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9-15 May 2014

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

Vol. 3 No. 38  Pages 24  ` 10

A few Right citizens PRAKHAR PANDEY

{ Abhishek Behl / FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon


hile a major kidney transplant scandal was unearthed in Gurgaon a few years ago, and the accused were sent to jail, a more sophisticated racket involving top private hospitals in the City in collusion with government authorities could still be operational in the City. A leading RTI Activist, who has written to the Chief Minister regarding this scam, and has preferred anonymity for the time being, reveals that he got an inkling of the racket when a liver donor from Darbhanga in Bihar approached him for help. The donor, a woman, says that she had been promised Rs 25 lakhs out of the one crore ‘deal’ that had been struck with a Chandigarh resident (patient) for the donation of her liver, but was paid only Rs 8 lakhs at the end. The rest of the money, it is being alleged, was distributed among the touts, doctors, hospital officials as well as the government authorities that oversee this entire system of organ transplant. A London-based woman, who happens to be the sister of the patient, was shown as the donor in this case, while the liver actually came from the poor woman from Bihar, who was shortchanged of the promised money as well. Those in the knowledge of this trade say that the modus operandi is quite simple. Rich clients coming to private hospitals are most willing to pay huge

{ Abhishek Behl/ FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon

J S Walia

commissions to these hospitals for arranging donors for liver and kidney transplants, given that blood relatives in many cases are not ready to be the donors. Legally, however, only relatives of a patient can donate a kidney or liver for a transplant. To know more about how the organ transplant industry works in Gurgaon, which has a number of top private hospitals, an RTI was filed by the Activist. It was first opposed by these institutions. However, after repeated appeals and the filing of a long rejoinder, the State Information Commission (SIC) held that the organ transplant committees of top private hospitals would have to reveal information about the number of transplants, the costs involved, the names of the patients and the donors, and fees charged by them. While SIC also ruled that private hospitals were duty bound to provide the information, it directed that even an SPIO cum HUDA officer could obtain the information, as these hospitals had entered into a specific lease agreement with HUDA, which bound them to share information

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The Peripheral Zone PRAKHAR PANDEY


nder a canopy made of flax banners, Pravin Kumar, who works for a property firm, waits patiently for prospective customers of Real Estate on the Dwarka Expressway (also known as the Northern Peripheral Road). It is still hot in the late afternoon and he has been waiting patiently since morning - but he has not been ‘lucky’ for some time now. Kumar used to generate 3 to 4 ‘leads’ on weekends, and one lead during the weekdays, but the onset of the election season has brought even property prospecting – let alone buying - to a standstill. The Real Estate dealers in Bajghera, a small village near Palam Vihar, who sell residential and commercial properties on nearby Dwarka Expressway, say that business has been unusually down in the last six months, and particularly in the last quarter. While investors across the country have become circumspect, the impact has been

Dharmvir Beniwal Harinder Dhingra

concerning the public. As per government norms, if a hospital conducts more than 25 organ transplant operations in a month, it has to set up an Organ Transplant Committee – comprising the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, Chief Medical Officer of the District, two doctors who are not involved in operations and two public spirited citizens. Sources however say that while such Committees have been set up in private hospitals, they rarely meet. The RTI Activist alleges that, to bypass the Committees, a processing charge of Rs 1.25 lakhs is levied on the patient. This money, he alleges, is distributed among the Committee members. The cost of a liver transplant in the City hospitals is Rs 30 lakhs (on an average), but jumps to over Rs 1 crore in case an ‘illegal’ donor has to be brought in. The syndicate that is involved in this racket picks on labourers and maids, who are promised huge sums of money by posing as relatives of the patient. A number of times, to ensure that the scam remains buried, the relative is also made to lie along with the patient and certain incision marks are made on his/her body – which come handy in case of an enquiry! The RTI Activist stumbled upon this information when he questioned the hospital regarding the payment of ‘processing fees’. “There were no satisfactory answers, and this led me to probe further. Ultimately I met this donor, who was promised such a large amount but paid a pittance.

felt the maximum in the ‘hot’ Real Estate destinations like Delhi NCR - as the maximum investments have also taken place in this market. Till date almost 50,000 apartments have been ‘launched’ by various builders along this E-way. Maybe they are

hedging their bets on the outcome of the polls. Developments along the Dwarka Expressway were seen as an investors’ paradise, but they seem to have been currently caught on the wrong foot. Looking at the tarred 150 meters wide Dwarka Express-

way, which remains unfinished in patches, Pravin Kumar points towards Delhi and says that all hope is now on the new government. Despite this slowdown, and difficulty in selling new projects, Godrej Properties recently launched a project in Sector 88A.

Pirojshah Godrej, CEO of Godrej Properties, tells Friday Gurgaon that despite difficult market conditions a project that is good, at the right price and location, and comes from a reputed builder will always find buyers. Godrej too hopes that the new government at the Centre would focus on economic growth and creation of employment, as this will have a positive impact on the Real Estate market. Currently the delivery schedules of most of the builders have been delayed and the E-way itself remains incomplete. Ajay Yadav, who is a Real Estate consultant and sits at the crossing of Sectors 109/110 (the intersection of the roads leading to Jahajgarh and Sarai Alawardi Villages), opines that it is not possible for endusers to live in this area as the sector roads are still not ready, the water and sewage infrastructure work has just begun, and power infrastructure is nonexistent. With DHBVN further setting conditions that it will release power connections in this Contd on p 20  see Back Page also


9-15 May 2014

RNI No. HARENG/2011/39319 Postal Regn. No. GRG/35/2012-2014, VOL.–3 No.–38  9-15 May 2014


Atul Sobti

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

Prakhar Pandey

Sr. Designer:

Amit Singh

Circulation Execs.:

Sunil Yadav Manish Yadav

Sr. Exec Marketing:

Vikalp Panwar

Civic / Social...

Waste Management Household Waste (appropriately termed as Urban Solid Waste/ Garbage) is a societal ‘requirement’ and is generated every day across cities and towns. At 0.75 to 1 kg per capita generation, it amounts to over 60 million tonnes daily in India. To manage this volume, for collection, treatment and disposal is a colossal job for any municipality. With increased urbanisation, new lifestyle options and habits, availability of diversified consumable items, packaged/frozen stuff and the throw-away culture of disposables, the daily composition of Household Waste has ‘diversified’ - and even varies across areas. This composition of Waste requires technical solutions for its treatment and disposal. The conventional method, of  dumping the Waste in earmarked landfills on the outskirts of cities and towns, has become outdated.

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Dy. Manager A/cs & Admin:

Shiv Shankar Jha

Spritual... Rejoice in Worship

Social... Natya Tarangini

Consulting Art Editor: Qazi M. Raghib

At a time when it was not considered appropriate for children from landowning families in Andhra Pradesh to learn dance and perform at shows, young Raja Reddy’s love and passion for dance made him learn Kuchipudi and master it. Then, along with his wife, Radha Reddy, he performed across the world, winning critical acclaim. He maintains that the greatest reward for him is the happiness

Editorial Office 213, Tower A, Spazedge, Sector 47, Sohna Road, Gurgaon 122001, Haryana, Phones: +91 124 421 9092/93 Emails:

One of my friends lives in Amritsar just behind the Golden Temple. I have been visiting him for the last thirty years. The daily routine of his father is to get up at 3.30am and leave for the Golden Temple, for cleaning all the stairs surrounding the sanctum sanctorum. Since the tender age of 14 he has been doing this everyday. He is not performing any religious ritual; he is living out a relationship that he has developed between himself

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Bon Vivant... Whirling Sufi Dervishes

Wellness... Neither Over nor Under

A soothing rendering of soul-stirring Sufi Music has always been wellreceived by listeners and music connoisseurs in the Indian subcontinent. Sufi Dance, referred to as ‘whirling’ within the Sufi tradition, has essentially been viewed as an accompaniment to this soulful music. It evokes a trance-like spinning motion, symbolising divinity in prayer.

Life is a roller coaster. The ups and the downs are part of the ride. It is only through the knocks of life that we hopefully find equilibrium within this cycle. At the core lies our ability to manage the Self - in terms of awareness, regulation and motivation – rather than becoming slaves to impulsiveness, addiction or craving.

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,

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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.

C ontents

G-Scape ....

Plus Other Stories.... Social

Dwarka Expressway - at the crossroads

The clock is ticking.................................................P 11 Social

The ‘Gotra’ Behind the ‘Khap’...............................P 12 Kid Corner


Activities/Events/Exhibitions/ Seminars.......P 13-15 Comment

Editorial.......................................................................P 16

SMS NR to 08447355801


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In the World's Biggest Cave..............................P21-23

H appenings

9-15 May 2014


Fashion Show at the launch of the new club, Dee Key, on NH8

Black Rock!


ollywood actor Sunil Shetty and his ‘Koylanchal’ (movie) team interacted with students of SGT University.

Will be back...


ountaineer Narender Yadav, a local student, returns early from Everest after this year’s expeditions are stopped due to very bad weather - leaving 16 people dead. Narender had climbed to 5,305 metres. He proposes to climb both Everest and Lhotse peaks next year.

Master Amole


mole Gupta, the Director of ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’ came to the City with his cast - Partho Gupte, Saqib Saleem & Pragya - for the promotion of his new childcentric film 'Hawaa Hawaai'. Hawaa Hawaai is a sports-oriented  commercial entertainer that pays tribute to people who 'Dare To Dream'. The line - 'Kuchh sapne sone nahin dete' - captures the essence of the movie. It is set to release on May 9.

If you wish to be featured in ‘Happenings’ (for coverage of your events in Gurgaon), please mail us at

Pandit Vidya


adma Vibhusan Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia ,World Renowned Flautist, visited the VIDYA School. He is a patron and supporter of the School. Panditji delivered a short Lecture-Demonstration and informally interacted with the students and the audience.


9-15 May 2014

Introductory Science Workshop (for age group 7 to 13 years) Date: Sunday, May 10 Time: 10am to 12 noon Venue: #502 , Tower 4, Vipul Greens, Sohna Road This Workshop is an introduction to a unique hands-on Science concept called Sunday Science School(SSS).


Tughlaq (Hindi/120mins) Director K Madavane, Writer Girish Karnad. Tughlaq deals with the mass displacement/ exodus of the wretched subjects of Tughlaq from Delhi to Daulatabad - and back again, five years later. It's a movement that was as futile as it was ridiculous. The Play demonstrates the chilling fact that in all of us there is a streak of Tughlaq, as much as of those mute masses whom he so ruthlessly manipulated. Date: May 11 Time: 7:30 pm Tickets at Rs.350, 250 & 150 available at the venue.
Suitable for 12 years & above.

C oming U p

SSS introduces students to the fascinating world of 'Do-It-Yourself' activities in Science and makes learning interesting through individual practical experiences. The Program has been very popular in parts of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for many years. The highlights are: Every student takes home what he/she

Date: 14th May, 2014 7:30 PM, Sect-44 Epicenter Gurgaon. Please call and register your name for FREE Passes. Contact: 9953559344, 7838347775

Dance Kuchippudi and Mohiniyattam Recital by disciples of Kalamandalam Dhanya Nair, Kalyani S Vidya & Meenakshi J Pillai, accompanied by Kalamandalam Rajeev on Vocal, Kalamandalam Vayala Rajendran on Violin, Jayan P Das on Mridangam & Kalamandalam Sreekumar on Idakka Date: May 9 Time: 7:30 pm Talk Reinventing the Leisure Years The discussion will focus on the positive aspects of life after 60 - on how it can be fun and fulfilling. It will also address some concerns. Three speakers will show how these years can open new vistas of experience, provide a totally different outlook and offer unique opportunities. Date: May 13 Time: 7:30 pm Radio Jockey Workshop Date: May 19 to 23, June 16 to 20 Time: 11:00 am to 12:30 pm Story Ghar organises Summer Camps every year. These Camps encourage creative thinking, problem solving and inquisitiveness. This Workshop is hosted by renowned Radio and TV Host Jaishree Sethi. Listen, think, write, organise & present a Radio Show of your own, as a Radio Jockey.  Added attraction: Visit to a Radio Station (on May 26 and June 23, for the 2 batches respectively.

is looking to recruit

Correspondents If you are a Journalism graduate with at least 3 years experience, and based in Gurgaon, please send your CV to

HINDUSTANI CLASSICAL EVENING Date: May 14 Time: 7:30 pm Venue: Epicentre Mohd. Amjad Khan belongs to the famous Kirana Gharana. Amjad trained under the well-known Tabla player of Ajrara Gharana, Ustad Akram Khan. Clarity of sound is the hallmark of the Gharana’s playing style. He is arguably the finest contemporary performer of this style. His playing is marked by an uncanny intuition and a masterful improvisational dexterity, founded in formidable knowledge and study. Zafar Hussain Khan ( Harmonium player) belongs to the Kairana Gharana, which is popular in Classical Vocal. This Gharana belongs to his grandfather, the late Ustad Abdul Ghani Khan Sahab, who was a great classical singer and trainer. Zafar was the winner of All India Harmonium competition, held at Kolkata. When a talented young vocalist like Zubair Niyazi takes to Indian music with single-minded devotion, one can rest assured that future generations will also take pleasure in absorbing the subtleties that Vocal is capable of producing. Zubair belongs to the prestigious Kirana Gharana, one of the most prolific Hindutani Khayal gharanas. Suhail , a devoted Sarangi player, has been hailed as a child prodigy in the world of music. Suhail comes from the rich musical background of the MoradabadRampur and Senia gharanas of Mian Tansen. He is the grandson of renowned Sarangi legend, Padmabhushan and Padmashree awardee Ustad Sabri Khan, and the nephew of the Sarangi genius Ustad Kamal Sabri. Suhail has worked with greats like Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (Sarod maestro), Talvin Singh and Airto Moriera. He also had the privilege of accompanying renowned vocalists like Smt. Shubha Mudgal, Ustad Ghulam Sadiq Khan and Smt .Girija Deviji. Rashid Niyazi (Tabla) belongs to a traditional musicians' family. He is the son of renowned Harmonium player Ustad Kareem Niyazi. He has played with maestros Ustad Shahid Parwez, Adnan Khan and Moinuddin Ahamed. Due to artists like Zakir Dhaulpuri, the Harmonium has been able to get the same status as a Sarangi, as an accompaniment. Zakir was groomed by the Harmonioum Samrat, Padmashree Late Ustad Mahmud Dhaulpuri. Gradually he developed a style of his own.

9-15 May 2014


experiments with Facilitators ensure that the experiments of all the students work This is an individual, not a group, activity. In Sunday's (May 10) session the students will learn to make a Magnetic Propeller. Workshop Fee : Rs 300 For registrations contact Ashwini A Patil Call : +91 9811377705  Mail : Knowledge Seekers Forum Gurgaon (KSGF) invites you to a Talk on: Earth Energies and their effects on our Holistic Wellness By Dr. Amitabh S, Founder, Aadyanta - The Science of Life Date: Saturday, May 10 Time: 10am Venue: Chiranjiv Bharati School, Palam Vihar Please intimate your participation to  G.S.Kainth, Convener KSFG M - 9873102340, R - 0124 4073258

If you wish to be featured in ‘Coming Up’ (for listing your forthcoming events in Gurgaon), please mail us at


New Arrival Artist - Ramesh  Gorjala Title - Krishna Medium - Acrylic On Canvas  Size - 28" X 43" inches Date: May 9 to 15 Time: 11 am to 7 pm Venue: MAC Art Gallery

Passion for Nation A solo exhibition by Gopal Krishna Mallich Date: May 13th to 19th Time: 11am - 7pm Venue: AlFACS

Kaleidoscope – Group Show. Participating Artists : Asit Kumar Patnaik, Bharat Bhushan Singh, Farhad Hussain, Jayasri Burman, KS Radhakrishnan, Manu Parekh, Ramesh Gorjala, Satish Gujral, Shipra Bhattacharya, Surya Prakash, Tapas Sarkar, Thota Vaikuntam, amongst others. Date : May 15 - June 14 Time : 11:00 am - 7:00 pm (Mondays closed). Venue : Chawla Art Gallery, Square One Mall, Saket, New Delhi.

You would have sampled Friday Gurgaon during the year. Here is your chance to get FG at your doorstep every Friday, at a very attractive rate. 52 issues (1 Year), for Rs 350 (Three Hundred Fifty) Only – a Saving of Rs 170 on cover price.

To Subscribe SMS FGYES to 08447355801 Send an email to Pay Online at Delivery will be through your newspaper vendor. Circulated only in Gurgaon.


C oming U p


THE ATTIC 36 REGAL BUILDING, NEW DELHI   TEL: 23746050 Saturday 10th May 6.30 pm 'Art, History and Techniques' - a talk by Mohammed Yasin   Mohammed Yasin will talk about his exploration of the art world, about his discoveries during his residencies in Hawaii and at the Pratt Graphics Art Center in New York. He talks about his experiences in trying out new techniques in lithography, etching, aquatint, engraving, dry point, serigraphy, mezzotint and others. He will also share his experience about his calligraphic works.  Qamar Dagar, through her organisation Qalamkaari Creative Calligraphy Trust, expresses her own passion and love for this form of art and her determination to contribute to its revival. This Calligraphy Week is part of her campaign to provide exposure to various calligraphers and open the minds of art lovers. Since the early nineties she has worked in Hindi and Urdu scripts, using alphabets/ letters as art material - giving a visual interpretation to a chosen theme. She belongs to a family of renowned classical musicians of India.


9-15 May 2014

allegedly raped her earlier and they were in a live-in relationship.  A 25-year-old airhostess accuses her senior colleagues of harassment and stalking; a woman accuses her in-laws of molestation and dowry harassment, in Badshahpur; 2 senior employees are arrested for molesting a 23-yearold manager.

runs away with lakhs, after promising them jobs.  A woman and her family are duped of Rs 5 lakhs by a person who promised marriage; he came in touch through a wedding portal.  Lakhs worth of cash and jewellery is stolen from a house in Lajpat Nagar, Civil Lines; the residents (family of the brother of a DCP, Police) come to know the next morning only.  A person is booked for a Rs 29,000 ATM fraud.

 A sex racket is busted in Sector 31 – 3 women from Uzbekistan are arrested; 7 people, including 5 women, are arrested for running a sex racket in Sector 29.  2 policemen are suspended for trying to hush up a molestation case. A girl from Sector 15 Part II is kidnapped – a fellow student is suspected; another girl of Class XI goes missing after leaving her Jacobpura school. A 19-year-old Bangladeshi escapes from custody in Sector 31 Police Station. 2 cow smugglers are caught with the help of the public. The Police Commissioner recognises and rewards 2 youth. A Food Supply officer is held for taking bribe from a depot holder. Over 50 jhuggis are burnt down in a fire in Sikanderpur.

 Many HUDA sectors (21, 22, 23) and DLF Phase I go without water for 4 days. Many other sectors, including DLF III, reel under power cuts. MCG says it will train residents and ragpickers on waste segregation at source. Bar Association repoll is held and Mahendra Singh Chauhan is declared the President. Over 1,600 of the 2,371 advocates take part in the poll. FOB works starts at Dundahera; there is also a plan to make 3 FOBs around HUDA City Centre Metro Station. Parshuram Jayanti is celebrated. Summer has set in, with temperatures rising to 43 degrees. Rapid Metro ridership at 30,000 is still way below expectations. MCG takes over Raahgiri; MCG Chief faces flak from Councillors for this.

THE WEEK THAT WAS  HUDA Administrator is asked by the Lokayukta, Haryana to take speedy action against the builder(s) of Mayfield Gardens, after his personal inspection recently. The status will be reviewed on July 7.  Court orders a 7th FIR to be filed against Minister Sukhbir Kataria and others in the ‘bogus votes’ case.  Victims of acid attack to be given enhanced compensation in Haryana – upto Rs 3 lakhs.  A speeding car, driven by a 17-year-old, crushes an 18-month-old child to death in Sector 55. The driver is out on bail.  A 10-year-old boy is charred to death in a fire caused by a gas leak in his Mullahera Village house; the boy’s father and 7-year-old sister sustain burns.  A 4-year-old boy drowns in a tank, in Palam Vihar; 2 Class III students of a private school almost drown in the school’s swimming pool – one of them is in a serious condition.  A 32-year-old woman allegedly consumes poison and dies after a fight with her husband (who leaves the house); her 7-year-old son sits by her side and informs relatives in the morning.  A 64-year-old woman is found dead in a DLF I house; she was apparently dead for 3 days.  A person dies after falling in a drain near Naharpur Roopa Village.  A 50-year-old electricity linesman commits suicide.  A 10th class student of Sector 31 is allegedly raped on the pretext of marriage, by her friend and 2 other persons, in a moving car.  A 25-year-old is booked for rape, after a live-in relationship turns sour; a nurse accuses her live-in partner of rape.  A woman in Carterpuri alleges rape by her father-in-law and brother-in-law.  A 27-year-old alleges a murder attempt on her by a man and his mother; the man had

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 Over 100 investors in an M3M housing project – Woodshire, Sector 107 - protest outside the builder’s office in Sector 65; they allege delays and excessive payments being asked for by the builder.  3 people are held for vehicle theft/ carjacking.  A person defrauds multiple people for a total of over Rs 3 crores, in a Sector 14 property case; a person is held for a Rs 30 lakhs property fraud, in DLF II.  A person dupes many people and

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Friday Gurgaon is also available at: Indian Oil Petrol Pump (Opp. Neelkanth Hospital, M.G. Road) Paritosh Book Stall (Sikanderpur Metro Station) C.S.P. - Kanchan (Opp. Vyapar Kendra - C Block Sushant Lok-1) C.S.P. - Swamy (Sector-14 Market, Near Mother Dairy) Deepak Book Stand (Bus Stand) Nagpal News Agency (Bus Stand) C.S.P. - Madan (New Railway Road) Jain Book Stall (New Railway Road) Rojgar Point Book Stall (New Railway Road) C.S.P. - Sector-14 Market (Near Mother Dairy) C.S.P. - Dharampal (Sohna Chowk) Karan Book Stall (Railway Station) Shashi (Fuwara Chowk) Raw (Sohna Chowk)

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9-15 May 2014

C over S tory


A few Right citizens

 Contd from p 1

This is criminal and should be investigated and brought to an end,” he asserts. Many RTI activists who have been working hard to ensure more transparency and accountability in the functioning of the Administration and the State government, have now also begun to ‘inspect’ private and semi-government institutions - which till now had tried to keep themselves away from the purview of this Act, giving the plea that they were not public-funded. The Haryana State Information Commission (SIC), keeping in view the public interest involved and the indirect funding obtained by such parties from the State in terms of grants of cash or land, has now taken a stand that these institutions can be deemed to be functioning in the public domain, and therefore need to provide information as requested under this (RTI) Act. On a complaint filed by Harinder Dhingra, RTI Activist, SIC has ruled that the Haryana Cricket Association (HCA, an affiliate of BCCI) also comes under the RTI Act 2005. The SIC directed HCA to treat the Complaint as a first appeal and provide the information as sought. Dhingra says that HCA has filed for a review of the decision with SIC, but Dhingra is confident that SIC will set aside the objections of HCA and rule in favour of transparency and accountability. Dhingra had asked HCA about the source of their funding, their expenses and mode of operation. Similarly, the Haryana State Information Commission has passed an order stating that Amity University located in Manesar, even though a private university, is a ‘public authority’, and needs to furnish information under the Act. The University had been constituted under an Act of the State Assembly. The SIC passed this order on a complaint by Dhingra, who said that Amity had not furnished information about the number of NRI students at its Manesar campus, and details about their security deposits. The Information Commission had asked the University to appoint a Public Information Officer and an Appellate Authority for RTI cases. Dhingra says that this decision could bring more such private institutions - that have been instituted under State Government Acts – under

the purview of the Act. The decision of the Bench was based on a ruling of the Punjab State Information Commission, which had held that a Chandigarhbased university was a public authority. However, ITM and Amity university have approached the High Court to challenge the SIC order. Three other universities namely Manav Rachna, NILM Kaithal & SGT Faroqh Nagar - have also been declared under RTI Act 2005, after a complaint was filed by Dhingra. SIC has also held that private hospitals in Gurgaon that have secured subsidised land from the State government through HUDA, and as per an Agreement confirmed that they would provide free health care to the weaker sections of society, will have to provide requisite (RTI) information. SIC held that the respective HUDA Estate Officer can obtain the information from these hospitals - which include Medanta and Artemis - and also push them for the delivery of free health care to the poor, as promised. Dhingra, in his application to the Medanta and Artemis hospitals, had asked what information was being put up on their websites regarding the treatment of the economically weaker sections of society belonging to the State of Haryana - as per terms and conditions settled between HUDA and the hospitals. He also asked for the list of beneficiaries who had been given free treatment /subsidised treatment - from the start of hospital services to date. Dhingra also asked for the amount of concession/subsidy given to each patient. The above information also needed to be displayed on the hospitals’ websites - as stipulated under Section 4(1)(b) (xii) (xiii) of the RTI Act 2005. Dhingra expects some compliance to this effect to start soon. “As per the lease agreement with HUDA, the private hospitals are bound to keep 10 per cent of their beds free for patients from the weaker sections of society. If this rule gets implemented in letter and spirit, there will be no bigger victory,” asserts Dhingra. The Rapid Metro has also been brought the under the purview of the RTI Act; though here too the (Rapid Metro) authorities have filed an appeal with the SIC. Gurgaon-based RTI activist J S Walia is fighting against

entrenched corruption in the government organisations. Recently he carried out a sting operation against DHBVN officials posted at the Maruti sub-station in Udyog Vihar, which is termed by many as the most ‘lucrative’ posting. After the sting was telecast in a local TV channel, six officials, including the SDO, were suspended by DHBVN and the State Vigilance department also took cognizance of the issue. Walia says that what surprised him was the confidence of the officials who demanded Rs 1 lakh in bribe for implementing a Consumer Court decision in favour of a factory based in Udyog Vihar. Ironically, while the officials have been suspended, the factory owners are still waiting for DHBVN to act in their favour, says Walia. In another important RTI filed by Walia, he has asked HUDA and MCG about the details of the land that has been rented or leased to the liquor shops in Gurgaon. “A number of these shops exceed the allotted area and turn into big restaurants and ahatas, covering almost double the amount of land sanctioned. This is a major violation, but it continues because of the collusion of the government authorities,“ he alleges. He cites an instance of a major violation in Sector – 47. The authorities were forced to issue a notice for more than Rs 1.5 crores to the vendor. Walia also refers to an RTI that has revealed that out of 604 mobile towers only 3 have permission, and the MCG is losing Rs 2.5 lakhs fees annually from each tower - which all adds up to crores. It was only an RTI that first revealed and then focused on the issue of construction being surreptitiously allowed in the Mangar Forest. Environmentalists point out that it was due to this reason that the Haryana government had backed off from it's aggressive stance. This information came into the public domain through an RTI reply filed by Activist Rohit Choudhury. The RTI reply revealed that PMO had intervened and even suggested that private owners should be facilitated to exit with some modest return. It was also suggested that an eco-sensitive zone could be created for Asola on the Haryana side, and the entire Aravallis in Haryana should be treated as a deemed forest - as per Apex Court’s earlier order. In similar pathbreaking work by Gurgaon-

based activist Dharmvir Beniwal, a large number of irregularities in the State Power Utilities have been discovered, which will now lead to better accountability in that system. Due to his ceaseless efforts, a senior Power official in the Bhiwani Circle was charge-sheeted, as he had issued repeat orders to the same firm on the same day - in a gross and serious violation of financial powers. Another official in Charkhi Dadri has also been charge-sheeted on grounds of misuse of financial powers; and an officer in the Hisar Circle was charge-sheeted for multiple violations. Beniwal told Friday Gurgaon that due to his fight against corruption in the Department, he was transferred to Nuh, accused of taking money from a customer and wrongly charge-sheeted for an offence that he never committed. “I have complained to the police that a cabal of DHBVN officials combined against me as I was raising my voice against corruption. The matter has been referred to top officials and I am sure that truth will win ultimately,” he says. For him the fight is not against individuals and officials; he wants to attack the system, which has turned totally defunct. He claims it was because of his efforts that line losses in Gurgaon and Faridabad have been brought down. He was inspired to start using RTI as a tool after his son's workshop was wrongly billed by his own department, and he was threatened after questions were raised against the wrongful acts of the officials. RTI activist Harinder Dh-


ingra says that a lot of sensitive information, and facts about government functioning, has been revealed due to the hard work put in by people seeking the truth. They are bent upon making the government accountable. Most of the RTI activists in Gurgaon say that they are committed to fight against the entrenched corruption in the system. But they are unhappy that, despite providing clear-cut information and proof to the respective Departments, punishments are not commensurate with the violations committed by the officials. Due to political patronage and strong connections of the individuals as well as the institutions, the accused are able to get off lightly. For example, an RTI filed by activist J S Walia had revealed that there were only six banquet halls in Gurgaon that had the mandatory permission from MCG – while actually hundreds of banquet halls operate in the City. Many of these illegal operations can be quite a nuisance to society and have also led to a major loss of revenue to MCG. However, despite the matter being brought to the notice of the State authorities no action has been taken. RTI activists opine that unless the directions of the State Information Commission (like the Lokayukta) are implemented urgently and effectively by local administrations and State govts., it is unlikely that things will improve much on the ground. We all need to join in and lend a hand to these courageous folk, who many times have gone out on a limb and compromised their own safety, for the betterment of society – for us. u

08 Tap on each of these for sub-categories

9-15 May 2014 Kid Corner Check out what Gurgaon kids are up to

prakhar PANDEY

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C ivic/S ocial

9-15 May 2014

{ Bhawani Shankar Tripathy}


lthough Gurgaon houses more than fifty Fortune 500 companies and is the major contributor to the State budget, governance in this City cannot be termed to be citizen-sensitive. This is a City where corporate leaders manage traffic during peak hours; where ordinary citizens have to remind the City Administrators to develop a policy for disposing construction and demolition waste; where a Raahgiri event has to be continued every weekend for three months just to sensitise the City planners of the need to construct dedicated cycle lanes and obstruction-free pedestrian paths. But even when the citizens are happy and excited to be contributing to good governance in the City, the Gurgaon Administration continues to be regretfully insensitive to citizen needs. As an example, consider a ‘civic development project’ underaken on a two-kilometre stretch of the ‘old’ Delhi-Gurgaon Road. In June 2013, just one month

Citizen-insensitive ‘governance’ before the onset of monsoon, one side of the Road, beginning from Dundahera and ending near the gates of the Maruti factory, was dug up in order to lay deep sewer pipes. Mountains of soil, which were piled along the Road, spilled over the grills on the median, making the road unusable and dangerous. All the traffic was shifted to the opposite lane, thus offloading traffic from four lanes on to two. However, now nine months later, after the pipes have been laid and the pits constructed – at a snail’s pace – the Road continues to remain mostly unusable, broken, unpaved, dusty and dangerous. Driving through this stretch is worse than driving through a bumpy village road. The transport vehicles of the corporate offices parked along the Road have narrowed the usable space. Traffic moves single file. Cyclists, two-wheelers, autorickshaws, cars, tractors, buses, trucks, cycle carts, pedestrians – everyone is fighting to stay on the remaining stretch of the metalled

portion. The trees are laden with fine dust, and the daily users of the Road breathe in a handful every day. The air is anyway full of the choking dust raised from soil that is powdered under the wheels of moving vehicles. It has also led to increased noise pollution, from all the honking. A rainy day makes the stretch muddy, slushy and slippery. Nine months is a long period to compel citizens to suffer not only inconvenience but to live with the fear of getting hurt or their vehicles getting damaged whenever they are driving through this stretch. In a similar fashion, MG Road had been dug up for relaying. For many months it became a huge inconveniesce for those driving through it, or living in colonies along that Road. Now, six months later, the newly laid Road is still bumpy, broken and uneven at many places; road berms are still being fixed. In fact, with traffic slow-downs and jams, an increase in honking, and greater risk to both motor-

ists and pedestrians, the situation has become worse. Someone should also start assessing the increase in damage to vehicles – and work a way to debit the Administration for the extra insurance and repair costs. Such inconvenience is not restricted to roads only. Whether it is the collection and effective disposal of garbage, the provision of clean drinking water, the supply of uninterrupted power, having safe roads to drive on, or ensuring that the air remains clean to breathe - the inadequacy and inefficiency in provision of any of these public services continues to directly impact the quality of life of citizens. The reason why the Gurgaon Administration can cause such inconvenience to citizens, and yet get away with it, is not difficult to fathom. Firstly, public servants in Gurgaon somehow do not consider themselves as accountable to the citizens – at least their actions do not demonstrate any real sensitivity to citizen causes. Sometimes


they may have a genuine reason – for example a shortage of staff or delayed approvals from Chandigarh; but often the reasons are shallow and unbelievable. For instance, there is absolutely no reason why any road in Gurgaon has to be full of dust, or why soil remains piled on the pavements. Such problems can be easily solved by hiring a few labourers, and spending a few thousand rupees - unless of course the person responsible has pocketed the maintenance money and claims that there is no ‘budget’. Secondly, while all government organisations providing public services are bound by law to draw up a Citizen Charter and adhere to it, those of HUDA or MCG are highly inadequate and weak, and therefore ineffective. A Citizen Charter is a promise made to the citizens; it is an accountability tool that citizens can use to question the Administration on the non-delivery of their rights. In such a scenario, Gurgaon citizens continue to remain low in the list of the City’s development priorities, while glass-walled sky-scrapers increasingly outline the dusty sky. u PRAKHAR PANDEY

Bidding Up Bridge { Abhishek Behl / FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon


f you don't play Bridge you would live a miserable old age,” says Rinku Singh, who is obviously enjoying the virtues of this classic game along with her husband, Ambassador Satnamjit Singh - also an aficionado of the game. Rinku started playing Bridge 30 years ago, but took it seriously in the last 10 years. She is of the opinion that a game of Bridge is particularly helpful for the elderly, as it can help in keeping the brain, the mind and the imagination very sharp, along with helping to pass time - which becomes more difficult as one ages. “This Game wonderfully challenges one’s analytical ability and brain cells,” adds Rinku, who is also the Director of the increasingly popular Gurgaon Bridge Club. The Club organises regular Bridge games in the Huda Gymkhana Club. What started with 4 tables and 16 players has now grown to 15 tables and 60 to 70 players. They gather every Sunday to challenge their wits. Rinku is soon going to form the Gurgaon Bridge Association, which will connect players across the City and NCR, and also plans to organise Bridge tournaments. Earlier they would go to Delhi for playing Bridge, but the massive traffic jams and consequent waste of time forced them to think about starting Bridge in the Millennium City. Rinku Singh recalls that they approached the

then Divisional Commissioner, T K Sharma, for permission to start Bridge at the HUDA Gymkhana Club. He readily accepted the proposal (in July 2010). Since then there has been no looking back. Rinku Singh says that they were surprised by the quality and skills of the players in the City. Many are among the top in the country. “We are also now teaching Bridge; so if anyone desires to learn the Game he/she can approach us. The cost involved is very nominal,” she says. Bridge is rapidly gaining popularity also because there is a huge population of retired persons in the City, and many of them have been Bridge players. A person would need to have time on his/her hand, as a session of Bridge may take 4 to 5 hours. “The game is very technical and has strict rules and regulations. We follow

these to the maximum, and the results of the games every Sunday are compiled by me at home and sent to the Bridge players through email,” says Rinku Singh. Bridge is a well-established game in the Railways and in Bengal. In fact, as a recognition of the quality of Bridge being played in the country, ‘The Bermuda Bowl’ (the Olympics of Bridge) will be or-

ganised in India in 2015. The Tournament will be held in Chennai. To learn Bridge one has to have an interest as well as a natural inclination towards the Game, along with good analytical abilities. Ambassador Singh says that Bridge is both an art and a science; it is not a game of cards but a cerebral mind-game. Reportedly no one has been able to completely master it. Interestingly, one of the best players in Bridge has been a Pakistani named CR Mehmood. And then there is the great actor Omar Sharif, with whom the Gurgaon-based couple has had the opportunity to play a number of times. In Rinku Singh's opinion, taking to Bridge can help our youth become more focused and develop better analytical abilities. Of course it assures a busy and interesting old age - like the couple are enjoying in their sunset years in the Millennium City. u


9-15 May 2014

Waste Management - an expert view

{ O.P Ratra }


ousehold Waste (appropriately termed as Urban Solid Waste/Garbage) is a societal ‘requirement’ and is generated every day across cities and towns. At 0.75 to 1 kg per capita generation, it amounts to over 60 million tonnes daily in India. To manage this volume, for collection, treatment and disposal is a colossal job for any municipality. With increased urbanisation, new lifestyle options and habits, availability of diversified consumable items, packaged/frozen stuff and the throw-away culture of disposables, the daily composition of Household Waste has ‘diversified’ and even varies across areas. This composition of Waste requires technical solutions for its treatment and disposal. The conventional method, of   dumping the Waste in earmarked landfills on the

outskirts of cities and towns, has become outdated. Waste is a resource, and has even become a business, based on its composition. The biomass and the recyclables (plastics, paper, cardboard, metal and glass) need their own appropriate treatments. In India, rag-pickers/waste collectors/ kabariwallas have carved out lucrative business options, without much initial investment. The following options for managing Waste, if adopted and practised judiciously, will help reduce the volume and load on the landfills: Biomass can converted into compost and RDF (Refuse Derived Fuel) pellets; Recyclables: paper, cardboard, glass and metal can be recovered as original materials; Plastics can be recycled back into materials, processed into fuel, or used for providing energy through incineration (because of high calorific value).

and managing and segregation of Household Waste and promotion of Bin-culture  in public places, have also been advocated. During the past two decades useful work has been done and there are some visible improvements; but the issues continue to multiply, and a blame-game culture (like for many other things) exists. Despite some notable failures, good efforts have been reported from Pune, DelhiNDMC, Bangalore and Mumbai - where segregation of Waste into wet and dry has found wide acceptance.  The sad side of all these efforts is that even now almost all Municipal ‘dhallaos’, placed in public places, are seen overflowing with Household Waste. Stray dogs and cattle engage in spreading/managing the garbage around   these dhallaos. ‘Fortunately, valuable’

Zero-Waste facility at GPRA Complex , New Moti Bagh, Delhi Green Planet Waste Managemnt Pvt Ltd., in association with National Building Construction Coporation and Indian Centre for Plastics in the Environment, have set up this facility. Here, Waste (about 1 tonne) is collected from 1,000 households of the GPRA Complex daily and processed  for the making of compost, RDF pellets and fuel (from plastics).   A team from Gurgaon, including Nisha Singh, Councillor MCG, has visited the facility recently. As per Municipal Byelaws,   management of   Urban Solid Waste has always been  the responsibility, of local authorities. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) framed the Municipal Solid Waste  Management (handling) Rules 2000, which were revised in 2011.These have carefully listed the methods and technical options for collection, treatment and disposal of Household Waste - including the location and managing of landfills and onversion of Waste to energy (through RDF and/or incineration). Besides, awareness programmes for handling

recyclables get sorted by the ragpickers daily.

The Gurgaon solution(s)

The Millennium City has grown exponentially during the past 15 years, both horizontallyand vertically. The authorities did not pay much attention to Waste generation until 2010, when the Waste Treatment Plant was set up in Bandhwari, on the Gurgaon-Faridabad border, for a 600 tonnes

C ivic/S ocial capacity, through a private agency. During November 2013 fire broke out twice in the Plant, and it has remained shut down since then. Meanwhile the garbage is piling on. A fire is normally an accident or a sabotage. The authorities need to very clearly establish what actually happened. The Plant needs to be urgently upgraded, and not just for the future; even currrently the daily garbage generated by Gurgaon and Faridabad (the Plant caters to both) is about 1,000 tonnes. There is a need to reduce the distance travelled – currently the Waste is being transported over long distances to a single site outide the City. It would be appropriate to adopt a decentralised system of Waste Management – each Zone should have separate treatment plants, for garbage collected from within their areas. This will also help in preventing the frequent closure of large Waste Treatment Plants. Such a system would also be more convenient and healthier. In Europe, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Austria and Sweden have almost eliminated the use of landfills – by changing to incineration and composting. We too have have the technology and the manpower, but seem to lack the will. While the local Municipal authorities have the key responsibility, the residents/RWAS and the local floating population must ensure that they use Bins, to aid in the collection and segregation of Waste. Importantly too, ragpickers/waste collectors are a vital component, especially in India, and their ‘bodies’ need to be offically recognised and regularised. u

This is a picture of Badshahpur Lake visible from my apartment. I have been watching this water body for over four years. It is deep and does not dry up in summers. However, I see trucks and dumpers unloading mud in it every day. It happened last year too. Over the years this unloading of mud has reduced this water body to nearly one tenth of its size. Can we not do something about this? People go to Nainital to watch a lake and when we have something, we are he’ll bent on destroying it. I know that the land mafia is too strong and powerful. Should we keep quiet and allow this water body to die quietly?

-Alka Gurha

S ocial

9-15 May 2014


The clock is ticking ting grey; they move slower. I clearly see an older person now. They must see me likewise. We are now those older folks that we thought we’d never become. Each day now I find that taking a shower is a real target for the day and taking a nap is not a treat anymore - it’s mandatory! And so I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did. But at least I know that, though I’m on the ‘back nine’ and I’m not sure how long this game will last, I want to still live life well. And when it does end, a new adventure will begin! Yes, I have regrets. There ime has a way of moving all my hopes and dreams. I vivid- are things I wish I hadn’t done, quickly and catching you un- ly remember seeing older people things I should have done and, aware of the passing years. through the years and thinking indeed, many things that I’m It seems just yesterday that I that they were years away from happy to have done If you’re not on the ‘back was young, just married and em- me and that ‘I was only on the barking on my new life with my first hole’ (I am a golfer) and nine’ yet, let me remind you that wife. Yet, in a way it seems like the ‘back nine’ was so far off. I you will be there faster than you ages ago, and I wonder where all could not fathom, or imagine think. So, whatever you would the years have gone. I know that fully, what it would be like to be like to accomplish in your life, I lived them all. I have glimpses old. But, here is the reality. I see please do it more urgently. Don’t of how it was back then…and of my friends are retired and get- put things off for too long. You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your You know you’re on the ‘Back Nine’ when: life. So, live for ton Your kids are becoming you - but your grand children are perfect. day and say all the n Going out is good - coming home is better! things that you want n You forget names - but it’s OK because other people forgot they even knew you! your loved ones to n You realise you’re never going to be really good at anything - especially golf. remember, and hope n The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do that they appreciate and love you for all care that you don’t care to do them anymore! n You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring, than in bed. the things that you have done for them It’s called ‘pre-sleep’. n You miss the days when everything worked with just an ‘On’ and ‘Off’ switch. in all the years past. n You tend to use more 4 letter words – what? when? ----???? Life is God’s gift to n You notice everything they sell in stores is ‘sleeveless’. you. The way you n What used to be freckles are now liver spots. live your life may n Everybody whispers. be your gift to those n You now have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet - 2 of which you will never wear. who come after. Make it a fantastic one.u But, Old is still Gold - old songs, old movies and, best of all, old friends. Maj (Retd) N K Stay well, fellow Old Friends! Gadeock


Kyun chaand per jaate ho? Why man craves for the moon and stars? Why the heart longs for the heaven so far? Are they not God’s way to urge one to desire? To seek beyond the mundane To rise and aspire One day the glories of the moons and heavens Will be upon earth When the promised dawn Will take its birth Eternally this belief lurks in the heart of His That man shall become the God he is. Bimal Mohanty

This being the IPL and Election season, I have composed a poem drawing parallels between the two.

Do-Do IPL (Indian Premier League & Indian Polling Legend)

Do do IPL chal rahin desh mein ek sang Ek mein ho rahe match cricket ke Doosri IPL mein Ho rahi neta logon ki jung Pahle sabne hi kaha ‘Dates’ ho rahin clash Kise roken, kise chalaen Aakhir donon hi mein dao pe Laga tha kitna ‘cash’ Phir bahut soch vichar ke Baat yehi samajh mein aai Ek IPL ho desh mein Doosra Abu Dhabi aur Dubai Shuru hue muqable Lagne lage chauke aur chhikke Udhar`doosre IPL mein bhi Lage khanakne sone chandi ke sikke Ek IPL mein ‘teamen’ hain Ek se badh kar ek Doosre mein bhi banne lagi Partiyan ek se mil kar ek Ek mein darshak lekar beer haath mein Match dekh rahe ‘on wide screen’ Doosre mein daru luta rahe Neta charitra heen Ek IPL mein jeetega Dhoni, Kohli, Veeru ya Yuvraj Doosre mein kaun vijayi hoga Koi keh nahin sakta aaj ‘Lal’ donon IPL ki Suna raha hai ‘commentary’ Raat - raat bhar TV ke aage Baithi hai saari ‘country’ Ashok Lal,

12 The ‘Gotra’ Behind the ‘Khap’ { Col. Tej Dalal (Retd.)}


he ‘Khap Panchayats’ of Haryana have been in the news lately, purportedly for all the wrong reasons. The ‘Khap’ system has existed in and around the National Capital Region for centuries, and has been the guardian of social customs & traditions - even in the difficult times under the Mughal and British rules. Due to a lack of understanding of prevailing social customs and ‘accepted’ norms, some social experts have misconstrued the situation and intermingled two different issues. The first issue is about the powers of the ‘Khap’; and second, a more important and relevant issue, is the structure of ‘gotra’ amongst the Jats. The ‘Khap’ existed as a loose conglomeration of elders who always acted in an ‘advisory’ role, mainly confined to its opinion on issues pertaining to social order - and lately on local political alignments & grievances. For decades one has seldom heard of a ‘Khap’ passing a death sentence diktat. The maximum punishment a ‘Khap’ could generally pronounce was ‘hookah paani band’ or the social boycott of a particular person or family. Such a punishment was considered most severe when living in a small community or village; social disgrace was most appropriate for any social wrongdoing. However, in the past few years, with the constant media attention, the ‘Khaps’ have felt emboldened and have ‘acquired’ extra powers for themselves. While they do enjoy the support of the public, as also the politicians, society has clearly

{ Abhishek Behl / FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon

not given them this mandate. Unfortunately a social issue (of ‘same gotra’ marriages) has got mixed up with the new, excessive powers of the ‘Khap’. The common public in these areas cannot understand and accept the support that ‘same gotra’ (sub-caste) marriages are getting from certain NGOs. They believe that grave social implications are just being ignored. In almost every village around Delhi, the families of a particular village belong to just one or two ‘gotras’. People belonging to a ‘gotra’ are considered to be descendants of the same ancestors. Thus, almost all boys and girls of a particular village are deemed to be related to each other as first, second or third cousins. And India has a diversity of ‘customs’. In certain South Indian states, a ‘mama’ (maternal uncle) can marry his niece and this custom (even in Hindus). In some other communities there are ‘sub-gotras’ (within ‘gotras’), members of which are prohibited to inter-marry. For example, Sharma Brahmins or Yadavs avoid marrying people from their respective ‘sub-gotras’. In some eastern states, all boys and girls, on reaching puberty, are allowed to live in a group; and at the end of the prescribed period (usually a month) they can choose their life partners. It is therefore not right for ‘outsiders’ to be judgemental on social matters, and that too on a sensitive matter like marriage. In fact it is social ethics and customs that have invariably led to the making of the laws of any land - not the other way round. ‘Khaps’ have a clear role in Haryana within the social system of the Jats; they are not, and never were, a ‘parallel’ judicial system. u

Monkey Business { Sujata Goenka }


he City was once a cover of green land with water bodies and farmlands. Trees were abundant till a few decades ago. The attraction of this City was its foliage, with lush green belts and a forest area. When the plot on DLF II was sold to us there were just a few two-storied houses scattered in the vast area. Only Phase 1 was somewhat ‘developed’. The City was quiet, with just the MG Road being used as a connecting route to Delhi. But soon the charm of the City evaporated. A concrete jungle replaced the green one. Much of the wild life was displaced. It is sad to read the news of cheetahs being butchered. We are the ones who have entered their territory, and now that they sometimes stray into ‘ours’, we kill them without mercy. The last few days I have been hearing about the ‘monkey menace’ in Gurgaon. A lot of women are afraid for their safety and are not letting their children go to the parks. The presence of monkeys here is not new. This was their home. They are actually more scared of us; but in their quest for food they brave the danger of being attacked by a larger species. Now they are becoming experts at scaling high-rises. Since the fruit trees have vanished, they are now entering homes. Their intelligence has led them to a new source of food - the fridge! Monkeys, like us, live and travel in groups. They also have a social system. The smartest of them enters through an open window. It goes to the fridge, eats what it can and carries back food for others. The household things are rarely disturbed. They have even learnt to open glass doors and sliding doors. They are evolving… just as we did! I am truly amazed at their learning ability. Monkey catchers are finding it difficult to catch them. And even if they were to be caught, what is the point? Reportedly, even gunshots have not scared them. The ordinary folk want some ‘relief’ from this ‘monkey menace’. Someone has advised that a brinjal filled with red pepper, left in the open, will keep monkeys away. Yet another ‘solution’ is the langur - till its owner starts fleecing you. Maybe they can be provided food in designated areas. They will then probably stay in that area. u

Natya Tarangini PRAKHAR PANDEY


t a time when it was not considered appropriate for children from landowning families in Andhra Pradesh to learn dance and perform at shows, young Raja Reddy’s love and passion for dance made him learn Kuchipudi and master it. Then, along with his wife, Radha Reddy, he performed across the world, winning critical acclaim. He maintains that the greatest reward for him is the happiness he sees in the eyes of his disciples - who are increasing by the day. Speaking to Friday Gurgaon on the sidelines of ‘Krishna Leela Tarangini’, being presented by his institution Natya Tarangini’s Gurgaon centre, Dr Raja Reddy says, “Fortunately people in India now want to teach their children Classical Dance and Art, which is connected to our heritage.” At the Krishna Leela Tarangini, the Gurgaon students present stories from Bhagvad Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Learning dance, says Dr Reddy, is an excellent stress buster, as it helps in releasing the tension in the mind as well as the body - it connects the physical with the soul. “In Gurgaon I see that both the parents and the students are constantly under the pressure of time and performance. By learning dance,

S ocial

9-15 May 2014

children can connect with their inner-selves and become more focused; they will also learn to respect the culture and the virtues of our society, which is based on the principles of love, peace and ahimsa”, he adds. While mastering Kuchipudi is difficult, a student can learn the basics of dance in an year’s time. This ensures that students are not forced to learn it. Kuchipudi, he says, is a mix of the temple dance and the village theatre - as it started at religious places and then

Dr Kaushalya Reddy says that the Krishna Leela Tarangini is a reconstruction of the beautiful episodes from the different stages of the life of Lord Krishna. The presentation begins with ‘Makhan Chori’, where Krishna tries to steal butter from a neighbour’s house along with his friends, only to be caught by a Gopi - to whom he reveals himself as the Lord of the Universe. The Natya Tarangini was established in 1976, with the idea of popularising the Kuchipudi style of classical dance in North India, and since then it has evolved into a cultural institution. The Institute also gives free training to students from the weaker sections of society, she adds. Guru Reddy says that their only goal is to spread Indian culture across the world through Kuchipudi Dance.

entered into village life. “It has both expressions and rhythms, and it satiates the five senses. Rhythm is the essence of life, and brings balance and harmony to our lives”, he says. Despite efforts being made by private individuals, Reddy is not satisfied with the state of Classical Art and Dance in the country, and suggests that the government will have to do a lot more. “It is important to safeguard and promote our culture. This can be done by introducing Classical Dance in all government and private schools and colleges, and appointing the requisite teachers,” he says. As far as Gurgaon is concerned, the dance Guru is happy that the Millennium City, despite having many ‘modern’ citizens, has decided to reinforce its relations with the Art heritage of the country. Many families in Gurgaon want to teach art, culture and dance to their children. “I am happy for these Gurgaon-based families, who have decided to challenge the ‘western’ onslaught. It is good to learn from the west, but we should not forget what is good in Indian culture,” he asserts. Dr Radha Reddy, who has accompanied him, says that teaching dance to students in Gurgaon has revealed their talent and commitment to the Art. “Despite being busy, these young learners are very driven, serious and meticulous. Dancing is also a brain teaser, and even if someone does not become a professional, he or she can gain more confidence, poise and style,” she adds. u

9-15 May 2014

K id C orner


Punam Singhal, Principal of GEMS Modern Academy (GMA), gives an insight about the facilities and features of GMA, South City II, Gurgaon Q) How is GMA different from other schools in the city? A) We believe that role of education is to prepare individuals for life. At GMA, we focus not only on academic excellence but also in helping students develop their character, creativity, values, personal leadership and the spirit of enterprise necessary for them to achieve their full potential as global citizens and leaders of the future. Besides, GEMS gives immense importance to Parent Engagement, which is a proven way to help children achieve success in life. Q) Where is the school located? A) The school is located in Block E, South City II, Sector 49, Gurgaon.

 Q) Which classes is the school inviting admission for?
 A) Till Grade 3.
 Q) What are the timing for the school?
 A) For pre-nursery, timings are 9am to 1pm
From Grade 1 to Grade 3, timings are 9am to 3.30pm

 Q) What is the school fee payable at the time of admission?
 A) Admission fee is INR 30,000

 Q) Does the school provide transport facility to the students?
 A) Yes, the school provides air-conditioned and GPS-enabled transport facility. Q) What is the curriculum and assessment pattern of the school?
 A) GMA offers CBSE and Early Year Foundation Stage (EYFS)

curriculum. Assessment pattern is in-tune with the curriculum.

 Q) Does the school provide day care facility? If yes, then what are the timings?
 A) Yes, GMA provides day care facility. The day care is functional till 6 pm.
(Note: as discussed with Punam ma’am, fee shouldn’t be mentioned.)

 Q) As you have mentioned about Parent Engagement, kindly elaborate. A) See, the biggest single reason a child does well in their education is when their parents take a real, active and consistent interest in what they are learning in school at home. International research suggests that a parent who is actively and consistently engaged with their child can add the equivalent of two to three years of extra education to that student over a school career. When parents are engaged children get better grades, have fewer discipline problems and are more likely to be successful in their lives. That is why, GEMS gives due emphasis to Parent Engagement.

 Q) How is the competence of the faculty ensured? A) The school brings on board a team of world renowned educators to ensure it delivers global best practice in the field of education. All GEMS teachers have access to the GEMS Professional Development programme which is one of the largest, most comprehensive in-house programmes of its type in the world. Over 150 senior academics are trained in international accreditation, inspection methodologies and school self-evaluation. 

To know more about GMA

0124-6521700/ 837 603 0644 / 956 079 3697


K id C orner

9-15 May 2014


Peace Marchers

Helpers’ Day



he little Ryanites of Ryan International School, Sohna Road, Gurgaon executed a Peace March Rally at a mall, to commemorate ‘UN Peace Keeping Day’. The Tiny Tots carried slogans and spread awareness about the significance of peace, as confident peace warriors in this world torn apart with violence and lawlessness. The visitors to the mall were impressed and mesmerised by the commitment of these harbingers of peace. This activity was yet another endeavour by the school in taking forward the vision of the Chairman Dr. Augustine F. Pinto. Principal Dr. Mouna Gupta congratulated the successful peace brigadiers.

Say No To Smoking

pholding the vision of Dr. Augustine F. Pinto, Chairman, Ryan Group of Institutions, students of Ryan International School, Sohna Road celebrated Labour Day with great zeal, to inculcate industrious values among the students. A special Assembly was conducted, wherein students thanked the helper staff through their rhythmic salutation. The helpers were felicitated by the Principal. The helpers were touched by the kind gestures of the students. Helpers also took part and contributed through melodious songs. Montessori students gave cards to their helpers and thanked them for all their helpful deeds; in return the helpers blessed them whole-heartedly. Bus helper staff participated in Musical Chairs. All the members of the helper staff participated enthusiastically and loved the concept of the amazing thanksgiving ceremony to make their Day truly special and memorable.


tudents of Ryan International School, Sohna Road participated in a Skit Competition organised by the Indian Cancer Society on the occasion of ‘World No Tobacco Day’. The vision of social awareness of the Chairman Sir Dr. Augustine F. Pinto was very well presented by the young Ryanites. Many schools participated in this competition, held at the Chanakyapuri Navy School. The students presented the increasing use of tobacco by youngsters and the harmful effects of the same on their health. The dire consequences of consuming tobacco were put forward effectively; in fact so effectively that the performance bagged the First Prize among the 26 participating schools. The participants were congratulated by the Principal Dr. Mouna Gupta. She also encouraged them to keep on making efforts to increase awareness on various issues within the society.

Monumental Trip


‘Best Performing School’ SEARCHed


hiranjiv Bharati School, Sushant Lok won awards for the ‘Best Performing School’ and ‘SEARCH Pillar’, for its dedication and commitment towards the protection of the Environment, under Project SEARCH (Sensitisation, Education and Awareness on Recycling for a Cleaner Habitat) The Project is an Environment education programme promoted jointly by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Tetra Pak, and reaches out to over 250,000 school students in 200 schools across seven cities of India. The initiative helps educational institutes set up collection centres for the collection of dry waste, recyclables and used Tetra Pak cartons. The cartons, being 100% recyclable, are converted into useful products such as furniture and stationery. Project SEARCH encourages young students and teachers to practice the 4Rs – Refuse, Reuse, Reduce and Recycle – in their daily lives and make consumption choices that would benefit the sustainability of the planet. Tetra Pak South Asia Markets Communications Director Jaideep Gokhale said, “With the launch of the sixth phase, we are determined to create more ‘Green Agents of Change’ who will inspire and influence others.”

urugram Public School (GPS) organised an educational trip to Humayun’s Tomb (New Delhi) for the students of Classes Ist to 5th, accompanied by 15 teachers. The  monument looked even more beautiful after the recent renovation. The students were briefed on the history and the significance of the Tomb. Later they also played on the lush green lawns.

K id C orner

9-15 May 2014

Imaginative Themes

Blood is Red Gold



very dark night of ignorance has a dawn of learning and brilliance is shown in the imagination, creativity and implementation of ideas’. The themes for the performances were: Grade 6 – States, Grade 7 - Stone Age and Grade 8 - Communication. The classrooms were abuzz with activity - putting up of props, skits, songs, poetry, donning of costumes, presentations, and tableaus related to the themes. In the excitement of the ‘D Day’ the children did not forget to acknowledge and thank, in their own sweet way, the selfless love and care of their mothers - as the Mother’s Day is round the corner. Parents acknowledged that the team of MRIS-46 not only harnesses the potential of the children but also gives them wings for their imagination to take flight.


lood donation is a service to human kind. By donating blood we you can help a needy person and save a precious life. MRIS-51 is joining hands with Lions Club to organise a Blood Donation Camp at the School premises. Remember, today’s donor can be tomorrow’s recipient.

Euro Investiture


he Investiture ceremony of Euro International School, Sector 45, for the academic session 2014-15, commenced with the School Choir’s rendition of ‘Ganesh Stuti’. Chief Guest Satyavir Yadav & Mrs. Sarla Yadav enjoyed the beautiful cultural dances. With pride and a sense of achievement, the Head Boy - Ravi & the Head Girl - Priyanka delivered motivational speeches. Smiling & jubilant, the Student Council members marched smartly to their new office. The Chief Guest & the Principal distributed prizes to the meritorious students.

Earth Day Celebration @ MRIS 46

If you wish to be featured in ‘Kid Corner’ (for publishing your school’s activities and achievements), please mail us at Calling all Educationists, Administrators, Co-ordinators, Teachers and Principals – here’s a chance to pen down your experiences, teachings and learnings. Send us your contributions (400-500 words) at


9-15 May 2014

C omment

Poll Them Out!


t is time for the Administrators of this City to go. Too many cooks have anyway thoroughly spoiled the broth. They have also been able to easily pass the buck amongst each other. This is the third summer wherein Friday Gurgaon has witnessed and given vent to the frustration of the residents of this City, who continue to be denied the most basic of facilities and services. How can an Administration be in such denial? How can it be so insensitive? Even arrogant. How long will it keep mouthing platitudes? How long before people do not just protest on the streets…but act…and then react? Sirs, you have tested the people of this City enough. Just go. As it is ‘your’ Party is over.


While there is no water for the current residents, borewells are being used all over to construct the new residential and commercial sectors. This is truly a Builder Raj! Despite the problems every year, and despite the known solutions, no power back up has been provided at the Water Treatment Plants and many of the identified power sub-stations across the City have not been set up. The Administration won’t do anything, and even will not ask the private builders to do the required in their areas. On the road the citizen is faring no better. Where are the bus stops – forget bus shelters? Where do residents stand in peak summer? An Auto fare has been in the works for 3 years! The excuse is that it is still pending approval from Chandigarh. Is the State Capital such a black hole that everyone and everything just vanishes in there? Not a single EWS flat or plot has been allotted to date! So much for inclusive governance. Thousands of these dwellings lie vacant or have been usurped by illegal allottees in connivance with the Administration. The latter is still ‘working out’ who should be the beneficiaries – it’s been over 5 years! And what a fine mess/mockery the Administration has made of Waste Management (Treatment). The Bandhwari Sewage Treatment Plant’s 150,000 tons of accumulated open untreated waste is probably seeping right back to Gurgaon – and will hit Sushant Lok III and DLF V soon! They won’t see

it, though it will keep poisoning the water below them. And isn’t it a mockery again when the MCG Chief finds the time and budget (no Chandigarh approval needed for this) for supervising Raahgiri – which was being well-run anyway – but has no time or budget for providing water and power to the residents in this hot summer? Some areas and colonies have been without water for over a week! With the Administration asleep with the builders, each RWA/colony is now having to go the Lokayukta and High Court (even Supreme Court) to get its basic facilities. Separately, RWAs are having to forcibly take over the maintenance of their areas/colonies from their builders, so that the residents can live a decent life. There could not be a graver breakdown of administration! Further, with no learning from current mistakes, and perhaps foretelling the disasters waiting to happen, the builders in the new sectors (58 onwards) are now starting to default. Street protests of ‘new’ buyers are now the norm! On power, more than 20 private builders have still not provided the required substations in the current sectors. And yet they are busily constructing in the new sectors of Gurgaon. That's Gurgaon 's definition of Town & Country Planning! Let us not even discuss a disaster like a major fire – or worse. Small fires have taken almost a day to put off, and that too after requisitioning all the fire tenders from all fire stations in and around the CIty. And these fires were all at comfortable heights. However, liquor vends get immediate sanction and attention, and come up within a day - even where they are not allowed! While HUDA goes through the motions of some ‘action’ every time there is an issue on the non-delivery of basic civic facilities, it has sanctioned and is spending hundreds of crores on just one road, in partnership with DLF! Is this a new form of Public Private Partnership – of privately gypping the public?u

Letter To The Editor The opening line of your editorial (2-8 May) hits the nail on the head. Modi is indeed "idolised and dreaded" at the same time. The man is idolised because of his enviable development track record in Gujarat. He is dreaded for two reasons; first for his hindutva leanings,his Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh background, his soft corner for the likes of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal and his barely concealed stand on the Ram Mandir issue. Secondly - and which may be good for the country - he is dreaded by the bureaucrats for his no nonsense approach to work, priorities, time lines and his micro management capabilities. He is also dreaded by the ubiquitous middle man community due to his clean image. Congress is not terrified by a "strong PM"; Congress is terrified at the idea of a non congress PM. Finally, there is nothing new about a party head having the upper hand in running the government. Whereas Sonia Gandhi did it openly, the nerve centre in Nagpur would do it covertly. Then we know of communist regimes all over the world where the party chief clearly enjoys a superior position as compared to the head of government. As far communal ism or secularism, this hogwash is all in the open now. If Congress has tried to appease the Muslims, it was only for their votes. No matter what BJP and Modi might say, we are all aware that the very formation of RSS in 1925 was to bring together the Hindu community and the entire parivar remains committed to this ideology.  Krishan Kalra

You have painted a true colour of Congress party by calling them as a Communal Secularist. Few people have courage of such expression. Modi-the present day warrior is a versatile person to face allround attack and music so boldly. He has already been titled a SUPERMAN breaking a world record by covering 3000 km untiringly in this election period. There was a time when Hindus and Muslims used to live in complete harmony (as experienced by me). These so called secularist have spoiled there mindset for their selfish gain. It is a pity that a Muslim responsible Central Minister warns that Kashmir would not live with communal India. Perhaps he forgets that by becoming a minister he has vowed to be faithful to Indian constitution. How he can utter words that supporters of Modi should drown in sea. It is a shame on him as well as on congress and the government who have not comdemned his utterances. In India a party ruling for several decades has become so power hungry that it does not like to leave the chair amicably. Let god show them a vision and light! Regards, R.S. Jain

S piritual

9-15 May 2014

Rejoice in Worship

{ Dr. Rajesh Bhola }


ne of my friends lives in Amritsar just behind the Golden Temple. I have been visiting him for the last thirty years. The daily routine of his father is to get up at 3.30am and leave for the Golden Temple, for cleaning all the stairs surrounding the sanctum sanctorum. Since the tender age of 14 he has been doing this everyday. He is not performing any religious ritual; he is living out a relationship that he has developed between himself and the Supreme God through the medium of this gurudwara. When I sit with him to seek his blessings he often says, “We must find God, the Spirit. We have to seek a personal relationship; it needs no external demonstration. We can find it within our own heart, in the secrecy of our most intimate feelings. It is not something to discuss with others; nobody can really help us. While cleaning the stairs I worship Him and see His presence in every stair. I sing some ‘shabads’ while doing my job; and He is also my reason to sing. In doing so my soul feels content and I am filled with joy. I find no better solace or comfort than Worship. I prefer to be a keeper of the stairs in the House of God. I am happy to remain in His service.” Think for a moment about a place we would love to go – it could be a place in the city or country. It would be the kind of place that would make our heart beat a little faster, get our adrenaline flowing; the type of place where we would feel like shouting or singing or standing in breathtaking silence and awe. It might be somewhere we are blessed to go or a dream destination. Would a temple, church or gurudwara, an abode that gives us peace and contentment, be such a destination? In today’s world, at an early part of life the youth might be so positively inclined; but when they grow up they start feeling that all such organised religious institutions are ‘not the real thing’ – and not necessary for a good life. They even forget to remember God. All it takes is a certain positive attitude of thought and emotion towards the Almighty. He is worthy of our Worship. To Worship means to be humble, and to feel like a little child in the presence of a Supreme Spirit that is the supporter of the Universe. Worship has the power to touch and transform our lives – and even whole communities. Worship should lead to a feeling of joy, and help us face challenges and heartbreaks ‘joyfully’. Our hearts should learn to rejoice in the memory of our Lord. Worship also means living a life that is surrendered to God - of singing praises of, or bestowing glory on, God. We have to ask nothing from Him – being occupied and satisfied with Him alone. We worship God only when we can truly enter His holy place, His presence. While praise to God is often seen, Worship is secret - only God knows who the true worshippers are; praise can sometimes be distant, whereas Worship is always intimate. In Hinduism, Worship is the expression of devotion, reverence and love for the Lord, of a keen yearning to be united with Him and of a spiritual thirsting to hold a conscious communion with Him. The devotees pray to the Lord to grant them intense devotion and remove their veil of ignorance. They visualise the form of the Lord with closed eyes and enjoy supreme peace and bliss. Worship is an effort on the part of the devotee to reach, to be in the presence of, God or the Supreme Self. It consists

of all those observances and practices, physical and mental, by which the aspirant makes steady progress in the realm of spirituality and eventually realises in him/herself - in his/her heart - the presence of God. Worship of the Lord purifies the heart, generates harmonious vibrations, steadies the mind, harmonises the five sheaths… and eventually leads to communion, fellowship or Godrealisation. Worship gradually transmutes man into a divine being. Worship changes our mental substance and destroys egoism, lust, hatred and anger. It turns the mind inward and induces self introspection. As per the Vedas, Worship eventually brings the devotee face to face with the Lord, frees him/her from the cycle of births and deaths and confers on him/her immortality and freedom. The mind becomes that on which it meditates - in accordance with the analogy of the wasp and the caterpillar. Just as we think, so we become. There is a mysterious, inscrutable power in Worship that unites the worshipper and the worshipped. The Bhagvad-Gita states, ‘But by devotion to me alone, I may thus be perceived’. For a worshipper it is necessary that he has his/her own guiding deity to whom he/she should surrender. It is also said that one can enter into Samadhi through Worship or meditation. Worship leads to spiritual advancement and uplift, and the acquisition of higher virtues. Hindu scriptures lay deep emphasis on religious consciousness. In the Hindu system there can be two types of Worship: concrete meditation and abstract meditation. Worshippers are taken, step by step, to higher stages of devotion and Samadhi (or communion), through the Worship of idols. Though they ostensibly worship a physical idol, they have to keep the image of the all-pervading Lord foremost in their mental eyes. They have to feel His presence in their hearts and in all objects – in His many manifestations. The person who burns incense, scented sticks and camphor before the idol says: “All shine after Him. His effulgence alone illumines the whole world.” Hindu scriptures and saints have helped take many aspirants, delicately but deliberately, from the lower to the higher forms of Worship. The Hindus believe that symbols are useful in helping to fix the mind, for the development of concentration; they serve as concrete pegs to hang their spiritual ideas and convictions on. They are not needed by an advanced Yogi or sage. A symbol is like a slate, which is useful for most in the first standard. However, those who did or do not need it should not pass judgements on those that did and do feel the need. The human soul makes many attempts to grasp and realise the infinite or the absolute, according to its strength or degree of evolution. It soars higher, gathers more strength and eventually merges itself within the Supreme and attains Oneness. There is a wonderful analogy with electricity. Electricity exists, but unless we can convert and concentrate it through a generator it will not flow through the cables and light up our lamps. Let us therefore get connected to that Source through Worship, by increasing our moments of Divine stillness.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


Spring Metamorphosis { Shobha Lidder } The process of regeneration is Very disconcerting The body & soul are reconstructing A lot of destruction is taking place The old must be flushed out For the new to home in There is bound to be confusion So be good to yourself Be patient & rest Till the new thermostat is set To gear you for new paradigms At every stage life renews The best is still to construe An angel is always with you To guide you through If there is life Then surely there is still something To do Winter dies There is jet lag before Spring springs Time for inner purification, detoxification And the regeneration of cells All is well And Nature has come alive Yet again! Writer Journalist, Social Activist, Teacher Trainer, Reiki Master, Pranic Healer




NEWSPAPER To Advertise


18 { Jaspal Bajwa }


ife is a roller coaster. The ups and the downs are part of the ride. It is only through the knocks of life that we hopefully find equilibrium within this cycle. At the core lies our ability to manage the Self - in terms of awareness, regulation and motivation – rather than becoming slaves to impulsiveness, addiction or craving. In nutritional terms, what does it to take to ride life's rollercoaster with responsibility? How does one avoid extremes? Avoiding over-eating (‘how much we eat’) has been the inviolable golden rule for centuries. Of equal importance is ‘what we eat’ and ‘how it is prepared’. By nature, Man is a ‘frugivore’. It means that our bodies - like those of apes, chimps and monkeys - are designed to eat mostly raw, natural, seasonal fruits, vegetables, roots, nuts, mushrooms and seeds. Depending on the context, some amount of lean meat or fatty fish is also a good idea. Along with ‘modernisation’, as we discovered techniques to preserve food, we invariably got exposed to the higher intensity addictive tastes. The most common examples are the addition of salt or sugar, and the cooking of food at high temperatures - resulting in a ‘cooked’ (smoked, toasted, roasted, barbecued) flavour. It did not take long for us to develop a craving for these enticing tastes, especially since several of these became associated with a ‘high’ -in terms of energy or a temporary sense of well-being. Let us examine each more closely. 1) Salt: Replenishing salts after a workout helps re-vitalize and restore the essential balance of thousands of bio-chemical interactions in the body. Conversely, consuming too much leads to hypertension and elevated blood pressure - which is at the root of all degenerative chronic heart diseases. 2) Sugar: Deriving calories from food is essential to keeping our metabolism humming, and to generate energy. The moot point, however, is how much should come from slow-burn, complex carbohydrates (which the body is well-designed to handle) and how much from refined sugars and grains or overcooked foods (which can send the insulin level in our blood sky-rocketing and/or wildly swinging like a yo-yo). This can lead to Hyper-glycaemia/Hypoglycaemia and candida-inducing fungal conditions in the gut. The combined effect of an ex-

W ellness

9-15 May 2014

Health & Vitality... Naturally!

Neither Over nor Under

cessive reliance on overly-processed foods with a sedentary lifestyle, is that in no time at all we are on the slippery slope leading to metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, early ageing and cancer. In an era when an average person in the developed world may already be consuming as much sugar as his/her own body weight, it is imperative that our suicidal march over the cliff - mesmerised by ‘the pied-piper of sugar’ - must be halted. Eating simple sugars spikes blood sugar levels, which in turn cause ‘healthaccidents’. After a high-sugar meal the immune system function drops drastically (by 50-94 percent!), and this effect lasts for 5+ hours. In response to the over-eating and the addiction to ‘sugar-highs’, the pancreas continues to release a large amount of insulin, which then becomes toxic for the body. Research has confirmed that people with extremely high blood sugar levels are most likely to have pancreatic cancer, urinary tract cancer and malignant melanoma. In women, increased sugar consumption during teenage results in a higher incidence of breast cancer later in life (Harvard Medical School). What is less known is those who have an impaired glucose metabolism (often well below the diagnostic threshold for diabetes) also have an increased risk of cancer. 3)  Over-cooked Foods: While under-cooked food may not result in optimal preserva-

tion or digestion, over-cooking can do even more damage. It was already well known that eating charred, well-done meat on a regular basis might increase the risk of pancreatic cancer  by up to 60% (University of Minnesota). Now, similar risks have been found even in plant-based foods. A substance called acrylamide gets produced from sugars and an amino acid during high-temperature cooking (above 250 degrees F) - such as for frying, broiling, roasting and baking. Very brown areas contain the most acrylamide. When choosing cooking methods, we cannot really underdo or over-do. To develop a

strong immune system and to avoid cancer, we must eat lots of whole, unprocessed (or minimally processed) foods loaded with natural fibre, complex carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. This will reduce the stress on our biological system.

Tip of the Week

At home it is possible to opt for a method of cooking that has the least likely potential to form cancer-potential acrylamides. For example, steaming, boiling or microwaving whole potatoes without removing their skin, does not produce acrylamide. Frying is the worst. This can be

partially mitigated by restricting frying to a golden yellow colour; the yummy browns tend to contain more acrylamide. Similarly, toasting bread to just a light brown colour is most helpful. Soaking raw potato slices in water for 15 to 30 minutes before frying or roasting them may help reduce acrylamide formation during cooking. On the other hand, storing potatoes in the refrigerator can increase that potential. Nature’s Wonder Food(s) of the Week: Natural Sweetening When choosing a balanced diet, it is good to opt for plantbased foods. Emphasis must remain on natural fruits, vegetables, whole grains and a selective use of fish, dairy and some grass-fed 'lean' animal products. An optimal diet, in addition to being low in saturated fats, zero trans-fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars, should also be slow-releasing (to contain insulin levels). Good examples of Natural Foods that are sweet and also help avoid the junket trip of pumping insulin into the blood stream, are: Stevia; unrefined, fresh or dehydrated Cane Juice; Molasses; Honey (world’s oldest-known unrefined sweetener); organic Coconut Palm Nectar; Luo Han Guo; Xylitol; syrups made from Maple; Barley Malt and Rice; Agave Nectar and most dried fruits (like dates, figs, raisins).u Registered Holistic Nutritionist (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition). For education purposes only; always consult a healthcare practitioner for medical conditions

Don’t let Gum problems play havoc


wollen gums, a receding gum line, bleeding after brushing, loosening of teeth and constant bad breath -- all these are signs of poor oral hygiene and its adverse impact on our gums. At an early stage the problems in gums are easy to combat, but can result in the loss of teeth if treatment is delayed. A common gum problem is Gingivitis, which occurs due to the formation of plaque - a sticky layer of bacteria - around the teeth. Just a daily routine of brushing, flossing and tongue cleaning can help contain this. Any signs of Gingivitis, like swollen-red gums or bleeding, should not be taken lightly. If avoided, the condition advances to Periodontitis, a serious form of inflammation, which makes the gum line recede, exposing the roots of the teeth to bacteria attack. The end outcome is the loss of teeth. Many people do not know that gum diseases can also lead to serious health issues. “Periodontal diseases, commonly known as gum problems, can lead to Diabetes, Cardio-Vascular Diseases and even Oral Cancer,” says Dr. Simita Madan of Gurgaon Axiss Dental, a multi-specialty chain of dental clinics. Swollen gums cab be a manifestation of undiagnosed Diabetes. There is also a link of gum diseases with Dementia and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Any oral problem should not be ignored. A bi-annual visit to a dentist is a good way to keep oral health in good shape. u

B on V ivant

9-15 May 2014

Whirling Sufi Dervishes { Meenu Thakur Sankalp }


soothing rendering of soulstirring Sufi Music has always been well-received by listeners and music connoisseurs in the Indian sub-continent. Sufi Dance, referred to as ‘whirling’ within the Sufi tradition, has essentially been viewed as an accompaniment to this soulful music. It evokes a trance-like spinning motion, symbolising divinity in prayer. Whirling, which is primarily a Turkish concept, has had a deep impact on the cultural psyche of Sufi culture lovers. The unique form soulfully complements Sufi Music. There are differing interpretations within Islam about the acceptance

of music and dance. The orthodox Salafists and Wahhabis have opined that the Prophet himself was against music. Perhaps the aversion of learned clerics to music came because of Islamic verses from the holy Quran having been ‘misused’ in ‘suggestive’ dance movements. Moderate Muslims believe that dance is permitted for women in an all-women environment; and though generally not encouraged among men, there are some examples of males dancing in rural areas of Central Asia. Further, the ‘Pushtans’ perform the ‘Attan’ (circling), and the Yemeni and Emirati men perform the ‘Shabwani’ (dancing with a stick) and ‘Razfa’ (dancing while holding another’s waist) respectively. Dance

{ Krishan Kalra }


eendas is not a vegetable likely to invite discussion at a party; really, no one serves this ordinary tubor. However, when we had 2 veggie couples over for dinner, I had prevailed upon the LOH (Lady Of the House) - much against her protestations – to include teendas in the menu. Everyone seemed to enjoy the summer delicacy till Preeti – Jairaj s wife – gave us an invitation to come over and sample her exceptional skills at preparing this lowly vegetable. Teende to maine aapko khilane hi hain, she said. Well that was a decade or two ago, but we ve not lost hope. For anyone who can cook teendas better than us, we

and music are more a part of culture in these parts. Sufism’s origins are reportedly traced to a son-in-law of the Prophet. This tenet believes that ‘ishan’ (perfection of worship) is not possible without a teacher and rejects bookish knowledge while advocating active learning through experience. The origins of Sufi Dancing can be traced to its founder, Jalal-uddin Muhammad Remi, a thirteenth century teacher, who started to whirl in the market place when he heard the sound of gold-beaters hitting hard on the metal. The rhythm sent him into a trance and he started spinning, with his arms stretched. A Dervish or Darvesh is a person who treads the Sufi ascetic path – maybe comparable to a Christian Friar in Medieval Europe. The Dervishes of the Mevlevi order of Sufism practise a customary whirling dance in a ceremony called the ‘sama’ - a true spiritual journey into maturity, active

Pseudo Invites are prepared to wait. Then there s this old friend – rather, acquaintance – Bajaj, who s forever inviting me. You must come home for dinner. So, when will you give me a date? is his standard line whenever we meet. It’s not that we have never been to their place. We’ve had an enjoyable meal there. We’ve also had them over at parties. All that was years ago. We don’t have any common friends now and run into each other only at embassy parties. I would not say that I am not guilty of extending such ‘pseudo’ invites. Very often, when people visiting from abroad, or even outstation, call me, I make PC (Polite Conversation) and say, “So, what is


meditation and listening, through the recitation of a ‘dhikr’ (Islamic player of remembrance). The Dervishes spin on the right foot, representing the journey of a man’s soul to connect with the Almighty, while foregoing self and ego. As the Dervishes revolve from the right to the left, they convey their love for the entire human race with humility. The Mevlevis dance in stages: from the the Naat-i-Sherif (eulogy to Islam’s Messenger) to the Taksim (expression of life) and finally the Devr-i-Veled (circular anti-clockwise motion). The Dervishes also represent the gaining of knowledge in three stages: from self, from others and through study and experience. The ‘selems’, or musical movements, explore God’s unity, strength, majestic existence and presence. The Dervishes wear a white gown, symbolising a shroud (signifying death), and a black cloak or ‘hirka’ (the symbol of the grave) which is removed while performing. The ‘hirka’ signifies the rebirth of the truth. The tall brown hat, ‘sikka’, reflects the tombstone - the epitaph of the self-ego. The spinning of the Dervishes in rhythm denotes the revolution of the planets of the solar system around the sun. The Dervishes, also known as Semazens, spiritually convey to the witnessing public that God has endowed his grace upon his believers. A Dervish holds his arms across, signifying God’s divine grace. While his right arm points to the sky, his left arm is directed towards the earth; this implies that he seeks heavenly blessings and deserts (earth’s) falsehoods, to reach Allah, the Divine. The Dervish’s goal is therefore not to entertain, but to seek self-realisation and happiness. The trance-like state is oft chastised by orthodox Muslims as un-Islamic, as the dancer seems to lose consciousness. The Dervishes believe that it represents a devotional form of trance. Though the debate continues whether Sufism is ‘halal’ (accepted by Islamic law), or even if dance is acceptable in Islamic culture, it would be difficult to divest whirling (dance) from the context of Sufi Music. Some scholars, who have argued in favour of dance, have stated that both religion and dance seek the happiness of the soul, self-realisation and a peaceful union of the self with the Almighty.u The Writer is a renowned Kuchipudi Danseuse and Choreographer

your program? How long are you in town? Let me sort out my travel plans & I will call you back. We have to meet before you leave.” Or, “next time you are in Delhi we must meet for a meal at home. I would’ve called you today but ………” I invent some excuse or the other…without batting an eyelid. Along with pseudo invites go pseudo farewells. “What a lovely party; we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly; excellent food, nice people. Thank you very much for asking us. Next time we must meet at our place.” It is all said mechanically, without really meaning anything. The counter invite is almost never intended to be carried out; the next time never comes. Thank God for genuine friends. They just fix a date and ask you over…and you gladly go. .u

20  Contd from p 1

The Peripheral Zone


‘new’ (sectors) Gurgaon only after receiving EDC funds from HUDA, it seems that the authorities are not yet committed to the development of this area. Yadav says that while Raheja builders has promised that their apartments will be delivered by the end of next year, potential residents will have to wait, as there is no promise that the Expressway and civic infrastructure in the sectors will even be half-completed by then. Some Real Estate insiders believe that the government had a 10-year vision of the development of the Dwarka Expressway area, but that has been conveniently ignored by the builders, in the rush to sell their projects. It seems to be a repeat of the current story – the Plans remain on paper (maybe even deliberately). The builders rule. The area along the Dwarka Expressway has 23 residential and 6 commercial sectors, on this road that connects Gurgaon with Dwarka. In fact all Sectors beyond Sector 100 (to 115) are near the Delhi (Dwarka) border, as also near Palam Vihar. This high-speed corridor is expected to reduce the congestion on NH8. Amarjit, a dealer who sits close to Daulatabad on the Expressway, is optimistic. He points to a number of projects, such as Ansals Housing, Cosmos City, Raheja and projects by BPTP, which have reached midstage and would need another 2 to 3 years for completion. “In my

opinion the future will depend on how the next government in Haryana sees Real Estate development in Gurgaon. They will have to look at Real Estate as an industry that is closely connected to infrastructure. Only then will Gurgaon live up to its promise,” he says. A group of dealers also says that it would be important to see how and when end-users enter this market, as the majority of investors will try to exit if the prices rise. None of the property dealers is ready to bet on a bull run. They would be happy just to see prices increase – or even a spurt in transactions to start with. Most other realtors sitting in the offices and canopies on

{ Abhishek Behl / FG }

write to us at letters@fridaygurgaon


R eal E state

9-15 May 2014

ith the Real Estate market in the doldrums, and builders fervently hoping that the new government will boost ‘sentiment’, the decision of the Gurgaon Administration to increase Circle Rates by 10 to 15 per cent will only lead to a drag in the secondary market. The number of transactions is going to come further down. In an interesting move, the Administration has raised the Circle Rates of some luxury condominiums, independent floors and villas - like Aralias, Ambience Island, Unitech World Spa and Parsvnath Exotica - by over 50 per cent (to Rs 7000 psf from 4500 psf ). However, what has confounded analysts is that there has only been a minor rise in the Circle Rates of the new sectors (58 to 115); in fact in some projects the rate has even been reduced! Experts point out that while a hike in Circle Rates reduces the transactions, it however brings in more ‘genuine’ buyers. Sanjay Sharma of Qubrex believes that the decision to

this E-way say that now the days of hard work and hardcore marketing have arrived in this industry - which has been too used to just mopping up cash and cheques as soon as a project was announced. The Real Estate industry has divided the Dwarka Expressway into three micro-markets along the E-way: one, closer to Delhi; the second, the middle sectors; and the third, closer to NH 8. The maximum development of residential projects has taken place in the sectors closer to Delhi – Sectors 109 to 114. Some sectors closer to NH8 (36A, 37C, 37D, 88A, 88B, 99, 99A) have seen the maximum launches. However, the lack of sector roads, and sewerage and power infrastruc-

ture, is holding back the further development of this area. Interestingly, a large part of this area around the Dwarka Expressway was primarily projected as an affordable housing destination, while in reality most of the projects are in the premium and luxury category. Given such a profile, Amarjit says that the buyers have therefore been mostly investors and high net worth individuals, who would will prefer to exit as soon as the market conditions improve. “The challenge would then be to find ‘genuine’ buyers who would have an appetite for such large apartments and investments. A majority of the people now coming to enquire are young professionals and double income families, with a budget between Rs 50 to 60 lakhs. Unfortunately such properties are in short supply here,” he says. In his opinion the builders will probably keep the supply ‘regulated’, so that prices remain stable and the investors are kept happy. Analysts say that the Expressway witnessed the second largest supply of Real Estate between 2008 and 2013 – and it is only half-done. Are we then headed for a glut Once completed, the Dwarka Expressway, say experts, will provide faster access to Delhi as well as the international air-

Time to Get Real! separate the Circle Rates of high-end properties is a positive move. He agrees that while the hike will lead to a slight pause in the market. “This is a chicken and egg situation, and unless people again start investing, the sentiment or psychological feel-good will have little meaning,” predicts Sharma. Real estate experts also opine that the increase would also help homebuyers, as they can get higher loans from the banks - which decide the amount to be given on the basis of the Circle Rates. And in Gurgaon there is still a big difference between the Circle Rates and the actual Market Rates. Pankaj Tomar, a Real Estate consultant, opines that an increase in the ‘white’ component in a property transaction would help bring in more end users (versus investors). Currently, despite being one of the hottest Real Estate destinations in the country, about half of the residential and commercial properties in the City, as well as a large number of plots, are lying vacant. This is the result of an

investor-driven market, which is also why the prices have not come down (as they should have) - as a majority of the buyers has the capacity to sit it out and even take a hit in the short term. Sanjiv Sharma, a property consultant, says that some of the realtors who have been the ‘favourites’ of the UPA government might take a hit, if there is a change. The developers in Gurgaon are hoping that the current rally in the stock market will again lead to a bull run in realty – as has happened many times before. They also point to the rise in commercial transactions in the City, particularly on Sohna Road and Golf Course Extension Road. Neighbouring Delhi is also expected to see a sharp rise in Circle Rates, with a 20 to 60 per cent increase likely to be announced in some areas. It is being speculated that even farmhouses and agricultural land could witness a 60 to 70 per cent hike. Pravesh, who transacts in Delhi Real Estate, says that there has been an increase in the sale of farmhouses

port - which is the main reason for Gurgaon development. Being close to Dwarka, and expecting a new Metro connection with Delhi, had also given a boost to Real Estate on this E-way. A lot may depend on how fast the State can get this road completed. Pravin Kumar says that unless the bottlenecks are removed, the Expressway will only remain a promise, which cannot be easily sold to prospective buyers. Conversely, those who have already entered this market are now protesting in front of builders’ offices, demanding the delivery of their apartments. Maybe they fear that builders will try some ‘innovative’ tricks in case prices rise once again. They cannot afford to stay in this area yet – it is still a wilderness, even by rural standards. This Dwarka Expressway area, part of the Gurgaon II or Greater Gurgaon story (or Master Plan), today literally stands at the crossroads - with Real Estate projects and the E-way itself stuck midway and little civic infrastructure development taking place. The Expressway in many places can be observed only through the blue pillars; only the central verge has been completed. If prices rise and investors sell, where will new buyers come from? Who will buy the balance projects coming up? And if prices do not rise…or even fall? Would it be goodbye to this part of Gurgaon II? So near…from Delhi, the International Airport, a new Metro…and yet so far.u

and agricultural land, as it is expected that the Delhi Master Plan 2021 and the new farmhouse policy will really open up the Real Estate market. With the government opening the property market to private builders, large tracts of rural land are expected to be freed in the near future. Contrarily, NOIDA, also a key property market in the NCR, could see Circle Rates being reduced in group housing and commercial categories, as the government has failed to meet its revenue target due to a sluggish Real Estate market (partly due to hikes in Circle Rates in earlier years). However, here again there is a difference in the movement of Circle Rates between current and new sectors. The Greater NOIDA Authority has increased the Circle Rates in all the categories by 10.21 per cent, from April 1 (whereas some Gurgaon new sectors have actually seen a decline). Does this show more confidence in the realty future of Greater NOIDA versus a Greater Gurgaon? Time for the Gurgaon Administration and the State Govt. to reflect…and correct. There are no guarantees…even for a much-touted Millennium City. u

G lobal

9-15 May 2014

Kay Nietfeld

Berlin: Not so Super-cool now?

Berlin's glittering East at night, seen across the Spree River: at left is the Dom Lutheran Cathedral.

Barkeeper Stefan Endres mixes a Bloody Mary at the Bar Market in Berlin. efit, he mused. 
“Then maybe all the pub-crawler and mall-shopper types of tourists will move on to some other city,” he said. 
Another sign that grunge is becoming a stranger in its own land is that sophisticated food is getting more important than gyrating, sweaty bodies. 
“Restaurants are definitely getting better here, and there’s more of them,” Leichsenring agreed. 
The Kreuzberg neighbourhood, a counterculture bastion adjoining Berghain’s section of town, is also under invasion from tourism and gentrification. At Bar Market, in an old riverside warehouse, the Friday-night crowd ranged from hipsters wearing pullovers with unicorns on them to beer-happy youth from England and dads sipping glasses of Riesling. 
”People who were going to clubs 10 years ago naturally have got older,” observed the barkeeper, Stefan Enders, 35, dryly, as he and his girlfriend Susan Choi, 37, prepared oysters and Bloody Marys for the guests. The couple is planning to open a ‘modern KoreanAmerican’ restaurant soon. 
New York, Paris and London, among other places, already know what it is like when office buildings and hotels suddenly spring up on unbuilt land, when the city centre is taken over by the well-to-do, busi-



erlin, a city that prides itself on being cool, hip and very in, has been roiled by recent reviews suggesting it is now on the verge of becoming yesterday’s town for cutting-edge people. 
 The legendary American magazine Rolling Stone, which covers music, pop culture and politics, opined that the dirty, dangerous thrills of ‘Europe’s Party Capital’ are giving way to mass tourism and gentrification. This assessment came in a report on legendary Berghain, ‘techno’s coolest club’ - infamous for its sex parties and drugs. No photography is allowed inside and getting past the doormen of the multistoreyed nightclub is quite a feat. 
This temple of electronic dance music, described by publications including the New York Times and London’s DJ Mag as the ‘best club in the world’, has turned into ‘one of the City’s most high-profile tourist attractions’, Rolling Stone said sadly. If even raunchy Berghain, which has a sculpture in caramel memorialising a gay orgy, has begun to teeter on the brink of becoming normal - ergo boring - what does that say about Berlin’s vaunted nightlife as a whole? “Berlin is over. What’s next?” pronounced the New York-based blog Gawker, penning the City’s ‘obituary’ in the New York Times. An article in late February sub-headlined, ‘Brooklyn Bohemians Invade Berlin’s Techno Scene’; it quoted a 25-year-old transplanted New Yorker as exclaiming on a Berghain dance floor, “The That music reminds me of Brooklyn!”
 New York City borough, historically Manhattan’s scruffy and un-hip sister, happens to be under gentrification pressure itself. Berliners have picked up the unpleasant scent. ‘The end of a trend?’ asked the Tagesspiegel newspaper worriedly, and added, ‘Berlin is losing its rough charm and falling in trend-setter ratings’. It has been clear for some time that the ‘wild’ Berlin of the 1990s and the first post-millennial decade is vanishing, and the pleasures of fine dining have overtaken the ‘carnal’ behaviours of the past. 
In 2003, Berlin’s openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, once summed up the City in three apt words: ”poor, but sexy.”
That was 14 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 13 after German reunification and 12 after the decision to make Berlin the capital of Germany again. During the Cold War, the City’s eastern half was the shabby capital of communist East Germany and the western one an isolated, defiant hothouse of alternative culture. 
Popular post-reunification clubs like Tresor, Bunker and EWerk have now either closed or moved. At the KitKatClub, the heterosexual sex counterpart of heavily gay Berghain, hordes of non-German Europeans fly in on discount airlines and predominate the Club on some evenings. They come fully clothed - which would have been unthinkable before. Lutz Leichsenring, spokesman for the City’s association of clubs, agrees that the vibe has changed. 
“We’ve noticed we’re getting more mainstream tourists, who are trying to follow in the footsteps of the folk who used to have great times,” he said. If the ‘uncool’ people stay away after reading news stories like this one, it would be to Berlin’s ben-

Britta Pedersen

{ Andreas Rabenstein and Caroline Bock/Berlin/ DPA }

Berghain (background), the Berlin nightclub often dubbed the ‘world's best nightspot’, as guests arrive on a summer evening - before the long queues form. Reviewers and Berliners themselves say that the City is no longer ‘cutting-edge trendy’.


ness-people and tourists, and the local media start writing about starred restaurants and rising rents instead of urban subcultures. 
The tens of thousands of people who resettle to Berlin annually and the stampedes of travel groups, school classes and party-seeking tourists, are ‘spoiling’ the very atmosphere that drew them to the City. 
The much-hyped post-Wall Berlin is suffering a fate similar to that of the Maldives or the (west) Indian state of Goa. Not to worry, 
said Ansgar Oberholz, 41, a club insider and proprietor of Cafe St Oberholz, a well-known gathering place for creative types, bloggers and musicians. “It’s pretty naive to think that everything will stay the same - a city’s got to develop. Berlin has been changing for 20 years and the reaction is always, ‘Oh my God’!” He added that he was sure that Berlin would not go the way of New York or London. “There will always be spaces of freedom,” he said. “I’d find stagnation worse.”

Since late March, defenders of Berlin’s raunchy reputation have been slapping up ‘World Capital of Freedom’ stickers on road-signs, welcoming visitors at the City limits. 

Berlin, with a population of 3.5 million, need not fear a drop in tourism. The boom, currently 11 million visitors annually, is still going strong – of course to the annoyance of many Berliners, who feel overrun. Some New York bohemians may be disappointed by Berlin’s evolving music scene, but staider tourist attractions like Museum Island and remnants of the Berlin Wall attract people interested in history and culture from all over the world. 
Cheap beer round-theclock and open nightclub sales of marijuana and MDMA still pull in the Party generation. Few places can beat Berlin when it comes to young people letting their hair down without being hassled by the police. Those with little money, or who fail to get by Berghain’s merciless bouncers, can drink and party in parks or on the street (at least in summer).u


9-15 May 2014

In the World's Biggest Cave

G lobal Far away on a beach in the Son Doong Cave, the tents seem as tiny as plastic helmets. Light from a roof collapse streams into the cavern.

The hikers explore a sinkhole where the roof of the Son Doong Cave has collapsed, allowing jungle to grow on the Cave floor. Swirling mist above them adds to the strange effect.

{ Johanna Uchtmann/Phong Nha, Vietnam/ DPA }

who loves their caves so. Back in 1990 a man named Ho Khanh one day confided to Howard about his having found a new cave in the jungle. It was pretty big, he thought, but he wasn't sure. Only in 2009 did the men again find the entrance, and Limbert gradually measured the Cave. It became quickly clear that there, hidden in the jungle, was the most voluminous cave in the world. Hang Son Doong is 8.9 kilometres long, The deepest point lies Johanna Uchtmann


round 300 metres below the surface of the surrounding land lies a beach of the finest sand. Clouds hang low. When you brush your teeth on a ledge above the rocky chasm, you can hardly see the jungle down below, because white mists are swirling. This is a view into the most voluminous cave in the world. Eight kilometres away, through an underground path, is the other end - the ‘Vietnamese Wall’. The Hang Son Doong (Cave) lies in the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park in central Vietnam, near the border with Laos. Within the Cave flows a river. It rages at some points and is gentle and sometimes not even visible at others. After every rainy season it breaks new ground through the stony tunnel. Where it once flowed, there is sand – lots of it. The cave is so gigantic that it forms its own clouds. "Many of its really large caverns have their own cloud systems," says Howard Limbert, a cave explorer. The Briton has constantly been visiting the Phong Nha area over decades. The locals have developed an affection for this westerner

490 metres underground. The largest hollow point has a roof 200 metres high - large enough to fit a cathedral inside. “There are many, many longer caves," Limbert admits, "but they are generally very, very narrow. Son Doong is simply gigantic in places. Any other cave in the world would fit inside it!" After discovering the Cave, Howard made caving his profession and now works for Oxalis, a tour company

that organises trips through the caves of the National Park. The Tour lasts six days, and the 224 tickets that the provincial government allowed to be sold for 2014, sold out in two days last October. Only Oxalis can sell the tickets. Karst rock and primal forest shape the National Park, which UNESCO listed as a World Natural Heritage in 2003, partly for its many caves. We enter Hang Son Doong via another cave, the The roof of the Son Doong Cave has collapsed here, letting in daylight, and the jungle has grown on the bottom of the sinkhole. The hikers climb on an enormous boulder (centre), to enjoy the other-worldly view.

Hang En. Some 14 porters have taken all the food, tents, sleeping bags and baggage on their backs. Two cooks are separately in tow. At the entrance to the world's most voluminous cave you have to duck! You can't see deep inside it either. Then Limbert says what the unsteady among the team have feared all along: "It'll now be a bit tricky here. We've got to descend about 100 metres. Buckle up." After the descent, fully roped up, it's not long before you are in sight of the camp. From afar, the tents look like a line of helmets laid on a beach of fine golden sand. The porters have put them up. "Would you mind coming a little over here," Limbert says placidly, beckoning an exhausted tourist closer. Only when she stands next to him does he reveal his alarm and tells her why. A minute ago she had been standing at the very edge of a lofty precipice…without knowing it. The 100-metre cliff towers above the camp. Below is the roaring river. It is loudly audible all night. This camp Guide Ian Watson (left) buckles up tourist Costy Borg (right) before the dangerous descent inside central Vietnam's amazing Son Doong Cave.

9-15 May 2014

at least enjoys daylight, because the first sinkhole is nearby. It is a funnel-shaped cavity that was created a few million years ago when the river water continually ate through the limestone. When the cave grew, the roof over the gigantic hollow was unable to carry its own weight, and collapsed. It must have been like an earthquake. At the bottom of the funnel is a miniature green jungle. Even more spectacular is the second cave-floor jungle, which is about half a day's march from the first; here too the roof has collapsed. The hikers' feet sink, in some areas, into powdery

A guide reflected in an underground pool in the Son Doong Cave, backlit by daylight from a jungle-filled cavity created by the collapse of the Cave roof in central Vietnam.

Two guides use torches to illuminate the vast size of one of the caverns making up the Son Doong Cave system.

Two tourists admire a stupendously large stalactite in the Son Doong Cave in central Vietnam.

ground made of a strange sand. "Not sand," says Limbert. "It's ancient bat guano." On the fourth day Son Doong shows a new wonder. At about the 8-kilometres mark, the ‘Vietnamese Wall’ towers steeply out of a green-blue subterranean lake. The group paddles with rafts to the 80-metre-high formation made of soft brittle stalactite. The Wall has grown out of a great hollow in the Cave. The roof here is 200 metres high and can't be seen, even with very strong torches. From the top of the wall it’s just a couple of hundred metres to the exit. But only professionals can climb the ‘Vietnamese Wall’; the tourists turn around and take two nights and almost two days to reach the top of the wall by the longer route. Two small buses from Oxalis wait outside on the road with ice-cold beer and cola drinks. People celebrate, wheeze and take off wet socks and leeches from their feet. The ascent has been hellish. Phan Van Thin, the Vietnamese guide, springs excitedly into a new bus. "Brand new!" he yells. A couple of minutes later eight rear ends, covered in red mud, pile into the leather. The driver closes the door from outside and steps into the front. A tourist, a doctor from Hawaii, starts to name the seven new wonders of the world….starting with the Cave! u

G lobal


Tube-rafting in the Waitomo Caves

{ Alexandra Frank/Waitomo, New Zealand/ DPA }


hen, in the darkness, the first lights suddenly appear, tiny and countless, like stars up in the night heavens, then all is forgotten - the strain, the excitement and the fear. Even the darkness, which for the past two hours had covered the group deep down in Ruakuri Cave, is forgotten. The Cave is part of the Waitomo Caves, a labyrinth of caverns, sinkholes and rivers criss-crossing beneath the green hills of New Zealand - about 200 kilometres south of Auckland. For thousands of years the subterranean waterways have been carving out tunnels and caverns in the soft limestone. Each year, up to 450,000 visitors are drawn to Waitomo, to see for themselves the fascinating underground world of count-

less stalagmites and stalactites. Most people explore the caves by foot or in boats. But recently nine visitors, led by Matthew Atkins, were out searching for adventure in a place called the Black Labyrinth. It's an underground tube-rafting tour led by the 27-year-old cave guide, and lasts more than three hours - at places going as deep as 65 metres below the ground. The path to get there is slippery. The group makes its way gingerly over wet boulders into the cave that, from a distance, looks like a dark eye staring out of the landscape. The large

inner tubes that the people are carrying make it all the more difficult for them to keep their balance. Helmets protect their heads from any collisions with the cave walls, and diving suits protect them from the river's icy cold waters. One after the other the trekkers wade into the water, the tubes around their bottoms; and then off they go, paddling with hands and feet to try to avoid striking the stony obstacles jutting out of the stream. The headlamps on their helmets shoot out beams of light against the moist walls. The group slowly floats past towering stone formations. But suddenly things speed up. A slight current catches the inner tubes and drags them ever deeper inside the cave. The passageways become narrower and the ceiling ever lower. "Now let's practice the limbo dance," Atkins calls out to the group, as he bends his torso backward, flat atop the tube, as he manoeuvres his way through a narrow shaft. At the end of the tunnel the space broadens out again and the group breaths a sigh of relief. Now they proceed on foot a few steps across a dry elevation. And then they hear it: a waterfall plunging 3 metres down into the darkness. "Now, backwards on my command!" Atkins calls out, referring to a routine the group has practiced earlier in the daylight. What he is demanding is that they drop from a ledge into the ice-cold lake. "Don't think. Just jump," he commands. Floating along, the group enters a cave that is as large as a cathedral above their heads. "Turn off the lamps," Atkins calls out. And then the magic starts. Above the trekkers' heads, the glittering lights of thousands upon thousands of glow-worms convert the cave ceiling into a mass of sparkling galaxies. The group floats along in this awe-inspiring world of countless tiny lights up above…wishing it would ever end.u


9-15 May 2014


Dwarka Expressway - at the crossroads

Friday gurgaon 9 15 may, 2014 the change you want to see

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