Issue :   
Happy Dussehra and Diwali to all Readers.          October 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019


Braveheart Sifiya gets
Neerja Bhanot award

V.P. Prabhakar

Kerala-based social worker Sifiya Haneef (2nd from
left) with Wendy Su Knecht, former trainer of Neerja,
along with the Bhanot family
At a solemn ceremony on September 7, Wendy Sue Knecht, trainer of Neerja Bhanot in Pan Am, conferred the prestigious Neerja Bhanot award on a young braveheart from Kerala, Sifiya Haneef, who is helping more than 300 families by providing them all facilities.
Wendy had come down specially for the award function from Los Angeles. She was also working with Pan Am in the 1980’s and was a trainer of Neerja Bhanot in 1986. Wendy said Neerja was beautiful, smart, kind and extremely confident. During the 17 hours of indescribable anguish, the Indian attendants, led by Neerja Bhanot, did an exemplary job of defending Pan Am, its passengers and especially protecting the targeted American passengers. Neerja faced the situation bravely and saved so many lives and in the process lost her own life.

The award was instituted in 1990 in memory of Neerja, who saved many lives while sacrificing her own during the Pan Am Flight 73 hijack at Karachi airport (Pakistan) in September 1986.

Sifiya said: “I am proud to receive this award as it represents the spirit of Neerja’s determination and grit. A person must always face adversities with courage.”

The award consists of Rs 1.50 lakh, a citation and a trophy. It is conferred on an Indian woman who, when faced with social injustice, overcomes it with guts and helps other women in social distress.

A specially constituted jury comprising three Rotarians -- Sneh Popil, Manjit Kaur and Anu Dhingra-- decided that Sifiya Haneef deserved the award as she met the criteria laid down by the Trust.

Akhil Bhanot, managing trustee of the Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust, said: "Sifiya got married when she was 16 and her studies were stopped. Unfortunately, her husband died when she was 20. She had two children by then. Sifiya wished to continue her studies, but did not get any support. Not willing to give up, she took on a part-time job and resumed her studies. After a lot of struggle and realising that life was very tough not only for her, but also for other widows as well, she started spending her salary on helping widows.

"She started a Facebook page called 'Chithal' where she wrote about the issues facing widows. She also met a lot of sick mothers, kids, elderly people and cancer patients and more. She would update her page on the problems these people were facing and get public support to solve their issues. Today, she is helping more than 300 families by providing homes, constructing toilets in colonies, distributing medicines and giving them pension, etc.”

Apart from being the trainer of Neerja, Wendy also believes in not tolerating any injustice. Very recently, she took up a fight for justice regarding her medical situation.

Wendy has a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit and launched many innovative products --- a gift item made out of dolls from Guatemala, a fitness product, a line of travel bags, and a bag for hospital patients. She has sold many of these products and others on television shopping channels. She once served as the TV Sales Director for an inventions company.

Pan Am has an active "family" of former employees. Wendy serves as VP Charity on the Board of Directors of the alumni charity, World Wings International. Their fund raising supports over 30 charities worldwide.

Wendy is also known as an enthusiastic supporter of the Planeterra Foundation, a charity that connects social enterprises to the tourism marketplace by providing catalyst funding, capacity training and a market link for small business supporting women, youth and indigenous communities. Wendy is also the author of a book "Life, Love and a Hijacking".

Rajesh Gill’s sucess story

Rajesh Gill Prof Rajesh Gill, a Senator and Syndic, has been elected President of the Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) for the third consecutive year. This is the first time in PUTA's history that any president has been elected consecutively for three terms.
A total of 589 faculty members turned up at PU’s Law Auditorium to vote for the post, the contenders for which were Prof Gill and Dr Jayanti Dutta. Winning by a margin of 75 votes, Gill bagged 323 votes while Dutta got 248 votes.
In fact, Gill’s group won all posts of officebearers and executive members except for one.
Like Gill, Prof JK Goswami (UIST) of her group was elected Secretary for the third time in a row. Out of 589 votes polled, Goswami got 360 votes while Ashok Kumar of the Hindi Department had to settle with 212. The remaining 17 votes were declared invalid.

For the Vice-President's post, Mritunjay Kumar of AC Joshi Library defeated Sukhbir Kaur of the Zoology Department by 143 votes. Supinder Kaur and Amandeep Singh, both from Gill’s team, won the joint secretary's and treasurer's posts, respectively.

Among the executive members, divided in five groups, Navneet Kaur, Nitin Arora, Suman Sumi and Avneet Kaur Mannat won the elections from group1. Amarjit Singh Naura, Guldeep Singh, Sarvnarinder Kaur and Vijayta Chadha were elected from Group 2. In Group 3, Amritpal Kaur, Anil Kumar, Jagjeet Singh and Neeraj Aggarwal were elected.

Mohammed Khalid of the Evening Studies department won from Group 4 against Simran Kaur Khalid, a former two-time PUTA President, is the only member from Dutta’s group to have won the elections this year.

Surinder Singh of Gill’s team won unchallenged from Group 5.

Expressing happiness over being elected once again, Gill said:

“Teachers have reposed their faith in our group for the third time. We stood for the teachers’ dignity. Teachers are an intelligent class when it comes to voting. This means they want a PUTA that stands behind them and not a body that works in favour of the Vice-Chancellor.

Talking about her priorities, Gill said implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission's recommendations and getting a Central status for the university will be on top of their agenda. “We will also work towards creating a system to redress housing issues concerning teachers", she said.