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Rahul takes Rafale battle to HAL doors

Taking the Rafale battle to the doors of HAL, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that the Modi government has "insulted, hurt and destroyed" the future of the public sector undertaking by depriving it of the offset contract with the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault.

 
Rahul Gandhi interacts with HAL employees in Bengaluru
Taking the Rafale battle to the doors of HAL, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that the Modi government has "insulted, hurt and destroyed" the future of the public sector undertaking by depriving it of the offset contract with the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault.
 
In an hour-long interaction with about 100 former and present employees of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), who were directed by the management to keep away from it, he also questioned the credibility and the experience of the private company that got the Rs 30,000 crore offset contract.
 
Gandhi said firms such as HAL, ISRO and DRDO were the "temples of modern India" which were being "destroyed" by the Modi government that was indulging in corruption. 
 
"A very senior person in the government has raised questions over the 'capacity' of HAL. I ask them as to what is the capacity of Anil Ambani's company that has got the contract? What exactly is the experience this person has (in aeronautics)? The HAL's capabilities are all in front of us. You (HAL) have built HF-24, MiGs, Sukhoi and Tejas. The public sector is the backbone of the country and the defence sector," Gandhi said.
 
He said it was "completely ridiculous" to say that HAL does not have any experience. The person who got the contract has zero experience. 
 
"Does HAL have debt? No. But the person who got the contract has Rs 45,000 crore debt," he added.
 
Gandhi said, "You are the only company with the requisite experience to build that aircraft (Rafale). You are the people who built Tejas, MiG, Sukhoi. How can anybody say that you are not experienced? The forces trying to take away your future are quite powerful, quite connected," he said, adding that concerted efforts would be needed to save HAL and other public sector companies.
 
"I have come to give a message that we are going to protect your future. We are going to fight for your rights. Rafale is your right. The decision (to give offset contract) should be done only on merit. Nobody in the world who thinks objectively and takes decisions on merit can take away the offset contract from HAL."
 
He said when the Congress comes to power at the Centre its government would ensure that HAL got more orders to make aircraft. "We will not allow this government or anyone to destroy HAL or take away orders from it.
 
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Referring to the circular directing employees to keep away from the interaction with him, Gandhi said the management must have been under "pressure" from the government but "we are fighting for you too".
 
He said the HAL fraternity has been insulted and hurt. "Their hard work of the last 78 years, their patriotism, has been insulted and questioned by the government through the Defence Ministry. The gentleman who has got the contract has worked only for 12 days. The temples of modern India are being destroyed," the Congress President said.
 
Taking a jibe at the media, he said: "You (HAL employees) called me here because you feel the media is not listening to your voice. But media does not listen even to us these days. The media bosses don't want these types of conversations."
 
Gandhi said he was 100 per cent with the employees of the defence public sector undertakings and told them they were free to call him anytime 24/7 to voice their grievances. 
 
Replying to questions by reporters on Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying that the government of India had no role in deciding the offset partner, the Congress chief said the defence minister was "lying". 
 
"The former president of France (Francois Hollande) has said that the Government of India told him to give the contract to Ambani. Documentation has also come out that Dassault has said this."
 
Before interacting with the employees, Gandhi said "We are in opposition but if there is something we can do to help you we would like to do it. When we come to government we would like to do even more aggressively."
 
Mirajuddin, a former trade union leader of HAL, said the company was capable of manufacturing Rafale in India and they were agitated over the offset contract going to a private company. 
 
"We felt let down...we were not only surprised but felt insulted. We are not begging. We are demanding that our rights based on merit should be protected," he said.
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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Yeddyurappa gets ready for cliffhanger trust vote

The BJP government led by B.S. Yeddyurappa faces a crucial trust vote on Saturday in the Karnantaka Assembly that began its new session with MLAs taking oath with numbers stacked against the ruling party on its own.

BJP's chief ministerial candidate B. S. Yeddyurappa speaking to journalists after being elected to the Karnataka Assembly from Shikaripura, in Bengaluru on May 15, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
BJP's chief ministerial candidate B. S. Yeddyurappa speaking to journalists after being elected to the Karnataka Assembly from Shikaripura, in Bengaluru on May 15, 2018. (Photo: IANS)
The BJP government led by B.S. Yeddyurappa faces a crucial trust vote on Saturday in the Karnantaka Assembly that began its new session with MLAs taking oath with numbers stacked against the ruling party on its own.
 
Governor Vajubhai Vala convened the 15th Karnataka Assembly in the Vidhana Soudha here that began with the newly-elected legislators taking oath. Pro tem Speaker K.G. Bopaiah conducted the proceedings.
 
Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa was the first to take oath followed by Congress legislature party leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Janata Dal-Secular's (JD-S) legislature party leader H.D. Kumaraswamy.
 
Legislators of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress and JD-S were administered the oath in pairs starting with the BJP, followed by that of the Congress and JD-S as per the number of seats they all got in the bitterly fought May 12 election.
 
Among the prominent legislators present in the House were BJP leaders like former Deputy Chief Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, B. Sreeramulu, Congress legislators D.K. Shivakumar, R.V. Deshpande, M.B. Patil, Shamanuru Shivashankarappa, and JD-S lawmakers G.T. Devegowda and H.D.Revanna.
 
The oath-taking of all the legislators will be completed before 4 p.m. for Bopaiah to conduct a floor test in the House to ascertain if Yeddyurappa has majority in the hung Assembly, as directed by the Supreme Court on Friday.
 
If the opposition legislators insist on the division of votes, the pro tem Speaker will ask the members who are in favour of the motion to vote first and those against it soon after.
 
The May 12 election across the state in 222 constituencies of the 225-member assembly, including one nominated, threw up a hung House, with no party securing majority. The nominated member is yet to be decided and polls in two constituencies were deferred.
 
Yeddyurappa requires the 112-halfway mark to win the motion or one more than the half of the members present when the floor test is conducted in the House with an effective strength of 222.
 
Of the 222 seats, the BJP won 104, Congress 78, JD-S, 37 and one each by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Karnataka Pragnyavantha Janatha Party (KPJP) and an Independent.
 
As the single largest party, the BJP is eight short of the 112-halfway mark in the House.
 
As Kumaraswamy won from both Channapatna and Ramanagaram segments, the party's effective strength in the House is 36 as he can cast his vote only once.
 
Though the Governor directed Yeddyurappa to seek a vote of confidence on the floor of the House within 15 days from the date of assumption of office as the Chief Minister (May 17), a three-judge bench of the top court ordered the floor test on Saturday, rejecting his plea for a week's time to prove his majority.
 
IANS
 
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BJP takes early lead as counting of votes progresses in Karnataka elections

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took an early lead as counting of votes began in the crucial elections to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly this morning.

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The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took an early lead as counting of votes began in the crucial elections to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly this morning.
 
As early counting trends became available, the BJP, which is hoping to regain power after a gap of five years, was ahead in 44 of the 86 seats from where figures were available, the Election Commission said on its website.
 
The ruling Congress was leading in 25, while the Janata Dal (Secular), headed by former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda, which is expected to play a crucial role in case neither party gets a clear majority, was leading in 17 seats.
 
Polling was held on May 12 for 222 of the 224 elected seats in the 225-member Assembly. One member of the House is nominated.
 
Polling in the Rajarajeshwari Nagar constituency in Bengaluru has been postponed to May 28 following the discovery of about 10,000 voter ID cards in a flat in the area and was countermanded in the Jayanagar constituency in the city after the death of the BJP candidadte, B. N. Vijayakumar.
 
In all, 2,654 candidates are in the fray, including 219 women. They include 222 candidates each from the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is making a strong bid to regain power after a gap of five years. The Janata Dal (S), headed by former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda, which is expected to play a key role in case neither of the two main contestants gets a clear majority, has fielded 201 candidates. There are about 800 candidates put up by various other national and regional parties and as many as 1,155 independent candidates.
 
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is contesting from two seats -- Chamundeshwari in Mysuru and Badami in Bagalkot district.
 
The BJP's chief ministerial candidate B. S. Yeddyurappa is in the fray from Shikaripura in Shivamogga district, while JD (S) state president and former Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy is contesting from Ramanagara and Channapatna seats.
 
Siddaramaiah has fielded his son Yatindra from his hometown Varuna in Mysuru district. 
 
A record 72.36 percent of the 50.7 million electors had exercised their franchise in the polling on May 12.
 
The results of the Karnataka elections are crucial in that both the Congress and the BJP will see a win in the state as a major morale booster ahead of the Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram later this year and, of course, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
No government in Karnataka has been re-elected to office since Ramakrishna Hegde managed the feat at the head of the Janata Party government way back in 1985.
 
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High-voltage Karnataka battle ends, millions vote

A high-stake battle for the Karnataka Assembly ended on Saturday evening, with around 30 million voting in an election crucial for the ruling Congress as well as the BJP and the JD-S.

 
First time voters in Karnataka share their expectations
 
 
A high-stake battle for the Karnataka Assembly ended on Saturday evening, with around 30 million voting in an election crucial for the ruling Congress as well as the BJP and the JD-S.
 
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he was "very very confident" that the Congress would retain power in the only major southern state it now rules as officials said more than 60 per cent of the over 5.06-crore electorate had voted till 6 p.m.
 
"Voting has been peaceful by and large barring a few incidents of some non-functional EVMs, missing voter names and procedural delays," an official told IANS.
 
All three main contenders for power -- the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) -- claimed they would win hands down.
 
The BJP's Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa was among the first to vote at Shikaripura in Shivamogga district. He has claimed that the BJP will secure 140-150 seats and that he will invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his swearing in.
 
Siddaramaiah ridiculed him after voting on Saturday, saying the BJP leader was "mentally disturbed" and that the Congress was sure of bagging more than 120 seats.
 
JD-S chief and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, his wife Chennamma and second son H.D. Revanna cast their votes in their hometown Holenarsipura in Hassan district.
 
"We expect a possibility of forming the government as we have done well to get a majority," Deve Gowda told reporters.
 
Many in Bengaluru lined up outside polling centres since 6.30 a.m. to beat the early rush.
 
Polling in Bengaluru's Raja Rajeshwari Nagar segment has been postponed to May 28 following the discovery of voter ID cards and cancelled in the city's Jayanagar seat following the death of BJP contestant B.N. Vijaya Kumar.
 
In all, voting is being conducted in 26 of the 28 constituencies in the city.
 
Karnataka has over 5.06 crore electors, including 2.6 crore men and 2.5 crore women. A total of 15.42 lakh voters, aged 18-19, have registered for the first time.
 
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The highest number of voters (6.03 lakh) are in Bengaluru South and the lowest (1.7 lakh) at Sringeri in Chikkamagaluru district.
 
Polling is being held in 58,008 stations in 30 districts, with 600 of them dubbed 'pink booths', overseen by women personnel. Over 1.5 lakh security personnel have been deployed.
 
The vote count will take place on May 15.
 
In all, 2,654 candidates are in the fray, including 219 women. A total of 222 are from the Congress and BJP each, 201 from JD-S, 1,155 Independents and 800 from other national, regional and fringe parties. About 450 contestants are in the battle from Bengaluru.
 
Siddaramaiah is contesting from Chamundeshwari at Mysuru and Badami in Bagalkot district.
 
BJP's Lok Sabha member from Ballari B.R. Sriramaulu, contesting from two seats including Badami and Molakamuru (reserved) seat in Chitradurga district, on Saturday worshipped a cow and visited temples before voting.
 
JD-S state president and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy is in the fray from Ramanagara and Channapatna seats. BJP state unit President Yeddyurappa is contesting from Shikaripura in Shivamogga district.
 
Siddaramaiah has fielded his son Yatindra from his hometown Varuna in Mysuru district.
 
IANS
 
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Brisk voting underway in Karnataka Assembly polls

Voting began on Saturday on a brisk note across Karnataka to elect its 15th Legislative Assembly for a five-year term.

 
Voting begins in Karnataka Assembly Elections
 
 
Voting began on Saturday on a brisk note across Karnataka to elect its 15th Legislative Assembly for a five-year term.
 
"Peaceful polling is being held in 222 of the 224 constituencies, including 36 segments reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SC), 15 for Scheduled Tribes (ST) under tight security," an official told IANS here.
 
Denizens of Bengaluru were seen lined up outside polling booths from 6.30 a.m. to beat the rush in casting their ballots as voting began at 7 a.m.
 
Polling in Bengaluru's Raja Rajeshwari (RR) Nagar segment has been postponed to May 28 following the voter ID cards case and countermanded in the city's Jayanagar seat following the death of BJP contestant B.N. Vijaya Kumar on May 4.
 
In all, voting is being conducted across 26 of the 28 constituencies in the city.
 
During the initial hour of voting, there were reports of electronic voting machines (EVMs) malfunctioning in some booths; power crisis in a polling station in Rajajinagar seat; voters' names missing at few booths and women clad in burqa made to reveal their faces at a Belagavi polling booth -- that led to a few hiccups.
 
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Chief Ministerial face B.S. Yeddyurappa was among the first to cast his vote in Shikaripura segment in Shivamogga district of Malnad region.
 
The state has over 5.06 crore voters, including 2.56 crore men, 2.5 crore women and over 5,000 who identify themselves as the third gender.
 
A total of 15.42 lakh voters, aged 18-19, have registered to cast their ballot for the first time.
 
Voting is being held in 58,008 polling stations of 30 districts across the state, with 600 of them as pink booths, manned by all-women personnel, and 28 ethnic booths.
 
Over 1.5 lakh personnel have been stationed across the state for the election, with paramilitary forces from 585 state and central companies at 20,826 polling booths, including 12,001 critical booths.
 
Voting will continue till 6 p.m. and votes will be counted on May 15. 
 
IANS
 
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Congress, BJP lock horns in Karnataka's triangular poll contest

The ruling Congress and the opposition BJP have locked horns to outsmart each other in the Karnataka assembly election on Saturday, with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) making the contest triangular.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi and BJP President Amit Shah addressing press conference on the last day of campaigning for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections, in Bengaluru on May 11, 2018.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi and BJP President Amit Shah addressing press conference on the last day of campaigning for the May 12 Karnataka Assembly elections, in Bengaluru on May 11, 2018.
The ruling Congress and the opposition BJP have locked horns to outsmart each other in the Karnataka assembly election on Saturday, with the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) making the contest triangular.
 
As the only assembly poll being held in the peak summer, wth temperatures soaring, the battle royal at the hustings has the nation glued to the southern state where the stakes are high for both the national parties whose prospects the JD-S can make or mar as a kingmaker or spoiler in a fractured verdict.
 
"If the Congress is desperate to retain power defying anti-incumbency, the BJP is impatient to return to power in south India after losing badly five years ago, while the JD-S wages a lone battle to play a key role in the new government formation," a poll analyst told IANS on Friday ahead of D-day.
 
Single-phase polling will be held across the state in 223 assembly segments, including 36 reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and 15 for the Scheduled Tribes (STs) candidates. The election in south Bengaluru's Jayanagar constituency was countermanded following the death of BJP's candidate B.N. Vijayakumar on May 4. One member is nominated in the 225-member assembly.
 
A total of 4.97-crore electorate includes 2.52-crore men and 2.45-crore women. They will cast their ballots in 56,696 polling booths across the state amidst tight security, with 45,000 personnel from 585 the central and state forces deployed.
 
"In all, 2,654 candidates are in the fray, including 219 women; 222 are from the Congress, 222 from BJP, 201 from JD-S, 1,155 Independents and about 800 from other national, regional and fringe parties," state Chief Electoral Officer Sanjiv Kumar told IANS after scrutiny and withdrawals on April 27.
 
With the largest number (28) of assembly seats in a district, Bengaluru will witness a battle of sorts as 449 contestants, including 37 women, are in the race.
 
Though the Congress returned to power in 2013 after losing the mandate in the 2004 and 2008 elections, it is betting on the 'performance" of its government, under Siddaramaiah, the only Chief Minister to have completed a five-year term 40 years after the party's legendary Devaraj Urs in 1978.
 
"When the votes are counted on May 15, we will know if the Siddaramaiah-led Congress is lucky to beat anti-incumbency and return power as no outgoing party could do over the last four decades," the analyst said.
 
As the second among the six southern states to be in power besides Puducherry, the Congress has been sweating out to hold on to Karnataka, as its outcome will decide not only Siddaramaiah's fate, but also the fortunes of his party's new president, Rahul Gandhi, who took over the mantle from his mother Sonia Gandhi in mid-December 2017.
 
"More than Gandhi, the party's state unit leaders are anxious to win the election at any cost so that they could credit it to him (Rahul) for leading the party to victory and revive its fortunes for the 2019 general elections," said Pradeep Puranik, a poll pandit in this tech hub.
 
According to Congress state unit vice-president B.K. Chandrashekar, the ruling party would get 115 seats, which are more than the halfway mark (113) and will retain power.
 
"Our welfare schemes like Indira canteens, 7 kg free rice per person for every household, free milk to school students and free education to girls up to post-graduation will work in our favour, with large number of women wanting to vote. We are confident of getting majority," Chandrashekar told IANS.
 
In contrast, the BJP has pulled all stops to free Karnataka also from the Congress yoke and consolidate its position for its expansion south of the Vindhyas.
 
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The BJP declared its popular Lingayat leader, B.S. Yedduyurappa, as its chief ministerial nominee even before the elections were announced on March 27 although he was responsible for its defeat in the 2013 poll after he left it and formed the Karnataka Janata Paksha (KJP), which split its votes.
 
The 75-year-old veteran politician, however, returned to BJP in early 2014, was elected to the Lok Sabha from his home district Shivamogga in the Malnad region and was made its state unit president for leading it in the crucial assembly polls.
 
Yeddurappa was also the party's first Chief Minister in south India for three years from May 2008 to July 2011, when he was forced to resign following his indictment by the state's anti-graft watchdog (Lokayukta) in the multi-crore mining scam that rocked Karnataka for over a decade (2001-11).
 
"We are hopeful of getting majority due to palpable anti-incumbency against the Congress. We are confident of a decisive mandate to form the government on our own strength and without the support of other parties, as coalitions have failed in the past," BJP spokesperson Malavika Avinash told IANS.
 
The BJP and Yeddyurappa were beneficiaries of a 'sympathy wave' in the 2008 assembly election after coalition partner JD-S withdrew support to them in November 2007, resulting in President's rule for six months.
 
The BJP is also betting on the 'popularity' of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the development model of its NDA government at the Centre over the past four years to again upstage the Congress and JD-S this time.
 
Modi campaigned extensively across the state with 21 rallies over five days from May 1-9 and drew huge crowds with his extempore speeches in Hindi that were translated into Kannada for the benefit of the local people.
 
The JD-S, on the other hand, has been working overtime to win the poll battle on the plank of being a regional party that alone takes care of the people in the face of national parties letting down the state on all fronts.
 
"We will be single largest party with more number of seats, followed by the BJP and the Congress. With the help of Independents, we will form the next government, as the people want a local party like ours to be in power this time, as the national parties have deceived them," JD-S spokesman Ramesh Babu told IANS.
 
IANS
 
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RSS trying to crush Karnataka's spirit: Rahul

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh of trying to crush the spirit of the people of Karnataka and said the Congress will win Saturday's Assembly polls hands down.

 
BJP doesn't understand meaning of term 'Hindu': Rahul Gandhi
 
 
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of trying to crush the spirit of the people of Karnataka and said the Congress will win Saturday's Assembly polls hands down.
 
Gandhi, who addressed a press conference here on the last day of campaigning, said that the Karnataka polls were not just between two political parties but between two ideologies. 
 
He alleged that the RSS was imposing its idea of oneness and was against the people of Karnataka to express themselves. 
 
"There is an idea in India that says the entire country must be ruled with one idea, one imposition and everybody must submit to that idea. That is what RSS is trying to do. Institution after institution is being attacked by the RSS," he said. 
 
"Supreme Court judges for the first time are asking people for justice. The reason for this is because the RSS is placing its people everywhere. My friends in Karnataka listen to this carefully. The idea is to crush your spirit. We will never ever allow your spirit and ideas of Basavanna to be crushed," he said 
 
The Congress President also ruled out the possibility of a hung assembly in the state. 
 
"I am pretty clear that there is going to be one outcome here which is the Congress party winning the elections hands down," Gandhi said. 
 
"On one side you have the RSS idea of one concept in the whole country. On the other, you have an idea that every single person in the country should be able to express himself, that all my friends in Karnataka should have pride in their language, in their food. That is what this fight has become. There is no half-way answer possible in this," he noted. 
 
Gandhi said the media had estimated only a few seats to Congress in Gujarat but the party came very close to defeating the BJP whose campaign was spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
 
"In Gujarat, my friends in the media said Congress will not get more than 20-30 seats. Congress came very close to defeating BJP. The Prime Minister put whatever effort he could," he added. 
 
IANS
 
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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.
 
NNN
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Modi says defence public sector companies have to perform better

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that it would no longer be enough for India to buy defence equipment from abroad and simply assemble them in the country and made it clear that the public sector needed to improve its performance in this sector.

 
Modi inaugurates Aero India-2015, says India reforming defence policies
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said it would no longer be enough for India to buy defence equipment from abroad and simply assemble them in the country and made it clear that the public sector needed to improve its performance in this sector.
 
"We have been doing this in the past, without absorbing any technology or developing our own capabilities. In some areas, we are where we were three decades ago," he said in his inaugural address at the 10th edition of Aero India, the international air show here.
 
"Frankly, our public sector needs to do much better than they are doing now. We have to exploit their huge assets and a vast potential. At the same time, we have to make them accountable," he said.
 
Mr Modi said his government was focusing on developing the defence industry with a sense of mission in view of the impact it could have on the creation of jobs directly and in the related sectors and of the possible spin-off benefits on other sectors in terms of advanced materials and technologies.
 
"This is why it is at the heart of our Make in India programme," he said.
 
"We are reforming our defence procurement policies and procedures. There would be a clear preference for equipment manufactured in India. Our procurement procedures will ensure simplicity, accountability and speedy decision making," he said.
 
Mr Modi said the government had raised the permitted level of foreign direct investment (FDI) to 49%. This could go higher, if the project brought state-of-the art technology, he said.
 
He also said the government had permitted investments upto 24% by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and there was no longer a need to have a single Indian investor with at least a 51% stake. 
 
"Industrial licensing requirements have been eliminated for a number of items. Where it is needed, the process has been simplified. We are expanding the role of private sector, even for major platforms. Our goal is to provide a level playing field for all. We speak in terms of national capacity, not public sector or private sector," he said.
 
More than 250 Indian companies and more than 300 foreign firms are participating in Aero India. Defence ministers, senior officials and hundreds of business leaders from around the world are attending the event.
 
"This is the largest ever Aero India. This reflects a new level of confidence within our country and global interest in India. To many of you, India is a major business opportunity. 
 
"We have the reputation as the largest importer of defence equipment in the world. That may be music to the ears of some of you here. But, this is one area where we would not like to be Number One!" Mr Modi said.
 
"Our security challenges are well known. Our international responsibilities are evident. We do need to increase our defence preparedness. We do have to modernize our defence forces. 
 
"We have to equip ourselves for the needs of the future, where technology will play a major role. As a nation of one billion people, we also have huge requirements for managing internal security. We are increasingly integrating technology and systems into it.  These opportunities make Aero India an important international event," he said.
 
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Mr Modi said Aero India was not just a trade fair for defence equipment but a mega meeting of one of the largest global supply chains, with the most advanced technology and complex equipment  
 
He said it was a platform to launch India's defence manufacturing sector, stressing that a nation with a strong defence industry would not only be more secure but also reap rich economic benefits. 
 
"It can boost investment, expand manufacturing, support enterprise, raise the technology level and increase economic growth in the country," he said.
 
He said that, in India, the defence industry in the government sector alone employed nearly 200,000 workers and thousands of engineers and scientists. They produce an output of nearly 7 billion dollars annually. It also supports a very large pool of small and medium enterprises. 
 
He said the country's defence industry in private sector wass still small but it already employs thousands of people.
 
"This is despite the fact that nearly 60% of our defence equipment continues to be imported. And, we are spending tens of billions of dollars on acquisitions from abroad. There are studies that show that even a 20 to 25% reduction in imports could directly create an additional 100,000 to 120,000 highly skilled jobs in India. 
 
"If we could raise the percentage of domestic procurement from 40% to 70% in the next five years, we would double the output in our defence industry. Imagine the impact in terms of jobs created directly and in the related manufacturing and services sector! Think of the spin off benefits on other sectors in terms of advanced materials and technologies!" he said.
 
Mr Modi said the offsets system was a crucial instrument to develop and upgrade our defence industry. 
 
"We have introduced significant reforms in our offsets policy. I am acutely aware that it still needs a lot of improvements. We will pursue them in consultation with domestic industry and our foreign partners. I want our offsets policy not as a means to export low-end products, but to acquire state-of-the art technology and skills in core areas of priority," he said.
 
He pointed out that government's support for research and development was essential for defence sector. And, it should also be accompanied by a degree of assurance on purchase. 
 
"We are introducing a scheme to provide up to 80% of funding from the government for development of a prototype in India. And, we are also launching a Technology Development Fund. 
 
"For too long, our research and development has been confined to government laboratories. We must involve our scientists, soldiers, academia, industry and independent experts more closely in research and development," he said.
 
Mr Modi said that, while it had made its export policies clearer, simpler and predictable, the government would also abide by the highest standards of export controls and international responsibility. 
 
"We will expand our exports, but we will ensure that our equipment and technology do not fall into the wrong hands. India's record in this area has been impeccable and it will remain so," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said he was pleased with the positive impact of the government's policies and noted that the Indian private corporations had responded with enthusiasm.
 
"There is new excitement in our small and medium scale sector. Many of the biggest global firms are forming strategic partnerships in India. Some of them have already begun using India as part of their global supply chains or engineering services." he said.
 
He also expressed happiness that the first set of parts from the joint venture set up in September last year by Dynamatic Technologies and its collaborator Boeing, to manufacture critical parts for a Boeing helicopter that is sold globally, was ready for shipment today.
 
"But, we still need to do more. We have to further reform our acquisition and approval processes. We must indicate a clear roadmap of our future needs. 
This must take into account not only new technology trends, but also the nature of future challenges," he said.
 
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Mr Modi said there was need to pay attention to developing supply chains, with emphasis on innovation and bridge the gap between prototype development and quality of production. 
 
"We must develop a financing system suited to the special needs of this industry. It is a market where buyers are mainly governments, the capital investments are large and the risks are high. We must ensure that our tax system does not discriminate against domestic manufacture in comparison to imports," he said.
 
Mr Modi said that, more broadly, the defence industry would succeed more if the manufacturing sector were transformed in India.
 
"We need great infrastructure, sound business climate, clear investment policies, ease of doing business, stable and predictable tax regime, and easy access to inputs. We need a national industry that produces advanced materials, the most sophisticated electronics and the best engineering products. Over the last eight months, we have worked hard to create that environment for you. 
 
"Above all, we need a vast pool of highly skilled and qualified human resources for the defence industry. Our aerospace industry alone would need about 200,000 people in another ten years," he said.
 
He said the government would set up special universities and skill development centres to cater to the defence industry, just as it had done in atomic energy and space. "I have especially invited the State Governments to come here with package of facilities to attract investments in defence manufacturing," he said.
 
"We want to develop an industry is dynamic. It should constantly stay at the cutting edge of the global industry. I am confident that India will emerge as a major global centre for defence industry. We have the basic building blocks for it in India; and, a large nation requirement. We will build an industry that will have room for everyone – public sector, private sector and foreign firms. 
From sellers, foreign firms must turn into strategic partners," he said.
 
"We need their technology, skills, systems integration and manufacturing strength. The nature of industry is such that imports will always be there. In turn, they can use India as part of their global supply chain," he said.
 
He said defence budgets around the world were becoming tighter and India's frugal but sophisticated manufacturing and engineering services sectors could help reduce costs. 
 
"India can also be a base for export to third countries, especially because of India's growing defence partnerships in Asia and beyond. 
 
"A strong Indian defence industry will not only make India more secure. It will also make India more prosperous. 
 
"Aero India can be a catalyst in realizing our goals. That is why I am here today. So, as we look at these wonderful aircraft and enjoy the amazing fly pasts, I also hope we can get some business done. And, sow the seeds of successful new ventures and partnerships – to give our people new opportunities, to make our nations safer, and the world more stable and peaceful," he added.
 
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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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InterGlobe Aviation Ltd. and BIAL ink deal to build MRO

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InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., which operates India’s leading domestic carrier – IndiGo – and Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) – operator of Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (KIAB) – have entered into a 20-year agreement to sub-lease land at the Bengaluru Airport to build a state-of-the-art Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) facility.
 
This will be IndiGo's second MRO facility, after Delhi, a press release from the airline said.
 
IndiGo currently operates 158 daily departures out of Bengaluru, including eight international flights.
 
The 13,000-sq mts hangar, to be built on five acres in the Bengaluru Airport campus, would be able to accommodate two narrow body aircraft and will have support infrastructure, including an engine QEC shop warehouse and engineering offices for all repair and maintenance, the release said.
 
Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, Chief Operating Officer, IndiGo, said: “Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (KIAB), with its strategic location, will play an even more important role going forward. It is for this reason that IndiGo decided to build a hangar as the core of our maintenance centre in South. This facility will become operational by 2020.”
 
Hari Marar, MD & CEO, BIAL said: "At BIAL, we believe that we must always offer a comprehensive bouquet of services that will facilitate the growth of our airline partners. IndiGo has been one of the fastest growing carriers at the BLR Airport. The outcome of this agreement will create more connectivity and open new markets – further enhancing its growth. We look forward to a fruitful partnership with IndiGo."
 
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Infosys Foundation to restore historic lake in Karnataka

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Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic arm of IT services major Infosys, today announced its plans for conservation and restoration of the Panchakalyani, the largest ancient lake in Melukote, in the Mandya district of Karnataka.
 
The foundation will restore the lake by cleaning the tank, removing silt and waste deposit, ensuring structural and chemical conservation of the Panchakalyani and a nearby tank called the Ganeshan Honda, reconnecting the existing canals, and building a compound wall, a press release issued by it said.
 
"The Infosys Foundation has championed the preservation of ancient cultural heritage of India for several years. The Panchakalyani lake is among the most visited monuments in Melukote, which has several ancient water bodies situated on a hill top through which rain water has been harnessed for many centuries. This harnessed water has historically been used for consumption and irrigation," the release said.
 
Karnataka Minister for Tourism S. R. Mahesh and Minister for Minor Irrigation C. S. Puttaraju attended the inauguration of this restoration project, along with Mrs. Sudha Murty, Chairperson, Infosys Foundation.
 
Speaking on the occasion,Mrs. Murty said, “Melukote was patronized by the great empires of Hoysala and Vijayanagara, and the Wodeyars of the kingdom of Mysore. Our ancestors have created several heritage structures which stand testimony to our glorious past and it is our duty to preserve those structures. The restoration project is important to improve the water quality of the lake and bring back balance in the natural ecosystem of Melukote. This endeavor will not only create awareness to preserve but also protect our rich legacy for future generations.”
 
Mr. Mahesh said, “Temple lakes have been a major source of water in this area. As a monument, this temple complex also attracts many tourists from around the state. We are proud that Infosys Foundation has come forward to help restore this lake and revive a part of ancient history.”
 
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Eight persons dead after boat capsizes off Karwar in Karnataka

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Eight persons died and one was reported missing after a boat carrying 26 passengers from an offshore island of Kurumgarh capsized off Karwar in Karnataka today, official sources said.
 
The mishap occurred when the boat, carrying 26 devotees from the island of Kurumgarh to the Rabindranath Tagore Beach near Karwar, capsized at about 1500 hours today.
 
The Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, on being informed by the district administration at about 1645 hours, immediately despatcheed helicopters and fast interceptor crafts for rescue operations to the scene of the accident. Diving teams from Karwar were also deployed, a spokesman for the Navy said.
 
"Of 26 passengers, 17 people were immediately rescued by civil boats. 8 bodies have been recovered by naval units. Search is on for 1 missing person," the spokesman said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
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Karnataka seer Shivakumara Swami passes away at 111

Shivakumara Swami
Shivakumara Swami
Widely-revered Karnataka seer and spiritual leader, Shivakumara Swami of the Siddaganga Mutt at Tumakuru near here, passed away today at the age of 111 due to age-related illnesses, sources said.
 
He was suffering from a lung illness and was in a critical condition for more than two weeks. His condition took a turn for the worse yesterday and he had been put on health support. He breathed his last at 11.44 am today, they said.
 
The Karnataka government has declared three days of state mourning and announced a holiday tomorrow, when his last rites will be conducted.
 
Karnataka Chief Minister H. D. Kumaraswamy, BJP leader B. S. Yeddyurappa and Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda were amongst those who visited the Mutt in recent days to enquire about his health.
 
Last week, Kumaraswamy demanded the nation's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, for the seer in recognition of his service to society.
 
Shivakumara Swami was the head of the Sree Siddaganga Math which has a recorded history of 600 years and is located about 63 km from Bengaluru on the highway to Pune.
 
The Sree Siddaganga Education Society has established more than 130 schools and colleges, mostly in rural areas.
 
Born on April 1, 1907, Shivakumara Swami was initiated into the holy order in 1930 He assumed full responsibility of the Mutt in 1941 after the death of Uddana Swami. He was described as the most esteemed adherent of Lingayatism and was often referred to as the "Walking God".
 
Then President A P J Abdul Kalam had visited the Siddaganga Mutt in 2008 to celebrate the 100th birthday celebrations of Shivakumara Swami.
 
The Union Government had honoured him with the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honour in 2015 and the state government had honoured him with Karnataka Ratna in 2007.
 
Shivakumar Swami had studied English in college and was proficient in Kannada and Sanskrit. In recognition of his humanitarian work, the Swami was conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by Karnataka University in 1965. 
 
Thousands of poor students received free education, food and stay at the many institutions founded by him. Among them was the Guru Kula, which housed more than 8,500 children at any point in time and provided them free food, education and shelter.
 
The seer had been in and out of hospital for the past many months for treatment of various illnesses.
 
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Karnataka Congress sends 75 MLAs to resort after four skip CLP meet

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The Congress in Karnataka decided on Friday to move 75 of its MLAs to a resort near here, ostensibly to safeguard them from possible poaching bids by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), after four of its legislators failed to turn up at a meeting of its legislature party convened here today in a show of strength.
 
Two of the MLAs who did not attend the meeting informed the party's leadership of their reasons for not being present, but the other two did not provide any explanation for their absence, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told journalists.
 
The ruling Congress-Janata Dal (S) coalition has 117 MLAs in the 224-member Assembly, including 80 of the Congress (with the Speaker) and 37 of the JD (S). The BJP has 104 MLAs. There are two independent MLAs and one of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the House. The two independent MLAs had some days ago withdrawn support to the government headed by JD (S) leader H D Kumaraswamy.
 
Even without the four MLAs who were absent, the Congress-JD (S) combine has a wafer-thin majority, but clearly the Congress leadership is not taking any chances and has decided to move all the remaining legislators to the Eagleton Resort near here.
 
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The resort was in the news when, in 2017, the Congress had brought 44 of its MLAs from Gujarat ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in that state.
 
The two MLAs who remained absent from the CLP meeting without giving any reasons are Ramesh Jharkiholi, an MLA from Gokak region of Belagavi, who has been reportedly unhappy after being dropped from the state Cabinet last month, and his close associate Mahesh Kumatahalli, who represents Athani, also in Belagavi.
 
Umesh  Jadhav, the MLA from Chincholi, sent a letter citing health reasons for his inability to attend the CLP meeting, while Bellary Rural MLA B Nagendra told the leadership that he had to attend a court hearing.
 
Siddaramaiah asserted that none of the Congress MLAs will leave the party but said the leadership had decided to keep all of them at the resort for a few days to fend off any poaching attempts by the BJP.
 
He and other party leaders also said they had to discuss with the MLAs the strategy for the coming Lok Sabha elections and other issues.
 
Party sources said show cause notices would be issued to Jharkiholi and Kumatahalli to provide an explanation for their absence at today's meeting. Following this, the party's central leadership would be informed for further action, if any, they said.
 
Meanwhile, all 104 BJP MLAs have been camping at a resort in Gurugram near Delhi for the past few days.
 
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Two independent MLAs withdraw support from Karnataka government

Two independent MLAs, H Nagesh and R Shankar, withdrew their support to Karnataka government today in a setback for the ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition though there was no immediate danger to it.

H. D. Kumaraswamy (File Photo: IANS)
H. D. Kumaraswamy (File Photo: IANS)
Two independent members of the legislative assembly (MLAs), H Nagesh and R Shankar, withdrew their support to Karnataka government today in a setback for the ruling Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition though there was no immediate danger to it.
 
Nagesh, who represents Mulabagilu constituency and Shankar, the MLA from Ranebennur, wrote to the State Governor informing him of their decision to withdraw support with immediate effect to the government headed by H D Kumaraswamy of the JD (S) in near-identical letters.
 
The withdrawal of support by the two independent legislators came at a time when the Congress-JD(S) coalition leaders accused each other of making attempts to poach on their MLAs.
 
Kumaraswamy, however, said he had adequate numbers in the 224-member assembly and that his government was stable. The BJP has 104 members in the House, while the Congress has 79 and the JD(S) 37. The coalition also had the support of an independent, and a member each of the BSP and the KPJB. The Chief Minister said he had the support of 120 MLAs.
 
There has been speculation for the past few days that some Congress MLAs had gone "missing" and that the BJP had launched "Operation Lotus" to lure some MLAs from the ruling coalition to its side.
 
Meanwhile, the BJP's 104 MLAs were said to be camping at a resort in Gurugram near Delhi and there was speculation that the Opposition party had resorted to this to ensure that its flock remained intact.
 
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Infosys to buy back shares again, pay special dividend

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Global software major Infosys will buy back its shares again and pay special dividend to its shareholders for this fiscal (2018-19), said the company on Tuesday.
 
"The company's Board of Directors will consider buyback of its paid-up equity shares, payment of special dividend and implementation of the Capital Allocation Policy at its meeting on January 11," said the city-based IT firm in a regulatory filing on the BSE.
 
The board had approved the capital allocation policy at its meeting on April 13, 2018.
 
"The outcome of the Board meeting will be disseminated to the stock exchanges after the meeting on January 11," added the filing.
 
The $11-billion outsourcing firm had completed its maiden buyback of 11.3-crore equity shares in December 2017 of Rs 5 face value for Rs 13,000 crore at Rs 1,150 per share.
 
"The buyback of 11,30,43,478 shares was made under the tender offer route from November 30 and closed on December 14," said the company in a filing on December 23, 2017 on the BSE.
 
Among the retail investors who then sold shares more than 1 per cent of the total shares include Rohan Murthy (13,92,682 shares), son of co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy, and Sudha Gopalakrishnan (15,00,000 shares), wife of another co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan.
 
Sudha held the largest share among the promoters, with 2.14 per cent shareholding.
 
Among the institutional investors were LIC of India (61,13,787 shares), Government of Singapore (24,66,354) and Franklin Templeton Investment Funds (1728,865 shares).
 
Kotak Mahindra Capital Co Ltd and J.P. Morgan India Ltd were the issue managers for the buyback of shares.
 
The offer size was 20.51 per cent of the total paid-up capital and free reserves, aggregating up to 11.3-crore shares or 4.92 per cent of the total shares.
 
The company's blue chip scrip closed at Rs 669.85 at the end of Tuesday's trading on the BSE, losing marginally Rs 1.30 over Monday's closing price of Rs 671.15 and opening rate of Rs 673.05.
 
IANS
 

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Actor Prakash Raj to contest LS elections from Bengaluru Central

Prakash Raj (Photo: Sreejith Koiloth/Wikimedia Commons)
Prakash Raj (Photo: Sreejith Koiloth/Wikimedia Commons)
Well-known actor Prakash Raj, who has been critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre, has said that he will  contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, expected  to be  held in April-May, from the Bengaluru Central constituency in Karnataka.
 
The statement from the actor in this regard came days after he announced on January 1 that he would enter politics and contest the Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate.
 
"#2019 PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS.Thank you for the warm n encouraging response to my new journey.. I will be contesting from BENGALURU CENTRAL constituency #KARNATAKA as an INDEPENDENT..will share the Details with the media in few days..#citizensvoice #justasking in parliament too...," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter on Saturday.
 
Prakash Raj, who has won multiple National film awards, has been a vocal critic of Modi and the BJP in recent times, especially on issues such as intolerance and vigilante attacks.
 
Apart from acting in films in all South Indian languages, Prakash Raj has also appeared in several Hindi films such as "Wanted", "Singham", Dabangg 2, Mumbai  Mirror and Policegiri.
 
He is the third prominent South Indian actor to enter  politics in the last one year after Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan.
 
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Effective solution for distribution of edible water-soluble nutrient pod wins ISF Challenge

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An effective distribution method of a cheap, edible, water-soluble nutrient pod to Anganwadi centres for use in mid-day meals has won the Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) Nutrition Challenge, the results of which were announced here on Friday.
 
The challenge sought to use STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills to effectively combat malnutrition among expectant mothers and children under the age of five. 
 
The virtual challenge, hosted by ISF and conducted by the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), saw over 3000 students from around the country express interest in it. The top two winning teams will visit the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) at Sriharikota to witness the launch of a rocket. They will also get a membership to the Junior Academy of the NYAS. In addition, each member of the winning team will receive an education scholarship of Rs. 5 lakh.
 
Participating teams worked with mentors who were experts from the fields of nutrition and STEM. They also  leveraged a series of curated learning resources and TEDx-style talks by leading experts.
 
Members of the winning team -- Arunima S, Kesava DK, Leela J, Prithve S and Sandeep R -- collaborated virtually as they were from different cities in India. 
 
"The solution designed by the team centres around the effective distribution of a nutrient pod. The pod can be used as a supplement for mid-day meals and provides one-third of the daily RDA recommended doses of iron, zinc, omega-3, folate and calcium. A single pod is capable of supplementing 50 mid-day meals and is simple to use. The team used this existing product idea and created a smart application and delivery mechanism so it reaches the target audience directly through the wide network of Anganwadis in the country," a press release from ISF said.
 
"One of the primary objective of the challenge was to encourage young people to apply their STEM skills to solving a problem.  We chose malnutrition as the topic as it has been one of India’s most persistent challenges. We hoped that this would also raise awareness and a sympathetic understanding of the problem among this generation," said Mr. Mohandas Pai, Trustee, ISF.
 
The winners for 2018 were chosen from 20 finalists by a judging panel consisting of Mr. Pai, Dr. Seema Puri (University of Delhi), Dr. Purnima Menon (International Food Policy Research Institute) and Dr. Maike Rahn (PepsiCo Global R&D).
 
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Karnataka Minister's staffer caught with Rs 14-lakh cash

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A staffer of Karnataka Congress Minister C. Puttaranga Shetty was caught with unaccounted Rs 14 lakh in cash at the entrance of the state secretariat in the city centre, police said on Friday.
 
"We have detained the Minister's staffer Mohan and seized the cash (Rs 14 lakh) from him at the secretariat, as he could not explain its source or account for it," city central Deputy Commissioner of Police Devaraj told reporters here.
 
Shetty, a legislator from Chamarajanagar Assembly segment in the southwest old Mysuru region, is the Social Welfare Minister in the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in the southern state.
 
Vidhana Soudha Police Station Inspector Shankarachar registered a case against the accused and detained him for questioning on the cash he was carrying in a bag and had come to the secretariat on a two-wheeler.
 
"We are interrogating Mohan to explain why he was carrying so much of cash and its source as he didn't have documentary support for it," a police officer told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
 
According to unconfirmed reports, an additional Rs 11.76 lakh was also found with Mohan when the police carried a search on him and his bike.
 
IANS
 

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Karnataka to give funds for Bengaluru suburban train network

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The Karnataka government on Thursday agreed to give its share of the Bengaluru suburban train project cost from the state budget for fiscal 2019-20, an official statement said.
 
"The state government will clear the city's suburban train network's detailed project report (DPR) by Sunday and allocate funds for it in its budget to be presented in February," said a joint statement by the Chief Minister's Office and the South Western Railways (SWR) here.
 
The 161-km project is estimated to cost the Railways and the state a whopping Rs 19,499 crore, to be shared equally through debt and equity as a special purpose vehicle.
 
Details of the belated project were discussed at a meeting between state Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and SWR General Manager Ajay Kumar Singh along with top officials of the state government and the Railways.
 
The state-run engineering consultancy firm RITES prepared the DPR to expand the skeletal suburban train service across the city and connect with satellite towns around like Tumakuru, Hosur, Mandya, Rajankunte, Kolar and Whitefield in all the four (north, south, east and west) directions.
 
"The twin purpose of the suburban train service is to offer an efficient and economical commuting and connect the city with the satellite towns around," said Kumaraswamy on the occasion.
 
The SWR will part with 650 acres of its land for the project, while the state will release 150 acres of its land and buy another 150 acres from private owners at market value or Rs 2,130 crore as RITES suggested.
 
The rapid transit service will require 30 rakes of mainline electric multiple units (MEMU) to ferry commuters across the city and nearby satellite towns.
 
IANS

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JD-S worker killed in Karnataka over 'personal rivalry'

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A Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) worker H. Prakash was killed by four assailants due to alleged personal rivalry in Karnataka's Maddur town in Mandya district, police said on Monday.
 
"Prakash, 50, was attacked by four men with a machete on Monday evening due to suspected personal rivalries. He succumbed to his injuries," Maddur police station sub-inspector Kumara told IANS from Mandya district, about 100km southwest from here.
 
The JD-S worker was also a former Zilla Panchayat (ZP) member of the district, the police officer said.
 
A hunt was on to nab the accused, he added.
 
Chief Minister and JD-S leader H.D. Kumaraswamy expressed shock over the party activist's death.
 
"Prakash was a loyal party worker. The district police have been directed to take steps to arrest the accused," a statement from Kumaraswamy's office said on Monday night.
 
IANS
 

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IESA, Karnataka government launch Semiconductor Fabless Accelerator Lab

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The India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA), a trade body representing the Indian electronic system design and manufacturing (ESDM) space, launched the Fabless Centre of Excellence – the Semiconductor Fabless Accelerator Lab (SFAL) here on Monday.
 
The SFAL will be a first-of-its-kind initiative in the semiconductor space in the country, a press release from IESA said.
 
The release said the facility would create a strong infrastructural support structure to incubate early-stage startups and accelerate the existing fabless SMEs to the next level by providing access to funds, market and mentors. 
 
"The focus of this accelerator will be to incubate at least 20 early stage fabless start-ups in the next three years, 50 in the next five years. Through the SFAL, the IESA expects to generate more employment in the ESDM sector, encourage creation of more domestic IP and serve as a catalyst to accelerate the fabless startup ecosystem," it said.
 
K. J. George, Minister for Large & Medium Scale Industries, IT, BT and S&T, Government of Karnataka, said “The Government of Karnataka has already made an investment of INR 21.5 crore and the total spend is expected to touch INR 56 crores in the next five years. Our vision is to make Karnataka the hub around which the next breed of Indian fabless startups can thrive and accentuate the existing fabless companies into the next realm of growth. Along with IESA, we are certain to propel the ESDM sector and support innovative domestic companies.”
 
“Bengaluru has become home to innovation, invention and entrepreneurship. We are seeing a huge uptake towards ESDM and how it is contributing to creating millions of employment opportunities. In collaboration with IESA, the launch of SFAL, will mark our efforts to cultivate this ecosystem, create a favourable market to inculcate the fabless ecosystem, and encourage manufacturing not only in Karnataka but across the country," said Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary, IT, BT and S&T, Government of Karnataka.
According to the release, the expected outcomes of SFAL are:
 
• Accelerate existing fabless SMEs - Support existing fabless SMEs to help them design and prototype at least 2-3 products of out of the accelerator in 2 years.
 
• Stimulate fabless start-up ecosystem – incubate at least 20 early stage fabless start-ups in next 3 years, 50 in the next 5 years.
 
• Enable domestic chips for local market – Enable fabless start-ups to design chips for products like Energy meters, LED lighting, Smartcards, Rural broadband, IoT solutions etc.
 
• Domestic IP creation – Help the local ecosystem to produce indigenous semiconductor IPs.
 
• Employment creation – Projected job creation of about 800 high skilled engineers and more into allied areas.
 
“IESA has a vision to make India as the global hub of electronics system design and manufacturing by 2025. In this direction, we conducted a research and realized quite early that design led manufacturing is the right solution for promoting the growth of electronics industry in India. IESA has promoted several incubation centers and center of excellences across in India and mainly in Karnataka state, with the help Karnataka Government.  SFAL is one such initiative from IESA, which is supported by Karnataka Government, for promoting ecosystem to encourage innovation and manufacturing in the ESDM industry. The Government of Karnataka is continuously putting in place policies and building a framework to inculcate a fabless ecosystem and encourage manufacturing in the State. The IESA is excited to partner with the Government to make India a design-led electronics manufacturing hub in the coming years,” said Anil Kumar Muniswamy, Chairman, IESA.
 
Rajesh Ram Mishra, President, IESA, said “We are excited with the launch and operationalization of Fabless CoE (SFAL), in collaboration with the Government of Karnataka. The facility is equipped to give Indian fabless start-ups and SMEs access to state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure to develop IP and chips, thereby, reducing the entry barrier. Our aim is to incubate 3-4 companies in the new facility by March 2019. SFAL fills a critical gap in our ESDM ecosystem that will prepare us as a country to capitalize on the mega trends unleashed by intelligent electronics. IESA will unveil the trillion-dollar design-led manufacturing opportunities around the mega trends at the Vision Summit to be held on February 19th and 20th 2019 at Bengaluru."
 
“Start-ups based anywhere in the country have now the opportunity to access software from SFAL which the entire ecosystem can largely be benefited. SFAL will be the centre to access tools and drive design innovation," said Murali Seshadri, Senior Product Manager, Mentor.
 
Jaswinder Ahuja, Corporate Vice-President and Managing Director, Cadence Design Systems said “Bangalore has emerged as the hub for technology and innovation which has led to investment in the state creating a new wave of manufacturing and entrepreneurship. SFAL in collaboration with Government of Karnataka is helping entrepreneurs ride this fresh wave of innovation and provide solutions to existing problems in the state. Generally, entrepreneurs take 6 to 8 months to figure out necessary tools required to start building technology. This time needs to be reduced so that entrepreneurs can focus on innovation. SFAL is thus the step in the right direction.”
 
“Acceleration is not just happening in the technology world but also across the marketplace and in relation to global climatic change which is connected by chips (technology). We are happy that Bangalore has added a small chip to access facilities and create a starting point to solve challenges across the whole value chain.”, said Prof. HP Khincha, former Vice-Chancellor of Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belgaum, speaking at the event.  
 
The IESA report at Vision Summit 2018 established that the Indian semi-conductor component market is estimated to see a huge market growth of 32.35 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 10.1 from 2018 to 2025, the release added.
 
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