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Gujarat

Restored Vikram Sarabhai Library inaugurated at IIM Ahmedabad

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The restored Vikram Sarabhai Library (VSL) at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), visualised as an interactive and technology-rich space for learning, collaboration and information discovery, was inaugurated here on Monday.
 
"Vikram Sarabhai Library at IIMA’s Louis Kahn Plaza is a landmark structure that leaves visitors awestruck. Its design and grandeur is almost impossible to miss," a press release from IIMA said.
 
"The iconic Louis Kahn buildings have witnessed years of academic lives on campus and even withstood the Gujarat earthquake, but had aged so as to need restoration and upgrade on priority. So, IIMA has initiated a program for the important and painstaking process of restoration and upgrade of these structures in 2016," it said.
 
IT services major Tata Consultancy Services funded the restoration of VSL for a future-ready knowledge hub for digital learning and collaboration, the release said.
 
At the inaugural function, Prof. Errol D’Souza, Director, IIMA said, “The Vikram Sarabhai Library is at the epicenter of the IIM Ahmedabad campus and is not just a location for preserving books but is intended to provide a workshop for readers and for conversations that expand our horizons. The architecture of the library expands on the theme of the interplay between light and darkness and is a representation of how academics is the emergence from darkness into the light. The users of the library at IIM Ahmedabad are indebted to the TCS Foundation for its contribution to the restoration of this enriching experience.”
 
Tata Consultancy Services, through its CSR arm TCS Foundation, is engaged in promoting and funding projects and programs under corporate social responsibility, and supported this landmark project with funding of Rs.  20 crore.
 
“The Vikram Sarabhai library at IIM Ahmedabad has witnessed the confluence of students and faculty ever since its inception. The TCS Foundation is proud to have associated with transformation of this iconic library to be future ready integrating leading-edge digital learning technologies and flexible collaboration spaces creating a vibrant experiential learning environment. We hope this state- of- the art library will set a benchmark for knowledge management among academic institutions globally,” said, Milind Lakkad, Executive Vice President & Global Head -Manufacturing Business Group and Deputy Head HR, TCS.
 
Somaya & Kalappa Consultants, Mumbai were appointed as the restoration and conservation architect for the project and led the entire reconstruction of VSL building.
 
The release said the reimagined library provides a technology-rich learning environment that includes intelligent identification technologies, seamless integration, and discovery of digital content. There is an emphasis on digital collections, while print collections retain their importance to the library. Open and flexible spaces provide an environment of collaboration among students, academics, and visitors.
 
In addition to funding, TCS has been actively engaged with the library team in developing the VR app in addition to making valuable contribution to the discussions while finalising the layout of VSL. The app was also launched at the inaugural.
 
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Another Gujarat Congress MLA quits party, Assembly

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In a jolt to the Congress a day before it holds its Working Committee meeting and a rally here, another of its Gujarat legislators resigned from the party and the Assembly on Monday.
 
Vallabh Dharaviya, who represents Jamnagar (Rural), submitted his resignation to Assembly Speaker Rajendra Trivedi in Gandhinagar on Monday.
 
"He (Dharaviya) has stated that he has resigned on his own volition, without any pressure. I have accepted his resignation and now he is no more a legislator," Trivedi told reporters.
 
Dharaviya is the third legislator in last four days to leave the Congress and resign as legislator. Last week, four-time legislator from Manavadar, Jawahar Chavda and Dhrangardra legislator Parshottam Sapariya had quit. 
 
Both have since joined ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, with Chavda sworn in as a Cabinet minister in the Vijay Rupani government last week.
 
Dharaviya is said to be miffed over his chances of being considered for Jamnagar Parliamentary seat receding, as Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel, who has announced his decision to join Congress on March 12 in presence of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, may be fielded from there.
 
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Govt. approves Surat Metro Rail Project with two corridors

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The Government has approved the Surat Metro Rail Project in Gujarat with two corridors with a combined length of 40.35 km.
 
The project will be completed in five years at an estimated project cost of Rs. 12020.32 crore, an official press release said.
 
"This project will provide continuous availability of affordable, reliable, safe, secure and seamless transport system in the urban agglomeration of the city. It will reduce the accidents, pollution, travel time, energy consumption, anti-social incidents as well as regulate urban expansion and land use for sustainable development. The Metro will provide eco friendly and sustainable public transport to residents, commuters, visitors and travelers," the release said.
 
The corridor-1, Sarthana to Dream City, is 21.61 kms comprising an   underground stretch of 6.47 km and an  elevated corridor of 15.14 km, which will connect 20 metro stations (via Sarthana, Nature Park, Kapodra, Labheshwar Chowk area, Central Warehouse, Surat Railway station, Maskati hospital, Gandhi Baug, Majura Gate, Roopali canal, Dream City). 
 
The corridor-2, Bhesan to Saroli, will be 18.74 kms long and will be entirely elevated. It will connect 18 stations. (via Bhesan, Ugat Vaarigruh, Palanpur Road, LP Savani School, Adajan Gam, Aquarium, Majuragate, Kamela Darwaza, Magob and Saroli).
 
Maintenance facilities will be set up at Dream City and Bhesan depots, the release said.
 
The project will be implemented by Gujarat Metro Rail Corporation (GMRC) Ltd.
 
The project will be financed mainly through equity from Government of India and Government of Gujarat on 50:50 basis and loan from bilateral/ multilateral agencies, the release added.
 
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Rahul, Sonia among 15 candidates finalised by Congress for Lok Sabha elections

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi are in the first list of 15 candidates from Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat finalised by the party today for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, likely to be held in April-May.
 
Rahul Gandhi will contest again from his Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh and Sonia Gandhi from her seat of Rae Bareli.
 
The 11 candidates finalised for Uttar Pradesh also include former Union Ministers Salman Khurshid (Farrukhabad), R P N Singh (Kushi Nagar), Jitin Prasad (Dhaurahra) and Saleem Shervani (Badaun).
 
Other candidates are Imran Masood (Saharanpur), Annu Tandon (Unnao), Rajaram Pal (Akbarpur), Brij Lal Khatri (Jalaun-SC) and Nirmal Khatri (Faizabad).
 
In Gujarat, the Congress has decided to field former Rajya Sabha member Raju Parmar from Ahmedabad West-SC, former GPCC chief Bharatsinh M. Solanki from Anand, Prashant Patel from Vadodara and Ranjit Mohansinh Rathwa from Chhota Udepur-ST.
 
The names were finalised at a meeting of the Congress Central Election Committee held here today, a press release from the party added.
 
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Reliance Infra E&C bags AAI contract for greenfield airport in Rajkot

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Reliance Infrastructure Limited E&C has said  that it has received the Letter of Award (LOA) from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for a contract worth Rs. 648 crore for the construction of new greenfield airport at Hirasar in Rajkot district of Gujarat.
 
The company, a part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, had participated in the tender for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract independently as a main contractor.
 
The scope of work includes, detailed designing, engineering, procurement and construction of runway, basic strips, turning pads, taxiways, apron, perimeter and other roads, earth work in cut/fill and grading, drainage system, related retaining structures, fire station, MT pool, fire pit, cooling pit, ARP and associated approaches, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of airfield ground lighting system, visual aids for navigation and bird hazard reduction, a press release from the company said here yesterday.
 
Reliance Infrastructure had scored the highest technical score of 92.2% among nine qualified bidders like Afcons, and L&T. The airport is to be completed within 30 months from the date of issue of LoA, it said.
 
The new airport is being constructed at a location near National Highway (NH-8B) connecting Ahmedabad and Rajkot, nearly 36 km from the existing Rajkot Airport. Over time, the proposed new airport will also meet the spill over needs of Ahmedabad, the release said.
 
"The holistic development of Hirasar airport will not only serve the demand generated by Rajkot city but also cater to the demand in the neighbouring states," it said.
 
Reliance Infrastructure E&C CEO Arun Gupta, said, “Our strong credentials in infrastructure projects execution are borne out by the successful execution of large scale transportation and power projects. The Hirasar airport project will further strengthens Reliance Infrastructure Limited’s bona fide to be a leader in infrastructure projects.”
 
Reliance Infrastructure Limited E&C is part of Reliance Infrastructure Limited (RInfra), with business interests spanning diverse infrastructure segments such as Roads and Highways, Railways and Metros, Mega Civil projects, Water and Marine, and Renewables in addition to Power projects.
 
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Modi urges Opposition not to play 'vote-bank politics' over national security

Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted on Monday that his government was committed to righting terrorism, corruption and other such menaces the country is facing and assured the people that strict action would be taken against elements working against the nation.
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asserted that his government was committed to righting terrorism, corruption and other such menaces the country is facing and assured the people that strict action would be taken against elements working against the nation.
 
Speaking after launching a slew of development projects in Ahmedabad on the first day of a two-day visit to home state of Gujarat, he urged the Opposition not to play "vote-bank politics' over national security, saying such actions would only demoralise the armed forces and strengthen the enemy.
 
Among other projects, Modi inaugurated the first phase of the Ahmedabad Metro Rail at the Vastral Gam station. He also laid the foundation stone for the second phase of the project and also launched India's indigenously developed payment eco-system and automatic fare collection system based on the One Nation, One Card mode. 
 
After flagging off the first Metro train, he took a ride in it.
 
The Prime Minister inaugurated the 1200-bed New Civil Hospital, New Cancer Hospital, Dental Hospital and Eye Hospital in Ahmedabad. He also dedicated to the nation the Dahod Railway Workshop and Patan-Bindi railway line and laid the foundation stone of Lothal Maritime Museum.
 
Addressing the gathering at the BJ Medical College Ground, the Prime Minister said that it is an historic day, as the dream of Ahmedabad Metro has come into fruition. He said that the metro will provide a convenient and environment friendly mode of transportation for the people in Ahmedabad. Before 2014, there was only 250 km operational network of metro in the country, while now there is 655 km, he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that the common mobility card unveiled today eliminates the need for having multiple cards for travelling in metro and using other means of transportation throughout the country. He said the card would ensure ‘One Nation-One Card’ for mobility. He added that the indigenously built card has removed the previous international dependence on making such cards. India is one of the few countries in the world having a One Nation-One Card for transportation, he said.
 
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Modi also spoke about the various initiatives taken by the State Government and Union government for the development of Gujarat, like water supply schemes, electricity for all, infrastructure development, housing for all and schemes for poor. He also explained in detail the various schemes undertaken for the welfare of Adivasi community in the State.
 
He said the transformation of Gujarat in the past couple of decades was due to meticulous planning and hard work of the people of the state. He said the state should be taken up as a case study on how development should be undertaken.
 
He said that the large number of infrastructural development projects being implemented in Gujarat would transform the state massively.
 
The Prime Minister said that Lothal Maritime Heritage Complex, once completed, will showcase the maritime strength of ancient India. He said that the museum will have world class facilities and will increase the tourism potential of the state.
 
Stating that health was a priority of the Union Government, Modi said that it was building quality health care infrastructure throughout the country, from Wellness Centres to Medical Colleges. He also mentioned about the world class health facilities being built throughout Gujarat. He added that, once completed, Medicity will cater to around ten thousand patients.
 
Earlier in the day, at Jamnagar, Modi flagged off the Bandra-Jamnagar Humsafar Express train.
 
He also dedicated the new 750-bed annexe of Guru Gobind Singh Hospital to the nation and unveiled various irrigation and water supply projects under the SAUNI scheme. He also launched other development projects at Jamnagar including the 51-km pipeline from Aaji-3 to Khijadia.
 
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister talked about the resolve and hard work of the Gujarat Government in the past couple of decades to deal with the water shortage problem. In this context, he mentioned about his determination to not allow ‘Tanker Raj’ in Gujarat and how Sardar Sarovar Dam has brought relief to the people of the Gujarat. He appealed to the citizens to conserve each and every drop of water for the benefit of present and future generation.
 
Hailing the health sector revolution in Gujarat, Prime Minister said that the hospitals that have come up in the past few years in Gujarat will greatly benefit the poor. He said that Ayushman Bharat scheme rolled out by the Union Government will ensure affordable and quality healthcare for the poor.
 
Modi said that structural and long terms measures are required to overcome the challenges faced by the country, instead of poorly thought out short term ones. In this context, he mentioned about the long term visionary schemes introduced by the Union Government. He said that PM –KISAN scheme is a long term and comprehensive plan for the welfare of the farmers.
 
Talking about the Union Government’s efforts in boosting the MSME sector, he said that the easy availability of credit and people-friendly GST will greatly benefit the youngsters. He said that the initiatives taken by the Government has ensured improved India's Ease of Business rankings.
 
At Jaspur in Ahmedabad district, Modi laid the foundation stone of the Vishva Umiyadham Complex.
 
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Cabinet approves Ahmedabad Metro Rail Project Phase II

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The Union Cabinet today approved the implementation of Phase II of the Ahmedabad Metro Rail Project in Gujarat.
 
The project will comprise two corridors of total length 28.254 -- Corridor 1 from Motera Stadium to Mahatma Mandir for a length of 22.838 km and Corridor 2 from GNLU to GIFT City for a length of 5.416 km at a total completion cost of Rs. 5384.17 crores, an official press release said.
 
The Cabinet also approved the institutional arrangement and legal framework for the project, it said.
 
According to it, implementation of the project will provided the much-needed additional public transport infrastructure to Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.
 
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Model building bye-laws amended for establishing EV charging infrastructure

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The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has made amendments to the Model Building Bye-laws 2016 and Urban Regional Development Plans Formulation and Implementation Guidelines 2014, in order to facilitate the availability of Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Infrastructure. 
 
The Ministry of Power has issued guidelines and standards for charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, which have also been considered while making these amendments, an official press release said.
 
The guidelines will act as a guiding document to the State Governments and Union Territories to incorporate the norms and standards of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure in their respective Building Bye-Laws. 
 
The guidelines on Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure have been circulated to all the State Governments and UT Administrations with the request to amend their Building Bye-laws and Master Plan Regulations.
 
Cities and towns in the country are facing the problems of environmental pollution thereby severely impacting the health of the urban residents. India is committed to Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Change of the United Nations to take urgent action to combat climate change. 
 
The Government has initiated several steps to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. One of such steps is to encourage Electric Vehicles (EVs), which are environment-friendly. At least 25% of the total vehicles on roads should be EVs by 2030, the Government is hoping.
 
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IIMA adds GRE as criteria for admission into ePGP Programme other than CAT, GMAT

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The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) today said that, from the 2019-21 batch onwards, it would also accept valid GRE scores (of last five years), apart from GMAT and CAT, for admission into its e-Mode Post Graduate Programme (ePGP).
 
Candidates who have missed the CAT 2018 deadline can also appear in GMAT / GRE until March 31, 2019 in order to be eligible for 2019-21 batch application, a press release from the institute said.
 
Shortlisted candidates applying for 2019-21 batch will be invited for personal interview at IIMA campus or other cities decided by the institute.
 
The application for admission into ePGP 2019-21 batch has already begun. The last date for the application is May 31, 2019. The first campus module for new batch is slated to start from September 23, 2019.
 
The 'e' in ePGP stands for Electronic Mode (Interactive Onsite Learning). The ePGP marks IIMA's foray to offering long-term hybrid management education course leading to awarding a PG Diploma. The ePGP is a hybrid learning programme, with online lessons attended through study centers, classroom teaching at IIMA campus at regular intervals and, mentored project work. 
 
The two-year course is comprehensive and designed for working executives and entrepreneurs. The programme is aimed to enhance strategic thinking and impart the entrepreneurial as well leadership abilities required for taking organizations to the next level, while also advancing individual career aspirations, the release said.
 
The innovative curriculum is designed by the faculty members of IIMA, with their diverse experience in research, consulting / advisory, and teaching the regular students and executives in various programmes. The pedagogy is benchmarked with global standards in management education, thus providing participants with knowledge that are vital in today's knowledge economy.
 
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Modi dedicates National Salt Satyagraha Memorial in Dandi to nation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial at Dandi in Navsari district, Gujarat to the nation on Wednesday on Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary and said all efforts would be made to carry the forward the legacy of the Father of the Nation.
 
Modi dedicates National Salt Memorial to nation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial at Dandi in Navsari district, Gujarat to the nation today on Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary and said all efforts would be made to carry the forward the legacy of the Father of the Nation.
 
In particular, he reiterated that the government would continue its endeavours to bring basic amenities to the villages, from clean cooking fuel to electricity and healthcare to financial services.
 
At the memorial site, he also unveiled statues of Mahatma Gandhi and 80 Satyagrahis who had marched with him during the historic Dandi Salt March in 1930 to make salt from sea water against the British law. The memorial also has 24 narrative murals depicting various events and stories from the historic 1930 Salt March. Solar trees are installed to meet the energy requirements of the memorial complex. 
 
Addressing a public meeting after going around the complex, Modi congratulated everyone who has worked for the memorial. 
 
"This memorial reminds us of the great sacrifices of the people of our country for the cause of freedom,” he said.
 
He said the Dandi memorial encapsulated the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi -- Agrah for Swadeshi, Swatchagrah and Satyagraha and it will be a major  attraction for the tourists in the coming days.
 
He said the government had modernised around 2000 institutions related to khadi. It has benefitted lakhs of craftsmen and workers. "Khadi is now not only a fashion statement but a symbol of women empowerment as well," he said.
 
Swadeshi played an immensely important role in freedom struggle, likewise, handlooms will be instrumental in overcoming poverty. The government has declared 7th of August to be celebrated as Handlooms Day, every year to promote handlooms, he added.
 
Underlining the importance laid by Mahatma Gandhi for cleanliness, Modi said the people had imbibed those values for a clean India. He said the impact of the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan launched by the government is that the  cleanliness in rural area  has increased from just 38 per cent in 2014 to 98 per cent now  with the NDA Government in  power. 
 
Earlier, during a day-long visit to Gujarat, his home state, Modi laid the foundation stone for extension of the terminal building of Surat Airport, inaugurated various developmental projects and the state-of-the-art Rasilaben Sevantilal Venus Hospital here.
 
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At the airport ceremony, Modi said, “For Ease of Doing Business, the infrastructure of this country must improve and extension of Surat airport is an effort in this direction.” 
 
The Surat Airport Terminal building is being extended at a cost of Rs 354 crore with an area of over 25,500 square metres. It will be an eco-friendly sustainable building, using solar energy and LED lighting. 
 
When the work of the new terminal is over, it will be able to handle 26 lakh passengers in a year in place of 4 lakh now. An Air India Express flight will soon connect Surat to Sharjah. There will be two flights per week initially, which will be doubled to four per week later, he added.
 
Under the Udan scheme, more number of airports were being added to give a boost to air connectivity and now people can access it not far from their respective places. He added, “We want to make air travel accessible to everybody. UDAN has immensely helped to boost air connectivity in India. UDAN has added 40 Airports on the air map of India.  The government is planning to develop more such airports across the country,” he said.
 
Comparing the performance of his Government with the UPA, Mr. Modi said, “In four years of our rule, we constructed 1.30 crore houses while in UPA rule they built 25 lakh houses. Now we have more than 400 passport offices compared to only 80 in 2014.”
 
He distributed keys to some beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in Surat. He said the Government is working on a mission mode with focussed approach for ease of living of the poor and middle class of the country, “More than 13 lakh houses have been built for the poor living in cities in the past four years by the government and construction of 37 lakh homes is underway,” he added. 
 
Referring to the role of Surat in freedom movement, Mr. Modi expressed the hope that the city will emerge as one of the fastest developing across the globe in a decade with a surge in the investments. 
 
Later in the day, PM inaugurated the super speciality Rasilaben Sevantilal Shah Venus Hospital. 
 
Addressing a public gathering, he underlined how Ayushman Bharat has played a key role in providing affordable health care services to the people. He said more number of generic medicines are now available for the people which will not only reduce the cost of health care but also save many precious lives.
 
He said Ayushman Bharat would create an entirely new ecosystem that would help India to become healthier. The scheme will boost the establishment of new hospitals in tier 2-3 cities, which will also increase job opportunities in the healthcare sector, he added
 
Initiatives like Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyaan and Mission Indradhanush played a vital role in the decline in the mortality rate. Due to extensive sanitation drive, 97% population has access to clean toilets now. He also emphasized the importance of preventive health care and said the world has recognized the role of Yoga for wellness. 
 
Later in the evening, he addressed a New India Youth Conclave at Surat Indoor Stadium.
 
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Modi to visit Surat and Dandi in Gujarat on Wednesday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Gujarat tomorrow when he will, among other things, lay the foundation stone for the extension of the terminal building at the Surat airport.
 
He will also interact with youth at the New India Youth conclave and inaugurate Smt. Rasilaben Sevantilal Shah Venus Hospital and visit its facilities in Surat.
 
Later, he will head for Dandi in Navsari district, also in South Gujarat, where he will dedicate the National Salt Satyagraha Memorial there to the nation on Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary.
 
The extension of the terminal at Surat airport is being constructed at a cost of Rs. 354 crore with an area of more than 25,500 square metres.
 
It will be an eco-friendly sustainable building, using solar energy and LED lighting. Once completed, it will have a peak handling capacity of over 1,800 passengers. Surat airport is the third busiest airport in Gujarat after Ahmedabad and Vadodara in terms of both aircraft movements and passenger traffic, an official press release said.
 
"Expansion of infrastructure to for development has been one of the priorities of the Government. Several initiatives have been undertaken in various sectors and aviation sector is among them. In Gujarat, civil aviation infrastructure has not only been strengthened but also air connectivity has been enhanced. These include connecting Kandla to Mumbai and Porbandar to Ahmedabad and Mumbai through UDAN scheme. Development of greenfield airport at Hirasar, Rajkot, new ATC tower/technical block at Ahmedabad and Vadodara etc. are among them," it said.
 
The National Salt Satyagraha Memorial at Dandi has statues of Mahatma Gandhi as well as 24 narrative murals depicting various events and stories from the historic 1930 Salt March. The Prime Minister will walk through the memorial and address a public meeting.
 
The Salt Satyagraha March,well known as the Dandi March of 1930, was a landmark event in the history of India’s freedom struggle. It was on this day that, as a part of the Civil Disobedience Movement against the British rule, 80 Satyagrahis led by Mahatma Gandhi marched 241 miles from Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad to the coastal village of Dandi and made salt from sea water, breaking the Salt Law imposed by the British.
 
It will be the second visit of the Prime Minister to Gujarat this month. He had earlier visited Surat on January 19 to dedicate the Armoured System Complex at Hazira. He had also  attended the Vibrant Gujarat Summit on January 17 and 18 at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
 
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Gujarat: Former BJP minister Bimal Shah, ex-MLA Anil Patel join Congress

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Former Gujarat Minister and BJP leader Bimal Shah joined the opposition Congress here on Monday, saying that the ruling BJP had become a "power-oriented party".
 
Along with him, another BJP leader Anil Patel, a former Congress MLA who had joined the ruling party after the 2007 polls, also returned to the Congress.
 
They were formally inducted into the party at a function at its state headquarters here in the presence of Congress Treasurer Ahmed Patel and Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Amit Chavda, among others.
 
The induction of the two leaders is being seen as a boost of sorts for the Congress ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress had failed to win a single seat in Gujarat in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Shah was elected to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly from Kapadvanj in Kheda district in 1998 and again in 2002. He had served as Minister of State for Transport in 1998 under then Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel. Shah lost the 2007 Assembly elections. In 2017, he contested as an independent candidate and again failed to make the grade.
 
Shah said he and many others had joined the BJP because they felt it was a "mission-oriented party".
 
"But now, it has become merely a power-oriented party. I will work to ensure Congress victory in the coming Lok Sabha elections," he said.
 
Anil Patel had been elected to the Gujarat Assembly in 2002 from the Bardoli constituency in South Gujarat as a Congress candidate.
 
"It is a homecoming for me as I originally belong to Congress," he said, adding that he had never felt "comfortable" during his eight-year stay in the BJP. "That is why I have decided to come back to the Congress," he added.
 
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Modi says India aims to be in the top 50 in Ease of Business rankings next year

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that India aimed to be in the Top 50 of the World Bank's Ease of Business rankings next year and to make its regulations and processes among the best anywhere.
 
Modi addresses delegates at Vibrant Gujarat Summit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that India aimed to be in the Top 50 of the World Bank's Ease of Business rankings next year and to make its regulations and processes among the best anywhere.
 
In his inaugural address at the 9th Vibrant Gujarat Summit here, he pointed out that, in the last four years, India had jumped 65 places in the Global Ranking of World Bank’s Doing Business Report from 142 in 2014 to 77. 
 
“But we are still not satisfied. I have asked my team to work harder so that India is in the top 50 next year. I want our regulations and processes to compare with the best in the world," he said.
 
“In Foreign Direct Investment, we are one of the most open countries now. Most of the sectors of our economy are now open for FDI. More than 90% approvals have been put on automatic route. Such measures have propelled our economy into a high growth path. In the last four years, we have received FDI worth $ 263 billion. This is 45% of the FDI received in last 18 years.
 
“We have also made Doing Business Smarter. We are insisting on IT based transactions in procurement and purchases of Government. Digital payments including direct transfer of government benefits is now under full implementation. 
 
“We are among the largest eco-systems in the world for start-ups and a number of them have come up in the field of technology. I can therefore safely say that doing business with us is a great opportunity,” he added.
 
The Prime Minister said it was also because India was among the top 10 FDI destinations listed by UNCTAD. “Ours is a globally cost competitive manufacturing environment. We have a vast pool of skilled professionals with knowledge and energy. We have a world class engineering education base and strong Research and Development facilities. Rise in GDP, a rising middle class and their purchasing power is creating further growth in our huge domestic market. 
 
“In the last two years, we have moved towards a low tax regime on the corporate side. We have lowered the tax from 30 % to 25 % for new investments as well as small and-medium ventures. 
 
“On IPR issues, we have evolved benchmarking policies. Now, we are one of the fastest trademark regimes. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code now gives businesses an exit window without the burden of long legal and financial battles,” he pointed out.
 
Thus, from the start of business to its operation and closure, attention has been given to building new institutions, processes and procedures. 
 
“All this is important, not just for doing business but also for ease of life of our people. We also understand that, being a young nation, we need to create job opportunities and better infrastructure. Both are linked with investments. Therefore, in recent years, there has been unprecedented focus on manufacturing and infrastructure,” Mr Modi said.
 
“We have worked hard to promote manufacturing to create jobs for our youth. Investments through our 'Make in India' initiative have been well supported by programmes like ‘Digital India’ and ‘Skill India’. 
 
“Our focus also includes bringing our industrial infrastructure, policies and practices to best global standards and to convert India into a global manufacturing hub,” he added.
 
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The Prime Minister pointed out that India continues to remain one of the fastest growing major economies in the world. Major international financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF as well as rating agencies like Moody’s have expressed confidence in India’s economic journey.
 
“We have focused on removing the barriers which were preventing us from achieving our full potential. We will continue the pace and process of reforms and de-regulation,” he added.
 
The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and other measures for simplification and consolidation of taxes have reduced transaction costs and made processes efficient, he said.
 
“We have committed to the world to work towards reducing the effects of climate change. On the energy front, we are now the fifth largest producer of renewable energy in the world.  We are fourth largest in Wind Energy and fifth largest producer of Solar Energy.
 
“We are keen to scale up investments in next generation infrastructureincluding roads, ports, railways, airports, telecom, digital networks and energy. We are also investing heavily in our social, industrial and agri-infrastructure to give better income and quality of life to our people,” the Prime Minister said. 
 
"To give some examples, in four years there has been maximum capacity addition & generation of electricity. For the first time, India has become a net exporter of electricity. We have distributed LED Bulbs on a massive scale. This has resulted in huge energy savings.
 
“We have installed transmission lines at an unprecedented pace. Our speed in road construction has almost doubled. We have done unprecedented capacity addition in major ports. Rural road connectivity is now 90 %.  
 
"The speed of setting up new rail lines, gauge conversion, doubling and electrification of railway tracks has also doubled.  We are debottlenecking execution of major projectson a regular basis through an online process.
 
“Our Public Private Partnership regime for infrastructure has been made more investor friendly. At 7.3%,the average GDP growth, over the entire term of our Governmenthas been the highest of any Indian Government since 1991.
 
"At the same time, the rate of inflation at 4.6 % is the lowest for any Indian Government since 1991, when India began its process of liberalization.
 
“We believe that fruits of development must reach people with ease and efficiency. To give you a few examples, now we have a bank account for every family. We are giving loans to small enterprises without collateral. 
 
“We now have electricity in every village. We also have electricity in almost all households now. We have given cooking gas to large numbers of people who were not able to afford it so far. We have ensured that there is proper sanitation in all areas - both urban and rural. We are working towards full coverage of toilets for households and their proper use,” he added.
 
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The Prime Minister pointed out that India was among the fast growing tourist destinations in the world in 2017. India had a growth of 14% over 2016, while the world grew at an average of 7% in the same year. 
 
“We have also been the fastest growing aviation market in the world, with double-digit growth in passenger ticketing terms, for over four years,” he added.
 
“Thus a New India is emerging which will be modern and competitive and yet caring and compassionate. An example of this compassion is our Medical Assurance Scheme called Ayushman Bharat. 
 
“This will benefit about 500 million people – which is more than the population of United States, Canada and Mexico combined. Ayushman Bharat will provide immense investment opportunities in the areas of health infrastructure, medical equipment manufacturing, and healthcare services,” he added.
 
“In terms of infrastructure, 50 cities in India are ready to build Metro Rail Systems. We have to build 50 million houses. The requirement of road, rail and waterways is enormous. We want world-class technologies to achieve our goal in a faster and cleaner way.
 
“India is, thus, a land of immense opportunities. It is the only place, which offers you Democracy, Demography and Demand. To those who are already present in India, I would like to assure you that our democratic system, human values and strongjudicial system will ensure the safety and security of your investments. 
 
“We are continuously working to improve the investment climate further and make ourselves more and more competitive. For those who are not yet present in India, I extend an invitation and encourage you to explore the opportunities. This is the best time to be here. We have set up dedicated ways to help investors on a one to one basis. Above all I assure you that I will be always available to hold your hands in your journey,” he added.
 
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Modi inaugurates Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Institute of Medical Sciences in Ahmedabad

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Saying that the Government was standing for the poor and focussing on the expansion of health care facilities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the state of art, super-speciality public hospital -- Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Medical Sciences and Research -- here yesterday. 
 
Built by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, the 1500-bed hospital is equipped with all modern amenities, including an air ambulance. 
 
Mr Modi inspected the facilities at the hospital. He lauded the efforts of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and said, “Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in Ahmedabad hospital will prove to be a model for other government hospitals in the country.” 
 
Built at a cost of Rs 750 crore, the 17-floor hospital will provide world class services at an affordable price and is linked with Ayushman Bharat, the National Health Protection Scheme.
 
Addressing a gathering on this occasion, Mr Modi said, “It is because of Ayushman Bharat there is an increasing need for new hospitals in even smaller towns. New hospitals are opening faster, the demand for doctors and paramedic staff is increasing, thereby creating many employment opportunities are coming up for the  youth in the healthcare sector.” 
 
The country has seen a major expansion in healthcare facilities and medical education over the past four years which will be of great help in meeting the health care needs of the citizens, he added.
 
“The Government stands with the poor and its priority for them is reflected in the expansion of health care services and provision of generic drugs at low prices under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Yojana. Around 5000 Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Kendras have been set up across the country,” Mr Modi said. 
 
He said his Government was committed towards equality of opportunity for all and 10% reservation for general category poor is a step in this direction. For this purpose, the number of seats in educational institutions is being increased by 10%. 
 
He lauded the Gujarat Government for being the first state to implement the decision to provide 10% reservation for the general category poor in government jobs and educational institutions.
 
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Modi inaugurates Ahmedabad Shopping Festival-2019

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Inaugurating the Ahmedabad Shopping Festival-2019 at the Sabarmati riverfront here yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Government was constantly working for creating a conducive business environment in the country. 
 
The festival, organized simultaneously with the Vibrant Gujarat Summit has participants ranging from street vendors and craftsmen to hotels-restaurant-linked businesses, and shopping malls across the state, showcasing and promoting their products.
 
Addressing a public gathering on the occasion, Mr Modi said, “Usually, we get to see such big business summits only abroad.  Now, Vibrant Gujarat as well as the start of Ahmedabad Shopping Festival, is a commendable initiative.
 
“The Government is constantly working to create a conducive environment for business in the country. In the past four years, old laws have been abolished and hundreds of rules made easier. It is because of such efforts that we have improved significantly on the Ease of Doing Business rankings from 142 to 77,” he added. 
 
“It is our constant endeavour to simplify procedures for small entrepreneurs. We are moving towards the system when the banks can give credit to small entrepreneurs on the basis of GST and other returns. We are clearing loans up to Rs one crore in 59 minutes,” he said.
 
Earlier in the day, Mr Modi inaugurated the Vibrant Gujarat Global Trade Show at the Mahatma Mandir Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre in Gandhinagar.  With this, the stage is set for the 9th edition of Vibrant Gujarat Summit, scheduled to be held during January 18-20 in Gandhinagar. 
 
The Summit will witness the participation of Heads of States, Captains of global industry and Thought leaders. The Prime Minister will address the inaugural session of the summit.
 
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Modi to pay three-day visit Gujarat from Thursday

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi pay a three-day visit to Gujarat beginning tomorrow during which he will inaugurate the 9th edition of Vibrant Gujarat Summit in Gandhinagar on January 18.
 
Mr. Modi will also visit Ahmedabad, and Hazira during this period, an official press release said.
 
In his first engagement tomorrow at the Mahatma Mandir Exhibition cum Convention Center in Gandhinagar the Prime Minister will inaugurate Vibrant Gujarat Global Trade Show. More than 25 industrial and business sectors will be showcased here under one umbrella.
 
In the evening, he will inaugurate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in Ahmedabad. This is a state-of-the-art, super-speciality public hospital built by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and is equipped with all modern amenities, including an air ambulance. 
 
"In keeping with the spirit of Digital India, this will be a completely paperless hospital. It will serve the common man and support the overarching vision of Ayushman Bharat," the release said.
 
The Prime Minister will inspect the facilities at the hospital and address a gathering.
 
Later in the evening, Ahmedabad Shopping Festival – 2019 will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister. This is being organized simultaneously with Vibrant Gujarat. 
 
Mr. Modi will also unveil the Vibrant Gujarat Ahmedabad Shopping Festival Mascot. The Ahmedabad Shopping Festival 2019 is the first event of its kind in India. It will provide an opportunity for city enterprises to showcase their products.
 
The Prime Minister will also address a public gathering on this occasion.
 
On January 18, the Prime Minister will inaugurate the 9th edition of Vibrant Gujarat Summit at Mahatma Mandir Exhibition cum Convention Center in Gandhinagar.
 
Vibrant Gujarat Summit was conceptualized in 2003 by Mr. Modi, when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, to re-establish the state as a preferred investment destination.
 
The Summit provides a platform for brainstorming on agendas of global socio-economic development, knowledge sharing and forging effective partnerships.
 
Mr. Modi will visit Hazira on January 19 to mark the setting up of the Hazira Gun Factory.
 
From Hazira, he will go to Silvassa in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. He will inaugurate and lay the foundation stone of various development projects. 
 
In the last leg of his visit, the Prime Minister will go to Mumbai on January 19 where he will inaugurate the new building of National Museum of Indian Cinema.
 
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Cabinet okays creation of post of VC for National Rail & Transport Institute at Vadodara

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The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the creation of the post of Vice-Chancellor for India's first rail and transportation university, National Rail & Transport Institute (NRTI) at Vadodara in Gujarat.
 
The Vice-Chancellor shall be the Principal Executive Officer of the institution and shall exercise general supervision and control over the affairs of the institution and shall be mainly responsible for implementation of the decisions of all the authorities of the Institution deemed to be University, an official press release said.
 
NRTI opened its doors to the first batch of 103 students from 20 states of India, in two fully-residential undergraduate courses - BSc. in Transportation Technology and DBA in Transportation Management, the classes for which started from September 5, 2018. These three-year degree programs have interdisciplinary curricula, benchmarked with leading institutions in the world, consisting of foundation, core and elective courses.
 
NRTI seeks to forge collaboration with leading international institutions in the areas of Joint research and faculty and student exchange. Memoranda of Agreement have been signed by NRTI with Cornell University, USA; University of California, Berkeley; MIIT, Moscow and St. Petersburg Transport University, Russia so far.
 
NRTI is focused on transport-related education, multidisciplinary research and training. It was established as a Deemed to be University under the de novo category in 2018 to create a resource pool of best-in-class professionals for the railway and transportation sector.
 
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Cabinet approves three new AIIMS in Samba, Pulwama and Rajkot

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The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of three new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Vijaynagar, Samba in Jammu, Awantipura, Pulwama in Kashmir and Rajkot in Gujarat.
 
The AIIMS at Vijaynagar and Awantipura will be set up at a cost of Rs 1828 crore and the one in Rajkot at a cost of Rs 1195 crore. These institutes will be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY), an official press release said.
 
One post of Director in the basic pay of Rs 2,25,000/- (fixed) plus NPA (pay + NPA would not exceed Rs 2,37,500) will be created for each of the three AIIMS.
 
The AIIMS in Vijaynagar will be built in 48 months. It will broadly comprise a pre-construction phase of 12 months, a construction phase of 30 months and stabilization/ commission phase of 6 months.
 
The AIIMS in Awantipura will be built in 72 months, with a pre-construction phase of 12 months, a construction phase of 54 months and stabilization/commission phase of 6 months.
 
The AIIMS in Rajkot will be built in 45 months with a pre-construction phase of 10 months, a construction phase of 32 months and stabilization/commission phase of 3 months.
 
Establishment of new AIIMS involves the creation of Hospital, Teaching Block for medical & nursing courses, residential complex and allied facilities/services, broadly on the pattern of AIIMS, New Delhi and other six new AIIMS taken up under Phase-I of PMSSY. 
 
The objective is to establish the new AIIMS as Institutions of National Importance for providing quality tertiary healthcare, medical education, nursing education and research in the region.
 
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Each new AIIMS will add 100 UG (MBBS) seats and 60 B.Sc. (Nursing) seats. Each will have 15-20 Super Specialty Departments.
 
Each of them will add around 750 hospital beds which will include Emergency/Trauma Beds, AYUSH Beds, Private Beds and ICU Speciality & Super Speciality beds.
 
It is expected that each new AIIMS would cater to around 1500 OPD patients per day and around 1000 IPD patients per month.
 
There will be a Medical College, AYUSH Block, Auditorium, Night Shelter, Guest House, Hostels and residential facilities.
 
Construction of the new AIIMS is fully funded by the Central Government. The Operations & Maintenance expenses will be fully borne by the Central Government, an official press release said.
 
The establishment of the new AIIMS will create capital assets for which requisite specialized manpower will be created, based on the pattern of the six new AIIMS, for their maintenance and upkeep, it said.
 
"Setting up of new AIIMS would transform health education and training and address the shortfall of health care professionals in the region. It will serve the dual purpose of providing super speciality health care to the population.
 
"It will also help create a large pool of doctors and other health workers in this region that will be available for primary and secondary level institutions/facilities being created under the National Health Mission (NHM).
 
"Setting up new AIIMS in Jammu & Kashmir and in Gujarat will lead to employment generation for nearly 3000 people in various faculty & non-faculty posts in each of the AIIMS. Indirect employment generation will take place due to facilities & services like a shopping centre, canteens, etc. coming in the vicinity of new AIIMS. The construction activity involved in the creation of the physical infrastructure for the various new AIIMS is also expected to generate substantial employment in the construction phase as well," the release added.
 
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IPL 2019 to start March 23 despite general elections

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The hugely-popular two-month-long Indian Premier League (IPL) will be played in India from March 23 despite the Lok Sabha elections due in April-May, ending the uncertainty over whether it would be shifted to some other country.
 
The announcement on the commencement of the 12th edition of IPL was made by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) here on Tuesday after a meeting of the committee headed by Vinod Rai. 
 
"Based on the preliminary discussions with the appropriate central and state agencies / authorities, it was decided that the 12th edition of the world's most popular and competitive T20 tournament will be scheduled to be played in India," an IPL release stated.
 
"It is proposed that the IPL 2019 will commence on March 23. The detailed schedule will be finalised in consultation with the appropriate authorities. The CoA will then have a detailed discussion with all the stakeholders before releasing the IPL 2019 Schedule," it added.
 
In 2009, the cash-rich tournament was held in South Africa due to the general elections while the 2014 edition was partly played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before returning home for the latter half.
 
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Gujarat: BJP leader Bhanushali shot dead on train, SIT set up to probe murder

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The Gujarat Directorate General of Police (DGP) has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the murder of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jayanti Bhanushali who was shot dead in a train on Tuesday morning.
 
Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Ashish Bhatia told the media: "Victim Bhanushali boarded the train from Bhuj on the night of 7th (January) in H1 AC compartment of the train. We are questioning a fellow passenger named Maurya who boarded the train from Gandhidham station and later informed the railway police about the incident."
 
Morya said that, when he returned to his seat after relieving himself, he saw Bhanushali lying there. He immediately called the TTE, the officer said.
 
"The TTE then informed the railway police, who later called the Morbi district police control room who rushed to the train and took possession of Bhanushali's body and sent it to Malliya government dispensary."
 
From Bhanushali's bag, the police recovered a service revolver and some cartridges. Besides, some live and used cartridges were also recovered from the crime spot.
 
"The victim was shot dead from a close range and these cartridges seem to be of some country-made pistol. We also found an outer shell of a bullet and a splinter of the weapon from the spot. We believe that the murder was an outcome of personal animosity with Bhanushali. We are also trying to get the CCTV footage of Malliya railway station and other adjoining areas to spot the criminals," added the ADGP.
 
"We have also recorded a chain pulling incident between 00:55 and 00:58 a.m on Tuesday when the train was between Gandhidham and Samakhiali," said Bhatia.
 
After the train reached Ahmedabad station, the police detached the H1 coach from the train and took it to the Kalupur railway yard where FSL officials, ballistic experts and fingerprint experts were studying the scene.
 
"We have formed an SIT to probe the Bhanushali murder comprising the CID Crime officials and the railway police. The SIT will be helped by the Anti-Terrorist Squad and Ahmedabad City Crime Branch," added Bhatia.
 
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SC orders Ahmed Patel to face trial over RS election

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In a setback to Congress veteran Ahmed Patel, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered him to face trial in connection with his election to the Rajya Sabha in 2017 which has been challenged by BJP leader Balwantsinh Rajput.
 
An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi declined to interfere with a Gujarat High Court order to proceed with the hearing of the petition by Rajput, observing that the allegations require a trial.
 
Rajput, who lost the polls to Patel, has alleged that the Congress leader had indulged in corrupt practice by lodging 44 MLAs in a hotel in Bengaluru. He had also contested the Election Commission's decision to invalidate two votes by Congress MLAs -- Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohel -- who had rebelled against the party.
 
Patel, a close aide of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, won a fifth term in the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in 2017 in a bitterly fought election.
 
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BJP snatches prestige seat from Congress in Gujarat

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The BJP came up trumps and touched the 100-seat mark in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly by capturing the Jasdan seat in the Saurashtra region from the Congress in a bye-election, the result of which was declared on Sunday.
 
For the BJP winner, Kunwarji Bavalia, it was a cakewalk. He retained the seat which he had won in 2017 as a Congress candidate. It was his quitting the Congress earlier that necessitated the bye-election on December 20. 
 
Bavalia won by almost 20,000 votes defeating Congress' Avsar Nakia, once his campaign manager.
 
Bavaliya had quit the Congress because he was denied the leader of the Opposition post, which is an equivalent to a Cabinet minister, and the ruling BJP made him a cabinet minister hours after he joined it.
 
The Jasdan election became a prestige fight for both the BJP and Congress, particularly after the ruling party's rout in the recently concluded elections to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh assembly elections.
 
After the by-poll result was declared on Sunday, Bavaliya, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and state BJP president Jitu Vaghani described it as good tidings for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 
 
"That the Congress is gaining ground in the Saurashtra region has proved as a myth. The BJP is still in the hearts of the people of Gujarat and we will repeat the 2014 performance by winning all the 26 lok Sabha seats in the state," Rupani said.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also tweeted on the Jasdan by-poll thanking the voters for reposing their faith in the developmental politics of the BJP.
 
State Congress leaders accused the BJP of misusing the government machinery to win the seat and claimed that the outcome of a by-poll did not necessarily reflect the mood of the people.
 
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Government committed to bringing triple talaq law: Modi

 
Modi attends BJP women’s wing's convention
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said despite all "obstacles" from fundamentalists and Opposition, his government was committed to bringing a law against the practice of triple talaq to ensure social justice for Muslim women.
 
"Despite all the obstacles, despite resistance from the fundamentalists and the Opposition, the government is committed to making a law against triple talaq so that our Muslim women get rid of a big insecurity in their social life," he said addressing the National Convention of BJP's Mahila Morcha. 
 
The government had brought the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill last year and got it passed in the Lok Sabha the same day, but it was stonewalled in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) lacks majority. The Opposition had expressed serious concerns over making triple talaq a criminal offence.
 
Under the proposed law, a man could be jailed for up to three years for pronouncing an instant divorce (triple talaq) to his wife, which is legitimate under the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence. 
 
Subsequently, the government brought an ordinance on the subject in September this year which has to be replaced by law in the current session. Otherwise, it will lapse.
 
Modi said the government had already done away with the condition of a ‘mehram' (a male guardian including husband or first blood relations) to accompany a woman on Haj.
 
Earlier, Muslim women from India could not go on Hajj alone. The government did away with the condition last year and around 1,300 women performed the Haj without a mehram. 
 
Speaking at the event, Modi listed a number of schemes that his government has brought for the welfare of women such as Ujjawala and Surakshit Matritva among others.
 
"Women are at the centre of several flagship programmes of this government...for the first time there are two women in the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS)," he said.
 
Modi asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers present at the conclave to download the Narendra Modi mobile app and asked them to forward the government's various welfare schemes to all their contacts.
 
"When I tell the world leaders that India has allowed 36 months of maternity leave to women, they look away from me. Not even the developed countries have given such a facility to women," the Prime Minister said.
 
He said his government was trying to promote women entrepreneurs through various schemes including the Mudra Yojana under which the major percentage of loans had been disbursed to women entrepreneurs.
 
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Modi interacts with DGs, IGPs at their annual conference

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday interacted with Directors General and Inspectors General of Police from across the country at their annual conference and said deliberations at the event will strengthen national security.
 
The conference is being held at a tent city set up near the newly-erected statue of the country's first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, known as the Statue of Unity. 
 
Modi visited the statue and paid floral tributes to Patel. He tweeted about his visit to the conference venue and urged people to visit the world's tallest statue which was unveiled on October 31. 
 
He said Patel's contribution towards building the framework of the nation's security system is immense. 
 
"I would specially urge you all to visit Kevadia and see the Statue of Unity. Some friends told me that the statue can also be seen during Delhi-Mumbai flights. So, next time you are flying that route, do try to spot the statue"," he said in a tweet.
 
THe Prime Minister will address the conference on Saturday, officials said.
 
Home Minister Rajnath Singh addressed the conference on Thursday. 
 
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Centre suspends IPS officer Rajnish Rai

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The Union Home Ministry has suspended Gujarat-cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Rajnish Rai for his alleged role in "abdicating" his office on November 30 as the Inspector General and Principal of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) training school at Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh.
 
The 52-year-old 1992-batch IPS officer, who had arrested D.G. Vanzara and two other IPS officers in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case in 2007, was placed under suspension as per December 17 order passed by the Home Ministry under the provisions of the All India Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules. 
 
He was serving as Inspector General and Principal of the Counter Insurgency and Anti-Terrorism (CIAT) School of the CRPF. 
 
Rai will have to stay at the CRPF headquarters at Chittoor during the period the order remains in force, and cannot leave the headquarters without the permission of the Director General CRPF, said the Ministry order.
 
Rai had earlier this year sought voluntary retirement from November 30 after completing 50 years of age under the provisions of the All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement Benefit) Rules, 1958, but the Centre rejected his request in October.
 
He moved the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in Ahmedabad challenging the rejection. The CAT will be hearing the matter on January 1.
 
In August 2014, Rai was transferred out of Gujarat as Chief Vigilance Officer of Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) at Jaduguda in Jharkhand. In April 2015, he was transferred to the CRPF office at Shillong.
 
After his report on suspected fake encounters in the North-East, he was transferred to the CIAT at Chittoor and a "departmental misconduct" charge sheet was served on him, Rai had alleged.
 
He moved the CAT at Hyderabad against the chargesheet. The tribunal stayed the proceedings against him.
 
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