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Infosys reports 21.6% rise in net profit in Q1, says employee attrition rates worrisome

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Software services exporter Infosys Limited today reported a 21.6 per cent year-on-year (Y-o-Y) increase in net profit at Rs 2,886 crore in the first quarter (Q1) ended June 30 this year.
 
The company said in a press release here today that the quarter-on-quarter growth in net profit in Q1 was 3.5 per cent.
 
The revenues for the quarter were Rs 12,770 crore for a YoY growth of 13.3 per cent and QoQ growth of 0.8 per cent.
 
The company, which recently appointed Dr Vishal Sikka, former member of the Executive Board of enterprise software maker SAP, as its Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director (CEO & MD) with effect from August 1, said FY15 revenues were expected to grow between 7% and 9% in US dollar terms and between 5.6% and 7.6% in rupee terms.
 
The company had liquid assets including cash and cash equivalents, available-for-sale financial assets, certificates of deposits and government bonds worth Rs 29,748 crore as on June 30, 2014 as compared to Rs 30,251 crore at the end of the previos quarter.
 
Infosys and its subsiiaries added 61 clients and 11,506 employees (gross) during the quarter. As on June 30, they had 161,284 employees.
 
“We continue to enjoy the confidence of our clients by demonstrating superior execution capability and value realization.” said Mr S. D. Shibulal, CEO and Managing Director of the company. 
 
“As I transition the CEO mantle to Vishal, I am confident that he will leverage this strong foundation to take Infosys to greater heights. I wish him the very best," he said.
 
“We saw positive trends in our large deal wins during the quarter. We believe that this momentum will hold us in good stead as we focus on increasing volumes.” Mr U. B. Pravin Rao, COO of Infosys, said. 
 
“Employee attrition rates are worrisome and we are implementing various initiatives to retain good talent," he said.
 
“We improved operational performance as a result of our cost optimization initiatives and a focus on increasing productivity and utilization. This partially offset the impact of compensation increases for our employees this quarter.” said Mr Rajiv Bansal, CFO. “It will help us invest in areas that will accelerate growth.”
 
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India's Mars orbiter spacecraft completes 75 % of its journey to Red Planet

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Mangalyaan, India's Mars orbiter mission (MOM) spacecraft, has completed 75 per cent of its historic 300-day journey to the Red Planet, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
 
A post on ISRO's Facebook page said on Thursday that the spacecraft had covered 510 million km of the total 680 million km distance on its heliocentric arc towards Mars.
 
"With this, three-fourth of the journey has been completed. MOM and her payloads are in good health," it said.
 
The spacecraft, which is India's first inter-planetary probe, was launched onboard its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) on November 5, 2013 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, about 90 km from Chennai, on the east coast of the country.
 
On December 1, scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had successfully conducted the Trans Mars Injection manoeuvre, setting it on course for Mars through a helio-centric trajectory.
 
Soon after the spacecraft crossed the sphere of influence of Earth, a Trajectory Correction Manoeuvre (TCM) was performed successfully on December 11.
 
As the spacecraft was on its designated trajectory, the TCM plannd for April was not considered essential and the next one was carried out last month.
 
The Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) manoeuvre would be performed on September 24, 2014.
 
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Air Marshal Ramesh Rai takes over as AOC-in-C of Training Command, IAF

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Air Marshal Ramesh Rai took over as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C), Training Command at Bangalore yesterday.
 
He was commissioned in the fighter stream on December 29, 1976. He has over 4500 hours of flying to his credit and has commanded a Jaguar Squadron. He is an experimental test pilot, flying instructor and recipient of the Majithia trophy and Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) trophy for standing first in pilots course and ‘best in flying’. 
 
He has held important command and staff appointments including Joint Director Air War Strategy Cell (AWSC), Director Air Staff Requirements at Air HQ and as the Defence Attaché at the Embassy of India in Tel Aviv, Israel. 
 
Air Marshal Rai has commanded the Advance HQ at Kolkata and Air Force Station, Bidar. The Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs) were inducted during his tenure at Air Force Station Bidar. He has held various important staff and instructional appointments including as Senior Air and Administration Staff Officer of Maintenance Command, and as the Chief Instructor (Air) at Defence Services Staff College(DSSC), Wellington prior to his elevation to the rank of Air Marshal on June 1, 2012. He served as Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) of Central Air Command before taking over as AOC-in-C, Training Command. 
 
He was awarded the Vayusena Medal(VM) by the President on 26 January, 1999. 
 
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PSLV-C23 to put French earth observation satellite Spot-7 in orbit on June 30

PSLV-C23. Image Courtesy: ISRO
PSLV-C23. Image Courtesy: ISRO
India's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) will be launched on January 30 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota with the 714 kg French earth observation satellite Spot-7 as its main payload.
 
The vehicle is scheduled to lift off at 0949 hours IST on June 30, a press release from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said today.
 
PSLV-C23 will also be carrying the 14 kg Aisat of Germany, NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) & NLS7.2 (CAN-X5) of Canada, each weighing 15 kg, and the 7 kg Velox-1 of Singapore as co-passengers.  
 
These five satellites will be launched under commercial arrangements that Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO, has entered with the respective foreign agencies.
 
All the five satellites have been integrated with PSLV-C23 and the final phase of checks is progressing. The Mission Readiness Review (MRR) Committee and the Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) will meet on June 27 to review the progress of prelaunch activities.  After the clearance from LAB, the 49-hour countdown for the mission will commence at 0849 hours IST on June 28, the release added.
 
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1 killed, 9 hurt in twin blasts on Bangalore-Guwahati Express at Chennai station

 
1 dead, 9 injured in twin blasts on train at Chennai Central station
One woman was killed and nine others suffered injuries in twin blasts that occurred in two coaches of the Bangalore-Guwahati Express after it pulled into the Chennai Central station here this morning.
 
Southern Railway General Manager Rakesh Mishra told reporters on the spot that two of the injured had suffered grievous injuries while the others had minor injuries.
 
He said the "minor intensity" blasts occurred in sleeper coaches S4 and S5 at about 7.15 am, some ten minutes after the train had arrived on platform number 9.
 
The deceased passenger was identified as Ms Swati, 22, who was travelling from Bangalore to Vijayawada on her way to her home town of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, he said.
 
Official sources said the blasts appeared to have been caused by some devices placed under the seats.
 
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 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 those with grievous injuries and Rs 5,000 for 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.
 
Mr Mishra said the entire train was being checked and the train would continue its journey after about an hour 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 said.
 
A team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Hyderabad will arrive here later today to probe the incident, sources added.
 
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Arun Chandavarkar appointed as CEO & Jt. MD of Biocon

Dr Arun Chandavarkar
Dr Arun Chandavarkar
Biotechnology major Biocon Ltd today announced the appointment of Dr Arun Chandavarkar as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Joint Managing Director as well as his induction on to its Board.
 
Dr. Chandavarkar has been the Chief Operating Officer of Biocon since 2006. He joined the company as General Manager – Operations in 1990. 
 
Under his leadership, Biocon has established expertise in diverse technology platforms spanning microbial fermentation, cell culture, chemical synthesis and purification to develop a wide range of products from specialty enzymes to active pharmaceutical ingredients to recombinant therapeutic proteins. 
 
“I am extremely happy to have Arun join the Board of Directors and take on the mantle of CEO & Joint MD," Ms Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman & Managing Director, Biocon, said.
 
"Arun has been a core member of the leadership team at Biocon and has worked very closely with me over the last 24 years. He has played a pivotal role in the evolution of Biocon and I am confident that, in his new role, he will build immense value for Biocon and its stakeholders.”
 
Dr. Chandavarkar said, “I am delighted and honoured to join the Board of Biocon. These are exciting times and I look forward to steering the Company to the next level.”
 
Dr. Chandavarkar has a B. Tech from IIT, Bombay and earned his Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA.
 
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Diageo launches tender offer for upto 26% of United Spirits Ltd

Key brands of United Spirits Ltd
Key brands of United Spirits Ltd
Diageo, one of the world's top drinks businesses, today launched a tender offer to the public shareholders of the Vijay Mallya-led United Spirits Limited (USL) to acquire upto 37,785,214 shares in USL, which represents 26% of USL's fully diluted issued share capital as of today.
 
A press release from the company said the tender offer would be at a price of Rs 3,030 per share and the total consideration for the increased stake (assuming take-up in full at the announced price) will be Rs 1144.89 crore (approximately £1,132,458,720). 
 
Diageo has launched the offer through Relay B.V., its wholly-owned indirect subsidiary which currently holds 28.78% of the issued share capital of USL, acquired for a total investment of Rs 65,742,163,642 (£726,550,972). 
 
On completion of the offer (assuming full take-up), Relay will hold 54.78% of USL’s issued share capital and will have paid approximately Rs  180,231,362,062 (£1,859,009,692) for its total shareholding in USL.
 
"In the event the Tender Offer is subscribed in full, the total consideration payable at the announced price for Diageo’s increased stake will represent a 38x multiple of USL’s EBITDA on a consolidated basis for the year ended 31 March 2013 and Diageo's total investment, of INR 180,231,362,062  (£1,859,009,692), in USL is expected to be EP positive in FY2022, the 7th full financial year after completion (assuming a 12 % WACC) and EPS accretive in the year ended 30 June 2016," the release said.
 
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USL is the leading spirits producer in India. On a consolidated basis, in the financial year ended 31 March 2013, USL earned net revenue of Rs 105,980 million (£1,048.3 million) from operations, EBITDA of Rs 13,548 million (£134.0 million) and losses after tax of Rs 1,050 million (£10.4 million). USL had Rs 163,849 million (£1,621 million) of total assets on a consolidated basis as at 31 March 2013.
 
The offer will be governed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Substantial Acquisition of Shares and Takeovers) Regulations 2011 and applicable law. 
 
The offer price represents a premium of 22.5% to the price at which Diageo last acquired USL shares on 31 January 2014; and 20.0% to the 60 day VWAP for USL (SEBI regulatory floor price).
 
Diageo will fund the consideration payable under the offer through existing cash resources and debt.
 
The release said the offer is not subject to any condition regarding levels of acceptance.  
 
Diageo had, in November 2012, announced that it had reached agreements under which it would acquire 27.4 per cent stake in USL at a consideration of Rs 1440 per share and a total consideration of Rs 57,254 million (approximately £ 660 million). It had also announced that it would launch a tender offer to acquire, at a price of Rs 1440 per share, a maximum of 37,785,214 shares, which equates to 26% of the enlarged share capital of USL.
 
The sale was expected to help Mr Mallya clear USL's debt and also revive his beleaguered airline, Kingfisher.
 
The company said today it had completed the acquisition of 21,767,749 shares (14.98%) in USL at a price of INR 1440 per share and for total consideration of RS 31.3 billion (£342 million), including 10,141,437 shares (6.98%) from UBHL, which is now the subject of a court case.
 
Separately, Diageo continues to pursue completion of the acquisition of an additional 3,459,090 USL shares (representing approximately 2.38% of the share capital of USL) under the SPA from the USL Benefit Trust. 
 
"Currently certain lenders to USL are refusing to release security that they hold over those shares notwithstanding that they have been repaid in full. USL is taking steps, including proceedings before the High Court, to expedite the release of the security. As previously disclosed, if it is not ultimately possible to complete the acquisition in relation to these shares, they would instead continue to be held by the USL Benefit Trust subject to an undertaking that the trustees would only vote the shares at the direction of USL," it added.
 
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Infosys reports 25% YoY growth in Q4 of FY 2014

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Infosys Ltd, India's second largest software services exporter, today reported a net profit of Rs 2,992 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2014 for a year-on-year (YoY) growth of 25 per cent that beat market expectations on the back of higher volumes.
 
Announcing its consolidated results for the year and quarter ended March 31, 2014, it said net profit for the year was Rs 10,648 crore for a YoY growth of 13 per cent.
 
A press release from the company said revenues were Rs 50,133 crore for the year for a YoY growth of 24.2%.
 
Revenues were Rs12,875 crore for the quarter, for a YoY growth of 23.2 per cent.
 
The company also forecast revenue growth of 7-9 per cent for the financial year ending March 2015, against the market expectations of a guidance of around 6-8 per cent.
 
The release said the company's liquid assets including cash and cash equivalents, available-for-sale financial assets, certificates of deposits and government bonds were Rs 30,251 crore as on March 31, 2014 versus `27,440 crore as on December 31, 2013 and Rs 23,958 crore as on March 31, 2013.
 
The Board of Directors recommended a final dividend of Rs 43 per share for fiscal 2014. The Register and Share Transfer Books of the Company will be closed from May 31, 2014 to June 14, 2014 (both days inclusive).
 
The company’s current policy is to pay dividends up to 30% of post-tax profits. The Board has decided to increase the dividend pay-out ratio to up to 40% of post-tax profits effective fiscal 2014, the release said.
 
Infosys and its subsidiaries added 50 clients during the quarter and 238 during the year. There was a gross addition of 10,997 employees during the quarter and 39,985 during the year by Infosys and its subsidiaries. The company and its subsidiaries had 160,405 employees as on March 31 this year.
 
“I am pleased that we have been able to double our growth rate for the full year compared to last year, though performance in the last quarter of FY 14 has been disappointing.” said Mr S. D. Shibulal, CEO and Managing Director. 
 
“We have guided for a revenue growth of 7%-9% next year and remain firmly focused on building the growth momentum by making all the necessary investments in our business.”
 
“Our cash and cash equivalents crossed Rs 30,000 crore during the quarter. We have increased the dividend payout ratio to up to 40% of post-tax profits effective FY 14 to enhance returns for our shareholders," Mr Rajiv Bansal, Chief Financial Officer, added.
 
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Infosys says search commenced for Shibulal's successor as CEO & MD

S. D. Shibulal
S. D> Shibulal
IT services major Infosys today said that it had begun a search for a successor to its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Managing Director (MD) S. D. Shibulal.
 
A press release from the company said the Nominations Committee of the company’s Board of Directors had commenced the search.
 
Mr. Shibulal, one of the seven founders of Infosys, had expressed his desire to retire as the CEO and MD of the company and as a member of its Board of Directors either on the date of the last board meeting before his superannuation - January 9, 2015 or when his successor is ready to assume office, whichever date is earlier, the release said.
 
The Nominations Committee will shortlist and evaluate an internal slate of candidates with the assistance of Development Dimensions International (DDI), a company specializing in corporate executive evaluations, it said.
 
The Board has also appointed Egon Zehnder, an executive search firm, to assist the Nominations Committee in identifying an external slate of candidates, the release added.
 
Mr. Shibulal has a Master's degree in Physics from the University of Kerala and an MS in Computer Science from the University of Boston.
 
Prior to becoming CEO & MD, he had served as Chief Operating Officer of Infosys from June 22, 2007 to August 20, 2011. 
 
He has also held other senior leadership roles including Head of Worldwide Sales and Customer Delivery, Worldwide Head of Customer Delivery, Head of Infosys Manufacturing and Distribution, and Internet Consulting Practice.
 
As a co-founder of the company, he was instrumental in the development of the Infosys Global Delivery Model, which helped set the stage for the company’s evolution into a leading provider of multinational business consulting and IT services.
 
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As CEO, he has focused on strengthening strategic partnerships with clients, increasing client relevance and evolving the company’s business model towards achieving the company’s aspirations of becoming the next-generation global consulting and IT services corporation.
 
He is a Trustee of the Infosys Science Foundation, a not-for-profit trust, set up by Infosys and some Members of its Board to spread the culture of science mainly through the Infosys Prize, an annual award across six scientific categories.
 
In June last year, Mr N R Narayana Murthy, the company's founder and former Chairman, returned from retirement as Executive Chairman of Infosys for a period of five years.
 
His son, Dr Rohan Murty, has been inducted into his team as his executive assistant, a position that will be co-terminus with Mr Murthy's tenure.
 
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Mars Orbiter crosses half-way mark on journey to Red Planet

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Mangalyaan, India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft, crossed the half-way mark on its epic 300-day journey to the Red Planet at 9.50 am today along the designated helio-centric trajectory.
 
The spacecraft, which is India's first inter-planetary probe, was launched onboard its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) on November 5, 2013 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, about 90 km from Chennai, on the east coast of the country.
 
On December 1, scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had successfully conducted the Trans Mars Injection manoeuvre, setting it on course for Mars through a helio-centric trajectory.
 
Soon after the spacecraft crossed the sphere of influence of Earth, a Trajectory Correction Manoeuvre (TCM) was performed successfully on December 11.
 
An ISRO press release said today that its scientists have been continuously monitoring the spacecraft using its Deep Space Network complemented by that of NASA-JPL. 
 
"As the spacecraft is on its designated trajectory, the TCM planned for April 2014 is not considered essential. If required, the next TCM is planned to be carried out in June 2014," it said.
 
According to it, Mangalyaan and its five scientific instruments are in good health. Periodic tests are being done on the different levels of autonomy built into the spacecraft for managing contingencies.
 
At present, the radio distance between the spacecraft and Earth is 39 million kilometre. A signal from Earth to the spacecraft and back to Earth takes 4 minutes and 15 seconds. Soon, the High Gain Antenna of the spacecraft will be put in service for handling communications with the ground stations.
 
The Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) manoeuvre would be performed on September 24, 2014, the release added.
 
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Legendary cinematographer V K Murthy passes away at 90

File photo of V. K. Murthy.
File photo of V. K. Murthy.
Legendary cinematographer V K Murthy, who provided Indian cinema audiences with some of the most memorable and breathtaking visual treats in the black-and-white era and shot all of filmmaker Guru Dutt's films, passed away at his residence here today.
 
He was 91. He is survived by a daughter. His funeral took place here this afternoon.
 
Murthy was conferred with the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award for the year 2008, given by the Government of India for outstanding contributions to the Indian film industry. He was the first cinematographer to given that honour, named after Dada Saheb Phalke, a pioneer of the Indian film industry and who was himself a cinematographer.
 
Mr Murthy was credited with breaking new grounds, ushering in modern and highly sophisticated techniques and bringing in rich visual artistry into Indian cinema.
 
He shot India's first cinemascope movie "Kagaz ke Phool" and is best remembered as the cinematographer for all of film-maker Guru Dutt's films. 
 
He was also one of the pioneers of colour cinematography in India. His picturisation of the title song of "Chaudhvin ka Chand" had left cinegoers mesmerised.
 
Mr Murthy, who started his career in cinema as a violinist, won the Filmfare Awards for movies such as "Kagaz ke Phool" and "Sahib, Bibi aur Ghulam".
 
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Other films for which he wielded the camera include "Baazi", "Jaal", "Pyasa", "12 o'clock" and "Ziddi". He also partnered for "Pakeezah" and "Razia Sultan".
 
In a career spanning four decades, he also worked for Shyam Benegal's television series "Bharat Ek Khoj" and "Hoova Hannu" in Kannada. He was an inspirationfor a whole generation of cinematographers.
 
Born on November 26, 1923 in Mysore, Mr Murthy earned his Diploma in Cinematography from S J Polytechnic, Bangalore in its very first batch 1943-46. As a student, he took part in India’s freedom struggle, was jailed in 1943 and was a recipient of freedom fighter’s pension. 
 
After nearly five decades in Mumbai, the ace cinematographer moved to Bangalore, where he spent his last years. He was a recipient of the IIFA Lifetime Achievement Award at Amsterdam in 2005. 
 
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Bangalore airport handles 12.86 million passengers in 2013-14

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The Kempegowda International Airport at Bangalore reorded a 12.7 growth  - the highest since May 2008 -- in air traffic movements (ATM) at 118,575 in 2013-14 and handled 7.3 per cent more passengers at 12.86 million as compared to the previous year.
 
A press release from Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) said the aircraft had witnessed an average of 325 ATMs per day. It handled 10.23 million domestic and 2.63 million international passengers during the year.
 
The airlines witnessed average daily passenger numbers of 35,259 travellers, with seat load factors of 69% for domestic and 75% for international flights, respectively.
 
The release said new domestic routes to and from Bangalore included Imphal, Agatti, Surat, Mysore, Puducherry, Guwahati, Belgaum, Tuticorin, Indore and Dehradun. 
 
Additionally, low-cost carrier SpiceJet started international operations to Bangkok in October. 
 
New connectivity includes Air Costa which started domestic operations to Vijayawada and Jaipur. 
 
In a major initiative, BIAL partnered with Karnataka State Road Transportation Corporation (KSRTC) to start the ‘Flybus’ service from Bangalore to Mysore to develop the intermodal connectivity of the airport.
 
"The growth in traffic is a sign for us that this is an airport of choice for domestic and international travellers. Our focus will be to continue providing our passengers and airlines a seamless and unparalleled travel experience at this airport. This trend also reaffirms our commitment of making Bangalore a gateway to South India," BIAL Managing Director G V Sanjay Reddy said.
 
Cargo volumes handled at the airport grew by 7% as compared to 2012-13 to reach a total volume of 242,426 metric tonnes (MT) in 2013-14.  
 
The airport inaugurated dedicated cargo bays to serve freighter aircrafts and further improve the air cargo supply chain. The new cargo bays include six dedicated wide body freighter stands with seamless access to the cargo terminal. All the cargo stands are equipped with fuel hydrants and integrated leak detection system. 
 
The airport caters to Pharmaceuticals, Perishables (fruits and vegetables), Electronics, Engineering, Machineries, Automobile, Valuables, Textiles, Readymade Garments (RMG) and so on with origin across South India, addressing trade needs from South Asia, Asia, China, Europe, United States, Canada, Oceania and the Middle East. 
 
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David Blei chosen for 2013 ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in Computing Sciences

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David Blei, an associate professor at Princeton University, has been chosen for the 2013 ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences.
 
He gets the awardd for initiating an approach to analyzing large collections of data using innovative statistical methods, known as “topic modeling,” that make it possible to organize and summarize digital archives at a scale that would be impossible by human annotation. 
 
"His work is scalable to collections of billions of documents. It has inspired new research programs across multiple disciplines, with applications for email archives, natural language processing, information retrieval, computational biology, social networks, and robotics as well as computational social sciences and digital humanities," a press release from Infosys said.
 
The award recognizes the finest recent innovations by young scientists and system developers in the computing field.
 
An endowment from the Infosys Foundation provides financial support for the $175,000 annual award. The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) will present the award at its annual awards banquet on June 21 in San Francisco.
 
ACM President Vint Cerf said that Blei’s contributions provided a basic framework for an entire generation of researchers to develop statistical modeling approaches.
 
“His topic modeling algorithms go beyond the search and links approach to information retrieval. In an era of explosive data on the Internet, he saw the advantage of discovering the latent themes that underlie documents, and identifying how each document exhibits these themes. In fact, he changed the way machine learning researchers think about modeling text and other objects in the digital realm.”
 
Infosys CEO and Managing Director S D Shibulal said, “The innovative topic modeling method that David Blei has used to analyze data goes to show the capability in executing what was an unthinkable and mammoth task till a few years back. With ever-growing data generation, there is a simultaneous need to archive and interpret this data. Blei’s groundbreaking method has not only made this a simple task but will also help increase productivity significantly.”
 
The release said Blei led the research that resulted in the simplest topic model, known as LDA (Latent Dirichlet Allocation). 
 
"This statistical model provides a powerful tool for discovering and exploiting the hidden “topics” or semantic themes in the data. It is scalable to collections of billions of documents with thousands of themes, and applies equally well to images and biological sequences. Blei’s approach is based on a Bayesian framework (a mathematical method based on probability) that exploits hidden variables to draw out the latent thematic structure in the data. LDA has been characterized as the single most important method for analyzing large collections of data. He continues to expand the scope of topic modeling with powerful methods for simultaneously analyzing documents and user behavior," it said
 
In a landmark 2003 paper detailing the development of LDA, Blei and his co-authors Michael Jordan and Andrew Ng laid out their method for discovering patterns of word use and connection documents that exhibit similar patterns. The paper, Latent Dirichlet Allocation, has been frequently cited by the growing population of researchers in the topic modeling area.
 
Blei has written extensively on topic modeling and his pursuit of new statistical tools for discovering and exploiting the hidden patterns that pervade modern, real-world data sets. 
 
He will join Columbia University in the fall of 2014 as a Professor of Statistics and Computer Science. He will also be a member of Columbia's Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering.
 
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L&T Construction wins orders valued at Rs 1981 crore

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Infrastructure major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) today said its Construction Division had won new housing orders worth Rs 1981 crore in March.
 
A press release from the company said the orders included one for a major residential project in Bangalore from one of south India's leading property developers which is also the company’s biggest residential order in this financial year. 
 
The scope of work involves civil, structural, MEP and finishing for 24 towers and 271 villas, the release said.
 
The towers will comprise two basements plus ground floor with levels varying from 18 floors to 29 floors. 
 
The project is scheduled to complete in 42 months, it said.
 
Another order has been received from a customer for construction of a
residential township in Gujarat. The project involves turnkey construction of 134 housing units. The construction includes civil, structural, MEP, finishes and other associated works. 
 
 “One of our key focus areas has been the growing potential in the residential sector and by winning these prestigious orders we have made significant inroads into this space,” said Mr. S. N. Subrahmanyan, Member of L&T's Board and Senior Executive Vice President (Infrastructure and Construction). 
 
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BJP inducts controversial Pramod Muthalik, reverses decision in five hours

Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik being welcomed into the BJP by senior party leaders in Bangalore on March 23, 2014
Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik being welcomed into the BJP by senior party leaders in Bangalore on March 23, 2014
In a major embarrassment for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its Karnataka unit admitted Mr Pramod Muthalik, the controversial chief of the Sri Ram Sene, into the party and then reversed its decision within five hours after the move attracted flak from across the country.
 
Former Chief Minister Jagdish Shettar, BJP state unit president Prahlad Joshi and former Deputy Chief Minister K S Eshwarappa were amongst those who welcomed Mr Muthalik into the party this afternoon.
 
Mr Muthalik told journalists that he had joined the BJP to help Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi become the Prime Minister of the country and to strengthen development and national security.
 
Mr Muthalik and his organisation were said to be responsible for the infamous incident on January 24, 2009 when a pub in Mangalore was attacked in the night and women inside were beaten up as part of its moral policing agenda. 
 
A former convener of the Bajrang Dal, he has a host of cases pending against him.
 
Mr Muthalik had some days ago announced his plans to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Dharwad, where Mr Joshi is the BJP candidate.
 
The induction attracted strong criticism from the Congress as well as from women's rights groups.
 
Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni wondered how the BJP could justify such a move when its leaders talked about women's empowerment.
 
She said the way the BJP was "picking up anyone" to join the party only proved her party's contention that there was no pro-Modi wave in the country as claimed by the BJP.
 
"Women across the country should take a decisive call on this," she added. "They should register a protest vote," she said, urging people to take a stand against people who had failed to uphold their dignity.
 
The induction also caused disquiet in a section of the BJP, with Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar openly calling upon the partys central leadership to cancel Mr Muthalik's membership immediately.
 
By late evening, the central leadership of the party had come to the conclusion that Mr Muthalik's admission was untenable and that it would prove to be disastrous for it in the context of the coming elections.
 
Later, the Karnataka BJP unit announced that it had set aside the decision because the central leadership of the party had disapproved of it.
 
They said the decision was taken at the level of the state leadership, because it was competent to do so and it did not necessarily have to go to the central leadership.
 
"Now that the central leadership has disapproved of the decision, we have set it aside," they said.
 
They said their only aim was to prevent the division of the anti-Congress votes in the state. They also said they saw no problem with admitting Mr Muthalik in that he had expressed his desire to disband his controversial outfit and join the BJP and work within its framework.
 
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Controversial Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik joins BJP

Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik being welcomed into the BJP by senior party leaders in Bangalore on March 23, 2014
Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik being welcomed into the BJP by senior party leaders in Bangalore on March 23, 2014
Mr Pramod Muthalik, the controversial chief of the Sri Ram Sene in Karnataka, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of senior leaders of the state unit of the party here today.
 
Former Chief Minister Jagdish Shettar, BJP state unit president Prahlad Joshi and former Deputy Chief Minister K S Eshwarappa were amongst those who welcomed Mr Muthalik into the party.
 
Mr Muthalik told journalists that he had joined the BJP to help Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi become the Prime Minister of the country and to strengthen development and national security.
 
Mr Muthalik and his organisation were said to be responsible for the infamous incident on January 24, 2009 when a pub in Mangalore was attacked in the night and women inside were beaten up as part of its moral policing agenda. 
 
A former convener of the Bajrang Dal, he has a host of cases pending against him.
 
Mr Muthalik had some days ago announced his plans to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Dharwad, where Mr Joshi is the BJP candidate. His induction into the party is seen as a strategy to prevent the division of votes in north Karnataka, where he has considerable influence.
 
The induction attracted strong criticism from the Congress as well as from women's rights groups.
 
Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni wondered how the BJP could justify such a move when its leaders talked about women's empowerment.
 
She said the way the BJP was "picking up anyone" to join the party only proved her party's contention that there was no pro-Modi wave in the country as claimed by the BJP.
 
"Women across the country should take a decisive call on this," she added. "They should register a protest vote," she said, urging people to take a stand against people who had failed to uphold their dignity.
 
The induction has also caused disquiet in a section of the BJP, with Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar openly calling upon the partys central leadership to cancel Mr Muthalik's membership immediately.
 
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Kejriwal says ready to face Modi in Varanasi, will decide at rally on March 23

Karnataka people are fed up with both Congress, BJP: Kejriwal
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal said today that he was prepared to contest against Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh in the coming Lok Sabha elections.
 
"The party has asked me to fight against Modi," he told a rally in Bangalore today.
 
"I am not here for a win or loss. I will go to Varanasi on March 23. If the people ask me to, I will fight," he said, indicating that the party would conduct a referendum of sorts in this regard.
 
"I am prepared for this challenge. The decision will be taken at the March 23 rally in Varanasi," he said. 
 
He said that if Mr Modi was really all that confident about his popularity, he should contest from only one constituency.
 
Earlier in the day, some hours before the rally, Mr Kejriwal, who resigned as the Chief Minister of Delhi last month after just 49 days in office, said on microblogging site Twitter: "“Many people asking me - will i contest against Modi ji? I will talk on this issue in today's rally at Bangalore."
 
The BJP had announced late last night that Mr Modi would be its candidate from Varanasi, a move that is calculated to emphasise that the Gujarat Chief Minister's appeal goes beyond his own state.
 
To accommodate Mr Modi in Varanasi, the BJP had to shift veteran leader Murli Manohar Joshi, the sitting MP from there, to Kanpur.
 
Mr Kejriwal has been saying for the past few weeks that he would contest the Lok Sabha elections against Mr Modi if he stood from outside Gujarat.
 
Mr Kejriwal, a former Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, had defeated three-time Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in the December 8 elections to the Delhi Legislative Assembly while leading his party to a stunning performance on its electoral debut, winning 28 seats in the December 4, 2013 elections to the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
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Mr Kejriwal hit out at the BJP in his speech today, ridiculing the party for re-admitting former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa and Badava Shramika Raitha (BSR)Congress MLA B S Sriramulu into the party while claiming to be against corruption.
 
He accused the Congress also of roping in corrupt leaders and said that left the voters in Karnataka with hardly any choice.
 
He said that, during his travels around India, people told him they want to remove the Congress because they attribute all the ills of the country to the rottenness in the system.
 
"AAP is here to give the country an option and an alternative politics which is corruption free," he said.
 
"People were unhappy with the BJP in Karnataka, so they chose the Congress, but what difference did it make," he asked.
 
He said that he had visited Gujarat to see for himself the development and governance claims made by Mr Modi and was shocked to find that nothing moved in the Government without paying bribes.
 
He talked about the various alleged scams during the Congress rule at the Centre.
 
Mr Modi said that when he asked people in different stats if they had visited Gujarat and seen for themselves the veracity of Mr Modi's development claims, they said they had seen it in the media.
 
"The media kept saying there has been development in Gujarat. So went to see for myself to learn about it. But I was shocked," he said, reeling out figures to contest Mr Modi's claims.
 
"By voting for the BJP instead of the Congress, our lives will not change, only the faces will change," he said.
 
Accusing both parties of indulging in crony capitalism, he said they took land from the poor at low prices and gave it to industrialists.
 
He accused Mr Modi of openly indulging in white lies and the media of portraying all this as the truth.
 
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UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani formally joins Congress

Nandan Nilekani formally joins Congress
Former Infosys co-founder and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Chairman Nandan Nilekani formally joined the Congress here today, saying that the 125-year-old party was going to be around for a long time, reinventing itself every few years.
 
"Don't go by media reports. The Congress party keeps reinventing itself," he told mediapersons here today.
 
Mr Nilekani, 58, was nominated by the party yesterday, in its first list of candidates for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, to contest from Bangalore South, which has been a stronghold of BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar for a long time.
 
He was formally inducted into the party by Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G Parameshwara, who handed over a party flag to him at the party office here before he filled in the membership form.
 
Mr Nilekani said the Congress was the party which fought for India's freedom and which, over the years, gave the people the technology revolution and a rights framework, among other things.
 
"It is a very strong party. I am committing to serve this party with my full capability," he said.
 
"I think I bring some unique experience," he said when asked about why people should vote for him.
 
“Three major things I was part of- first, from scratch I was co-founder of one of India’s largest companies (Infosys), so I know how to create jobs and I have created lakhs of them. Number two, from scratch, from an idea, I was part of the ID programme which gave 60 crore people identity. Nobody I know has done this anywhere. 
 
"Third, 1999 to 2004, I was chairman of BATF (Bangalore Agenda Task Force) where I got an opportunity to go into the nitty-gritty of local governance," he said. He said he was fully aware of urban government issues, about things like solid waste management and roads.
 
“I know every detail of how a city functions, so the fact that I have diverse experience, from private sector to government to city affairs, that I’m a clean and local candidate...Therefore people should vote for me,” he said.
 
"The constituency needs a clean, capable person," he said. "I think politics needs a change, needs new people, people with a clean image, people with experience in problem solving, people who are local. I satisfy all that," he said.
 
Mr Nilekani had launched his campaign informally several weeks ago, up as he is against a formidable rival, who has been returned from the constituency five times in a row from 1996.
 
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Jet Airways introduces direct daily flight from Bangalore to Abu Dhabi

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Private sector airline Jet Airways today launched a daily direct service from here to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
 
The new route is Jet Airways' first international flight from Bangalore to the Gulf, a press release from the airline said.
 
Flight 9W 504 will leave from Kempegowda International Airport here at 2030 hrs, and arrive at the Abu Dhabi International Airport at 2330 hrs. On the return leg, the flight 9W 503 will depart Abu Dhabi at 1030 hrs and arrive here at 1620 hrs.
 
A press release from the airline said the new flight would strengthen its growing international network in the Gulf region, enhancing flight connectivity beyond Abu Dhabi to immediate Gulf countries and to destinations in North America, Africa and Europe.
 
Furthermore, the evening departure of this flight will allow passengers to make convenient connections from several southern destinations on the airline’s domestic network to Abu Dhabi and beyond, via Bangalore, it said.
 
Jet Airways currently operates a daily flight each from Delhi, Kochi and Chennai and 11 flights a week from Mumbai to Abu Dhabi.
 
The airline had yesterday launched a daily direct flight from Hyderabad to Abu Dhabi.
 
The airline has deployed Boeing 737-800 Next Generation (NG) aircraft on these routes.
 
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GMR Infrastructure-led consortium wins Rs 267 crore railway project

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GMR Infrastructure Limited today said a consortium led by it had won a contract worth Rs 267 crore for doubling of the rail line between Jhansi and Bhimsen railway stations in Uttar Pradesh.
 
A press release from GMR said its share of the contract was valued at about Rs 135 crore.
 
The work includes construction of roadbed, major & minor bridges, track linking, outdoor signalling and telecommunication (S&T) works, OHE, TSS and general eelctrical works from Jhansi to Erich Road.
 
GMR is the lead member of the consortium with Tata Projects and Kalindee Rail Nirman Ltd as the partner for OHE and Track works and S&T works, respectively.  
 
The project is scheduled to commence from April 2 and has to be completed within 42 months.
 
Rail Vikas Nigam Limited issued the letter of award to the consortium on February 20.
 
Mr. Arun Kumar Sharma, CEO GMR Urban Infrastructure & Highways, said:  “As a part of our Asset Light strategy, we are very happy to announce our first foray into the very promising railway construction sector. This win reflects our long term vision of building our EPC expertise in a niche segment like Railways, and will pave the way for similar projects in future."
 
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GMR, Temasek, IDFC Alternatives-led consortium rework investment in GMR Energy

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Infrastructure major GMR, Temasek and IDFC Alternatives-led consortium have agreed to restructure their existing investment in GMR Energy Limited (GEL).
 
A press release from GMR said here yesterday that these investors had investd Rs 1395 crore in Compulsorily Convertible Preference Shares (CCPS) in GEL in 2010. 
 
"GMR Group and the Investors have now agreed to restructure the terms taking into account the interest of both the parties," it said.
 
"Subject to satisfaction of conditions precedent, GMR Infrastructure Limited (GIL) will issue CCPS worth INR 788.8 crore to Temasek and INR 347.8 Crore to the IDFC Consortium through a preferential allotment.  The residual investment of the investors in GEL will continue," the release said.
 
GMR Group Chairman G. M Rao said, “We are extremely happy to have Temasek and the IDFC Consortium as shareholders of GIL. This is the culmination of the long term partnership with the investors and demonstrates their confidence in the group. We are confident that together with the support from the investors, we will build a strong energy portfolio. This will also pave the way for value creation at GMR Energy and GIL as the power portfolio has almost reached the peak of its capex cycle and is getting into the operational phase."
 
Mr. Satish Mandhana, Managing Partner & Chief Investment Officer at IDFC Alternatives said: “GMR Energy has been our fourth investment with the GMR group in the past 10 years. This step is a clear demonstration of how the Investors and GMR  worked together to forge a win-win solution by being considerate of partnership obligations, in a very difficult and challenging external environment for the power sector. We look forward to a successful IPO of GEL in near future."
 
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Kiran Mazumdar Shaw appointed Chairperson of Board of Governors at IIM Bangalore

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
 
Biocon Limited Chairman and Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar Shaw has been appointed as the new Chairperson of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB).
 
Dr Mazumdar Shaw will succeed Reliance Industries Limited Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, who was the Chairman of the Board for the last eight years.
 
A press release from IIMB said that, at the meeting of the Board of Governors of IIM Bangalore held on February 11, Mr Ambani advised the Board of his decision to step down.  
 
"The Board, accordingly, appointed Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw as the Chairperson of the IIMB Board with effect from February 11, 2014," it said.
 
Dr Mazumdar Shaw has been a member of the IIMB Board for the past several years. She is the first woman chairperson of any IIM Board.
 
The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has notified this change.
 
Mr. Ambani thanked the Board of Governors, the faculty, the staff, the alumni and the students of IIM Bangalore for all support and their efforts in making IIMB a world-class institution.
 
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HAL delivers crew module for Human Spaceflight Program to ISRO

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The public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has handed over the first “Crew Module Structural Assembly” for the“Human Spaceflight Program” to Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
 
An official press release said here today that the module would be further equipped with systems necessary for crew support, navigation, guidance and control systems by ISRO for experimentation in the coming GSLV-MK3 launch. 
 
“HAL takes pride in India’s space programmes and our Aerospace Division has produced this crew module in a record time to meet the requirements of ISRO," HAL Chairman R.K. Tyagi said.
 
Earlier, too, HAL has contributed to India’s space programmes such as “ISRO’s Mars Mission” by providing Satellite Structure, Propellant Tankages and supplied thirteen types of riveted structural assemblies, seven types of welded propellant tankages which include the cryogenic liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen tanks and cryogenic stage structures for GSLV D5. 
 
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CCEA approves financial assistance for revival of ITI Limited

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved the revival plan of ITI Limited based on the recommendations of the Board for Reconstruction of Public Sector Enterprise (BRPSE).
 
The revival plan will be supported through financial restructuring by fund infusion of Rs. 4156.79 crore, an official press release said.
 
The CCEA has also approved regular monitoring of the implementation of the revival plan to be done by suitable committees which will be constituted at the Corporate level and unit level in ITI and by an apex committee to be chaired by Secretary (T), Department of Telecommunication.
 
Out of Rs. 4156.79 crore, capital grant of Rs. 2264 crore will be given in the form of equity for project implementation (CAPEX) for upgrading manufacturing infrastructure at various units and for new projects, the release said.
 
The balance amount of Rs. 1892.79 crore will be financial assistance in the form of grant-in-aid for statutory liabilities and other commitments made by ITI such as redemption of preferential share capital of BSNL/MTNL, arrears due to 1997 pay revision, VRS, establishment cost during the implementation of revival plan and waiver of government guarantee fee. 
 
The revival plan is expected to be implemented over a period of 18 months. With the cleaning of the balance sheet to a certain extent, ITI will be able to raise resources for their operations and compete in the market. Further with upgrading of the manufacturing infrastructure at its plants, ITI will be able to manufacture new technology products in telecom / diversified fields and able to increase its market share., it said.
 
ITI Ltd., earlier known as Indian Telephone Industries Limited, was established in 1948 and was incorporated in 1950 under the then Mysore Companies Act, 1938 and later converted as the first PSU of the country to assist the Government in the sensitive and strategic telecommunication field. 
 
The Government of India holds majority equity stake in the company. The company was referred to the BIFR in 2004-05 and declared a sick company. 
 
The revival plan of ITI Ltd. is based on the improvement of its core competency in electronic/telecom equipment manufacturing by upgrading manufacturing infrastructure at all its manufacturing units and to simultaneously diversify into service projects (National Population Register, Data Centre, optical fiber laying projects, AMC business and so on). It is also involved in smart card manufacturing, solar panel manufacturing, battery manufacturing and LED product manufacturing to make each unit of ITI a separate profit centre and sustain profitability independently. 
 
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India's Mars Orbiter spacecraft to complete 100 days in space on Wednesday

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India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft, Mangalyaan, which is now on a 300-day journey to the Red Planet, will complete 100 days in space tomorrow.
 
Mangalyaan, which is India's first interplanetary probe, was launched by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) at 1438 hours on November 5, 2013 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on India's east coast.
 
Subsequent to six orbit raising manoeuvres around the Earth following the launch, the Trans Mars Injection (TMI) Manoeuvre on December 1, 2013 gave the necessary thrust to the spacecraft to escape from Earth and to initiate the journey towards Mars, in a helio-centric orbit. 
 
In this long journey, the spacecraft has to travel 680 million km, out of which a travel of 190 million km has been completed so far.
 
The First Trajectory Correction Manoeuvre (TCM) was conducted on December 11, 2013.  The trajectory of the spacecraft, till today, is as expected, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said today. Three more TCM operations are planned around April, August and September this year.
 
An ISRO press release said the health of the spacecraft is normal. It is being continuously monitored by the ground station of ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), located at Byalalu, near Bangalore.  
 
Except for a 40-minute break in the telemetry data received from the spacecraft to the ground station, data has been continuously available for all the 100 days, it said.
 
The propulsion system of the spacecraft is configured for TCMs and the Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) Operation. On February 6, all the five payloads on the spacecraft were switched on to check their health.
 
"The health parameters of all the payloads are normal. Presently, the spacecraft is at a radio distance of 16 million km causing a one-way communication delay of approximately 55 seconds. After travelling the remaining distance of about 490 million km over the next 210 days, the spacecraft would be inserted into the Martian orbit on September 24, 2014," it said.
 
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