Monthly Archives: JANUARY 2018


HERITAGE FESTIVALS TO BE REVIVED IN STATE
Navjot Sidhu announces Rs. 24 lakh for Baba Banda Singh Bahadur memorial
10.01.18 - TEAM PT
Navjot Sidhu announces Rs. 24 lakh for Baba Banda Singh Bahadur memorial



S.A.S. NAGAR: The Cultural Affairs and Tourism Minister, Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu today paid a visit to the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Memorial at Chapparchiri and announced Rs. 24 lakh for the development of the place as well as the facilitation of tourists. The minister himself took stock of the conditions around the memorial after the MLA from Mohali Balbir Singh Sidhu demanded sprucing up of the basic infrastructure and brought to his notice the dilapidated condition of the approach road towards the memorial.

Interacting with the mediapersons on the occasion, Sidhu announced Rs. 12 lakh on the behalf of the Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa for the restoration of the approach road towards the memorial as well as Rs. 12 lakh from his own discretionary quota for the beautification and facilitation of the tourists. He further said that the Punjab Government led by the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh would develop historical and heritage sites of the State as tourist hubs to attract tourists from both country and abroad. Divulging more, he said that as per the directions of the Chief Minister the heritage festivals have been revived in the state and the department would hold heritage festivals at Patiala, Amritsar, Bathinda and Kapurthala with the first one in February at Patiala. The minister also disclosed that as per the slogan 'Sabhyachar Ton Rozgar' of the Cultural Affairs and Tourism Department the main motive is to create ample employment opportunities through the rich and glorious cultural heritage of the state.

Sidhu further elaborated that Chapparchiri memorial stands testimony to the glorious history of the Sikhs where Baba Banda Singh Bahadur established the rule based on equality and just principles by eradicating cruelty and lawlessness. He said that facilities would be provided at such historical spots to make them attractable to the tourists. He advocated creating congenial atmosphere so as to help the NRIs make their children aware about the extremely rich historical and cultural roots of Punjab.
 
He also said that earlier Bajwa was also scheduled to come with him but due to important meeting he couldn't make it. But Bajwa had authorized him to make any announcement regarding repair and renovation of the approach roads towards this memorial and that is why he has announced Rs. 12 lakh on behalf of him. The Cultural Affairs and Tourism Minister assured local MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu to put forward any demand with regard to the chapparchiri memorial and development of the city that would be conceded.

Sidhu earlier along with Balbir Singh Sidhu visited the memorial and afterwards the approach road connecting Mohali with it and expressed deep concern at the shabby condition of the road. As a consequence, the minister announced the financial assistance.
 
 


Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 
 

Punjab farmers and IPL cricketers – Finally, they can stand like equals

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NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

ELECTION COMMISSION - YOU FAILED TO CONVINCE. TRY AGAIN.

THIS IS WHY ELECTION COMMISSION DID NOT ANNOUNCE GUJARAT POLL DATES – Decoding the mystery 

BJP TO EDUCATE FARMERS ABOUT AGRI & RELIGION LINK – Will tell them Modi did so much 

AYE BHAI, BINA DEKHE CHALO –  Walking with the blind in Chandigarh

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

OPEN SALE AT GNDU – Have Rs 25,000? Get your compartment cleared. Rs 50,000 for two subjects

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ABEY TU BAHAR NIKAL, CHOWK MEIN AA   The 10-yard-radius protest

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PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT




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DEBT WAIVER AT MANSA – WHY DID MRS BHATTAL NOT GET A PARMAN PATAR?
Punjab farmers and IPL cricketers – Finally, they can stand like equals
08.01.18 - S Pal
Punjab farmers and IPL cricketers – Finally, they can stand like equals



FINALLY, THE MOST impoverished among Punjab’s farmers could claim an equal footing with the much celebrated IPL cricket players who are ritually showered with vulgar amounts of cash.

It is a day like this one when history produces imagery that lasts rulers — a Napoleon storming the Bastille, a Marie Antoinette advising the poor to opt for the cake, a Rosa Parks refusing to vacate her seat in a bus, a black man telling the world he has a dream, closer home a prime minister explaining the impact of a big tree falling, or still closer, a CM handing over a debt-waived off certificate to a farmer.

Of the many things for which Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh will be remembered for decades to come will be the sheer size of the certificate he handed over to the farmers, calling each one to the stage. 
 

Reeling under debt, grateful for their good fortune since they had successfully negotiated the minefield of paperwork, lottery, good graces of local Congress strongman, spellings of their name in the Aadhar card and 33 other improvised explosive devices thought up by Punjab's babus, these men, often above 50, some almost 70 plus, were helped on to the stage, asked to turn their faces towards the whirring cameras of television channels and place their hands ritually on the 'Parman Patar', as the CM as well as Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar touched it tantalizingly.
----------

It's a pity no reporter tracked these lucky farmers as they trudged back home, the unwieldy 'Parman Patar' a little difficult to handle. I saw one boarding a bus, the conductor insisting that the farmer would have to buy a separate ticket for it.

----------
"Karza Mukt!" What a relief!

It's a pity no reporter tracked these lucky farmers as they trudged back home, the unwieldy 'Parman Patar' a little difficult to handle. I saw one boarding a bus, the conductor insisting that the farmer would have to buy a separate ticket for it.

An official I spoke to said the initial idea was to have 8 feet x 3 feet certificates, as that would have enabled a number of ministers to squeeze themselves into the frame. However, the final product was a little shy of six feet by two and a half feet. "Roughly equal to the cheques that IPL cricketers are given," the helpful official of the cooperative department informed me.
 
 Also Read:  A DOKLAM IN EVERY FIELD: Farmers not only produce food. They produce peace.

I did not say anything, and did not indulge in any violent act, which is proof that I am a peace-loving citizen even in the face of grave provocation.

A farmer with a 'khoonda' in hand was passing by at that moment, but he probably did not hear the conversation, which is proof that Merciful Providence is kind to Punjab government officials.

Dr Gian Singh, a well known economist and academician who has studied the quantum of farm debt in Punjab, was furiously punching keys on his calculator. "Zero point one eight percent," he said. 
"Sorry?" I had missed the context. "The loan that Amarinder Singh government waived off today – it comes to 0.18% of what Amarinder Singh had promised."

Dr Gian Singh is a researcher who is too careful about decimal points, so I had to ask him the next question very diplomatically. 
----------
From 10 lakh farmers who were to benefit, to the 1,60,783 farmers identified last month as being eligible for the first waiver tranche, to the finally selected 46,556 farmers, Amarinder government’s farm debt waiver has shrunk to a parody of its original.
----------
"Are you sure this calculator works properly?" 

"Calculator theek ae, sarkar da dimaag kharab hai," he snapped at me.

As I look at the column inches space that newspapers devoted to covering the extravaganza at Mansa on January 7, Sunday, I wonder at the space allocation algebraic formulas that media houses choose. God bless the UIDAI for going after The Tribune's reporter Rachna Khaira with an FIR and thus claiming some frontpage free publicity for itself, or Amarinder Singh's 6 feet long certificate would have claimed more space on page one across mastheads.
 

Size matters, clearly, and since we are on the subject of size, let's measure how deep the joke cuts.

From the total farm loan/debt waiver that Amarinder had promised (see video, January 2017), estimated by experts at a little shy of Rs 1 lakh crore, to the government's own estimate of Rs 59,000 crore worth of only crop loans (March 2017), to an announcement on the floor of the Punjab Assembly to waive off loans worth just Rs 9,500 crore (June 2017) to this month's (January 2018) planned first waiver tranche of Rs 748 crore, to the final first actual waiver on January 7, 2018 of Rs 167.39 crore of only cooperative bank loans of selected farmers. 
 

From 10 lakh farmers who were to benefit, to the 1,60,783 farmers identified last month (December 2017) as being eligible for the first waiver tranche, to the finally selected 46,556 farmers from just five districts for January 7 largesse, Amarinder government's farm debt waiver has shrunk to a parody of its original. 
----------

In any fight for claiming space in public memory, the contest is often between the most impoverished and the highly equipped. The media is the arbiter of this contest. between a CM Royale and a praja that knows little about who the Patiala scion is.

----------
Nothing, however, diminished the enthusiasm of Amarinder's PR machinery which went ahead and decided that only a 6 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide Parman Patar will do. Should we now adopt it as the official Maharaja size?

In any fight for claiming space in public memory, the contest is often between the most impoverished and the highly equipped. In a democratic society, one expects the media to be the arbiter of this contest. How, otherwise, would we have known about a woman who refused to vacate her seat in a bus in Montgomery, Alabama back in 1955?

That contest was on in Mansa on January 7. Between a Royale and a praja that knows little about who the Patiala scion is.

A team of dedicated research scholars wanted to know how much Punjab’s female farm labourers know about conditions and people who decide, impact, articulate, plan, decimate or ameliorate their lives. 
 

Dr Dharmpal, an assistant professor of Economics from GGDSD College, Kherri Gurna (Banur); Assistant Professor Jyoti; Prof Gurinder Kaur from Department of Geography, Punjabi University, Patiala; and Dr Veerpal Kaur, Assistant Professor from University College, Ghudda — all led by Dr Gian Singh, carried out a survey of 1,017 farm labour households.

Of the 408 households in rural areas in Malwa, 349 in Majha and 260 in Doaba that they surveyed, 95.28% women labourers had no interest in politics, 92.72% had not heard of the name Narendra Modi and 89.28% were not aware of a man called Amarinder Singh.

In the 29 villages that these researchers went to, there has not been a single graduate woman among farm labourers since 1947. It shouldn't take much to guess that there had not been one before 1947.

The contest for column inches of space in newspapers is between these two sides – one that comes up with a 6 feet long certificate, and the other whose dream is to stand at a labour chowk to augment her income.
----------

In the 29 villages that these researchers went to, there has not been a single graduate woman among farm labourers since 1947. It shouldn’t take much to guess that there had not been one before 1947.

----------
Journalists, news editors, editors, editor-in-chiefs are the arbitrators, the arbiters of this contest. 

My grouse is that they have been very unfair to some people. One of them is Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. In February last year, she was made to pay Rs 84 lakh as penal rent for illegally overstaying in a government accommodation – house number 46 in Sector 2, Chandigarh. It must have hurt her deep inside.

In September 2017, the Amarinder Singh government waived off that penal rent and paid her back Rs 84 lakh. 

Also Read: NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty
 
No function was held, Gurdas Mann did not sing songs, PR machinery did not issue any ad, and no one cared to print a 6 feet x 3 feet Parman Patar for the most respectable Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

The people of Punjab must rise against this injustice. No one should be denied his or her dues. Next time, it must start from Mrs Bhattal.

Any Bharti Kisan Union activist daring to protest will not have my sympathy.
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

Most shared Punjab Today articles: 
 

AMARINDER, BADALS, KHAIRA, AROOSA ALAM & A JOURNALIST OF TRIBUNE

BUT AAP WON'T GET IT. TUM TO THEHRE SHEHARI 

NAPOLEON PAINTING ROW: Punjab Govt insists on riding its high horse

PLAYING WITH SIKH SENTIMENTS: Punjab Govt’s ad depicts Tenth Sikh Master astride Napoleon’s horse

HOW DHUMAL WAS ASSASSINATED POLITICALLY, BY THE BJP

SUKHBIR IS RIGHT – On 97th anniversary  Panth Khatre Vich Hai. Where does this threat come from?

SHIROMANI AKALI DAL – Abhi to party shuru huyee hai...

MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS IN PUNJAB: How Congress, SAD, AAP have framed issues  

DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT

VIDEO - CLASS 5 STUDENT THREATENS REVOLUTION

CHAI PAR SUICIDE? Meet Mankar. Sorry, he’s dead. Modi met him, though - for Chai Pe Charcha

1984 - A RIOT OR A GENOCIDE? Controversy explodes in Canada again as Hardeep Puri tweets

PUNJAB VIDHAN SABHA: They are publishing a new book, so please go read an old one

JAANE KYA DIKH JAAYE! Rajasthan, where they write poems hailing Shambu Lal Regar 

'IF NOT VANDE MATARAM, then will you salute Afzal Guru?' 

LAHORE NU SALAAM – LAHORE CHODD AAYA - Prof. Randhir Singh

THE LOOT THAT RAJASTHAN COMMITTED – An insult bigger than Bollywood’s Padmawati! 

TRIBUNE’S HARISH KHARE SHATTERS EDITORIAL SILENCE OVER CARAVAN REPORTAGE  

THE DANGER OF RENAMING A COLLEGE 

ARNAB GOSWAMI WATCHES PADMAWATI, KARNI SENA IS HAPPIEST

DESH CHORR DO – VANDE MATARAM MAN TELLS SIKH LEADER TO LEAVE COUNTRY

DYAL SINGH COLLEGE TO VANDE MATARAM MAHAVIDYALAYA - A DESIGN NEFARIOUS?

HONESTY CERTIFICATE TO MAJITHIA TRIGGERS CRISIS IN TRIBUNE 

THE FINAL HONESTY CERTIFICATE: ISSUED BY THE TRIBUNE

WAS IT MEANT FOR TRUMP? OR US?  – Bush, Obama said this on Diwali

WALKING IN STEP, HAND ON THE SHOULDER Aye Bhayee, Bina Dekhe Chalo

CHALO, PATAAKE CHALAYEN – CM Amarinder Singh & Parkash Singh Badal Jee

NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

ELECTION COMMISSION - YOU FAILED TO CONVINCE. TRY AGAIN.

THIS IS WHY ELECTION COMMISSION DID NOT ANNOUNCE GUJARAT POLL DATES – Decoding the mystery 

BJP TO EDUCATE FARMERS ABOUT AGRI & RELIGION LINK – Will tell them Modi did so much 

AYE BHAI, BINA DEKHE CHALO –  Walking with the blind in Chandigarh

BAD, BAD WOMAN! – Punjab’s top playwright slams woman complainant against Langah

MR PRESIDENT, PLEASE TAKE BACK HIS GALLANTRY MEDAL – On Amod Kanth’s badge of shame

OPEN SALE AT GNDU – Have Rs 25,000? Get your compartment cleared. Rs 50,000 for two subjects

SUCHA SINGH LANGAH : KAMAAL JAARI HAI... Sucha Singh Langah wins, even in his darkest moments

ABEY TU BAHAR NIKAL, CHOWK MEIN AA   The 10-yard-radius protest

PATIALA, VIA PANCHKULA. HAIL DEMOCRACY! Halaat kharaab nahi hone chahiye!

PEHLU KHAN CASE   Will Govt Now Compensate The Magnificent Six? The Nation Needs to Know

MR HOME MINISTER, WILL YOU BE VISITING FAROOQ AHMAD DAR'S HOUSE? 

THE RYAN DEBATE: HOW INDIA MISSED THE GREAT CCTV ANGLE?  Not covered by cctv, so not covered by tv either

POLITICAL ECONOMY OF RETIREMENT AGE ROW   What’s wrong with retirement age policy?

THE GORAKHPUR DEAD SPEAK TO PUNJAB  From Patiala to Gorakhpur, the tale of the dead

WE WILL KILL 40-50 – Haryana BJP, Govt calculated death toll before firing first bullet

RELAX! ALL 30 WERE DERA PREMIS – Panchkula says something stinking about its conscience

LET'S KILL PAASH – Dr Sumail Singh Sidhu on the importance of Paash

A DOKLAM IN EVERY FIELD: Farmers not only produce food. They produce peace.

SURGICAL STRIKE YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT: When Indian jawans killed everyone at Pak post

PUNJAB: AN IDEA IN SEARCH OF WORDS: Punjab, more than a poster boy of progress or a renegade from modernity

_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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FARMERS’ DEBT RELIEF FUNCTION IN MANSA
Mr Chief Minister, please call off January 7 function. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!
06.01.18 - BYLINE BEING WITHHELD FOR PRIVACY REASONS
Mr Chief Minister, please call off January 7 function. My teacher is not alive, but you please call it off!



"Saare bachhe jehrre bahut gareeb ne, te jehrre-jehrre anusuchit jaati wale ne, apni-apni seat te kharre ho jao.”

("All those children who are very poor, stand up. Also those who are scheduled caste.”)

I was a 14 year old. The year was 1982. Class VIII. Section A. Govt Junior Model School, Model Town (city's name being withheld - Ed). Class Incharge teacher Ms Surinder Bala was a kindly spinster, a strict woman with a heart of gold who would bash up students single-slap right-left cheek fashion. One slap for every wrong step in a mathematics problem. On that December morning, she was collecting monthly school fee from students. A princely sum of Rs 5.75 per student.
 
Not every student would bring the fee in time, which was by the 10th of each month. A month earlier, the parent of a particular student, clearly well off economically, had proposed to pay a lump sum monthly amount to school in lieu of the fee charged to students who were either too poor, or were scheduled caste (which, to us, also meant poor).
 
A day earlier, we were called to the office of the headmistress, Mrs Jaswant Kaur, one by one. She asked each student in my class individually what did his or her dad do, if the mother was a housewife, how many brothers and sisters a kid had, did we get pocket money, how much — everything that could help her decide if a student was poor enough to deserve a fee waiver. It did not take her long to decide that I was poor enough. "Kise nu dasna nahi (Don’t tell anyone),” she instructed me. This felt good to an eighth grader.
 
Two days later, Ms Surinder Bala was on the job in the classroom, the list of beneficiary students prepared by Mrs Jaswant Kaur in her hand.
 
"Saare bachhe jehrre bahut gareeb ne, te jehrre-jehrre anusuchit jaati wale ne, apni-apni seat te kharre ho jao.”
 
Also Read:  A DOKLAM IN EVERY FIELD: Farmers not only produce food. They produce peace.

Some of my classmates stood up. Eight of them. "Bachhiyo, tuhadi sab di fees maaf kar ditti hai. Saare gareeb te anusuchit jaati de bachhiyan di fees maaf kiti ja rahi hai (School fee of all you poor and SC kids is being waived off),” she informed us, telling us that we were also supposed to inform our parents. And it was then that she noticed I was among those sitting.
 
"Kaka, tera naam nahi payiya list vich? (Kid, your name is not in that list?)”
----------
My shoes would give away my complete economic history. Shoes were sort of Aadhar Card of those days, you can say.
---------- 
Ms Surinder Bala was more aware of my financial situation than any Arjun Sengupta or Tendulkar Committee could have found. I used to be the kid who would deposit his fee late, much too late, every month. Besides, if you had missed the state of my shirt and my pant, my shoes would give away my complete economic history. Shoes were sort of Aadhar Card of those days, you can say.
  
"Kaka, tera naam haiga list vich. Kharra ho ja.” (Your name is very much in the list, kid. So stand up!”) She had given the list a look over, and thought she was the harbinger of good news. I had to counter this: "Nahi Madam ji. Vadde bhain jee ne kiha mainoo fees maafi nahi mil sakdi. (No Ma’am. The headmistress told me I was not eligible for fee waiver.)”
 
Entire class was looking at me. "Nahi kaka, tera naam haiga list vich!” (Oh no kid, your name is there in the list.)
 
"Nahi Madam ji, mere daddy ji kehnde sirf garib bachhiyan di fees maaf honi hai.” 
(No ma’am. My father says fee waiver is only for poor kids.)
 
This was a super-duel going on in the class – much more fierce than between Arun Jaitley and P Chidambaram. My perceived economic standing was much more important than my real situation. I would have welcomed any GDP fudging idea.
 
I knew what being poor meant. I got to study the layers of poverty on an everyday basis. Till Class V, things were better. I knew kulfi was a delicious treat but having one every day was bad for health. A now famous kulfi wala was just a presence on a footpath corner in my town in those days. (Now the family has contributed a powerful local politician to the state and owns many restaurants.) I would get to have a kulfi once or twice in a month; some kids would have one every day. Clearly, their parents did not care about the kids' health. Mine did.
-----------
"Nahi Madam ji, mere daddy ji kehnde sirf garib bachhiyan di fees maaf honi hai.” My perceived economic standing was much more important than my real situation. I would have welcomed any GDP fudging idea.
-----------
By Class VII, things were clearer to me. I could not have a kulfi a little more often because we were poor. Period.
 
By Class VIII, I had grown up enough to know that announcing my name among poor kids was bad for my social standing, my morale. True, my shoes announced it pretty loudly, but I could not do anything about them. This was more important. This was branding. They were now making up lists.
 

Further details would either make you cry unnecessarily, or you would laugh at the ridiculously little thing about which I was being sensitive. Either situation would be bad, the latter would even strip you of some of your humanity. Let me just say that a perplexed Surinder Bala cut off my name off that list, and I had to throw too many tantrums at home to convince my father not to peddle it to the school and pick up a fight with my class incharge as to why my name was not in the list of poor students whose fee had been waived off.
 
My headmistress, Mrs Jaswant Kaur, was the wife of a top communist leader, the late Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri, a fact I was to learn later in life. No wonder she had asked us kids our financial position so discreetly.
 
Punjab School Education Board is going to again introduce Board Exams for students of Class VIII, just as the one in which I appeared back in 1982. But neither did it know then, nor does it fall within the realm of its capacities now, to understand how to reward a student for the innovative, determined struggles he or she puts up to come unscathed through a maze of poverty, ramshackle schools, teachers ill equipped to handle teenagers' anxieties, and a life punctuated with the kind of landmines and IEDs that lists of poor students and announcements of government schemes for SC, ST students can often be.
 
Years later, I met Ms Surinder Bala. I had bought a swanky new car, and wanted to drive it first to the house of any of my really, really favourite people in life. I chose her. Dedicated to the core, she would teach us maths and English even after school was over. Often, even on Sundays. "Je merit na aayee teri, dove'n galla'n maar-maar ke lal kar deva'ngee (If your name does not appear in the merit list, I will box you on both sides),” she would not leave much to imagination. I had made it to the merit list, a little because of her gangster-style threats, but largely because of her dedication to seeing her students through.
------------
Punjab School Education Board is going to again introduce Board Exams for students of Class VIII, just as the one in which I appeared back in 1982. It does not fall within the realm of its capacities to understand how students lead a life punctuated with the kind of landmines and IEDs that lists of poor students and announcements of government schemes for SC, ST students can often be.
------------
A million thoughts flew past my mind as I drove to her house. She had retired long back, and lived with her brother's daughter, Rozy. We went out for a spin in my car, drove down to the school. It was Sunday, but the school's gates were open, as were all the classrooms. Nothing much had changed. We went to my old classroom. I reminded her of what had happened in my class — her class, actually — back in 1982. The entire story of the list of poor students, and my name in it, or not.
 
"I am sorry,” she said, and broke down. "No, ma'am, I am sorry,” I was crying. She said may be she should have handled it better. "May be I messed up because I did not have kids of my own,” she reasoned. I was now crying loudly; I knew this time I had messed it up.
 
We spent a good part of an hour in that school. I told her it was she who I would be thanking for the rest of my life for everything. For the school I later went to, for the education I got, for the wife I had, for the car I bought, for the books I read, for the ability to tell you a story like this one.
 
"But I will never forgive myself for reading out that list in that class, I am sorry. I should have known better,” she kept saying on our way back. As we reached her gate, she said, "Please do not tell Rozy about it. She would judge me.” I assured her I won't. "Tu mainoo maar lai bhaaven jiven main kuttdi si tuhanoo,” she said. ("You can slap me now the same way as I used to slap you kids in those days.") Both of us cried again. I shouldn't have brought up the incident at all. I am sorry till date, Bala Madam.
------------ 
Mr Chief Minister, my teacher is not alive. But you owe the farmers an apology.
------------
When Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will call out the names of the farmers, one by one, to the stage on the morning of Sunday, January 7, in Mansa, to give them certificates that the debt of the poor men has been paid off by the government, it will only be because he does not know what being poor means.
 
When he will hand over the certificate to the farmer, a certificate that has the picture of the benefactor, a Maharaja, it will only be because there is no one who could tell him that it does not behove a king to insult people for their poverty.
 
That you do not call big time singers to make a song and dance about poor people's inability to pay back even their measly debts.
 
That you do not hold jamborees with the money of the poor people to hold functions where the facts of their poverty are announced in a gathering of thousands and telecast to an audience of millions, showing people the faces of men and women who resisted committing suicide because of poverty.
 
The poor are not a public display item, Mr Chief Minister. The debt amounts of individual farmers are not to be flaunted in public, on television cameras.
 
You should not shame hundreds of thousands of farmers by putting up their names for a public display in the very villages in which they have lived for generations, working much harder at eking out a living than you ever had to in your entire life.
----------
You do not need that function. Calling it off will get you more votes. Your opponents also put their picture on everything - a cycle, an ambulance. Score a victory. Don't do it.
----------
You have no business to drag their poverty-stricken, disease-ridden, hopeless lives into the town square and then claim to be their leader. They pay for your arrogance, and much else, including your helicopter.
 
You owe them an apology.
 
You can simply write to the banks, government treasury can square off the debts, and banks can send a letter to the farmer’s address, the same address where your government sends kurki missives. You do not need that function. Calling it off will get you more votes. Your opponents also put their picture on everything - a cycle, an ambulance. Score a victory. Don't do it.
 
Also Read: NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty   

Ms Surinder Bala is not alive, and you are not so young. So, obviously, I can’t ask her to box our politicians on both cheeks. But shouldn’t you pull back, pause, and think?
 
If Rozy reads this, she will forgive her aunt. As for you, good luck with your cheeks.
 

 The school where Ms Surinder Bala taught
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT 





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Comment by: Dr A Mohan

Most touching...the way you tell it even more than the story you tell.

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Comment by: Azraa Saadiya

I understand the writer's reasons for not giving his or her name, but I have one request. Can I just hug him or her just once? I promise I will blindfold myself so that his or identity remains hidden, but all I want to do is to hug this writer tightly once and tell him/her this: that it is time to let go of your pain. It's been too many years, and you have come too far. You have the ability to cry for poor farmers. And you made someone like me cry. I am a totally urbanized girl who normally does not read much about agricultural crisis. I do know how farmers are going through hard times and want my government to do something about it, but your personal experience has opened my eyes to a stark reality. I think you are a woman. If you are a man, you have been brought up by very sensitive, wonderful parents who imbued you with such values. One thing more: you write very, very beautifully. Pl share more. A very, very long tight hug.

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YOUR NETAS IN SERVICE OF FARMERS
DEBT WAIVER – Amarinder’s Congress blames Modi; Akali Dal, AAP gun for Amarinder
06.01.18 - TEAM PT
DEBT WAIVER – Amarinder’s Congress blames Modi; Akali Dal, AAP gun for Amarinder



It’s an open Tu-Tu, Main-Main season in Punjab, and the game is being played at the expense of the state’s debt-ridden farmers.

From the ruling Congress to the opposition Akali Dal and the wanting-to-be-seen-as-real opposition Aam Aadmi Party, each is blaming the other for the dire straits in which farmers find themselves.

Both, Akali Dal and AAP have slammed the Amarinder Singh government for what they described as its "fraudulent loan waiver scheme,” and much of the criticism was on account of the method chosen for identifying beneficiaries.

From Sukhbir Singh Badal of SAD to Sukhpal Singh Khair of AAP, opposition leaders claimed that the lists of debt waiver beneficiaries were being drawn by Congress MLAs and leaders at their homes.

"They are ignoring genuine and deserving farmers who, in turn, will be pushed to take some drastic step and may even resort to committing suicide in sheer frustration,” they said. 
 
Meanwhile, the ruling Congress blamed the BJP-led central government of running away from its promised farm debt waiver. The Amarinder Singh government has accused the Centre of not helping the state government in any way when it came to ameliorating the lot of the farmers, specifically in the context of a farm debt waiver.
 

 "The Congress government has been playing with the lives of Punjab farmers by proposing to implement a fraudulent crop loan waiver which will leave out genuine beneficiaries,” Sukhbir Singh Badal said in a statement. 

He claimed that "nearly 400 farmers had committed suicide after the government failed to implement the promised Rs 90,000 loan waiver covering cooperative and nationalized banks as well as private money lenders.” 

Sukhbir Singh Badal has now promised that the Akali Dal would launch a protest movement "against this injustice” and also asked the farmers to  "gherao the Congress legislators and ministers to get their just due.”  However, he has not given any call to his party cadre to launch any such activity.

The Leader of the Opposition, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, called it a "deceitful debt waiver scheme” and said he has been receiving many complaints from small and marginal farmers of their names not being included because of political reasons.
 

He also claimed to know that officials were demanding bribe from farmers. 

Khaira also announced a plan to hold a protest demonstration at Mansa on January 7 where AAP cadres will waive black flags against Capt. Amarinder Singh. 

Khaira said Amarinder was fooling the peasantry as he has reduced his pre poll promise of "a complete debt waiver” of almost Rs. 1 lakh crore to "about Rs. 750 crore.”
 
 Also Read: NO TIME TO READ THIS STORY? – That’s OK - Please do not feel guilty 

Punjab Congress president and MP Sunil Jakhar chose to target the Narendra Modi Government, saying it was trying to make India "a kisan-mukt Bharat.”

"The Modi government, which talks about doubling the income of the farmers by 2022, has been consistently making anti-farmer decisions,” he said, adding, "the Union Finance Minister has informed the Parliament in writing that the BJP government at the Centre has not spent a single penny towards farmers' debt waiver in the last three years.”
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

_______________________________________________________________

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_______________________________________________________________


Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT





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Comment by: Dr Sathya

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MLA'S LOOTING STATE BY PREPARING LISTS OF LOAN WAIVER BENEFICIARIES AT THEIR HOMES
Biggest betrayal of farmers by Congress govt: SAD
04.01.18 - TEAM PT
Biggest betrayal of farmers by Congress govt: SAD



Chandigarh: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today asserted that Congress legislators were looting the State exchequer by preparing lists of beneficiaries of the proposed crop loan waiver scheme at their residences and ruthlessly ignoring genuine recipients.

In a statement here, former minister Bikram Singh Majithia said Congress legislators and halqa incharges had hijacked the crop loan waiver scheme and were instrumental in booting out small and marginal farmers from it. "Farmers themselves have exposed this fraud by revealing how Congress favourites have been included in the scheme even as eligible indebted farmers with less than five acres of land have been kept out. There are also accusations of Congressmen demanding bribes from indebted farmers to include their names in the beneficiary list”.

Majithia said farmers should start ‘gherao’ of legislators and ministers who were indulging in such malpractices. "There should be an independent inquiry into the entire scam to ensure the perpetrators who are making money out of the misery of indebted farmers are brought to book. The SAD will also start a protest movement in support of the farming community”, he added.
Stating that only a comprehensive loan waiver of Rs 90,000 crore covering cooperative and nationalized banks as well as private money lenders would be acceptable to the farming community, the Akali leader said the government should scrap the present corrupted scheme and implement a scheme which encompassed all indebted farmers as promised by the Congress party. "The current crop loan waiver scheme is fraud as the government reduced the number of beneficiaries from 10 lakh to 2 lakh. Now it has come about that there is a scam even in this. The current scheme does not include all farmers who own less than five acres of land. Small farmers with five acres of land who have availed a loan of over Rs two lakh have been made ineligible for the scheme. It also does not give any relief to those who are under stress and are committing suicide because it caters to only five per cent of farmers who have defaulted on crop loans. Even marginal farmers with 2.5 acres of land and farm labourers have been kept out of the scheme”.

Stating that there was an urgent need to revisit the entire issue and give relief to the entire indebted farming community, Majithia said this was the only way to end the spate of suicides in the State which had climbed up to almost 400 in the last ten months of Congress rule. "Not doing it will be the worst possible betrayal of the farming community in the history of the State. Never before has any elected government deceived farmers by making commitments of a complete loan waiver in the Vidhan Sabha and gone back on it in such a manner”, he added.

Meanwhile he also condemned the manner in which the government was pasting lists of indebted farmers in villages and subjecting them to social and mental torture. "Such farmers now run the risk of being branded as lifelong debtors and will have to pay a heavy social price for the same. The social stigma attached to them will even affect the marriage prospects of their daughters. The government should be sensitive to the feelings of the farm community and should not insult them like this. The lists should be taken down immediately and the government should apologise to the farmers for humiliating them in this manner”.




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