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Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar passes away

New Delhi: Legendary sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, who spearheaded the worldwide spread of Indian music and had a major influence on Western musicians like The Beatles, died today in San Diego at the age of 92.

Shankar, whose health had been fragile for the past several years, underwent a surgery on Thursday at the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California where he breathed his last.

The music icon was admitted to the hospital last week when he complained of breathlessness.

"It is with heavy hearts we write to inform you that Pandit Ravi Shankar, husband, father, and musical soul, passed away today," his wife and daughter, Sukanya and Anoushka Shankar, said in a joint statement.

A recipient of Bharat Ratna in 1996, Shankar maintained residences in both India and the United States.

He is survived by his wife Sukanya; daughter Norah Jones; daughter Anoushka Shankar Wright and husband Joe Wright; three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

"As you all know, his health has been fragile for the past several years and on Thursday he underwent a surgery that could have potentially given him a new lease of life.

"Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed away," the joint statement said.





North Korea launches long-range rocket

Seoul: North Korea successfully launched a long-range rocket today, in defiance of UN sanctions threats over what Pyongyang's critics have condemned as a disguised ballistic missile test.

North Korea said the three-stage rocket, which Pyongyang insists was solely aimed at placing a satellite in orbit, had achieved all its objectives.

"The launch of the second version of our Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite from the Sohae Space Centre ... on December 12 was successful," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

"The satellite has entered the orbit as planned," it said.

Officials in South Korea and Japan confirmed that all three stages of the rocket appeared to have separated as scheduled.

However, South Korean defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok cautioned that further analysis was required.





Hazardous asteroid to fly by Earth today

New Delhi: An asteroid, listed as a potentially hazardous object, will pass in close proximity to the earth at noon today. The space rock, however, poses no danger of impacting the earth.

The asteroid "4179 Toutatis", will fly by earth at a distance of 69,31,175 km, N Sri Raghunandan Kumar Director and Secretary of Planetary Society India said.

The asteroid will come close to earth on December 12 at 12:10 PM. The space rock, about 5.4 km in size, is moving at a speed of 11.9 km/sec, he said.

A potentially hazardous object (PHO) is a near-earth asteroid or comet with an orbit such that it has the potential to make close approaches to the earth and is of a size large enough to cause significant regional damage in the event of an impact.





All-party meet to end RS deadlock

New Delhi: Even as the government has called an all-party meeting on Wednesday to end the deadlock in the Rajya Sabha over FDI in multi-brand retail, the opposition parties will hold an agitation at Delhi's Jantar Mantar on the same.

On Tuesday, Rajya Sabha witnessed intense protests by the Oposition members that prompted the House chairman Hamid Ansari to admonish members.

The disruptions were caused by Opposition members on two issues - some wanted a discussion on whether WalMart lobbied in India to push the FDI policy and others - mainly the Samajwadi Party - protested against a possible discussion on a proposal that reserves promotions in government jobs for tribals and Dalits.

Visibly agitated by the chaos, Ansari even suggested that Question Hour could be dispensed with.

On the other hand, the opposition has decided to take the FDI battle to the streets outside Parliament. The BJP, its allies and the Left parties will be holding an agitation at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, which will begin at 11 am, just as Parliament convenes.




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