Modi invites entrepreneurs from across world to be part of India's growth story

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday invited entrepreneurs from across the globe to invest in India and become a part of the country's growth story, assuring them of the government's whole-hearted support.

Modi, Ivanka Trump attend GES 2017 in Hyderabad
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today invited entrepreneurs from across the globe to invest in India and become a part of the country's growth story, assuring them of the government's whole-hearted support.
"To my young entrepreneur friends from India, I would like to say: each of you has something valuable to contribute towards creating a New India by 2022. You are vehicles of change and instruments of India’s transformation," he said in his inaugural address at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, 2017 here, an event hosted by the Government of India in partnership with the Government of the United States of America.
The Summit is being held in South Asia for the first time. It brings together leading investors, entrepreneurs, academicians, think-tanks and other stakeholders to propel the global entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Ms. Ivanka Trump, Advisor to US President Donald Trump and also his daughter, is leading the US contingent to the three-day event.
"This event not only connects the Silicon Valley with Hyderabad but also showcases the close ties between the United States of America and India. It underlines our shared commitment towards encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation," Mr. Modi said.
He noted that the topics picked for this year’s summit include healthcare and life sciences; digital economy and financial technology; energy and infrastructure; and media and entertainment, which are important issues, relevant to the well-being and prosperity of mankind. 
"The theme 'Women First, Prosperity for All' makes this edition of GES stand out... We believe women empowerment is vital to our development," he said.
"Indian women continue to lead in different walks of life. Our space programmes, including the Mars Orbiter Mission, have had immense contribution from our women scientists. Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams, both of Indian origin, have been part of US space missions. Three out of four oldest High Courts in India are now headed by women judges. Our sportswomen have done the country proud. This very city of Hyderabad is home to Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, and Sania Mirza, who have brought laurels to India.
"In India, we have provided for not less than one third of women representation in rural and urban local bodies, ensuring women’s participation in grass-root level decision-making. More than sixty percent of workers in our agriculture and allied sectors are women. Our milk co-operatives in Gujarat and the Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad, are examples of highly successful and globally acclaimed women-led co-operative movements.
"Here at the GES, more than 50 percent of the delegates are women. Over the next two days, you will meet many women who have dared to be different, in their own walks of life. They now inspire a new generation of women entrepreneurs. I hope the deliberations in the summit would focus on how women entrepreneurship can be further supported," he said.
"The power to think differently and ahead of the times for the betterment of mankind is what sets entrepreneurs apart. I see that power in India's young generation today. I see 800 million potential entrepreneurs who can work towards making the world a better place," Mr. Modi said.
He said the number of smartphone users in India is projected to grow to over 500 million by 2018. This offers immense potential for the growth of any venture, in terms of outreach and job creation, he felt.
He said the Government's Start-Up India programme is a comprehensive action plan to foster entrepreneurship and promote innovation. It aims to minimize the regulatory burden and provide support to startups. Over 1200 redundant laws have been scrapped, 87 rules for FDI have been eased in 21 sectors, and several government processes have been taken online, he said.
He said the Government had taken several steps to improve the business environment. "The jump in India’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report, from 142 to 100, in three years, is a result of this. We have improved on indicators like dealing with construction permits, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency," he said.
"The process is not yet complete. This is an area where we are not satisfied with 100th rank. We would strive towards 50th rank.  
"We have launched the MUDRA scheme to provide easy finance of upto one million rupees to entrepreneurs. Since its launch in 2015, over 90 million loans worth 4.28 trillion rupees have been sanctioned.  Of these, more than 70 million loans have been sanctioned to women entrepreneurs," he said.
The Prime Minister also mentioned the Atal Innovation Mission and the opening of Tinkering Labs in more than 900 schools to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among children. 
"Our Mentor India initiative engages leaders to guide and mentor students through these tinkering labs. In addition, 19 incubation centers have been created in various universities and research institutions. These will nurture innovative start-up businesses to become scalable and sustainable," he said.
He also mentioned Aadhaar, the world’s largest biometric based digital database. This currently covers over 1.15 billion people and digitally authenticates over 40 million transactions daily. He said the Government now digitally provides monetary benefits of various government schemes to the beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer using Aadhaar.
"Almost 300 million bank accounts with deposits of over 685 billion rupees, or over 10 billion dollars, have been opened through the Jan Dhan Yojana. These bring previously un-banked sections of society into the formal financial system. Of these, 53 per cent accounts are of women.
"We are steadily working towards a less cash economy and have launched a Unified Payment Interface App called BHIM. In less than a year, this platform is processing almost 280 thousand transactions daily.
"Having almost completed our programme to connect all villages with electricity, we have launched the Saubhagya scheme. This will provide electricity connections to all families by December 2018.
"We have launched a programme to provide high-speed broad-band internet to all rural areas by March 2019," he said.
The Prime Minister also mentioned initiatives in areas such as renewable energy, the national gas grid, the national gas policy, the Swachh Bharat Mission to improve sanitation and cleanliness, the rural and urban housing missions, and infrastructure and connectivity programmes like Sagarmala and Bharatmala, and said they offered entrepreneurs many business opportunities for investment.
"Our recent World Food India initiative helped us engage with entrepreneurs in the food processing industry and agricultural waste sectors.
"My government understands that an environment of transparent policies and a rule of law providing a level-playing field are necessary for entrepreneurship to flourish. A historic overhaul of the taxation system has been recently undertaken, bringing in the Goods and Services Tax across the country. Our Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code introduced in 2016 is a step towards ensuring timely resolution for stressed ventures. We have recently improved this further, preventing wilful defaulters from bidding for stressed assets.
"Tough measures have been adopted to tackle the parallel economy, check tax evasion and control black money. Our efforts have been recognized by Moody’s recent upgrade of India’s government bond ratings. This upgrade comes after a gap of almost 14 years.
"India has improved its rank from 54 in 2014 to 35 in 2016 on the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index. This signifies the relative ease and efficiency with which products can be moved into and from a country," he said.
Stating that an investment-friendly environment needs to be stable from the macro-economic perspective, he said the Government had succeeded in containing the fiscal and current account deficits, and curbing inflation. 
"Our foreign exchange reserves have crossed 400 billion dollars, and we continue to attract large foreign capital flows," he said.
"I am informed that President Trump has declared November 2017 as National Entrepreneurship Month. America has also observed National Entrepreneurs’ Day on November 21st. This summit will certainly resonate with those themes. Let me conclude by wishing you fruitful, engaging and rewarding deliberations at this summit," he added.

Kiran Reddy quits as Andhra Pradesh CM day after LS passes Telangana Bill

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy announced his resignation on Wednesday in protest against the decision of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government at the Centre to go ahead with its decision to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh as the 29th state of the Union.

Andhra Pradesh CM Kiran Reddy resigns, quits Congress
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy announced his resignation today in protest against the decision of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government at the Centre to go ahead with its decision to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh as the 29th state of the Union.
Mr Reddy handed in his papers to Governor E S L Narasimhan a day after, amid noisy schenes, the Lok Sabha passed the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Bill, which seeks to bifurcate the state to create the new state of Telangana.
Before driving down to Raj Bhavan to submit his resignation, Mr Reddy addressed a press conference at which he hit out at his Congress party for allegedly flouting Parliamentary procedures in its haste to get the Bill passed.
"I am ashamed. They did it like thieves, blacking out the live telecast. What was the need to do all this?" he asked.
Thanking the party for giving him the chance to serve as Chief Minister, he, however, made it clear that he could not continue in the Congress because, according to hi, it had betrayed the Telugu people.
He said he would also resign as a member of the Legislative Assembly as well as from the membership of the Congress.
Mr Reddy said the Congress and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had got together in the Lok Sabha yesterday to get the Bill passed.
He was particularly upset that the Bill was passed in the absence of several MPs from Andhra Pradesh, who had been suspended from the House for disrupting proceedings on February 13.
There has been media speculation about Mr Reddy planning to launch a new party but he did not touch the topic today. "My future is not important," he said when asked about it.
Some of his Cabinet colleagues from the Seemandhra region, who were opposed to the bifurcation of the state, and several legislators were present at the press conference.

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‘Wings India 2018’ gets underway with ‘India-Global Aviation Hub’ as theme

The four-day biennial event ‘Wings India 2018’ began here yesterday with ‘India-Global Aviation Hub’ as the theme.
Jointly organized by Ministry of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India and FICCI, Wings India 2018 is a platform for interactions, forging alliances, investments and air connectivity between the States and the global aviation players & stakeholders, an official press release said.
The event was attended by senior ministers of Telangana Government and senior officials of Ministry of Civil Aviation, DGCA, AAI and representatives from FICCI.
Speaking at the inauguration, Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said the Government was committed to connecting the cities and towns to increase regional connectivity. The oil prices needed to remain soft, below $80 a barrel, for the sector to grow at a CAGR of 15% for the next 20 years, he said.
The event will witness the presence of 125 exhibitors and 35 CEOs. It will also see representation from 10 countries. Besides the conference and exhibition, Roundtables on Tourism, Cargo and Logistics and Skills and G2B and B2B meetings are scheduled.
More than 300 B2B meetings are scheduled during the event. The conference will focus on fostering partnership to transform Indian aviation and the role of a conducive regulatory framework to facilitate the growth of civil aviation market.
Coinciding with the event, FICCI is set to launch its maiden edition of ‘Wings India Awards’ for Excellence in the aviation sector. The awards will be conferred upon the aviation-related companies, institutions and organizations in 14 categories.
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10 Maoists, one commando killed in gunbattle on Telangana-Chhattisgarh border

10 Maoists killed in encounter with security forces in Pujari Kanker
At least ten suspected Maoists were killed in a gunbattle between them and the police in Pujari Kander on the border between Telangana and Chhattisgarh early this morning.
The Maoists killed in the incident included six women, official source said.
A constable of the Greyhounds commando force of the Telangana Police was also killed in the incident. His body was recovered from the scene and flown to Bhadrachalam, they said. Three other police personnel suffered injuries and were airlifted to a hospital.
The sources said the encounter took place when a joint team of the Telangana and the Chhattisgarh Police began a combing operation in the area following a tip-off that Maoists were present there.
They surrounded the Maoists and asked them to surrender but were greeted, instead, with gunfire, after which the police retaliated, the sources said.
The incident has come about two and a half months after eight Maoists were killed in an encounter in the Mellamadugu forest in Tekulapalli mandal of Bhadradri Kothagudem district on December 14, 2017.
Additional police forces were rushed to the area and have launched combing operations.
Some automatic weapons and ammunition, a laptop computer, a scanner and about Rs. 40,000 in cash were recovered from the slain Maoists, the sources said.
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Nutrition may help overcome genetic risk of diabetes: Study

For years, scientists have been engaged in finding human genes associated with lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart disease to know if certain population groups are prone to these disorders. Now Indian scientists have found that good nutrition can actually modify the risk of diabetes posed by presence of certain faulty genes.
New research has revealed that good nutrition – in the form of B12 and folic acid supplements – has a beneficial impact on genes associated with Type 2 diabetes. The study has been led by scientists at the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), a laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Vitamins B12 and folate plays an important role in DNA methylation – a process that regulates various function of genes without altering the sequence. In DNA methylation, basically methyl group is added to DNA which can result in change in its activity.
Researchers provided Vitamin B12 and folic acid to a group of children for one year and examined the DNA methylation status by analysing their blood samples. They found that only vitamin B12 and not folic acid influences regulation of several Type 2 Diabetes associated genes through methylation of a specific microRNA.
“This assumes significance in the light of our earlier observations that maternal homocysteine levels due to vitamin B12 deficiency are predictive of the future risk of cardio-metabolic risk in their children. Hence, this study provides a novel epigenetic explanation for the association between disordered one-carbon metabolism and risk of adiposity, insulin resistance and diabetes and has translational potential,” Dr. Giriraj R Chandak, who led the research, told India Science Wire.
To understand the programming of complex diseases in more detail, the group is currently working a group of mothers who were given micronutrients, to see the effect of supplementation in their offspring. This work is being done in collaboration with Dr C S Yajnik at KEM Hospital and Research Centre (KEMHRC), Pune. In order to understand molecular mechanism of programming in more details, similar conditions have been generated in animal models and effects are being analyzed in their cells, tissues and organs.
“Finding of this study will enrich our understanding of the molecular mechanism of fetal programming, cause, and development of complex diseases. These studies will have potential public health significance and help in designing prevention policies,” added Dr. Chandak.
The research team also included Dilip Kumar Yadav and Smeeta Shrestha from –CCMB; Hong Pan and Joanna D Holbrook from Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences; Caroline HD Fall and Karen A Lillycrop from Southampton General Hospital, UK; Charu V Joglekar and C S Yajnik from KEM Health Research Centre, Pune. 
The study was funded by CSIR, Wellcome Trust and Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
(India Science Wire)
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India a hot-spot for digital innovation, growing market for tech innovation: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India is the hot-spot of digital innovation across all sectors, not only having a growing number of innovative entrepreneurs, but also a growing market for tech innovation.
“We were and we remain one of the most tech-friendly populations in the world, with over one lakh villages linked with optical fibre, 121 crore mobile phones, 120 crore Aadhaar and 50 crore internet users,” Mr Modi said in his inaugural address through video conference at the World Conference on Information Technology (IT) here.
Noting that the event is being held in India for the first time, he said it has been organized in partnership with NASSCOM, WITSA and Telangana state government.
“India is best placed to leverage the power of technology and leap-frog into the future while ensuring empowerment of every citizen. Digital India is a journey bringing about digital inclusion for digital empowerment aided by the digital infrastructure for digital delivery of services. Leveraging technology in such a holistic manner was unthinkable some years ago,” the Prime Minister said.
“We have successfully completed this life-cycle in the last three and a half years. This has been possible through a change in public behaviour and processes. Digital India has not remained merely a Government initiative, but has become a way of life,” he said.
Mr Modi said while most Government initiatives depend on a Government push, Digital India is succeeding because of the people’s pull.
The JAM trinity combining 320 million Jan Dhan bank accounts of the poor with Aadhaar and Mobile with direct benefits of welfare measures has saved Rs 57,000 crore, he said.
Around 22 million digital hospital transactions across 172 hospitals in India are bringing comfort in the lives of patients. The National Scholarship Portal for easy scholarships today has 14 million students registered for it, he added.
eNAM- an online agriculture market offering the best prices to the farmers has 6.6 million farmers registered and 470 agriculture markets connected. Digital payments through BHIM-UPI has registered transactions of Rs 15,000 crore in January 2018, he said.
The unique Umang app launched only three months back is already offering 185 Government services, he pointed out.
Mr. Modi said that, as of date, 2.8 lakh Common Services Centres in different parts of the country were providing several digital services. About 10 lakh people work in these centres, including thousands of women entrepreneurs.
“In order to leverage the skills and talent of our youth, BPOs have started operating from places like Kohima and Imphal in North East India to areas of Jammu and Kashmir. As many as 86 units across 27 states and Union Territories have already become operational and much more are likely to come up soon,” he added.
“To ensure digital literacy in every household, we have initiated a Pradhan Mantri Rural Digital Literacy Mission to make 60 million adults digitally literate in rural India. Under this scheme, 10 million people have already been trained.
“We have come a long way with the convergence of Make In India and Digital India. From only two mobile manufacturing units in India in 2014, today there are 118 units operating in the country, including some of the best global brands,” the Prime Minister said.
The Government e-Market-place has been developed as the National Procurement Portal of India. It enables small and medium enterprises to compete in meeting the procurement requirements of the Government. This simple IT framework has improved transparency in Government procurement. It has also speeded up procurement processes and empowered thousands of small and medium enterprises, he added.
“We stand today at the cusp of the fourth Industrial Revolution. Technology, if used well for public good, can deliver lasting prosperity to mankind and a sustainable future for our planet. It is in this context that I place the World Conference on Information Technology, in India today,” Mr Modi said.
 “The key themes at this conference reflect the opportunities that await us. Disruptive technologies such as Block-chain and the Internet of Things will have a deep impact in the way we live and work. They will require rapid adaptation in our workplaces.
“Skilling citizens for the workplace of the future is Important. In India, we have launched the National Skill Development Mission to prepare our children and youth for a bright future. We also need to ensure that our existing work-force is able to re-skill, as new technologies emerge,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
 "One of the invited speakers at this event, the robot Sophia shows the potential of new technologies. We need to reflect on the changing nature of jobs, in the emerging age of intelligent automation. I compliment NASSCOM for developing the “Skills of the Future” platform,” he said.
“I am told, NASSCOM has identified eight important technologies. They include Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Robotic Process Automation, Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics, 3D Printing, Cloud Computing, Social and Mobile. NASSCOM has also identified 55 job roles that are going to be in high demand globally,” he added.
The Prime Minister said the Government had launched the Start-up India initiative to prepare millions of small and medium businesses for this transformation in a short time.
“We believe our startups are the key to finding viable and economical solutions across sectors and verticals. Under the Atal Innovation Mission, we are building Atal Tinkering Labs in schools across India. The objective of this scheme is to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds,” he added.
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CCMB working to make personalised medicine a reality

One size does not fit all. This applies to medicine, as much as for garments. Some medicines might work on some but not on others. The key to unravel this secret lies in the uniqueness of the cells of each one of us. However, unlike garments, the consequences can be quite serious when we do not respond favorably to the drugs. Could we then have a test run of the drug on a body double and pick only the ones that work for ourselves?
Recent developments in life science research have led to a novel solution for this problem. Scientists can now convert ordinary cells extracted from a patient’s body into what are called pluripotent stem cells and use these to develop a variety of organoids – multiple miniaturized and simplified versions of body organs. These can then be used to screen a variety of drugs for the ailment a person is suffering from and identify those that are best suited for him or her.
The Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), a part of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is in the process of setting up a facility to take the benefit of this new technology to common people.
Noting that several other new technologies have also come up in recent years that could help make personalised medicine a reality, the Director of the institute, Dr. Rakesh K.Mishra, said steps were underway to put them, too. into use.
For instance, it is now possible to make cells produce bioactive products like insulin and deliver them to patients who do not produce enough of them in the form of patches. “The technologies are available. We just need to put them in place after obtaining appropriate approvals. Lots of activities are happening on this front”, he said.
CCMB, he said, is looking to engage with clinicians and the industry in a big way, with them participating right from the beginning stages of research.
“We want them to invest and be a partner in developing technologies. This will help accelerate research in industrial context. We will also gain a lot from their expertise in marketing and production,’’ Dr Mishra said. In this regard, he recalled how Shanta Biotech, one of the first major biotechnology companies in India had begun its journey from CCMB.
The institute focuses both on contributing intellectually as well as in terms of developing industry ready manpower. “We interact with the industry, find out what kind of manpower they require so as to design appropriate short term courses of one, two and six month duration. In this programme, we focus on producing properly qualified technicians, technical officers and other manpower required by industries engaged in biology-related activities,” he said.
The research institute has recently started a programme to expose students in medical colleges in Telangana to various aspects of medical research. The aim of the programme is to foster collaborations between scientists and medical professionals in medical research. 
(India Science Wire)
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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to pay state visit to India from February 15-17

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will reach Hyderabad today at the start of a three-day state visit to India during which he will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on February 17.
In Hyderabad, Dr. Rouhani will visit the Salar Jung Museum, the Golconda Fort, the Qutab Shahi Tomb and the Makkah Masjid tomorrow. He will also have a meeting with the Iranian community in the city tomorrow afternoon before leaving for Delhi in the evening.
Dr. Rouhani will be accorded a ceremonial reception here on February 17. He will have a meeting with President Ram Nath Kovind in the evening of that day.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will call on him in the morning, while Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu will meet him in the evening.
During the talks between Mr. Modi and Dr. Rouhani, both sides would review the progress achieved in bilateral relations and also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. 
Mr. Modi had paid a state visit to Iran in May, 2016.
Dr. Rouhani is also slated to attend a business event here that morning. He will also deliver a special address at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). He  will aso attend an Indian Parsi community event in the evening on February 17.
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GE, Tata group hold ground-breaking ceremony for aero-engine centre of excellence in Hyderabad

GE and the Tata group held the ground-breaking ceremony for a world class Structural Center of Excellence (COE) focused on aero-engine components at Hyderabad on Monday.
The ceremony was held in the presence of Mr. K T Rama Rao, Minister for IT E&C, Government of Telangana, and other dignitaries from the State government. The manufacturing facility will be located in Adibatla here.
A press release from Tata group said the COE would incorporate latest technologies from GE and best manufacturing practices to deliver complex high precision aero-engine components to the world’s fastest-selling jet engine, the CFM LEAP engine. 
This is part of the strategic partnership signed in November 2017 between GE Aviation and Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) to join forces for manufacturing, assembling, integration and testing of aircraft components, it said.
Banmali Agrawala, president, infrastructure, defence and aerospace, Tata Sons, said, “Tata group’s partnership with GE will boost the domestic manufacturing expertise, and enhance the capabilities of the group in the global aerospace industry. We look forward to developing a resilient ecosystem through this collaboration that will help both companies to strengthen manufacturing expertise in the country. This investment will create highly skilled jobs and develop a high-end supply chain that will offer a globally competitive manufacturing ecosystem in India.”
Vishal Wanchoo, president and CEO, GE South Asia, said, “Both GE and Tata have a long and distinguished history of delivering on commitments to help customers solve some of their toughest challenges. The collaboration between the two companies will deliver results for India’s aerospace and defence industry which will be unmatched. Through our technology centres in Bengaluru and Hyderabad, GE has developed high-tech research capabilities in India. Combining GE’s R&D capability with state of the art manufacturing within Tata’s new facility in Hyderabad is a significant step forward in building indigenous capability for the Indian aerospace industry.”
The agreement for manufacturing of LEAP components and establishment of TASL as a COE provides the opportunity for TASL to expand into other GE product lines in both commercial and military engines in the future. 
GE military engines have a strong history in India. GE currently provides the jet engines and marine gas turbines for many Indian military applications including the Air Force Light Combat Aircraft-Tejas Mk 1, Indian Navy P-8I aircraft, and P-17 Shivalik class frigates. Several military programs under development that include the Light Combat Aircraft-Tejas Mk 2, P-17A & P-71 ships, and the AH-64 attack helicopters will be powered by GE engines, the release said.
TASL, the strategic aerospace and defence arm of the Tata Group, is fast emerging as a key player in the global aerospace and defence market with established capabilities throughout the aerospace value chain from design to full aircraft assembly. TASL is a premier manufacturing partner for global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as well as the Government of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation, the release added.
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Are we alone in this universe? Big data algorithms may help find answer

The search for life outside the earth is all set to get intensified. Indian astronomers have developed a new technique to know if any of the newly discovered exoplanets -- planets outside our solar system -- are potentially habitable.
Till now, over 3500 exoplanets have been discovered and scientists estimate that the number could run into billions in our galaxy alone and trillions in the observable universe.
The earth, according to astrophysicists, is actually an average planet and our solar system may not be unique in the sense of its ability to support life. In this scenario, efforts are on to find if there are life-harbouring and earth-like planets.
The technique developed by Indian scientists is based the emerging understanding that habitability need not be defined solely from the perspective of the earth or the solar system we are part of. So far, the search for life has been confined to stellar habitable zones where liquid water exists on surface, but now it has expanded to galactic and even universe habitable zones.
Habitability depends on an understanding of physical planetary parameters like orbital properties, chemical composition, mass, radius, density, surface temperature, distance from parent star, and temperature or mass of parent star. Applying these parameters to each of the newly discovered exoplanets one by one is going to be a time consuming and tardy task.
Indian researchers have automated this process by using data analysis and machine learning techniques – an exercise which represents an emerging discipline called astroinformatics that combines astronomy and computing. The new technique was presented at the 36th session of the Astronomical Society of India (ASI) being held at Osmania University here recently.
The present approach to look for life on planets outside the solar system is to search for earth-like conditions or planets similar to the earth, what we call ‘earth similarity’ and also for possibility of life in a form known or unknown to us, meaning ‘habitability’. For this, two indices used are Earth Similarity Index (ESI) and Planetary Habitability Index (PHI).
“We have proposed a different metric - a Cobb-Douglas Habitability Score (CDHS) - which computes the habitability score by using measured and estimated planetary input parameters like radius, density, escape velocity and surface temperature of a planet. The values of the input parameters are normalized to the Earth Units. The metric, with exponents accounting for metric elasticity, has analytical properties that ensure global optima, and can be scaled up to accommodate more input parameters,” explained Margarita Safonova of Bangalore-based M P Birla Institute of Fundamental Research, and a member of the research team, while speaking to India Science Wire.
The Cobb-Douglas Habitability Score has actually been derived from an economic theory first proposed in 1920s. “Using known parameters of each exoplanet, like density, radius, escape velocity and surface temperature, our sophisticated model predicts a score for each planet, by comparing it to the Earth. These scores are fed into powerful machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms that can group these planets into various classes of habitability potentia,l” said Prof Jayant Murthy of Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore.
The new metric has been applied to the exoplanet Proxima b orbiting the nearest star (Proxima Centauri) to the Sun. There is expectation that Proxima b is potentially habitable, since it is located in the star’s habitable zone and its mass is 1.27 the earth’s mass. Though it orbits its star eight times closer than Mercury, the amount of energy it receives is 2/3rd of what the earth receives from the sun, raising the possibility that liquid water can exist on the surface.
“We computed the habitability score CDHS of Proxima b using radius, density, escape velocity and surface temperature, only surface temperature and radius, stellar flux and radius, and stellar flux and mass. According to our classification algorithm, Proxima b falls in the ‘Earth-League’”, said Safonova. Earth’s habitability ‘floor function value’ is 1, and the difference between its CDHS and the earth’s CDHS is within the acceptable threshold.
“Our algorithm emphatically exhibits potential habitability of Proxima b, matching with estimate the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico which maintains the catalogue of all exoplanets,” she added. “This indicates that the model may be extended for a quick check of the potential habitability of newly discovered exoplanets in general. We have created a web page for this project to host all relevant data and results including datasets, figures, animation video and a graphical abstract.”
Snehanshu Saha, Kakoli Bora, S. Agrawal, Swathi Routh and Anand Narasimhamurthy are also members of the research project, which was conducted by astronomers from Indian  Institute of Astrophysics, PES University and MPBIFR. The work was funded and supported by Vision Group on Science and Technology (VGST), Government of Karnataka, and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA). 
(India Science Wire)
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Hyderabad – cradle of astronomy in India

The city of Hyderabad is famous for its historical monuments like Charminar and cuisine like biryani, but few would know that it has been the cradle of modern astronomy in India.
The city was the location of one of the earliest modern astronomical observatories established in India in early twentieth century. The city-based Osmania University was the first educational institution in the country to start teaching astronomy and astrophysics at post-graduate and research levels. The first generation of Indian astronomers cut their teeth into the subject in Hyderabad, which was also the birthplace of the Astronomical Society of India (ASI) in 1972.
The Nizamiah Observatory was established in 1908 by the Nizam’s government with instruments donated by one of the leading nobles, Nawab Jafar Jung who was also an amateur astronomer. The instruments included an eight-inch astrograph and 15-inch refractor. One of the landmark contributions of the observatory has been the publication of 13 volumes of the Astrographic Catalogue of the Hyderabad zones of the sky. 
After the establishment of Osmania University in 1917, the observatory became a part of the university. This laid the foundation of astronomy education in India.
The formal teaching of astronomy at Osmania University began with the setting up of the Department of Astronomy in 1959, while astronomy teaching at post-graduate level was introduced in 1960 -61. The department was recognized as the Centre of Advanced Study in Astronomy by the University Grants Commission in 1964.
The department has produced more than 500 M.Sc. students and produced close to 50 doctorates. Many of them have become astronomers in India and abroad.
“I was among the first batch of post graduates in astronomy from this department, and soon after I passed out I was offered the job of a lecturer. I joined here though I had job offers from the two other two Indian observatories – Kodaikanal and Nanital – too,” recalled Sarma Modali, who later shifted to the United States for PhD and worked with NASA and NOAA there, while speaking to India Science Wire.
The university telescope at Rangapur has been used for the study of binary stars, black holes, neutron stars, white dwarfs, active galactic nuclei, peculiar stars, pulsating stars, galactic clusters. In addition, a 10 - feet radio telescope was installed at Japal-Rangapur Observatory in 1980 for conducting research on the sun.
The ASI, which is holding its annual meeting in Osmania University this week, has a special connection with the city. Prof Vainu Bappu, the famous astronomer from Hyderabad, was the President of the society, Prof U. R. Rao, who later became the Chairperson of ISRO, was the Vice-President, and Prof. KD Abhyankar, who was the first head of the department and director of the university observatory, was the secretary of ASI.
(India Science Wire)
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New study could pave way for novel contraceptive

Scientists at the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) here have come up with a finding that could pave the way for the development of a new type of contraceptive.
The study conducted on mice has found that the presence of an enzyme called IP6K1 played an important role in the formation of sperm cells in male mouse. Formation of sperms is a multi-step process. In one of the stages, nucleus of the cell has to condense and become elongated. This process requires expression of two key sperm-specific proteins called TNP2 and PRM2. The study has found that an enzyme IP6K1 is required to ensure that these two sperm proteins get expressed properly.
Researchers knocked out the gene that produces IP6K1 and found that in its absence, sperm proteins were getting synthesised prematurely and as a result, sperm failed to develop completely.
Speaking to India Science Wire, leader of the study team Dr. Rashna Bhandari noted that the finding indicated the possibility for development of a new type of contraceptive. However, in the same breath, she cautioned against expectations of an immediate product.
“We can now think of inhibiting IP6K1 to make males infertile. However, another paper from a US group has shown that an existing IP6K1 inhibitor does not cause mouse male infertility. It is probably because the inhibitor does not cross the blood-testis barrier. So, to develop a contraceptive using our new knowledge, we will first have to develop a new inhibitor of IP6K1, and then test it in mice to see if it causes male infertility.”
She also noted that there was a need to conduct more studies to understand the enzyme better. For instance, a Swedish group had, in 2007, shown that knocking out of the IP6K1 gene reduced insulin secretion from the pancreas. “It is clear that we need to be extra cautious when we deal with this gene."
The new finding, she said, could also be looked at from the point of view of treatment for male infertility. “So far, there is no report of any infertility in human males because of lack or dysfunction of IP6K1 enzyme. But, it is conserved in men also. We can perhaps screen infertility patients to see whether there was any loss or mutation of the enzyme and whether it was causing the infertility. If that was so, then it may be possible to cure their infertility by merely adding back the enzyme to their developing sperm," she said.
This study was conducted by her PhD student, Aushaq Bashir Malla under her guidance. They have published the results in the Journal of Cell Science. The journal has also published an interview with Malla under its ‘`First Person’ series which focuses highlights the work of early career researchers. “It is heartening that a reputed journal has featured Malla. He is from Kashmir and this interview should help in enthusing students from the state to go on to make a mark in global science,” Dr. Bhandari added.
(India Science Wire)
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IndiGo announces new flights on Ahmedabad-Kochi sector

Low-cost carrier IndiGo today said it would launch new flights on the Ahmedabad-Kochi sector with effect from March 12.
A press release from the airline said it would also introduce additional flights on the Kochi-Hyderabad and Hyderabad-Ahmedabad sectors from that date, underscoring the tourism potential of Tier-II markets.
"Commencing on March 12, 2018, these new services will further consolidate IndiGo’s position as the fastest growing airline in India, with over 1000 daily flights connecting 48 destinations," it said.
IndiGo had recently announced its ATR operations and inaugural flights from Tirupati and Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh.
In March 2018, the carrier will also commence Vijayawada operations to Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai, the airline said.
Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo said, “We are delighted to introduce new connections between Kochi, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad. IndiGo has established itself as the fastest growing carrier with its extensive domestic network and we are hopeful that the introduction of the new service will further cement our place in the Indian skies.”
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IndiGo commences flights from Rajahmundry to Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai

Low-cost carrier IndiGo today expanded its regional network by commencing ATR operations from Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh.
Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister China Rajappa, along with Mr. Sanjeev Ramdas, Executive Vice President of Customer Service & Operations Control, IndiGo flagged-off the flight from Rajahmundry to Chennai at Rajahmundry Airport today.
Other dignitaries who were present at the flag-off ceremony included Mr. Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, Minister for Finance, Planning, Commercial Taxes, Legislative Affairs; Ms. Pantham Rajani Sesha Sai, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Rajamahendravaram; Mr. Kartikeya Misra, Collector and District Magistrate, East Godavari District; and Ms. B.Raja Kumari, IPS., Superintendent of Police, Rajamahendravaram Urban Police District.
A press release from the airline said it would connect Rajahmundry to Hyderabad with twice daily frequencies, and one direct daily frequency each on Rajahmundry–Bangalore–Rajahmundry and Rajahmundry–Chennai–Rajahmundry sectors. 
IndiGo is the only airline that connects Rajahmundry with direct flights to three major metros of southern India: Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad from day one of its operations, the release said.
The airline operates more than 1000 flights daily to 48 destinations.
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Five dead, 29 injured as vehicle turns turtle in Telangana

At least five persons died and 29 others suffered injuries when the vehicle they were travelling in turned turtle in Jogulamba Gadwal district of Telangana, about 190 km from here, early this morning.
The victims, working as daily wagers at a ginning mill in Gadwal town, were returning home when the mishap occurred at around 6 am, District Collector Rajat Kumar Saini told NetIndian over the telephone.
Of the injured, 15 were admitted to the government hospital in Gadwal while 14 were referred to the government hospital at Kurnool, about 48 km away, he said.
According to various accounts, the driver of the speeding vehicle, which was carrying passengers far in excess of its capacity, appeared to have lost control over the wheel near Parcharla in Dharoor block.
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IndiGo launches Tirupati operations with flights to Hyderabad, Bengaluru

Low-cost carrier IndiGo today expanded its regional network to Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh with flights from the temple town to Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
A press release from the airline said it would connect Tirupati with Hyderabad with three daily non-stop flights and to Bengaluru with two daily non-stop flights.
"Apart from this Tirupati will also be connected to many new cities on IndiGo’s existing network of Airbus 320s and ATRs. IndiGo will connect Tirupati to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Dubai, Singapore among other cities via Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Mangalore," the release said.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju along with Mr Aditya Ghosh, President and Whole Time Director, IndiGo, flagged off the airline's second flight from Tirupati to Hyderabad at the Tirupati International Airport today.
IndiGo operates more than 1000 flights every day to 47 destinations.
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Indian scientists develop mechanism to rejuvenate aged stem cells

Bone marrow transplantation involves transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells or those stem cells that give rise to other types of blood cells. In such cases, age of the donor is important as younger donor age results in better outcome. A group of Indian scientists have now developed a mechanism that can rejuvenate stem cells from older donors, making them useful for transplantation.
The mechanism developed by researchers at the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune involves rejuvenating aged hematopoietic stem cells in a short-term culture using micro-vesicles secreted by young stromal cells. This approach, they hope, will expand donor cohort.
The finding has relevance in clinical bone marrow transplantation, wherein usually aged donors are not preferred as their stem cells could have compromised engraftment ability due to aging. With the new mechanism it might be possible to rejuvenate aged stem cells and thereby expand donor pool.
“Stromal cells are support cells present in the micro-environment of stem cells. We have shown that these cells display activated AKT signalling as they age. This leads to a loss of autophagy-inducing mRNAs in their micro-vesicles. If this signalling is blocked by using chemical inhibitors in aged stromal cells in culture, they become ‘young-like’ and secrete good quality micro-vesicles containing autophagy-inducing mRNA that can rejuvenate aged stem cells,” explained Dr.Vaijayanti P. Kale, who led the research team. The findings have been published in scientific journal Stem Cells.
For the study, researchers used 6?8 weeks (young) and 18?24 months (aged) old mice because age?associated changes in human hematopoietic stem cells are similar to those observed in mice, suggesting that hematopoietic aging is an evolutionarily conserved process. Their bone marrow derived lineage-negative cells were treated with extra-cellular vesicles, micro-vesicles or exosomes isolated from conditioned medium of mesenchymal stromal cells for 36 hours. The output cells were subjected to phenotypic, functional and molecular characterizations. They observed that young mesenchymal stromal cells rejuvenate aged hematopoietic stem cells.
“Our data indicates that such rejuvenation may also be possible for other tissue-specific stem cells. We propose to extend our research towards stem cells from other tissues,” said Dr. Kale. She also added that this research has the potential to improve the outcome of regenerative medicine therapies using this approach.
The research team included Rohan Kulkarni, Manmohan Bajaj, Suprita Ghode, Sapana Jalnapurkar and Dr.Lalita Limaye. 
(India Science Wire)
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Coach of Rayalaseema Express derails near Nizamabad, no one injured

Two wheels of a coach of 12793 Tirupati-Nizamabad Express slipped off the tracks near Nizamabad in Telangana this morning, but no one was injured, official sources said.
South Central Railway (SCR) sources said the incident occurred arund 0805 hours between Uppalaysi and Sirnapalli stations on the Secunderabad-Mudkhed section.
Passengers of the train were transshipped to their destination by the railways with minimum inconvenience, the sources said.
Work was going on to restore normal running of trains on the section, they said.
As a consequence, one train, 17058 Secunderabad-CST Mumbai Devagiri Express of today was cancelled, while six other trains were partially cancelled and two were diverted, the sources added.

Indigo commences ATR operations as part of its regional connectivity plans

Low-cost carrier IndiGo launched its ATR operations with a flight on the Hyderabad-Mangalore sector from today as part of its regional connectivity plans.
"With the introduction of brand new ATR 72-600 aircraft to its fleet, IndiGo has taken another step towards providing an on-time, affordable and a hassle-free travel experience to passengers in Tier-II and Tier-III towns and cities," a press release from the airline said.
Talking to newspersons here, Mr. Aditya Ghosh, President and Whole Time Director, IndiGo said, “Following the vision of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji to promote regional connectivity through UDAN, IndiGo is proud to announce the addition of brand new ATR 72-600 aircraft to its 149 aircraft strong fleet and offer connectivity to tier 2 and tier 3 cities of India, starting tomorrow."
"It is indeed a moment of great pride, not only for team IndiGo, but for every citizen of this country who is waiting for an affordable and a hassle free flying experience on these unserved and underserved routes. With more ATRs joining our fleet in the months to come, we are much closer to realising the dream of the common man," he said.
“IndiGo network will expand not only to provide connectivity between these smaller cities, but our strong network of domestic and international markets will also open up immense connectivity to and fro for these smaller markets.
“By December 2019, IndiGo with its fleet of brand new 21 ATRs, would have connected about 15 tier-II and tier-III new cities on its network, thereby giving a big boost to regional connectivity,” he added.
Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo, “On 7th January and 9th January 2018 IndiGo is commencing its second and third ATR operations, adding Tirupati and Rajahmundry on IndiGo’s 6E network respectively.”
He also announced four new domestic flights from Hyderabad; which include an additional Hyderabad – Lucknow – Hyderabad flight, a new Hyderabad – Ranchi – Hyderabad flight, an additional Hyderabad – Jaipur and a new Hyderabad – Jammu via Jaipur flight on 21st December. And two international flights which include Hyderabad – Doha - Hyderabad on 21st December and Hyderabad – Sharjah - Hyderabad commencing on 29th December 2017. 
“These additional flights have helped IndiGo in achieving 1000 flights a day mark in December 2017, making it the only Indian airline to operate as many flights in a day,” he added further.
IndiGo has placed a term sheet for 50 ATR aircraft. The airline is expecting to add 7 ATR flights by March 2018 and 21 ATR planes to its fleet by December 2018, the release said.
IndiGo in October 2017 had announced strengthening its network in the regional markets with over 90 flights to and fro Tirupati, Rajahmundry, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Madurai, Vijayawada and Nagpur.

Telugu, a global language of enterprise and technology, says Kovind

President Ram Nath Kovind has described Telugu as a global language, heard, read and cherished across continents.
Delivering the valedictory address at the World Telugu Conference here yesterday, Mr Kovind said, “It is the language of enterprise and technology, of Indian soft power and of a vibrant Telugu-speaking diaspora that has made a name for itself and for our country.
“Though it has spread far and wide, the commitment of the Telugu diaspora to its mother tongue and to the culture of its ancestral land remains strong,” he added.
The President said Telugu has often been called a bridge language between the south and the north of the country. Like the Telugu people, it has been assimilative and has accepted and embraced words, thoughts and ideas from other cultures. Telugu has incorporated words from Sanskrit, Arabic, Urdu and English, among other languages.
Likewise, the city of Hyderabad too is a bridge between many cultures and regions. It is a pan-Indian city as well as a global metropolis. Its technology industry, pharmaceutical companies and vaccine innovators have contributed significantly to the nation.
It has thriving educational institutions and health-care centres, cinema and special effects production houses, and sports facilities. These are a matter of pride for every Indian, he added.
“In the United States, Telugus have even been elected to public office, and are well known as entrepreneurs, doctors and technologists. It is a matter of pride that the CEO of the technology giant Microsoft is a Telugu – Satya Nadella.
"He follows a fine heritage, going back to among others Yellapragada Subbarao, the celebrated biochemist who worked at Harvard University in the 1920s and 1930s,” Mr Kovind said.
The President expressed happiness over the fact that the Ease of Doing Business state rankings for 2016 were jointly topped by Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. He stated that for a new state such as Telangana to make rapid strides and show such potential as a business and industrial location is creditworthy.
He congratulated the people and government of Telangana and appreciated the success in hosting the recent Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
“The past five days have been a tribute to the richness and heritage of the Telugu language. Telugu is the second-most spoken language in our country. It is the mother tongue of the people of two states, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
“Since 2008, it has been recognised as a classical language for its long literary tradition – a tradition of which even the Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, is an important part. I am told he has a keen understanding of Telugu literature,” Mr Kovind said.
“The history of Telugu culture and literature has given so much to our country and to human civilisation. The greatest emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire, Krishna Deva Raya, was both a remarkable ruler as well as an exponent and patron of Telugu literature.
“There are so many others who contributed to the ethos of this soil. In recent times, three of India’s Presidents and my distinguished predecessors have been Telugu speakers – Dr S. Radhakrishnan, VV Giri and Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy. And PV Narasimha Rao, a scholar and Prime Minister, knowledgeable in many languages but truly an authority in Telugu too was from this region.
“A thousand years ago, Nannaya Bhattaraka wrote rules of grammar and also rendered the Mahabharat into Telugu. Soon after him came the illustrious poet Tikkana. In the 19th century, the writings and plays of Gurazada Apparao inspired the nation-building process. The poet Sri Sri wrote of the struggles of common people,” he said.
“Vattikota Alwar Swamy was a poet, novelist and activist – respected even by those who disagreed with him. The poems and songs of Daasarathi are still sung.
“Telugu has been a language of learning and wisdom, of protest and liberty, of national pride and universal values. To this day, the compositions of Tyagaraja remain central to Carnatic classical music. And bhakti songs of Annamacharya continue to be the bedrock of faith and tradition,” Mr Kovind said.
“We cannot forget that this is the land of Komaram Bheem who inspired tribal communities to become conscious of their rights to forests and natural resources. Chityala Ailamma, a brave woman, from an underprivileged community, stood up to feudalism.
“A hundred years ago, Bhagya Reddy Varma was a political leader and social reformer at the forefront of the battle against untouchability. Pingali Venkayya designed what eventually became our national flag. Alluri Sitarama Raju was a revolutionary leader in the struggle against the British. Swami Ramanand Tirtha not only led a mass movement against an oppressive social and political system but was also integral to Hyderabad’s integration into the newly independent India,” he said.
“And Hyderabad is simply majestic as the city of biryani, badminton and Bahubali – giving the country delicious food, a string of badminton champions and films that are an expression of Indian soft power. I must add here that Telugu cuisine is very popular in Delhi, particularly the pickles,” the President said.

Cabinet nod for agreement with UNESCO on International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography in Hyderabad

The Union Cabinet today approved the establishment of International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography, as a Category-2 Centre (C2C) of UNESCO, in Hyderabad.
The purpose of the agreement is to establish a training centre towards development of capacity for the countries on the Indian Ocean Rim (IOR), African countries bordering the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and small island countries under the framework of UNESCO.
The operational oceanography is an activity of conducting systematic oceanographic studies towards providing information services to various sectors -- fisherman, disaster management, shipping, ports, coastal states, navy, coast guard, environment, offshore industries for conducting their day-to- day operations.
The Centre will provide assistance in areas of capacity building and training, knowledge sharing and exchange of information, and hence could represent a valuable resource for UNESCO and its Intergovernmental Oceanography Commission (IOC) by enhancing the impact and visibility of UNESCO's action.
The establishment of UNESCO Category-2 Centre will provide an opportunity for India to emerge as a leading country in the Indian Ocean.
This will also help India to forge cooperation and improve engagement among the counties of the Indian Ocean, including South Asian and African states bordering the Indian Ocean.
The establishment of the centre would respond to the worldwide increasing need to build technical and management capacity to address marine and coastal sustainability issues and prepare the region for and react efficiently to marine natural hazards.
The Centre could contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goal-14 (SDG 14) related to building marine scientific research capacity in geographical area of the Centre responsibility which will also fulfil the commitments to support Small Island Developing States, Least Developed Countries.
This C2C is intended to improve skill of students and other participants which will increase the employment opportunities within and outside India. The establishment of C2C is also expected to increase ancillary development leading to employment generation in India.
 The centre is currently operational with the state-of-the-art facilities available at Indian Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad. So far, over 681 scientists including 576 from India and 105 from 34 other countries have been trained at this centre in various aspects of operational oceanography.
The other infrastructure facilities like building and training hostel are being established. It is also envisaged to invite world class (acuities and trainees from around the world and work out a curriculum for long duration courses (of 3-9 months).

IndiGo to launch flights to Sharjah from Hyderabad, Lucknow

Continuing its focus on connecting destinations in the Gulf to more Indian cities, low-cost carrier IndiGo will launch new daily non-stop flights to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh and Hyderabad in Telangana from December 29.
IndiGo will also connect Sharjah to Kolkata, Kochi, Goa, Tirupati, Rajahmundry, Patna, Mangalore, Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Raipur and Bhubaneswar through connecting flights, a press release from the airline said.
Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Chief Commercial Officer IndiGo said, “We are the first Indian carrier operating Sharjah flight from Hyderabad and also starting first and only Lucknow-Sharjah connection. Expanding operations to Sharjah on the 6E network is in response to the growing demand on the sector. These new flights will also open up immense connectivity to and fro for other cities on our network, supported by our 147 Airbus-320 strong fleet.”

Telugu film comedian Vijay Sai found dead in Hyderabad

Telugu film comedian Vijay Sai found dead

Popular Tollywood comedian Vijay Sai was found dead at his residence in Yousufguda here on Monday morning.

The comedian was found hanging in the bedroom of his apartment by his family members.

It is being said that Sai was under a lot of stress due to personal and financial problems.

Sai made his debut in the Telugu film industry in 2001 and has acted in several hit films like 'Bommarillu', 'Ammayilu Abbayilu'.

An investigation is underway to find the reason behind his death.



Online coupons major GrabOn onboards Tata CLiQ, Scoot, Honor as partners for 'Christmas Carnival'


GrabOn, an online coupons and deals platform, has brought onboard big names such as Tata CLiQ, Scoot and Honor as partners for its 12-day "Christmas Carnival" from December 11-22 that will give its users a chance to win prizes worth up to Rs. 10,00,000.

The prizes include return tickets for two couples to destinations in South East Asia, smart phones, gift hampers and many other goodies, a press release from the Hyderabad-based company said.
The grand prize of the carnival is sponsored by Scoot, the low-cost, medium-to-long haul arm of the Singapore Airlines Group. 
Mr. Bharath Mahadevan, Scoot’s Country Head, India said: “Scoot is excited to be associated with GrabOn’s Christmas Carnival, and in keeping with the season of gifting we are pleased to give away free tickets on our flights from India for two lucky couples.”
The tickets can be used to fly out of India to Scoot’s International destinations such as Hong Kong, Macau, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Seoul, Bangkok, Phuket, Hanoi and 20 others.
The 12-day celebrations will be sponsored by Tata CLiQ, India's leading marketplace portal, and co-sponsored by Honor, the mobile computing sub-brand of Huawei; Purplle, a portal for beauty products; and EventsHigh, an event discovery platform. A Honor smartphone will be the Daily Top Prize during the carnival.
To participate in the contest, users should visit the campaign page and log in with Facebook. They can then play games, share holiday wishes and refer friends to earn more points. The main aim is to top the leaderboard and better their chances to win.
“We are pleased to announce that we have onboarded Tata CLiQ, Honor Phones and Scoot as our partners for the Christmas Carnival campaign. This campaign has the potential of bringing in more players than before with exciting gaming events and bigger prizes at stake,” said Ashok Reddy, the founder and CEO of GrabOn.
With over 5.5 million monthly unique visitors, 14 million coupons redeemed every month and more than 25 million subscribers, GrabOn provides authentic coupons and discounts to users through its innovative Buzz notifications and savings app.
In an effort to improve the experience of online shoppers, GrabOn has recently entered the price comparison space with BestPriceOn, a service that helps them compare the prices of electronic gadgets and large electronic appliances on different online e-commerce websites before purchasing.

Modi to inaugurate Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad on Tuesday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad on Tuesday, with women comprising more than 52.5% of the participants.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) here tomorrow with women comprising more than 52.5% of the participants.
Co-hosted by the United States and India, GES is being held for the first time in South Asia. Ivanka Trump, Advisor to US President Donald Trump and also his daughter, will lead the US contingent to the event.
This is the eighth edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, a gathering of entrepreneurs, investors, and supporters from around the world.  With the theme of “Women First, Prosperity for All,” this will be the first GES in which women are the majority of the participants.
More than 10 countries will be represented by an all-female delegation, including those from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.  A number of leading female voices will speak at various plenaries, breakout sessions, master classes, and workshops, including tennis champion Sania Mirza, Google’s Vice President of Next Billion Users Diana Louise Patricia Layfield and CEO of Afghan Citadel Software Company Roya Mahboob. 
This year’s summit theme demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. and Indian governments to the principle that when women are economically empowered, their communities and countries thrive.  Women entrepreneurs help drive innovation and job creation, as well as address the world’s greatest and most critical challenges. 
The inaugural plenary of the high-powered, three-day summit will take place at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre followed by two days of networking, mentoring, and workshops, anchoring the collaborative environment for entrepreneurs to exchange ideas, create networks and take their passions to the next level. 
At the plenary session at 4:30 PM, on the theme “Be the Change: Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership,” the speakers, apart from Mr Modi will be Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and Ms Trump.
This will be followed by a panel session on opening up opportunities for women entrepreneurs in their countries and communities. The session will be moderated by John Chambers, Chairman Emeritus, Cisco.
The panellists will be Ms. Trump, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Sibongile Sambo, Managing Director, SRS Aviation and SRS Petroleum and Marcus Wallenberg, Chairman, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB).
On November 29, the theme of the morning session will be “We Can Do It! Innovations in Workforce Development and Skills Training”. A discussion will be held on increasing women’s participation in the workforce through access to skills training, education, and mentorship.  Innovators in workforce development and training will discuss what works and what more can be done to open doors for women in the workplace.
The session will be moderated by K.T. Rama Rao, Minister for IT E&C, Industries and Commerce, Telangana. The panellists will be Cherie Blair, Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director and CEO, ICICI Bank, Limited, Karen Quintos, Chief Customer Officer, Dell EMC and Ms. Trump.
On November 30, the session will be in the afternoon with the theme “When Women Win, We All Win: Promoting Inclusive Environments for Women Entrepreneurs.”
The closing session of GES will bring together key influencers that support, promote, and fund women entrepreneurs.  Panellists will share efforts to advance women in leadership positions and ensure that women have “seats at the table” while breaking down the barriers that disproportionately affect women’s ability to start and grow businesses. This session will be moderated by Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu.
The panellists will be Kristina Perkin Davison, Co-Founder and Managing Director, iEurope Capital LLC, Dipali Goenka, CEO and Joint Managing Director, Welspun India, Mark Green, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, Lerato Motsamai, Founder and CEO, Petrolink and Manish Sabharwal, Chairman, TeamLease.
These plenary participants will join dozens of other session speakers and experts and a group of 1,500 entrepreneurs, investors, and supporters of entrepreneurship from more than 150 countries and territories across the world.
The summit has introduced a mobile application to enable seamless networking among all the registered delegates. A wearable device interlinked with the application is also being provided to all delegates for use during and after the summit.
So far, 1500 delegates have downloaded the app, 20,000 profiles have been viewed, 4,000 messages and 6,000 business cards have been exchanged and 500 meetings have already been set up, an official press release said.
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