Friday November 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 Climate Accords: US Notifies UN of Intention to Withdraw

President Donald Trump made this decision because the Paris Agreement unfairly burdens American businesses, workers and taxpayers while giving

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US, UN, Paris
President Donald Trump walks to speak to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Nov. 4, 2019. VOA

The United States announced Monday that it has notified the United Nations that it will begin its withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate agreement to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“President Donald Trump made this decision because the Paris Agreement unfairly burdens American businesses, workers and taxpayers while giving a free pass to other countries,” a State Department spokesman told VOA.

The United States is second only to China as the top emitter of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

U.S. President Donald Trump campaigned against the U.S. being a part of the Paris deal, though virtually every other country has signed up. Due to a 3-year waiting period since the agreement entered into force, Monday was the first day Washington could formally submit its official notification. It will take an additional year for the U.S. withdrawal to take effect. That date — Nov. 4, 2020 — is the day after the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

 

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FILE – Participants and delegate members hold up solar lanterns in honor of the Paris Agreement, during the opening session of the Climate Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Nov. 7, 2016. VOA

Democrat challengers to Trump do not support the withdrawal, and if one of them wins the presidency, that person could cancel the withdrawal after taking office Jan. 20, 2021.

“As the climate crisis worsens each day and California burns and Iowa floods, Trump continues to abandon science and our international leadership,” tweeted Joe Biden, one of Trump’s main political challengers. “He just notified the United Nations of our official withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. It’s shameful.”

The Paris Agreement aims to keep a global temperature rise this century under 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The deal also seeks to strengthen the ability of countries to respond to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

A U.N. spokesperson confirmed receipt of the U.S. notification and said the U.N. would say something further soon.

Also Read- Italy to Make Climate Change and Sustainable Development Study Compulsory for School Children

The Trump administration says irrespective of the Paris Agreement, U.S. net greenhouse gas emissions dropped 13% from 2005 to 2017, while the economy grew over 19%.

On the state and local level, as well as in the private sector, there is still a major drive to respond to climate change in the United States. (VOA)