Compressed Natural Gas

Indraprastha Gas Hikes Prices of CNG And Piped Fuel

The Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) has increased the price of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) by Rs 3 per kg. With this CNG will cost Rs 78.61 per kg with effect from Saturday.

CNG will cost Rs 81.17 per Kg in Noida, Greater Noida, and Ghaziabad. It will cost Rs 86.94 per Kg in Gurugram.

With the latest hike, CNG is now available at Rs 89.07 per kg in Rewari and Rs 87.27 per kg in Karnal and Kaithal in Haryana.

Meanwhile in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Shamli, it will be available at Rs 85.84 per kg and will cost Rs 88.88 per kg in Ajmer, Pali, and Rajsamand of Rajasthan.

CNG in Kanpur, Hamirpur, and Fatehpur of UP will cost Rs 90.40 per kg.

Gas distributors have been periodically raising prices since October last year when domestic as well as international gas prices started to climb. Earlier in May, it was hiked by Rs 2.

IGL has also hiked the price of Domestic Piped Natural Gas (PNG) in Delhi to Rs 53.59 per standard cubic meter (SCM).

The new price will come into effect from today. For Ghaziabad, Noida, and Greater Noida, the PNG price has hiked to Rs 53.46 per SCM, while in Gurugram, it will cost Rs 51.79 per SCM.

In Karnal and Rewari, it will cost 52.40 per SCM. For, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Shamli, it will cost 56.97 per SCM. (ANI)

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Sonakshi Chaiyya Chaiyya vibes

Sonakshi Shares Chaiyya Chaiyya Vibes

Sonakshi Sinha and Zaheer Iqbal’s starrer music video ‘Blockbuster’ has been a raging chartbuster. Recently, the ‘Akira actor opened up about the experience of shooting on a moving truck.

The song exudes an extravagant feel with an international vibe where you can see luxury cars, outstanding outfits, suave dance moves, and more. In ‘Blockbuster’, there was a scene that required the actors to be on a moving truck and instead of doing the same with effects, Sonakshi and Zaheer actually shot on a moving truck. The scene in the song features the duo dancing on a truck.

Sonakshi Chaiyya Chaiyya Vibes

Sharing about the experience performing dance on the truck, Sonakshi said, “I really enjoyed working on the song and my most exciting scene was when we had to shoot on the truck. There were challenges as it is tough to deliver a shot on a vehicle but I’m glad we did it and I’m very thankful that the audiences love the track! We have made it with a lot of love and hard work. Dancing in the truck gave me full Chaiyya Chaiyya vibes!”

Zaheer shared, “It is definitely a challenge to shoot in a truck but we already had planned to do it for our audiences and give them something new and memorable. I am quite delighted that we could shoot the song as per our plan and fortunately, we nailed the shot in only a few takes! Blockbuster has really been a blockbuster with the audience and it’s fun to see all the reels that are made with the song too!”

Priyank Sharma of Dhamaka Records said, “We really wanted to do something unique and out of the box for the audience to experience a visual treat. We wanted the vibe of a party in a truck and we managed to achieve that!”

Sonakshi Chaiyya Chaiyya Vibes

“We had a wonderful time shooting the entire song. Shooting on a truck was a task but we did it and it’s really nice to receive so much love and praises for the song,” shared Paras Mehta of Dhamaka Records.

“Blockbuster” was released on September 23 and was produced by Dhamaka Records. The song is sung by Ammy Virk and Asees Kaur.

Sonakshi is currently in the news for her rumored relationship with Zaheer. Recently, Sonakshi’s close friend and actor Varun Sharma posted a picture of the actress with Zaheer.

In the image, the two were seen sharing a smile. “Oyeeee hoyeeee isey kehte hai blockbuster Jodi,” Varun captioned the post, hinting that Sonakshi is dating Zaheer.

Sonakshi and Zaheer will also be seen together in a film titled ‘Double XL’. (ANI)

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Jacqueline Remained In Touch With Sukesh, Nora Cut Ties: Cops

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police on Thursday questioned actor Nora Fatehi in connection with her relations and the gifts which she got from conman Sukesh Chandrashekhar who is in Tihar jail in a case of extortion of Rs 200 crore.

Special commissioner of police, EOW, Ravinder Yadav said that her brother-in-law had got a BMW from Chandrashekhar in 2021.

On Wednesday, EOW had also grilled Bollywood diva Jacqueline Fernandez for eight hours at its office in connection with the case. But both the actors have no direct connection with this case.

Special Commissioner of Police (EOW) Ravindra Yadav told ANI that Sukesh would try to influence the Bollywood actresses as he was having a huge wealth of properties which he acquired through extortion.

Delhi Police sleuths had called three persons today for questioning: Nora Fatehi, her brother-in-law Mehboob aka Bobby Khan, and Pinky Irani.

Irani is a person who approached Fatehi for gifts on the direction of Chandrashekhar. She was called to participate in an event at the studio in Chennai owned by Chandrashekar’s wife Lena Maria, last year.

In the event, Fatehi was offered a BMW car and a participation fee in the event. Fatehi, during questioning, said that she refused to take that gift, however, she told that they should give it to her brother-in-law Mehboob alias Bobby.

Mehboob, who is a native of Morocco, mostly lives in Mumbai and works in the Bollywood industry. He had also directed the movie “Leela ek Paheli” in which Sunny Leone played a lead role.

Mehboob recognized Pinky Irani today during the questioning.

Sources said Pinky Irani’s code word was ‘Angel’. She introduced herself to Nora with the code name Angel. EOW officers said that she would often ignore Chandrashekar as he repeatedly tried to approach her through Irani.

“Today, we called Fatehi, Irani, and Mehboob and confronted each other. We also recorded their statements separately,” said an officer.

Meanwhile, EOW has also recovered a super bike, Ducati, costing around Rs 8 lakh from Prashant who is the manager of Fernandez. This bike was gifted by Chandrashekhar to Prashant.

According to sources, Jacqueline Fernandez was so convinced and influenced by Chandrashekhar that she would call him the “man of her dreams” and was thinking of marrying him.

Nora never met Chandrashekhar. She had talked with him through Whatsapp, twice, the source said.

While speaking to ANI, Ravinder Yadav said, “There is more trouble for Jacqueline Fernandez as she did not cut ties with Sukesh even after knowing his criminal antecedents. But Nora did disconnect herself once she suspected that something is fishy.”

In today’s questioning contradictions were cleared that BMW was kept by brother-in-law of Nora as Nora refused to receive the gift

Nora is also likely to turn witness in the Delhi police case but the investigation is still on. (ANI)

A Delhi Covid Survivor Shares His Story

While the 2nd wave of Covid-19 is mercifully behind India now, the danse macabre it brought in its wake, during March-May, will continue to haunt many citizens for a lifetime. A first-person account of a Covid survivor in Delhi brings you the situation up close:

The first symptoms showed up benignly: a mild fever of 100 degreeF (38C) and a gentle cough. But I had read enough about Covid to take these signals mildly. I isolated myself from the rest of my family, kept a bottle of sanitizer close and called the local chemist to deliver a pulse Oxy-meter and some medicines.

Warning signs came early. My calls to various pathology test labs for a swab sample to determine the infection were politely turned down. Most labs had suspended their services due to a massive surge. It was after two days that I was able to get myself tested at a hospital unit; the results took another two days.

Meanwhile, I consulted a doctor who specialized in internal medicine and treated Covid patients. I dutifully followed his prescriptions. The brands prescribed were not available at chemist shops but their generic alternatives could be managed. I read every information related to Covid-19 available on the Internet during isolation. I was sure by fifth-sixth day, things will take a positive turn.

But that was not to be.

My fever shot up to 103 degree F on the fifth day. Oxygen level, hitherto 99%, slipped to 95 intermittently. These were not happy signals. I consulted another senior doctor who added a few new medicines, including a cortico-steroid called Medrol. I was told to get back in two days if symptoms did not improve. They did not.

The new doctor advised admission to a hospital. His own facility, he apologized, was packed to capacity. He suggested in case we did not get a hospital bed that day itself, we should take an oxygen concentrator on rent. With my Oxygen levels dwindling, we arranged a concentrator. It was a good decision as by midnight, my O2 score fell off the red-mark 92.

The next day, we began the hunt for a hospital bed afresh. By afternoon, the severity of situation became clear to us. There were no beds available, leave alone a room, in either state or private hospitals across Delhi. Having called at least 50 hospitals and other leads provided by friends, little positive came out. Interestingly, I received a few calls from medical touts who promised a bed with oxygen for Rs 1 Lakh at non-descript facilities. Some offered to set up similar facilities at our place itself with an attendant for a hefty sum. I ignored the medical mafia calls.

I sought help from some of my resourceful friends. One of them posted an SOS on social media site Twitter. This was picked up by common friends and further amplified. By evening, a few windows opened. I was told the Delhi government had set up new Covid facilities and beds were available there. Friends were coordinating with officials to get me admitted there. By then, I was completely dependent on the concentrator for breathing. My family called up an ambulance to take me to any Covid facility that is finalised. My housing society, which had stored oxygen cylinders, offered them during transportation. It looked that things had begun to fall in place.

ALSO READ: ‘India Likely To Face Large New Covid Waves’

Yamuna Sports complex, a large stadium turned into a Covid facility, was finally zeroed in on. I left home with my brother by my side, but as I stepped toward the society elevator, my vision blurred. Suddenly, there was darkness all around. When I opened my eyes again, I was sitting inside an ambulance, with a mask linked to an oxygen cylinder and people looking over me. I had blacked out and was lifted into the vehicle for oxygen feed. I realised the grim situation I was in. At the sports Complex, after some paperwork and running around, I was wheeled in to my assigned bed.

The set-up looked impressive at first sight. The hall was air-conditioned lined with foldable cots as beds, with brand new oxygen concentrators by their side. Young helpful volunteers moved around with tea, eatables and food packets. However, in an hour of my stay, I realized there were no doctors to be seen. “They would come if there is an emergency,” a fellow patient assured me. And then my oxygen concentrator blipped. Having experienced a blackout not long ago, I panicked. None of the uniformed volunteers knew how to fix the machine. Thankfully, a patient detached a tube, filled it with mineral water and re-started it. I knew the set-up was what it had been labeled: temporary.

Yamuna Sports Complex covid centre

The phone signals were weak but I managed to message my family about the ‘Covid camp’ condition. The answer was reassuring: the hunt for a proper hospital was still on. An hour before midnight, I got a call from my wife. She was on her way with an oxygen cylinder to shift me to a hospital in Noida, over 15 km from Delhi border. An editor friend had pulled all stops to get a room with oxygen facility. No ambulance was willing to cross the state border, hence she was coming with my brother.

ALSO READ: ‘I Delivered A Baby Girl Amid Covid-19’

The guards and front staff at the hospital told us they were not taking any new patients as there were no beds; even the stretchers had been used as beds in the emergency unit. Another rounds of phone calls and an hour later, I was ushered in. In the few minutes that I took the oxygen mask off, the levels reached dangerously low again. But the expert staff managed the situation in a jiff. For once, since the blackout, I felt safe. I was told by an attendant not to take off the oxygen mask, even while using washroom. I was provided a nasal fork pipe during lunch and dinner.

The travails for the family hadn’t ended yet. They were to arrange Remdesivir injections. Each vial was being sold in black market for Rs 25-50,000 apiece. Then, there were fake injection too in circulation. Somehow these were arranged, two of them from a logistic facility in Manesar, Haryana, some 70 km from the hospital.

Five days, some 150 pills, and two dozen injections later, I was able to walk for a few minutes without the oxygen support. Although steroids fueled my appetite, I lost about 20 pounds. A deep breath took some effort, so did my visit to the attached washroom. I felt tired and my voice came out like a croak. Yes I felt lucky to have just about scraped through.

Upon my discharge after a week’s stay, with much gratitude for friends and family, I felt as if I was stepping into a new world. Travelling home with a precautionary mask on, I rolled down the window. An unseasonal drizzle had brought the temperature down and the fresh air on my face felt good. A song began to play on my lips noiselessly.

PS: During my recovery at home, I kept thinking about thousands of the unlucky ones who could not manage a bed, or arrange the elusive injections; those who stood helplessly to see their dear ones slipping away. It made me choke. I was brought up in New Delhi and was a witness to, as a patient also, its healthcare infrastructure transformed from a few stinky government-run hospitals of the 1970s to private multi-specialty facilities post-1990s. I never believed for a second that an invisible bug could bring this capital infrastructure to its knees in a matter of days. I prayed we had learnt our lessons.

There Will Be Blood

Within hours after the news broke that the dreaded Uttar Pradesh gangster Vikas Dubey was killed in a “police encounter” early on July 10, the media, social media and messaging apps went abuzz. While there were stray voices of reason and rights, one particular message on WhatsApp dominated the popular sentiment thus: ‘Even a ten-year old knows this is a fake encounter. But people in UP couldn’t care less as long as the state is minus one more dreaded gangster.’

It was a redux of the Telangana Police encounter, eight months ago, where alleged rapists of a veterinary doctor were killed. Even though prima facie the encounter was seen as staged, the policemen involved were praised and lauded by the public as heroes.

Thus, the malaise runs deeper than what civil society believes – that extrajudicial killings are the mixed handiwork of police highhandedness, a delayed justice system and people’s disregard for legal loopholes. Fake encounters such as these are symptomatic of the erosion of our judicial, policing, and societal systems. This is a scary prospect because it hurtles society towards anarchy where law is disregarded and people’s rights, including that of alleged criminals, are denied and over-ridden by primitive instincts.

ALSO READ: ‘There Is No Time To Think… You Kill Or Get Killed’

The problem in different states, or regions, emanates from different compulsions; at times there could be public pressure, or plain police highhandedness, or the long-winding legal processes that frustrate the police preparedness. In this column, however, we shall limit our argument to the latest “fake encounter” and Uttar Pradesh criminal justice system.

So, what went wrong in the case of Vikas Dubey?

Clearly, Dubey failed to graduate from crime to community. Most of the criminals who were bumped off by Uttar Pradesh police, from Sri Prakash Shukla (the dreaded contract killer and tender mafia in the 1990s) to Vikas Dubey, had this shortcoming. In contrast are the likes of Mukhtar Ansari, DP Yadav and Raja Bhaiyaa (real name Rahugraj Pratap Singh), who in spite of proven criminal records, entered politics and survived, even flourished.

Their transition from crime to community is not a difficult task in Uttar Pradesh, where power and gun culture is so glorified that it is easy for a gangster to project himself as the messiah or pride of one’s community, caste, region or religion. Flashing a bunch of licenced guns at a wedding procession is considered more prestigious here than owning ten times of farm land in acres.

Add to this the poor policing. There has been numerous recruitment scams in Uttar Pradesh Police. Each time a new political regime takes over Lucknow, new investigations are ordered and a large number of police appointments are cancelled, followed by cases and counter-cases in courts. A majority of rank policemen (the constabulary) is unable to even write down an FIR (first information report) in plain language. An FIR forms the basis of a criminal investigation but in UP, there is a Hindi adage that translates loosely to this: ‘Why do you need to file (an FIR) when you can FIRE a rifle?’

Then, there is the power structure of regional, caste or communal dominance in various belts: in eastern UP, for example, a Jat leader gains political prominence only after he (rarely she) is able to terrify Muslims and Jatavs (two separate vote-banks) or vice versa; in the adjoining belt, a Yadav leader’s rise to power is proportional to how many police personnel or officers he has publicly slapped or humiliated; further west, the script is similar – a small-time criminal takes up arms against either the “oppressive police” or the dominant upper caste lord, and then sets oneself into a Bahubali cast who brooks no opposition. Railways, public works contracts, and extortion money fund these goons. After a point, they either join politics or get killed after losing relevance for their political masters.

Sri Prakash Shukla and Vikas Dubey felt political power was beneath them. Raja Bhaiyya, Mukhtar Ansari and DP Yadav joined politics, even jumped ships to stay afloat and are therefore are alive and operational today. It is not that the latter three had any less criminal cases to their ledger.

ALSO READ: Vikas Dubey Tried To Flee, Killed: UP Police

Raja Bhaiyya was booked under terrorist act, charged with the murder of a DSP, Zia Ul Haq, and was rumoured to have even thrown his rivals to a pond full of crocodiles in his native village. Yet, he was rewarded by the Samajwadi Party with a cabinet portfolio of Jail Ministry (there were 46 criminal cases against him at that time).

Mukhtar Ansari, a dreaded don of eastern Uttar Pradesh who was accused of running numerous extortion and contract rackets, secured political protection with a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket and by winning Mau legislative Assembly seat for record five times. Even when he was expelled from the party after being charged with killing BJP legislator Krishnanand Rai, he formed his own party Quami Ekta Dal which was later merged with BSP as “ghar- wapasi”.

The case of DP Yadav is no less illustrative. Starting as a bootlegger to having monopolized liquor mafia in Ghaziabad (in close proximity to the National Capital) and adjoining areas of western Uttar Pradesh, Yadav joined politics after he was named in a hooch tragedy that took 350 lives in early 1990s. He joined Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal, later Janata Dal (Secular), even Bharatiya Janata Party for a brief spell, and finally Bahujan Samaj Party. He has represented both state assembly and Lok Sabha, and has survived any “encounter”.

What do these stories tell us? That crime and politics make a heady cocktail in Uttar Pradesh. Add police to this and you have an unholy, all-superior trinity which can bypass even the court of law. A state’s job is to establish the rule of law, not by unleashing extra-judicial delivery of justice but with better education, a competent constabulary, transparent platform for public grievance, better administrative presence and a responsive system. But in UP, where the state head himself carries a long-running criminal history — many of which he got dismissed after being sworn in as chief minister — this would be asking for too much.

As of now, the Uttar Pradesh police has publicly displayed its unabashed disrespect for the law. And considering Chief Minister Adityanath Yogi’s “free hand” to the police in dealing with criminals, it is likely to set off another round of extra-judicial killings. The aim apparently is to replace ‘Goonda Raj’ with ‘Police Raj’, mirror images of one another. And unless there is a public movement by the civil society, human rights groups, conscientious citizens and the media to force the government for a course correction, this Police Raj will continue to deal one body blow after another to the democratic system as enshrined in Indian Constitution.

Langar In The Time Of Coronavirus

It started with ₹20 and has grown into billions now. It is what Guru Nanak, the founder of GurSikhi, called Sacha Sauda. Now during the Coronavirus pandemic, while others have locked down, Gurdwaras around the world have opened up, preparing meals and feeding the vulnerable, the elderly, those at the front line and anyone who is unable to pay for or get the supplies to feed themselves. The number of meals a day are staggering.  During this bleak time, the Nishan Sahib (the Sikh flag) flying proudly at a Gurdwara has become a beacon of hope to millions around the world.

From Amritsar, Delhi, to as far places as United States (notably in California and New York), United Kingdom, Australia and many other countries, Gurdwaras have been busy preparing and distributing langar (meal cooked in a Gurdwara) packets.

Anyone who has been to a Gurdwara knows that langar is a remarkable feature of the Sikhs. There is no charge and there is no feeling of having received charity. In most large Gurdwaras, langar is available from early morning, in some cases as early as 5 am to late night, up to 10 pm in some.

ALSO READ: How Coronavirus Will Change Our Lives

During this Covid-19 crises, preparing the langar, packing them into take away boxes, distributing them safely during this period and delivering them takes up more logistical management than the conventional langar which is offered on the Gurdwara premises. It needs a good number of people to cook, pack, deliver and then wash the cooking utensils. But one thing that can be said for Sikhs is that there is never a shortage of volunteers when it comes to Gurdwara-led service initiatives.

The origin of this goes to Guru Nanak, who was born in 1469. At a young age, he was given twenty rupees by his father to go and buy some goods and then sell them in the village for a profit, in the hope of making him into a businessman. On his way, Guru Nanak met some people who were hungry and wore torn, unwashed clothes.  Guru Nanak spent the rupees for feeding them and buying them clothes. When asked by his father, Guru Nanak said that he had spent the money on Sacha Sauda, ‘true trade’ which was more useful than making money.

“Guru Hargovind Sahib, the sixth of our ten Gurus, said, ‘Garib da muh, Gur di golak’,
which means loosen your purse
strings to serve the needy.”

That was instituted into langar by the second Guru, Guru Angad Dev ji in 16th century and has become a feature of Sikh Gurdwaras since. Today, Sikhs around the world spend billions of their own earnings to run langars in Gurdwaras.

Kulwant Singh, a trustee at Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara in Slough, United Kingdom, explains it beautifully: “Among the basic tenets of Sikhism is an edict that says in the times of a crisis, leave everything you are doing and get involved in the service of the vulnerable. Guru Hargovind Sahib, the sixth of our ten Gurus, also said, ‘Garib da muh, Gur di golak’, which means loosen your purse strings to serve the needy.”

“We are not doing anyone a favour.
This is our duty as a Sikh”

-Kulwant Singh, Trustee of Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara, UK

The Slough Gurdwara was the first place of worship in the UK to set up a Covid-19 Combat team with a bank of 300 volunteers, of which 100 are active at any given time. These workers toil in the kitchen for preparation of food, manage logistics like packing and distribution of hot meals through vehicles and deliver dry ration across the town and beyond to the needy. They also have a helpline manged by 10 to 15 volunteers who take emergency calls for essential supplies and information.

Slough Gurdwara was the first place of worship in the UK to set up a Covid-19 helpline

“Many of these meals are provided to NHS (national health service) workers at their workplace. We are not doing anyone a favour. This is our duty as a Sikh,” says Kulwant Singh. The team has advertised its emergency numbers via posters and online forums, so anyone can ask for help. In the last week of April, the facility was serving 2,000 hot meals a day and supplying weekly dry rations to over 3,000 families. The expenses are entirely borne by the Gurdwara and the members of the congregation. For the appreciation showered at their work, they respond with a brief and humble expression: Guru Kirpa (Divine Grace).

Thousands of miles away in US, the police were so moved by the unflinching work by the Sikhs during lockdown that they decided to signal their gratitude in a novel way. On April 27, California Police cars came with full sirens blazing and entered the Riverside Gurdwara to the surprise of standers by. The posse circumambulated the place of worship in order to pay respect for the langar packets delivered by Sikhs to the needy and the frontline staff.

“When cops showed up at the (Riverside) Gurdwara, there were multiple emotions among us, but the overwhelming one was of gratitude”

Gurpreet Singh, Covid-19 Coordinator of Riverside Gurdwara, US
Videos of California Police circumambulating Riverside Gurdwara on April 27 went viral

“When cops showed up at the (Riverside) Gurdwara, there were multiple emotions among us, but the overwhelming one was one of gratitude,” said Gurpreet Singh, Covid-19 Coordinator of the Los Angeles-based Gurdwara.

“We had not expected any gesture from anyone; our efforts have been entirely voluntary and motivated by our faith and beliefs. Nor did we expect that news to go viral. However, this did give a sense to pride to our volunteers. They felt good,” Mr Singh added

Meanwhile in India in Delhi too, in recognition of the Sikhs rising to the challenge of Coronavirus lockdown, the city police performed a round of the Gurdwara Bangla Sahib with sirens blazing. Gurdwara Sri Bangla sahib, one of the historic Sikh holy places in India, has been providing some thousands of langar packets a day.

“We did feel proud when even the Prime Minister publicly recognised our efforts on social media with a video of Delhi Police team performing a siren salute to Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. It gave us satisfaction and boosted the morale of our volunteers”

Manjinder Singh Sirsa, President of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee

The Gurdwaras under Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) have collectively been providing daily meals to lakhs of people amid an unprecedented lockdown.

WATCH: Siren Salute For Gurdwara Bangla Sahib

Manjinder Singh SirsaDSGMCpresident, explains: “In Delhi, the Sikh community is working at two levels in these difficult times. One is at DSGMC level and the other is at various local Singh Sabhas or Gurdwara level. At DSGM, we feed nearly 2Lakh people daily, provide shelter and food to Doctors and other frontline health workers, and distribute dry rations to about 20,000 poor families on a weekly basis.”

While there is provision of state aid for such relief work, the Gurdwaras have managed it on our own. “This spirit of ‘sewa’ is being across the world. We did feel proud when even the Prime Minister publicly recognised our efforts on social media with a video of Delhi Police team performing a siren salute to Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. It gave us satisfaction and boosted the morale of our volunteers,” says Sirsa.

ALSO READ: Will Humans Turn Better Post-Pandemic?

Gurdwaras were also requested to continue with the langar services by the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht Sahib. Sri Akal Takht Sahib is the ‘Vatican’ of the Sikhs, the institution that guides Sikhs and Gurdwaras around the world on matters of practice and interpretation. The custodian of the Akal Takht Sahib is called Jathedar.

At a langar, everything is prepared fresh. Anyone regardless of religion, caste, nationality, background or means can eat at the langar. Usually this involves sitting on the floor. The Sikh practice of people sitting together at langar is called pangat. The richest and the poorest sit together, no one feels a sense of receiving charity. No one is questioned and no one is then given a sermon on the virtues of becoming or turning into a Sikh.

That astonishes many people who always see an ulterior motive, like proselytising, behind anything free. But langar is unconditional. Sikhs call it ‘sewa’ (volunteering) instead of Aid or charity, as they consider it a blessing to donate towards, prepare and give away free the Guru’s langar.

Guru Nanak’s langar has now been recognised as one of the most selfless work around the world. Entirely supported by the community, Sikh Gurdwaras do not hoard money or gold but spend it on public services. Almost all the donations are spent on ongoing services such as Langar. Langar equalises everyone as the richest and the poorest sit on the same level.

The great thing about langar is that it takes away the unequal relationship between donor and the recipient. The Sikhs give to the Guru and the Guru gives to the people. By giving it a sacred context, everyone feels privileged to partake in langar. Hence it is not aid or charity but sewa or selfless service.

The philosophy behind langar is that no one should sleep hungry. In India people know where to get a meal without question. All they have to do is find a Gurdwara. The country is blessed with so many Gurdwaras.

In Amritsar, Sri Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) around a 100,000 people eat langar every day. About 80% are non-Sikhs. It needs considerable organisation to prepare so many meals on a daily basis. In most large Gurdwaras they have mechanised the process with roti (chapati) making machines. Similar numbers are fed at Gurdwaras in many other large Indian cities. There is hardly a town in India that does not benefit from langar.

Occasionally, there have been criticism within the community of wasting so much money without return. Some Sikhs feel that there is no appreciation of this service and Gurdwaras should consider giving leaflets to encourage conversions or restrict numbers. But unconditional service is precisely what Guru Nanak had started. The vast majority of Sikhs continues to dismiss these pressures and proudly provide langar without making the recipient feel humiliated or under pressure. All that is asked is to consider the rest of humanity as one.

It is truly a remarkable and service on a global scale. The Corona Virus has killed many people. But it has neither dented the spirit of the Sikhs to continue with langar nor has Corona lockdown forced hunger upon people as long as there is a Gurdwara around.