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Monthly Archives: FEBRUARY 2016


Another small plane with 11 on board crash lands in Nepal
26.02.16 - PT Team
Another small plane with 11 on board crash lands in Nepal



A small plane with 11 people on board on Friday crash-landed in a remote area in western Nepal, the second aviation accident in the country within three days.
 
The plane belonging to Air Kasthamandap crash-landed at Chilkhaya in Kalikot district.
 
There were 11 people on board the plane. Two crew members-- Captain Dinesh Neupane and co-pilot Santosh Rana -- have been feared dead, according to Banke's Nepal Police SP Tek Bahadur Rai.
 
The accident site is at least four hours' trek from the nearest town. Police and army rescuers are on their way to the site.
 
On Wednesday, 23 people were killed in a plane crash in central Nepal.




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Sikhs in California Raise over $400,000 for National Media Campaign
26.02.16 - PT Team
Sikhs in California Raise over $400,000 for National Media Campaign



Over 400 Sikh men, women and youth from all across the San Francisco Bay Area attended the National Sikh Campaign’s fundraising gala to support the campaign's media strategy for Sikhism and Sikh identity in America.
 
The fundraising gala was sold out and over $400,000 was raised by for a media campaign to be launched on television and social media in the near future. This is perhaps the largest amount ever raised by Sikhs for awareness drive.
 
For the first time ever, the television advertisements – created by AKPD, former President Obama’s campaign media team – were unveiled to an enthusiastic audience. Last year, NSC had hired the services of AKPD and Hart Research Associates which is headed by Geoff Garin, Hillary Clinton’s former chief strategic advisor, to develop the messaging and framework of these advertisements.
 
"This is a historic moment in the history of the Sikh community in America. Never before have we had the opportunity to tell our story to our fellow Americans around the country and that time has come now,” said Kaval Kaur, National Charter member of NSC and host of the event. ""It is one of the best initiatives to help not only us but our kids and our future generations.”
 
Among the attendees were prominent Sikh entrepreneurs, leading Silicon Valley IT professionals, Medical doctors, owners of trucking companies and officials of all gurdwaras in the area. Devenderpal Singh of Indian Idol fame opened the event with an enthralling song. The hosts of this gathering were prominent couple and Sikh business leaders, Kaval Kaur and Jasvir Gill, CEO of AlertEnterprise, and this program was held at the company’s headquarters in the business district in Fremont, CA.
 
"We, Sikhs, need to change the narrative and present the correct image of who we are, showcasing how we are totally integrated in the American society and not only as victims,” said Dr. Rajwant Singh, Co-Founder of the National Sikh Campaign, who presented the overview of the campaign and appealed to the audience to donate for the cause.
 
"Sikhism has salient points which resonate with American values and that good news has to be wonderfully presented at a national level. More importantly, this is the first time, Sikhs have raised this amount of money to spread the awareness about their faith in America. Previous record is of $90,000 in NSC's Los Angeles Gala last year.”
 
Shawn Singh Ghuman, NSC’s Communications Director, laid out the media strategy while Gurwin Singh Ahuja, NSC’s Executive Director, presented the ads to the audience.
 
"These ads have been tested and we have received positive feedback from a sample of the American audience through a polling conducted by Hart Research Associates,” said Ahuja. "We are very confident that these ads will have the needed impact to change the way our community is perceived – San Francisco Sikhs have given a major boost to our game-changing plan for Sikhs in America.”
 
Harbir Singh Bhatia, a Sikh leader in the Bay Area and one of the key organizers, said, "There is a huge opportunity and need for the National Sikh Campaign initiative. We all hear about hate crimes and violent incidents against Sikhs, but never the values, resilience, and love that defines Sikhism. Sikh Values are American Values, and yet it is largely unknown. Our fellow Americans should be more aware of this fact and realize how similar we are through this.”
 
"The turnout of our community members at the Gala speaks volumes about the need and support for NSC,” Bhatia added. "Building awareness and understanding of Sikhism is a multi-prong effort, and this campaign will play a major part in this end. It will be a different future for Sikh Americans when people see Sikhs in the mainstream media – which has a power unheard of in the United States!”




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A letter from Siachen but from across the border
25.02.16 - MUHAMMAD HASSAN MIRAJ
A letter from Siachen but from across the border



The author, a Pakistani Army soldier, served his tenure at Siachen with the men who were trapped under an avalanche in 2012. This letter is one of several that he wrote to his wife during his time at the glacier.

 
Dear A,

"We, the willing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything, with nothing."

This quotation was written diagonally on the first page of his diary as he showed me his poems. My host is a young man, whose spirits are still volatile despite the sub-zero temperature of this place.

It is our first meeting. He does not know that the quotation is by Mother Teresa, he does not know Mother Teresa at all. He thinks it was said for him, dismissing any reason to research the saying's origins.

This young man had gotten engaged recently, the reason for an occasional blush whenever the subject of his future comes up. I had only arrived here the night before, but we are close friends now.

There is something in the wind, with flakes, that urges people to speak in never-ending monologues.

Discuss emotions, exchange secrets, talk about themselves – things they do not talk about "normally," not the least when they are engrossed in the workings of the "civilised world."

I asked him about the quotation on the wall and he suggested we call it a day.

My room, call it my studio apartment, is a typical bunker, built on self-help basis, thanks to our meagre resources. Carved out from a hillock, it is a classical one-window room of 14x10 feet. The 10-foot high ceiling had 70 girders.
Trivial information, you say? I count them every night before I can sleep. No, I am not an insomniac, but I dare not venture out to count the stars in this part of the world. 
 
On one side, the empty cartons have been arranged, covered by gunny bags, only to be topped by the prayer mat. I have a lot of time to pray and reflect, probably since I am the closest I could get to Him. The other wall supports the bed (an arrangement of empty cartons) upon which lies an air mattress, along with our sleeping bags.
 
Tastefully, the big-flower-print bed sheet does not permit attention to drift to the poor structure of the bed. The dark toilet is an extension of the same room. An old cough syrup bottle has been modified with kerosene oil to serve the purpose of a lamp which practically lights up nothing. The empty ghee cans are our makeshift geysers.

Basic instinct is the best aide when it comes to anatomy in the dark bathroom. The room décor is an artistic arrangement of the empty containers of food, fuel and fire. Food cartons serve as tables, fuel cans as stools and empty (fired) cartridges as bedside teapoy items. 

The most decorated table has boxes of chicken cubes, noodles, egg biscuits, brick-games and yes, our window to the world, the radio.

Other inhabitants include a Fujika (a kerosene-lit heater), petromax, the books that you have sent and the military phone – this masterpiece of technology which connects me to you, remains silent.
 
The weather, the snow, the wind, the electric power everything conspires against our probable communication. Reminds me how Shah Latif narrates the plight of Sassi after she had been robbed of Pannu:

The camel (which carries Pannu) is my enemy, the wind (which is erasing the foot prints of caravan) is my enemy, the sand is my enemy and so are the brothers of Pannu, and most of all the sun is my enemy, for having risen so late and not waking me up.

Our high point of the day arrives when we sit down for dinner, roasted onions and canned tomato puree. 

The weather denies us the luxury of fresh vegetables, and much more. After getting done with dinner, we gather around the radio. This really is the world on our finger tips. There is no FM here, only the BBC and loads of incomprehensible regional channels.

The alternative to BBC is Radio Pakistan, which runs the night-time transmission. About the night-time transmission, it is the radio’s revenge from the television for morning shows.

Another day has gone. The vigilant sentries change over their duties. Far from home, away from gatherings, phone calls, SMS-es, these men, I think, are doing something which can never be monetised.

Purposelessly, looking against the ravishing snowstorms, their biggest foe is the weather.

You can never predict its move. It sulks within and you only realise how loosely you hang between life and death when it hits you.
A minor headache turns into cerebral edema and a man full of stories, intentions, commitments and emotions becomes, what they call, a "causality."
 
The radio is tuned and we start receiving our dose of military bashing. A whole lot of qualified individuals start describing us as a merry-making mob, supposedly living it up at 20,000 ft above the mean sea level.

My mind races. Huge chunks of budget for tomato puree and canned vegetables. Power hungry for morally supporting everyone that we have, people who love us and people who are the reason we live to guard this piece of land.

Luxurious lives in a make-shift room with empty cartons. I think the quotation on the wall is not so over-rated.

Hope to hear from you soon…

Yours faithfully, 
H
(Courtesy : The Dawn)
 




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Harinder Kaur Sidhu Is Australia’s New High Commissioner to India
25.02.16 - PT Team
Harinder Kaur Sidhu  Is Australia’s New High Commissioner to India



Australian Foreign minister Julie Bishop has boosted the profile of women in Australia's most important diplomatic posts by appointing a former senior climate change official to be the Australian High Commissioner to India.

Senior Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official Harinder Kaur Sidhu is taking over the post at a time when Australia is trying to deepen its relationship with India in both security and economic fields as the country emerges as the fastest growing major economy in the world.

The Sikh-Aussie’s appointment follows the appointment of senior trade negotiator Jan Adams as ambassador to Beijing late last year replacing another woman Frances Adamson, who now advises Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on foreign affairs.

Harinder most recently headed DFAT's Multilateral Policy Division and previously was posted in Moscow and Damascus.

But her background as a senior official in the Department of Climate Change for several years will be of particular significance in India because it is now a key player in whether the world can meet the new carbon reduction commitments from last year's Paris climate change conference.

India's energy minister Piyush Goyal has been in Australia this week examining renewable energy technology which could be deployed in India to meet the Modi government's plans to embark on the world's most intensive rollout of renewable energy.

Harinder has also held senior positions in the Office of National Assessments and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Daughter of Ajaib Singh and Jagjit Kaur Sidhu, she and her family moved to Australia from Singapore when she was a child.

Ms Bishop said: "India is one of Australia's closest and most significant partners in the Indo-Pacific region. It is our 10th largest trading partner and our two-way investment is worth over $20 billion.

"The Government will continue to push for the conclusion of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with India, designed to take our economic relationship to a new level.

"Australia also has strong strategic and defence ties with India, conducting our first bilateral maritime exercises in 2015.”

[Courtesy: Financial Review.]




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