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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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Fiive dead, five others injured as three-storeyed building collapses in Bengaluru

 
5 dead in building collapse in Bengaluru
At least five persons died and five others suffered injuries when a portion of a three-storeyed residential building collapsed in the Ejipura area of the city this morning, official sources said.
 
According to some sources, the building collapsed after a cooking gas cylinder burst suddenly, but Bengaluru Development and Town Planning Minister K. J. George told reporters at the scene that this had to be confirmed.
 
Mr. George also announced ex-gratia payments of Rs 5 lakh for the  next-of-kin of those killed and Rs. 50,000 to those who were injured.
 
He said that the State Government would take care of the complete expenses, including education, of a young girl, who had survived with injuries but had lost her parents in the incident.
 
The Minister said there were ten tenants living in the building in all. Many of them were still sleeping when the tragedy struck at around 6.30 am.
 
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India signs € 300 million finance contract with EIB for Bangalore Metro Rail Project Phase II

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The Government of India and the European Investment Bank (EIB) today signed the Finance Contract for lending of € 300 million for Bangalore Metro Rail Project Phase II Line R6. 
 
The agreement was signed by Mr. S. Selvakumar, Joint Secretary (BC), Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India and Mr. Andrew McDowell, Vice-President, EIB, on behalf of the EIB.
 
Bangalore Metro Rail Project Phase II is to be jointly financed by the European Investment Bank (€500 million) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (€300 million). The first tranche of Euro 300 million was signed today. 
 
An official press release said the project envisages extension of East-West and North-South lines for Bangalore Metro Rail which includes a total length of 72.095 km (13.79 km underground) and 61 stations with 12 underground stations. The implementation period is five years from date of commencement of the project.
 
"The objective of the project is to bring in a quantum improvement in the transportation sector in the city in tandem with the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) and other modes of urban transport. The project aims to ensure modern transport facility for the commuters. The spinoffs of the project would include employment opportunities, benefits to the economy, reduction of number of vehicles on road, less fuel consumption, reduction in air pollution, reduction in passenger travel time and also improvement in the aesthetic value of the city," the release added.
 
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IndiGo adds 18 frequencies, launches first flight from Amritsar to Bengaluru

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Low-cost carrier IndiGo today said it would introduce the first direct daily flight between Amritsar and Bengaluru and add 18 new flights and additional frequencies in all in its winter schedule effective October 29.
 
The additional flight frequencies will be on sectors such  as Mumbai-Mangalore, Bengaluru-Dehradun, Delhi-Dubai, and Mumbai-Lucknow, amongst other routes.  
 
"With over 900 daily flights connecting 46 destinations, these new flights will enable both corporate and leisure travellers to experience IndiGo’s unmatchable on-time performance and hassle-free service," a press release from the airline said.
 
Mr. Aditya Ghosh, President and Whole-time Director, IndiGo said, “In line with our endeavor to meet the requirements of both business and leisure travellers, we have introduced 18 additional flights as part of the winter schedule. With the increased flow of tourists and business traffic across these sectors, IndiGo is pleased to provide additional frequencies and a direct daily flight between Amritsar and Bengaluru."
 
"We are looking at providing affordable fares on these new routes for 6E travelers. It is our constant endeavor to provide more flexibility of choice for our customers as IndiGo continues to offer them on time, hassle free and always affordable flying experience," he added.
 
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Naidu inaugurates 'Swachhta Hi Seva' and 'A Crusade for Toilets' in Karnataka

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Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu said yesterday that the first step towards a developed India is to create a clean and hygienic and therefore healthy country.
 
Addressing a gathering after inaugurating “Swachhta Hi Seva” and “Shouchalayakkagi Samara” (A Crusade For Toilets) Programmes in Konnur village in Gadag district of Karnataka, Mr Naidu said every Indian should become part of this “Jan Andolan” with a missionary zeal so that the goal of a “Clean India” is achieved by October 2, 2019 - the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
 
The dream of the Father of the Nation could be realized through ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’ if everybody from celebrities to common man selflessly participate and take ownership of the programme, he added.
 
Karnataka Governor Vajubha Vala, Minister of State for Drinking Water & Sanitation Ramesh Chandappa Jigajinagi and Minister of Rural Development & Panchayat Raj, Karnataka H.K. Patil were also present on the occasion.
 
The Vice-President said good sanitation can save Rs. 50, 000 per year per family, as stated by UNICEF, and over 1,00,000 children die every year in India due to diarrhoea. Lack of sanitation also contributes to physical and cognitive stunting in children. Besides, women and girls face a serious threat to their safety when they resort to open defecation, he added.
 
He said the number of Indians defecating in the open in rural and urban areas is estimated to have reduced to 30 crore, from about 60 crore in 2014. He expressed confidence that ‘Swachhta Hi Seva’ campaign will give a big thrust to the momentum of ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’.
 
Mr Naidu said that this campaign aims to mobilise people from across the country, especially government functionaries across all levels, local leaders, youth groups, women, school children, defence personnel, corporate, celebrities, faith organizations and citizens at large to offer shramdaan to construct twin-pit toilets and clean public places like railway stations, bus stands, parks, markets, hospitals, schools, and so on.
 
"Recognizing the need to preserve the sanctity and cleanliness of our natural endowments and places of cultural heritage like places of worship, heritage sites, and beaches, they are likely to be given a facelift. We should collectively search for innovative solutions that will make a tangible difference to the lives of the people," he added.
 
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Infosys Foundation signs MoU with Indian Institute of Science for Rs. 5 crore grant

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Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic arm of IT services major Infosys, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, for a Rs. 5 crore grant to the institution.
 
The grant will help enhance infrastructure and broaden research activities at the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research (CIDR) at the institute, a press release from Infosys Foundation said.
 
The release said the amount would be used towards research, training and creating awareness about infectious diseases, benefiting 25 faculty members and 250 students at IISc.
           
IISc is a public university for research and higher education in all science and engineering disciplines.
 
"This association will facilitate an interdisciplinary approach, with a focus on research about infectious diseases, leading to the development of new drug targets, drug delivery systems and novel diagnostic tools," the release said.
 
Mrs. Sudha Murty, Chairperson of Infosys Foundation, said, “With this MoU, Infosys Foundation aims to set milestones in the area of research of infectious diseases. We will focus on motivating researchers to perform cutting-edge research, as well as train them to raise awareness about infectious diseases.”
 
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Scientists are learning lessons of regeneration from tiny organism

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In an ideal world, one would like to live with no deformities. How often you think about being able to re-grow limbs after an amputation or any injury. Imagine being able to regenerate your spinal cord after an accident has left you paralyzed. Nature has many examples of some tiny organisms completely re-growing from their small pieces. Scientists are studying such organisms to learn important lessons in regeneration.
 
Researchers at the Bangalore-based Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine have reported that deformities in the epidermis (outer skin layer) of an organism called planaria cause the defect in their stem cell function and regeneration. This is significant because epidermal cells are not stem cells.
 
Planaria are flatworms that live in fresh water and have the ability to regenerate from almost any pieces to form a completely new animal with all functional organ systems. Researchers used planaria as a model organism to understand the mechanism behind its immense regenerative ability.
 
“Our study has shown how the organization of epidermal cells during planarian regeneration is crucial for regulating stem cell function,” said Dr. Dasaradhi Palakodeti, a scientist at the Bangalore based Institute, and a co-author of the study published in the journal Development.
 
Regeneration is often synonymous with stem cells and most of the studies focus on understanding factors essential for ‘stemness’. “Here, for the first time we show how planarian epidermis (non- stem cell) plays a critical role in wound healing and stem cell function,” said Dhiru Bansal, first author of this paper.
 
However, it is still unclear how the environment surrounding stem cells regulates their function. Researchers believe stem cells are instructed by surrounding cells to make right decisions to proliferate and differentiate for regeneration, to give rise to missing tissues. The team is working to understand the role of a specific protein called PABPC2 (cytoplasmic poly A binding protein) in regeneration.
 
“Our report about a crosstalk between stem cells and epidermis in planaria opens new possibilities that can be addressed in other systems as well,” said Jahnavi Kulkarni, one of the authors of this paper.
 
The study opens up a new possibility to discover the role of non-stem cells in the skin regeneration. Skin is often well-thought-out for its protective function but this new study highlights other potential roles of the skin.
 
The research team included Dhiru Bansal, Jahnavi Kulkarni, Kavana Nadahalli, Vairavan Lakshmanan, Srikar Krishna, Vidyanand Sasidharan, Shilpa Dilipkumar, Akash Gulyani, Srikala Raghavan and Dasaradhi Palakodeti (Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Bangalore); Jini Geo and Renu Pasricha (National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore).
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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Infosys Foundation inks Rs. 5.92 crore MoU with Visakha Jilla Nava Nirman Samithi

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Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic arm of IT services major Infosys, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Visakha Jilla Nava Nirman Samithi (VJNNS) to construct 100 gravity fed water supply systems in tribal villages of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. 
 
The endowment of Rs. 5.92 crore will be used to promote good sanitation practices and create efficient water management systems in all target villages.
               
VJNNS, an NGO in Andhra Pradesh, aims at making potable drinking water available to remote tribal villages in the districts of Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam. Through this partnership, Infosys Foundation intends to provide an impetus to VJNNS’s objective of constructing a gravity fed water supply system that will help 100 tribal villages and 40,000 beneficiaries using pipelines.
 
This will not only help enhance health but also aid in reducing water-borne diseases, a release from the foundation said.
 
Ms. Sudha Murty, Chairperson of Infosys Foundation, said, “Drinking water supply and sanitation in India continue to be a key concern. The Foundation endeavors to promote good sanitation practices and aims to train local communities to effectively manage water supply systems through workshops. Under this project, local communities will also be taught to manage a village development fund.”
 
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Infosys chooses Raleigh, North Carolina for its Technology and Innovation Hub

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IT services major Infosys has chosen Raleigh as the location for its North Carolina Technology and Innovation Hub  in the United States.
 
This innovation hub is expected to hire 2,000 American workers by 2021, a press release from the company said.
 
Towards its plan of hiring 10,000 jobs over two years, the company has already hired close to 1,200 American workers in the United States, the release said.
 
The new hub, which will open in early 2018, will occupy 60,000 square feet in a new facility in Raleigh and has the capacity to house 500 workers ,representing another step forward in the company’s previous announcement to hire American workers in the country. 
 
The company plans to hire the first 500 workers in Raleigh innovation hub within two years, with the remainder to be hired in the state by 2021.
 
“Innovation, technology, and education are part of who we are as North Carolinians, and along the course of this project, Infosys leaders have found that to be the case every step of the way. Our top-flight workforce, commitment to education, and exceptional quality of life help businesses of all sizes recruit and retain excellent employees,” said Governor Roy Cooper.
 
“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 delivering cutting-edge solutions in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, data and advanced analytics, cloud and big data,” said Ravi Kumar, President and Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Infosys.
 
“The Hub, located in the innovation incubator of Raleigh, will support the development of co-created solutions for our valued clients in North Carolina and the surrounding region. Attracting and retaining a skilled and motivated workforce is crucial to Infosys, and the new Tech Hub—along with the robust training program we are developing with the North Carolina Community College System and proximity to tier-one research universities—will expand Infosys’ existing North Carolina network to better serve clients in the IT, life sciences, clean technology and advanced manufacturing sectors," he said.
 
“The City of Raleigh welcomes Infosys as a key member of our community, further bolstering Raleigh’s already strong technology economy, which has seen technology jobs grow at a rate more than double the national average over the last five years. The partnership between our city and Infosys will boost innovation and benefit businesses, schools, and workforce development in the area and we are excited to pursue this work together,” said Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane. 
 
The release said 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 Infosys' commitment to grow 2,000 jobs in the state of North Carolina, the company is partnering with the North Carolina Community College System to create a customized program designed to train the workforce of the future. 
 
"Infosys is looking to maximize the benefits of the North Carolina Community College's Customized Training Program. To that end, Wake Technical Community College is developing a comprehensive upskilling program, in partnership with Infosys, to train the workforce of the future. We plan to include pre-employment training, where candidates experience a short-term realistic job preview,  as well as extensive post-employment training that will focus on technical and soft skills. The program will be developed as a joint effort between representatives from Infosys and Wake Tech and will ensure success for the company and the employees," said Maureen Little, Vice President of Economic Development, North Carolina Community College System.
 
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 benefited 4,220 students across 82 schools, involving 92 teachers. 
 
This includes grants for professional development for teachers, hands on workshops for students, and new technology and teaching aids for classrooms, with an emphasis placed on serving underrepresented groups such as women, African American, Latino, urban, rural, and autistic groups that will gain greater access to computer science and maker education, the release added.
 
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Infosys completes acquisition of digital innovation and customer experience studo Brilliant Basics

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IT services major Infosys today announced that it had completed the acquisition of 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. 
 
The acquisition is in accordance with the terms set out in the agreement announced by the company on August 3, 2017, a press release from Infosys said.
 
"Through this acquisition, Infosys further expands its worldwide connected network of Digital Studios that are focused on fulfilling the needs of global clients for end-to-end Digital Transformation solutions required to meet customer demand for next-generation enhanced customer experiences. The addition of Brilliant Basics extends Infosys’ digital design services network to include Europe and the Middle East, and enhances the company’s expertise across financial services, retail and telco sectors," the release added.
 
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Financial assistance to Abhinav Bindra Foundation Trust from NSDF

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The Department of Sports has granted a financial assistance of up to Rs. 5 crore as grant from the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) to Abhinav Bindra Foundation Trust (ABFT) to purchase certain state-of-the-art sports science equipment to establish and operate a high-performance facility for rehabilitation, fitness-training and sports science facility at the Centre at the Padukone-Dravid Centre for Sports Excellence, Bengaluru.
 
The facility will be named as the “Sports Authority of India (SAI)-Abhinav Bindra Targeting Performance Centre.”
 
Indian athletes who are selected for training in Indian National Camps will utilise the equipment and services at the centre free of cost.
 
An agreement to this effect was signed here yesterday between SAI and ABFT represented by, DDG SAI Sandip Pradhan and renowned shooter Abhinav Bindra in the presence of the Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports Col. Rajyavardhan Rathore (Retd.) and Secretary (Sports) and DG, SAI, Injeti Srinivas.
 
Bindra had won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to become the first Indian to win gold in an individual event.
 
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CGWB, IISc sign MoA for ground water flow models, aquifer management plans for parts of Karnataka

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The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has entered into a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore for development of ground water flow models and preparation of aquifer management plans for parts of Karnataka.
 
This mathematical model is being developed as a part of the aquifer mapping and management programme, which will render better understanding of existing groundwater scenarios, predicting response of groundwater system to various stress conditions expected to arise in the future and developing effective management plans incorporating different demand and supply side interventions.
 
The study will cover an area of 48000 sq. km. comprising Chikballapur and Kolar districts and parts of Bagalkot, Bangalore Rural, Belgaum, Bellary, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Gadag, Gulbarga and Yadgir districts.
 
The study has to be completed within a year and IISc will present an inception report and a final comprehensive report. The inception report has to be submitted within two months of the signing of the agreement. The inception report will include detailed work plan and timelines specific to the study area keeping in view the objectives, scope, methodology, timeline and deliverables outlined in the agreement.
 
The final report will include executive summary, introduction, data analysis, hydrogeological setting, conceptualization and model study plan, calibration, validation and sensitivity analysis, groundwater related issues, response of groundwater system to different scenarios, block wise management plans, block wise impacts of proposed management interventions, and so on.
 
The MoA was signed by Dr. Dipankar Saha, Member, CGWB and Prof. V Rajarajan, Registrar, IISc, Bangalore.
 
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Karnataka CM says SIT will probe journalist Gauri Lankesh's murder

Gauri Lankesh
Gauri Lankesh
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today said he had directed the Director General of Police (DGP) of the state to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under an Inspector General of Police (IGP) to probe the murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh who was shot dead outside her residence in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar here by unidentified assailants yesterday evening.
 
"The assassination of Gauri Lankesh appears to be an organised crime," Mr. Siddaramaiah told journalists here, even as the body of Gauri was laid to rest with state honours today and protests were held by journalists, writers, rationalists and others across the country against the killing of the journalist-activist who was known to be a staunch critic of the right wing.
 
He said three investigative teams are heading the investigation now and expressed confidence that the culprits would be nabbed and brought to book at the earliest.
 
"I have also directed the Police department to provide protection to progressive thinkers and prominent social activists across Karnataka," he said.
 
Gauri had returned home late yesterday evening, around 8 pm, and had got out of her to open the gate of her house when the unidentified men shot her and escaped.
 
Neighbours who came out of their houses after hearing the gunshots found Gauri lying dead on the verandah of her house. She had suffered bullet injuries in the chest and head, sources said.
 
State Home Minister and the Commissioner of Police of Bengaluru were amongst those who rushed to the scene.
 
Karnataka Director General of Police Rupak Dutta told television news channels that Gauri, who edited and published a journal Lankesh Patrike and had met him often, had never mentioned any threat to her life or expressed any fear.
 
 
Protests across India against Gauri Lankesh murder
Gauri was the daughter of well-known writer, journalist and translator P. Lankesh. Apart from writing columns for newspapers in Karnataka, she also used to appear on television news shows.
 
The journalist was on November 28 last year convicted of criminal defamation by a court in Hubbali in two separate cases filed by two BJP leaders -- Prahlad Joshi, the Lok Sabha member from Dharwad, and Umesh Dhushi. She was released on bail the same day and had told journalists at that time that she intended to appeal against the verdict.
 
Gauri's body was buried this evening at a cemetery in the Chamarajpet area here this evening in the presence of hundreds of her friends, relatives and admirers. The police gave a gun salute to her.
 
The killing has sparked outrage among the media and other sections across the country and journalists have expressed concern about the growing intolerance to dissent.
 
Hundreds of journalists participated in protests in Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram, among other places, and candlelight vigils were held in Bengaluru and other places this evening, holding posters saying "Namma Gauri" (I am Gauri).
 
Mr. Siddaramaiah and several of his Cabinet colleagues were present at the funeral. The Chief Minister also visited the Ravindra Kalakshetra Cultural Centre where her body was kept for a few hours during the day to allow people to pay tributes to her.
 
According to various sources, video footage from CCTV cameras installed at Gauri's residence showed a man wearing a helmet walking up to her as she parked her car and firing at her. They said Gauri tried to run into her house but collapsed on the verandah. Police believe the assailant was accompanied by two other men on a motorcycle. The journalist lived alone.
 
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi said he had spoken to Mr. Siddaramaiah and told him that it was very important that the people who murdered Gauri were caught and punished.
 
"Anybody who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked &even killed. They want to impose only one ideology which is against the nature of India," he said on Twitter.
 
"Sometimes the PM speaks under pressure but the entire idea is to crush dissent and this is resulting in a very serious problem in India," he added.
 
The Editors Guild of India expressed its deep shock and strongly condemned the murder of Gauri.
 
"Gauri Lankesh was a known critic of the Central government on key issues and had fearlessly expressed her views in the newspaper she edited as well as in other forums. Her killing is an ominous portent for dissent in democracy and a brutal assault on the freedom of the press. The Editors Guild of India demands that the Karnataka Government acts with alacrity to bring the culprits to justice apart from instituting a judicial probe into the killing," a statement from the Guild said.
 
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Senior journalist Gauri Lankesh shot dead outside her Bangalore residence

Gauri Lankesh
Gauri Lankesh
Senior Karnataka journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her residence in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar here this evening, official sources said.
 
The bullets hit her in the chest and she died on the spot, the sources said. Senior police officers, including Commissioner of Police T. Suneel Kumar, rushed to the scene.
 
Gauri, who was also an activist, had returned home late this evening, around 8 pm, and had got out of her car to open the gate of her house when the unidentified men shot her and escaped from there, Karnataka Director General of Police Rupak Kumar Dutta told television channels.
 
According to various accounts, the assailants fired seven rounds at Gauri, three of which hit her.
 
Police said her neighbours came rushing of their homes after hearing the gunshots and informed the police, who reached the scene shortly thereafter.
 
Mr. Dutta said that Gauri, who edited and published a journal Lankesh Patrike, had never mentioned any threat to her life or expressed any fear whenever she met him.
 
Gauri was the daughter of well-known writer, journalist and translator P. Lankesh and was known to be a staunch critic of the right wing. Apart from writing columns for newspapers in Karnataka, she also used to appear on television news shows.
 
The journalist was on November 28 last year convicted of criminal defamation by a court in Hubbali in two separate cases filed by two BJP leaders -- Prahlad Joshi, the Lok Sabha member from Dharwad, and Umesh Dhushi. She was released on bail the same day and had told journalists at that time that she intended to appeal against the verdict.
 
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Nandan Nilekani appointed Non-Executive Chairman of Infosys

Nandan Nilekani
Nandan Nilekani
Mr. Nandan Nilekani, one of the founders of IT services major Infosys Limited and its former Co-Chairman and CEO & Managing Director, today returned to the Board of the company as its Non-Executive Chairman with immediate effect.
 
Mr. Nilekani, 62, had served as a director on the company's Board since its inception in 1981. From March 2002 to June 22, 2007, he had served as its CEO and Managing Director and later as its Co-Chairman and a Member of its Board.
 
In June, 2009, he had relinquished the position of Co-Chairman and Member of the Infosys Board to take over as the Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister during the second term of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government headed by Dr. Manmohan Singh.
 
"Mr. Nilekani is an iconic leader, a successful entrepreneur and investor, and someone who has played a pivotal role in India’s transition to a digital economy. Among his many achievements, Mr Nilekani led the implementation of one of the world’s biggest technology initiatives, India’s Aadhaar program, which has now enrolled over a billion Indians and which is transforming the lives of ordinary Indians every day," the Infosys press release said.
 
Outgoing Infosys Chairman R. Seshasayee, who stepped down from the Board today, stated, “Nandan is the ideal leader for Infosys at this stage in the company’s development. His appointment will allow Infosys to focus on the strategic changes it needs to make in order to capitalize on the attractive opportunities in the years ahead.  Under Nandan, Infosys will build a cohesive management team that will no doubt take the company to a leadership position in the industry. I believe these changes will infuse further confidence to the stakeholders in executing the transition plan and in reinforcing the strategy for the future. I am confident our employees and customers will join me in welcoming Nandan to the company.”
 
Also stepping down from the Board, effective immediately, are Dr. Vishal Sikka, who had resigned from the position of CEO and MD on August 18, Prof. Jeffrey Lehman and Prof. John Etchemendy, each of whom welcomed the appointment of the new Chairman. 
 
Dr. Sikka said, “Last week I said that my remaining on the Infosys Board was to primarily enable a smooth transition. In Nandan, we have found an ideal leader to manage this transition. I welcome Nandan's appointment as Chairman to help guide Infosys to new frontiers of success and wish him, Pravin and all Infoscions the very best in the times ahead."
 
Prof. Lehman, who was scheduled to retire from the Board in April 2018, stated, “With Vishal's departure, Infosys is entering into a stage in which the time demands on independent directors will be compounded even further. In light of the other demands on my time, I think it best if I accelerate my departure from the Board by a few months to allow a new independent director to start in this important role.”    
 
Prof. Etchemendy stated, “It has been a great honor and pleasure to serve the shareholders of Infosys for the past three years, and to have a front row seat during the transformative strategies that Vishal Sikka brought as the CEO. With Vishal’s departure, the board and his successor will embark on a new phase in Infosys’ future, and I think that giving up my board seat to a new independent director is the right decision.”
 
Upon the appointment of Mr. Nilekani as Chairman, Mr. Ravi Venkatesan stepped down from his role as Co-Chairman. Mr. Venkatesan will continue on the Board, the release said.
 
The Board had, on August 18, 2017, appointed Dr. Sikka as the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) to facilitate a smooth transition. This transition has been expedited with the appointment of Mr. Nilekani. Given that the EVC employment agreement with Dr. Sikka had not yet been executed, the Board, prior to the induction of Mr. Nilekani, decided that the company will complete all resignation formalities as per Dr. Sikka’s employment contract as MD and CEO as executed on April 1, 2016 and approved by the shareholders. 
 
Accordingly Dr. Sikka will receive 90 days’ base pay in lieu of notice of US$ 246,575, a variable pay of US$ 205,572 and company-paid COBRA (employee benefits) for 90 days. All equity awards outstanding as on separation date to the extent such awards are unvested will terminate on the date of separation. All equity awards that vested during his employment with the company will remain as vested as per the terms of the equity plan and award agreement  A separation agreement reflecting this and other terms such as a mutual release and non-disparagement obligation has been approved by the Board, the release said.
 
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Mr. Venkatesan, took this opportunity to thank Mr. Seshasayee, and stated, “It is a great privilege to have worked with a person of such stature and dignity as Sesh. It has been an honour for the entire Board to be captained by him. His strength of character and his unwavering commitment to the Company is deeply admired by all members who have served alongside him on this Board.”
 
He further stated “Jeff and John have been invaluable colleagues on the Board, providing guidance and ensuring continuity through the significant changes Infosys has seen during this period. I also thank Vishal for all his contributions including his commitment to facilitate a smooth transition.”
 
Mr. Nilekani added, “I am happy to return to Infosys, now in the role of non-executive chairman, and look forward to working with my colleagues on the Board and in executive management on the business opportunities we see before us and delivering benefits to our clients, shareholders, employees and communities. I thank Vishal for his service as the CEO of Infosys over the last three years and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
 
Mr. Nilekani also stated that the Board will actively consider a broad based shareholder consultation process as a critical part of its overall engagement initiatives with all the stakeholders of the Company that are being taken up on a priority basis.
 
Mr. U. B. Pravin Rao who will continue as Interim CEO and MD, also was pleased to welcome Mr. Nilekani to Infosys. The Infosys Board will continue with its earlier stated plan to identify a permanent CEO and MD.
 
In 2006, Time magazine had placed Mr. Nilekani in the Time 100 list of the World's Most Influential People. In 2004, was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India. 
 
He is the author of the book, "Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation" in which he discussed the future of India, its recent history, its young population, information technology, caste politics, labour reforms and a host of other topics and ideas. 
 
Mr Nilekani received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, India in 1978. 
 
In January 2006, he became one of the youngest entrepreneurs to join 20 global leaders on the prestigious World Economic Forum (WEF) Foundation Board. 
 
He was a co-founder of the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) as well as the Bangalore Chapter of The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE). 
 
He was on the Board of Reuters as a non-executive member from January 2007 till the merger of Reuters with Thomson in April 2008. 
 
In March, 2014, Mr. Nilekani had formally joined the Congress and fought the Lok Sabha elections later that year from Bangalore South but ended up losing to Mr. Ananth Kumar of the BJP.
 
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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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