Swaminarayan Akshardham, Largest Hindu Temple Set Up In New Jersey
BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, the largest Hindu temple in the United States, celebrated its grand opening on Sunday, October 8, in Robbinsville, New Jersey. This architectural marvel is not only a testament to the vibrant Hindu community in the US but also a symbol of the enduring spirit of artistry, spirituality, and human dedication.
A Spiritual Landmark Outside India
The temple, set up in the picturesque city of Robbinsville, New Jersey, is a remarkable achievement. It stands as the largest Hindu temple outside India in the modern era. The grand opening was marked by a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recognizing the profound spiritual significance of this momentous occasion.
A Journey of Precious Materials
The construction of BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham is a testament to human creativity and resolution. The temple’s front is crafted from four distinct varieties of marble sourced from Italy and limestone from Bulgaria. These precious materials embarked on an extraordinary journey, covering over 8,000 miles worldwide to reach their final destination in New Jersey. Once on site, skilled artisans assembled these intricately carved pieces like a colossal jigsaw puzzle, culminating in the creation of this monumental Hindu temple.
The Work of Dedicated Artisans and Volunteers
This architectural masterpiece sprawls across an expansive 126-acre area, a feat made possible by the relentless dedication of artisans and volunteers. These individuals invested approximately 4.7 million hours to meticulously hand-carve around two million cubic feet of stone. The temple walls are adorned with carvings of historical figures, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, adding a unique touch of diversity and inclusivity to the temple’s design.
A Collective Effort Spanning Over a Decade
The construction of Akshardham was made possible by over 12,500 volunteers from across the United States, dedicating more than 12 years, from 2011 to 2023, to bring it to life. The temple spans an impressive 255 feet in length, 345 feet in width, and 191 feet in height, covering an expansive 183 acres.
A Spiritual Oasis for All
The temple’s inauguration was guided by BAPS spiritual leader Mahant Swami Maharaj, on October 8, with doors opening to visitors by October 18. In anticipation of its inauguration, the temple has already started attracting thousands of Hindu devotees and individuals from various faiths and beliefs. Situated approximately 60 miles south of Times Square in New York and 180 miles north of Washington, DC, it has become a significant spiritual destination.
Ancient Roots and Cultural Heritage
The design of Akshardham is deeply rooted in ancient Hindu scriptures and features elements from India’s rich cultural heritage. The temple houses a remarkable collection of over 10,000 statues, complex carvings of Indian musical instruments, and various dance forms. Among modern-era Hindu temples, Akshardham is possibly the second largest, trailing only behind Cambodia’s iconic Angkor Wat.
The temple’s distinctive design incorporates a central main shrine, 12 sub-shrines, nine shikhars (towering spire-like structures), and nine pyramidal shikhars. Notably, Akshardham boasts the largest elliptical dome in traditional stone architecture, designed to withstand the test of time for a thousand years. Within its premises, you’ll find the Brahma Kund, a traditional Indian stepwell filled with water sourced from more than 300 bodies of water worldwide, including the sacred rivers of India and all 50 states of the US.
A Testament to Collective Effort
The construction of Akshardham has been a collective effort, with volunteers from across the United States receiving guidance from skilled artisans in India. This monumental endeavor has only been possible due to the efforts made by millions of volunteers and their precious time to reach this milestone. BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham stands not only as a remarkable architectural achievement but also as a testament to the power of human dedication and the rich tapestry of Hindu culture and spirituality in the United States.
YES Bank Becomes The First Lender To Offer ‘ONDC Network Gift Card’
YES Bank, a prominent financial institution in India, has taken a significant leap forward in the digital commerce space by introducing the ONDC Network Gift Card. This move makes YES Bank the first bank in the country to issue such a card. In partnership with the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), this initiative aims to transform the shopping experience for Indian consumers.
Democratising Digital Commerce
The ONDC Network Gift Card is at the forefront of democratizing digital commerce. Unlike traditional gift cards that restrict usage to a specific brand or store, this concept empowers customers to utilize the gift card for purchasing products from any brand and any seller across a wide array of segments. This includes food, fashion, handicrafts, electronics, home essentials, health, and wellbeing. This groundbreaking approach eliminates the limitations that have traditionally been associated with gift cards and offers consumers unparalleled freedom of choice.
Sponsorship and Utilization
One of the most exciting aspects of the ONDC Network Gift Card is its openness to sponsorship and utilization by both corporate and individual customers. This flexibility allows businesses to extend thoughtful gestures to their customers and employees, while individuals can use the card for gifting to their loved ones. Whether it’s a special occasion or a token of appreciation, this card provides a versatile and meaningful way to express goodwill and gratitude.
Leveraging the Rupay Network
The ONDC Network Gift Card leverages the Rupay network, which is a homegrown payment system in India. Rupay has gained popularity for its reliability and affordability, making it a preferred choice for digital transactions. By using Rupay, YES Bank ensures that the ONDC Network Gift Card is accessible to a wide range of users across the country.
Flexible Load Limit
To accommodate a variety of spending needs, the ONDC Network Gift Card offers flexibility in terms of the load limit. Customers can load amounts ranging up to Rs 10,000 onto the card. This adaptability makes it suitable for various shopping budgets, from small purchases to more substantial shopping sprees.
A Boost for the Festive Season
Ajay Rajan, Country Head – Digital & Transaction Banking at YES BANK, commented on the launch of the ONDC Network Gift Card, stating, “With the launch of the ONDC Network Gift Card, customers can enjoy an unrestricted shopping experience during the ongoing festive season.” The card is poised to become a preferred choice for gifting and shopping, enhancing the festive spirit for all.
360 Degree Appraisal System Introduced In The Indian Navy
The Indian Navy, known for its commitment to excellence and continuous improvement, has embarked on a transformative initiative known as the ‘360 Degree Appraisal Mechanism.’ This initiative recognizes the invaluable contributions of both women and men in whites and aims to enhance their professional and personal development.
The ‘SHIPS FIRST’ Approach
The Indian Navy has always prioritized its personnel as the cornerstone of its operational efficiency. The men and women who serve in white uniforms play a pivotal role in the Indian Navy’s ‘SHIPS FIRST’ approach, which places the safety and effectiveness of naval operations above all else. This approach underscores the critical importance of having a skilled, motivated, and cohesive workforce.
Recognizing the Need for Change
Traditionally, the Indian Navy relied on periodic Confidential Reports submitted by senior officers as the primary mechanism for evaluating its personnel. While this system had its merits, it also had inherent limitations. One of the key limitations was its ‘Top-down’ approach, which did not adequately account for a leader’s impact on subordinates. In a rapidly evolving world, the need for a more comprehensive and inclusive appraisal mechanism became evident.
The Birth of the ‘360 Degree Appraisal Mechanism’
In response to these challenges, the Indian Navy introduced the ‘360 Degree Appraisal Mechanism.’ This innovative initiative aims to address the shortcomings of the previous system by incorporating a broader perspective into the evaluation process.
Key Elements of the Mechanism
The ‘360 Degree Appraisal Mechanism’ involves a systematic survey process that includes input from a variety of sources, such as peers and subordinates, in addition to the traditional senior officer evaluations. The survey encompasses a wide range of questions, covering aspects like professional knowledge, leadership qualities, suitability in war and crisis situations, and potential for holding higher ranks.
Objective Analysis and Feedback in the Promotion Process
The collected data is then quantified and analyzed independently by a designated Board of Officers, led by a Flag Officer. This objective analysis helps ensure fairness and transparency in the promotion process. Furthermore, the feedback generated through this mechanism is shared with the officers being evaluated, facilitating self-improvement and behavioral changes.
Embracing International Best Practices
The ‘360 Degree Appraisal Mechanism’ is not a unique concept; similar appraisal systems are widely adopted by various national and international learning organizations. The Indian Navy takes pride in adopting ‘best practices’ from across the globe, and this initiative is a testament to its commitment to continuous improvement.
A Step Towards a Future-Proof Force
Incorporating the ‘360 Degree Appraisal Mechanism’ into its promotion process aligns with the Indian Navy’s broader mission of remaining a ‘Combat Ready, Credible, Cohesive, and Future-Proof Force.’ By embracing innovation and fostering a culture of self-improvement and accountability, the Indian Navy is not only enhancing the professional development of its personnel but also reinforcing its position as a global maritime force to be reckoned with.
Nobel Prize 2023 in Economic Sciences Awarded to Claudia Goldin
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2023 was awarded to Claudia Goldin “for having advanced our understanding of women’s labour market outcomes”.
This year’s Laureate in the Economic Sciences, Claudia Goldin, provided the first comprehensive account of women’s earnings and labour market participation through the centuries. Her research reveals the causes of change, as well as the main sources of the remaining gender gap.
About the Claudia Goldin
Claudia Goldin Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
Claudia Goldin, born 1946 in New York, NY, USA. PhD 1972 from University of Chicago, IL, USA. Professor at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA.
Facts on the prize in economic sciences
In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden’s central bank) established this prize in memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize. Here are some facts and figures regarding The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, awarded from 1969 to 2022. 92 individuals have been awarded 1969-2022.
Youngest economic sciences laureate
To date, the youngest economic sciences laureate is Esther Duflo, who was 46 years old when she was awarded in 2019.
Oldest economic sciences laureate
The oldest economic sciences laureate to date is Leonid Hurwicz, who was 90 years old when he was awarded in 2007.
The medal for the prize in economic sciences
The medal in economic sciences was designed by Swedish artist and sculptor Gunvor Svensson-Lundqvist and shows the North Star emblem of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Closing Ceremony Marks the End of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou
The 19th Asian Games 2023 concluded with a spectacular closing ceremony held at the Hangzhou Olympics Stadium in China. The event celebrated the love and unity between the participating countries, showcasing the cultural diversity and sporting excellence of the Asian nations.
P. R. Sreejesh Leads India as the Flag Bearer
Renowned hockey player P. R. Sreejesh had the honor of being India’s flag bearer during the closing ceremony, representing his country with pride on the international stage.
A Dazzling Display by Over 2000 Performers
The closing ceremony wowed spectators with a dazzling performance featuring more than 2000 performers. The show symbolized the harmonious spirit that unites the diverse nations of Asia in the pursuit of athletic excellence.
Passing of the Baton to Nagoya, Japan
The official handover of the Asian Games flag, the current flag, and the torch marked the beginning of a new chapter for the Asian Games. Raja Randhir Singh, the interim president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), handed over these symbols to the Japanese delegation, signifying Nagoya, Japan, as the host city for the 20th Asian Games in 2026.
Nagoya: Capital of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture
Nagoya, the future host of the 20th Asian Games, is the capital of Japan’s Aichi Prefecture. Located on the Pacific coast in central Honshu, Nagoya is well-prepared to welcome athletes and visitors from across Asia for this prestigious event.
Governor Hideaki Omura Takes Center Stage
During the handover ceremony, Hideaki Omura, the Governor of Aichi Prefecture, proudly waved the flag of the OCA. This gesture symbolized Japan’s commitment to hosting a successful and memorable 20th Asian Games in Nagoya.
Achievements and Records at the 19th Asian Games
The 19th Asian Games, delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, featured participation from over 12,000 athletes representing 45 nations competing in 40 sports. It was a historic moment for India, as the country achieved remarkable success.
India’s Impressive Medal Haul
India’s contingent shone at the 19th Asian Games, securing a total of 107 medals, including 28 gold, 38 silver, and 41 bronze. This remarkable performance exceeded the nation’s previous record at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, where India won 70 medals.
Setting a New Milestone
Notably, India’s achievement at the 19th Asian Games marks the first time the country has crossed the significant benchmark of 101 medals in any of the three major multi-sport events, which include the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, and the Asian Games. This milestone reflects India’s growing prowess on the international sports stage.
The 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, were not only a celebration of sports but also a testament to the power of unity and sportsmanship that bring Asian nations together. With Nagoya, Japan, taking up the mantle for the 20th Asian Games in 2026, the future of this prestigious sporting event promises to be even brighter.
India To Observe 10 Oct As Good Manufacturing Practice Day
The Indian government, in collaboration with the Indian Drugs Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA), is set to observe the first-ever National Current Good Manufacturing Practice Day (cGMP Day) on 10th October. This initiative aims to underscore the importance of adhering to cGMP guidelines in pharmaceutical manufacturing, with a focus on improving product quality and ensuring patient safety.
The Significance of cGMP Guidelines
Current Good Manufacturing Practices, commonly referred to as cGMP, are stringent quality standards mandated by the World Health Organization (WHO) for pharmaceutical manufacturing. These guidelines serve as the backbone of pharmaceutical operations, providing essential standards to enhance product quality by regulating various aspects of the manufacturing process, including materials, methods, machinery, processes, personnel, facilities, and environmental conditions.
The Current Situation
In recent years, India’s pharmaceutical industry has faced criticism and regulatory scrutiny due to multiple reports of poor-quality cough syrups causing harm to consumers, especially children, in importing countries. These incidents have not only compromised the industry’s reputation but have also raised concerns about patient safety worldwide. As a response to these challenges, the Indian government has made it mandatory for all drug manufacturers to adhere to cGMP guidelines.
The Proposed Amendment in Schedule M
Currently, cGMP guidelines fall under Schedule M of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945. However, there is a proposed amendment that will make these guidelines applicable to all pharmaceutical firms. This amendment reflects a commitment to raising the bar for pharmaceutical quality across the industry.
Challenges and Opportunities
India is home to approximately 10,500 drug manufacturing units, yet only around 2,000 of them hold WHO GMP certification. This stark difference highlights the existing gap in quality standards and the need for widespread compliance with cGMP guidelines.
Under the proposed amendment to Schedule M, the government has given large pharmaceutical companies (with a turnover exceeding ₹250 crore) a six-month period to implement upgraded GMP standards. Smaller enterprises falling under the MSME category (below ₹250 crore turnover) will have 12 months to comply with the revised standards. This transition period reflects the government’s commitment to supporting the industry in achieving higher quality standards.
Participation and Collaboration
The inaugural National cGMP Day on 10th October is expected to bring together senior officials from India’s health ministry, the United States Food and Drug Administration, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organization), pharmacy schools, and academia. This collaborative effort aims to create awareness about the significance of cGMP guidelines and foster a culture of quality within the pharmaceutical industry.
Biden orders US ships, warplanes to move closer to Israel
Amidst a recent attack by the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, President Joe Biden has promptly demonstrated solidarity with Israel. Given its role as a key arms provider to Israel, the United States is dispatching military reinforcements and aid to strengthen Israel’s defense capabilities.
U.S. Military Deployment
The Pentagon’s move to send the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford and accompanying warships to the eastern Mediterranean.
Strengthening fighter aircraft squadrons in the region to bolster Israel’s defense.
The United States’ historical role as a major supplier of arms to Israel.
A swift and unwavering commitment to providing “rock solid” support.
President Biden’s communication with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Promise of additional military aid and support for Israel in the face of unprecedented attacks.
Efforts to discourage other parties from becoming involved in the conflict.
A shared commitment to ensuring that Israel’s adversaries do not exploit the situation.
The significant loss of life on both sides of the conflict, with over 600 lives lost in Israel and at least 370 deaths in Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s resolve to prepare for a protracted conflict.
The deployment of tens of thousands of Israeli forces and the possibility of a ground offensive in Gaza.
Hezbollah’s actions in firing shells and missiles at Israeli positions, raising concerns of a wider regional conflict.
U.S. Military Support
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s decision to bolster regional deterrence efforts.
The deployment of the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier, a guided missile cruiser, and four guided missile destroyers.
Aid to Israel
The rapid provision of additional equipment and resources, including munitions, to the Israel Defense Forces.
Reaffirming the United States’ unwavering support for Israel and its people.
Securing Israel’s Needs
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s assertion that President Biden ordered the administration to provide Israel with everything it needs to deal with Hamas attacks.
Concerns over the safety of Americans, including reports of casualties and missing individuals.