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7-13 February 2014

Vol. 3 No. 25  Pages 24  ` 7

{ Abhishek Behl/ FG }

RNI No. HARENG/2011/39319, Postal Regn. No. GRG/35/2012-2014

The New Destination

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ith the Southern and Northern Peripheral Expressways (SPR and NPR) – and therefore projects around them - hitting roadblocks, and the Real Estate activity on the ‘favourites’ - MG Road and Golf Course Road – coming to a standstill (partly due to rates), every stakeholder is looking at Sohna Road as the next Realty destination of the Millennium City. This Road, particularly the stretch between Subhash Chowk and the Sohna Road-SPR intersection, has in recent times seen extensive residential and commercial Real Estate activity. There is good reason to believe that the road to Sohna is the new road to development. The major strength of this stretch is the mixed land use it offers - with ample residential, commercial and office space that has already been created, and in fact ready to move into. The decision by the State government to develop this Road (to start with, from Rajiv

Chowk to Badshahpur) into a true Highway, with a flyover at Subhash Chowk, has added glow to this Real Estate destination. However, experts opine that if the City Administration as well as developers does not learn from the mistakes that they made on MG Road, it would not be long before this great promise is wasted. Another major issue is the lack of integration of the villages, and some on-going grouse of the villagers regarding the acquisition of their land. Repeating history, and not learning from it, there are two concurrent stories emerging on and around Sohna Road – and on a larger scale than for other areas like MG Road or Golf Course Road. One is about this area turning into another haven for corporates and the investor community, and the other is of the villages (like Badshahpur, Islampur, Fazilpur, Medhwas, Tigra) becoming the new concrete slums for the migrant workers in their thousands. Sarika Bhatt, an Urban Transport expert, who has been living in Malibu Towne (one


of the earliest developments on Sohna Road), says that this Road is ideal for transit-based development, as it offers a great mixed land usage, which is necessary for the new-urban cities like Gurgaon. “The large number of Office and Retail spaces has attracted major corporates and large format retailers, which will ensure that jobs are generated for the residents living in and around this area. Here, once the Road is developed, many people will start walking to work. This is the future”, says Bhatt. She feels that the need of the hour is to ensure that a BRT-type Corridor, with a good transport network, is set up and made available to the expected large number of commuters on this Road. Bhatt adds that service roads, green areas and parking spaces need to be created, along with walkways and paths for cyclists, to ensure that traffic remains sane on this stretch. While challenges on how to manage the traffic and the increasing commercialization Contd on p 6 

See Back Page for Photo Feature

Give Them A Hand! { Shilpy Arora }

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ndian women have always been ‘homemakers’, but aspirations and an increasingly high cost of living have now made them step out of home and opt for careers. While society has started recognising and honouring women for their professional success, they are still expected to be ideal wives and mothers (ideal women) first! A resident of Cyber Greens, Shradha, 37, mother of a young boy has taken up a Client servicing job and performs at an average of 135 per cent of her targets, while beautifully balancing her work and home responsibilities. A software engineer, Karuna (name changed), who was separated from her husband after three years of marriage, has achieved an increment of


90 per cent over successive years. She manages to perform at this level, despite breaking down often due to her personal stress. Yamini’s work entails travel to the Middle East every month; at 47, she is happy that she can finance the expenses of her daughter’s higher studies and support her ailing mother-in-law. These are not just impressive stories of three working women; the stories reflect the power of the fairer sex to successfully manage home, work and children. These women firmly believe that marriage and work are not irreconcilable. “When I started working as a Store Manager some 26 years ago, there was just one store of United Colors of Benetton in the City. For 10 years I continued with that one Store and raised my two children. Now I am managing 10 Stores of the brand in the City,” says Yamini. Shradha feels that she has an advantage as a woman. "I work on my terms and not for Contd on p 7 


C oming U p

7-13 February 2014

RNI No. HARENG/2011/39319 Postal Regn. No. GRG/35/2012-2014, VOL.–3 No.–25  7-13 Feb 2014


Atul Sobti

Sr. Correspondents: Abhishek Behl Shilpy Arora Sr. Photographer:

Prakhar Pandey

Sr. Sub Editor:

Anita Bagchi

Sr. Designer:

Amit Singh

Circulation Execs.:

Sunil Yadav Manish Yadav

Conference From Brick to Click: Transforming Libraries into Social Spaces Date: Feb 07 Time: 09:00 am
 Venue: University of Delhi South Campus, New Delhi Society for Library Professionals (SLP) & University of Delhi South Campus, in Association with Asian Chapter- SLA, are pleased to announce a two- day Library and Information Professionals Summit (LIPS) 2014.

Sr. Exec Marketing:

Vikalp Panwar

Dy. Manager A/cs & Admin:

Shiv Shankar Jha

Consulting Art Editor: Qazi M. Raghib Editorial Office 213, Tower A, Spazedge, Sector 47, Sohna Road, Gurgaon 122001, Haryana,

Awards Runner of the Year Awards 2013 Date: Feb 08 Time: 06:00 pm
 Venue: Zygote, 2nd Floor, MGF Metropolitan Mall, MG Road

Phones: +91 124 421 9092/93 Emails: Friday Gurgaon (Weekly) edited, published and printed by Atul Sobti on behalf of Arap Media Ventures Pvt. Ltd. from 213, Tower A, Spazedge, Sector 47, Sohna Road, Gurgaon 122018, Haryana. Printed at Indian Express Ltd., Plot No. A8, Sector 7, Gautam Budh Nagar, NOIDA – 201301, Uttar Pradesh

The views expressed in the opinion pieces and/or the columns are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Friday Gurgaon or Arap Media Ventures Pvt. Ltd. Calling all Educationists, Administrators, Co-ordinators, Teachers and Principals – here’s a chance to pen your experiences, teachings and learnings. Send us your contributions (400-500 words)

at For information, Call us at 0124-4219092/93 or

Theatre Love In A Time Of Oppression Date: Feb 09 Time: 07:30pm Duration: Eng./105mins (with Interval) Venue:Epicenter, Apparel House Director - Feisal Alkazi, Producer - Ruchika, Choreography - Kayomas. Cast - Uma Katju, Zain Khan, Deepak Adhar, Radhika Alkazi, Sanjiv Desai, Gayatri Khanna, Nandini Sra. Minakshi Arora, Rashmi Gulhati, Nikihil Murali and Arnav Nanduri. A story of resistance and resilience but, above all, of love. The remarkable true story of an ordinary person, who when presented with the opportunity to do something to save the life of another, chose to act - when so many others turned away. Tickets at Rs. 350, 250 & 150 available at the venue. Suitable for 12 years & above. Quiz Great Indian Tamasha at Enigma 2014 Date: Feb 12 & 13 Time: Feb 12 - 01:00 pm to 03.30 pm; Feb 13 – 09.30 am to 12:00 pm
 Venue: Hindu College, University of Delhi, University Enclave, New Delhi (Registration is possible at Venue)
 The Great Indian Tamasha takes you on a rollercoaster ride through Indian politics. An Event meant for every Indian: whether you are studying Economics or Maths, Political Science or Sociology, English or Philosophy, you are going to love this challenge! 
 February 12th.: Round 1 (Elimination Round) - Political Quiz, Round 2 Lobbying;
February 13th.: Round 3 - Policy

Auction, Round 4 (Final Round) - Elections. Attractive cash prizes to be won. Run Run for Your Sweetheart Date; Feb 09 Time: 07:30 am
 Venue: DLF Galleria Coach Ravinder invites you to Run For Your Sweetheart, wherein you will run 4km together with your partner hand in hand and matching step with step. The route is a loop around Galleria on Raahgiri Day. Come together and profess your love through fitness and well-being - on 9th Feb, the Sunday before Valentines Day. A Valentine Gift and Certificate await you at the finish line. Registration & Bib distribution starts at 7:30 am. Run starts at 9:00 am. Music & Dance Date: Feb 08 Time: 06:00 pm onwards Venue: Cafe Gartino, 18, Main Market, Sector 29 Live performances by musicians and DJs.
The Festival will have three stages: Livewire, which will have a live performance by the finest band in the country – Indian Ocean; The Diva Stage, which will have DJ Akanksha, DJ Sonya, DJ Sway and DJ Dipika; and the third arena will be a food lover’s delight, with a wide variety of delicious Pan Asian, Italian, Indian and Mediterranean food.

Music Woh Guzraa Zamana Date: Feb 08 Time: 06:30 pm Venue: The Epicenter, Apparel House An evening of the Ghazals of eminent & legendary poets, by Puja Mehra Gupta, disciple of Shanti Hiranand Caferati Date: Feb 08 Time: 06:30pm - 07:30pm Venue: Epicenter, Apparel House The Open Mike Series. Perform your own work in any of the languages of the National Capital Region. Poetry, fiction, diatribes, songs - it's all good. You get two minutes, and the microphone. The rest is upto you. Moderator: Nicky Chandam.

Crafts & Culture Fair Surajkund International Crafts Mela Date: Feb 01 - 15 Venue: Surajkund The 28th Surajkund International Crafts Mela, 2014, has begun. Goa is the Theme State and Sri Lanka the Theme Country.


The Un-Skool's Creative Writers' Workshop Date: Feb 08 & 09 Duration: 10:00 am - 05:00 pm Venue: The Un-Skool, DLF-5 The Workshop is for those who love to write. It is about learning the fundamentals of knitting a thought with words, to create visuals and trigger emotions in the reader. Participants will be introduced to various facets of writing stories. There will be sessions on choosing an appropriate genre, developing interesting characters and pushing unusual narratives. There will be several exercises and participants will be given the opportunity to develop their own work and discuss it with the facilitator Annie Zaidi, an Author of several critically acclaimed books – which range from essays and fiction to poetry and scripts. Participants must be above 16. Bring your own laptops - or pens and notebooks.  SSGGN - Product and Customer Development Engine for Startups Date: Feb 08  Time: 04:00 pm
 Venue: School Of Inspired Leadership (SOIL) A Workshop brought to you by: Paritosh Sharma - Founder of Hashtaag, Imran Ladiwala, Product Manager with Nimbuzz (an application with 150 million users) and Rahul Gupta, an Investor. 

7-13 February 2014

C oming U p Delhi's


Venue: Epicenter

Music Motifs and Melodies Date: Feb 12 Time: 07:30 pm A unique musical presentation by One on One, featuring Deepak Castelino on Guitar and Pritam Ghosal on Sarod Music Celebrating the month of love Date: Feb 13 Time: 07:30 pm An evening of Bollywood love songs by Ramesh Nautiyal, disciple of R.D.Burman and troupe.

Dance Odissi recital Date:Feb 14 Time: 07:30 pm Odissi recital by Jyoti Shrivastava, disciple of Srinath Raut & Durga Charan Ranbir, along with her disciples.

Fest Crossroads Fiesta'14 Date: Feb 07 Time: 10:00 am Venue: ITM University, Sector-23A Festival organised for young lovers. Main attractions: DJ(non-stop) - Dance to the tunes of love.
Photo Booth - share a lovable moment with friends or your loved ones.
Song dedication - if you love her, why hide it? Say it through songs! Book Event The One You Cannot Have Date/ TIme: Feb 07 at 06:30 pm Venue: Quill and Canvas, 122 South Point Mall, DLF 5 (0124) 4050694, 9818189604 Theatre ‘Eh Tha Bhoot’ Date: On Valentines Day, Feb 14 Time: 05:00 pm Venue: Akshara Theatre, New Delhi ‘God helps those who help themselves’. This Divine message is what the Play, inspired from 'Vitthala' (by famous Playwright, Vijay Tendulkar), hopes to convey. The Play is produced by CurtainCall Productions and Events and Vishesh Arora. It is being Directed by Manil Mayank Mishra.

‘Amrita Sher-Gil: The Passionate Quest,’ to mark the closing of the Birth Centenary Celebrations of the Artist Date/Time: From January 31 – March 2, from 10:00 am – 05:00 pm (except on Mondays and National Holidays).  Venue: National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), New Delhi NGMA began the Birth Centenary Celebrations of Amrita Sher-Gil on 31st January, 2013. NGMA has one of her finest collections. It is for the first time that almost the entire NGMA collection of around 100 works is being showcased in an Exhibition, including many paintings that have rarely been displayed before. The Exhibition has been curated by Yashodhara Dalmia.  An audio-visual highlighting the European Art scene in the early 20th century, conceptualised by Ella Datta, is an additional feature of this significant Show. This Exhibition is also accompanied by the release of a comprehensive catalogue produced by NGMA. The Exhibition will be on view for the public.


Screening of Japanese Films at The Japan Foundation, New Delhi. Venue: The Japan Foundation,5A, Ring Road, Lajpat Nagar- IV New Delhi 110024, Tel: +91-(0)11-2644-2967 Theme of the Month : “Man’s Best Friend in our Lives and in the Movies” 1. Title of the Film : Don The Incredible Dog Date: 5th February at 18:30, 8th February at 14:00 2. Title of the Film : Wanko – The Story of Me, My Family & My Dog Date:12th February at 18:30, 25th February at 18:30 Entry Free

Family & Kids

Comic Con 2014 @ Thyagraj Sports Complex, Shri Ganganath Marg, INA Date: February 07 to 09 Time: 10:00 am onwards The 4th Annual Indian Comic Con is back. This year it will witness some of the most celebrated names from the International and Indian Comic Book industry. Dress up in your favourite Comic character and get set for a crazy celebration.


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3, Sakina Manzil Date: Feb 08 Time: 07:00 pm Venue: Akshara Theatre, New Delhi Director: Deepak Dhamija;
Cast: Tarun Singhal and Puneet Sikka;
Author: Ramu Ramanathan. A love story unfolds in 3 Sakina Manzil, Bombay. Witness the past and be reminded of how simple love is!


Culture scape


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7-13 February 2014


 Haryana is the first State to set up a Civil Services Board, headed by the Chief Secretary, for the postings and transfers of IAS officers, as per the Supreme Court’s recent directive.  The Board will ensure that IAS officers are given a stable 2-year tenure and are not arbitrarily transferred.  Lakhs of residents staying in the 900m Restricted Area near he IAF Ammunition Depot are given relief by the High Court. They will be temporarily provided the basic facilities of water and power, and sewage connections. MCG Commissioner Praveen Kumar had personally deposed in the Court. Sunil Dabas, the Women’s Kabaddi Coach, is given the Women’s Achiever Award by the CM. School buses in the State will now not have to pay Passenger Tax. Many are caught copying in the State HTET (Teachers Test) examination. Haryana e-governance project on land records wins a National Award, as an incremental innovation. FG had comprehensively covered this initiative of the Administration.

A 16-year-old boy who tried to help a woman is knifed to death in Sadar Bazaar; a couple on a motorcycle is killed by a speeding truck, near Pataudi; an anganwadi worker (woman) is found dead in a govt. school in Kadipur Village; a man is held for stabbing a 17-year-old to death in Jacobpura; a youth commits suicide in Sector 10; an unidentified body of a youth is found in a farm; a 21-year-old’s body is found in a canal – he had been murdered; a worker falls to his death at a construction site in New Palam Vihar; an unidentified youth’s bloody body is found in Palam Vihar; 2 die in a road accident on NH8.  A mob attacks the house where a maid had been found dead – allegedly murdered by her employers. Another post mortem has been asked for by the Court; a 20-year-old is held for raping a minor in Jacobpura; a constable

beats up a woman police officer in Sector 29.  Another family is stabbed and robbed by a gang, this time in Sector 31. Gurgaon Police move fast and bust this gang of Inter-State thieves, who were involved in more than 150 cases – including many in this City; there is a robbery attempt at an INLD leader’s house.  A local bar & lounge is raided at 3am (much past the authorised time) – many under-25 youth who were drinking alcohol are caught.  A man dupes an IAF officer of Rs 2 lakhs, using a fake matrimonial profile on a website; a man is duped of Rs 11 lakhs in a bank fraud; a group of 4 thugs loot a youth when he is returning from work - 2 of the culprits are caught; a person is defrauded of Rs 30,000 in an online transaction.  A total of 22 SHOs, who had completed 3 years at a particular police station, are transferred.

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 Women from Surat Nagar Phase II protest on Daultabad Road, citing months of major power and sewerage issues in their colony.  Gurgaon lads strike Gold in Gymnastics, in the National School Games held recently in Agra. ‘Prepaid Autos’ may start trial service, under Police supervision, from February 13 - from HUDA City Centre Metro Station and the Railway Station. The last date for payment of property Tax has been extended to February 15th. Hero Honda Chowk decongestion plan is being expedited – a flyover and an underpass are planned. DLF City gets a sub-Post Office; soon, ATMs in Post Offices? MCG plans for 300 temperature-neutral fibre benches, for use in parks. ISKCON Rath Yatra is taken across the City, and Basant Panchmi is celebrated with gaiety.

Electricity Complaints

SMS ‘HR(space)DHBVN(space)account number(space)complaint’ to 51969 Email to Call 18001801615 or 155333 (toll free), 24x7 Complaint in person at the Complaint Centres at all 33KV Power Substations.


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FG regrets the error in the captions last week. The correct captions are:

Dr. Devlina Charavarty, COO, Artemis Hospitals (Dr. Pradeep Nambiar, Senior Consultant (Cardio-Thoracic), Max Healthcare)

Watch and listen to

'Hai Ye Gurgaon Meri Jaan' a ballad on Gurgaon, based on the legendary song... 'Ye hai Bombay Meri Jaan'. OR View it at the FG Facebook page at

7-13 February 2014

H appenings


JBM Luxury Pavilion


t the Auto Expo 2014. Present were S K Arya, Chairman, JBM Group and Nishant Arya, Executive Director. JBM Group is all set to unveil its luxurious City Bus at the venue. 
consider his suggestions.

Starry Salon


In Good Company & Taste


Wine Tasting session was hosted by The Wine Company and Fratelli Wines at DLF Cyber Hub, in the presence of Alessio Secci, Co-promoter and Director, Fratelli Wines. "The occasion was to taste some wines, including the new Dessert Wine Santo," said Marketing Head Rashi Monga. Seen were Atul Wassan, Shalini Arora Kochhar, Divya Gurwara, Anjana Kuthiala, Meghana Kapur, Gautam Bhimani, Poonam Bajaj.

Special Clinic for Breast and Cervical Cancer

ashmeen Munjaal's Star Salon n Academy was inaugurated by Salman Khan at the Hotel Leela Kempenski, Gurgaon. The team of Star Salon n Academy consists of Aashmeen Munjaal, Neill Talwar, Neena Singh and Angel. 


Paras Hospitals launched special clinics for screening women for Breast and Cervical Cancers. The Clinics will provide the facility of consultation, mammography and ultra sound.

‘Heroes’ Night’


omic Con India organised a special Heroes’ Night for its fans. It was a crazy celebration of cosplaying, live sketching & stand-up comedy. People came dressed in various comic costumes. The audience and the fans partied with the coolest cosplayers of Indian Comic Cons. They also enjoyed the best of geeky humour, with stand-up comedians Neeti Palta, Zakir Khan and Raghav Mandava,




performing live.

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7-13 February 2014

The New Destination  Contd from p 1 will remain, Sanjay Sharma of Qubrex says that the malls, housing complexes and IT Parks on Sohna Road are well designed and have ample parking space, which will ensure that the traffic does not spill over to the Road. As per him, Sohna Road has become a major attraction for both the corporates and the migrants, because the Real Estate rates are quite ‘rational’. “Sohna Road has become a great Real Estate proposition, because it has attained a critical mass and become selfsustaining. Apartments for both the middle class as well as the high end are available on this stretch. The growth beyond Badshahpur will also be critical in transforming this area into ‘a city within a city’. The reasonable rentals which are around Rs 50 to 60 psf - have also attracted large corporates, some of whom are wanting to shift from expensive areas like Cyber City. The newer construction, adequate parking and good connectivity with both NH8 and the Golf Course Road, have also helped change the perception,” he says. Sohna Road was viewed as ‘downmarket’ not too long ago. Real Estate analysts further opine that an important factor contributing to the success of Sohna Road will be the ability of the developers here to deliver their projects on time - and with the promised facilities. Praveen Tyagi, Real Estate dealer from Badshahpur, says that Sohna Road has turned into a ‘Sona’ (Gold) Road for many builders and investors, but unless the government plans for adequate sector roads, power and water utilities, and integrates the villages, this area would not deliver on its great promise. The decision of the Haryana Government to notify the Sohna Masterplan 2031 will also help in integrating the somewhat haphazard Real Estate development around this Road – beyond Badshahpur. A large number of developers have bought land in and around Sohna, with the hope that the proposed connectivity with the Millennium City will ensure that Sohna emerges as the top suburb of Gurgaon (like Gurgaon for Delhi). It is also being expected that Real Estate around this Road, in all directions, would become an independent, large market; the prices and absorption will

not be affected by movements on SPR (aka Golf Course Extension Road) – or even NPR (aka Dwarka Expressway). The area beyond Badhshahpur, upto Sohna, could also become a hub of affordable residential space, as projects priced between 4000 to 5000 psf might be on offer soon. Pankaj Tomar, of Ishadi Real Estate, says that a great positive for this stretch (apart from the SPR) is the soon-tobe completed KMP Byepass, the proposed Metro linkage and the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS). “The entire stretch has developers like DLF, Unitech, BPTP, Ireo, Central Park, Tata Realty, Godrej, MVL, CHD, Universal, ILD, Avlon, Parsvnath, Gold Souk, M3M, Paras, Parsvnath, Vipul, Today, Tulip and Vatika. There are homes, villages, offices and shops available at good rates, and these all will provide a big boost to realty here”, adds Tomar. The presence of a large number of schools, a couple of technical institutions and private universities, good hotels and car dealers has also added to the lure. Compared to projects around SPR, Sohna Road offers ready-to-move-in properties. The value of properties is also higher here, than in the new SPR areas. It is because of all this that, despite the slowdown witnessed in the entire NCR (particularly Gurgaon), the stretch between

Green Belt Footpath Drain Channel

Maintenance of Road

To ensure that the newly built Road does not crumble within months of construction, HUDA has stipulated that the contractor will maintain the road for a period of three years from the date of completion. The maintenance will include repair of any potholes or depressions, repair of any damaged work, bad workmanship and defective work/ design – which will all be done by contractor at his own cost. If the contractor/agency fails to repair the road within an agreed timeline, then penalty will be levied.

Service Lane

Main Road Central Verge Main Road

Service Lane Drain Channel Footpath Green Belt

SOHNA ROAD PLAN - 5.25 kms, Rs.44.49 crores, 60 m width Rajiv Chowk and Badshahpur has been one of the best performing areas - in terms of leasing of office space and absorption - during 2012 and 2013. Good quality offices are available on rental/lease for between Rs 60 to Rs 70 psf. A number of big names - like Convergys, Capgemini and Xerox have already set up/are setting up large offices on this Road. Sharma says that the sheer range of available office space - from 500 sq feet to 2 lakhs sq feet - has attracted a full range of occupants (from big corporates to small entrepreneurs), as also investors. Large format retailers like Easy Day, Big Bazaar, More and others have

A Challenge


C over S tory

ne of the major challenges for Sohna Road, apart from the infrastructure and services, would be to integrate the large number of villages along this Road. There is also great anger among the farmers, who feel that they have been dispossessed of their ancestral land by a clique of builders, bureaucrats and politicians. Rajesh Yadav, an activist, says that a majority of the people in these villages were small farmers - with landholdings of 3 to 4 acres, which has been taken away from them at less than the market price. Simultaneously, there has been a massive increase in the residency of the villages, as migrant labour and various support staff have come to live here (because of cheaper accommodation). Tyagi, of Badshahpur, says that while a large number of commercial complexes have come up around Sohna Road, there are no jobs for the original inhabitants - as mostly migrants are preferred. The posh schools on this Road do not admit a student if he comes from a village, and parents have to take the ruse of giving a different address if they want their child admitted in these schools. The rural populace says that the government has learnt nothing, despite the debacles in the High Court - pointing to another Section 4 notice that has been issued for the acquisition of land for setting up a university near Bhondsi.

set up shop here because of a large, ‘ready’ population (living on and around this Road). In comparison, DLF Cyber City is a much more expensive option, and there is a lack of connectivity with other parts of Gurgaon - and of course the bottleneck at the Toll Plaza has proved a perennial millstone. Cyber City was, and even currently is, more suitable for inter-City transit – for people working or commuting between Delhi/Airport and Gurgaon. Experts opine that the arrival of the Rapid Metro and the development of the HUDADLF Road connecting Cyber City with the Golf Course Road, has saved a mass exodus (from Cyber City). The IT/BPO Sector has generally been on a down for well over a year now. An official of a company that recently moved to Sohna Road says that the presence of good residential options has helped employees cut on travel time, while the company has saved transport cost - which is a major issue in Gurgaon, particularly for the IT and IT enabled services’ organizations. Ramesh Menon, CEO, Certes Reality, says that there has been a steady supply of residential space on this stretch, which has ensured that property rates have not skyrocketed (like on the other ‘main roads’). “Now it is important to ensure that development in and around this Road takes place in an integrated manner”, he says. The Road itself is becoming (a) ‘complex’ there is a mall, an IT Park and a huge commercial building within a stretch of a hundred meters. The State govt needs to step in now, while the Sohna Road project is under implementation, and focus on integrating the

civic infrastructure – like storm water drains, sewage drains, power cables, green areas, footpaths, exits, overhead bridges…and even cycle tracks. Menon adds that there is a multiplicity of developers on this fiveodd kilometers stretch, with builders having licences varying from 2 to 10 acres, with each responsible for infrastructure and facilities in its own area. “This stretch has close to 100 developers, with small and big projects,” he asserts. So it could well turn out to be a nightmare. Sarika Bhatt also opines that if a proper transport corridor is developed around this area, and civic agencies are pro-active, it could act as an effective ‘Outer Ring Road’. Alka Gurha, a columnist and long time resident on this stretch, is quite optimistic. She says that in the last one and half years the roads have been re-carpeted, streetlights are functional, there are service lanes - and malls, shopping avenues and big brands are already here. However, some residents also list a large number of negatives - such as encroachments, heavy traffic, the movement of dumpers, poor traffic management and dangerous crossings. However, Gurha still believes that if Gurgaon ever becomes the Capital of Haryana, Sohna Road will be the Parliament Street connecting to the Secretariat! She and other residents hope that the upcoming Metro route via the Golf Course Extension Road (SPR), and the road itself, would help ease the future traffic. That road would in fact be the next loop of the ‘Outer Ring Road’, connecting in multiple directions - with Golf Course Road, the new Sectors (58 to 73), Faridabad and Delhi. u

7-13 February 2014

C over S tory


Give Them A Hand!  Contd from p 1 financial security, so I don't need to make any compromise on time and quality. I think that everything is doable if you learn to delegate the right things to the right people," she says. Besides having the right team at work, the women also recognize the support base at home. Shradha calls her parents-in-laws ‘new age parents’, who understand and support a working woman. Her mother-in-law, for instance, was there when she shifted residence from Hyderabad to Gurgaon, and when she was expecting her baby. However, to get this kind of support from parents-in-law, one needs to build a sense of trust and give due respect to family values. More than her experience, her

good equation with the elders and neighbours help her focus on the job. Radhika Biswas, HR Manager, NIIT, says, “We recruit women in Finance, IT, HR, and Management. Most of them are now married and have children. Many planned their pregnancies after joining the organisation. The Company still prefers women employees, as they have a better track record in terms of retention. We believe in recognizing and accepting the difference between the sexes, and trying to get the best of both. For example, women are generally better communicators (and this is ‘scientific’ too, as they have communication receptors in both the left and right hemisphere of their brains - whereas men have only in the left). Therefore, in assignments where communications skill is critical, we prefer women.” More than 70 per cent of the employees

in the Delhi/NCR branches of the Company are women! Radhika, who started working in her early twenties, feels that the City provides endless opportunities for women. Talking about her own journey from Mumbai to Gurgaon, Radhika says, “I started working in Mumbai when I was 22. I continued my studies, and after completing my MBA I came to Gurgaon, as I got a job with NIIT. Gurgaon has proved to be a dream city for me. When I was in Mumbai, I never had money to enjoy any nightlife. Gurgaon, however, offers both money and fun!” Truly, a working woman not only requires support from her family, she needs also to have a good time with her friends. Working women face a lot of challenges, and so it is impor-

tant that they take out some quality time for themselves. And it is not just about alcohol. Gurgaon offers many networking groups for working women. Recounting the benefits of such groups, Dr. Susmita Roy, a City-based Parent Counsellor, says, “Many times they organise workshops and discussions on work-life balance. They also help in spreading awareness about domestic violence, and even arrange gender sensitivity programmes.” Further, networking with others in similar situations helps women to better orient themselves to their jobs. Many women also indulge in sports and recreational activities. While Yamini loves to play golf on Sundays, Karuna goes for a brunch with her child and participates in various activities in her society’s club. “I moved to Gurgaon from Pune in 2010. I was a little worried about the kind of facilities here, but I am glad the City

has something for everyone. While I love golf, my husband prefers to cook over the weekends!” smiles Yamini. Karuna likes Gurgaon for its cosmopolitan culture. She doesn’t have to worry about her neighbours and society, even if she reaches home late after work. “Unlike Delhi, Gurgaon has developed a cosmopolitan culture, where the concept of a single mother is not alien. In fact my child has never faced any issue in the school and neighbourhood,” says Karuna.   As in the case of every social change, there is a difference between attitudes and behaviour, when it comes to a working woman. While people may be willing to accept the idea of a career woman,

she is rarely allowed to compromise on the home front. At the workplace, women face very different challenges. “Their hairstyles and clothes are a constant source of conversation and gossip; their sexuality is also a topic of speculation. Unfortunately we are having a wrong dialogue about women in the workplace,” feels Saurabh, a Senior HR Executive at Sapient. The attitude towards women at the workplace is in fact not really different from that towards housewives. Being a woman manager is even more challenging. Yamini recalls, “I remember the time when I was the only lady Business Development Manager in a team of 40 people. Dealing with the ‘rough language’, their ‘body language’ and behaviour was a big challenge.” But she braved all the odds and raised her daughter pretty well. It all paid off when

her daughter scored 99 per cent in the Boards and cracked the All India Medical Entrance Test. Many working women also experience a feeling of guilt. Raman Ahuja, a single mother, says, "I feel terrible leaving my one-year-old baby in a daycare, but I have no choice. It's not easy being a working mother. I come home tired from work, but I know have to look after the baby and cook. I am afraid that my child may start feeling neglected and seek stimulation outside the house. Maids can only look after a child's basic needs; they cannot be made responsible for the child's intellectual, social and emotional development." It is important to realize that a mother’s anxiety is transmitted to her child. Dr. Susmita Roy says, “When a mother is anxious, she makes everybody anxious. Working mothers are often guilty of not giving enough time to their children. Sometimes the child feels isolated; at other times the mother succumbs to the child's demands very easily and thus the child starts giving more importance to material comforts. It is important to understand that all children desire and need warmth and emotional security, more than any gadgets or toys.” Maybe there is an ‘ideal work-life balance answer for women. When Yamini’s fatherin-law was hospitalised in 2011, it was very hard for her to juggle work, home and hospital visits. She opted to work from home for four weeks and then chose flexi-hours, to meet her family commitments. "I was present just for a few hours every day in my office. My team supported me. I managed the time well,

all thanks to company’s flexihours working policy,” she says. A work-from-home or flexihours facility has made the lives of many women easier. It is an ideal way of being financially independent while simultaneously looking after the family and children. “Women are proving their mettle in their role as work-from-home mothers. Organisations too are opting for this arrangement, as it also saves them time and money. It is a win-win situation for the employees and employers,” says Radhika. It also saves time, as travelling in a city like Gurgaon is not easy. The lack of transport facilities and security for women in the City has led many to switch to working from home. Young mothers benefit most, as they don’t miss out on the little joys of watching their children grow up. As women have stepped out of home to build their careers, they have taken more responsibilities on their shoulders. However, they still provide the key emotional bond in a family. Working women feel that the society should help them and honour their efforts. Of course, fathers, husbands and brothers should be the first to encourage and support them. Working women, and their children, might even feel neglected at times. It is time that every male – from an early age - be taught to specially respect women who work, and treat them as equals when working alongside them later in life. Men need to understand and ‘get it’, that women too have aspirations and dreams – and from an early age.u

08 { Abhishek Behl/ FG }

write to us at


nspired, and set up, by a man who is himself differently abled, and cannot move his body below the neck, the Gurgaon chapter of 'Family of Disabled' (FOD) is looking forward to emulate Delhi-based Rajinder Johar - who has helped thousands of people across the country by setting up this organization. In this connection, a group of philanthropists, led by Gulshan Rai Malhotra resident of Sushant Lok - has recently set up operations in the Millennium City. The group says that it is willing to assist any disabled or differently abled person, by helping him/her get equipment, education or employment. The ‘Family of Disabled’ is being financially supported by individual donors and corporates, and is also raising funds on its own. The ‘Family of Disabled’ plans to distribute equipment free of cost to the needy (among the disabled) in Gurgaon. This will include tricycles, wheel chairs, crutches, walkers, walking sticks, hearing aids, music players, reading glasses and air mattresses.

An Able Family Malhotra says that the Gurgaon chapter will carry out such ‘reach-out programmes’ every quarter. “We would request the RWAs and individuals in the City to donate old newspapers and electronic waste to our NGO. We sell these to recycling companies, to generate funds for our philanthropic activities”, he says. The Friends of Disabled is also trying to tie up with major schools in Gurgaon. The Friends of Disabled also plan to implement the Apna Rozgaar Scheme (ARS), which will help the people from the poor and weaker sections of society to become economically self-reliant. Malhotra says that they will be given micro-loans, so that they can set up their own small shops, eateries and other kiosks. The NGO also plans to bring some cheer to the difficult life of the differently abled people, by organizing educational tours and picnics to places of historical importance, parks, museums, entertainment spots and places of worship. This is already happening in Delhi. The idea is to take special care of the disabled people who do not get

{ Abhishek Behl/ FG }

write to us at


C ivic/S ocial

7-13 February 2014

ith 1.6 lakh volunteers registering in the Gurgaon region till January 26, AAP (Party) will now try to replicate the success it has achieved in Delhi, by channelising the angst of the public against the government both in Haryana and the Centre. The issues in the State, and particularly Gurgaon, are akin to the Capital - with corruption, inflation and the lack of water and power. One key difference is the issues with builders, who seemingly control the agenda of the City. Kejriwal's success in Delhi was made possible by a large number of volunteers from Haryana, as well corporate executives from Gurgaon - who have supported AAP with manpower as well as funds. With Lok Sabha elections as the next target, the Aam Aadmi Party in Gurgaon had set a target of registering one lakh volunteers, and the Party has managed to get almost double the number. However, political analysts opine that it would be difficult to repeat the runaway success of the Delhi elections in Haryana, because this is primarily a rural State, where equations of caste, community and clan ultimately decide the results at the hustings. Dr S C Talwar, Gurgaon-based AAP leader, and internal Lokpal of the Gurgaon unit, is quite confident that the Party will successfully meet these challenges - in the Millennium City as well as Haryana - by promising Poorna Swaraj, the real empowerment of the common man. “Our focus is to ensure that political power comes to the aam aadmi, who will then decide the agenda of governance. Right now the approach of politics is to decide from top down, but AAP has embraced the bottom up approach”, says Talwar. He says that the Party is now consolidating the

The founder of this NGO was featured in Aamir Khan’s show, ‘Satyamev Jayate,’ on June 10, 2012. As a result of that, many concerned people across the country made significant donations to FOD; a matching amount was donated by Reliance Foundation, on January 28, 2013. Part of this amount is being used to fund the Rehabilitation Centre. help from their families or daycare centres. “These trips help people get a fresh perspective on life, help them interact with each other and meet with successful people who have overcome their disability. This motivates every-

one to try harder”, opines Malhotra. It has been observed that once an opportunity is given, many differently abled are able to turn their angst and hidden creativity into an Art form - and become good painters, sculptors and artisans. Family of Disabled plans to help such people, by providing material and training, and also arranging to promote their work. A national level exhibition is organized every year, wherein Artworks of various artists are displayed. Malhotra says that the goal of this NGO, and its Founder, is to break the myth that people with disabilities cannot work productively, and therefore should be not hired for ‘normal’ jobs. In reality, there is a huge population of the disabled in the country, who are contributing in a major way to the economy and society. The need is to support them, hone their talent and give them adequate chances in life, he adds. Friends of Disabled plans to identify, motivate and train persons with physical and mental disabilities, in different creative/ livelihood skills, in a sheltered

AAP in the City information collected. AAP offices will be opened in different parts of the City within a week. Meanwhile 52 Sampark Sutras (contact persons) have been appointed in different parts of the City as well as the rural areas The main agenda of AAP during the Lok Sabha polls would be to focus on the endemic corruption, dynastic politics and nexus between the bureaucrats and politicians, which has hugely benefited the builders at the cost of the common man. Talwar says that there is today a great void between the government and the people. A major issue that the Party will take up is the wrongful and coercive acquisition of land from farmers, using Section 4. “A zamindari system has once again started in Gurgaon; the builders have turned into land lords and dominate every

environment - enabling them to produce products of market value. Exhorting the civil society in Gurgaon to help the disabled, Malhotra says that people can also support the education and training of the disabled, through their NGO. Another project that has been launched by the NGO is the Gyanpath Project, under which disabled students - mostly girls - are provided books, stationary and uniforms. Their school fees are also taken care of. Malhotra says that Gurgaon being a corporate city, there should be a good opportunity for jobs in private companies, even for the differently abled. “Some organizations in Udyog Vihar have come forward to employ the disabled, and even provided them the requisite training. We hope more people come forward to help this section assimilate better with the social mainstream of the City”, he says. The Friends of Disabled is also setting up a large Rehabilitation Centre in Najafgarh, to provide shelter, training and other needs to the differently abled population of the National Capital Region. u Friends of Disabled can be contacted at: GR Malhotra: B-341 A, Sushant Lok-1; Mobile 9999920974

aspect of this City’s life”, asserts Talwar. He also says that the Party will support the creation of a Gurgaon Development Authority, so that development and maintenance in the City comes under a single agency. Party spokesperson Amina Sherwani says that there is lot of enthusiasm within the rank and file. She wants AAP to make itself more ready to live upto the expectations of the people. “More women need to be included in the committees, and those in important decision-making bodies should have clean credentials', says Sherwani. A number of RWAs now support the Party, after failing to get a hearing from the Congress-led government, and the ‘pathetic’ bureaucracy. However, the support to AAP does not seem to be particularly strong among the rural populace. In fact, even in urban areas a large population of ex-servicemen is more enthused to support a Narendra Modi-led BJP. GL Sharma, Haryana Insaaf Manch spokesperson, says that AAP will not be successful in Haryana, as the politics here is largely rural. He also says that the performance of the AAP govt. in Delhi has not been upto the expectations of the people. Baljit Malik, an Insaaf Manch leader, opines that the daily political challenges being faced by the AAP government in Delhi will make people realize that this Party is still a ‘movement’ – it has not yet become a (worthwhile) political entity. Talwar says that they have come here to change the way politics and governance are conducted – and not for power. The weaker sections of society, those who have been left behind by the political parties in their pursuit of power, will be empowered by the Party, says Talwar. “This has happened in Delhi and it will repeat in all parts of the country - including Gurgaon”, he says confidently. He is hopeful that the message of Poorna Swaraj will be effectively delivered across the spectrum, through the band of dedicated AAP volunteers.u

7-13 February 2014

{ Anita Jaswal }


chool is where you make friends; school means laughter & getting in trouble; school means boring. But when you leave school, you begin to miss it…and want to go back. Though every kid occasionally grumbles about school, only a marginal percent of kids dislike it so much that they want to drop out. Here’s what a few Gurgaon children have to say about their school. Aryaman Dhingra, a Grade V student of The Shri Ram School, Aravalli, feels: “Our schools are very special to us; they teach us many new things. My School is a ‘No Polybag Zone’. It offers interesting 3rd language options - besides Hindi & English. It has numerous sports facilities – like for Cricket, Soccer, Basketball, Gymnastics, Zumba and Taekwondo. The method of teaching is fun & interesting, and it provides for a lot of freedom and allows children to express their talent. It guides everyone to be whatever they want to be. We truly are happy to greet everyone with a ‘Namaste’ - this is how we greet our teachers and other elders in School. It is a safe and secure environment. However, there are some things I wish I could change. My School is located in a heavily congested area; it would be nice to have some greenery around the School. Further, we have to wear the same uniform every day; I wish we could wear colourful clothes to school. It would be so much fun to see a sea of colours daily.” Akshita Dhagat is in Class III of Presidium School, Gurgaon. “I love my School very much and enjoy studying. It has a big play ground. We always share our lunch box with our friends. My friends and I play

{ Alka Gurha }


t is now official. Gurgaon, according to Credit Rating firm Crisil, is ‘The Most Prosperous City’ in India. Crisil’s Study covered the top cities in 16 States. We bagged the crown, by owning the maximum number of consumer durables and gadgets. With 27% of our households owning all gadgets, we are ahead of Chennai - which is second at 24%; Bangalore comes in a close third at 23.6%. Almost a third of Gurgaon's households own a computer or laptop; over 41% have a two-wheeler and nearly 30% a four-wheeler. 60% of households in the Millennium City own a mobile phone. Looking at our neighbour’s Audi slink out in the early morning fog, I think we knew this all along. I got a taste of things to come when I relocated to ‘Khas Gurgaon’, as ‘Aam Delhi’ boasted of prohibitive

Me & My School

after lunch & have fun. My classroom is very beautiful. We are learning through a Smartboard. There is a huge library where we can find good moral storybooks. All my teachers are wonderful; my favourite is my Maths. teacher. We undertake many other activities - like Taekwondo, Gymnastics, Dance, Music, Art & Craft, Table Tennis, Cricket & Horse Riding. I am a Day-Boarder – the facility is in the School itself. It is very nice and has very comfortable beds. My School is truly my second home. I love my school & my loving teachers.”

Avni Singh studies in Class 3 at The Shri Ram School, Aravali. “My time in School is spent in a lot of fun activities, while playing with my best friends Layla and Kavya. My favourite periods are Maths. and Games (PE) and my favourite activities are Art, Drama and Circle Time. In the bus, while going back home, my friends (Harshitha and Hariharan) and I play a quiz game. I am the quizmaster.” Shivendra Rana is in Grade 1 at the Amity International School - Sec 46. Says his mother, Tarang, “School is not only a temple of knowledge, it

Privately Prosperous property prices. I remember calling the society electrician. He changed a tube-light and demanded three hundred bucks. “Three hundred for a two minute job?” I quizzed. Flashing his new phone, he quipped in a heavy Haryanvi accent, “Madam, Gurgaon mein pair rakhne ke bhi paise lagte hain.” Today, as you drive into Gurgaon, the latest island of excellence Cyber Hub - greets you majestically. It is set within a magnificent glass and chrome facade. You should ignore the construction debris next to this ‘international feel waala’ joint, as ‘work in this City is always in progress.’ Cyber Hub reminds me of Clark Quay in Singapore - minus the river. It is a sign of our prosperity that this barely five months old Cyber Hub takes in around

20,000 footfalls daily. This new corporate leisure centre boasts of more than thirty-one brands of the hospitality industry. Since this prosperityladen existence is marinated with everything that is contemporary, you come across apartment complexes with amenities like sky gardens, a signature golf course – including night golfing, and an equestrian academy. Alongwith a large number of expatriates living in the City, we boast ten golf courses here; and the long list of (wealthy) car aficionados makes Gurgoan a big market for exotic luxury cars. Some enterprising showrooms in this City even offer an assortment of used luxury cars - like the Maserati, Bentley, Hummer and Porsche - to feed the ego and milk the prosperity.

S ocial


is a second home for kids. School is a place for fun activities, learning and all-round development of the kids. Shivendra, my 6-year-old, has mixed feelings when he goes to school. He feels excited and happy to meet his friends and to play with them, but there is a monotonous feeling in getting up early in the morning and getting ready. The highlight of the day for him is in taking a new dish in his lunch box, so that he can have a picnic with his friends. He loves Mondays, when he can go Skating in School.” Hriday Gulati is in Grade 4 at the Lotus Valley International School. “I like my School because it provides me the best atmosphere to learn and play. Besides academics, the School provides me an opportunity to indulge in all the activities that I enjoy doing and look forward to. I don’t have to choose only one or two activities, I have the privilege to participate in them all - be it Music, Dance, Robotics, Art & Craft (I personally don’t like Art & Craft that much, but some of my friends really like it). We have the weekly Speech & Drama classes conducted by Julia Gabriel's Academy, and the ValueEducation classes conducted by Mogly's Gurukul. Besides the regular twice-aweek morning sports periods, we get to play a different sport in our regular games period every month. To top it all, we have the option to join the afterschool Sports Academy in three different sports. Our teachers are also very polite, supportive and considerate. I love going to school each day!u

Plush condominiums, swanky office complexes of nearly 280 Fortune 500 companies, five-star hotels, glitzy malls and an active nightlife - Gurgaon has everything a professional can aspire for. However, there is more to Gurgaon besides prosperity. I am proud to say that Gurgaon-wallas are also aware of their social and civic responsibilities. Citizen participation has ensured that ‘Raahgiri Day’, the socio-cultural fest, is now an abiding feature of the City. It is amazing that so many people, increasing with every passing week, are willing to come out and participate on Sundays. This is not to say that all is well. Traffic issues, women’s safety, civic apathy, bad roads, poor garbage collection and a dwindling water table are areas of concern. If only the City was planned and managed better, we would have had a masterpiece. We might be the most prosperous, but right now the crown sits heavy.u

10 { Shilpy Arora / FG }

Practical Science

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon. com


S ocial

7-13 February 2014

rijesh, a student of Class 7 at the Government Senior Secondary Model School, Sector 4, pulls apart the model of a brain into two pieces and identifies the Medulla Oblongata. Her classmates join in and remove the lungs and heart and then identify the parts of the digestive system. The children are very excited, as they are viewing a three-dimensional model of body parts for the first time – at the new Science Centre. “We have seen pictures in our textbook, but we never imagined that our body (inside) actually looks like this,” smiles Brijesh. As children enter the Science Centre, which is full of gadgets and apparatus, their excitement very soon transforms into eagerness, and a desire to learn and explore. Brijesh and her friends are the first batch in the school to benefit from the Science Centre, which was launched by the Agastya International Foundation. Based on the ‘thinklearn-practice’ concept, the Science Centre focuses on the practical application of scientific experiments, to kindle curiosity among children. Education in government schools generally lacks practical exposure. Students often have to juggle studies with home chores and sometimes even work, to supplement their family incomes. In this scenario, the installation of a state-of-art Science Centre in this School is a big Event. The Laboratory will help children in their skill-development, through practical and gamebased learning. “This Science Centre will empower students as well as teachers, through experiential learning. It will promote scientific experimentation and the understanding of Science through live experiments,” feels Prabhat Shaw, Project Manager, Agastya International Foundation. It is a Bangalore-based non-profit educational trust, which seeks to stimulate and transform the thinking of the economically disadvantaged children. The NGO aims to help bring innovative science education to all the government schools across the country. The Science Kits available at the Centre comprise simple

prakhar PANDEY

tools, aimed at making Science accessible to children who come from underprivileged backgrounds. A Mobile Planetarium, three-dimensional models of the Human Body and a Chemistry Laboratory are the major attractions. The Laboratory also has: a live Optics demonstration, explaining concepts such as reflection and refraction; a spiral rotating Periodic Table that teaches children about the elements in Chemistry; a model of the Solar System; and some interesting Biology specimens. Teachers in a school are consulted before installing the various models in the Lab, to make sure that they (the models) relate to the lessons in the prescribed textbooks. “Earlier the children did not even know what a laboratory was. Now they conduct experiments and understand Science in a better man-

ner. They can touch, hear and understand many scientific concepts,” says a teacher. The new Centre will not only help students in understanding the basic concepts of Science, but also lead to an improvement in the students’ academic performance - and hopefully a higher chance of their opting for Science courses later. “We have many success stories in other States. Over a period of four or five years, the students become proficient in Science. The practical exposure also helps them to score good marks in the examinations. We have seen an increase of over 10 to 20 per cent in the marks of Std. X students, due to practical knowledge they acquire at the Science Centres,” says Prabhat. Agastya Foundation set up a ‘public laboratory’ in 2001, which gradually grew into one of the largest hands-on science programmes in the world. Since then the Foundation has been providing Science Centres at

various government schools in the country. Going forward, the Science Centre will not only showcase experiments, but will also focus on a Science on Wheels Programme called Mobile Lab. It will conduct Science Fairs, Teachers’ Training Pro-

grammes, Young Instructors’ Programmes (where children teach other children), Ecology & Development and Arts learning programmes - and also conduct Summer Camps. Further, the Science Centre will function as a Hub, where experiments will be exhibited for the students and teachers from nearby localities. The Foundation believes that hands-on learning can increase retention, awaken a student’s innate critical thinking skills and trigger the self-belief needed to propel an individual forward. Interestingly, some of the students join the Foundation’s YIL programme, and then help in teaching other students. “YIL programmes have transformed several children from passive to active learners, and from followers to leaders,” smiles Prabhat. In many villages the impact of Agastya’s programmes has been life-alter-

ing - many school dropouts have been mainstreamed; several students have taken up jobs in reputed organisations. The Foundation has had a brilliant track record of helping ‘their’ students win the prestigious Initiative for Research and Innovation in Science (IRIS) – where the children from government schools compete with students from some of the wealthiest schools in the country. “Practical exposure helps our students win every time. The Foundation has been able to achieve this by keeping the ideas simple and the costs low,” informs Prabhat. Last year a group of students, who were part of Agastya’s Science training programme, came up with the idea of generating energy from banana leaves. “They saw banana plants in their village being burnt and thought they could be used as a cheap energy source. They discovered that it costs just Rs.2.86 a kg to produce banana briquettes, which ignite faster than firewood and also produce less smoke. The group won an award for this experiment. We now want to replicate our success in Haryana!” he says. The Science Centre at Sector 4 Government School should now help foster curiosity, critical thinking and creativity, and perhaps even help reduce the high dropout rates prevalent in most government schools. It should definitely improve the content and quality of teaching, as the Foundation also provides comprehensive training programmes for teachers..u

7-13 February 2014

B on V ivant

Kids’ Reality Dance Shows

TS launches #IndiaForShiva Movement on Social Media to mobilise support For Shiva Keshavan’s quest for Gold at Sochi Winter Olympics Shiva Keshavan is a four-time Winter Olympian and a master of his sport, the Luge. He is India’s sole Luge athlete and the first Indian representative to compete in Luge at the Winter Olympic Games.  He is the Fastest Indian on Ice.  His accolades: new Asian speed record, at 134.3 km/h (83.5 mph) and Gold Medal at the Asia Cup 2011, at Nagano (Japan); In 2012 he retained the Asian title and set a new Asian track


{ Krishan Kalra }


hen the British bestseller “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”, by Lynne Truss, came out, it had this interesting story on the dust jacket back cover. A panda walks into a cafe, orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air. As the confused waiter looks askance at the fellow moving towards the exit, the panda tosses a badly punctuated wildlife manual to him (the waiter), tells him he’s a panda and asks him to look it up - “Panda - Large black & white bear-like mammal, native to China: Eats shoots and leaves.” Such are the pitfalls of punctuation - indeed of the English language itself. To begin with, the language is not phonetic – ‘but, cut & put’ are pronounced very differently; secondly, it has far too many double meanings, puns and innuendos. Then, the punctuation marks - the lowly

Go Shiva!


{ Meenu Thakur Sankalp } n innocuous click of the mouse on a ‘YouTube’ icon featuring a portly eight-year-old dancing at a popular Reality Show led me to a most pleasant surprise. In fact that would be putting it all too mildly – it really shook me up. The boy has received instant adulation from almost everyone, cutting across all divides. He has had close to a million hits on the Web. He is seen flapping up and down on stage, watched by three renowned Hindi Film industry celebrities, who sit astounded - wideeyed and speechless - at the display of talent from a boy barely into primary school. Today there are scores of gifted children, some as young as three years, queuing up to dance on Reality Shows. They display a stage presence and confidence way beyond their years. Viewers seem to have embraced shows that have made children the focal point. It is inescapable in this present-day context to imagine television advertising that does not target children - be it for health drinks, toys, apparel, gizmos or even junk snacks. Coming back to the subject on hand, are we blindly following the trend from the West? Most of the Indian Reality Shows are licensed copies or direct ripoffs of American versions. Eminent psychologists have expressed views that Reality Shows are bound to have an impact on children’s perception of what constitutes adult behaviour. Children may perhaps grow up too fast. I came across a show popular on Primetime TV in the United States, which featured girls aged between eight to fifteen; they are accompanied by their doting mothers, who travel with them to different cities. There is as much


competition among the mothers as (among) the kids! We seem to be following in those footsteps. When my student’s daughter attempted to imitate her dance steps, ‘well-wishers’ told the mother that the daughter was so good that she should soon perform on stage. It pained the mother to even contemplate the consequences - that the little one would miss school, not hold a crayon to scribble on a newly painted wall, not ride her bicycle on weekends or not even climb on sliders and swings. These are small sacrifices, she was told; after all, the little one would be standing under the arc lights, her head held high, in the presence of a screaming audience and encouraging judges. Of course these shows do provide a great platform for the poor and uncaredfor children, who might otherwise be begging or hawking on the streets. It is evident that there are a few talented children who are head and shoulders above the rest. Reality Shows also provide a source of escapism from the travails and drudgery of daily life. However, the

physical stress in a performing field like dance is hard on the brittle bones of these angelic kids. Prancing up and down on stage and performing complex steps (many based on just observation from television), without any kind of fitness training, may lead to these children having to give up dancing when they get older. The mixing of various dance steps, without any kind of structured learning, makes dance a passing activity – rather than a talent to be nurtured. Children, preferably upto the age of six, should rather be left to scribbling on walls, dribbling on wet grass or nibbling on soft toys. Expecting a child to display prowess in the presence of scrutinizing and competing adults may prove detrimental in the long run. Let us all – especially the parents - also remember that true talent is rarely left undiscovered. u The writer is a renowned Kuchipudi Danseuse and Choreographer

Oeing, Oeing! comma, significantly powerful semicolon, the almighty full stop, the hyphen and colon, the much-misunderstood apostrophe, the inverted comma, the exclamation mark and the question mark - if not used properly, often cause havoc. The problem is worst confounded by the telegraphic SMS language that is currently used by youngsters to send their zillion messages every day. A most blatant misuse of the apostrophe that I’ve seen was on the nameplates outside bungalows in Delhi. I remember the time we moved into our new house in GK II and – being 3 families together – just wrote an unexciting KALRAS on the glass front of the letterbox. Soon there were Chopra’s, Khanna’s and even ‘The Bhalla’s’…all asserting their ownership of the property, instead of merely announcing the name(s) of the residents. The ultimate was: “AT LAST – The Chatterjee’s - Mother’s Grace”.

To continue, on the English language …none of the vowels sounds like it is meant to. Often an ‘a’ produces the sound of ‘ai’ (cat, apple), ‘o’ the ‘aw’ (orange, octopus), ‘i’ the ‘e’ (igloo, pig) and ‘u’ the ‘a’ (umbrella)! ‘Silent’ letters are another quirk of this funny language - know, knife, knowledge, champagne, cologne, rendezvous or bourgeois drive every student crazy. There is fortunately a good silent joke: A young lad was excitedly shouting ‘Boeing Boeing’ on seeing a plane overhead; a neighbour chastened him to ‘Be silent please’; the lad acknowledged, and then continued, shouting ‘Oeing–Oeing!’ Why, for God’s sake, could the English lexicographers not think with a straight mind? No wonder, my fair gents and ladies, even the English have not been able to teach their children how to speak!u

record at 49.590 seconds. He is the only Indian participating in the Winter Olympics, being held in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi, from Feb 07 to 23, 2014. As an aftermath of the political standoff between the IOC and the IOA, the Indian Olympic Movement has been derecognized by the International body. This means that all Indian athletes participating in the Winter Games, including Shiva Keshavan, cannot represent India and will have to play under the Olympic flag. MTS has therefore decided to initiate a public movement, to drive support for Shiva Keshavan and his dream of Olympic glory.

GURGAON’S OWN WEEKLY  NEWSPAPER be the change you want to see

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7-13 February 2014

Vintage Car Rally

21 Gun Salute International Vintage Car Rally On Saturday, 135 gleaming Vintage Cars & Bikes connected Historic Delhi and the Millennium City, Gurgaon. Some gems - the 1929 Buick 50 Lx, the 1929 Rolls Royce and the 1933 Hudson – made their debut in the Rally. Accompanying them were a Rolls Royce 1912, a Bentley 1947, a Rolls Royce Phantom I, Jaguars, Chevrolets, Buicks, Fords, Plymouths, Austins, Willys … Starting from Red Fort, the Rally passed through the Old Fort, Teen Moorti, Dhaula Kuan and NH8, before reaching its final destination at Leisure Valley Park, Gurgaon. The Rally, in its fourth edition, is a joint initiative of Madan Mohan, Managing Director, 21 Gun Salute and Heritage Motoring Club of India. Samarjitsinh Gaekwad, Maharaja of Baroda, flagged off this caravan of vintage beauties from the Red Fort. “We have conceived the Rally as a festival of heritage, to showcase the royal automobile legacy of this universe. We have chosen very carefully from a pool of 4,500 cars,” said Madan Mohan.

S pecial F eature prakhar PANDEY


K id C orner

7-13 February 2014

Ryanites Address Cancer


Ryan Street-Safety Play


hildren of Ryan International School, Sector 40 presented a Street Play, ‘Road Safety- Starts with You,’ to educate the masses about the traffic norms (at the Sector 31 and 40 markets).The Play, with its catchy lines and aptly used film songs, got the attention of the passersby and shopkeepers. This was followed by a Rally undertaken by the Ryan Road Safety Club - spreading slogans like ‘Road Safety Rules Are Your Best Tools’, ‘Drink And Drive Can Take Your Life’ and ‘Speed Thrills But Kills.’ School Head, Peeya Sharma, said the School had endeavoured  to spread the message of Road Safety in a thought-provoking manner.

Greening Ryan


yan International, Sector-40, tries to inculcate Environmental values amongst the children, to sharpen their commitment towards Mother Nature. Dr. A.F Pinto, the Founder Chairman of Ryan Group of Institutions, has always expressed his concern for Mother Earth. Students of Class 4 went for for a Plantation drive; with alluring slogans and placards, they created an enthralling atmosphere. They carried ‘well-groomed’ saplings with them, to spread the message that trees are the only natural source of oxygen and provide life to all Beings. The Head of the School, Peeya Sharma, always encourages and motivates the students, and provides them facilities to accomplish their goals.

oung health warriors of Ryan International School, Sector 40, tried to bring everyone’s focus to this most dreadful disease, on ‘World Cancer Day,’ in their morning Assembly. It provided an opportunity to help improve the general knowledge around cancer and to dispel some misconceptions about the Disease. The students of Class VI B then presented a Talk Show. Ryanite Sajada Maru highlighted the simple causes of Cancer - like the use of plastic bags for storing food, and the consumption of preservatives (which are present in most of the junk food). Tanvi Seth talked about the early detection of Cancer and Chemotherapy. Pankhuri Verma talked about simple recognizable symptoms. Piyush concluded the Talk Show by messaging that Cancer is not an infectious disease and that the patient needs love and affection (besides the medical aid). Head Mistress Peeya Sharma motivated students to reduce the use of plastic in their day to day life and encouraged them to lead a healthy life by involving themselves in lots of physical activities.

All-Well Development


yan International School, Sector 40, organised a Workshop for the parents, covering: ‘Ideal Breakfast for Overall Development, Mental and Physical Wellness, Children Obesity and causes & Meal Replacement Plan’. The Workshop was conducted by Rajnish Sharma, a renowned Nutritionist, who is a global pioneer in the wellness Industry and in the concept of the meal replacement plan; he has been practising for the past 34 years. American Public school

Young Speakers


peak for a Minute Competition was held for the students of Class II. Students chose the topics from the chits given to them. They spoke eloquently, with clarity and confidence. The students participated wholeheartedly and spoke on various topics - like Cricket, Healthy Food and Global Warming.

Having a Picnic


Picnic was organized for students from Class M I to Class II, to the Tau Devi Lal Park. The students enjoyed thoroughly eating, playing and having fun.

7-13 February 2014

K id C orner


Shalom Time


Session conducted by Zlife Astronomy Club, at the Shalom Hills International School, was on the topic of Time. The children learnt the definition and history of Time and also about its measurement over the ages - via sundials, water clocks and hour glasses. The ‘revolutionary’ concepts of Digital and Atomic Clocks were also introduced. Time-travel in the Universe was explained using natural Time machines - with a combination of black holes, white holes and worm holes. Finally, the Session provided a glimpse into the universally mystifying yet fascinating topic of a ‘Parallel Universe’. The children thoroughly enjoyed the activity of making their own sundials, using the materials provided, and also learnt how to use them.

Little Hands @ Work


ittle ones at the Little Hands Play School participated in an Art and Craft activity. Kids tried their hands at making models, cards and toys. Art and Craft is the best way for kids to have loads of fun, and keeps them busy. Most Crafts help in imparting a combination of skill, speed, and patience to the students.

Jury Impressed


eartiest Congratulations to the young Creator Aryaman Gupta, Grade VI! This student of Excelsior American School won the ‘Jury’s Choice Award’ at the recent Fire and Wheel Festival. The Festival was organised by Truth Foundation, with an aim to spread awareness about creativity, design and storytelling in schools, organizations and academia at large. 350 Children from more than 10 Schools, in the age-group of 12 -18 years participated in the Festival. In the first round, the kids had to undertake an MCQ Test, which psychometrically tested their right and left brain activities - hence giving an idea of their creative inclination. In the second round, Design Thinking and Mentoring Workshops were organised. The Jury panel included Usha Narasimhan, an NIFT Delhi Alumni, Mike Knowles, Dean of Design – Sushant School of Design, Gurgaon, Anthony Lopez – CEO, Lopez Design Studio and Paul Sandip – Product Designer & Innovation Specialist, Paul Studio (Alumnus of NID, Ahmedabad and the only Red Dot Design Award winner from India 2007 & 2010).

Basant Panchmi Celebration at S.D. Adarsh Vidyalaya

Toddlers’ Wonderful Nature


odern Montessori International (MMI) conducted a field trip to the Botanical Garden, for the toddlers. The objective was to provide a hands-on, enquiry-based learning experience - with a dose of fun - to get students excited about Nature. Students were introduced to an exciting new way of looking at Nature. Observation and experimentation with plants and insects encourages discussion, wonder and creativity among children.


7-13 February 2014


Kitnay Reader Thay?

or a change, it’s the Media that is upset. Many big boys have been hit where it hurts most – though it is surprisingly not below the belt. There has been a direct hit to the solar plexus – the 'moolah' belly. The stakes could not be higher. A more robust and technologically advanced Readership Survey (IRS 2013) by Nielsen, under the aegis of Media Research Users’ Council (MRUC) and Readership Studies Council of India (RSCI), has been rubbished by those who have been hit. It is a different matter that all applauded the Survey when it was tabled on January 28th. The big boys have realised that the minuses have outweighed the pluses. And so it is open shooting season on the messenger. The boys, under their INS (Indian Newspaper Society) banner, have put up a list of exceptions, to try and disprove the new (agreed) rule. They cite anomalies as if they are seeing such for the first time. They now believe that logic and commonsense should overrule method – as in when and where it suits them. They cannot accept the inexplicable sudden growth of certain newspapers - that too without any big marketing spend? Similar is the contention on the change in the number of readers of certain States and cities. They ask – ‘how come readers increased there, when there was no economic growth?’ So now they also understand and know all the criteria that impact readership - who needs a Survey? It was known and agreed up front that there would be no sense in comparing the current Survey with any past Survey and data. But little did these biggies expect to be ‘exposed’. They harp on the flawed methodology of a system that has been vetted by them. The changes were made because the old system was ailing, and had clear flaws. Nielsen has not even

Do we, the Media, the Fourth Estate, hold ourselves up to the high standards that we today literally demand of others? We should be the most upright, as we wield the power to influence opinion. Newspapers cannot escape criticism merely because they claim to serve the people.

Letter To The Editor Dear Editor, It was heartening to see your booth (near Galleria) on Raahgiri Day. The number of people thronging the Booth showed how your popularity as a weekly tabloid is increasing. Equally interesting was the beautifully made video, ‘Ai dil hai mushkil......’ posted on youtube. I wish you more success in your endeavours. Ashok Lal

C omment

been allowed to make any clarifications – forget providing justifications. The biggies were asked to just hold their horses for 3 months, and compare with the next Survey when they would in all probability get all their answers. They of course cannot wait for even a month. They would be naked by then. The big boys of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) have threatened to get a stay of this Survey from the High Court – and even seek restitution for damages to their reputations. They should. It would help get the Supreme Court in on this. Let there be an independent Commission and Audit of the Survey, and of each Paper - covering its Print run and Circulation (at field level). In fact, to start with, a correlation table should be prepared, of each publication’s Circulation and Readership - for the previous Survey versus this new one. Let them not conveniently bask on ‘audited’ Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures of ‘long-standing’. Maybe the damages would need to be collected by the readers…and the advertisers. The Fourth Estate needs a clean-up at its very core. We need a White Paper on the Press.u

The RSCI has called for a joint meeting on February 19th. Hold firm, Sirs…for a Free Press!

Where are the TV Channels? Where is Prime Time News? Where is ‘India wants to know - now!’ Why are Press and Media Heads (Publishers, Editors, CEOs) not being called to the studios and on ‘talk shows’? Are the Channels scared that they could be in some similar line of fire next? Or is it due to the common ownership of Press and TV Channels? Where are the politicians? Even Editors. It could be payback time. Surely Corporates would want to know why something that is of critical importance in deciding Advertising spends, is being ‘blacked-out’? They should hold INS accountable – even financially (retrospective may be a bit much though). The Chairman of INS (which has called for a rejection of the Survey) is incidentally the Editor of the Statesman – a ’ wronged’ daily. What if Statesman had been ‘righted’? Would the fortunes of so many have already undergone a titanic change by now? Hindustan Times is happy all the way. Would they be so if the same Survey had gone the way of the Times (of India)? And vice versa. So it really is not a matter of principle? Readership was supposed to be the clear ‘fact’ versus the Circulation ‘fiction’. The biggies are trying to now muddy all the waters. Can better technology and methodology make such a big difference? It seems frightening (in terms of what was accepted till now)…but true.

In this Survey, so many known errors and biases have been taken care of - even social and cultural issues have been addressed. Census 2011 (and estimates to current) data has been used – versus 2001 (and estimates to current) earlier; and many cities’ boundaries have been redefined. This could have had a considerable impact. Maybe some answers could be as simple as sample size. There has also been a big (agreed) change in how to assess Media Consumption – from the earlier ‘one year’ (really more a popularity recall), to ‘one month’ (establishing real usage). Would this be a simple answer to many of the questions? In every industry we have watchdogs, and of course the Competition Commission, to check unfair and/or monopolistic trade practices. How has the Newspaper trade escaped that? How has a product been allowed to be sold below cost – way below cost – every day of the year? What professional rules do we play by? Is it print and dump, and/or re-circulate? It’s time for a PIL in the Supreme Court – on the Media. Based on this Readership ‘black-out’ campaign, and for a more fundamental review of the ‘business’ of a Newspaper – the price, the print, the circulation, the ‘raddi’, the ads., the ‘paid’ news, and the profit…Interestingly, all these factors could actually make any data on Readership suspect – even ‘fake’. We read a virtually free Paper (sold at ¼ of even its cost) and so ‘buy’ (and therefore hopefully read) it accordingly. The time has also come for the barriers to entry (pricing and circulation,to name a few) into Media to be strongly tackled. It's time for Aam Media the times for Khaas Media are over.

S piritual

7-13 February 2014

Filling Our Emptiness { Dr. Rajesh Bhola }


eople come to see me because they feel that their lives are meaningless. Many people feel this dreadful inner emptiness. An acute sense of emptiness or a void does come in almost everybody’s life at some point of time. We humans often feel that we are stuck in a game designed and controlled by others. Often people feel they have been cheated. They feel that they have done all the things that should have yielded them happiness, but this desired prize has eluded them. They are not sure whom to blame. While Western sociologists and psychologists view a state of emptiness as a negative, unwanted condition, in some Eastern philosophies this emptiness is a realized achievement. Modern philosophers meanwhile argue that the spiritual emptiness of our times is a symptom of its religious poverty. We all take some things for granted. We believe that, say, a good position at work, a good income, a good and caring wife or successful children means that we should be happy – and yet we are not. Hence the feeling of emptiness. It is a kind of unhappy equilibrium. This void,

emptiness or hollowness of life makes us conscious of many wasteful efforts that we put in to attain happiness. Some philosophers believe that there is a wind blowing inside us, through a wasteland of emptiness; and we are like seeds being blown around this desert, with no possibility of germinating – and hence unable to fulfill our potential. In this situation our lives feel hollow, lacking inner strength and vigour. This void within us gives a painful, drawn feeling to our faces. We know we should be doing something, but we do not know what. This devastating hollowness and screaming internal void is really a deep encounter with our existential predicament. There is no painless place in our being to which we can fly for refuge. We need to isolate the malaise and encapsulate the gnawing void, before it devours our whole being. Emptiness normally indicates a lack of something specific: ‘the room is empty’ means it lacks either people or furniture; ‘the glass

Manzil { Ashok Lal }

Isi tarah sab jeevan ko Gore aur kaale bandon ko

Ganga hai ya Jamuna hai

Jaanwar aur parindon ko

Kahaan kisi ne thamna hai

Jeevan ki raahon par

Parvat ki chattanon se

Kismat ki baahon par

Kheton se khaliyanon se

Karmon ke ishaaron par

Bahte hi rahna hai

Chalte hi rahna hai

Kahaan kisi ne thamna hai

Kahaan kisi ne thamna hai

Aakhir mein ja kar donon ko Aakhir mein ja kar sabko Saagar mein samaana hai

Rab mein hi samaana hai

Wahi unki Manzil hai

Wahi sabki Manzil hai.

is empty’ means there is no liquid in it; however, ‘my life is empty’ does not suggest what might be missing (from our lives). Nevertheless, we often try to heal this deeper sense of nullity and void by trying to ‘fill’ it with something: we believe that ’if I had money’, or ‘if someone would love me’, all would be fine. But what if we already have it all - family, friends, status, security, health and money - to go anywhere and do anything? There are more than a few who have felt an existential void especially when they have had it all. We all have felt this hollowness and emptiness: when a relationship has collapsed, when we have left a job/career, or when our children have grown up and moved out. However, below these superficial ‘aches’ often lies an inexplicable emptiness, a deeper spiritual longing - which nothing can seem to fill. The fulfillment will come not by doing, having, loving or being entertained - by living it up. We all want to accomplish something in our lives. We seek self-esteem, a feeling of worth, through our occupations.  Love and marriage are also supposed to fulfill us. We might devote considerable time to enjoying ourselves. Perhaps we enrich our lives through travel, reading and education.  Finally, we might even attempt spiritual self-fulfillment, through ritual practices, metaphysical beliefs and spiritual self-help.
 However, the first step toward accepting true ‘release’ should be to recognize our malaise. Only when we have truly confronted our existential void, when we no longer believe that our feeling of emptiness can be ‘filled’ by possessions or achievements, can we begin our quest for existential freedom. We need to start finding meaning in the simple pleasures of life - through our senses. Let us stop to smell the roses, feel the sunlight, taste the food, see the beauty and listen to our heart’s calling. We should create our own meaning for (our) life…. and feel no hesitation in respectfully enlisting the help of others.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 25 years. He can be contacted at


Better My Self { Shobha Lidder } Better self, please come at once And help! Hold my hand & lead me to my promised land Unfold the path to heal and laugh Send me a mentor or advice To manifest & transcendent life Create a wonderland, a happy domain Remain oneself, help Others to be themselves In serenity, equanimity Have inner ability to rise above profanity Give me the secret spell to make people well The clarity of vision, that I have precision To see the right, defy the wrong Overcome, be strong Help others & self to know the truth And life’s rules There are no schools for living We learn about living from life. Writer Journalist, Social Activist, Teacher Trainer Reiki Master, Pranic Healer


SMS NR to 08447355801


7-13 February 2014

{ Jaspal Bajwa }

Health & Vitality... Naturally!


hanks to a string of festivities related to New Year celebrations, there is a natural tendency to indulge in all forms of ‘goodies’ around that time. The cold temperatures and the shorter days also tend to make us reduce our outdoor exercise. As the days gradually get longer and brighter, there are new stirrings of life. Along with this, there is invariably a tendency to think in terms of spring-cleaning - or a ‘spring detox’ to cleanse the system. There are several important ingredients that can help our bodies to maximize the efficiency of a cleanse or a detox. The Nutritional Supplements market has several offerings that contain molecules called methyl donors and/or sulphur-containing molecules. These molecules can act as gene-activation switches as well as important pivots, helping to regulate metabolic pathways. Methylation can make toxins (including chemical pollutants like pesticides) water-soluble and thus help in excreting them easily. Sulphur can deactivate some of the hormones the body is oversupplied with. To cut a long story short, these molecules can neutralize a large number of toxins that may have accumulated in our body. Sulphur-containing foods (e.g. high

Golden Detox protein meats) are generally high in Amino Acids like Methionine, Cysteine and Taurine - as also Vitamins B1 and Biotin. Glutathione and Lipoic Acid are other excellent examples of sulphur-rich nutrients. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kale, Kohlrabi and other cruciferous vegetable are also good sources of sulphur. There are several natural herbs that play an important role in detox activity. Some examples are Milk Thistle (for liver health) or certain herbs that can increase the flow of bile in the liver (examples are Dandelion, Turmeric and Artichoke leaves). For cleansing the digestive tract, potent herbs like Goldenseal and Garlic have been recommended for ages. Not only are they able to clear away bacteria, these herbs can also shut down harmful enzyme reactions that can be triggered by harmful bacteria. Other important herbs useful for detox regimens are Nettle, Burdock, Licorice, Gentian and Ginger.

Tip of the Week

Goldenseal is one of those herbs that

has a singularly bitter taste. In modern times, with the pendulum having lurched towards a craze for sweets, bitters are not so popular any more. There exists a strong belief that this craze for sweets could have contributed to many of the diseases of modern times - like chronic indigestion, gastric reflux and a wide range of metabolic disorders (ranging from elevated cholesterol to Type 2 Diabetes). Nature’s Wonder Food of the Week: Goldenseal root or Hydrastis Canadensis L. Goldenseal is very bitter and can be useful in aiding digestion, and stimulating appetite as well as bile secretion in the liver. Goldenseal is sometimes referred to as ‘Indian Turmeric’ or ‘curcuma,’ but should not be confused with (normal) Turmeric (‘Haldi’). As the scientific name suggests, this plant was first discovered in Canada; it used to grow wild across North America. Goldenseal root has a solid reputation among herbalists. Its primary use has been as an anti-ca-

W ellness tarrhal tonic, as it helps the body to remove excess inflammation from the mucous membranes. Some alternative and complementary practitioners recommend Goldenseal in combination with Echinacea as a preventive against colds and respiratory infections. Amongst its other benefits are its properties as a live cleanse, an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, astringent, decongestant, diuretic, antihypertensive, laxative…and for hastening childbirth. Goldenseal is taken internally, to boost the immune system and to help prevent upper respiratory infections like colds, flu and allergies. It is also being used to help with digestion, to soothe an  upset stomach and to kill bacteria. Goldenseal root extract has also been used externally as an alternative treatment for diseases such as gonorrhea, canker sores, eye infections, wound treatment and gonorrhoea. Given its potency, it is advisable that Goldenseal be taken in consultation with an experienced herbalist or medical practitioner, to regulate the dosage and the duration of the regimen. Pregnant women and mothers who are breast-feeding should avoid it, as should those who could have an increased risk of bleeding.u Registered Holistic Nutritionist (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition). For education purposes only; always consult a healthcare practitioner for medical conditions

India’s Forest Man: ‘The Tree is at the Root of all Life’

{ Siddhartha Kumar/ Jorhat, Assam/ DPA }

Siddhartha Kumar


ver the past three decades, a reclusive man says he has single-handedly grown a sprawling forest, on what used to be a barren sandbar in one of India’s main rivers. The ‘green warrior’s’ project in Assam state, where plant and animal species are under threat from the illegal wildlife trade and deforestation, is slowly winning recognition across India. It’s a balmy afternoon. Jadav Payeng rows his old canoe in the Brahmaputra river to his selfmade jungle, near his home in Jorhat district. The 54-year-old, who rears and sells cattle for a living, is well aware of environmental issues and talks animatedly about climate change. The chirping of birds announces his arrival in the forest, reportedly 550 hectares in size. The woods are a safe haven for deer, rabbits, apes, snakes, leopards, wild buffaloes and elephants, which have swum or waded to the island - besides 52 varieties of birds, Payeng explains. Payeng’s tree-planting mission began after the devastating floods in 1979 washed a large number of snakes ashore on the sandbar in North-East India. Hundreds of the reptiles died in the blazing heat, in the absence of tree cover. That left the nature-lover in tears. “I sat next to their lifeless forms and cried,” Payeng said. “I thought: humans will face the same fate if there are no trees. I decided then to dedicate my life to planting trees.” After Payeng’s requests to the Assam Forest department drew no help initially, he approached his fellow Mising tribespeople. They donated seeds for tall grass and bamboo, which he

Jadav Payeng, 54, walks into the woods on ‘his’ sandbar in India’s Brahmaputra River. A member of the Mising tribe, he has been acclaimed as Forest Man of India, for cultivating a small jungle since 1979, on the island near Jorhat in Assam State.

planted on the banks, to stop erosion. Over 35 years, Payeng often lived a solitary existence on the island, planting and pruning fruit trees. While he tended his grazing cattle, he ‘talked’ to the young plants - as they grew from seed to sapling. At home, his wife reared cattle and sold milk. His family stayed with him on the island for a part of the time. “Besides manure, I physically brought red ants, that are known to render the soil fertile. Grass, ferns and plants of many species sprouted soon from the soil,” said Payeng, clad in a lungi (sarong) and shirt. With his nudging, the flora and fauna quickly expanded on the island. This lush nature attracted wild animals, including the elephants, which fed on the bountiful grass. Endangered animals like the Royal Bengal Tiger and rhinoceros took

refuge in the jungle. The woods are now a thriving ecosystem. Vultures and bees, spotted recently, have completed the food chain, Payeng said. The Brahmaputra River carries soil that has eroded upstream and deposits it as sandbars. Many of the hundreds of sandbars wash away again quickly, but this one is big and the plants have helped stabilize it. Such new land is owned by the government. Over the past few years, more people have arrived on the green island, establishing a small village and growing crops on the fringes of the forest, which locals call Molai’s Woods - after Payeng’s nickname. The State’s Forest department said that, since 2001 it had planted 200 hectares of the woods, using the traditional method of spading in nursery-grown seedlings. Gunin Saikia, a senior Forest Officer, who was among the first to bring attention to Molai’s Woods in 2008, said Payeng had not been previously given his due for his single-handed, low-tech methods. Payeng grew mostly fruit trees and a variety of grass, which attract birds and animals. “Payeng says his plantation partners are animals - the fruit tree seeds were dispersed further by the animals,” said Saikia. “He did not plant the trees in line, which is the plantation technique of the Forest department. He collected seeds from riverbeds and local people.” “I was amazed to find this dense forest in the middle of nowhere,” said Jitu Kalita, the local Wildlife journalist who spread the original news and accompanied dpa. “It is a story of how a man has devoted his entire life to growing a forest ... a unique feat.” Payeng has

been honoured by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, environment and voluntary groups and has won India-wide media coverage. Jawaharlal Nehru University named him the “Forest Man of India.” Saikia estimated that Payeng had planted up to 10 hectares every year, and natural seed propagation had done the rest. Over the years, Payeng and his family faced many challenges. After a herd of elephants destroyed crops some years ago, villagers criticized Payeng and set fire to the jungle at one fringe. His wife Binita said she and their three children had to make many sacrifices during the long periods of Payeng’s absence. Dusk had arrived, and Payeng suggesed that the visitors should leave, as wild animals would soon be out on the prowl. Back in the canoe, Payeng, who travelled outside of India for the first time in his life in 2012, mocked urban life, saying people live in congested areas and do not get to see beautiful birds or creatures. “Man is trying to make nature his slave. He is chopping down forests. It will lead to disastrous consequences. The tree is at the root of all life,” he said, adding that it should be made compulsory for every school-child to plant two trees every five years. That would compensate for the oxygen he or she consumes. As the stars lit up the night sky over the Brahmaputra and fireflies flit on the banks, Payeng stared wistfully into the distance and pointed towards a sandbar on the other side of the river. “I began growing another 550-hectares forest there last year. That could take me another 30 years,” he said resolutely.u

B on V ivant

7-13 February 2014

A Lit Yatra

{ Sharmila Chand }


he Jaipur Lit Fest (JLF) left me satiated in Art, Culture and Literature – without having to pay an arm and a leg for a wonderful time. A newspaper vendor listening to a Ghulam Farid Sufi number at full blast, schoolkids blocking the seats to attend their favourite session, the Press brigade keeping the Press Terrace alive with their reporting, shopaholics buzzing around the stalls, many a stylish femme flaunting the latest style while sipping ‘kulhar’ chai and munching masala peanuts, and fans participating in interactive sessions with their dream authors & artists - the scene at the Jaipur Lit Fest at Diggi Palace is unique and delightful. I’ve been attending the Fest every year (this is the 7th.) and I simply love the format. The entry is free, and so there is no haggling for passes, invites or tickets. Registration is mandatory for every visitor; this allows for some screening and prevents gatecrashers. It is a delight to see so many students, in their school uniforms, conducting themselves in such a disciplined manner. There is no pushing or unpleasant behaviour whatsoever. One is happy to see that we still have literature lovers amongst the youth, who are also keen to interact with the authors. When I noticed three boys in Scindia School jackets, sitting patiently for the next session, I asked them why they were interested. They were quick to respond, “The session will be interesting as it has William Dalrymple as the moderator.” Well, to each their

Music at the Fest

own (favourite). Like the three elderly ladies, who wouldn’t let go of their seats as they were waiting for Ashok Bajpai to come to the stage. “Bajpaiji is so interesting, full of humour and recites good poetry,” they said. Talking about my favourites, I particularly liked the session, ”The Language of Laughter”, with Indrajit Hazra and Shovon Chowdhary, moderated by popular columnist Bachi Karkaria. “What tickles your funny bone,” the panelists asked the packed audience? Karkaria opened up the discussion

by differentiating between humour, satire and irony. However, her whole idea of scrutinizing and categorizing comedy quickly fell to pieces, much to the amusement of the audience, with the other two panelists wisecracking all the way. Karkaria aptly remarked : “Dissecting humour is like dissecting a frog; it can be done with the finesse of a surgeon or with the clumsiness of a schoolboy. In either case, the frog dies.” Chowdhary  stayed true to his spirit as a humorist blogger, sharing a plethora of jokes. Finally Bachi  summed

JLF goes beyond the world of literature – to the sounds of Rajasthan and even world music. The opening day featured the Jaipur Kawa Brass Band, with their wonderfully riotous trumpets, clarinets and loud, clattering drums. Other performances included Rajasthani Folk Music and Dance, the Delhi-based band Ska Vengers, Sarangi player Suhail, Medeival Punditz, composer-singer Karsh Kale and the Sufi Gospel Project. Grammy Award winner Tinariwen -- a band of Tuareg musicians from northern Mali in Africa – stole the show.


up the Session, saying, “People with no backbone can still be dealt with, but the ones with no funny bone are doomed”. The packed venue echoed with laughter and applause. Another session that I can’t miss talking about was, “Finding your Voice: Sonam Kalra”. This Session on Sonam Kalra  and her brainchild band, ‘The Sufi Gospel Project’, presented the magic of music and life. The vibes, and the enthusiasm of the audience, were tangible. The artists laughed, cried and sang their mesmerizing compositions - a beautiful amalgamation of poetry, prayer and music - including the lyrics of Kabir, Bulleh Shah and Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. The teary-eyed audience sang along and clapped appreciatively. Jaipur accommodated not only authors, publishers and book lovers from across the world - there were Nobel laureates and Bollywood bigwigs too. The Pink City draws you in with its unique history, culture and amazing hospitality. In the words of Festival Co-Director, Namita Gokhale, “Come January, a cloud of creative energies gathers around Jaipur. Writers and thinkers from South Asia and around the world will once again debate and attempt to make sense of our changing worlds through the prism of literature. As readers from around the world get ready for their annual literary pilgrimage, the Jaipur Yatra will continue to celebrate books and ideas, readers and writers in an open, joyous and spontaneous space, and to uphold the spirit of democratic dialogue and exchange.” u Sharmila Chand is the author of the book – ‘CHEERS 365 Cocktails & Mocktails’. She is also a Freelance Journalist based in New Delhi and has been writing for many leading publications on Travel, Food, Hospitality, Fashion, Health & Wellness. To know more about her work, log on to


7-13 February 2014

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7-13 February 2014

The Internet of Things { Andrej Sokolow/ Las Vegas/ DPA }


fter years of hype, the Internet of Things which describes the near-future in which all our devices are connected to the Internet - is finally here. It just needs a little while to figure out how it’s going to get off the ground. Strolling past the stands at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, it became clear that pretty much any item can be made to gather and store data: fitness armbands, tennis rackets, home appliances, toothbrushes, dog collars - there is even a gadget that sets off a warning when the user has bad posture. “We want to make all devices smart,” says Intel head Brian Krzanich. But, as smart as everything is getting, there’s still some way to go before all these devices learn to share this flood of information. Nor is it clear, after recent data security scandals, if all this sharing is really what consumers want. One manufacturer of intelligent climate sensors says he can gather data from around the world. “We can see when people burn their toast or if there’s a carbon monoxide leak,” noted an employee at Nest, which makes networked smoke de-

tectorss. Tech firm Sense says it has developed motion sensor technology, which will tell if a pillbox has actually been opened, or just moved from place to place. That data can help to make sure medications are taken as directed. Even if one believes that these companies are gathering this data for the benefit of their customers, there’s no way to shake the fear that informationhungry governments might also want to take a peek. Hans Vestberg, Head of Swedish network provider Ericsson, warns that there is an urgent need to know more about how data is, and will be, handled. Standard security matters are also a concern. US department store Target is reeling from the discovery that hackers have stolen credit card information of 70 million of its customers. Such hacking creates concerns about new technologies. “You don’t want anyone to be able to use the wi-fi connection to take control of your brakes,” notes Kurt Sievers of chip manufacturer NXP, during a display of a networked car. Such concerns have prompted the introduction of extra security measures for the vehicle. The truly networked world still remains more of a vision. This is mainly because there is

Five upcoming NASA Missions to focus on Earth

{ Washington/ DPA }


ASA may have long-term plans to send humans to Mars, but this year the US space agency is turning its eyes back to Earth, with five planned space missions to take a look at the home planet. The first mission, the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory, is to launch February 27, from Japan, as a joint project with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It will study global rain and snowfall, NASA said. “As NASA prepares for future missions to an asteroid and Mars, we’re focused on Earth right now,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “With five new missions set to launch in 2014, this really is shaping up to be the year of the Earth, and this focus on our home planet will make a significant difference in people’s lives around the world.” In July, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite will begin measuring carbon dioxide levels in

a bid to better understand the greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. It is a replacement for a similar satellite that was lost during launch in 2009. In November, NASA plans to launch the Soil Moisture Active Passiva (SMAP) satellite, which will measure water levels in the soil. The data will help with water resource management decisions, predictions about plant growth and agricultural productivity, and flood and drought monitoring, scientists said. Two other instruments are to be sent to the orbiting International Space Station (ISS), from where they will take stock of happenings back home. The ISS-RapidScat to be sent to the station in June aboard a private SpaceX Dragon craft is to measure ocean winds around the world. The Cloud Aersol Transport System (CATS) will arrive on a SpaceX craft in September, and will measure small particles in Earth’s atmosphere. u

no guarantee that devices from different manufacturers can share information. “The industry shows customers videos, wherein a digital thermometer, for example, communicates with an alarm system. But, in most cases, that wouldn’t work, since most manufacturers work hard to establish their own version”, says Intel manager Mike Bell. German electronics company Bosch is convinced this stand will change. “There will be standardization in less than five years,” says Stefan Finkbeiner, Head of Bosch subsidiary Sensortec. “The customers will demand it, because that’s the only way to get value addition.” The Company is working with other market leaders to create an industry standard. The technology itself isn’t the only area where standardization is required. If household security devices are to be built into house doors, for example, it would benefit if there was a standard size that manufacturers have to adhere to. Such standardization will be necessary if the industry hopes to exploit the technology’s potential. A lot of money is at stake: Market Research firm Gartner estimates sales from the ‘Internet of Things’ to be 300 billion dollars by 2020. u


Audi unveils revamped bulletproof A8 Flagship { Ingolstadt, Germany/ DPA }


udi has unveiled the latest version of its armoured A8 limousine, designed for VIPS, politicians and celebrities. The strengthened A8L saloon offers an enhanced range of security features, designed to protect occupants from almost any attack – including AK-47 machine guns and military hand grenades. Protection comes from hot-formed armoured steel and multilayered glass that has been polycarbonate-coated, along with reinforced side sills and ceramic doors. To accommodate the features, the already-long wheelbase—the 5.72-metre A8L—has been stretched a little further, by 13 centimeters. Audi says the extra weight does not increase fuel consumption significantly. An emergency exit system uses pyrotechnic charges to blast open the doors, while a fire protection system can be directed at the wheels, the underbody, fuel tank and engine – if needed. An emergency fresh-air system with a smoke extractor is also an option. Audi also offers what it calls security start - a feature that allows the driver to start the engine remotely via a radio signal. The security work takes 450 hours to complete and is carried out by hand in a guarded workshop, where even mobile phones are banned – in order to prevent details being leaked. The A8L Security has been officially certified by a German-government ballistics testing facility in Munich, for compliance with exacting standards for “bullet-resistant vehicles.” The high-security A8 can be supplied with either a 6.3-litre V12 or a V8-biturbo engine. Both offer ample power to accelerate out of a danger zone. If assailants damage the tyres, the standard forged wheels have synthetic rims that allow the car to keep moving at speeds of up to 80 kilometers an hour. The new high-security Audi will be delivered from Autumn 2014. The maker said orders are carefully scrutinized, to ensure that the car does not fall into the wrong hands. Pricing has not been revealed, but the car is certain to carry a sixfigure price tag. u

Automatic Car-seat Preadjustment VW’s 21st Century Dune Buggy { Detroit / DPA }


olkswagen says the Dune Buggy concept car version of its Beetle saloon may go

into production later this year. VW has jacked up the Beetle to ride 5 centimetres higher and has added black wheel arch extensions, to set the car apart from the standard issue. Volkswagen said the Baja Bug was inspired by a highly modified Beetle created in Southern California for offroad use in the dunes of the rugged Baja region. The interior has been customized and drivers can mount skis or snowboards on the boot lid. The Dune uses the same powerful fourcylinder engine as the sporty Beetle R-Line, with 210 horsepower on tap. u

{ Burscheid, Germany/ DPA }


S company Johnson Controls has developed an automatic

seat preadjustment system that brings the driver’s seat into a comfortable and safe position based on an individual’s size. Engineers from Johnson Controls examined the seat positions of more than 100 people, and then developed an algorithm that determines the optimal seat position based on the driver’s size. The adjustment motors automatically move the seat to the correct position. In some cases the driver may still need to fine-tune the seat position to suit his/her personal preferences, said Johnson. To operate the system, drivers need to input their size via smartphone or enter the data into the vehicle’s digital control console. Automatic preadjustment of the seat position is especially useful when more than one person drives the same vehicle, says the Company. This applies to family cars, which are driven by more than one family member, as well as vehicles in company fleets, rental companies and car-sharing service providers. “Many people do not position their vehicle seat correctly. This can lead to back pain and stiff legs, particularly during longer journeys,” said Andreas Eppinger, Group Vice President for Technology Management at Johnson Controls Automotive Seating. “The right seat adjustment is important for safety.” u

22 Doggie Day-care

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he first time he dropped off his then eight-weekold at the Day-care Centre, Bernd Wuerfel had an uneasy feeling. “I was distressed,” remembered Wuerfel, a 41-year-old software developer. The separations, two to four times a week, have since become routine. Balu, the former pup, now an adult male Labrador Retriever. The drop-off site, in the Hanover suburb of Laatzen, is called a HuTa, a German acronym for a Dog Day-care Centre that provides Kindergarten-style facilities. “Balu gives the Day-care proprietor a friendly greeting. He’s happy and jumps around, and so I quickly leave,” Wuerfel said of their sweet, sorrowful partings. Balu then plays with the other dogs in HuTa’s fenced-in, 1,000-squaremetre yard. Many dog lovers don’t see full-time employment as an obstacle to keeping a dog these days. But they do have a problem when the dog is unwelcome at their workplace, and would ruin the furniture if left at home. So 10 years ago a Day-care Centre for ‘man’s best friend’ opened in Hanover, billing itself the first of its kind in Germany. Similar centres followed in many large cities. The Day-care services

generally cost the equivalent of several hundred US dollars a month. Balu’s home away from home lies in an industrial zone near Hanover’s Trade-Fair grounds. About 95 dog owners regularly drop off their four-legged loved ones there. Although more than a third of the owners are not employed, it is important to them that their dogs have contact with other dogs - so that they can develop their canine social skills, as it were. To this end, HuTa’s proprietors, Patrik Koehler and Juana Kanzok, keep the dogs in one big pack. Whether Doberman or Dachshund, Newfoundland or Pug, they all play together. This, the proprietors said, prevents any fighting in the pack for the top-dog position. “We’re the pack leaders,” said Kanzok, who worked for a long time at the first German Dog Day-care Centre now defunct. The proprietors have also nipped another potential problem - namely ‘doggy sex’ - in the bud. Male dogs dropped off at the Centre must have been castrated, and females are not allowed in if they are ‘in heat’. Toys a frequent source of conflicts, as parents of small children well know - are taboo too. Otherwise, the dogs can pretty much do as they please. There are doghouses for them to retire to if they don’t feel like socializ-

Sebastian Kahnert

{ Christina Sticht/ Laatzen, Germany/ DPA }

Sabine Rocks, a customer, brings her two Cocker Spaniels, Angie (left) and Scubi (right), to the HuTa (Doggie Day-care Centre) in Hanover, Germany.

A pug sits attentively in the yard, while two dogs behind play chase. ing, and mats they can rest on if they are tired. On hot days they can cool off in a paddling pool, and when it rains they play in a hall. “The dogs are never alone,” Kanzok said. The HuTa is open from 7 am to 8 pm, and overnight stays are possible. A handler sleeps with the dogs in what is called the ‘warming room’. During the holiday period, overnight accommodations are often booked up. The German Animal Protection Federation, however, discourages people with full-time jobs from keeping a dog. The Federation’s spokesman, Marius Tuente, said that dogs ought not be shunted

A wire-haired Dachshund (left), a Pug (centre) and a German Shepherd (background) crosssocialize at the HuTa. back and forth between different authority figures and environments. He did concede that a dog owner’s illness or travel obligations sometimes made Dog Day-care services necessary. In such cases, Tuente said, the owner should be mindful of certain criteria - such as the number of dogs in the group and the handlers’ qualifications.

Israeli Legislators set for ‘Historic gathering’ at Auschwitz { Jerusalem/DPA }


early 70 years after the Auschwitz death camp was liberated, more than half the Israeli parliament is set to participate in a “historic gathering” of international legislators in the Camp’s shadow, reported the Knesset. Israel will send the biggest parliamentary delegation in its history to an inter-parliamentary session and memorial service at the Nazi death camp in southern Poland, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, said Knesset spokesman Uri Michaeli. “The symbolism could not be any more striking; mere metres away from the gas chambers where millions of Jews were once murdered, the representatives of the parliament of the Jewish State of Israel will meet,” said Jonny Daniels, Executive Director of From the Depths, the Jewish non-governmental organization spearheading the initiative. Michaeli said 62 of the 120 members of the Israeli Parliament will attend. An inter-parliamentary session is scheduled to take place after the annual memorial service. Attending will be members of the Polish Parliament and lawmakers from other countries,

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including the US and Canada. Knesset Chairman Yuli Edelstein said in a Parliament statement that the “painful and powerful” journey to the “valley of death”, by “the elected Parliament of the Jewish people”, had “tremendous significance.” Daniels called the project ‘the realization of a dream.’ “To see dozens of Knesset members on the soil of the Auschwitz extermination camp is an unprecedented statement,” he said. The delegation is also scheduled to include 24 Holocaust survivors and more than 250 other officials. Six of the lawmakers are also ministers. A medical team would also accompany them. Daniels said at least one Holocaust survivor an hour was dying in Israel, and “we are getting very close to the point where there will be no more first-hand accounts.” “The onus falls on us,” he said, “to understand what happened and ensure it never happens again.” It was decided to stage the historic event this year - and not on the 70th anniversary (in 2015) of the Camp’s liberation - for fear that many survivors may die before January 2015. International Holocaust Remebrance Day was established by a 2005 UN General Assembly resolution, which used the date of the liberation (in 1945) of AuschwitzBirkenau by Soviet troops.u

Two dogs socialize at the HuTa. Hansjoachim Hackbarth, Director of the Institute for Animal Protection and Behaviour at the Hanover University of Veterinary Medicine, was also less than enthusiastic about Day-care for dogs. “A Dog Daycare Centre can be stressful and isn’t suitable for every dog,” he said. “Dogs today have become a substitute for children. But if both partners have full-time jobs, having a dog is very inappropriate.” u

Italy Police seize dozens of Mafialinked restaurants and pizzerias { Rome/DPA }


talian police executed 90 arrest warrants recently, in a major crackdown on businesses suspected of laundering money for the Camorra, the Neapolitan branch of the Mafia. Police said affiliates of the Camorra’s Contini clan were targeted in Naples, Rome and Tuscany, and assets worth 250 million euros (340 million dollars) were seized - including dozens of pizzerias, ice-cream parlous and boutiques. One suspect, 43-year-old Giuseppe Cristarelli, died after jumping from the fourth floor of his Rome residence, as police arrived to arrest him. “Today’s operation confirms that the Mafia’s escalation often leads to the restaurant industry,” Libera, an antiMafia Association, said. As of January 2012, courts had confiscated 173 Mafia-linked restaurants and hotels, Libera noted. The Italian Mafia has long been suspected of having infiltrated legitimate businesses to launder the proceeds of criminal activities - such as arms trafficking, racketeering and drug smuggling. The sting also snared Giuseppe Giannini, a former AS  Roma football star from the 1980s and 1990s and member of Italy’s Azzurri in the 1990 World Cup. He currently manages the Lebanese national team. He was placed under investigation for supporting fraud. Prosecutors suspect him of colluding with Camorra affiliates in 2009, to bribe opposition players with 50,000 euros, in order to win a third division match with Gallipoli - a team he coached from 2008 to 2010. Gallipoli won the match in question 3-2, against fellow southern Italian team Real Marcianise, earning a promotion to Italy’s second division (Serie B). u

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Hot-Air Ballooning over the Arctic snows A

Florian Sanktjohanser

nyone for a hot-air balloon ride in the Arctic? It is minus 25 degrees Celsius, a temperature at which nasal hair freeze as soon as you step outside. “Perfect weather,” pronounces Mathias Svalenstrom, Manager of the annual weeklong Arctic Balloon Adventure in the mining town of Gallivare, about 100 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, in Swedish Lapland. “Judging by the forecast, it looks like we can fly every day this year.” Svalenstrom has meticulously studied the weather report - the weather being all-important for the Balloon teams from France, Lithuania, Germany and the Netherlands. “It mustn’t snow, be foggy, too windy, or colder than minus 30,” says Svalenstrom. Otherwise the risks would be too great. Despite GPS and cellphones, Hot-Air Ballooning in Arctic conditions is still challenging. The pros love it. For Leon Kurstjens, a veteran Dutch Balloonist, it is the seventh Arctic Balloon Adventure. “Today we take off south-west of Gallivare behind Dundret,” he says ,after receiving the latest weather data. Dundret is an 823-metrehigh mountain and ski resort, about a 10-minute drive from Gallivare. “We aim to fly with the wind, at an altitude of 1,000 to 1,500 metres, around or over the mountain. It’s supposed to be warmer up there.” Kurstjens’ plan sounds eminently sensible. After two weeks of non-stop snowfall, the country road leading to the takeoff point is canopied by trees, bent under the weight of the white stuff. Upon arrival, Kurstjens and his two assistants heave the basket and envelope from the bed of the truck. A backpack is buckled to the basket. “A tent, sleeping bags, dehydrated food and a cooker are inside,” Kurstjens explains, “so that we survive if we drift in the wrong direction and aren’t found.” The propeller first blows cold air into the envelope, followed by air heated by the flame from the propane burner. Its gaskets have been smeared with a special grease, for protection against the biting cold. Slowly the Balloon rights itself. “Everybody get in!” Kurstjens shouts. The Balloon rises from the ground, goes over the treetops, and

Gellivare Lapland

{ Florian Sanktjohanser/Gallivare, Sweden/ DPA }

A convoy of Balloons floats over snowclad Lapland. A ground temperature of minus 30 degrees Celsius borders the limit for safe flying; it makes extended demands on both pilots and equipment.

Three Hot-Air Balloons glow in the evening as they are inflated on a snow-covered field in the middle of Gallivare, Sweden. 
 A Balloon is inflated on the snow.

Gallivare, a mining town in northern Sweden. It has few sights, but its use as a base for Arctic Ballooning makes it a magnet for Europe’s Balloon community. soars higher and higher. Then the wind catches it. The GPS navigation device shows a speed of 10 kilometres per hour... then 20. And the temperature does, in fact, get warmer. At an altitude of 1,000 metres, it is a balmy minus 4. The scenery is breathtaking: the winter sun hanging low over whiteblanketed forests and lakes, and a cow elk and its calf traipsing through deep snow. And there is perfect silence - save for the hiss of the burner every half-aminute. Balloon flights in the Arctic in winter are easier than in the Netherlands in

A jet of flame from a gas burner heats the new air in the Balloon, after cold air has been added with the help of a propellor mechanism.

summer, Kurstjens remarks. “The cold air carries better and you need a third less gas,” he says, adding that landing, though, is 10 times more difficult. “If you plop down into snow a metre and a half deep, no snowmobile can come to pick you up.” The Balloon now hovers over Dundret. Only farmers and Sami, a Finno-Ugric people native to the Arctic, lived in the region until gigantic deposits of iron and gold were discovered. It became a kind of Laplandic Wild West, with fortune hunters, gambling and prostitution, but has long since quieted down

Leon Kurstjens, a veteran Dutch Balloonist, piloting his balloon on his seventh Arctic Balloon Adventure.

again. A smoking factory chimney and Gallivare appear in the distance. The Balloon drops into the shadow of the mountain, and the temperature immediately plunges 20 degrees. Colourful wooden houses on the shore of one of Gallivare’s two lakes come into view. And there, on the frozen lake, is the large “X”marking the landing spot that the organizers put out every morning. Whichever team lands closest will get a prize at the end of the week. Kurstjens pulls on a line, which opens a vent at the top of the envelope, and the Balloon

begins to descend faster. “Hold on to the gas cylinder, keep your chin away from the basket and bend your knees!” he instructs. The basket touches down hard, is dragged briefly across the ice and then tips over. Snowmobiles zoom in for the pick-up. In the evening, three Balloons are inflated on a snowy field in town. Rhythmic bursts of fire light them up, music booms out of loudspeakers and young people sell mulled wine. But somehow it has not warmed up enough, to get the hoped-for festive atmosphere. The thermometer reads 29 degrees below zero.u


7-13 February 2014


Sohna Road The New Destination

Friday gurgaon 7 13 feb, 2014 the change you want to see

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