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  • Annan, a Ghanaian national, died in hospital in Bern, Switzerland, in the early hours, his close associates said. In Geneva, the Kofi Annan Foundation announced his peaceful death after a short undisclosed illness with “immense sadness”, saying he was surrounded in his last days by his second wife Nane and children Ama, Kojo and Nina. After rising through the ranks of the United Nations, Annan served two terms as U.N. Secretary-General in New York from 1997-2006 and retired to live in a Swiss village in the Geneva countryside. His 10-year-old foundation promotes good governance and the transformation of African agriculture. “In many ways, Kofi Annan was the United Nations. He rose through the ranks to lead the organization into the new millennium with matchless dignity and determination,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, whom Annan had chosen to head the U.N. refugee agency, said in a statement. Annan and the United Nations shared the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to reform the world body and give priority to human rights issues. As head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, Annan was criticized for the world body’s failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s. As U.N. boss he was linked to peace efforts to reunite the divided island of Cyprus, submitting a reunification blueprint which was rejected in a referendum by Greek Cypriots in 2004. ‘NOT PERFECT’ He staunchly opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and later served as the first U.N. envoy at the start of Syria’s war, but quit after world powers failed to fulfill their commitments, saying: “I lost my troops on the way to Damascus”. “The U.N. can be improved, it is not perfect but if it didn’t exist you would have to create it,” he told the BBC’s Hard Talk during an interview for his 80th birthday last April, recorded at the Geneva Graduate Institute where he had studied. “I am a stubborn optimist, I was born an optimist and will remain an optimist,” added Annan, who often joked about having learned from locals to wear earmuffs against the freezing cold during his undergraduate years at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the United States. Raila Odinga, Kenyan opposition leader and former prime minister, said on Citizen TV: “We didn’t expect Kofi to pass that abruptly. Kofi Annan is a man of integrity; a great African, a great leader of the world.” The Elders, a group of former leaders including Gro Harlem Brundtland and Mary Robinson, paid tribute to their inspiring chairman, noting his visits to South Africa and Zimbabwe in July. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, paid tribute to Annan as “humanity’s best example, the epitome, of human decency and grace”. Zeid, who has criticized major powers and other countries during his four-year term that ends later this month, said that whenever he felt “isolated and alone politically”, he would go for long walks with Annan in Geneva. “When I told him once how everyone was grumbling about me, he looked at me — like a father would look at a son — and said sternly: “You’re doing the right thing, let them grumble.” Then he grinned!”    

  • A total of 572 Indian athletes will be participating in the event in 36 different sports categories. The contingent will be led by Chef de Mission Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh. The games in Jakarta will be held at the Bung Karno sports complex, which contains 20 venues and nine training grounds, as well as Jakarta International Expo, including 21 venues and eight training grounds. Most of the events will be held at the Bung Karno sports complex, which was the main venue for the 1962 Asian Games. To host this games, the Indonesian government has invested 770 billion Indonesian rupiah (about 52 million U.S. dollars) for renovation. The opening and the closing ceremony of this year's Asian Games will be held in Gelora Bung Karno Main Stadium, where the local government upgraded about 76,000 seats. Represented by 804 athletes and officials, the Indian contingent will aim to better the showing at the previous Asiad in Incheon, South Korea, where they finished eighth with 11 gold, 10 silver and and 36 bronze medals. The best performance by India at the Asian Games came at the 2010 edition in Guangzhou, China where they finished sixth with 14 gold, 17 silver and 34 bronze.  This year, around 12,000 athletes from 45 countries will compete in 40 disciplines. The main thrust of the Indian challenge is expected to come from athletics, wrestling, boxing and shooting. Indian athletes have traditionally done well at the Asian Games. This year, for junior world champion and reigning Asian champion Neeraj Chopra is among the favourites for the gold medal in men's javelin. The 20-year-old from Haryana is in good form this year, and have trained in Finland for the past few weeks where he won gold at ths Savo Games last months. Neeraj ste a new national record during the first leg of the Diamond League in Doha in May when he registered a career best attempt of 87.43 metres. That is alos the best throw by an Asian athlete so far this season. In men's shot put, Tejinder Pal Singh Toor is another strong contender for a medal. The 23-year-old is one of the best proponents of the shot put in Asia and took the silver medal at the continental championships last year. On the track the Indian sprint quartet of Kunhu Muhammed, Amoj Jacob, Rajiv Arokia and Mohammad Anas will aim to dominate the competition. They had won the 4x400m title at the 2017 Asian Athletics Championships and will aim to maintain their dominance. Anas is the reigning Asian champion in the 400m individual event and will be one of the top contenders for the gold medal here as well. Emerging star Hima Das will spearhead the Indian challenge in the women's sprint events. The 18-year-old from a remore village in Assam became the first Indian to claim a world championships gold in the track events when she won the women's 400m title at the World U-20 Championships last month. In wrestling, there was the usual controversy over the selection of veteran star Sushil Kumar with upcoming wrestler Parveen Rana crying foul over the selection process of the Indian squad. Sushil (74 kg) and Bajrang Punia (61 kg) were selected without a trial since the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) felt that the duo were too superior to other wrestlers in their respective categories. Although Sushil has struggled to to remain fit due to chronic injuries over the past couple of years, the double Olympic medallist still has enough ability to emerge triumphant at the Asian Games. The other Indian wrestlers will also be among the top contenders in their respective men's freestyle categories. The Indian Greco-Roman wrestlers have also been doing well since last year and it will be interesting to see how they perfrom against the best in the continent. As always, the shooting contingent will be expected to be a major contributor to the medals tally.  Manu Bhaker, the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup, will be expected to win gold in the women's 10m air pistol event. The 16-year-old won gold in her maiden Commonwealth Games (CWG) appearance at Gold Coast, Australia earlier this year and will be expected to take her superb form into the shooting ranges at Palembang. The experienced Sanjeev Rajput, Apurvi Chandela, Heena Sidhu and reigning junior world champion Anish Bhanwala are also expected to be among the medals in their respective events. In boxing, the Indians are among the best in Asia. Among the men, Vikas Krishan (75kg), Shiva Thapa (60kg) Gaurav Solanki (52kg) and Amit Panghal (49kg) are among the title contenders in their respective weight categories. Of the three women pugilists, Sonia Lather is expected to lead the pack. In gymnastics, Ashish Kumar and Deepa Karmakar have done well at past Asian Games and CWG and are expected to well this time as well. The Indian tennis squad are witnessing the usual controversies which crop up before major multi-sports events. With veteran super star Leander Paes deciding to pull out at the last moment, coach Zeeshan Ali faces a major headache as he tries to re-work the combinations in men's doubles and mixed doubles. In men's hockey, India are the favourites to defend the title they won in 2014 while the women's squad will aim to improve on their third place finish.      

  • In the beginning of the conference a two-minute silence was observed to pay tribute to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Inaugurating the conference Prime Minister of Mauritius Praveen Kumar Jagannath said that with the passing away of Vajpayee ji a great son of India and a dear friend to Mauritius has been lost. He said that Mr. Vajpayee will be remembered as a master orator, a global thinker, “Deshbhakata” and “Deshsewak”. PM Jagannath also said that Mr. Vajpayee’s love for Hindi language, ability to craft words and unique manner to address instills hopes in millions of people.  He said that 11th World Hindi Conference could not be a better tribute to Shri Vajpayee. Meanwhile, in her opening statement External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that  with this conference Hindi representatives from across the globe paying tribute to Mr. Vajpayee. She said that Vajpayee ji was exponent of Hindi who established Hindi at international level by first time addressing the United Nations in Hindi. Mauritius Prime Minister and Swaraj also released a souvenir and two postal stamps on 11th World Hindi Conference. Goa's Governor Mridula Sinha West Bengal Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi and many ministers from India are also attending the conference. After the inauguration session a condolence meeting will be held in the memory of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In the afternoon sessions delegates from 20 countries including India will deliberate on eight sub topics related to "Hindi World and Indian Culture". More than 2,000 delegates attending the three day conference.

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