers would seem to gallop like horses or fly through the air. In present day Calusari, there are bells bound to their ankles, and sticks are used as props. Acrobatic movements and jumps are the main features of this Dance.

Lindo (Croatia) -

Croatia has become internationally recognised after the break-up of Yugoslavia. The Dubrovnik region of Croatia has an ancient culture. A three-stringed instrument, known as the Iljerica, is linked to the dance called Lindo. Iljerica gives rhythm to the Lindo dancer, who moves in a circle and responds to the commands and rhythm of the conductor - who guides him to turn and change position, while improvising his dance steps.

The writer is a renowned Kuchipudi danseuse and choreographer


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