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Goa

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to visit India from October 17-19

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Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi will pay a state visit to India from October 17-19 that will provide an opportunity for the two sides to discuss issues of mutual interest and seek ways to further strengthen their close and friendly ties.
 
The state visit will take place immediately after the conclusion of the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit to be held in Goa on October 16, to which Ms. Suu Kyi will lead the Myanmar delegation. 
 
Ms. Suu Kyi will be accompanied by several key Ministers and senior officials. During her visit, she will call on President Pranab Mukherjee and hae meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
 
She will also attend a business event during which she will interact with leading Indian business leaders on ways of bolstering bilateral economic and commercial relations, a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs added.
 
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Admiral Lanba calls for greater cooperative maritime security

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Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff has reiterated the importance of cooperative engagement to promote maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region.
 
This, has been the Navy’s consistent approach and was congruent to the government’s SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region) initiative for inclusive development, Admiral Lamba said inaugurating the first ever Goa Maritime Symposium conducted by the Naval War College here yesterday.
 
He also presented awards to the graduating international officers of the maiden Regional Maritime Security Course. He urged them to take forward the knowledge gained and bonds developed during their stay at Goa to build a better and more secure future.
 
Divided into four sub-themes, the symposium conducted over two days evaluated Strengthening of Regional Maritime Security Architectures; Enhancing Interoperability in the Indian Ocean Region; Challenges to Freedom of Navigation; and Maritime Security Challenges in the IOR.
 
Each of these themes was elaborated upon by speakers of national and international renown, comprising a veritable who’s who of analysts, scholars and practitioners such as Admirals Raja Menon, Arun Prakash, Sureesh Mehta, Vijay Shankar, Pradeep Chauhan; Commodore Uday Bhaskar; Professor Geoffrey Till, Vijay Sakhuja, Dattesh Parulekar and Ms Tomoko Kiyota.
 
Senior officers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar and Sri Lanka actively contributed to the symposium by sharing the experiences, concerns and perspectives of their respective countries. 
 
“Each sub-theme stimulated engaging discussions and we collectively deliberated on several aspects of regional security mechanisms and cooperative frameworks in the context of present as well as future maritime challenges and how we can achieve greater efficacy and efficiency in mitigating them,” said Rear Admiral Monty Khanna, Commandant of the Naval War College.
 
He added that basic security perception, projection and understanding of all affairs – maritime – must have the essential elements of regional cooperation.
 
The symposium contributed majorly towards fostering a sense of maritime awareness that presupposes efficiency in cooperative mechanisms, he said.
 
It also brought out competing narratives and suggested roadmaps for the future including strengthening existing frameworks such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) – an Indian Navy initiative since 2008.
 
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Goa Shipyard hands over first Fast Patrol Vessel to Mauritius

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Indo-Mauritian defence co-operation got another fillip with the delivery of the first Fast Patrol Vessel, MCGS Victory, designed and built in-house by Goa Shipyard Limited for the Mauritius Coast Guard.
 
The vessel, handed over yesterday, is primarily designed for coastal patrolling, anti-piracy, anti-smuggling, anti-drug surveillance, anti-poaching operations, and search and rescue operations.
 
The vessel is 50 metres long, fitted with 30 mm CRN-91 Gun, 12.7 mm HMGs and 7.62 mm MMGs besides state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment, an official press release said.
 
It is capable of achieving a high speed of 35 knots. Significantly, trials were undertaken in peak monsoon months and the vessel achieved all design parameters.
 
The ship was ceremonially handed over by Rear Admiral Shekhar Mital, (Retd), Chairman and Managing Director, Goa Shipyard Ltd to Mr. K. Jhugroo, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mauritius Police Force, in the presence of senior officials from Mauritius and India. 
 
Rear Admiral Mital said the contract for the vessel was signed on May, 17, 2014 and the keel of the vessel was laid on December 18, 2014.
 
Despite all the challenges, including delay of over six months in supply of steel and being the first ship of the series, we have successfully delivered this ship as per contractual schedule of September 2016, he said.
 
“It is in line with the track record of GSL in recent years of timely deliveries and shows the dedication and commitment of all the stakeholders involved,” he added.
 
Mr. Jhugroo, lauded the excellent work being done in the shipyard and complimented GSL for delivery of the state-of- the-art new ship for Mauritius. 
 
GSL is the largest exporter of ships from the Indian subcontinent. It is at present executing export orders worth Rs. 1200 crore.
 
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BRICS Environment Ministers to meet in Goa

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The Environment Ministers of BRICS countries are meeting on September 16 in Goa to strengthen mutual cooperation, an official press release said here today.
 
As the Minister of the host nation, Minister of State of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Anil Madhav Dave will arrive here tomorrow to participate in the meeting.
 
The meeting is expected to discuss proposals for a Memorandum of Understanding and a Joint Working Group on environment. 
 
The BRICS Ministers are also expected to discuss thematic areas of mutual interest and prioritise actions for cooperation in critical areas like air and water pollution, liquid and solid waste management, climate change and conservation of biodiversity. This meeting will be preceded by official level discussions.
 
The meeting assumes significance after the adoption of landmark global environmental agreements like the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement last year.
 
It is part of a series of meetings being organized by various Central Government Ministries, in the run-up to BRICS Heads of States Summit in October 2016 at Goa, after India assumed BRICS Presidency this year from Russia.
 
The meeting of BRICS Environment Ministers is being organized by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
 
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa comprising BRICS block together account for 41.6% of global population, 29.31 % of total world’s territory and about 22% of world’s total GDP. These nations have rich biodiversity and natural capital. The choices made by the BRICS countries have a global significance, an official press release added.
 
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Cabinet approves redevelopment of Berths 8, 9, Barge Berths at Mormugao

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday gave its approval for redevelopment of Berths 8 and 9 and Barge Berths at the port of Mormugao in Goa in public private partnership (PPP) mode at an estimated cost of Rs. 1145.36 crore. 
 
The project will be completed within 36 months from the date of award of concession, an official press release said.
 
The project envisages reconstruction of three old berths and replacement of 38-year-old equipment by creating facilities for handling a variety of cargo like iron ore, bauxite, gypsum, limestone, fertilizers, steel coils and other general cargo at Mormugao catering to ships up to 1,85,000 DWT. 
 
The existing capacity of these old berths with 38-year-old iron ore handling equipment is 13 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). As a result of modernization of berths, more efficient operations due to this project and utilization of deeper draft of 19.5 metres being created in the port, an incremental capacity of 6.22 MTPA would be added. 
 
The project is primarily meant for export of iron ore to meet the growing demand of Goan iron ore due to the lifting of ban on export of iron ore, the release said.
 
The release said the iron ore will be brought to the port through barges using inland waterways of rivers Mandovi and Zuari and no road movement is involved. Iron ore will be unloaded through grab un-loaders and discharged into hoppers for stockpiling. For cargo retrieval, bucket wheel reclaimers will be used and loaded onto vessels by stackers. 
 
Dry fog system will be installed so that there are no fugitive dust emissions. Additionally water spraying/sprinkling systems will be installed at specific discharge points to mitigate the problems, it said.
 
The stockpile will be stored under proper cover. The possibility of dust formation would also be under control as no wagon tippling would be involved, the release added.
 
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Regional Maritime Security Course at Naval War College, Goa

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An eight-week Regional Maritime Security Course (RMSC) for officers of the rank of Colonel and equivalent of Maritime Security Agencies from friendly foreign countries (FFCs) commenced at Naval War College, Goa today.
 
The module includes International Relations Theory, International Maritime Law, UNCLOS, Energy and Natural Resources Security, Maritime Domain Awareness, Indian Ocean Studies as well as a table top Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief/Out of Area Contingency exercise.
 
The course would provide a concrete forum for developing common understanding of regional maritime security issues, disseminate the Indian Navy perspective on the subject, as well as provide an opportunity for officers undergoing the Naval Higher Command Course to interact with the foreign participants, and understand the perspectives of regional navies, on issues of common concern.
 
The Indian Navy, in consonance with the government’s policy of engaging friendly nations, has been at the forefront of building ‘Bridges of Friendship’ with navies from Friendly Foreign Countries (FFCs). Training is one of the most important facets of this engagement.
 
The Indian Navy has been providing training to naval personnel from FFCs over the last five decades, during which it has trained more than 13,000 foreign personnel from 42 countries.
 
The training interactions would complement in fulfilling our national objectives of ‘strengthening cooperation and friendship with other countries to promote regional and global stability’.
 
To start with, invitations were extended to participants from six FFCs, giving due importance and priority to immediate maritime neighbours and the Navy’s engagement with these FFCs.
 
Accordingly, officers from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives, Oman and Sri Lanka have arrived to attend the inaugural Regional Maritime Security Course at Naval War College, Goa. The participant from Indonesia is also likely to join by end of this week.
 
The conduct of the maiden RMSC is considered to be a ‘shot in the arm’ for naval cooperation initiatives, and would enable better understanding between regional navies at the operational level. cooperation and friendship with other countries to promote regional and global stability’.
 
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Javadekar inaugurates IIT Goa, calls for improvement in global rankings of Indian institutions

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Union Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said here yesterday that his Ministry was working towards enhancing the perception about Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to get them top positions in world rankings.
 
Inaugurating the Indian Institute of Technology, Goa on July 30, Mr Javadekar pointed out that IITs are already recognised the world over as premier institutes of academic excellence, He also laid the foundation stone for IIT Goa Students’ Hostel.
 
The newly set up IIT Goa will function from a temporary campus at Goa Engineering College, Farmagudi and will be mentored by IIT Mumbai.
 
The Minister said the permanent campus at Loliem would be completed within 1000 days.
 
He also referred to the IIT-PAL platform which prospective IIT students could use to receive coaching for the entrance exam from the best professors across the country through online, TV or other new media.
 
The IITs could use the Central Government’s Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) in which industries could give specific research request to IITs and co-partner in technological development. The Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) is to enable the best practices of foreign countries to be implemented in India through idea exchange, he said.
 
The Minister emphasised on innovation and Make in India, promising that the Government will extend all support in making IITs as Start-Up hubs.
 
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was also present, said the summer internship programme of IIT students could be conducted at various defence research establishments to add value to their curriculum. He also referred to a programme in which scientists from DRDO would act as visiting faculty members to various IITs. 
 
The proposed campus for NIT Goa will be established at Cuncolim removing all the bottlenecks.
 
The campus for the Indian Institute of Technology Goa (IIT Goa) will be developed at Loliem, a quiet town in Canacona taluka in the southernmost tip of Goa. It is bounded by Galgibag River in the North, village of Poinguinim along the East, Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka state in the South and Arabian Sea to the West.
 
Historically, Loliem was a village of metallurgical artisans who made idols of gods and goddesses using aluminum and iron during the reign of the Kadambas of Banavasi (345 – 525 CE) and was, therefore, called Lohahalli.
 
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Subsequently, when Goa became a Portuguese colony, its name was changed to Loliem. The village had a check post for road transit to other parts of India until 1961, when Goa was incorporated into the Indian Union.
 
Loliem has a mix of the rolling hills of the Western Ghats, a slice of the coast and an interior hilly, plateau region. The 300 acre new IIT Goa campus is expected to come up in a couple of years and is located about 88 km south of the capital city of Panaji.
 
The interim campus of IIT Goa is located at Goa Engineering College (GEC) at Farmagudi, about 78 km away from the proposed IIT Goa Campus site. The temporary campus is fully equipped with class rooms, laboratories and modern hostel buildings. It is expected to serve the needs of IIT Goa for the first couple of years.
 
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, Deputy Chief Minister, Francis D’Souza, PWD Minister Ramakrishna Dhavlikar, South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar and Prof. Devang Khakhar, Director, IIT, Mumbai were present on the occasion.
 
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Mhadei returns after successful completion of all-women expedition

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The Indian Navy’s only ocean-going sailboat, Mhadei, has returned to her homeport in Goa after a six-member team of women officers successfully carried out a voyage to Mauritius.
 
The team on their maiden, and India’s first all-women crew ocean voyage, covered a distance of over 5000 nautical miles through treacherous monsoon seas and heavy winds.
 
The voyage had commenced in Goa on May 24 and reached Port Louis, Mauritius on June 14. The expedition concluded yesterday with the vessal arriving at INS Mandovi Boat Pool.
 
The skipper, Lieutenant Commander (Lt Cdr) Vartika Joshi, and her five-member team comprising Lt B Aishwarya, Lt P Swathi, Lt Pratibha Jamwal, Lt Vijaya and SLt Payal Gupta were received by Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra, the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command.
 
Present on the occasion were senior Naval officers and sailing enthusiasts. Vice Adm Luthra said it was a landmark event, where the team had undertaken the first ever open voyage by an Indian women crew. This achievement showcases the courage and commitment of young Indian women and would provide a fillip to popularise ocean sailing in India, he said.
 
The all-women crew of Mhadei is presently training to undertake an expedition to circumnavigate the globe, a feat achieved by lesser number of people than those who have managed to climb Mount Everest.
 
The first Indian to solo-circumnavigate the globe on board Mhadei, Cdr Dilip Donde, has tutored and trained the all-women crew.
 
The voyage of over 40 days at sea was aimed at exposing the skipper and crew to rough seas expected during the monsoon period in the North Indian Ocean.
 
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This was to prepare them for the very rough weather expected to be encountered by them in the Southern Ocean during their circumnavigation of the globe.
 
"The aim of this training voyage was adequately met and the all-women crew has proved themselves capable and competent at sea. The crew would now supervise essential repairs to the boat at Goa and prepare her for the next voyage, when Mhadei would be participating in the prestigious Cape to Rio race 2017 commencing from Cape Town on December 26 this year," an official press release said.
 
The crew will thereafter shift to the new boat presently under construction at Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd, Goa. The new boat is of same design as Mhadei and has been named Tarini, after the river boat goddess of Goa. The keel of the boat was laid by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on March 28. Tarini is expected to be delivered to the Indian Navy in February 2017 prior to India’s first all-women crew embarking on circumnavigation commencing in August 2017.
 
Two solo circumnavigations, the first with stops by Cdr Dilip Donde, and the second, non-stop by Cdr Abhilash Tomy, has been undertaken onboard Mhadei between 2009 and 2013.
 
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INSV Mhadei sails to Mauritius with an all-women crew

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Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Mhadei sailed from Goa with an all-women crew for a voyage to Port Louis, Mauritius today. 
 
The boat is being skippered by Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi (a Naval Constructor).
 
This would be the first open-ocean voyage of the Navy’s all-women crew of Mhadei, who are currently training to undertake a circumnavigation of the globe in 2017, an official press release said.
 
The crew comprising Lt P Swathi, Lt B Aishwarya, Lt Pratibha Jamwal, Lt Vijaya and Lt Payal Gupta would be undertaking this arduous voyage through rough seas and heavy weather, expected during the monsoons, in the Arabian Sea. 
 
This is a training voyage to expose the young crew to weather that would be faced by them during the circumnavigation in 2017. 
 
All the women officers are keen sailors who took to the sport after joining the Indian Navy. 
 
Lt. Cdr. Joshi and Lt. Swathi have been part of Mhadei crew on earlier voyages. The officers have undergone theoretical training in Navigation, Communication, Meteorology and Seamanship at the navy’s training schools in Kochi. Since then, they have been training under Cdr Dilip Donde, India’s first circumnavigator, who undertook his voyage on the same boat, in 2008-09. 
 
The all-women crew circumnavigation of the globe would be undertaken on board the new sailing vessel of the Navy presently under-construction at Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd, Goa. The yet-to-be-named boat is expected to be delivered to the Navy by February 2017. 
 
The Navy is in the process of setting up an Ocean Sailing node at Goa to promote Ocean sailing and a spirit of adventure amongst young naval officers and sailors. Mhadei and her sister vessel would be based at this node in Goa. 
 
The exploits of this all-women crew on board Mhadei, alongwith accounts of their voyage and photographs, can be followed on the Facebook page ‘Mhadei’. The boat is expected to enter Port Louis on 11/12 June and return to Goa by early July, the release added.
 
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UIDAI launches exercise to cover leftover population

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The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has launched an initiative to enrol leftover population for Aadhaar (unique identification numbers) in four States and Union Territories -- Haryana, Goa, Chandigarh and Puducherry.
 
Aadhaar saturation levels are more than 100% in these four places (as per projected population figure of 2015). Aadhaar saturation can cross 100% when the migrant population also enrolls in that particular state. As on May 12, 2016, over 101.26 crore Aadhaar numbers have been generated across the country.
 
As part of the initiative, people who have not yet enrolled in Haryana, Goa, Chandigarh and Puducherry are being asked to register themselves at https://wenrol.uidai.gov.in.
 
On completing the simple registration formality, such people would be enrolled for the Aadhaar number on a priority basis.
 
“This exercise has been initiated to ensure that no one is left without an Aadhaar number in these four States/UTs which has more than 100% Aadhaar saturation, statistically speaking. It is part of our overall effort to ensure complete Aadhaar coverage across the country,” said Director General & Mission Director of UIDAI, Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey.
 
This pilot exercise in the four States/Union Territories will be conducted between May 13 and June 15. Enrolment request of only persons over the age of 18 years will be accepted on the portal mentioned above.
 
Providing a mobile number as well as other demographic details is also mandatory as a mobile OTP-based verification will be conducted once the person submits the enrolment request. The person will be then contacted and enrolled on a priority basis through special camps or at the enrolment stations located near him/her. Based on the experience of this pilot, the special drive will be extended to other states too.
 
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Navy de-inducts Sea Harriers, inducts MiG-29K fighter aircraft

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The illustrious Sea Harriers of the Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS 300) were given a ceremonial farewell at a function organised at INS Hansa, Goa.
 
The function was attended by Admiral R K Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Sunil Lanba, Flag Officer Commanding- in-Chief Western Naval Command, serving and retired officers and men of the Indian Navy and personnel who have served in the INAS 300.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Admiral Dhowan lauded the stellar role played by the squadron in the defence of the country and acknowledged the professionalism of the pilots, the maintainers and all those personnel associated with flying and maintaining the aircraft in peak efficiency during their service.
 
The rich legacy would continue as the baton is being passed on to the proud young crew of the MiG 29K squadron who have been successful in seamlessly integrating the fighters with INS Vikramaditya in the shortest possible time, he added.
 
In appreciation of the faithful service to the nation by INAS 300 ‘White Tigers’, an impressive ceremony was held which saw the Sea Harriers fly for one last time, and MiG-29K flanking their outgoing cousins and ceremoniously taking their place.
 
The air display included supersonic pass by MiG 29s and formation flying by two each of Sea Harriers and MiG 29Ks. The composite air display symbolized a smooth transition from the old to the new in continuance with the proud legacy of the INAS 300.
 
On completion of the air display, ”washing down of the Sea Harriers” was carried out in a traditional manner. A first day cover was also released by Admiral Dhowan to mark the occasion. 
 
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The White Tigers or INAS 300 who stand for excellence, determination and aggressive spirit, heralded the era of carrier borne aviation into the Indian Navy. Almost six decades ago the squadron was commissioned at RNAS Brawdy with its distinctive ‘White Tiger’ logo and equipped with the Sea Hawk aircraft.
 
After providing yeoman service for over two decades, the squadron was subsequently reincarnated with Sea Harriers in 1983. This premier carrier borne fighter squadron achieved iconic status in the Indian Navy with its distinguished service, receiving numerous gallantry awards which include one Maha Vir Chakra, four Vir Chakras and one Nau Sena Medal.
 
To continue the proud ‘White Tiger’ legacy, the squadron has been re-equipped with the new and more lethal MiG 29Ks. INAS 300 would thus be re-equipped with the new swing role air dominance fighter giving the squadron enhanced combat power and offensive capability.
 
For the versatile White Tigers, this resurrection also marks a full cycle from commissioning ‘Tail Hooking Sea Hawks’ to the ‘Vectored Thrust’ Sea Harrier era; and now with the induction of the MiG-29k to this elite squadron, marks the return of the ‘Tail Hookers’.
 
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DRDO to hand over sonar dome to Defence Minister in Goa on March 29

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A huge bow mounted sonar dome, designed and developed by Research & Development Establishment (Engineers) [R&DE(E)], a Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory based in Pune, will be flagged off by Defence Minister  Manohar Parrikar in Goa tomorrow.
 
Dr. S. Christopher, Secretary Department of Defence (R&D) & Director General, DRDO will also be present at the ceremony that will be held on the sidelines of the Defexpo at Quitol in Goa.
 
The sonar dome will be delivered to Mazgaon Docks, Mumbai, an official press release said.
 
According to the release, the sonar dome, a first of its kind in the country, has been manufactured by a composites manufacturing company in India. 
 
"This is a huge contribution by Indian Industry to the ‘Make in India’ movement. Only a couple of companies worldwide have the capability of realising such structures," it said.
 
All anti-submarine warfare (ASW) ships have a sonar array fitted to the ship structure below the waterline. The sonar functions as the ship’s underwater eyes and ears. The sonar dome is a structure fitted over the sonar array so that its electronics and sensors are not exposed to surrounding hostile environment. The sonar dome has to be structurally sound as well as acoustically transparent, it said.
 
The release said R&DE(E), DRDO, Pune had successfully developed process technologies to realise large composite structures that can be used in naval ships and submarines. The laboratory has also developed technologies related to integral composite armour that can be used in combat vehicles. The laboratory is also significantly contributing in development of aerospace structures. 
 
NPOL, a DRDO laboratory at Kochi in Kerala, played a significant role in development of the sonar dome, it said.
 
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9th edition of Defexpo to open in Goa on Monday

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The 9th edition of Defexpo India, a biennial exhibition on Land, Naval and Internal Homeland Security Systems, will be organized by the Defence Exhibition Organisation of the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence from March 28-31 at Naqueri Quitol in Quepem taluka of South Goa.
 
Th exhibition will be inaugurated by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar tomorrow, an official press release said.
 
"India is among a handful of countries in the world with indigenous capabilities in the defence fields such as multi-level strategic deterrence, ballistic missile defence, nuclear powered submarines, main battle tank, stealth destroyers, aircraft carriers and 4th generation fighter aircraft. With the changes in government policies on defence acquisition and Make in India campaign, considerable impetus is being given to indigenisation in the defence sector," the release said.
 
According to it, the exhibition will showcase India's capabilities in Land, Naval and Security Systems as well as its emergence as an attractive destination for investment in the defence sector.
 
The event provides a platform for forging alliances and joint ventures in the defence industry. The event also provides an excellent opportunity to the Indian defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs), private sector and other defence related industries to demonstrate their capability to design, develop and deliver a wide range of military and civil products/services. 
 
As a clear indicator of India’s growing prominence and stature internationally; this year’s exhibition will be the largest Defexpo held till to date. In all, more than 1000 companies, both foreign and Indian, are taking part in the exhibition this year, which is over one and a half times the number of participants in Defexpo 2014. 
 
With a total of 510 companies, participation by Indian companies has doubled since 2014 which saw participation by 256 companies. A total number of 490 foreign companies are participating this year against 368 in Defexpo 2014. 
 
Around 950 delegations against 511 in 2014 are expected to visit the exhibition this year. As many as 204 official delegations from 44 countries and around 750 non-official business delegations are attending the show. 
 
The net area sold during this edition is 40725 square meters against 27,515 square meters in 2014. The gross area of exhibition has increased over three-folds to 150,000 square meters against 45,000 square meters in 2014. 
 
On the sidelines of the exhibition, seminars will provide a platform to showcase developments and opportunities in the defence sector. The topics of seminars being conducted on March 29 and 30 are advances in shipbuilding technology, Make in India for defence sector, India – Korea Defence Cooperation, Modernisation Programme of Indian Army and Challenges and opportunities of Defence Offset. 
 
The release said 47 countries will be taking part in the exhibition against 30 countries which participated in the last edition of Defexpo. These are Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and United States of America. 
 
The event will be open to public on 31 March and by prior registration on other days. People who wish to visit the site on other days may do so by registering on its website , the release added.
 
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Dilip Buildcon to build India’s second longest cable bridge in Goa

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Infrastructure player Dilip Buildcon Limited (DBL) today said it had bagged a contract worth Rs. 545.40 crore from the Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) to build a 640 metre long, eight lane, cable stayed bridge across the Zuari river in Goa.
 
A press release from Dilip Buildcon said it had joined hands with a Ukrainian based company, Mostobudivelnyi Zahin Limited (MBZ) with a 70% and 30% stake, respectively, to construct the cable bridge. 
 
MBZ has experience in construction of cable suspension bridges and will be the technical partner to Dilip Buildcon Limited for this project, it said.
 
Mr. Devendra Jain, Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer, Dilip Buildcon Ltd. said, “This is our first project in Goa and we are extremely glad to have bagged this prestigious project and hope that we are able to complete the project before time. We have won a phase of the entire road project at Rs. 545.40 crores from MoRTH.  With this, we are now present in 12 states across India.”
 
On January 2, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari laid the foundation stone of the project. The estimated cost of the 1.084 km long project is Rs. 676.19 cr and it has a  completion period of 36 months. 
 
There are around four to five cable suspension bridges built on a large scale in India and this would be the second largest cable bridge lengthwise in the country after Vidyasagar Setu in Kolkata, the release added.
 
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Cabinet okays nomination of NITI Aayog CEO as part-time Member of Telecom Commission

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for nomination of the Chief Executive Officer, NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog as a part-time Member of the Telecom Commission in place of Secretary, Planning Commission, a post which is non-existent now.
 
The participation of Chief Executive Officer, NITI Aayog in the meetings of Telecom Commission will lend value to the deliberations of the Commission, because the NITI Aayog has been mandated to serve as a think tank of the Government, an official press release said.
 
The Telecom Commission was set up by the Government of India (GoI) vide Resolution dated 11th April, 1989 with administrative and financial powers of GoI to promote rapid development in all aspects of telecommunications. 
 
Before supersession of the Planning Commission, the Telecom Commission was composed of a Chairman [Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Telecommunications], four full time members [Member (Finance), Member (Production), Member (Services) & Member (Technology)] and four part time members [Secretary (Department of Electronics & Information Technology), Secretary (Department of Economic Affairs), Secretary (Planning Commission) & Secretary (Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion)]. 
 
After supersession of the Planning Commission and its replacement by the NITI Aayog, only three part-time Members were left with the Telecom commission. 
 
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Oman Navy ships arrive for bilateral maritime exercise "Naseem al Bahr"

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Two Royal Oman Navy ships, RNOV Al-Shamikh, a Corvette and RNOV Al-Seeb, a Fast Attack Craft entered the port of Goa ths morning on their way to participate in the International Fleet Review (IFR) scheduled at Visakhapatnam from February 4-9.
 
Prior to the commitments of IFR 2016, the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman will conduct a bilateral maritime exercise Naseem al Bahr in the Arabian Sea from today till January 27.
 
"Naseem al Bahr epitomises the strong long-term strategic relationship between the two countries. Initiated in 1993, the exercise has matured over the years with increasing scope, complexity of operations and level of participation. The current exercise will be the tenth such exercise," an official press release said.
 
According to it, the primary aim of this exercise is to increase interoperability amongst the two navies and develop common understanding and procedures for maritime security operations. 
 
The release said the scope of Naseem al Bahr 16 includes wide-ranging professional interactions during the Harbour Phase and a diverse canvas of operational activities at sea across the spectrum of maritime operations. 
 
During the exercise, the Indian Navy will be represented by INS Trikand and INS Trishul. In addition, Fast Attack Craft, Maritime Patrol Aircraft and integral helicopters are scheduled to participate in the bilateral exercise. 
 
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The exercise will be progressed in two phases -- the Harbour Phase (22 – 24 January) at Goa and the Sea Phase (24 – 27 January) off Goa. The Harbour Phase would include variety of professional interactions, courtesy calls, social and sporting interactions and planning conferences. Various facets of Fleet Operations are planned during the Sea Phase, including navigation and seamanship evolutions, surface firing, force protection and anti-piracy exercises as well as flying operations. The exercise is aimed at deriving mutual benefit from each other’s experiences and sharing best practices. The interoperability achieved over the years as a result of such exercises has proved to be operationally beneficial to both navies. 
 
"The exercise will be another milestone in strengthening maritime security cooperation between the two navies and will also serve to reinforce the long standing bond of friendship between the two countries. Our increasing naval cooperation is a tangible symbol of the commitment of both nations towards enhancing maritime stability," the release added.
 
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Former Punjab Governor, 1971 war hero Lt. Gen. J F R Jacob passes away

Lt. Gen. J F R Jacob
Lt. Gen. J F R Jacob
Former Punjab and Goa Governor and 1971 India-Pakistan war hero Lt. Gen. J F R Jacob passed away at the Army Research and Referral Hospital here this morning due to complications arising from old age.
 
He was 92 and a bachelor.
 
Lt. Gen. Jacob was born in 1923 at Calcutta and enlisted in the British Indian Army in 1942, and served in Northern Iraq, North Africa, Burma and Sumatra. 
 
After World War II, Lt Gen Jacob attended and graduated from artillery schools in England and the United States. He returned to India following partition, and joined the Indian Army. During this period, Lt Gen Jacob composed an Indian Army manual on desert warfare. He was also part of India-Pakistan War of 1965 and India-Pakistan War of 1971. 
 
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Lt Gen Jacob gained prominence when, as Major General, he served as the Chief of Staff of the Indian Army's Eastern Command that defeated the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. He retired from the Army after 37 years of service in 1978. 
 
Lt Gen Jacob was appointed as Governor of Goa, and later served as Governor of Punjab. 
 
He was the author of a book “Surrender at Dacca: Birth of a Nation”. He also wrote an autobiography titled, “An Odyssey in War and Peace: An Autobiography by Lt Gen. J.F.R. Jacob”. 
 
General Dalbir Singh, the Chief of Army Staff, expressed his deepest condolences at the passing away of Lt. Gen. Jacob, describing it as a great loss.
 
He said Lt. Gen. Jacob was a pillar of military leadership and personified the best qualities of a soldier and a statesman who will always be remembered as one of the most prominent leaders in the annals of Indian military history. 
 
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Gadkari inaugurates Capital Dredging of navigational channel at Mormugaon Port

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Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari inaugurated Capital Dredging of Navigational Channel at Cruise Berth at Mormugaon Port in Goa yesterday.
 
Speaking on the occasion, he said Mormugao was going to be the first port in the country with a draft of 19.5 metres. On completion of dredging of the navigational channel, a 1,85,000 tonne vessel will be able to embark in the port. 
 
The present capacity of the port can accommodate only an 80,000 tonne vessel. 
 
Mr. Gadkari said that for development of any port a draft of 18 metre is essential. With this, the economy of the state will get a major thrust.He also said that in order to transport goods from Goa to Hospet in Karnataka via road and rail, the government intended to double the rail track. 
 
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar, MPT Chairman Jaikumar and Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand were also present on the occasion. 
 
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14th Mumbai International Film Festival to be held from Jan 28-Feb 3

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The 14th edition of the Mumbai International Festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films (MIFF) will be held from January 28 to February 3, 2016.
 
The screenings will be held at the Films Division theatres, Russian Culture Centre and Sophia College theatres at Pedder Road, Mumbai. 
 
The inauguration and closing functions will be held at the Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi at 5.00 pm on January 28 and February 3, respectively.
 
Well-known actor Jackie Shroff will support the event as its brand ambassador -- the first time the 25-year-history of the festival that an artiste from the mainstream of the film industry is playing that role.
 
MIFF is organized by Films Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and is supported by the Government of Maharashtra. 
 
Shroff told journalists on the sidelines of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI 2015) here that it was an honour to work as a brand ambassador for MIFF and that he had accepted the role because of his love for short films.
 
Films Division Director General Mukesh Sharma said the actor believed documentaries could be catalysts for social change and was planning to make short films to spread awareness about dreaded diseases and on social issues.
 
MIFF, the oldest and largest festival for non-feature films in South Asia, attracts filmmakes and cineastes from all over the world.
 
This year's edition of the festival will honour a veteran personality from the Indian documentary fraternity with the esteemed V. Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award that carries a cash component of Rs. 5 lakh, a trophy and citation, Mr. Sharma added.
 
Screenings of the competition films will also be held in cities like New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Lucknow, Nagpur and Thrissur.
 
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IFFI: Indian Panaroma opens with Sanskrit film "Priyamanasam", "Goonga Pahlwaan"

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The Indian Panorama section of the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI 2015) opened here toay with the screening of Sanskrit feature film "Priyamanasam", directed by Vinod Mankara, and "Goonga Pahlwaan", a non-feature film directed by Mit Jani, Prateek Gupta and Vivek Chaudhary.
 
The section was inaugurated by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who honoured the members of the jury. He also presented mementos to the cast and crew of the two opening films.
 
It was after three decades that the Indian Panorama had opened with  Sanskrit film.
 
The jury for feature films, headed by ace filmmaker Aribam Syam Sharma, selected 26 films out of 230 eligible entries. The other members of the jury include Tapan Biswas, producer, Mahesh Aney, cinematographer, Bhagirathi, actress/director, Dilip Patnaik, director, Phonsok Ladakhi, actor/director, Praveen Sattaru, director, Major Ravi, director/actor, Bharathi Pradhan, writer/critic, Fowzia Fathima, cinematographer/director, Bijaya Jena, actress/ director, Panchakshari, director and M.K. Bhaskara Rao, writer/critic. 
 
The non-feature films jury chaired by well-known filmmaker  Rajendra Janglay has picked 21 films out of 146 eligible entries. The other members of the jury include Vinoo Choliparambil, editor/ director, Bachaspatimayum Sunzu, producer & director, Makarand Brahme, director, V. Rama Rao, academician, Pramod Purswane, director and Meenakshi Vinay Rai, director. 
 
The Best Feature Film of 62nd National Film Awards 2014, "Court" directed by Chaitanya Tamhane and the Best Non Feature Film “Tender is the Sight", directed by Torsha Banerjee, have been automatically included in the Indian Panorama 2015, by virtue of direct entry. 
 
Col. Rathore also inaugurated a multi-media exhibition and signature film on the National Film Heritage Mission at the festival.
 
The National Film Heritage Mission is a prestigious project of the Government for acquisition and preservation of filmic heritage of the country.
 
The mission aims at preservation, conservation, digitization and restoration of film and filmic material. The exhibition organized by National Film Archive of India (NFAI) encompasses posters and audio-visual content from the ‘Restored Classics’ of NFAI along with technical presentations explaining the processes of film restoration. 
 
NFAI Director Parkash Madgum said the institution had restored nearly 300 films and digitized nearly 500 films.
 
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Jaitley inaugurates 46th International Film Festival of India in Goa

Music composer Ilayaraja speaking after receiving the Centenary Award at the inauguration of the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI-2015), in Panaji, Goa on November 20, 2015. Union Minister for Finance and Information & Broadcasting Arun Jaitley and the chief guest, actor Anil Kapoor, are also seen.
Music composer Ilayaraja speaking after receiving the Centenary Award at the inauguration of the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI-2015), in Panaji, Goa on November 20, 2015. Union Minister for Finance and Information & Broadcasting Arun Jaitley and the chief guest, actor Anil Kapoor, are also seen.
The 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI 2015) got underway here today with the screening of the opening film, "The Man Who Knew Infinity", directed by Matthew Brown and based on the true story of the friendship between Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and Prof G H Hardy.
 
The film stars Dev Patel in the role of Ramanujan, Jeremy Irons as Hady and Devika Bhise as Ramanujan's wife S. Janaki Ammal.
 
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who also holds the Information & Broadcasting portfolio, inaugurated the festival and said that film festivals around the world had acquired a global niche by identifying themselves with their geographical location.
 
Citing the examples of Cannes, Berlin and other prestigious film festivals,he said that it was customary to make such locations the permanent centres of such festivals where creativity excelled.
 
Well-known actor Anil Kapoor was the chief guest on the occasion, at which Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Information & Broadcasting Secretary Sunil Arora were also present.
 
Mr. Jaitley said such festivals gave filmmakers a chance to interact with fellow filmakers and provided opportunities for showcasing the best domestic and international talent. He said there could not be a better opportunity than a film festival to celebrate the excellence of cinema. 
 
The Minster also mentioned that there would be many new initiatives this year at IFFI-2015 such as a special section on ‘World Cinema Restored Classics’ to highlight the idea of film restoration, master classes with eminent Academy members, a special “ICFT- UNESCO Fellini Prize and Talkathons. 
 
Mr. Kapoor said IFFI had succeeded largely in its aim of showcasing excellence in global cinema.
 
Mr. Arora said nearly 7000 delegates would be participating in the festival this year. 
 
Mr. Jaitley and Mr. Kapoor conferred the Centenary Award for Indian Personality of the Year on music composer Ilaiyaraaja for his outstanding contribution to the music industry.
 
The Minister and actress Sonakshi Sinha launched a book on Dadasaheb Phalke Award winners published by the Publications Division, a unit of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
 
The jury for the International Festival was also introduced at the inaugural ceremony. The International Competition section jury included chairperson Shekhar Kapur along with Mr. Michael Radford, Ms. Julia Jentsch, Ms. Suha Arraf and Mr. Jeon Kyu-Hwan. The Indian Panorama jury for Feature and Non-feature categories included a team of highly acclaimed filmmakers and cinema stalwarts from different regions of India. The 13-member Feature jury and 7- member Non-feature jury are headed by  Aribam Syam Sharma and Rajendra Janglay respectively. 
 
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The 11-day festival will showcase 187 films from 89 countries in World Cinema section along with 26 Feature and 21 Non-Feature films in Indian Panorama section. 
 
In the Indian Panorama section Priyamanasam and Goonga Pehelwan would be the opening films in the Feature and Non Feature Films categories, respectively. 
 
The focus country for the film festival is Spain. Films of master Spanish filmmakers Carlos Saura and Pedro Almadovar along with contemporary filmmakers like Alejandro Amenabar would be screened at the festival. The section would also feature Spanish actress Leticia Dolera’s directorial debut ‘Requirements to Be a Normal Person.’ 
 
The International Competition section includes 15 films from across the globe, including two from India. 
 
IFFI 2015 includes a special award - “ICFT- UNESCO Fellini Prize” in collaboration with the International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication (ICFT), Paris and UNESCO. The award would be presented first time in India to a film which reflects the ideals of peace, tolerance, non-violence and friendship promoted by UNESCO. 
 
Amongst the new initiatives of IFFI-2015 this year, there is a special section on ‘World Cinema Restored Classics’ to highlight the idea of film restoration. It would feature a package of classics to put spotlight on National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM). 
 
The National Film Archives of India (NFAI) and the Directorate of Audio-Visual Publicity have also organized a multimedia exhibition on NFHM. The festival has a special focus on North East Cinema to showcase the best of films and filmmakers from the region to the world. It will have a Special Retrospective on Aribam Syam Sharma along with a unique segment featuring next generation filmmakers from North East. 
 
The film festival has also introduced a new segment- ‘First Cut’ to recognize the young talent in the field of cinema and would screen some of the outstanding directorial debuts of 2015. The section would feature emerging filmmakers including Brian Perkins (Film - Golden Kingdom, USA), Michael Klette (Film - Solness, Germany) among others. The festival in association with the Oscar Academy would also promote skill development in film making through master classes with eminent Academy members on varied topics like sound designing, film archive and film editing. 
 
IFFI 2015 would also organize a special seminar on Film and Cultural Diversity. A special series titled ‘In Conversation’ with eminent Indian filmmakers such as Shyam Benegal and Vettrimaran to discuss films and the art of filmmaking with the audience would also be a new feature at IFFI 2015. 
 
Besides films screening, IFFI 2015 also offered various Special Programmes such as Contemporary Argentinean Cinema, Tribute to Anna Karina, Retrospective- Amos Gitai, Homage, Open Air screenings and Film Bazaar for the delegates. 
 
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Film based on mathematican Ramanujan to open IFFI 2015

"The Man Who Knew Infinity", directed by Matthew Brown and based on the true story of the friendship between Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and Prof G H Hardy, will be the opening film of the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2015 to be held in Goa from November 20-30.
 
The film stars Dev Patel in the role of Ramanujan, Jeremy Irons as Hady and Devika Bhise as Ramanujan's wife S. Janaki Ammal.
 
Briefing journalists about the festival here today, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who also holds the Information & Broadcasting portfolio, said the event would showcase 187 films from 89 countries in the World Cinema section along with 26 feature and 21 non-feature films in the Indian Panorama.
 
Popular Bollywood star Anil Kapoor will be the chief guest at the opening ceremony. 
The jury for the International Competition section is headed by filmmaker Shekhar Kapur and includes Michael Radford, Julia Jentsch, Suha Arraf and Jeon Kyu-Hwan. The 13-member feature jury and 7-member non-feature jury was headed by Aribam Syam Sharma and Rajendra Janglay, respectively. 
 
Mr. Jaitley said IFFI had become a global brand in the world of cinema, promoting excellence and providing an opportunity to showcase the best domestic and international talent.
 
Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and I&B Secretary Sunil Arora were also present on the occasion.
 
Spain will be the focus country at IFFI 2015 and the films of Spanish masters Carlos Saura and Pedro Almadovar, along with contemporary filmmakers like Alejandro Amenabar, would be screened at the festival. 
 
The section would also feature Spanish actress Leticia Dolera’s directorial debut ‘Requirements to Be a Normal Person.’ 
 
As many as 15 films from across the globe will feature in the international competition.
 
Mr. Jaitley said IFFI would this feature a special section on World Cinema--Restored Classics to highlight the idea of film restoration.
 
This would feature a package of classics to put the spotlight on National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM).
 
He said the festival would also introduce a new segment- ‘First Cut’ to recognize young talent in the field of cinema and would screen some of the outstanding directorial debuts of 2015. The section would feature emerging filmmakers like Brian Perkins (Golden Kingdom, USA) and Michael Klette (Solness, Germany) among others.  
 
The festival will also promote skill development in film making through master classes on varied topics like sound designing, film archive and film editing.
 
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Mr. Jaitley said that IFFI 2015 would also include a special award - “ICFT- UNESCO Fellini Prize” in collaboration with the International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication (ICFT), Paris and UNESCO. The award would be presented to a film which reflects the ideals of peace, tolerance, non-violence and friendship promoted by UNESCO. 
 
Mr. Jaitley also released the poster for the 46th edition of IFFI at the press conference.
 
Mr. Arora said that this year the festival would also have a special focus on North East Cinema and would showcase the best of films and filmmakers from the region to the world. It would have a Special Retrospective on Aribam Syam Sharma along with a segment featuring next generation filmmakers from the North East.
 
IFFI 2015 would also organize a special seminar on Film and Cultural Diversity. A special series titled ‘In Conversation’ with eminent Indian filmmakers such as Shyam Benegal and Vetrimaran would be organized to discuss films and the art of filmmaking with the audience.
 
Organized by the Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, in association with the State Government of Goa, the International Film Festival of India is an endeavor to understand the various social and cultural ethos through the eyes of cinema.
 
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Depression over Arabian Sea likey to cause rains over coastal Karnataka, Kerala

A depression over east-central Arabian is expected to move initially north-northwestwards slowly and intensify into a deep depression during the next 48 hours, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said today.
 
In a bulletin issued at 1400 hours, the IMD said the depression had remained practically stationary for the past six hours and lay centred at 1130 hours IST of today near latitude 14.00 N and longitude 70.30 E, about 410 km west-southwest of Goa and 630 km south-southwest of Mumbai.
 
The bulletin said that, under its influence, rainfall would occur over 
coastal Karnataka and Kerala during the next 24 hours and over Konkan and Goa during the subsequent 24 hours, with isolated heavy falls.
 
Strong wind speed reaching 30-40 kmph, gusting to 50 kmph, would prevail along and off Konkan, Goa and Karnataka coasts during the next 48 hours and along and off the Kerala coast and Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours.
 
The sea condition would be rough, it said, advising fishermen not to venture into deep sea along and off the Karnataka, Konkan and Goa coasts during the next 48 hours and Kerala coast and Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours.
 
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The Weekend Plan offers vacation villas on rent in Goa, Maharashtra

Villa in Alibaug
Villa in Alibaug
 
For travellers who find the confines of a regular hotel rather restricting when they are on vacation, The Weekend Plan, a Mafatlal initiative, now offers a portfolio of more than a hundred luxury villas in Maharashtra and Goa for their dream holidays.
 
The ever-growing portfolio of handpicked and personally inspected villas are currently available in the popular holiday spots of Khandala, Alibaug and Panchgani in Maharashtra and in North Goa.
 
Since its inception in 2013, The Weekend Plan has catered to 1000+ plus travellers, a press release from the company said.
 
"(They) can't stop raving about this unique vacationing experience.  This is a travel bug of a different kind, once bitten you can't go back to the confines and restrictions of a regular hotel," it said.
 
The venture started as a way for travellers to find a private residence in a nearby destination by Satish and his wife Vridhi Dodani, both avid travelers. 
 
What began as a simple web page with a few villas near the city for personal friends has now grown into a full-fledged vacation villa rental portal. Close friend and business entrepreneur Chirag Mehta shared his vision and helped align this company with the powerful business house of Mafatlals.
 
Renting a villa can always come with apprehensions of the experience. Understanding this concern, the founders decided to be different by ensuring quality and consistency. Every villa has been hand-picked according to strict standards and only the very best are invited to be part of the collection. 
 
To make the vacation experience special and memorable, they decided to focus on providing comfortable villas with amenities like swimming pools, air-conditioned bedrooms, good quality bed linen, soft comforters, shower and hand towels, facilities of a cook-on-call and more to effectively combine the space and comfort of private vacation homes with the five-star service of luxury resorts. 
 
Unlike typical online vacation rental agents that broker third-party homes, they manage most residences themselves 365 days-a-year for the exclusive use of the guests, investing in them to meet high standards, the release said.
Villa in Lonavla
Villa in Lonavla
"Every vacation has its own special vibe and it all starts with where you stay. Their uniquely luxurious homes are designed to suit every vacation style, from jaw-dropping lavishness to fashionably urban to charming beach cottages and everything in between. The villas have to start spectacular and taking it a step further they maintain the quality by investing in upgrades, so the guests have comfortable stays on every trip," the release said.
 
"As with many other sectors, the Internet’s arrival changed everything. For us the path ahead is manifold, focus on customers, not channels has been our approach; unlocking the power of partnerships and mastering the entire customer experience," said co-founder Satish Dodani.
 
"At the forefront of the 'Comfort For Less' movement, The Weekend Plan is a vacation solution ideal for travel with family and friends, offering a handpicked, personally inspected growing list of comfortable villas in popular travel destinations across the country. We ensure the villas we offer are the very best and the service starts from the very first call. We help you choose the right property, answer your questions and make the booking process as simple as possible. You are even assigned a Relationship Manager who will take care of every detail of your booking," he said.
"Whether it’s an action packed adventure in Alibaug, an indulgent luxury escape with friends in Goa or a private family retreat to Lonavala, or simply a bonding girlfriends’ getaway in Igatpuri, there is a villa somewhere for everyone," the release said.
 
"If you have ever dreamed of waking up in a designer holiday home a Frisbee’s throw from a sweep of soft sand and the inviting blue of the ocean , it’s time to make that dream  come true!Who doesn't want a weekend home, but why settle for just one, when you can get a variety of options across popular travel destinations with The Weekend Plan!" it added.
 
Most of the villas on offer provide more than 3000 square feet in which the guests can stretch out and unwind, and are ideal for intimate getaways or large family gatherings.
 
The Weekend Plan also offers second home owners a platform to monetize their extra space by showcasing it. 
 
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CBEC to host 11th Asia Europe Meeting of DGs, Commissioners of Customs in Goa

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The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) will host the 11th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) of the Directors General and Commissioners of Customs in Goa on October 8-9.
 
The meeting will be chaired by CBEC Chairman Najib Shah, an official press release said here today.
 
India is hosting the Head of Customs administrations meeting for the first time since joining the ASEM forum in 2008. 
 
Heads of Customs administrations and delegates from 53 Member States of ASEM -- 30 from Asia, 21 from Europe and two international organizations, the European Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat -- are expected to attend. 
 
Mr. Kunio Mikuria, Secretary General of the 180-member strong World Customs Organization (WCO) will be present at the event as an observer. 
 
Established in 1996, ASEM aims to strengthen Asia-Europe relations and in this direction provides opportunities for dialogues and cooperation between countries of Asia and Europe in areas such as politics, economy, culture and others. 
 
The release said cooperation in Customs matters between Asia and Europe was an important element of the ASEM framework and the Directors General and Commissioners of Customs of ASEM meet biennially to discuss current developments and priorities of Customs work. 
 
The two-day meeting will focus on the five main priorities of ASEM -- Trade Facilitation and Supply Chain Security; Combating Infringement on IPR; Protection of Society and Environment; Involving Business; and Communication and Visibility. 
 
The Directors General-Commissioners of Customs will deliberate on a new action plan for 2016-17 which shall reflect the priorities of Customs administrations as they face the twin challenges of facilitating trade and ensuring legal compliance as global trade volumes rise, the release added.
 
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