Archive | August, 2013

Amritsar: A city that brings you close to God and country

Amritsar: A city that brings you close to God and country

Posted on 31 August 2013 by GGS News

Amritsar,(GGS NEWS) 31 AUG : (IANS) : When something you have seen only in the photographs from the time you were a child and admired greatly stands right in front of your eyes, dazzling even more brightly as the sun’s rays falls on it, you actually have to pinch yourself to realize that it is no dream.

The Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, that was started by the fourth guru of the Sikhs, Guru Ram Das, in the 16th century, left me awestruck as I stood at the entrance, facing the structure.

The foundation of Sri Harmandar Sahib (the temple of god) was laid by Muslim saint Mian Mir of Lahore in 1589. The main structure of the shrine was completed in 1601. Located in Amritsar, 450 km from the national capital, it is built in the midst of a huge ‘sarovar’ (pond) which sparkles with the reflection of the gold structure. There are four gateways one can take to reach the place where the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy scripture) is housed.

Surrounding the pond are two huge clock towers, atop of one of which is a museum narrating the history of the Sikhs. Adjacent to the clock tower is a building which provides free food to the thousands of pilgrims that throng the place every day. On festivals and special days, over 100,000 devotees partake of the ‘langar’ (community kitchen). As people from all over the country and even abroad visit the place, it is not an easy task to reach the temple. One has to wait in long queues, which however is not very tiring, as there is a lot of people assisting you with water and other requirements. From a young boy, around seven years of age to an old man who should probably be resting at home, many such can be seen volunteering and rendering yeoman service.
As I was astounded on seeing the outside structure of the temple, the feeling was further intensified on reaching the main centre of worship. I was already overwhelmed with the feeling of tranquillity, but I could not just stop admiring the intricate designs in gold that adorned the pillars and walls of the temple.

The sanctum sanctorum is a two-storeyed marble structure built on a 67-square foot platform with gold leaf adorning the outer walls of the structure and the inside also lined up with pure gold. With prayers being offered on all the storeys, the higher you go up taking the winding marble staircase you actually experience a sense of peace and fulfilment. Hence, given the chance, I could stay there for ever feeling so close to the almighty.

Every spiritual place will have some or the other history to narrate and the Golden Temple too has one, which is rather horrid. The shrine was desecrated in 1757 following Ahmed Shah Abdali’s invasion.

I also could not miss that part of the temple (Akal Takht) which had been extensively damaged during the Operation Bluestar conducted by the Indian Army in 1984 to flush out armed terrorists that had holed up in the complex.

Then with such a high sense of spirituality and the joy of my small dream coming true, it was time for the other one – to see the Beating Retreat at the Attari-Wagah border.
The border, located 28 km from Amritsar, is a 45-minute drive away. Every evening, at around 6 pm, as the sun sets, the border gates of both the countries are closed for the night after a ceremony conducted by border guards of both sides.

India’s Border Security Force (BSF) troopers and the Pakistan Rangers perform a drill cheered by hundreds on the two sides. The crowd on the Indian side is clearly thrice more charged than that on the other side.The place truly gives you a huge sense of belonging to the country, as patriotic songs play in the background while chants of “Vande Matram” and “Hindustan Zindabad” rent the air as the crowds wave the tricolour. There is similar fervour on the other side. But what amused me greatly was the stark cultural differences between India and Pakistan. On our side, men and women sat together cheering the troopers, while on the other side there was a division – with men seated on the left and women on the right. I thought that the ceremony, which has been happening since 1959, was to mark friendly ties, but the bodily gestures and glaring-at-each-other by the border guards seemed rather offensive and gave rise to a different kind of feeling.

“I was very impressed with the way the soldiers (troopers) were marching with so much energy. Nowhere else have I seen such a thing happening between two countries,” said Patricia, who had come from Italy on a business tour. The ceremony ends with the synchronised lowering of flags of the two countries and what was laudable was the intricate sense of timing with which this was performed. There was then a brusque handshake between the troopers from either side, which to me was done with a sense of anger. The gates were then banged shut, which left me wondering about the the purpose of it all.

How to get there:

From Delhi: One can either take an AC bus (Rs.800), the Shatabdi Express and other trains, or a 45-minute flight to Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport.

Hotel charges range from Rs.850 to Rs.5,000 (per day) depending on the level of accommodation.
There are also small inns in the vicinity of the Golden Temple.

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Man falls from air ambulance in Australia, dies

Man falls from air ambulance in Australia, dies

Posted on 31 August 2013 by GGS News

Australia,(GGS NEWS) 31 AUG : An Australian backpacker Saturday fell to his death from an air ambulance while he was being rescued after hurting his ankle near Mansfield town in Australia’s Victoria state, Sky News reported.

“I understand he was at the door of the helicopter and they were attempting to get him into the helicopter when it happened,” said Ambulance Victoria chief executive Greg Sassella.

“The flight crew and the paramedic winched back down to the scene to attempt to resuscitate the patient but unfortunately he was beyond help,” Sassella added.

Ambulance Victoria suspended all winching operations following the incident. Sassella said the equipment used in the accident was of a very high standard.

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Lebanese clerics charged over deadly Tripoli bombings

Lebanese clerics charged over deadly Tripoli bombings

Posted on 31 August 2013 by GGS News

GGS NEWS : Lebanon has charged two religious clerics over bombings which killed at least 42 people at two mosques in the northern city of Tripoli last week.Sheikhs Hashem Minkara and Ahmad Gharib, along with three other men, are suspected of forming an armed cell to attack government institutions.The clerics are thought to have close ties to a Sunni group linked to Syria.The Tripoli blasts are considered the deadliest attack in Lebanon since the end of the civil war in 1990.More than 400 people were injured in the explosions, which took place shortly after Friday prayers ended on 23 August, Bbc.co.uk reported.

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Colombia troops to patrol Bogota after protests

Colombia troops to patrol Bogota after protests

Posted on 31 August 2013 by GGS News

Colombia,(GGS NEWS) 31 AUG : Colombian soldiers are patrolling the streets of the capital, Bogota, after riots in which at least two people died, while farmers said they were lifting road blockades throughout the country after 11 days of protests.

Soldiers were seen guarding vandalised shops and fuel stations in Bosa, a suburb of Bogota, which saw an estimated 50 businesses damaged by protesters on Thursday night.

Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reports from Bogota.

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Gravesend fire: Evacuation amid blaze near gas tanks

Gravesend fire: Evacuation amid blaze near gas tanks

Posted on 31 August 2013 by GGS News

GGS NEWS : 31 AUG : (BBC)  The blaze in Canal Road was reported at just after 11:20 BST. Kent Fire Service said at its height more than 70 firefighters with 12 fire engines tackled the blaze and they were expecting crews to stay all night.

A large plume of black smoke could be seen around the area and local residents were advised to keep windows and doors shut as a precaution.

A fire service spokesman said: “The incident has been reduced to eight fire engines with crews likely to be at the scene throughout the night.

“The cause of the fire is not yet known and will be investigated.”

There were no reports of any injuries and nearby gas containers had not been affected, the spokesman said earlier.

‘Still smoky’
Kent Police said the canal basin had been evacuated, and there have been road closures in the area of Prospect Road and The Terrace.

A cordon has been established, but no homes have been evacuated, a police spokeswoman said.

London Fire Brigade have also sent fire engines to the scene.

Kent Fire and Rescue said three main water jets were being used to tackle the fire at the yard.

Messages on Twitter said the smoke could be seen from London and Maidstone.

Lucy Partridge, who lives nearby, said: “I first noticed the fire when I went into my living room to open a window and saw smoke coming over the top of flats opposite.

“I thought it was a bonfire that got out of control.

“The fire had been going for a couple of hours, but even now it’s still smoky.

“There are fire hoses running through our road and you can’t drive in or out of the road.”

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US Open: Djokovic eases into third round, Li reaches quarters

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US Open: Djokovic eases into third round, Li reaches quarters

Posted on 31 August 2013 by GGS News

GGS SPORTS : 31 AUG : Novak Djokovic survived an early test from Germany’s Benjamin Becker on Friday before safely booking his place in the third round at windy Flushing Meadows.The world number one saved two set points in the opening set before recovering to win 7-6 (2) 6-2 6-2 and advance to the next round against Portugal’s Joao Sousa after his five-set win over Jarkki Nieminen of Finland.

“It was a struggle,” Djokovic said. “It was a lot of unforced errors, very windy conditions. You couldn’t really read and kind of predict where the ball is going to go, so you have to be very alert.

“At the start I had difficulty with my footwork. But, as I won a set, after that it was very much better.”

Tomas Berdych, the men’s fifth seed, also won a tough three-setter, beating American Denis Kudla 7-6 (3) 7-6 (3) 6-3. The Czech made the semi-finals in New York last year and is in good form again this time.

He will next face Julien Benneteau after the 31st seed beat his fellow Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-4 6-3 6-4.

Germany’s Tommy Haas and Mikhail Youzhny also won on Friday as all of the early seeded men moved on.

China’s Li Na became the first player to reach the round of 16 when she defeated British teenager Laura Robson 6-2 7-5.

Li fired down 11 aces and needed just 81 minutes to avenge her third round loss to Robson at Flushing Meadows last year.

“I was a little bit surprised because today I have a lot of aces. It was like, wow,” said Li, who plays Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic next.

Robson contributed to her own downfall by committing 30 unforced errors, 15 in each set, but said she was happy with her steady progress in the game.

“I think I’m going in the right direction. I feel like I’m improving and working on a more all‑around game,” she said.

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I’m willing to do that.”

The ultra-consistent Agnieszka Radwanska wore down Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 7-6 (1) to also reach the fourth round, continuing her impressive streak at this year’s grand slams.

If she wins her next match, the third-seeded Pole will become the only woman to reach the last eight at all four grand slams this year.

“Well, of course I will do everything to make the quarter-final this year,” she said. “I like the hard court and I really had great results on that surface. I think it’s just something wrong here that I can’t pass the fourth round.

Sloane Stephens beat Jamie Hampton 6-1 6-3 in a battle between two of America’s brightest prospects to set up a possible showdown with Serena Williams if the defending champion wins her night-time clash with Yaroslava Shvedova.

The defending men’s champion, Scotland’s Andy Murray, was due to face Leonardo Mayer on Louis Armstrong Stadium Friday afternoon.

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Nelson Mandela still in hospital in critical condition: Presidency

Nelson Mandela still in hospital in critical condition: Presidency

Posted on 31 August 2013 by GGS News

GGS NEWS : 31  AUG : Ailing anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela is still in hospital in a critical but stable condition, the South African Presidency said today, denying media reports that the former President had been discharged.

“Madiba (Mandela’s clan name) is still in hospital in Pretoria, and remains in a critical but stable condition. At times his condition becomes unstable, but he responds to medical interventions,” the Presidency said in a statement.

“The Presidency has noted incorrect media reports that former President Nelson Mandela has been discharged from hospital,” the statement said, denying reports that said that Mandela had been discharged from the Pretoria hospital where he is being treated for a recurrent lung infection.

The 95-year-old former democracy hero was hospitalised on June 8 and has since been there.

Mandela had a long history of lung problems, dating back to the time when he was a political prisoner on Robben Island during apartheid. While in jail he contracted tuberculosis.

He is revered for leading the fight against white minority rule in South Africa and then pushing reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.

Mandela, regarded the founding father of South Africa’s multiracial democracy, served as the country’s first black president from 1994 to 1999. He left power after five years as president.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He retired from public life in 2004 and has rarely been seen at official events since.

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UN experts in Netherlands to begin sample testing

UN experts in Netherlands to begin sample testing

Posted on 31 August 2013 by GGS News

SYRIA,(GGS NEWS) 31 AUG : U.N. chemical weapons inspectors are believed to have arrived in the Netherlands, where samples they collected in Syria are expected to be repackaged and sent to laboratories around Europe. The goal will be to check them for traces of poison gas that may have been unleashed in an Aug. 21 bombardment of a Damascus suburb.

The inspectors earlier left Syria and flew out of Lebanon early Saturday. An aircraft believed to have been chartered by the German government landed in Rotterdam on Saturday afternoon.

The team on Friday carried out a fourth and final day of inspection as they sought to determine precisely what happened in the Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

Tests on the samples are expected to take days, but U.N. disarmament chief Angela Kane is to brief Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon later Saturday on the investigation.

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Omar Abdullah wants India, Pak to hold PM-level talks on Kashmir issue

Omar Abdullah wants India, Pak to hold PM-level talks on Kashmir issue

Posted on 31 August 2013 by GGS News

J&K,(GGS NEWS) 31 AUG : Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today called for a Prime Minister-level summit between India and Pakistan saying it was crucial that the two countries resumed bilateral discussions.

“The leaders of the two countries should talk with the right… Perspective to resolve the Kashmir issue once for all.

“We want to tell our children that the Kashmir issue no longer exists and peace and development have taken their permanent place in the state,” Omar said at a public meeting at Pattan in Baramulla district.

The “Kashmir issue was born” at the time of the partition of the country and “India considers its accession necessary for its secular ethos while Pakistan wants Kashmir to be with it given its Muslim majority character,” Omar said.

“Both the countries are nurturing their individual ideas in this regard and the people of J-K are suffering constantly.

“Let’s have a summit between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan to talk Kashmir,” he said.

Neither the state government nor any political leaders here were in “a position to resolve the issues between India and Pakistan”, Omar said, adding that friendly ties between the two neighbours had a direct bearing on the peace and prospects of J-K.

Omar said that although National Conference had not included the Kashmir issue in its 2008 election manifesto, yet it had vehemently highlighted the need for recognising the issue’s political genesis with a view to resolving it through dialogue.

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Sonia Gandhi has eye check-up at AIIMS

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Sonia Gandhi has eye check-up at AIIMS

Posted on 31 August 2013 by GGS News

GGS NEWS : 31 AUG : Congress President Sonia Gandhi went to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences today for her eye checkup at the Rajendra Prasad Centre for Opthalmic Sciences.

66-year-old Gandhi, who had recently been taken to the AIIMS after she had complained of chest pain, has been facing some problem with her eyes.

It was a routine check up, said the doctors who attended the Congress President.

Gandhi was taken to the AIIMS on Monday night when she complained of chest pain while she was in Parliament participating in the proceedings of Lok Sabha which was discussing Food Security Bill.

The Congress President underwent various tests before being discharged after five hours in the wee hours of Tuesday

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