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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.
 
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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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Infosys Foundation signs MoU with Bangalore Metro to build and maintain Electronics City station

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Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic arm of information technology (IT) services major Infosys, today said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) for the construction of a station at Konappana Agrahara, in Electronics City.
 
This station is under the second phase of Bangalore Metro’s expansion plans and the foundation has committed to maintaining this station for the next 30 years.
 
The MoU, which was signed in the presence of Karnataka Chief Minister  H. D. Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara, says that the station, to be named Infosys Foundation - Konappana Agrahara Metro Station, will be spread over two lakh square feet.
 
A 3,000 square feet space within the station will be dedicated to Infosys Foundation which will provide local craftsmen and artisans a platform to showcase their talent, and also host exhibitions, free of rent.
 
The roof of the station will be designed to support solar panels that will provide power for lighting, making this station a sustainable building, a press release from the foundation said.
 
“We are extremely happy to have Infosys Foundation support BMRCL’s expansion plan in Konappana Agrahara towards building a new metro station. The station is expected to be operational by 2021 and we encourage citizens of Bengaluru to fully avail the services of the metro rail and other public transportation systems. The government is extremely proud of BMRCL’s achievements till date, and would like to congratulate BMRCL and Infosys Foundation on this momentous occasion,” Mr. Kumaraswamy said on the occasion.
 
Ms. Sudha Murty, Chairperson of Infosys Foundation Chairperson, said, “The metro is among the finest infrastructure projects our city is developing, and it is a boon to thousands of commuters in the city. Infosys Foundation is proud to contribute to this metro expansion program. Once operational, it will help further ease the traffic situation in Bengaluru and encourage office-goers to embrace public transportation.”
 
Bangalore Metro currently sees close to 4 lakhs commuters daily, and this figure is expected to surge once BMRCL’s 6-coach trains are functional by 2019.  Daily ridership is also expected to increase several fold once the organization’s Phase II expansion plans are completed by 2021.
 
"This station is extremely important as Electronics City is evolving as the city’s new central business district. This area of Bengaluru witnesses thousands of IT professionals travelling daily to work, and considering traffic situations in parts of the city like the Madiwala and Silk Board junctions during peak hours, we expect this new route to ease traffic woes along this busy corridor and provide an alternative solution to a large number of private vehicles. We are grateful to Infosys Foundation for coming forth with their support towards building a landmark station,” said Mr. Ajay Seth, Managing Director, BMRCL.
 
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Infosys gives bonus shares to mark 25 years of listing

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Global software major Infosys on Friday announced 1:1 bonus share to mark 25 years of its public listing in India and increase the liquidity of its equity shares.
 
"The Board has recommended the issue of 1 bonus share for every equity share held to celebrate the 25th year of the company's public listing in India and further increase liquidity of its shares," said the city-based IT major in a regulatory filing on the BSE after trading hours.
 
The company has also decided to give a stock dividend of one American Depository Share (ADS) for every ADS held to mark the occasion.
 
The company's blue-chip scrip of Rs 5 face value gained Rs 14.50 at the end of Friday's trading on the BSE to close at Rs 1,309.10 per share as against Thursday's closing rate of Rs 1,294.50 and opening price of Rs 1,310. 
 
The scrip also touched a high of Rs 1,331.15 and a low of Rs 1,300.15 during the intra-day trading sessions.
 
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Infosys net up 3.7 per cent in first quarter

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Software major Infosys on Friday reported Rs 3,612 crore consolidated net profit for the first quarter of fiscal 2018-19, registering 3.7 per cent annual growth from Rs 3,483 crore in the same period year ago.
 
Sequentially, however, net profit declined 2.1 per cent from Rs 3,690 crore quarter ago.
 
In a regulatory filing to the BSE after the bourses closed for trading, the city-based IT major said consolidated revenue for the quarter (Q1) under review, grew 12 per cent annually to Rs 19,128 crore from Rs 17,078 crore in the like period year ago and 5.8 per cent sequentially from Rs 18,083 crore quarter ago.
 
Under the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS), net income, however, declined 1.2 per cent annually to $534 million from $541 million in same period year ago and 6.5 per cent sequentially from $575 million quarter ago, largely due to currency volatility.
 
Gross revenue under the IFRS grew 6.8 per cent annually to $2,831 million from $2,651 in same period year ago but remained flat (0.9 per cent) sequentially at $2,805 million quarter ago.
 
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Karnataka farmers protest, seek full crop loan waiver

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Thousands of farmers across Karnataka on Monday protested against Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy for not waiving crop loans fully as promised by him before the May 12 assembly elections.
 
"Kumaraswamy promised to waive all our loans within 48 hours of coming to power. He came to power with Congress support but failed to keep the promise. He should waive all loans, including those from state-run banks," state farmers' association president K. Chandrashekar told reporters here.
 
Though Kumaraswamy on July 5 announced waiver of farm loans worth Rs 34,000 crore in the state budget for fiscal 2018-19, it is not full as it does not cover loans granted by banks owned by Central government, he said.
 
"As per our estimates, the total amount of crop loan raised by farmers from across the state is about Rs 126,000 crore, including interest over the years. Of the Rs 34,000 crore loans waived, the actual waiver is Rs 18,000 crore excluding interest," said Chandrashekar.
 
Kumaraswamy's loan waiver comes a year after his Congress predecessor Siddaramaiah waived farm loans worth of Rs 8,167 crore, including interest, benefitting 22 lakh distressed farmers across the state.
 
"Whatever be the compulsion, the Chief Minister should have fulfilled his promise to the farmers as he had committed to them. He has betrayed us," said Chandrashekar, who was an independent legislator in the previous assembly.
 
Protests were staged by hundreds of farmers and cities and towns across the state, seeking more loan waivers.
 
In Bengaluru, where the 10-day monsoon session of the legislature is under way, about 5,000 farmers flocked to the Freedom Park in the city centre and took out a rally to the state secretariat to meet Kumaraswamy, but Chandrashekar lamented that due to prohibitory orders in force, police stopped them.
 
In a related development, a primary agriculture credit cooperative society president M.C. Shivananada Swamy alleged that the criteria for the waiver was unscientific.
 
"Kumaraswamy should find out if the criteria will do justice to farmers," he said, according to a local media report.
 
Asserting that there was no clarity on the waiver, Swamy sought clarifications from the Chief Minister on the issue agitating the farmers in his letter.
 
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Ambulance gets preference over VIP convoy in Karnataka

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Ambulances across Karnataka need not wait for a VIP convoy to pass for rushing patients to hospitals for emergency treatment, a top city police official said on Monday.
 
"As per the orders passed from the state police chief Neelamani N. Raju, the traffic police in the city and across the state will make way for the ambulances to pass through to get the patients to hospitals in time, even if there is VIP movement on the route," Bengaluru Police Commissioner T. Suneel Kumar told IANS here.
 
The move comes after the state's Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister G. Parameshwara wrote to Raju asking the state's traffic police to give preference to ambulances irrespective of VIP convoy movement.
 
"I have observed that ambulances are sometimes stopped to make way for my convoy. Nothing is more important than rescuing a person in need of immediate medical help. Going forward, no ambulances will be stopped during movement of VIP convoys," Parameshwara said in a tweet.
 
According a report in local media, an ambulance was held up for 15 minutes in the city last month for allowing Parameshwara's convoy to pass first.
 
In June last year, a police officer Nijlingappa was rewarded by the city police department for making way for an ambulance before then President Pranab Mukherjee's convoy passed on the same route.
 
Instances of vehicular traffic, including ambulance service, being held up for VIP convoys have been receiving flak as precious time would be lost during the 'golden hour' (first hour after a traumatic injury) as any delay in rushing a patient to a hospital may endanger a human life.
 
IANS
 
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Karnataka waives Rs 34,000 crore of farm loans

Karnataka on Thursday waived farm loans totalling Rs 34,000 crore, giving relief to distressed farmers across the state.

 
Karnataka CM H D Kumaraswamy presents state budget
 
 
Karnataka on Thursday waived farm loans totalling Rs 34,000 crore, giving relief to distressed farmers across the state.
 
"I propose to waive farm loans totalling Rs 34,000 crore, with Rs 2 lakh per farmer family," Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy announced in the Assembly while presenting his maiden state budget for fiscal 2018-19.
 
"All crop loans defaulted by farmers to December 31, 2017 are waived in the first stage. Only loans borrowed from district cooperative banks and state cooperatives are waived in the first stage."
 
The budget has also proposed to allot Rs 6,500 crore to enable farmers avail new loans after they submit a clearance certificate from the department concerned that their loan arrears have been waived.
 
"All crop loans defaulted up to December 2017 are waived in the first stage. Farmers who repaid loans within the stipulated time will be entitled to fresh credit up to Rs 25,000 or repaid amount, whichever is less," the Chief Minister said.
 
The budget, however, proposes to tax people by increasing petrol price by Rs 1.14 per litre and diesel by Rs 1.12 per litre.
 
"I also propose to increase excise duty on Indian made foreign liquor by 4 per cent to raise additional revenue for meeting the budget expenditure," Kumaraswamy said.
 
Power tariff will also be increased by 20 paise per unit.
 
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Assuring the legislators and the people that his coalition government would continue the flagship programmes of the previous Congress government, Kumaraswamy told the legislators that the overall size of the state budget would be Rs 2,13,734 crore.
 
Under the free Annabhagya (rice) scheme, the quantity of rice for free distribution has been cut to 5 kg from 7 kg per individual per month.
 
"I propose to allocate Rs 150 crore for agriculture development based on Israel mode. We will focus on agriculture as well as the services sector," the Chief Minister said.
 
The budget has earmarked Rs 50 crore for natural farming on the lines of Andhra Pradesh for higher yields and better price.
 
As Kumaraswamy holds the finance portfolio, he decided to present a full budget of the Janata Dal-Secular-Congress government.
 
For key sectors like education, the allocation is Rs 26,581 crore, water resources Rs 18,142 crore, urban development Rs 17,727 crore, energy Rs 14,499 crore, social welfare Rs 14,123 crore and Public Works Department (PWD) 10,200 crore.
 
IANS
 
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ISRO conducts successful flight test of Crew Escape System Technology Demonstrator

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) today carried out a major technology demonstration, the first in a series of tests to qualify a Crew Escape System, which is a critical technology relevant for human spaceflight. 
 
The Crew Escape System is an emergency escape measure designed to quickly pull the crew module along with the astronauts to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch abort. 
 
The first test (Pad Abort Test) demonstrated the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency at the launch pad, a press release from ISRO said.
 
After a smooth countdown of 5 hours, the Crew Escape System along with the simulated crew module with a mass of 12.6 tonnes, lifted off at 7.00 AM (IST) today at the opening of the launch window from its pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 80 km from Chennai, on the east coast. 
 
The test was over in 259 seconds, during which the Crew Escape System along with crew module soared skyward, then arced out over the Bay of Bengal and floated back to Earth under its parachutes about 2.9 km from Sriharikota.
 
The crew module reached an altitude of nearly 2.7 km under the power of its seven specifically designed quick acting solid motors to take away the crew module to a safe distance without exceeding the safe g-levels, the release said.
 
"Nearly 300 sensors recorded various mission performance parameters during the test flight. Three recovery boats are being exercised to retrieve the module as part of the recovery protocol," it added.
 
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Dinesh Gundu Rao appointed as president of Karnataka Congress

Dinesh Gundu Rao
Dinesh Gundu Rao
Congress President Rahul Gandhi today appointed Mr. Dinesh Gundu Rao as the new president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee.
 
Mr. Gandhi also appointed Mr. Easwar Khandre as Working President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, a position held earlier by Mr. Gundu Rao.
 
Mr. Gundu Rao, 48, succceeds Mr. G. Parameshwara, who has become Deputy Chief Minister in the coalition government headed Janata Dal (Secular) leader H D Kumaraswamy.
 
"The Congress party appreciates the work done by G. Parameshwara, who successfully led the party for last 8 years and is stepping down from his responsibility as Karnataka PCC President," a press release issued by  All India Congress Committee General Secretary Ashok Gehlot said.
 
Mr. Gundu Rao is the second of the three sons of former Karnataka Chief Minister R. Gundu Rao. He has a B. E. degree in electronics engineering. He is a four-time member of the State Legislative Assembly.
 
He served as Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs in the previous Siddaramaiah government.
 
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Vijay Bhaskar to be Karnataka's new Chief Secretary

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Senior Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer T.M. Vijay Bhaskar will be Karnataka's new Chief Secretary, replacing K. Ratna Prabha who will be retiring on superannuation on Saturday, an official notification said.
 
A 1983-batch officer of the Karnataka cadre, Bhaskar, 57, was earlier the Additional Chief Secretary to the state government.
 
He is a former administrator of the Bengaluru civic body.
 
Prabha, 59, was on a three-month extension since April 1 due to the Assembly poll on May 12 in the southern state.
 
She was the first Dalit woman to become Chief Secretary in Karnataka and the third woman officer to hold the top administrative post. 
 
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Vijay Mallya offers to sell assets to repay bank loans

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya
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Fugitive tycoon Vijaya Mallya has sought the Karnataka High Court's permission to let him and his holding firm UBHL sell their assets under judicial supervision and repay creditors, including state-run banks.
 
"UBHL (United Breweries Holding Ltd) and myself have filed an application before the Karnataka High Court on June 22, setting out available assets of about Rs 13,900 crore," said Mallya from London in a statement released by his office here on Tuesday.
 
Mallya has requested the court's permission to allow him to sell the assets under judicial supervision and repay creditors, including the state-run banks such amounts as may be directed and determined by the court.
 
The 62-year-old liquor baron, who fled India on March 2, 2016, has been living in London since then despite summons from Indian courts and law enforcement agencies to appear before them for trial in various related cases.
 
Asserting that recovery of loans was a civil matter, Mallya said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) had, however, criminalised it in his case by moving against him aggressively despite his intentions to settle the dues with the banks.
 
"The CBI and ED seem determined to frame criminal charges against me on the pretext of non-payment to the banks. The motivation, however, seems to be to secure my presence in India to face charges than to determine if the evidence collected by the investigative agencies demonstrates criminal charges against me or to permit me to sell assets and repay creditors," he said.
 
Claiming that the bulk of the dues were on account of interest, Mallya said owing to injunctions, attachments and refusal to grant permission to sell the assets, it (interest) had kept mounting.
 
"Consequently, the bloated figure of outstanding dues to the banks is largely on account of these mala fide actions. If CBI or ED object to my proposal and sale of assets, it will demonstrate that there is an agenda against me beyond recovery of dues to the banks," the statement pointed out.
 
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Reiterating that he made efforts to settle the dues, Mallya said if politically motivated and extraneous factors interfere, there was nothing he could do.
 
A consortium of 17 banks, led by the State Bank of India (SBI), gave Rs 5,500 crore loans to Mallya's now defunct Kingfisher Airlines since over a decade.
 
"Over Rs 600 crore has been recovered through sale of pledged assets and Rs 1,280 crore was deposited with the Karnataka High Court since 2013," recalled Mallya.
 
Referring to the charges allegedly made by politicians and the media that he ran away from the country after "stealing" Rs 9,000 crore loaned to his airline, Mallya said some of the lending banks had also declared him a wilful defaulter.
 
"The CBI and ED have filed charge-sheets against me with untenable and false allegations acting at the behest of the government and lending banks. The ED also attached assets belonging to me, my group companies and owned and/or controlled by my family under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) currently valued at Rs 13,900 crore," said Mallya.
 
Observing that he became the "Poster Boy" of bank default and a lightning rod of public anger, Mallya said though he wrote letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitely on April 15, 2016 clarifying his position and seeking their intervention to settle the dues, there was no response from either of them.
 
IANS
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Mallya offers to sell assets to repay bank loans

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya
Fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya has sought the Karnataka High Court's permission to let him and his holding firm UBHL sell their assets under judicial supervision and repay creditors, including state-run banks.
 
"UBHL (United Breweries Holding Ltd) and myself have filed an application before the Karnataka High Court on June 22, setting out available assets of about Rs 13,900 crore," said Mallya in a letter released here on Tuesday.
 
Mallya has requested the court's permission to allow him to sell the assets under judicial supervision and repay creditors, including the state-run banks such amounts as may be directed and determined by the court.
 
The 62-year-old liquor baron, who fled the country in March 2016, has been living in London since then despite summons from Indian courts and law enforcement agencies to appear before them for trial in various cases.
 
IANS
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Swiggy raises $210 million from Naspers, DST Global

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Indian online food ordering and delivery platform Swiggy on Thursday said it raised $210 million in a Series G funding from South Africa's Cape Town-based internet company Naspers and Hong Kong-based internet investment firm DST Global.
 
This seventh round of funding received by Swiggy will also see the participation of its existing shareholder Meituan-Dianping, and a new investor Coatue Management, the company said in a statement.
 
DST Global is also a new investor in the firm.
 
"The latest round of funding will enable Swiggy to ramp up its supply chain network and expand to new markets, while investing in capabilities that enhance consumer experience," the Bengaluru-based Swiggy said.
 
This latest investment follows a $100 million Series F (sixth round) investment in February this year, also led by Naspers along with Meituan-Dianping.
 
With the funding, Swiggy aims to strengthen its technology for operations and connected supply chain systems.
 
"With this investment, we will continue to widen Swiggy's offerings, along with increasing our capabilities and plugging the gaps in the on-demand delivery ecosystem," said the company's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sriharsha Majety in the statement.
 
So far, Swiggy has raised over $460 million, after $100 million investment in February and about $80 million in May 2017.
 
Founded in 2014, Swiggy delivers food across 15 Indian cities with over 35,000 restaurant partners and 40,000 delivery executives.
 
It is currently operational in cities like New Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai.
 
IANS
 
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Discovery India, Byju's join hands for India's biggest school quiz show

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Discovery Communications India and edtech major Byju's today said they had joined hands to launch the country's biggest ever integrated school quiz show, which will target 25 lakh students in the age-group of 8-14 years.
 
The Discovery School Super League Powered By Byju's has been conceptualised at a never-before scale and transverse across on-ground, digital and television media, a press release from the online tutoring company said.
 
The quiz will reach out to 12,000-plus schools across 30 states and Union Territories, which will host the initial on-ground round.
 
Layered into three rounds – at School, City and State levels, the quiz will culminate into a 6-episode TV quiz show which will premiere on Discovery Channel, Discovery HD World, Discovery Science & Discovery Kids starting February 2019.
 
The final round will see representatives of 30 states battling it out on the largest quizzing platform, the release said.
 
The winners of the inaugural edition of the contest will get a special prize of an all-expense paid trip to United States space agency NASA.
 
“We are delighted to partner with Byju's and build a truly integrated 360-degree IP revolving around learning and fun or self-initiated learning. Our aim is to make ‘Discovery School Super League Powered By Byju's' as the gold standard in quiz contests across the country," said Vikram Tanna, VP, Head of Advertising Sales and Business Head of Regional Clusters, Discovery Communications India. 
 
“There is natural affinity between Discovery – a brand synonymous with satisfying the curiosity of inquisitive minds, and Byju's -- The Learning App -- that makes learning  a fun activity. Together we will be able to engage with school students and create great value for the channel, the partners and the students alike.”
 
Mrinal Mohit, Chief Operating Officer, BYJU’S, said, “We are happy to announce the launch of ‘Discovery School Super League Powered By Byju's. Both the teams have worked closely to create a quiz show which will encourage students to approach learning with a whole new perspective. Celebrating the importance of life-long learning, this quiz show aims at making learning fun, exciting and engaging.”
 
“With 20 million students learning from us today, the unprecedented scale of this nationwide project excites us even further," Mohit added.
 
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India overwhelm Test debutants Afghanistan

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India took full advantage of Afghanistan's inexperience in red ball cricket, dismissing them twice on the second day to romp home by an innings and 262 runs in the one-off Test at the M.Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.
 
India lived up to their billing as the No. 1 ranked Test side by riding on a collective team effort that saw them posting a commanding 474 in their first innings before the bowlers joined the party to dismiss the rookie visitors twice in two consecutive sessions.
 
After being bowled out for a paltry 109 in the first innings, the visitors were once again skittled out in a single session for 103 in their second essay.
 
Left-hander Hashmatullah Shahidi (36 not out) waged a lone battle, showing great resilience against a disciplined Indian bowling unit but failed to find support from the other batsmen who still seem to be in the T20 mould.
 
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja (4/17) and pacer Umesh Yadav (3/26) were the wreckers-in-chief in the second innings as the duo exposed the inexperienced Afghan line-up not once but twice in the same day.
 
Umesh started the onslaught in the second innings by ripping through the Afghan top order, which saw Mohammed Shahzad (13), Javed Ahmadi (3) and Mohammad Nabi (0) back in the hut with just 22 runs on the board.
 
Umesh's fellow pacer Ishant Sharma then struck with the wicket of Rahmat Shah (4) before Jadeja joined the party with the wickets of skipper Asghar Stanikzai (25), stumper Afsar Zazai (1) and Rashid Khan (12) in no time.
 
Ishant then jolted the visitors again by breaking through the defences of Yamin Ahmadzai (1) as the Afghans started looking down the barrel.
 
Jadeja then came back to pack Mujeeb Ur Rahman (3) while last man Wafadar fell for a duck to offie Ravichandran Ashwin, giving India a handsome win within two days.
 
Earlier, in the first innings, star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin led from the front with four wickets to bowl Afghanistan out for a meagre 109, the lowest total at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
 
Ashwin was well supported by Jadeja and Ishant, who picked up two wickets each to dismiss the visitors inside the second session.
 
Earlier, No.1 ranked India rode on centuries from Shikhar Dhawan (107) and Murali Vijay (105) and fluent half centuries from Lokesh Rahul (51) and all-rounder Hardik Pandya (71) to post a commanding 474 in their first innings.
 
India managed to add 127 runs to their overnight total of 347/6 on the second morning, thanks to Pandya's third Test half century and coupled with some cameos from the tailenders.
 
For Afghanistan, pacer Yamin Ahmadzai was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets while fellow quick Wafadar and wrist spinner Rashid Khan chipped in with two wickets each.
 
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