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Kerala

10 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands on Friday.

 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands today.
 
Four people were killed in south Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu in rain-related incidents yesterday even as the authorities mounted a massive search and rescue operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
One fisherman, who was among those rescued today, died in hospital here today, taking the toll in Kerala to five, official sources said.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning of a very severe cyclone for Lakshadweep Islands this evening and said the system was likely to intensify further in the next 24 hours.
 
In a Red message issued at 1730 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the system, now over the Lakshadweep  area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea, continued to move west-northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph during the past six hours and intensified further into a "Very Severe Cyclonic Storm".
 
It lay centred at 1430 hours IST today near latitude 9.1º N and longitude 73.0º E, about 90 km north of Minicoy and 220 km south-southeast of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The IMD warned that, under the influence of the system, heavy to very heavy rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with isolated extremely heavy falls. There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin also said that rainfall was very likely at many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
According to it, gale winds, with speed reaching 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradual decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be phenomenal over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and very high during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off the Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees; major damage to thatched houses, huts and kutcha houses; some damage to pucca roads; flooding of escape routes; and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops.
 
Storm surge of about one metre above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, the bulletin said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off the Kerala and Karnataka coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
Ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) were involved in the rescue efforts at sea while teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in the affected areas in the two states and units of the Indian Army were on standby to come to the aid of the civil adminstration, if necessary.
 
Official sources here said more than 220 people had been rescued from the sea by the Navy, ICG and IAF. Many of them were admitted to hospitals here for treatment, they said. 
 
Some of the fishermen were rescued by a Japanese cargo ship in the area. As many as 37 people were rescued by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) of the Indian Navy which flew between Thiruvananthapuram and the sea.
 
The ICG said it had deployed nine ships and two Dornier aircraft in the area and rescued as many as 52 fishermen so far.
 
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The International Safety Net (ISN) had been activated to advise Merchant Traffic to render assistance to stranded fishermen, it said.
 
Among others, Indian Naval Ships Sagardhwani, Jamuna and Nireekshak were in the affected areas in the Arabian Sea. INS Sharda and Shardul are also sailing out soon to augment the search effort. Both ships were in final stages of embarking HADR items for assistance at Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, Indian Navy sources said.
 
In Poonthura, a coastal village near here, angry groups of fishermen and their families staged protests, alleging that the government had not acted in time and not done enough as far as the rescue efforts were concerned. 
 
Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, both senior leaders of the Congress, visited the area today to listen to the woes of the villagers.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons that the state government had received an alert about the cyclone only on Thursday afternoon. He said the rescue efforts were also hampered by the bad weather conditions.
 
Mr. Vijayan said all possible efforts were being made to locate and rescue the missing fishermen. He said the state government had urged the Ministry of Defence to deploy more aircraft for the search and rescue operations.
 
In Lakshadweep, the authorities had issued orders for the evacuation of people from low-lying areas in Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavratti, Agatti, Androth, Kadamath and Amini islands.
 
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Congress wrests Gurdaspur in Punjab from BJP, its ally IUML retains Vengara in Kerala

In a morale booster for the party ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has wrested the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat from the BJP by a huge margin and its ally, the IUML, retained the Vengara Assembly seat in Kerala in bye-elections held on October 11.

 
Congress' Sunil Jakhar wins Gurdaspur LS bye-election
In a morale booster ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has wrested the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha  seat from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by a huge margin and its ally, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), retained the Vengara Assembly seat in Kerala in bye-elections held on October 11.
 
Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar drubbed Mr. Swaran Singh Salaria of the BJP by a record margin of 1,93,219 votes in Gurdaspur.
 
In Vengara, Mr. K. N. A. Khader, the candidate of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), who is a member of the IUML, won from Vengara, defeating his nearest rival, P. P. Basheer of the Left Democratic Front (LDF), by a margin of 23,310 votes in the October 11 bye-election.
 
Counting of votes was taken up in both constituencies this morning, and the results were out by noon.
 
Gurdaspur had fallen vacant following the death on April 27 of well-known Hindi film actor Vinod Khanna, who represented the constituency in the Lok Sabha as a candidate of the ruling BJP.
 
Mr. Jakhar polled 4,99,752 votes against the 3,06,553 votes secured by Mr. Salaria. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Suresh Khajuria got just 23,579 votes.
 
Considering the fact that Mr. Khanna had won the seat by an impressive margin of 1.35 lakh votes in 2014, the bye-election ended up being a cakewalk for Mr. Jakhar, 63, the Congress Punjab unit chief and son of late Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar.
 
In between, in March this year, the Congress won a resounding victory in the elections to the Punjab Legislative Assembly and its leader Amarinder Singh returned as Chief Minister of the state. The bye-election had turned into a battle of prestige for both sides.
 
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress had ended up on the losing side in all the nine Assembly segments in Gurdaspur. Mr. Jakhar has managed to turn this around, winning from all the nine segments this time.
 
Gurdaspur was considered a Congress stronghold for long years, with its candidate Sukhbuns Kaur Bhinder winning the seat five times in a row from 1980 to 1996 before the BJP brought in Khanna, a top Bollywood actor, as its candidate in 1998. The actor-turned politician was re-elected from the seat in 1999, 2004 and then in 2014. In 2009, former Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa by a thin margin of 8,359 votes.
 
Mr. Jakhar described the bye-election result as a "referendum" on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance's government at the Centre and said the people of the constituency had sent a "strong message of resentment" over its policies.
 
"Congratulations to @sunilkjakhar ji for his impressive win in #Gurdaspur bypoll, it's a victory for @INCPunjab policies & development agenda," Mr. Amarinder Singh on microblogging site Twitter.
 
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"Assure people of #Gurdaspur that every single promise made by @sunilkjakhar will be fulfilled and all development works will be fast-tracked," he added.
 
Congress leader and Punjab minister Navjot Sidhu said, "This is a beautiful Diwali gift, packed with a red ribbon, for our would-be party president Rahul Gandhi."
 
In Vengara, Mr. Khader polled 65,227 votes against 41,917 secured by Mr. Basheer, a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the main constituent of the ruling LDF in the state.
 
Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) candidadte K. C. Naseer ended up third with 8,648 votes while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee K. Janachandran  Master, finished fourth with 5,728 votes in the results announced today.
 
The bye-election in Vengara was necessitated by the resignation of IUML leader P. K. Kunhalikutty, who was elected to the Lok Sabha on April 12 from the Malappuram seat that fell vacant following the death of former Union Minister E. Ahamed.
 
While the UDF celebrated the victory, the LDF drew satisfaction from the fact that they had reduced the IUML candidate's victory margin from 38,057 votes in the 2016 Assembly elections, when Mr. Kunhalikutty had won, to 23,310 votes in this bye-election.
 
Today's results have come just three days after the Congress swept the municipal elections in Nanded-Waghala in Maharashtra, considered a stronghold of the party. The party won 67 of the 81 seats, while the BJP won four and its ally Shiv Sena got just one.
 
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Mukherjee says tragic to see universities caught in vortex of violence, disquiet

Declaring that there should be no room in India for the intolerant Indian, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday that the country's premier institutions of higher education must resound with creativity and free thinking.

President Pranab Mukherjee delivering the 6th K.S. Rajamony Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘India@70’ at Kochi in Kerala on March 2, 2017.
President Pranab Mukherjee delivering the 6th K.S. Rajamony Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘India@70’ at Kochi in Kerala on March 2, 2017.
Declaring that there should be no room in India for the intolerant Indian, President Pranab Mukherjee today said the country's premier institutions of higher education must resound with creativity and free thinking.
 
"Those in Universities must engage in reasoned discussion and debate rather than propagate a culture of unrest. It is tragic to see them caught in the vortex of violence and disquiet," he said while delivering the 6th K.S. Rajamony Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘India@70’ in Kochi.
 
"India was a world leader in the field of education when our Universities like Nalanda and Takshshila were at the height of their glory. Nalanda and Takshshila are not mere geographical expressions but representations of the idea for free thought which flourished in these great Universities of the past.  Our premier institutions of higher education are the vehicles on which India has to propel itself into a knowledge society.  These temples of learning must resound with creativity and free thinking," he said.
 
"There should be no room in India for the intolerant Indian.  India has been since ancient times a bastion of free thought, speech and expression.  Our society has always been characterized by the open contestation of diverse schools of thought and debate as well as discussion.   Freedom of speech and expression is one of the most important fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution. There must be space for legitimate criticism and dissent," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee began by speaking about Kerala, which has been the gateway to India for traders and religious missionaries from different parts of the globe. He said the people of Kerala were known for their progressive thinking and the State's impressive achievements in the field of literacy, education, health, gender equality, tourism and culture had brought it global acclaim.
 
Turning to the topic of the lecture, India@70, he said that for 50 years before independence in 1947 the economic growth rate of India was 0% to 1%. "In the fifties, our growth rate rose to 1 – 2%, the sixties 3 – 4% and in the 90s, with economic reforms, to 6 to 7%.  In the last decade, our growth rate has averaged around 8%, making us the fastest growing large economy of the world," he said.
 
"India’s population in 1950 was 360 million. Today, we are a 1.3 billion strong nation.  Our annual per capita income has gone up from Rs. 7,500 at the time of independence to over Rs. 77,000. GDP growth rate has risen from 2.3 percent to 7.9 percent in 2015-16.  Poverty ratio has declined from over 60 percent to less than 25 percent.  Average life expectancy has gone up from 31.4 to 68.4 years. Literacy rate has gone up from 18 to 74 percent. Food grains production has gone up from 45 million to an estimated 272 million tonnes in 2016-17," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee spoke about the progress achieved by the country in the field of food and industrial production, as well as in areas such as space, information technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. He said that, in the last 70 years, India had transformed itself from a poor, under-developed nation into the third largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity.
 
He said equally important was India's success in consolidating the unity of its nation and democracy in the midst of extraordinary challenges and tremendous diversity.  
 
"We have firmly established within our country the rule of law, an independent judiciary and vibrant media as well as civil society.  We have also created strong institutions like the Election Commission and the CAG who stand as pillars of our political system.  Every known religion in the world, over hundred different languages used in everyday life, 1600 dialects and multiple cultures are united under one flag and one Constitution. Around 553 million people voted in the 2014 General Elections, an exercise matched in scale and scope by none else in the world," he said.
 
The President said the most important legacy bequeathed to the nation by its founding fathers was its Constitution.
 
"A Constitution is a charter for the governance of a nation. The notion of what is good governance must be defined by the need of the times and enriched by the experience of the decades. Yet, the Constitution enshrines certain timeless values that should never be compromised. It is against the touchstone of these values that we must constantly measure our performance," he said.
 
"The Preamble records the resolve of the people of India to secure to all citizens justice - social, economic and political as well as liberty, equality and fraternity.  It also establishes the principle of secularism. Justice - social, economic and political - is in the life of any nation a journey more than a destination. To achieve social justice requires not mere governance but a recasting of mindsets and the transformation of social ethos.  That is the job not just of the legislature, the executive or the courts, but of each one of us.
 
"The ultimate goal of any democracy is the empowerment of the individual, irrespective of his economic, religious or social standing. This may appear to be a utopian dream for many, but the strength of a system lies in its capacity to ceaselessly work for its accomplishment.  The goal of political justice requires the continuous empowerment of marginalised sections of our society. We owe ourselves to create a system in which access to politics is not limited to a privileged few but an average Indian also feels empowered enough to contribute," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said economic development was vital to good governance but stressed that this must be imbued with the principle of equality on which there could be no compromise.
 
"An egalitarian society can only be created when growth is inclusive. It is important to ensure that there is justice and equality of opportunity and the state does not create conditions in which the privileged few gain at the cost of the multitudes who suffer endemic poverty. A sustainable society can only be based on the principles of equity and justice," he said.
 
He said democracy required constant nurturing and at no cost should the exploitation of fault lines be allowed. In this context, he underlined the importance of protection and safety of women and children.
 
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Mr. Mukherjee said the country's leaders and political activists must listen to the people, engage with them, learn from them and respond to their needs and concerns. "Our law makers must never take the people for granted. They must focus on the fundamental task of law making and raising of issues of concern to the people as well as finding solutions to their problems," he said.
 
"Legislation is the first and foremost responsibility of a Parliamentarian. It is most unfortunate that time devoted towards legislation has been gradually declining in our Parliament," he said, citing figures for time lost due to interruptions and adjournments.
 
"No one who holds any elected office has been invited by the voters to occupy that office.  Each one has gone to the voters and pleaded for their votes and support.  The trust placed by the people in the political system and those elected should not be betrayed. Our Legislatures and Parliament must not turn into arenas for combat.  Floor tests are not meant to be muscle tests.  The opportunity to represent the people is not a right or entitlement but a moral obligation and duty.  Our elected representatives owe it to the people of our country to act as models of exemplary conduct," he said.
 
Mr. Mukherjee said Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies were central pillars on which the edifice of democracy   rested. 
 
"They are the supreme institutions comprising of members directly elected by our people.  It is through them that governments are held accountable by the people.  If they become dysfunctional, it results in not just paralysis of those institutions but creates an adverse impact across the system.  The debate and discussions which ought to take place in the open in the House of Parliament and Assemblies cannot be replicated elsewhere.  When they cease to function effectively, issues spill out onto the streets.  The very basis of our democracy gets undermined," he said.
 
The President said the time had come for collective efforts to re-discover the sense of national purpose and patriotism that alone can lift the nation on to the road of sustained progress and prosperity.
 
"The nation and the people must always come first.  Let us strive to arrest the moral decline in our society and ensure that our core civilisational values find firm root.  Let us exert ourselves to strengthen India’s pluralism and diversity.  Let us be uncompromising in rooting out violence, prejudice and hatred.  
 
"Let us strive for rapid progress but even as we do so, ensure that the benefits of economic progress percolate down to the poorest of the poor and those living in the furthest corners of our country.  Let us make the poorest in our land part of the story of a rising India.  Let us embrace education, skill development and innovation which will enable us catapult India into the future and build a knowledge economy, riding the technological wave of the 21st century.
 
"I see a very bright future for India. Our Constitutional values, young population and entrepreneurial abilities as well as capacity for hard work provide us the fundamentals required for rapid progress as well as the building of a caring and compassionate society. India has changed dramatically in the last 70 years.  I am confident that in the next ten years, we will see even greater progress as we steer our nation, focused on further strengthening our open, democratic and inclusive society," he added.
 
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Kerala: Court orders probe against CM Oommen Chandy, Minister Aryadan Mohammad

A Vigilance Court in Thrissur on Thursday ordered registering of an FIR and initiating a probe against Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his cabinet colleague Aryadan Mohammad on the bribery allegations raised against them by Saritha S Nair, main accused in the "solar scam".

 
Kerala solar scam: FIR ordered against CM; protestors lathicharged
 
A Vigilance Court here today ordered registering of a first information report (FIR) and initiating a probe against Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his cabinet colleague, Electricity and Transport Minister Aryadan Mohammad, on the bribery allegations raised against them by Saritha S Nair, main accused in the "solar scam".
 
Saritha and her associate Biju Radhakrishnan are accused of having cheated several businessmen and non-resident Indians (NRIs) of large sums of money promising them partnership in a company floated by them, Team Solar Renewable Energy Solutions Pvt Limited, which offered solar energy solutions to institutions and households. 
 
They had also boasted of close connections with Mr Chandy and other ministers and even produced letters on official letterheads to support their claims. The scam came into light when an NRI, Sajad, filed a police complaint accusing them of having defrauded him of Rs 40 lakh. Subsequently, 33 cases were registered against them on various complaints.
 
Saritha, while deposing before the Justice Sivarajan Commission in Kochi yesterday, had alleged that she had paid a bribe totalling Rs 1.90 crore to an aide of the Chief Minister and Rs 40 lakh to Mr Mohammad. Both have denied the charges.
 
However, Inquiry Commissioner and Special Judge S S Vasan, taking cognisance of a private complaint, asked the Vigilance Director to file an FIR and complete the probe as early as possible. The court rejected the contention of the government counsel seeking a quick probe into the allegations before initiating proceedings against the Chief Minister. Justice should be equal for all, for the common man as well as Chief Minister, the court observed.
 
The judge said he was not looking into the merits of the complaint against the Chief Minister which is to be considered by the investigating officer. The report is to be submitted to the court on April 14. The court also rejected the submission of the state counsel regarding jurisdiction of the court since the alleged bribery took place in Thiruvananthapuram. However, the court upheld the contention of the complainant P D Joseph, a social activist, that it had also occurred in Kochi, which fell within the purview of the court.
 
Reacting to the court order, Mr Chandy told reporters in Kozhikode that he was prepared to face any inquiry and rejected the opposition demand for his resignation. “My conscience is clear and both of us have done nothing wrong,” he said, speaking on behalf of his ministerial colleague, too.
 
In a related development the Kerala High Court stayed the Thrissur Vigilance Court order of registering an FIR against Mr K Babu, who had resigned his post as Minister following the court order. 
 
Passing the order, High Court Judge P Ubaid observed that the vigilance court had acted in unnecessary haste without waiting for the order of the division bench of the High Court. The stay will be applicable for two months. In the meantime, the court directed the Vigilance Director to conduct a quick probe and submit a report within ten days.
 
Earlier, on January 25, Mr Chandy had deposed before the judicial commission. The deposition, that went on into the night, was completed only in the early hours the next day. He reportedly told the commission that he had met Saritha only three times and came to know about the financial dealings only after her arrest. He had acknowledged receipt of a contribution of Rs 2 lakh to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund in a letter drafted by his office under his letterhead. The letterhead was later found to be misused. He also denied that he had met Saritha in his office along with Sreedharan Nair, a quarry owner and one of the complainants in the scam, as stated by Intelligence ADGP A Hemachandran.
 
The Chief Minister later told reporters that he had refused to undergo a lie-detector test as he had not lied or acted against his conscience. Neither has the state exchequer incurred any loss nor the accused obtained any monetary advantage, he added. 
 
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Kerala: Four female rowers attempt suicide in SAI hostel; one dead, three hospitalised

A 15-year-old rower died and three female athletes were hospitalised in a serious condition after they consumed poisonous fruit on Wednesday in an alleged suicide attempt at their hostel at the Sports Authority of India's Water Sports Centre at Alappuzha in Kerala.

 
Kerala suicide attempt: DG SAI says priority to save lives of girls
A 15-year-old rower died and three female athletes were hospitalised in a serious condition after they consumed poisonous fruit yesterday in an alleged suicide attempt at their hostel at the Sports Authority of India's (SAI) Water Sports Centre at Alappuzha in Kerala.
 
The decased was identified as Aparna Ramachandran, a resident of Avalookunnu in Alappuzha district, official sources said. The three others are also from Kerala, they said.
 
The four athletes allegedly consumed the fruit of cerbera odollam (Othalanga in Malayalam) sometime during the afternoon yesterday and were rushed to the Alappuzha Medical College Hospital, about 150 km from here, in the evening after they started showing symptoms of food poisoning.
 
While Aparna failed to respond to treatment and breathed her last around 4 am today, the other three girls were said to be in a serious condition.
 
The reason for the extreme step taken by the rowers could not be ascertained immediately, but parents and relatives of the girls said they were subjected to mental and physical harassment at the hostel in recent times.
 
The hostel authorities, however, denied these allegations and said there were no complaints of any harassment. Media reports quoted them as saying that the girls had recently been caught consuming beer and were questioned about it, and they must have resorted to the extreme step fearing further action.
 
The State Government as well as the Sports Authority of India have ordered inquiries into the incident.
 
Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chenithala told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram that he had asked Inspector General of Police (Kochi Range) M R Ajithkumar to conduct an inquiry into th incident and the officer would reach Alappuzha later today.
 
In Delhi, SAI Director General Injeti Srinivas said SAI had taken an extremely serious view of the incident and he had submitted an initial report to Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. He said SAI would conduct a probe into all aspects of the incident.
 
Mr  Sonowal said in a statement later that he had asked the Director General of SAI to rush to the spot and give a factual report on the incident.
 
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“I am deeply aggrieved by the incident that has happened in Kerala. The young girl who has died was a very promising sportsperson. It is a big loss to the country in general and Sports Authority of India and sports fraternity in particular. I convey my condolences to the bereaved family. We will give all possible help to the bereaved family," he said.
 
"Three girls are still undergoing treatment. I pray for their speedy recovery. To provide them the best possible treatment is our top priority," he said.
 
"Local police is investigating the matter. I have also directed the Director General of SAI to rush to the spot and give me a factual report. I have specifically directed him to ensure that the best possible treatment is made available to the three girls who are undergoing treatment. 
 
"While law will take its own course, at this stage I would only like to say that if anyone from Sports Authority of India is found guilty in connection with this tragic incident, strictest possible action will be taken against him or her," he added.
 
Mr Srinivas told newspersons in Delhi that it was the most shocking and tragic incident in the three-decade-old history of SAI, which is tasked with nurturing sports talent in the country.
 
He said he had been informed of the incident around midnight last night and has been in touch with Kerala government and local SAI officials since then.
 
"Our immediate priority is to deal with the medical emergency, to save the lives of the three trainees" he said. He said he had been told that there was no real antidote for the poisonous fruit and that, since the entire matter came to light only after some hours after they had consumed the fruit, the poison appeared to have entered their bloodstream and complicated matters.
 
Mr Srinivas said the four girls had reportedly left a suicide note jointly signed by them. One of the three girls in hospital, who is conscious and is able to speak, has deposed before the sub-divisional magistrate, he said. "All these matters will be investigated," 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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Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit resigns, may return to Delhi politics

Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit said on Tuesday she had resigned from her position, amid reports that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was planning to shift her to the North-East and indications that she might return to active politics in Delhi.

 
Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit resigns
Kerala Governor Sheila Dikshit today said she had resigned from her position, amid reports that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was planning to shift her to the North-East and indications that she might return to active politics in Delhi.
 
Ms Dikshit, 76, who was Chief Minister of Delhi for 15 years over three consecutive terms, had taken over for a five-year term as the 22nd Governor of Kerala only on March 11 this year after she and her Congress party suffered a humiliating defeat in the December 4, 2013 elections to the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
 
She had lost in her own constituency of Gole Market by a huge margin to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, who went on to serve as Chief Minister of Delhi for 49 days before he resigned. The Congress had managed to win only eight seats in the 70-member house.
 
Ms Dikshit was among the Governors appointed by the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre who had refused to heed clear signals from the new Modi government, which assumed office on May 26, that they should hand in their papers.
 
There were also reports in the media suggesting that she might be shifted to a North-Eastern state if she refused to quit.
 
Ms Dikshit met President Mukherjee and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh here yesterday. 
 
"I have only one thing to say. The news flashing on television channels is correct. I have submitted my resignation yesterday," she told newspersons.
"This is what I wanted to say, and I wanted to say it myself."
 
"I don't have anything more to say right now. After my resignation is accepted, I'll say whatever I have to say," she said.
 
To repeated queries about her views on the way the Modi government had handled Governors and about her future plans, Ms Dikshit said that she would not like to say anything further.
 
"Let my resignation be accepted, after that I promise you that I will talk to you," she added.
 
Asked if she had been under pressure from the Modi government to resign, Ms Dikshit said, "I have nothing to do with all that. I did what my heart told me to do."
 
She is now expected to plunge back into active politics in Delhi, where Assembly elections may be held in the next few months if it is not possible to form a viable government within the present Assembly in which no party has a clear majoirty.
 
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With this, eight of the Governors appointed by the previous government have resigned so far, while two were sacked.
 
Soon after the new government started nudging them, five Governors -- B L Joshi in Uttar Pradesh, M K Narayanan in West Bengal, Ashwani Kumar of Nagaland, Shekhar Dutt of Chhattisgarh and Bharat Vir Wanchoo of Goa, all of whom are former police officers -- resigned.
 
Mr Vakkom Purushothaman, a senior Congress leader from Kerala, who was shifted from Mizoram to Nagaland after then Gujarat Governor Kamala Beniwal was moved to Mizoram, resigned in protest against the manner in which he was transferred without consulting him.
 
Ms Beniwal, who had a few run-ins with then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who is now the Prime Minister, was sacked on August 6. Earlier, on July 11, Mr Virendra Kataria had been removed as Lt Governor of Puducherry.
 
On Sunday, another senior Congress leader from Kerala, Mr K Sankaranarayanan, resigned after he was transferred as the Governor of Mizoram from Maharashtra.
 
The Governor of Uttarakhand, Mr Aziz Qureshi, has meanwhile filed a petition in the Supreme Court alleging that he had received calls from the Union Home Secretary suggesting that he resign. He contended that only the President could remove him.
 
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MPEDA hosts the Governing Council Meeting of INFOFISH

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The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) hosted the 32nd Governing Council Meeting of INFOFISH, an Inter Governmental Organization under the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, here from December 11-14.
 
The meeting, held at MPEDA headquarters, was attended by 19 delegates from various countries, including India. It was chaired by Dr. A. Jayathilak IAS, Chairman, MPEDA who is also the Chairman of INFOFISH. 
 
India was represented in the meeting by Mr. P. V. Harikrishna, Director, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, New Delhi and Mr. B. Sreekumar, Secretary, MPEDA.  Delegates from countries such as Cambodia, Fiji, Malaysia, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Thailand attended the meeting.  There was an observer from FAO also.  
 
The meeting had presentations on review of major markets, technological developments, and so on by INFOFISH officers and FAO. 
 
 The meeting had deliberations on the market aspects, interventions required for the trade and the role of INFOFISH in assisting member countries and collaborating with the similar organizations under the FAO umbrella in augmenting trade from the region to different countries, besides following the administrative agenda points including the work programme for 2018. 
 
 As a part of the meeting, a day’s field visit was arranged for the delegates to the aqua farms and seafood processing units in and around Kochi and neighboring districts such as Thrissur and Alappuzha to help them understand the seafood production and processing systems here.
 
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Rahul Gandhi meets Ockhi-hit fishermen in Kerala, Tamil Nadu

 
Rahul Gandhi meets cyclone Ockhi victims in Kerala, TN
Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi today visited fishing villages in Kerala and Tamil Nadu which were hit by cyclone Ockhi earlier this month and declared that the time had come to set up a separate Ministry of Fisheries at the Centre to look after their interests.
 
He declared that the Congress, when voted back to power at the Centre, would set up a Ministry of Fisheries that would the difficulties and problems faced by fishermen could be dealt with quickly and immediately.
 
Mr. Gandhi offered his condolences to the families which had lost their loved ones in the tragedy and spent time with several of them as they talked about their pain and sorrow. "What you have lost cannot be measured in terms of value. So, my words are not going to replace what you have lost," he said.
 
He said he would have liked to come here earlier but he had commitments in poll-bound Gujarat which could not be cancelled. "Even though I was not here in my physical presence, my mind and spirit were here with you," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said it was very important that the Government and the people learnt from the disaster and set up systems to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies.
 
"We also expect the Government to offer compensation to everybody who has lost in this tragedy. It is the duty of the Congress, as the Opposition, to put pressure on the Government to ensure everyone who has lost gets adequate compensation. I am confident they will play this role," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said that, in many ways, farmers and fishermen across the country faced similar situations. 
 
"It is very difficult for them to make a living. It seems everything is aligned against them. At the national elvel, faremrs have a Ministry that protects them and looks after their interests. I think it is time that fishermen also have their Ministry at the Centre so that their difficulties can be dealt with quickly and immediately. The Congress is committed to providing a Ministry for fishermen when elected to power at the Centre," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi, who flew in here form Delhi, visited some of the worst-affected villages such as Poonthura, Vizhinjam, Thaikkad and Palayam in Kerala and Chinnathurai in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.
 
Senior State Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and Dr. Shashi Tharoor, the Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram, accompanied Mr. Gandhi on the visit to the Kerala villages.
 
"Very good visit by Rahul Gandhi to two coastal villages in Thiruvananthapuram. People were touched by his directness & evident empathy during deeply moving conversations with bereaved families," Dr. Tharoor said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
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Indian Navy continues search and rescue efforts for Ockhi

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The Indian Navy's Southern Naval Command continued its search and rescue (SAR) efforts for the tenth day over southeast Arabian Sea and near Lakshadweep and Minicoy (L&M) Islands to look for victims of cyclone Ockhi which hit the region.
 
An official press release said ten ships and several aircraft were involved in the operations.
 
In the past 72 hours, the search area was increased up to the coast of Maldives. However, no stranded boats, fishermen or floating bodies have been found in this duration, it said.
 
The release said INS Kalpeni returned to Kochi after completing 96 hours of assisted search by six local fishermen it embarked on December 6. The ship carried out an exhaustive search in areas extending up to 150 miles northwest of L&M Islands to the coast of Calicut and therafter Kochi. The search effort did not find any distressed fishing vessels or floating bodies. 
 
"It was observed that normal fishing activity has resumed in substantial strength especially between Kochi to Calicut," the release said.
 
INS Kabra, INS Sagardhwani and maritime reconnaissance aircraft P8I were deployed off the coast of Allepey and south of Thiruvananthapuram, based on inputs received from Kerala State administration of floating bodies in the area. 
 
INS Sujata equipped with Portable Mobile Morgue boxes, sailed out from Kochi today for enabling it to bring bodies if found during the search operations. Thiruvananthapuram sub-collector Divya S. Iyer along with four local fishermen would be embarking the ship at sunrise tomorrow off Vizhinjam port for joining the deep sea search operations, while Indian Coast Guard Ship Abhinav which arrived off Vizhinjam in the evening today embarked 10 fishermen from Pozhiyoor for co-ordinated search. The search is expected to continue up to 72 hours.  
 
A total of 3,25,000 square miles have been searched  and sanitised by Indian Naval assets for providing SAR since the calamity ‘Ockhi’ struck the L & M islands and southeast Arabian Sea.
 
INS Jamuna continued replenishment of fresh water in excess of 14,000 litres today at Kavaratti. The humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) materials and medicines carried by INS Sharda were distributed in the Minicoy Islands. 
 
"Life is slowly becoming normal at the L& M Islands with the schools reopening.  No further help other than the provisioning of daily fresh water at Kavaratti Island is being sought by the civil administration from the Navy," the release added.
 
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Technical Cooperation Non-Cash Grant for Coimbatore, Bhubaneswar and Kochi for urban transport

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Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, Bhubaneswar in  Odisha and Kochi in Kerala will receive Technical Cooperation Non-Cash Grant for Urban Transport Activities.
 
An Implementation Agreement on Sustainable Urban Transport project between Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the German development agency GIZ was signed here yesterday in the presence of Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri and German Ambassador Dr Martin Ney.
 
The agreement was signed by Mr. Mukund Kumar Sinha, OSD & ex officio Joint Secretary, Housing & Urban Affairs and GIZ Country Director Wolfgang Hanning.
 
Under the agreement, an amount of euro four million (approximately Rs. 29 crore) will be given to the three cities for urban transport activities through GIZ over a period of three years. The main objective is to improve planning and implementation of sustainable urban transport, an official press release said.
 
The Annual Negotiations and Consultations between India and Germany in 2015, had listed Technical Cooperation by Germany for Urban Mobility in India as one of measures to be taken. It was later formalised with a memorandum of understanding (MoU).
 
The project will give the desired impetus in three major interventions proposed under Smart City Mission of the Ministry -- ITS based transport solutions, Non-motorised vehicles and Last mile connectivity, the release added.
 
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Malayalam actress Lissy resumes acting career after 25 years

Lissy
Lissy
Lissy, a popular Malayalam actress of yesteryears, has announced her return to an acting career after a gap of 25 years, saying that she regretted quitting movies at the age of 22.
 
"Many of my friends and well wishers have been asking me for quite some time whether I will come back to movies. Well!!! I can now confirm that after over 25 years of absence I am acting in a Telugu movie. 
 
"The movie, yet to be titled, is produced by Telugu star Pavan Kalyan, ace director Thrivikram Srinivas and Sudhakar Reddy, directed by Krishna Chaitanya and has Nithiin and Megha in the lead," Lissy said on her Facebook page. She said she was playing a significant character in the movie.
 
She said that, after so many years of absence, she had faced the camera for the first time in New York.
 
"It was a nervous yet thrilling moment. I must say I had missed it!!! We just finished the first schedule in America and second in Conoor. The movie is scheduled to be released early next year. 
 
"Before I quit acting I had a short but very successful tenure in Telugu. I did 8 movies in Telugu and out of that 6 went on to be super hits which included Magaadu and 20va Satabdham, the remakes of Malayalam movies Moonnam Mura and Irupatham Noottandu, respectively. To be honest I was sad to leave Telugu industry at that time but I had no choice. So when it came to acting I always felt kind of an 'unfinished business' with Telugu cinema," she said.
 
Lissy said she had, in the last three years, heard several subjects in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu and finally chose this as her comeback movie.
 
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"I had a wonderful experience during both the schedules. The entire crew was very supportive and shooting was lots of fun! The entire crew welcomed me back with both arms and made me feel like I was never away. Most of the offers I had was from Malayalam and I certainly hope to do a Malayalam movie soon. Likewise, having lived more than half of my life in Chennai I consider myself as half Tamilian and it will be an honour to do a Tamil movie at some point. In fact Gautham Menon has mentioned a subject, which we will discuss once he finishes his current projects.
 
"Managing my studios and preview theaters remains my priority but I may do one or two movies per year if the roles are interesting. Quitting acting at the age of 22 when I had my bag full of movies was a decision I always regretted. Obviously I cannot get back my lost years or the roles I may have had but I certainly hope to do my best in this second innings. Thanks for all your support," she added.
 
Lissy had quit acting after her marriage to well-known film director Priyadarshan in December 1990 and adopted the name Lakshmi. The couple divorced in September 2016.
 
She had made her debut in films in the  early 1980s and very soon became on of the top young actresses of that time. Some of her popular films include Chithram, Thalavattom, Odaruthammava Alariyam, Muthaaramkunnu P.O and Boeing Boeing. 
 
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Cyclone Ockhi likely to weaken by Sunday, move northwestwards from Lakshadweep

Cyclone Ockhi appeared to be weakening on Saturday after striking the Lakshadweep Islands yesterday and the intensity of rains and winds reduced by this afternoon, providing some relief for people of the archipelago.

 
Cyclone Ockhi: Navy helicopter rescues fishermen at sea
Cyclone Ockhi appeared to be weakening today after striking the Lakshadweep Islands yesterday and the intensity of rains and winds reduced by this afternoon, providing some relief for people of the archipelago.
 
The islands, especially Minicoy and Kalpeni, had been lashed yesterday evening by heavy rains and gale winds, which caused substantial damage to public and private property. But no loss of life was reported from the islands, thanks  to the precautionary measures taken by the local administration, which had moved people from the low-lying areas on the coast to safer places like school buildings.
 
Meanwhile, the death toll in south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu, which were struck by heavy rains and strong winds in the past two days as Ockhi swept past the coast towards Lakshadweep rose to 16.
 
More than 530 fishermen from Kerala and 73 from Tamil Nadu who were stranded in the Arabian Sea for the past two days have been rescued so far by ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard  and the Indian Air Force as well as by merchant navy ships.
 
However, more than 100 fishermen from Kerala and 97 from Tamil Nadu are still reported missing and the search and rescue teams continued their efforts to locate them. In the meantime, several fishermen from some of the coastal villages in Kerala set out to sea to look for and rescue their relatives and friends, local people told journalists.
 
Several of the fishermen rescued were admitted to various hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram and other places for treatment, the sources said.
 
The Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force have deployed 20 ships, 8 planes and five helicopters for the search and rescue operations. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said continued efforts would be made to ensure all fishermen affected returned home safely.
 
Official sources said 105 fishermen in eight boats from Kerala which had drifted ashore at Androth in the Lakshadweep were fine and would be repatriated upon improvement in weather.
 
Similarly, some boats missing from Beypore near Kozhikode in Kerala had reached Devagad port in Maharashtra after  getting caught in the cyclone. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis directred the district magistrate of Sindudurg and the State Maritime Board to extend all help to the fishermen.
 
A Red message issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) at 1930 hours today said the very severe cyclonic storm over Lakshadweep area and adjoining Southeast Arabian Sea had further moved northwestwards with a speed of 18 kmph during the previous six hours and lay centred at 1730 hours near latitude 10.5º N and longitude 70.3º E, about 275 km west-southwest of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to weaken gradually from tomorrow, the 03rd December, 2017 morning. It is very likely to continue to move northwestwards during the next 12 hours and then recurve northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," it said.
 
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The bulletin warned that rainfall was very likely at most places over north Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
It said rainfall was very likely at many places over Kerala during the next 12 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
Rainfall at many places was also very likely over south Gujarat, with heavy rainfall at isolated places, it said.
 
The bulletin said gale winds with speed reaching 70-80 kmph, gusting to 90 kmph, were very likely over and around north Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and gradually decrease thereafter. They would become squally winds with speed reaching 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph by tomorrow morning for the subsequent 12 hours.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, were very likely over and around south Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and gradually decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts on December 4 night and December 5, it said.
 
Sea conditions would be high over and around north Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and gradually become very rough by tomorrow morning for the subsequently 12 hours. They are very likely to be rough to very rough over and around south Lakshadweep Islands during next 12 hours and moderate to rough during the subsequent 12 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be rough to very rough along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts on December 4 night and December 5, it said.
 
Storm surge of about 0.5 metre above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of north Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours, the bulletin said.
 
Fishermen around Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 24 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into deep sea along and off Karnataka, Goa and south Maharashtra coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 10 lakh to the next-of-kin of those who died in the cyclone-related incidents in the state. Assistance would also be provided to those who had lost their boat and equipment.
 
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Heavy rains, strong winds lash Lakshadweep as cyclone Ockhi moves towards archipelago

Heavy rains, strong winds and high tides hit the Lakshadweep Islands where a red alert has been issued as cyclone Ockhi struck the archipelago on Saturday even as the death toll in south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu in the past three days rose to 12, official sources said.

A helicopter from the Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy carrying out a rescue effort over the Arabian Sea off the Kerala coast in the wake of cyclone Ockhi, on December 1, 2017.
A helicopter from the Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy carrying out a rescue effort over the Arabian Sea off the Kerala coast in the wake of cyclone Ockhi, on December 1, 2017.
Heavy rains, strong winds and high tides hit the Lakshadweep Islands where a red alert has been issued as cyclone Ockhi struck the archipelago today even as the death toll in south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu in the past three days rose to 12, official sources said.
 
About 102 fishermen who had gone out to sea from south Kerala were said to be missing, with their relatives telling the authorities that they had not heard from them in the past two days. The sources said this information was being cross-checked with various agencies so that a more accurate figure could be worked out.
 
In the meantime, several fishermen from some of the villages had set out to sea to look for and rescue their relatives and friends, local people told journalists.
 
More than 220 fishermen stranded at sea off Kerala were rescued by ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard yesterday. 
 
Of the 12 rain-related deaths, seven had occurred in Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu.
 
Several of the fishermen rescued yesterday were admitted to various hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram for treatment, the sources said.
 
Lakshadweep Member of Parliament P P Mohammed Faizal told NetIndian that Minicoy and Kalpeni islands were lashed last night by heavy rains and strong winds, which caused substantial damage to public and private property.
 
He said many of the other islands, including Kavaratti and Agati were also hit by the cyclone, but the situation was improving today.
 
There was no loss of life reported, thanks  to the precautionary measures taken by the local administration, which had moved people from the low-lying areas on the coast to safer places like school buildings, he added.
 
In a Red message issued at 0830 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the very severe cyclonic storm over the Lakshadweep area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea had moved further west-northwestwards with a speed of 11 kmph during the previous six hours and lay centred at 0530 hours today near latitude 9.6º N and longitude 71.5º E, about 230 km west-northwest of Minicoy and 215 km south of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and then recurve northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," it said.
 
According to the bulletin, under the influence of the system, rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls (>20 cm). There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was also very likely at many places over Kerala, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
Gale winds with speed reaching 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradually decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours.
 
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The bulletin said sea conditions would be phenomenal over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and very high during the subsequent 24 hours. 
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, it said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands and the  Kerala and Karnataka coasts were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. 
 
Two Indian Naval Ships -- Sharda and Shardul -- have left for Lakshadweep and Minicoy with rescue equipment and relief material. Other naval assets from Mumbai and Karwar were kept on standby for deployment towards the islands to augment search and rescue efforts, Indian Navy sources said.
 
INS Sagardhwani and Jamuna would continue their search and rescue operations off Vizhinjam in Kerala, while INS Nireekshak will remain off Kollam in the state, they said.
 
The Navy's advanced light helicopters had sanitised an area up to 25 nautical miles off Vizhinjam and there was less likelihood of stranded vessels in the area, the sources said.
 
"Rescue efforts will continue to look for survivors in general area off the Kerala coast," the sources added.
 
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8 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Cyclone Ockhi wreaked substantial damage as it hurtled towards Lakshadweep Islands past the coasts of south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala and caused the deaths of eight people -- four each in the two states --- as the authorities mounted a massive search operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
A "Red" message issued at 0830 hours today by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the cyclonic storm over southeast Arabian Sea continued to move westnorthwestwards with a speed of 17 kmph during past six hours, intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and lay centred at 0530 hours IST of today over southeast Arabian Sea near latitude 8.8º N and longitude 74.0º E, about 110 km north-northeast of Minicoy and 290 km southeast of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
According to it, under the influence of the system, rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls (>20 cm). Isolated heavy to very heavy falls were likely during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was very likely over many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 110-120 kmph gusting to 130 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradually decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and high during the subsequent 24 hours, the bulletin said.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said the cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees, major damage to thatched houses/huts, major damage to kutcha houses, some damage to pucca roads, flooding of escape routes and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops in Lakshadweep Islands.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, it said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off Kerala and Karnataka coast during the next 48 hours.
 
Meanwhile, many parts of south Kerala continued to receive heavy rains for the second day today.
 
Power supply was disrupted in some areas after electricity poles were uprooted and some roads were blocked by trees which had been uprooted.
 
There was concern in some coastal villages of Kollam and adjacent areas because several fishermen who had set out for the sea had not returned so far.
 
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Indian Navy officials said a Boeing P8I aircraft deployed at first light from INS Rajali this morning had sighted seven survivors hanging on to a capsized boat about 25 miles west of Thiruvananthapuram. The aircraft had dropped a life raft in the vicinity and reported the exact position to ships in the area, which were being diverted to render assistance.
 
The Navy had said yesterday that, based on a request received from the District Collector of Thiruvananthapuram for assistance in the search and rescue of six fishing boats with fisherman and one marine engineering vessel reported to be missing at sea near Vizhinjam, the Southern naval Command had deployed Indian Naval Ships Shardul, Nireekshak, Kabra and Kalpeni and two aircraft based at Kochi.
 
The ships and aircraft would carry out search and rescue (SAR) operations in the area and would continue to remain at sea for any assistance required by the civil administration.
 
The Southern Naval Command is also gearing up for any Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) that may be required due to the effects of the storm, an official press release said.
 
According to official sources, apart from the Boeing P8I aircraft, an Indian Coast Guard Dornier and Chetak, advanced light helicopters and seven Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships were also in the area and scanning the Kerala coast.
 
The sources said a fisherman was rescued from sea off Vizhinjam in Kerala by an Indian  Coast Guard ship.
 
Schools in the coastal districts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu were closed. Rail traffic to and from Thiruvananthapuram was affected due to the heavy rains.
 
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has despatched its teams to south Kerala as well as Kanyakumari and Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu, the sources added.
 
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IMD issues cyclone warning for south Kerala, south Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

Image: IMD
Image: IMD
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today issued a cyclone warning for south Kerala, adjoining districts of South Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep with the cyclonic storm Ockhi lying centred over southeast Arabian Sea this evening.
 
An "Orange" message issued at 2000 hours by IMD said that the latest observations and radar and satellite imageries indicated that Ockhi, over Arabian Sea off south Kerala coast, had moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 20 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1730 hrs IST of today over southeast Arabian Sea near latitude 8.2º N and longitude 75.8º E, about 130 km west-southwest of Thiruvananthapuram and 290 km east-southeast of Minicoy. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours. It is very likely to move westnorthwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during the next 36 hours and then move northwestwards during the subsequent 24 hours," the bulletin said.
 
According to it, rainfall was very likely at most places over south Tamil Nadu during the next 12 hours and over south Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places and isolated heavy falls over interior Tamil Nadu and Kerala during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 65-75 kmph, gusting to 85 kmph, were very likely along and off South Kerala during next 36 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 12 hours, it said.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 60-70 kmph, gusting to 80 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and increase thereafter with wind speeds becoming 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph around tomorrow evening, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be high along and off South Kerala coast during the next 36 hours and very rough to high along and off south Tamil Nadu coast during the next 12 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and very high during the subsequent 48 hours.
 
The bulletin said damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of trees, major damage to "kutcha" houses, minor damage to "pucca" roads and damage to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards could occur in south Kerala  (Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Kollam, Pathanathitta and  Thiruvananthapuram districts), adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) and Lakshadweep Islands.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands from tonight, the bulletin said.
 
Storm surge of about 0.5 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of coastal districts of south Kerala (Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts), and adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) during the next 12 hours.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off South Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours and along and off South Kerala coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
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IMD issues cyclone warning for South Kerala, south TN and Lakshadweep

Image: IMD
Image: IMD
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today issued a cyclone warning for south Kerala, adjoining districts of South Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep with the cyclonic storm Ockhi over the Comorin area lying centred off the south Kerala coast and neighbourhood this afternoon.
 
In an "Orange" message issued at 1700 hours, the IMD said the latest observations and satellite imageries indicated that Ockhi had moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 20 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1430 hours IST over south Kerala coast and neighbourhood near latitude 7.9º N and longitude 76.4º E, about 120 km west-southwest of Kanyakumari, 180 km south-southwest of Thiruvananthapuram and 360 km east-southeast of Minicoy. 
 
"The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards towards Lakshadweep Islands and intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The bulletin said that, under the influence of the system, rainfall would occur at most plaes over south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places and isolated heavy falls over interior Tamil Nadu and Kerala during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
It also said that rainfall was very likely over Lakshadweep area during the next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls.
 
According to IMD, gale winds, with speed reaching 65-75 kmph, gusting to 85 kmph, are very likely along and off South Kerala during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 24 hours.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, were very likely along and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and increase thereafter with wind speeds becoming 80-90 kmph, gusting to 100 kmph, from tonight.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be high along and off South Kerala coast during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be very rough to high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and high to very high during the subsequent 48 hours, it said.
 
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The bulletin said damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of trees, major damage to "kutcha" houses, minor damage to "pucca" roads and damage to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards could occur in south Kerala  (Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Kollam, Pathanathitta and  Thiruvananthapuram districts), adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) and Lakshadweep Islands.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands from tonight, the bulletin said.
 
Storm surge of about 0.5 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of coastal districts of south Kerala (Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts), and adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) during the next 12 hours.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off South Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours and along and off South Kerala coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
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IMD issues cyclone alert for Lakshadweep Islands

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The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today issued a cyclone alert for the Lakshadweep Islands, with a deep depression over the Comorin area expected to move west-northwestwards and intensify into a cyclonic storm during the next 12 hours.
 
A bulletin issued by the IMD said the depression which had formed over southwest Bay of Bengal near southeast Sri Lanka coast yesterday morning had moved nearly westwards and intensified into a deep depression in the early hours of today and lay centred at 0530 hrs IST of today over Comorin area near latitude 6.7º N and Longitude 78.3º E, about 240 km west-northwest of Galle (Sri Lanka), 170 km southeast of Kanyakumari and 600 km eastsoutheast of Minicoy. 
 
"The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards and intensify further into a cyclonic storm during next 12 hours," it said.
 
The bulletin said that, under the influence of the system, rainfall was very likely at most places over south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places and isolated heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
It said rainfall was also likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the  next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy.
 
The bulletin warned that squally winds reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, were very likely along and off South Kerala during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 24 hours.
 
It said squally winds, with speed reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, were very likely along and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradual increase in wind speed, becoming 70-80 kmph, gusting to 90 kmph, during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be very rough to high along and off South Kerala during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be very rough to high along and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and high during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said the storm could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of trees in Lakshadweep Islands, major damaged to "kutcha" houses and minor damage to "pucca" roads. There could also be damage to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards.
 
The IMD advised fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Fishermen in South Tamil Nadu were also advised not to venture into the sea during the next 24 hours and off the South Kerala coast during the next 48 hours.
 
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Creativity has no age limit, says 70-year-old self-taught photographer

At an age long past retirement for most people, who would prefer to lie down on a planter’s chair on the verandah, 70-year-old Professor (Dr) Rama Bharatha Varma is on the move, in constant pursuit of his latest hobby, photography.    
 
‘Moments and Movements’ is the title the professor has given to the exhibition of 60-odd photographs and paintings now on display at the Lalit Kala Academy here.
 
What makes the exhibition interesting is that Varma, now 70, had taken to photography only three years ago. Having decided to take it up as a hobby, he lost no time in walking into the nearest photography equipment store and demanding a “good camera”.
 
Having selected a Canon 550D that then cost Rs. 90,000 including original lens, he ventured forth, happily clicking away at anything that caught his fancy. However, he found to his dismay, that nothing has been captured in the camera. Off he went to the shop again to complain, only to be told that a memory card needed to be inserted first!
 
He then decided to read up a few books and armed with the knowledge gained and the camera, he gradually built up quite a big collection. The camera became a part of his body whenever he went out or even while sitting at home.
 
Fascinated by the crows fluttering about, he managed to capture quite a few shots of them sitting on electric wires, pottering about the ground in search of food and the like. Once, standing outside a shop, he looked up and found a tangle of wires overhead and took a picture that he likens to human life, with innumerable connections, cross-connections and confusions.
 
Some of the photographs on display, like the one about the Vivekananda Memorial in Kanya Kumari, at first sight, looks like a finely-crafted painting. It has colourfully painted boats, in various shades of reds, blues and yellows in the foreground and the memorial, with its saffron domes, set against cloudy skies on the rough brown rock with a small patch of green lawn, floating in the light blue waters of the sea.
 
Nature forms a major theme in the collection. Water bodies like serene deep blue lakes, the sea with gently rolling waves, sun rays turning the water into molten gold, sunset at Kanyakumari are on display. One or two photos are of elderly bulls lying down, their skin scarred with a lifetime of hard work and cows nuzzling each other.    
 
Varma has been an academician for the past 48 years. “After being a professor of English in Tamil Nadu for 32 years, I switched to management studies after taking a few PG degrees in that discipline. I worked in a management institute in Bangalore and later joined DC School of Management Studies promoted by DC Books in Vagamon and Thiruvananthapuram. Later, I became its Group Director and Chief Operating Officer,” he says.
 
He retired from service about a year ago after having met with an accident that resulted in a major head injury, He credits his recovery to his passion for photography as also to poetry and painting. Throughout the recovery stage, he says, his mind was full of plans for new projects.
 
(Dr) Rama Bharatha Varma
(Dr) Rama Bharatha Varma
About his foray into poetry, he says, “I have been writing poems in English for the last 35 years and published 500 poems that have received favourable reviews from national and local dailies.” So far, he has published four volumes of poetry titled ‘Spark and Fire ‘In Love with Life’, ‘Loom of Life’ and ‘Let Us Face the Facts’. The last mentioned book has a preface by renowned Malayalam poet Ayyappa Panicker and an endorsement by eminent novelist and filmmaker M T Vasudevan Nair.
 
Varma is a self-taught painter who picked up the brush rather later in life, at the age of 50. Similarly, about photography, he says he became interested in it three years ago and started studying more about it from books and experimenting with a good camera. The display at the exhibition includes 22 paintings, mostly abstracts, executed in vibrant tones of reds, yellows and white, radiating positive energy.
 
“The exhibition is the result of these activities. I am very passionate about all these things even at the age of 70. Creativity has no age limit. This exhibition is also intended to inspire the visitors to take up some hobby and pursue it to discover something new within you,” he adds.
 
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Hadiya says she wants her freedom back, SC allows her to resume studies in Salem

 
Hadiya says she wants her freedom, SC allows her to resume studies
The Supreme Court today allowed Hadiya, whose marriage to a Muslim youth has sparked off a major controversy over alleged "love jihad" in Kerala, to resume her studies in homeopathy at a college in Salem, Tamil Nadu.
 
This followed a 30-minute interaction that Hadiya had with Chief Justice Dipak Misra and two other judges  -- Justices A. M. Khanvilkar and D. Y. Chandrachud.
 
The bench decided to allow her to continue studying for the BHMS degreee and appointed the Dean of the college as her local guardian. It also directed the university concerned to readmit Hadiya and provide her with hostel facility.
 
The court also asked the Kerala Police to provide her with security and ensure that she travelled to Salem at the earliest.
 
Hadiya, earlier known as Akhila Ashokan, is understood to have told the court that she wanted to go with her husband Shafin Jahan. She also denied that she had been forcibly converted to Islam.
 
The apex court is hearing an appeal by Shafin against a verdict of the Kerala High Court in May this year annulling his marriage with Hadiya. He has also urged the Supreme Court to recall its order asking the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the case.
 
The court fixed the third week of January 2018 as the next date of hearing on his petition.
 
The NIA has, in its report to the Supreme Court, pointed to a "pattern" of Hindu girls getting married to Muslim men and converting to Islam in Kerala.
 
The court had asked Hadiya's father to produce her before it so that it could hear her. Hadiya told the court she wanted to remain true to her faith.
 
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Asked if she wanted to resume her studies at the state's expense. Hadiya said she wanted to do so but not at the state's expense. "My husband can take care of me," she said.
 
Hadiya had been staying at her parent's house for the past many weeks following the Kerala High Court's order.
 
Her parents have alleged that she had been indoctrinated by radical groups and that her consent for the marriage and conversion was not given of her free will. 
 
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Shafin, urged the court to go by what Hadiya herself was saying. "When Hadiya is here, the court should listen to her, not the NIA. She is entitled to take decisions of her life,” he argued.
 
The apex court had directed the NIA to probe the case in August after Shafin filed a petition challenging the Kerala High Court's order annulling his marriage.
 
The court had said that it would take a view on the NIA's submissions in the matter and the contentions of K. M. Ashokan, Hadiya's father, only after it had talked to her in person.
 
Hadiya had flown in from Kochi on Saturday to appear before the apex court. Just before entering the airport, surrounded by her family and security personnel, she managed to tell reporters that she wanted to be with her husband and denied that she had been forced to convert to Islam.
 
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328 cadets pass out from Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala

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As many as 328 cadets of Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard and two International cadets one each from Tanzania and Maldives yesterday passed out of the hallowed portals of the Indian Naval Academy (INA) at Ezhimala in Kannur district of Kerala on successful completion of their training. 
 
The passing out parade was reviewed by Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) and Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS).    
 
The passing out midshipmen and cadets belonged to four different courses of Autumn Term 2017, comprising 93 Indian Naval Academy Course (BTech), 93 Indian Naval Academy Course (MSc), 24 Naval Orientation Course (Extended) and 25 Naval Orientation Course (Regular).  Also graduating and marching shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts were 20 female cadets from the Indian Navy.
 
The Admiral, after the ceremonial review, awarded medals to nine meritorious midshipmen and cadets. The reviewing officer in his address congratulated the passing out courses and advised all of them to imbibe and follow the core values of Navy “Duty, Honour and Courage”.
 
Vice Admiral SV Bhokare, Commandant, senior officers of the station and others witnessed the momentous occasion.  The passing out parade was also witnessed by the proud parents and guardians of all successful midshipmen and cadets, as well as by a large number of local and outstation dignitaries, trainee recruits and staff from Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Peringome, cadets of Sainik School Satara, Maharashtra, Sainik School Bhubaneshwar, Odisha National Cadets Corps (NCC) cadets, and students and teachers of local schools and colleges.
 
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The ‘President’s Gold Medal’ for the Indian Naval Academy BTech course was awarded to Midshipman Rishav Saha. The ‘Chief of the Naval Staff Gold Medal’ for the Naval Orientation (Extended) Course was awarded to Cadet Anil Choudhary. The ‘Chief of the Naval Staff Gold Medal’ for the Naval Orientation (Regular) Course was awarded to Cadet Gaurav Tyagi. The ‘Flag Officer Commanding in Chief (South) Medal’ for the best women cadet was awarded to Cadet Anjani Pandey.
 
The ceremony culminated with the successful midshipmen and cadets forming up in two columns and marching with their gleaming swords and rifles held in salute, past the Academy’s Saluting Dias known as the Quarterdeck, in Slow March, to the traditional notes of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, the poignant farewell tune played by all Armed Forces around the world when bidding adieu to colleagues and comrades. Passing out courses were bid farewell by cadets of the junior term who manned the mast as the successful cadets streamed past the sacred quarterdeck.
 
On completion of the parade, the ‘Shipping of Stripes’ ceremony was conducted.  The proud parents and guardians of the Passing Out courses shipped the Naval and Coast Guard epaulettes, popularly known as ‘Stripes’ on the shoulders of their wards, thus symbolising their transformation from ‘cadets’ into full-fledged Navy and Coast Guard Officers. 
 
The Reviewing Officer and other dignitaries shipped the stripes of the medal winners and congratulated all the trainees for their successful completion of the rigorous training.  On completion of the training at the Indian Naval Academy, these officers will proceed to various Naval and Coast Guard ships/establishments, to further consolidate their training in specialized fields.
 
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Gadkari lays foundation stone for Cochin Shipyard’s Rs 970-crore International Ship Repair Facility

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Cochin Port is all set to become a global ship repair hub, according to  Minister of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari.
 
The Minister, after laying the foundation stone for a Rs 970-crore International Ship Repair Facility (ISRF) for Cochin Shipyard Limited, here yesterday, said the state-of-the-art facility would be able to handle a major chunk of small and medium-sized vessels plying in India.
 
CSL will set up a ship lift system of size 130 m x 25 m with a lifting capacity of 6000 tonnes and six workstations. The facility can repair up to 85 vessels, and the shipyard will be almost doubling the number of ships that can be repaired every year.            
 
Pointing out that this facility will help boost India’s share in commercial ship repair market, Mr Gadkari said the industry will also generate about 6000 direct and indirect jobs, besides giving rise to a number of ancillary industries in the state. It would thus have a multiplier effect on employment and economy.
 
The Minister also inaugurated the conference Build the Ship – 2017 organized by the Ministry of Shipping. The event deliberated upon the recommendations of a study regarding the growth strategies for promotion of Shipbuilding, Ship Design, Ship Repair and Marine Ancillaries in India.
 
At the conference, the Minister announced the launch of a Centre of Excellence in Maritime and Shipbuilding (CEMS), a startup in skill development for maritime and shipbuilding sector. CEMS will have campuses at Vishakhapatnam and Mumbai.
 
It is being set up by the Ministry of Shipping in collaboration with Siemens under the flagship programme Sagarmala. CEMS will provide industry-relevant skill development, equip students with employable engineering and technical skills in the port and maritime sector and contribute to the ambitious Sagarmala programme.
 
It will help meet the domestic skill requirement in ship design, manufacturing, operating and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO). CEMS also aims to become an international nodal centre in South Asia, attracting students from the neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia for skill development in the Port and Maritime sector.
 
This initiative will add to the Make in India and Skill India efforts in the maritime sector. Mr Gadkari also unveiled the logo of CEMS at the launch event.
 
A joint venture between CSL & HDPEL- Hooghly Cochin Shipyard Ltd. (HCSL) has been incorporated with CSL holding 74% shares and HDPEL 26% in HCSL. A Shareholders agreement was signed between CSL and HDEPL at the conference for taking over manufacturing facilities of HDEPL in Kolkata.
 
Mr. Gadkari also visited Munnar, where he laid the foundation stone for rehabilitation and upgrading of NH 85 from Bodimettu to Munnar to a two-lane road with a paved shoulder. The 42 km project is estimated to cost Rs 380.76 crore.
 
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SC orders Hadiya's father to produce her before it on November 27

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The Supreme Court today ordered the production of Akhila alias Hadiya, a Hindu girl in Kerala who converted to Islam and later married a Muslim man, before it at 3 pm on November 27.
 
"Having heard learned counsel for the parties, we are inclined to modify the order dated 16.08.2017 and accordingly direct the presence of the daughter of the first respondent at 3.00 P.M. on 27.11.2017. We may further add that this Court shall speak to her not in camera but in open Court," a three-judge headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and including Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and D. Y. Chandrachud said.
 
The court was hearing a set of petitions arising out of a judgement of the High Court of Kerala on May 24 this year.
 
The bench said the court would first try to find out if Hadiya's conversion to Islam and marriage to Shafin Jahan was of her own volution.
 
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Her father, Mr. K. M. Ashokan, had pleaded that she had been indoctrinated and that her consent could not be treated as absolute.
 
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, representing the young woman's father, said Jahan was part of a "huge organisational apparatus" to radicalise the youth of Kerala. He said the questioning of Hadiya should be done in-camera and not in open court.
 
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, counsel for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), said "indoctrination is an exception to free consent".
 
The apex court has, on different occasions, wondered how the Kerala High Court had annulled Hadiya's marriage and transferred her custody to her father on the basis of the habeas corpus petition filed by the father.
 
When Chief Justice Misra remarked that Hadiya was in confinement, Mr. Divan denied it. "Then produce her," Mr. Justice Misra said.
 
Hadiya's husband Jahan had approached the Supreme Court on September 20 urging it to recall its order of August 16 asking the NIA to investigate the case.
 
On October 7, the Kerala Government told the court that its investigation had not found any material warranting the transfer of the probe to the NIA.
 
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Make available HC judgement copies in mother tongue, says Kovind

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President Ram Nath Kovind today said it is important to not only take justice to the people but also to make it understandable to litigating parties in a language they know.
 
Addressing the valedictory function of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of the High Court of Kerala here, Mr Kovind said, “High Courts deliver judgements in English, but we are a country of diverse languages. The litigant may not be conversant with English and the finer points of the judgement may escape him or her. The litigating parties will thus be dependent on the lawyer or another person to translate the judgement. This can add to time and cost.
 
“Perhaps a system could be evolved whereby certified translated copies of judgements are made available by the Honourable High Courts in the local or regional language. This could happen in a period of say 24 or 36 hours after the judgement is pronounced. The language could be Malayalam in the Honourable Kerala High Court or Hindi in the Honourable Patna High Court, as the case may be,” he said.
 
“I have only made a suggestion. It is for the judiciary and the legal fraternity to discuss this and decide as appropriate,” he added.
 
Mr Kovind said the Kerala High Court, known for sensitivity to people’s rights and civil liberties, had through several of its judgements contributed to deepening the traditions of democracy and civic freedom in India.
 
This High Court is also a pioneer in supporting environmental and ecological norms and standards, the President said addressing the valedictory function of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the High Court, he said.
 
It has given important verdicts, including on the right of the people for clean air, clean water; the right of the people for healthy surroundings; assigning the supply of safe drinking water to citizens in adequate quantity as the primary constitutional responsibility of the state and banning of smoking in public places, he added.
 
The judiciary’s fearless and independent functioning and stature have enhanced India’s credibility in the democratic world. Every Indian is proud of the judiciary and respects its verdicts and its commitment to the values that embody our nationhood, Mr Kovind said.
 
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“Our legal system, with an independent judiciary as its bedrock, is an essential part of our nation-building process. It acts as a corrective and it upholds the sanctity of the law and of natural justice. And it functions as the guardian of the ethical principles underlying the Constitution. This makes everybody connected with the process of justice delivery a nation builder,” he said.
 
“Delay in justice delivery is a pressing concern in our country. Often those who suffer are among the poorest and most underprivileged in our society. We must find mechanisms to ensure quick disposal of cases. We could all consider an approach that makes adjournments the exception in an emergency situation rather than a tactic to prolong court proceedings,” he added.
 
Mr Kovind said some truly great jurists have served as judges in this High Court. The first lady High Court judge of the country, Justice Anna Chandy, became a judge here in 1959. This was exceptional for its times. It was as much as six years later, in 1965, that Judge Elizabeth Lane became the first woman judge of the High Court in Britain.
 
“Therefore, in giving representation to women judges, the Indian judiciary was ahead of many other countries. The first lady judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice M. Fathima Beevi, too was from the Kerala High Court. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan from the Kerala High Court became the Chief Justice of India in 2007.
 
“Who can forget Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, a judge of remarkable humanistic values and the conscience keeper of the legal fraternity in our country? In 1968, he became a judge in this Honourable High Court. Later he left an indelible imprint on our national life while he was at the Honourable Supreme Court. He is remembered and cherished as a role model to this day,” he added.
 
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Kerala, a potential power house for Digital India, says Kovind

 
Kerala is potential powerhouse of Digital India: Kovind
Stressing the importance of Digital India as an employment creator, President Ram Nath Kovind said Kerala is potentially a power-house of this flagship programme, being one of India’s most connected states and also having among the highest rates of mobile phone penetration.
 
Speaking at the launch of the Technocity project and laying of foundation stone of the first government building there, he said, “The future of our economy and of our employment creation is heavily dependent on the success we achieve with Digital India. The jobs of tomorrow will come more and more from digital services and other opportunities that are derived from the Internet."
 
“Kerala is potentially a power-house of Digital India. It is one of India’s most connected states, with among the highest rates of mobile phone penetration. I understand that the government is making efforts to bridge the digital divide and provide free Internet connections to two million poorer families by using a new optic fibre network. And there is ample evidence that our people, even those at the bottom of the pyramid, are very adaptive and can easily embrace and use new technology,” he added.
 
Mr Kovind said such is the attraction of Kerala, it has drawn him for the second time in this month. “I have come on a special day. This morning at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi, I was privileged to pay my humble tributes to my predecessor and to a great son of Kerala, Dr K.R. Narayanan, on his birth anniversary.”
 
Dr Narayanan’s rise from a humble background to the highest office in our country was an inspiration for many of us. In his scholarship and learning, he combined some of the best legacies of Kerala and its people, he added.
 
“The wisdom of Kerala is also apparent in its spiritualism. As I pointed out on my previous visit, this state is one of the spiritual homes of our society. I had the good fortune of meeting Mata Amritanandamayi and inaugurating large-scale public welfare programmes of her Foundation. Truly, as Kerala has taught us, service to the divine lies in service to fellow human beings,” Mr Kovind said.
 
“This sense of service has been deeply imbibed by the people of Kerala. I would say it has become your economic calling card. This is a state with an appreciable track record in public health and education, and is a front-runner in our country’s quest to achieve total literacy. It is logical therefore that Kerala has also become known for its strengths in the services sector and the knowledge economy,” he added.
 
The Kerala IT sector has been growing. Among all Indian states, it is currently ranked eighth in terms of exports by IT and IT-enabled services companies. The IT sector provides direct employment to one lakh people. This is only the tip of the iceberg. There is immense capacity to make these numbers grow, he said.
 
“Kerala’s strengths in basic literacy and skills – and the experience of Kerala’s people in the services sector and in consumer driven industries – make this state a natural for an IT ecosystem. I am confident that early development of Technocity will only accelerate this process,” he added.
 
During the course of his speech the President mentioned the presence of people from Kerala in the economic landscape, not only within the country, but also in the gulf in various professions as also in countries like Ethiopia where they work as teachers. They also contribute to the development of India by unfailingly sending back foreign exchange. "We cannot forget them or their immense role in nation building,” he said.
 
“Climbing higher in the services sector value chain, Kerala has obvious advantages in three areas. The first is of course Information Technology. The others are tourism and health-care. These are also the areas where jobs and employment opportunities lie for our youth – especially for the talented young men and women of Kerala.
 
“In tourism, this state is known the world over as God’s Own Country – and not without reason. It is one of our planet’s stand-out destinations. It is blessed with a spectacular natural beauty,” he added.
 
In healthcare, Kerala has long been known for its expertise in traditional healing systems such as Ayurveda. Kerala has also carved an identity for itself with the skills and diligence of its healthcare providers, he said.
 
“Hospitals and medical centres across the country – and in many other countries as well – simply cannot function without the ever smiling and ever attentive 'Sisters from Kerala'. In nursing, hospital and medical services and care for the sick and the aged, healthcare workers from Kerala, both men and women, are internationally sought after.
 
“As populations age and as healthcare becomes more complex, demand for trained and capable human hands for the healthcare industry will also only rise. This can provide numerous opportunities for young Indians. Kerala in particular has a head-start. We are seeing the advent of Artificial Intelligence and robotics in this area as well. But it is impossible for machines to match the empathy and emotions of a trained and dedicated nurse or care provider,” Mr Kovind added.
 
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