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Death toll in Tamil Nadu due to cyclone Gaja rises to 33

The death toll due to cyclone Gaja, which hit Tamil Nadu's coastal districts on Friday, has increased to 33, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said on Saturday.
 
Coast Guard conducts aerial survey of Cyclone Gaja affected areas
The death toll due to cyclone Gaja, which hit Tamil Nadu's coastal districts on Friday, has increased to 33, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami said on Saturday.
 
Speaking to reporters at Salem, about 350 kilometres from here, Palaniswami said that 20 men, 11 women, and 2 children died due to the cyclone that crossed the Tamil Nadu coast between Nagapattinam and Vedaranyam districts between 12.30 a.m. and 2.30 a.m. on Friday.
 
The cyclone left a trail of destruction in Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Cuddalore, Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts, damaging houses, huts and crops.
 
Palaniswami said about 70 livestock and several goats, poultry and deer have also died due to the cyclone.
 
Some 127,000 trees were uprooted by the strong cyclonic winds that touched a maximum speed of about 120 kmph, the Chief Minister added.
 
He said supplies of water, milk and food were being distributed to the people affected by the calamity.
 
About 177,500 people are staying in 351 relief camps in the cyclone-affected areas.
 
The Chief Minister said about 30,000 electricity poles were broken, and 105 power sub-stations affected. About 10,000 personnel have been sent to the cyclone-affected coastal districts to repair the installations.
 
Meanwhile, actor Rajinikanth appreciated the members of his Rajini Makkal Mandram for their work in providing relief to the cyclone-affected people.
 
IANS
 

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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OPS gets boost as more AIADMK bigwigs back him in power tussle with Sasikala

Tamil Nadu caretaker Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam received a major boost in his open power tussle with ruling AIADMK General Secretary V. K. Sasikala when one of her key supporters and State Minister K. Pandiarajan and party spokesman and former Minister C. Ponnaiyan crossed over into his camp on Saturday.
 
TN Education Minister Pandiarajan backs OPS
Tamil Nadu caretaker Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam received a major boost in his open power tussle with ruling AIADMK General Secretary V. K. Sasikala when one of her key supporters and State Minister K. Pandiarajan and party spokesman and former Minister C. Ponnaiyan crossed over into his camp today.
 
As Ms. Sasikala moved quickly to keep her flock together amidst reports of growing desertions, three Lok Sabha members, V. Sathyabama of Tiruppur, Ashok Kumar of Krishnagiri and P R Sundaram of Namakkal also threw in their lot with Mr. Panneerselvam today.
 
Ms. Sasikala, on the other hand, voicing concern over the delay by Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao in responding to her claim to form the next Government in the state, wrote to him again today, seeking an opportunity to parade before him the MLAs supporting her.
 
Mr. Pandiarajan, the state Minister for School Education and Sports and Youth Welfare, arrived at Mr. Panneerselvam's residence, bringing cheer to the large crowd camping there and which has seen its support base growing slowly in the past few days.
 
The decision of Mr. Pandiarajan, one of the founders of well-known recruitment and consultancy firm Ma Foi, to switch loyalties is significant, given the fact that he was one of Ms. Sasikala's most ardent supporters during the past several days of political crisis in the state.
 
An indication of his impending shift was available from a "tweet" he posted on micro-blogging site Twitter this morning.
 
"Will surely listen to the collective voice of my voters & decide in a way to uphold the dignity of Amma's memory & unity of AIADMK!" he said.
 
Mr. Ponnaiyan said Mr. Panneerselvam was capable of leading the party with discipline and of running a corruption-free government.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam's Twitter handle said that state Rural Industries Minister P. Benjamin would shortly visit him to extend his support to him.
 
In her letter to the Governor, Ms. Sasikala noted that she had written to him on February 5 and February 7, seeking an appointment with him.
 
The Governor met her and nine Tamil Nadu Ministers in the evening of February 9 when she formally informed him of her election as the leader of the AIADMK legislature party last Sunday.
 
O. Panneerselvam
O. Panneerselvam
"... I submitted my elaborate presentation to invite me to form the Government as I have absolute majority. Original letter and true copy of the resolution were also handed over to Your Excellency," she said.
 
"Thus, as it has been seven long days since the Chief Minister Thiru. O. P. Panneerselvam submitted and Your Excellency accepted his resignation, taking the urgency of the situation at hand, I would like to seek an appointment with Your Excellency by today along with all MLAs who extended their support to me regarding further course of action to form the Government," she said.
 
"I believe Your Excellency will act immediately to save the sovereignty of the Constitution, democracy and the interest of the state," she added.
 
Ms. Sasikala addressed her supporters outside Veda Nilayam, the Poes Garden residence of the late Ms. Jayalalithaa, and said, "Amma has given me 1.5 crore party brothers and sisters.When they are with me,the sinister intentions of many will not  harm me."
 
"Amma is confident that I will look after AIADMK with all care," she said.
 
She said the relentless work done by Ms. Jayalalithaa had made AIADMK the third largest party. "Amma is with us now. Our Amma is now showing us the betrayers of our party," she said.
 
"People who think they can separate our party which has 1.5 crore people will only face defeat. Amma won over the hurdles, we are facing the same situation,we will also win over it. I believe in justice and democracy," she added.
Later, Ms. Sasikala drove in a motorcade to the resort where about 120 AIADMK MLAs have been staying for the past few days and met them for discussions on their future course of action.
 
"After meeting the party MLAs, I feel happy," she said. "All the party MLAs are fine and happy."
 
She said the "created time lag", in inviting her to form the government, appeared to be intended to create a split in the party.
 
Ms. Sasikala said she and her supporters were "waiting patiently" till now for a response to their claim, adding that "necessary measures will be taken".
 
Mr. K. A. Sengottayan, who has been appointed as the new chairman of the AIADMK Presidium, told journalists at the resort that all the MLAs there would remain with Ms. Sasikala till the end. "Our only aim is to make her the Chief Minister," he said.
 
However, there has been no indication whatsoever from Raj Bhavan in the past few days on when and how the political stalemate would be ended.
 
Even as the two rival groups continued to swipe and snipe at each other, Raj Bhavan clarified yesterday that the Governor had not sent any report to the President or the Ministry of Home Affairs on the political situation in the state.
 
The clarification came after media reports which said that Mr. Rao, who is the Governor of Maharashtra and is holding additional charge as the Governor of Tamil Nadu, had sent a report to the Centre after his meetings with Mr. Panneerselvam and Ms. Sasikala.
 
"Thiru Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Tamil Nadu has not sent any report either to the Ministry of Home Affairs or to the President of India, as reported in some of the media," a statement from Raj Bhavan said.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, had submitted his resignation last Sunday after Ms. Sasikala, 60, a long-time aide of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, was chosen by AIADMK MLAs as the new leader of their legislative party and, therefore, his successor. The Governor accepted his resignation on Monday and asked him to continue in office till alternative arrangments were made. 
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had been sworn in as the Chief Minister in the early hours of December 6, 2016 shortly after the death of Ms. Jayalalithaa, who was both the head of the government and the party supremo.
 
The usually reticent and self-effacing Mr. Panneerselvam made a surprise visit to the memorial of Ms. Jayalalithaa late in the night last Tuesday and then told waiting newspersons that he had been forced to resign and that he was willing to continue as Chief Minister if the people and the party so wished.
 
Ms. Sasikala was widely expected to be sworn in on Tuesday, but the Governor has not yet taken a final view on the situation confronting the state. Mr. Rao, who reached here from Mumbai on Thursday afternoon, met ten-member delegations led by the rivals, Mr. Panneerselvam and Ms. Sasikala, later that day.
 
While Mr. Panneerselvam told the Governor that he was forced to quit as Chief Minister and that he should be allowed to continue and take a floor test in the Assembly, Ms. Sasikala submitted to Mr. Rao a list of about 130 of the AIADMK's 135 MLAs and staked claim to forming the next Government.
 
The Governor is understood to be consulting legal and Constitutional experts and weighing his options.
 
Yesterday, Mr. Rao met State Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and Director General of Police T. K. Rajendran as well as Chennai Police Commissioner S. George amidst complaints by the Panneerselvam camp that the Sasikala group was holding about 120 MLAs at a nearby resort, many of them against their will.
 
V. K. Sasikala
V. K. Sasikala
DMK working president and leader of the Opposition M. K. Stalin met Mr Rao yesterday and submitted a representation in which he said the state administration could not be allowed to drift any further. He urged the Governor to take steps to ensure that a democratically and Constitutionally valid government was in place at the earliest through a free and fair floor test.
 
Meanwhile, Ms. Sasikala yesterday expelled AIADMK presidium chairman E. Madhusudanan from the primary membership of the party, a day after he threw in his lot with Mr. Panneerselvam. Mr. K. A. Sengottayan has been appointed as the new chairman of the presidium.
 
Mr. Madhusudanan, on his part, wrote to the Election Commission stating that Ms. Sasikala's election as General Secretary of the party was in violation of its rules and urging it to reject her claims in this regard.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had said on Thursday that he would issue orders to convert Veda Nilayam, the Poes Garden residence of late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, into a memorial for her. The announcement assumes significance in view of the fact that Ms. Sasikala is functioning from that house.
 
To take this a step further, his camp has launched a signature campaign outside his residence on the proposal.
 
Two days after Ms. Sasikala removed him from the post of AIADMK treasurer, Mr. Panneerselvam on Thursday also wrote to banks asking them to not allow any one to access the party funds without his written permission. He said his removal from the post of treasurer was illegal.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam has been always regarded as a trusted lieutenant of Ms. Jayalalithaa and had stood in for her as Chief Minister twice when she faced crises.
 
Among those who have openly come out to support Mr. Panneerselvam is AIADMK Rajya Sabha member V. Maitreyan and former Tamil Nadu Assembly speaker P. H. Pandian.
 
There has been opposition to Ms. Sasikala's elevation from a section of the public, in social media and from the Opposition in the state. They point to the fact that she has never contested any election and has no administrative experience. They also point to the fact that an appeal against her acquittal in a two-decade-old corruption case is pending before the Supreme Court and its verdict could be delivered as early as next week.
 
Ms. Sasikala and two others were co-accused with Ms. Jayalalithaa in the case, in which they were all acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in May 2015. The two others are her nephew Sudhakaran, who is Ms. Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and her close relative Ilavarasi.
 
The Karnataka High Court had allowed Ms. Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore. The special court had sentenced Ms. Sasikala, Sudharakan and Ilavarasi  also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
Ms. Jayalalithaa was admitted to the Apollo Hospital here on September 22 and died on December 5 after a sudden cardiac arrest. Doctors who treated her had told a press conference here on Monday that the AIADMK leader had been treated for septicemia and a host of other medical problems.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam was Finance Minister in Ms. Jayalalithaa's Cabinet and was also handling all the portfolios held by her after she was hospitalised on September 22.
 
He had stood in as Chief Minister for Ms. Jayalalithaa twice in the past. On September 29, 2014, he took over the position when Ms. Jayalalithaa resigned after being sentenced to four years in prison by a special court in Bangalore in a corruption case. Ms. Jayalalithaa returned to office on May 23, 2015, twelve days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the 19-year-old corruption case.
 
He had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Ms Jayalalithaa was cleared of all charges in 2002 and returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms. Sasikala's control over the party was in evidence in the manner in which she carried out Ms. Jayalalithaa's last rites and then took hold of the reins of the AIADMK a few days later. Since then, there has been a clamour from a group within the AIADMK that, after being chosen as the new General Secretary, she should also take charge of the Government. Ms. Jayalalithaa held both the posts and they argued that it was better if the same person held both positions.
 
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Panneerselvam's resignation accepted, Sasikala likely to be sworn in on Tuesday

Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao on Monday accepted the resignation of Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers and his successor, Ms. V. K. Sasikala, a long-time aide of late AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa, is expected to be sworn in on Tuesday.
V. K. Sasikala
V. K. Sasikala
Tamil Nadu Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao today accepted the resignation of Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers and his successor, Ms. V. K. Sasikala, a long-time aide of late AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa, is expected to be sworn in tomorrow.
 
The Governor requested Mr. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers to continue to function until alternate arrangements are made, a press release from the Raj Bhavan said.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, had resigned from office yesterday after the ruling All India Anna Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) legislature party met here and chose Ms. Sasikala as its new leader.
 
Ms. Sasikala, 60, is expected to be sworn in as the new Chief Minister of the State tomorrow morning at a function at the Madras University auditorium. 
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had been sworn in as the Chief Minister of the state in the early hours of December 6, succeeding Ms. Jayalalithaa who passed away at a private hospital here late night on December 5.
 
"Chinnamma elected as the AIADMK Legislature Party Leader," the AIADMK had said on micro-blogging site Twitter yesterday. Ms. Sasikala is referred to as "Chinamma" by party workers, just as Ms. Jayalalithaa was called "Amma".
 
It said Mr. Panneerselvam himself, known to be a long-time Jayalalithaa loyalist, had proposed Ms. Sasikala's name as the new leader of the AIADMK legislature party leader.
 
"Chinnamma all set to become the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu," the party said.
 
Ms. Sasikala had then made a brief appearance in the balcony of Ms. Jalayalalithaa's residence in Poes Garden here, dressed in a green saree and blouse, the AIADMK's colour, and greeted the crowds gathered outside with a "namaste" and then the "V" sign.
 
She later drove to the AIADMK headquarters where she said that it was Mr. Panneerselvam who had urged her first to take charge as General Secretary of the party and it was he who insisted, first, that she become the Chief Minister of the state. Ms. Sasikala has never held any position in Government before nor has she ever contested any elections.
 
She assured the people that her government would always work for the welfare of the people. "Tamil Nadu Government will follow the principles of Amma," she said.
  
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, was Finance Minister in Ms. Jayalalithaa's Cabinet and was also handling all the portfolios held by her after she was admitted to the Apollo Hospital here on September 22.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had stood in as Chief Minister for Ms. Jayalalithaa twice in the past. On September 29, 2014, he took over the position when Ms. Jayalalithaa resigned after being sentenced to four years in prison by a special court in Bangalore in a corruption case. Ms. Jayalalithaa returned to office on May 23, 2015, twelve days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the 19-year-old corruption case.
 
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He had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Ms Jayalalithaa was cleared of all charges in 2002 and returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms. Sasikala's control over the party was in evidence in the manner in which she carried out Ms. Jayalalithaa's last rites and then took hold of the reins of the AIADMK a few days later. Since then, there has been a clamour from a group within the AIADMK that, after being chosen as the new General Secretary, she should also take charge of the Government. Ms. Jayalalithaa held both the posts and they argued that it was better if the same person held both positions.
 
Ms. Sasikala, along with her nephew Sudhakaran, who is Ms. Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and her close relative Ilavarasi , were  co-accused with Ms. Jayalalithaa in an 18-year-old corruption case, in which they were all acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in May 2015. An appeal against the acquittal is pending before the Supreme Court and its verdict in the matter is awaited.
 
The Karnataka High Court had allowed Ms. Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore. The special court had sentenced Ms. Sasikala, Sudharakan and Ilavarasi  also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
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Sasikala Natarajan set to be new CM of Tamil Nadu

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) General Secretary Sasikala Natarajan, a long-time friend and companion of late party supremo J. Jayalithaa, is all set to become the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after the party's MLAs met in Chennai and chose her as the leader of its legislature party.
 
Sasikala Natarajan appointed legislative party leader of AIADMK
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) General Secretary Sasikala Natarajan, a long-time friend and companion of late party supremo J. Jayalithaa, is all set to become the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after the party's MLAs met here today and chose her as the leader of its legislative party.
 
She will succeed Mr. O. Panneerselvam, senior leader of the ruling AIADMK, who was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the state in the early hours of December 6, succeeding Ms. Jayalalithaa who passed away at a private hospital here late night on December 5.
 
"Chinnamma elected as the AIADMK Legislature Party Leader," the AIADMK said on micro-blogging site Twitter. 
 
Ms. Sasikala, 60, is referred to as "Chinamma" by party workers, just as Ms. Jayalalithaa was called as "Amma". It said Mr. Panneerselvam had proposed Ms. Sasikala's name as the new leader of the AIADMK legislature party leader.
 
"Chinnamma all set to become the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu," the party said.
 
Ms. Sasikala made a brief appearance in the balcony of Ms. Jalayalalithaa's residence in Poes Garden here, dressed in a green saree and blouse, the AIADMK's colour, and greeted the crowds gathered outside with a "namaste" and then the "V" sign.
 
Ms. Sasikala later drove to the AIADMK headquarters where she said that it was Mr. Panneerselvam who had urged her first to take charge as General Secretary of the party and it was he who insisted, first, that she become the Chief Minister of the state. Ms. Sasikala has never held any position in Government before nor has ever contested any elections.
 
She assured the people that her government would always work for the welfare of the people. "Tamil Nadu Government will follow the principles of Amma," she said.
 
She is expected to meet Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao in the next day or two and stake claim to form the next government in the state.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam, 65, was Finance Minister in Ms. Jayalalithaa's Cabinet and was also handling all the portfolios held by her after she was admitted to the Apollo Hospital here on September 22.
 
Mr. Panneerselvam had stood in as Chief Minister for Ms. Jayalalithaa twice in the past. On September 29, 2014, he took over the position when Ms. Jayalalithaa resigned after being sentenced to four years in prison by a special court in Bangalore in a corruption case. Ms. Jayalalithaa returned to office on May 23, 2015, twelve days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in the 19-year-old corruption case.
 
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He had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Ms Jayalalithaa was cleared of all charges in 2002 and returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms. Sasikala's control over the party was in evidence in the manner in which she carried out Ms. Jayalalithaa's last rites and then took hold of the reins of the AIADMK a few days later. Since then, there has been a clamour from a group within the AIADMK that, after being chosen as the new General Secretary, she should also take charge of the Government. Ms. Jayalalithaa held both the posts and they argued that it was better if the same person held both positions.
 
Ms. Sasikala, along with her nephew Sudhakaran, who is Ms. Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and her close relative Ilavarasi , were  co-accused with Ms. Jayalalithaa in an 18-year-old corruption case, in which they were all acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in May 2015. An appeal against the acquittal is pending before the Supreme Court and its verdict in the matter is awaited.
 
The Karnataka High Court had allowed Ms. Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore. The special court had sentenced Ms. Sasikala, Sudharakan and Ilavarasi  also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
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Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa suffers cardiac arrest in hospital

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who has been undergoing treatment at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai for the last three months for a lung infection, suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, the hospital said.
 
Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa suffers cardiac arrest
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who has been undergoing treatment at the Apollo Hospital here for the last three months for a lung infection, suffered a cardiac arrest this evening, the hospital said.
 
"The Hon'ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nau who is undergoing treatment at Apollo Hospitals, Greams Road, Chennai, suffered a cardiac arrest this evening," the hospital said in a statement late tonight.
 
"She is being treated and monitored by a team of experts, including Cardiologists, Pulmonologists and the Critical Care Specialists," the statement added.
 
The hospital said Ms. Jayalalithaa was on extracorporeal membrane heart assist device and was being treated by a team of expert doctors and critical care specialists.
 
The hospital said Dr Richard Beale from London had also been consulted and he had concurred with the line of treatment by its cardiologists and pulmonologists.
 
"Our prayers are with her and we hope she will recover soon. We request all of you to pray for her good health and well being. The Hon'ble CM is the beloved leader of the masses. Please join us in praying for her speedy recovery," the hospital said in a series of posts on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Tamil Nadu Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao, to inquire about Ms. Jayalalithaa's heath.
 
Mr. Rao, who is the Governor of Maharashtra, is holding additional charge of Tamil Nadu, since August 31 following the end of the tenure of Mr. K. Rosaiah. He told Mr. Rajnath Singh that he would leave for Chennai tonight.
 
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Hundreds of workers of Ms. Jayalalithaa's party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), her supporters and leaders of the party began converging outside the hospital after hearing of the news of her cardiac arrest. Police stepped up security arrangements outside the hospital as a precautionary measure.
 
Earlier in the day, the AIADMK had said that Ms. Jayalalithaa would soon decide when she would leave hospital and return home after doctors had declared that she had fully recovered.
 
The hospital has said several times in the past few weeks that the Chief Minister, called "Amma" by her supporters, was well enough to return home whenever she wanted. Her party said she was involved in taking government decisions and also speaking on occasion to those who were allowed to meet her.
 
Ms. Jayalalithaa was admitted to the hospital on September 27 for treatment of dehydration and fever. Later, there were reports that she was also being treated for a chronic lung infection and that he had been put on respiratory support. Specialist doctors from London and Delhi had been flown in to monitor her condition.
 
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Jayalalithaa returns as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu

AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in Chennai on Saturday, 12 days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in an 19-year-old corruption case and paved the way for her return to the top job in the state for the fifth time after a gap of eight months.
 
Jayalalithaa sworn in as Tamil Nadu CM
 
 
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo J Jayalalithaa was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu here today, 12 days after the Karnataka High Court acquitted her in an 19-year-old corruption case and paved the way for her return to the top job in the state for the fifth time after a gap of eight months.
 
Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah administered the oaths of offie and secrecy to Ms Jayalalithaa at a ceremony at the Madras University Centenary Auditorium.
 
Along with Ms Jayalalithaa, 67, as many as 28 other Ministers were also sworn in, including Mr O. Panneerselvam, who had functioned as Chief Minister since September 29 after she had been forced to resign following her conviction by a special court in Bangalore in the case.
 
Mr Panneerselvam will be Finance Minister, a portfolio he had held in her previous Cabinet.
 
The Governor had accepted the resignation of Mr. Panneerselvam and his Council of Ministers with effect from the forenoon of yesterday and requested him and his Council of Ministers to function until alternative arrangements were made.
 
Later yesterday, Ms Jayalalithaa, who was elected as the leader of the AIADMK Legislature Party, had called on Mr Rosaiah and staked her claim to form the new government.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa will have to get elected to the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly within six months in keeping with Constitutional requirements.
 
Mr Panneerselvam had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. Like this tim, she was then, too, cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
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On May 11, the Karnataka High Court allowed Ms Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of the special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy said the appeals by Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused had been allowed and that they were acquitted of all charges.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had also been barred by the special court from contesting elections and that verdict had meant that she had been disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and ceased to be the Chief Minister of the state. The acquittal by the High Court meant that Ms Jayalalithaa could return as Chief Minister.
 
The three co-accused who were acquitted along with her are her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew and Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son Sudhakaran and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi, who were also convicted in the case and sentenced to four years in prison and fined Rs 10 crore each by the special court.
 
Sasikala was among the more than 3000 people present at the ceremony. Others present included film stars Rajnikanth, Sarath Kumar and Prabhu and industrialists N Srinivasan and A C Muthaiah.
 
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Jayalalithaa acquitted in corruption case, paving way for her return as TN CM

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was on Monday acquitted by the Karnataka High Court in Bangalore in an 18-year-old corruption case, clearing the way for her return to the top job in her state.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was today acquitted by the Karnataka High Court here in an 18-year-old corruption case, clearing the way for her return to the top job in her state.
 
The High Court allowed Ms Jayalalithaa's appeal against the verdict of a special court in Bangalore which had, on September 23, 2014, sentenced her to four years in prison and asked her to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Reading out the operative part of the judgement at 11 am in the court, Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy said the appeals by Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused had been allowed and that they were acquitted of all charges.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, 67, had also been barred by the special court from contesting elections and that verdict had meant that she had been disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and ceased to be the Chief Minister of the state.
 
Today's acquittal means that Ms Jayalithaa, supremo of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), can return as Chief Minister.
 
After she had stepped down, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on September 29 last year.
 
Mr Panneerselvam, 63, had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case. She was later cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, a film star-turned-politician, and the three co-accused persons were accused by the prosecution of amassing assets valued at Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income from 1991-96 during her first term in office.
 
The special court had sentenced the co-accused -- her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew Sudharakan, who is Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son, and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi -- also to four years in prison and fined them Rs 10 crore each.
 
 
Jayalalithaa acquitted by Karnataka HC in corruption case
Celebrations broke out among Ms Jayalalithaa's supporters all across Tamil Nadu as well as outside the high court here, where they had gathered in large numbers.
 
Hundreds of people who had congregated outside her Poes Garden residence in Chennai since early morning burst firecrackers, danced and distributed sweets as soon as news of the verdict by Mr Justice C R Kumaraswamy ame in.
 
Mr Panneerselvam and many of his Cabinet colleagues also turned up to congratulate her.
 
On October 17 last year, Ms Jayalalithaa had been granted bail by the Supreme Court in the case after the Karnataka High Court had turned down her application.
 
Along with her, the apex court also granted bail to Ms Natarajan, Mr Sudhakaran and Mr Ilavarasi.
 
The case was filed in 1997 by the Tamil Nadu government's Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) during the tenure of Ms Jayalalithaa's rival and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.
 
The Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred to a special court in Bangalore in 2003 on a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who had expressed doubts about a fair trial in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa returned as Chief Minister.
 
The prosecution had alleged that Jayalalithaa had just Rs 3 crore when she took over as Chief Minister for the first time in 1991 and had taken a token salary of just Re 1, but her wealth and that of her three co-accused had grown to Rs 66.6 crore during her five years in office, vastly disproportionate to her known sources of income.
 
The alleged wealth included 2000 acres of land, 30 kg of gold and thousands of sarees. She was also accused of spending more than Rs 5 crore on her foster son's wedding in 1996, though she had claimed that the expenditure was borne by the bride's family.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had all along maintained that the case was an act of political vendetta by the DMK. Among other things, she had agued that her previous assets were undervalued, her property was overvalued and her income from various sources were not taken into account.
 
In 2011, Jayalalithaa had appeared in the Bangalore court for four days to answer more than 1390 questions posed by the judge.
 
In the Lok Sabha elections last year, the AIADMK had made a near clean sweep in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 of the 39 seats from the state.
 
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SC grants bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa

The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who was convicted by a special court in Bangalore on September 27 in an 18-year-old corruption case and sentenced to four years in prison and asked to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
File photo of J. Jayalalithaa.
The Supreme Court today granted bail to former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who were convicted by a special court in Bangalore on September 27 in an 18-year-old corruption case and sentenced to four years in prison and asked to pay a fine of Rs 100 crore.
 
Along with Ms Jayalalithaa, 66, the apex court also granted bail to her close aide Sasikala Natarajan, Sasikala's nephew and Jayalalithaa's disowned foster son Sudhakaran and Sasikala's close relative Ilavarasi, who were also convicted in the case and sentenced to four years in prison and fined Rs 10 crore each.
 
The Karnataka High Court had, on October 7, rejected Ms Jayalalithaa's bail application. While doing so, Judge A V Chandrashekhara recalled that the Supreme Court had made it clear in the past that corruption cases should be put on the fast track. He pointed out that the apex court had taken a tough stand in such cases and had described corruption as a "violation of human rights".
 
Ms Jayalalithaa and the three co-accused persons were accused by the prosecution of amassing assets valued at Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate to their known sources of income from 1991-96 during her first term in office.
 
The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo had moved the Supreme Court for bail on October 9.
 

 
Jayalalithaa granted interim bail by SC in DA case
The apex court today suspended her sentence and granted her bail after imposing some conditions, including that she would have to submit her paprs for the appeal against her conviction within two months, that is by December 18, and that she would not seek any adjournment of the hearings. 
 
As soon as news of the court's decision to grant her bail came, hundreds of supporters of Ms Jayalalithaa in Chennai and elsewhere broke out into rapturous celebrations.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa, who has been held in prison in Bangalore since September 27, is expected to be released on bail later today or tomorrow. She will remain confined to home in Chennai while she is on bail.
 
The court fixed December 18 as the date to satisfy itself if she had complied with its order.
 
Her counsel Fali Nariman assured the court on her behalf that there would be no act of lawlessness by her party's workers in Tamil Nadu. She had sought bail on the grounds that she was suffering from various ailments and that she was a senior citizen and a woman.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa stood disqualified as a member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly after her conviction and sentence and had to resign as Chief Minister. She is also barred from contesting elections for six years after she completes her four-year sentence.
 
The case was filed in 1997 by the Tamil Nadu government's Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) during the tenure of Jayalalithaa's rival and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.
 
The Supreme Court ordered the case to be transferred to a special court in Bangalore in 2003 on a petition filed by DMK leader K Anbazhagan, who had expressed doubts about a fair trial in Tamil Nadu after Jayalalithaa returned as Chief Minister.
 
The prosecution had alleged that Ms Jayalalithaa had just Rs 3 crore when she took over as Chief Minister for the first time in 1991 and had taken a token salary of just Re 1, but her wealth and that of her three co-accused had grown to Rs 66.6 crore during her five years in office, vastly disproportionate to her known sources of income.
 
The alleged wealth included 2000 acres of land, 30 kg of gold and thousands of sarees. She was also accused of spending more than Rs 5 crore on her foster son's wedding in 1996, though she had claimed that the expenditure was borne by the bride's family.
 
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The court held that the prosecution had been able to prove that she possessed disproportionate assets of about Rs 53 crore. 
 
Ms Jayalalithaa had all along maintained that the case was an act of political vendetta by the DMK. Among other things, she had agued that her previous assets were undervalued, her property was overvalued and her income from various sources were not taken into account.
 
In the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year, the AIADMK had made a near clean sweep in Tamil Nadu, winning 37 of the 39 seats from the state and emerging as the third largest party in the House.
 
Elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly are due in 2016 and unless her conviction is overturned by a higher court, Ms Jayalalithaa cannot contest them.
 
After Ms Jayalalithaa stepped down, senior AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu on September 29.
 
Mr Panneerselvam, 63, had earlier served as Chief Minister for a brief period from September 21, 2001 to March 1, 2002 after the Supreme Court had declared null and void the action of then Governor Fatima Beevi appointing Ms Jayalalithaa to the position as she had been sentenced to two years rigorous imprisonment in another corruption case.
 
Ms Jayalalithaa was later cleared of all charges in 2002 and had returned as Chief Minister.
 
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Football: Chennaiyin FC -- the talent factory

Chennaiyin FC
Chennaiyin FC
Last season was one to forget for Chennaiyin FC. They were the defending champions, but their fortunes nosedived so quickly that even coach John Gregory appeared helpless. There was nothing he could do, and the club finished at the bottom of the 10-team Hero Indian Super League (ISL) ladder.
 
It was an unbelievable low for the club which had won the ISL title twice. Now, as the sixth season unfolds later this month, the former champions will look to return to their best form.
 
Chennaiyin's ISL journey has had its ups and downs. But it has not just been about on-field results for the two-time champions. Co-owned by Abhishek Bachchan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Vita Dani, Chennaiyin FC's trust in youth and focus on their development has been second to none since the launch of the ISL in 2014.
 
Two seasons into the ISL, Chennaiyin went all in to sign five All India Football Federation (AIFF) academy graduates and sent them for a training stint at FC Metz, sponsoring the whole trip. Three years later, the growth of the five young players has been remarkable and the investment has paid off.
 
Those five talents are Anirudh Thapa, Jerry Lalrinzuala, Baoringdao Bodo, Bedashwor Singh and Prosenjit Chakraborty. All of them are regular professionals now, and two of them -- Thapa and Lalrinzuala -- are first-team regulars at Chennaiyin FC.
 
In the last two seasons, Thapa has featured in 34 league matches, started 17 of them and has two goals and three assists to his name. Since returning from his stint abroad, Lalrinzuala has clocked 3658 minutes in ISL, with a goal and four assists from the left-back position which he has managed to make his own.
 
In September last year, Chennaiyin FC continued the process and signed three more AIFF's young talents, Rahim Ali, Abhijit Sarkar and Deepak Tangri, all still under 20 years.
 
“We are proud to have as many as 13 players across all national teams of the country. The signing of Abhijit, Rahim and Deepak is yet another mark of our commitment towards youth development,” said Chennaiyin FC co-owner Vita Dani.
 
From among the young signings, Thapa has been a revelation for both club and country. His impressive performances have led many to tout him as one of the best young talents in the country. Lalrinzuala was instrumental at left-back in Chennaiyin's title win in 2018 and could develop into one of the better full-backs in India.
 
Others have also established themselves; Prosenjit at Minerva Punjab, Bedashwor Singh at TRAU FC, Bodo at Minerva, Gokulam Kerala and Kerala Blasters. All this was possible due to the effort of Chennaiyin. Their faith in youngsters sets them apart.    
 
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Motorsport: MMSC to conduct night races in 2020 season

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The Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC) reiterated its decision to introduce night racing for saloon cars next year after successfully conducting India’s maiden night test session in August at the MMRT.
 
Speaking on the occasion of MMSC 2019 Circuit Racing Annual Awards function here last night, MMSC president Ajit Thomas said: “In addition to continuing the highly successful mainstream events, we plan to introduce interesting alternate events like night racing after successfully conducting the first-ever night test session for saloon cars at the MMRT in August.
 
“We also have plans to further upgrade our infrastructure at the track with a permanent Grand Stand and a karting track, after having invested in building two new paddocks, a permanent Drag Racing strip, the only one of its kind in India, state-of-the-art timing equipment, Pit display system, etc.”
 
The glitzy evening saw chief guest Arun Mammen, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, MRF Ltd., presenting trophies to the podium finishers of just-concluded Indian National Racing Championships for four-wheelers and two-wheelers – Individual, Team and Manufacturers. 
 
Trophies were also presented to the top three finishers in the Idemitsu Honda India Talent Cup and TVS One-Make Championship.
 
Raghul Rangasamy, the winner of the MRF F1600 Championship and Dhruv Shivaji Mohite of Rayo Racing, champion in the Indian Touring Cars, will be participating in one-off races in the UK and South Africa, respectively.
 
Reiterating MRF’s commitment to motorsports, Mammen said: “As you are all aware, MRF is India’s No.1 tyre company for more than 32 years and has been one of the pioneers in the field of motorsports. MRF has not just grown as a company but has nurtured motorsports in India, whether it is racing, rallying, supercross or karting.
 
“Our efforts to give the best tyres has fructified and today the national motorcycle championship has seen the country’s first slick motorcycle tyres. This has received a positive response from the participants of the National Championship including the manufacturers who are keenly putting their efforts into making better machines to race on track. We do not intend to stop with that, we push ourselves to raise our products' performance and see that we take Indian racing to the next level.”
 
Reflecting on the 2019 season, MMSC Vice-President and former FMSCI chief Vicky Chandhok said: “At the outset, we would like to thank MRF for their continued support and commitment. MRF’s active involvement in our racing activities has helped us to take the sport to the next level as was evident this season when we witnessed an exciting season marked by close racing. We saw a quantum increase in number of participants from across India, giving our championships a truly national flavour.
 
"We had 260 participants from 18 States and Union Territories in two-wheeler championships, 90 representing 15 teams in four-wheeler championship. The season also heralded several emerging young talents in the age-group of 12-18. We also acknowledge and appreciate the participation of manufacturers TVS, Honda, Volkswagen and Yamaha.”
 
Indu Chandhok, one of the founders of the sport’s governing body in India, FMSCI, emphasised efforts to focus on road safety through motorsport thus supporting FIA’s move in this direction.  
 
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India, China to set up High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue mechanism

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday concluded their informal summit during which they discussed all aspects of the bilateral relationship and decided to establish a High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue mechanism to deepen their economic cooperation.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the second day of their Informal Summit at Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, on October 12, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the second day of their Informal Summit at Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, on October 12, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping today concluded a two-day informal summit during which they discussed all aspects of the bilateral relationship and decided, among other steps, to establish a High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue mechanism to deepen their economic cooperation and enhance the development partnership.
 
The dialogue mechanism will help achieve enhanced trade and economic relations as well as a better balance in the trade between the  two countries, a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs at the end of the summit that was held against the backdrop of the magnificent temples and monuments of this historic seaside town, about 58 km from Chennai, in Tamil Nadu.
 
The statement said the two leaders agreed to encourage mutual investments in identified sectors through the development of a Manufacturing Partnership and tasked their officials to develop this idea at the first meeting of the High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue.
 
According to it, the two leaders exchanged views on outstanding issues, including on the boundary question. 
 
"They have welcomed the work of the Special Representatives and urged them to continue their efforts to arrive at a mutually-agreed framework for a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement based on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles that were agreed by the two sides in 2005. They reiterated their understanding that efforts will continue to be made to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas, and that both sides will continue to work on additional Confidence Building Measures in pursuit of this objective," it said.
 
The statement said Modi and Xi had an "in-depth exchange of views in a friendly atmosphere on overarching, long-term and strategic issues of global and regional importance".
 
They also shared their respective approaches towards national development.
 
"They evaluated the direction of bilateral relations in a positive light and discussed how India-China bilateral interaction can be deepened to reflect the growing role of both countries on the global stage.
 
"Both Leaders shared the view that the international situation is witnessing significant readjustment. They were of the view that India and China share the common objective of working for a peaceful, secure and prosperous world in which all countries can pursue their development within a rules-based international order.
 
"They reiterated the consensus reached during the first Informal Summit in Wuhan, China in April 2018, that India and China are factors for stability in the current international landscape and that both sides will prudently manage their differences and not allow differences on any issue to become disputes," it said.
 
The statement said  the two leaders recognized that India and China had a common interest in preserving and advancing a rules-based and inclusive international order, including through reforms that reflect the new realities of the 21st Century. Both agreed that it is important to support and strengthen the rules-based multilateral trading system at a time when globally agreed trade practices and norms are being selectively questioned. India and China will continue to work together for open and inclusive trade arrangements that will benefit all countries, it said.
 
"Both Leaders also underscored the important efforts being made in their respective countries to address global developmental challenges, including climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals. They emphasized that their individual efforts in this regard would help the international community achieve the targets.
 
"Both Leaders are concerned that terrorism continues to pose a common threat. As countries that are large and diverse, they recognized the importance of continuing to make joint efforts to ensure that the international community strengthens the framework against training, financing and supporting terrorist groups throughout the world and on a non-discriminatory basis," the statement said.
 
"As important contemporary civilizations with great traditions, both Leaders deemed it important to enhance dialogue in order to foster cultural understanding between the two peoples. Both Leaders also agreed that, as major civilizations in history, they can work together to enhance greater dialogue and understanding between cultures and civilizations in other parts of the world.
 
"They shared the view that an open, inclusive, prosperous and stable environment in the region is important to ensure the prosperity and stability of the region. They also agreed on the importance of concluding negotiations for a mutually-beneficial and balanced Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
 
"The two Leaders exchanged views on the age-old commercial linkages and people-to-people contacts between India and China in the past two millennia, including significant maritime contacts. In this regard the two leaders agreed on establishment of sister-state relations between Tamil Nadu and Fujian Province, exploring the possibility of establishing an academy to study links between Mahabalipuram and Fujian province on the lines of the experience between Ajanta and Dunhuang and conducting research on maritime links between China and India in view of our extensive contacts over the centuries.
 
"The two Leaders shared their mutual vision on goals for development of their respective economies. They agreed that the simultaneous development of India and China presents mutually-beneficial opportunities. The two sides will continue to adopt a positive, pragmatic and open attitude and to enhance appreciation of each other’s policies and actions in line with the general direction of their friendship and cooperation. In this regard, they also agreed to continue to enhance strategic communication on all matters of mutual interest, and to continue the momentum of high-level exchanges by making full use of dialogue mechanisms," the statement said.
 
The statement said Xi and Modi were of the view that the positive direction of ties had opened up possibilities for taking bilateral relations to greater heights. They agreed that this endeavor also required strong public support in both countries. 
 
In this context they decided to designate 2020 as Year of India-China Cultural and People to People Exchanges and agreed that the 70th anniversary of the establishment of India-China relations in 2020 will be fully utilized to deepen exchanges at all levels including between their respective legislatures, political parties, cultural and youth organizations and militaries. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations the two countries will organize 70 activities including a conference on a ship voyage that will trace the historical connect between the two civilizations.
 
Prime Minister Modi and President Xi also appraised the practice of Informal Summits in a positive light as providing an important opportunity to deepen dialogue and to promote mutual understanding at the Leaders’ level in line with the ‘Wuhan Spirit’ and the ‘Chennai Connect”. 
 
They agreed to continue this practice in the future. President Xi invited Prime Minister Modi to visit China for the 3rd Informal Summit. Prime Minister Modi has accepted the invitation.
 
Briefing newspersons about the two days of talks, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said that the two leaders had six hours of discussions in all on a one-to-one basis.
 
"The discussions focused on what has happened after the Wuhan summit in the past approximately year and a half and both leaders have agreed that many of the dialogue mechanisms which have been formed or which have been reformed since the Wuhan summit have created a very good momentum in relationship and the engagement between India and China across all sectors had intensified," he said.
 
"They also agreed that strategic communication has deepened and they should be continued and both leaders have therefore agreed that the informal summit provides a very good platform for the leadership to engage and President Xi Jinping endorsed the idea that we should continue these informal summits between the leaders of India and China in the future. There was a good conversation on trade as we know that this is an issue which has been a concern here back home and President Xi Jinping after hearing out our Prime Minister on this issue said that China is ready to take sincere action in this regard and to discuss in a very concrete way, how to reduce trade deficit," he said.
 
Gokhale said that the High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue mechanism would be led by Chinese Vice-Premier Ho-Chun Hua and Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
 
He said President Xi also welcomed investments from India into China, including in the information technology and pharmaceuticals sectors.
 
"The two leaders also agreed that they should also explore through this new mechanism the possibility of establishing manufacturing partnership and the Prime Minister suggested that both sides could identify certain sectors, certain specific industries, where investment could come in and where manufacturing would help create employment, create jobs and enhance the market for both sides," Gokhale said.
 
"Obviously, when trade is being discussed one of the issues briefly touched upon was the RCEP, the discussions between sixteen countries on forming a common regional trading agreement and Prime Minister specifically said in this regard that India looks forward to this but it is important that RCEP is balanced. That a balance is maintained between trade in goods, trade in services and investment. And President Xi noted this and said that China and India are ready to discuss it further and that Indian concernswould be taken into account. It was a brief discussion but an important point," he said.
 
The Foreign Secretary said President Xi raised the issue of engaging more on defence and security. 
 
"He said that there was a brief review of the on-going exchanges and cooperation up to which the President of China said that we need to step-up engagement in this area. This will enhance mutual trust between the two militaries and the security forces and they have extended an invitation to our defence minister to visit China," he said.
 
The two leaders also discussed the need for greater emphasis on tourism in both diections and look at options like home stays.
 
President Xi had arrived in Chennai on Friday afternoon and later left for Mahabalipuram, a World Heritage Site, where he was received by Modi, who had arrived earlier in the day.
 
At Mahabalipuram, he went on a guided tour of three monuments -- Arjuna's Penance, Pancha Rathas and Shore Temple -- along with Modi on Friday.
 
After first interacting with each other while walking around some of the main monuments in this ancient town, the two leaders continued their exchange of views on deepening the India-China partnership while watching a breathtaking cultural performance put up by Kalakshetra at the Shore Temple.
 
They concluded a "highly productive day with a pleasant conversation over a long dinner," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
As it turned out, the conversation over dinner between the two leaders lasted for more than two and a half hours, way beyond what was scheduled.
 
This morning, Modi and Xi had a tete-e-tete for about an hour before going in for delegation-level talks, followed by lunch. 
 
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Modi, Xi discuss host of issues, including terrorism, at Informal Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held detailed discussions on their national visions, governance priorities and a host of other topics, including terrorism, on the first day of their two-day Informal Summit in the historic seaside town of Mahabalipuram on Friday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Krishna’s Butter Ball, in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu on October 11, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Krishna’s Butter Ball, in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu on October 11, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held detailed discussions on their  respective national visions, governance priorities and a host of other topics, including terrorism, on the first day of their two-day Informal Summit in this historic seaside town on Friday.
 
On the challenges that both countries face on account of terrorism, Modi and Xi acknowledged that India and China were very complex and very diverse countries.
 
"Both leaders said that these were large countries and that radicalization was a matter of concern to both and that both would work together to see that radicalization and terrorism did not affect the fabric of our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious societies. And there was a general sense that both leaders had that this was a common challenge that we face and that we will work together to overcome it," Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told journalists in a briefing after the first day of talks.
 
The two leaders will continue their discussions this morning. Later, Modi will host a lunch for Xi before he flies back home in the afternoon.
 
"Broadly today’s discussion focused on the national visions and on how to progress bilateral relations. Tomorrow’s discussion, where they will be continuing one-to-one meetings, will focus on international issues, on regional issues although, of course, the two leaders are free to discuss all other issues as well," Gokhale said.
 
President Xi had arrived in Chennai on Friday afternoon and later left for Mahabalipuram, a World Heritage Site located 58 km from Chennai in Tamil Nadu, famous for its magnifcent temples and monuments, where he was received by Modi, who had arrived earlier in the day.
 
The two leaders had their inaugural Informal Summit in Wuhan, China on April 27-28, 2018.
 
The Informal Summit is expected to provide an opportunity for the two leaders to continue their discussions on overarching issues of bilateral, regional and global importance and to exchange views on deepening India-China Closer Development Partnership.
 
President Xi was received at the airport in Chennai by Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and other dignitaries. He was also welcomed by troupes of dancers who performed folk dances.
 
At Mahabalipuram, he went on a guided tour of three monuments -- Arjuna's Penance, Pancha Rathas and Shore Temple -- along with Modi.
 
After first interacting with each other while walking around some of the main monuments in this ancient town, the two leaders continued their exchange of views on deepening the India-China partnership while watching a breathtaking cultural performance put up by Kalakshetra at the Shore Temple.
 
They concluded a "highly productive day with a pleasant conversation over a long dinner," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
As it turned out, the conversation over dinner between the two leaders lasted for more than two and a half hours, way beyond what was scheduled.
 
"There have been nearly five hours of discussion and quality time that the Prime Minister and President Xi Jinping of China have spent together. Most of this was one-to-one with the exception of the half-hour cultural program," Gokhale said.
 
He said Prime Minister Modi and President Xi had both complimented the Tamil Nadu government for the arrangements made for the summit.
 
"President Xi Jinping himself has also said that he was overwhelmed by the welcome that was given to him at the airport and the arrangements that have been made for him during his stay in Chennai," the Foreign Secretary said.
 
"The visuals, as you have seen, the walk around that Prime Minister and President Xi Jinping did in the three separate sites at Mamallapuram, they reflect the personal rapport that the two leaders have built over the two informal summits that they have held, the first one last year in April and the second one which is ongoing as well as 17 other meetings that they have held since Prime Minister took office in 2014," he said.
 
Gokhale said Xi and Modi, during the tour of the monuments, spoke of the historical and trading links between the Southern part of India, particularly between Tamil Nadu under the Pallava and Chola dynasties and the Eastern coast of China particularly Fujian province. 
 
They both referred to port city called Quanzhou in Fujian where recently Tamil inscriptions and fragments of architecture reflecting a possible temple built by Tamil traders in the 12th century have been discovered. President Xi said that he was aware of this. 
 
"Both leaders have discussed how we can actually enhance knowledge in this aspect of our bilateral relationship. There was a reference to Bodhi-Dharma who had left the shores of India from Tamil Nadu and went by sea and took Zen Buddhism to China and Japan.
 
"The Prime Minister also explained the significance of the World Heritage Site. At Arjuna’s Penance which is one of the national treasures that we have, Prime Minister explained the underlined philosophical ethos which was that man and nature live in harmony with each other and that the carvings on this particular monument reflect that harmony between man and nature. Similarly, when he took President Xi Jinping to the Ganesh Rath, he explained that this was a temple, where 1300 years after its construction under the Pallava dynasty, it continues to be part of our living culture and our living civilization, worship takes place in this temple also today. India like China is a civilization with a long and continuous history," he said.
 
Xi and Modi spent some time talking to the artistes from Kalakshetra who performed in the cultural programme, posed for photographs and congratulated them.
 
"The discussions that took place over the meal actually stretched over a 150 minute i.e. roughly two and a half hours and this was well beyond the planned time for the discussions. Discussions were very open and cordial. This was quality time that the two leaders spent together one on one. The rest of the two delegations were in fact at a separate location having dinner.
 
"The two leaders had detailed discussion on their respective national visions, on their governance priorities. The Prime Minister explained that, having been recently reelected to a second term, he had received a renewed mandate for economic development and President Xi Jinping, of course, while acknowledging that Prime Minister has got a mandate said that he was looking forward to working very closely with the Prime Minister on all issues during the next four- four and a half years.
 
"They also spoke about other developmental priorities. In particular there was some discussion on trade-related issues, on economic issues, on trying to identify areas for investment that the two countries could to encourage and also on how to enhance the trade volume and the trade value. And in this also, obviously, included the issue of the trade deficit that exists and the unbalanced trade that exists," he added.
 
This morning, Modi and Xi will have a tete-e-tete before going in for delegation-level talks, followed by lunch.
 
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Modi, Xi hold informal talks against backdrop of Mahabalipuram's monuments

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks on a range of issues in their second Informal Summit held against the backdrop of the magnificent temples and monuments of Mahabalipuram -- a World Heritage Site near Chennai in Tamil Nadu -- on Friday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Krishna’s Butter Ball, in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu on October 11, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Krishna’s Butter Ball, in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu on October 11, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks on a range of issues in their second Informal Summit held against the backdrop of the magnificent temples and monuments of Mahabalipuram -- a World Heritage Site near Chennai in Tamil Nadu -- on Friday.
 
After first interacting with each other while walking around some of the main monuments in this historical town on the Tamil Nadu coast, the two leaders continued their exchange of views on deepening the India-China partnership while watching a breathtaking cultural performance put up by Kalakshetra at the Shore Temple.
 
They concluded a "highly productive day with a pleasant conversation over a long dinner," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
President Xi had arrived in Chennai this afternoon for the two-day Informal Summit with Modi and later left for Mahabalipuram, 58 km from the state capital.
 
The two leaders had their inaugural Informal Summit in Wuhan, China on April 27-28, 2018.
 
"The Chennai Informal Summit will provide an opportunity for the two leaders to continue their discussions on overarching issues of bilateral, regional and global importance and to exchange views on deepening India-China Closer Development Partnership," a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs had said earlier this week.
 
President Xi was received at the airport here by Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and other dignitaries.
 
He was also welcomed at the airport by troupes of dancers who performed folk dances.
 
At Mahabalipuram, he went on a guided tour of three monuments -- Arjuna's Penance, Pancha Rathas and Shore Temple -- along with Modi.
 
Tomorrow, Modi and Xi will have a tete-e-tete in the morning before going in for delegation-level talks. 
 
Xi will attend a lunch hosted by Modi before leaving for home in the afternoon.
 
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Xi Jinping arrives in Chennai for two-day informal summit with Modi

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Chennai on Friday for a two-day Informal Summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Mahabalipuram, an ancient historic town with a group of monuments declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, about 58 km from Chennai on the Tamil Nadu coast.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arriving in Chennai for a two-day Informal Summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on October 11, 2019.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arriving in Chennai for a two-day Informal Summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on October 11, 2019.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived here this afternoon for a two-day Informal Summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Mahabalipuram, an ancient historic town with a group of monuments declared as a  UNESCO World Heritage Site, about 58 km from here on the Tamil Nadu coast.
 
The two leaders had their inaugural Informal Summit in Wuhan, China on April 27-28, 2018.
 
"The Chennai Informal Summit will provide an opportunity for the two leaders to continue their discussions on overarching issues of bilateral, regional and global importance and to exchange views on deepening India-China Closer Development Partnership," a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs had said earlier this week.
 
President Xi was received at the airport here by Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and other dignitaries.
 
He was also welcomed at the airport by troupes of dancers who performed folk dances.
 
The Chinese leader will depart for Mahabalipuram later in  the afternoon and will go on a guided tour of three monuments -- Arjuna's Penance, Pancha Rathas and Shore Temple.
 
In the evening, he will witness a cultural performance at the Shore Temple before attending a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Modi.
 
Tomorrow, Modi and Xi will have a tete-e-tete in the morning before going in for delegation-level talks. 
 
Xi will attend a lunch hosted by Modi before leaving for home in the afternoon.
 
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Motorsport: Muddappa tops Drag race; Nivetha, Alisha share honours in Girls category

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Bengaluru’s Hemanth Muddappa (Mantra Racing), astride BMW S1000RR, expectedly dominated the two rounds of the MMSC fmsci Indian National Motorcycle Drag Racing Championship 2019 at the MMRT here last weekend while also setting a record fastest time.
 
In Round-1 of the championship, Muddappa clocked 8.270 secs in the Unrestricted category and bettered that in Round-2 that was run the following day, clocking a blistering 7.976 seconds for the 302-metre dash on the MMRT’s start-finish straight.
 
Nivetha Jessica (Speed Up Racing) and Alisha Abdullah shared the honours across two rounds in the Girls category that made its debut in the National championship. Nivetha won the first round (Saturday) in 16.516 secs while Alisha timed 16.851 in the second round (Sunday).
 
The next two rounds of the championship will be held at the same venue on December 28 and 29.
 
The results:
 
Unrestricted (Round-1): 1. Hemanth Muddappa (Mantra Racing) (08.270secs); 2. Zubair Ali Jung (08.311); 3. Hafizullah Khan (08.448). Round-2: 1. Hemanth Muddappa (07.976); 2. Hafizullah Khan (08.150); 3. Zubair Ali Jung (08.381).
 
361-550cc (Round-1): 1. Anandhu KK (12.488); 2. Attaulla Baig (12.805); 3. Aiyaz (13.056). Round-2: 1. Aiyaz (12.455); 2. Attaulla Baig (12.714); 3. Anandhu KK (12.774).
 
226-360cc (Round-1): 1. Yogeshwaran (13.440); 2. S Ravi (13.913); 3. A Shankar Guru (13.933). Round-2: 1. Alexander AS (13.373); 2. Yogeshwaran (13.499); 3. Bharathraj (13.617).
 
166-225cc (Round-1): 1. Badusha M (14.996); 2. Manoj Kumar S (15.037); 3. Ahamed Vasin (15.441). Round-2: 1. Deepak N (14.784); 2. Badusha M (14.796); 3. Ahamed Vasin (15.315).
 
GIRLS (Up to 165cc, Round-1): Nivetha Jessica (Speed Up Racing) (16.516); 2. Alisha Abdullah (16.871); 3. A Soundari Anantharaj (Speed Up Racing) (16.890). Round-2: 1. Alisha Abdullah (16.851); 2. Nivetha Jessica (Speed Up Racing) (16.911); 3. Ann Jennifer (17.005).
 
2-Stroke 131-165cc (Round-1): 1. Mohammed Rafiq (13.029); 2. Syed Nayeem (13.143); 3. Manoj Kumar (13.304). Round-2: 1. Mohammed Rafiq (12.945); 2. Manoj Kumar (13.303); 3. Rajesh S (13.338). Up to 130cc (Round-1): Mohammed Rafiq (13.888); 2. R Madhan Kumar (13.965); 3. Syed Nayeem (14.039). Round-2: 1. Mohammed Rafiq (13.571); 2. Syed Nayeem (13.784); 3. R Madhan Kumar (13.869).
 
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Motor Sport: National titles for Deepak Ravikumar, Sarath Kumar, Venkatesan and Ryhana Bee

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Deepak Ravikumar of TVS Racing annexed the premier Pro-Stock 301-400cc title on a day dominated by Idemitsu Honda Ten10 Racing as the fifth and final round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship 2019 concluded at the MMRT here today.
 
Ravikumar’s win today, his fourth this season, denied Honda a clean sweep of titles in the Pro-Stock category. While TVS had something to celebrate, Honda riders, Anish Shetty (Pro Stock 201-300cc) and Sarath Kumar (Pro-Stock 165cc) won the championship in their respective categories. 
 
Shetty, who had sealed the championship yesterday itself, finished the season with a double and seven wins on the trot, while Sarath won his first national championship title in nine years despite finishing third in his race.
 
The other national champions to emerge on the concluding day were Chennai riders Venkatesan I of Team Moto Maniacz in the Novice (Stock 165cc) and Ryhana Bee of Sparks Racing in the Girls category.
 
While Ravikumar had to fight hard for his crucial win, Sarath played it smart to finish third behind Jagan Kumar (TVS Racing) and a charging Kevin Kannan (Idemitsu Honda Ten10 Racing).
 
Likewise, Ryhana Bee rode carefully and was content to finish third that earned her sufficient points to win the championship. Finishing ahead of Ryhana in the race were 2018 champion Ann Jennifer (Sparks Racing) and Alisha Abdullah (Alisha Racing).  
 
“I am absolutely delighted to win a National championship after a lapse of nine years. We had a strategy for today’s race and I am happy that it worked well,” said Sarath Kumar who had a brief stint in the FIM Moto3 World Championship a few years ago before a knee injury severely affected his racing career as the healing process took much longer than expected.
 
The Pro-Stock 165cc race turned out to be a two-man show with Kannan and Jagan exchanging lead through the eight laps while Sarath seemed content to be in a lonely third spot while behind him, championship contender Rajiv Sethu, who had won six races on the trot earlier this season, gradually faded from the contest. By finishing third, Sarath picked up sufficient points to clinch the title ahead of Sethu and Jagan Kumar.
 
The Girls race saw defending champion Ann Jennifer hitting the front and go on to win with a measure of comfort with Lani Zena Fernandez (Demonz Racing) and Alisha Abdullah (Alisha Racing) following home. Ryhana Bee finished fourth. However, after the post-race scrutiny, Lena was disqualified for “technical violation” and Ryhana was elevated to third place. Ryhana, thus, finished with a tally of 123 and secured the championship while Jennifer (108) was placed second.
 
“Since I had a bad qualifying session, I started only fourth on the grid and with the championship in stake, I was intent on collecting points without taking any risks. This is my first National championship title and I am extremely happy. My thanks to my team, Sparks Racing, Yamaha and all the mechanics who worked behind the scene,” said Ryhana.
 
In the Idemitsu Honda India Talent Cup came from Chennai’s Md Mikail notched eight consecutive wins for the title in the NSF 250R class (FIM Moto3 spec bikes). Aizwal’s Lal Nunsanga who finished with seven wins, including a double in the final round, emerged champion in CBR 150 class.
 
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Motor Sport: Anish Shetty, Mohamed Mikail seal titles

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Bengaluru-based fitness trainer Anish Damodara Shetty (Idemitsu Honda Ten10 Racing) posted his sixth win in a row to annex the Pro-Stock 201-300cc title in the fifth and final round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship at the MMRT here today.
 
Meanwhile, 15-year old Mohamed Mikail from Chennai chalked up his sixth consecutive win and seventh from eight starts in the NSF 250R (FIM Moto3-spec bikes) category of the Idemitsu Honda India Talent Cup with two races to spare and which would be run tomorrow.
 
Finishing second behind Mikail was 12-year old Sarthak Shrikant Chavan from Pune ahead of Gadag’s 19-year old Kritik Vasanth Habib.
 
Also scoring a decisive win was Abhimanyu Gautam (Sparks Racing) from Jind, Haryana, in the Novice (Stock 165cc) category to move to the top of the leaderboard in this class.
 
Experienced Sarath Kumar (Idemitsu Honda Ten10 Racing) eked out a close win over TVS Racing’s Jagan Kumar to jump into championship lead in the Pro-Stock 165cc category. He leads team-mate Rajiv Sethu by six points. Sethu finished fifth. Kevin Kannan ensured a double podium for Honda by coming in third ahead of TVS Racing’s KY Ahamed after the six-lap race was red-flagged and reduced to four following a big crash involving two riders, Akash C and Anand R (both riders ok) at the back of the field.
 
The 24-year old Shetty, who hails from Hubballi, Karnataka, took an unassailable lead in the championship standings with a tally of 190 points, 67 clear of second-placed team-mate Abhishek Vasudev, with one more race to be run tomorrow and a maximum of 50 points at stake. Incidentally, it is Shetty’s second championship, having won the Pro-Stock 165cc title last year.
 
The race was reduced to four laps from scheduled six following a crash involving Jagan Kumar (TVS Racing) and Satyanarayana Raju (Gusto Racing) who were competing in the Pro-Stock 301-400cc category that was run on the same grid as the 201-300cc class.
 
After the race, Gusto Racing’s Karthik Mateti from Hyderabad was declared the winner (301-400cc) ahead of fellow-Hyderabadi Rahil Pillari Shetty (Sparks Racing) and Chennai’s KY Ahamed (TVS Racing). Deepak Ravikumar (TVS Racing), who finished fourth, continues to head the championship with a 12-point lead over Ahamed with Mateti a further 11 points behind in third spot.
 
“At the start of the season, my goal was to win the championship in my category and I am happy that could achieve that. My thanks to my entire team, especially owner Ramji Govindarajan sir who all worked hard towards my success. My aim is to compete and win all formats of two-wheeler racing. Earlier this year, I won the Desert Storm (Cross-country Rally) and now this.
 
“Today, I knew if I win, I would seal the championship. Initially, I rode hard, seeing I had a good lead, I eased up. To win six races in a row is just amazing!” said a beaming Shetty.
 
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Pole for Deepak Ravikumar, Anish Shetty, Ahamed tops PS 165cc qualifying session

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TVS and Honda set up another mouth-watering wheel-to-wheel battle as they shared the qualifying honours in the fifth and final round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship at the MMRT here today.
 
KY Ahamed (01:53.674) led a 1-2 for TVS Racing in the premier Pro-Stock 301-400cc class along with Deepak Ravikumar (01:53.823) while Idemitsu Honda Ten10 Racing dominated the Pro-Stock 201-300cc category with Anish Shetty (01:57.646) and Abhishek Vasudev (01:58.281) occupying the top two spots on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
 
In the popular Pro-Stock 165cc class, Honda and TVS set the tone for tomorrow’s qualifying and race. Sarath Kumar (Idemitsu Honda Ten10 Racing, 01:59.790) was the quickest in the Free Practice session ahead of two TVS Racing riders, KY Ahamed (01:59.793) and seven-times National champion Jagan Kumar (02:00.121) while championship leader Rajiv Sethu (Idemitsu Honda Ten10 Racing) was fourth in 02:00.702.
 
In the Girls category, defending champion Ann Jennifer (Sparks Racing) clocked 02:11.902 in her flying lap to qualify for pole position ahead of Lani Zena Fernandez of Speed Demonz Racing (02:13.599) while championship leader Ryhana Bee (Sparks Racing) was fourth (02:14.212) behind Alisha Abdullah (Alisha Racing, 02:14.087).
 
The qualifying session for the Novice (Stock 165cc) saw Abhimanyu Gautam (Sparks Racing), Manoy Y (Team Motomaniacz) and championship leader I Venkatesan (Team Motomaniacz) occupying the front row in that order for tomorrow’s race that will see a massive 40-bike grid. The qualifying session was run in two batches in view of the large number of entries.
 
 Meanwhile  the FMSCI, governing body for motorsport in India, and the Madras Motor Sports Club, felicitated Aishwarya Pissay, winner of the FIM Baja World Cup (women’s category). 
 
FMSCI also organised a workshop on fitness for women riders competing in the ongoing National Motorcycle Racing Championship, with Manav Mukund, Director, Strength and Conditioning, Sports Dynamix, making a presentation.
 
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Rajnath commissions Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Varaha’

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday called for proactive coordination among all agencies and stakeholders involved in coastal security to achieve the common goal of national security. 
 
Addressing a gathering at the commissioning ceremony of Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) "Varaha", the Minister expressed confidence that the vessel will further strengthen the Coast Guard fleet in responding to the threats of maritime terrorism, smuggling and challenges of maritime law enforcement. 
 
The ship will enhance the surveillance and patrolling capabilities of Indian Coast Guard and reinforce its role as "Sentinels of our Seas", he added.
 
Highlighting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), he said, as a responsible maritime power, oceans have been the Government’s foremost policy priorities.
 
He described ICGS Varaha as a fine example of collaboration with industry and Make in India where Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Shipbuilding has played a very important role in the production and maintenance of India’s sea-based assets.
 
Rajnath Singh said, “The name ‘Varaha’ is taken from Puranas, who was the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu which took the form of Boar to protect mother earth by carrying her out of the sea on his tusks. It reminds us of the principle of sacrifice and rescue in the duty of saving mother earth.”
 
He also stressed the need to ensure the availability of world-class assets, both commercial vessels and warships, in adequate numbers to achieve maritime supremacy. He said there was no other way of providing the needed numbers than having a strong and vibrant shipbuilding industry.
 
“Great fleets cannot be just bought, they have to be built,” he said. Appreciating the important role played by private players in the indigenisation of shipbuilding technology, he urged them to develop naval equipment of stringent standards.
 
The Government has taken a conscious decision to encourage other shipyards, including private yards, to enter the specialised field of warship-construction. He termed the response as encouraging.
 
“There are not many countries in the world having the capability to produce such a wide variety of warships ranging from Fast Attack Craft to Aircraft Carrier,” he added.
 
Rajnath Singh said an Indian Naval Indigenisation Plan from 2015-2030, as a guideline document, has been formulated in pursuance to the Government’s vision of ‘Make in India’. 
 
The document is aimed to enable indigenous development of equipment and systems over the next 15 years.
 
He commended the ‘Swachh Sagar Abhiyan’ of Indian Coast Guard in line with ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ saying that “clean oceans are important for India’s economic prosperity and sustainability.” 
 
ICGS ‘Varaha’ is capable of carrying pollution response equipment. He also lauded the initiatives of ICG like Community Interaction Programmes and Safety Awareness drives for the fishermen and making them as “eyes and ears” for a national cause.
 
Earlier, ICGS ‘Varaha’, the state-of-the-art offshore patrol vessel, was commissioned into the Coast Guard fleet. It is the fourth among the series of seven ships to be delivered by L&T with features like ultra-advanced navigation, communication sensors and machinery. 
 
It will operate from the port of New Mangalore on the West Coast covering the Exclusive Economic Zone up to Kanyakumari.
 
ICGS ‘Varaha’ is capable of operating the indigenously-developed Advanced Light Helicopter by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The ship is well equipped with high-speed boats, medical facilities and modern surveillance systems.
 
Rajnath Singh also undertook a tour of ICGS ‘Varaha’ and was briefed about the functioning of the vessel by ICG Director-General K Natarajan.
 
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Rajnath calls for 24x7 vigil in maritime domain to thwart terrorist threats

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has called for a 24x7 vigil, coordination and a pro-active approach from all agencies in the maritime domain to thwart any potential threats posed by "non-state" as well as "state-sponsored" terrorism.
 
Speaking at the investiture ceremony of Indian Coast Guard (ICG) here yesterday, the Minister said, “The security on land is strongly linked to security at sea. Our country is facing significant challenges from 'non-state', as well as 'state-sponsored' terrorism.
 
“The 26/11 attack happened through sea route only. It is the strong resolve of this government that we will not let such incidents happen in our territory,” he added.
 
Rajnath Singh also lauded the ICG for playing a pivotal role in building the synergy and cohesion of efforts between all stakeholders responsible for ensuring safety and security in the maritime zones.
 
Describing the Coast Guard as a vibrant force, he noted that the ICG has been in the forefront in evolving regional cooperation and is steadily working with international maritime agencies for lasting maritime peace in the Indian Ocean region.
 
He expressed happiness that ICG has become a maritime force to reckon with and is responding to a multitude of challenges in the maritime sphere with professionalism and pride.
 
Rajnath Singh acknowledged that ICG has made an impact in its Area of Responsibility due to its omnipresence and commitment to ensuring safer seas for mariners.
 
“Each successful mission resonates the efficiency of the officers and men and highlights the effective response capabilities of this service,” he added.
 
Apart from saving one precious life every second day at sea, Indian Coast Guard was actively involved in saving over 4,000 precious lives during the recent flood disaster relief operation “Sahayata” in Coastal States of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.
 
The ICG also proved its prowess and reach by undertaking major fire-fighting operation onboard Merchant Ship Daniela off Colombo, Motor Tanker Genessa off Kandla and Merchant Vessel Maersk Honam on the fringes of Indian Search and Rescue Region and thus carved a niche among International Maritime community.
 
“The service created a maritime history by seizing 1.5 tonnes of heroin from Merchant Ship Henry, dealing a blow to anti-national elements by averting misuse of funds that would have been generated from contraband. These are just a few of many such incidents wherein Indian Coast Guard has lived up to its reputation as ‘Sentinels of Sea,” he added.
 
Listing out the measures being taken by the Government for President’s Tatrakshak Medal and Tatrakshak Medals awardees, he said a proposal to confer a scroll signed by the President for the awardees has been approved by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and submitted to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
 
A proposal for inclusion of ICG medals in Order of Precedence (OOP) is under consideration of the MoD in consultation with the Ministry of Home Affairs so that the awardees are not deprived of the prestige and benefits.
 
Congratulating all the awardees at the ceremony, Rajnath Singh lauded the tremendous courage and dedication to the nation they displayed under testing conditions. He expressed the hope that the recognition further motivate the ICG personnel and they go the extra mile while discharging the mandate of the vibrant maritime force.
 
Earlier, he conferred gallantry and meritorious service medals on ICG personnel. A total of 61 awards including one President’s Tatrakshak Medal (Gallantry), eight President’s Tatrakshak Medals (Distinguished Service), 32 Tatrakshak Medals (Gallantry) and 20 Tatrakshak Medals (Meritorious Service) were conferred.
 
The President Tatrakshak Medals and Tatrakshak Medals are awarded as recognition to selfless devotion to duty, exemplary courage and acts of valour under extreme condition to the officers and men.
 
Director General Indian Coast Guard K Natarajan, senior officials of MoD and Indian Coast Guard were present on the occasion.
 
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Decks cleared for Rupa Gurunath to become new TNCA chief

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Former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President N. Srinivasan's daughter Rupa Gurunath is all set to become the first woman President of a BCCI state body at the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association's (TNCA) annual general meeting on September 26.
 
As per sources in the know of things, the decision was taken at TNCA's executive committee meeting on Sunday, and Gurunath is unlikely to face any opposition with the last date for filing nomination being September 24.
 
The other candidates who are front runners to form the panel are R. S. Ramaswamy for Vice President, K. A. Shankar for Joint Secretary and J. Parthasarathy for Treasurer.
 
The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the TNCA to hold polls to elect its office-bearers. A bench comprising Justices S. A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao said that the election results will be subject to the final order.
 
Senior advocate P. S. Narasimha, who is assisting the apex court as amicus curiae, contended that only four out of the 38 cricket associations in the country had failed to adopt the new BCCI constitution. But the SC allowed the state body to go ahead with the elections.
 
On Saturday, Jaydev Shah was named the President of the Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) as electoral officer Varesh Sinha declared the name of the five office-bearers of the SCA along with 11 apex council members duly elected to their respective posts.
 
While Shah was elected President, Dipak Lakhani was named the Vice-President, Himanshu Shah the Secretary, Karan Shah the Joint Secretary and Shyam Raichura the Treasurer.
 
Son of former BCCI official Niranjan Shah, Jaydev Shah has played 120 first-class matches and captained Saurashtra for a record 110 times. Saurashtra were runners-up in the Ranji Trophy in 2012-13 and 2015-16 and also won the Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2007-08 under his captaincy. He announced retirement from all formats of the game in 2018.
 
Meanwhile, former India captain Sourav Ganguly is also set to be re-elected unopposed as the President of Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).
 
Ganguly's five-member panel did not meet any opposition till the deadline for filing nomination, which was Saturday.
 
The CAB will hold its 85th annual general meeting on September 28.
 
The Supreme Court diktat on Friday had cleared the decks for Ganguly to contest for the president's post.
 
Initially, the SC-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) had said that even the period served in the working committee will be considered while determining the eligibility of the candidates, raising questions over whether Ganguly could seek re-election.
 
Ganguly had stated that there was a year's gap between his working committee tenure and taking over as an office-bearer of the CAB, but that may not have been enough as the new BCCI constitution calls for a three-year "cooling-off" period.
 
But all doubts were cleared on Friday by the CAB-appointed electoral officer Susanta Ranjan Upadhaya, who issued a clarification on the lines of the SC directive that only office-bearers will be considered while deciding the eligibility of a candidate.
 
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John Thomas takes over as General Manager of Southern Railway

John Thomas
John Thomas
John Thomas, an Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE) officer of the 1982 batch, took over as the new General Manager of Southern Railway here today.
 
Prior to this assignment, John was posted as Additional General Manager of South Central Railway at Secunderabad.
 
John completed his graduation (B.Sc.) in Electrical Engineering with Honours at Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh and started his career in the Indian Railways in 1984.
 
In more than three decades of service, he has held several important assignments in Central Railway, South Central Railway and Southern Railway.
 
Amongst the important assignments he has held are: Additional Divisional Railway Manager,  Chennai Division, Chief Electrical Traction Engineer, Chief Electrical Loco Engineer and Chief Safety Officer in Southern Railway; Divisional Railway Manager, Solapur Division, Central Railway;  Chief Electrical Engineer,  South Central Railway and Chief Project Manager, Railway Electrification, Chennai.
 
During his stint as Additional General Manager, South Central Railway, he initiated various innovative measures towards handling issues concerning public grievances and review of zonal performance on critical aspects as safety, security, punctuality, operational efficiency and business. He was also instrumental in handling the massive relief measures undertaken by South Central Railway to render succour to victims of floods in Kerala in 2018, intensively coordinating the entire operations from all over the Zone. 
 
Prior to this, as Chief Electrical Engineer of South Central Railway, he led the zone to achieve national-level recognition in energy conservation, enabling the zone to earn a record nine National Energy Conservation Awards for 2016 from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Power, and Government of India. He has also been instrumental in initiating efforts towards better work efficiency and boosting workforce morale among the loco running staff of the Zone.
 
John has travelled widely for training and study programmes abroad that include training in design of power converters for 3-phase ABB locos at Turgi& Zurich, Oerlikon and Switzerland, a press release from Southern Railway added.
 
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Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict back in prison

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S. Nalini, one of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, was back in prison after her 51-day parole came to an end.
 
She returned to the Vellore Central Prison on Sunday evening.
 
The Madras High Court on September 12 declined to extend her parole.
 
She had sought an extension till October 15 to complete the marriage arrangements for her daughter.
 
On July 25, Nalini was released on a one-month parole. On August 22, the court had extended her parole by three weeks. 
 
The Madras High Court had on July 5 granted a one-month parole to Nalini on her plea for a six-month parole. It had stipulated that Nalini would not meet politicians and the media during this period.
 
Nalini had argued her case in person.
 
In her plea, she said that every life-convict was entitled to a one-month ordinary leave after completing two years in prison and that she had not taken leave even once in the past 27 years in jail.
 
Six others convicted in the case are her husband V. Sriharan alias Murugan, A.G. Perarivalan, T. Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas and Ravichandran.
 
They have been in prison since 1991. A female Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blew herself up at an election rally near Chennai killing the former Prime Minister.
 
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Motorsport: Datta seals Formula LGB 1300 title, Rangasamy, Sharma win MRF F1600 races

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A second-place finish saw Ashwin Datta of Momentum Motorsport emerge champion in the Formula LGB 1300 category with a race to spare in the fifth and final round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Car Racing Championship at the MMRT, here today.
 
On a day of a hectic scramble for points, Mamallapuram’s Raghul Rangasamy eked out a two-point lead over Bengaluru teenager Sohil Shah in the premier MRF F1600 category with a win and a fifth-place finish in the two races run today. Faridabad’s Manav Sharma was the other winner. With two more races to be run tomorrow, Rangasamy has 142 points to Shah’s 140 while Mumbai’s Nayan Chatterjee (121) is placed third.
 
Likewise, in the popular Indian Touring Cars category, Dhruv Mohite (Rayo Racing), driving the Volkswagen factory-supported Vento, moved within four points of leader Arjun Balu (Race Concepts) who retired in today’s race due to a freak incident (tyre deflation) in the very first lap. Mohite went on to finish second behind Volkswagen guest driver Daniel Rowe (South Africa), but earned full quota of 25 points. Balu has 148 points as against Mohite’s 144 going into tomorrow’s final race which will be have a reverse-grid start.
 
Pole-sitter Balu (Race Concepts) pulled out a good lead in the very first lap, but lost the power-steering by Turn-3 when the belt came off. Soon after, the power-steering pulley fell and hit the rim of the left rear tyre leading to deflation and retirement. Up ahead, Rowe and team-mate Mohite, and former National champion Arjun Narendran (Arka Motorsports), a non-registered driver, were involved in a three-way battle. The trio finished the race in that order.
 
Datta, who turns 21 in November, needed just one point to seal the championship going into this weekend and he managed to come in second behind team-mate Deepak Ravikumar and ahead of Mohamed Ryan (M Sport) in the eight-lap race that was run behind a Safety Car in the mid-phase due to on-track incidents involving three cars.
 
The result took Datta’s tally to 163 points, well clear of Sohil Shah (M Sport, 95) who opted not to race in this category and concentrate on his races in the MRF F1600 class. Lying third in the championship is Chirag Ghorpade (Momentum Motorsport, 85).
 
“It feels great to win the championship with one race to spare. I had a good race today, starting from 11th position as I could not post a time in the qualifying session due to some problems with my car. After about three laps, three cars in front of me went off the track and later, myself and Mohit Aryan were dicing for first and second. However, both of us went off the track under late braking in the last lap. In the process, Deepak Ravikumar capitalised and won the race ahead of me,” said Datta.
 
Mumbai’s Saurav Bandyopadhyay, following a third-place finish behind two South African Guest drivers, Jeffrey Kruger and Tasmin Peper in the Volkswagen Ameo Class race, maintained his top spot on the leaderboard with 357 points, ahead of Pratik Sonawane (334) from Pune and Hyderabad’s Jeet Jhabakh (328) with two more races to be run tomorrow.
 
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Motorsport: Double for Raghul Rangasamy; Chirag Ghorpade, Saurav Bandyopadhyay grab pole positions

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Defending champion Raghul Rangasamy, hailing from the nearby temple town of Mamallapuram, pulled off a grand double to put himself in contention for the title in the premier MRF F1600 category on the opening day of the fifth and final round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Car Racing Championship at the MMRT here today.
 
Rangasamy, 26, shrugged off an otherwise inconsistent season so far, and won two of the three races today that were carried over from the rain-affected Round 4, besides finishing second behind Bengaluru’s Yash Aradhya in the other outing to pick up as many as 68 points.
 
Rangasamy thus jumped five spots to move from seventh to second on the leaderboard. He lies just seven points behind championship leader 18-year old Sohil Shah from Bengaluru who drew blank in today’s Race-3 due to a drive-shaft problem after finishing second and third in the other two races.    
 
With four races of the final round to be run over the next two days and a maximum of 100 points to be won, the championship is finely poised. Shah (114 points), Rangasamy (107) and Nayan Chatterjee (97) occupy the top three spots. Behind the trio are Aradhya (86), Vishnu Prasad (85) from Chennai and Faridabad’s Manav Sharma (70).
 
In the day’s first race, Aradhya scripted a lights-to-flag victory with seasoned Rangasamy in close attendance while Shah did well to finish third after starting eighth on the grid. Rangasamy then took charge of the remaining two races that he started from pole position, winning both quite comfortably.
 
Meanwhile, Bengaluru’s Chirag Ghorpade (Momentum Motorsports) qualified for pole position in the Formula LGB 1300 category where Chennai-based Ashwin Datta has virtually clinched the title, enjoying a 50-point lead going into this weekend’s doubleheader. Datta’s closest rival, Sohil Shah, opted out of the two races, preferring to focus on the MRF F1600 championship which he leads.
 
Mumbai’s Saurav Bandyopadhyay took pole position in the Volkswagen Ameo Class ahead of two guest drivers from South Africa, Tasmin Peper and Jeffrey Kruger. Bandyopadhyay currently leads the championship in this category.
 
The results (Provisional, all 8 laps unless mentioned):
 
MRF F1600 (Carry Over from Round 4) (Race-2): 1. Yash Aradhya (Bengaluru) (13mins, 33.380secs); 2. Raghul Rangasamy (Mamallapuram) (13:33.616); 3. Sohil Shah (Bengaluru) (13:39.154). Race-3: 1. Raghul Rangasamy (13:31.752); 2. Sohil Shah (13:33.747); 3. Vishnu Prasad (Chennai) (13:37.234). Race-4: Raghul Rangasamy (13:29.886); 3. Nayan Chatterjee (Mumbai) (13:35.915); 3. Yash Aradhya (13:37.252).
 
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