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Ram temple construction to begin after ‘pitra paksh’

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AYODHYA: The much-awaited construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya will begin after September 17 when the ‘Pitra Paksh’ period ends.

Pitra Paksh refers to the period when Hindus express gratitude to their ancestors and no auspicious work is done during this period.

According to Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust general secretary, Champat Rai, country’s leading construction company Larsen and Toubro is all set to lay the foundation of the grand temple, which would come up in 12,879 square metre area on Ram Janmabhoomi campus.

The company is carrying out construction without charging any fee. Around 1,200 pillars will be laid around 100 feet below the surface to prepare the temple’s foundation. These pillars will be of stone and no iron will be used. Again, on these pillars, another layer of foundation will be laid.

The construction company has sourced machines from Mumbai and is in the process of sourcing machines from Hyderabad.

The Trust is expected to engage around 100 labourers to lay the foundation of the temple.

All workers will be tested for the coronavirus and thermal-scanned before being allowed entry into the Ram Janmabhoomi campus.

Last week, the Ayodhya Development Authority (ADA) had approved two layouts — one of Ram mandir and another of the entire Ram Janmabhoomi campus.

The ADA also handed over the layouts to the Trust on September 4 after it deposited requisite fee in the development authority’s bank account.

The proposed Ram mandir will be 360 feet long, 235 feet wide and 161 feet high and will have five domes.

According to the Trust, the temple’s foundation will be laid by using modern techniques so that it could be preserved for over 1,500 years and its structure for 1,000 years.

Experts from the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), Roorkee and IIT Madras have been roped in to make the temple’s foundation strong so that it can withstand earthquakes and storms.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

India, China agree not to further escalate border situation but no breakthrough on disengagement in military talks

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NEW DELHI: India and China have agreed not to further escalate the border situation through a series of measures, which significantly includes not sending more troops to forward areas, but a tangible breakthrough on de-escalation eluded the marathon military commander-level talks held on Monday.

The test of the joint statement issued on Tuesday will lie in actual Chinese actions in disengaging and de-escalating along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, in accordance with the “consensus” reached between foreign minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Moscow on September 10.

The 14-hour long dialogue on Monday, between the delegations led by 14 Corps commander Lt-General Harinder Singh and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Liu Lin, did not lead to any forward movement in defusing the almost five-month long troop confrontation, said sources.

But the joint statement signaled a more positive outcome, with the two countries agreeing to “earnestly implement the important consensus” reached earlier between PM Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping to maintain peace along the LAC.

The Jaishankar-Wang talks had also agreed to both sides taking actions to “quickly disengage” in the high-altitude region, where both sides have amassed well over 50,000 soldiers each as well as tanks, armoured vehicles, howitzers, surface-to-air missiles systems.

As per the joint statement on Tuesday, the two armies will also refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and taking any actions that may complicate the situation. They will also strengthen communication between the local commanders to avoid “misunderstandings and misjudgments”.

The statement seems to signal that the current standstill may continue, with senior government sources hinting that “apex leadership” level discussions may be needed to break the logjam.

The two sides agreed to hold the 7th round of military commander-level meeting as soon as possible, take practical measures to properly solve problems on the ground, and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility in the border area.

Sources, however, said there was “hardly any meeting ground” on the actual troop disengagement and de-escalation during the military talks, which included diplomatic representation from India for the first time. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), in fact, has assiduously used the cover of diplomatic and military talks to crank up its troop and logistics build-up in the region.

At the military talks, India pressed for a concrete roadmap for “complete de-escalation” at the immediate face-off sites as well as the “depth areas” along the entire frontier in eastern Ladakh. China, in turn, kept insisting on the withdrawal of Indian troops from the heights on the southern bank of Pangong Tso-Chushul area.

“There was a mismatch between the rival proposals. But then, it is a complex issue, which will need sustained dialogue to arrive at a mutually-acceptable plan. We will not lower our guard,” said a source.

The PLA remains upset at the way Indian troops preemptively occupied multiple tactical heights on the ridge line stretching from Thakung on the south bank of Pangong Tso to Gurung Hill, Spanggur Gap, Magar Hill, Mukhpari, Rezang La and Reqin La (Rechin mountain pass) on August 29-30.

These heights, which were left unoccupied since the 1962 war, allow Indian soldiers to clearly observe PLA positions and roads as well as the Moldo military garrison in the region.

There have been at least four incidents of warning shots being exchanged after the PLA tried to dislodge Indian troops from the heights through aggressive manoeuvres between August 29 and September 8. “During the talks, the PLA delegation kept returning to the need for Indian soldiers to vacate those heights,” said another source.

For India, apart from the “friction points” at Pangong Tso, Chushul and Gogra-Hotsprings, the heavy PLA build-up in the strategically-located Depsang-Daulat Beg Oldie sector also remains a major concern.

Overall, both sides have amassed well over 50,000 soldiers each, along with tanks, armoured vehicles, howitzers, surface-to-air missiles systems, along the entire frontier in eastern Ladakh.

Even if the two sides finally arrive at a de-escalation plan, the de-induction of such high levels of troops is likely to stretch till the end of this year. India, of course, will be extremely cautious because the PLA had earlier reneged on the agreement to withdraw from the Galwan Valley, which had led to the violent skirmish and casualties there on June 15.

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INDIA

IIT-Guwahati convocation: NEP will turn India into global education destination, says PM Modi

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GUWAHATI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 will bring fame to India by turning it into a global education destination.

The PM said this while addressing the 22nd convocation of IIT-Guwahati through video conference from New Delhi.

“NEP advocates opening up the education sector. The goal is to set up campuses of foreign universities in the country so that our students can get global exposure,” Modi said, emphasizing on promoting research collaboration and student exchange between Indian and foreign universities.

The PM added that high-performing institutions from India will be encouraged to set up campuses on foreign lands as the country is opening up its education sector for foreign universities. “The credits acquired by our students in foreign universities can now get counted in the institutions of the country,” he said.

The PM added that the education policy will make India a global leader in science and technology and features policies that were on top of their wishlist. Modi urged the youth to be future-ready and future-fit.

“Education and examination should not be a burden on students. They should get more freedom to study subjects of their choice and that’s why the NEP has been designed. Flexibility has been given in choosing subjects, multiple entry and exit options have been given and most importantly, technology will become an integral part of education,” Modi said.

He added that NEP has paved the way for use of artificial intelligence in education and growth of online education.

Modi said the country is heading towards such an ecosystem where the youth will learn from technology and will innovate new technology for teaching. He added that the National Research Foundation will coordinate with all funding agencies, irrespective of disciplines — whether it’s science or humanities. “The potential research works, which have the scope of practical implementation, will be recognized. For this, coordination and close linkage will be established between the government and the industry,” the PM said.

Modi expressed high hopes that IIT-Guwahati will play a key role in this “beyond boundary expansion” from the northeast. “The NE region is the focal point of India’s Act East Policy and gateway to connect with the southeast Asian countries. The foundation of the relationship with these countries with us has been culture, commerce, connectivity and capacity. Now education is going to be the new medium of engagement with these countries. IIT-Guwahati can be a major centre of this,” he added.

The Prime Minister said new opportunities are being created in the northeast as the government is ramping-up infrastructure in the region. He added that the northeast has huge potential in solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric energy as well as rice, tea, and bamboo as resources. Modi appealed to young graduates to explore how innovation can boost the tourism sector in the diverse NE region of the country, known for its exquisite natural beauty.

“Here in the northeast, we have the biodiversity and immense sources of traditional knowledge. Transmission of science and technology has been linked with traditions, passing from one generation to the other. Can we build new technology with this fusion?” he asked.

Modi suggested IIT-Guwahati to set up a centre for Indian knowledge system through which the premier technology institute can offer “invaluables” to the northeast as well as the country and the world. He also urged the institute to come up with a centre for disaster management and risk reduction with expertise to manage disasters — natural and industrial — often encountered by the region and turn it into blessings.

The PM lauded the efforts of the institute in contributing towards making the country self-reliant in spite of the difficulty in conducting academic sessions and continuing research work during this pandemic. “Convocation is a special day for every student. But this year, it is a different experience for them in the time of pandemic. The pandemic has changed the way convocation is conducted. But still it is as special as it was before. I congratulate students for their bright future. The future of the nation is in what the youth think today. Your dreams will shape the reality of India in future,” said Modi.

Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal, Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, Union MoS for education Sanjay Dhotre and several other dignitaries were virtually present in the convocation with a graduating class of 1,803 students (1532 males and 271 females).

“IIT-Guwahati has also worked towards the idea of Atmanirbhar Bharat during Covid-19 pandemic. Convocation is not the end of education but a new beginning. You came to the institute as a student but now you will enlighten the world. You are the ambassador of the country. The key to success is positive attitude and positive aptitude,” said Pokhriyal.

The CM lauded the role of IIT-Guwahati in the battle against Covid-19. “Right from the initial stage, we have been striving hard to prevent and contain the spread of this pandemic. IIT-Guwahati has played an important role in assisting the state government in fighting this disease. I acknowledge and thank the IIT-Guwahati team for their contribution in developing Covid-19 kits and other infrastructure help.”

IIT-Guwahati director Prof TG Sitharam said there are 291 research projects in progress with a total sanctioned value of about Rs 437.00 crore. “In the year under report, we received 131 new projects with a sanctioned value of Rs 183.00 crore. A total of 153 new consultancy projects were carried out during the year. The total value of consultancy projects undertaken during this year is Rs 10.76 crore and Rs 11.27 crore was received for all consultancies,” he added.

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India, China agree to stop sending more troops to frontlines in bid to defuse LAC tensions

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NEW DELHI: India and China took initial steps on Monday with the first decision to stop sending more troops to the frontlines in eastern Ladakh. This is intended to ensure a halt to the relentless build-up on the LAC, as a precursor to further steps in the disengagement exercise. That, according to sources familiar with developments, was the limited achievement of the meeting.

Halting the build-up is the first step towards disengagement, without prejudice to current positions held by both sides.

Given the trust deficit between the two sides and the fact that this was the first commanders’ meeting after almost two months, the aim of the two sides, according to high level sources, was to reopen communications and stop sending troops.

In the past few weeks, the ground situation too has changed in a way that is less disadvantageous to the Indian side. Therefore, the Indian side too is unwilling to give up its new positions. That particular discussion will only happen down the line, not immediately.

However, sources from the meeting said the discussions were reasonably positive. “The understanding is to keep the situation stable until agreement on disengagement is reached for which further rounds of talks have been proposed.”

This was not a meeting that would have achieved full agreement on disengagement. That was not the intention, according to sources. In the future rounds of talks, both sides will get an opportunity to both test their intentions and ability to follow through on their decisions, they said.

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