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Thiruvananthapuram

First ever ‘GREAT British festival’ in Kerala at Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi

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The first ever GREAT British Festival in Kerala will be held here tomorrow and in Kochi on March 14 to encourage new business partnerships as a follow-up of Prince Charles' visit to Kochi in November 2013.
 
The festival, organised by the British Deputy High Commission in Chennai, will showcase the United Kingdom's commitment to Kerala through its innovation and expertise in: infrastructure, creative and digital media/ICT, manufacturing, healthcare, education, financial services and retail.
 
More than 35 British companies will participate and encourage new partnerships in Kerala during the festival, a press release from the British Deputy High Commission said.
 
Mr Bharat Joshi, British Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai said, "The royal visit was evidence of how much the UK values the relationship with God’s Own Country. The visit on 12 March in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and 14 March in Kochi will help build on even closer partnerships for the benefit of both our countries. And they give me another opportunity to visit this beautiful part of India."
 
Event partners include the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) for meetings with Government (B2G) and Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCCI) for Business to Business (B2B) meetings.
 
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Kerala Tourism launches “Food Championship” for food lovers

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Kerala Tourism has launched "The Great Kerala Food Championship", an international competition aimed at promoting the state's cuisine and style of cooking across the world.
 
State Minister for Tourism A P Anil Kumar said that the cuisine of the region was famous the world over for its unique taste and health benefits.
 
“Be it vegetarian or non-vegetarian, the dishes of Kerala are known for their taste, healthiness and traditional preparation procedures. The championship is aimed at spreading the uniqueness of our cuisine among the people within the country and world over,” he said.
 
Participants have to submit online a write-up on their favourite dish or any story directly related to their experience with Kerala food. The article should be submitted to the website of Kerala Tourism through the contest page using the login id and password received at the time of registration.
 
“The Great Kerala Food Championship is designed to encourage people’s experiences with Kerala’s food in the form of an article written in English. The participants can submit articles on their Kerala cuisine experience or the recipes they like most. While submitting their favourite recipe, they must also write why they like it,” the Minister said.
 
“Kerala’s traditional cuisine has strong cultural influences. Through this competition, we aim to make the variety of tradititonal Kerala recipes a hit among people across the world,” Mr S. Harikishore, Director, Department of Tourism, said.
 
The contest will close on March 15. It is open to people anywhere in the world who have completed the age of 18 years (born on or before 01.01.1996). 
 
There is no entry fee for the contest. Though a contestant is encouraged to send only one entry for the competition, he or she can send more than one entry, provided it is sent from the same login id. No individual will be allowed to register twice, a press release from Kerala Tourism said.
 
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A maximum of five entries can be sent through a single login id. All entries should be in English between 200 and 600 words long. The subject or theme of the article must be related to Kerala cuisine.
 
The tourism department has lined up a total 402 prizes for the championship, with 300 randomly selected participants getting T-Shirts. The first prize winner will get a three-night stay in a Kerala hotel for two people (between May and August) plus air fare to Kerala from any point within India to collect the prize. 
 
The second prize winner will be offered a two-night stay at a hotel in Kerala for two people (between May and August) plus air fare to Kerala from any point within India to collect prize. 
 
One hundred consolation prizes of household articles worth less than Rs 2,000 plus shipping Rs 500 will also be given to participants. 
 
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KSCSTE to undertake Karamana-Killi river clean-up project

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The Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) and the Trivandrum Development Authority (TRIDA) have joined hands for a pilot project aimed at reviving the polluted Karamana-Killi river system.
 
The Karamana-Killi River Scientific Management (Pilot) Project, estimated to cost around Rs 5 crore, will be implemented with the support of a number of other departments and organisations along six kilometres of the Killi river, from Myladikkadavu to Airanimuttam in Thiruvananthapuram, a press release from KSCSTE said.
 
State Minister for Water Resources P J Joseph will inaugurate the project at Valyasala-Nandavanam, near Killipalam on Wednesday. Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor will be the special guest at the function which will be presided over by Minister for Health V S Sivakumar.
 
The pilot scheme, approved by the State Planning Board, integrates nine sub-projects that will be implemented by agencies including the Trivandrum Cooperation, the Public Works Department, the Irrigation/Sewerage Departments and the Biodiversity Board and monitored by the KSCSTE and TRIDA.
 
A co-ordination committee, a technical committee and a monitoring cell have been formed for the smooth and seamless implementation of the project.
 
Among the sub-projects is increasing the depth of the Thiruvallam stream and construction of spillways along its banks to aid drinking water supply. The irrigation department has undertaken the work, expected to cost around Rs 50 lakh. The department is also planning to construct a spillway at Myladikkadavu at a cost of Rs 22.5 lakhs to increase water flow in the Killi river during the summer season.
 
The Biodiversity Board has proposed setting up of a biodiversity park at the bund between Myladikkadavu and Killipalam at a cost of Rs 18.5 lakhs.
 
Trivandrum Corporation is planning to take up Rs 52.5 lakh worth of projects including carrying out maintenance works, sealing and placing silt traps along the drains between Myladikkadavu and Airanimuttam. The PWD is also expected to invest around Rs 1 crore for improving the drainage systems in the area.
 
The Corporation is also planning to set up CCTVs in the vicinity of the Karamana river where solid waste including animal carcasses are being dumped illegally. This project is expected to cost Rs 55 lakh.
 
Separate sewage lines, water recycling projects, awareness programs about the need for conservation of the river are some of the other schemes in the pipeline, the release added.
 
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HLL Lifecare to acquire 74% of Goa Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals

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The public sector HLL Lifecare Limited will acquire 74 per cent equity stake in Goa Antibiotics and Pharmaceuticals Limited (GAPL) as part of its plans to give a boost to its pharma business.
 
A press release from the company said here today that the Goa Cabinet had, last Wednesday, approved a proposal to disinvest the 74 per cent equity held in GAPL by state-owned EDC Limited in favour of HLL.
 
Under the agreement, HLL will expand the GAPL facility for diversifying its pharma portfolio. Further, HLL will retain all the existing 205 employees of GAPL, it said.
 
“The acquisition of majority stake in GAPL shows HLL’s intent and seriousness to expand its footprint in the country’s booming pharma sector in a substantial manner,” HLL Chairman and Managing Director M. Ayyappan said.
 
“We are enhancing our pharma manufacturing capabilities to cater to the market potential. HLL wishes to strengthen its pharma segment through similar acquisitions. It is also in tune with our diversification plans across the health segment, including project management consultancy, manufacture of vaccines, establishment of diagnostic centers and generic medicine outlets,” he said.
 
HLL currently offers several women's healthcare products and has a strong distribution network, reaching out to over 30,000 medical professionals and over 3,500 hospitals in the country.
 
Apart from contraceptives and healthcare products, HLL has a hospital products division, which offers a wide range of critical hospital products in the field of transfusion services, wound care services and advanced patient care. The product range includes blood collection bags, surgical sutures, surgical and examination gloves and blood banking equipment.
 
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The company runs generic drugs retail outlets in various parts of the country. Through its retail medicine networks in AIIMS New Delhi and Haryana, HLL provides 147 generic medicines.  Recently HLL had set up a state-of-the-art hormonal formulation plant in Belgaum in Karnataka. HLL also has pharma production facilities in Belgaum and Indore.
 
Hindlabs and Life Care Centres (LCC), the two major brands of HLL, provide diagnostic services and retails pharma products, surgical implants to partner institutions under the PPP model, respectively. The company has been operating specialty diagnostics and pharmacy services in leading healthcare institutions in Kerala, Odisha and other states in collaboration with respective State Health Departments.
 
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Kerala govt. to acquire twin engine aircraft for aviation academy

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Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that twin-engine aircraft worth Rs 6 crore would be bought for the Rajiv Gandhi Aviation Academy here.
 
Inaugurating a new hangar at Chacka here yesterday, Mr Chandy said the Government would make the academy a model institution.
 
He said an airstrip would also be constructed to help provide the best possible training for the students of the academy.
 
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Malayalam film actress Meera Jasmine gets married to Anil John Titus

Actress Meera Jasmine wedding
Well-known Malayalam film actress Meera Jasmine got married to Anil John Titus, a computer engineer working in Dubai, at the CSI Mateer Memorial church in Palayam here today.
 
The wedding was attended only by close relatives of the bride and the groom amidst tight security provided by the local police.
 
According to reports, Anil had moved a court seeking police protection because a former friend of his, whom he had planned to marry, and her father had threatened to stop the marriage.
 
The court had had yesterday directed the Kerala Police to ensure that there were no disturbances in the wedding ceremony.
 
Among those who attended the ceremony were actors Dileep, Kavya Madhavan and Mallika Sukumaran.
 
The reception was held later at the RDR Auditorium at Edapazhanji.
 
The couple had formally registered their marrage in front of a sub-registrar in Kochi on February 9. 
 
Born as Jasmine Mary Joseph, Meera, who won the National Award for her role in Paadam Onnu: Oru Vilapam in 2004, said her priority would be her family now, but she was open to any good roles that came her way. During a sucessful career, she has acted in some 65 films since making her debut in Soothradharan in 2001. She has also acted in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films.
 
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Kerala govt. decides to temporarily freeze Thiruvananthapuram master plan

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The Kerala Government has decided to temporarily freeze the draft master plan for the city of Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital, because of the concerns and complaints from various quarters.
 
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told newspersons here after a meeting of the State Cabinet yesterday that it had come to the notice of the government that the master plan was prepared without carrying out proper studies and analyses.
 
He said a new master plan would be drawn up after hearing the concerns of various sections, especially of the common man.
 
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Kerala to procure rubber from growers in wake of fall in prices

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The Kerala Government has decided to procure natural rubber from farmers by paying them Rs 2 per kg above the prices fixed by the Rubber Board on a daily basis as part of its efforts to help growers in view of the fall in the prices of the commodity.
 
"Following the discussions held with officials of the Rubber Board and other agencies, the government has decided to procure RSS 4 grade rubber based on the last three years’ average price of Rs 171 per kilo," Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told newspersons after a meeting of the State Cabinet here today.
 
"The procurement will continue till this price is attained. The government has decided to entrust the procurement to approved agencies like the Kerala State Rubber Marketing Federation, Market Fed and rubber producing companies under the Rubber Board," he said.
 
"These agencies will procure RSS 4 grade rubber from daily market by giving two rupees additional for a kilo of rubber. The agencies will be given Rs 4 a kilo as handling charges," he said.
 
Mr Chandy said the procurement would be closely monitored by the government and after procuring 10,000 tons, the government will review the process and if needed will go for a reworked strategy. 
 
He said the Cooperation Secretary would hold discussions with the procurement agencies and start the process soon.
 
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Mr Chandy said the state government would also appeal to the Union Government to suspend the import of rubber based on advance license for six months. In return, Kerala will supply rubber during the period of six months, at the price at which it is currently imported. 
 
"This mechanism would prevent further fall in price of rubber," he added.
 
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Coir Kerala 2014 to be held in Alappuzha from February 1-5

 
Coir Kerala 2014, the fourth edition of the world’s biggest trade event on coir and natural fibres, will be held in Alappuzha from February 1-5, 2014, with a line-up of new products and machinery designed to drive up production and exports.
 
The event will be inaugurated by Defence Minister A K Antony at a ceremony presided over by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy at the EMS Stadium in Alappuzha, State Minister for Revenue and Coir Adoor Prakash announced at a press conference here yesterday.
 
Around 160 foreign delegates from more than 46 countries and nearly 100 buyers from across India are expected to take part in the trade fair which targets export orders worth Rs 150 crores for the coir and natural fibres industry.
 
According to the organisers, the annual event has become a significant contributor to the increase in revenues from coir exports. In 2012-13, total coir exports were worth around Rs. 1,166 crore, up from Rs 1,052 crore the previous year – 70% of which was Kerala’s contribution.
 
“While production and exports have seen a definite increase, our primary focus continues to be improving the lives of the workers in the coir industry and to create more employment in this sector,” Mr Prakash said.
 
“The government has raised the income support scheme amount for coir workers from just Rs 150 three years ago to Rs 260 now, but we are aware that it is still below the earnings in many other skilled sectors and we are looking to address that disparity," he said.
 
At Coir Kerala 2014, which is being organised with the support of the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, there will be 250 exhibition stalls across the national and international pavilion showcasing a range of fibre products and the increasing product diversity in the industry.
 
Some of the newly developed products include a collection of handicrafts and souvenirs; sound-absorbing materials designed for architecture and interior designing; and environment-friendly coir geo-cells that prevent slope erosion and enable slope land cultivation at the same time.
 
Also showcased at the fair will be new machinery and technologies designed to improve productivity in the sector. Among them a pneumatic loom for weaving geotextiles and a revolutionary new defibering mill, developed by the National Coir Research and Management Institute (NCRMI), the coordinating agency for Coir Kerala 2014.
 
The defibering mill developed by NCRMI at its R&D facility in Thiruvananthapuram is designed to address the crippling shortage of raw material faced by the industry today. Fibre scarcity will be the discussion point at Coir Kerala 2014 with a series of seminars organised to help develop solutions for the problem.
 
For the first time in Coir Kerala, a committee consisting of exporters, policymakers and subject experts is being constituted to see how the recommendations at these seminars and workshops can be put to practical use to aid product diversification, Ms Rani George, Secretary, Coir, said.
 
She added that the department was in talks with the Coconut Development Board to create a mechanism where farmers’ societies from whom the board procures coconuts are able to supply coir fibre. ‘The husk usually goes waste for them, we are looking to see if we can supply defibering machines to these farmers’ societies and buy back processed fibre and pith from them,” she said.
 
The Coir Department has been already been actively taking steps to address the crippling raw materials shortage that the coir industry in Kerala today faces.
 
Between November 2013 and January 2014 the government procured 14,000 quintals of coir fibre and distributed them through Coirfed to coir cooperatives at the standard rate of Rs 20/kg of raw fibre at a time when the market prices had soared to between Rs 26 and Rs 28.
 
The Rs 12 crore worth of subsidisation has been instrumental in stabilising the prices of coir yarn and other end products in both the domestic market and for exports.
 
After being sidelined for decades by plastics and other synthetic material, coir and natural fibres are making a comeback, thanks to the growing emphasis the world over for sustainable living and increased focus on R&D to add value and find newer uses for these natural products.
 
It was in 2011 that the Government of Kerala initiated the Coir Kerala programme to revive the crisis ridden coir sector, by boosting production and exports. Coir Kerala has today morphed into an annual trade fair, facilitating not just buyer-seller interactions, but acting as a platform to showcase the newest products and latest technologies and machinery. 
 
The international event also brings together scientists, researchers and policy-makers to discuss strategies and new projects to create jobs, improve the conditions of workers, increase productivity and earnings across the industry.
 
But the most noteworthy aspect of Coir Kerala is the active participation in the event of thousands of coir workers in an around Alappuzha, which is the nerve centre of the coir industry in Kerala.
 
The preliminary stages of a number of skill contests and other competitions for coir workers are already underway. Coir Kerala will be a venue for the final rounds of many of these competitions and the winners will be given prizes at the valedictory function which will be inaugurated by Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi.
 
The key buyer-seller meet enabling one-to-one interactions will be held on February 3 and on the final day of the event on February 5, Mr Prakash will interact directly with coir workers at a morning session expected to draw more than 2,000 people.
 
Cultural and entertainment programmes, which have proven to be major crowd-pullers, will be held on all five days of the event.
 
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UST Global partners with ICTAK of Kerala for skill development

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IT services company UST Global today said it had a significant investment  in the newly constituted Information and Communication Technology Academy of Kerala (ICTAK), a public-private company set up by Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd. (KSITIL) to improve employability of graduates for IT and ITeS industries in the state. 
 
UST Global will also have two of their senior trainers on the Technical Committee responsible for refining the curriculum, with focus on soft skills and technical skills development, a press release from the company said.
 
The no-profit academy, based at Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram,  will work in four broad areas —establishing state of the art facility for developing faculties for training in IT, providing specialized training to faculties for engineering, arts and science colleges, ITIs and polytechnics across Kerala, carrying out research and consultancy support for industry for capacity building and courses in IT, and developing and maintaining  a world class curriculum related to Information Technology industry and to function as a resource centre for curriculum and faculty development.
 
Mr Alexander Varghese, Chief Administrative Officer & Country Head, UST Global, who will be on the board of governors for ICTAK;  said, “As a responsible IT industry leader, UST Global is already impacting the employability of thousands of youth around the world with its extensive STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education and workforce development initiatives. Through our investment in the new academy, we are hoping to make similar meaningful contributions and support State of Kerala in reforming the ICT capabilities of the state by empowering engineering and technology students with best of the resources to develop their industrial skills.”
 
“Kerala’s IT industry crossed $1 billion in turnover in 2012, and has the potential to add significant direct employment opportunities to expand its existing base of 80,000 in the next few years," Mr Jayasankar Prasad, former Director of the Kerala State IT Mission, who has been appointed its special officer, said.
 
"For the state to meet the growth prospects and help students leverage the tremendous employment possibilities, the setting up Information and Communication Technology Academy of Kerala (ICTAK) is a vital step. It will majorly augment the infrastructure development and skill enhancement programs of the state government. We are delighted to note the keen interest and commitment of IT corporates in partnering with us to support the objectives of the academy," he added.
 
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Former Kerala Minister, actor Ganesh Kumar marries Bindu Menon

Former Kerala Minister K B Ganesh Kumar and Bindu Menon at their wedding at Kottarakkara in Kerala on January 24, 2014.
Former Kerala Minister K B Ganesh Kumar and Bindu Menon at their wedding at Kottarakkara in Kerala on January 24, 2014.
Former Kerala Forest Minister and well-known film actor K B Ganesh Kumar married Bindu Menon, a senior executive with a Malayalam television channel and a native of Palghat, today.
 
The ceremony took place at Mr Ganesh Kumar's ancestral house at Vaazhakam in Kottarakkara near here.
 
Only members of his family, including his father and former State Minister R Balakrishna Pillai, and some close friends such as actor Dileep and director Shaji Kailas, were present on the occasion, which was kept a low-key affair.
 
It is the second marriage for both. Mr Ganesh Kumar, 47, has two sons from his previous marriage, while Ms Menon has a son from her earlier marriage.
 
Mr Ganesh Kumar had gone through a turbulent separation from his first wife Yamini Thankachi, which saw both trading allegations of domestic violence against each other and culminated in his resignation from his position as Minister.
 
Mr Ganesh Kumar is the only legislator from his party in the Kerala Assembly. The Kerala Congress-B is a constituent of the ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in the state and its support is crucial to the Oomen Chandy government, which has a very slim majority in the 140-member House.
 
Mr Ganesh Kumar represents the Pathanapuram constituency in the State Assembly.
 
He had earlier served as Minister of Transport in the A K Antony government during 2001-03. He was the first cinema artiste to be elected to the state legislative assembly. With his father, he was part of the first father-son duo in the Kerala Assembly.
 
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Kerala wins top UNWTO award for its "responsible tourism" project in Kumarakom

A view of Kumarakom, where Kerala Tourism has implemented its award-winning
A view of Kumarakom, where Kerala Tourism has implemented its award-winning "Responsible Tourism" project.
Kerala Tourism won the coveted United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday.
 
The UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism are the flagship awards for the global tourism sector, recognizing knowledge creation, dissemination and innovative applications. 
 
This is the first time that India has won this recognition, which is given to government bodies for shaping global tourism policies through innovative initiatives. It is also the biggest international recognition so far for Kerala Tourism.
 
Kerala Tourism was chosen for the award for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.
 
The Kumarakom initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March last year and also the PATA Grand Award for Environment.
 
"Kerala, a popular ecotourism destination, portrays responsible and sustainable tourism in an exceptional manner," said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai at the awards ceremony.  “This recognition conferred upon the state is a great step towards creating a better understanding among other destinations of the principles we stand for,” he added, wishing Kerala Tourism “continued success”.
 
CNN’s Richard Quest was conferred the 2013 UNWTO Award for Lifetime Achievement, in recognition of his work as a business journalist reporting on the tourism industry.
 
Instituted in 2003 by UNWTO, the United Nations agency for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, the UNWTO Awards showcase innovation and application of knowledge in tourism with the aim of effecting governance and society. The awarded projects are in line with the UNWTO’s Code of Ethics for Tourism and standards set in the UN Millennium Development Goals.
 
UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation was given in four categories --- Publlic Policy and Governance, Enterprises, NGOs, and Research and Technology.  Two other categories – UNWTO Ulysses Prize and UNWTO Award for Lifetime Achievement recognize individual contributions.
Kerala Tourism faced tough competition from other international contenders in the Public Policy and Governance category.
 
 “We are humbled by the UNWTO’s decision to confer this highest international award on our state,” said Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anilkumar. “It is a recognition of our continuing efforts to sustain global tourism, which can progress only if we consider the local community as our biggest partner,” he said.
 
 “By building healthy private-public partnerships at the local level with the active involvement of the local community, we can create jobs locally, improve the lives of members of the local community and preserve its culture and ethos through sustainable tourism,” Mrr Anilkumar said.
 
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Launched in 2008, the Kerala Tourism’s ‘Responsible Tourism’ initiative in Kumarakom involves the Gram Panchayat, Kudumbashree, District Tourism Promotion Council and local hospitality industry besides the government departments of agriculture and health, to achieve sustainable tourism by creating job opportunities and practicing eco-tourism objectives.
 
 “We are delighted that Kumarakom has become a model for sustainable tourism to the world,” said Kerala Tourism Secretary Suman Billa, who received the Ulysses Prize at a glittering awards ceremony. “Our ‘Responsible Tourism’ model shows that the future of tourism lies in initiatives at the grassroots level,” he added.
 
 "The UNWTO award also bestows upon us the added responsibility of working even harder in the future by achieving higher standards in practicing tourism," Mr Billa said.
 
 “The Kumarakom project has become successful because of the hard work by all its partners, from the local community to local hospitality organizations and local government departments to the state tourism department staff, and above all the support of our esteemed travellers from around the world,” said Kerala Tourism Director S Harikishore. 
 
The UNWTO has 156 countries as its member-states besides 6 associate members and over 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
 
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Kerala: NCRMI commissions new portable coir fibre extractor

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A new portable coir fibre extractor with built-in crusher, developed by the National Coir Research Management Institute (NCRMI), was commissioned by Kerala Minister for Revenue and Coir Adoor Prakash today.
 
“Technology interventions are the only way to help traditional industries such as coir survive the crisis of labour and raw materials shortage,” he said.
 
“As an R&D institute, NCRMI is doing a tremendous job helping this mechanization process with machines such as the fibre extractor," he said.
 
Mr Prakash demonstrated the ease-of-use of the new FEE 6.0C2 Fibre Extraction Machine by feeding green and dry coconut husk into the machine which processes these into high quality fibres, with a separate collection tray for the pith.
 
The FEE 6.0C2 is an improvement on the mini de-fibering unit that the NCRMI had developed and patented earlier. The newer, sturdier version comes with a built-in crusher that processes full green and dry husk, completely eliminating the labour-intensive step of manually breaking down the husk into smaller pieces. It also reduces breakage, yielding longer fibres.
 
The Minister said the Coir Department hopes to distribute the new machine to coir cooperatives to help them produce raw fibres. He said discussions are also on with the Coconut Development Board for distributing the fibre extractors directly to coconut producers with a buy-back arrangement for the fibre and pith produced.
 
“Kerala produces 600 crore coconuts annually; if we can convert even half of the husk from these to fibre we will easily be able to solve the raw material scarcity and reduce reliance on neighbouring states,” he said.
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The new machine is capable of processing 550-600 husks per hour yielding 44-48 kg of raw fibre, NCRMI Director Anil K R said.  
 
The extractor, which occupies a space of just 1.5 metres by 1.1 metres, weighs around 480 kgs and is fitted with a 10 HP motor that consumes significantly less amount of electricity per unit of production than large bulk processing machines.
 
Mr Anil said the machine can easily be operated by a single person. “The FEE 6.0C2 comes with built-in safety features and we have designed it to minimize physical stress on the user. It is primarily built for women who constitute more than 80% of the coir industry workforce in Kerala.”
 
NCRMI, a state-supported R&D centre, hopes to commercialize the machine after getting inputs from the cooperatives which will get the machines under the pilot scheme.
 
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CBI arrests absconding Malayalee on deportation from UAE in bank fraud case

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today arrested Joby Mathew, a resident of Etthumanoor in Kottayam district of Kerala who was absconding since 2007 in a case for allegedly cheating the State Bank of India (SBI) to the tune of Rs 2.95 crore.
 
Mathew, a private financier, was accused of cheating several people by obtaining their signatures on loan documents on the pretext that they were signing as guarantors for his loan from the bank's branch at Allappuzha.
 
He took the loan amount from the bank without the knowledge of the loanee, a CBI press release alleged.
 
A chargesheet was filed under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act, it said.
 
According to the release, the accused absconded immediately after the registration of the case. In 2013, a Red Corner Notice was issued against him. Based on the notice, he was traced by Interpol from Abu Dhabi in the UAE  and deported to India.
 
He was taken into custody from the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, the release said.
 
The accused was produced before the Special Court for CBI Cases, Thiruvananthapuram and was remanded to judicial custody till February 12, the release added.
 
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Chandy writes to Kejriwal on Kumar Vishwas' remarks on Malayalee nurses

Oommen Chandy
Oommen Chandy
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today wrote to his Delhi counterpart Arvind Kejriwal demanding that his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) colleague Kumar Vishwas withdraw his derogatory remarks against Malayalee nurses and seek their forgiveness.
 
In his letter, Mr Chandy said that it was most unfortunate that AAP was tight-lipped regarding the remarks made by Mr Vishwas.
 
"Malayalee nurses are a pride for Keralites. Their service is praised world over. Making such derogatory remarks about them is most unfortunate and not fit for the developed society," he said.
 
Mr Vishwas' remarks, heard in a video clip posted on YouTube, were reportedly made by him at a function way back in 2008.
 
The AAP leader, who is planning to contest against Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi from Amethi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, has attracted criticism in recent times for similar remarks about other groups.
 
In the latest case, he has been roundly criticised by the nursing community as well as social activists.
 
The newly-opened office of AAP in Kochi was vandalized by a group of protesters yesterday.
 
"Kumar Vishwas should immediately tender an apology and the national leadership of AAP should intervene and come with a clarification on the issue. They should also state whether they support Kumar's remarks or not," activist Sara Joseph, who joined AAP recently, was quoted as saying in media reports.
 
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Kerala Tourism to webcast Nishagandhi festival live

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Kerala Tourism will webcast the Nishagandhi festival live for the first time in the history of the prestigious event that will feature seven days of dance and music.
 
The festival will be held at Nishagandhi open air auditorium here from January 20 to 26.
 
The three-hour long programmes to be held every day will be webcast in HD format on Kerala Tourism’s website.
 
Among other things, the festival will have daily performances by eminent Kathakali masters.
 
The programme will also feature Bharatanatyam performances by Kavya Madhavan and Navya Nair, both well-known Malayalam film actresses, Odissi recital by Rina Jana and group, vocal recital by P Unnikrishnan, and an evening of fusion music by santoor artiste Rahul Sharma, along with Avinash Chandrachud on the keyboard, Kenneth Rebello on bass guitar, Mukundraj Deo on the tabla and Vinayak Pol on drums.
 
Also on the cards are a Kuchipudi performance by S Divyasena, Bharatanatyam by Rajashree Warrier and Hindustani music by Suchi Das.
 
There will also be performances by well-known singers Jaswinder Singh and M Jayachandran, among others.
 
Added to all this will be a food festival, focusing on traditional Kerala cuisine and a handicrafts fair highlighting the state's crafts, including sculptures, jewellery and wood and metal crafts.
 
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PPPAC recommends projects worth Rs 7595.19 crores

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The Public-Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC), at its 62nd meeting held here yesterday, has recommended public-private partnership (PPP) projects of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways worth Rs 7595.19 crores.
 
An official press release said today that the Empowered Committee (EC) had, at its 19th meeting, also held yesterday, approved Viability Gap Fund (VGF) of Rs 1280.65 crores for PPP projects.
 
Both meetings were chaired by Mr Arvind Mayaram, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance.
 
Since its constitution in January 2006, the PPPAC has approved 272 Central Sector Projects worth of Rs. 296579.60 crore. These include national highways (223 proposals), ports (32 proposals), airports (2 proposals), tourism infrastructure (1 proposal), housing (8 proposals) and sports stadia (5 proposals).
 
In this year, till date, a total of 19 projects with total cost of Rs. 43903.30 crore have been approved by the PPPAC.
 
The EC accorded in-principle approval to four projects, including two from the Government of Maharashtra and two from the Government of Uttar Pradesh for VGF of Rs 695.20 crore and final approval to two projects from Uttar Pradesh for VGF of Rs 585.45 crore.
 
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The projects approved by the PPPAC include two laning with paved shoulder/ four laning of the section on National Highway (NH)-209 from Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border to Bangalore on toll basis.
 
The committee also cleared the four-laning of Kazhakkuttam-Mukkola section in Kerala.
 
The other projects include two-laning with paved shoulder of the Jabalpur-Mandala-Chilpi section of NH-12A in Madhya Pradesh, four-laning of the  Ambala - Kaithal section of NH-65in Haryana and the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (NH No. NE-II).
 
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Kerala Tourism to conduct global art contest for children in memory of prodigy

A painting by Edmund Thomas Clint.
A painting by Edmund Thomas Clint.
Kerala Tourism has announced an online painting competition for children worldwide in memory of Edmund Thomas Clint, a prodigy who created more than 25,000 works of art before he died one month short of his seventh birthday.
 
Clint’s prolific output consisted of paintings and drawings – created mostly on used paper with charcoal, pencil, ball-point pens, crayons and watercolours – that depicted Kerala’s rich cultural heritage, especially its religious festivals and temple art forms.
 
Clint, the son of Mr M T Joseph and Mrs Chinnamma Joseph, died on April 15, 1983 of kidney failure, but his masterful works continue to astonish art lovers and critics for their vibrancy, depth and maturity.
 
The Clint Memorial International Children’s Painting Competition was formally launched by Kerala’s Minister for Tourism A P Anil Kumar here yesterday at a function attended by Clint’s parents and Tourism Secretary Suman Billa.
 
“We hope this competition will become a lasting memorial to Clint, the magical talent who was with us for such a short time. It is a tribute to an artist whose drawings are as awe-inspiring today as they were when he first drew them,” the Minister said. “We also intend to showcase Kerala’s culture and its uniqueness as a destination.”
 
The competition, coordinated by Kerala Tourism’s IT solutions provider Invis Multimedia, is open to all children between the ages of 4-15 years.
 
The paintings can be on any theme related to the state of Kerala and the each participant can submit up to five entries online through the Kerala Tourism website http://www.keralatourism.org/clint. 
 
There is no entry fee for the competition which will be open from January 15 to May 31, 2014.
 
Mr Billa said the the idea of the competition is to let the world see ‘God’s Own Country’ through the eyes of a child. “Kerala is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and it was even more beautifully rendered on canvas by Clint. We want the world to be inspired by Clint and by Kerala.”
 
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Mr Joseph thanked the Kerala government for reviving his son’s memory and honouring his prodigious talent thirty years after his death. He and his wife said while they have preserved tens of thousands of Clint’s works on paper, the prolific child had also used every inch of space on the walls and the floor of their home as canvas. “We hope the world will know Clint better through this competition,” he said.
 
Children living anywhere in the world can register online for the painting competition. Upon registration they will be sent two e-books – one containing a portfolio of 30 works by Clint and the other with 100 photographs on Kerala to help them learn more about the region and its culture.
 
Additionally there are more than 3000 video clips on the award-winning Kerala Tourism website for the children to browse through.
 
The painting should be on paper and created manually. The participants can scan the painting and submit the image to Kerala Tourism website using the log-in id they receive at registration.
 
There are 125 prizes on offer. The top five winners (and their parent/ guardian) will each get a tour package to explore Kerala along with an economy class ticket to travel to the state.
 
Kerala Tourism is only the second organisation after the United Nations Environment Programme to conduct a global painting competition on this scale, a press release from the department added.
 
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Veteran Malayalam playback singer K P Udayabhanu passes away

K P Udayabhanu
K P Udayabhanu
Eminent Malayalam playback singer K P Udayabhanu passed away at his residence here tonight after a prolonged illness.
 
He was 77. He is survived by his son Rajeev. His wife Vijayalekshmi, who was also a gifted singer, predeceased him in 2007.
 
Family sources said he was ailing for more than a year and that he breathed his last around 8.45 pm today.
 
Udayabanu, who was one of the seniormost singers in the Malayalam film industry, was born on June 6, 1936, at Tharur in Palakad district of Kerala to N S Varma and Ammu Nethyaramma. He was a nephew of founder-chief editor of Mathrubhoomi newspaper, K P Kesava Menon.
 
He spent his childhood in Singapore, where his faher was a businessman. After losing his mother at the age of seven, he returned to India in 1944 along with his siblings, where they were looked after by their maternal uncle.
 
Udayabhanu learnt music at the Thyagaraja Sangeetha Vidyalaya in Kalpathy, where he was taught by such well-known musicians as Flute Krishna Iyer, Palakkad Mani Iyer and M D Ramanathan. Though he was trained in the classical traditons, he ended up making a career in light music and playback singing
 
He began his career as an announcer at the Kozhikode station of All India Radio in 1955, which brought him into contact with several well-known writers and musicians. This helped him enter the film industry and he went on to sing several unforgettable songs and compose music for some films.
 
Udayabhanu made his debut as a playback singer in 1958 in the film Nayaru Pidicha Pulivaalu, in which sang a solo and a duet with P Leela under the baton of composer K Raghavan.
 
He went on to sing several hits including classics such as Kaanana Chayayil (with P Leela in Ramanan), Anuraga Nadakathin (Ninamaninja Kalppadukal) and Thaamarathumbee Vaavaa ( with Leela in Puthiya Aakasham Puthiya Bhoomi ). 
 
He composed the music for a few films, including Samasya and Mayilpeeli. Kili Chilachu (Samasya), penned by O N V Kurup and sung by K J Yesudas, is one of his most memorable songs as a composer.
 
In 1984, he launched a group called "Old is Gold" for the revival of the golden era of Malayalam film music.
 
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During a chequered career, he was the chief conductor of Drums of India music programme at the Republic Day celebrations in 1985 which was appreciated by then President R Venkataraman and then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
 
He worked for some time as a teacher of Indian music in Lawrence School, Lovedale at Ooty in Tamil Nadu and also served as a public relations officer for then Kerala Chief Minister K Karunakaran.
 
Udayabhanu conducted choral groups in all Indian languages from Delhi Central Production Unit and Delhi Doordarshan.
 
He travelled with his music group to the United States, Canada, Europe, Singapore and all the Gulf countries. 
 
Udayabhanu was honoured by the Union Government with the Padma Shri in 2009. He had won the Central Sangeet Nataka Akademi Award for creative music 2002 and the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Fellowship 2004.
 
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PM launches Kerala e-literacy campaign, says will help realise potential of ICT in governance

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being received by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, on his arrival at Thiruvananthapuram airport, in on January 3, 2014.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being received by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, on his arrival at Thiruvananthapuram airport, in on January 3, 2014.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today launced the e-literacy campaign in Kerala and said such initiatives needed to be taken across the length and breadth of the country to help it realize the full potential of ICT in decentralized governance, in better delivery of services, particularly education, in financial inclusion and in e-commerce. 
 
"The e-literacy programme will also help the common man of Kerala to participate in the exchange of ideas and information that social media enables," he said here after launching the E-Literacy Project to be implemented by Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra.
 
"It will help the youth to be better equipped for making use of productive employment opportunities. It will also help in building social capital by enabling success stories of community efforts to be shared easily," he said.
 
He noted that the P N Panicker Foundation, the mother organization of P N Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra, was the first organization in the country to popularise e-reading among the rural masses. He expressed happiness that the Vigyan Vikas Kendra was taking this work forward.
 
"Many social historians consider the library movement to be the corner stone of the so- called Kerala model of development. I wish that similarly the E-Literacy Project of the Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra will contribute substantially to quickening the pace of Kerala’s social and economic development and to political empowerment of its people," he said.
 
Dr Singh said Kerala is the leading state in the country in terms of indices of human development.
 
"Literacy is one of these indices and the fact that Kerala took an early lead in literacy has in turn helped it do well in the other dimensions of human development. The success of the literacy movement in Kerala owes much to a great son of the State, Shri P. N. Panicker. I join all of you in paying tribute to him as we launch this E-Literacy Project to be implemented by the P. N. Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra. I also compliment the Kendra for this initiative," he said.
 
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Dr Singh said that, in today's world of instant communication and the Internet, it was not easy to imagine and appreciate the difficulties which a frail man must have faced as he lit the spark of literacy in a small village in North Kerala in the first half of the last century and then spread his message to the whole of the State. 
 
Later, Mr Panicker’s initiative, the Grandhasala Sangam, ignited a popular cultural movement in Kerala at the end of which the State acquired total literacy in the 1990s, he said.
 
The Grandhasala Sangam began humbly with 47 libraries in 1945 and grew into a network of more than 6,000 libraries spreading across the towns and villages of Kerala, he said.
 
Mr Panicker also established the Kerala Association for Non Formal Education and Development (KANFED). The activities of these two organizations working together made a profound impact on the education, culture and development of Kerala, he said.
 
Dr Singh said Mr Panicker also worked to foster social amity and harmony devoting his last years to the Friendship Village Movement. He continued travelling and working vigorously, sustained by his simple Gandhian life style and an indomitable will, till he passed away on 19th June, 1995. 
 
"I am happy that the Government of Kerala observes 19th June annually as Vayanadinam or the Day of Reading with a week-long series of activities at schools and public institutions," he said.
 
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The Prime Minister said Mr Panicker left an indelible mark at the national level also. The National Literacy Mission has been inspired largely by his work, he said. 
 
Commending the Government of Kerala for setting up an institution to perpetuate the memory of Mr Panicker, he said he was very happy that the Vigyan Vikas Kendra was taking the lead to make Kerala the first e-literate state of the country, in collaboration with the Central and State Governments and Civil Society Organizations. 
 
"The Total E-literacy Campaign to be implemented using the tools of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will help in reducing the digital divide. This will contribute to improvements in the living standards of the underprivileged population of the State," he said.
 
Later, Dr Singh also laid the foundation stone of the Global Learning Centre of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) here.
 
"The Centre will contribute toward an objective that is one of our national priorities - that of imparting skills training to our young men and women on a very large scale," he said.
 
He said that the Government recognized that it was only by doing this that it could generate opportunities for productive employment for youth in adequate numbers, while at the same time meeting the demands of the expanding economy for a skilled work-force. 
 
"Therefore, our Government has set very ambitious targets for itself in the area of skill development and is working hard to achieve them. We have taken several initiatives in this area and some of them have involved partnership with the private sector," he said.
 
Dr Singh noted that the proposed Global Learning Centre of TCS would be the largest facility for Information Technology training in Thiruvananthapuram.
 
When fully functional, it will be able to train about 50,000 associates annually. It will also conduct holistic professional and personal development programs for TCS professionals.
 
"I am confident that the Centre, which proposes to integrate elegant design, ecological thinking and modern technology, will set global benchmarks for corporate learning institutions," he said.
 
He noted that TCS was also setting up a software development Special Economic Zone (SEZ) here. 
 
"The Global Learning Centre will further enhance the presence of TCS in the State of Kerala and Thiruvananthapuram in particular. I hope to see even more initiatives by TCS and other IT companies in Kerala especially in view of the high quality of human resource in the State," he said.
 
Dr Singh said TCS was a shining example of the success of Indian private enterprises in the last 20 years or so.
 
PM stresses on need for skill development, training
"It has carved a niche for itself in the global market for IT and IT-enabled services and has set benchmarks of excellence in the area of software development. Today, TCS ranks among the top ten IT services companies globally. It is not only the highest valued company in India but also the second most valuable company in the world in the technology services industry," he said.
 
Dr Singh said he was happy that, apart from being a global leader in the area of IT and IT enabled services, TCS had also been alive to the need for helping society.
 
"It has taken up several projects in the areas of education, health and environment. The company has made a significant contribution to education through its Adult Literacy Programme which has covered nearly 2 lakh beneficiaries so far. Its BPO employability programme has trained over 22,000 graduates belonging to the weaker sections, many of whom have also been provided gainful employment in the company. TCS has also partnered with the National Skill Development Corporation under Project Udaan to upgrade the skill sets of Kashmiri youth and enable their mainstreaming with corporate India. In the area of health, the company has used its expertise in IT to develop an integrated Hospital Management System which is being used by several hospitals and social organizations," he said.
 
Dr Singh said the IT sector in India had witnessed phenomenal growth over the past several years, particularly in the area of software development. 
 
"The Government stands committed to providing an enabling environment which encourages the sector to grow even further. Pursuant to recommendations of the Rangachary Report, several taxation issues confronting the IT sector have been addressed. We are also engaged in the resolution of issues pertaining to immigration and visas. We are trying to improve the hardware ecosystem in the country and are exploring the establishment of two semiconductor wafer fabrication manufacturing facilities," he said.
 
Dr Singh is on a three-day visit to Kerala. He arrived here last night and was received at the airport by Governor Nikhil Kumar, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Cabinet Ministers and others.
 
Apart from Thiruvananthapuram, he will go to Kochi, where he will inaugurate the Rs 4200 crore Petronet LNG Terminal (PLL) at Puthu Vypeen.
 
On Sunday, he will participate in the 90th anniversary celebrations of Malayalam newspaper Mathrubhoomi and also attend the 90th birthday celebrations of veteran Congress leader and former Meghalaya Governor M M Jacob, before returning to Delhi.
 
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Kerala: Ramesh Chennithala joins Oommen Chandy cabinet as Home Minister

KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala being sworn in as a Minister in the Oommen Chandy cabinet by Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar in Thiruvananthapuram on January 1, 2014.
KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala being sworn in as a Minister in the Oommen Chandy cabinet by Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar in Thiruvananthapuram on January 1, 2014.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala was sworn in as a Minister in the Oommen Chandy cabinet today in a limited expansion exercise.
 
He was later assigned the key portfolio of Home along with Vigilance, Fire and Rescue and Prisons.
 
Mr Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, who was handling Home so far, was given the portfolios of Forests, Wild Life Protection, Sports, Cinema, Road Transport and Environment.
 
Governor Nikhil Kumar administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr Chennithala, 57, at a brief ceremony at Raj Bhavan here this morning.
 
Chief Minister Chandy, his cabinet colleagues, senior leaders of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), and deputy leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Kodiyeri Balakrishnan were present on the occasion.
 
Mr Chandy had told newspersons yesterday that the decision to induct Mr Chennithala into the Cabinet was taken by the Congress High Command recently. 
 
To a question, he said a decision regarding the induction of Mr K B Ganesh Kumar, who had resigned in April 2013, would be taken after the Lok Sabha elections. 
 
Regarding the new KPCC president, Mr Chandy said that the High Command would take a decision at the earliest. He said the entry of Mr Chennithala in the Cabinet would strengthen the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and its government.
 
The induction of Mr Chennithala is being seen as a move by the UDF to strengthen the coalition and boost its prospects ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by balancing the equations between various groups and enhancing its appeal to the majority community, especially the Nair community to which he belongs.
 
Mr Chennithala had earlier served as Rural Development Minister in the K Karunakaran government in 1986, when he was just 30.
 
He went on to become the national president of the Indian Youth Congress and was elected to the Lok Sabha four times.
 
He returned to Kerala to head the KPCC nine years ago and played an important role in guiding the UDF to victory.
 
Born on May 25, 1956 at Chennithala, Mavelikkara in Kerala, has a B.A. and an LL.B. degree.
 
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Kerala to launch lottery to provide marriage assistance to girls from poor families

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Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said here today that the state government would launch a weekly lottery, named Mangalya, to mobilize funds for providing marriage assistance to girls from poor families.
 
Briefing newspersons after a meeting of his Cabinet, he said an existing lottery would be renamed as Mangalya and the profits from it would be remitted to the Mangalya Nidhi (fund).
 
He said persons belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category and those from Above Poverty Line (APL) families with income of less than Rs 1 lakh would be eligible for Rs 30,000 of assistance from the scheme.
 
Mr Chandy said the government had decided to start a lottery because the cess collected was not enough to run the scheme, which was announced in the last budget itself.
 
He said the financial assistance from Mangalya Nidhi would be given to the deserving persons after approval from a committee constituted in each district with the district collector as its chairman. 
 
The Social Justice Department would be the nodal agency for implementing the project, he added.
 
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Kerala: Ramesh Chennithala sworn in as Minister in Oommen Chandy cabinet

KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala being sworn in as a Minister in the Oommen Chandy cabinet by Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar in Thiruvananthapuram on January 1, 2014.
KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala being sworn in as a Minister in the Oommen Chandy cabinet by Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar in Thiruvananthapuram on January 1, 2014.
Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala was sworn in as a Minister in the Oommen Chandy cabinet today in a limited expansion exercise.
 
Governor Nikhil Kumar administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr Chennithala at a brief ceremony at Raj Bhavan here this morning.
 
Chief Minister Chandy, his cabinet colleagues, senior leaders of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), and deputy leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Kodiyeri Balakrishnan were present on the occasion.
 
Mr Chennithala, 57, is expected to be assigned the Home Ministry, which was held so far by Mr Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan.
 
Mr Chandy had told newspersons yesterday that the decision to induct Mr Chennithala into the Cabinet was taken by the Congress High Command recently. 
 
To a question, he said a decision regarding the induction of Mr Ganesh Kumar would be taken after the Lok Sabha elections. He said Mr Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, the present Home Minister, would continue in the Cabinet and so would the rest of the ministers.
 
Regarding the new KPCC president, Mr Chandy said that the High Command would take a decision at the earliest. He said the entry of Mr Chennithala in the Cabinet would strengthen the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and its government.
 
The induction of Mr Chennithala is being seen as a move by the UDF to strengthen the coalition and boost its prospects ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by balancing the equations between various groups and enhancing its appeal to the majority community, especially the Nair community to which he belongs.
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Mr Chennithala had earlier served as Rural Development Minister in the K Karunakaran government in 1986, when he was just 30.
 
He went on to become the national president of the Indian Youth Congress and was elected to the Lok Sabha four times.
 
He returned to Kerala to head the KPCC nine years ago and played an important role in guiding the UDF to victory.
 
Born on May 25, 1956 at Chennithala, Mavelikkara in Kerala, has a B.A. and an LL.B. degrees. 
 
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KPCC chief Ramesh Chennithala to join Kerala Ministry on Wednesday

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Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala will be sworn in as a Minister in the Oommen Chandy government tomorrow and he is expected to be assigned the Home portfolio.

Talking to newspersons here, Mr Chandy said the swearing-in ceremony would be held at 1120 hours at Raj Bhavan here.

He said the decision to induct Mr Chennithala into the Cabinet was taken by the Congress High Command recently. He said the portfolio of Mr Chennithala would be announced later.

To a question, he said a decision regarding the induction of Mr Ganesh Kumar would be taken after the Lok Sabha elections. He said Mr Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, the present Home Minister, would continue in the Cabinet and so would the rest of the ministers.

Regarding the new KPCC president, Mr Chandy said that the High Command would take a decision at the earliest. He said the entry of Mr Chennithala in the Cabinet would strengthen the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and its government.

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M S Valiathan presented Kerala Sasthra Puraskaram 2013

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy presenting the Kerala Sasthra Puraskaram 2013 to eminent cardiologist M S Valiathan at Thiruvananthapuram on December 30, 2013.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy presenting the Kerala Sasthra Puraskaram 2013 to eminent cardiologist M S Valiathan at Thiruvananthapuram on December 30, 2013.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today said the state government was willing to hand over more science and technology institutions managed by it to the Centre if it is interested in taking them over.
 
He was speaking after presenting the prestigious Kerala Sasthra Puraskaram 2013 to Dr. M.S. Valiathan, National Research Professor, eminent cardiologist and founder director of the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST).
 
The award is given by the state government to honour outstanding Keralite scientists.
 
Dr Valiathan was presented with the award, which consists of a citation, a sculpture by Kanayi Kunhiraman, and a cash award of Rs 1 lakh, at a function organised by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) at the University of Kerala Senate Hall here.
 
Mr Chandy said Kerala was happy to see its efforts in promoting science and technology recognized at the national level. 
 
The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) was the first state science institution taken over by the central government and it is today one of the foremost R&D centres in the country.
 
The Union Cabinet recently decided to take over Thiruvananthapuram-based Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS) and has expressed interest in the Palode-based Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI). A final decision on JNTBGRI is expected soon, said the Chief Minister.
 
Mr Chandy said the state government faced several constraints in the upkeep of these R&D institutions, but with the Centre’s assistance they have an opportunity to flourish and become highly productive centres benefiting both the state and the country.
 
He said the state government was doing all it could, including instituting scholarships and awards to young scientists, to nurture science and technology in Kerala.
 
Dr Valiathan, who founded and headed the SCTIMST for 20 years, is a deserving recipient of the Kerala Sasthrapuraskaram, the Chief Minister said.
 
In his acceptance speech, Dr Valiathan said every institution is established with a specific purpose and that objective must not be forgotten. He pointed out that the majority of individuals who graduated out of institutions of higher learning in Kerala during the British Raj and the princely rule chose to become teachers, unlike their peers in other states who went on to do research.
 
The lack of research institutions in Kerala was addressed to some extent by the setting up of the Science and Technology Council and the centres under it by the Achutha Menon government.
 
Besides his numerous contributions to the fields of cardiac diseases and cardiac surgery, Prof. Valiathan is also respected for his visionary role in twinning the sectors of medicine and technology.  As head of SCTIMST, Dr Valiathan organised a multi-disciplinary group of scientists, engineers and surgeons for a research programme that emphasised the development of cost-effective medical devices.
 
In less than 10 years, his group developed a series of high-tech devices such as heart-valves, oxygenators and blood bags, and successfully transferred them to the industry, thus paving the way for a modern medical devices industry in the country.
 
More recently, Dr Valiathan conceptualized and organised scientific studies on Ayurveda, especially the effect of ‘rasayanas’ on DNA repair and genomic basis of 'doshaprakrithi'. As a Homi Bhaba Fellow, he carried out a study of the Charaka Samhitha, Susrutha and Vaghbata.
 
Prof. Valiathan received the Padma Vibhushan in 2005 A former President of the Indian National Science Academy, he is a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World; Royal College of Physicians of London and the American College of Cardiology.
 
After he graduated in medicine from the University of Kerala, Dr Valiathan took his master's degree in Surgery from the University of Liverpool, U.K. and specialised in cardiac surgery at the John Hopkins and Georgetown University Hospitals, USA. He then went on to become a Fellow of the Canadian Royal College in Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery.
 
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