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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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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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Six test negative for Nipah in Kerala

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Samples of six patients suffering from fever have tested negative for Nipah virus, Kerala Health Minister K. K. Shailaja announced on Thursday. She said there was no need to panic as the situation was under control.
 
Speaking to the media here, Shailaja said all those who were tested negative were in direct contact with the youth who tested Nipah positive early this week. 
 
"All these patients are under close observation and continue to be in the isolation ward of a hospital. The youth who tested positive is also recovering well," said Shailaja.
 
High alert across the state will continue and whenever necessary, samples of suspects will be sent to the concerned laboratories including the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, she said. 
 
"I am told that two people who came seeking treatment for fever at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College are under observation and their samples also would be sent for testing," said Shailaja.
 
She said the hospital has got the special medicine for Nipah patients.
 
"Two of our doctors have got training from the Indian Council of Medical Research in administering this medicine that has come from Australia. In case this medicine has to be administered, the doctors will have to seek the permission from the patient's relatives," added Shailaja.
 
The youth who has been confirmed with the Nipah virus is from Paravur in Ernakulam district. He was studying in Idukki's Thodupuzha.
 
Last month, he came with 16 other classmates for a student internship in Thrissur and later developed fever.
 
The Minister said a team of experts was trying to identify the source of the virus by visiting places the youth belongs to and has visited.
 
At present over 300 people from Thrissur, Paravur in Ernakulam district, Thodupuzha in Idukki and in Thiruvananthapuram continue to be under observation.
 
The Nipah virus claimed 12 lives in May last year, with 22 positive cases reported from Kozhikode and Malappuram districts. 
 
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Nipah: 5 in isolation in Kerala, 311 under observation

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A Kerala youth who tested positive for Nipah virus (NiV) is stable, State Health Minister K. K. Shailaja said on Wednesday, adding that three nurses who treated him, a friend and another person have been kept in isolation.
 
He continues to be treated at a ward at the Kalamassery hospital near here.
 
"A total of 311 people are being closely observed and barring four, all the rest are being looked by health professionals in their homes only. The officials are trying to find out how many of these 311 had any direct contact with the youth, who has tested positive," said Shailaja.
 
"The samples of the five (in isolation) have been sent to various laboratories and the final result is expected either tomorrow or day after. The preliminary findings of these five, do not point to anything serious but we will wait till the final results come," said Shailaja.
 
It was on Tuesday that the youth tested positive and since then the state Health Department has launched a massive programme to ensure that adequate advisories are issued. 
 
People have been asked not to panic, but seek immediate medical attention if fever develops.
 
Shailaja said that a central team of professionals was already here and their main objective was to identify the source of the outbreak.
 
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Kerala youth tests positive for Nipah virus: Minister

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Kerala Health Minister K. K. Shailaja on Tuesday confirmed that the youth being treated in a hospital near Kochi has tested positive for Nipah virus (NiV). 
 
She also assured the people that elaborate arrangements have been made to tackle the situation and there was no need for panic
 
"The test results have come from the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune and it is positive for Nipah. The health authorities have made elaborate arrangements and the medicines for this are also in stock and NIV authorities will be handing over the medicines that have come from Australia," said Shailaja.
 
She added that Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had already pledged full support from the Centre.
 
The youth is a student who first sought treatment at two private hospitals in Thrissur, where he had gone for student internship.
 
"In the past two days, the health authorities have prepared a list of 86 people who have come in contact with this youth and are under observation. Of these 86 people, two have fever and one of them is being kept in isolation. Also, two nurses have fever and are under observation," said Shailaja.
 
"The condition of the youth is stable. He is now out of any sort of support and is fine," added the Minister.
 
Shailaja asked people to be careful about picking fruits as bats have been identified as a carrier of this virus.
 
She also said that any mischief to create panic on social media would be dealt with strictly.
 
The sample of the youth was first tested at the Virology Institute at Allapuzha and, after it was confirmed positive, the final confirmation came from NIV, Pune.
 
"From now on, there would be a high alert and three samples (blood, urine and throat) from every person who shows symptoms of Nipah will be taken and sent to NIV Alappuzha, Pune and Manipal Laboratory," said State Health Secretary Rajan Khorbagade.
 
He said that experts from the Indian Council of Medical Research were in constant touch with health authorities in the state.
 
In May last year, a Nipah (NiV) virus attack claimed 12 lives, with 22 positive cases reported from Kozhikode and Malappuram districts that created a huge scare.
 
The Kerala government has brought in a special team of medical professionals and administrators who successfully helped combat the previous outbreak in Kozhikode. They will be helping the medical professionals in Kochi on how to go about handling the fresh outbreak.
 
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Kerala: SmartCity Kochi plans to raise Rs 4,000 crore in Phase III, IV and V

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SmartCity Kochi, a joint venture company of the Kerala Government and Dubai Holding, has drawn up ambitious plans to raise an additional Rs 4,000 crore from potential investors in its Phase III, IV and V by activating infrastructure-ready residential plots and by completing the balance infrastructure development in its township side.
 
"The Phase III will witness residential, sports and recreation facilities and mixed-use developments in a land area covering 30 acres. Phase IV and V planning is underway where we would invest an estimated Rs 200 crore to complete the remaining infrastructure to activate 45 acres of additional plots that could be offered to investors for residential and social infrastructure projects,” said Manoj Nair, CEO, SmartCity Kochi.
 
On the township side, GEMS Modern Academy, with an investment of Rs 102 crore, has commenced its operations with sports and other educational amenities expected to be completed by May of this year.
 
“With these three phases opening up, and subject to timely clearances and approval from the Government of Kerala, we would create further investment opportunities of Rs 4,000 crore to promote developments in the township side of SmartCity Kochi. Of this, a confirmed expression of interest from a leading residential projects developer in South India is under process. The development entails residential project in an area covering 15.5 acres of land on a freehold basis with an investment of approximately Rs 1,200 crore,” he said.
 
Construction work on the residential project is likely to commence during the last quarter of 2019 itself, subject to necessary clearances from the state government. Work on remaining infrastructure development will be taken up in the last quarter of 2020.
 
Nair said the master plan of SmartCity Kochi has been updated and environmental study for the expansion is underway.
 
As per the framework agreement with the Kerala Government, the base investment in SmartCity Kochi was estimated to be Rs 1,700 crore. Overall, developments in SmartCity Kochi have so far resulted in an investment over Rs. 2,600 crore.
 
“In terms of the development of IT business infrastructure, further investments to the tune of Rs. 2,200 crore could be attracted. The full build-out investment potential of SmartCity Kochi is estimated to be Rs. 9,000 crore,” he said.
 
“To facilitate co-developments by investors, we have invested in the development of 7 km of 4-lane roads with utility and services trenches, 33 KV sub-stations with power infrastructure, water storage and distribution infrastructure, and landscaping. Work on water treatment plant is progressing as per schedule,” he said.
 
Major businesses like Lulu Group International, Prestige Group, Maratt Group, Holiday Group and Schulte Group are the co-developers which have signed up to create IT business infrastructure projects.
 
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Singapore-based Shubigi Rao to curate Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2020

Shubigi Rao
Shubigi Rao
Singapore-based Indian-origin artist and writer Shubigi Rao, a compulsive archivist and visual artist known for her complex and layered installations, has been named the curator of the fifth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) that will begin here on December 12, 2020.
 
The selection committee, which made the announcement in Venice on Thursday, unanimously decided to appoint Rao for her “exceptional acumens and inventive sensibilities” to curate the upcoming biennale.
 
The appointment is in keeping with the tradition of an artist helming the contemporary art festival that debuted in 2012.
 
Mumbai-born Rao, whose work featured in the fourth edition of the KMB (2018), is also a writer and her myriad interests include archaeology, neuroscience, libraries, archival systems, histories, literature, violence, acts of cultural genocide, anti-censorship, migratory patterns, ecology and natural history.
 
The decision to choose Rao, 43, was announced at Istituto Europeo di Design, Palazzo Franchetti in Venice—the Italian city that hosted the world’s first biennale (in 1895). The announcement came after lengthy deliberations within a search committee comprising Amrita Jhaveri, Gayatri Sinha, Jitish Kallat, Sunita Choraria and Tasneem Mehta, besides Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) trustees Alex Kuruvilla, Bose Krishnamachari and V Sunil.
 
Rao expressed happiness about her appointment. “Biennales are sometimes floating cities that are unmoored from their locality/ regionality. Kochi-Muziris Biennale is rooted in the intertwined histories and cultural multiplicities of Kochi, while providing a crucial platform for a larger discourse of the critical, political, and social in artistic practices,” she said. 
 
“To shift the lens through which we read the spectacle of exhibition, we must reposition discourse and practice through acknowledging intersecting contexts. I believe it is possible for the Biennale to retain regional realities and histories through cementing existing affinities and establishing new commons.”
 
Krishnamachari, who is a co-founder of the 2010-instituted KBF, described Rao as a “brilliant and original” artist. “Responding to the Foundation’s interest in selecting a young curator with varied interests, the section committee chose Rao for her exceptional talent,” he noted.
 
Secretary Sunil described Rao as a multi-faceted artist with interests in a range of subjects. “We look forward to another exciting edition of the Biennale under her curatorship,” he added.
 
Besides featuring in the fourth edition of the KMB, Rao participated in the 10th Taipei Biennial (2016), 3rd Pune Biennale (2017), the 2nd Singapore Biennale (2008) and the Singapore Writers Festival (2016, 2013). She was also selected for residency programmes in Singapore, Germany and India.
 
Her notable exhibitions include The Wood for the Trees (2018), Written in the Margins (2017), The Retrospectacle of S. Raoul (2013), and Useful Fictions (2013). Rao’s group shows include About Books at AlbumArte, Rome (2018); the Signature Art Prize finalist exhibition at National Museum Singapore (2018); Ghost on the Wire 21 (2016); Dear Painter (2015); Urban:ness (2015); Modern Love (2014); Still Building (2012); Singapore Survey: Beyond LKY (2010); Found and Lost (2009); Singapore Art Show at the Singapore Art Museum (2007); Second Dance Song (2006); Appetites for Litter (2006); and New Contemporaries (2005).
 
Since 2014 Shubigi has been visiting public and private collections, libraries and archives globally for Pulp: A Short Biography of the Banished Book, a decade-long film, book and visual art project about the history of book destruction. The first portion of the project, Written in the Margins, won the Juror’s Choice Award at the APB Signature Prize 2018. The first volume from the project was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize 2018. The project has two of its proposed five volumes released.
 
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NIA accused held at Cochin airport on return from Gulf

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A day after a Qatar-based Keralite was named by the National Investigation Agency  (NIA) as an accused based on information from arrested alleged Islamic State operative Riyaz Aboobacker, he was picked up by the agency from the Cochin airport on his return here on Tuesday.
 
Faizal hails from Ochira in Kollam district.
 
The NIA, which had on Monday moved a special court here for custodial interrogation of Aboobacker -- arrested in wake of the Easter Sunday carnage in Sri Lanka, also mentioned that it wants to include three more people, including Faizal, as accused in the case in which it has already arrested 21 persons.
 
Of the three, Faizal was working abroad, while the other two are based in Kasargode district.
 
The NIA had served a notice to Faizal to appear before them and as soon as he arrived at the airport, he was taken away for detailed questioning.
 
The special court had given the NIA five days custody of Aboobacker, arrested by the agency on April 29 from Palakkad and sent to judicial custody till May 29. 
 
Aboobacker, according to the NIA, has confessed to creating plans to carry out a suicide attack in Kerala. He had been trying to recruit people in this connection and had allegedly got in touch with these three people.
 
The 29-year-old had earlier disclosed that he has been following speeches and videos of Zahran Hashim, a radical Tamil-speaking cleric who is believed to have masterminded the April 21 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka which left 253 people dead.
 
His arrest came after the agency unearthed the Kasargode module of the terrorist outfit in Kerala during multiple raids.
 
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Malayalam superstar Dileep gets relief in assault case

Malayalam film actor Dileep
Malayalam film actor Dileep
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed trial against Malayalam actor Dileep, an accused in the assault on an actress, till his plea in the top court about access to visuals of the assault captured by the key accused Pulsar Suni is decided.
 
Dileep has said until he gets a copy of the crucial memory card, which he asserted proves his innocence, the framing of charges would result in "violation of natural justice" and "irreparable damage" to his reputation. 
 
The order staying the trial was passed by a bench comprising Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and Ajay Rastogi.
 
Earlier during a hearing, the Kerala government informed the Supreme Court that it would not press for framing of charges against him before the trial court in the case, till his pending plea in the apex court for access to visuals of the assault captured by main accused Pulsar Suni is decided. 
 
The government's counsel contended that there is no requirement under the law to share all the material with the accused. Dileep's plea for the copy of the memory card was turned down earlier by the Angamaly Magistrate Court and the Kerala High Court.
 
The Kerala government informed the court that an understanding has been reached with Dileep in this regard. The trial court was to commence hearing on framing of charges last month. 
 
Dileep says the visuals contained in the memory card had been manipulated. The Kerala government has, however, opposed his plea for the copy of the visuals and accused him of being the "chief conspirator".
 
The south Indian actress was abducted and assaulted in a moving car on February 17, 2017. Dileep was arrested in July the same year in the case. connection.
 
Mukul Rohatgi, senior counsel appearing for Dileep, contended that the memory card is a document, but the prosecution said it is a material which does not come under the I-T Act and cannot be handed over.
 
In his petition, Dileep states that he has a right to get evidence relating to the case which includes the memory card in which the attack visuals have been stored. 
 
Rohatgi argued that Dileep had the right to access all kinds of evidence that prosecution is producing against him.
 
IANS
 

Former Kerala Minister Vishwanatha Menon passes away

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Former Kerala Finance Minister and CPI-M leader V. Vishwanatha Menon passed away on Friday at a private hospital here, said family sources.
 
He was 92. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
 
He was unwell for a while and was moved to hospital a few days back. 
 
Finance Minister in the E. K. Nayanar cabinet from 1987-91, Menon was one of the tallest leaders in Ernakulam, and was popularly referred to as Ambadi Viswan.
 
His political career started to gain momentum early even when he was active in student politics. 
 
He was the a popular leader of the undivided Communist party and later moved on to the CPI-M.
 
In 1967 he won from the Ernakulam Lok Sabha seat. He also served one term in the Rajya Sabha.
 
His political career though came to a halt after parting ways with the CPI-M. He had contested as an Independent with the support of the BJP in the Ernakulam Lok Sabha bye-election in 2003 and lost.
 
IANS

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Talks on Saturday for wage hike in Malayalam film industry

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A third round of talks is scheduled on Saturday between representatives of the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) and the Producer's Association over the hike in the wage structure of the film employees.
 
FEFKA is made up of 19 different organisations that include drivers and directors. The previous two rounds of talks failed to resolve the wage issues as the two sides stuck to their stand.
 
According to an agreement, the wages have to be hiked every two years. On December 31 last year, the two-year window ended.
 
Speaking to IANS, Suresh Kumar of the Producer's Association said that it's natural that a series of discussions are held to resolve issues.
 
"We are ready for any reasonable settlement. Obviously, the two sides would always like to get the best deal, so delays might occur. We are hopeful that we will be able to finalise the new rates on Saturday," said Kumar.
 
At present the lowest category wages for a day's work (9 a.m to 10.30 p.m.) includes is Rs 1,080 plus all expenses including food, travel and accommodation.
 
While the producers are ready to give a hike of 20 per cent, the FEFKA representatives want more.
 
IANS
 

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Veteran Kerala politician K. M. Mani passes away at 86

File photo of K M Mani
File photo of K M Mani
Veteran politician and Kerala Congress-Mani (KC-M) Chairman K. M. Mani, who never lost an Assembly election since 1967, passed away at a private hospital here on Tuesday.
 
Mani was suffering from a lung ailment and was in the hospital for the past one week. He had been unwell since January.
 
Announcing the death, a doctor told the media that Mani's condition turned worse after 11.30 a.m. on Tuesday and he died at 4.57 p.m.
 
Mani joined the undivided Kerala Congress in 1965 and went on to become its undisputed leader. Over the years, his party underwent several splits.
 
Mani's record of being the longest-serving legislator in the Kerala Assembly began in 1967 when he represented his home constituency Pala in Kottayam district -- from where he won a record 13 elections.
 
He often used to say that he has two wives: one is Kuttiyama and the other is Pala.
 
Although he won his first election in 1965, the Assembly was not convened and so he was not sworn in. Two years later he became a legislator for the first time -- and remained so for 52 long years.
 
Mani first became a state Minister in 1975 in the C. Achutha Menon cabinet and since then he sat in the cabinets of E. K. Nayanar, P. K. Vasudevan Nair, C. H. Mohammed Koya, K. Karunakaran, A. K. Antony and Oommen Chandy.
 
He holds the state record of having presented 13 budgets.
 
He is survived by his wife, son Jose K. Mani, a Rajya Sabha member, and five daughters.
 
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Mani's death had left Kerala grieving.
 
"He was certainly a very tall politician and is going to be missed in Kerala politics. He had proved his mettle in his job as a very effective minister," he said.
 
IANS
 

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Veteran Kerala politician K. M. Mani passes away

File photo of K M Mani
File photo of K M Mani
Veteran Kerala politician K. M. Mani, who never lost any Assembly election since 1967, died on Tuesday evening at a private hospital here, doctors said.
 
The 86-year-old was undergoing treatment for a lung ailment since his admission to the hospital last week. 
 
Mani's party is the biggest ally of the Congress in the United Democratic Front. 
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Kerala UDF convener Benny Behanan suffers heart attack

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Kerala's United Democratic Front Convener and Congress' Lok Sabha candidate from Chalakkudy, Benny Behanan, suffered a heart attack on Friday and is admitted to a hospital near here, party leaders said.
 
The 66-year-old underwent an emergency angioplasty and his condition is now stable, a party leader said.
 
He had reached his residence close to midnight after his election campaign. At around 2.30 a.m, he complained of uneasiness and was moved to the nearest hospital.
 
Behanan, a former two time MLA, is pitted against veteran comedian and sitting Lok Sabha member Innocent, a Left-supported Independent.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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Kochi-Muziris Biennale winds up, filmmaker Adoor lauds it as common man’s event

The fourth edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) formally wound up here on Thursday with a closing ceremony, where renowned filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan hailed the contemporary art festival as one having become integral to Kerala society, having percolated to the sensibilities of even the common people.
 
Addressing an evening gathering in downtown Ernakulam, the 77-year-old auteur said the host state can no more imagine its cultural future without the biennale. 
 
“This festival has only been bettering with every edition, I must say as someone who has viewed it from inception (in 2012),” he said about South Asia’s biggest event of its kind.
 
The 108-day festival is scheduled to conclude on Friday evening with a flag-lowering ceremony at Aspinwall House, the main venue of the event, in Fort Kochi.
 
The biennale, curated by eminent artist Anita Dube, turned out to be the first anywhere in the world to feature women totalling more than half of its participating artists who came out with 94 projects in ten venues of the heritage city. Based on the curatorial theme of ‘Possibilities for a Non-Alienated Life’, it sought to explore newer access to art practices while hosting an array of seminars, workshops, lectures, films and stage performances.
 
At the valedictory ceremony at Darbar Hall Ground on Thursday evening, Adoor said the biennale has become a place where students from various field have been visiting. “This has become one of the top biennale’s in the world. We have seen representations from other biennale visiting and appreciating the works on display and showing their interest in the various artistic projects showcased here,” he added.
 
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Bose Krishnamachari, president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation that is organising the festival, said the latest edition clocked a total footfall of 6.2 lakh people from across the country and abroad. “We believe that the next edition will be bigger. In fact, from 2020, the biennale will be extended up to 120 days.”
 
Krishnamachari, also an acclaimed artist, extended his thanks to all his team and the curator. “Without all of you, we would not have reached to this successful end. Special thanks to the 2018 curator Dube. She dealt with some important subjects.” 
 
Dube said she hoped to have delivered what she promised of bringing out a biennale that is more inclusive. “This biennale meant to show the struggle the women in society face in their day-to-day life,” she said. “Through my curatorial efforts, I ensured that young artists get a platform to showcases their work. Pleasure combined with pedagogy was the overriding theme.”
 
Trustee N S Madhavan announced the Student’s Biennale winners at the ceremony.
 
Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran said the biennale, coming within four months of the floods that devastated the state last monsoon, helped the state regain its influx of travellers to God’s Own Kerala. “I take this opportunity to thank the biennale that has compelled tourists to visit Kerala after the floods,” he added.
 
Sunil V, Secretary of the Foundation, proposed thanks. The ceremony was followed by an interactive concert by conversation band Oorali, which is a participant at the biennale that began on December 12 last year.
 
The festival was inaugurated at the Parade Ground in Fort Kochi by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
 
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Jitish Kallat’s Doomsday installation mirrors prophesies of man-made catastrophe

Jitish Kallat
Jitish Kallat
Jitish Kallat’s sculptural installation at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an abstract work that combines themes from the prehistoric past and future, while deriving a part of its form from the iconic Doomsday Clock.
 
On view inside a large hall at TKM Warehouse in the heritage town of Mattancherry, a suite of six exhibits has been illuminated from the top, making the entire setting appear ominous. The installation, made out of dental plaster with mild steel supports, is called ‘Untitled (Two Minutes to Midnight)’.
 
The title of the 2018 work is a direct reference to the Doomsday Clock, which was created in 1947 as a symbolic/hypothetical representation of how close humanity is to a man-made catastrophe. Developed by a group of scientists, scholars and Nobel laureates, represented by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the clock was recently set to 11:58 pm — which is two minutes before the symbolic apocalyptic midnight.
 
Situating his work in the context of nuclear weapons and climate change being cited as one of the potential causes for the world’s end, Jitish’s work re-imagines the clock by placing the six sculptures on a plinth that is shaped liked the Doomsday Clock. “The installation draws together ciphers that link past and future, dawn and midnight to induce a contemplation on the many urgencies of our present-day existence,” says the 44-year-old Mumbaikar, with family roots tracing to Kerala. 
 
Even as he looks to the prophesied future in his installation, the form of his exhibits has been informed by a landmark discovery from the prehistoric era, which is the first evidence of tool construction millions of years ago.  
A view of Jitish Kallat's works at TKM Warehouse, Mattancherry in Kochi.
A view of Jitish Kallat's works at TKM Warehouse, Mattancherry in Kochi.
 
Elaborating on the form of his biennale sculptures, Jitish says the suite of sculptures derives its form from paleolithic hand axes and stone tools that were the first human effort to alter the face of the planet. In his work, the artist uses the reference to the first stone tools to make a point about the destruction of the planet. “The first stone tools mark the dawn of human ingenuity, augmenting physical capacities before exponential future innovations lead to uninhibited human supremacy and indiscriminate manipulation of the planet,” he says.   
 
As an artist whose vast oeuvre covers painting, photography, drawing and video apart from sculptural installations, Jitish’s work has largely focused on themes of human existence, time, sustenance, history, nations, cities and the distant cosmos.     
  
After working as a curator and artistic director of the 2014 edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Jitish returned to the fourth edition as a participating artist for the 108-day event that concludes on March 29.
 
The artist studied painting at Sir J. J. School of Art and has widely exhibited at museums and galleries all over the world, including shows at Tate, London, and a number of presentations at biennales and triennials in Asia and the west.   
 
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Rear Admiral Krishna Swaminathan assumes charge as Flag Officer Sea Training

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Rear Admiral Krishna Swaminathan assumed charge as Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) of the Indian Navy in Kochi on Monday.
 
Rear Admiral Swaminathan, a specialist in Communication and Electronic Warfare was commissioned into the Indian Navy on July 1, 1987. He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune; the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Shrivenham in the United Kingdom; the College of Naval Warfare, Karanja in Mumbai, and the United States Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
 
He has commanded five frontline ships of the Indian Navy including the missile vessels, INS Vidyut and INS Vinash; the missile corvette, INS Kulish; the guided missile destroyer, INS Mysore; and the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.
 
Prior to assuming charge as FOST, the Admiral was the Chief Staff Officer (Training) at Headquarters Southern Naval Command and played a key role in the conduct of all training in the Indian Navy. He was also instrumental in raising the Indian Naval Safety Team that oversees operational safety across all domains of the Navy.
 
The officer has a BSc degree from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, MA in Defence Studies from King’s College, London, MPhil in Strategic Studies from the Mumbai University and a PhD in International Studies from the Mumbai University.
 
FOST functions under the operational and administrative jurisdiction of Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command. His charter includes the conduct of operational sea training for ships of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard by enhancing crew proficiency in all aspects, including safe navigation practices, damage control and firefighting drills, weapon firings as well as seamanship training.
 
The officer has taken over the appointment from Rear Admiral Sanjay J Singh, who has proceeded to Mumbai to assume his next appointment as Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet (FOCWF).
 
IANS
 

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Wipro opens its third Industrial IoT centre in Kochi

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IT services major Wipro Limited launched its third Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) Centre of Excellence (CEO) here today.
 
The CoE marks Wipro’s commitment to developing innovative IIoT solutions that span across the technology stack for its customers in the industrial manufacturing, automotive, healthcare and pharmaceutical, consumer products and goods, and utilities space, a press release from the company said.
 
Leveraging artificial intelligence, blockchain and robotics, the lab will develop Proofs of Concept (POCs) and market-ready IoT solutions in an iterative agile development model, it said.
 
M. Sivasankar, IT Secretary, Government of Kerala, who inaugurated the centre said, “Kerala has focused on technologies, which are critical to the Industry 4.0 concept and IoT is an integral part of this proposition. The State has endeavoured to address skill-related issues in emerging technology areas including IIoT by fostering a vibrant hardware-based start-up ecosystem and a skilling framework that connects technical institutions."
 
"With the rollout of the Kerala Fibre Optic Network (KFON), the ambitious fibre2home/enterprise/institution network in the next 18 months, local economy stakeholders will increasingly benefit from IoT deployments. So, Wipro’s decision to set up its third global IIoT lab in Kerala is a timely one and I hope it grows into a major development centre in a short period of time," he added.
 
Separately, Wipro hosted a two-day hackathon on Industrial IoT on March 12-13 at its Kochi development centre, which saw active participation from leading engineering colleges in Kerala. Wipro will extend pre-placement offers to the winning participants in the final year of their engineering degree course while those in the penultimate year of their degree programme will receive internship opportunities. 
 
The new hires will join Wipro’s IIoT research and development team in Kochi, the release said.
 
Jayraj Nair, Vice President & Global Head - IoT, Wipro Limited said, “We are proud to launch our Industrial IoT Centre of Excellence in Kerala, our third such centre after Mountain View, California and Bangalore. Over the years, Kerala has grown into a technology hub that offers access to a dynamic talent pool with an aptitude for new-age technologies. IoT presents a huge opportunity for industries in a hyper-connected world and we are confident that our end-to-end services and offerings will help our clients leverage IoT as part of their digital transformation goals.”
 
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Indian Naval Ship Sharda rescues five fishermen from the sea off Kannur

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Indian Naval Ship (INS) Sharda, based at Kochi, rescued five fishermen, who were floating in the sea after their fishing vessel FV Omkaram sank some 35 km north-west of Azhikkal port near Kannur on Monday.
 
The incident occurred at around 9:30 am when the ship was on patrol in the area, an official press release said.
 
"An alert lookout sighted a movement in the water, which turned out to be the five floating fishermen. The ship acted with alacrity and immediately altered course towards the survivors. It thereafter lowered its life boats and successfully rescued and brought on board all five fishermen within ten minutes of the initial sighting.
 
"Two of the fishermen had sustained minor injuries and were administered first aid by the ship’s medical tam. The ship thereafter headed for Kochi to disembark the survivors," the release said.
 
According to it, the rescued fishermen indicated that they had cast off from Cheruvathur in Kasargod at 4:00 am on Monday. They said ater started entering their 13-foot boat, which they were unable to control, and the heavy flooding ultimately caused the boat to sink. 
 
The fishermen had to remain afloat without any life saving devices from 6:30 am till the time they were rescued. They were out of mobile range and were unable to swim or to seek help from other boats. 
 
They said that they had removed their clothes to wave at the ship and had almost lost hope of being rescued. 
 
All the survivors -- Manoharan (56) (Boat Owner), Vasav (57), Chandran (60), Suresh (42), Surendran (49) -- belong to Kanjanghad, Kasargod. The survivors were provided food, water and fresh clothing by the ship’s crew. Efforts are on to inform their next of kin as well as Trikkaripur local coastal police station.
 
INS Sharda is an offshore patrol vessel of the Indian Navy and presently in its 26th year of commission. The ship is actively deployed for coastal surveillance and patrolling off Kerala and Lakshadweep islands and has also undertaken regular anti-piracy deployments in the Gulf of Aden.
 
The ship was earlier too involved in rescue of 21 fishermen during Cyclone Ockhi and was also used for distribution of relief material during Op Madad, which was launched by the Southern Naval Command, at the time of the Kerala floods. The ship is presently commanded by Commander R Anoop.
 
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Kerala moves to speed up clearance of investment proposals

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Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched Kerala Single Window Interface for Fast, Transparent Clearances (K-SWIFT), an onine clearance mechanism that will ensure that investment proposals are cleared within days of applications.
 
The mechanism, which was launched at the inauguration of ASCEND Kerala 2019, is aimed at ending delays and official lethargy in clearance of investments.
 
ASCEND Kerala 2019 is an ambitious initiative of the government to position the state as an investment hotspot.
 
K-SWIFT is a cutting-edge software application that simplifies and speeds up approval of clearances from departments and agencies looking to launch enterprises in the state.
 
Noting that K-SWIFT complements the notion of rebuilding of Kerala, the Chief Minister urged the officials for a change in their attitude towards entrepreneurs. In this context, he said the 30-day time limit, which is applicable from village to secretariat level, may be reduced to even 15 days in future.    
 
“You should not have the wrong belief that advent of industries means exploitation of people,” he said.
 
“Kerala economy has been consumerist where lots of products have buyers, but not much of production is happening in the state. This has to be change,” he told delegates to the conference held at Lulu International Convention Centre Grand Hyatt, Bolgatty. “We have to increase MSMEs in the state. Through them, the government aims to provide jobs to around 50,000 people this year.”
 
Vijayan also launched an ‘Invest Kerala Guide’ brought out by the state government’s Department of Industries and Commerce, which is a key organiser of the day-long event that seeks to boost East of Doing Business.
 
Kerala Industry Minister E P Jayarajan said ASCEND Kerala 2019 was part of the government’s efforts to form an industry network in the state. Pointing out that a “new era” has dawned upon Kerala’s industry sector, he said any delay in taking steps in the online applications would attract serious steps against the departments and officials.
 
“Specific industrial parks will be set up in private and public sector as per the types of industry. In rural areas, the area limit will be 25 acres. The urban parks will have 15 acres,” he added. “The government will provide the same facilities of the public parks sector to private parks.”
 
The Minister revealed that around 36,000 MSME units have been established in the state within its two-and-a-half years, generating 1,24,000 jobs. Jayarajan also launched the portal of ‘Invest Kerala’that includes details about IBPMS (Intelligent Building Plan Management System).
 
K Ellangovan, Principal Secretary, Industries, Commerce & NORKA, gave a presentation on ASCEND Kerala 2019, and said Kerala is thecountry’s only state that has amended all the existing rules to streamline and encourage its industry sector. 
 
Tom Jose, Chief Secretary, Government of Kerala, said in his welcome address that the industry sector’s motto was to convert jobseekers into entrepreneurs.
 
FICCI National President Sandip Somany noted Kerala topped national rankings in sectors such as startups, food-processing and technology.  CII Chairman (Southern Region) R Dinesh said Kerala has a unique advantage in knowledge-based industries.
 
Kerala Small Scale Industries Association President M Khalid also spoke at the session, where TiE Kerala Chapter President MSA Kumar proposed  a vote of thanks.
 
The meet showcased Kerala as a top-notch investment destination, where entrepreneurs from India and abroad can set up a wide array of enterprises in a speedy and hassle-free manner with minimum of bureaucratic interventions.
 
The conference, through presentations and panel discussions, also presented a slew of legislations and administrative reforms the Kerala government has initiated to enhance the Ease of Doing Business in the state.
 
Entrepreneurs, industry captains and representatives, administrators, policy-makers and top industry department officials, besides senior functionaries of local bodies were present.
 
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Kerala foresees Rs 1,000 crore investment for startups in 4 years: IT Secretary

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Kerala is poised for a far stronger startup ecosystem, as four investment funds have opened the possibilities of more than Rs 1,000 crore for new business ventures in the next four years, a top official said here on Tuesday.
 
Unicorn India Ventures, Exseed Electron Fund, Indian Angel Network and Speciale Incept Fund are the financial entities the government has selected in response to a tender floated recently, according to M Sivasankar, Secretary, Kerala Electronics and IT Department.
 
Since the pact mandates investing 25 per cent of the volunteered amount in the next four years, the state is guaranteed with a minimum investment of Rs 300 crore by 2022 fiscal, he revealed on the sidelines of ‘Seeding Kerala’. 
 
The fourth edition of the event, organised here by Kerala Startup Mision (KSUM) in association with investment platform LetsVenture, brought together the state’s high net worth individuals (HNIs) in a bid to provide them opportunities to invest in potentially rewarding startups.
 
Sivasankar told a media conference that the Kerala government has adopted the Fund of Funds model to invigorate angel and VC funds, thus facilitating holding of a portfolio than of other investment funds rather than investing directly in stocks, bonds and other securities. The state, on its part, provides an annual investment of Rs 15 crore.
 
The first leg of 2017-launched ‘Seeding Kerala’ saw encouraging results, prompting the government to aim at raising investments worth Rs 60 crore. How much high amount angel and VC funds could raise from this amount was the yardstick for their selection, the IT Secretary said. The state got 34 Expressions of Interest, from which four funds were invited to the KSUM endeavour on developing the state’s startup ecosystem, he added.
 
Among the four, Exseed will invest solely in startups based in the fields of space and IT, Sivasankar said. The state will also encourage funds for startups working in the sectors of cancer treatment and disaster management, he added.
 
KSUM CEO Saji Gopinath said the selection of the four funds would help the state tide over its problem of insufficient funds. Startups anyway required decentralised operations, he added.
 
The first two editions (both in 2017) of ‘Seeding Kerala’ strove to introduce angel investors from outside of Kerala to the state. Into the third, the focus turned to HNIs within Kerala and linking them with startups that merited investment.
 
Today’s conference provided delegates a masterclass on angel investing, while giving them a clearer idea on investment and portfolio diversification. The day-long sessions also discussed the legal aspects of investing and took up case studies of remarkable business in the state.
 
Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation Chairman Christy Fernandez and Indian Angel Network’s Padmaja Ruparel, besides investors Ritesh Malik and Anil Joshi were among the speakers who led the conference.
 
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Kerala to implement online clearance mechanism for entrepreneurs

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The Kerala Government will implement an online, single window clearance mechanism with unique features that would ease the process of launching new ventures and give a push to entrepreneurship activities in the state. 
 
The Single Window Interface for Fast and Transparent Clearance (KSWIFT) mechanism will be launched at Ascend 2019, an event that will be hosted here on February 11 by the Kerala Bureau of Industrial Promotion (KBIP) to showcase the administrative and policy reform measures taken by the state government to improve ease of doing business.
 
KSWIFT will bring together relevant departments for expediting approvals within the stipulated timeframe, reducing and simplifying procedures and substantially curtailing bureaucratic interventions, a press release from KBIP said.
 
"KSWIFT will be a pioneering integrating platform that supports entrepreneurs in obtaining their requisite clearances for setting up and running an enterprise in the state.
 
"Having all the trappings of a landmark initiative, KSWIFT is designed to make governance more efficient, effective, transparent and user-friendly by leveraging the information technology. It will be a platform for all future transactions with the government for granting licences and approvals in a time-bound manner," it said.
 
For the present, the services of 14 departments and agencies have been made available in KSWIFT, wherein all the applications can be submitted through a unified Common Application Form (CAF). These departments are Directorate of Urban Affairs, Directorate of Panchayats, Department of Town and Country Planning, Factories and Boilers, Electrical Inspectorate, Mining and Geology, Forest and Wildlife, Labour, Fire and Rescue Services, Kerala State Pollution Control Board, State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd., Kerala Water Authority, and Department of Ground Water.
 
 KSWIFT has features like CAF; intelligent information wizard; unified payment mechanism; time-bound clearances; digital approvals; online issue of clearances; and deemed approvals and composite licences. It will enable entrepreneurs to submit all their applications online along with provisions to upload the requisite supporting documents.
 
Dedicated dashboards provided for both project proponents and department officials pave the way for end-to-end tracking and processing of the applications. In order to increase transparency, KSWIFT has also enabled the provision for third party verification of the entire clearance process.
 
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"It will be the next revolutionary change in the clearances / legislative landscape of the state that would provide a thriving environment for enterprises. KSWIFT is expected to reduce the physical touch points in the entire clearance process, thereby making the entire process more efficient and effective.
 
"As a means of improving the entrepreneur–government interface, the Kerala government has constituted Investment Promotion and Facilitation Cells (IPFC) at both the state and district-level.
 
"The IPFC consists of officials of the departments / agencies that are involved in providing clearances for setting up and running enterprises in the state. 
 
 "The mandate of the IPFC is to act as the single point of contact for investors and accord all the required approvals for setting up and operation of enterprises in Kerala. It is envisaged to track the progress of applications submitted online, obtain regular feedback from the stakeholder departments / agencies, remove bottlenecks and ensure time-bound disposal of applications.
 
"The IPFC will also provide handholding support to all entrepreneurs, who wish to make Kerala their preferred destination for starting and running an enterprise.
 
"The IPFC at the state-level, with Managing Director, Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd. (KSIDC) as its CEO, will be headquartered in KSIDC in the capital city. District Collectors will be the Chairpersons for the IPFC while General Manager, District Industries Centers, will be the Convenors in respective districts," the release added.
 
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Well-known Malayalam actor-director Sreenivasan hospitalised

Sreenivasan
Sreenivasan
Well-known Malayalam film actor and director Sreenivasan was admitted to a private hospital here today after complaining of acute breathlessness and chest pain.
 
Sources in the Ernakulam Medical Centre (EMC) told NetIndian that Sreenivasan, 62, was admitted to the intensive coronary care unit (ICCU) and kept on ventilator support.
 
He said the actor's vital parameters, which were weak at the time of admission around 9.45 am, had improved.
 
Doctors treating him would meet around 11 am tomorrow to discuss the further course of treatment, the sources added.
 
Sreenivasan was dubbing for a new movie at a studio in the Kakkanad area of the city when he complained of the uneasiness and was rushed to the hospital, located near the Palarivattom Junction.
 
“Actor Mr Sreenivasan, aged 62 years, presented to the emergency department of this hospital on 30.01.2019 at 9:46 am with complaints of acute breathlessness, following physical exertion. Patient was hemodynamically unstable on presentation, suggestive of Acute Left Ventricular Failure, warranting admission to Intensive Coronary Care Unite where he was intubated and ventilated in view of his poor oxygen saturation following persisting dysponea. He is being treated by a team of specialists consisting of Cardiologist, Intensivist, Anesthesiologist and Physician," a statement from the hospital said.
 
“Professional diagnosis: Accelerated hypertension, Acute LVF on a previously diagnosed patient with Hypertension, Diabetes, IHD, Old CVA. At present, patient is in the ICU with ventilatory support, hemodynamically stable," the statement added.
 
Sreenivasan, who has a huge fan following, has excelled in comic and character roles and is also an acclaimed scriptwriter in Malayalam cinema. He has also produced movies.
 
In January last year, Sreenivasan had been hospitalised for some days due to variations in his blood sugar level.
 
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(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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Modi provided "maximum income guarantee" to 15 of his friends: Rahul

A day after he announced that his party would ensure a Minimum Income Guarantee for the poor in the country if it is voted to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi today hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of providing "Maximum Income Guarantee to 15 of his friends".
 
Rahul says Modi wasted five years of India's time
A day after he announced that his party would ensure a Minimum Income Guarantee for the poor in the country if it is voted to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi today hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of providing "Maximum Income Guarantee to 15 of his friends".
 
"For the last five years, Narendra Modi has provided a 'maximum income guarantee' to 15 of his friends. We have decided that, if he can give 'maximum income guarantee to 15 rich people, we are going to give a 'minimum income guarantee' to the poor of this country," he said.
 
Addressing a meeting of booth level workers of the party from all over Kerala here, Gandhi said that, just like MGNREGA had given people the right to employment, the Food Security Bill had given the right to food and the Right to Information had provided the right to seek information from the government, the Minimum Income Guarantee scheme would assure a minimum income to each poor citizen of the country.
 
Mounting a scathing attack on the Modi government, Gandhi said the Prime Minister had not kept any of the promises it had made to the people before the last elections, including jobs.
 
"Narendra Modi has spent five years wasting India's time, telling one lie after another," he said.
 
"If you are Anil Ambani, then you get a guarantee for maximum income. Jobs that should have gone to the people of Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha have been taken away and the offset contract in the Rafale deal has been given to Anil Ambani," he said.
 
"For five years, people have watched this 'tamasha'," he said, referring to businessmen such as Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and others who had fled the country in recent years after defaulting on bank loans.
 
Gandhi said that, under the Minimum Income Guarantee scheme, the amounts would be directly transferred to the bank accounts of the eligible individuals.
 
"It does not matter how much Narendra Modi tries, we will not allow him to create two Indias, one for the rich and another for the poor, the workers, farmers and labourers and the middle class. There is going to be only one India," he said.
 
"We won't allow a situation where 15 people live like kings and fly around in private jets while the rest are deprived of basic necessities," he said.
 
Gandhi accused the Modi government of also "attacking and destroying" all institutions. In this regard, he referred to the four seniormost judges of the Supreme Court who came to hold a press conference against the way the apex court was functioning.
 
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He also asked why the CBI chief was removed in a midnight move and why, after he was reinstated by the Supreme Court, he was removed again witin two days by the government. He also referred to the alleged corruption in the Rafale deal and said all this pointed to corruption at the very top.
 
"The Prime Minister is protecting himself when he removes the chief of the CBI and ensures no enquiry is carried  out," he said.
 
Gandhi also recalled that former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikhar had made it clear, at the time the Rafale deal was announced by Modi in Paris, that he had nothing to do with it. Incidentally, Gandhi had met the ailing Parrikar, who is now Chief Minister of Goa, in Panaji earlier in the day.
 
Gandhi also attacked the Modi government over demonetisation and the poor implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST). He reiterated that the Congress, if voted to power, would restructure the GST to make it an asset for the country and not a liability.
 
He promised that the party would also ensure that more youth and women are given positions of responsibility in the party and that it would field more of them in elections. He also said the Congress would try to get the Women's Reservation Bill passed in Parliament.
 
He said his party would work to ensure remunerative prices for farmers and provide jobs for the youth. It would also increase spending in key areas such as education and healthcare, he said.
 
"We have waived off farm loans in the three states where we won elections. We have committed that in 2019, we will have a government that will make up for all the crimes that Narendra Modi has done against farmers in five years," he said.
 
Gandhi accused the BJP government at the Centre and the CPI (M)-led Left Front government in Kerala of trying to divide the people for narrow political ends. He said the Left Front government in Kerala had failed to take proper steps for rebuilding the state after last year's devastating floods.
 
In an apparent reference to the Sabarimala issue, he said the Congress respected the rights of women but also equally respected the traditions of Kerala. "We do not agree with the violence carried out by BJP and CPM," he said.
 
"Kerala is not just a state, it is an idea. It is a way of looking at the world that includes compassion, humility, respect. People of Kerala are helping guide the people of India," he said.
 
He urged Congress workers to be proud of their history, their present and their future.
 
"Don't forget who fought for the freedom of this country. Don't forget all the top leaders of RSS who were begging in front of the British when our leaders were in jail," he said, adding that Congress workers had shed blood to help India attain freedom.
 
Gandhi said the Congress workers must come together to fight the forces that seek to divide the country along religious, caste and other lines. He said the Congress is the only party that could bring the country together and take it forward.
 
"You have seen how we fought the BJP in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, how we have defeated their ideology. We are going to do exactly the same thing in Kerala and at the Centre," he said.
 
He said the RSS and the CPI (M) may have cadres, but India lives in the hearts of Congress workers.
 
"Kerala and India can only grow if there is love and affection and if the people work together. We will not benefit from violence." he said.
 
NNN
 
 

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