Modi poised for huge win in Gujarat, Congress wrests Himachal from BJP

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appeared set for a third straight term in office as the Bharatiya Janata Party headed towards a huge win in the state but it lost Himachal Pradesh to the Congress as counting of votes progressed in the Assembly elections in both States today.

Counting begins in Gujarat, BJP secures early lead

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appeared set for a third straight term in office as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headed towards a huge win in the state but it lost Himachal Pradesh to the Congress as counting of votes progressed in the Assembly elections in both states today.

As results and counting trends became available for all the 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly, the BJP had won 52 and was leading in 65 others, making for a total of 117 seats, the same number that it has in the outgoing house.
The Congress had won 27 seats and was leading in 32 others. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), an ally of the Congress, had won two seats while the Janata Dal (United), an ally of the BJP, was leading in one constituency. Other parties were ahead in three seats.
Adding to the Congress' misery in Gujarat, its state unit chief Arjun Modhwadia and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil lost their seats.
In Himachal Pradesh, the ruling BJP conceded defeat as the Congress won 34 seats in the 68-member Assembly and was leading in two others. The BJP had won 23 and was ahead in another three, while others had won four and were leading in two more.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal admitted his party had lost and congratulated the winners. He said the reasons for the BJP's defeat, despite his government's good record of governance, would be analysed at party fora in due course.
In Gujarat, Mr Modi retained his own seat, Maninagar, bagging 120440 votes against 34097 secured by his nearest rival, Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt.
The controversial former Minister of State for Home, Mr Amit Shah of the BJP, won from Naranpura, garnering 103988 votes against the 40653 secured by his rival Jitubhai B Patel of the Congress.
In the Ellis Bridge constituency in Ahmedabad, Ms Jagruti Pandya, widow of assassinated former Minister of State for Home Haren Pandya, ended up in the third place. Ms Pandya, a candidate of the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) floated by former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, could muster only 9075 votes against Mr Raesh Shah of BJP, who got 106631 votes. Mr Kamleshkumar Shah of the Congress got 29959 votes.
Mr Modhwadia lost in Porbandar, getting only 60458 votes against the 77604 votes secured by Mr Babubhai Bokhiria of the BJP. Mr Gohil lost from Bhavnagar (Rural) to Mr Purshottam Solanki of the BJP. Mr Solanki got 83980 votes as against 65426 secured by Mr Gohil.
The BJP had won 117 seats in the Gujarat Assembly in the last elections in 2007, while the Congress had 59 seats.
Counting of votes began in both states at 0800 hours today and all the results are expected by this evening.
Elections to the 182-member Gujarat assembly were held in two phases on December 13 and 17, when a record 71.3 per cent of the 38 million voters had exercised their franchise.
Polling for the 68 seats in the Himachal Pradesh assembly was held in a single phase on November 4, and about 74.7 per cent of the 4.60 million voters had cast their votes.
The supporters of Mr Modi, who has been in office since 2001, are hoping that, with yet another big win, he would be propelled to the centrestage of national politics and become the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Exit polls had predicted a huge win for Mr Modi again this year, while they had given a slight edge in a close contest in Himachal Pradesh.

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Foundation stone laid for first training centre for para athletes

As the first step towards setting up the first ever training centre of excellence dedicated for para athletes in the country, Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports Vijay Goel has laid the foundation stone of the boundary wall for the centre here.
Para athletes had won four medals at the Rio Olympics and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after meeting gold medallist Devender Jhajharia expressed the desire to open a world class para athletic centre. Accordingly, the Sports Minister approved a Centre of Excellence for Differently Abled Sportspersons at Sports Authority of India, Gandhinagar, an official press release said.
Speaking on the occasion here yesterday, Mr Goel said a Talent Search Portal would be launched soon to spot budding sportspersons in the country. 
He said the centre would help para ahtletes to showcase their skills and talent further at national and international levels.
The centre is proposed to be built at an estimated budget of over Rs. 50 crore. It will have world class facilities where para athletes will be trained for various international competitions.
It will also host seminars, educational programmes and workshops throughout the year with the help of International Paralympic Committee.
The centre will have a fully air-conditioned indoor hall, 100-bed elite hostel, VIP accommodation for foreign guests and open land for warm-ups.
The entire project will be completed by the CPWD in coordination with the various experts and consultants.
Earlier in the day, Mr Goel inaugurated SAI Training Centre (Para) at SAI NSWC Gandhinagar. This centre will provide facilities for training boys and girls in the in the age group of 14 – 20 years in athletics, swimming and power lifting.
With a total strength of 50 (Boys & Girls), the annual budget for this scheme is Rs. 50 lakh.  All the selected para athletes will be accommodated in Elite Hostel.
Synthetic Athletic Track, International Standard Swimming Pool and modern fitness centre with world class equipment will be available at the centre along with qualified coaches in each discipline.
Facilities like Lodging / Boarding, Sports Kits, Competition exposure, Medical Insurance will be provided under the STC Scheme.
Selection trials were conducted on February 3 and 4 and the selected probables will be joining the centre after the completion of their examination.
The dignitaries, players and coaches at the foundation laying ceremony included Devender Jhajharia, Vijay Muneshwar, Arjuna awardee, Power-Lifting, R. D. Singh, Dronacharya Awardee (Athletics) and senior officials of Department of Sports and SAI.

BHEL bags 3.6 MW rooftop solar PV systems order from Surat civic body

The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has secured an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) order for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) rooftop systems totalling 3.6 MW capacity from the Surat Municipal Corporation in Gujarat.
While all the 10 identified areas of installation would be within the municipal limits of Surat; 1 MW of energy will be required for Surat Smart City. 
"This is the single largest order for a rooftop PV system won by BHEL and will be an important step in establishing BHEL as one of the leaders in the Rooftop PV system segment also," a press release from the company said.
BHEL manufactures solar cells and modules at its Electronics Division in Bengaluru, while space-grade solar panels using high efficiency cells and space-grade battery panels are manufactured at its Electronic Systems Division, also in Bengaluru.
The company has enhanced its annual manufacturing capacity of solar cells to 105 MW and solar modules to 226 MW. Its new state-of-the-art 200 MW Solar PV Module Manufacturing Line and upgraded 105 MW Solar PV Cell Manufacturing Line were recently inaugurated by Union Minister for Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises Anant Geete, at the company’s manufacturing plants in Bengaluru.
BHEL is one of the few companies in India whose solar business is backed by a dedicated R&D team at the company’s Amorphous Silicon Solar Cell Plant (ASSCP) in Gurgaon near here, the release said.
BHEL offers EPC solutions for both off-grid and grid interactive Solar PV power Plants in Utilty Scale and Rooftop applications and has set up solar plants in various locations in India including Lakshadweep Islands for island electrification, it added.

SpiceJet re-introduces services on Surat – Delhi route

Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today announced the relaunch of twin daily direct flights on the Delhi – Surat – Delhi route effective from March 26.
The new flight is a part of SpiceJet’s enhanced summer schedule and will further augment its connectivity in the domestic sector, a press release from the airline said.
“While the year 2016 has witnessed a sharp growth in air passenger traffic, a large count today still remains untapped who travel from Tier 2 cities. Surat, being an important economic hub of Gujarat, has always been a critical market for us, especially from the point of view of serving our business travellers. The twin daily flight service will offer immense flexibility to the corporate travellers on the SpiceJet network," Ms. Shilpa Bhatia, Sr VP, Commercial, SpiceJet, said.

Reliance-Sibur JV plans to set up halogenated butyl rubber unit at Jamnagar

Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and Russian petrochemical giant Sibur signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the recently-concluded Vibrant Gujarat Summit at Gandhinagar to set up South Asia’s first butyl rubber halogenation unit at RIL’s integrated petrochemicals site at Jamnagar in Gujarat.
The unit will produce 60,000 MT of halogenated butyl rubber every year under Reliance Sibur Elastomers Private Limited (RSEPL) – a joint venture (JV) of which RIL owns 74.9%, and Sibur 25.1%, a press release from RIL said.
Apart from the planned halogenation unit, the JV owns a 1,20,000 MT per annum butyl rubber plant, currently under construction at the same venue which will provide the necessary butyl rubber feed to the halogenation unit.
Mr Nikhil Meswani, Executive Director, RIL, said, “RSEPL’s halogenated butyl rubber plant will be well-poised to capitalise on the significant surge in regional demand in tyre and pharmaceutical industries. India is expected to see a quantum jump in tyre production, with Indian and international tyre majors gearing up to make capital investments of Rs. 15,000 crore. The halogenated butyl rubber demand is expected to grow at a rapid pace of 8-10% CAGR over the next few years, driven by increasing customer preference for tubeless tyres in India and neighbouring countries, and significant investments in the manufacture of pharmaceutical closures and tank inner liners.”
“India offers attractive investment opportunities given the growing local demand for synthetic rubbers and Gujarat’s favourable investment environment coupled with the well-developed infrastructure and raw material availability at a world-class Industrial site owned by RIL. Sibur has a long track record of successful cooperation with RIL and Gujarat’s government, which has provided us with a solid basis for expanding our footprint in India,” said Mr. Dmitry Konov, Chairman of Sibur’s Management Board.
Halogenated butyl rubber is a key ingredient for manufacturing inner liner of tubeless tyre. 
With the Indian automobile trend aligning with global trends, penetration of tubeless tyres is expected to accelerate in the Indian market, resulting in an increased demand of halogenated butyl rubber. The ingredient is also used in the manufacture of pharma stoppers, inner liner of storage tanks, and so on, the release said.
Construction of the butyl rubber plant is in full swing at Jamnagar and it is expected to be commissioned in 2018.
Production from RSEPL will substitute imports and reduce outflow of valuable foreign exchange from India, providing impetus to the government’s Make in India initiative.
Sibur is a vertically integrated gas processing and petrochemicals company. It owns and operates Russia’s largest gas processing business in terms of associated petroleum gas processing volumes, and is a leader in the Russian petrochemicals industry.

IIM Ahmedabad launches ePGP course with Hughes as technology partner

The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) yesterday launched its e-Post Graduate Program in Management (ePGP), a two-year post graduate diploma program offered on Interactive Onsite Learning (IOL) platform, with Hughes Global Education as the technology partner.
A press release from IIMA said the objective of the program is to impart management education to junior, mid- and senior level professionals and entrepreneurs seeking skills and strategies to take their organizations to the next level.
The course, with over 800 classroom instruction hours, will provide the participants with skills for leadership in today’s knowledge economy through an innovative curriculum, it said.
During the first year of the program, the curriculum focuses on equipping participants with knowledge in various areas of management. Second year curriculum offers a range of electives to allow participants to explore management subjects in depth, it said.
The release said the ePGP would be a long-duration diploma program offered in hybrid learning mode, combining sessions delivered through Interactive Learning platform, class room based instruction, continuous evaluation, and mentored project work.
The program will comprise compulsory core courses during the first year followed by a bouquet of elective courses in the second year. Three campus modules are planned as integral parts of the program.
Hughes Global Education India Ltd. (HGEIL) is the education business subsidiary of Hughes Communication India Ltd (HCIL) and has pioneered ‘class apart learning’ in India for working executives, with more than 2500 students enrolling every year using technology since 2001.

Tough decisions like demonetization difficult but needed for clean-up: Jaitley

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said tough decisions initially pass through difficult phases resulting in temporary pain, in an apparent reference to the Government's November 8 announcement on demonetization of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 notes.
India needed such bold decisions as it was time now to clean up the table, he said at a seminor on "GST: The Game Changer for Indian Economy" on the second day of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit at Mahatma Mandir here.
"Demonetization will have an impact over the course of our present and future lives," he said.
Mr. Jaitley said most of the issues regarding implementation of the Goods & Service Tax (GST) had been resolved. A few critical ones are left which will be resolved in the next few weeks. The GST Council is deliberative democracy in action and the impact of both GST and demonetization will be felt this year, he said.
He said that when GST merges all the taxes and makes India into one entity, it would be an advantage to the asessee. Once the GST is implemented, the combination of a more digitized economy along with a more efficient tax system will make India better, he said.
Since people want transparency, government is emphasizing on bringing transparency and elimination of discretion. Indian economy has opened up significantly in the last two years, he added.

India offers unprecedented opportunities for investors: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that India's development agendra was ambitious and it was taking a leap towards next generation infrastructure in both core and social sectors, in rural and urban areas, offering unprecedented opportunities for investors.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017, at Mahatma Mandir, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on January 10, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017, at Mahatma Mandir, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on January 10, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India's development agendra was ambitious and it was taking a leap towards next generation infrastructure in both core and social sectors, in rural and urban areas, offering unprecedented opportunities for investors.
"Most of you can work with us in a number of areas which include: from hardware to software; from soft skills to scientific temper; from defence systems to cyber security; and from medicine to tourism," he said 
"I daresay, that India alone offers the opportunities that could rival those of an entire continent. It offers today, the possibilities of a full century. And we want to do all this in a cleaner, greener and sustainable way. We are committed to protect the environment and uphold our responsibility towards Nature. Ultimately, this is what India has stood for since ages," he said.
Mr. Modi said India's strength lay in the three Ds: Democracy, Demography and Demand.
"Our biggest strength is the depth of our Democracy. Some people say that democracy cannot deliver effective and fast track governance. But we have seen in the last two and a half years that it is possible to deliver quick results in a democratic set up as well. Over the last two and a half years, we have also evolved a culture of healthy competition among states. States are being rated on parameters of Good Governance. The World Bank is helping us in this process.
"Coming to Demography, ours is a nation of vibrant youth.  The disciplined, dedicated, and talented youth of India offers a globally unmatched work-force. We are the second largest English-speaking country. Our youth are not merely looking for jobs. They have begun taking risks and often prefer to become entrepreneurs.
"On the Demand front, our rising middle class offers a huge domestic market. The seas that surround the Indian peninsula, connect us to some of the world’s biggest markets, including Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
"Nature has been kind to us. Our three crop seasons enable us to grow food, vegetables and fruits in abundance. The diversity in our flora and fauna is unparalleled. The richness of our culture and its living symbols is unique. Our Institutions and scholars are recognised the world over. India is now an emerging R&D hub. We produce the world’s second largest number of scientists and engineers.
"Our entertainment industry is making waves worldwide. All this helps ensure a good quality of life, at relatively low cost," he said.
The Prime Minister said his Government was elected first and foremost on the promise to provide clean governance and end the "prevailing regime of corruption and nepotism".
"It is our vision and mission to bring a paradigm shift in the ways of our polity and economy. We have taken a series of decisions and steps in this direction. To give you some examples, we are bringing a shift: from relation based governance to system based governance; from discretionary administration to policy based administration; from random interference to technological intervention; from favouritism to level playing field; from Informal economy to formal economy," he said.
"In doing this, digital technology has played a key role. I have often said that e-governance is easy and effective governance. I have also emphasized the need for policy driven governance. Online processes help bring speed and openness in decision making. Towards this end, we are working to adopt and absorb newer technologies, to bring about transparency, and to end discretion. Believe me, we are on the threshold of becoming the world’s most digitised economy. Most of you wanted this change in India. I am proud to say that it is happening before you," he said.
Mr. Modi said that, over the last two and a half years, the government had worked relentlessly to realise India’s potential, and to set right the economy. He said the results had been very encouraging and there had been substantial improvement in key macro-economic indicators like GDP growth, inflation, fiscal deficit, current account deficit as well as foreign investments.
"India has become the fastest growing major economy in the world. Despite the global slowdown, we have registered excellent growth.Today, India is a bright spot in the global economy. We are seen as the engine of global growth.
"World Bank, IMF and other institutions have projected even better growth in the coming days. In 2014-15, India contributed 12.5 per cent of global growth. Its contribution to global growth is sixty eight per cent higher, than its share of the world economy.
"Creating an enabling environment for business, and attracting investments, is my top priority. We have to do this in order to create opportunities for our youth. With that spirit, we are moving towards implementation of some historic initiatives. This includes the Goods and Services Tax.
"The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, the National Company Law Tribunal, a new arbitration framework and a new IPR regime are all in place. New commercial courts have also been set up.  These are just a few examples of the direction in which we are going. My government is strongly committed to continue the reform of the Indian economy," he said.
Mr. Modi said the Government had placed the highest emphasis on Ease of Doing Business. He said it had taken decisive steps to ease licensing processes, and rationalize provisions and procedures relating to clearances, returns, and inspections. 
"We are monitoring implementation of hundreds of action points across various sectors, aimed at improving the regulatory framework. This is part of our promise of Good Governance.
"The outcomes of our efforts are visible in India’s global rankings on various indicators. A number of global reports and assessments over the last two years have shown that India has improved its policies, practices and hence its economic profile.
"India’s rank has improved considerably, in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report. India is ranked third in the list of top prospective host economies for 2016-18 in the World Investment Report 2016 released by UNCTAD. Our rank also improved by thirty two positions in World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Competitiveness Report 2015-16 and 2016-17'," he said.
Mr. Modi said India had moved up 16 ranks in the ‘Global Innovation Index 2016’ brought out by WIPO and other institutions. It had moved up 19 positions in the World Bank’s ‘Logistics Performance Index of 2016'.
"You can see that we are moving closer to global best practices. Day by day we are getting more and more integrated with the world. Our confidence has been boosted by the positive impact of our policies and practices. This also gives us the motivation to further simplify our processes to become the easiest place to do business.
"Every day, we are further rationalising our policies and procedures, to make it simple for businesses to establish and grow. We have liberalised our FDI regime in many sectors and in various ways. India is today among the most open economies. This change in environment has been recognized by both domestic and foreign investors.
"An encouraging Start-up eco-system is now taking shape in the country. This unleashing of the youth power is heartening.
"The total FDI inflows in the last two and a half years have touched US $ 130 billion. The FDI equity inflow in the last two financial years was 60 per cent higher as compared to previous two financial years. In fact, the total FDI inflows received during the last year have been the highest ever," he said.
The Prime Minister said the number of countries from where FDI is coming in and the sectors in which they are being routed have also diversified in the last two years. India is now the leading recipient of capital investment in the Asia-Pacific. It also continues to be among the top ten countries globally in terms of FDI inflows.
"But the story does not end here. India has left every other country behind in terms of providing return on investment. In 2015, India has risen to first position in the Baseline Profitability Index," he said.
Mr. Modi said Make in India had become the biggest brand that India has ever had. It is directed towards making India a global hub for manufacturing, design and innovation, he said.
"I am delighted to share that we have become the sixth largest manufacturing country in the world, up from ninth largest previously. Our Gross Value Added in manufacturing has recorded a growth of nine per cent in 2015-16. This is much higher than the five to six per cent growth in the previous three years. All this is helping us expand the job market and raise the purchasing power of our people. But the real potential is even higher.
"To give you a few examples: India’s Food Processing Industry is expected to increase almost five fold in the next ten years. Similarly, India's low vehicle penetration makes it one of the world's most attractive auto markets.
"At the Government level, we have to ensure that our growth process is inclusive and embraces both rural and urban communities. We are committed to an India with: better job opportunities; better income; better purchasing power; better quality of life; and better living standards," he said.
"Our development needs are huge. Our development agenda is ambitious. For instance: we want to provide a roof over every head; we want to provide jobs to every hand; we want to produce energy that is cleaner; we want to build roads and railways faster; we want mineral exploration to become greener; we want to build urban amenities that are sturdier; we want to see our quality of life getting better and better," he said.
"We are taking a leap towards next generation infrastructure: in both core and social sectors; in both rural and urban areas. This includes Freight Corridors, Industrial Corridors, High Speed and Metro Rail projects, Logistics Parks, Smart Cities, Coastal Zones, regional airports, water, sanitation and energy initiatives. Our per capita electricity consumption must rise. Even as we do so, we are committed to promoting renewable energy.
"We are keen to promote tourism in a big way and this needs tourism infrastructure. The targets for construction of roads and laying of railways have been increased manifold. India is going to emerge as one of the world’s largest construction markets as it adds millions of homes. 
"Welcome to India: the land of tradition and tranquillity; the land of empathy and excitement; the land of experiment and enterprise. The land of openings and opportunities.
"Once again, I welcome you and invite you to be part of - India of Today; and India of Tomorrow. I assure you that I will be available to hold your hands whenever required," he added.

India to be made a great destination for science, says Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stated that the Government's vision in science and technology was to make India a great destination for science where the youth could be well trained and prepared for the future to make them employable in the best places.
Inaugurating the Nobel Exhibition at Science City here yesterday, Mr Modi said, “My Government has a clear vision of where we want India to be in the next 15 years. Science and Technology is the pivot on which that vision will translate into strategy and action."
“Our vision in Science and Technology is to make sure that opportunity is available to all our youth. That training and future preparedness should make our youth employable in the best places. That India should be a great science destination. That we should take major inspirational challenges such as deep sea exploration and cyber systems,” he added.
The five-week exhibition is organised by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of Gujarat and Nobel Media.
“We have a plan that will take this vision through action. Our scientists have been asked to develop programmes on science teaching in our schools across the country. This will also involve training teachers,” Mr. Modi said.
“At the next level they have been asked to create new programmes both in skilling and high-tech training," he said.
“These programmes will make you employable in the new knowledge economy and make you effective entrepreneurs and thinking scientists. You will be able to compete for positions and jobs here and anywhere in the world,” he added.
“Next, our scientists will link our laboratories in cities. You can share ideas, seminars and resources and equipment. This will allow us to do more and better collaborative science,” the Prime Minister said.
“Our science agencies will expand science-driven entrepreneurship and commercialisation in a big way in each state according to local needs. Your start-ups and industry can then compete globally,” he added.
He urged the youth to take advantage of the opportunity India offers by way of “an enabling and unique opportunity of a large demographic dividend and the best teachers.”
Referring to the challenge of overcoming poverty, Mr Modi said scientists had a role to play in this regard, along with the task of environment protection.
“The maturity of our science will also be judged by a responsible treatment of our planet by the wise use of science and technology,” he said.
“Globally, science and technology has emerged as one of the major drivers of socio-economic development. In the fast growing Indian economy, there are increasing expectations for scientific interventions,” he added.
The Prime Minister said there were three outcomes he wanted to see from the Nobel Prize series.
First, follow up with students and their teachers. The students and teachers here have come through a national ‘Ideathon’ competition and hail from all over the country. Do not lose track of them, he said.
During the exhibition period, sessions could be held for school teachers from all over Gujarat.
Secondly, entrepreneurship could be stimulated locally as there is a great entrepreneurial zeal among the youth. “Our science ministries have incubators here in Gujarat. In the next five weeks, you should have a workshop on how cutting edge science and technology-driven start-ups can be boosted,” he said.
“Prize winning Physics can both save electricity bills and the planet. The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics was for the blue LED. This came from basic research by three Japanese scientists Akasaki, Amano and Nakamura. When combined with the previously known red and green LED, white light devices can be made that last a hundred thousand hours. There are many such exciting discoveries being made that we can apply through enterprise,” he said.
Thirdly, many Nobel Prize winning discoveries have had a huge impact on the society through health and agriculture. “For example, precision medicine using the tools of gene-technologies is now a reality. We must use this tool to study cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases,” Mr Modi said.
“India is already a generics and bio-similar leader, with a major hub in Gujarat, but we must now strive to become a leader in new bio-tech discoveries as well,” he added.
Expressing happiness that the exhibition has been planned at the Science City which connects community to science, Mr Modi said,” It is an ideal platform to engage citizens to learn about solutions to global challenges we face.
“We will strive to make this Science City a truly attractive, world-class place for young students and science teachers from all over the country and the world to come and be inspired by the exhibits. Centre and State should collaborate and take up this challenge this year,” he added.

Modi inaugurates India's first international stock exchange

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India's first international stock exchange -- the India International Exchange -- at GIFT City in Gandhinagar on Monday and described it as a momentous occasion for India's financial sector.

Modi inaugurates India International Exchange at GIFT City
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India's first international stock exchange -- the India International Exchange -- at GIFT City here today and described it as a momentous occasion for India's financial sector.
The excange is part of the International Financial Services Centre, - IFSC - at Gift City.
"The concept of an International Financial Services Centre is simple but powerful. It aims to provide onshore talent with an offshore technological and regulatory framework. This is to enable Indian firms to compete on an equal footing with offshore financial centres. Gift City IFSC will be able to provide facilities and regulations comparable to any other leading international finance centres in the world," he said.
Mr. Modi said it was not easy to create an offshore-like environment in a large country like India with a huge domestic market.
"India cannot be compared to small city states. Such countries have very small local markets and hence can afford to have specially favourable tax and regulatory regimes. Large countries cannot do the same. Creating an offshore-like centre within a large country like India, therefore did pose regulatory challenges. I am glad that the Ministry of Finance, the Reserve Bank and SEBI have found solutions to the regulatory issues," he said.
The Prime Minister said there had been criticism for long that a lot of trading, even in Indian financial instruments, was currently taking place abroad. 
"It is said that India has stopped becoming the price setter for even some Indian financial instruments. Gift City will be able to mitigate many of these criticisms. But my vision for Gift City is larger. My  vision is that in ten years from now, Gift City should become the price setter for at least a few of the largest traded instruments in the world, whether in commodities, currencies, equities, interest rates or any other financial instrument," he said.
Mr. Modi also said India needed to create 30 crore new jobs over the next 20 years.
"It is a huge endeavour. Skilled and well-paying jobs in the service sector will have to be part of this job revolution. Indian youth can do it.  The international exposure which our youth will be able to get from Gift City will ensure that more and more of them will be able to join this important field. I urge Indian companies, exchanges and regulators, to help create a pool of experienced and world beating finance professionals. They can work out of this great new city and provide services to the entire world. Over next ten years, I expect this city to generate several lakh jobs," he said
Mr. Modi recalled that the Gift City project took shape in  2007, when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
"The vision was to create a world class Finance and IT zone for India, to provide services not only to India but the entire world.
"In those days, as now, wherever I went, I would meet some of the top financial brains of those countries. Whether in New York, London, Singapore, Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi, I would find many of them to be of Indian origin. I was impressed by their understanding of the financial world, and also their contributions to their adopted countries.
"I used to think, 'How can we bring this talent back and at the same time, provide leadership to the entire financial world?'
"When the Gift city was conceptualised, I was Chief Minister of Gujarat. Technological progress had accelerated manifold. We had world class talent of Indian origin working in India and abroad. India had a leadership position in Information Technology. Finance was being increasingly married to technology. It was becoming very clear to us that finance combined with technology, or 'fintech' as it is sometimes called, would be an important part of India’s future development.
"I deliberated a lot with experts about how to make India, a thought leader, in the field of Finance. It was clear that we would need to have the best facilities and the ability to transact in all markets in the world. Gift city was born out of this vision. Our aim was to provide world class facilities to India’s world class talent in finance and technology. Today, with the inauguration of this exchange, we have reached an important landmark in achieving that vision," he said.
Mr. Modi recalled that he had, in June 2013, invited the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) to set up a world beating International Stock Exchange. In 2015, during the Vibrant Gujarat event, they signed an MoU with Government of Gujarat. "Today, I am delighted to be here to inaugurate the new India International Exchange. It is an important milestone not just for Gift City but for India, in creating 21st century infrastructure," he said.
"I am told this exchange will trade in equity, commodities, currencies and interest rate derivatives in the first phase. Later, it will trade equity instruments of Indian and foreign companies. I am told Masala bonds will also be available for trading here. Many more companies from Asia, Africa and Europe should be able to raise funds from this important International Finance Centre. This exchange is set to be among the fastest exchanges in the world with most modern trading, clearing and settlement systems. India is in an excellent time-zone between West and East. It can provide financial services through the day and night to the entire world. The exchange, I am told, will work 22 hours a day, starting when the Japanese markets start, and closing when US markets close. I am sure, this exchange will set new standards for quality of service and speed of transactions across time zones.
"You are aware of the importance I attach to the development of smart cities. Gift City is the first ground up truly smart city in the country. All the 100 smart cities will do well to understand how Gift City has been able to create its underground infrastructure which can compete with the best in the world. I have said before that India can become a developed country in one generation. New cities will be important in creating the new India of our dreams: a confident India; a prosperous India; an inclusive India; our India," he added.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame to visit India from January 9-12

Rwanda President Paul Kagame will be on a working visit to India from January 9-12 at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The two leaders will hold official talks on January 9 in Gandhinagar, a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said.
Mr. Kagame, who will be accompanied by a business delegation, will attend the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in Gandhinagar and address a National Business Seminar on Rwanda. 
Rwanda will also be participating in the Global Trade Show 2017, the release added.

Reliance Industries commissions new paraxylene plant at Jamnagar in Gujarat

Energy and petrochemicals major Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) today said that it had successfully commissioned the first phase of its new paraxylene (PXP) plant at Jamnagar in Gujarat.
The announcement came on the birth anniversary of RIL founder Chairman Dhirubhai H. Ambani.
A press release from the company said the plant, with capacity of 2.2 MMTPA, is built with state-of-the-art crystallization technology from BP which is highly energy efficient and environment friendly. 
With the commissioning of this plant, RIL’s PX capacity will more than double from 2.0 MMTPA to 4.2 MMTPA, it said.
On commissioning of entire PX capacity, Reliance will be the world’s second largest PX producer with 9% of global PX capacity and 11% share of global production, it said.
The new PX capacity will add value to the output from refineries and improve the profitability of the Jamnagar complex, the release said.
PX is the building block for the entire polyester chain. The new capacity will complete the integration within Reliance’s polyester value chain, leading to improved margins and also strengthen its position in polyester industry globally, it said.
“Commissioning of the new PX plant marks beginning of the culmination of a series of projects including the refinery off-gas cracker, ethane import project and petcoke gasification. These projects are part of the largest contemporary investment, in excess of Rs. 100,000 crore, in Refining and Petrochemicals sector anywhere in the world. Our projects are on schedule and at an advanced stage of mechanical completion. The new PX capacity takes us a step closer to being among the top 10 petrochemical players globally. This is a fitting tribute to our visionary Founder Chairman Shri Dhirubhai H. Ambani,” said RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh D. Ambani.

Not my money, says businessman who disclosed Rs 13,860 crore under IDS

Mahesh Shah, a businessman from Gujarat who disclosed Rs. 13,860 crore of unaccounted wealth under the Income Declaration Scheme on September 30 and had gone missing for the past few days, claimed on Saturday the money was not his and that he had acted as a front for some businessmen, politicians and officials.

Curious case of Mahesh Shah
Mahesh Shah, a businessman from Gujarat who disclosed Rs. 13,860 crore of unaccounted wealth under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) on September 30 and had gone missing for the past few days, today claimed that the money was not his and that he had only acted as a front for some businessmen, politicians and officials.
Appearing unannounced at the studio of ETV Gujarat in Ahmedabad, Shah, 67, told the television channel's journalists that he would disclose full details in this regard to Income Tax (IT) officials.
Teams of IT officials, accompanied by a police team, landed up at the studio shortly thereafter and detained Shah, a real estate dealer, and took him away for questioning.
Shah told the television channel that he had agreed to declare Rs. 13,860 crore as undisclosed income on behalf of some others in return for a commission. However, according to him, those people had backed out at the last minute and he, therefore, could not pay the first instalment of the tax to be paid on the amount, calculated at 45%, amounting to Rs. 1560 crore before the deadline of November 30 ended.
Income Tax officials had carried out raids at Shah's residence and office premises in Ahmedabad earlier this week and found no evidence to suggest he possessed the kind of wealth that he had claimed in his declaration.
The Rs.13,860 crore that Shah had declared amounted to about 20 percent of the Rs. 65,000 crore of undisclosed wealth the Government had said had been declared across the country during the three-month window that ended on September 30.
Tehmul Sethna, the chartered accountant who facilitated the declaration before IT officials, was quoted in media reports as saying yesterday that he had last spoken to his client on November 29.
IT officials had cancelled Shah's declaration under the IDS after he failed to pay up the first instalment of the tax on the declared amount.

9 dead in road mishap at Karjan in Gujarat

As many as nine people died and three others suffered injuries when a sports utility vehicle (SUV) collided head-on with a private bus on national highway NH=9 near Karjan in Vadodara district of Gujarat on Sunday night, about 40 km from here, police said.
Those killed included four children, three women and two men, they said, adding that the injured had been admitted to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Eight of the deceased belonged to the family of a businessmen and were returning home to Surat in their SUV when the tragedy occurred, while the ninth victim was a woman travelling in another car, which got involved in a three-way collision, police said.
According to the police, the driver of the speeding SUV lost control over the vehicle, which jumped the median and crashed into the bus moving in the opposite direction. The bus driver tried to swerve but ended up hitting another car, killing one of its occupants, they said.
Traffic on the busy highway was disrupted for more than an hour after the accident before normalcy was restored.

14 dead as mini-truck collides with truck in Ahmedabad district of Gujarat

14 dead in road mishap in Gujarat
As many as 14 men died and three others suffered injuries when a mini-truck they were travelling in collided head-on with a truck on the Bagodara-Kheda highway near here late last night.
Police sources said the mishap occurred around 11.30 pm near Valtera village in Dholka taluka of Ahmedabad district.
The injured were taken to the Government Hospital at Dholka for treatment and were later referred to the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad.
According to them, the victims belonged to three families from Sokhda village near Rajot. They were returning hom from a pilgrimage to Pavagadh in Panchmahals district.
The truck was laden with ceramic tiles was on its way from Wankaner in Morbi district to Andhra Pradesh. The driver of the truck fled from the scene after the accident, police said, adding that a case of negligent and rash driving had been registered against him.

Minor earthquake shakes Kutch region of Gujarat

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale, shook the Kutch region of Gujarat this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 23.7°N and longitude 70.2°E, occurred at 0936 hours at a focal depth of 25 km, an IMD bulletin added.

Eight dead after shop selling firecrackers catches fire in Vadodara district of Gujarat

Eight killed in cracker shop fire in Vadodara, Gujarat
At least eight persons died and five others suffered injuries when a shop which was selling firecrackers, among other things, caught fire at Rustompura village in Waghodia taluka in this district of Gujarat this evening.
Official sources said the fire quickly spread to some nearby shops, including one dealing in tyres, and led to the explosion of an LPG cylinder stored in one of the rooms on the first floor, which, in turn, caused the collapse of a wall.
The injured were rushed to nearby hospitals, where the condition of some of them was stated to be serious, they said.
According to the sources, the cause of the fire could not be immediately ascertained, but it could have started because of an electrical short-circuit.
Fire tenders were rushed to the village from here and senior district officials reached the scene to oversee the rescue and relief efforts.

Minor earthquake shakes Kutch district of Gujarat

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale, shook the Kutch district of Gujarat in the early hours of today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
A bulletin issued by the IMD said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 24.2°N and longitude 71.2°E, occurred at 0427 hours at a focal depth of 1 km.

President Mukherjee to visit Gujarat on October 22-23

President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a two-day visit to Gujarat on October 22-23, an official press release said here today.
On October 23, Mr. Mukherjee will inaugurate the renovated Sevashram Hospital at Bharuch and inaugurate the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Heart Institute at Ankleshwar.
On the same day, he will also address the students and faculty of Bapu Gujarat Knowledge Village and Samarpan College.
He will also meet former Gujarat Chief Minister and former External Affairs Minister Madhavsinh Solanki before returning to the national capital, the release added.

Sagarmala funds flagship project of Ro Pax ferry service in Gulf of Cambay

As part of promoting coastal shipping in the country under the ambitious Sagarmala programme, the Ministry of Shipping has sanctioned the capital dredging project for Ro Pax ferry services between Gogha  and Dahej in the Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat.
The Ministry released Rs. 58.50 crore as the first instalment of the grant-in–aid to the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB). The total project cost is estimated to be Rs. 234 crore, of which 50% will be funded by the Central Government under the Sagarmala programme.
The project would result in reduction in the motorable distance of 231 km between Gogha  and Dahej to a mere 31 km and reduce the travel time from seven hours to just one hour by crossing the Gulf of Cambay in 17 nautical miles.
The initiative would not only reduce the travel time but also result in savings in fuel, reduction in CO2 emission and reduction in road congestion.
The project is the first of its kind in India as it will be executed in the area of world’s second highest tidal range, an official press release said. The project would open up new avenues in coastal shipping and tourism and help in socio-economic development of proximate areas, it said.
It would also help in utilisation of inland waterways through River Narmada for shipping goods from industries located upstream , the release said.
It is one of the flagship projects under Sagarmala which aims to increase share of waterways transportation in the modal mix to 10 per cent from present level of 7 per cent by year 2025.

Conference of States Power Ministers to be held in Vadodara

A two-day conference of Ministers for Power, New & Renewable Energy and Mines of States and Union Territories (UTs) will be held on October 7-8 at Vadodara in Gujarat.
The conference will be inaugurated by Mr. Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines. 
An official press release said the conference would review the implementation of various ongoing schemes and programmes and  deliberate on a host of issues pertaining to the power, coal, renewable energy and mines sectors.
The conference will be organized on the sidelines of the International Energy Conference -- SWITCH Global Expo --organized by Government of Gujarat from October 6-10 at Vadodara.
Ministers and Secretaries of the States and UTs and senior officials of the four sectors and public sector undertakings under them will meet up to discuss issues like implementation of Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY), 24x7 Power for All, Feeder monitoring, IT enablement of urban & rural feeders, Rural Electrification Programme, Energy conservation , Right of Way (RoW) compensation for transmission lines in urban areas, National Power Demand & National Electricity Plan, issues related to open access & captive generation, energy/peak shortage and increase in transparency by introduction of mobile apps.
Apart from above aspects, mandatory adoption of Energy Conservation Building Codes by States and agricultural demand side management will be discussed. Discussion will also be held on policy interventions for hydro development, including small hydro under the broad aspects of progressive Hydropower Policy.
In the area of renewable energy, State-wise review will be taken on issues regarding Solar Power, Wind Power as well as the compliance of Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPOs) and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
In the coal sector, deliberations will focus upon issues like import substitution of coal, third party sampling and flexibility in utilization of coal, among other outstanding issues of coal companies.
In the mining sector, deliberations will concentrate upon important issues such as preparedness for e-auctions of major mineral blocks, setting up of District Mineral Funds (DMF) in the States, exploration policy & minor mineral rules, star rating of mines and curbing of illegal mining through Mining Surveillance System (MSS), among others.

Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh become Open Defecation Free in urban areas

Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh became the first states to declare all their cities and town as Open Defecation Free (ODF) as the Swachh Bharat Week, that began on September 25, concluded today on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
A few districts, including Porbandar in Gujarat, the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi, also declared their ODF status on the occasion, the second anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Mission, the national cleanliness campaign.
Porbandar district and all the 180 cities and towns in Gujarat were declared ODF in the presence of Union Minister of Drinking Water & Sanitation Narendra Singh Tomar and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani at a special programme in Porbandar.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N.Chandrababu Naidu declared all 110 cities and towns in the State as ODF at a programme in Tirupati.
Addressing the participants of the Porbandar programme through a video-link, Minister of Urban Development M.Venkaiah Naidu said, “Declaration of Porbandar district and other areas as Open Defecation Free today is an interim gift to Mahatma on the occasion of his birth anniversary today and the final gift of Swachh Bharat would be presented to Gandhiji on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary on October 2,2019.
"The Mood of Developing India (MODI) being strongly for sanitation, Swachh Bharat Mission is becoming a people’s movement and Swachh Bharat will be realized with people leading the grand India Sanitation Alliance of all stakeholders”.
In a similar address to Tirupati programme, Mr. Naidu urged the people to become ‘Swachhagrahis’ to make the country free from poor hygiene in the spirit of ‘Satyagrahis’ who won political freedom for the country under the leadership of Gandhiji. He said that Rs. 186 crore had been sanctioned today for Andhra Pradesh for focusing on solid waste management in urban areas.
Mr. Naidu complimented Chief Ministers, concerned Ministers, Mayors, Councilors, Municipal Commissioners, the people and all others concerned for making urban areas of Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh Open Defecation Free.
Speaking at a Short Film Festival on Sanitation, organized by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and National Film Development Corporation, Mr. Naidu said, “While Prime Minister Narendra Modi triggered interest of the people in Swachh Bharat, the Mission is a people’s movement and the credit for building Swachh Bharat would go to the people and all stakeholders including Chief Ministers, elected representatives of the people and others. Mind and body are inseparable like the Advaita. A clean mind resides only in a clean body. Clean individuals make clean environment. Individual actions result in collective effort needed for Swachh Bharat.”. 
He complimented young filmmakers for making thought provoking short films on sanitation.
Mr. Naidu also released a book ‘In the Footsteps of Mahatma : Gandhi and Sanitation’ published by the Publications Division of the Ministry of I&B. The book was authored by Prof. Sudarshan Iyengar, a veteran Gandhian.
On the last day of Swachh Bharat Week today, Mr. Naidu also flagged off a Swachh Awareness Rally organized by NDMC. At a function, also organized by NDMC, Home Minister Rajnath Singh administered Swachhata Pledge at Connaught Place.
A Postal Stamp on Swachhat was released today by Mr. Naidu and Minister of Communications Manoj Sinha in New Delhi.
As many as 405 cities and towns have so far claimed to have become Open Defecation Free along with 20,000 of the 82,000 urban wards in the country. Another 334 cities and towns would become ODF by March next year.
Maharashtra, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram and other North-Eastern States are on course to declare all urban areas as ODF soon.

Minor earthquakes shake Rudraprayag in Uttarakhand, Kutch in Gujarat

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.7 on the Richter scale, shook the Rudraprayag region of Uttarakhand early this morning.
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 30.5°N and longitude 78.9°E, occurred at 0311 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
Earlier, a minor earthquake, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Kutch region of Gujarat.
The tremor, which had its epicentre at latitude 23.7 N and longitude 70.2 E, occurred at 0213 hours at a depth of 19 km, the bulletin added.

Minor earthquake shakes Kutch region of Gujarat

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, shook the Kutch region of Gujarat early this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 23.8°N and longitude 70.3°E, occurred at 0436 hours at a focal depth of 5 km, an IMD bulletin added.

Modi to distribute aids, assistive devices to disabled on his birthday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will mark his 66th birthday on Saturday by distributing aids and assistive devices to persons with disabilities (PwDs) at the Samajik Adikarita Shivir at Navsari in Gujarat.
Gujarat Governor O.P. Kohli, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot and senior officials from the Central and State Governments would be present on the occasion, an official press release said.
More than 11,000 beneficiaries will be provided free-of-cost assistive equipment worth Rs. 10.74 crore and certificates at the camp organized by Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD).
The camp also holds the prospect of entering the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ in three categories: for most people fitted with hearing aid in eight hours, largest wheelchair logo/image and the largest number of oil lamps lit simultaneously at a single venue.
The Scheme of Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fittings of Aids/Appliances (ADIP Scheme) is in operation since 1981. Its main objective is to provide grants-in-aid to the various implementing agencies (National Institutes/ Composite Regional Centres/Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO)/District Disability Rehabilitation Centres/State Handicapped Development Corporations/other local bodies/ NGOs).
These in turn would assist the needy in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances to promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation. The scheme also envisages conduct of corrective surgeries, whenever required, before providing an assistive device.
The ADIP Camps have been scheduled regularly across different parts of the country.
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