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Toronto: A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was so much respected in Canada that the current Governor-General David Johnston delayed his oath-taking in 2010 so that he could personally – as president of the University of Waterloo – confer an honorary doctorate on the former Indian president.
“David Johnston was appointed the Governor General of Canada when he was the president of the University of Waterloo in southern Ontario. But he delayed his oath-taking for the sake that he (as university president) could personally honour Dr Kalam,” says Chennai-born V.I. Lakshmanan, who is an internationally renowned scientist and innovator in green technology.
A close friend of Kalam, Toronto-based Lakshmanan was instrumental in bringing the late president to Canada three times after he left Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2007.
Lakshmanan said: “The current governor general of Canada was so impressed by the credentials and humility of Kalam that the University of Waterloo where he was the president at that time decided to confer an honorary doctor of engineering degree on Kalam. David Johnston went with me to New Delhi to meet Kalam and came back so impressed by the late president that his University of Waterloo decided to honour Kalam.”
In fact, Canada was the only country that Kalam visited multiple times – thrice – after his retirement because of his close friendship with fellow Tamilian Lakshmanan.
“Every time he came here, he would say that he wanted to meet only scholars, researchers and children. He was not interested in meeting the CEOs. The Canadian prime minister and governor general were very impressed by his vision.”
The friendship between Kalam and Lakshmanan deepened so much that the two went on to co-author a book called “Peace and Prosperity for the 21st Century”.
Deeply saddened by the death of his great friend, Lakshmanan said: “Kalam was a true Mahatma. He was the Gandhi of the 21st century. Our shared passion for science and culture deepened our friendship. I knew him closely, he was a giant. You won’t find a humbler man than him. Kalam was a thorough vegetarian.”
Recalling his interactions with Kalam, he said: “He hated wastage…Dr Kalam was so careful that he didn’t waste even a single drop of water…he was very frugal.”
Lakshmanan said, “Though Dr Kalam was a Muslim, his knowledge of Hindu philosophy was so deep that few people could match him…you could discuss duality, Carnatic music, anything…he could talk with so much depth. We both talked in Tamil and English.”
During his visits here, Kalam was quick to grasp where India could benefit from Canada, says Lakshmanan.
“Once I was driving him from Niagara Falls. On the way he saw the connectivity of waterways. He said why India can’t benefit from Canada’s unique experience in waterway connectivity. Why we forget everything once the monsoon is over. He would say his dream was to see India and Canada work together in civil nuclear energy and connecting waterways (in India).”
Lakshmanan, who returned from India last week, says he met Kalam for the last time on July 15 in New Delhi.
NEW DELHI - India Navy sending four ships for exercises and port visits with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, its navy said Wednesday, as China's maritime power grows in the area.
The Indian ships will spend more than two months in the region, the navy said in a statement.
Commander Vivek Madhwal, the Indian navy spokesman, said four ships will take part.
The ships will also participate in a multilateral exercise, MALABAR-21, along with the Japanese, Australian and U.S. navies, the statement said.
It said the exercises will enhance coordination with friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and a commitment to freedom of navigation.
"Besides regular port calls, the task group will operate in conjunction with friendly navies to build military relations and develop interoperability in the conduct of maritime operations," the statement said.
The U.S., India, Japan and Australia are part of the Quad regional alliance created in response to China's growing economic and military strength. Washington has long viewed New Delhi as a key partner in efforts to blunt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
India is also in a continuing standoff with China over their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. The countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control.
Last year, 20 Indian troops died in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists in a portion of the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.(VOA/HP)
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.