Thursday August 22, 2019
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Paris remembers unknown Indian soldiers

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Paris: In a moving ceremony, organised here for the first time, martyred Indian soldiers were remembered at the iconic Arc de Triomphe, which is home to the Flame in the Memory of the Unknown Soldier.

The flame has been rekindled by the French army every single day since November 1923, even during the Second World War when Paris was occupied by the Germans. However, so far it had never been done in the memory of Indian soldiers, even though over 10,000 of them laid down their lives in the defence of France and other allied nations in the First World War, which had seen over 130,000 Indian soldiers arrive in France to battle the Germans.

The proof of the valiant Indian soldiers lies in Neuve Chapelle, a small village on the border with Belgium, where 4,200 Indian soldiers were killed in intense fighting that lasted over three days. The Indian armies finally drove out the German occupiers and gained control of this strategic village.

To commemorate these soldiers, the Indian community got together with the Indian embassy here, to organise a ceremony for the first time. The initiative was taken by Rajaram Munuswamy, secretary general of GOPIO International, the organisation that brings together persons of Indian origin in various countries around the world.

“In this centenary year of the World War I, we have organised several events to honour Indian soldiers and that is why we approached the French defence ministry to allow us to commemorate the ceremony at this unique monument. This is the first time in the history of France that the Indian community is remembering its soldiers,” Munuswamy told this correspondent.

For this occasion, GOPIO chose a very auspicious and indeed apt day, December 16, which is also celebrated as the V-Day in 1971 war with Pakistan and which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

The flame was lit by Indian Ambassador Mohan Kumar in the presence of over 400 members of the Indian diaspora, who had gathered not only from France but also from Britain, Guadeloupe and Mauritius, among other countries. Notable among those present was GOPIO International president Diljit Rana GOPIO International chairman Mahen Utchanah.

Before the flame was lit, the diaspora members organised a small march on the Champs Elysées, bearing the Indian tricolour as well as the flags of France and GOPI.

On the occasion, Mohan Kumar thanked the Indian community in France for having taken the initiative and joining in the efforts of the Indian embassy to ensure that a proper recognition is awarded to the valiant efforts and sacrifices made by the Indian soldiers in France over a century ago.

After the brief ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, the event continued in a nearby hotel where the Indian ambassador and prominent GOPIO members shared their thoughts on the unity and cohesion needed among the communities worldwide to combat the terrorism which has no frontiers and affects the humanity. (Ranvir Nair, IANS)

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Paris to Restrict Car Use as a Measure to Fight Against Surging Air Pollution

The other vehicles, mostly older and diesel cars, will be preventing from circulating in Paris following the unusual heatwave

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paris, air pollution
Only electric vehicles and those with clean air stickers 1 and 2 are allowed to enter the French capital on June 26 from 5:30 a.m. local time to midnight. Pixabay

Paris will restrict car use on Wednesday as a measure to fight against surging air pollution linked to intense heat wave that strikes most of French regions, the city’s police department announced on Tuesday.

Only electric vehicles and those with clean air stickers 1 and 2 are allowed to enter the French capital on June 26 from 5:30 a.m. local time to midnight, Paris police prefecture said.

Called also Crit’Air vignettes, the stickers have six colours that identify the emissions the vehicle produces according to the European emissions standard, the Xinhua news agency reported.

paris, air pollution
With polluted air raising health risks in a large part of Paris, the situation is critical to say the least. Pixabay

The other vehicles, mostly older and diesel cars, will be preventing from circulating in Paris following the unusual heatwave.

Amid expected high level of ozone pollution linked to rising temperatures, speed limits will also be cut by 20 kilometer per hour in Paris and Ile-de-France on Wednesday, while vehicles weighing over 3.5 tonnes will be asked to bypass the city centre and nearby surroundings completely.

Furthermore, Paris police department called on businesses that use polluting machinery to reduce operations, and avoid using solvent-based products, such as acetone, varnishes, glues or paints.

paris, air pollution
Called also Crit’Air vignettes, the stickers have six colours that identify the emissions the vehicle produces according to the European emissions standard, the Xinhua news agency reported. Pixabay

Like major Western European countries where unprecedented high temperatures will appear in at least the next six days, France is set to witness unseasonable temperatures which could even exceed 38 degrees Celsius in parts of eastern and southern regions in the coming days.

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For Wednesday, Meteo France predicts 34 degrees Celsius in the French capital. Temperature could reach up to 39 degrees by Friday afternoon.

Meteo France has put 65 departments, including Ile-de-France (Paris and its suburb), under orange alert due to intense heatwave and decided to maintain the alert system in these areas till Wednesday afternoon. (IANS)