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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.
 
IANS
 

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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.
 
IANS
 

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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.
 
IANS
 

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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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Woman run over after being hit by AIADMK hoarding in Chennai

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Subashree, a 23-year-old woman working in a software company, was run over by a water tanker as she fell down on the road when an illegal life-size hoarding put up by a ruling AIADMK functionary fell on her on Thursday.
 
Even though the Madras High Court had banned hoardings in public places, an AIADMK party official C. Jayagopal had put up the banner at the centre of the busy Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam Radial Road.
 
Subashree was returning home from office when the accident happened.
 
The banner had the images of Chief Minister K. Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and others for a family wedding.
 
Panneersevlam had attended that wedding.
 
Expressing his condolence at Subashree's death, DMK President M.K.Stalin tweeted: "How many lives have to be sacrificed for such arrogance of power."
 
He said an illegal hoarding had killed Subashree owing to government's carelessness, irresponsibility of the officials and the inability of the police.
 
Action has been initiated against the people who had installed the banner and the tanker driver has been arrested for rash driving, the police said.
 
The Chennai Corporation has sealed the printing press that printed the banner.
 
IANS
 

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Govt to front-load infra spending to revive economy: FM

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Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday shrugged off questions on the GDP growth declining to 5 per cent in Q1, saying a dip in growth is part of the process and the government will front-load infra spending as much as possible to revive demand and consumption in the economy.
 
Sitharaman said a dip in the GDP is part of the growth cycle and the government is conscious that it has to respond.
 
"It's not that government is not responding with measures to boost GDP. A dip in GDP is part of growth. Our full focus is now on how GDP can rise in the next quarter," she said while addressing media on the actions and decisions of her ministry in 100 days of Modi 2.0.
 
"We will try to front-load infra spending as much as possible," she added, adding: "We are taking steps to increase consumer confidence in the market."
 
The government recently set up a task force, headed by the Economic Affairs Secretary, to draw up a National Infrastructure Pipeline of Rs 100 lakh crore. In the July Budget, the government had announced Rs 100 lakh crore investment in infra sector for the next 5 years.
 
According to her, the task force is in the process of identifying the infrastructure projects to be funded, as well as expedited, and the Central government will start funding infrastructure projects once it submits its report.
 
Sitharaman also said the government is working on a few steps for the auto industry.
 
"Government is conscious of the need to respond to the slowdown in the auto sector," she said.
 
The auto industry is a big job-creating industry and reported a 23 per cent drop in sales, the lowest since 1997-98. It is in the grip of a severe slowdown and has evoked a lot of concern.
 
Responding to a query over GST rate cut for the auto industry, Sitharaman said it is a matter to be decided by the GST Council. She said the government is conscious of the need to respond to check the auto slowdown.
 
The minister also expressed worry over the low GST revenue collections. The gross GST collection in August 2019 stood at Rs 98,202 crore, up 4.51 per cent from Rs 93,960 crore in the same month last year. The GST collection, although higher on a year-on-year basis, is still lower than the government's expectation of Rs 1 trillion.
 
"GST revenue collections need attention and government needs to widen the GST revenue collections and widen the basket," she said.
 
Sitharaman also said that the government will respond to homebuyers' problems soon, adding that there was a need to work with other ministries for resolution of their problems.
 
Home buyers and builders have been affected by the slowdown. Buyers are suffering due to unfinished projects because of the NBFC crisis which stopped liquidity to the builders while the builders, too, are hit by a large inventory as consumption has touched a very low patch.
 
"Government's response on home buyers will be sooner than later," she said.
 
On the spate of PSU bank mergers announced by her government that converted 10 PSU banks into four, Sitharaman said that the effective dates of bank mergers will be decided by the individual bank boards.
 
Each bank board will announce PSU merger dates individually, the Minister added.
 
"Banks are grappling with low credit offtake recently and we are taking steps to boost consumer confidence in the market.
 
"The idea to merge the banks was so that all banks can benefit from each other," she said, adding that she is not aware of any unhappiness yet among the bank employees about the mergers.
 
She said the government has provided eight crore gas connections to people in rural areas under the PM Ujjwala Yojana, created a code on wages for equal employment opportunities for women and will soon come out with decisions on realty sector.
 
On the Bimal Jalan panel's suggestions of Rs 1.76 lakh crore surplus transfer from the RBI to the government, she said that the RBI's transfer to the government have been checked by committees earlier too. On the spiralling gold prices, the Minister said that it is not easy for government to control gold prices.
 
On the financial development of Jammu and Kashmir, she said: "J&K won't suffer any financial loss due to removal of Article 370".
 
The steps taken so far from government are: Giving in to the demands of overseas investors, the government rolled back the enhanced surcharge on foreign portfolio investors levied in the Budget. Data showed FPIs have pulled out Rs 23,000 crore from domestic equities in July and August.
 
For the auto sector, it announced that BS IV vehicles bought before March 31, 2020 will remain operational for their full period of registration. Further, the decision to hike the one-time registration fee on vehicles was also deferred until June 2020. The ban on the purchase of vehicles by government departments was lifted, and an additional 15 per cent depreciation, taking it to 30 per cent, allowed on vehicles acquired from now till March 2020.
 
In a major relief to entrepreneurs and startups, the FM said that the 'angel tax' provision will be withdrawn for startups and their investors.
 
The government also assured micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that they will get all their pending GST refunds within 30 days, and further, all GST refunds will be paid within 60 days from the date of application. A decision on recommendations of the U. K. Sinha Committee regarding ease of credit, marketing, technology and delayed payments to MSMEs will be taken within 30 days.
 
It has also announced recap of Rs 55,250 crore in the PSU banks after announcing the mega-mergers of 10 banks.
 
IANS
 

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Ashok Leyland declares no-working days in 5 factories

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Ashok Leyland on Monday declared a 'no-working days' for five of its factories across India, days after it reported a sharp drop of 47 per cent in its sales for the month of August.
 
The commercial vehicle major said that "due to weak demand of our products" the company will see "non-working days at various plant "locations during September 2019".
 
At Ennore in Chennai, the number of non-working says would be 16, at Hosur 1, 2, CPPS it would be 5 while at Alwar, Rajasthan it would be 10.
 
At Bhandara, Maharashtra the number of non-working days will be 10, while for Pantnagar in UP, it will be 18.
 
In a statement issued earlier, the company said that it sold a total of 9,231 units in August, down from 17,386 units sold during the corresponding month in 2018.
 
The company's sales of goods carriers -- light, medium and heavy trucks -- came down to 7,432 units last month from 15,945 units sold in August 2018.
 
On the other hand, bus sales last month went up to 1,799 units from 1,441 units sold in August 2018.
 
IANS
 

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Ahamed leads 1-2-3 finish for TVS Racing in National Motorcycle Racing Championship

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K Y Ahamed led a podium sweep for TVS Racing in the premier Pro-Stock 301-400cc category while Anish Shetty spearheaded a 1-2-3 finish for Idemitsu Honda Ten10 Racing while notching his fifth consecutive win in the Pro-Stock 201-300cc class as the fourth round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship concluded at the MMRT here  on Sunday.
 
Earlier, international rider Rajiv Sethu continued his winning spree in the popular Pro-Stock 165cc category after overcoming a poor start as Idemitsu Honda Ten10 team swept all the podium spots. For 21-year old Chennai-based Sethu, it was his sixth win in a row.
 
Also continuing his golden run was Venkatesan I in the Novice (Stock 165cc) category as he headed a 1-2 finish for Team Moto Maniacz Racing with Manoj Y in tow. For the Chennai-based Venkatesan, it was his fourth win on the trot.
 
Meanwhile, Ryhana Bee, the 22-year old from Chennai, notched her third consecutive win in the Girls category of the National Championship to give herself a 35-point lead over defending champion and Sparks Racing team-mate Ann Jennifer who finished second ahead of Alisha Abdullah (Alishaa Racing).
 
The podium sweep in the 301-400cc category that Ahamed scripted provided a big cheer for TVS Racing on a weekend dominated by arch-rivals Honda. Ahamed managed to finish ahead of his mentor and former seven-times National champion Jagan Kumar who finally picked up his first points this weekend after failing to finish Race-1 and retiring in both the Pro-Stock 165cc races he had taken part. Championship leader in this category, Deepak Ravikumar came in third.
 
Sethu, starting from pole position, had another poor start due to electrical problems, but he recovered quickly to tuck in behind Sarath Kumar even as two key TVS Racing rivals, Jagan Kumar and KY Ahamed, retired due to engine problems. Sethu and Sarath exchanged lead until the last lap when the former moved to the front for his sixth consecutive win. Sarath was content to follow home in second place while team-mate Kevin Kannan crossed the finish line in third position for his maiden podium of the season.
 
Meanwhile, 15-year old Md Mikail, riding the FIM Moto3-spec NSF 250R in the Idemitsu Honda India Talent Cup one-make championship organised by MMSC, completed a treble this weekend as he zipped to his fifth consecutive win and sixth in seven starts.
 
The fifth and final round of the championship will be held at the same venue from September 27 to 29.
 
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Vikram found: ISRO takes photo of moon lander on lunar surface

India's first moon lander Vikram, which separated from its mother spacecraft Chandrayaan-2 on Monday. (Photo: IANS)
India's first moon lander Vikram, which separated from its mother spacecraft Chandrayaan-2 on Monday. (Photo: IANS)
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has found its moon lander Vikram on the lunar surface, said an official. This was hours after the communication link with the lander was lost minutes before its planned soft landing on the lunar surface.
 
"The lander seems to have hit the lunar surface and is in an upturned position," an official told IANS preferring anonymity.
 
He also said there is a possibility of the lander getting broken on impact.
 
The pictures were taken by India's Chandrayaan-2 orbiter that is orbiting the Moon.
 
The Orbiter camera is the highest resolution camera (0.3m) in any lunar mission so far, and shall provide high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community, ISRO had said.
 
Meanwhile according to reports quoting ISRO Chairman K. Sivan, the space agency has the thermal images of the lander on the lunar surface.
 
He said communication link with the lander has not been established after it got snapped on Saturday while attempting the soft landing on the lunar surface.
 
The Rs 978-crore Chandrayaan-2 was launched into space by India's heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III) on July 22.
 
The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft comprised three segments -- the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), Vikram (1,471 kg, four payloads) and Pragyan, the rover (27 kg, two payloads).
 
After five earth-bound orbit raising activities, Chandrayaan-2 was inserted into the lunar orbit. On September 2, Vikram separated from the orbiter.
 
Early on September 7, Vikram while on its descent to soft land on the lunar's south polar region apparently lost control and crashlanded, losing communication links with the ground station.
 
IANS
 

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Deepak Ravikumar holds nerve for brilliant win in Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship

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On a day of serial winners and Honda domination, Deepak Ravikumar spared the blushes for TVS Racing with a brilliant win in the premier Pro-Stock 301-400cc category to consolidate his top position on the leaderboard in the fourth round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship at the MMRT here today.
 
While Ravikumar chalked up his third win of the season, Idemitsu Honda Ten10 Racing camp celebrated as Rajiv Sethu (Pro-Stock 165cc) stormed to his fifth consecutive win in the class and Anish Shetty (Pro-Stock 201-300cc) led a 1-2 finish with his fourth straight success. Not to be outdone, 22-year old from Chennai, Venkatesan I (Moto Maniacz Racing) completed a hat-trick of wins to consolidate his top position in the Novice (Stock 165cc) championship.
 
Ravikumar, a businessman from Chennai and a versatile racer who is a familiar figure on the podium in the National car racing championship, started the race from P3, eased his way past pole-sitter and team-mate Jagan Kumar and Alishaa Racing’s Amarnath Menon to hit the front. With Jagan retiring due to a mechanical issue midway through the six-lap race, Ravikumar opened up a big lead.
 
However, with two laps remaining, he had to deal with an errant sprocket, but he managed to nurse the wobbly bike over the finish line, just ahead of Rahil Shetty (Sparks Racing) and Menon. “For the last two laps, my bike was literally dancing and I had a tough time to control the machine, but somehow managed to maintain my track position,” said a relieved Ravikumar who enjoys a 28-point lead over team-mate KY Ahamed going into tomorrow’s Race-2.
 
The other notable win of the day was by international Rajiv Sethu, the 21-year old also from Chennai. Starting from pole position, Sethu lost two positions in the very first lap with Jagan Kumar establishing a massive lead. However, Jagan crashed in the third lap, leaving Sethu, who had fought his way to second spot, in the lead. Sethu kept his cool despite close attention from Ahamed and team-mate Sarath Kumar to post his fifth straight win of the championship.
 
Likewise, Venkatesan had to work hard for his win in the Novice race that was reduced to four laps from scheduled six following a multiple-bike pile-up immediately after the start, leading to red flag and restart. After a poor start from pole position saw him drop a few positions, Venkatesan fought his way to the front for a deserving third consecutive win.
 
Late in the day, 15-year old Md Mikail from Chennai, completed a double by winning his second race of the day and fourth win in a row and fifth from six starts, in the Idemitsu Honda Talent Cup (NSF 250R).
 
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'Astounded' by allegations against P. Chidambaram: Family

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The family of senior Congress leader and former Union Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday said they are astounded by the allegations of having properties in multiple countries, shell companies and multiple bank accounts against him.
 
In a statement tweeted by Chidambaram's son Karti Chidambaram, the family said: "We are a small family possessed of enough wealth. We are all income tax assesses. We do not crave for money and we have no need to seek money in unlawful ways.
 
"We are therefore astounded by the allegations of properties in multiple countries, multiple bank accounts, numerous shell companies etc. These are chapters plucked out of ghost stories, one day these ghosts will be buried." 
 
The Chidambarams also challenged the government to produce one shred of evidence in support of one undisclosed bank account, one undisclosed property and one shell company anywhere in the world.
 
The family appealed to the media to exercise restraint, uphold liberty and dignity and stressed that only rule of law will protect all of us, including the media.
 
The Chidambarams said they were distressed to note that the media has been reporting unsubstantiated and wild allegations agains the former Union Finance Minister.
 
According to the family, every person is presumed innocent unless proved to be guilty in a court of law.
 
Chidamabaram is currently in CBI custody in connection with the INX Media case.
 
IANS
 

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Parole of convict in Rajiv killing extended

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The Madras High Court on Thursday extended the parole period by three weeks for S. Nalini, one of the seven convicts in the assassination case of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
 
She had petitioned the court for one-month extension so that she could complete the marriage arrangements for her daughter.
 
Nalini had said she was not able to complete the marriage arrangements, adding that her daughter living in London is likely to visit India next month.
 
On July 25, Nalini was released on one-month parole.
 
The Madras High Court had on July 5 granted a one-month parole to Nalini on her plea for a six-month parole to make arrangements for her daughter's wedding.
 
Nalini had argued her case in person.
 
The court had stipulated that Nalini should not meet politicians and media.
 
In her plea, Nalini said every life convict was entitled to one month of ordinary leave after completing two years in prison and that she had not taken leave even once in the past 27 years she has spent in jail.
 
Besides Nalini, the six other convicted in the case are her husband V. Sriharan alias Murugan, A. G. Perarivalan, T. Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas and Ravichandran.
 
All the seven convicts have been in prison since 1991 after a female Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blew herself up while meeting Gandhi at an election rally near Chennai.
 
IANS
 

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My father's arrest political vendetta: Karti Chidambaram

Karti P Chidambaram
Karti P Chidambaram
The dramatic arrest of former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram by the CBI on Wednesday evening is nothing but "a political vendetta", his son and MP Karti P. Chidambaram said.
 
Speaking to reporters, Karti Chidambaram said the alleged act happened in 2008 and there is no charge sheet till now.
 
He recalled that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had summoned him several times and each time he had spent about 10 hours at the investigating office answering questions.
 
His father, too, appeared before the investigating agencies earlier, he added.
 
"But there is no charge sheet till date, which means there is no case at all," Karti Chidambaram said, adding that the arrest had been made "to satisfy someone in the government".
 
He also claimed that the arrest was to divert the nation's attention from other serious issues and denied his father was "absconding" since Tuesday night after the Delhi High Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea and the Supreme Court declined him any interim relief.
 
In a series of tweets earlier, Karti Chidambaram thanked the Congress party for its support to his father and termed the "drama and spectacle" being enacted by the probe agencies was for the "voyeuristic pleasure of some".
 
"The drama and spectacle being enacted by the agencies is to simply sensationalise and satisfy the voyeuristic pleasure of some," he tweeted as CBI and ED officials scaled the boundary wall of the Jor Bagh residence of his father to arrest him.
 
"I am thankful to the @INCIndia Shri @RahulGandhi, @priyankagandhi, for their support. And ever grateful to @KapilSibal, @DrAMSinghvi, @salman7khurshid, for being there with us throughout." 
 
"I have been raided 4 times. Appeared for over 20 summons. Each session for a minimum of 10 to 12 hours. Been a 'guest' of the CBI:) for 12 days. There is still no chargesheet for alleged events which apparently took place in 2008 and a FIR in 2017. There is no case."
 
IANS
 

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Bengaluru teen Sohil Shah wins MRF F1600 race, pole positions for Arjun Balu, Rithvik Thomas

Sohil Shah
Sohil Shah
Bengaluru teenager Sohil Shah made the best of the pole-position start to notch a fine win here today in the premier MRF F1600 category and head the leaderboard in Round 4 of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Car Racing Championship at the MMRT that had a delayed start owing to the rains in the morning.
 
Due to the late start, only two of the four races scheduled for the day could be completed. The remaining races would be added to the six slated for tomorrow which will have an early start 8.15 am. It was a difficult day with changing weather conditions leading to several changes in the schedule.
 
In the day’s other action, Mumbai’s Saurav Bandyopadhyay took the honours in the Ameo Class race while Coimbatore ace Arjun Balu of Race Concepts (01:51.474) and team-mate Bengaluru’s Rithvik Thomas (01:59.425) grabbed pole positions in the Indian Touring Cars and the Super Stock categories, respectively.
 
The lights-to-flag win today was Sohil’s third success in a row, having won the last two races in the previous round last month. With three more races scheduled for this category tomorrow, Sohil heads the championship with 81 points, well clear of Mumbai’s Nayan Chatterjee (63).
 
The finish to the six-lap race (reduced from eight laps), which Sohil dominated while enjoying a commanding lead, was under the safety car which came out following an incident on Lap 5. As the safety car came in on the last lap, Sohil, rolled his car over the finish line ahead of Chennai’s Sandeep Kumar and Manav Sharma (Faridabad).
 
“I enjoyed a good lead through the race until the safety car period. We all bunched up behind the safety car, and I played it safe before crossing the finish line,” said Sohil who has taken a “gap year” after completing the 12th standard.
 
Further down the grid, Nayan Chatterjee (Mumbai) who was leading the championship coming into this round, and Vishnu Prasad (Chennai) received 30-second penalties for overtaking under yellow flag, denying them any points.
 
The results (Provisional):
 
MRF F1600 (Race-1, 6 laps): 1. Sohil Shah (Bengaluru) 1 (11mins, 26.939secs); 2. Sandeep Kumar (Chennai) (11:28.164); 3. Manav Sharma (Faridabad) (11:28.569).
 
Volkswagen Ameo Class (Race-1, 6 laps): 1. Saurav Bandyopadhyay (Mumbai) (11:38.169); 2. Shubhomoy Ball (Bengaluru) (11:42.374); 3. Pratik Sonawane (Pune) (11:43.025).
 
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Tamil Nadu: DMK's Kathir Anand wins Vellore LS seat

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The DMK on Friday won the Vellore Lok Sabha seat with its candidate D. M. Kathir Anand defeating his AIADMK rival.
 
According to the Election Commission, Anand had polled about 4.85 lakh votes as against AIADMK's candidate A.C. Shanmugam who had polled about 4.77 lakh votes.
 
With this victory, the DMK has now increased its number of members in Lok Sabha to 24, while the party-led front has gathered 38 of the state's total 39 seats.
 
In a statement issued here, DMK President M. K. Stalin said the DMK is now the third largest party in the Lok Sabha.
 
Saying 'victory could be delayed but not denied', he thanked the Vellore voters.
 
Counting of votes for the Vellore seat began on Friday morning. The poll was held on August 5.
 
Throughout the counting, Shanmugam and Anand took leads alternately.
 
DMK spokesman T. K. S. Elangovan said the low victory margin may be due to the announcements made by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami "which were in violation of the model code of conduct". The CM had even made a promise to bifurcate the Vellore district, he added.
 
Elections to the Vellore parliamentary seat were due on April 18 during the polling in the state for the Lok Sabha elections but was rescinded after Rs 10 crore were seized allegedly from DMK leaders in the district.
 
The AIADMK campaign was led by Chief Minister Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, while Stalin led the campaign for Anand.
 
DMK activists on Friday celebrated the victory by bursting crackers and distributing sweets.
 
IANS
 

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Motor racing: MMSC delivers another first – night sessions at MMRT circuit

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The Madras Motor Sports Club made history on Wednesday as it took the first baby steps towards full-fledged night racing in the future at the MMRT by conducting a four-hour floodlit test session, the first of its kind in India,  that attracted over 100 participants, a clutch of “supercars”, including a Rolls Royce Phantom, first-timers and battle-hardened professional racing drivers in the fully-prepared racing cars, all of whom gave the initiative a thumbs-up.
 
The first-timers were all excited at the rare opportunity to drive on the track at pace in the night. The professionals, like former Formula 1 racer Karun Chandhok, Aditya Patel, Chetan Korada, Arfath Mohammed, Karthik Tharani, Ishaan Dodhiwala and ex-rally driver Ranjit Ballal suggested improvements in the lighting while hailing  MMSC’s efforts to provide another dimension to motor racing in India.
 
Karun Chandhok, who has raced at night at Le Mans and F1 testing in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, said: “I think what they (the MMSC) have done is very good. We should do more of these events as they will whet the appetite of the people for the sport. I did a few laps here tonight.
 
“The visibility was much better than I expected. Everyone at the club knows the areas to improve. I think, night racing is entirely doable with saloon cars, but with single-seaters, I think there is still a lot of work to do. A huge amount of investment is required to get the level of lighting up to what you need for single-seaters. Aditya (Patel) and I raced each other in saloon cars and were doing 1:55.4, 1:55.0. That is the pace what people do during the daytime. So, it shows the level of lighting is good to race at night with a little improvement.”
 
The night session was conducted in a full-fledged racing environment with temporary floodlight towers in place at select locations, besides Marshals manning the posts around the circuit and other safety precautions.
 
All the participants attended a mandatory pre-session briefing by MMSC Vice-President and former racer Vicky Chandhok on racing regulations and safety. The first-timers were taken around in a convoy behind the Safety Car to learn the racing lines before being allowed to drive at pace. Helmets for the drivers was compulsory. Volkswagen Motorsport provided race-spec Polo, Vento and Ameo cars on hire while some participants opted to drive their own vehicles.
 
MMSC president Ajit Thomas said: “It is a very exciting evening for us. Globally track days are a great way to get people interested in the sport and we realised that with the hot weather in Chennai we needed to do something different. It is the first time that we opened the track up for people to drive at night which makes sense in Chennai. The weather is great and the atmosphere is fantastic. We have some temporary lighting in place as a test, but if we are going to do this on a long-term basis, we will be getting a higher grade lighting on the track. The response has been great with a cross-section of drivers – beginners and professionals.
 
“Based on this response and interest, we are hopeful of running a few events. Initially, maybe more track days, some short events and then endurance races. As far as the costs are concerned, the MMSC has always been constantly ploughing back funds, both from the club and the Trust (the Madras Motor Race Trust) for the overall development of the sport. We have already invested heavily (about Rs 20 Crores) in upgrading the track, the paddock and various facilities and racing equipment. So, going forward, I think we can manage night racing in the future.”
 
An elated Vicky Chandhok said: “I go strictly by the reactions of the participants. The fact that they are smiling ear-to-ear is really important for me. Going by the lap times of the pro drivers, they have matched those done during the day. We will have to make the lighting a bit brighter. Overall, it is nice to see people having a great time here. We are trying to make motorsport fun and develop more fans to come here and enjoy themselves as against serious, hardcore racing.”
 
Former racer and rally champion Harish Samtani applauded MMSC’s latest initiative. “No question that this is a brilliant idea. Globally, night racing, F1 for instance, is catching up. It brings a different paradigm in motorsport. Of course, this is just the beginning. I have spoken with the drivers, both the pros and the newbies. They like the format. It is now up to MMSC to set up a proper, safe lighting environment where one can do serious racing. Definitely, it (night racing) is here to stay.”
 
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(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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Rajiv Sethu makes it four wins in a row, double for Anish Shetty, Venkatesan

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Rajiv Sethu (Idemitsu Honda Ten10 Racing) showed why he is arguably India’s top racing rider at the moment by scrambling to a heart-stopping win, his fourth in a row in the Pro-Stock 165cc class, as the third round of the MRF MMSC fmsci Indian National Motorcycle Racing Championship concluded at the MMRT here.
 
K Y Ahamed brought some cheer for TVS Racing on a day dominated by Honda as he topped the premier 301-400cc class by a comfortable margin to move within three points of his team-mate Deepak Ravikumar (101 points) on the leaderboard. Ravikumar finished third today behind yesterday’s Race-1 winner, Rahil Shetty (Sparks Racing).
 
Also hogging the limelight were Bengaluru-based Anish Shetty (Idemitsu Honda Ten10 Racing) and Chennai’s Venkatesan I (Moto Maniacz Racing) who both achieved a double this weekend in the Pro-Stock 201-300cc and Novice (Stock 165cc) categories, respectively, while Ryhana Bee (Sparks Racing), also from Chennai, took the honours in the Girls race.
 
Sethu, who is growing in stature with each outing and scored a double win in the previous round, held off a late-charging KY Ahamed (TVS Racing) despite a bad start and issues with his bike as the duo crossed the finish line in close formation within one-hundredth of a second between them. Sethu’s team-mate and fellow-international, Sarath Kumar, completed the podium. The victory took Sethu to the top of the leaderboard with 100 points, ahead of Jagan Kumar of TVS Racing (94) and Sarath Kumar (93).
 
The Honda ace, who again failed to capitalise on a pole-position start, yielded ground to seven-times National champion Jagan Kumar who was quick off the grid from third position and built up a commanding lead. However, in the third of the eight-lap race, Jagan retired due to engine issues and Sethu forged to the front with Ahamed hot on his heels. The pair fought tooth and nail and were almost inseparable at the finish line.
 
Shetty, in notching his third win in a row, cemented his position at the top of the championship in his category with 90 points. Shetty again led a 1-2-3 finish for his team like yesterday with Abhishek Vasudev and Aravind Balakrishnan in tow in that order.
 
Chennai’s Ryhana Bee, with the win today, her second in three rounds, took a sizeable lead in the championship with 68 points. Defending champion and team-mate Ann Jennifer crashed in the last of the five laps after Ryhana overtook her. Alisha Abdullah (Alishaa Racing) was second followed by private entrant Nivetha Jessica who is now second on the leaderboard with 42 points ahead of Ann Jennifer (40) with two more rounds to be run in the coming weeks.
 
Later, Md Mikail, the 15-year old from Chennai, won his second race of the weekend riding the FIM Moto3-spec NSF 250R in the Idemitsu Honda India Talent Cup, putting in a hot lap of 01:47.974, in the process.
 
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