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Kochi

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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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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Central Kerala badly hit by rains, 16 dead

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The death toll in Kerala in the heaviest rains in five years and floods has touched 16, with unabated rains badly affecting life in the central districts of Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Idukki.
 
The toll went up on Wednesday following the death of a person, Subramanion, after his canoe overturned, and another man, Bejoy, who died when he fell into an overflowing paddy field near Thrissur.
 
The Met office has predicted more rains in the next four-five days and it may advance towards the northern parts of the state.
 
The authorities are carrying out relief work on a war footing.
 
Around 10,000 people have been put up in relief camps in Kottayam, Ernakulam and Alappuzha.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan ordered district officials on Wednesday to immediately release an amount of Rs 1,000 each to all those who are in these camps on or before July 17 even if they have gone home.
 
The cabinet also directed Chief Secretary Tom Jose to see that an immediate assessment was made of the damages caused by the heavy monsoon.
 
On Wednesday night, Vijayan wrote to the Centre to see that a Central Team was sent to assess the extensive damage that has occurred to life and property besides loss of crops.
 
On account of the overflowing Meenachil river in Kottayam, the Southern Railway decided to cancel 10 trains on Wednesday. Most of these were short distance trains between Ernakulam to Kollam.
 
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There were less rains on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Thiruvananthapuram district witnessing a bright sunny day. Kollam reported less rains.
 
At Kottayam, the worst affected were the low-lying areas. Residents and rescue teams transported more than 50 people to relief camps on boats from these areas.
 
"A funeral was conducted with great difficulty as there was no place in the house to place the body," a villager in Kottayam told the media.
 
A busy entrance exam coaching centre in Pala near Kottayam was flooded and closed for a week.
 
Compared to the past five years, Kerala has received 18 per cent more rains in 2018 and has now recorded the highest in the five year period, the Met figures showed.
 
Leader of Opposition R. Chennithala, who is part of an all-party delegation led by Vijayan that will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, said the state government must seek urgent release of funds to mitigate the loss suffered due to the heavy rains.
 
IANS
 
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Key suspect in Kerala SFI leader's murder nabbed

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After being on the run for more than two weeks, the prime suspect in the brutal murder of an SFI member in a Kerala college has finally been nabbed, police said on Wednesday.
 
Mohammed Ali was nabbed from the Kerala-Karnataka border on Tuesday and was being interrogated, a police officer said here.
 
According to the police, Ali was involved in the stabbing of 19-year-old Abhimanyu, when the Students' Federation of India and the Campus Front of India groups clashed late on July 2, over graffiti space on the walls of the Maharaja's College here.
 
Both Abhimanyu and Ali, the Alappuzha district president of Campus Front of India and its unit secretary studied at Maharajas College.
 
Soon after the July 2 incident, Ali along with his parents, had gone missing from their home in Alappuzha.
 
The police had earlier pointed out that there were 15 people who were directly involved in the murder and had arrested four. Another six who were arrested had helped the main culprits.
 
Trouble had started after both groups wanted to put up their wall graffiti ahead of the commencement of the new academic year. The scuffle led to one death while another student was injured.
 
IANS
 
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Qatar Airways flight skids off runway in Kerala

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A Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Kochi skidded off the runway while landing at the Cochin International Airport early on Friday due to heavy rains, an airport official and the airline said.
 
Airport Director A.C.K. Nair told IANS that all the passengers were safe.
 
The airline said: "Qatar Airways flight QR516 from DOH to COK skidded during landing roll due to heavy rain and water on the runway, damaging a few runway lights. The aircraft taxied normally to the stand. Due to this incident the return flight ... was cancelled.
 
"All passengers were accommodated on later flights," an airline statement said. "Qatar Airways is fully cooperating with local authorities. The safety and security of our passengers is our top priority."
 
The Airbus 330 missed the alignment while landing as some lights on the runway were broken due to cross wind conditions, Nair said earlier.
 
"The aircraft was well on the runway but missed the alignment... All the passengers are safe," he said. 
 
IANS
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Kerala HC rejects anticipatory bail plea of 3 priests accused of rape

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The Kerala High Court on Wednesday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of three of the four Malankara Orthodox Church priests who have been accused of sexually abusing a woman parishioner.
 
As the bail plea was strongly opposed by the prosecution, the counsels of the three priests informed the court that their clients were willing to surrender.
 
But the court pointed out that there were enough evidence against Father Sony Varghese, Father Job Mathew and Father Jaice K. George and declined them bail.
 
The Crime Branch was expected to arrest the three, and also a fourth priest, who is on the run.
 
A woman who regularly visited the Malankara Orthodox Church had accused five priests of sexually abusing her for a decade. 
 
Her husband had complained that one of the priests, who first exploited his wife, was blackmailing her. 
 
When she sought help from another priest, he too threatened her and shared her contact with a fellow priest and, in the end, she came under duress from at least five priests.
 
After pressure mounted on the police following the National Commission for Women monitoring the case, the four priests were charged with sexual assault. One of the priests escaped action as the victim had mentioned only four names, a police officer said. 
 
The court last week also refused any relief to the accused, who had sought a direction that police should not arrest them till their bail petition was heard.
 
The Kottayam-headquartered church has gone into a limbo since the allegations have surfaced. 
 
At least two more women have come out alleging that they too were sexually abused by two other priests of the same church since this case surfaced. Both victims are expected to file complaints.
 
IANS
 
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Mohanlal's stand on Dileep fails to cut ice with women's body

Malayalam film actor Dileep
Malayalam film actor Dileep
The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) on Wednesday said it did not agree with Malayalam movies superstar Mohanlal's explanation for revoking the suspension of actor Dileep, an accused in the actress kidnap case, from AMMA.
 
At a meeting of Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) last month, after Mohanlal took over as its new President in place of Innocent, Dileep's suspension was revoked. 
 
The WCC expressed resentment over the development and four of its supporters resigned from AMMA while another three demanded a meeting to discuss the issue.
 
On Saturday, the superstar told the media that there was no vested interest in revoking Dileep's suspension from the actors' body and the decision was taken as not even a single member was opposed to the move in the annual general body meeting.
 
The WCC, in its official Facebook page, on Wednesday said that it's "most unfortunate that Mohanlal is hanging on to technicalities and not seeing the sufferings of one of their own members, who suffered badly".
 
The WCC said it was still hopeful about the next meeting of AMMA that Mohanlal had agreed to call either by the end of this month or early next month on the matter.
 
Dileep is an accused in the kidnapping case and has remained in jail for 85 days. He is now out on bail. He was suspended from AMMA last year. 
 
IANS
 
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Next action in Kerala rape-accused priests case after court hearing: Police

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The Kerala Police is waiting for the outcome of the anticipatory bail plea filed in the Kerala High Court by two of the four Orthodox priests, accused of sexually abusing a woman parishioner, before proceeding in the case, officials said.
 
If the court, which will hear the matter on Monday, turns down the plea, the accused priests of the Malankara Orthodox Church will be arrested, said informed sources.
 
All four accused are now on the run, but the sources say that police has tracked them down and is waiting for the court verdict, which will come out on Monday, to take further steps.
 
Police have come under further pressure with the National Commission for Women monitoring the case. Even the court, when it first heard the bail petition last week, refused any relief to the accused, who had sought a direction that police not arrest till the bail petition is disposed.
 
It was alleged that five priests sexually abused a woman for a decade but police charged four of them under sections of rape and similar charges, citing the woman's complaint in which only four names were mentioned.
 
The police action came after the victim's husband complained that one of the priests who first exploited his wife was blackmailing her. When she sought help from another priest, he too threatened her and shared her contact with a fellow priest and in the end, she came under the duress from at least five priests.
 
IANS
 
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Govt. committed to smoothen immigration and visa processes, says Rajnath

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday the Government was committed to strengthening and smoothening the twin processes of immigration and visa for the Indian citizens and foreigners.
 
The Minister was addressing the Parliamentary Consultative Committee meeting on Immigration Visa Foreigners’ Registration & Tracking (IVFRT) here.
 
Underlining the importance of IVFRT, he said the Ministry was implementing the project in mission mode. “We need to facilitate safe and convenient entry inside the country to legitimate international travellers. We also need to provide all visa related and consular services to foreigners staying in India in a faster and convenient mode”, he added.
 
“We also have to keep in mind the security aspect while facilitating easier immigration. At the same, there is a need to track the movement of foreigners already present in the country.
 
“E-Visa scheme has become very popular among the foreigners. In 2015, the number of e-Visas issued was 5,17,417 which increased to 19,01,309 in 2017. This year, till July 5, 11,16,985 e-Visas have been issued,” he said.
 
“This scheme ensures that the foreigners do not have to meet any Indian official before their arrival at the designated landing port. MHA has now decided to increase the scope of this scheme to include e-Conference and e-Medical Attendant Visa also”, the Home Minister added.
 
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Giving the future projection of the e-Visa scheme, Mr Rajnath Singh said, “It is expected that in a few years’ time the number of e-Visas issued by MHA’s Bureau of Immigration (BoI) would overtake the number of regular visas issued by all the Indian missions abroad.”
 
“We are increasing the number of Departure and Arrival counters at major airports as well as providing human resource to the BoI to fast-track the immigration process,” he added.
 
The IVFRT project has been implemented in 165 Indian Missions abroad and 91 Immigration Check Posts (ICPs) and Biometrics software installation in 132 Indian Missions have been completed within the given time.
 
On November 27, 2014, the Government launched the e-Tourist Visa scheme in 44 countries. This e-Visa facility has now been extended to 165 countries. The government has installed e-Visa processing facilities at 25 airports and 5 seaports in the country. The MHA is now working to extend the e-Visa scheme to more countries in a planned manner after consulting all the stakeholders.
 
The extension of the e-Visa scheme is aimed at encouraging tourism, business travel and health tourism in the country. After the introduction of the e-Visa scheme, more than 90% visas are issued within 72 hours of application submission. The government has done away with embarkation and disembarkation cards for Indian citizens and foreigners to streamline the immigration process.
 
The MHA has also introduced e-FRRO services for those foreigners who are staying in India and who need services like visa extension, visa conversion, exit permit, registration, change of passport details, change of address and others.
 
The Parliamentary Consultative Committee meeting was attended by MoS Home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Members of Parliament and senior government officials.
 
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No relief from Kerala HC to two rape-accused Orthodox priests

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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday declined any relief to two of the four rape-accused Orthodox priests who had moved it for anticipatory bail, posting the next hearing for Monday.
 
The two priests, Abraham Varghese and Job Mathew, of the Kottayam-headquartered Malankara Orthodox Church, sought that the court prevent their arrest as they have been falsely implicated in the case of sexually exploiting a woman parishioner.
 
However the prosecution took a very strong stand that, under no circumstances, should anticipatory bail be given.
 
Counsel for the two priests raised the request that the arrest should be prevented till the court takes up the bail plea, but the court did not take it up.
 
Along with the two who approached the court, two other priests - Jayce George and Johnson Mathew - have all been chargesheeted by the Kerala Police's Crime Branch, probing the case based on the allegations made by the victim's husband, who belongs to the same church, that his wife was sexually exploited by five priests over the past one decade.
 
One priest was left out by police with a senior officer saying the woman had only named four priests in her complaint.
 
On Monday, the Crime Branch, after a preliminary probe, decided to charge four of the five priests and Tuesday they filed the charge sheet of rape and other crimes before the Thiruvalla magistrate court.
 
Inspector General of Police S. Sreejith, who leads the probe team, arrived at the headquarters of the Church at Kottayam and held a closed door meeting with its Supreme Head Baselios Marthoma Paulose II.
 
Interacting with the media after the meeting, Sreejith said that the supreme head has promised to cooperate with the probe and will be ready to help in its completion.
 
Last Friday, Kerala Police chief Loknath Behra ordered a Crime Branch probe into this case on the allegations made by the victim's husband.
 
An online portal first reported the story last week, following which tremendous pressure from several quarters, especially social media users, mounted on the Church, which then announced an internal probe.
 
The husband has said one of the priests who first exploited his wife was blackmailing her. When she sought help from another priest, he too threatened her and shared her contact with another fellow priest and in the end, she came under the duress from at least five priests.
 
The Kerala Police started its probe after the National Commission for Women took suo motu cognisance of the case and wrote to Behra, directing him to investigate the matter.
 
IANS
 
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Ailing Malayalam actor Captain Raju moved from Oman to Kochi

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Ailing veteran Malayalam actor Captain Raju was on Monday airlifted from Oman to Kochi and shifted to a leading hospital here.
 
Last week, on his way to the UAE while he was en route to the US to attend his son's wedding, he fell unconscious. The flight he was on was diverted and landed at Muscat in Oman.
 
Soon, he was shifted to a hospital there and was under medical supervision till Monday morning when the family wished to bring him to Kerala for further treatment. His condition is stable, according to industry sources.
 
The 68-year-old veteran, who quit from the Indian Army when he was a Captain, started his acting career in 1981. He has acted in several films and has directed two movies too.
 
He has often been cast as a villain on account of his towering personality. He has also featured in character roles and in TV serials.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
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India’s spice exports grow by 5% to $ 2.781 billion in 2017-18

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India's exports of spices and  spice products grew by five percent to $ 2.781 billion during 2017-18, the Spices Board said here today.
 
In rupee terms, the exports of spices and spice products went up by 1% to Rs. 17,929.55 crore during  the year, as compared to Rs. 17,664.61 crore in 2016-17, while they increased by 8% in volume to a record 10,28,060 tonnes in 2017-18 from 9,47,790 tonnes in the previous year, a press release from the Board said.
 
“Exports of Indian spices maintained an increasing trend during 2017-18, attaining an all-time record in both volume and earnings. Equally heartening was the fact that the total export of spices exceeded the target fixed for 2017-18 both in terms of volume and value,” Spices Board Secretary Dr. A Jayathilak said.
 
Compared to the target of 10,23,000 tonnes valued at Rs. 17,665.10 crore ($ 2,636.58 million) for the financial year 2017-18, the achievement was 100% in terms of volume, 101% in the rupee and 105% in dollar terms, he noted.
 
“The appreciable increase in exports in 2017-18 was the consequence of innovative market interventions and the emphasis on value added products by the Board to promote Indian Spices globally,” Dr Jayathilak said.
 
During FY 2017-18, small cardamom, cumin, garlic, asafetida and tamarind and seeds like ajwain (Bishop’s weed or carom), mustard, dill seed and poppy seed showed an increase both in volume and value, contributing substantially to spice export basket.
 
The export of value added products like curry powder/paste, spice oils and oleoresins also increased in volume and value during the period. The export of chilli, coriander, celery, nutmeg and mace registered an increase in terms of volume while the exports of mint products showed an increase in terms of value.
 
Export of small cardamom created an all-time record with shipments of a total volume of 5,680 tonnes valued at Rs. 609.08 crore as against 3,850 tonnes worth Rs. 421.50 crore a year earlier, registering an increase of 48% in volume and 45% in value.
 
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Chilli continued to lead Indian spice shipments with exports of 4,43,900 tonnes, fetching an amount of Rs. 4,256.33 crore, as compared to 4,00,250 tonnes worth Rs 5,070.75 crore in 2016-17. The decline in value terms was due to volatility in prices of chilli in international markets.
 
Chilli was followed by mint products with an export volume of 21,500 tonnes worth Rs. 3,228.35 crore as compared to the figures of 22,300 tonnes valued at Rs. 2,527.50 crore, registering an increase of 28 % in value terms.
 
During 2017-18, a total volume of 1,43,670 tonnes of cumin valued at Rs. 2,418 crore was exported as against 1,19,000 tonnes worth Rs. 1,963.20 crore in the preceding financial year, registering an increase of 21% in volume and 23% in value.
 
Garlic, with an export of 46,980 tonnes, fetched Rs. 309.36 crore as compared to 32,200 tonnes valued at Rs. 307.12 crore in FY 2016-17, registering an increase of 46% in volume and one per cent in value.
 
As for value added products, the export of curry powder/paste was 30,150 tonnes, which earned Rs. 616.20 crore, while in the preceding year the figures were 28,500 tonnes and Rs. 599.10 crore, respectively, registering an increase of 6% in volume and 3% in value.
 
During the period, a total volume of 17,200 tonnes of spice oils and oleoresins worth Rs. 2,661.72 crore were exported as against 12,100 tonnes valued at Rs. 2,307.75 crore in the preceding year, marking an increase of 42% in volume and 15% in value.
 
IANS
 
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Will not return till cleared, Dileep tells AMMA after actresses complain

Malayalam film actor Dileep
Malayalam film actor Dileep
With the row over revocation of his suspension from Malayali actors' body AMMA heating up after three top actresses demanded its urgent meeting to discuss the matter, actor Dileep on Thursday said he will not return to the association till he gets cleared in the case of abducting and sexually assaulting an actress.
 
In a letter to Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA) General Secretary Edavela Babu, Dileep, who is currently out on bail after being in jail for 85 days, said that he has learned from the media that the AMMA general body meeting held on Sunday held that the Executive Committee decision to suspend him was not done as per the by-laws and would not stand.
 
"I am happy that such a decision has been taken, but now that I am facing a case in which I have done nothing wrong, I do not wish to be active in any body till I come clean. I am deeply pained in hearing various criticism against AMMA in my name. I wish the newly elected committee of AMMA all the best," said Dileep in the letter, a copy of which has been posted in the public domain.
 
Dileep's action came after top actresses Revathy Asha Kelunni, Padmapriya Janakiraman and A. Parvathy wrote to Edavela Babu and demanded an emergency executive meeting to be called on July 13 or 14 to discuss his reinstatement.
 
The open letter was also posted on the Facebook page of the newly-formed Women in Cinema Collective (WCC).
 
As women members of AMMA, the three actresses expressed concern over its Sunday decision to bring back an expelled member who was involved in an alleged assault of another women member from the same organisation.
 
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"At this meeting, a very crucial decision was taken... Considering the gravity of the circumstances and the matter being sub judice, it is shocking that such an important matter was decided without listing it on the agenda or being discussed among all members prior to the meeting.
 
"AMMA had publicly pledged full support to the member who survived the assault but the decision taken for reinstating the expelled member who is now a chargesheeted suspect goes against the promise made to the survivor," they said.
 
As a result, on Wednesday, "the survivor resigned and in solidarity with her three other women members have also resigned", the actresses said.
 
"This does not reflect well on AMMA," it said.
 
Earlier, the Kerala State Women's Commission slammed superstar Mohanlal, who heads AMMA, over the reinstatement of Dileep who is an accused in the February 2017 actress kidnapping case.
 
This was the first decision taken by the new committee under Mohanlal.
 
Kerala Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty on Thursday expressed surprise in the manner in which AMMA revoked Dileep's suspension.
 
"It should not be forgotten that actors are icons and they should be perfect role models, but this decision that they took is baffling," she said.
 
All eyes are on superstar Mammootty, who had announced the decision to remove Dileep from AMMA. However, he is not an office bearer any more.
 
IANS
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Revathy, Padmapriya, Parvathy slam AMMA, demand meet

Malayalam film actor Dileep
Malayalam film actor Dileep
Three actresses on Thursday demanded an urgent meeting of the top artistes' body AMMA to discuss the controversial reinstatement of actor Dileep, who has been accused of abducting and sexually assaulting an actress.
 
Revathy Asha Kelunni, Padmapriya Janakiraman and A. Parvathy wrote to the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes General Secretary Edavela Babu and demanded an emergency executive meeting to be called on July 13 or 14.
 
The open letter was also posted on the Facebook page of the newly formed Women in Cinema Collective (WCC).
 
As women members of AMMA, the three actresses expressed concern over its Sunday decision to bring back an expelled member who was involved in an alleged assault of another women member from the same organisation.
 
"At this meeting, a very crucial decision was taken... Considering the gravity of the circumstances and the matter being sub-judice, it is shocking that such an important matter was decided without listing it on the agenda or being discussed among all members prior to the meeting.
 
"AMMA had publicly pledged full support to the member who survived the assault but the decision taken for reinstating the expelled member who is now a chargesheeted suspect goes against the promise made to the survivor," the letter said.
 
As a result, on Wednesday, "the survivor resigned and in solidarity with her three other women members have also resigned", the actresses said. 
 
"This does not reflect well on AMMA," it said.
 
Earlier, the Kerala State Women's Commission slammed superstar Mohanlal, who heads AMMA, over the reinstatement of the actor who is an accused in the February 2017 actress kidnapping case which took place in Kochi. This landed Dileep in jail for 85 days.
 
This was the first decision taken by the new committee under Mohanlal.
 
Kerala Fisheries Minister J. Mercykutty on Thursday expressed surprise in the manner in which AMMA revoked Dileep's suspension.
 
"It should not be forgotten that actors are icons and they should be perfect role models, but this decision that they took is baffling."
 
Everyone is now awaiting superstar Mammootty's decision. It was Mammootty who had announced the decision to remove Dileep from AMMA. However, Mammootty is not an office bearer any more.
 
IANS
 
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Row over revoking of Malayalam actor Dileep's suspension continues

Malayalam film actor Dileep
Malayalam film actor Dileep
After an actresses' organisation expressed its displeasure over the reinstatement of accused Malayalam actor Dileep's membership of the Association of Malayalam Movie Actors (AMMA), political leaders have also slammed AMMA for the move.
 
Senior Congress MLA P.T. Thomas, who was one of the first to know about the actress kidnapping case in February 2017, and had reached the victim's side before informing the police, told the media on Tuesday that AMMA should reconsider its decision on Dileep.
 
"It is now very clear that only a handful of the artistes were genuinely with the victim. Those leading lights who took part in the protest meetings held the next day of the kidnap attempt in Kochi, were only shedding crocodile tears. 
 
"Not a single one of them was supporting the victim. It's now time for the Kerala Assembly and the state government to react," said Thomas.
 
The Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), irked by AMMA's decision to revoke the suspension of Dileep who is an accused in the actress kidnapping case, had put out a Facebook post on Monday.
 
"If you have decided to revoke the suspension... what has changed after he was suspended?" the WCC asked AMMA-led by Malayalam superstar Mohanlal.
 
"Do you know that you have decided to take back someone who is alleged to have been involved in a rape and the trial is yet to finish... don't you feel anything at all?"
 
Hugely popular actress Rima Kallingal and her husband director Ashiq Abu were the first to voice their displeasure.
 
Many were surprised by the manner in which around 385 artistes of AMMA who met in Kochi last Sunday, did not utter a word when actress Urmilla Unni asked if Dileep will be reinstated. None spoke up or against it as Dileep was taken back into the fold.
 
In fact AMMA members want showcause notices to be given to Dileep's former wife Manju Warrier, Parvathy, Remya Nambisan and Rima Kallingal of the WCC, who are also part of AMMA.
 
However, AMMA's general secretary Edavela Babu has maintained a silence.
 
IANS
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Mohanlal elected new president of Malayalam actors body

Mohanlal (Photo: IANS)
Mohanlal (Photo: IANS)
Malayalam superstar Mohanlal was on Sunday unanimously elected the new President of the Association of Malayalam Movie Actors (AMMA), replacing Innocent, the hugely popular comedian and CPI-M backed Lok Sabha member from Chalakuddy, who was at the helm for the past 18 years.
 
Unlike the past meetings of the AMMA, the media was kept away and the usual press meeting after the annual general body meeting was not held while members were strictly instructed to keep a distance from the media.
 
Mohanlal's election was a foregone conclusion as there was no other candidate when the last date of filing nominations closed early this month.
 
Edavela Babu is the new General Secretary while comedian and character artiste Jagdish was brought in as Treasurer.
 
Why the AMMA is upset with the media is could be media's handling of the now infamous actress kidnap case which took place in Kochi last year in which superstar Dileep is an accused and was in jail for 85 days, before he secured bail.
 
However in Sunday's meeting, the first annual general body meeting after Dileep's arrest, took a decision to revoke the suspension of Dileep, on the grounds that it was done by a hurriedly- called executive meeting which was against the bye-laws of AMMA.
 
But Dileep was absent, so was upcoming superstar Prithviraj, who is part of a group in AMMA that opposed the supremacy of superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal.
 
This is the first time in several years that Mammootty is also not an office bearer and on Sunday, he politely turned down a request from outgoing President Innocent that he should come forward to become an office-bearer.
 
IANS
 
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Sculptor Valsan Koorma Kolleri leads Kochi Biennale's 'Master Practice Studios'

Young Ghaziabad-based artist Manisha Chandel, with her half-finished sculpture of a soaring eagle, at the Master Practice Studios led by sculptor Valsan Koorma Kolleri and hosted by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, in Kochi, on June 16, 2018.
Young Ghaziabad-based artist Manisha Chandel, with her half-finished sculpture of a soaring eagle, at the Master Practice Studios led by sculptor Valsan Koorma Kolleri and hosted by the Kochi Biennale Foundation, in Kochi, on June 16, 2018.
A half-finished sculpture of a soaring eagle catches the eye as you step into the historic Pepper House at Fort Kochi, while a young woman sits in the midst of scattered leaves, twigs and branches concentrated on shaping them into this impressive work of art.
 
The eagle is the creation of Manisha Chandel, one among five young artists who have come to Fort Kochi to gather new perspectives on art from renowned Indian sculptor Valsan Koorma Kolleri at the latest Master Practice Studios hosted by the Kochi Biennale Foundation.
 
Kolleri says his effort is directed towards building on the foundation that these young people have received in art from their schools and help them take off on their own.
 
“What an art student learns in college is like what you learn from your nursery classes. It’s just the base; there's much more to it. The practical sessions here are mostly to enhance their ability to think from different perspectives,” he says.
 
The five students at the Master Practice Studios have come from different parts of the country and will remain under Kolleri’s tutelage for the next one month.
 
After a strictly conventional education there’s always a chance that the young artist gets easily bored, he observes. “To get rid of this monotony, they shift to various mediums and sometimes it helps them to develop unique creations of their own,” he says. “In a way, it also becomes 'Atma Vidya'(knowledge of the soul) as it is self -learned and self-earned.”
 
But he believes that for an artist it is not the medium that matters the most, but the expression. “That’s of primary significance. Every artist will have their own styles and mediums. Some may choose metal or wood, others might use clay or cloth. But it's the output that matters.”
 
To be able to enjoy other's creativity, one should come up with his/her own unique style and creations which have depth, Kolleri adds.
 
His message has resonated with the artists who say the session has helped them look at things from a fresh new perspective.
 
Manisha, who goes to the nearby beach every morning to collect the leaves for her tree-trunk eagle, says Kolleri’s guidance has been eye-opening in many ways.
 
“Earlier, I used to create many things without even realizing their significance. But under his tutelage, I have a better understanding of my own works,” says the Ghaziabad-based artist. “Following his guidance I have chosen natural items to complete this creation.”
 
Madhab Das who completed his education from Delhi School of Art usually uses iron as his medium. Since it takes a lot of time to collect iron here; he has shifted to clay and wood. “And it's a different experience," he says. He also thanked the KBF for their efforts to bring young and budding artists into the mainstream.
 
Shan KR, a fine arts student from Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan, West Bengal, has similarly made a successful switch to wood, from his preferred metal and fiber mediums. “It has not hampered me in any way; besides, I had guidance from Valsan sir,” he said.
 
Yadhu Krishnan, an MFA student from Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, has been able look at art in a different light. “I have learnt how to convey what I really want to say using whatever medium is available to me,” he says.
 
The studio has previously been led by masters such as Jyothi Basu, K. Raghunathan and P. K. Sadanandan. The next session will be led by renowned artist and graphic designer Orijit Sen.
 
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Prominent artists to participate in Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2018

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The organisers of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, an international exhibition of contemporary art, announced on Tuesday that some prominent names in the art world would participate in this year's edition.

The fourth edition of the exhibition which will be curated by well-known contemporary artist Anita Dube will run from December 12 to March 29, 2019.

Dube visited a total of 29 countries as part of her research in making this edition a grand success.

On her role as a curator, Dube said: "In both the exhibition and the carefully designed interactive spaces, I hope the incredible range of artists and visitors will become active participants and co-producers of the Biennale as a 'knowledge laboratory'."

The Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) is a non-profit charitable trust engaged in promoting art and culture and educational activities in India; primary amongst them the hosting of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

KBF works around the year to strengthen contemporary art infrastructure and to broaden public access to art across India.

IANS

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Malayalam actor Kalashala Babu passes away, aged 68

Kalashala Babu
Kalashala Babu
Veteran stage, TV and Malayalam film artiste Kalashala Babu passed away here in Kerala early on Monday at a private hospital, family sources said. He was 68.
 
Apart from donning the grease paint in close to 150 films, mostly in small character roles, the multifaceted Babu was also a hugely popular stage artiste, who began his own drama group in the mid 1970s.
 
Babu was not keeping well since the beginning of the year. He breathed his last just past midnight.
 
Born to Kathakali maestro Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair and Mohiniyattam exponent Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma, Babu was a naturally gifted artiste.
 
He started his acting career soon after his graduation in the early 1970s and since then had ensured that he was a presence in the cultural milieu of the state be it through, stage, TV and films .
 
What surprised many was that despite his parents prominence in classical arts, Babu did not take it up.
 
He is survived by his wife and a son and a daughter who are both abroad.
 
IANS
 
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Father dies of heart attack as son writes medical entrance exam in Kochi

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The father of a Tamil Nadu youth who was writing the medical entrance examination in Kerala's Ernakulam district died of a heart attack on Sunday, said an employee of the hotel where the two had checked in a day earlier.
 
Hailing from Tiruvarur district in Tamil Nadu, around 340 km from here, Krishnaswamy and his son Kasturi Mahalingam checked into the Airlines Hotel on Saturday morning.
 
"Our staff got an auto-rickshaw for the boy to reach the exam centre in the morning. Later, the father called the reception complaining of ill health and was taken to a hospital," a hotel staffer told IANS over phone from Ernakulam.
 
An official of City Hospital told IANS: "Krishnaswamy came to the hospital around 8.20 a.m. and his sugar levels were high. He was conscious and oriented. Unfortunately, he collapsed soon after that. We could not revive him."
 
The official said police were informed and later the body was handed over to the relatives.
 
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said a solatium of Rs 300,000 would be paid to the family of Krishnaswamy.
 
In Kochi, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said police will make arrangements to send back the body.
 
Calling it a sad incident, he said the Kerala authorities will accompany the body till the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.
 
MDMK leader Vaiko said around 5,600 students were made to write the medical entrance exam in states like Kerala and Rajasthan.
 
IANS
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Collegium's recommendation should not have been rejected: SC Judge

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The Central government should not have rejected the recommendation of the Supreme Court collegium on the appointment of a judge as this has never happened before, an apex court judge said on Sunday.
 
Justice Kurian Joseph, a member of the apex court collegium which recommended the elevation of Uttarakhand Chief Justice K.M. Joseph to the Supreme Court, told mediapersons that it should be ensured that such a thing does not happen in the future.
 
"Since this happened, there were lots of discussions... Such a thing should never happen again," he said.
 
The Central government returned Justice K.M. Joseph's name to the collegium for reconsideration. The collegium, which has met since, has deferred a decision on the matter.
 
IANS
 
 
 
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Vice President Naidu rides on Kochi Metro

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Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday took a ride in the Kochi Metro.
 
Passengers were surprised at the Maharajah station when Naidu boarded a train to the Edapally station. During the ride, he spoke to some passengers and Kochi Metro officials. 
 
The Vice-President arrived here on Sunday.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Malayalam actor Kollam Ajith passes away

Kollam Ajith
Kollam Ajith
Malayalam film star Kollam Ajith, known for portraying negative roles, died on Thursday at a private hospital here, family sources said.
 
Ajith, 56, was admitted to the hospital ten days ago following health issues.
 
Ajith, in a career spread over three decades, had acted in around 500 films, mostly in Malayalam besides a few in Tamil and Hindi. 
 
He started his career with the 1984 hit "Paranu Paranu Paranu" by ace Malayali director Padmarajan.
 
Ajith was often referred to as Malayalam film industry's permanent villain on account of his role in the hugely successful "Irupathaam Noottaandu" (1987) starring Mohanlal. Since then he was the first choice for villain roles.
 
Ajith's body will be taken to Kollam, where the last rites would be performed later in the day.
 
IANS
 
 
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Blast on ONGC rig Sagar Bhushan occurred near AC plant, above ballast tank: preliminary assessment

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A preliminary assessment of the blast that caused the death of five workers on Sagar Bhushan, a drill ship of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) while undergoing repairs at the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) yesterday, has indicated that the accident was caused by a "momentary explosion of high impact" that occurred near the air-conditioning (AC) plant, which was situated above the ballast tank.
 
A press release from CSL said the Director, Factories and Boilers, had visited the scene of the mishap and recorded his observations today.
 
"The probable location of the explosion was identified based on the nature of the deflections on the bulkheads (steel walls) and the damage extant observed during the inspection," it said.
 
The release said the site of the accident had been cordoned off and is being investigated by the forensic department of the Police Department.
 
CSL clarified that the source of gas leakage and the reason for the explosion is yet to be confirmed and the same would be clarified only after the inquiry ordered by the company is completed.
 
"The accident is observed to have happened near the AC plant, when the area was being inspected by CSL Fire and Safety personnel prior to issuing work permit for starting of the work," it said.
 
Mr. Pon Radhakrishnan, Union Minister of State for Finance and Shipping, visited the scene of the accident today and also had an interaction with the CSL management, site team, employees, trade union leaders, the Fire and Safety team and the medical team.
 
Later, the Minister visited the injured workers at the Medical Trust Hospital here and also interacted with members of their families. 
 
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CSL had declared a financial assistance of Rs. 10 lakh to the next-of-kin of the deceased in addition to other statutory benefits as applicable. It had disbursed Rs. 25,000 as immediate incidental expenses to the family of the deceased. It also said it would provide the best medical care to the injured and meet all their hospital and treatment expenses.
 
Mr. Radhakrishnan directed CSL to extend additional assistance to the affected, incuding an amount equivalent to two months wages to be disbursed immediately; employment as appropriate based on qualification to one immediate dependent family member of each deceased worker.
 
He said appropriate education assistance should be given for children of deceased up to completion of degree level education. In addition to the statutory compensation relief, the company should disburse wages to the injured till they return for work, the Minister added.
 
Meanwhile, the hospital authorities said Sreerup, 35, who suffered 45% burns as well as inhalational injuries, is presently on ventilator in the ICU and is being treated by a team of specialsits. "His condition continues to be critical and prognosis is guarded," they said.
 
Four other affected persons are undergoing treatment in hospital, they added.
 
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