International News

Fidel Castro, Cuba's former president, dead at 90

Raul Castro, who announced his brother’s death, said he will be cremated on Saturday.

Cuba’s former president and leader of the Communist revolution Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90, AP reported quoting the nation’s official television channel on Saturday. The leader was suffering from a gastrointestinal illness. Raul Castro, who announced his brother’s death, said he will be cremated on Saturday, AFP reported. Cuba declared nine days of national mourning for the leader.

Castro ruled the country for almost 50 years before handing over the reigns of the one-party state to his brother Raul in 2008. The iconic leader drew praise and support from his compatriots. He was praised for giving “Cuba back to the people”. He as often critcised for his autocratic rule. His death is being celebrated by thousands of Cuban exiles in Miami, The Guardian reported. In 1959, he overthrew United States-backed Fulgencio Batista and defied US leaders through out his rule. Fidel Castro reportedly survived several assassination attempts.

Born on August 13, 1926, Fidel Castro Ruz became a rebel in 1953 with an attack on the Moncada military barracks in the city of Santiago. The revolutionary leader’s death follows a thawing of relations with the United States, that had imposed a decades-long embargo on the nation. His rule was marked by the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis the next year which had almost escalated into a nuclear war.

He supported political uprisings in Latin American countries in the 1960s, and deployed Cuban troops to Africa to fight Western-backed regimes in the 1970s. His commitment to socialism resonated in his rallying chant, “socialism or death”.

In the last few years, Fidel Castro restricted his public presence to rare appearances and his columns in the party magazine, Granma. In April, he made a rare address to his Communist Party congress, BBC reported.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter offered his condolences to the citizens of Cuba over the loss of “India’s great friend”. Similarly, Chinese President Xi Jinping read out a message on the country’s main TV channel. “The Chinese people have lost a good and true comrade. Comrade Castro will live forever, he said. Apart from political leaders, Catholic church head Pope Francis also conveyed his condolences to Raul Castro. “I express to you my sentiments of grief,” said the pope in a message.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.


Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.