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Karnataka

10 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands on Friday.

 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands today.
 
Four people were killed in south Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu in rain-related incidents yesterday even as the authorities mounted a massive search and rescue operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
One fisherman, who was among those rescued today, died in hospital here today, taking the toll in Kerala to five, official sources said.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning of a very severe cyclone for Lakshadweep Islands this evening and said the system was likely to intensify further in the next 24 hours.
 
In a Red message issued at 1730 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the system, now over the Lakshadweep  area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea, continued to move west-northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph during the past six hours and intensified further into a "Very Severe Cyclonic Storm".
 
It lay centred at 1430 hours IST today near latitude 9.1º N and longitude 73.0º E, about 90 km north of Minicoy and 220 km south-southeast of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The IMD warned that, under the influence of the system, heavy to very heavy rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with isolated extremely heavy falls. There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin also said that rainfall was very likely at many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
According to it, gale winds, with speed reaching 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradual decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be phenomenal over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and very high during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off the Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees; major damage to thatched houses, huts and kutcha houses; some damage to pucca roads; flooding of escape routes; and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops.
 
Storm surge of about one metre above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, the bulletin said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off the Kerala and Karnataka coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
Ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) were involved in the rescue efforts at sea while teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in the affected areas in the two states and units of the Indian Army were on standby to come to the aid of the civil adminstration, if necessary.
 
Official sources here said more than 220 people had been rescued from the sea by the Navy, ICG and IAF. Many of them were admitted to hospitals here for treatment, they said. 
 
Some of the fishermen were rescued by a Japanese cargo ship in the area. As many as 37 people were rescued by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) of the Indian Navy which flew between Thiruvananthapuram and the sea.
 
The ICG said it had deployed nine ships and two Dornier aircraft in the area and rescued as many as 52 fishermen so far.
 
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The International Safety Net (ISN) had been activated to advise Merchant Traffic to render assistance to stranded fishermen, it said.
 
Among others, Indian Naval Ships Sagardhwani, Jamuna and Nireekshak were in the affected areas in the Arabian Sea. INS Sharda and Shardul are also sailing out soon to augment the search effort. Both ships were in final stages of embarking HADR items for assistance at Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, Indian Navy sources said.
 
In Poonthura, a coastal village near here, angry groups of fishermen and their families staged protests, alleging that the government had not acted in time and not done enough as far as the rescue efforts were concerned. 
 
Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, both senior leaders of the Congress, visited the area today to listen to the woes of the villagers.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons that the state government had received an alert about the cyclone only on Thursday afternoon. He said the rescue efforts were also hampered by the bad weather conditions.
 
Mr. Vijayan said all possible efforts were being made to locate and rescue the missing fishermen. He said the state government had urged the Ministry of Defence to deploy more aircraft for the search and rescue operations.
 
In Lakshadweep, the authorities had issued orders for the evacuation of people from low-lying areas in Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavratti, Agatti, Androth, Kadamath and Amini islands.
 
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Jayalalithaa acquitted in corruption case, paving way for her return as TN CM

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was on Monday acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in Bangalore in an 18-year-old corruption case, clearing the way for her return to the top job in her state.

File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was today acquitted by the Karnataka High Court here in an 18-year-old corruption case, clearing the way for her return to the top job in her state.
 
The High Court allowed Ms Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Reading out the operative part of the judgement at 11 am in the court, Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy said the appeals by Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused had been allowed and that they were acquitted of all charges.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, 67, had also been barred by the special court from contesting elections and that verdict had meant that she had been disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and ceased to be the Chief Minister of the state.
 
Today's acquittal means that Ms Jayalithaa, supremo of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), can return as Chief Minister.
 
After she had stepped down, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on September 29 last year.
 
Mr Panneerselvam, 63, had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. She was later cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, a film star-turned-politician, and the three co-accused persons were accused by the prosecution of amassing assets valued at Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income from 1991-96 during her first term in office.
 
The special court had sentenced the co-accused -- her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew Sudharakan, who is Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi -- also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
 
Jayalalithaa acquitted by Karnataka HC in corruption case
Celebrations broke out among Ms Jayalalithaa's supporters all across Tamil Nadu as well as outside the high court here, where they had gathered in large numbers.
 
Hundreds of people who had congregated outside her Poes Garden residence in Chennai since early morning burst firecrackers, danced and distributed sweets as soon as news of the verdict by Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy ame in.
 
Mr Panneerselvam and many of his Cabinet colleagues also turned up to congratulate her.
 
On October 17 last year, Ms Jayalalithaa had been granted bail by the Supreme Court in the case after the Karnataka High Court had turned down her application.
 
Along with her, the apex court also granted bail to Ms Natarajan, Mr Sudhakaran and Mr Ilavarasi.
 
The case was filed in 1997 by the Tamil Nadu government's Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) during the tenure of Ms Jayalalithaa's rival and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.
 
The Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred to a special court in Bangalore in 2003 on a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who had expressed doubts about a fair trial in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa returned as Chief Minister.
 
The prosecution had alleged that Jayalalithaa had just Rs 3 crore when she took over as Chief Minister for the first time in 1991 and had taken a token salary of just Re 1, but her wealth and that of her three co-accused had grown to Rs 66.6 crore during her five years in office, vastly disproportionate to her known sources of income.
 
The alleged wealth included 2000 acres of land, 30 kg of gold and thousands of sarees. She was also accused of spending more than Rs 5 crore on her foster son's wedding in 1996, though she had claimed that the expenditure was borne by the bride's family.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had all along maintained that the case was an act of political vendetta by the DMK. Among other things, she had agued that her previous assets were undervalued, her property was overvalued and her income from various sources were not taken into account.
 
In 2011, Jayalalithaa had appeared in the Bangalore court for four days to answer more than 1390 questions posed by the judge.
 
In the Lok Sabha elections last year, the AIADMK had made a near clean sweep in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 of the 39 seats from the state.
 
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10 dead, 50 hurt as Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-City Express derails near Hosur

At least ten passengers died and about 50 others suffered injuries when the 12677 Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailed on Friday morning near Anekal Road, close to Hosur in Tamil Nadu, official sources said.

 
10 dead, 50 injured as Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-City Express derails
At least ten passengers died and about 50 others suffered injuries when the 12677 Bangalore-Ernakulam Inter-city Express derailed this morning near Anekal Road, close to Hosur in Tamil Nadu, official sources said.
 
The mishap occurred at around 7.45 am between Anekal Road and Hosur stations on the Bangalore-Salem section of South-Western Railway, they said.
 
Prima facie, the derailment occurred after the train hit a boulder that had rolled down onto the tracks in the ghat section, the sources said.
 
The train had left Bangalore at 6.15 am for Ernakulam in Kerala. Nine coaches and the engine of the train went off the rails, and one coach in particular, D8, a second class chair car, was badly affected, they said.
 
The derailed coaches included two air-conditioned chair cars and six second class chair cars, but they did not suffer much damage.
 
A pantry car and four second class chair cars were not affected by the derailment, the sources said.
 
South-Western Railway spokesperson Chandrasekhar Gupta told NetIndian over the telephone that ten bodies had been extricated from the mangled coaches.
 
He said 18 of the injured passengers had suffered severe injuries and were undergoing treatment in the Narayan Hridalaya, Sparsh and Anekal General hospitals nearby.
 
Police and emergency personnel, including railway officials and staff, from nearby areas in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka rushed to the spot with ambulances and medical equipment. The Railways rushed medical vans and accident relief vans to the spot.
 
Efforts were being made to restore rail traffic on the section at the earliest, the sources said.
 
In Delhi, Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu said he was rushing to the scene of the accident and that he had directed the Chairman of the Railway Board, the General Manager of South-Western Railway and other senior officials to reach the spot.
 
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He said all possible help would be rendered to the affected passengers and families. He also announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 200,000 for the next-of-kin of each of those killed in the accident, Rs 50,000 for the grievously injured passengers and Rs 20,000 for those with minor injuries.
  
Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, a former Minister for Railways and former Karnataka Chief Minister, was among those who reached the scene of the accident. 
 
"I am personally monitoring it and in touch with State and local administration. All Sr rail officials are directed by me to be on job," Mr Prabhu said.
 
"Condolences to all the  unfortunate members of the families who lost lives. Directed to provide best possible medical care to the injured," he said.
 
"Ordered enquiry to fix responsibility and for corrective action to prevent such unfortunate accidents. Monitoring action regularly," he added.
 
The Railways have set up the following helplines to provide information and assistance to victims and their relatives: 0948090599,  08022371166, 09731666751.
 
Besides, the Railways have set up the following helpline numbers in Kerala:
 
Trivandrum: 0471-2321205, 2321237, 09746769960
Ernakulam Jn.: 0484-2100317, 0813699773
Ernakulam Town: 0484-2398200
Trichur: 04877-2424148, 2430060
Aluva: 0484-2624143
 
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SC grants bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa

The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who was convicted by a special court in Bangalore on September 27 in an 18-year-old corruption case and sentenced to four years in prison and asked to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.

File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
The Supreme Court today granted bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who were convicted by a special court in Bangalore on September 27 in an 18-year-old corruption case and sentenced to four years in prison and asked to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Along with Ms Jayalalithaa, 66, the apex court also granted bail to her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew and Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son Sudhakaran and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi, who were also convicted in the case and sentenced to four years in prison and fined Rs 10 crore each.
 
The Karnataka High Court had, on October 7, rejected Ms Jayalalithaa's bail application. While doing so, Judge A V Chandrashekhara recalled that the Supreme Court had made it clear in the past that corruption cases should be put on the fast track. He pointed out that the apex court had taken a tough stand in such cases and had described corruption as a "violation of human rights".
 
Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused persons were accused by the prosecution of amassing assets valued at Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income from 1991-96 during her first term in office.
 
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo had moved the Supreme Court for bail on October 9.
 

 
Jayalalithaa granted interim bail by SC in DA case
The apex court today suspended her sentence and granted her bail after imposing some conditions, including that she would have to submit her paprs for the appeal against her conviction within two months, that is by December 18, and that she would not seek any adjournment of the hearings. 
 
As soon as news of the court's decision to grant her bail came, hundreds of supporters of Ms Jayalalithaa in Chennai and elsewhere broke out into rapturous celebrations.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, who has been held in prison in Bangalore since September 27, is expected to be released on bail later today or tomorrow. She will remain confined to home in Chennai while she is on bail.
 
The court fixed December 18 as the date to satisfy itself if she had complied with its order.
 
Her counsel Fali Nariman assured the court on her behalf that there would be no act of lawlessness by her party's workers in Tamil Nadu. She had sought bail on the grounds that she was suffering from various ailments and that she was a senior citizen and a woman.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa stood disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly after her conviction and sentence and had to resign as Chief Minister. She is also barred from contesting elections for six years after she completes her four-year sentence.
 
The case was filed in 1997 by the Tamil Nadu government's Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) during the tenure of Jayalalithaa's rival and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.
 
The Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred to a special court in Bangalore in 2003 on a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who had expressed doubts about a fair trial in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa returned as Chief Minister.
 
The prosecution had alleged that Ms Jayalalithaa had just Rs 3 crore when she took over as Chief Minister for the first time in 1991 and had taken a token salary of just Re 1, but her wealth and that of her three co-accused had grown to Rs 66.6 crore during her five years in office, vastly disproportionate to her known sources of income.
 
The alleged wealth included 2000 acres of land, 30 kg of gold and thousands of sarees. She was also accused of spending more than Rs 5 crore on her foster son's wedding in 1996, though she had claimed that the expenditure was borne by the bride's family.
 
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The court held that the prosecution had been able to prove that she possessed disproportionate assets of about Rs 53 crore. 
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had all along maintained that the case was an act of political vendetta by the DMK. Among other things, she had agued that her previous assets were undervalued, her property was overvalued and her income from various sources were not taken into account.
 
In the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year, the AIADMK had made a near clean sweep in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 of the 39 seats from the state and emerging as the third largest party in the House.
 
Elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly are due in 2016 and unless her conviction is overturned by a higher court, Ms Jayalalithaa cannot contest them.
 
After Ms Jayalalithaa stepped down, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on September 29.
 
Mr Panneerselvam, 63, had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa was later cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
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1 dead, 14 hurt in twin blasts on Bangalore-Guwahati Express at Chennai station

A 24-year-old woman was killed and 14 others suffered injuries in twin blasts which occurred in two coaches of the 12509 Bangalore-Guwahati tri-weekly express train minutes after it pulled into the Chennai Central station on Thursday morning.

 
Chennai train blasts: 14 injured passengers stable
A 24-year-old woman was killed and 14 others suffered injuries in twin blasts which occurred in two coaches of the 12509 Bangalore-Guwahati tri-weekly express train minutes after it pulled into the Chennai Central station here this morning.
 
Southern Railway sources said two of the injured had suffered serious grievous injuries while the others had received minor injuries.
 
Southern Railway General Manager Rakesh Mishra told reporters at the scene that the "minor intensity" blasts occurred in sleeper coaches S4 and S5 at about 7.15 am, some ten minutes after the train arrived on platform number 9.
 
Three coaches of the train -- S3, S4 and S5 -- were affected by the two explosions, the sources said.
 
The deceased passenger was identified as Ms Swati who was travelling from Bangalore to Vijayawada on her way to her home town of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, he said. Media reports said she was an employee of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
 
Sources said the blasts appeared to have been caused by some devices placed under seat 70 of coach S4 and seat 30 of coach S5.
 
Mr Mishra said the train was running slightly late and had arrived at the station at 7.05 am instead of its scheduled time of 5.45 am.
 
The injured were rushed immediately to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital near the station.
 
Minister of Railways Mallikarjun Kharge has sanctioned an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh for the next-of-kin of the deceased passenger, Rs 25,000 for each of those with grievous injuries and Rs 5,000 for each of those with minor injuries.
 
Police officials, accompanied by dog squads and bomb disposal squads, rushed to the scene of the blasts immediately and platform number 9 was cordoned off.
 
The entire train was checked by the police and it later resumed its journey to Guwahati, Assam after the affected coaches were detached and replaced with new coaches.
 
Mr Mishra said the entire train was being checked and it would resume its journey to Guwahati, Assam an hour later after the two affected coaches are detached.
 
The Railways have set up a helpline at Chennai on telephone number 044-25357398 to provide information to relatives of the passengers of the affected train.
 
Operations on other platforms as well as on the nearby suburban section continued to remain normal, Mr Mishra added.
 
A team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Hyderabad will reach Chennai later today to probe the incident.
 
Security was intensified at Chennai Central railway station after the incidents.
 
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Among the seriously injured passengers, one was identified as Sumantho Devnath (37, Male), while the other was an unidentified male.
 
Those with minor injuries were identified as follows:
 
1. Shaiful Haque – 27 years Male
2. Anjanedu– 29 years Male
3. Vimal Kumar Das – 43 years Male
4. Shagun Kumar Rai– 23 years Male
5. Altaf Khan – 17 years Male
6. Uma – 35 years Female
7. Jitendra Mohanto Deka – 58 years Male
8. Sari – 21 years Male
9. Murali – 27 years Male
10. Bijoy Kumar – 14 years Male
11. Sudanchand Debnath – 64 years Male
12. Surendra Varma– 31 years Male
 
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ADB approves $ 346 million loan to upgrade highways in Karnataka

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The Manila-based Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Board of Directors has approved a $346 million loan to upgrade highways in Karnataka.
 
“The road network is a critical element of the transport infrastructure in Karnataka,” said Ravi Peri, an ADB Principal Transport Specialist. “In line with state policy which recognizes road development as an engine of growth, the Karnataka State Highways Improvement III Project will improve road capacity and maintenance, promote safer roads, and increase access to markets and basic services.”
 
Karnataka, in southwest India, has a per capita income higher than the national average and has lower unemployment and poverty rates. The state also receives substantial foreign direct investment and has a strong industrial and services base, an ADB press release said.
 
The release said road transport in the state has increased rapidly, and there is a need to prioritize expansion and improvement of the road network to retain Karnataka’s advantage in economic development. An efficient road network linking villages, towns, and cities will provide stronger links between remote, poor regions and more developed markets and urban hubs, it said.
 
"The project will improve 419 kilometers of state highways, upgrading them to two and four-lane widths with paved shoulders, depending on traffic needs, and improving culverts and bridges. The project roads will also address the needs of residents along the state roads for adequate footpaths, lights, and improvement to curves that pose safety hazards, especially at night. The project will carry out a road safety survey to identify critical accident spots across the state highways and carry out measures to improve these. Planned pedestrian and women-friendly elements include bus shelters, marked crossings, footpaths, and proper signage. In addition, the project will strengthen the efficiency and work of the Karnataka Public Works, Ports, and Inland Water Transport Department. 
 
"Over the years, the state government has used various funding sources to improve state roads, including state budget, public-private partnerships, and finance from multilateral agencies, including ADB. This is the second loan from ADB for improving the state’s road network. The total cost of this project is $655 million, of which the state government will provide $202 million and the private sector will invest an estimated $107 million through hybrid annuity contracts. The project is due for completion at the end of 2023," the release added.
 
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Weight gain during pregnancy may help shorter women have healthier babies

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A new study has shown that a little weight gain during pregnancy may help shorter women have healthier babies. Shorter women are normally thought to be more likely to deliver low birth weight babies.
 
Gaining about 490 grams of weight every week during pregnancy reduces the risk of delivering a low birth weight baby in short-statured women by almost 63%, the study says.
 
Short statured women generally have a higher chance of delivering a low birth weight baby, which is a leading cause of death and illness in neonates. In addition, low birth weight babies are at higher risk of developing diabetes, hypertension and metabolic syndrome when they become adults.
 
UNICEF estimates that 20 million babies are born with low weight every year in the world and that India accounts for nearly 8 million or one third of this global burden.
 
For the purposes of this study, doctors enrolled 1,254 pregnant women in the age range of 17 to 40 years from amongst those visiting the antenatal clinic at the St John’s Medical College in Bangalore for routine checkup. After recording their height, they were categorized into two groups. Those below a height of 152cm were classified as `short-statured’ and those above as `non-short’. During the course of their pregnancy, their weight was recorded every week using a well-calibrated digital balance. When they delivered, the doctors noted the height and weight of their baby.
 
This data was analyzed and it was found that improving weight during pregnancy in short statured women may be beneficial for the birth weight of the offspring. The researchers found that putting on weight in the third trimester, between 6 to 9 months of pregnancy, in particular, had a significant impact. The number of low birth weight deliveries dropped from 22% to 10% in the short statured group as against from 11% to 6% in the non-short group.
 
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Short statured women are thought to be more likely to deliver weak babies due to insufficient nutrition reserves that reduce their availability to the growing fetus. Also, they are thought to be prone to deliver small sized babies as they have a short pelvic and uterine volume.
 
“Poor nutrition of the mother is thought to be an important reason for having a low birth weight baby. But, we do not know how effective nutritional supplementation during pregnancy would improve birth weight. In this backdrop, this study is important,” Ramesh Agarwal, Professor in Department of Pediatrics of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, who is not connected to the study, told India Science Wire.
 
The study is a collaborative effort of St John’s Medical College in Bangalore, and the Harvard School of Public Health and Boston Children’s Hospital. The research team included Nirupama Shivakumar, Pratibha Dwarkanath, Ronald Bosch, Christopher Duggan, Anura V Kurpad, and Tinku Thomas. They did the study over 12 years. The study has been published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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Two Maratha Light Infantry battalions honoured with colours by Army Chief

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General Bipin Rawat, Chief of the Army Staff, presented the President’s Colours to two battalions of the Maratha Light Infantry -- 23 Maratha LI and 24 Maratha LI -- at a ceremony here yesterday.
 
The ceremonial parade at the Maratha Light Infantry Regimental Centre here yesterday was commanded by Commandant Brigadier Govind Kalwad. The President’s Colours were received by Maj Shourabh Modak and Maj Karan Joseph of the two units, respectively.
 
Award of President’s Colours to a battalion is an honour, bestowed upon in recognition of exceptional service rendered by it to the nation both during war and peace.
 
Maratha Light Infantry has a glorious history and has been conferred with eight Battle Honours, five Theatre Honours, five Maha Vir Chakras, five Ashok Chakras, 44 Vir Chakras and 15 Kirti Chakras along with various other decorations.
 
The ceremonial parade was attended by a spectrum of high ranking military and civil dignitaries including Mr Prabhakar Kore, MP (Rajya Sabha), Mr Suresh Angadi, MP (Belgavi Constituency).
 
Gen Rawat complimented the regiment for its outstanding performance in all spheres of operational and peacetime commitments. He exhorted all ranks to continue to strive for excellence and keep the nation’s flag flying high in times to come.
 
After presentation of colours, the Chief interacted with soldiers and their families. He also awarded Commendation Cards in recognition of distinguished services rendered by select officers and other ranks of the Regimental Centre. The General was also taken around the Regimental Archives and Historical Section of Maratha Centre.
 
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Neelmani Raju becomes first woman to head Karnataka Police

Neelmani Raju
Neelmani Raju
Ms. Neelmani Raju has  become the first woman to be appointed as the Director General of Police (DGP) of Karnataka Police.
 
Ms. Raju, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the 1983 batch (Karnataka cadre), has succeeded Mr. R. K. Dutta, who retired from service yesterday.
 
She was the second woman IPS officer to join the Karnataka cadre. After serving in various positions in the state, she had gone on deputation to the Intelligence Bureau in 1993. She returned to the cadre last year in the rank of DGP. She later served as DGP of Internal Security Division and Fire and Emergency Services.
 
"Congratulations to Karnataka's first woman DG-IGP Neelamani N Raju on her appointment. Wish her a successful tenure in the post," State Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on microblogging site Twitter.
 
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13 dead, 50 injured as mini-truck crashes into tree in Karnataka

 
13 dead, 50 injured as mini-truck rams into tree in Mandya district
At least 13 people died and about 50 others suffered injuries when an overcrowded mini-truck they were travelling in crashed into a tree near Machanayakanahalli in Maddur taluk of Mandya district in Karnataka late last night, police sources said.
 
The sources said the mishap occurred around 8.30 pm yesterday on the Maddur-Kunigal highway, about 100 km from here, when the driver of the speeding vehicle, an Eicher Canter, lost control over the wheel while negotiating a curve dashed into a tree on the left of the road.
 
Two of the victims died on the spot while 11 others succumbed to their injuries in hospitals in Mandya and Mysuru, they said.
 
Some of the serious injured persons were shifted to NIMHANS in Bengaluru, they said.
 
Those who died in the accident included two men, 10 women and a child, police said.
 
The victims were members of a wedding party travelling to Maddur  when the mishap occurred. They belonged to the bride's side and were going to attend the reception at Maddur, the sources added.
 
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Modi dedicates new Bidar-Kalaburagi railway line in Karnataka to nation

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today dedicated the new Bidar-Kalaburagi railway line in Karnataka to the nation by  unveiling a plaque at Bidar railway station.
 
Mr. Modi, who was on a day's visit to Karnataka, also flagged off the DEMU service between Bidar and Kalaburagi. 
 
Earlier, Mr. Modi Dashamah Soundarya Lahari Parayanotsava Mahasamarpane at Bengaluru. 
 
The Soundarya Lahari is a set of shlokas composed by Adi Shankaracharya. At the event, there was mass chanting of Soundarya Lahari. 
 
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said he felt a special energy in the environment from this mass chanting. He recalled his visit to Kedarnath a few days ago, and said he was filled with awe at the work done by Adi Shankara, in that remote location, as well as at other places across India, in his relatively short life-span. He said Adi Shankara had united India, through the Vedas and Upanishads. 
 
Mr. Modi said the common man could relate to Adi Shankara's composition - Soundarya Lahari. He said Adi Shankaracharya removed evils from the society, and prevented them from reaching future generations. He said Adi Shankara had imbibed the best of practices from different ideologies and thought. He said Adi Shankaracharya's penance still exists in the present form of Indian culture - a culture that accepts all, and moves forward together. This culture is the foundation of New India - and follows the mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, he said.
 
He said that, in a way, India's cultural heritage held the answers to all global problems. He said that in India, the stress has always been on preventing the exploitation of nature. 
 
The Prime Minister said that LED bulbs which earlier cost more than 350 rupees, are now available for 40 to 45 rupees under the Ujala scheme. He said more than 27 crore LED bulbs have been distributed so far. This has resulted in savings in the electricity bill as well, he added. 
 
He mentioned that over 3 crore LPG connections have been distributed through the Ujjwala Yojana. This has not only made a positive difference in the lives of rural women, but also contributed to a cleaner environment, he said. 
 
He said that the need of the hour is that efforts be made to free India from evils such as illiteracy, ignorance, malnutrition, black money and corruption. 
 
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Mr. Modi also offered prayers at Shri Manjunatha Swamy Temple at Dharmasthala.
 
At a public meeting at Ujire, he distributed RuPay cards to Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana account holders. He unveiled a logo to mark the launch of "Preserve Mother Earth, and Transfer to Next Generation" programme. 
 
Addressing the gathering, he expressed happiness at the opportunity to pray to Lord Manjunatha. 
 
He said that the current century is about skill development. India is a youthful nation, and hence, we must harness our demographic dividend, he added. 
 
"Our saints and seers created as well as nurtured institutions which have helped society for centuries," he said.
 
Speaking about the opportunity to hand over RuPay cards to women Self Help Groups, the Prime Minister said that he was happy to see enthusiasm towards digital transactions. 
 
He urged people to use the Bhim App and embrace cashless transactions. This is the era of honesty and integrity; there is no place for those who cheat the system, he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that every rupee, and every resource from the Government of India is devoted for the welfare of Indians. "We are ensuring that the fruits of development reach the intended beneficiaries without any scope of corruption," he added. 
 
Mr. Modi said that conservation of water is a major challenge in this day and age. "We also need to give importance towards living in harmony with nature and not think about short term gains," he said.
 
He called upon the farmers of Karnataka to embrace methods like drip irrigation that help conserve water. 
 
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Modi condemns Chidambaram's remarks on Kashmir, says they are insult to soldiers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sundaymounted a scathing attack on the Congress, condemning its leader P. Chidambaram's comments on Jammu and Kashmir and saying that they amounted to an insult to the brave soldiers who had laid down their lives to protect the unity and integrity of the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a welcome gathering at the Bengaluru airport on October 29, 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a welcome gathering at the Bengaluru airport on October 29, 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today mounted a scathing attack on the Congress, condemning its leader P. Chidambaram's comments on Jammu and Kashmir and saying that they amounted to an insult to the brave soldiers who had laid down their lives to protect the unity and integrity of the country.
 
Mr. Modi's remarks, made at a welcome gathering of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers and others at Bengaluru airport, came in response to the former Union Home Minister's statement yesterday that most people who call for "azaadi" in Jammu and Kashmir actually want autonomy for the state.
 
"My interactions in Jammu and Kashmir led me to the conclusion that when they ask for 'azaadi', most people mean autonomy," Mr. Chidambaram had said yesterday.
 
"Yesterday's statement of a Congress leader on Kashmir clearly shows how the party feels on surgical strikes and the bravery of our army. Congress will have to answer for the recent statement of their leaders on Kashmir. The statement was unacceptable," Mr. Modi said.
 
"Why are Congress leaders lending their voice to those who want Azadi in Kashmir. This is an insult to our brave soldiers," he said.
 
"Do you remember the lies Congress was spreading on Doklam. People of India trusted them so much but this is their conduct," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said the Congress was disconnected with the aspirations of the country and the people had no expectations from the party.
 
Stating that those who were in power until the other day were now suddenly taking a U-turn and shamelessly speaking the language of the separatists in Kashmir and their masters in Pakistan, he said those who play politics over the lives of martyrs could not be expected to lead India on the path of development.
 
He said soldiers from every part of India had laid down their lives in Kashmir to protect the unity and integrity of the country and the people of the country would demand answers from the Congress on its stand.
 
"Mothers who have sacrificed their sons, sisters who sacrificed their brothers, children who sacrificed their fathers will seek answers from the Congress," he said.
 
"This is Sardar Patel's land. We will not make or allow any compromise with the unity and integrity of the country," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said he could now understand why the Congress could not "digest" the surgical strikes carried out by the Indian troops against terrorist training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
 
He said when the whole world had appreciated India's strong stand on the Doklam issue, the Congress was spreading misinformation in the matter.
 
"Those who ruled the country for so long, whom people trusted so much, have turned out to be like this," he remarked.
 
Mr. Modi said he thought the Congress would learn from its repeated losses in elections. "But we are seeing irresponsible behaviour and statements from them. It seems they are determined not to mend their ways. Normally people learn from their mistakes and correct themselves. But they are arrogant," he said.
 
The Prime Minister began by expressing happiness that so many people had turned out to hear him with great enthusiasm. "It looks like the people of Karnataka cannot wait for long for the elections," he said, referring to the state assembly elections due next year.
 
"Like other states, Karnataka also wants to join the journey of development. After the coming elections, I am confident that Karnataka will join the mainstream of development," he said.
 
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Modi to visit Karnataka on Sunday, to address three public meetings

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Karnataka for a day tomorrow when he will, among other engagements, address three public meetings.
 
An official press release said Mr. Modi would begin his visit by offering prayers at the Shri Manjunatha Swamy Temple at Dharmasthala. He will address a public meeting, and distribute RuPay cards to beneficiaries at the Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project, at Ujire. This will enable the Self Help Groups to begin cashless digital transactions. 
 
The Prime Minister will then travel to Bengaluru, where he will address the gathering at the Dashamah Soundarya Lahari Parayanotsava Mahasarmapane. 
 
The Soundarya Lahari is a set of shlokas composed by Adi Shankaracharya. The event has been organized for the mass chanting of these shlokas in unison. 
 
Later in the day, at Bidar, Mr. Modi will inaugurate the Bidar - Kalaburagi New Railway Line. He will also address a public meeting, the release added.
 
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ADB to provide $ 65.5 million loan to support coastal protection in Karnataka

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India signed a $65.5 million loan agreement here yesterday in the national capital to continue interventions to check coastal erosion on the western coast in Karnataka.
 
An official press release said that the  loan is the second tranche of a $ 250 million financing facility under the Sustainable Coastal Protection and Management Investment Program. The financing will be used to address the immediate coastal protection needs and for strengthening institutional capacity of Karnataka’s Public Works, Ports and Inland Water Transport Department.
 
Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance signed the loan agreement on behalf of the Government of India, and Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, signed for ADB. 
 
A separate project agreement was signed by M. Lakshminarayana, Additional Chief Secretary on behalf of the Government of Karnataka.
 
Mr Khare said that coastal area development is one of the priority sectors for Government of India. He said that the program has introduced innovative techniques for managing coastal erosion that will ultimately benefit local communities, and would also help address concerns pertaining to the climate change.
 
Mr. Yokoyama said that the investment program has already demonstrated the benefit of adoption of softer options such as artificial reefs, beach nourishments, and dune management for coastal protection. He said that the project will consist of eight coastal protection sub-projects to address the issues of medium to severe coastal erosion resulting in protection of about 54 km of coastline in Karnataka.
 
Karnataka’s coast supports the state’s major economic sectors, which include fisheries, agriculture, tourism, ports and other major transport and communication sectors. Coastal erosion in the state, where the project is focused, poses a high risk to human well-being, economic development, and ecological integrity through loss of land, infrastructure, and business opportunities. 
 
Under increasing threat from climate change impacts, coastal protection and management has evolved as a major challenge to development. Effective and sustainable management of the shoreline is thus vital to sustainable economic and social development of the coastal regions in the state.
 
The second tranche loan from ADB’s ordinary capital resources has a 20-year term. The State of Karnataka, acting through its Department of Public Works, is responsible for implementation of overall program, which is due for completion by September 2020.
 
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Legislators are public servants as well as nation builders, says Kovind

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President Ram Nath Kovind today described legislators as both public servants as well as nation builders as is the case with anybody who performs his or her duties with honesty and dedication.
 
Addressing a joint session of Karnataka Legislature on the ‘Vajramahothsava’, the 60th anniversary of the Vidhana Soudha, Mr Kovind said the occasions is also the diamond jubilee of the debates and discussions in the two Houses, of legislations that have been passed and policies that have been shaped for the betterment of the lives of the people of Karnataka.
 
“Both Houses of the Legislature jointly and collectively represent the will and aspirations of the people of Karnataka. Not just that, the two Houses also represent the ideals and optimism and the energy and dynamism of the Kannadiga people. This building is a monument to the history of public service in Karnataka. A galaxy of political stalwarts has participated in the proceedings of the two Houses that meet here. They have spoken in many memorable debates,” he said.
 
The President said Karnataka’s dreams are not for the State alone. They are dreams for all of India. Karnataka is an engine of the Indian economy. It is a mini-India that draws – without losing its cultural and linguistic distinctiveness – youth from all over the country. They come here for knowledge and for jobs, and they give their labour and intellect. Everybody gains.
 
“Legislators are both public servants as well as nation builders. Indeed, anybody who performs his or her duties with honesty and dedication is a nation builder. Those who maintain this building are nation builders. Those who provide it security are nation builders. It is by the efforts of ordinary citizens, who diligently carry out everyday tasks, that nations are built. As legislators sit and work in this Vidhan Soudha, he was confident they will never forget this and will continue to draw inspiration from it,” he added.
 
“We are aware of the three D’s of the legislature, that it is a place to debate, dissent and finally decide. And if we add the fourth D, decency, then the fifth D, namely democracy, becomes a reality. The legislature is an embodiment of the will, aspirations and hopes of the people of Karnataka, irrespective of political belief, caste and religion, gender or language. It needs the collective wisdom of both Houses of the Legislature to fulfil the dreams of our people,” Mr Kovind said.
 
The President said it is for the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council to function as sacred temples of democracy, and contribute to raising the level of political and policy discourse. As representatives of the people of Karnataka, the members of the two Houses here have a special responsibility. He called upon legislators to make the diamond jubilee not just the celebration of a proud past – but a commitment to an even greater future.
 
“This is a land with ancient Jain and Buddhist traditions. Adi Shankaracharya founded the math in Sringeri in this very state. Gulbarga is a centre of Sufi culture. The reformist Lingayat movement under spiritual leaders such as Basavacharyawas also located in Karnataka. In their own way, each of these currents has contributed to nation building,” he said.
 
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Karnataka is a land of formidable soldiers. Krishnadeva Raya was the greatest ruler of the Vijayanagara Empire, and remains an inspiration for all Indians. Kempe Gowda was the founder of Bengaluru. Rani Chennamma of Kittur and Rani Abbakka led among the earliest battles against colonial powers, he added.
 
“Tipu Sultan died a heroic death fighting the British. He was also a pioneer in the development and use of Mysore rockets in warfare. This technology was later adopted by the Europeans. More recently, two of our finest army chiefs – Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa and General K.S. Thimayya – were sons of Karnataka,” Mr Kovind said.
 
“This is also the seat of education, technology and science. The engineer-statesman M. Visvesvaraya was a builder of modern Karnataka and of modern India. He was responsible for major irrigation projects that continue to help farmers to this day. The Indian Institution of Science and the Indian Space Research Organisation are among so many of our crown jewel institutions that are based in Bengaluru. The dynamism of its entrepreneurs has made Bengaluru India’s IT capital. It is known the world over as the Silicon City,” he added.
 
The President noted that today’s event will also honour the families of the first three chief ministers of Karnataka – K.C. Reddy, Kengal Hanumanthaiah and Kadidal Manjappa. “There are so many other names we must recall and cherish –S. Nijalingappa, DevrajUrs, B.D. Jatti, who later became Vice-President of India, Ramakrishna Hegde, S.R. Bommai, Veerendra Patil, S.M. Krishna and of course our former Prime Minister and my friend, H. D. Deve Gowda,” he added.
 
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Scientists develop new compound for controlled delivery of aspirin

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Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, have developed a new chemical compound that could be used to deliver aspirin in a controlled manner. The compound can be injected and can carry a large amount of aspirin.
 
In commonly used pills or patches, aspirin is trapped inside a capsule or a mesh. In the new compound, aspirin is built into backbone of a long polymer chain based on a sugar molecule called Xylitol, which occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables and is used as a sweetener. When delivered into the body, enzymes would break the bond between Xylitol molecule and the drug, resulting in gradual release of the drug into bloodstream.
 
Aspirin is used for reducing fever and pain. It is also used to lower the risk of heart attack or stroke by preventing clots from forming in blood vessels. However, it has certain side effects.
 
Studies have shown that a gradual release of the drug instead of a rapid single burst can stave them off. Further, if a single chemical compound can keep circulating in the body and release a specified amount of the drug periodically, it would help avoid administering multiple pills at different times.
 
An advantage of the new compound is that it is totally biodegradable. All the precursors used to make the polymer are endogenous or native to the body. So, there is no accumulation. Besides, Xylitol is relatively unreactive and unlikely to interfere with aspirin’s action.
 
The new compound represents an important technological development as the scientists have for the first time been able to ensure that Xylitol molecules formed a long straight polymer chain that could be easily dissolved into a gel and thus made injectable.
 
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Over the years, research teams in different parts of the world had been attempting to create such Xylitol based polymers for delivering drugs in a controlled manner. But, they could only get complex mesh like structures. These were difficult to dissolve and to be made injectable. Consequently, they needed to be implanted into the body surgically. The IISc researchers have solved this problem by using a new technique which involved modifying the reaction conditions.
 
Speaking to India Science Wire, Kaushik Chatterjee, a member of the research team, said the timing and dose of the drug delivery can be adjusted by merely tweaking the type of chemical bonds and number of free sites the compound has. “For instance, if someone wanted low doses of aspirin over sustained periods, say weeks, then you may want to have more such bonds that would not degrade so easily’’.
 
He noted that the polymer can be used for incorporating other drugs also. “The chemistry used for incorporating the Aspirin is by reacting the carboxylate group of the drug with the hydroxyl group of Xylitol to form the ester bond. This strategy can be used to include other drugs also in the backbone like ibuprofen’’.
 
The study has been published in International Journal of Pharmaceutics. 
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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Knowledge, discovery and innovation will take country forward, says Kovind

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President Ram Nath Kovind has described knowledge, discovery and innovation, coupled with the society, are the wheels that would take the country forward.
 
Addressing a gathering during his visit to the laboratory and the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering (CeNSE) at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), here yesterday, Mr Kovind said, however, each of these wheels must move in coordination at the right pace and direction.
 
“The slightest misstep by one will take us in the wrong direction or stall us. Scientists have an immense responsibility. They are directly in charge of three wheels. But unless they connect every day with the fourth, society, we have no future,” he added.
 
Mr Kovind pointed out that India was facing enormous challenges in having to lift the people out of poverty, ensuring their health and well-being as well as food and energy security. Society rightly demands solutions to these problems. On the other hand, scientists must not compromise their quest for knowledge – from atoms to galaxies. And these two endeavours are not contradictory.
 
“We have seen how ISRO has succeeded through the efforts of the late Dr Satish Dhawan in combining cutting-edge science with helping farmers. And in linking ISRO’s research, applications and innovation with the academic capacities of IISc. The challenge is to replicate that partnership and that synergy, across institutions and across disciplines,” he added.
 
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The President said, today, the scientists have the opportunity to pioneer a revolution where all the scientific institutes in Bengaluru could work together. “They can share their strengths and show by example how science and technology can take us to new heights. The spark from their efforts in Bengaluru can light the flame of knowledge all over the country. It can help take the culture of innovation further and deeper – from lab to shop floor, right down to school classrooms,” he added.
 
Leading scientists presented a flavour of their plans for a paradigm shift in the way their efforts have become more collaborative and thereby more effective. In addition to IISc, scientists from JNCASR, inStem, NCBS, the Raman Institute and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics were present.
 
The speakers pointed out that India has shown leadership in astronomy and mega- physics as well as materials research. In biotechnology too, research is at global levels. They said that there is a sense of shared purpose and collaboration to take on new challenges and help achieve the goals of New India 2022.
 
Those present at the roundtable discussion included Dr R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India; Professor Anurag Kumar Director, IISc; Dr K. Vijay Raghavan, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology; Dr Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology; Mr K.K. Sharma, Secretary, Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development; Mr A. S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman, ISRO; and Dr S. Christopher, Chairman, DRDO.
 
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Kovind to visit Karnataka on October 24-25

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President Ram Nath Kovind will visit Karnataka on October 24 and 25 -- his first trip to the state after assuming the august office.
 
Tomorrow, Mr. Kovind will commence his engagements by paying tributes to the founder of Bengaluru, Kempe Gowda. Later, he will visit the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru and attend a round-table discussion with scientists.
 
On October 25, the President will grace the Vajramahothsava – Diamond Jubilee Celebrations on completion of 60 years of Vidhana Soudha, and address members of both Houses of the Karnataka Legislature.
 
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Fiive dead, five others injured as three-storeyed building collapses in Bengaluru

 
5 dead in building collapse in Bengaluru
At least five persons died and five others suffered injuries when a portion of a three-storeyed residential building collapsed in the Ejipura area of the city this morning, official sources said.
 
According to some sources, the building collapsed after a cooking gas cylinder burst suddenly, but Bengaluru Development and Town Planning Minister K. J. George told reporters at the scene that this had to be confirmed.
 
Mr. George also announced ex-gratia payments of Rs 5 lakh for the  next-of-kin of those killed and Rs. 50,000 to those who were injured.
 
He said that the State Government would take care of the complete expenses, including education, of a young girl, who had survived with injuries but had lost her parents in the incident.
 
The Minister said there were ten tenants living in the building in all. Many of them were still sleeping when the tragedy struck at around 6.30 am.
 
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Scientists identify bacterium that could be source of antibiotics

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Scientists have identified a new bacterium from a lime quarry in Karnataka, which shows promise of becoming a source of antibiotics.
 
Named Allostreptomyces indica YIM 75704T, the bacterium belong to Streptomycetaceae, a family of bacteria whose members have attracted attention in recent years for producing various natural products of considerable commercially value. They are predominantly found in soil and decaying vegetation. Most of them produce chains of spores and some are noted for their distinct ‘earthy’ odor that results from production of a volatile metabolite called geosmin.
 
“Preliminary studies have indicated that the bacterium could be used to produce antibiotics for several diseases including malaria. More studies, however, need to be conducted before any final conclusion can be reached,” Syed Dastager, scientist at the National Collection of Industrial Microorganism and leader of the team, told India Science Wire. NCIM is part of the Pune-based National Chemical Laboratory (NCL).
 
The new bacterium was isolated from an open pit limestone mine in the Gulbarga region of Karnataka. The area is known for its limestone mines and crushers. The temperatures there ranged from nearly 5C in winters to more than 45C in summers.
 
“The bacteria in this region are extremophiles. They can not only survive inhospitable temperatures but also alkaline soils”, said Dr. Dastager.
 
The new species was identified by studying the sequence of 16S ribosomal RNA genes, which are conserved across members of the same species. “Finding new bacteria opens an opportunity to discover new biomolecules and antibiotics”, he added.
 
Dr. Dastagar and his team had discovered 18 new species of bacteria in 2008 and some of them later proved to be a good source of antifungals. The team has published its findings in Journal of Antibiotics.
 
The study was conducted in collaboration with Gulbarga University, Northern Border University of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China. The other members of the team are Amit Kumar Sahu, Syed Raziuddin Quadri, Dayanand Agasar, Jamal Al Ruwaili, and Wen Jun-Li.
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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India signs € 300 million finance contract with EIB for Bangalore Metro Rail Project Phase II

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The Government of India and the European Investment Bank (EIB) today signed the Finance Contract for lending of € 300 million for Bangalore Metro Rail Project Phase II Line R6. 
 
The agreement was signed by Mr. S. Selvakumar, Joint Secretary (BC), Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. Andrew McDowell, Vice-President, EIB, on behalf of the EIB.
 
Bangalore Metro Rail Project Phase II is to be jointly financed by the European Investment Bank (€500 million) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (€300 million). The first tranche of Euro 300 million was signed today. 
 
An official press release said the project envisages extension of East-West and North-South lines for Bangalore Metro Rail which includes a total length of 72.095 km (13.79 km underground) and 61 stations with 12 underground stations. The implementation period is five years from date of commencement of the project.
 
"The objective of the project is to bring in a quantum improvement in the transportation sector in the city in tandem with the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and other modes of urban transport. The project aims to ensure modern transport facility for the commuters. The spinoffs of the project would include employment opportunities, benefits to the economy, reduction of number of vehicles on road, less fuel consumption, reduction in air pollution, reduction in passenger travel time and also improvement in the aesthetic value of the city," the release added.
 
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Naidu inaugurates 'Swachhta Hi Seva' and 'A Crusade for Toilets' in Karnataka

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Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu said yesterday that the first step towards a developed India is to create a clean and hygienic and therefore healthy country.
 
Addressing a gathering after inaugurating “Swachhta Hi Seva” and “Shouchalayakkagi Samara” (A Crusade For Toilets) Programmes in Konnur village in Gadag district of Karnataka, Mr Naidu said every Indian should become part of this “Jan Andolan” with a missionary zeal so that the goal of a “Clean India” is achieved by October 2, 2019 - the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
 
The dream of the Father of the Nation could be realized through ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ if everybody from celebrities to common man selflessly participate and take ownership of the programme, he added.
 
Karnataka Governor Vajubha Vala, Minister of State for Drinking Water & Sanitation Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi and Minister of Rural Development & Panchayat Raj, Karnataka H.K. Patil were also present on the occasion.
 
The Vice-President said good sanitation can save Rs. 50, 000 per year per family, as stated by UNICEF, and over 1,00,000 children die every year in India due to diarrhoea. Lack of sanitation also contributes to physical and cognitive stunting in children. Besides, women and girls face a serious threat to their safety when they resort to open defecation, he added.
 
He said the number of Indians defecating in the open in rural and urban areas is estimated to have reduced to 30 crore, from about 60 crore in 2014. He expressed confidence that ‘Swachhta Hi Seva’ campaign will give a big thrust to the momentum of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’.
 
Mr Naidu said that this campaign aims to mobilise people from across the country, especially government functionaries across all levels, local leaders, youth groups, women, school children, defence personnel, corporate, celebrities, faith organizations and citizens at large to offer shramdaan to construct twin-pit toilets and clean public places like railway stations, bus stands, parks, markets, hospitals, schools, and so on.
 
"Recognizing the need to preserve the sanctity and cleanliness of our natural endowments and places of cultural heritage like places of worship, heritage sites, and beaches, they are likely to be given a facelift. We should collectively search for innovative solutions that will make a tangible difference to the lives of the people," he added.
 
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Nine dead as car collides with truck in Karnataka

 
Nine dead in car-truck collision in Karnataka
Nine persons, including three women and three children, died when the multi-utility vehicle they were travelling in collided with a truck in the ghat section near Yellapur in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka this morning.
 
The victims included eight members of two families and the driver of the vehicle, which was plying as a cab.
 
Police sources said the mishap occurred around 8.45 am when the 12-seater maxi-cab was reportedly trying to overtake another vehicle and collided head-on with the truck travelling in the opposite direction at a spot about 525 km from here.
 
One passenger in the cab suffered serious injuries and was rushed to the government hospital at Hubbali, about 70 km away.
 
The victims hailed from Raibagh in the adjoining district of Belagavi and were turning home from a pilgrimage to temples in the Dakshina Kannada district.
 
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CGWB, IISc sign MoA for ground water flow models, aquifer management plans for parts of Karnataka

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The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has entered into a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore for development of ground water flow models and preparation of aquifer management plans for parts of Karnataka.
 
This mathematical model is being developed as a part of the aquifer mapping and management programme, which will render better understanding of existing groundwater scenarios, predicting response of groundwater system to various stress conditions expected to arise in the future and developing effective management plans incorporating different demand and supply side interventions.
 
The study will cover an area of 48000 sq. km. comprising Chikballapur and Kolar districts and parts of Bagalkot, Bangalore Rural, Belgaum, Bellary, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Gadag, Gulbarga and Yadgir districts.
 
The study has to be completed within a year and IISc will present an inception report and a final comprehensive report. The inception report has to be submitted within two months of the signing of the agreement. The inception report will include detailed work plan and timelines specific to the study area keeping in view the objectives, scope, methodology, timeline and deliverables outlined in the agreement.
 
The final report will include executive summary, introduction, data analysis, hydrogeological setting, conceptualization and model study plan, calibration, validation and sensitivity analysis, groundwater related issues, response of groundwater system to different scenarios, block wise management plans, block wise impacts of proposed management interventions, and so on.
 
The MoA was signed by Dr. Dipankar Saha, Member, CGWB and Prof. V Rajarajan, Registrar, IISc, Bangalore.
 
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Karnataka CM says SIT will probe journalist Gauri Lankesh's murder

Gauri Lankesh
Gauri Lankesh
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today said he had directed the Director General of Police (DGP) of the state to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under an Inspector General of Police (IGP) to probe the murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh who was shot dead outside her residence in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar here by unidentified assailants yesterday evening.
 
"The assassination of Gauri Lankesh appears to be an organised crime," Mr. Siddaramaiah told journalists here, even as the body of Gauri was laid to rest with state honours today and protests were held by journalists, writers, rationalists and others across the country against the killing of the journalist-activist who was known to be a staunch critic of the right wing.
 
He said three investigative teams are heading the investigation now and expressed confidence that the culprits would be nabbed and brought to book at the earliest.
 
"I have also directed the Police department to provide protection to progressive thinkers and prominent social activists across Karnataka," he said.
 
Gauri had returned home late yesterday evening, around 8 pm, and had got out of her to open the gate of her house when the unidentified men shot her and escaped.
 
Neighbours who came out of their houses after hearing the gunshots found Gauri lying dead on the verandah of her house. She had suffered bullet injuries in the chest and head, sources said.
 
State Home Minister and the Commissioner of Police of Bengaluru were amongst those who rushed to the scene.
 
Karnataka Director General of Police Rupak Dutta told television news channels that Gauri, who edited and published a journal Lankesh Patrike and had met him often, had never mentioned any threat to her life or expressed any fear.
 
 
Protests across India against Gauri Lankesh murder
Gauri was the daughter of well-known writer, journalist and translator P. Lankesh. Apart from writing columns for newspapers in Karnataka, she also used to appear on television news shows.
 
The journalist was on November 28 last year convicted of criminal defamation by a court in Hubbali in two separate cases filed by two BJP leaders -- Prahlad Joshi, the Lok Sabha member from Dharwad, and Umesh Dhushi. She was released on bail the same day and had told journalists at that time that she intended to appeal against the verdict.
 
Gauri's body was buried this evening at a cemetery in the Chamarajpet area here this evening in the presence of hundreds of her friends, relatives and admirers. The police gave a gun salute to her.
 
The killing has sparked outrage among the media and other sections across the country and journalists have expressed concern about the growing intolerance to dissent.
 
Hundreds of journalists participated in protests in Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram, among other places, and candlelight vigils were held in Bengaluru and other places this evening, holding posters saying "Namma Gauri" (I am Gauri).
 
Mr. Siddaramaiah and several of his Cabinet colleagues were present at the funeral. The Chief Minister also visited the Ravindra Kalakshetra Cultural Centre where her body was kept for a few hours during the day to allow people to pay tributes to her.
 
According to various sources, video footage from CCTV cameras installed at Gauri's residence showed a man wearing a helmet walking up to her as she parked her car and firing at her. They said Gauri tried to run into her house but collapsed on the verandah. Police believe the assailant was accompanied by two other men on a motorcycle. The journalist lived alone.
 
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi said he had spoken to Mr. Siddaramaiah and told him that it was very important that the people who murdered Gauri were caught and punished.
 
"Anybody who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked &even killed. They want to impose only one ideology which is against the nature of India," he said on Twitter.
 
"Sometimes the PM speaks under pressure but the entire idea is to crush dissent and this is resulting in a very serious problem in India," he added.
 
The Editors Guild of India expressed its deep shock and strongly condemned the murder of Gauri.
 
"Gauri Lankesh was a known critic of the Central government on key issues and had fearlessly expressed her views in the newspaper she edited as well as in other forums. Her killing is an ominous portent for dissent in democracy and a brutal assault on the freedom of the press. The Editors Guild of India demands that the Karnataka Government acts with alacrity to bring the culprits to justice apart from instituting a judicial probe into the killing," a statement from the Guild said.
 
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