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.


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.”




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

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.

Ashish Nanda steps aside as Director of IIM Ahmedabad

Ashish Nanda
Ashish Nanda
Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) Director Ashish Nanda today announced that he would step aside from his position with effect from September 1, 2017, citing personal reasons.
"Professionally, I have enjoyed the experience immensely and I have learned a lot. However, personally, living a long distance from my wife and son has been a challenge," Prof. Nanda said in a letter to all members of the IIMA community.
"When I joined, I had committed to serving at most one term. On September 1, it will be four years, to the day, since I took charge. It is a good time to step aside and to hand over the responsibility and honour of leading the Institute to the next, fortunate person. I will hand over responsibilities of director at the end of that day," he said.
"These past three and a half years, I have woken up every day feeling fortunate to be working for an institution that has contributed tremendously to me. I feel privileged to have followed in the footsteps of people I greatly admire, to have had the opportunity to lead the Institute at a crucial time in its trajectory, and to have contributed to the best of my ability to its continuing success," he said.
"I believe we are at a point when there is alignment among various constituencies of the Institute as to the direction we ought to follow and considerable momentum along the path that we are following. We have a committed and enthusiastic chairman providing vision and guidance, a wise and engaged board, faculty that is productive and energized, staff that is loyal and devoted, brilliant and hardworking students, a diaspora of alumni committed to the Institute’s long term success, governmental support for operating autonomously to achieve our dreams, and industry that respects and values the Institute. This is as good a time as any for leadership transition at the Institute," he said.
Prof. Nanda said he had, thus, requested IIMA Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla that he be allowed to step aside from the position of director, and he had acceded to the request.
"Of course, my heart is always with IIMA. I am always available to help the Institute in any way that I can. And I will contribute to effect a smooth transition," he said.
"I am grateful to Mr. Naik, Mr. Patel, and Mr. Birla for their unstinted support and guidance, to the board members for their selfless contribution and prudent counsel, to the faculty for their dedication and effort, to the alumni for their avowed affection and engagement, to the staff for their fidelity and goodwill, and to the students for their dreams and their dedication. But I couldn’t have had this extraordinary adventure without the love of my wife, who, despite the distance we have lived apart, has been a partner with me in this journey every step of the way, the blessings of my parents, and the affection of my son," he added.
Prof Nanda was the Robert Braucher Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School, has been appointed as the new Director of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA).
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. 

IIMA hikes fees for flagship two-year programmes to Rs. 21 lakh

IIM Ahmedabad
IIM Ahmedabad
The Board of Governors of the Indian Insititute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) met here yesterday and approved a 7.7 percent in hike in the fees for its flagship Post Graduate Programme in Management and Post Graduate Programme in Food and Agri-Business Management to Rs. 21 lakh.
"This fee covers costs associated with tuition, accommodation, course material, library, placement services, and IT resources," a press release from IIMA said.
Both programmes are two-year courses and, at the increased level, the fees would work out to Rs. 10.5 lakh per year.
"General inflation and Seventh Pay Commission implementation exert an upward push on cost of programme delivery. The Institute is committed to striving for efficiency in its operations. As the most liberal among Indian management institutions by far in financial aid disbursements (in 2016-17, one-third of our students received financial aid), IIMA is also committed to ensuring that no capable candidate is denied entry for reason of lacking financial wherewithal," the release added.
IIMA had increased the fees for these programmes to Rs. 19.5 lakh from Rs. 18.5 lakh last April.

UK visa application centre inaugurated in Ahmedabad

British Deputy High Commissioner Ahmedabad Geoff Wain formally inaugurated the new UK visa application centre (VAC) here today.
A press release from the British High Commission said the new VAC offers a number of benefits to customers in Ahmedabad including more application counters to make it quicker and easier for customers to submit their visa applications. 
The VAC is also located in a more convenient area of Ahmedabad and continues to be co-located with the Schengen visa application centre to make it more straightforward for customers to apply for both visas at the same time.
"The UK continues to welcome more and more visitors from India. The latest visa figures show that over 395,000 Indian visitors came to the UK last year, a six per cent increase from 2015," Mr. Wain said.
"India is an incredibly important market to the UK which is why we continue to make it easier for people to apply for their visas and visit. Last year we introduced a new visit visa application form which for the first time is translated into Gujarati. We will continue to listen to feedback from our customers in order to make further improvements where we can," he added.

IIMA invites alumni, corporates to contribute to restoration, conservation of its campus

IIM Ahmedabad
IIM Ahmedabad
For the first time in its history, the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) has invited its alumni and corporates to contribute to the conservation and restoration of its Heritage Campus.
"About five decades ago, the renowned American architect Louis Kahn translated education philosophy into infrastructure when he assumed responsibility of building IIMA’s infrastructure," a press release from IIMA said.
"Generations of students since then have been inspired by the spaces to reflect, deliberate, break the mould, and free the spirit. These buildings have witnessed generations of academic life on campus and withstood Gujarat Earthquake. The grandeur of the Louis Kahn Campus infrastructure leaves the visitors to campus awestruck. But age has taken its toll, requiring conservation and restoration on priority," it said.
The release said the Government of India had recognized the conservation and restoration of IIMA’s iconic Louis Kahn Campus buildings as an important task and contributions for this are covered within the ambit of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the Companies Act 2013 under “protection of national heritage, art and culture, including restoration of sights of historical importance as well as promoting education.”
IIMA has recently received significant funding from individual alumni and alumni batches to support conservation and restoration of dorms, classrooms, and other infrastructure. 
The institute had announced last year the TCS–IIMA partnership for restoration and upgradation of Vikram Sarabhai Library at IIMA, supported by a Rs. 20 crore funding by TCS Foundation.
Dorm D1 is being renamed the “D-1 Professor Kamla Chowdhury Dorm” in memory of a founding faculty of the institute, with funding support of Rs. 3.5 crore by individual alumni. Classroom 3 is being renamed “CR-3: Professor Labdhi Bhandari Classroom” in the memory of another distinguished faculty member, with financial support of Rs. 2.5 crore also contributed by one of its alumni.
Classroom 4 is being renamed "CR 4:  1992 Batch Classroom" supported by a Rs. 2.5 crore contribution by the Silver Jubilee Reunion batch last December. The 1992 batch representative, Mr. Birendra Baid, said, "The time we spent at IIMA was among the best years of our lives. IIMA has given us much more than just an MBA degree –it is here we made lifelong friends, developed our personalities, and gained life skills that allowed us to pursue our careers with confidence. Giving back to the alma mater was always one of the top items on our agenda when we started planning our Silver Jubilee Reunion that was held in December 2016. We were fortunate that around the same time IIMA was embarking on a comprehensive restoration project for the Heritage Campus. The Batch of '92 is delighted to have contributed towards restoration of one of the Classrooms where we studied 25 years ago."
Tower Lawn opposite Louis Kahn Plaza is being conserved and upgraded with funding support of Rs. 1 crore by the 1995 batch that came for their reunion on campus in December 2015. The 1995 batch coordinator, Mr. Rahul Phondke, said, "It was a small gesture from the batch reflecting our collective recognition of the fact that we all owe a significant part of our careers, lives and relationships to the Institute and no amount of financial contributions can really pay back the emotional debt which we owe to the Institute."
Ms. Susan Macdonald, Head – Buildings and Sites, the Getty Conservation Institute added, “After some 50 years, Louis Kahn's magnificent IIM complex still has the ability to inspire and move the human spirit. Inevitably, it is now suffering many of the conservation challenges typical of many great architectural works of the modern era. It is to be commended that IIM has commenced a careful and thorough program of work that seeks to understand these challenges and develop conservation approaches to sustain Kahn's great work over the next 50 years.”
 “I am touched by these gestures and thankful to our alumni for the love and care that they have for the Institute. The strong commitment of IIMA alumni to the institute will enable us to pursue excellence in teaching, research, and infrastructure and educate future generations of leaders,” said Prof. Ashish Nanda, Director IIMA.

Modi attends 116th meeting of trustees of Somnath Trust at Somnath

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the 116th meeting of the trustees of Shri Somnath Trust at Somnath in Gujarat today. 
Apart from Mr. Modi, the meeting was attended by former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah, former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, Mr. P. K. Laheri, Mr. J.D. Parmar and Mr. Harsh Neotia.
Mr. Modi suggested at the meeting that the entire campus of the Shree Somnath temple be upgraded with water, greenery and facilities. He  recommended that the Trust should actively participate in the effort to make Veraval and Prabhas Patan cashless. He also said that the Trust should organise special "Mahotsavas" in all major cities. 
The meeting was decided Mr. Patel would continue as Chairman of the Trust for the year 2017.

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.

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.

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.

Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel offers to resign

Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel on Monday offered to resign from her position, citing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's "tradition" of leaders quitting their posts when they attain the age of 75.

Anandiben Patel
Anandiben Patel
Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel today offered to resign from her position, citing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party's "tradition" of leaders quitting their posts when they attain the age of 75.
Stating that she had always abided by the party's ideology, principles and discipline, Ms. Patel said many leaders had in recent times established the tradition of voluntarily giving up their positions when the reach 75 years of age, which had set an example for everyone in the party.
In a letter to BJP President Amit Shah, which she also posted on her Facebook and Twitter pages, she said this tradition had provided opportunities for younger leaders to work for the party and the country.
Ms. Patel said she would complete 75 years of age in November but, given the fact that Assembly elections are due to be held in the state towards the end of 2017 and it was also slated to host the next edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January 2017, she felt she should step aside right away so that the new Chief Minister would have time to prepare for these events.
She said she had urged the party leadership two months ago to relieve her of her responsibility and was now writing again so that she could step down as Chief Minister at the earliest.
Ms. Patel recalled that the party had, during the last three decades, given her many opportunities to work for the organisation and the state at various levels, including as a Minister during Mr. Narendra Modi's 12 years as Chief Minister of Gujarat before he became Prime Minister and she was chosen to succeed him, becoming in the process the first woman to hold the position in the state.
The offer of resignation served to end months of speculation about whether Ms. Patel would be able to complete her term, especially in the wake of criticism of the way her Government had handled the agitation by members of the influential Patidar community in the state as well the more recent protests by Dalits.
Even as the reservation issue raised by the Patidars remains very much alive, more than 30 Dalit organisations organised a huge rally here yesterday to protest atrocities against the community in Gujarat.
Mr. Shah said the BJP Parliamentary Board would take a final view on Ms. Patel's offer of resignation.

11 given life terms in Gulbarg Society massacre, 10 years for one, 7 for 12

Gujarat: Life term for 11 convicts in Gulbarg Society massacre case
A special court today awarded life term to 11 persons convicted of murder in the horrific February 28, 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre in Ahmedabad that occurred during the large-scale communal violence that engulfed many parts of Gujarat following the Godhra train burning incident on the previous day.
Of the 13 others convicted in the case for lesser offences, Special Judge P B Desai sentenced one to 10 years in prison and 12 to seven years of imprisonment.
As many as 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed in the incident in which a mob of hundreds of people attacked the residential colony amidst allegations that the police failed to respond repeated calls for help by those trapped inside, including the lawmaker.
Earlier, in his verdict on June 2 in the case, more than 14 years after one of the worst incidents during the 2002 Gujarat violence, the court ad dropped the conspiracy charges against all the accused in the case.
Of the 66 accused persons in the case, six had died during the course of the trial. As many as 36 persons were acquitted.
A total of 59 people, including many "karsevaks" returning from Ayodhya, were killed when sleeper coach S 6 of the Sabarmati Express was torched at the outer signal of Godhra station on February 27, 2002 -- triggering widespread communal violence in Gujarat, claiming over 1,100 lives.
The court had held that there was not enough evidence before it to retain Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), relating to criminal conspiracy.
Lawyers for the prosecution had sought the maximum punishment for all the convicts. They argued that it should be treated as a "rarest of rare" case and the convicts deserved the death penalty or at least a life in prison till the end of their life.
While describing the massacre as one of the "darkest days" in the history of civil society, the court, however decided not to award the death penalty to the 11 convicted of murder. It said life imprisonment for them would be till their death as long as the state did not exercise its power to remit the sentence. It urged the state not to use its power in this regard.
Ms. Zakia Jafri, wife of the late Mr. Jafri, lawyers for the prosecution and activists who have been fighting for the victims of the violence, said they were disappointed by the quantum of punishment handed down by the court. Ms. Jafri said she would examine the possibility of appealing against the sentence.
"CrPC provisions give power to the state to remit sentence after 14 years jail, section 433-A imposes some restriction on that power. In case the state does not exercise power to remit the sentence, life imprisonment will mean that it is till death," the court said. 
"I cannot add beyond what has been prescribed under Section 302. It is not necessary for a state to exercise power to remit sentence. The state may not exercise power of remittance," the judge said, hastening to add that his advice could not be binding on the state.

Foundation stone laid for gauge conversion Ahmedabad-Mehsana railway line

Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu laid the foundation stone for the gauge conversion of the 70 km railway line between Ahmedabad and Mehsana in Gujarat through video-conferencing at a function here yesterday.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani, Railway Board Chairman A K Mital and Member Engineering Aditya Kumar Mittal were amongst those present on the occasion.
The project was part of the announcements made by Mr. Prabhu in his Railway Budget for 2015-16.
Mr. Prabhu said the gauge converson would also help faster connectivity between Delhi and Ahmedabad.
The cost of this project is estimated to be Rs. 478 crore, an official press release said.
There is already a broad gauge (BG) line between Ahmedabad and Mehsana. After conversion of the metre gauge line into broad gauge, there would be a broad gauge double line between the two places.
The section falls on the Ahmedabad- Delhi main line via Jaipur. Railways are in the process of making this entire section as double line. Out of 864 kilometer long route, 407 kilometer from Delhi to Alwar and Bandikui- Jaipur- Ajmer are already double line. Work is in progress on around 350 kilometer section in addition to Ahmedabad- Mehsana section.
The new 36 km line from Marwar to Chandrawal on this route is targeted for commissioning in this financial year.
The work also involves electrification between Ahmadabad and Mehsana. Electrification of existing BG single line is also in progress, the release added.

24 convicted, 36 acquitted in Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society massacre

A special court on Thursday convicted 24 people and acquitted 36 others in the horrific February 28, 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre in Ahmedabad that occurred during the large-scale communal violence that engulfed many parts of Gujarat following the Godhra train burning incident on the previous day.

24 of 66 convicted in Gulbarg Society case
A special court today convicted 24 people and acquitted 36 others in the horrific February 28, 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre in Ahmedabad that occurred during the large-scale communal violence that engulfed many parts of Gujarat following the Godhra train burning incident on the previous day.
As many as 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed in the incident in which a mob of hundreds of people attacked the residential colony amidst allegations that the police failed to respond repeated calls for help by those trapped inside, including the lawmaker.
In the verdict that came more than 14 years after one of the worst incidents during the 2002 Gujarat violence, the court also dropped the conspiracy charges against all the accused in the case.
Eleven of the accused for convicted for murder by Special Judge P. B. Desai, while the others were held guiltyof lesser offences.
Of the 66 accused persons in the case, six had died during the course of the trial.
Ms. Zakia Jafri, wife of the late Mr. Jafri, said she was disappointed by the verdict and would continue her fight for justice.
A total of 59 people, including many "karsevaks" returning from Ayodhya, were killed when sleeper coach S 6 of the Sabarmati Express was torched at the outer signal of Godhra station on February 27, 2002 -- triggering widespread communal violence in Gujarat, claiming over 1,100 lives.
The court held that there was not enough evidence before it to retain Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), relating to criminal conspiracy.
The court will pronounce the quantum of sentence on June 6. Lawyers for the prosecution said they would seek the maximum punishment for the 11 convicted for murder.
Mr. R. K. Raghavan, former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) who had headed the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court to probethe case, said he had "mixed feelings" about the verdict. He said they would consult legal opinion about their next course of action.

Oldest living Indian Test cricketer Deepak Shodhan passes away

Deepak Shodhan Photo: Courtesy BCCI
Deepak Shodhan Photo: Courtesy BCCI
Deepak Shodhan, India's oldest living Test cricketer and the first Indian to score a Test century on debut, passed away at his residence here this morning.
He was 87.
Mr. Shodhan, who was born on October 18, 1928, had been suffering from lung cancer for some time and breathed his last this morning, sources said.
An elegant left-hander and a medium-pace bowler, Shodhan played for Gujarat and Baroda in domestic cricket between 1946-47 and 1961-62.
He made his Test debut against Pakistan, played from October 12-15, 1952 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. He walked out to bat at No. 8 with India struggling at 179 for six and, with the tail-enders for company, struck a superb 110.
His fine knock helped India take a 140-run lead, but the match ended in a draw with India winning the five-match Test series 2-1. 
Shodhan played only two more Tests for India on a tour of the West Indies in 1953. He made 45 and 11 in the first Test at Port-of-Spain but did not play the next three. He returned in the fifth Test, but was taken ill. He went in to bat at No. 10, after the hosts had taken a 264-run lead, and stayed put in the middle to help India manage a draw.
He played 43 first class matches and made 1802 runs, including a double century, with an average of 31.61. He also took 73 wickets at an average of 34.05.
His elder brother Jyotindra Shodhan, 91, also played first class cricket.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) condoled Shodhan's death and deeply appreciated his outstanding service to Indian cricket over a long time.
Former India captain Dattajirao Gaekwad, based in Baroda and father of former Indian all-rounder Anshuman Gaekwad, is now the oldest living Indian Test cricketer. He is also 87, having been born on October 27, 1928.

Committee on Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project to meet in Tokyo on Monday

The second meeting of the high level Joint Committee on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail project will be held tomorrow in Tokyo.
The Indian delegation which is visiting Japan for the meeting, is led by Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog. 
Other members include Mr. A.K. Mital, Chairman, Railway Board; Mr. Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs; Dr. S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary and Mr. Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industry Policy and Promotion. 
The Japanese side will be led by Mr. Hiroto Izumi, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Japan. 
Other members from the Japanese side will include senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism (MLIT) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). 
An official press release said the committee would finalize the schedule of the project, terms related to the appointment of General Consultant and procurement conditions. 
Since the loan negotiation and finalization of loan agreement will take some time, Government of India, to achieve timely implementation of project, has requested for a proper schedule of project implementation and had also requested for appointment of General Consultant before the finalization of the loan agreement. 
The appointment of General Consultant will enable start of preparatory activities like designing and preparation of tender documents, it said.
Since Make in India and Transfer of Technology are key components of the project implementation, an industry interaction between Indian and Japanese companies will be held on May 17.
The event will be see participation by almost 100 Japanese companies and 21 Indian companies. The industry interaction will enable Indian companies to explore business opportunities in participation with Japanese companies. The Indian companies include: BHEL, BEML, IRCON, Reliance Metro, Tata Infrastructure, JBM, Patil Infrastructure, IL&FS, Hindustan Construction Company and Texmaco Rail.

IIMA announces five new projects, including Jindal School of Public Policy

The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) today announced the launch of five new projects as part of campus growth and renewal, including the Jindal School of Public Policy.
The other projects are a new academic block, apartments for the  faculty, dormitories for students, and a brand new sports complex including the IIFL Swimming Pool. 
The institute appointed three architects for these projects: RMA Architects for the School of Public Policy, Arcop for faculty and student housing, and HCP for the new academic block and the sports complex. 
"These five projects are the first phase of a multi-year plan for increasing the capacity and renewing the IIMA campus, while maintaining its unique character," a press release from IIMA said here today.
The release said the Jindal School of Public Policy at IIMA would  be a multi-storey structure, including several classrooms and faculty offices. Prof. Rahul Mehrotra, Founder Principal of RMA Architects and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, will lead the design of the Jindal School of Public Policy. 
JSW has pledged a contribution of Rs. 85 crore towards developing this school, of which Rs. 25 crore has been earmarked for the building and support infrastructure.
JSW Group is one of India's leading conglomerates with interests in diverse sectors of the economy, including steel, power and infrastructure. “As part of our efforts towards furthering greater interface between Indian industry and academia, we have consistently been cognizant of the need to establish a durable mechanism to facilitate constructive interaction amongst government, regulatory agencies, academia, and industry participants in the development of policies affecting our economic environment, and our society at large,” said Mr. Sandeep Gokhale, President, JSW Group. 
“In furtherance of this objective, we are pleased to be a part of the initiative undertaken by the IIM - Ahmedabad through the establishment of the Jindal School for Public Policy. We hope that the school will go on to become an enduring platform in encouraging stakeholder interaction in the years ahead.”
The faculty housing and student housing facilities will be designed by the Montreal-based Arcop group — a pioneer in transformative design approach driven by sustainability. Faculty housing will be a multi-storeyed modern apartment building. 
The student housing facility will offer single-occupancy rooms for student accommodation within the context of a modern building.
“Arcop is honoured and delighted to be associated with IIMA in shaping the future of this campus, by celebrating the legacy and also by focusing on an innovative and integrated approach,” said Mr. Debasish Guha, Director, Arcop Associates Pvt. Ltd.
The new academic block and sports facility will be designed by HCP. The academic block will be built facing the existing academic block in the new campus. It will have several classrooms, faculty offices, and administrative offices. The sports complex will include an olympic-sized swimming pool contributed by IIFL, whose chairman is IIMA alumnus Nirmal Jain. The complex will also include squash courts, badminton courts, gymnasium, an athletics track, and other ancillary facilities.
“I had a transformative experience at IIM Ahmedabad, The relationships built here continued with me in earlier stint at HUL and then in my entrepreneurial journey at IIFL. This prestigious institute has shaped my life and it is my privilege that I can give back something to my alma mater in a meaningful way. In addition to the highest scholarship at the institution, I am sure the swimming pool will reinvigorate the young minds with the spirit of sportsmanship and refresh their minds to innovate and contribute to the greater development of society,” said Mr. Jain.
“IIMA has a world-class reputation as a management institute, but it also has a fine history of architectural patronage. As master architects for both campuses, HCP is honoured to be a part of the IIM Ahmedabad story. We are very happy to have the opportunity to continue our association with the institute with commissions to design additional state-of-the-art academic spaces and a new world-class sports complex, which will include Olympic-standard swimming and athletics facilities,” said Mr. Bobby Desai, Director of Design, HCP.
On the occasion, Prof. Ashish Nanda, Director, IIMA, said: “This is an important step in the growth and renewal of our beautiful campus. We are adding these new buildings to help achieve our strategic goals while keeping true to the heritage and integrity of the campus. I am grateful to the Building Committee for their stewardship of the projects, to the Master Architect HCP for developing with us a shared vision of the future of the IIMA campus, and the architects for these projects — RMA, Arcop, and HCP —for joining us in taking our vision for IIMA forward.”

UPA govt. "conspired" to frame Modi in Ishrat Jahan case: Rajnath

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday accused the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government of hatching a "deep conspiracy to frame then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is now the Prime Minister, in the Ishrat Jahan case.

Congress flip-flopped on several topics in Ishrat Jahan's case: Rajnath
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today accused the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of hatching a "deep conspiracy to frame then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is now the Prime Minister, in the Ishrat Jahan case.
Responding to a calling attention motion on the case in the Lok Sabha, Mr. Singh said terrorism was a subject on which no one should play politics and asserted that the previous government had indulged in a "flip flop" in the Ishrat Jahan case.
He was referring to an affidavit filed by the then Government speaking of Ishrat Jahan's alleged links with the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and an additional affidavit filed later saying that the Intelligence Bureau's reports on this could not be taken as conclusive evidence.
Mr. Singh said the previous Government's efforts were part of a "deep conspiracy" to defame the then Gujarat government and frame Mr. Modi.
The Home Minister said nobody should bring in religion when dealing with terrorism and recalled that the UPA Home Minister had talked about "saffron" terrorism in an effort to "give a communal colour to terrorism". He said the country would never accept such "selective, opportunistic secularism".
He also said that some letters exchanged between the then Home Secretary and Attorney General on the Ishrat Jahan case were missing. He said his Ministry had instituted an internal inquiry to trace the documents.
He said the recent statement by Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley to a Mumbai court, through video-conferencing had only reaffirmed what the UPA Government had said in its first affidavit on the Ishrat Jahan case that she had links with the LeT.
Ishrat Jahan a 19-year-old girl from Mumbra near Mumbai in Maharashtra, and three others had been killed in police action on June 15, 2004 on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.
Ishrat's family and several civil rights groups had alleged that the four were killed by the police in a fake enounter. 
In his statement, Mr. Singh recalled that Ms. Shamima Kausar, mother of Ishrat Jahan, had filed a Special Criminal Application no.822 of 2004 in Gujarat High Court requesting inter-alia, that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may be directed to carry out investigation of FIR No.8 of 2004 dated 15.6.2004 relating to the said incident registered with DCB Ahmedabad City and to direct the Union of India to provide compensation to the petitioner. 
The respondent to the petition were the Union of India (UoI), the State of Gujarat and others. 
"The first affidavit on behalf of Union of India was filed in the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court on 6.8.2009 by the then Under Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, after it was approved by the then Union Home Minister. In the said affidavit it was submitted that Union of India had received specific inputs to suggest that Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) had been planning to carry out the terrorist activities in various parts of the country, including the state of Gujarat. It was also submitted that the Union of India was aware of the inputs that the LeT was planning to carry out assassination of some top-level national and state leaders and LeT in this regard had tasked its India based cadres to monitor their movements.
"It was further stated that Union of India had learnt that LeT had inducted its cadres including Pakistani LeT terrorists in Gujarat for specific terrorist action and that UoI and its agencies were and are regularly sharing such inputs with the state Governments concerned. The affidavit also provided the background and linkages of Javed Sheikh, Amjad Ali, Jishan Johar and Ishrat Jahan and the contradictions in the averments of the petitioner and that of Mr. M.R. Gopinath Pillai, father of Javed Sheikh, in his Writ Petition (CR) No. 63/2007 filed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court, which was not entertained by the Hon’ble Supreme Court but Mr. Pillai was given liberty to approach the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court. 
"In so far as petitioner’s prayer for investigation by the CBI was concerned, it was submitted that no proposal for CBI investigation into the case is under consideration of the Central Government nor does it consider the present case fit for investigation by the CBI," he said.
Mr. Singh said a further affidavit was filed on behalf of UoI on September 29, 2009 by the then Under Secretary, MHA, in SCA no.822/2004 before the Gujarat High Court, after it was apparently vetted by the learned Attorney General and approved by the Union Home Minister. 
"The notings on the concerned file do not provide any reason for filing of the affidavit dated 29.9.2009. It has been mentioned in the affidavit that the further affidavit was being made in view of subsequent developments in relation to the issues connected with the petition and to clarify apprehensions expressed in regard to the affidavit filed by UoI (dated 6.8.2009) as well as to refute attempts to misinterpret portions of the affidavit. 
"In the further affidavit, it was stated that all intelligence inputs do not constitute conclusive proof and it is for the State Government and the State Police to act on such inputs. It was further submitted that the central Government is in no way concerned with such action nor does it condone or endorse any unjustified or excessive action. It was also mentioned that the main purpose of the First Affidavit was to highlight the contradiction in the pleadings averred in the Petition filed by Mrs. Shamima Kausar and the Petition which had been filed by Mr. Pillai. It was also submitted that at the time the First Affidavit was filed, the Central Government was not aware of the fact that a judicial enquiry under Section 176 in relation to the deaths was underway. As such and otherwise, the Central Government was not concerned with the merits of the action taken by the Gujarat Police and anything stated in the first affidavit was not intended to support or justify the action of the State Police. It was also submitted that the Union of India would have no objection, if on proper consideration of facts it is found that an independent inquiry and investigation has to be carried out by the CBI or otherwise," he said.
Thereafter, the Gujarat High Court ordered an investigation into the incident, first, by a Court appointed SIT and thereafter by the CBI vide Judgement dated 01.12.2011. 
"The CBI, after investigation, filed the first chargesheet on 03.07.2013 u/s 302,364,368, 346, 120-B, 201, 203, 204, 217, 218 of IPC and Sections 25, 27 of Arms Act, against seven Gujarat Police officials . Subsequently, the CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet against four IB officials on 06.02.2014 u/s 120B r/w 302, 346, 364, 365 and 368 of IPC and various Sections of the Arms Act. However, the MHA upon consideration of facts and circumstances of the case did not find it a fit case for grant of prosecution sanction against IB officials. The case is presently sub-judice in the Court of Special Judge, CBI, Ahmedabad," he said.
"Further, David Coleman Headley, an accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, had expressed a desire to become approver in sessions case no. 198/2013, provided he is granted pardon by the Court. The Court of competent jurisdiction in Mumbai had tendered pardon under Section 307 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1973 to David Coleman Headley. Thereafter, Headley was examined by the prosecution as a witness in the trial case relating to 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
"During his testimony in the Mumbai Court through video conferencing, David Coleman Headley mentioned that he had learnt from his accomplices that there was a ‘botched up operation’ in India in which one female terrorist was killed in a shootout with the police. The Public Prosecutor gave the option of three names to identify the said female terrorist, whereupon Headley identified Ishrat Jahan as the terrorist concerned," the statement added.

Renowned danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai passes away at 97

Mrinalini Sarabhai
Mrinalini Sarabhai
Renowned danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai, who excelled in classical dance forms such as Bharata Natyam and Kathakali, passed away at her reidence in the Usmanpur area of the city this morning.
She was 97. She is survived by a son, environmental educator Kartikeya Sarabhai, and a daughter, well-known dancer and actress Mallika Sarabhai.
Her husband, eminent physicist Vikram Sarabhai, known as the father of India's space programme, had predeceased her on December 30, 1971.
Mrs. Sarabhai's funeral will be held here later today, sources close to her family said.
"My mother Mrinalini Sarabhai has just left for her eternal dance," Ms. Mallika Sarabhai said on her Facebook page.
Mrs. Sarabhai, who was suffering from various problems related to her old age, was taken to a hospital here yesterday morning. She breathed her last at 10.10 am today, the sources said.
Fondly called "Amma" by her friends, admirers and students, Mrs. Sarabhai was the founding director of the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts here, which she and her husband set up way back in 1949.
Mallika has been looking after the institution as Honorary Director since 1977.
Mrinalini was born on May 11, 1918 into a Brahmin family in Kerala. Her father, Dr. Subbarama Swaminathan was a renowned lawyer at the Madras High Court and principal of the Madras Law College, while her mother Ammu Swaminathan was a social worker, freedom fighter, and former Member of Parliament. 
Her elder brother Govind Swaminathan was also a well-known barrister at the Madras High Court while her sister, Lakshmi Sehgal was the commander-in-chief of the Rani of Jhansi Regiment of the Azad Hind Fauj founded by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Mrinalani spent her early years in Switzerland where she learned the Dalcroze method, a Western technique of dance movements.
She was also educated under the guidance of Nobel laureate and poet Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan before she had a brief stint at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. 
She returned to India and began training in Bharatanatyam under Meenakshi Sundaram Pillai, Kathakali from Guru Thakazhi Kunchu Kurup and Mohiniattam from Kalyanikutty Amma.
Over the years, became one of the best known faces of Indian classical dance with her graceful performances as well as a choreographer and dancer teacher of repute. During a long and distinguished career, she choreographed more than 300 dance dramas, including the much-acclaimed musical "Krishna-Gopala" and "Mahabharata".
In 1942, she got married to Dr. Sarabhai and moved to Ahmedabad, where he lived. She continued dancing well into her eighties and led an active life throughout.
Mrinalini was also a prolific writer, who wrote several novels, poetry, plays and stories for children. She served as the chairperson of the Gujarat State Handicrafts and Handloom Development Corporation Ltd. and was one of the trustees of the Sarvodaya International Trust, an organization for promotion of Gandhian ideals.
She was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Shri in 1965 and the Padma Bhushan in 1992. In 1991, the Gujarat Government conferred the Pandit Omkarnath Thakur Award on her for her contribution to the performing arts.
In 1968 she was honoured with a gold medal by the Mexican Government for her choreography for the Ballet Folklorico of Mexico.

Dept. of Biotechnology, BIRAC to participate in Bharat Innovation Fund of IIMA's CIIE

The Government of India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT), along with the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), will participate in the Bharat Innovation Fund, an official announcement said here today.
The fund is a public-private-academia partnership set up by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE).
Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2015 during the Startup Konnect event in California, the fund will support innovation and innovative startups in areas of healthcare and life-sciences, sustainability, and digital technologies, the press release said.
According to it, the DBT will engage with the Bharat Fund, as part of DBT’s efforts under the Startup India initiative, to help commercialize technologies from its laboratories and facilities, while also mentoring start-ups in the healthcare, agri-tech, and other biotech-related areas. The DBT will also invest Rs. 50 crore over the next three years to support start-ups through this fund. 
DBT Secretary K. Vijay Raghavan said, “Productive innovations from the department of biotechnology can make a huge impact in people’s lives, as has been seen in the advances of medicine in recent years. The DBT is committed to doing citizen-oriented research and to commercializing its research, especially through new startups that can identify market opportunities to serve the masses. We think the IIM A-CIIE’s initiative in setting up Bharat Innovation Fund will provide crucial support for innovative startups that can bring the benefits of innovation to the broader populations. We hope this partnership will lead to rapid commercialization of Indian science for Indian citizens, through Indian startups. These efforts will leverage the experience of BIRAC and will foster exciting innovations."
“CIIE’s experience since 2007 in nurturing Indian startups will be critical to the next phase of Indian entrepreneurship, when entrepreneurs identify needs of the both rural and urban Indian citizens, and provide products and services in critical sectors such as healthcare, sustainability, and digital services. The Bharat Innovation Fund will use important tools such as labs, mentorship, funding, and networking to support entrepreneurs who take on hard challenges of an ever-broadening Indian market," CIIE CEO  Kunal Upadhyay said.
Mr. Mudit Narain, Vice-President at CIIE, said, “Innovation-led economic development in a modern knowledge economy requires equal and consistent support from the public and private sectors. This fund is an effort by one of India’s leading academic institutes to bring together public and private resources, such as experts, finances and labs, to provide the fertile ground for innovation that will seed the Indian multinationals of the next few decades."
Since its launch in the Startup Konnect event, the Bharat Fund has received pledges from several government and corporate entities, such as the Department of Industrial Promotion and Policy (DIPP), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Tata Trusts, and others. It is expected to be operational later this year, and provide a range of support to Indian startups tackling real challenges. 
The Bharat Fund will be managed and coordinated by CIIE at the IIM, Ahmedabad. 

SABIC, CIPET expand collaboration for skill development CSR programme in plastics processing

SABIC, the Saudi Arabia-headquartered chemical company, has announced the expansion of its skill development corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme aimed at developing capacity in the plastics processing industry in India.
The programme, run in collaboration with the Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology (CIPET), under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, trained 50 youth from less privileged backgrounds in Chennai in its first phase and is now aimed at training 90 more from Hyderabad and Ahmedabad in the next phase.
This collaboration is a part of SABIC’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) commitment to create lasting value across the economic, social, human and environmental dimensions, a press release from the company said.
The programme entails a six month residential skill development course including a full scholarship that covers course fee, boarding and lodging costs. The students were selected through a comprehensive screening process undertaken independently by CIPET. Based on a special curriculum developed by CIPET with inputs from SABIC, students in CIPET, Hyderabad will be trained on plastics extrusion while students in CIPET, Ahmedabad will be trained to operate Injection Moulding Machines. 
Upon successful completion of the course, the students will be certified by CIPET and SABIC. These students will be equipped with skills to gain employment in various plastics processing hubs, the release said.
Speaking at the launch of the programme here yesterday, Janardhanan Ramanujalu, Vice President, SABIC South Asia & ANZ, said, “We are delighted to take our partnership with CIPET to the next level with the second phase of this skill development programme. After the overwhelming success of the first phase of the programme in Chennai, in which all graduates received employment offers, we look forward to enabling such high-potential youth in Ahmedabad and Hyderabad to access similar opportunities in the industry."
"Given the potential of the plastics processing industry in India, we believe that this programme will add more skilled frontline workers to the industry and contribute to Government of India’s vision of making India a global manufacturing hub," he said.
Dr. Pradeep Upadhyaya, Professor and Head, High Learning Centres, CIPET Ahmedabad said, “As the leading academic and research institute in the field of plastics, CIPET conducts programmes to equip people with skills that are in line with the latest requirements in the plastics industry. We believe that the success of such programmes rests heavily on collaboration with industry leaders such as SABIC, which help bring in industry orientation to the curriculum and greatly benefit students. We are confident that the skills acquired by the participants of this programme will help them capitalize on the opportunities presented by the growth in the plastics processing industry.”
The release said that, in alignment with SABIC’s global CSR policy, SABIC in India focuses its CSR efforts on the promotion of education, with special attention to less-privileged children and youth. Other SABIC CSR activities in the area of education include reconstruction of schools in Bengaluru and Vadodara and an eye-care campaign targeting 50,000 less-privileged students in government schools in Bengaluru, Delhi, Gurgaon and Vadodara, to facilitate their education and empowering underprivileged women by undertaking skill development programme to develop useful articles using plastic waste, teaching children responsible ways to dispose plastic waste. 

IIMs announce results of CAT 2015

IIM Ahmedabad
IIM Ahmedabad
The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) today announced the results of the Common Admission Test (CAT) 2015 conducted by them on November 29, 2015.
A note from the Prof. Tathagata Bandyopadhyay of IIM, Ahmedabad, the convener of CAT 2015, said candidates could log into the CAT website with their ID and password to view their score card.
"IIMA is pleased to announce the CAT-2015 results today. We had messaged the total percentile to all the candidates at 1:50 pm and at present, the candidates can also log in with their ID and password to view their score card. 
"Today morning (between 9:00-9:40 am), some students accessed their own results (not others) on the portal during the period the website was being updated, which caused some confusion among students. There was no leakage, no error or hacking of data whatsoever. TCS plugged this loophole immediately," the note added.
As many as 2,18,664 registrations were made for CAT 2015, the highest number in the last ive years.
The test was conducted in two sessions on November 29, 2015  at 650 test sites in 136 cities. Online registration for the examination opened on August 6 and ended on September 25, following a five-day extension.
The CAT is a pre-requisite for admission to the flagship post-graduate programmes (PGP) in management of the IIMs. Several other institutions also use the CAT scorecard to decide their admissions.
The number of female candidates in the applicant pool increased, from 59,211 in 2014 to 69,176 in 2015 - an increase of 17%. There was also a significant increase in the number of candidates from non-engineering background from 37% in 2014 to 46% in 2015.

A M Naik resigns as Chairman of IIM Ahmedabad Board of Governors

A M Naik
A M Naik
Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Chairman A. M. Naik has resigned as Chairman of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), citing increased business responsibilities.
The Board of Governors of the institute has constituted a Search Committee to identify the new Chairman. In the interim, Mr. Naik will continue in the position, a press release from IIMA said here today.
According to it, Mr. Naik had informed IIMA Board members about his decision at its meeting on December 18.
"Board members unanimously urged him to reconsider, but upon deliberation, Mr. Naik decided to put in his papers," the release said.
“This has not been an easy decision to take — given my deeply fulfilling experience of close to four years. But going forward, owing to increased business responsibilities, I do not believe I will be able to do full justice to my position, and it would be best for all concerned if IIMA has a new person at the helm," Mr. Naik said in his letter of resignation submitted to Minister for Human Resource Development Smriti Irani on December 22.
The release noted that Mr. Naik had taken up chairmanship of the institute at a sensitive time, when it was looking for a new Director. 
"Mr. Naik’s vision was to internationalize the institution, and continue to move IIMA on the trajectory of becoming one of the best management education institutions globally. He put in an enormous amount of time and effort in the Director selection process, eventually convincing Prof. Ashish Nanda of Harvard University to take up the position. Mr. Naik also encouraged several academic and industry leaders to join the IIMA Board. As Chairman, he led IIMA Board in guiding the Institute," it said.
“Mr. Naik’s tenure as IIMA Chairman has been an exciting time for the institute,” said IIMA Director Prof. Ashish Nanda. “IIMA has taken several new initiatives in the last few years to build on its strengths and become more impactful as a global leader in management education. Mr. Naik initiated many of these exciting initiatives and has been a bulwark of support and encouragement to the Institute. Even as we are saddened that he is stepping down, we are grateful for his stewardship and appreciative of his legacy,” Prof. Nanda added.

Modi says sensitivity towards citizens should be vital element of policing

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that sensitivity towards citizens should be a vital element of policing and called for the creation of a flexible institutional framework to ensure that this is achieved.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivering his address on the third and concluding day of the Conference of DGPs, in Dhordo, Kutch, Gujarat on December 20, 2015.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivering his address on the third and concluding day of the Conference of DGPs, in Dhordo, Kutch, Gujarat on December 20, 2015.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said sensitivity towards citizens should be a vital element of policing and called for the creation of a flexible institutional framework to ensure that this is achieved.
In his address on the third and final day of the 50th annual conference of Directors General of Police (DGPs) and Inspectors General of Police (IGPs) at Dhordo in Kutch district of Gujarat, he said police forces should establish links with local communities, and one way of doing this is to celebrate the successes and achievements of people in the community. 
He said that when people visit police stations to celebrate their achievements, they would also develop a greater understanding and respect for the work done by police officers. He said people in a community should identify with police stations. 
The Prime Minister touched upon subjects such as cyber-security, digital technology and social media, and said police officers should use emerging technologies effectively in their work. He called for greater interaction between the police forces of neighbouring districts across inter-state borders. 
The Prime Minister also spoke on the subjects of tourism policing, disaster management and police training. 
He expressed happiness over the quality and depth of the discussions he had particiapted in and said this was an indication of the dedication and professional competence of the police force.
He called for a clear roadmap for the implementation of the recommendations emerging from the conference.
Mr. Modi said that the discussions and inputs involved both junior and senior officers, from across the country, and this had helped break silos, which is a significant achievement. 
He praised the dedication and selfless service put in by the police officers, and their commitment to duty, which he said was the essence of the nation’s security. 
The Prime Minister also gave away the President's Medals for distinguished service to officers of the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
Earlier in the day, the delegates discussed the subject of police universities, and forensic science university. 
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, and Ministers of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju and Haribhai Chaudhary were present. 

Modi arrives in Bhuj at start of three-day visit to Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi handing over to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel a certificate marking Shyamji Krishna Varma's posthumous reinstatement to the bar, at a function, at Bhuj, in Gujarat on December 18, 2015.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi handing over to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel a certificate marking Shyamji Krishna Varma's posthumous reinstatement to the bar, at a function, at Bhuj, in Gujarat on December 18, 2015.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today handed over to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel a certificate to mark the posthumous reinstatement to the bar of Shyamji Krishna Varma, who had taken up the cause of Indian independence in London.
The reinstatement has been done by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, London. The certificate had been given to Mr. Modi in the presence of British Prime Minister David Cameron, during his visit to London last month. 
Today's function was organized at Bhuj in Gujarat on the first day of a three-day visit to the state by Mr. Modi.
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said Varma was a learned man, who had received great recognition in Varanasi. 
Mr. Modi said he is visiting Kutch to attend the conference of Directors General of Police, which had always been held in Delhi, until he had taken the initiative to shift it out of the capital last year. 
He expressed happiness that the Rannotsav festival in the Rann of Kutch had become extremely popular among tourists, and now finds a place in the world tourism map. 
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