Sunday, July 8, 2007

New7Wonders History and Structure :: July 2007

History

In 1999, Bernard Weber had the vision of reviving the concept of the 7 Wonders of the World. To do so, he founded the non-profit New7Wonders Foundation, which organized this ambitious global campaign to elect the New 7 Wonders of the World. This modern campaign is based on the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, the list compiled by Philon of Byzantium in 200 B.C.

The ancient list, compiled by one man, was made up of man-made monuments. They were: the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Temple of Artemis, the Statue of Zeus, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and the Pyramids of Egypt. Today, only the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt remain. Philon’s selection of wonders was essentially a travel guide for fellow Athenians, and its stunning sites were all located around the Mediterranean basin, the then-known world.

The New7Wonders campaign not only recognizes that our modern world is much larger and more diverse than that known to the Greeks 2,200 years ago. This time, the New 7 Wonders of the World will not have been chosen by one man, but rather by millions of people across the globe—from every single country in the world. The New 7 Wonders are the people’s choices, and they will be drawn from a list of finalists that includes structures from the earliest time that humankind walked upon the earth through the 20th century.

The New7Wonders campaign is not only the first-ever global vote, but also the only election in which children can take part—a unique exercise in worldwide democracy!

Structure

The New7Wonders Foundation, established in 2001, is committed to investing 50% of excess revenue in global good causes related to monument documentation and preservation (the remaining 50% goes to maintaining the Foundation and to future projects). The status as a Swiss-registered foundation guarantees independence and a stated philanthropic aim. New7Wonders has officially contributed to “Presence Switzerland” Swiss government image presentations, such as during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and as part of the Swiss Pavilion at the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan.

Two subordinate entities, the NewOpenWorld Foundation and the NewOpenWorld Corporation, support the New7Wonders Foundation in its work. The NewOpenWorld Foundation is responsible for running the New7Wonders campaigns, while the NewOpenWorld Corporation is the commercial licensing arm, enabling New7Wonders to financially support itself to continue its work bringing the people of the world together to celebrate our common heritage.

New7Wonders has hubs in Zurich, Munich, London and Brussels and approximately 20 people working on the campaign.

Jubilation as Taj Mahal is among new Seven Wonders


As soon as Bollywood star Bipasha Basu exclaimed "Oh my god, it's the Taj Mahal!" in Lisbon, millions of eager Indians who had been glued to their TV sets in the early hours on Sunday watching the function jumped in joy as the 17th century monument of love was selected among a list of new Seven Wonders of the World.

There was much hugging and "congratulations", bursting of firecrackers and distribution of sweets after the Taj was named at a star-studded function in Benfica Stadium, Lisbon, Portugal. It was attended by several celebrities including actors Ben Kingsley and Hilary Swank.

"You just cannot believe, how happy I am today. I had voted through all possible means for our Taj, and it has finally made it," said an excited Hariom Satpathy of Delhi.

"I was almost hooked to the TV since 10 pm on Saturday night till the result was declared at around 3 am today. I called my friends and relatives to give them the news. At home, we exchanged sweets and fire crackers," Satpathy added.

The seven wonders list was compiled through a global poll participated in by at least 100 million votes casted through Internet, telephone and SMS campaign.

Apart from the Taj Mahal, the others are, the Great Wall of China, Brazil's Statue of Christ the Redeemer, Peru's Machu Picchu Inca trail, Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid, Jordan's Petra archaeological site and the Colosseum in Rome were declared as winners.

Agra Mayor Anjula Singh received the honours from actors Ben Kingsley and Bipasha Basu at the glittering event in Lisbon.

Mushirul Hasan, noted historian and vice chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia university in the Indian capital, said that he was really elated over the news.

"It's certainly one of the best news for India. Taj is a symbol of our glorious heritage, of love and unparalleled architecture. We should celebrate the occasion," Hasan told IANS.

In Agra, the home of the Taj Mahal, a white marble monument constructed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, it was festivity time. Motorcyclists took off to the roads, while others got busy bursting firecrackers and distributing sweets to passers by.

Agra's municipal commissioner Shyam Singh Yadav told IANS: "It is a great psychological boost. I am very happy. Agra will now get wide publicity all over the world and many more people will come to see the Taj Mahal which represents India's cultural unity."

Although UNESCO has categorically denied its involvement with the contest, which many leading historians and citizens' groups have called phoney, for the Agra folks it is a matter of pride.

"Agra-ites voted with full enthusiasm till the last minute," said Amit Agarwal, an IT professional who himself voted 10 times.

A private body called the New7Wonders Foundation carried out the global campaign. Initially, the campaign, which started in 1999, included 77 monuments from around the globe and was then shortened to 21 in January 2006. The final list of seven wonders was declared based on the popular vote received.

India's Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni had said last month that elevation of Taj to the new seven wonders list would "boost tourism in the country".

Tourism industry leaders are upbeat too. Arun Dang, former president of the Tourism Guild, said: "The result will see a boom in tourism and Agra is sure to benefit."

A visibly pleased Shekhar, a student of St Peter's College in Agra, said: "Taj is Taj. If we had been indifferent to the contest we would have lost the race. But students groups and youngsters were right in the forefront in Agra in voting. We feel confident the new recognition will help the city."

Sushil Sitapuri, a Lucknow-based writer who recently brought out a special volume on the Taj Mahal, told IANS: "The Taj Mahal is a jewel, like Kohinoor. It is the shaan (pride) of the whole of India. Former US president Bill Clinton said there were two groups of people in the world - one, those who had seen the Taj, and others, those who had not seen the Taj. It is very exciting news indeed."

Rakesh Chauhan of the Hotels and Restaurant Association of Agra said the results had come at the right time when much was happening in the city and the Commonwealth Games were to be held in three years.

Poulomi Saxena, an advertisement professional in Jaipur, Rajasthan, said that the declaration would certainly bring in more foreign tourists to India.

"There was no doubt about the beauty of Taj and it's standing as a tourist attraction site. But its place in the new seven wonders list would certainly generate a lot of awareness among people across the globe and attract them to India," Saxena added.

The seven wonders declared late on Saturday night beat 14 others renowned landmarks including Eiffel Tower of France, the Statue of Liberty of the US and the Acropolis of Greece and Sydney Opera House, Australia.

Source: hindustantimes

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Yatra begins, but the Lord’s already gone


It seems pilgrims on the holy Amarnath Yatra won’t have much of a darshan this year.

On Sunday, the first day the two-month long pilgrimage, Arun Kumar, chief executive officer, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), said the Shivalingam had melted due to high temperature. Kumar, who had earlier in the day visited the cave along with Home Minister Shivraj Patil, said two other ice lingams, representing Ganesh and Parvati, had not melted but had reduced in size.

"It is a normal phenomenon," Kumar told reporters. "The size of the Shivalingam never remains the same; it varies in size and shape under the effect of the weather."

A senior official associated with the SASB said the yatra would, however, proceed as per schedule. “The sanctity is with the place not with the lingam alone," said the official.

But pilgrims at the Nunkun base camp in Pahalgam seemed in a hurry to reach the cave shrine for a darshan before the ice stalagmite vanished completely.

Experts blame global warming and the body heat of pilgrims visiting the shrine for the melting.

One in every six Indians lives under insurgency

In the remote village of Singhpura in East Singhbhum, Jharkhand, Dinesh Mahato stands among the ruins of a primary health centre inaugurated 15 years ago. No doctor has ever visited it. “Are we even part of this country?” says Mahato, a college graduate. “I tried so hard to find a job; then I realised there is no ladies’ tailor here. So I became one. The Naxalites are right, at least they understand our problems.”

Here is India’s spiralling crisis of governance: one in six Indians is living under insurgency, their lives shaped by militants, violence and fear.

As armed groups spread their influence across the country’s sprawling triangle of rebellion — from J&K to Manipur to Andhra Pradesh — more than 17 crore people in militancy-affected areas live with almost no access to functioning schools, decent roads or other development work. It is this despair that feeds insurgencies.

And yet, as a Hindustan Times investigation reveals, over Rs 2,700 crore in development funds meant for extremist-affected districts were not spent in the past financial year.

Crores were allocated to states for schools, homes, roads and jobs — measures that could have eased the seething discontent. But the money was not utilised and the central government did little to monitor implementation.

Certainly, many crores — of the Rs 5,858 crore allocated last year — were spent in these troubled regions. But, as HT found in travels across seven states and hundreds of kilometres, there are hardly any basic amenities, from drinking water to electricity to functional schools, to be found.

Yumnam Joykumar, the police chief of Manipur, says, “Whatever money the Underground is getting, is out of money provided by the central government.”

Gouri Shankar Rath, the additional director-general of police in Jharkhand, said, “On the conservative side, the Naxalites are raising up to Rs 60 crore a year from Jharkhand in levies – from the sectors of iron ore, coal, forest goods, transportation, MP and MLA funds, and development work.” In all, about 152 districts in 12 states, more than one-fourth of all the 600-plus districts in India, are now officially described as “extremism-affected”, according to the Ministry of Rural Development records accessed by HT. Intelligence officials say scores of other districts are not listed although they are under the insurgents’ shadow. And there is little accountability when it comes to that blank cheque called ‘security-related expenditure’.

One of the worst examples is J&K. Money meant for security was spent on developing lawns, renovating kitchens and toilets, digging a bore well, buying tents, tyres, furniture, lawnmowers, police uniforms, building police homes — and, in prisons, on feeding prisoners, paying electricity bills and buying water coolers — according to the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG).

Despite this, the Ministry of Home Affairs said of Kashmir’s security expenditure: “No irregularity in the spending (of) money has been brought to the notice of the Centre by the CAG.” In Jharkhand, huge generators were installed at 450 police stations but no sheds, diesel or mechanics were provided — so a machine sits like a rusting trophy in every police station. About 1,250 central government-backed schemes are being implemented in different insurgency-hit areas through 39 ministries or departments.

The worst affected is Manipur, the site of India’s most complex web of insurgency. The government has little control, and over a dozen insurgent groups from different tribes and ethnic groups run the affairs directly or indirectly, taking “taxes” from almost all businesses, traders and government employees. The state’s top officials privately admit that the Underground also decides who will get government contracts. Across the Naxalite-affected states, the rebels are known to take commissions from businesses and contractors implementing government projects.

But the central government says it has received no complaints of corruption — though it admits they are charging their own “taxes”. In a written response, the ministry said, “There is no written complaint received in the Ministry of Home Affairs in respect of central sector schemes not being implemented in any part of the country due to Naxal threats. There is no written information from any corner also in respect of Naxals siphoning off developmental money or charging commissions. It is believed that Naxals are raising money through levy, taxes, cess, extortion, etc.”

And the Rural Development Ministry declared: “There is no district in the country where rural development programmes are not monitored.” But many — including senior officials — do not agree. Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, principal secretary, general administration department, J&K, said, “So much money is coming in from the Government of India but our capacity to spend, and spend well, is still not very good.” J&K got Rs 119 crore from the Centre last year to provide the poor with homes and employment and for the food-for-work scheme. The government spent only Rs 58 crore. Across other states, similar examples abound. It is an enduring mystery for citizens. Standing in Bemina village on the fringes of Srinagar, Ali Mohammed Butt, 75, said: “We often wonder: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent such big funds to our state; did the earth eat them up or did the sky swallow them?”

Taj Mahal, potential world wonder, is ill

The Taj Mahal is ill and could be slowly dying.

India's most famous monument, which is in the running to be voted as one of the seven new Wonders of the World, flanks a stinking, garbage-infested river and is almost always enveloped by dust and smog from belching smokestacks and vehicles.

Millions of Indians hope the majestic white marble mausoleum, which took 17 years and 20,000 workers to build, will feature on the Wonders list, but conservationists and environmentalists are urging people to pay attention to its darker side.

"If things continue like this, the Taj Mahal's age will decrease, like that of a diseased man," said KS Rana, a leading campaigner for saving the Taj, located in Agra, a four-hour drive from New Delhi.

"Because of the pollution, there will be a corrosion effect, a deterioration of sorts in the stones."

Earlier this year, a parliamentary committee said airborne particles were being deposited on the poignant 17th century monument's white marble, giving it a yellow tinge.

But the committee said while air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide gases were generally within permissible limits, "suspended particulate matter" had been recorded at high levels except during the rainy season.

Environmentalists and historians worry the soot and fumes would eventually dull the gleaming white monument.

Dirt and decay

Sugam Anand, a leading historian who heads the history department at Agra University, said the Taj was suffering from "jaundice" and needed to be treated fast.

"Because of increasing population, because of the polluting factors of the atmosphere, it is true that the Taj is decaying faster," he told Reuters. "Now we have to control that. We have to take measures, which will stop that decay."

The monument was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Authorities have made various attempts in the past to keep the area around the Taj Mahal pollution free, including setting up an air pollution monitoring station in Agra, a bustling city of nearly four million people.

But that has not stopped the decay, which many blame the government for.

Homes, businesses and factories in the city are left without electricity for hours every day, forcing many people to depend on fuel-operated generators for power. Glassware and other factories in neighbouring cities are being persuaded to use gas instead of coke in their furnaces. But the change is slow.

Inspite of the dirt and pollution, the Taj's magnificent appeal has not diminished and every day nearly 20,000 tourists walk past its manicured lawns.

Jesse Nicholas, a tourist from the United States, said he had voted for the Taj because of its breathtaking beauty, regardless of its filthy surroundings.

"It really shows you both sides of man," he said.

"On one hand you have one of the most perfect things ever built on the planet by a man, and on the other hand you have this garbage that we have done as well."

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

INDIA NATIONAL INSIGNIA

INDIA's NATIONAL FLAG
The Indian flag was designed as a symbol of freedom. The late Prime Minister Nehru called it a flag not only of freedom for ourselves, but a symbol of freedom to all people.

The flag is a horizontal tricolour in equal proportion of deep saffron on the top, white in the middle and dark green at the bottom. The ratio of the width to the length of the flag is two is to three. In the centre of the white band, there is a wheel in navy blue to indicate the Dharma Chakra, the wheel of law in the Sarnath Lion Capital. Its diameter approximates the width of the white band and it has 24 spokes. The saffron stands for courage, sacrifice and the spirit of renunciation; the white, for purity and truth; the green for faith and fertility.


INDIA's NATIONAL EMBLEM

The National Emblem of India is a replica of the Lion of Sarnath, near Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. The Lion Capital was erected in the third century BC by Emperor Ashoka to mark the spot where Buddha first proclaimed his gospel of peace and emancipation to the four quarters of the universe. The National emblem is thus symbolic of contemporary India's reaffirmation of its ancient commitment to world peace and goodwill.

The four lions (one hidden from view) - symbolizing power, courage and confidence - rest on a circular abacus. The abacus is girded by four smaller animals - guardians of the four directions: the lion of the north, the elephant of the east, the horse of the south and the bull of the west. The abacus rests on a lotus in full bloom, exemplifying the fountainhead of life and creative inspiration. The motto 'Satyameva Jayate' inscribed below the emblem in Devanagari script means 'truth alone triumphs'.


National Anthem of India

Composed by Rabindranath Tagore, the song Jana Gana Mana was first sung on December 27, 1911 at the Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress. On January 24, 1950, the Constituent Assembly adopted the song as the National Anthem of India.The complete song consists of five stanzas. The first stanza comprises the full version of the National Anthem.


ENGLISH TRANSLATION



INDIA's NATIONAL BIRD


Male bird of species P. cristatus, is a native of India, with striking plumage and upper tail converts marked with iridescent ocelli, able to expand its tail erect like fan as ostentatious display. Peacocks are related to pheasants.
Found wild in India (and also domesticated in villages) they live in jungle lands near water. They were once bred for food but now hunting of peacocks is banned in India. The peahen has no plumage. These birds do not sound as beautiful as they look - they have a harsh call.

INDIA's NATIONAL ANIMAL
Large Asiatic carnivorous feline quadruped, Panthera Tigris, maneless, of tawny yellow colour with blackish transverse stripes and white belly, proverbial for its power and its magnificence.



There are very few tigers left in the world today. A decade ago the tiger population in India had dwindled to a few hundreds. The Government of India, under its Project Tiger programme, started a massive effort to preserve the tiger population. Today, thanks to Project Tiger, India's population of tigers has considerably increased.

INDIA's NATIONAL FLOWER

The Lotus or water lily is an aquatic plant of Nymphaea with broad floating leaves and bright fragrant flowers that grow only in shallow waters. The leaves and flowers float and have long stems that contain air spaces. The big attractive flowers have many petals overlapping in a symmetrical pattern. The root functions are carried out by rhizomes that fan out horizontally through the mud below the water. Lotuses, prized for their serene beauty, are delightful to behold as their blossoms open on the surface of a pond. In India the sacred lotus is legendary and much folklore and religious mythology is woven around it.

INDIA's NATIONAL FRUIT
A fleshy fruit, eaten ripe or used green for pickles etc., of the tree Mangifera indica, the mango is one of the most important and widely cultivated fruits of the tropical world. Its juicy fruit is a rich source of Vitamins A, C and D. In India there are over100 varieties of mangoes, in different sizes, shapes and colours. Mangoes, have been cultivated in India from time immemorial. The poet Kalidasa sang its praises. Alexander savoured its taste, as did the Chinese pilgrim Hieun Tsang. Akbar planted 100,000 mango trees in Darbhanga, known as Lakhi Bagh.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Just Married.. Aishwarya and Abhishek


The Wedding of India's top actor Abhishek Bachchan with former beauty queen and current top actress Aishwarya Rai took place at Bachchan's family home according to the Hindu Rituals with the blessing of Hindu Gods, Hindu priests, Bride's parents, Groom's parents, Relatives and Friends. Only a select few like Ajay Devgan, Kajol, Sanjay Dutt, Preity Zinta, Suniel Shetty, Sonali Bendre from Bollywood were invited.
The event was a private one, although there were thousands of fans turned at the venue to Greet the Newly married couple.

The three day event which started on 18th of April 2007 with the Sangeet night.It was really a Bollywood traditional one with both the Rais and Bachchans as well as their relatives and friends putting up dance performances. As for the highlight of the Sangeet night a dance performance was put up by both Ash-Abhi and another dance performance was done by Amitabh Bachchan -Jaya Bachchan. The day was a memorable one for those participated with the Bride and Bridegroom. All the guest were treated with Mumbai's best Cuisine.

The 19th of April 2007 was Mehendi day, which was held at Aishwarya Rai's home.
As for the Indian tradition, mehendi or henna is given to the bride by the groom’s family to apply in ways of beautiful tattoos on her hands and feet. This ceremony is used to take place at the bride’s residence before the wedding. The Mehendi ceremony at Aishwarya Rai's residence was a private one with only close relatives from the bride’s family. Abhishek’s sister Shweta, actress Sonali and some members of the Bachchan family arrived in a bus for the Mehendi ceremony in the evening. The mehendi was specially brought from Sojat which is in Rajasthan. The ceremony nearly lasted for 3 hours. Aishwarya wore a red and gold sari specially designed by Nita Lulla.


The wedding day was 20th April 2007. On that day of the wedding, the baraat left from "Jalsa" to move towards the venue of the wedding, "Prateeksha" at 4 pm. Jalsa and Prateeksha both are Bachchan's Bungalows. The guests were taken by the special bus. On the way Abhishek Bachchan got off from the bus and climbed on a beautifully decorated white horse. Abhishek Bachchan was wearing a clear white outfit filled with beautiful hand work. His face was covered with the traditional style of flowers. Abhishek was weaving hand to the bystanders on the way to Prateeksha with traditional wedding band and dancers. Abhi’s sister Shweta was also seen gyrating with the baraatis while father Amitabh Bachchan was supervising the entire event.

The baraatis reached the venue and the mahurat for the wedding which was 5.30 pm on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya, which is a best day to have Hindu Weddings. The wedding ceremony began behind the close doors With high security measures both in and around the house. There were more than 400 security personal on duty. Heavy traffic was experienced as the baraat was en route; fans were running and pushing for a glimpse of stars. Media people with line of cameras too were capturing all the possible actions. The Aishwarya-wedding.com team too gives our Cheers to the newly married couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya rai. Long Live your Love marriage with all the Love, Luck and Prosperity..