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.
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.
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.
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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Mukherjee condemns attacks on doctors when they are unable to save patients' lives

President Pranab Mukherjee today spoke out against the increasing number of cases where relatives of patients turn violent and attack doctors when they are unable to save the lives of patients and said such incidents should be avoided.
Speaking after laying the foundation stone of a Super Specialty Hospital of BRS Health & Research Institute at Udupi, Karnataka, he condemned this "uncivilized behaviour" and said people should trust doctors who try their best to save lives and cure patients.
Mr. Mukhjeree said there remained a huge gap in the country in terms of access to medicine and health care despite the fact that advances in modern medicine and investment in health infrastructure had made many diseases such as cholera, small pox, plague and tuberculosis curable and eradicated others.
He said this brought up the larger and more question of the skewed nature of health care in India -- both in terms of infrastructure and pesonnel.
Against the international norm of one doctor per thousand population, we have one doctor for 1700 people in our country. The ratio thus stands at 0.7:1000. The situation is all the more alarming in the vast hinterland of rural India, he said.
The President said that only a healthy mind and a healthy body could be the abode of God. He appreciated Mr. B. R. Shetty and his wife for their efforts in establishing the hospital. He stated that providing accessible and affordable medical facilities should be the objective of healthcare in the country. 

GAIL's City Gas Distribution project in Bengaluru takes off

The City Gas Distribution (CGD) project in Bengaluru to supply eco-friendly natural gas to households, industries and transport sector was inaugurated by Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Chemicals & Fertilizers Ananth Kumar here today.
The project marks a new chapter in the development of Bengaluru, India's IT capital, a press release from GAIL (India) Limited, which is implementing the project, said.
Union Minister for Statistics & Programme Implementation D. V. Sadananda Gowda and Union Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan were also present on the occasion.
The Bengaluru CGD Project is being implemented by GAIL Gas Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of GAIL (India) Limited, at an investment of Rs, 6,283 crore. The project will cover 4,395 sq km in urban and rural Bengaluru, broadly covering eight sectors - Nelamangala, Dod Ballapur, Devanahalli, Hosakote, Bengaluru East, Bengaluru North, Bengaluru South and Anekal.
The project will provide economical, environment friendly, uninterrupted, safe and convenient energy to 106.12 lakh residents of Bengaluru by supplying piped natural gas (PNG) for households, industries and commercial units, the release said.
This will significantly add to people’s convenience as there will be no hassles of booking, advance payment, storage, handling of heavy weight cylinders and monitoring of cylinder delivery. Billing will be done once in two months based on consumption, it said.
Moreover, with the setting up of 60 compressed natural gas (CNG) stations, the project will provide cheaper fuel for the transport sector and also facilitate a healthy lifestyle by creating a pollution-free environment.
The inaugural ceremony was marked by a live streaming from a house where a PNG-powered burner was lit, followed by another live streaming from a CNG Station of GAIL Gas at Leggere, Prem Nagar, Bengaluru.
During the event, GAIL Gas Limited also launched a mobile app that will provide a one-stop solution and a user-friendly platform to customers to view and pay their PNG Bills, locate CNG stations, know about the benefits of CNG, PNG, and get emergency instructions.
According to the release, 66 kms of steel and 452 kms of MDPE pipeline have already been laid in Bengaluru. Infrastructure has been laid for PNG connections to 34,500 households, out of which 23,300 houses are ready for conversion and approximately 3,000 houses are already using PNG.
The CNG station in Laggare has been commissioned and three CNG stations at BMTC bus depots at Sumanahalli, Hennur and Peenya are ready for commissioning, it said.
As many as nine industries have been connected with PNG, including Intel, Bosch, BHEL and Apotex Pharmachemicals, Adcock Ingram Ltd., Garuda Polyflex GTR Aluminium, Exclusive Overseas and Toyota Industries Engine India Ltd.. Also, 22 commercial units have been connected with PNG.
GAIL Gas has been authorized by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) for implementing City Gas Distribution projects in Dewas (Madhya Pradesh), Kota (Rajasthan), Sonepat (Haryana), Meerut (Uttar Pradesh), Taj Trapezium Zone (Uttar Pradesh) and now Bengaluru.

Mukherjee dedicates Metro Phase-I Project to people of Karnataka, Bengaluru

President Pranab Mukherjee dedicated the Metro Phase-I project in Bengaluru to the people of the city and the entire state of Karnataka at a function here today.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that, originally known as the Garden City, Bengaluru had slowly transformed itself into the Silicon Valley of India. As per global rankings, it has been rated as the most dynamic city of the world ahead even of the Silicon Valley. 
Mr. Mukherjee said that, in warming up to and finally adopting Metro as a viable mode of public transport, people in India were late by several decades. 
The first metropolitan railway started in London in the year 1863. By early 20th century, almost entire Europe, North America and countries in South America had metro rail networks in all their large cities. 
"We started with the first metro network in Kolkata in 1984 and then, once we started in Delhi in the year 2000, there was no looking back for Metro in India," he said.
The President said that the first phase of ‘Namma Metro’, totaling 42.3 km in length, started in the year 2008 and 31 km have been opened in different phases in the past. Today, the last section, measuring 11.3 km is being opened. The project has been built with major contributions coming from Government of Karnataka, Government of India, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Agence Francaise De Development (AfD)- France, he said.
He said credit should go to the people of Bengaluru, who have cooperated to the fullest extent and endured discomfort during the construction of the world class infrastructure facility. He said that he was happy to note that Phase-2 of the Namma Metro Project is already under implementation and this would add another 72 km to the existing 42 km of Phase-1.
He said that he had been informed that there is further plan to expand the Namma Metro network by proposing connectivity to the Bengaluru International Airport and a metro corridor along the Outer Ring Road. 
Mr. Mukherjee said that the construction of the mega project must have posed various challenges, and he was happy that because of the sincere work and dedication of engineers and workers, this project is being dedicated to the nation today. 
"Construction of a metro system in a living city has many challenges. Working in thickly populated areas, making tunnels through the hard rock of the Deccan Plateau, proximity to water table, handling modern technologies, are some of the areas, which our engineers must have dealt with, and overcome. As we complete the first phase of the project, one can be satisfied that as in other places the Metro in Bengaluru has proved to be a long term and viable solution to urban public transport," he said.
The President complimented the team of the Bengaluru Metro Rail Project for their excellent work. He also congratulated the Ministry of Urban Development, the people of Karnataka and the State Government for their efforts and thanked the Government of Japan and the Government of France for their financial assistance for this project. 

Gem & Jewellery Training Institute to be set up in Udupi

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today laid the foundation stone for the Indian Institute of Gems & Jewellery (IIGJ) in Udupi in Karnataka that is expected to boost the sector in the southern region.
Being set up in association with the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, the training centre will be among a series of Training Institutes & Facility Centres set up by GJEPC (Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council) across India.
With IIGJ Udupi, GJEPC is foraying into the education and training field in southern India for the first time.
Addressing the function, Ms Sitharaman said that, across the globe, the best of jewellery pieces are handmade. Global retail giants like Cartier, Boucheron or Van Cliff command premium prices for their handmade jewellery.
India, whose forte lies in crafting the most intricate handmade jewellery should capitalise on this opportunity by building the necessary infrastructure, she said.
By setting up institutes like IIGJ and other facility centres, GJEPC once again has come forward to further equip Indian Gem & Jewellery sector and make it globally competitive. IIGJ in Udupi will aid in providing exciting career opportunities to the youth of surrounding regions in this sector, she added.
Joint Secretary Manoj Dwivedi said with over 100 retail stores and a workforce of more than 5000 people, Udupi boasts of a rich jewellery lineage. By setting up the IIGJ, GJEPC envisions to productively use the talent available here by providing required training and guidance.
GJEPC has joined hands with NID to ensure that the best of jewellery and manufacturing courses are offered to the enrolled students, he added.
GJEPC Chairman Praveen Shankar Pandya said the IIGJ in Udupi is one of the ambitious projects taken up by it to tap the unutilized potential of youth in this region and thereby giving a significant boost to Indian G& J sector.
He said the institute strongly embodies the Prime Minister’s Make in India initiative and is yet another step towards the pursuit of Skill India.
The institute will provide training to the youth in various aspects of hand-crafted jewellery making. It will also aim at enhancing the skills of the existing workforce already engaged with the industry. Creation and upgradation of such trained work force will in turn help in fostering the development of the local jewellery industry.
The institute will focus on three levels of skills, namely, in developing skills in those who have no prior domain learning/working knowledge of jewellery, upgrading skills of those already in the sector and provide design and technological orientation to the local industry to be competitive in the Indian and world market.
With these objectives, the Institute will offer Manufacturing & CAD designing courses on jewellery. The Indian Diamond Institute, based in Surat, and IIGJ have been involved on behalf of GJEPC to collaboratively develop the programme curriculum with NID, an official press release added.

Mukherjee to visit Maharashtra, Karnataka on June 17-18

President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a two-day visit to Maharashtra and Karnataka from June 17 to 18, an official press release said here today.
Tomorrow, Mr. Mukherjee will address the convocation ceremony of the passing out Engineering Graduate Courses of College of Military Engineering, Pune. 
On the same day, he will attend a function for dedication of the Metro Phase-I Project to the citizens of Bengaluru at Bengaluru, Karnataka.
On June 18, the President will lay the foundation stone of the Super Speciality Hospital of BRS Health & Research Institute at Udupi, Karnataka.

A responsible press needed to hold power to account, says Ansari

Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari today said that, in an open society like in India, a responsible press was needed to hold power to account.
Addressing an event to launch the commemorative edition of the National Herald here, Mr Ansari said the history of journalism in India is closely linked to the history of the freedom struggle. The press played an important role in educating, convincing and mobilizing the people, he said.
Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, Chief Minister K Siddaramaiah and Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi were among those present on the occasion.
“Conceived by Jawaharlal Nehru, the National Herald began its publication from Lucknow in 1938 and soon became the voice of our independence movement. Its banner of ‘freedom in peril’ has an abiding relevance.
“This is the 70th year of our independence and the National Herald’s return to active media space with a commemorative edition is worthy of being celebrated,” Mr Ansari said.
The Vice-President began his speech by saying, “Today is a memorable occasion, the resurrection of a happening in our freedom struggle, a reminder to a younger generation of the role that media in the hands of people committed to a cause could do to motivate the public.”
He said Nehru had envisioned a free, unfettered and honest press and he watched over the interests of mediapersons in independent India. The Working Journalists Act, which tried to give a degree of protection to journalists, to ensure freedom of press, was largely his doing.
“In this age of ‘post-truths’, and ‘alternative facts’, where ‘advertorials’ and ‘response features’ edge out editorials, we would do well to recall Nehru’s vision of the press playing its role of a watchdog in democracy and look at the ethos and principles that powered his journalism,” Mr Ansari said.
“Our Constitutional framework provides for required intervention by the State to ensure smooth working of the press and the society. The laws provide that such intervention should only be in the interest of the public at large,” he added.
“In an open society like ours, we need a responsible press to hold power to account. This is why freedom of press under Article 19 (1)(A) of the Constitution, is subject only to reasonable restrictions in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, public order, decency, contempt of court, defamation and incitement to an offence,” he pointed out.
“The Supreme Court has held that ‘freedom of speech and of the press is the Ark of the Covenant of Democracy’ because public criticism is essential to the working of its institutions,” he added.
“A free media is not only beneficial but necessary in a free society. If press freedom is attacked, it will result in the jeopardising of citizen’s rights. When faced with unjust restrictions and the threat of attack, self-censorship in the media can have the opposite effect, aiding the covering up of abuses and fostering frustration in marginalized communities.
“Our Constitutional framework provides for required intervention by the State to ensure smooth working of the press and the society. The laws provide that such intervention should only be in the interest of the public at large. By the same token, the State shall not impede the free flow of information that will go a long way in protecting and promoting citizen’s rights,” the Vice-President added.

Jaitley dedicates Aeronautical Test Range to nation

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley inaugurated the newly built Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) at Chitradurga in Karnataka today.
Addressing a gathering of eminent scientists and other defence personnel on the occasion, the Defence Minister said facilities such as the ATR would help in creating conditions for research which will, in turn, develop the type of human resource in the country required in the field of aeronautical testing. 
Complimenting the vital role of the DRDO towards self-reliance and promoting ‘Make in India’ efforts, Mr. Jaitley said the development of the test range would cater to the needs of DRDO for testing of indigenously developed aeronautical systems. He said the facility would also contribute to the development of the region in which Chitradurga is located. 
The ATR is the first of its kind in the country, exclusively meant to conduct flight-tests of indigenous unmanned and manned aircrafts developed by the DRDO, including the naval and trainer versions of the Light Combat Aircraft, the unmanned air vehicles- Rustom-I and Rustom-II (Tapas); the Airborne Early Warning & Control Systems (AEW&C), Air-to-Ground weapons, parachutes and aerostats, and so on. 
This outdoor testing and evaluating facility has been set up by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), one of the premier laboratories of the DRDO. 
Spread across 4,029 acres, the 28 kilometre perimeter strategic test range envisages a two-kilometre runway besides other tracking and control equipment. A rail link to the facility has also been planned. 
The state-of-the-art Range Control Centre (RCC) houses the Air Traffic Display System with remote control of radar operations, ATC RF Voice communication system, Ground Telemetry system, Mission Video Distribution and Display System and Range Operational Communication System. The radar centre houses Primary Radar and Secondary Surveillance Radar (MSSR). About 200 acres of land outside the technical area is earmarked for a township with a shopping complex, school, hospital and transit facility. 
The event was attended by Mr. S. Thippeswamy, MLA, Molakalmuru and Mr.  Janardhana Swamy, former MP, Chitradurga , Dr S. Christopher, Chairman DRDO, along with a large number of officers of the DRDO and the Armed Forces, civil administration and other invitees. 

Prabhu flags off weekly train to Varanasi, daily service to Mysuru from Hubbali

Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu flagged off two trains -- 17323/17324 Hubballi - Varanasi - Hubballi Express (Weekly) and 17325/17326 Hubballi - Mysuru - Hubballi Express (Daily) -- through video conferencing from here today.
Railway Board Chairman A. K. Mital, Member Traffic Mohammad Jamshed and other senior officials were present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Prabhu said Hubbali in Karnataka was coming up as an important training centre. He said the train to Mysuru, also in Karnataka, would be named as Vishwa Manav Express.
The Hubballi - Varanasi Express will serve pilgrims going to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, he said.
The Hubbali-Varanasi Express will have commercial stoppages at Gadag, Badami, Bagalkot, Almatti, Bijapur, Solapur Jn, Daund Jn, Ahmadnagar, Kopargaon, Manmad, Bhusaval, Khandwa, Itarsi, Pipariya, Narsinghpur, Jabalpur, Katni, Maihar, Satna, Manikpur Jn, Chheoki and Mirzapur.
The Hubbali-Mysuru Express will have commercial stoppages at Yalvigi, Haveri, Byadgi, Ranibennur, Harihar, Davangere, Chikjajur, Ajjampur, Birur Jn, Kadur Jn, Arsikere, Tiptur, Tumakuru, Yesvantpur, KSR Bengaluru City, Kengeri, Bidadi, Ramanagaram, Channapatna, Maddur, Mandya, Pandavapura and Shrirangapattana.

Joint HADR Exercise commences at Naval Station Karwar in Karnataka

The Annual Joint Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Exercise, involving multiple agencies and being conducted by Indian Navy’s Western Naval Command, commenced at Naval Station Karwar in Karnataka yesterday morning.
Named as "Karavali Karunya", the exercise, which involves both both professional exchange and actual disaster response mechanisms, is set on a Tsunami disaster scenario and will continue till May 20, an official press release said.
In his keynote address, Rear Admiral K J Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding Karnataka Naval Area, welcomed the delegates from India and abroad and stressed on the requirements of coordination and synergy between civil-military agencies in the event of a disaster. 
Highlighting the requirements for preparations to tackle a tsunami disaster, he apprised the audience of the tsunamis in the Indian sub-continent with the last recorded on the west coast of India on 27 November 1945. He also highlighted the reduction in number of causalities during disasters post enactment of the Disaster Management Act 2005. 
Two first-hand accounts of actual Tsunami relief operations, in 2004, were presented by Rear Admiral Suraj Berry and Colonel Vikram Sharma, both from Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy), bringing out the real scenario of 2004 tsunami-hit areas in Sri Lanka and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, respectively. 
Speaking on the occasion, Lieutenant General N C Marwah (Retd), from National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) apprised the delegates on the role of NDMA and developments in the field of disaster management. He stressed on the importance of general knowledge among the citizens on basic natural disasters and first aid. He also apprised the audience of available standard operating procedures (SOPs) already laid out for various contingencies. 
The proceedings of the day also included setting up of Internally Displaced People camp and static display. The camp at Rabindranath Tagore Beach will be open to public from 3:00 pm today, the release added.

Aurangabad-Hyderabad passenger train derails near Bidar, no casualties

The 57440 Aurangabad-Hyderabad passenger train derailed near Bidar in Karnataka in the early hours of today, but there are no casualties, official sources said.
The derailment occurred at 0149 hours between Kalgupur and Bhalki stations in the Secunderabad Division of South Central Railway (SCR), they said.
The sources said the engine and four coaches of the train had derailed. They said no injuries had been reported and the affected section had been cleared for normal movement of traffic.
SCR sources said the eight unaffected coaches at the rear of the train had been moved to Kalgupur by 0545 hours. Some Karnataka State Transport buses had also been arranged to move the passengers of the derailed train to Kalgupur, they said.
Senior officials, including the SCR General Manager, had left for the scene of the mishap, they said.
A high-level committee, consisting of the SCR Chief Safety Officer,Chief Track Engineer, Chief Motive Power Engineer and Chief Traffic Manager, has been constituted to probe the derailment, the sources said.
The Railways have set up the following helpline numbers of providing information to the passengers and their relatives:
Hyderabad- 040-23200865
Bhalki-084842622209, 07899930073
Some trains were diverted, delayed, cancelled or partially cancelled as a result of the derailment, the sources added.
This is the third train derailment in the past four weeks on the Indian Railways. On April 15, eight coaches of the 22454 Meerut-Lucknow Rajya Rani Express derailed near Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, and at least two passengers suffered injuries.
On March 30, eight coaches of the Jabalpur-Hazrat Nizamuddin Mahakaushal Express had derailed near Mahoba in Uttar Pradesh, injuring at least 13 people.
At least 39 passengers died and 50 others suffered injuries when nine coaches and the engine of the 18438 Jungarh Road-Bhubaneswar link train portion of 18448 Jagdalpur-Jungarh Road-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh in the night of January 21.
At least 61 passengers suffered injuries when as many as 15 coaches of the 12987 Sealdah-Ajmer Express derailed near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh early in the morning of December 28, 2016.
On November 20, 2016, more than 120 people died and more than 200 suffered injuries when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed in Kanpur Dehat district of Uttar Pradesh.
These incidents have underlined the challenges that the Railways face on the passenger safety front.

Minor earthquake shakes Ramanagara region of Karnataka

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, shook the Ramanagara region, about 50 km south west of Bengaluru, in Karnataka this morning.
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 12.6 N and longitude 77.4 E, occurred at 0736 hours at a focal depth of 33 km.
Media reports said tremors were felt in Bengaluru and areas such as Mandya, Tumakuru and Kollegal.

Mukherjee to visit Karnataka, Maharashtra on April 14-15

President Pranab Mukherjee will pay a two-day visit to Karnataka and Maharashtra from tomorrow.
On April 14, the President will lay the foundation stone of Bengaluru Dr. BR Ambedkar School of Economics at Bengaluru in Karnataka, an official press release said.
On April 15, Mr. Mukherjee will award President’s Standard to Armoured Corps Centre and School Ahmedngar, Maharashtra, it added.

Drought & cyclone relief: Centre releases Rs. 1,712.10 crore for TN; Rs. 1,235.52 crore for Karnataka

The Central Government has sanctioned Rs. 1793.63 crore to Tamil Nadu for drought and cyclone relief and Rs.1,782.44 crore to Karnataka for drought relief from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).
An official press release said the step followed the receipt of detailed memoranda from these states. It said Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCT) were deputed to visit the drought affected areas for on-the-spot assessment of the calamity.
The High Level Committee (HLC) had recommended the quantum of assistance to the States based on the extant norms of assistance and the report of the IMCT.
A sum of Rs. 1447.99 crore has been released to Tamil Nadu after adjusting Rs. 345.64 crore available with the State as balance in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
For Karnataka, after adjusting Rs. 96.92 crore available with the State as balance in the SDRF and earlier release of Rs. 450 crore by the Central Government, sum of Rs. 1,235.52 crore has been released.
The release said the HLC had also advised the State Governments to take utmost care and ensure that all the individual beneficiary-oriented assistance are disbursed only through the bank account of the beneficiaries.
Further, the Central Government has released Rs. 264.11 crore from NDRF for providing the Central assistance to Tamil Nadu for the cyclonic storm ‘Vardha’ during December, 2016. This amount has been approved by the HLC on the basis of the report of the Inter-Ministerial Central Team sent by the Central Government to assess the damage.
These releases are over and above the releases made to States as devolution of 42% of Central Taxes as per the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission. For the year 2016-17, a sum of Rs. 6.08 lakh crore has been released to all States as devolution of Central Taxes. Tamil Nadu has received Rs. 24,538 crore and Karnataka has received Rs. 28,750 crore under devolution formula during 2016-17.
During 2016-17, the Central Government has also provided Rs. 48,869 crore to all the States as grant for Rural and Urban Local Bodies to primarily meet the requirement of basic necessities for people living in these areas.
For the benefit of farmers, Rs. 13,240 crore has been provided under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana (PMFBY) in 2016-17.
Also, Rs. 2,45,435 crore has been provided under the Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) for transfer to the States from the Central Government during 2016-17. This includes Rs. 47,499 crore for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) which is used for employment generation and water conservation works.
In view of onset of the summer season, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has instructed that, in the next three months, all the States should focus on water conservation related works by utilizing the funds available under various Schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) and MGNREGS.

BHEL commissions 800 MW supercritical thermal power plant in Karnataka

The public sector Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) today said it had  successfully commissioned yet another coal-based supercritical thermal unit of 800 MW in Karnataka. 
This is the second unit of the 2x800 MW Yeramarus Thermal Power Station located in Raichur district of Karnataka. The first unit of this power plant was commissioned earlier by BHEL in March, 2016, a press release from the company said.
"BHEL continues to prove its prowess as a leading supercritical power equipment manufacturer having assimilated state-of-the-art supercritical technology, suited to Indian conditions," it said.
The Yeramarus project has been developed by Raichur Power Corporation Limited (RPCL), a joint venture (JV) with equity participation from  Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) and BHEL
BHEL’s scope of work for the project envisaged design, engineering, manufacture, supply, erection and commissioning of state-of-the-art supercritical Boiler and Turbine Generators along with associated civil works and some of the Balance of Plant (BoP) packages.
The key equipment for the project was manufactured by BHEL at its Haridwar, Tiruchirappalli, Bhopal, Ranipet, Hyderabad, Jhansi and Bengaluru plants, while the construction of the plant was undertaken by the company's Power Sector - Southern Region.
BHEL accounts for about 96% of the installed coal-based power capacity in Karnataka, the release said. It is also presently executing KPCL's first gas-based combined cycle  power  project  of  370 MW capacity involving a fuel-efficient advanced-class gas turbine at Yelahanka.
"Supercritical units are more efficient, eco-friendly and consume lesser coal. BHEL is the leading power equipment manufacturer in the domestic market with orders for 48 sets of supercritical boilers and 41 sets of supercritical turbine generators placed by various utilities - the highest in the country for any power equipment manufacturer. Of the contracted sets, BHEL has already commissiond 13 supercritical Steam Generators and 11 supercritical Steam Turbine Generators in the country. These orders include orders from Central and State sectors as well as Private utilities," the release added.

Former External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna joins BJP

Former Foreign Minister S M Krishna joins BJP
Former External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna, who was a Congress heavyweight in Karnataka for long years, joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) here today and rededicated himself to the service of the nation under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.
"It has been a great journey and I have landed at an important stop in my onward journey in the service of the nation," he said at the BJP headquarters here after being formally welcomed into the party by Mr. Shah and other senior leaders.
He said he beleived that a "great India" would emerge under the leadership of Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah. "I am deeply humbled that I am joining a political party which has given lot to the country," he said.
Union Ministers Ananth Kumar and D. V. Sadananda Gowda, both senior Karnataka BJP leaders, were amongst those present on the occasion.
Mr. Krishna, 84, who has been in public life for more than five decades, had quit the Congress in January this year. He was reportedly unhappy about being ignored by the party's state and central leadership and felt the organisation no longer needed him.
Mr. Krishna, who has had an illustrious career in which he has served as Karnataka Chief Minister, External Affairs Minister and as the Governor of Maharashtra, said he had served the nation in various capacities at the state and the national level and pointed out that he had enjoyed cordial relations with top BJP leaders, especially former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"I must confess that he had a special fund of goodwill for me," he said, recalling his meetings with Mr. Vajpayee, who was the Prime Minister of the country when he was the Chief Minister of Karnataka.
Mr. Shah said Mr. Krishna had an untainted record in public life and his decision to join the BJP would not only strengthen the party in Karnataka and elsewhere, but also inspire all those believe in clean politics.
Mr. Krishna is a four-time member of the Lok Sabha from Mandya in Karnataka and served as Minister of State under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1983-84 and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1984-85. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1999 and 2008. He was also elected to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly and Karnataka Legislative Council at different times. He served as Speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly between 1989 and 1992 and later as Deputy Chief Minister. In 1999, he led the Congress to victory in the Assembly elections and became Chief Minister of the state, a position he held until 2004. Among other things, he is credited with helping Bangalore achieve the status of an IT hub.
After some time as Governor of Maharashtra, he was inducted into then Prime Minister's Cabinet as External Affairs in May 2009. He resigned from the Union Cabinet in October 2012, signalling his wish to return to state politics.
After Mr. Krishna quit the Congress in January, Karnatka BJP chief B. S. Yeddyurappa had said that he would join the party soon.

IIMB Healthcare Summit discusses ways of reaching the unreached

Challenges faced by the primary health care sector in terms of pricing and opportunities were discussed at Ayusmat, a summit organised by the first batch of General Management for Healthcare Executives (GMHE) of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) here today.
The GMHE, a certificate programme offered by IIMB’s Executive Education Programmes, is aimed at high performing individuals in the healthcare domain who are looking to transition from a functional role to a management role. This sectoral program has been designed and developed by IIMB in partnership with Apollo MedSkills, the skills arm of Apollo Hospitals.
A press release from IIMB said there was currently great diversity among healthcare institutions and modes of healthcare delivery. There is an increasing penetration of technology in direct service delivery as well as back-end operations. IT-enabled devices are beginning to form the backbone of contemporary healthcare. This transformation has created a need for a new breed of leaders and managers in the healthcare sector.
Emphasizing the role of business schools in healthcare in this context, Prof. Shankar Venkatagiri, Programme Director, GMHE and faculty at IIMB, said that there is a strong need for managerial excellence in helping extend the goodness of healthcare from urban to rural settings.
Inviting the speakers to address the ground realities of healthcare in India, Prof. Venkatagiri encouraged them to enlighten the audience on how technology can make healthcare affordable for India’s rural population.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. H Sudarshan, founder, Karuna Trust, who spoke about inclusive growth and emphasized the need for building partnerships between the public and private (profit and not-for-profit) institutions to address secondary and tertiary healthcare needs. 
“The core concept of this partnership is the constitutional guarantee of both parties which should address various issues such as cost of healthcare, provide healthcare choices and incentivize healthcare quality management,” he explained. 
Listing ways to reach the unreached, Dr. Sudarshan shed light on how the sector could ensure establishment of sub-healthcare centres and added that he was counting on the younger generation to help achieve an inclusive growth in the country’s healthcare scenario.
Dr. Sudarshan’s keynote address was followed by a panel discussion on Primary Healthcare:Financing and Pricing in India - Affordability and Accessibility. The panel comprised Dr. Nandakumar Jairam, Chairman, Columbia Asia; Dr. Mudit Saxena, CEO, Care Hospitals; Dr. B S Ajai Kumar, Chairman, HCG; Vishal Bali, Chairman, Medwell Ventures and Asia Head - TPG Growth; and Shashank ND, CEO, Practo. This discussion was moderated by Dr. Pulijala Srinivasa Rao, CEO, ApolloMedskills.
Dr. Ajai Kumar pointed out that India has now become the global destination for medical treatment. “India is the cheapest healthcare provider in the world. So now the next step is how to improve on the existing facilities. Government has to bridge the gap between those who are well-to-do and those who are not, and also boost the country’s GDP. The profits of government regulations and government insurance schemes should reach the right people. We have to pay for quality healthcare, hence private enterprises need to be encouraged. Corrective measures are needed so that the real needy people are the beneficiaries of government policies in the healthcare sector.”
Dr. Saxena highlighted that the number of doctors, nurses, beds and investment too, are inversely proportional to the vast needs of a country as populous as India. Moreover, registered practitioners are mostly in urban India. The emerging innovative models such as homecare, cloud-based services, and so on, along with price control and R&D, can address many challenges faced by healthcare providers and boost the profitability and sustainability of the players in the healthcare segment in India, he said.
Dr. Jairam said that lack of political will has been a hindrance in the sector. Government needs to make greater investments in healthcare. However, it is not just about pumping money, but the manner in which funding happens which is important. Government funding needs to be insurance driven. With a larger volume, private insurance will be sustainable.
“Low quality care is no care at all. Appropriate care is invaluable. Social part of health insurance is not sustainable. By increasing spends on insurance, government can increase occupational productivity too," he said.
He touched the audience deeply when he admitted that trust in the sector has to be restored for healthcare services to improve. “Healthcare services need to become transparent and accountable. An appropriate model of governing healthcare, with a high level of ethics, is a must. Ethics is important, but do not compare ethics with cost of care," he said.
Mr. Bali pointed out that the healthcare market is underpenetrated, considering the high investments in the sector and the evolving market. Higher affordability needs to be built, along with widening the number of people who are covered. “We need to use the capital to create more viable investment and healthcare opportunities. Investors will shy away from the sector if there is no profitability. This is the time for innovation - the market is huge, hence use capital productively and effectively, ensure profitability, keep raising the bar and build your enterprise,” he suggested.
Mr. Shashank shed light on his learnings about technology in healthcare. “According to Practo’s finding, healthcare is largely sustainable only in India’s top 10 cities. The urban-rural divide with respect to healthcare is vast and we aim to bridge this gap by using technology to reach the remote areas of the country, and by making doctors accessible to the rural population,” he said.
The afternoon session had a panel discussion on Predictive: Impact of Big Data and AI towards Patient Care. The panelists were Rama Chandra Dash, Head, Watson Health at IBM; Dr. Satish Rath, Healthcare Research Head, Conduent Labs; Rama Nadimpalli, GM, Cerner India; Kumar KV, IT Head, Narayana Health, and Dr. Ruchi Dass, MD, Healthcursor Consulting. This discussion was moderated by Dr. Ananth N Rao, GM - Operations, Apollo Hospitals. Rama Nadimpalli, GM, Cerner India, started the discussion by emphasizing how having a robust data platform is inevitable for med-tech. 
Mr. Kumar spoke about how health IT is a sector that was not much invested in, and how it is slowly beginning to pick up now. He also spoke about how the Government must raise awareness and encourage healthcare institutions to adopt Electronic Medical Records. He went on to talk about protecting healthcare big data and the role of privacy from infrastructural and application standpoints.
Mr. Dash spoke about how IT infrastructure used to be a constraint in India before, not anymore. “The quality and quantity of data is going to determine the cost of treatment.  The focus for start-ups should be to provide solutions. In order to be able to offer solutions, start-ups need a robust platform,” he said, advising healthcare entrepreneurs to adopt API based platforms with access to cloud.
Dr. Rath focused on the nature of data and shared some insights on how analytics helped to boost administration and clinician efficiencies. He also took the conversation to an interesting turn when he spoke about Aadhar. He said that the use of Aadhaar (Unique Identification Numbers) in the Indian healthcare system would revolutionize the way healthcare is rendered to citizens. “Data input as well has become considerably easy due to smartphone penetration,” he said.
Dr. Dass spoke about the digital trail that consumers leave behind. She spoke about how whatever transaction people carry out on the web, they leave behind some data. “There are a lot of new concepts coming up in the healthcare space every day. Despite this, Indian healthcare is suffering from ‘no data’ and ‘bad data’,” she added.
The third panel comprised Gautam Khanna, CEO, Hinduja Hospitals; Dr. K S Gopinath, Surgical Oncologist, HCG; Dr. Jagdish Chaturvedi, Director, Innaccel Acceleration Services; Prakash Iyer, VP, Healthcare Solutions, TATA Communications; Guruprasad S, Head, Healthcare, Bosch India and Dr. Sandhya Mandlekar, Head, PCO, Biocon, Bristol-Myers Squibb Research Center. The discussion was themed on Progressive: Untapped Potential of Prescriptive & Preventive Care.

Water jet fast attack craft INS Tillanchang commissioned at Karwar

INS Tillanchang, a water jet fast attack craft (WJFAC), was commissioned into the Indian Navy by Vice-Admiral Girish Luthra, the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, at Karwar today.
INS Tillanchang is the third ship of four follow-on WJFAC built by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata. The first two ships of the class, IN ships Tarmugli and Tihayu were commissioned in 2016 and are based at Visakhapatnam. 
The ship has been indigenously designed and built and is an upgrade from the Chetlat class of fast attack craft that the Indian Navy possesses, an official press release said.
Vice-Admiral Luthra said that these ships play a vital role in light of security environment in the country and are designed to take on both conventional and asymmetric threats.  He said Tillanchang was able to achieve the fastest speeds among all WJ FACs during the speed trials.  
INS Tillanchang is about 50 m long and powered by three waterjet propulsion system, which give it speeds of over 35 knots. The ship is armed with a 30 mm main gun and a number of light, medium and heavy machine guns to undertake operations at sea. It is manned by 50 personnel. 
"Tillanchang, commanded by Commander Adit Patnaik, is an ideal platform for a number of missions like Coastal and Off-shore Surveillance, EEZ Control, Law Enforcement as well as non-military missions such as Search and Rescue, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief," the release said.
INS Tillanchang will be based at Karwar under the operational control of the Flag Officer Commanding, Karnataka Naval Area, it added.

11th biennial edition of Aero India 2017 takes off at Bengaluru

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar inaugurated the 11th biennial edition of International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition and declared the Aero India 2017 open at Air Force Station, Yelahanka here today.
This year's edition of Aero India, for the first time, combines the defence and civil aviation segments into a holistic event with the involvement of the Ministries of Defence and Civil Aviation.
Mr. Parrikar said this edition of Aero India would witness the emerging dynamism of defence manufacturing in India, especially the rising role of Indian defence industry. He further stated that the government is committed to creating an enabling environment for a domestic ecosystem of defence manufacturing, the results of which were already visible. 
“The defence public sector undertakings are being revitalized and encouraged. Government has also taken several initiatives for ease of doing business for private firms and additional initiatives are underway to support the role of private sector in defence manufacturing," he said.
Minister for Civil Aviation P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju speaking at the occasion highlighted that India was the fastest growing aviation sector in passenger terms in the world and held tremendous potential to graduate from the present position of being ninth in the world to being the third largest by 2022. 
The inaugural address was followed by three Mi-17 helicopters flying past the dais in formation carrying the Indian, the Air Force and the Aero India flags. 
The air show will see the first ever public display of Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) and the handing over by DRDO of the first indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&CS) aircraft, the Embraer ERJ-145, in the Initial Operational Clearance configuration to the Indian Air Force. 
The air show witnessed a flypast by the Make in India formation consisting of HTT-40, Hawk-i, Dornier-228, Su-30MKI and the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft. This was followed by the fighters tearing through the skies displaying a host of aerobatic manoeuvres – the Su 30 MKI followed by Sweden’s SAAB Gripen, Tejas LCA, the American F-16 Falcon and the French Rafale. 
The Yakovlev aerobatic team, the Skycats, the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team and the Sarang helicopter display team enthralled the spectators with their performance. 
Another unique feature of this air show was the 20-minute sortie by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, who flew in the Tejas LCA Trainer during the day. 
Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, the three service chiefs, Karnataka Industry Minister R. V. Deshpande, Secretary, Defence Production,  and delegates from several foreign countries were present during the inaugural function.
As many as 549 companies are participating in the event and 53 aircraft will be on display.

ASCI, Hyderabad & Central University, Jammu sign MoU

The Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), Hyderabad and the Central University of Jammu have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote collaborative academic, research and capacity-building initiatives for a period of three years.
The MoU was signed by yesterday by Mr Kalyan K. Roy, Registrar on behalf of ASCI and Mr. Mohammad Iqbal, Registrar, Central University, Jammu in the presence of Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions Jitendra Singh.
Also present on the occasion were ASCI Director General R.H. Khwaja  and Prof. Ashok Aima, Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Jammu.
Secretary, Department of Personnel & Training B.P. Sharma, Mr C. Viswanath, Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances and Secretary, Department of Pensions & Pensioners’ Welfare also present.
An official press release said the MoU would facilitate joint activities and synergy in areas such as capacity building, evaluation studies, executive education and related areas. These include activities such as design, development and delivery of teaching and training programmes; reciprocal recognition of each other’s degrees, diplomas and certificates.
It also envisages exchange of teaching staff and students/participants for knowledge and experience-sharing and new learning; policy advocacy and research studies; sharing of academic materials, literature, publications etc; and knowledge events such as conferences, seminars, workshops etc.

Inequality is the number one risk: Vice-President Ansari

Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari has  termed inequality as the number one risk because it is associated with a rise in populism and threatens the cohesiveness of countries.
Delivering the inaugural address at the first edition of the Huddle, a three-day conclave organised by The Hindu newspaper here yesterday, Mr Ansari said that to enjoy the ‘freedom of,’ there is a requirement first for certain ‘freedom from’.
To survive with dignity, humans require both ‘freedom from want’ and ‘freedom from fear’, he added.
In advance of the world’s financial and economic elite going to Davos for their annual meeting, the World Economic Forum publishes its Global Risks Report, Mr Ansari said.
“The 2017 edition highlights some risks facing the global system and places the issue of income inequality as the number one risk because it is associated with a rise in populism and threatens the cohesiveness of countries. It describes the present as ‘a febrile time for the world.’
“Four earlier annual editions of the Report had similarly identified rising inequality among the top four global risks. It is therefore not surprising that reducing inequality is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.
The Vice-President said that the improving living standards, in segments, have perhaps masked a dramatic concentration of income and wealth over the last 30 years.
The richest 1% in India owned nearly 60% of the country’s total wealth, with the top 20% commanding 80%. The bottom half of Indians by contrast, collectively own only 2% of the national wealth, he added.
The Vice-President said that rising inequality can lead to conflict, both at social and at national level and the growing threat of left extremism, which has been repeatedly acknowledged as the gravest security threat to the Indian state, has its roots in economic deprivation and inequality in access to resources.
The time has come to move the development discourse of inequality beyond the current discussion of outcomes and opportunities. The concepts of justice and fairness are tied to the idea of equity in development, he added.
Mr Ansari said that to view rising inequity as merely an inconvenient truth in the saga of India’s shining future would therefore be a folly.  Without equality, there is unlikely to be much of a future, let alone a shining one.
In conclusion, the Vice President raised some uncomfortable questions about inequity, failure of trickle-down growth, environmental damage, conflicts, intolerance and improving investments in public goods.

Health Ministry launches single vaccine for measles, rubella

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the Measles Rubella (MR) vaccination campaign in the country at a function here today as part of which a single vaccine will be introduced for dual protection against the two diseas under the Universal Immunisation Programme.
An official press release said the campaign against the two diseases would start form five States and Union Territories -- Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Goa and Lakshadweep -- covering nearly 3.6 crore target children. 
Following the campaign, Measles-Rubella vaccine will be introduced in routine immunization, replacing the currently given two doses of measles vaccine, at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age, it said.
The initiative was launched in the presence Union Minister for Statistics and Programme Implementation Sadananda Gowda, Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Chemicals & Fertilizers Ananth Kumar and Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Faggan Singh Kulaste.
Dr Sharanaprakash Rudrappa Patil, Minister of Medical Education, Karnataka, Mr. K.R. Ramesh Kumar, State Health Minister, Karnataka and well-known Kannada actor Ramesh Arvind were also present on the occasion.
The dignitaries also launched the communication material on the campaign to help raise awareness about the initiative. 
Mr. Kulaste stated the Government was committed to eradicating measles and rubella from the country. “We have taken this as an achievable target. This shall be taken up in a mission mode and rolled out in partnership with States , NGOs and development partners such as WHO, UNICEF, Gates Foundation, Lions Club, IPA, IMA, etc. In the nationwide campaign, the Ministry will reach out to and cover 41 crore children in the age group of 9 months – 15 years,” he said.
He urged parents, caregivers, community leaders, teachers, anganwaadi workers and other frontline health workers to become an active part of the campaign. 
The release said the MR campaign would target around 41 crore children across the country, the largest ever in any campaign. All children aged between 9 months and less than 15 years will be given a single shot of MR vaccination irrespective of their previous measles/rubella vaccination status or measles/rubella disease status. 
The vaccine will be provided free-of-cost across the states from session sites at schools as well as health facilities and outreach session sites. Measles vaccine is currently provided under Universal Immunization Programme (UIP). However, rubella vaccine will be a new addition. After the completion of the campaign, MR vaccine will be introduced in routine immunization and will replace measles vaccine, given at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age of child. 
Measles is a deadly disease and one of the important causes of death in children. It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing of an infected person. Measles can make a child vulnerable to life threatening complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and brain infection. Globally, in 2015, measles killed an estimated 1, 34,200 children—mostly under-5 years. In India, it killed an estimated 49,200 children, the release said.
Rubella is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which is a cause of public health concern. CRS is characterized by congenital anomalies in the foetus and newborns affecting the eyes (glaucoma, cataract), ears (hearing loss), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation) and heart defects, causing a huge socio-economic burden on the families in particular and society in general. 
In 2010, an estimated 1,03,000 children were born with CRS (congenital rubella syndrome) globally, of which around 47,000 children, i.e. 46% were in South-East Asia Region. Through implementation of rubella vaccination strategies the incidence of rubella has been substantially reduced in many countries. Although coverage for measles (MCV-1) vaccination is high, the country population immunity is insufficient to stop ongoing MR transmission as evident form surveillance data. Through this campaign, it is aimed to rapidly build up immunity in the susceptible cohort, thereby decreasing the disease burden in the country. 
The measles disease burden was brought down by introduction of second dose of measles vaccine in 2010. For this introduction, supplementary immunization Activity (SIA) was conducted in 14 states (2010-13) with less than equal to 80% measles coverage. The remaining states introduced measles second dose directly in routine immunization.
"However, those gain need to be supplemented, and in order to further reduce the burden, country is going to carry out the Measles-Rubella campaign," the release said.
"Measles immunization directly contributes to the reduction of under-five child mortality, and with combination of rubella vaccine, will control rubella and prevent CRS in country population. Given the wide target group of the vaccination campaign, schools and educational institutions will play a critical role, and will require partnership from multiple stakeholders at all levels," it added.
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