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.
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.
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.
He said all possible help would be rendered to the affected passengers and families. He also announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 200,000 for the next-of-kin of each of those killed in the accident, Rs 50,000 for the grievously injured passengers and Rs 20,000 for those with minor injuries.
Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, a former Minister for Railways and former Karnataka Chief Minister, was among those who reached the scene of the accident. 
"I am personally monitoring it and in touch with State and local administration. All Sr rail officials are directed by me to be on job," Mr Prabhu said.
"Condolences to all the  unfortunate members of the families who lost lives. Directed to provide best possible medical care to the injured," he said.
"Ordered enquiry to fix responsibility and for corrective action to prevent such unfortunate accidents. Monitoring action regularly," he added.
The Railways have set up the following helplines to provide information and assistance to victims and their relatives: 0948090599,  08022371166, 09731666751.
Besides, the Railways have set up the following helpline numbers in Kerala:
Trivandrum: 0471-2321205, 2321237, 09746769960
Ernakulam Jn.: 0484-2100317, 0813699773
Ernakulam Town: 0484-2398200
Trichur: 04877-2424148, 2430060
Aluva: 0484-2624143

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SC grants bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa

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

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

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

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1 dead, 14 hurt in twin blasts on Bangalore-Guwahati Express at Chennai station

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

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

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Minor earthquake shakes Ramanagara region of Karnataka

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

Cabinet approves transfer of land of HMT Watches Limited

The Union Cabinet yesterday gave its approval to a proposal by the Department of Heavy Industry to transfer land belonging to the public sector HMT Watches Ltd at Bangalore and Tumkur, measuring 208.35 acres, to Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on payment of Rs.  1194.21 crore and applicable taxes and duties.
The Cabinet also approved transfer of Bangalore (Global Warehouse) land of HMT Ltd. measuring one acre to Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) on payment of Rs. 34.30 crore and applicable taxes and duties.
An official press release said the proceeds from sale of land will be deposited by the company in Government Accounts against loans and advances, after meeting the immediate liabilities and accounting for tax liabilities arising out of the transaction.
HMT Watches Ltd., which was a pioneer in manufacturing watches in India, had to close its operations due to mounting losses with no scope for revival in the current competitive economic scenario.  The government decided to close down the company in January, 2016 with offer of attractive VRS/VSS to all employees.
The sale / transfer of land of HMT Watches Ltd at Bangalore and Tumkur to other Central government entities, ISRO and GAIL, will free the productive resources and ensure better utilisation of the scarce land resources in larger public interest, the release added.

GVK divests 33% of its stake in Bangalore airport to Fairfax for Rs. 2,202 crore

GVK Power & Infrastructure Limited today said it had divested 33% of its stake in Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) from its wholly owned subsidiary, Bangalore Airport & Infrastructure Developers Private Limited (BAIDPL) to Fairfax India Holdings Corporation, through its wholly-owned subsidiary in Mauritius, for an aggregate investment of Rs. 2202 crore (approximately $ 336.18 million).
Dr. G V K Reddy will continue to be the Co-Chairman, BIAL and Mr. G V Sanjay Reddy will lead the management team as the Managing Director of BIAL, a press release from the company said.
Dr. Reddy, founder Chairman and Managing Director, GVK, said,  “We reiterate that our primary focus is on deleveraging our balance sheet, and all proceeds from this stake sale shall be used to bring down our debt obligations to our lenders. We look forward to partnering with Fairfax and working with all the stakeholders in developing the Kempegowda International Airport through its next stage of expansion."
“GVK continues to remain bullish as a pioneer and long term investor in airport assets in India. Having qualified as the highest bidder for the Navi Mumbai airport recently, we shall continue to build iconic assets for the country," he added.

IIMB Healthcare Summit discusses ways of reaching the unreached

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

Goldman Sachs-sponsored IIMB “Women Startup Programme” selects 15 ideas to incubate

The NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL) at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) and Goldman Sachs, a leading global investment bank, have selected 15 women entrepreneurs-in-the- making and their ideas for incubation over the next year as the final phase of its Women Startup Programme.
The Women Startup Programme is India's first customized online and classroom training programme designed to grow the next generation of female entrepreneurs, a press release from IIMB said here today.
The 15 women selected to incubate at IIMB will receive a fellowship of Rs. 40,000 per month, while they further develop their business idea with the goal of starting a successful venture.
Launched in November 2016, the Women Startup Programme drew more than 1,700 aspiring female entrepreneurs from across the country for a five-week online course focused on encouraging women to systematically identify and test their business ideas.
Afterwards, 50 women entrepreneurs were selected to attend a three-week boot camp at IIMB to enable each participant to develop a robust "problem-solution" methodology for comprehending the success and sustainability of their ventures.
The final round culminated in a one-on-one demo day on February 25 where participants presented to a panel of entrepreneurs, Goldman Sachs professionals, and business leaders, including PC Mustafa, founder & CEO of ID Fresh Food; Manish Singhal, founding partner of Pi Ventures; and Abhay Hanjura, founder & CEO of Licious.
"Since 2008, through our 10,000 Women initiative, Goldman Sachs has been investing globally and in India in the economic empowerment of women through education and access to capital," said Sonjoy Chatterjee, chairman and co-CEO of Goldman Sachs (India). "The innovative business ideas developed through this mass outreach online and classroom programme reflect the entrepreneurial talent in India and the tremendous potential of women entrepreneurs," he added.
Prof. Suresh Bhagavatula, Program Director at IIMB and Chairperson, Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development, NSRCEL at IIMB, said, “Technology, either as the core business idea or using technology to scale, was a key theme in the programme. Many ideas also focused on community. Through the boot camp, our women entrepreneurs-in-the-making were able to learn and apply business acumen and technology expertise to help their ideas continue to grow into a viable business.”
The 15 selected ideas from the women entrepreneurs-in-the-making ranged across a variety of topics, including matching volunteers to social causes, specialized healthcare systems, and customized social networks.
The three-week boot camp, which was offered at no cost, provided 50 participants with an opportunity to network with successful women entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, MBA students from IIMB, and Goldman Sachs professionals. Participants also received classroom instruction on developing a business plan, understanding costing and pricing, sales and marketing, and negotiation skills. The average age of the class was 34 with youngest women being 22 years old and the oldest being 53.
Shreya, a homemaker for over 10 years, who previously had a boutique selling designer wear for women, participated in the programme and said, “I have benefited immensely from this IIMB boot camp. After taking the time to focus on my family for the past decade, this residential boot camp format with like-minded women has exposed me to the tools, processes and mentorship necessary to translate my concept into a working idea. Most importantly it has instilled in me the ambition, energy and confidence needed to launch my own business. My life has transformed in the last two months.”

DG, Army Aviation flies light combat helicopter at Aero India

Lt. Gen. Kanwal Kumar, the Director General of Army Aviation Corps, flew the indigenously developed light combat helicopter (LCH) at the Aero India 2017 here yesterday.
The LCH, developed by public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), will soon be inducted into the Indian Army.
An official press release said the LCH is light, manoeuvrable and armed with devastating fire power.  It has the capability to manoeuvre through narrow valleys, mountains and high altitude areas, providing effective support to ground operations.
"The LCH, armed with its turret mounted gun, rockets, air to air missiles and air to ground missiles is a potent force multiplier and shall greatly enhance the Indian Army's military capability," the release added.

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

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

ASCI, Hyderabad & Central University, Jammu sign MoU

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

Inequality is the number one risk: Vice-President Ansari

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

11th edition of Aero India to be held in Bengaluru from February 14-18

A total of 549 companies -- 270 of them from India and 279 from abroad -- are participating in the 11th biennial edition of the International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition – Aero India 2017 -- that will be held at the Air Force Station at Yelahanka here from February 14-18.
The air show, which began in 1996, has carved a niche for itself as a premium aerospace and aviation exhibition in the international arena and has become one of the most sought after exhibitions in the Asian region in terms of participation from across the globe. 
The event is being organized and conducted by the Defence Exhibition Organisation (DEO).
According to an official press release, the total area of the show has grown from 24,403 sqm to 27,678 sqm this year. The gross area has also increased from 2,50,000 sqm to 2,60,000 sqm.
As many as 72 aircraft will participate in the show this year. Besides, there will be aerobatic teams, including the Indian Air Force Sarang Team, the Indian Air Force Surya Kiran Team, the Scandinavian Air Show Team from Sweden and the Evolvkos Aerobatic Team from the United Kingdom.
The release said that about two lakh business visitors are expected to attend the show.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati will chair a CEOs' Conclave organized by the Andhra Pradesh government on Aerospace and Defence Manufacturing Opportunities in the state on February 14. 
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Union Ministers Y.S. Chowdary and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal B. S. Dhanoa, Defence Secretary G. Mohan Kumar, Defence Production Secretary A K Gupta and Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu are also expected to attend the event.
Industry bodies such as CII, FICCI and PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry have also organised various events on the Make in India theme on February 15.
A business-to-business meeting area has been created and is being offered to Indian business and industry free of cost. Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala are setting up exclusive SEZ pavilions for attracting investment.
Ministers of Defence, service chiefs and heads of department from various countries have confirmed their participation, it said.

Health Ministry launches single vaccine for measles, rubella

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

BCIC says Union Budget is "growth-focused" with emphasis on core sectors

The Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) today said  the Union Budget for 2017-18, presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Parliament earlier in the day, was "growth-focused".
In a statement, the industry body said the Budget would boost macroeconomics of the country despite serious crises in the global economy and political uncertainties, with specific emphasis on the development of core sectors especially infrastructure, agriculture and rural sectors for the next two years.
The hallmark of the Finance Minister’s presentation was a promise of containing the fiscal deficit for FY17-18 to 3.2 percent of the GDP and targeting to further prune it to 3 percent in the next two years without compromising on the spending on development schemes, it said.
Mr. Thyagu Valliappa, President, BCIC said: “The Budget has a slew of policy-oriented announcements and targets set for infrastructure, manufacturing, digital India, public sector, social sector, finance and corporate and income tax reforms, agriculture sector and investment on education, skill development which we believe will spur overall economic growth as it clearly sets the right tone for the next the two years”. 
He said that the Budget is focused on “efficiency and transparency in the long term ultimately aiming at improving and spurring the economy under the prevalent difficult challenging financial space due to demonetisation and de-globalisation effect.”
Mr. Valliappa said: “The huge capex push to inter-city, metro railway, road connectivity and development of Tier-II airports will radically improve the mobility of masses.” He also said: “Labour reforms are yet another important announcement in this budget. We need to see how the implementation is effected to bring in reforms in this critical sector. The focus on skill development and emphasis on college education is also a welcome measure.”
Welcoming the Budget, Mr. K R Sekar, Chairman, State Taxes Committee, BCIC and Partner, Global Business Tax, Deloitte said: “We expected corporate tax cut for the big companies, but that has not come through despite the Government promising to reduce it to 25 percent in the next two years. However, reduction in the rate of tax for SMEs from existing 30 to 25 percent is the most welcome measure. This significant change is made to provide the necessary boost to the MSME sector. If MSMEs are able to source lower credit it will provide the necessary impetus to job creation which is very crucial at this point of time.”
Mr. Sekar further added: “The abolition of FIPB is a step in the right direction and given the current state of Indian economy it sends all the right signals to overseas investors.”
Further he added: “The Finance Minister's announcement to confiscate assets of loan evaders is a very encouraging feature as this will radically reduce NPAs which is eating into government exchequer. Similar is the announcement of cleaning up of political funding. Both these are path-breaking and will radically enhance brand equity of India not only with the domestic but also overseas investors.”
In conclusion, BCIC feels that the Budget tries to provide a stable, predictable and consistent policy framework to facilitate long-term investment decisions. The Finance Minister has done a balancing act by focusing his attention on all sectors without overtly hurting or appeasing any individual section of the Society and all the policy initiatives seamlessly integrate with the proposed GST rollout post June 2017.

Wipro partners with, invests in Tradeshift to increase digitalization across Source-to-Pay Processes

IT services major Wipro Limited has announced a strategic partnership with Tradeshift, the fastest growing business commerce platform, to offer cloud-based Source-to-Pay (S2P) Business Process as a Service (BPaaS) solution.
A press release from the company said here yesterday that the partnership aimed to help customers accelerate digitalization and automation in their procurement, finance and accounting functions. 
Headquartered in San Francisco, Tradeshift offers a business commerce platform to digitally connect companies through cloud-based, collaborative accounts payable and procurement automation.
The release said the agreement combines the capabilities of Tradeshift’s platform with Wipro’s integrated S2P services. Wipro’s S2P solutions enable enterprises to achieve efficiencies across the procurement value chain. By adding Tradeshift’s capabilities in product database, e-invoicing, procurement automation, mobility-enabled access, and global supplier risk management, Wipro will be able to standardize and continually expand its business process as a service (BPaaS) offerings, it said.
In turn, businesses can automate processes, connect stakeholders and help customers collect and analyse data around all of their transactions, covering invoices, purchase orders and payments.
“Our partnership with Wipro will enable customers to easily capitalize on the value of the Tradeshift business commerce platform and the innovative solutions we can bring to the market together,” said Christian Lanng, CEO and Co-founder of Tradeshift. “Wipro’s global scale and procurement services expertise will amplify the benefits gained from an agile supply chain enabled by a single, digital connection between customers and their entire supply bases, including both process efficiencies and process transformation. We are very pleased to note that this partnership has already delivered two new joint enterprise clients.”
Nagendra P Bandaru, Senior Vice President and Global Head, Business Process Services, Wipro Limited said, “With transformation as the prime objective, enterprises are ready to adopt the next generation of process automation services, accelerating the digitization of business processes. Joining forces with an innovative company such as Tradeshift will provide our customers access to their global, cloud-based supply chain platform. Our combined BPaaS utility will allow customers to automate their supply chains and will usher in greater accuracy and superior efficiencies at a remarkable pace.”
Along with the partnership agreement, Wipro Ventures, the strategic investment arm of Wipro Limited, has made an investment in Tradeshift to strengthen the partnership and further develop Tradeshift’s innovative applications, trade financing solutions, platform and business-to-business marketplace ecosystem, the release added.

Biocon wins MYR 300 million contract for insulin from Malaysia

Biopharmaceuticals major Biocon Limited today said that Malaysia's Ministry of Health had awarded a three-year contract, valued at MYR 300 million, to its subsidiary, Biocon Sdn. Bhd. for supplying recombinant human insulin (rh-Insulin) formulations manufactured at its facility in Johor, Malaysia. 
Biocon’s rh-Insulin is Malaysia’s first locally manufactured biosimilar biologic product approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority (NPRA), Malaysia, for commercial sales in the country. 
This marks the commercialization milestone of Biocon’s first overseas facility in Malaysia, a press release from the company said.
According to it, Biocon Sdn. Bhd. has been awarded a MYR 300 million (approximately Rs. 460 crore) contract to be serviced over a period of three years for supplying rh-Insulin cartridges and re-usable insulin pens under the Malaysian government’s Off-Take Agreement (OTA) initiative, which seeks to encourage local manufacturing of new pharmaceutical products thus lowering the country’s reliance on imports and also enhancing the exports potential. 
The contract is extendable for additional two years subject to approval by the Government of Malaysia.
Biocon will distribute insulins and insulin delivery devices through CCM Pharmaceuticals, a leading local pharmaceutical player which has an extensive supply chain network to service primary healthcare clinics and hospitals across Malaysia. 
"Biocon is extremely proud to enable the government expand access to affordable insulin therapy for people with diabetes in Malaysia," the release said.
Biocon Chairperson & Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said: “We are pleased to support the Ministry of Health of Malaysia in providing high quality, affordable, rh-insulin for people with diabetes in Malaysia. It is a matter of pride that this is a ‘Made in Malaysia’ insulin product manufactured by Biocon Sdn. Bhd. at the BioXcell Biotech Park in Nusajaya, Johor. We expect our Malaysian facility to cater to the growing needs for affordable insulins across the globe.”
The release said rapid urbanization, changing lifestyles and sub-optimal dietary habits were leading to a high incidence of diabetes in Malaysia, with over 3.3 million people currently diagnosed with diabetes.
The Malaysian government spends nearly USD566 per year on every diabetic and with the number of people with diabetes projected to cross over 4.5 million by 2020, it will impact the government’s healthcare expenditure significantly, it said, citing various reports.
The release said locally manufactured affordable rh-Insulin had the potential to reduce the diabetes treatment cost burden and increase the access to insulin therapy for diabetes patients in Malaysia.
"Biocon’s state-of-the-art facility with 800,000 sq. ft. built-up area has been set up with an investment of MYR 1.1 billion and complies with the highest standards of global regulatory requirements. Through high quality, affordable insulin and insulin analogs manufactured at this facility, Biocon will strengthen Malaysia’s position as an emerging global biotechnology destination. Rh-Insulin is the first product from Biocon’s Malaysian facility approved by NPRA, which certified Biocon’s facility first in 2015," it said.
Biocon is recognized as Asia's largest insulins producer and has been committed to affordable diabetes management through rh-Insulin (Insugen, Insulin Glargine (Basalog) and insulin delivery devices in India and several emerging markets, the release said. 
Biocon is the largest Indian Insulins company and has been the first company from India to introduce biosimilar Insulin Glargine in Japan in 2016. It has received regulatory approvals for rh-Insulin in over 60 emerging markets and is providing the product in many of these markets through its local partners. The Company had earlier announced the regulatory filing with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for biosimilar Insulin Glargine validated at the Malaysian facility.
Biocon is one of the first Indian companies to join hands with the Malaysian Government to generate value for Biocon and the Malaysian biotechnology sector. The world-class integrated insulins facility, at the Bio-Xcell biotech park in Iskandar, Johor, was selected as an Entry Point Project (EPP) under Malaysia’s Healthcare National Key Economic Area (NKEA) initiative. 
"The facility draws a majority of its over 500-strong workforce from the local talent pool. It thus provides Malaysia’s biotechnology graduates and scientists a unique opportunity to make a critical contribution to global healthcare. The commercialization of Biocon’s facility will contribute towards Malaysia’s emergence as a global biotechnology hub," the release added.

Wipro announces retirement of TK Kurien on January 31

IT services major Wipro Limited today announced that Mr. T. K. Kurien, Executive Vice-Chairman & Member of its Board, will retire on January 31, 2017 after completing a distinguished career with the company.
 “TK has been an integral part of the organization’s leadership for years. He has played a vital role in building and scaling many of Wipro’s successful businesses besides spearheading our transformation into a future ready organization," Wipro Limited Chairman Azim Premji said.
"TK has long been a powerful voice in championing and espousing the cause of the industry in various fora around the world. I thank him and his family for his immense contribution to Wipro and wish him the very best for the next phase of his life and career," he said.
The company had announced the elevation of Mr. Kurien as Executive Vice-Chairman and the appointment of Abidali Z Neemuchwala as the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director a year ago.
“TK and Abid have worked together over the past 12 months to complete a smooth and effective transition. In the past year, TK and Abid have charted out a new technology roadmap and further deepened our client relationships besides scaling our big bets in automation, artificial intelligence and digital,” Mr. Premji said. "This seamless transition has allowed TK to advance his retirement from the previously planned date by two months."
“I consider myself deeply honoured and privileged to have been a part of this organisation. Together, we launched and led businesses to global recognition. We have grown manifold and are today a partner of choice for several marquee names around the world. I thank my colleagues and other stakeholders for their support over the years,” said Mr. Kurien.
“It has been my privilege and honor to work closely with TK, an exceptional leader gifted with a sharp intellect and an uncanny ability to sense technology trends well ahead of time. His abiding interest in history and deep understanding of finance gives him a rare perspective beyond the technology landscape. I wish him the very best,” said Mr. Neemuchwala.

Arts thrive only when people pay: Adoor Gopalakrishnan

Acclaimed film director, screenwriter and producer Adoor Gopalakrishnan today said only when people pay to enjoy the arts can artistes thrive.
Airing his views at a panel discussion on ‘Creative Approaches to Sustainability’ at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) here, Gopalakrishnan raised questions on the impact of technology on the arts, the role of an artiste in society and the need for people, and not just the state, to nurture art.
“Why must we only depend on government patronage? In our country, arts and culture are given last priority – they come after sports in every budget! So it is important to educate people on their responsibility to provide sustenance to the performing arts be it ‘Koodiyattam’ or ‘Kathakali,” he said.
Sanjna Kapoor, director of Junoon, the travelling theatre company, building on the theme of sustenance, spoke of the crying need for professional management in the field of the arts.
“Although there is a rich variety of the arts in India, we are not doing anything to value them or make them flourish. When we urbanize, if we don’t think of spaces for the arts, it is going to be detrimental to the health of the country. Our role as artistes is to claim our spaces, explore terrifying and new areas and shout out our needs,” she said.
On the subject of technology, while Adoor, ever the minimalist, observed that technology often diminishes palpability but can be harnessed by better technique, Sanjna chose the middle ground, suggesting that technology can help the artiste if used well.
“The arts should not be static; they should evolve and adapt. Opportunities, be it from technology or from the corporate world, need to be grabbed and managed well,” she added.
Responding to the role of an artiste in society, Odissi, Chau and Manipuri danseuse Sharon Lowen said an artiste must be a risk taker. “Creativity is the opportunity to keep exploring and learning, and to keep taking risks.” 
Indian classical dancer and choreographer Alarmel Valli spoke about the process of creating art. “Art becomes a cliché when the artiste becomes too secure. Vibrant tradition can fall prey to straitjackets. As artistes, we need to understand traditions, practice and internalise them and come up with something new. We should take the ‘then and there’ and make it our ‘here and now’,” she explained.
Award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter Vipin Vijay struck a different note when he confessed that contemporary artistes need to speak their mind more often.
Actor, director and screenwriter Pawan Kumar, whose films ‘Lucia’ and ‘U-turn’, have seen commercial and critical success said, “As a film maker, I see myself more as an artisan and less as an artiste.”
He spoke of sustenance in the context of his own creative journey from dropping out of engineering college to staging plays in an almost-empty theatre to enjoying box office success.
“Rewards and marketing are important for sustainability in the arts. As an artiste, I want people to listen to me. To have an audience is vital for sustainability. It is all about finding the right balance between making money and getting work acclaimed critically. Managerial competence and finance are also important for good art to thrive,” he explained.
The workshop, led by Prof. A. Damodaran, the IPR Chair at IIMB, brought together film directors, leading performing artistes and thought leaders for a day of stimulating discussions on how innovative creative organizations can make a transformative difference.
Earlier in the day, while welcoming participants to the round table, Prof. Damodaran said the forum was not a lit fest or a film fest, but a platform to explore whether simple can be beautiful, in the context of minimalism.
IIMB’s Dean Faculty Prof. Ishwar Murthy pointed out that IIMB strives to create a platform for exchange of ideas. “You can plant seeds of thought here today and things will happen. You can create the dots in a way that we all connect them,” he said.
The day’s other highlights included the screening of the 70-minute film, ‘A Door to Adoor: Images/ Reflections’, by well-known filmmaker Girish Kasaravalli on imagery in Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s films.
“There’s a huge difference between both our styles of film making. I use imagery to embellish my offerings, he uses imagery to heighten the minimalistic effect in his films,” said Kasaravalli.
Divided into five segments – all named after the master’s works – Kasarvalli’s film explored the use of minimalism in Adoor’s films through his choice of music, lighting and imagery.
This was followed by a masterclass on ‘Spinning Creative Ventures: The Junoon Saga’ by Sanjna Kapoor. There was a mesmerizing Kathakali performance by Margi, an organization dedicated to the revival of ‘Kathakali’ and ‘Koodiyattam’, through the Gurukula system of training.

Dusk-to-dawn tryst with classical music,dance at IIM Bangalore on R-Day eve

Akkarai sisters
Akkarai sisters
The Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) will host a dusk-to-dawn extravaganza of classical music and dance from 6 pm on January 25 till the dawn of Republic Day, featuring well-known names in Hindustani classical, Carnatic music and classical dance.
Hosted in association with SPICMACAY chapter at IIMB, the event,‘Yamini’, is held every year under the starry skies at the open air amphitheatre at the IIMB campus on Bannerghatta Road here.
This year, the event features Padma Shri award winners Pt. Venkatesh Kumar (Hindustani Vocal) and Ustad Shahid Pervez (Sitar), renowned danseuse Sujata Mohapatra (Odissi) and the youth sensations Sikkil Gurucharan (Carnatic Vocal) and the Akkarai Sisters (Carnatic Violin).
Entry is open to all. The event details and entry passes are available at, or on the Facebook event page:
Pt. Venkatesh Kumar from Dharwad near the Maharashtra-Karnataka border, a place famous for its rich musical tradition, especially Hindustani, has learnt music under the tutelage of the late Puttaraj Gawai, a saint-musician. Having received music training at Gawai’s ashram in Gadag, over the years, he earned national recognition. His robust style and seamless blending of key elements of the Kirana and Gwalior gharanas is also enriched by characteristics of the Patiala school.
Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan descends from six generations of sitarists. He is one of the leading exponents of the Etawah Gharana, committed to this most famous of Indian instruments. He was trained by his father and guru, Ustad Aziz Khan.
A distinguished practitioner of Odissi, Sujata Mohapatra made her initial foray into the dancing arena in her early childhood. Born into a rich cultural background, she grew up in an artistic environment that delicately nourished her creativity and brought out her innate interest in dance.
Mohapatra, as the disciple and daughter- in-law of the late Guru Padmabibhushan Kelucharan Mohapatra, had received 18 years of rigorous training under the guidance from him. She subsequently did further studies on the dance form and also undertook research work at the Odissi Research Centre, Bhubaneshwar. She is at present Principal of ‘Srjan’ an Odissi dance institution founded by Kelucharan Mohapatra.
Sikkil C. Gurucharan, born on June 21,1982 is the grandson of Sikkil Kunjumani, elder of the internationally acclaimed flautists, the Sikkil Sisters. Gurucharan has been under the tutelage of Vaigal S. Gnanaskandan and is currently being mentored by B. Krishnamurthy.
Akkarai Sisters, S Subhalakshmi and S Sornalatha, hail from a family with a rich background in Indian classical music. Their grandfather, Suchindram Shri S P Sivasubramanian, was a multifaceted musician renowned as a vocalist, violinist, and composer, and their grandmother R Sornambal was a Harikatha exponent. The sisters are the disciples of their father, Akkarai S Swamynathan, a veteran violinist and founder of the Swara Raga Sudha school of music.

IIM Bangalore launches incubation program for social ventures

The NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (NSRCEL) at IIM Bangalore (IIMB) has launched an incubation program for organisations engaged in solving problems affecting urban India in areas such as education, livelihood, health and financial inclusion.
The program, ‘NSRCEL Social’, aims to leverage the Centre’s experience to build successful not-for-profit social impact ventures, a press release from IIMB said.
It has invited applications for the first batch of change makers from registered not-for-profit organisations, which are between one and three years old.
The application process is open till January 31. Details can be seen here.
’NSRCEL Social’, in collaboration with Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), involves high profile mentors from diverse fields (angel investors, software professionals, chartered accountants, NGO founders, and so on.). Its advisory committee comprises established non-profit and business leaders from areas such as investment banking, IT, advertising and social sectors and IIMB faculty.
The program aims to address the lack of an effective support system for early-stage non-profit organisations in areas of funding, legal advisory services and operations. It will nurture select early-stage organisations over the next two years, helping them become world-class non-profits that deliver impact with the help of a growing pool of philanthropic and CSR funds invested in them.
NSRCEL has been the hub of entrepreneurial activity at IIM Bangalore since 2002. It has been incubating, supporting and seeding commercial ventures in collaboration with IIM faculty, the student and alumni community, and the larger venture ecosystem outside. The centre has touched the lives of more tan 15000 entrepreneurs over the years, actively incubating 67 ventures that have created over 4500 jobs and cumulatively stand at a billion dollar valuation in 2016.

Nisha Biswal, Priti Patel among 30 honoured with Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards 2017

British Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel and United States Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal are among those who were honoured with the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards 2017 here yesterday.
The awards were announced at the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Convention held here and presented by President Pranab Mukherjee during the valedictory session.
Among the other awardees were non-resident Indian (NRI) businessmen Vasudev Shroff of Dubai and the India Social and Cultural Centre, Abu Dhabi, both in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for community service.
The following is the list of awardees:
1.  Dr. Gorur Krishna Harinath, Australia - Community Service
2.  Mr. Rajasekharan Pillai Valavoor Kizhakkathil, Bahrain - Business
3.  Antwerp Indian Association, Belgium - Community Service
4.  Mr. Nazeer Ahamed Mohamed Zackiriah, Brunei - Community Service
5.  Mr. Mukund Bhikhubhai Purohit, Canada - Business
6.  Mr. Nalinkumar Sumanlal Kothari, Djibouti - Community Service
7.  Mr. Vinod Chandra Patel, Fiji - Social Service
8.  Mr. Raghunath Marie Antonin Manet, France - Arts & Culture
9.  Dr. Lael Anson E. Best, Israel - Medical Science
10. Dr. Sandip Kumar Tagore, Japan - Arts & Culture
11. Mr. Ariful Islam, Libya - Community Service
12. Dr. Muniandy Thambirajah, Malaysia - Education and Community Service
13. Mr. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Mauritius - Public Service
14. Mr. Antonio Luis Santos da Costa, Portugal - Public Service
15. Dr. Raghavan Seetharaman, Qatar - Business Management
16. Ms. Zeenat Musarrat Jafri, Saudi Arabia - Education
17. Singapore Indian Association, Singapore - Community Service
18. Dr. Carani Balaraman Sanjeevi, Sweden - Medicine
19. Mr. Susheel Kumar Saraff, Thailand - Business
20. Mr. Winston Chandarbhan Dookeran, Trinidad & Tobago - Public Service
21. Mr. Vasudev Shamdas Shroff, United Arab Emirates -Community Service
22. India Social and Cultural Centre, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Philanthropy and Community Service
23. Ms. Priti Patel, United Kingdom - Public Service
24. Ms. Neena Gill, United Kingdom - Public Service
25. Mr. Hari Babu Bindal, USA - Environmental Engineering
26. Dr. Bharat Haridas Barai, USA - Community Service
27. Ms. Nisha Desai Biswal, USA - Public Affairs
28. Dr. Mahesh Mehta, USA - Community Service
29. Mr. Ramesh Shah, USA - Community Service
30. Dr. Sampatkumar Shidramapa Shivangi, USA - 
Community Leadership
The PBD conventions have been held every  year since 2003 and have been honouring overseas Indians and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) since the first edition. Last year, the Government decided to hold the event once every two years and, accordingly, the number of awards has been doubled to 30.
The Jury-cum-Awards Committee can also make upto six suo motu  nominations for persons from the fields in which the awards are to be conferred. This year, the jury also considered overseas Indians'  contribution for achievements in philanthropic investments and charitable work in India and for contribution towards India’s development.
Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari was the chairman of the Jury-cum-Awards Committee for Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards (PBSA) and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj its vice-chairman.
Other members of the committee included Mr. Swapan Dasgupta, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha; Principal Secretary to Prime Minister; Dr. S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary; Mr. Rajeev Mehrishi, Home Secretary; Mr. Satish Chandra, former Ambassador of India to the USA; Ms. Indra Noooyi, CEO, Pepsico; Mr. Yusuf Ali M.A. Managing Director, Lulu Group of Industries, UAE; Mr. Shyam Parande, Secretary, Antar Rashtriya Sahyog Parishad; and Mr. Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay, Secretary (OIA & CPV), Ministry of External Affairs, who was the Member Secretary.

Mukherjee urges diaspora to remain foremost emissaries of unfolding Indian story

President Pranab Mukherjee today expressed the hope that the Indian diaspora spread across the world would remain foremost emissaries of the unfolding Indian story.
Delivering the valedictory address at the 14th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas (PBD) Convention, the President also gave away the Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Awards.
As people exposed to the best of western technology and yet having their civilizational moorings in the ageless and eternal ethos of India, they are doubly blessed, he said.
The synergy of the west and the east that they represent provides them with a unique position and opportunity that involves sharing knowledge between their home land and their adopted countries, he  said.
While they showcase India to their host countries, they also bring along the cultural heritage of their adopted lands to India. Mr Mukherjee said, to his mind, nothing could exemplify the belief of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam’ (the world is one family) more than this.
“As we continue to strive successfully in achieving our due and deserving place amongst the comity of nations, our ancient strengths in the realm of the sublime and the subtle should continue to remain in focus.
“Attention should be paid to the need for skill upgradation of temporary migrants going abroad in search of employment. Establishing linkages between the Government of India’s skilling programmes and the skill gap that exists amongst the migrant workforce will go a long way in enhancing their employability as well as earnings,” he added.
Referring to temporary migrants in the Gulf region and South East Asia for employment as low-skilled and semi-skilled labour, he noted that their remittances are the largest by any diaspora, at 12% of the total global remittances, amounting to $69 billion in 2015.
“Many of them are likely to return to India, but while they live abroad, all of them are vulnerable in many ways owing to the fact that they do not enjoy the privileges of citizenship in their host country.
“This is especially true of people working in areas of strife and conflict, with their security and physical well being on the line. In this regard, it is with satisfaction that I note the role played by their mother country in assuaging their concerns.
“In swift and coordinated operations involving multiple Ministries and organizations, we have been able to bring back thousands of fellow countrymen from strife-torn nations,” the President said.
He congratulated External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh for the initiatives.
The President also flagged the concerns of women and girls in India marrying into NRI families. He said even as the government and its agencies deal with this issue, the concerns of this particular section can be most effectively addressed by the local community organisations.
He called upon Indian Community Organisations abroad to continue to complement the government’s efforts in this regard.
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