LIFE

Montek leaves a mark

The Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, interacting with members of Sikh community in Vijayawada on Thursday. Photo: Raju V.

The Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, interacting with members of Sikh community in Vijayawada on Thursday. Photo: Raju V.  

SAT SHRI Akaal. This greeting by a group of Sikhs was reciprocated with an equal warmth by the country's economist par excellence, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission.

Lobbies of Hotel D. V. Manor, with their rich ambience and savant businessmen and professionals, impressed Dr. Ahluwalia so much that he almost fell in love with Vijayawada. "Economic prosperity is visible here. Everything seems good," he told a group of city-based Sikhs and a few intellectuals who called on him on Thursday morning.

Minutes before he drove away in a Toyota Camrey, along with the Krishna district Collector, K. Prabhakara Reddy, Dr. Ahluwalia, clad in his blue turban and a simple slack and a pair of trousers, demonstrated his conversational abilities with the horde of strangers.

Accepting bouquets with grace, Dr. Ahluwalia enquired with Jasmeet Kaur, who just finished her Intermediate examination, if she was interested in economics. The response from the beautiful girl seemed classy: "I take passion in the subject."

After a brief introduction of all the men around, he evinced interest in knowing what so many Sikhs were doing in Vijayawada. The president of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Amarjeet Singh Lamba, told Dr. Ahluwalia that most of them had been living here for almost five decades and two generations -- many into sale of automobile spare parts. The dignitary was quick to ask them if they were not confronted with the menace of spurious spare parts. "It used to be there, but not any longer," said Mahinder Singh Sahni.

When Dr. Ahluwalia asked as to what was the main contributor to economy in the region Manmohan Singh Maini said: "Chilli, cotton, tobacco, turmeric, paddy, and automobiles are very strong."

Asked if there was any industrialist around, Efftronics Ramakrishna was introduced as one. About the industrial growth of the city, Capt. Krishna explained to Dr. Ahluwalia that the artificial jacking up of land prices was the major hitch for industrial growth. He asked as to where would the sellers of land reinvest their fortune. Chartered Accountant, C. Murali Krishna, of Brahmayya & Co said: "Again on a better piece of land."

Ashok Kumar of Ashok Book Centre presented John Ruskin's "Art and Life" and Arthur Schopenhauer's "On the Sufferings of the World" - picked from the Penguin's "Great Ideas" series -- to Dr. Ahluwalia. When he asked whether book-reading habit was growing or was it on the decline, Mr. Ashok, sending everyone into peals of laughter, said: "It's on the rise in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam where I own a couple of book stores. In Vijayawada, textbooks are the most sold."

By A. Saye Sekhar in Vijayawada

Recommended for you