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Keep religious disputes out of court: Akal Takht Chief

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Keep religious disputes out of court: Akal Takht Chief

Amritsar: Amid the controversy over the creation of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC) and the stand-off between Sikh leaders in Punjab and those in Haryana, the Jathedar (chief) of the Akal Takht, Gurbachan Singh, says that Sikhs should not take these matters to court. Instead, these should be “resolved within the religion”.

“I appeal to all Sikhs across the world not to take the religious issues to any court of law. These should be resolved within the religion,” Gurbachan Singh said in an interview here.



Under fire from sections of Sikh and political leaders, who have accused him of being a puppet in the hands of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Shiromani Akali Dal president and deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Akal Takht chief denied that he was taking decision under influence from anyone.

“The Akal Takht is an institution of the Sikhs. It is not linked to any particular party. It is completely independent and takes all decisions without any bias. In the past, there have been instances when pressure was mounted on the Akal Takht,” he said.

”I don’t agree that I am a puppet in anyone’s hands. If this would have been the case, I would not have directed the Akali Dal to cancel its Sikh convention. If I had gone by them (Akali Dal), the conventions would have been held. If I had not taken that decision, it would have led to a lot of damage,” Gurbachan Singh pointed out while defending his role in the controversy over the Haryana SGPC.

The Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion, July 16 excommunicated three senior Sikh leaders from Haryana from the Sikh community. 

Those excommunicated “for anti-Sikh activities” were Haryana’s Finance Minister Harmohinder Singh Chatha, and senior Sikh leaders Jagdish Singh Jhinda and Didar Singh Nalvi.

Jhinda and Nalvi are now the president and senior vice president of the newly created ad hoc committee of the HSGPC.

The Akal Takht ordered that no Sikh should have any association with the excommunicated leaders. The excommunicated leaders were directed to appear before the Akal Takht and seek penance under religious conventions.

With the HSGPC controversy clearly dividing Sikhs in Punjab and Haryana and elsewhere too, Gurbachan Singh admitted this has affected the community.

”This is a very unfortunate situation. Sikhs, as it is, have a small population. There are many Sikh groups now but majority of the Sikhs are with the Shiromani Akal Dal (led by the Badals).

Since the SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee) is dominated by the Akali Dal, the party represents most Sikhs,” he said.

The Akal Takht chief, who recently ordered that status quo be maintained on the control of Haryana gurdwaras (Sikh shrines), said that the matter can only be resolved between the SGPC leadership and Haryana Sikh leaders.

But he made it clear that no talks could be held with the Sikh leaders excommunicated from the community.

”The move (creation of HSGPC) is to weaken the SGPC and divide the Sikh community.”

Jhinda and Nalvi were physically prevented from entering the Akal Takht inside the Golden Temple complex here Monday when they went to offer prayers. 

Gurbachan Singh justified the action.

“They were stopped as an excommunicated Sikh cannot enter the Takht…”

The Akali Dal and the SGPC are locked in a bitter controversy with Haryana’s Bhupinder Singh Hooda government over the creation of the HSGPC. They have both strongly opposed the creation of the new HSGPC for Haryana Sikh shrines.

The Haryana assembly June 11 passed a bill to set up a state committee to manage gurdwaras (Sikh shrines) in Haryana.

The Haryana Sikh Gurdwaras (Management) Bill, 2014, got the assent of the state governor June 14.

The SGPC, the mini-parliament of Sikh religious affairs, which controls gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, will lose control over gurdwaras in Haryana with the new law.

The SGPC, which has a Rs.950-crore annual budget, controls majority of the gurdwaras in Punjab, including the holiest of all Sikh shrines ‘Harmandar Sahib’ (popularly known as Golden Temple) in Amritsar.

Indian News

COVID-19: Plasma therapy positive result on critical Corona Virus patient: Max Hospitals

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COVID-19: Plasma therapy positive result on critical Corona Virus patient: Max Hospitals

New Delhi: The Max Hospital in Saket has administered plasma therapy on a critical coronavirus patient and it’s showing positive results with the patient being taken off ventilator support, the hospital said on Monday.

The 49-year-old man became the first patient to be administered plasma therapy at the Max Hospital (East Wing) here, the hospital said in a statement.

In convalescent plasma therapy, the antibodies of a person who has recovered from the virus are taken and transfused into a sick person (having the virus) to help boost the person’s immune system.

The patient from Delhi had tested positive for Covid-19 on April 4 and was admitted on the same day to the coronavirus facility at the Max Hospital with moderate symptoms and a history of fever and respiratory issues.

“His condition deteriorated during the next few days and he soon required external oxygen to maintain saturation. He also developed pneumonia with Type I respiratory failure and had to be put on ventilator support on April 8,” the hospital said.

When the patient showed no improvement, his family members requested the hospital to administer plasma therapy on compassionate grounds, a first of its kind treatment modality that is being used for the disease in India.

“The family came forward to arrange a donor for extracting plasma. The donor had recovered from the infection (confirmed by two consecutive negative reports) three weeks ago and again tested Covid-19 negative at the time of donation along with other standard tests to rule out infections like Hep B, Hep C and HIV,” the hospital said.

The critically ill patient was administered fresh plasma as a treatment modality as a side-line to the standard treatment protocols on the night of April 14, it said.

“After receiving the treatment, the patient showed progressive improvement and by the fourth day, he was weaned off ventilator support on the morning of April 18 and continued on supplementary oxygen thereafter,” it added.

The hospital said the man has been shifted to a room with round-the-clock monitoring facility.

“He has started taking oral feed since Sunday and is faring well,” it said.

Speaking on the success of the first case administered under plasma therapy at the hospital, Sandeep Budhiraja, Group Medical Director, Max Healthcare, and Senior Director, Institute of Internal Medicine, said the case opened a new treatment opportunity during these challenging times.

“We are delighted that the therapy worked well in his case, opening a new treatment opportunity during these challenging times. But it is important that we also understand that plasma therapy is no magic bullet. During the patient’s treatment at the Max Hospital, other standard treatment protocols were followed and we can say that plasma therapy could have worked as a catalyst in speeding up his recovery,” Budhiraja said.

He also said the recovery cannot be attributed 100 per cent to the therapy.

“We cannot attribute 100 per cent recovery to plasma therapy only, as there are multiple factors which carved his path to recovery,” he said.

He further added that in a country like India, a therapy of such kind has a good potential to help Covid-19 patients who have disease severity, which fits into moderate to severe categories.

“Government regulations should work towards making it more accessible for hospitals across the country to be able to use it. One donor can donate 400 ml of plasma which can save two lives, as 200 ml is sufficient to treat one patient,” Budhiraja said.

So far, 47 people have lost their lives due to coronavirus in Delhi.

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Indian News

This Week In Punjab Was All About Justin Trudeau Visit

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For the past few days the visit by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his delegation has been much in the news in the Indian media in general and the Punjabi media in particular.  The main emphasis of this visit has been the close links between the two democracies.

The  progress made by the Indian Diaspora in general and Sikhs in particular in Canada  has been a matter of great pride not only in Canada but also in India. In Canada the proportion of people of Indian origin is 1.4% . This is quite close to the Punjabis in India at 1.9%. The clout of Sikhs in particular in every area in Canada is often the topic of discussion here. This is more so at this time .

It was interesting to note that a prominent Indian journalist Harih Khare wrote a very insightful article in The Tribune as a tribute to Canada  on the eve of the current visit by the Canadian Prime Minister. Titled “Welcome Justin Trudeau”, Khare quoted former governor general David Johnston ‘ s treatise: The Idea of Canada. This is a beautiful illustration of Canadian values. Khare also quoted extensively from Justin Trudeau’s Common Ground: Political Life. Both of these works highlight Canada’s diversity, multiculturalism and inclusiveness. All of this makes Trudeau’s visit more relevant and meaningful for the people of India. Incidentally, Canada has become one of the most popular countries in India in general and Punjab in particular.

In this context it was only natural that Justin and his delegation have received A very warm welcome everywhere. His visit to Taj Mahal in Agra, Hamandar Sahib in Amritsa and every other place like Ahmedabad, Bombay and New Delhi have been great success.  In a sense this has been a memorable milestone in Canada – India relations.

On another front, my family and friends had an opportunity to visit Rajasthan for a few days. This visit included spending a few days in the Pink City of Jaipur. It is a beautiful city . The Amber Fort is just amazing. It is home to the world’s largest cannon. In addition to that it has great artefacts from the past.  Built on  steep hillside it is a marvel of engineering. Jaipur is also home to the impressive Jantar Mantar, Jal Mahal City Palace and much more.

From Jaipur it was on to visit Dhanda Bhagat’s  Gurdwara about two hours drive from Jaipur. This is a very spacious Gurdwara in the memory of Dhanna Bhagat whose 600 th anniversary was celebrated with great deal of enthusiasm last year. From there we moved on to Ajmer, home of a sacred Dargah. After paying our obeisance at the Dargah , we moved on to nearby Pushkar, one of the holiest places for the Hindus. Pushkar is reported to have 326 temples and has the only temple devoted to Lord Brahma. Also, Pushkar had the honour of visits by Guru Nanak Dev ji and Guru Gobind Singh ji. The Gurdwara here is also  very impressive.

After spending a few days in Rajsthan it was time to head home. On our way home we thoroughly enjoyed our visit in Delhi. It was an honour for us to pay our obeisance at the historic Bangla Sahib and Raquab Ganj  Gurdwaras. From Delhi we moved on to another historic place called Paunta  Sahib in Haryana.  There are a number of Gurdwaras here. Guru Gobind Singh ji stayed here for more than four years. Here he successfully turned back the attack by a number of hill chieftains at Bhangani. There are a number of Gurdwaras around here dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh ji ‘s stay in this area.

After taking a short break my family and friends plan to visit a few more places of interest. The weather so far has been great. It is a welcome change from the cold and snow of Metro Vancouver.       -Balwant Sanghera .

Balwant Sanghera  is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist.  He is currently on a family vacation in India.

 

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Walmart In Talks To Buy Large Stake In Flipkart At $20-23 Billion Valuation

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NEW DELHI – American retailer Walmart Inc may end up taking a large stake in Flipkart Ltd at a price that could value India’s largest e-commerce firm between $20 billion and $23 billion, three people close to the development said. If it goes through the deal will pit Walmart against Amazon in India, mirroring the fight between the two companies in the US.

Walmart has expressed an interest in buying Flipkart Ltd but a buyout is unlikely to go through as a key Flipkart investor SoftBank Group is opposed to a sale, the three people added on condition of anonymity. “Softbank is not willing to cash out this early as they see themselves as a long term investor in Flipkart,” one of the three people mentioned above said.

The talks are in the early stages and the companies haven’t finalized the final details, the people said. Walmart is expected to invest fresh capital in Flipkart as well as buy shares from existing investors including Accel Partners and Naspers, they added.

Any deal is likely to make Walmart the largest shareholder in Flipkart, they said.

Walmart is not the only suitor pursuing Flipkart. Search giant Google has also offered to invest in the e-retailer at a valuation of $15-$16 billion, said a fourth person close to the development. Flipkart is also talking to other investors, this person said, without naming the investors.

Flipkart’s biggest backer and key board member Lee Fixel of Tiger Global was in Walmart’s headquarters last week helping put together the deal, this person said.

Flipkart and Walmart declined to comment. Google and Softbank did not respond to emails seeking comment.

The Economic Times newspaper reported on 31 January that Walmart is in talks to buy 15-20% of Flipkart.

In August 2017, Flipkart received a commitment of $1.4 billion in fresh capital from Japan’s Softbank Group valuing the company at about $14 billion.

Launched in 2007, Flipkart has thus far raised more than $6 billion.

The current valuation offered by Walmart includes Flipkart’s fashion businesses Myntra and Jabong, ebay India, as well as mobile payments firm PhonePe.

Walmart has eyed India’s retail sector for years but the existing foreign direct investment (FDI) policy does not allow the retailer to serve have a meaningful presence in the country.

It does operate in India’s B2B (business to business) retail and e-retail segment but has stayed away from direct retail. Walmart has stayed away from joining hands with any other Indian retailer since it’s partnership with Bharti Enterprises ended in 2013.

New potential investors are willing to value the company at a much higher price partly because Flipkart has shown that it is holding its own against Amazon, which has been unable to unseat its local rival as the country’s largest online retailer despite outspending Flipkart, say analysts. Additionally, Flipkart is seen as the one of the most attractive assets in the global Internet economy, benefitting from the long-term potential ascribed to India’s internet market by investors.

Walmart and Google held funding talks with Flipkart in late 2016 but those discussions didn’t lead to deals.

 

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