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(From India Today)
Byline: Ramesh Vinayak
Five years ago, Bathinda, with its smoke-spewing thermal power plant and a sepulchral silence for nightlife, would have evoked little by way of zeal in an entertainment-famished populace. This somnolent district of Punjab may still not qualify as a swinging hotspot for the feisty brigade, but the residents knows better. They have the Civil Lines Club. Founded in 1996 by a group of people looking for a place to unwind, the initiative met with much defiance and only a smattering of memberships. Fifty members acquired life subscriptions for Rs 2,000 each. Today, there are 1,000 such members. And the fee? Rs 31,000.
Bathinda is not an exception. In Ludhiana, where the prosperity index seldom confronts a gravitational plunge and buying the latest luxury car has been a thriving passion, enlisting in the Sutlej Club is the new preoccupation. Since 1996, the club has quadrupled its fee and doubled its membership, with a ceiling of 3,000. A cheque for Rs 1.75 lakh, a graduate degree and income-tax returns for the past five years qualify one for membership. But as the waiting list swells and the club grapples with …