Why religious tourism could be the next big bet for IndiGo

Source: cnbctv18.com

n 8th of August, IndiGo will launch services to Gaya – an in-significant thing to happen for an airline which has been growing at breakneck speed one may think. But Gaya does not feature in the top 50 airports in India by passengers and neither has it seen a sustained scheduled service in recent past. So what makes one look up to the flights to Gaya? It gives an indication of times to come for IndiGo and its focus on Kolkata as a gateway and connecting to India’s eastern neighbours and beyond.

Amidst the war of words in public and subsequent truce between the promoters of IndiGo , the airline seems to be silently pushing ahead with its renewed network plan with focus on religious tourism. IndiGo has time and again, in the last year, made its international ambitions public. Over 30 percent of its capacity growth in the last quarter has been on international routes. While the airline struggled to expand and maintain the Istanbul operations due to Pakistani airspace closure, the airline has tried making in-roads into markets of Jet Airways as the regulatory authorities initiated a re-allocation of seats to other carriers.

While the plan for flying to Gaya and connecting the city to Varanasi and Kolkata was announced a month ago, further phases of the plan seem to be taking shape – one flight at a time. The airline recently announced flights to Yangoon – the capital of Myanmar. Interestingly, the airline confirmed that the idea is to build a Buddhist circuit and attract traffic but it’s very first such connection is not seamless and would require a long layover at Kolkata both ways to travel between Gaya and Yangoon. The airline followed this with announcing the launch of flights to Hanoi from Kolkata.

Gaya is the gateway to Bodh Gaya — where Gautam Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. The temple complex is a world heritage site and attracts tourists from Japan, Mayanmar, Cambodia, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Japan. Buddhism has four main pilgrimage sites — Lumbini in Nepal, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kusinagara in India. With the launch of services to Gaya – IndiGo will operate to the nearest airports of all four — Kathmandu, Gaya, Varanasi and Gorakhpur respectively. Interestingly, except for Kathmandu — the other three have direct flights from Kolkata — its regional gateway.

How is it shaping out?

While numbers are hard to come by, anecdotal evidence suggests a large number of charters landing at Gaya for pilgrimage. Vietjet — the Vietnamese low cost carrier which has shied away from launching operations to India despite multiple announcements operates scheduled charter services to Gaya in pilgrimage season.

IndiGo already operates flights to Thailand from Kolkata and has announced flights to Myanmar, Vietnam and China. The only major market which is not yet announced from Kolkata is flights to Sri lanka. The current network will make Kolkata a transit hub for passengers who conglomerate there before proceeding to Gaya, Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Kathmandu.

Even if the airline does not launch services to Kathmandu from Kolkata, the open border between Gorakhpur and Lumbini, Nepal does the trick from tourism perspective, helping IndiGo build the Buddhist circuit.

Will IndiGo benefit?

While Air India and Jet Airways in the past have connected religious sites, hardly any airline in India has tried building a network around religious tourism. Connecting tourism centric places is one thing and a international to domestic connection – completely another.

The numbers will take time to shore up and the airline will have to tweak timings, equipment and operations for time to tell how successful this experiment has been. The prolonged closure of Pakistani airspace seems to have motivated the airline to look-east and reduce the dependence on its hub at New Delhi — which became prone to increased flying times due to the airspace closure.

The de-risking strategy will also help get domestic connections from major metros which are connected to Kolkata with multiple daily flights. The lack of non-stop flights to most of the countries in the east including Myanmar and Vietnam — which are becoming popular with Indian tourist, would see a steady traffic potential of Indian tourists flying IndiGo via Kolkata.

Who benefits?

Kolkata is a level 3 airport by IATA standards. This means that the airport is congested and additional movements may not be possible. However, new destinations get priorities when slots are limited and to add to that IndiGo has built a formidable hub at Kolkata over the years, allowing it to cancel its own flights on domestic sectors to utilise the slots for additional international flights.

With an integrated terminal at Kolkata — the transfer from domestic to international and vice versa is relatively simpler than New Delhi — the airline’s primary hub.

What next?

The results will be known in another year’s time. The airline has the cash to sustain that period, but one doesn’t know if it has the patience to sustain that long. With a growth which is as fast as no other, the airline has pulled the plug on few flights in the past in a short span of time.

Rarely has an airline tried something as innovative as a full circuit on religious tourism and rarely has an airline been in a position to try that. With IndiGo being cash rich at the moment, this could well be the turning time.

May be the blessings of Buddha is what the airline needs to solve its internal issues and maintain its courteous, hassle free and on-time operations.

Manjhi in touch with NDA partner for Jharkhand polls

Source: deccanherald.com

Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Sunday disclosed that his Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM), a constituent of the opposition Mahagathbandhan in the state, would be contesting the upcoming Assembly polls in Jharkhand in collaboration with an NDA partner.

“Our talks with Ajsu is in the final stages. Seat sharing arrangements will be decided soon. We hope it will be mutually beneficial and there will be a seamless transfer of votes during elections”, Manjhi told PTI in Gaya, his native district.

Asked why he would not be contesting as part of the Mahagathbandhan in the neighbouring state, Manjhi said “HAM was never a part of the Mahagathbandhan in Jharkhand. We joined the coalition comprising Congress, RJD and others only for Bihar. Beyond the boundaries of the state, the alliance does not exist. So our move should not be seen as a betrayal”.

He also declined to comment as to whether he was in talks with leaders of the BJP, the senior NDA partner in Jharkhand, and added: “our alliance with Ajsu will be taking place mainly because of the personal friendship I have with its president Sudesh Mahto”.

He also denied that the development was a signal of his plans to return to the NDA in Bihar.

Manjhi had floated his own party after walking out of JD(U) in 2015 after he was asked to step down as chief minister to make way for the return of his political mentor Nitish Kumar.

The Mahadalit leader went on to contest the Assembly polls held later that year as an NDA constituent, but his party fared poorly as only Manjhi managed to win one of the two seats he had contested.

About six months after Kumar returned to the NDA in July 2017, Manjhi changed track and joined the Mahagathbandhan, which then comprised only the Congress and the RJD.

The RJD, which at present has the highest number of MLAs in Bihar, helped his son Santosh Manjhi get a berth in the legislative council.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Mahagathbandhan came to include Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP and Mukesh Sahni’s VIP and Manjhi initially threw a fit stating that his party should be given a share of seats that was greater than those of all alliance partners except the RJD.

He, however, relented and settled for only three – far less than the nine given to Congress and five to RLSP. At the hustings, his party lost all the seats including Gaya where he was pitted against a relative newcomer Vijay Manjhi.

Earlier, Manjhi toured the adjoining Nawada district where he came out in defence of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan saying he must not resign though he should accept the demand for an apology over his remark about Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Rama Devi.

“When brothers and sisters, mothers and sons meet and plant a kiss by way of affection, the gesture is not seen as having sexual overtones. Azam Khan’s words are not being taken in the right spirit. I, therefore, hold the opinion that he need not resign but since all parties have objections he should tender an apology and be done with the matter.

LIGHTNING IN BIHAR KILLS 43, RAINS TO NOW GET INTENSE IN SOUTHERN DISTRICTS LIKE GAYA AND NAWADA

Source: skymetweather.com

Intense rains have been lashing Bihar for almost the last three days. As reiterated by Skymet, the northern part of the state has been a witness to some real heavy downpour, while the remaining parts have recorded moderate amounts of rain.

If we take a look at the last 24-hour rainfall data available with Skymet from 8.30 am on Wednesday, several places in North Bihar like Supaul, Purnea, Muzaffarpur and Farbesganj have recorded 50.4 mm, 40 mm, 51.7 mm and 27 mm of rain, respectively.

The Monsoon Trough which was closer to the foothills of the state has been the vital weather system in giving heavy rains in the region. This Trough is now going to move down south due to which the intensity of rain will decrease in North Bihar and strengthen in South Bihar. Places like Gaya, Nawada, Munger and Aurangabad may observe some very good rain in the next 24 to 48 hours. However, for the remaining days of the month light to moderate rains will continue to be observed in most parts of the state.

If we look at the rainfall pattern in the month of July so far, some really good rains have helped Bihar in becoming rain surplus. The rainfall deficiency that stood at 41% by the end of June has been wiped out completely and the rainfall amount in the state is surplus today by 4%, which is only going to get better looking at the forecast of some more rain in the remaining days of the month.

Meanwhile, due to the build-up of strong Cumulonimbus clouds, strong lighting strikes have occurred causing 55 deaths in Bihar and neighbouring Jharkhand in the last 48 hours. According to reports, 43 deaths have been reported from Bihar alone.

How one phone call busted a Naxal operation in Bihar

Source: livemint.com

NEW DELHI: As floods knifed through Bihar and forces scrambled to aid rescue operations in the state, a telephone call on the afternoon of 22 July in the state’s Bodh Gaya district changed the order of the day: Naxals had infiltrated into the area and had orders to carry out a big operation against security forces.

It was that phone call which ultimately led to one of the biggest anti-Naxal operations in the area in recent years, on Thursday afternoon, leading to the Naxal camp being wiped out by security forces.

From that day on — even as the Central Reserve Police Force’s (CRPF) intelligence wing began to scramble for inputs, which came in abundance – even though it was business as usual, forces were sworn to complete secrecy over the upcoming operation.

“Intelligence Inputs by sources developed by CPRF had been pouring in since 22 July about presence of a Maoist squad in this area and therefore an operation was planned after corroboration of inputs with the assistant superintendent of police (ASP) of Operation in Gaya and Aurangabad, along with a combined team of CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) and the CRPF,” said a senior CRPF official, seeking anonymity.

With the Naxals’ new commander Basavraj already having lost one of his key men Madkam Hidma to an encounter earlier this week, the armed cadre of the Naxals had come prepped to inflict maximum damage, from neighbouring Chattisgarh.

“All these teams were inducted from different routes with utmost deception avoiding all possibilities that could have alerted the vigilant Maoists of our plan. Their activities in the area have been persistently tracked and monitored through recent operations,” the official quoted above added.

While tactical action teams of Indian security forces had been inducted in complete secrecy, amid incessant rains, they were stationed at the respective locations at the break of dawn on Thursday.

“The CoBRA Strike came in direct confrontation with the Maoist sentry stationed few meters away from a temporary makeshift camp. Although the Maoist sentry emptied his rifle magazine, trying to push back the advancing Commandos, they (commandos) tactfully managed to dodge his bullets, quickly flanking and encircling this temporary camp meanwhile engaging in retaliatory fire,” said another senior security force official, requesting anonymity.

By the afternoon of Thursday, a full gun battle had been raging between the security forces and Naxals in the area of Sathnadia Nallah of Chakkarbandha forest in Bodh Gaya.

“An Exchange of Fire erupted between the CoBRA Commandos and CPI Maoist cadres at approximately 12:30pm on Thursday afternoon near Chakkarbandha forest. After half hour of gun battle, Cobra commandos managed to overrun the camp of the Maoists without any harm or loss on their (CoBRA) side. Five IEDs (improvised explosive devices) were planted in the vicinity of this camp, which were safely diffused by troops,” said the CRPF official.

25-year-old man arrested for killing a person in Delhi six years ago

Source: mid-day.com

On Tuesday, a 25-year-old man was arrested from Bihar for allegedly killing a person in the national capital nearly six years ago. The accused, identified as Rahees Manjhi is a resident of Gaya in Bihar. The police had announced a reward of Rs 25,000 on information leading to his arrest.

According to a senior police officer, Rajesh was killed in the Mundka area on October 14, 2013. During the investigation, accused Upender and his relative Sajan Manjhi were arrested. Upender said that he, along with his nephew Rahees Manjhi and relative Sajan Manjhi, had killed Rajesh with a sharp-edged weapon after an altercation over liquor.

Police got a tip-off that Rahees had been hiding in Bihar. “Thereafter, a police team was sent to Gaya where they arrested Rahees from a jungle of Piyar village after a brief chase,” said Ram Gopal Naik, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime).

In another incident, three teenagers were arrested by Delhi Police for allegedly killing a 15-year-old boy for a smartphone. A missing report of a 15-year-old boy was registered on July 13, at Moti Nagar police station. The investigation to find the missing teenager was initiated.

In the meantime, the police received information about a boy’s body in an abandoned house in Delhi’s Basai Darapur area. After the police reached the spot along with the victim’s cousin, it was found to be the missing boy’s body.

Delhi Commissioner of Police (DCP) West, Monika Bhardawaj said in a statement, “The police team gathered the vital clues with the help of technical surveillance and CCTV footages installed in the locality. On the basis of discreet enquiries, three Children in Conflict with Law (CCLs) were apprehended.” She also added that during the interrogation all three of them confessed the crime.

Things we know happened in Busan aftermath of Typhoon Danas

Source: korea.stripes.com

Typhoon Danas ripped through the Korean peninsula this weekend leaving behind a path of destruction around Busan.

According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, the total average rainfall in Busan has reached 237.7mm from 7 am to 5 pm on the 21st.

Here’s what we know about the storm according to local media reports:

– No casualties were reported due to the storm in Busan but a 62-year-old man was reportedly found dead in a stream in Geochang, South Gyeongsang Province. Nine people were evacuated from a residential apartment complex.

– Busanjin-gu received the most rain in the city with 334mm among the districts in the city with Gijang-gun receiving the least at 190mm.

– Some roads in Dongnae, Oncheonchun and Geumjeong-gu are still under police control due to flooding and damage.

– The hill in front of the Yeondaebong Ecological Tunnel in Cheonseong-dong, Gangseo-gu collapsed, causing a mudslide on the road.

– Large potholes occurred at the Garakbonglim Underground Car Park in Gangseo-gu and the road to Cheil Jedang, opposite the Saha Police Station.

– Many building exteriors collapsed, including at Gaya market and a villa in the central Chuncheon district in Yeonje-gu.

– Electricity was cut-off in parts of U-Dong, Haeundae-gu for 15 minutes after a tree branch took out a power line.

– A mudslide washed down at an apartment complex in Umgang-dong, Sasang-gu, knocking down four trees at an apartment complex and destroying some flower beds.

– Local beaches were covered in garbage, plastics, seaweed and waste after large waves deposited them from the sea.

– 247 of the 326 flights expected to depart Gimhae International Airport were canceled. Most flights expected to land were also either delayed, diverted or canceled.

June This Year Was Hottest June Ever, Says NASA

Source: northeasttoday.in

As per the data released by the American space agency NASA on Monday, the global average land-ocean temperatures were 0.93°C above the normal temperature (with 1951 to 1980 as base years).

It said such high temperatures have never been observed on Earth in recorded history since 1880. June of 2016 was the second-highest at 0.82°C above normal. Then also, El Niño in 2015-16 was cited as the reason.

Meanwhile, the climate community is concerned about how the temperatures have shot up despite it being a weak El Niño year.

In India, June saw heatwave across the country due to the delayed monsoon. The temperatures breached 50°C in parts of Rajasthan, and the national capital recorded the highest-ever June day temperature on June 10. The temperatures also shot up across Europe with many countries witnessing their highest-ever temperatures.

The European climate institution Copernicus had also reported June 2019 as the warmest on record. Experts say July could well be the hottest-ever, as North America and the middle-east continue to record extreme temperatures.

June was lethal for states in North India with Bihar alone reporting 137. Of this, Aurangabad reported 60 deaths, Gaya 41, Nalanda 13, Nawada 12, Munger 5, Kaimoor and Vaishali 2 each and Aara and Samastipur 1 each.

Major cities in Bihar like Patna, Gaya and Bhagalpur witnessed an intense heatwave.

Due to the continuing heatwave, the state government ordered the suspension of academic activities in all schools, colleges and educational institutes across the state till June 22 apart from ordering the closure of markets between 11 AM and 5 PM in three south Bihar districts of Gaya, Aurangabad and Nawada.

Gaya: The Land Of Temples And Monasteries

Source: india.com

One of India’s holiest cities, Gaya is a centre for various faiths and beliefs including Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Dotted with ancient temples and monasteries, the structures are testimony to the architectural brilliance of its past. For nature lovers too, Gaya is the perfect setting amidst hills, presenting a picturesque landscape that is calming and rejuvenating.

Vishnupad Temple

Located on the banks of Falgu river, the 18th-century temple is said to be constructed on Lord Vishnu’s footprints. However, the huge temple complex also displays images of various other Gods and Goddesses. There’s even a temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha in the courtyard of the Vishnupad Temple.

Bodhi Tree

Bodhi Tree is where Gautam Buddha had attained spiritual enlightenment. Located on the southern side of Mahabodhi Temple, the tree however is believed to have been grown from a sapling of the original tree in 620 AD. Legend goes that, the Bodhi Tree was destroyed many times; once by Emperor Ashoka’s wife and later by King Sesaka.

Chinese Temple And Monastery

Located near the Mahabodhi Temple, the Chinese Temple was built by the government and the Buddhist monks of China in 1945. The 200-year-old Buddha statue found inside is said to be from China, along with three other golden statues of Buddha. Built in traditional Chinese architectural style, it’s quite a wonder to the eye.

Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum

Established in the 1950s, Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum houses several relics that were unearthed in Gaya. The collections include rare sculptures belonging to the 1st-century BC, antiques of Hindu deities and Buddha made of various metals including gold, bronze and silver.

Royal Bhutan Monastery

Known for its wonderful depiction of the life of Buddha, this monastery was built by the King of Bhutan and ranks amongst the most majestic monasteries in the country. It also houses a beautiful temple with a 7 feet tall Buddha statue inside. The serene atmosphere in the monastery makes it a wonderful place to meditate.

Creating awareness! Waste is all that it takes to study in this school in Gaya

Source: timesnownews.com

Gaya: The students of Padampani School in Sevabigha village here collect waste materials on their way to school as their school fee. This step has been taken by the school authorities to create awareness among the children about the importance of protecting nature.

Deepak Kumar, Vice Principal of the School, told ANI: “We started this school in 2014 and now we have around 250 students here. We impart free education and provide free uniform, books, mid-day meal to the students. Instead of fees, they are supposed to collect waste materials on their way to school and dispose it off in the dustbin kept outside the school.”

“We send all the waste materials for recycling. Our main focus is to instil awareness among the children to create a clean and green environment. With the help of students, we are taking care of more than 200 trees on the school premises.”

Manoj Samdarshi, the founder of Padampani School, said: “We are running this school on donation as most of the students belong to very poor families. However, we provide socio-cultural classes, along with other activities like sports. The school aims to keep areas around the world heritage site of the Mahabodhi temple clean and waste-free.”

Echoing the importance of protecting nature, a student said: “We collect waste as fees which are later sent for recycling. Along with good education, we are also taught to value the importance of nature. This helps us keep our area clean.” 

MORE FLOODING RAINS TO LASH ARARIA, KISHANGANJ, BHAGALPUR, BEGUSARAI, SIWAN AND GAYA

Source: skymetweather.com

Moderate to heavy rains with one or two very heavy spells of Monsoon rains have been lashing the state of Bihar since the last two to three days. These rains have triggered some intense flooding in many districts of the state. The adjoining parts of Nepal too have been reeling under flooding rains for the last many days now. Also, these have resulted in swelling of many rivers.

Places right from Pashchim Champaran to Sitamarhi, including Araria, Kishanganj, Arwal, Aurangabad, Banka, Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Bhojpur, Buxar, Darbhanga, Gaya, Gopalganj, Jamui, Jehanabad, Kaimur (Bhabua), Katihar, Khagaria, and Siwan are experiencing flooding rains at present. Moreover, no relief is expected from such conditions for at least next two to three days. In fact, flooding may worsen in some areas due to continuous heavy downpour.

For the next 48 hours, we expect moderate to heavy with a few very heavy spells of rain and thundershower activities in many parts of Bihar. Thereafter, rains will slightly taper over the region. This is because, the present Trough will start shifting south, thus initiating good rains over the southern districts of Bihar. By this time, rains will reduce in other districts of the state, thus leading to a marginal relief from the flood-like situation.

Skymet has been continuously tracking the weather activities going on over and across the state and thus has been giving weather alerts on a constant basis in order to help the residents, escape this danger. And as more heavy rains are expected to lash the state, localitesare advised to take due precautions.