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Russian and North Korea sign ‘peaceful and defensive’ pact

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The two leaders hold a press conference. Photograph: Gavriil Grigorov/Reuters

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un have signed a comprehensive agreement pact between Russia and North Korea, which Kim described as “peaceful and defensive” and which Putin said did not rule out “the provision of mutual assistance in the event of aggression against one of the parties to this agreement.”

Speaking after lengthy talks, Putin said the pair discussed world affairs and the global agenda a lot, and that Moscow and Pyongyang stood together against the politically motivated sanctions regimes of others.

Kim described Putin as “the dearest friend of the Korean people”, saying that “At this moment, when the whole world is paying close attention to Pyongyang, where the friendship mission from Russia has arrived, I stand with Russian comrades – our most honest friends and comrades.”

The Kremlin’s website indicated that the agreementalso included “cooperation in the field of healthcare, medical education and science”. Putin said that North Korea had a right to defend itself, and that “The Russian Federation does not rule out military-technical cooperation with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in accordance with the document signed today.”

Putin also laid a wreath at a monument to soldiers of the Sovier Union who lost their lives liberating the Korea peninsula from Japanese occupation. It is the Russian president’s first visit to North Korea for over two decades, and he will later head to Vietnam.
(Courtesy: thgurardian.com)

Proud of our brave Himveers – Home Minister Amit Shah

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ITBP team members risked their own lives and climbed 14,800 feet high in the mountains to recover mortal remains of an American citizen who lost his life in an accident while paragliding, for a humanitarian cause

Union Home Minister and Minister of Cooperation, Shri Amit Shah has hailed Indo Tibetan Border Police’s Mountain rescue team for carrying out a rescue operation in Lahaul & Spiti.

In a post on X platform, Shri Amit Shah said that “Proud of our brave Himveers. The ITBP Mountain Rescue Team recently undertook a challenging search operation on the high mountain cliffs in Lahaul & Spiti and recovered the body of an American citizen who lost his life in an accident while paragliding.

At the request of the local administration, ITBP team members risked their own lives and climbed 14,800 feet high in the mountains to recover the mortal remains for a humanitarian cause. Their dedication to humanity is commendable.”

PM reviews preparedness for cyclone “Remal”

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PM said that the Government of India has extended full support to the State Government and must continue to do so

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting to review the preparedness for cyclone “Remal” over North Bay of Bengal at his residence at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg earlier today.

As per IMD forecasts, the cyclonic storm is likely to cross Bangladesh and adjoining West Bengal coasts between Sagar islands and Khepupara, close to South west of Mongla (Bangladesh) by midnight of today and is likely to cause rainfall in West Bengal and Northeastern States.

Prime Minister was briefed that the National Crisis Management Committee is in regular touch with the Government of West Bengal. All fishermen have been advised not to venture into South Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. Around one lakh people are being moved to safer places. IMD is also extending information support to Bangladesh with regular updates.

Prime Minister said that the Government of India has extended full support to the State Government and must continue to do so. He said that the Ministry of Home Affairs should monitor the situation and take a review after the landfall of the cyclone in order to extend necessary assistance for restoration. Prime Minister has instructed that apart from 12 NDRF teams that have already been deployed in West Bengal and one in Odisha, more teams be kept on standby which can move within one hour. The Indian Coast Guard to deploy its assets for any emergency. He said the Ports, Railways and Highways be kept on high vigil to avoid any untoward incidents.

The Principal Secretary to PM, Cabinet Secretary, Home Secretary, DG NDRF, DG, IMD and Member Secretary, NDMA were also present.

PM meets H.E. Filipe Jacinto Nyusi

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PM meets the Mozambique President, Mr. Filipe Jacinto Nyusi at Gandhinagar, in Gujarat
PM meets the Mozambique President, Mr. Filipe Jacinto Nyusi at Gandhinagar, in Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met H.E. Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique on 9 January 2024 in Gandhinagar.

Prime Minister Modi expressed his strong commitment to support Mozambique’s development priorities. Both leaders held productive discussions on ways to further bilateral ties, including in the areas of defence, counter terrorism, energy, health, trade & investment, agriculture, water security, mining, capacity building and maritime cooperation. Prime Minister suggested that the two countries could work to enhance air connectivity to give a boost to business, culture and people to people relations.

President Nyusi thanked the Prime Minister for the inclusion of African Union (AU) in the G-20. The two leaders also discussed issues related to cooperation in multilateral fora, including the UN.

Prime Minister fondly appreciated President Nyusi’s participation in the Voice of the Global South Summit in January and November 2023.

President Nyusi thanked India for the various development projects and capacity building programmes as also for its support in the area of maritime security.

Both leaders agreed to remain in touch and maintain the pace of high level political contacts between the two countries.

What is Ash Wednesday in Christianity?

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Pic courtesy: ncregister.com

Have you ever noticed, usually in February or March, a lot of people walk around with an ash cross on their foreheads once a year? You probably knew it had something to do with Lent, but you weren’t sure why the ash cross was significant.

Or maybe, you grew up in a Catholic or Protestant church that held Ash Wednesday services each year, so you’re already familiar with the service but aren’t too sure about the history of Ash Wednesday and Lent and what they have to do with the Christian faith. Read on if you want to learn more about this important day in the liturgical calendar and why so many celebrate Ash Wednesday and Lent!

Photo Courtesy: ncregister.com

Often called the Day of Ashes, Ash Wednesday starts Lent by focusing the Christian’s heart on repentance and prayer, usually through personal and communal confession. This happens during a unique Ash Wednesday service.


During Mass (for Catholics) or worship service (for Protestants), the priest or pastor will usually share a penitential and reflective sermon. The mood is solemn – many services will have long periods of silence and worshipers will often leave the service in silence.

Usually, there is a responsive passage of Scripture, usually centered around confession, read aloud about the leader and congregation. Attendees will experience communal confession and moments where they are prompted to confess sins silently and pray.

After all of this, the congregation will be invited to receive the ashes on their foreheads. Usually, the priest or pastor will dip his finger into the ashes, spread them in a cross pattern on the forehead, and say, “From dust you came and from dust you will return.”

Each year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration. The 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him. Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.

Source and Meaning of the Ashes

In many congregations, the ashes are prepared by burning palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday, churches bless and hand out palm branches to attendees, referencing the Gospels’ account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when onlookers lay palm branches on his path.

The ashes of this holiday symbolize two main things: death and repentance. “Ashes are equivalent to dust, and human flesh is composed of dust or clay (Genesis 2:7), and when a human corpse decomposes, it returns to dust or ash.”

“When we come forward to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, we are saying that we are sorry for our sins and that we want to use the season of Lent to correct our faults, purify our hearts, control our desires and grow in holiness so we will be prepared to celebrate Easter with great joy” (The CatholicSpirit.com).

The History of Lent and Ash Wednesday

The history and beginnings of Lent aren’t clear. According to Britannica.com, Lent has likely been observed: “since apostolic times, though the practice was not formalized until the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.” Christian scholars note that Lent became more regularized after the legalization of Christianity in A.D. 313. St. Irenaeus, Pope St. Victor I, and St. Athanasius all seem to have written about Lent during their ministries. Most agree that “by the end of the fourth century, the 40-day period of Easter preparation known as Lent existed, and that prayer and fasting constituted its primary spiritual exercises.”

Is there Fasting on Ash Wednesday?

Regarding the exact rules and practices of Lent, those have changed over the years. “In the early centuries, fasting rules were strict, as they still are in Eastern churches,” notes Britannica.com. “One meal a day was allowed in the evening, and meat, fish, eggs, and butter were forbidden. The Eastern church also restricts the use of wine, oil, and dairy products. In the West, these fasting rules have gradually been relaxed. The strict law of fasting among Roman Catholics was dispensed with during World War II, and only Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are now kept as Lenten fast days.”

Is Ash Wednesday only for Catholics or Protestants?

Catholic, Orthodox, and many (but not all) Protestants appreciate and observe Lent. Though Lent is not named or observed in the Bible, as Christianity Today notes, “the path of Lent—prayer, fasting, and generosity over a period of time—is heavily emphasized by the authors of and characters in the Bible, including Jesus. The Bible commands a lifestyle of worship and devotion that looks considerably like Lent. Therefore, while the word is absent in the Bible, the reality of Lent is woven throughout the whole of Scripture, as we have discovered.”

(The article and credit of the article goes to www.christianity.com)