Epigenetic manipulation may inhibit cancer spread: Study

Manipulating tags on DNA without changing the underlying sequence triggers a chain of molecular events that may help prevent spread of cancer, a new study by Indian scientists has revealed.
Development of cancer is a multi-step process involving changes in several genes. Although the blueprint for cell’s life is kept in DNA for all events like growth, maturation, division, and even death, it is proteins that essentially do all the required work.
The new study shows epigenetics (changing activity of a DNA segment without changing sequence) anomalies could alter DNA instruction manuals for splicing that may lead to the synthesis of a particular type of mRNA and eventually proteins, in cancer cells.
In the study published in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Sanjeev Shukla's group at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Bhopal has successfully identified a novel way to target glucose metabolism and thereby breast cancer cells by switching ‘alternative splicing’ of PKM gene.
According to the study, most of the cancer cells derive their energy from an energy production process called aerobic glycolysis that involves transformation of glucose to lactate, when limited amounts of oxygen are available. Pyruvate kinase, an enzyme that catalyzes the last step of glycolysis seems to be an important regulator of this switch in the metabolism of glucose. Out of four isozymes of pyruvate kinase, isozymes M1 and M2 result from alternative splicing of transcripts coded by the PKM gene. Interestingly, the PKM2 alternative isoform is expressed by highly proliferating cells including cancer cells, suggesting that regulation of PKM1/PKM2 ratio may hold the key to regulate cancer proliferation
Researchers have discovered that the PKM2 specific exon inclusion is regulated by DNA methylation and a CTCF related protein BORIS (Brother of Regulator of Imprinted Sites) which preferentially binds to the PKM2-specific- methylated exon. As a result of this, splicing process gets altered in the case of cancer cells in such a way that instead of exon 9, exon 10 gets included when the pre-mRNA is spliced into mRNA.
“Our study suggests, we can potentially target DNA methylation to switch the cancer-specific splicing isoform to normal isoform and thereby inhibit the growth of cancer cells,” explained Dr. Shukla, who is a Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance Fellow. 
“DNA methylation or BORIS may serve as a potential target to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. As the epigenetic marks are reversible, they are an attractive target for cancer therapy,” he added.
Collaborators in this study, Dr. Rajendra K. Panday and Dr. Atul Samaiya from Bansal Hospital, Bhopal say “the new findings will help in the development of potential target for cancer therapy and will be useful in patient management in future.”
“As a therapeutic strategy, inhibiting the growth and accelerating the death rate of breast cancer cells may be possible by starving the cancer cells of glucose or by inhibiting or reversing aerobic glycolysis. Aerobic glycolysis confers a proliferative advantage to the cancer cells. The work of Dr. Shukla's group connects DNA methylation to alternative splicing and cell proliferation suggesting that epigenetic manipulation may provide a novel approach to dysregulate RNA processing and inhibit cancer proliferation,” says Dr. Sanjeev Galande, Scientist at IISER-Pune who is not related to this study. 
(India Science Wire)

Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act 2016 brought into force from October 12

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) Act 2016, notified on March 22, 2016, that establishes BIS as the National Standards Body of India has been brought into force with effect from October 12.
The Act has enabling provisions for the Government to bring under compulsory certification regime any goods or article of any scheduled industry, process, system or service which it considers necessary in the public interest or for the protection of human, animal or plant health, safety of the environment, or prevention of unfair trade practices, or national security, an official press release said.
Enabling provisions have also been made for making hallmarking of the precious metal articles mandatory. The new Act also allows multiple types of simplified conformity assessment schemes including self-declaration of conformity against a standard which will give simplified options to manufacturers to adhere to the standards and get a certificate of conformity, it said.
The Act enables the Central Government to appoint any authority/agency, in addition to the BIS, to verify the conformity of products and services to a standard and issue certificate of conformity. Further, there is provision for repair or recall, including product liability of the products bearing Standard Mark but not conforming to the relevant Indian Standard, the release said.
Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan said yesterday that the new Act will further help in ease of doing business in the country, give a fillip to Make In India campaign and ensure availability of quality products and services to the consumers.

Modi to inaugurate the All India Institute of Ayurveda in Delhi on October 17

The first ever All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), set up along the lines of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), will be dedicated to the nation here by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 17, Ayurveda Day.
Set up as an apex institute under the Ministry of AYUSH, the AIIA will bring synergy between the traditional wisdom of Ayurveda and modern diagnostic tools and technology, Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik said at a press conference yesterday.
Within the short period of its establishment, AIIA has gained a wide national and international recognition. It has started working to facilitate quality patient care, research and bridging the gaps in the scientific information about quality, safety and efficacy of Ayurveda products and developing benchmarks of Ayurvedic education, research and healthcare, he added.
Mr Naik said that, in the first phase, the AIIA has been set up within a total campus area of 10.015 acres with a budget of Rs. 157 crore. It has a NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers) accredited hospital and an academic block. Out-patient services are being provided in the hospital block of AIIA and medicines are given free of cost.
At present, the clinical specialities running in the hospital block are Neurological & Degenerative Disease Care Unit, Rheumatology & Musculoskeletal Care Unit, Diabetes & Metabolic/Allergic Disorders Care Unit, Yoga, Panchakarma Clinic, Kriya Kalpa, Diabetic Retinopathy Clinic, Kshara Evum Anushastra Karma and Infertility Clinic.
It also has pathology, biochemistry, microbiology and radiology laboratories/diagnosis facilities. The indoor patient department has provision for 200 beds.
The Minister said the post-graduate programme (MD/MS) in Ayurveda at AIIA began in the academic session 2016-17 and the Ph.D. courses started from the session 2017-18. The AIIA has been awarded NABH accreditation, becoming the first medical institute under the Ministry of AYUSH to hold the coveted status provided for its clinical services. 
The AIIA has already signed MoU with NICPR- Noida (ICMR), AIIMS New Delhi, MDNIY and EAA (Germany). It has developed standard treatment guidelines for diabetes and SOP for various procedures.
To mark the 2nd Ayurveda Day, several events have been organized by the Ministry of AYUSH. The main function will be held at AIIA campus in Sarita Vihar, New Delhi.  The Prime Minister will be the chief guest. The “Ayurvedic Standard Treatment Guidelines” developed by the Ministry shall also be released on this occasion. Nearly 1500 delegates from across the country are expected to participate in the program.
A national seminar on the theme “Ayurveda for Pain management” will be held here tomorrow. An AYUSH-CII industry conclave will also be held on the theme “Vision 2022: Widening horizons of Ayurveda for the three-fold growth of market size”. 
 The National Dhanwantari Ayurveda Award comprising a citation, trophy (Dhanwantari statue) and a cash award of Rs. 5 lakh will be conferred on this day to eminent Vaidyas and Ayurveda experts.  
On this occasion, the Prime Minister will also give away the Yoga Award to the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, Pune, which was announced earlier this year on the occasion of the International Day of Yoga.

India, Sri Lanka hold Ministerial level talks on fishermen's issues

India and Sri Lanka held Ministerial level talks on fishermen's issues here today and agreed that a permanent solution to them should be found at the earliest.
The Indian team to the talks was led by Mr. Radha Mohan Singh, Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and the Sri Lankan delegation by Mr.  Mahinda Amaraweera, Minister for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development.
The talks followed the 3rd Meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries held here yesterday. The Joint Working Group was co-chaired by Secretary (Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries), Government of India and Secretary (Ministry of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development), Government of Sri Lanka.
The co-chairs of the JWG briefed the Ministers about the outcome of the issues discussed during their meeting for their consideration and for further directions, a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said.
The release said the Indian side was satisfied with the progress on release of apprehended fishermen and detained fishing vessels in the recent past, while reiterating the release of all the remaining Indian fishing vessels in Sri Lankan custody. 
Recent initiatives taken by the Government of India to end bottom trawling in the Palk Bay area were shared with the Sri Lankan side. These include launching of a programme on diversification of bottom trawlers into Deep Sea Fishing Vessels for tuna long lining under Blue Revolution Scheme, construction of Mookaiyur and Poompuhar fishing harbours, and capacity building programmes for fishermen of Palk Bay area in deep sea tuna long lining. 
Besides, fresh registration for bottom trawlers in the Palk Bay area has been banned by the Government of Tamil Nadu. In addition, alternative livelihood opportunities for the fishing communities in Palk Bay area are being offered through open sea cage farming, seaweed farming and other allied coastal fisheries activities, the release said.
While acknowledging the efforts taken by India to end bottom trawling, the Sri Lankan side informed the Indian delegation about the measures taken by it to prevent illegal fishing.

Scientists crack hair loss mystery, in mice to begin with

A team of scientists from Mumbai has discovered a cause for permanent hair loss. They have found that over expression of a protein called phospholipase A2-IIA could cause hair loss in mice.
The scientists from Mumbai-based Advanced Center for Treatment Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC) and the Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI) have reached this conclusion after conducting studies with mice models.
The mice that expressed high levels of phospholipaseA2-IIA protein showed progressive hair loss that commenced soon after birth. The hair loss began 18 days post birth and by 22 days, they had lost most of their hair. The hair re-grew by day 27 post-birth. But, it kept falling off repeatedly every 18-22 days.
Speaking to India Science Wire, Sanjeev Waghmare, Professor at ACTREC and leader of the research team, said hair loss was occurring due to loss of the functional hair follicle stem cells, which are present in the bulge region of hair root that produces hair throughout life. 
“When the secretory phospholipase protein is over-expressed or present in high quantities, it causes rapid and uncontrolled proliferation of the stem cells leading to an abnormally formed hair shaft and as a result, the mice kept losing hair soon after they grow them,” he added.
“We were studying the phospholipase A2-IIA mediated signaling mechanism and found it plays an important role in development of alopecia or hair loss. This discovery can be extended to understand the mechanism involved in the development of human alopecia, which may help to design novel interventions in the future”, he added.
Besides Dr. Waghmare, the team included Gopal Chovatiya, Rahul Sarate, Raghava Sunkara, Nilesh Gawas and Vineet Kala. The research is partly funded by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The researchers have published their findings in journal Scientific Reports.
(India Science Wire)

High doses of Vitamin C and B3 can kill cancer stem cells: study

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Dietary fibre and lifestyle changes have been recommended as measures for preventing colorectal cancer.
A team of researchers from Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine Centre at the Yenepoya University, Karnataka has now found that high doses of water-soluble Vitamin C and niacin or Vitamin B3 can kill cancer stem cells.
In a study published in journal Cell Biology International, the researchers have shown for the first time the opposing effects of the low and high dose of Vitamin C and Vitamin B3 on colon cancer stem cells isolated from certain colorectal carcinoma cell lines.
The research team led by Dr Bipasha Bose and Dr Sudheer Shenoy investigated the effects of high doses and low doses of the two vitamins and found that low doses (dose range 5-25 micromolar) of Vitamin C and B3 lead to high proliferation and aggressiveness of colon cancer stem cells thereby indicating a need to be cautious while prescribing low doses of these vitamins to colon cancer patients.
However, high doses of the two vitamins (dose range 100 to 1000 micromolar) were successful in killing cancer stem cells. Such high doses of vitamins can only be achieved through intravenous injections in colon cancer patients.
“The next step of our research is to delineate the mechanisms involved in such opposing effects of low versus high concentrations of the two vitamins,” said Dr Bose, a member of the research team. “We want to decipher the mechanisms of action of high doses of Niacin and Vitamin C involving PPAR? pathway and oxidative stress induced killing of colon cancer stem cells. We also want to establish the same dose effect of in-vitro studies under in vivo conditions in tumor xenografts models in mice.”
This work is of significance and researchers hope to establish a therapeutic dose of Vitamin C and B3 for colon cancer stem cell therapy. “If the therapeutic dose gets well validated under in vivo animal models, clinical trials can be a possibility in the long run,” added Dr Bose.
The research team also included Utsav Sen, Debajit Chaudhury and Muhammad Nihad. 
(India Science Wire)

First BIMSTEC Disaster Management Exercise – 2017 concludes

The first Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, Disaster Management Exercise (BIMSTEC DMEx-2017) concluded here yesterday.
Members of the BIMSTEC -- Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal -- participated in the four-day exercise, conducted by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) as the nodal agency in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR).
BIMSTEC /DMEx-2017 comprised a Table Top Exercise (TTX), Field Training Exercises (FTXs) on Earthquake and Flood and an After Action Review (AAR).
Today, debriefing and 'After Action Review' (AAR) was conducted to share the important lessons learnt which would assist the countries to augment disaster response and coordination.
During the exercise conducted from October 10-13, various important suggestions/actions such as Participation of women in Disaster Response Mechanism, Emphasise on psycho-social-trauma care, replication of ICS, Gender consideration during evacuation and rehabilitation, Utility of Civil Military Coordination Centre, Religious aid to motivate the affected people, Importance of maintaining Law & Order in the affected area to avoid human trafficking and other post-disaster crimes were shared by the participants.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh addressed the valedictory session of the exercise here yesterday. He said India had emerged as a frontline state for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).
The exercise was inaugurated by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on October 10.
On Thursday, a Joint Field Training Exercise on Flood Rescue was conducted at the Yamuna Barrage, Wazirabad, in which the delegates and rescue teams of all the seven member nations of BIMSTEC group participated.
The River Yamuna flood situation was presumed to be critical in Delhi and nearby areas due to heavy incessant rains. A large number of people were presumed to be stranded in the flood affected areas. Considering the huge impact of the flood disaster, BIMSTEC member countries offered assistance to the Government for the flood relief and evacuation of the needy.
In order to bring it a feel of real disaster scenario, the Yamuna Barrage was simulated into an urban colony, depicting flooded localities and houses due to the flood water. Large number of dummy structures including multi-storied buildings and houses were erected in inundated condition with marooned people at the venue of this exercise. Rescue teams of all BIMSTEC member countries demonstrated their professional skill in successful rescue of stranded flood affected people.
The rescue teams of various member nations responded as per the situation and demonstrated quick response using latest flood rescue gadgets/ equipment for rescuing the marooned people. Rescue teams carried out highly synchronized Search and Rescue operations.
A helicopter was also used for demonstrating the airborne rescue of the stranded people as well as exhibiting the special skill of hovering and winching of the victims by rescuers. Relief activities such as providing medical care to the needy, distribution of food packets etc. were also simultaneously shown in a very coordinated and professional manner.
For this Exercise, a Multi-Nation Coordination Centre, On-Site Operation Coordination Centre (OSOCC), Command Post, Communication Centre, Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) and Base Medical Station was established by the NDRF as per the International Search & Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) guidelines for familiarization and exercise purpose.
In addition, an impressive demonstration on various flood rescue techniques and use of various improvised rafts made by using local available resources for evacuation during flood disaster was also demonstrated during this exercise. Medical camps were also catered for, to provide emergency medical assistance to the needy.
This Joint Field Training Exercise was conducted under the overall supervision of Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Director General, NDRF and was witnessed by representatives from senior officials of MHA, MEA, NDMA, NDRF, State representatives and other senior dignitaries. Disaster response mechanism and capabilities of all BIMSTEC member nations in tackling an urban flood disaster scenario was effectively demonstrated by the rescue teams of all the participating nations during this field training exercise.

No proposal to discontinue Supplementary Nutrition Program under ICDS: Govt.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development has denied media reports that it was contemplating to dismantle the supplementary nutrition component of the ICDS programme and replace it with conditional cash transfer.
These reports are not based on correct factual position, the Ministry said in a press release on Thursday. 
Supplementary nutrition services under the the ICDS programme is a legal entitlement under the National Food Security Act, 2013. As per the Section 5(1) (a) of the Act, a child in the age group of 6 months to 6 years is entitled to age appropriate meal, free of charge, through the local Anganwadi so as to get the nutrition specified in Schedule-II of NFSA 2013.
The cost norms for the supplementary nutrition have recently been revised to Rs 8 (for children below 6 years) Rs 9.50 (for pregnant and lactating mothers) and Rs 12 (for severely malnourished children). The supplementary nutrition services from the anganwadis reach approximately 10 crore beneficiaries covering each and every habitation in the country, the release said.
According to it, the Ministry is in the process of further strengthening the delivery mechanism of supplementary nutrition by use of IT-based real-time monitoring system.

Sonia Gandhi hints at Rahul Gandhi's elevation as Congress President soon

The much-speculated elevation of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi as the President of the party might take place sooner than later, with Congress President Sonia Gandhi reportedly telling mediapersons on Friday that her son would take over the position soon.

File photo of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi
File photo of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi
The much-speculated elevation of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi as the President of the party might take place sooner than later, with Congress President Sonia Gandhi reportedly telling mediapersons today that her son would take over the position soon.
"You have been asking this for so many years and it's now happening," NDTV quoted Ms. Gandhi as saying, smiling and with Mr. Gandhi by her side.
She was speaking to some journalists after the launch of a book by former President Pranab Mukherjee.
Mr. Gandhi, 47, however, declined to speak on the subject and instead referred to the controversy about BJP President Amit Shah's son Jay Shah's business venture, which has been in the news in recent days.
When Ms. Gandhi was asked again about Mr. Gandhi's elevation, she said, "It will be done soon."
There has been speculation for long that Mr. Gandhi would take over from his mother, who has been the longest serving of the Congress.In recent days, some party leaders have indicated that this could happen after Diwali as the culmination of the ongoing internal elections in the party.
Mr. Gandhi is expected to be elected to the position unopposed. Several state units of the Congress have adopted resolutions in recent days urging Mr. Gandhi to take over the leadership of the party.
Mr. Gandhi was elevated as Vice-President and, therefore, the number two in the party  on January 19, 2013, ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, at the Chintan Shivir of the party in Jaipur.
Born on June 19, 1970, Mr Gandhi is the son of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Mrs Sonia Gandhi. He represents Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha.
He has an M. Phil. (Development Economics) from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
He was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 2004 from Amethi and re-elected in 2009 and 2014.

Central team to investigate outbreak of febrile illness in Tamil Nadu

A Central team of multi-disciplinary experts has been deputed to Tamil Nadu to investigate the outbreak of febrile illness (dengue) in the state. 
The team will provide technical assistance to the State in dengue case management and vector control, an official press release said here today.
The team includes doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), New Delhi, Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC) and National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), New Delhi.
The team will not only assess the situation but will also provide necessary guidance to manage and address the recent upsurge. It will hold meetings with the State Health Minister and other senior officers of the state, the release said.
According to it, during 2017 (till October 12), a total number of 12324 dengue cases and 18 deaths due to dengue have been reported from the State.
The maximum number of cases are reported from Thoothukudi (1178), Chennai (1138), Sankarankoil (1072), Coimbatore (942), Thirupur (782) and Kanyakumari (777). Deaths due to Dengue have been reported from Thirupur (4), Erode (3), Salem (3), Coimbatore (2), Karur (2), Trichy (1), Sankarankoil (1), Namakkal (1) and Dharmapuri (1).

Iron and zinc deficiencies can be addressed through simple measures: study

India is one of the leading exporters of cereals. It is the second largest producer of rice and fruits in the world. Overall, the country is self sufficient in food production. Yet iron and zinc deficiencies are widespread even amongst well-nourished children.
A recent study has found that it could be because cereals, tubers and legumes, which are the major constituents of a staple diet, contained a class of substances called phytates in high amounts. Phytates are considered ‘anti-nutrient’ as they attach themselves to the iron and zinc in the food and make them unavailable to the body for its use. This low ‘bioavailability’ is the main cause of deficiency of iron and zinc in the Indian population.
But, one should not eliminate the phytates from the diet. Phytates help in fighting off cancer and age-related changes in the body.
The researchers have recommended modifying eating habits and cooking practices. South Indian cooking, for instance, follows a process of fermentation, soaking and germination which reduces the phytate content. Likewise, a simple intervention such as taking a piece of guava or Indian gooseberry (amla) fruit after food or while taking iron tablets would double the availability of iron and zinc in the body.
In addition, they suggest, measures like minimal milling, intake of vitamin C, heating, and enzymatic treatment of grains with phytates enzyme and consuming curds, yogurts and pro-biotic cultures to maintain acid environment in the gut as well as genetic improvement of food crops may enhance bioavailability of iron and zinc. Further, non-vegetarian foods can also make available more iron and zinc to the body.
The study, conducted by researchers at Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bengaluru, has found that the country as a whole requires 8,170 tonnes of iron and 4,412 tonnes of zinc in the food to meet nutritional iron and zinc requirements of the entire population. Availability of iron from plant and animal food sources is estimated at 10,939 tonnes per year and that of zinc at 6,335 tonnes per year. In other words, there is enough supply of iron and zinc through food sources in the country. The intake of the two micronutrients is also adequate.
Agricultural crops such as cereals, pulses, oilseeds and sugar contribute the major share of the requirements, at 82.8% for iron and 78.6% for zinc. This is followed by the animal husbandry sector, including milk and milk products, meat, mutton, beef, pork, chicken and eggs, which account for 3.9% iron and 11.7% zinc. The horticultural sector (including fruits, vegetables and nuts) contributes 12.9% iron and 9.1% zinc to national production. The fisheries sector is at the tail end, providing 0.42% iron and 0.62% zinc.
The researchers have published a report on the study in a recent issue of journal Current Science.
Speaking to India Science Wire, Dr. A.N. Ganeshamurthy, leader of the research team, said, “There was a need for research efforts to focus on methods to reduce phytate content of Indian foods to enhance bioavailability. This should be at the forefront of nutritional programmes rather than trying to improve the quality or yield of crops.
“Before a new variety is released for cultivation by a breeder, the Institute/ State/ National-level variety release committees must take into account the issue of absorption of iron and zinc. Efforts to improve the quality and yield of crops or the ‘biofortification programmes’ will prove to be a failure, if they do not address the issue of bioavailability of nutrients. Further, we must do all we can to ensure a healthy soil and a healthy production environment, with good agricultural practices,” he added.
Iron deficiency, which may or may not result in anaemia, leads to substantial loss in physical productivity in adults. Iron deficiency during pregnancy is associated with maternal mortality, pre-term labour, low birth weight and infant mortality. In children it affects development and increases the likelihood of sickness. Highest prevalence of anaemia is seen in children around 15 years of age, in pregnant women and elderly people. Zinc deficiency, in turn, may cause hair loss, affect the taste and smell, among other things.
Dr. Ganeshamurthy conducted the study in collaboration with his colleagues, Dr. D. Kalaivanan and Dr. B. L. Manjunath.
(India Science Wire)

Exporters should take care of artisans’ welfare, says Irani

Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani has urged the exporting fraternity to take care of the welfare of artisans who are the backbone of the sector. 
Speaking at the inauguration of IHGF - Delhi Fair Autumn 2017 here yesterday, the Minister said design and product development play a crucial role in value realisation and the benefit that the artisans and producers are able to reap from their products. 
IHGF, the world’s largest handicrafts and gifts fair, is being held at India Expo Centre & Mart, Greater Noida, from October 12 - 16.
Ms. Irani noted that handicraft exports had witnessed a year-on-year growth of 13.15% in 2016-17 and touched touched Rs 24,392 crore. She lauded the role of the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH).  She also appreciated the launch of schemes by EPCH under their CSR programme, for the education of children of artisans. 
The scheme provides full support to the education of children of artisans through open schools. While 75% of the expenditure will be borne by EPCH, member exporters have to bear the remaining 25%.
The Minister appreciated the introduction of “Design Register” scheme by EPCH, which allows hassle-free registration of designs by member exporters.  EPCH design services will definitely help the sector in a big way and will augment the exports of handicrafts from the country, ultimately increasing employment opportunities to artisans.
EPCH has an integrated programme of development of NER handicrafts and handlooms, under which support is provided for design, marketing and skill development, she noted.
For the first time for handicrafts sector, an initiative is being taken to promote Foreign Direct Investment and opportunities for joint ventures for both exporters and importers.  A symposium on “Investment Opportunities in Handicrafts Sector” is being organised. This initiative will give opportunities for overseas buyers to bring technical know-how, investment and marketing networks to form joint ventures for promoting Indian handicrafts in the world market, Ms Irani said.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairman, EPCH, OP Prahladka spoke of EPCH’s vision for the next five years on technology upgradation.  He said EPCH has just started the “Design and Product Development Technology Mission”. Prahladka also appreciated the support received from Ministry of Textiles and Ministry of Commerce for the smooth implementation of GST.
The inaugural ceremony was attended by a large number of overseas buyers. According to Executive Director, EPCH Rakesh Kumar, about 2,980 exhibitors of home, lifestyle, fashion, textiles and furniture are participating in the IHGF Delhi Fair.  Over 6,000 buyers from 110 countries are visiting the fair.  Mr Kumar said that special attractions of this fair include designers’ forum and recycled products.

Tri-weekly special Rajdhani between Delhi, Mumbai from October 16

A new tri-weekly special Rajdhani Express will begin service between Delhi and Mumbai from October 16 with lesser number of stoppages and saving around two hours in journey time in comparison to the existing Mumbai Rajdhani.  
Flexi fare shall not be levied on booking of the ticket in this train which will be hauled by two locomotives for better acceleration, deceleration and higher speed, an official press release said.
The fare for this train in 2nd AC and 3rd AC will be around 19% cheaper than the maximum flexi fare of corresponding classes of existing Mumbai Rajdhani. The catering services in this train will be optional and the passengers shall have the choice to opt out.
The Ministry of Railways stated that the train service would fulfil the long overdue demand of passengers to provide faster and convenient connectivity to passengers between the two metros. Delhi and Mumbai.
At present, two Rajdhanis and more than 30 mail/express trains run between Delhi and Mumbai.
The new service is planned to be commenced as a tri-weekly special service with only one rake and provide faster rail connectivity between Delhi and Mumbai and great convenience to passengers.
The service will enable the passengers to avoid peak-hours of traffic. The early morning arrival time is also set in such a way to facilitate people attend offices as per their routine. This train will have stoppages at Kota, Vadodara and Surat stations only.

Modi to visit Bihar on Saturday, launch various development projects

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Bihar tomorrow when he will address the centenary celebrations of Patna University and launch various development projects.
An official press release said that, at Mokama, Mr. Modi would lay the foundation stone for four sewerage projects under the Namami Gange programme; and four National Highway projects. The total outlay of these projects will be over Rs. 3700 crore. He will also address a public meeting.
The four sewerage projects include Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Beur, Sewerage System with Sewer Network at Beur, Sewage Treatment Plant at Karmalichak and STP and Sewer Network at Saidpur. These projects together will create new STP capacity of 120 MLD and upgrade the existing 20 MLD for Beur.
The four National Highway projects for which foundation stone will be laid include 4-laning of Aunta–Simariya section of NH-31 and construction of 6-lane Ganga Setu; 4-laning of Bakhtiyarpur-Mokama section of NH-31; 2-lane construction of Maheshkhunt-Saharsa-Purnea section of NH 107; and 2-lane construction of Biharsharif-Barbigha-Mokama section of NH-82, the release added.

India's exports grow by 25.67% to $ 28.613 billion in September 2017

Continuing their uptrend for the 13th consecutive month, India's merchandise exports grew by 25.67 percent to $ 28.613 billion in September 2017 from $ 22.768 billion during the same month of the previous year, an official statement said here today.
In rupee terms, the exports went up by 21.35 percent to Rs. 184387.36 crore in September this year from Rs. 151950.74 crore during the corresponding month of 2016, it said.
The statement said that, during September 2017, all the top ten commodity groups of export exhibited positive growth over the corresponding month of last year, accounting for 82.14% of the total exports. 
These are Engineering Goods (44.24%), Gems and Jewellery (7.10%), Petroleum Products (39.69%), Organic & Inorganic Chemicals (46.06%), RMG of all Textiles (29.39%), Drugs & Pharmaceuticals (14.67%), Cotton Yarn/Fabs./made-ups, Handloom Products etc. (15.20%),Marine Products (32.73%), Rice (45.66%) and Electronic Goods (14.32%).
The cumulative value of exports for the period April-September 2017-18 was $ 147.188 billion (Rs 947532.73 crore) as against $ 131.984 billion (Rs 883370.86 crore), registering a growth of 11.52% in dollar terms and 7.26% in rupee terms over the same period last year.
According to the statement, non-petroleum and non-gems & jewellery exports in September 2017 were valued at $ 20.238 billion against $ 15.731 billion in September 2016, an increase of 28.65%. Non-petroleum and non-gems and jewellery exports during April -September 2017-18 were valued at $ 107.676 billion as compared to $ 95.354 billlion for the corresponding period in 2016-17, an increase of 12.92%.
Imports during September 2017 were valued at $ 37.598 billion (Rs 242282.96 crore) which was 18.09% higher in dollar terms and 14.02% higher in rupee terms over the level of imports valued at $ 31.839 billion (Rs. 212486.28 crore) in September, 2016. 
The cumulative value of imports for the period April-September 2017-18 was $ 219.317 billion (Rs. 1411872.70 crore) as against $ 175.34 billion (Rs. 1173664.70 crore), up 25.08% in dollar terms and 20.30% in rupee terms over the same period last year.
Major commodity groups of imports showing high growth in September 2017 over the corresponding month of last year are Petroleum, Crude & products (18.47 %), Electronic goods (40.90 %), Pearls, precious & Semi-precious stones (56.91%), Machinery electrical & non-electrical (16.36%) and Coal, Coke & Briquettes (48.00%).
Oil imports during September 2017 were valued at $ 8.188 billion which was 18.47% higher than oil imports valued at $ 6.911 billion in September 2016. Oil imports during April-September 2017-18 were valued at $ 46.965 billion which was 18.82% higher than oil imports of $ 39.527 billion in the corresponding period last year.
The statement noted that the global Brent prices ($/bbl) have increased by 19.42% in September 2017 vis-à-vis September 2016 as per World Bank commodity price data.
Non-oil imports during September 2017 were estimated at $ 29.409 billion, which was 17.98% per cent higher than non-oil imports of $ 24.928 billion in September, 2016. Non-oil imports during April-September 2017-18 were valued at $ 172.352 billion which was 26.90%  higher than the level of such imports valued at $ 135.812 billion in April-September 2016-17.
As far as trade in services was concerned, the statement said exports during August 2017, the latest month for which data is available from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), were valued at $ 13.701 billion (Rs. 87643.08 crore), registering a growth of 3.97% in dollar terms as compared to a decline of 1.57% during July 2017.
Imports of services during August 2017 were valued at $ 8.658 billion (Rs. 55383.83 crore) registering a growth of 18.05% in dollar terms as compared to negative growth of 1.65% during July 2017.
In the case of merchandise, the trade deficit for September 2017 was estimated at $ 8.984 billion which was 0.95% lower as against the deficit of $ 9.071 billion during September 2016. The trade balance in services for August 2017 was estimated at $ 5.043 billion.
Taking merchandise and services together, the overall trade deficit for April-September 2017-18 is estimated at $ 43.814 billion as compared to $ 16.467 billion during April-September 2016-17, the statement added.

Jaitley says slowdown effect of demonetisation, GST has played itself out

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that the Indian economy is poised for strong, sustainable and balanced growth backed by the Government's strong focus on implementing structural reforms and that there is clear evidence now that the slowdown effect of demonetisation and Goods and Service Tax (GST) has more or less played itself out. 
Speaking at a seminar organised by FICCI on "India Opportunity" here on Thursday, he said the implementation of the GST from July 1, 2017 and its gradual complete transition, follow-up to demonetisation and enactment of other structural reforms by the Government would take the economy towards a higher growth trajectory.
Mr. Jaitley stated that foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to India had increased in 2016-17 over 2015-16, indicating improved global confidence in the Indian economy. 
He also spoke about the interface between the global and the Indian economy; national investments and the Infrastructure Fund; and reform initiatives of the Government of India, especially to improve Ease of Doing Business. 
Mr. Jaitley spoke about the "bold reforms" carried out in India, which now have created opportunities in infrastructure assets resolution under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) process and in financial sector. 
The Finance Minister is currently on a week-long visit to the United States to attend the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and other associated meetings. 
He is accompanied by Dr. Urjit Patel, Governor, Reserve Bank of India (RBI); Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Mr. Subhash Chandra Garg and other officials. 
On the sidelines of the World Bank and IMF meetings, Mr. Jaitley held bilateral meetings with the US Treasury Secretary and the US Commerce Secretary here and discussed how economic cooperation between the two countries, in particular, how bilateral trade and investment, could be improved.
He also highlighted the contribution skilled Indian professionals have made to the US economy, and that this must be suitably appreciated by the US side. He made a strong case for reforms in H1B/L1 visa processes and social security contribution so that high calibre Indian professionals serving American interest are not unfairly deprived of their well-earned money. 
Mr. Jaitley also participated in the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) Meeting in Washington. The discussion focused on the agenda items pertaining to Global Economy and Framework for Growth, Compact with Africa and International Financial Architecture. 
As co-chair of G-20 Framework Working Group (FWG), India made the lead intervention during the Second Round of the Session on ‘’Global Economy and Framework for Growth’, which discussed the IMF’s G-20 Report on ‘Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth(SSBG)’. 
Mr. Jaitley said the report was a useful starting point for studying present challenges facing the global economy and in formulating the G-20's response to them. He said it was important to understand the global spillovers of domestic policy actions of individual member countries, especially on matters related to trade and financial regulation.
He suggested that the subsequent versions of the IMF SSBG Report can consider examining the possible analytical tools that can be used for examining policy spillovers. However, he noted that, for this to be possible, a more detailed understanding of the underlying methodologies must be provided to members. In addition, clear descriptions of the policy scenario in each country, the availability of policy space, key challenges and recommended actions may also be shared. This would allow for improved identification of challenges which are relevant to all members, as well as policies that can be undertaken in a coordinated manner.
The G-20 Session on Compact with Africa discussed the update received on the progress on Compact with Africa and work of the Africa Advisory Group. The session on International Financial Architecture (IFA) discussed issues related to monitoring capital flows, strengthening global financial safety nets and enhancing the capacity of multilateral development banks (MDBs) for mobilizing finance for infrastructure investment.

Prabhu kickstarts “Make in India: Sweden 2017” in Stockholm

In the run-up to ‘Make in India: Sweden 2017’ from October 12-13 that aims to enhance Indo-Swedish cooperation and explore new areas of partnership, Minister of Commerce & Industry Suresh Prabhu held a bilateral meeting with Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in Stockholm on Wednesday.  
An official press release said the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening of the India-Swedish economic relationship and explored new avenues of collaboration.
“I am excited that almost all top Swedish companies are present in India. Sweden is an old and trusted friend who came to invest in India when it was a tough time to do business, now it is the time of business oriented structural reforms and time is ripe for these partnerships,” Mr Prabhu said.
It was acknowledged that companies from both sides have immensely benefitted since the Swedish Prime Minister’s last visit to India during the Make in India Week 2016 in Mumbai. 
Mr Löfven said, “I remember my last trip to India during the Make in India Week 2016, and am proud of the relationship, and how both sides have benefited so much. I look forward to intensely working with you. We are dedicated to making the relationship develop further.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was also present at the meeting, invited Swedish companies to visit India and assured them of the requisite support. “Maharashtra hosts more than 80 Swedish companies which have added great value to the economy. There are huge business opportunities in Maharashtra in Smart Cities. We look forward to collaborate with technology providers into solid and liquid waste management,” he added.
Mr Prabhu also met the Co-Chair India-Sweden Business Leaders’ Round Table (ISBLRT) and Chairman, SEB Marcus Wallenberg and President SAAB, Hakan Buskhe. He acknowledged the importance of the partnership with Saab, a pioneer Swedish company in the Indian market.
Saab expressed interest in introducing full scope for development of industrial systems, from design and engineering to production. The importance of technological cooperation was highlighted with focus on creation of high-technology zones close to forward going universities.
The importance of fostering an EU-India Free Trade Agreement was discussed, given its potential to open borders and enable products to compete. It was agreed that higher economic integration and interdependencies will help resolve global political issues.
The main highlight of the day was the second edition of the India-Sweden Business Leaders’ Roundtable (ISBLRT) which focused on cooperation between the two countries, progress update of four joint working groups (Digitization, Smart Cities, Defence and Security and Skill Development) and the work plan for the year to come.
Inaugurating the second edition of ISBLRT, Mr Löfven said, “I believe that Indo-Swedish cooperation would positively impact the global economy at large”. The Swedish Minister for Enterprise & Innovation Mikael Damberg highlighted the shared values for growth and cooperation between the two countries.
Mr Prabhu said, “I would like to invite ISBLRT members to share innovative ideas on sunrise sectors, India’s upcoming industrial policy and assure that ideas will be taken to logical conclusions.”
Earlier, the run-up events began with a meeting at India House hosted by the Indian Ambassador Monika Kapil Mohta, where Indian Government representatives and business delegates met to re-emphasize the objectives of the event and anticipated outcomes.

Global crude oil price of Indian basket rises to $ 55.08/bbl

The international crude oil price of the Indian basket, as computed and published today by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, rose to $ 55.08 per barrel (bbl) on October 12 from $ 55.07 per bbl on the previous day.
In rupee terms, the price of the Indian basket decreased to Rs. 3585.78 per bbl on 12.10.2017 as compared to Rs. 3594.65 per bbl on 11.10.2017, an official press release said.
The rupee closed stronger at Rs. 65.10 per US$ on 12.10.2017 as compared to Rs. 65.27 per US$ on 11.10.2017, it added.

Reliance Foundation provides "generous gift" to The Met to support Indian art programming

Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited Director Isha Ambani with Mia Fineman, Curator of the Raghubir Singh exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where Reliance Foundation is supporting exhibition of Indian Art.
Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited Director Isha Ambani with Mia Fineman, Curator of the Raghubir Singh exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where Reliance Foundation is supporting exhibition of Indian Art.
Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited, has promised a "generous gift" to the Metropolitan Museum of Art here to support exhibitions that explore and celebrate the arts of India.
"This is an outstanding commitment that will have a direct impact on The Met and the exhibitions it presents to its millions of yearly visitors.” said Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met. 
“As a global institution, we are devoted to studying and displaying art from every corner of the world, which is made possible only through the generosity of our friends," he said.
Mr. Weiss said RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani and his wife Nita are truly visionary benefactors. "We are enormously grateful for this meaningful gift," he said.
A press release from the Reliance Foundation said the gift would support a range of exhibitions examining the accomplishments and influence of the arts and artists of India across time and media.
The first exhibition to benefit from this gift is this fall’s Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs, which opened on October 11, a retrospective of the pioneering artist that will present his work from the late 1960s through his last unpublished projects of the late 1990s. 
The focus of the remaining exhibitions that will benefit from this sponsorship will range from early Buddhist art from the 1st century B.C. to 4th century A.D to 17th century Mughal art to contemporary Indian sculpture.
Nita and Mukesh Ambani are great champions of The Met. In 2016, Mr. and Mrs. Ambani and the Reliance Foundation supported the exhibition Nasreen Mohamedi, the first museum retrospective of the artist’s work in the United States that was presented as one of the inaugural exhibitions when The Met Breuer opened that spring.
"With this new gift, Mr. and Mrs. Ambani and the Reliance Foundation will have sponsored and made possible the showcasing of three important Indian exhibitions at the Met Breuer, allowing their Indian culture and heritage to be shared with global audiences from across the world who visit The Met. Their generosity will be recognized in the iconic building among other leadership donors to this important initiative. 
"In 2017, the Museum honored Mrs. Ambani at The Met Winter Party celebrating achievements made toward greater diversity and inclusion in the world of art. In addition, Mrs. Ambani is generous with her time and expertise, which she shares as a member of The Met’s new International Council," the release said.
“India has a rich heritage of art and culture that can be traced back to the 3rd-4th century BC. At Reliance Foundation, it has been our ongoing mission to recognise and promote this valuable tradition by offering opportunities and platforms for Indian art locally in India and at various institutions around the globe. This partnership with The Met enables Indian art to be shown at an iconic institution and further encourages us to continue our work in the art world. We are truly delighted to be part of this long term collaboration. We believe this will prove to be a wonderful partnership for learning and sharing that will go a long way for art in India," said Ms. Ambani, Founder and Chairperson of Reliance Foundation.  

Indian Naval Ships Satpura, Kadmatt visit Sasebo, Japan

Indian Naval Ships Satpura and Kadmatt reached Sasebo in Japan yesterday on a four-day visit in pursuance of India's Act East Policy and demonstration of her commitment to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific Region.
The visit of these ships is part of the Indian Government’s initiatives to strengthen the long-standing, mutually supportive and strong relationship between Japan and India, an official press release said.
"This historic relationship spans across the entire spectrum of engagement between both countries – cultural, spiritual, economic and security," a press release from the Ministry of Defence said.
The release said the visiting Indian Naval ships will engage with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in formal calls, as also professional, social and sporting interactions. After completion of the harbour phase, the ships will take part in Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with the Murusame Class destroyer, JS Kirisame.
Since the first ‘Navy to Navy Staff Talks’ between the two nations in November 2008, naval ties have reached new heights with bilateral and multilateral exercises and enhanced cooperation in information sharing, meteorology and oceanography, disaster management and military training. The defence and security interaction between both countries has since expanded to encompass a Defence Policy Dialogue and a Maritime Affairs Dialogue.
"Regular bilateral and multilateral maritime exercises have been the foundation for strong naval relations. The erstwhile Japan – India Maritime Exercise (JIMEX) led to Japan participating in the ‘Malabar’ exercise (a tripartite naval exercise between India, the US and Japan) since 2014. JMSDF Ships Izumo and Sazanami participated in the recently concluded edition of ExMalabar off Chennai," the release said.
Both navies have participated in each other’s International Fleet Reviews (IFR) by deputing ships and high-level delegations – while INS Sahyadri participated in the IFR at Yokosuka in October 2015, JS Matsuyuki participated in the IFR at Visakhapatnam in February 2016.
"The Indian Navy and JMSDF also have strong bilateral defence training cooperation, including at very senior levels. Further, in order to enhance interoperability and understanding, seminars and short-term exchange programs are conducted regularly in both countries with participation from both navies," it said.
"This exchange has expanded to sporting interaction in the form of JMSDF participation in the annual international Admiral’s Cup Regatta at the Indian Naval Academy for the first time in 2016. India looks forward to continued participation from the JMSDF and an invitation has been extended for the 2017 edition as well.
"Both navies look forward to enhanced cooperation in the fields of military technology, white shipping, training, intelligence sharing, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and exchange of subject matter experts in various fields. With relations between both countries at an all-time high and more avenues under consideration, the future looks promising with safer sea lanes and highly modernised navies helping in fulfilling each other’s obligations," the release added.

Land pooling in Delhi simplified; DDA now to act only as facilitator

Land pooling in Delhi, expected to meet the rising demand for residential and other needs besides stimulating economic growth, is now further simplified for speedy execution with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) now set to act more as a facilitator and planner as against the role initially envisaged for it.
Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri and Lt. Governor (LG) of Delhi Anil Baijal met here yesterday and discussed various aspects of the Land Pooling Policy and decided to make some changes in the policy decided earlier, an official press release said.
Mr. Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary (HUA) and Vice-Chairman of DDA, also participated in the discussion, the release said.
Originally, land pooled under the policy was to be transferred to DDA which was to act as the Developer Entity (DE) and undertake further sectoral planning and development of infrastructure in the pooled land. The Minister and LG decided to do away with this requirement and land title continues to be with the original land owners.
DDA was asked to immediately initiate spatial and services planning for the five zones covered under Land Pooling Policy so that the policy could be given immediate effect after finalization of regulations under the policy, the release said.          
While both the Minister and LG expressed concern over delay in implementing Land Pooling Policy, Mr Puri thanked Mr Baijal for his initiative in having 89 villages declared as urban areas under the Delhi Municipal Act, 1957 and 95 villages as Development Areas, as required for the implementation of land pooling.
DDA was directed to formulate necessary regulations under the policy in accordance with the changes in a month time. It was also asked to ensure single window clearance mechanism for according necessary approvals for speedy implementation, the release said.
Land Pooling Policy covers the greenfield areas in five zones, J, K-1, L, N and P-II coming under the Master Plan of Delhi-2021. To incentivize dense development for effective utilization of scarce land resource in the national capital, the Policy permits enhanced FAR of 400 as against the present 150. To promote affordable housing, an additional FAR of 15% is also allowed.
About 22,000 hectares of land is expected to be pooled which could meet the needs of about 95 lakh people. 
"Land pooling would catalyse economic, social and civic development of the national capital besides triggering substantial investments and employment generation," the release said.
Under the Land Pooling Policy, 60% of pooled land would be returned to land owners after infrastructure development, if the pooled land is 20 hectares and above and 48% if the land pooled is between 2 and 20 hectares. Of the 60% of returned land, 53% will be for residential purpose, 5% for city level commercial use and 2% for public and semi-public use. In the other case, the same would be 43%, 3% and 2%, respectively.
 Affordable houses for Economically Weaker Sections to be built under the Policy shall be of the size of 32-40 sq.metres. Half of this housing stock shall be retained by the Developer Entity to house Community Service People working for the residents/owners of the Group Housing. These houses will be built at the site or at premises contiguous to the site allotted.
The other half of affordable houses shall be sold to DDA at the base cost of Rs.2,000 per sq.ft  for further sale to beneficiaries, the release added.

Inland Waterways Authority of India raises Rs. 660 crore through bonds

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has raised Rs. 660 crore as “GOI Fully Serviced Bonds” and the proceeds will be utilized exclusively for capital expenditure for development of National Waterways (NWs) under National Waterway Act, 2016 during 2017-18.
The resources raised by way of bonds are in addition to the budgetary support from the Government of India (GOI), an official press release said.
The Government had taken a decision to enable IWAI to raise Rs 660 crore through GOI Fully Serviced Bonds in 2017-18.
The IWAI had engaged arrangers, credit rating agencies, registrars and trustees prior to raising the Bonds. Both CRISIL and CARE rated the proposed instrument of IWAI as “AAA: STABLE”. The e-bidding for raising the bonds was organized on 11th October, 2017 on the BSE Portal with an issue size of Rs. 300 crore and a green shoe option of Rs. 360 crore. 
The issue was oversubscribed and the entire amount of Rs.660 crore has been raised in single tranche at a coupon rate of 7.47 percent, the release said.
The principal and interest in respect of the EBRs worth Rs.660 crore shall be financed by the Government of India by making suitable budgetary provisions in the Demand for Grants of the Ministry of Shipping to meet the bond servicing requirements as and when the need arises. The interest payment will be on semi-annual basis and the principal on maturity, it added.

Bye-election to be held on November 9 to fill vacancy from Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh Assembly

The Election Commission of India (ECI) today said it would hold a bye-election on November 9 to fill a casual vacancy in the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly from Chitrakoot constituency.
The notification for the bye-election will be issued on October 16 and the last date for filing nominations is October 23, an official press release said.
Counting of votes will be taken up on November 12, the release added.

Delhi Metro completes trials, testing on Kalkaji Mandir-Botanical Garden section

A view of the Delhi Metro's Botanical Garden station in Noida
A view of the Delhi Metro's Botanical Garden station in Noida
Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has said that its Kalkaji Mandir-Botanical Garden section was ready for commissioning, with the trials and testing on the 12.64 km route on Phase 3 of DMRC's network successfully completed.
A press release from DMRC said that most of the mandatory clearances required for inviting the Commissioner for Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) to inspect, including Fire Safety Clearance, License for Working Lifts, Preliminary Independent Safety Assessment (ISA) Reports for Signalling and Platform Screen Doors, and clearances from the Department of Telecommunications, had been received by it.
"The papers for scrutiny and detailed examination by CMRS are under submission to his office and after these are cross-checked, examined and scrutinised in depth by the office of CMRS, further action is expected. In addition, since the application involves voluminous data of civil, electrical, signalling and track, DMRC may also have to supply any additional information further sought by the office of CMRS. After this entire process, it is expected that a suitable date for inspection of the section will be indicated," it said.
This section will be Delhi Metro’s first corridor to be operated using the Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling technology which will facilitate movement of trains with a frequency of 90 to 100 seconds.
With the opening of this section, the people of NOIDA will get additional connectivity to south Delhi. Currently for travelling to south Delhi areas, they have to change trains at Mandi House (from Blue Line to Violet Line). However, with this new section, they will be able to travel directly to Kalkaji Mandir and save on travelling time. 
Botanical Garden has been developed as the first interchange station in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Once the entire corridor from Botanical Garden till Janakpuri West (38.23 kms) is opened, commuters from Noida will be able to go to Gurgoan by changing trains at Hauz Khas. This will help immensely in decongesting Rajiv Chowk, which is currently the interchange point for travellers between Noida and Gurgaon.
The Botanical Garden – Kalkaji Mandir section has nine stations -- Kalkaji Mandir, Okhla NSIC, Sukhdev Vihar, Jamia Milia Islamia, Jasola Vihar Shaheen Bagh, Kalindi Kunj, Okhla Bird Sanctuary and Botanical Garden. While Kalkaji Mandir is underground, all other stations are elevated. 
The section will also cater to two major educational institutions – Jamia Milia Islamia University and Amity University, Noida and a major super speciality hospital – Fortis Escorts Heart Institute.
On this section, Delhi Metro’s third bridge over the river Yamuna has come up at Kalindi Kunj between the Kalindi Kunj and Okhla Bird Sanctuary stations. It is a 574 metre long bridge with 14 spans (41 metres each) and 15 piers. It has come up about 85 metres downstream of the existing Okhla bridge over the river Yamuna, the release added.

Gautam Bambawale appointed as India's next Ambassador to China

Gautam Bambawale
Gautam Bambawale
Mr. Gautam H. Bambawale, presently High Commissioner of India to Pakistan, has been appointed as the country's next Ambassador to China.
A press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said Mr. Bambawale, an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1984 batch, was expected to take up his new assignment shortly.
He will succeed Mr. Vijay Keshav Gokhale, who was earlier appointed as  Secretary (Economic Relations) in the Ministry of External Affairs.
Mr. Bambawale, who was appointed as High Commissioner to Pakistan in December 2015, was earlier the Ambassador of India to Bhutan.
Mr. Bambawale has a Master's degree in Economics from the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune.
After joining the IFS in 1984, he opted to learn Mandarin Chinese as his foreign language and served in Hong Kong and Beijing between 1985 and 1991. He also speaks German fluently.
Returning to Delhi, he was first the Desk Officer for China in the Ministry of External Affairs, later serving as Director in the Americas Division of the Ministry, responsible for relations with the US and Canada [1993-94].
Mr. Bambawale was then appointed the Director of the Indian Cultural Centre in Berlin, Germany between 1994-98. He returned to Beijing and functioned as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Indian Embassy there.
In March 2001, he returned to the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi as the Staff Officer to the Foreign Secretary from March 2001 to June 2002.
Later, he worked in the Prime Minister's Office as Deputy Chief for the Division of National Security Affairs, Defence and International Policy.
From July 2004 to September 2007, he was Minister (Political) and Head of the Political Wing at the Embassy of India in Washington D.C.
From September 2007 to December 2009, Mr. Bambawale functioned as the Consul General of India in Guangzhou, China.He was the first Consul General of India in Guangzhou.
Returning to Delhi from Guangzhou, Mr. Bambawale served as Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the Ministry of External Affairs from December, 2009 to July 2014, responsible for relations with Japan, China and South Korea, amongst other countries.
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