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Modi dedicates Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat to nation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the Sardar Sarovar Dam, built on the Narmada river, to the nation at Kevadia in Gujarat on Sunday.

 
Modi dedicates Sardar Sarovar Dam to nation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today dedicated the Sardar Sarovar Dam, built on the Narmada river, to the nation at Kevadia in Gujarat today.
 
The occasion was marked by prayers and chanting of hymns at the Dam at Kevadia. Mr. Modi unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion. 
 
Later, the Prime Minister visited the construction site of the Statue of Unity, dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, at Sadhu Bet, a short distance from the dam. He was given an overview of the progress of work at the site. 
 
Later, at a public meeting in Dabhoi, Mr. Modi unveiled a plaque to mark the laying of foundation stone of the National Tribal Freedom Fighters' Museum. The occasion also marked the closing ceremony of the Narmada Mahotsav, which generated awareness about River Narmada in various districts of Gujarat. 
 
Speaking on the occasion, he said the huge gathering showed the respect that people had for "Maa Narmada". On the occasion of Vishwakarma Jayanti, he said that he salutes all those who are working to build the nation. "Let us leave no stone unturned to build a New India by 2022," he said.
 
Mr. Modi recalled Sardar Patel's vision of the dam. He said that both Sardar Patel and Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar gave a lot of emphasis to irrigation and waterways. 
 
The Prime Minister said lack of water resources has been a major impediment to development. He recalled visiting the border areas in the past, when Border Security Force (BSF) jawans did not have enough water. "We brought Narmada waters to the border areas for the jawans," he said. 
 
The saints and seers of Gujarat have played a very big role in the making of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, he said. The waters of the River Narmada will help citizens and transform lives, he added. 
 
The Prime Minister said that in the western part of the country, there is water shortage, and in the eastern part, there is power and gas shortage. He said the Government is working to overcome these shortages, so that India scales new heights of development. 
 
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The Prime Minister said the Statue of Unity would be a fitting tribute to Sardar Patel, and would draw tourists from all over. He recalled freedom fighters from tribal communities, who fought against colonialism. 
 
Later, Mr. Modi inaugurated a newly constructed market yard of APMC, at Amreli. He also inaugurated a new plant of Amar Dairy, and laid the foundation stone for a honey plant. 
 
At a Sahakar Sammelan in Amreli, the Prime Minister said he was happy to see younger people coming to the fore and taking leadership of the cooperative sector. He recalled how dairies had grown in Saurashtra, in the period when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. 
 
He said the e-NAM Yojana is benefiting farmers and giving them access to better markets. He said the blue revolution and the sweet (honey) revolution have the potential to transform the lives of people in Saurashtra. 
 
The Prime Minister said the Union Government is sensitive to the needs and concerns of the farmers.
 
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Modi, Abe lay foundation stone for India's first high speed rail project

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday jointly laid the foundation stone for India's first high speed rail project, based on Japanese technology, between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

 
Modi, Abe lay foundation stone for India's first bullet train project
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today jointly laid the foundation stone for India's first high speed rail project, based on Japanese technology, between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
 
The public function to mark the commencement of work on the "Bullet Train" project was the highlight of Mr. Abe's two-day visit to India which concluded today.
 
The train is expected to significantly reduce travel time between the two cities. Japan is a pioneer in high-speed rail networks, and its Shinkansen bullet train is among the fastest in the world.
 
The $ 16.87 billion bullet train project will be 81 percent funded by Japan through a concessional long-term loan. The bullet train is expected to cut the 500 km journey from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, to just 2 to 3 hours as compared to the 7-8 hours it takes now.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Modi spoke of the high ambition and willpower of “New India.” He congratulated the people of India on the occasion, and said that the bullet train project will provide speed and progress, and deliver results quickly. He said the Government’s focus is on increasing productivity through high speed connectivity. 
 
The Prime Minister thanked Japan for the technical and financial help given to India, for this project. He praised Prime Minister Abe for the fact that this project is being launched within such a short time. 
 
The Prime Minister said that this high speed railway would not only bring two cities closer, but also bring the people living hundreds of kilometers away, closer to each other. He said a new economic system is being developed along the Mumbai-Ahmedabad corridor, and the entire area would become a single economic zone. 
 
The Prime Minister said technology is useful only if it provides benefit to the common man. He said the technology transfer envisaged in this project will benefit Indian Railways, and boost the “Make in India” initiative. He said the project would be eco-friendly as well as human-friendly. He said “high-speed corridors” would be regions for rapid growth in the future. 
 
The Prime Minister said that the Government is working to ensure that infrastructure is developed keeping in mind futuristic requirements. He expressed confidence that everyone would work together to complete this project in the shortest possible time. 
 
Earlier, Mr. Abe said that the India-Japan partnership is special, strategic and global. He said that he hopes to see the beauty of India through the windows of the Bullet Train, a few years hence,
 
After the ceremony, Mr. Abe, accompanied by Mr. Modi, visited the Dandi Kutir at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, the venue for the 12th India-Japan Annual Summit today.
 
At a joint  media interaction with Mr. Abe after their summit, Mr. Modi said the high-speed rail project was a "very big step".
 
"This is not just the beginning of high speed rail. While looking forward at our future needs, I consider this new railway philosophy as the lifeline of a New India. India's uninterrupted progress has now been attached to a much faster pace," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said mutual trust and faith, understanding of each other's interests and concerns, and continuous high level interactions made the India-Japan relationship unique.
 
"The scope of our special strategic and global partnership is not confined to bilateral or regional levels only. We also have close cooperation on global issues. Last year, during my visit to Japan, we had a historic agreement for peaceful use of nuclear energy. I express my gratitude to the people of Japan, Parliament of Japan, and especially Prime Minister Abe for its ratification. This agreement has added a new chapter to our cooperation on the issue of clean energy and climate change," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said that, in 2016-17, India got Japanese investment worth $ 4.7 billion, which is 80 percent more than the previous year. 
 
"Now Japan is the third largest investor in India. It clearly shows how much confidence and optimism is prevalent in Japan towards India's economic development and a golden tomorrow. And by looking at this investment, it can be assumed that in the coming days people-to-people ties between India and Japan will grow further along with a growing business. We already provide visa on arrival facilities to citizens of Japan and now after the collaboration between India Post and Japan Post we are going to introduce a Cool Box Service so that the Japanese people living in India can directly get their favorite food from Japan. At the same time, I would also request the Japanese business community to open more Japanese restaurants in India! 
 
"Today, India is on the path of a radical change at many levels. Whether it is ease of doing business or Skill India, taxation reforms or Make in India, India is transforming completely. This is a huge opportunity for Japanese businesses. And I'm glad that many Japanese companies are deeply involved with our flagship programs. We will also get to see its direct benefit during our conversation in today's evening program with the business leaders of both the countries. We are the largest partner in Japan's official development assistance programme and I warmly welcome the agreements that have been signed today for the projects in several sectors," he said.
 
"I am confident that our dialogue and the agreements signed by us today will further strengthen the partnership between India and Japan in all areas," Mr. Modi added.
 
The two sides signed 15 agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) on the occasion in areas such as Disaster Risk Management, Skills Development, Connectivity, Economic and Commercial, Investment, Civil Aviation, Science & Technology, Sports and Academics/Think Tanks.
 
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Japan's PM Shinzo Abe arrives in Ahmedabad for annual dialogue with Modi

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Ahmedabad on a two-day visit during which he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold the 12th India-Japan Annual Summit at Gandhinagar and set the future direction for the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries.

 
Modi, Abe in roadshow from Ahmedabad airport to Sabarmati Ashram
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived here today on a two-day official visit to India during which  he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold the 12th India-Japan Annual Summit at Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, and set the future direction for the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries.
 
This will be the fourth annual summit between Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe, during which the two leaders will review the recent progress in the multi-facted bilateral cooperation.
 
Mr. Modi dispensed with protocol to personally receive Mr. Abe and his wife Akie when they landed here this afternoon in his home state. Mr. Modi welcomed Mr. Abe with a hug before the Japanese Prime Minister inspected a guard of honour at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport.
 
From the airport, Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe travelled in an open jeep in a motorcade along an eight km route to the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. Along the way, students and artistes staged cultural performances at different points, highlighting the rich and diverse cultural traditions of the country. This was the first time that two Prime Ministers have participated in such a road show.
 
Mr. Abe and his wife changed into Indian attire for the road show -- with the Japanese Prime Minister wearing a royal blue Nehru jacket and Ms. Abe dressed in a pink silk kurta.
 
Mr. Abe and his wife, accompanied by Mr. Modi, also visited the iconic Sidi Saiyyed Mosque here, built in 1573, and noted for its beautifully carved ten latticework windows (Jalis) on the side and rear arches.
 
The two bays flanking the central aisle have reticulated stone slabs carved in designs of intertwined trees and foliage and a palm motif. This intricately carved lattice stone window is the Sidi Saiyyed Jali, the unofficial symbol of city of Ahmedabad and the inspiration for the design of the logo of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad.
 
Mr. Modi explained the history and the importance of the mosque to Mr. Abe. The two Prime Ministers also posed for photographs in front of the monument.
 
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Later in the evening, Mr. Modi hosted dinner for the Japanese leader and his wife at a heritage hotel here. The fare was vegetarian and a mix of Japanese and Gujarati dishes.
 
The India-Japan Summit will be held tomorrow at the Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. The two leaders will deliver statements to the media. An India Japan Business Plenary is also scheduled tomorrow.
 
The highlight of the visit will be a public function to mark the commencement of work on India’s first high-speed rail project, based on Japanese technology, between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, tomorrow. The train is expected to significantly reduce travel time between the two cities. Japan is a pioneer in high-speed rail networks, and its Shinkansen bullet train is among the fastest in the world.
 
The $ 16.87 billion bullet train project will be 81 percent funded by Japan through a concessional long-term loan. The bullet train is expected to cut the 500 km journey from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, to just 2 to 3 hours as compared to the 7-8 hours it takes now.
 
Mr. Abe will not be visiting New Delhi on this trip, with all his engagements confined to Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.
 
In September 2014, Mr. Modi had hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad.
 
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Nirmala Sitharaman visits Gujarat, briefed about Sir Creek

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited Gujarat for two days on September 10-11 where she was, among other things, briefed about the Sir Creek, the disputed area on the border between India and Pakistan.
 
Ms. Sitharaman was received on arrival in Ahmedabad by Chief of Army Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Lt General P M Hariz, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Command.
 
The Army Commander, Southern Command briefed the Defence Minister about the operational situation, an official press release said.
 
The release said the Minister preferred to use her first call to the region to visit Sir Creek because of the relevance of the area to the overall security requirements of Southern Command.
 
The General Officer Commanding Golden Katar Division briefed Ms. Sitharaman on the historic relevance and strategic implications of the need to maintain effective surveillance in the area. 
 
Interacting with all ranks of Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, the Minister appreciated the manner in which the troops are maintaining territorial integrity and are prepared for any eventuality, the release added.
 
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President Kovind to visit Gujarat on September 3-4

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President Ram Nath Kovind will pay a two-day visit to Gujarat on September 3-4, an official press release said.
 
The release said Mr. Kovind would visit the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad tomorrow. Later in the day, he will be the chief guest at the launch of various social welfare programmes in Mehsana on the occasion of the 83rd birthday of Rashtrasant Acharya Padmasagarsuriji.
 
On September 4, the President will lay the foundation stone of ‘Saurashtra Narmada Avataran Irrigation Yojana’ (SAUNI) Phase-II Link-4 at Rajkot, the release added.
 
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"Tinker space" set up in Vikram Sarabhai Library at IIM Ahmedabad

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The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) has set up a "tinker space" in the Vikram Sarabhai Library on its campus as a space dedicated to promote creative thinking and conversion of ideas into physical products.
 
The space will be used by the IIMA community members to design and create new products through a 3D printer, a press release from the institute said.
 
The Tinker Space has a 3D scanner and a small electronics lab with basic equipment including Arduino Uno original, Raspberry Pi original, bread board, soldering gun, DC motor, SD card module, Arduino blue tooth module, IT sensor, multi-meter, LEDs, and so on.
 
The Tinker Space has been set up with the help of Fornax, a startup led by students of PGP 2015-17, Saumya Mathur and Nikhil Menon with the  support of Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE).
 
“Vikram Sarabhai Library has provided educational resources and a congenial, educational environment to our students, faculty, and community members. Opening of the Tinker Space keeps it in the forefront of innovations as libraries the world over strive to redefine their role in today’s world of high technology, information, and connectedness. IIMA is proud of our Library. I am particularly delighted that this initiative has been realized with support from our alumni, who have graduated only recently from the Institute to pursue entrepreneurial ambition," said Prof. Ashish Nanda, Director, IIMA.
 
“The IIMA Library is always exploring opportunities to enrich the academic ambience of the campus. It is probably one of the first libraries in India to take up the cause of promoting and nurturing startup culture among its user community seriously. I am glad that we have started the ‘tinker space’ in the library.” said, Dr. H. Anil Kumar, Librarian, IIMA.
 
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Errol D'Souza appointed Director-in-charge at IIM Ahmedabad

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Professor Errol D'Souza, Dean of Faculty, Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, has been appointed as Director-in-charge of the institute with effect from September 2, 2017.
 
This was announced here today by Mr. Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of the Board, IIMA Society.
 
The appointment is for a period of six months or till the appointment of a regular Director, whichever is earlier, a press release from IIMA said.
 
Prof. D'Souza will replace Prof. Ashish Nanda, who had announced on April 27 his decisiont to step aside from his position with effect from September 1, citing personal reasons.
 
Prof. D'Souza has a Ph.D. in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Prior to joining IIMA, he was the IFCI Chair Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Mumbai and was also a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University, New York, and a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.
 
He was the India Chair Professor at Sciences Po in Paris in 2009 and a Visiting Professor at the institute for Advanced Study, Shimla in 2009. He has worked on academic committees of the University Grants Commission and the Indian Council of Social Science Research, and has been associated with the Planning Commission and the Reserve Bank of India. He is a consultant to industry, the banking sector, UNDP, ILO, and government. He is a Director on the board of the National Housing Bank.
 
Prof Nanda was the Robert Braucher Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School before taking up his present position. He is an alumnus of the 1983 batch of IIMA. He is a gold medalist from both Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi and from IIMA. He completed his M.A. in Economics and Ph.D. from Harvard University and has taught courses in Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School. 
 
He was faculty director of Executive Education and research director at Program on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School. 
 
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Eleven persons dead after their jeep collides with truck near Dhandhuka in Gujarat

 
11 killed as jeep collides with truck in Gujarat
Eleven persons, including ten members of a Mumbai-based family, died and one suffered serious injuries when a jeep they were travelling in collided head-on with a truck on the Dhandhuka-Barwala state highway in Gujarat, about 110 km from here, early this morning, official sources said.
 
Ahmedabad Rural District Superintendent of Police R V Asari told NetIndian that those killed included six women and five men. The victims included the driver of the jeep, Ahmed Malik, he said.
 
According to him, the family belonged to Mumbai and were in Gujarat on a visit. After spending some time in Vadodara, they hired a vehicle from there to visit Vallabhipur, their native place near Bhavnagar, and were on their way when the mishap occurred.
 
Mr. Asari said the driver of the jeep appeared to have dozed off at the wheel and lost control over the vehicle, which veered off to the opposite lane and crashed into the truck.
 
He said a boy, aged 16, was injured in the accident and has been admitted to a nearby hospital for treatment.
 
Police, fire brigade personnel and other emergency services personnel rushed to the scene and helped extricate the victims from the mangled jeep. All eleven victims died on the spot.
 
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IIM Ahmedabad showcases its FABM programme at roadshows in North-East

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The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) conducted  roadshows in two educational institutions of North-East India, showcasing its post-graduate program in food and agri-business management (PGP-FABM). 
 
The purpose of the roadshows was to educate students about the management programme, and answer any queries the students may have about it, a press release from IIMA said.
 
These roadshows were conducted at College of Agricultural Engineering and Post-Harvest Technology (CAEPHT) in Gangtok, Sikkim and Assam Agricultural University (AAU) in Jorhat, Assam. 
 
Prof. Ranjan Ghosh, a faculty member at IIMA and officials who run the day-to- day administration of this key programme represented IIMA.
 
The roadshow at CAEPHT, on August 14, was special as IIMA was also represented by two of its alumni – Mr. Prem Das Rai (1978 batch), a member of Parliament from Sikkim, and Mr. Tenzing Lepcha (2009 batch), an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who is currently serving as the Superintendent of Police, East Sikkim. 
 
More than 200 hundred students attended the event and interacted with the faculty and staff. Both Mr. Rai and Mr. Lepcha shared their experiences with the students and answered all the questions.
 
Prof. Ghosh emphasized the huge role food and agri-business sector plays in nation building and economic development. He highlighted the high demand for skilled managers in this sector who can work across the agri-food value chain and ensure high profits as well as re-distribution among farmers. 
 
In Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Jorhat, on August 17, Prof. Ghosh emphasized that with a little bit of awareness and smart preparation the dream of making into IIM Ahmedabad was very much achievable for students of North East. 
 
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"I was not even aware that PGP-FABM of IIMA is a niche programme dedicated to management education in the agri-food sector and that with a background in agriculture and allied sector education, we stand a good chance to make it to the programme," said Jagan Jyoti Barua, the student General Secretary of the college and a 4th year undergraduate student with an interest in a management career in the tea industry. He echoed the sentiment of many others, of the over 100 students participating in the event at AAU, who were surprised to know about PGP-FABM ranked No.1 Masters in Management in the Food and Agribusiness sector in the world (by ranking agency Eduniversal, Paris). 
 
After the event, when asked by the Dean of the University D.K. Borah, many students said they will now seriously consider preparing for CAT and appear for the interviews for IIMA FABM programme
 
Describing the event as a "huge success", the Vice-Chancellor of Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Dr. K.M. Bujarbaruah, thanked Mr. Pravin Christian (Programmes Officer, PGP-FABM) for taking the initiative to organize the event and for a visit from far-off Ahmedabad.
 
"Through these roadshows, IIMA once again displayed its commitment to quality management programme that is relevant to all regions of India," the release added.
 
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Gujarat Congress expels eight MLAs who voted against it in RS elections

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The Congress today expelled eight rebel MLAs, including former Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, who had voted against its candidate Ahmed Patel in the elections to the Rajya Sabha yesterday, for six years.
 
Gujarat Congress chief Bharatsinh Solanki said the MLAs, who also included Mr. Vaghela's son Mahendrasinh Vaghela, had been expelled for defying the party whip and voting against its candidate in the crucial elections.
 
The party has also initiated legal proceedings seeking their disqualification from contesting elections for six years under the anti-defection laws, he said.
 
Mr. Ashok Gehlot, the party's general secretary in charge of Gujarat affairs, said he had also recommended the expulsion of six others who had earlier resigned as MLAs, just days before the crucial polls which saw Mr. Patel winning a fifth term in the Rajya Sabha with 44 votes, the minimum number required. 
 
Three of those six had later joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and, in fact, one of them, Balwantsinh Rajput, was its third candidate in the biennial elections for three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat. BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani won the other two seats comfortably.
 
Mr. Vaghela had dissociated himself from the Congress on July 21 and resigned from all positions in the party but had said that he would continue as an MLA till the Rajya Sabha elections.
 
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Polling begins for three RS seats from Gujarat; Ahmed Patel faces close contest

Polling began on Tuesday morning in the crucial biennial elections for three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat in which senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is facing one of his toughest electoral battles against the ruling BJP, which is determined to deny him a fifth consecutive term in the Upper House of Parliament.

Ahmed Patel
Ahmed Patel
Polling began here this morning in the crucial biennial elections for three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat in which senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is facing one of his toughest electoral battles against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is determined to deny him a fifth consecutive term in the Upper House of Parliament.
 
Voting, which  began at 9 am, will end at 4 pm. Counting of votes will be taken up at 5 pm and the results are expected shortly thereafter.
 
The run-up to the elections has been marked by high political drama and all indications are that today's exercise will see a nail-biting finish.
 
The BJP is contesting all three seats up for grabs and has fielded its president Amit Shah, Union Minister Smriti Irani and Mr. Balwant Singh Rajput as its candidates. Mr. Rajput was the Congress' chief whip in the state legislative assembly until recently and is one of the six Congress MLAs who had resigned from the party on July 27 and 28. Mr. Rajput and two others had joined the BJP on July 27 and was named as the BJP's nominee for the third seat the same evening.
 
With the resignation of the six MLAs, the effective strength of the House has come down to 176. The strength of the Congress in the Assembly has come down to 51. A candidate requires one-fourth of the total votes plus one to get elected -- 45 votes in the present situation.
 
These developments came only a few days after Mr. Shankarsinh Vaghela, one of the seniormost Congress leaders in the state, who was leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and is a former Chief Minister and Union Minister, parted ways with the Congress on July 21.
 
Soon after casting his vote today, Mr. Vaghela told journalists that he did not vote for Mr. Patel. "I have to say that I did not vote for my friend Ahmedbhai, and I regret that. But when it is clear that Mr. Patel that will not win, there was no point in wasting my vote on him," he said.
 
However, he did not indicate who he had voted for or whether he had exercised the "None of the above" (NOTA) option. "You will come to know that in the evening," he said.
 
While dissociating himself from the Congress at a function to celebrate his 77th birthday here on July 21, Mr. Vaghela had made it clear that he was not joining the BJP. He claimed the Congress had actually expelled him the previous day, something which the party denied.
 
"They expelled me 24 hours ago because they were not sure about what I would say here today...Vinashkale vipareet budhdhi," he had said on that day. 
 
"I am freeing myself from the Congress. I have resigned as the Leader of the Opposition. I will resign as Congress MLA after the (August 8) Rajya Sabha elections," he told the cheering crowd.
 
He said he had assured Congress President Sonia Gandhi that he would not betray her trust. He said he had told her that he would not join the BJP.
 
Mr. Vaghela, who had turned a rebel within the BJP nearly two decades ago, had floated his own outfit, the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), which he finally merged with the Congress 17 years ago. 
 
The Congress said Mr. Vaghela had wanted to be appointed as the Gujarat Congress chief, a demand that the party could not accept. 
 
 
Voting underway for Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections
Mr. Vaghela's move had come just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state then had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
By fielding Mr. Rajput, a relative of Mr. Vaghela, as its third candidate for the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is hoping to attract some votes from the Congress MLAs and try and prevent the re-election of Mr. Patel.
 
Mr. Patel, however, was confident that he would win. Apart from the Congress MLAs, he is counting on the support of two NCP MLAs and one of the Janata Dal (United). 
 
Amidst fears of alleged poaching attempts by the BJP, the Congress had moved 44 of its MLAs on July 29 to a resort near Bengaluru in Karnataka, a state ruled by the party.
 
The MLAs returned to Gujarat yesterday morning and were taken to a resort near Anand, about 80 km from here. They travelled to Gandhinagar today to cast their votes.
 
Apart from his four terms in the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Patel has also served three terms as a member of the Lok Sabha from Bharuch constituency in Gujarat.
 
Mr. Shah is seeking entry into Parliament for the first time, while Ms. Irani is looking for a second consecutive term in the Upper House. 
 
Given the numbers in the Assembly, the BJP can easily get two of its candidates elected. Similarly, if there is no cross-voting, the Congress can also get one candidate elected.
 
The Congress has accused the BJP of using "money and muscle power" to engineer defections of its MLAs and complained to the Election Commission about the events in Gujarat.
 
The MLAs' stay in the Eagleton resort was not without drama. On the one hand, the BJP mounted strong criticisim of their travel outside the state when it was reeling under heavy  floods. On the other hand, Karnataka Energy Minister D. K. Shivakumar, who tasked by the Congress to look after the MLAs, found himself being raided by Income Tax officials. The Congress protested, saying the raids were politically motivated, while the Income Tax Department insisted they were part of an ongoing investigation against Mr. Shivakumar.
 
The latest developments have acome only a few months ahead of the elections to the State Assembly, expected to be held late this year. The Congress has been out of power in the state for more than two decades.
 
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Polling today for three RS seats from Gujarat; Ahmed Patel faces close contest

Polling will be held in Gandhinar on Tuesday in the biennial elections for three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat in which senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is facing one of his toughest electoral battles against the ruling BJP, which is determined to deny him a fifth consecutive term in the Upper House of Parliament.

Ahmed Patel
Ahmed Patel
Polling will be held in Gandhinagar near here today in the biennial elections for three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat in which senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is facing one of his toughest electoral battles against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is determined to deny him a fifth consecutive term in the Upper House of Parliament.
 
The run-up to the elections have been marked by high political drama and all indications are that today's exercise will see a nail-biting finish.
 
The BJP is contesting all three seats up for grabs and has fielded its president Amit Shah, Union Minister Smriti Irani and Mr. Balwant Singh Rajput as its candidates. Mr. Rajput was the Congress' chief whip in the state legislative assembly until recently and is one of the six Congress MLAs who had resigned from the party on July 27 and 28. Mr. Rajput and two others had joined the BJP on July 27 and was named as the BJP's nominee for the third seat the same evening.
 
With the resignation of the six MLAs, the effective strength of the House has come down to 176. The strength of the Congress in the Assembly has come down to 51. A candidate requires one-fourth of the total votes plus one to get elected -- 45 votes in the present situation.
 
These developments came only a few days after Mr. Shankarsinh Vaghela, one of the seniormost Congress leaders in the state, who was leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and is a former Chief Minister and Union Minister, parted ways with the Congress on July 21.
 
While dissociating himself from the Congress at a function to celebrate his 77th birthday in Gandhinagar, the state capital, Mr. Vaghela had made it clear that he was not joining the BJP. He claimed the Congress had actually expelled him the previous day, something which the party denied.
 
"They expelled me 24 hours ago because they were not sure about what I would say here today...Vinashkale vipareet budhdhi," he had said on that day. 
 
"I am freeing myself from the Congress. I have resigned as the Leader of the Opposition. I will resign as Congress MLA after the (August 8) Rajya Sabha elections," he told the cheering crowd.
 
The former Chief Minister said he had assured Congress President Sonia Gandhi that he would not betray her trust. He said he had told her that he would not join the BJP.
 
Mr. Vaghela, who had turned a rebel within the BJP nearly two decades ago, had floated his own outfit, the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), which he finally merged with the Congress 17 years ago. 
 
The Congress said Mr. Vaghela had wanted to be appointed as the Gujarat Congress chief, a demand that the party could not accept. 
 
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Mr. Vaghela's move had come just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state then had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
By fielding Mr. Rajput, a relative of Mr. Vaghela, as its third candidate for the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is hoping to attract some votes from the Congress MLAs and try and prevent the re-election of Mr. Patel.
 
Mr. Patel is, however, confident that all the Congress MLAs, including Mr. Vaghela and his supporters, will vote for him. He is also counting on the support of two NCP MLAs and one of the Janata Dal (United). But there are doubts about which the two parties would vote this time. There are media reports that the NCP has asked its MLAs to vote for the BJP. The JD (U), on the other hand, has only recently ended its alliance with the Congress and the RJD in Bihar and get back to the NDA fold.
 
Amidst fears of alleged poaching attempts by the BJP, the Congress had moved 44 of its MLAs on July 29 to a resort near Bengaluru in Karnataka, a state ruled by the party.
 
The MLAs returned to Gujarat yesterday morning and were taken to a resort near Anand, about 80 km from here. They will travel to Gandhinagar later today to cast their votes.
 
Apart from his four terms in the Upper House, Mr. Patel has also served three terms as a member of the Lok Sabha.
 
Mr. Shah is seeking entry into Parliament for the first time, while Ms. Irani is looking for a second consecutive term in the Upper House. 
 
Given the numbers in the Assembly, the BJP can easily get two of its candidates elected. Similarly, if there is no cross-voting, the Congress can also get one candidate elected.
 
The Congress has accused the BJP of using "money and muscle power" to engineer defections of its MLAs and complained to the Election Commission about the events in Gujarat.
 
The MLAs' stay in the Eagleton resort was not without drama. On the one hand, the BJP mounted strong criticisim of their travel outside the state when it was reeling under heavy  floods. On the other hand, Karnataka Energy Minister D. K. Shivakumar, who tasked by the Congress to look after the MLAs, found himself being raided by Income Tax officials. The Congress protested, saying the raids were politically motivated, while the Income Tax Department insisted they were part of an ongoing investigation against Mr. Shivakumar.
 
The latest developments have acome only a few months ahead of the elections to the State Assembly, expected to be held late this year. The Congress has been out of power in the state for more than two decades.
 
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44 Gujarat Congress MLAs return to home state from Bengaluru resort

The 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs, who were taken by the party to a resort near Bengaluru for about two weeks to prevent alleged poaching attempts by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of tomorrow's crucial Rajya Sabha elections, returned to their home state early Monday morning.

 
Gujarat Congress MLAs return home from Bengaluru resort
The 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs, who were taken by the party to a resort near Bengaluru for about two weeks to prevent alleged poaching attempts by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of tomorrow's crucial Rajya Sabha elections, returned to their home state early this morning.
 
All the MLAs travelled together on an Indigo flight from Bengaluru and reached here around 4.45 am amidst heavy security.
 
Apart from the police, who were present in large numbers, there were also a large number of Congress and Youth Congress workers at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport when the MLAs landed.
 
As soon as the MLAs came out of the airport, they boarded waiting buses and left for a resort near Anand in Central Gujarat, about 80 km from here.
 
The Congress had shifted the 44 MLAs to Karnataka, that is ruled by the party, apprehending efforts by the BJP to lure away some of them ahead of polling day tomorrow in the Rajya Sabha elections.
 
The move to shift the MLAs to Bengaluru came after six MLAs resigned from the party -- three on July 27 and three more on the next day. The first three joined the BJP on July 27 itself.
 
The resignation of the six MLAs has come as a setback for the Congress, which has again fielded senior party leader Ahmed Patel, Political Adviser to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, for one of the three seats for which biennial elections are being held.
 
With the resignation of these MLAs, the strength of the Congress has come down to 51 in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, whose effective strength has come down to 176. 
 
This means that Mr. Patel, who is seeking a fifth consecutive term in the Rajya Sabha, will need at least 44 votes. As speculation rose about the possibility of more desertions from the Congress camp, the party leadership decided to take preventive steps and move all of them to Bengaluru.
 
The latest developments have also come only a few months ahead of the elections to the State Assembly, expected to be held late this year and just a few days after former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, who was leader of the Opposition in the state legislative assembly, parted ways with the Congress on July 21.
 
The six MLAs who have resigned include Mr. Balwant Singh Rajput, who was the Congress' chief whip in the assembly and is now the BJP's third candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections from the state, the other two being party president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani.
 
Mr. Shah is seeking entry into Parliament for the first time, while Ms. Irani is looking for a second consecutive term in the Upper House. Given its numbers in the Assembly, the BJP can easily get two of its candidates elected. Similarly, if there is no cross-voting, the Congress can also get one candidate elected.
 
While dissociating himself from the Congress at a function to celebrate his 77th birthday in Gandhinagar, Mr. Vaghela, a former Union Minister, had made it clear that he was not joining the BJP. He claimed the party had actually expelled him the previous day, something which the Congress denied.
 
"They expelled me 24 hours ago because they were not sure about what I would say here today...Vinashkale vipareet budhdhi," he had said on that day. 
 
"I am freeing myself from the Congress. I have resigned as the Leader of the Opposition. I will resign as Congress MLA after the (August 8) Rajya Sabha elections," he told the cheering crowd.
 
The former Chief Minister said he had assured Congress President Sonia Gandhi that he would not betray her trust. He said he had told her that he would not join the BJP.
 
Mr. Vaghela, who had turned a rebel within the BJP nearly two decades ago, had floated his own outfit, the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), which he finally merged with the Congress 17 years ago. 
 
The Congress said Mr. Vaghela had wanted to be appointed as the Gujarat Congress chief, a demand that the party could not accept. 
 
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Mr. Vaghela's move had come just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state then had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
By fielding Mr. Rajput, a relative of Mr. Vaghela, as its third candidate for the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is hoping to attract some votes from the Congress MLAs and try and prevent the re-election of Mr. Patel.
 
Mr. Patel is counting on the support of two NCP MLAs and one of the Janata Dal (United). Apart from his four terms in the Upper House, he has also served three terms as a member of the Lok Sabha.
 
The Congress has accused the BJP of using "money and muscle power" to engineer defections of its MLAs and complained to the Election Commission about the events in Gujarat.
 
The MLAs' stay in the Eagleton resort was not without drama. On the one hand, the BJP mounted strong criticisim of their travel outside the state when it was reeling under heavy  floods. On the other hand, Karnataka Energy Minister D. K. Shivakumar, who tasked by the Congress to look after the MLAs, found himself being raided by Income Tax officials. The Congress protested, saying the raids were politically motivated, while the Income Tax Department insisted they were part of an ongoing investigation against Mr. Shivakumar.
 
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Congress shifts its Gujarat MLAs to Bengaluru to prevent poaching by BJP

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The Congress has shifted about 44 of its MLAs in Gujarat to a private resort near Bengaluru, in Karnataka that is ruled by the party, in a bid to prevent poaching by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the crucial August 8 elections to the Rajya Sabha.
 
The move to shift the MLAs to Bengaluru came after six MLAs resigned from the party -- three on Thursday and three yesterday. The first three joined the BJP on Thursday itself.
 
The 40-odd MLAs arrived by air from Ahmedabad in two batches, with about 30 of them landing first and then another ten. They were whisked away to the resort amidst tight security, sources said.
 
The resignation of the six MLAs has come as a setback for the Congress, which has again fielded senior party leader Ahmed Patel, Political Adviser to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, for one of the three seats for which biennial elections will be held on August 8.
 
With the resignation of these MLAs, the strength of the Congress has come down to 51 in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, whose effective strength has come down to 176. 
 
This means that Mr. Patel, who is seeking a fifth consecutive term in the Rajya Sabha, will need at least 44 votes. As speculation rose about the possibility of more desertions from the Congress camp, the party leadership decided to take preventive steps and move all of them to Bengaluru.
 
The latest developments have also come only a few months ahead of the elections to the State Assembly, expected to be held late this year and about after former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, who was leader of the Opposition in the state legislative assembly, parted ways with the Congress on July 21.
 
The six MLAs who have resigned include Mr. Balwant Singh Rajput, who was the Congress' chief whip in the assembly and is now the BJP's third candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections from the state, the other two being party president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani.
 
Mr. Shah is seeking entry into Parliament for the first time, while Ms. Irani is looking for a second consecutive term in the Upper House. Given its numbers in the Assembly, the BJP can easily get two of its candidates elected. Similarly, if there is no cross-voting, the Congress can also get one candidate elected.
 
While dissociating himself from the Congress at a function to celebrate his 77th birthday in Gandhinagar, Mr. Vaghela, a former Union Minister, had made it clear that he was not joining the BJP. He claimed the party had actually expelled him the previous day, something which the Congress denied.
 
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"They expelled me 24 hours ago because they were not sure about what I would say here today...Vinashkale vipareet budhdhi," he had said on that day. 
 
"I am freeing myself from the Congress. I have resigned as the Leader of the Opposition. I will resign as Congress MLA after the (August 8) Rajya Sabha elections," he told the cheering crowd.
 
The former Chief Minister said he had assured Congress President Sonia Gandhi that he would not betray her trust. He said he had told her that he would not join the BJP.
 
Mr. Vaghela, who had turned a rebel within the BJP nearly two decades ago, had floated his own outfit, the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), which he finally merged with the Congress 17 years ago. 
 
The Congress said Mr. Vaghela had wanted to be appointed as the Gujarat Congress chief, a demand that the party could not accept. 
 
Mr. Vaghela's move had come just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state then had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
By fielding Mr. Rajput, a relative of Mr. Vaghela, as its third candidate for the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is hoping to attract some more votes from the Congress MLAs and try and prevent the re-election of Mr. Patel.
 
Mr. Patel is counting on the support of two NCP MLAs and one of the Janata Dal (United). Apart from his four terms in the Upper House, he has also served three terms as a member of the Lok Sabha.
 
The Congress has accused the BJP of using "money and muscle power" to engineer defections of its MLAs.
 
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Three Congress MLAs in Gujarat resign and join BJP ahead of RS polls

 
3 Gujarat Congress MLAs resign, join BJP
In a setback to the Congress days ahead of the crucial August 8 biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha in Gujarat and only a few months before Assembly polls, three of the party's legislators resigned from their seats in the Legislative Assembly and joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) here today.
 
The three MLAs include Balwantsingh Rajput, the Congress' chief whip in the assembly, who will now be the BJP's third candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections.
 
The other two MLAs are Ms. Tejashreeben Patel and Mr. Prahlad Patel. With their exit, the Congress' strength in the 182-member assembly has come down to 54.
 
The resignation of the three MLAs has come less than a week after former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, who was leader of the Opposition in the state legislative assembly, parted ways with the Congress on July 21.
 
But he had made it clear that he was not joining the BJP, which  he had quit nearly two decades ago.
 
Addressing a function, "Sam Samvedna Sammelan", organised in state capital Gandhinagar to celebrate his 77th birthday, Mr. Vaghela, a former Union Minister, said the party had actually expelled him 24 hours earlier. 
 
"They expelled me 24 hours ago because they were not sure about what I would say here today...Vinashkale vipareet budhdhi," he had said on that day. "I am freeing myself from the Congress. I have resigned as the Leader of the Opposition. I will resign as Congress MLA after the (August 8) Rajya Sabha elections," he told the cheering crowd.
 
The former Chief Minister said he had assured Congress President Sonia Gandhi that he would not betray her trust. He said he had told her that he would not join the BJP.
 
Mr. Vaghela, who had turned a rebel within the BJP nearly two decades ago, had floated his own outfit, the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), which he finally merged with the Congress 17 years ago. 
 
But the Congress denied that the party had expelled Mr. Vaghela or initiated any disciplinary action against him. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said it was Mr. Vaghela's own decision to quit the party and resign from all positions within the party.
 
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Mr. Surjewala had said Mr. Vaghela wanted to be appointed as the Gujarat Congress chief, a demand that the party could not accept. 
 
Mr. Vaghela's move had just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state then had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
Apart from casting a shadow over the Congress' electoral prospects in the elections in the state, where it has been out of power for about three decades, Mr. Vaghela's exit and today's resignation could also make it that much more difficult for the party to get its candidate and senior party leader Ahmed Patel re-elected to the Rajya Sabha.
 
The Congress needs 47 votes to get its candidate elected. Given  its numbers, the BJP can get two candidates elected. It has fielded party president Amit Shah and renominated Union Minister Smriti Irani for the two seats.
 
By fielding Mr. Rajput, a relative of Mr. Vaghela, as its third candidate, the BJP is hoping to attract some more votes from the Congress MLAs and try and prevent the re-election of Mr. Patel, the Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi. 
 
Mr. Patel, who is seeking a fifth consecutive term in the Rajya Sabha, is also counting on the support of two NCP MLAs and one of the Janata Dal (United). Apart from his four terms in the Upper House, he has also served three terms as a member of the Lok Sabha.
 
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Modi undertakes aerial survey of flood-hit areas of Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a meeting on the situation arising out of incessant rain and floods in different parts of Gujarat, in Ahmedabad on July 25, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a meeting on the situation arising out of incessant rain and floods in different parts of Gujarat, in Ahmedabad on July 25, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas of Gujarat and later reviewed the flood relief operations at a high-level meeting held at the Ahmedabad airport.
 
The meeting was attended by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, other senior ministers and top officials of the State Government, disaster response agencies and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
 
Mr. Modi was given an overview of the extent of damage caused by floods, and the relief operations being undertaken.
 
He instructed all agencies involved in relief operations, including the Indian Air Force, to put in their best possible effort for immediate rescue and relief. He emphasized the importance of cleanliness, hygiene and health, and said these aspects should also be accorded the highest priority.
 
The Prime Minister said insurance companies including those dealing with crop insurance may be advised to organise assessment of damage to assets, crops and so on quickly, and take steps for early settlement of claims, so as to provide immediate relief to affected people.
 
He also called for immediate restoration of water supply, electricity and communication links.
 
Mr. Modi suggested that special teams be set up for repair of damaged roads, restoration of power infrastructure, and for health related assistance. 
 
Addressing the media at Ahmedabad Airport, the Prime Minister said Gujarat had faced heavy rains for the past week. He said ten more helicopters would be pressed into action for rescue from tomorrow, and asserted that the pace of relief work will be increased further. He said extent of damage would be assessed in both rural and urban areas, and both short and long term measures would be put in place. 
 
 
Heavy rains wreak havoc in Rajasthan, Gujarat
The Prime Minister appreciated the State Government, and all other agencies for the response to the flood situation so far.
 
He announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 2 lakh to the next-of-kin of those who died in the floods and Rs. 50,000 to those who have suffered serious injuries.
 
He announced an immediate additional assistance of Rs.  500 crore for Gujarat under the State Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). He expressed confidence that the people and the State of Gujarat would emerge even stronger and successfully tackle the challenge posed by the floods. 
 
He assured the people of the State that the Union Government stood shoulder to shoulder with them at this difficult time.
 
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Nine dead as bus from Gujarat overturns near Udaipur in Rajasthan

 
Nine dead as bus overturns near Udaipur
Nine persons died and 22 others suffered injuries when a private bus carrying pilgrims from Gujarat overturned near Nehla village, about 10 km from Udaipur, this morning, police said.
 
The mishap occurred around 8.45 am today when the driver of the bus apparently lost control over the wheel while trying to avoid hitting a motocyclist on a bridge, they said.
 
The deceased included six women and three women, the sources said.
 
Police and other emergency services personnel reached the spot and helped extricate the victims from the bus. The injured were taken to a nearby hospital, they said.
 
The pilgrims had left Ahmedabad yesterday night and were on a fortnight-long tour of various religious places in North India, including Haridwar in Uttarakhand, the sources said.
 
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Shankarsinh Vaghela parts ways with Congress, says won't return to BJP

 
Former Gujarat CM Shankarsinh Vaghela quits Congress
Former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, who was leader of the Opposition in the state legislative assembly, today parted ways with the Congress but made it clear that he was not joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which he had quit nearly two decades ago.
 
Addressing a function, "Sam Samvedna Sammelan", organised in state capital Gandhinagar to celebrate his 77th birthday, Mr. Vaghela, a former Union Minister, said the party had actually expelled him 24 hours ago.
 
"They expelled me 24 hours ago because they were not sure about what I would say here today...Vinashkale vipareet budhdhi," he said.
 
"I am freeing myself from the Congress. I have resigned as the Leader of the Opposition. I will resign as Congress MLA after the (August 8) Rajya Sabha elections," he told the cheering crowd. “Rebellion is in my blood. I am on 77 not out,” he added.
 
The former Chief Minister said he had assured Congress President Sonia Gandhi that he would not betray her trust. He said he had told her that he would not join the BJP.
 
Mr. Vaghela, who had turned a rebel within the BJP nearly two decades ago, had floated his own outfit, the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), which he finally merged with the Congress 17 years ago.
 
"I was very upset while deciding to leave the BJP. Destiny has brought me to the same point where I have to now leave the Congress as well," he said.
 
Describing himself as a free bird now, he said he would dedicate himself to the service of the people from today. "I will be there for the poor, Dalits, traders, workers, farmers, daily wage workers and even poor upper castes," he declared.
 
Mr. Vaghela claimed he was a victim of a conspiracy within the party, which led to his expulsion.
 
But the Congress denied that the party had expelled Mr. Vaghela or initiated any disciplinary action against him.
 
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said it was Mr. Vaghela's own decision to quit the party and resign from all positions within the party.
 
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Stressing that the party was always more important than individuals and that the Congress was committed to its ideology, Mr. Surjewala said. "We respect Mr. Vaghela as a senior leader," he said, recalling that the party had made him a Cabinet Minister at the Centre, then appointed him as chairman of India Tourism Development Corporation with Cabinet rank, the leader of the Congress legislature party in Gujarat and the leader of the opposition in the Assembly.
 
Mr. Surjewala said Mr. Vaghela wanted to be appointed as the Gujarat Congress chief, a demand that the party could not accept. "We are saddened by his exit," he said.
 
Though the party had asked its leaders and workers to stay away from the event, many of them were present at the function.
 
Mr. Vaghela's move has come just months before crucial elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, expected to be held towards the end of this year. It has also come just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
Apart from casting a shadow over the Congress' electoral prospects in the elections in the state, where it has been out of power for about three decades, Mr. Vaghela's exit could also make it that much more difficult for the party to get its candidate, expected to be sitting member Ahmed Patel, re-elected to the Rajya Sabha.
 
All the same, the departure of Mr. Vaghela from the party was widely expected for some months now, given that the Congress leadership appeared to be in no mood to accept his demand that he should be made the Chief Ministerial face of the party and allowed to lead the campaign.
 
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Common Facility Centre for gem & jewellery industry inaugurated at Palanpur, Gujarat

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The second Common Facility Centre (CFC) for the gems & jewellery and diamond industry was inaugurated at Palanpur in Gujarat by Minister for Commerce & Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, and Minister of State for Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSME) Haribhai Chaudhary on July 10.
 
The first Common Facility Centre was set up at Visnagar, Gujarat. The Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) has plans to open two more CFCs at Amreli and Ahmedabad in the state, a press release from the council said.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Sitharaman said that, from being the largest manufacturing hub, India needs to move to the next level, where indigenous designs are used in production of jewellery and at the same time caters to the needs of the world market. 
 
"With the facilities like the CFCs in Visnagar and now in Palanpur, I am sure we have taken the start and moving in the right direction to achieve our goal.  The industry needs to come up with such initiatives where the small and medium units gets the opportunity to combine their skills with the latest technology and facilities for maximum production," she said.
 
Mr. Chaudhary said the government's aim was to make the latest technology accessible to the MSMEs, and at the same time improve in quality of products. 
 
"Common Facility Centres would be a welcome change for the karigars, and an opportunity for them to perform at their best with the latest technology which are accessible and affordable. I am sure the industry will take advantage of the CFCs and bring a huge difference to their production in terms of quantity as well as quality," he said.
 
Mr. Kirit Bhansali, co-convener, Diamond Panel, GJEPC said, “Setting up of CFCs would be of huge benefit to small and medium diamond manufacturing units located in towns and interior villages, since most of these units are operating with old and outdated technology, and could not afford to make investments for installing state-of-the-art equipment. And this has resulted in lower productivity and affected quality to an extent.”
 
GJEPC has plans to set up such CFCs across all major clusters in India, thus helping to improve the quality and productivity of the small units.
 
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Three IIMA alumni contribute Rs. 2.5 crore each for upgradation of facilities

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Three alumni of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) here -- Raghunandan G, Vishwavir Ahuja and Aprameya R -- have announcing infrastructure funding support of Rs. 2.5 crore each  to their alma mater.
 
A press release from IIMA said conservation, restoration and upgrade of CR1 Classroom in Heritage Campus will be supported by RBL Bank, as announced by Ahuja (PGP 1981), MD & CEO, RBL Bank. 
 
“RBL Bank is  proud to be associated with IIMA. RBL has significantly benefitted from the quality education imparted at IIMA through several IIMA alumni in the senior management team. RBL has always focused on excellence in the banking industry and is delighted to make a contribution of Rs. 2.5 crore for shared vision to support education excellence at IIMA," he said.
 
At IMDC in IIMA New Campus, CR2 upgradation to a state-of-the-art facility and maintenance will be supported by Raghunandan  and Aprameya (PGP 2007 & 2008; both co-founders of TaxiForSure) with funding of Rs. 2.5 crore each.
 
“Contributing to IIMA is a proud moment for us as we owe so much of our success to IIMA. Having graduated from this great institute, opened doors for us through our entrepreneurial journey. We could connect with IIMA alumni in the startup eco system who were strong guides during our TaxiForSure story and in fact, were our source of strength and also the worst critics to ensure that we always did the right thing. Giving back to alma mater was top of the agenda as we consolidated our venture. It’s a matter of pride as we facilitate to create state-of- art facility at CR2 IMDC in IIMA to support institute’s focus on excellence in teaching and training the change agents in enterprises,” they said.
 
The release said supporting infrastructure goes a long way in the institute’s endeavor for capacity building and quality education. 
 
“Alumni are a source of strength for the institute. They contribute in many different ways to support the Institute’s priorities. IIMA deeply values their meaningful and significant contributions,” IIMA Director Ashish Nanda said.
 
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Adani Capital to invest Rs. 50 Crore in Pune-based PRA Realty

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Adani Capital Pvt Ltd, the NBFC arm of the Adani Group, has partnered with PRA Realty and will invest Rs. 50 crore in the company to provide capital for its project in Pune.  
 
This investment will be utilized towards the development of a one off, rare and iconic mixed-use project in the prime, downtown location of Shivaji Nagar in that city.
 
Promoted by Rustom Bharucha, PRA Realty is amongst the fastest growing real estate developers in Pune with close to 5 mm sq.ft currently under development and having delivered over 1 million sq.ft., a press release from Adani Group said.
 
“Our philosophy is to back growing and dynamic real estate developers. We were very impressed with PRA’s execution in the Pune market. We look forward to extending our relationship with PRA Realty and to explore opportunities with the group as they grow,” said Gaurav Gupta, CEO of Adani Finserve Private Limited, parent entity of Adani Capital.
 
“We are delighted to be working closely with Adani Capital, who are a fantastic team of professionals that have proven structuring capabilities and an extremely quick turnaround time. We look forward to partnering with them on our growth trajectory,” said Bharucha, Chairman and Managing Director, PRA Realty.
 
Adani Capital is Adani Group’s entry into the financial services business with a focus on wholesale and retail lending. The Adani Group is one of India’s leading business houses with revenue of over $12 billion.
 
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GoAir launches three daily direct flights between Ahmedabad, New Delhi

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Low-cost carrier GoAir today said it would launch three daily direct flights between Ahmedabad and New Delhi -- two from June 11 and the third from June 16.
 
The flights would give business travellers same-day connectivity between the two important cities, a press release from the airline said.
 
It said the service was being introduced in response to growing demand on the route, particularly from business and corporate travellers.
 
Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, Managing Director & CEO, GoAir, said, “The introduction of this new sector is in keeping with the airline’s growth plans with a focus on scaling up operations gradually. Both Ahmedabad and New Delhi are popular destinations for business, tourism and employment. Strengthening our network from a city like Ahmedabad will help GoAir provide a flexibility of choice to customers along with on time, convenient and an affordable flying experience. We have been growing our route network across the 23 destinations that we are present in and will continue to do so with the addition of new aircraft in our fleet as well.”
 
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Govt. says no new cases of Zika virus disease reported after three found in Ahmedabad

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The Government has said that, apart from the three cases of laboratory-confirmed Zika virus disease reported from Ahmedabad during January-February this year, no other sample has been tested positive in any part of the country so far.
 
"The ongoing country-wide Zika laboratory based surveillance in India has so far tested 36613 human samples and 16571 mosquito samples for the presence of Zika virus. No other sample has been tested positive apart from the three laboratory confirmed cases reported from Ahmedabad," a press release from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said here yesterday.
 
The release said that cases of vector borne disease (VBD), mainly Dengue and Chikungunya, were noticed in the State of Gujarat during the post-monsoon period last year. The State Government had accordingly planned fever surveillance, vector surveillance and intense vector control activity. 
 
It said that one of the blood samples collected during laboratory surveillance during this period from Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation limits tested positive for Zika virus. This sample was retested at National Institute of Virology, Pune and was further confirmed through positive RT-PCR test and virus sequencing at National Institute of Virology, Pune on January 3 this year, it said.
 
This sample was from a 34-year-old female patient admitted to hospital with complaints of fever following delivery of a healthy baby. She had no travel history to any Zika affected country. 
 
"Following the first case, the surveillance was further strengthened and thousands of blood samples were tested as only a thorough investigation can detect cases, given that 80 % of the cases are asymptomatic. Acute Febrile Illness (AFI) surveillance and testing of antenatal cases were undertaken by the State Government and ICMR in Ahmedabad. This surveillance in total yielded 2 more cases of laboratory confirmed Zika virus disease (samples collected during January and February 2017). The other two cases include a 22-year-old pregnant woman in her 37th week of pregnancy and a 64-year-old male with 8 days history of fever," it said.
 
The release said the Zika virus disease case was reported as part of an answer to a Parliament question raised by Ms. Vanaroja R, a member of the Lok Sabha, on March 17.
 
It said that, after due process of investigation and verification of the Zika virus disease cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) was notified of all the three Zika virus disease cases on May 15.
 
"On 18th November, 2016 WHO had declared that Zika disease infection no longer constituted a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Since WHO had already withdrawn the notification of Zika virus disease as a PHEIC the case was handled as per our existing protocol. 
 
"As a matter of abundant caution, measures to contain local transmission were carried out in the affected area. No further samples taken during antenatal screening and acute febrile illness surveillance have tested positive for Zika virus disease," it said.
 
Giving details of India's response to the Zika virus disease outbreak in other countries, the release said that, following the declaration of Zika virus disease as a PHEIC in February, 2016, the Government has been taking adequate steps to prevent, detect and respond to the situation. 
 
"The notification for Zika being a PHEIC was withdrawn by WHO on 18th November, 2016. However, India continues to maintain high vigilance and surveillance on the issue," it said.
 
According to the release, the following are some of the steps taken in this regard:
 
National Guidelines and Action Plan (with scenario based approach) on Zika virus disease have been prepared and shared with the States to prevent outbreak of Zika virus disease and containment of spread in case of any outbreak. 
 
An Inter – Ministerial Task Force has been set up under Chairmanship of Secretary (Health & FW) with Secretary (Bio – Technology), Secretary (Department of Health Research) as members. 
 
The Joint Monitoring Group, a Technical group under DGHS, tasked to monitor emerging and re-emerging diseases is regularly reviewing the situation on Zika virus disease. 
 
All the International Airports / Ports have displayed signage providing information for travelers on Zika virus disease and to report if they are returning from any of the affected countries and suffering from febrile illness. 
 
Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is tracking for clustering of acute febrile illness in the community. It has also sensitized its State and District Rapid Response Teams. 
 
In addition to National Institute of Virology, Pune, and NCDC, Delhi, 25 laboratories have been strengthened by Indian Council of Medical Research for laboratory diagnosis. 
 
In addition, 3 entomological laboratories are conducting Zika virus testing on mosquito samples. 6 more Laboratories staff have been trained for vector surveillance for Zika virus. 
 
The Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) is monitoring microcephaly from 55 sentinel sites. As of now, no increase in number of cases / clustering of microcephaly has been reported from these centers. 
 
A 24x7 control room (011-23061469) is functioning from Directorate General of Health Services. The situation is being monitored closely. 
 
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Gold an important tool for financial inclusion: IGPC IIMA study

 

Gold is an important tool for financial inclusion among Indians, a study done among a thousand gold consumers across four districts from four states in urban and rural India has revealed.

The study was conducted by researchers Misha Sharma, Shambhavi Srivastava and Govind Singh from IFMR Lead and funded by India Gold Policy Centre (IGPC) at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA).

The study participants were active consumers of gold who use gold beyond mere ornamental purposes, a press release from IIMA said.

According to the findings of the study, gold loan was the most popular gold based financial product and informal gold loans constituted a large pie of the market share, offering lower gold loan amounts at higher interest rates compared to formal gold loan providers offering higher gold loan amounts at lower interest rates.

Additionally, it was also found that gold loans were primarily being used for smoothening household consumption and for repaying previous debts, although, it must be pointed out that half of the sample also mentioned using it for productive purposes such as investment in business, education and household improvement and repairs.

The study had 1000 respondent across four districts – Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, Kolhapur in Maharashtra, Hooghly in West Bengal and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh -- with the sample split evenly across rural and peri-urban areas and with 83% respondents being male.

The study showed that more than 70% of the respondents in Coimbatore and Kolhapur had least or little preference to sell their gold. Hooghly followed a normal distribution and generated a mix of responses from 1 to 10, where 10 represents a high willingness to sell the gold. In Saharanpur, people did not seem to have a very high sentimental value for the gold they possess and more than 90% of respondents assigned scores between 6 to 10, representing high willingness to sell their gold.

The release said 44.37% of the total households approached confirmed having taken a gold loan. The average gold loan amount acquired by the study sample across all four districts was Rs. 31,387 at an average annual interest rate of 20 percent. People in Hooghly and Coimbatore were against parting with their gold. Specifically in Kolhapur, respondents revealed that they prefer other investments as opposed to one which uses gold as collateral such as land based as it does not require them to physically part with an asset. In Coimbatore most of the loans were acquired from commercial banks followed by pawn brokers. Similarly, formal financial institutions such as NBFCs and commercial banks seemed to be the most popular sources of credit in Kolhapur.

In contrast to this, gold loans in Saharanpur and Hooghly were mostly acquired from informal sources such as pawn broker and shopkeepers.

Major uses of gold loans as reported by respondents were debt repayment, health expenditures and smoothening immediate cash flow problems in businesses and households. Thus, gold loans, seems to provide ‘quick fixes’ to liquidity constraint and unlike most other loans are not primarily used for large planned expenditures such as purchase of new house or financing education.

Prof. Arvind Sahay, Head, India Gold Policy Centre said, “Gold could be classified as an alternate tool for financial inclusion among low income households. This is more so true for the rural economy that constitutes 70% of the total population and pre-dominantly engages in agricultural activities as their primary source of income. With income from agriculture being uncertain and some lack of institutional credit for farming activities, the agrarian population relies heavily on gold (in the form of gold loan or selling gold) to meet their agricultural expenses”.

The study also observed that the relative lack of success of government schemes such as Gold Monetization Scheme, Sovereign Gold Bond and Indian Gold Coin Scheme can be attributed to people not being aware of these schemes. Respondents did express willingness to invest in these schemes if they got adequate information about the product, indicating the potential of the scheme with better targeting and promotion.

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A separate research project conducted by Balagopal Gopalakrishnan and Sanket Mohapatra, found that the quantity of gold reserve held by central banks in Emerging Market and Developing Economies (EMDEs) has risen sharply following the global financial crisis in 2008; that, on average, the percentage of foreign exchange held by central banks in EMDEs in the form of G4 (dollar, yen, pound and Euro) decreased from 84% to 74% with much of that decrease being compensated for by an increase in the holding of gold. Large increases in gold holding were seen in Russia, China and Brazil, but not India.

The research paper examines factors driving holding of gold by central banks in 50 EMDEs, with a focus on post-crisis developments. The researchers argue that the unprecedented monetary expansion in advanced economies has resulted in a shift in EMDE reserve asset holding strategy, resulting in continued accumulation of gold reserves even after the peak of the financial crisis.

The release said the increase in EMDE gold holdings in the post-crisis period was strongly associated with the large expansion in liquidity and increase in central bank balance sheets in the advanced economies. This post-crisis effect holds even after controlling for a range of country-specific factors, international gold prices, and global risk indicator, and is robust to alternative measures of global liquidity, sub-samples excluding the BRICS countries, alternative specifications, and the inclusion of additional controls.

The authors point out that US monetary policy is the primary driver of the global financial cycles and questions the level of independence enjoyed by other central banks, even those with flexible exchange rates such as the UK or the ECB. Therefore, the massive monetary easing conducted by the advanced economy central banks, led by the US Fed, have increased the vulnerabilities of the EMDE central banks given the spillover effects the monetary easing has had in the EMDE countries.

The paper also investigates whether global factors such as excessive monetary easing by the central banks in the advanced economies and changes in the global risk environment can explain this increase in EMDE gold reserves, after controlling for domestic factors. It concluded that monetary expansion in advanced economies is robustly related to the post-crisis increase in EMDE gold reserves.

Prof. Ashish Nanda, Director IIMA said, “The global gold ecosystem is undergoing transformation owing to geopolitical changes and economic dynamics. The gold market is shifting East, with India and China constituting more than fifty percent of the global demand and China becoming a leading gold supplier as well. In times of transition such as this, empirical research based policies and coordination along the value chain become critical. IGPC aims to address these needs and thereby impact policy and practice related to the gold industry in India and internationally.”

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Indian Navy and Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad sign MoU on data sharing, scientific cooperation

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Vice-Admiral S N Ghormade, Director General, Naval Operations, and Space Application Centre (SAC) Director Tapan Misra signed a memorandum of understanding here today on data sharing and scientific cooperation in the field of meteorology and oceanology.
 
With this initiative, both the organisations have embarked on a common platform of mutual cooperation, where the scientific advancements and expertise achieved by SAC would be synergised into the Indian Navy's efforts to keep the nation’s defence forces in step with rapid development in the field of Environment Sciences and Satellite Data acquisition technology, an official press release said.
 
This has further boosted the already established collaboration between the two organisations, it said.
 
The release said the broad areas of cooperation include sharing of non-confidential observational data for pre-launch sensor calibration and post launch satellite data validation, operational use of SAC generated weather products, provisioning expertise for installation of various satellite data processing modules at Naval METOC organisations, carrying out calibration and validation for ocean models, transfer of technology to generate weather information, training on latest technology and sharing of subject matter experts between the organisations for effective knowledge transfer.
 
Scientists from SAC, Principal Director Naval Oceanology and Meteorology and Chief Staff Officer, Gujarat Naval Area were among those present on the occasion.
 
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