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Sunday, May 21, 2000

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By Sarabjit Pandher


From general information to local news about Punjab, e-greetings in Punjabi, Punjabi cuisine, matrimonials, classifieds, jokes, shopping groceries, computers and Patiala's famed tille wali jutti (traditionally embroidered footwear), it is all there at, claimed to be the first ever Punjabi portal. The website is being launched by GKM Infotech Pvt. Ltd, a software company which is part of a well diversified conglomerate, the Manchanda Group with worldwide operations. Mr. Gurmukh Singh, who takes care of the group's ventures in India, disclosed this here while talking to presspersons on the eve of the website launch.

The web designers of claim that this interactive site was being launched with the aim of promoting Punjab, its culture, language and rich heritage, and connecting Punjabis worldwide by providing them comprehensive information and a common platform to share views and a multitude of services -- all at the click of the mouse.

"The sole motive of the site is to let like-minded patriotic Punjabis retain their roots in Punjab through the cyberworld irrespective of the geographical boundaries. The site may perhaps be the first of its kind where information would be available in Gurmukhi script as well as in English," they say.

The overall outlay of the site is the offshoot of a serious attempt to provide a feeling of homecoming to the lakhs of NRIs settled globally. During their cyber flight they would enjoy a trip to their own Punjab with a caricature of a typical Punjabi villager -- christened Tufan Singh -- being the site guide. Tufan Singh sports a green turban and a black beard and moustache through which he beams a smile and appear to say "Chak de phate" (a typical Punjabi expression of joy).

During the cyber flight, the visitor can read general information, feel the essence of Punjab's culture, have a glimpse of historical places and learn their importance, study the growth of agriculture in the State, note down places worth visiting. Tufan Singh also takes the visitor on a virtual tour showing village life, introducing you to celebrities, showing Punjabi sports and a plethora of other sights.

While one can even download the famous "Bhangra", special songs, Punjabi screen savers and wallpaper to give a Punjabi look to one's personal computer, the site managers claim to have made an attempt to redefine the cumbersome procedures of e-commerce.

Says Mr. Gurmukh Singh, "The members of the site would be able to place orders for purchase and delivery. From a pack of biscuits to the "Charkha" (spin wheel), we shall deliver anything anywhere. That includes letters from the NRIs to their near and dear ones in even the remotest of Punjabi village. A son settled abroad could provide a helping hand by participating in the daily needs of the household of his folks back here. He can place orders for delivery of goods and even make payments of other bills."

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