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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 blames "continuous assault" by Narayana Murthy for Sikka's resignation

N. R. Narayana Murthy
N. R. Narayana Murthy
IT services major Infosys Limited today said that the "continuous assault" by its founder and former Chairman N. R. Narayana Murthy, including a letter he released to media houses recently, was the primary reason that its MD and CEO Vishal Sikka had resigned from his position.
 
The following is the text of a press release issued by the company today, shortly after announcing the resignation of Dr. Sikka.
 
"It has come to the attention of the Board that a letter authored by Mr. Murthy, the Founder of Infosys has been released to various media houses attacking the integrity of the Board and Management of the company alleging falling corporate governance standards in the company. The Board takes great umbrage to the contents of the letter and places on record the following:
 
--Mr. Murthy's continuous assault, including this latest letter, is the primary reason that the CEO, Dr. Vishal Sikka, has resigned despite strong Board support.
--Mr. Murthy’s letter contains factual inaccuracies, already-disproved rumours, and statements extracted out of context from his conversations with Board members.
--The Board assures its shareholders, employees, customers and communities that it is committed not to be distracted by this misguided campaign by Mr. Murthy and will continue to adhere to the highest international standards of corporate governance as it executes its strategy of profitable growth for the benefit of all Infosys stakeholders.
--Mr. Murthy’s campaign against the Board and the company has had the unfortunate effect to undermine the company’s efforts to transform itself.
--The Board has been engaged in a dialogue with the Founder to resolve his concerns over the course of a year, trying earnestly to find feasible solutions within the boundaries of law and without compromising its independence. These dialogues have unfortunately not been successful.
--The Board declines to speculate about Mr. Murthy’s motive for carrying out this campaign, including the latest letter.  The Board believes it must set the record straight on the false and misleading charges made by Mr. Murthy because his actions and demands are damaging the company and misrepresent its commitment to good corporate governance.
 
FACT: Since Dr. Vishal Sikka was appointed as MD and CEO in August 2014, Infosys has delivered competitive financial performance through profitable revenue growth. 
 
--Infosys has, under the leadership of Vishal, developed and articulated a strategy to transform itself to meet the rapidly changing needs of the marketplace in the 21 st century. The company was lagging significantly behind industry in growth rates when Vishal took over and now we are in top quartile from a performance perspective.
--Infosys has grown in revenues, from $2.13B in Q1FY15 to $2.65B this past Q1. This was done while keeping a strong focus on margins, closing this past quarter at 24.1% operating margin, beating some competitors for the first time in many years, and improving against nearly everyone in the industry. 
--The revenue per employee of the company has grown for six quarters in a row.  Attrition has fallen, from 23.4% in Q1FY15 to 16.9% this past Q1, and high performer attrition is much lower than the overall company attrition. 
--The company grew its $100M+ clients from 12 in Q1FY15, to 18 this past Q1, and increased its large deal wins from ~$1.9B in FY15 to ~$3.5B this past year.  This has all been done while improving overall utilization (excluding trainees), to a 15-yr high this past quarter, and an all-time high including trainees, while improving our cash reserves, rewarding Infoscions with a new equity plan, and returning Rs. 19,000 Crores as dividend (including dividend distribution tax) over the last three years.  This has all been done while improving standing with clients, to the highest ever in the 12 years with a jump of 22 points in CXO satisfaction.
 
FACT: Infosys has continued to maintain the highest standards of corporate governance that the company is known for.
 
--The Board of Infosys is carrying out its shareholder mandate to be an independent board, working towards the best interest of the stakeholders.
--The Board has sought the counsel of some of the most respected governance experts and legal advisors in the world, which have thoroughly investigated all anonymous allegations and concluded that no wrongdoing occurred.  For Mr. Murthy to imply – with no evidence whatsoever – that three well-respected international law firms, members of the Infosys Board and certain employees are engaged in some grand global conspiracy to conceal information is not tenable on its face. It is important to mention here that Mr. Murthy was interviewed as part of the investigation by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP in pursuance of the investigation in the Panaya acquisition, and was invited and welcomed to provide any information or evidence he believed would support the allegations being investigated. He did not provide any evidence since none exists. However, he has not mentioned this is his media communication against the investigation.
--As previously announced by the company on June 23, 2017, the Board thoroughly investigated each anonymous allegation with the assistance of highly respected external counsel and experts and determined that the allegations were entirely without merit. The Board will make no additional disclosure of the investigation report because further disclosure would be inconsistent with best corporate audit practices and would compromise the confidence of employees that they could report honestly, openly, and candidly to the company in any future investigation or legal matter.
--The Board also believes that any further use of resources and time on these matters would be a distraction for the company and would enable those wishing unfairly to attack company personnel to continue this harmful conduct.  Therefore, the Board has formally closed the investigations of the anonymous allegations so that the company can focus on strategy, performance, and the creation of shareholder value.  The Board remains focused to continuing to support Infosys’s strategy, which it believes is in the best interests of the company’s shareholders, employees, clients and communities.
 
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FACT: Mr. Murthy’s has made repeatedly made inappropriate demands which are inconsistent with his stated desire for stronger governance. 
 
Illustratively:
 
--Mr. Murthy has demanded that the Board adopt certain changes in policy, else he will attack board members in the public, which threat was carried out when the Board did not acquiesce; 
--He has demanded that the Board appoint specific individuals onto the Board under similar threat, without appropriate disclosure and without regard to basic determinants of appropriateness or fit of the candidate for the role as a Board member;
--He has demanded operational and management changes under the threat of media attacks;
--Notwithstanding that the remuneration package of senior management was approved overwhelmingly by shareholders (including members of the promoter group), Mr. Murthy preferred his dictat to prevail with no place or tolerance for the outcomes of shareholder democracy.
--Mr. Murthy wanted the demands to be adhered to without attribution to him. The Board has, in its fiduciary role to consider all shareholder inputs, treated each demand from Mr. Murthy as a suggestion and only acted on suggestions which we believed was in the best interest of the company and declined to act on others. Over time the demands have intensified, which when declined by the Board resulted in the threats of media attacks being carried out.
 
FACT: Mr. Murthy may be in the process of engaging in discussions with certain key stakeholders of the company to further his criticisms of the Board and Management.
 
We are concerned that this type of campaign runs the risk of confusing investors and undermining the company’s management efforts.
 
FACT: The Board is a fully independent Board, with professionals as its members who have been appointed by a clear majority of the shareholders.
 
--Given the commitment of the Board to remain independent and pursue a chosen strategy, the Board currently has no intention of asking Mr. Murthy to play a formal role in the governance of the organization.
--Co- Chair of the Board, Ravi Venkatesan has repeatedly over the past few weeks publicly stated his and the Board's support for Dr. Sikka. The company categorically rejects any speculation or allegation of discord between the Infosys Board and Dr. Sikka.
 
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Vishal Sikka resigns as Infosys MD and CEO, U. B. Pravin Rao named interim CEO

Dr. Vishal Sikka has resigned as Managing Director and CEO of IT services major Infosys Limited, citing, among others things, "a continuous stream of distractions and disruptions" in recent months which had become "increasingly personal and negative as of late".

Vishal Sikka. Photo: SAP
Vishal Sikka. Photo: SAP
Dr. Vishal Sikka has resigned as Managing Director and CEO of IT services major Infosys Limited, citing, among others things, "a continuous stream of distractions and disruptions" in recent months which had become "increasingly personal and negative as of late".
 
A press release from Infosys said its Board of Directors, at its meeting here today, accepted Dr. Sikka's notice of resignation, effective immediately.
 
"In his notice of resignation to the Board, Dr. Sikka reiterated his belief in the great potential of Infosys, but cited among his reasons for leaving a continuous stream of distractions and disruptions over the recent months and quarters, increasingly personal and negative as of late, as preventing management's ability to accelerate the company's transformation," the release said.
 
"The Board understands and acknowledges Dr. Sikka’s reasons for resignation, and regrets his decision. In particular, the Board is profoundly distressed by the unfounded personal attacks on the members of our management team that were made in the anonymous letters and have surfaced in recent months. As the Board has previously stated, a series of careful investigations found no merit to the unsubstantiated and anonymous allegations that had been asserted.  The Board denounces the critics who have amplified and sought to further promote demonstrably false allegations which have harmed employee morale and contributed to the loss of the company’s valued CEO," it said.
 
The Board also thanked Dr. Sikka, 50, for his outstanding leadership of the company, and for his extraordinary contributions during a period of rapid evolution in this industry. 
 
"The Board also appreciates Dr. Sikka’s commitment to facilitate a smooth transition to new leadership fully equipped to lead Infosys forward in this new era in our industry and to ensure continuity in our service to our valued customers," the release said.
 
The Board appointed Dr. Sikka as Executive Vice-Chairman of Infosys, effective today and he will hold office until the new permanent Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director takes charge, which should be no later than March 31, 2018, the release said.
 
"Dr. Sikka will continue to focus on strategic initiatives, key customer relationships and technology development. He will report to the Company’s Board.
 
"Mr. U. B. Pravin Rao has been appointed Interim Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director reporting to Dr. Sikka under the overall supervision and control of the Company’s Board.
 
"Dr. Sikka will receive an annual salary of $1 during his tenure as Executive Vice Chairman.  Any company equity awards held by Dr. Sikka that remain outstanding and unvested shall, during his term as Executive Vice Chairman, remain outstanding and shall continue to vest (and, in the case of stock options, become exercisable) in accordance with their terms," it said.
 
According to the release, when Dr. Sikka took over, the company was lagging behind industry growth.  
 
"During Dr. Sikka’s tenure as CEO, Infosys revenues have grown from $2.13B in Q1FY15 to $2.65B this past Q1, with strong margin performance and cash generation, throughout his tenure.  Dr. Sikka's approach to profitable growth delivered increase in liquid assets (including cash and cash equivalents) from $4.9B in June 2014 to $6.1B in June 2017, while paying dividends of over INR 19,000 Cr. (including dividend distribution tax) over these three years," it said.
 
"Under the leadership of Dr. Sikka, Infosys launched breakthrough new programs to drive innovation, education and entrepreneurship on a large scale. These programs included (i) Zero Distance, a program which was the first of its kind in the industry intended to drive grassroots innovation at a massive scale, through every employee, (ii) Design Thinking training, the largest program of its kind to drive creative confidence and problem-finding in every Infoscion, and (iii) Zero Bench, a bold notion of leveraging the bench as a means to drive additional value for clients. Employee attrition has decreased dramatically during Dr. Sikka's tenure, particularly among high performers, utilization is at a 10-year high, and client satisfaction is at an all-time high. The company launched more than 25 new services which rose to 8.3% of revenue last quarter, from zero percent in April 2015. 
 
"Dr. Sikka has also been a thought leader and visionary in artificial intelligence technology, recognizing early on the unprecedented value Infosys could deliver through automation and artificial intelligence-led innovation in clients' businesses. Under his leadership, Infosys developed and launched its artificial intelligence platform Nia, and already has more than 160 artificial intelligence scenarios deployed with more than 70 clients. Infosys has also ventured into new horizons both with design-thinking with clients and its start-up investment fund. Further, the Infosys US foundation has done inspiring work in bringing computer science education and a culture of innovating to the masses," the release said.
 
"Vishal has made a seminal contribution to the transformation of Infosys, and he will be remembered for infusing a refreshed sense of direction, purpose and energy in the organization. His vision for the future of the industry and the company will remain a strong reference point as we chart the future course for Infosys in this new era in our rapidly evolving industry. On behalf of our entire board of directors, I wish him well for the future," said Mr. R. Seshasayee, Chairman of the Board.
 
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Mr. Ravi Venkatesan, Co-Chairman of the Board, said: "I want to thank Vishal for his commitment to ensure a smooth transition and his commitment to a seamless experience for our clients. Pravin is a veteran Infoscion with deep knowledge of the business, and his long experience in the Company will help ensure a smooth transition."
 
Dr. Sikka commented, "I started my journey as the CEO of this iconic company with a mission to transform it on the basis of software, especially [artificial intelligence], and innovation, enabled by education. Three years later, I feel proud of our progress and achievements, from profitable revenue growth to rapid purposeful adoption of software, new services and grassroots innovation, to the extraordinary recognition from our clients worldwide. I am deeply grateful to our Board for providing me with strong support and guidance, and especially wish to thank our Chairman [Seshasayee] for his extraordinary and thoughtful stewardship, and look forward to working together on a smooth transition.  Congratulations to my friend and partner Pravin on his appointment, and heartfelt thanks to all Infoscions for their warmth, amazing support and the sparks of their imagination."
 
The Board has mandated the Chairman and the Nomination and Remuneration Committee to expeditiously identify and select a permanent CEO and Managing Director, the release said.
 
Dr. Sikka was selected as MD and CEO of Infosys in June, 2014, and took over the assignment on August 1, 2014, succeeding Mr. S. D. Shibulal. Prior to that, he was CEO and MD of SAP.
 
At SAP AG, Dr Sikka led all products and drove innovation closely. He had worked closely with leaders of global companies in building breakthrough business solutions. He was responsible for all products, from traditional and cloud-based applications to technology and platform products including HANA, analytics, mobile and middleware.
 
In addition, Dr. Sikka led multiple initiatives to accelerate innovation and research at SAP.
 
Dr Sikka was the first person from outside Infosys to become its CEO. He grew up in Vadodara, Gujarat and studied computer engineering at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. He completed his M.S. in Computer Science at Syracuse University and holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University in the United States.
 
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44 Gujarat Congress MLAs return to home state from Bengaluru resort

The 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs, who were taken by the party to a resort near Bengaluru for about two weeks to prevent alleged poaching attempts by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of tomorrow's crucial Rajya Sabha elections, returned to their home state early Monday morning.

 
Gujarat Congress MLAs return home from Bengaluru resort
The 44 Gujarat Congress MLAs, who were taken by the party to a resort near Bengaluru for about two weeks to prevent alleged poaching attempts by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of tomorrow's crucial Rajya Sabha elections, returned to their home state early this morning.
 
All the MLAs travelled together on an Indigo flight from Bengaluru and reached here around 4.45 am amidst heavy security.
 
Apart from the police, who were present in large numbers, there were also a large number of Congress and Youth Congress workers at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport when the MLAs landed.
 
As soon as the MLAs came out of the airport, they boarded waiting buses and left for a resort near Anand in Central Gujarat, about 80 km from here.
 
The Congress had shifted the 44 MLAs to Karnataka, that is ruled by the party, apprehending efforts by the BJP to lure away some of them ahead of polling day tomorrow in the Rajya Sabha elections.
 
The move to shift the MLAs to Bengaluru came after six MLAs resigned from the party -- three on July 27 and three more on the next day. The first three joined the BJP on July 27 itself.
 
The resignation of the six MLAs has come as a setback for the Congress, which has again fielded senior party leader Ahmed Patel, Political Adviser to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, for one of the three seats for which biennial elections are being held.
 
With the resignation of these MLAs, the strength of the Congress has come down to 51 in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, whose effective strength has come down to 176. 
 
This means that Mr. Patel, who is seeking a fifth consecutive term in the Rajya Sabha, will need at least 44 votes. As speculation rose about the possibility of more desertions from the Congress camp, the party leadership decided to take preventive steps and move all of them to Bengaluru.
 
The latest developments have also come only a few months ahead of the elections to the State Assembly, expected to be held late this year and just a few days after former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, who was leader of the Opposition in the state legislative assembly, parted ways with the Congress on July 21.
 
The six MLAs who have resigned include Mr. Balwant Singh Rajput, who was the Congress' chief whip in the assembly and is now the BJP's third candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections from the state, the other two being party president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani.
 
Mr. Shah is seeking entry into Parliament for the first time, while Ms. Irani is looking for a second consecutive term in the Upper House. Given its numbers in the Assembly, the BJP can easily get two of its candidates elected. Similarly, if there is no cross-voting, the Congress can also get one candidate elected.
 
While dissociating himself from the Congress at a function to celebrate his 77th birthday in Gandhinagar, Mr. Vaghela, a former Union Minister, had made it clear that he was not joining the BJP. He claimed the party had actually expelled him the previous day, something which the Congress denied.
 
"They expelled me 24 hours ago because they were not sure about what I would say here today...Vinashkale vipareet budhdhi," he had said on that day. 
 
"I am freeing myself from the Congress. I have resigned as the Leader of the Opposition. I will resign as Congress MLA after the (August 8) Rajya Sabha elections," he told the cheering crowd.
 
The former Chief Minister said he had assured Congress President Sonia Gandhi that he would not betray her trust. He said he had told her that he would not join the BJP.
 
Mr. Vaghela, who had turned a rebel within the BJP nearly two decades ago, had floated his own outfit, the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), which he finally merged with the Congress 17 years ago. 
 
The Congress said Mr. Vaghela had wanted to be appointed as the Gujarat Congress chief, a demand that the party could not accept. 
 
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Mr. Vaghela's move had come just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state then had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
By fielding Mr. Rajput, a relative of Mr. Vaghela, as its third candidate for the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is hoping to attract some votes from the Congress MLAs and try and prevent the re-election of Mr. Patel.
 
Mr. Patel is counting on the support of two NCP MLAs and one of the Janata Dal (United). Apart from his four terms in the Upper House, he has also served three terms as a member of the Lok Sabha.
 
The Congress has accused the BJP of using "money and muscle power" to engineer defections of its MLAs and complained to the Election Commission about the events in Gujarat.
 
The MLAs' stay in the Eagleton resort was not without drama. On the one hand, the BJP mounted strong criticisim of their travel outside the state when it was reeling under heavy  floods. On the other hand, Karnataka Energy Minister D. K. Shivakumar, who tasked by the Congress to look after the MLAs, found himself being raided by Income Tax officials. The Congress protested, saying the raids were politically motivated, while the Income Tax Department insisted they were part of an ongoing investigation against Mr. Shivakumar.
 
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Ansari warns against “purifying exclusivism” seeking to replace the pluralist view of nationalism

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Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari today warned against the intrusion of a “purifying exclusivism” seeking to replace the pluralist view of nationalism and Indianness in existence for the past several decades after independence.
 
Delivering the 25th Annual Convocation address at the National Law School of India University here, Mr Ansari said, “For many decades after independence a pluralist view of nationalism and Indianness reflective of the widest possible circle of inclusiveness and a ‘salad bowl’ approach, characterized our thinking.
 
“More recently an alternate viewpoint of ‘purifying exclusivism’ has tended to intrude into and take over the political and cultural landscape. One manifestation of it is ‘an increasingly fragile national ego’ that threatens to rule out any dissent however innocent. Hyper-nationalism and the closing of the mind is also ‘a manifestation of insecurity about one’s place in the world,” he added.
 
“While ensuring external and domestic security is an essential duty of the state, there seems to be a trend towards sanctification of military might overlooking George Washington’s caution to his countrymen over two centuries earlier about ‘overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty,” Mr Ansari said.
 
Citizenship does imply national obligations. It necessitates adherence to and affection for the nation in all its rich diversity. This is what nationalism means, and should mean, in a global community of nations, he added.
 
The Israeli scholar Yael Tamir has dwelt on this at some length. Liberal nationalism, she opines, ‘requires a state of mind characterized by tolerance and respect of diversity for members of one’s own group and for others;’ hence it is ‘polycentric by definition’ and ‘celebrates the particularity of culture with the universality of human rights, the social and cultural embeddedness of individuals together with their personal autonomy.’
 
On the other hand, ‘the version of nationalism that places cultural commitments at its core is usually perceived as the most conservative and illiberal form of nationalism. It promotes intolerance and arrogant patriotism,’ he said.
 
“What are, or could be, implications of the latter for pluralism and secularism? It is evident that both would be abridged since both require for their sustenance a climate of opinion and a state practice that eschews intolerance, distances itself from extremist and illiberal nationalism, subscribes in word and deed to the Constitution and its Preamble, and ensures that citizenship irrespective of caste, creed or ideological affiliation is the sole determinant of Indianness,” he said.
 
“In our plural secular democracy, therefore, the ‘other’ is to be none other than the ‘self’. Any derogation from it would be detrimental to its core values,” Mr Ansari said.
 
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While framing the Constitution, India's founding fathers took cognizance of an existential reality of a plural society and culture imbued with considerable doses of syncretism. “Our population of 1.3 billion comprises of over 4,635 communities, 78 % of whom are not only linguistic and cultural but social categories. Religious minorities constitute 19.4 % of the total. The human diversities are both hierarchical and spatial.
 
“It is this plurality that the Constitution endowed with a democratic polity and a secular state structure. Pluralism as a moral value seeks to ‘transpose social plurality to the level of politics, and to suggest arrangements which articulate plurality with a single political order in which all duly constituted groups and all individuals are actors on an equal footing, reflected in the uniformity of legal capacity. Pluralism in this modern sense presupposes citizenship,” he added.
 
Citizenship as the basic unit is conceptualized as “national-civic rather than national-ethnic” ‘even as national identity remained a rather fragile construct, a complex and increasingly fraught ‘national-civic-plural-ethnic’ combinations.’ In the same vein, Indianness came to be defined not as a singular or exhaustive identity but as embodying the idea of layered Indianness, an accretion of identities, Mr Ansari said.
 
Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, Supreme Court Chief Justice Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Supreme Court Judge, Justice Dipak Misra, Minister of Higher Education, Karnataka, Basavaraj Rayareddi, the Minister for Law and Justice, T B Jayachandra, former Chief Justice of India, Dr. Justice (Rtd.), Rajendra Babu, the Chairman, Bar Council of India, Manan Kumar Mishra, the Vice Chancellor, NLSIU, Prof. R. Venkata Rao were present on the occasion.
 
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Infosys to acquire digital innovation and customer experience studio, Brilliant Basics

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IT services major Infosys today said it had reached a definitive agreement to acquire Brilliant Basics, a London-based product design and customer experience (CX) innovator known for its world-class design thinking-led approach and experience in executing global programs.
 
"This acquisition represents Infosys’ commitment to the expansion of a worldwide connected network of Digital Studios. These studios are focused on fulfilling the needs of our global clients for end-to-end Digital Transformation solutions required to meet customer demand for next-generation enhanced customer experiences," a press release from the company said.
 
“Adding Brilliant Basics’ design and CX capabilities has already proven to be invaluable, helping Infosys close large deals with a deep blend of skills,” said Ravi Kumar S, President & Deputy COO, Infosys. “Brilliant Basics will leverage the breadth and depth of Infosys Digital to drive Digital Transformation solutions, which connect our clients’ Systems of Record to new Systems of Engagement.”
 
Brilliant Basics Founder and CEO, Anand Verma added, “I am thrilled to be a key part of Infosys, a company I have admired for a long time. Being a key member of the Infosys family allows Brilliant Basics “bb" to enhance and scale the overall offering for our clients. Infosys has a unique vision and approach to partnership and acquisition, which will enable us to closely collaborate on Digital Transformation programs globally.”
 
With Infosys Digital Studios spanning the globe – from Bengaluru and Pune to New York, London and Melbourne – the addition of Brilliant Basics will enhance the company’s expertise in the financial services, retail and telco sectors across Europe and the Middle East, the release said.
 
“We are already seeing the synergies of our relationship, having partnered together on numerous Digital Transformation engagements and wins,” said Scott Sorokin, Global Head of Infosys.Digital. “Looking ahead, we expect Brilliant Basics to play a key role in our continued success.”
 
The acquisition is expected to close during the second quarter of fiscal 2018, subject to customary closing conditions, the release added.
 
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Income Tax Department conducts raids on Karnataka Minister D. K. Shivakumar

The Income Tax Department on Wednesday carried out searches at the premises of Karnataka Energy Minister D. K. Shivakumar at various locations as well as at a resort near Bengaluru, where 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat are staying ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections from their state.

D. K. Shivakumar
D. K. Shivakumar
The Income Tax Department today carried out searches at the premises of Karnataka Energy Minister D. K. Shivakumar at various locations in Karnataka and in Delhi as well as at a resort near here, where 44 Congress MLAs from Gujarat are staying ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections from their state.
 
The raid at the Eagleton Resort was confined to a room which Mr. Shivakumar was occupying and was not related in any way to the presence of the MLAs from Gujarat, the Income Tax Department said.
 
According to official sources, raids were being conducted at 39 premises in all belonging to Mr. Shivakumar and his family.
 
The Congress shifted about 44 of its MLAs in Gujarat last week to the resort in a bid to prevent poaching by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the crucial August 8 elections to the Rajya Sabha.
 
The move came after six MLAs resigned from the party, three on Thursday and three on Friday. The first three joined the BJP later on Thursday.
 
The move to shift the MLAs to Bengaluru came after six MLAs resigned from the party -- three on Thursday and three yesterday. The first three joined the BJP on Thursday itself.
 
Mr. Shivakumar had been tasked by the Congress leadership to look after the MLAs. The Congress, which had accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of using money and muscle power to force its MLAs to resign and defect, said that the timing of the raids raised serious questions.
 
"The Karnataka Investigation Wing of the Income Tax Department is conducting searches in the case of a Karnataka Minister," a press release from Director General of Income Tax (Investigation), Bangalore said.
 
"The search under Section 132 of the Income Tax Act is an evidence gathering exercise which is being carried in compliance with all statutory requirements. The search is the continuation of an investigation which has been in progress for a considerable period of time," it said.
 
"The timing of the search was decided well in advance. The events involving certain MLAs of another state being brought to Karnataka were unforeseen and unpredictable events," the release said.
 
"The Minister being searched was staying at a resort near Bangalore where some MLAs from another state are put up. Hence the Minister’s room alone is being searched. The search team has no concern with the MLAs and there has been no contact with MLAs  and the search team.
 
"It is again reiterated that the Income Tax search is only on one Karnataka Minister," the release added.
 
The Congress raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha and alleged that the BJP-led NDA government was misusing Central agencies for its political purposes. Congress leader Anand Sharma took up the issue during zero hour, following which Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the leader of the House, sought to clarify that the raids were only against Mr. Shivakumar and had nothing to do with the presence of the MLAs at the resort.
 
He said the Income Tax officials had raided the room occupied by Mr. Shiva Kumar, as part of searches at 39 locations, and had not searched any other room at the resort. He asserted that the fact that Mr. Shivakumar was staying at the resort did not confer any immunity on him.
 
Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad accused the Government of using foul means to force Congress MLAs to defect to the BJP. He said the Government had failed in its duty to ensure that elections were held in a free and fair manner and without fear.
 
As Deputy Chairman P. J. Kurien moved to other issues, the Congress members trooped into the well of the House and raised slogans.
 
The depletion in its strength in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly has come as a setback for the Congress, which has again fielded senior party leader Ahmed Patel, Political Adviser to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, for one of the three seats for which biennial elections will be held on August 8.
 
After the resignation of the six MLAs, the strength of the Congress has come down to 51 in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, whose effective strength has come down to 176. 
 
This means that Mr. Patel, who is seeking a fifth consecutive term in the Rajya Sabha, will need at least 44 votes. As speculation rose about the possibility of more desertions from the Congress camp, the party leadership decided to take preventive steps and move all of them to Bengaluru.
 
The latest developments have also come only a few months ahead of the elections to the State Assembly, expected to be held late this year and a few days after former Gujarat Chief Minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, who was leader of the Opposition in the state legislative assembly, parted ways with the Congress on July 21.
 
The six MLAs who have resigned include Mr. Balwant Singh Rajput, who was the Congress' chief whip in the assembly and is now the BJP's third candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections from the state, the other two being party president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani.
 
Mr. Shah is seeking entry into Parliament for the first time, while Ms. Irani is looking for a second consecutive term in the Upper House. Given its numbers in the Assembly, the BJP can easily get two of its candidates elected. Similarly, if there is no cross-voting, the Congress can also get one candidate elected.
 
Mr. Vaghela's move had come just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state then had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
By fielding Mr. Rajput, a relative of Mr. Vaghela, as its third candidate for the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is hoping to attract some more votes from the Congress MLAs and try and prevent the re-election of Mr. Patel.
 
Mr. Patel is counting on the support of two NCP MLAs and one of the Janata Dal (United). Apart from his four terms in the Upper House, he has also served three terms as a member of the Lok Sabha.
 
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Former Karnataka Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh passes away

N. Dharam Singh
N. Dharam Singh
Former Karnataka Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh passed away at a private hospital here this morning after suffering a cardiac arrest, official sources said.
 
He was 80.
 
Mr. Singh served as the 17th Chief Minister of the State from May 2004 to February 2006 at the head of a Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government.
 
Born on December 25, 1936, Mr. Dharam Singh was elected to the Karnataka Legislative Assembly for seven consecutive terms. He also represented Bidar in the 14th Lok Sabha.
 
He had begun his political career as an independent councillor in Kalaburagi. He started out as a socialist before joining the Congress in the late 1960s and remained loyal to the party since then, a factor that led to his elevation as Chief Minister in 2004.
 
He had also served as a Minister under various Chief Ministers such as Devraj Urs, R. Gundu Rao, S. Bangarappa, M. Veerappa Moily and S. M. Krishna, handling diverse portfolios. He also worked as president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee in the 1990s.
 
The coalition government headed by him collapsed in February 2006 and he was succeeded by JD (S) leader H. D. Kumaraswamy at the head of a coalition government with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Mr. Dharam Singh then served as the Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.
 
"Shocked to hear the demise of our former CM & one of Karnataka's tallest leaders Shri N Dharam Singh. My heartfelt condolences to his family," Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"Today, Karnataka has lost a well respected, affable and beloved leader. And I have lost a dear friend," he added.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condoled the demise of Mr. Dharam Singh.
 
“Saddened by the demise of former Karnataka CM Shri N. Dharam Singh. My thoughts are with his family & supporters in this sad hour.
 
"Shri N. Dharam Singh had rich experience in Karnataka & national politics. His dedicated service towards society will be remembered," he said on Twitter.
 
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Eminent space scientist and former ISRO Chairman U R Rao passes away

Prof. U. R. Rao
Prof. U. R. Rao
Renowned space scientist and former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Udupi Ramachandra Rao passed away at his residence here in the early hours of today, ISRO officials said.
 
He was 85. He is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter. His last rites will be held here later today, they said.
 
Prof. Rao was respected for his original contributions to the development of space technology in India and its extensive application to communications and remote sensing of natural resources.
 
He was the Chairman of the Governing Council of the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) at Ahmedabad and the Chancellor of the Indian Institute of Science and Technology at Thiruvananthapuram. 
 
Born on March 10, 1932 at Adamaru in Karnataka, he strudied at Christian High School, Udupi, Government Arts and Science College, Anantpur, and  Banaras Hindu University. He completed his Ph. D. at Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) under the guidance of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai.
 
Prof. Rao started his career as a cosmic ray scientist, and worked under Dr. Sarabhai, which he continued at MIT. He also worked as Assistant Professor at University of Texas at Dallas where, in association with the JPL Group, he was the first to establish the continuous nature of the solar wind and its effect on geomagnetism using Mariner 2 observations.
 
His experiments on a number of Pioneer and Explorer spacecraft led to a complete understanding of the solar cosmic ray phenomena and the electromagnetic state of the interplanetary space. 
 
Prof. Rao returned to India in 1966 as Professor at PRL, Ahmedabad. Convinced of the imperative need to use space technology for rapid development, Prof. Rao undertook the responsibility for the establishment of satellite technology in India in 1972. Under his guidance, beginning with the first Indian satellite "Aryabhata" in 1975, over 18 satellites including Bhaskara, APPLE, Rohini, INSAT-1 and INSAT-2 series of multipurpose satellites and the IRS-1A and IRS-1B remote sensing satellites were designed, fabricated and launched for providing communication, remote sensing and meteorological services.
 
After taking charge as Chairman, Space Commission and Secretary, Department of Space in 1984, Prof. Rao accelerated the development of rocket technology, resulting in the successful launch of Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) rocket and the operational Polar Sattelite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) launch vehicle, which can launch 2.0 ton class of satellites into polar orbit. 
 
Prof. Rao initiated the development of the geostationary launch vehicle (GSLV) and the development of cryogenic technology in 1991.
 
He was responsible for successful launch of INSAT satellites during his stint at ISRO, which gave a big thrust to communications in India, during the 1980s and 1990s and led to the IT boom in the country.
 
Prof Rao had published over 350 scientific and technical papers covering cosmic rays, interplanetary physics, high energy astronomy, space applications and satellite and rocket technology and authored many books.He was also the recipient of D.Sc. (Hon. Causa) degree from over 25 Universities including University of Bologna, the oldest University in Europe.
 
He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the nation's third highest civilian honour, by the Government in 1976 and the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour, in 2017.
 
He was the first Indian space scientist to be inducted into the prestigious “Satellite Hall of Fame” at Washington DC, USA on March 19, 2013. Earlier, he had become the first Indian to be inducted into the International Astronautics Federation (IAF) Hall of Fame on May 15, 2016 at Guadalajara, Mexico.
 
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IIM Bangalore sets up Case Recording Lab to advance digital delivery of management education

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Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Director G. Raghuram inaugurated a Case Recording Lab set up at IIMB here today as part of its efforts in digital learning.
 
Set up with funding support from Mitsubishi Corporation India Limited and Metal One Corporation India Limited, the laboratory is equipped to record and encapsulate live case discussions, a press release from IIMB said.
 
"The aim is to create a digital repository of teaching and learning aids that captures the essence of the case method of teaching in the IIMB classroom," it said.
 
The release said that, through the IIMBx MOOCs Programme, IIMB has offered Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to more than five lakh global learners in various core and specialized management subjects. Videos are the backbone for delivering pedagogically designed digital content to learners and with this lab, IIMB has strengthened its technical capability to produce world-class MOOCs, it said.
 
Inaugurating the Case Recording Lab, Dr. Mazumdar-Shaw said: “The country needs to leverage MOOCs on a massive scale to enable millions of Indian youth access high-quality education. IIMB has taken great strides in the area of making management education accessible through digital platforms. This lab is another instance of the institute’s continued focus on technology innovation to make education effective and far-reaching.”
 
Observing that IIMB has taken a very strong lead in providing quality digital learning in the management education space to Indian and global learners, she said that when she visited MIT recently, she learnt that IIMB is one of the most important partners of the edX platform and the initiatives are seen as ‘problem solvers’ on the platform. 
 
Dr. Mazumdar-Shaw lauded the "incredible reach" of MOOCs, calling it the true democratization of education. 
 
In his opening remarks, MCI Chairman and Managing Director Eisuke Shiozaki, said:  “It is a great pleasure to be associated with IIM Bangalore and with the project which will allow education to reach to millions of students across the globe.” Describing the IIMBx Case Recording Lab as “another addition to the global IOT movement”, he said he hoped that the lab would go a long way in supporting future managers and decision-makers of India.
 
Professor Raghuram emphasized IIMB’s strong focus on reinforcing Indo-Japan ties in the domain of management education and said, “IIMB is thankful to Mitsubishi and Metal One for their support in our technological endeavor. We hope that the Case Recording Lab is one of many initiatives that the institute accomplishes in collaboration with our Japanese partners.”
 
Thanking the IIMB Board of Governors for their support to IIMB’s MOOCs initiative and the faculty of IIMB for devoting time to create and deliver quality management MOOCs, Prof. Raghuram announced that IIMB would soon be setting up a Japan Centre. “The Japan Centre @ IIMB aims to become a knowledge centre of Japanese business history, business strategies and technology innovations,” he added.
 
As a location, Prof. Raghuram said Bangalore boasts the highest number of Japanese companies and professionals in India. “Further, Bangalore has been ranked among the world’s best innovation ecosystems and IIM Bangalore is ideally positioned to start a Japan Centre.”
 
IIM Bangalore’s Deans of Faculty, Administration and Academic Programmes – Prof. Gopal Naik, Prof. G Shainesh and Prof. Sourav Mukherji, along with senior faculty members Prof. R Ravi Kumar and Prof. M S Narasimhan, were present at the inauguration.
 
Earlier, in his welcome address, Prof. P D Jose, Chairperson, IIMB Digital Learning Initiatives, offered an overview of IIMBx, the MOOCs programme of IIM Bangalore, and highlighted its success in delivering these programmes in 190 countries to those who may not, otherwise, have had access to quality management education. “IIMBx is proof of IIMB’s commitment to delivering quality management education to all," he added.
 
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GVK completes sale of its 10% residual stake in Bangalore Airport to Fairfax India for Rs. 1290 crore

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GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd today said it had successfully completed the sale of its residual stake of 10% in Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), held through its subsidiary, Bangalore Airport Infrastructure Developers Private Limited, (BAIDPL) to Fairfax India Holdings Corporation  for a consideration of Rs. 1,290 crore (approximately $200 million).
 
In March 2017, GVK closed an agreement which was signed during March 2016 with Fairfax India to sell a 33% stake in BIAL. It had retained a 10% stake and the management of BIAL.
 
Subsequently, in June 2017, GVK announced its decision to conclude the sale of this 10% residual stake to Fairfax India, subject to necessary consents and approvals. 
 
Dr. G V K Reddy, Founder Chairman & Managing Director of GVK, said, “Since deleveraging is currently our top priority, we decided to part ways with BIAL. However, we would like to reiterate that the airports sector will continue to be a core focus area for GVK.”
 
“We will now focus on Mumbai as well as the Navi Mumbai airport for which we have won the bid  and also on selectively evaluating privatisation opportunities. Capacity optimisation and real estate development will now be the priority areas for the existing Mumbai airport,” he added.
 
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Infosys announces commitment to create 2,000 tech jobs in North Carolina by 2021

IT services major today announced that it will open its next Technology and Innovation Hub in North Carolina in the United States and hire 2,000 American workers in the state by 2021.
 
This investment reinforces Infosys’ commitment, announced in May 2017, to open four Technology and Innovation Hubs in the US and hire 10,000 American technology workers over the next two years. 
 
The announcement of the new hub in North Carolina, marks the second key milestone in Infosys’ strategy to help drive American innovation and create the next generation of American innovators. The company plans to hire the first 500 of these 2,000 North Carolina workers by the end of two years, with the remainder to be hired in the state by 2021. 
 
The first hub, announced in Indiana, will hire 2,000 American workers by 2021 and help boost Indiana’s economy, a press release from the company said.
 
The release said these new hires would include recent graduates from the state’s prestigious network of colleges, universities and community colleges, as well as local professionals who will benefit from upskilling through Infosys’ world-class training curriculum.
 
As part of its commitment to create 2,000 jobs in the state of North Carolina, Infosys is partnering with the North Carolina community college system  to create a customized program designed to train the workforce of the future. North Carolina is also contributing a $3 million grant towards upskilling these workers, it said.
 
“It is our endeavor, and our passion, to be a leader in boosting American innovation in the transformation of core industries, and to help create the next generation of American innovators and entrepreneurs through world-class education and training,” said Dr. Vishal Sikka, Chief Executive Officer, Infosys. 
 
“This is absolutely critical as we help our US clients, and every client, renew their core businesses and simultaneously innovate into new breakthrough areas, while empowering employees through learning and education. To this end, North Carolina was a clear partner for us, and we are really excited to announce one of the largest jobs commitments ever in North Carolina state history. With a talented technology workforce focused increasingly on progressive fields such as advanced manufacturing and clean technology, a diverse economy strong in financial services and life sciences, and a rich talent pool drawn from North Carolina’s many top universities, research institutions and community colleges, these graduates and experienced professionals will leverage AI, machine learning, analytics, cloud, and more, to drive the transformation of core American industries such as aerospace, banking, biotech, and energy," he said.
 
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“North Carolina’s central role in technology innovation makes our state a perfect fit for Infosys,” said Governor Roy Cooper.  “Our world-class universities and our high-tech workers drive growth and attract companies from around the world that are looking to innovate."
 
The North Carolina Technology and Innovation Hub is part of Infosys’ investment in the future of the U.S.  tech workforce and will focus on cutting-edge areas, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, user experience, emerging digital technologies, cloud and big data. The Hub will enable the company to more closely serve valued clients within North Carolina and the surrounding region, where increasing demand for co-innovation, requires skilled technology talent to be at zero distance to the customer. 
 
"This investment also enables Infosys to build on the strength of its existing North Carolina network of highly skilled professionals. The Hub will facilitate greater collaboration and advancement in key North Carolinian industries such as financial services, information technology, life sciences, clean technology, advanced manufacturing and more.   
 
"Infosys’ investment in North Carolina and wider national commitment to hire 10,000 American workers is a natural evolution of the company’s three-decade legacy in the United States, and builds on the company’s commitment to continuous learning, ecosystem collaboration and focus on achieving breakthrough innovations for clients. This commitment to education also extends to the company’s charitable foundation, Infosys Foundation USA. In North Carolina, the Foundation has provided multiple grants for classroom technology and computer science training to teachers and schools. To date, these grants have reached 2,400 students and 26 schools across the state," the release added.
 
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Mukherjee says higher education institutions must develop social connect

President Pranab Mukherjee addressing the annual convocation of the Indian Institute of Science at Bengaluru on July 5, 2017.
President Pranab Mukherjee addressing the annual convocation of the Indian Institute of Science at Bengaluru on July 5, 2017.
President Pranab Mukherjee said here yesterday that the country's centres of higher learning have to develop their social connect and underlined the need to instill in students a sensitivity that will inspire them to search for solutions to vexed socio-economic problems.
 
Speaking at the annual convocation of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) here, Mr. Mukherjee said it was important to remember that by 2030 India would have a huge population comprising youth.
 
"This would be an opportunity to capture the world market. However, this demographic dividend could convert into demographic liability if we do not provide necessary skills to our youth," he said.
 
He said that he wanted that bright minds in India should engage themselves in basic research. The onus is on the institutions to produce men and women of substance and character, not merely competent professionals. He expressed hope that the students of IISc who got their degrees today would contribute handsomely to the nation. 
 
Mr. Mukherjee said IISc, established in 1909, was the result of a visionary public-private partnership between Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, the Maharaja of Mysore and the Government of India. 
 
"Over the last 108 years of its fruitful existence, the Institute has laid balanced emphasis on the pursuit of basic knowledge in science and engineering, as well as on the application of its research findings for industrial and social benefit," he said.
 
He stated that it was worth mentioning that Prof. J.C. Ghosh, the Director of IISc in the 1940s, who is credited with the setting up of several engineering departments in IISc, became the founding Director of the first IIT at Kharagpur. 
 
The President said that many alumni and faculty of IISc have played and continue to play strong roles in leading national science and technology institutions and in various advisory or administrative roles in the government. He was happy that IISc has consistently maintained its reputation of being India’s premier institute of higher education and research. Its academic stature as India’s best university has been confirmed by the National Institutional Rankings Framework in both 2016 and 2017. It is also recognized globally, having been ranked amongst the top 200 universities in the QS International Rankings. 
 
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He said that to his mind, a key ingredient that has contributed to its success is the quality and the number of its faculty members, one that has steadily been increasing in the last few years. He was informed that of the 4,000 students in its campus, over 2,500 are pursuing doctoral degrees. Of its 40 departments and centres, 18 are dedicated to science, 13 to engineering, and the remaining to inter-disciplinary research. 
 
The President said that the higher education sector in India has seen massive expansion. The number of universities has increased to 760 and the number of colleges to 38,500. Such expansion has led to better access. However, it has thrown open some challenges like resource constraints and lack of availability of quality teachers. To his mind, an inspired teacher is one who ignites young minds and raises their latent curiosity. 
 
The President said that if Indian institutions have to become world-class, they will have to adopt best practices in their academic management. They will have to move relentlessly in the direction of excellence in whatever they do. The spheres of intervention are many. For one, our institutions have to provide the best of amenities to their academic community. State-of-the-art laboratories will enable quality experiments. Good classrooms including well-stocked libraries will offer students an enriched learning environment, he added.
 
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HCC–URCC JV awarded Rs 798 crore Bangalore Metro contract

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Infrastructure major Hindustan Construction Company Ltd (HCC), a lead partner in the joint venture (JV) with URC Construction Pvt Ltd. (URCC), has been awarded a Rs 797.29 crore contract by the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. 
 
HCC's share in the JV is 51% (Rs 406.61 crore) and the project is to be completed in 36 months, a press release from the company said.
 
The contract is for the construction of 6.340 km long elevated corridor and five elevated stations between HSR Layout station and RV Road station. 
 
The five stations on this section are Central Silk Board, BTM Layout, Jayadeva Hospital, Ragigudda and RV Road. 
 
The contract also includes the construction of a road-cum-rail flyover, road widening and allied works, the release said.
 
This is a part of the fully elevated 18.82 km R.V. Road to Bommasandra section of Phase II of Bangalore Metro Rail Project. The total length of Phase II is 72.095 km out of which 13.79 km is underground. This phase has 6 sections with 61 stations out of which 12 stations are underground.
 
Mr. Arun Karambelkar, President & CEO- E&C, HCC Ltd. said “Our expertise in metro construction has been instrumental in HCC bagging this prestigious contract. We are confident of completing the project well on time as we plan to go on with our task in a systematic and efficient manner. Once completed, this project will benefit thousands of Bangalore residents.” 
 
HCC has been associated with six packages of Delhi Metro totaling 23 km of tunnels and 12 underground stations. In Kolkata Metro, HCC has constructed 6.47 km tunnels in six packages that include four underground stations. And in the Mumbai Metro I, the company has built eight elevated stations. Currently HCC is executing four underground stations for Mumbai Metro III and twin bored tunnels, 3,115 m long, the release added.
 
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GAIL's City Gas Distribution project in Bengaluru takes off

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

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President Pranab Mukherjee dedicated the Metro Phase-I project in Bengaluru to the people of the city and the entire state of Karnataka at a function here today.
 
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that, originally known as the Garden City, Bengaluru had slowly transformed itself into the Silicon Valley of India. As per global rankings, it has been rated as the most dynamic city of the world ahead even of the Silicon Valley. 
 
Mr. Mukherjee said that, in warming up to and finally adopting Metro as a viable mode of public transport, people in India were late by several decades. 
 
The first metropolitan railway started in London in the year 1863. By early 20th century, almost entire Europe, North America and countries in South America had metro rail networks in all their large cities. 
 
"We started with the first metro network in Kolkata in 1984 and then, once we started in Delhi in the year 2000, there was no looking back for Metro in India," he said.
 
The President said that the first phase of ‘Namma Metro’, totaling 42.3 km in length, started in the year 2008 and 31 km have been opened in different phases in the past. Today, the last section, measuring 11.3 km is being opened. The project has been built with major contributions coming from Government of Karnataka, Government of India, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Agence Francaise De Development (AfD)- France, he said.
 
He said credit should go to the people of Bengaluru, who have cooperated to the fullest extent and endured discomfort during the construction of the world class infrastructure facility. He said that he was happy to note that Phase-2 of the Namma Metro Project is already under implementation and this would add another 72 km to the existing 42 km of Phase-1.
 
He said that he had been informed that there is further plan to expand the Namma Metro network by proposing connectivity to the Bengaluru International Airport and a metro corridor along the Outer Ring Road. 
 
Mr. Mukherjee said that the construction of the mega project must have posed various challenges, and he was happy that because of the sincere work and dedication of engineers and workers, this project is being dedicated to the nation today. 
 
"Construction of a metro system in a living city has many challenges. Working in thickly populated areas, making tunnels through the hard rock of the Deccan Plateau, proximity to water table, handling modern technologies, are some of the areas, which our engineers must have dealt with, and overcome. As we complete the first phase of the project, one can be satisfied that as in other places the Metro in Bengaluru has proved to be a long term and viable solution to urban public transport," he said.
 
The President complimented the team of the Bengaluru Metro Rail Project for their excellent work. He also congratulated the Ministry of Urban Development, the people of Karnataka and the State Government for their efforts and thanked the Government of Japan and the Government of France for their financial assistance for this project. 
 
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Mukherjee to visit Maharashtra, Karnataka on June 17-18

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

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

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

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Low-cost carrier IndiGo has announced its first non-stop flight and fifth overall flight between Singapore and Bengaluru with effect from June 10 as part of its efforts to strengthen its network in the Asia-Pacific region.
 
"With the launch of the daily direct flight, IndiGo offers an affordable and a convenient option on two of the busiest business sectors," a press release from the airline said.
 
Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo said, “Both Singapore and Bengaluru are strong business and tourism hubs and attract significant passenger traffic.  It gives us pleasure to introduce a direct flight on Singapore-Bengaluru route which will save flyers upto three hours of travel each way. We have been witnessing an encouraging traffic to Singapore from the cities in the south of India. There is a large Indian diaspora that resides in Singapore and regularly travels to their home to connect with their heritage and loved ones. Increased to and fro flights will not only boost tourism but also provide an affordable fare and a superior travel experience to flyers.”
 
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IIM Bangalore’s CCGC, Academy for Innovation & Management to hold digital governance summit on May 15

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The Centre for Corporate Governance and Citizenship (CCGC) at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIMB) has collaborated with the Academy for Innovation and Management (AIM) here to present a C-level summit on how to design and implement digital governance in a company. 
 
The summit, aimed at senior business executives, will be held on May 15 at the Management Development Centre (MDC) of IIMb, a press release from IIMB said. 
 
The release said that one of the challenges faced by CEOs and other C-level executives is how to accelerate digital transformation at senior levels of a company. To undertake digital business transformation, C-level executives need to drive change top-down and have a clear understanding of the role that the Board of Directors can play, the new roles (such as that of Chief Digital Officer) that need to be created, the coordination and control mechanisms to be implemented, and how to fund and monitor digital initiatives in the company. The summit aims to address some of these important governance issues.
 
The summit will include a senior-level CEO panel, comprising some of India’s top business leaders, who are also prime catalysts for such a transformation.
 
They include Anand Kripalu, CEO & Managing Director, United Spirits Limited; Shiv Shivakumar, Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo India, and Bhaskar Bhat, Managing Director, Titan Company Limited. 
 
Dr. Ajay Kumar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Electronics & IT and Head of the Digital India Initiative of the Government of India, will also be a speaker at the summit.
 
Prof. Anil B Suraj from the Centre for Public Policy (CPP) at IIM Bangalore will set the context of the discussions and Prof. Ram Nidumolu, founder and MD of AIM, will be the moderator for the CEO panel. The discussion will focus on the ‘how’ of corporate digital governance, the release added.
 
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