IMD issues red alert for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, heavy rainfall predicted

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a red alert for Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry stating that heavy to heavy rainfall likely to occur at isolated places in these states on October 7 after a cyclonic circulation developed in southeast Arabian Sea.

Dr K Satyagopal, Tamil Nadu Relief Commissioner reportedly said, “The IMD has predicted widespread heavy rain and isolated extremely heavy rainfall on the 7th. Highly vulnerable areas are being monitored. New storm water drains have been constructed and damaged one have been repaired.”

In view of the IMD alert the Tamil Nadu government has announced holiday for schools and colleges in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts today.

Red alert has been sounded in Idukki and Malappuram districts.

According to reports disaster management and relief officials said that precautions have been taken and rescue workers are ready for any situation.

On October 4 shutters of dams in Thrissur and Palakkad districts were lifted to drain out excess water. The sea condition is also expected to be very rough and fishermen have been warned not to venture into deep sea.

Satyagopal added that the Mettur reservoir and the water bodies, which are full, are being closely watched.

Relief commissioner added, “The State Disaster Relief Fund has been strengthened and 1275 young police personnel have been trained.” 

India and Kazakhstan agree to step up Defence and Military Technical Cooperation

India and Kazakhstan agreed to step up their cooperation in the defence and military Technical sector. The agreement came after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met her counterpart Nurlan Yermekbayev during her three-day visit to Kazakhstan capital Astana from October 02.  

Sitharaman also met her Kazakh counterpart and Minister of Defence and Aerospace Industry Beibut Atamkulov and discussed a wide range of issues relating to defence and military technical cooperation. They also took stock of the progress that the bilateral relationship has made since the renewal of the MoU on defence cooperation in January 2017.

India and Kazakhstan Defence Cooperation includes military-technical cooperation, military education and training, joint military exercises, bilateral exchange of visits and cadet youth exchange programs.  Over 200 Kazakh Defence Forces Personnel have undergone military training in India till date. 

The two nations successfully conducted a company level joint military exercise ‘KAZIND-2018’ in South Kazakhstan, last month. India and Kazakhstan are bound by historical and cultural ties and this has laid a strong foundation for the multifaceted cooperation.  Both countries are Strategic Partners since 2009.

Nirmala Sitharaman also discussed issues relating to defence production with Atamkulov. The possibilities of joint production were discussed based upon the relative strengths and experience of both sides. She also discussed regional developments with the Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov. The Kazakhstan FM appreciated India’s position and experience as a major force in UN Peace Keeping and contributor peace building in various parts of the world under the UN mandate.

Moreover, Sitharaman invited the Minister of Defence, Nurlan Yermekbayev and Minister of Defence and Aerospace Industry, Beibut Atamkulov to visit India and to attend the Aero India 2019, to be held in Bengaluru in February 2019. 

Bengaluru: Newly elected Deputy Mayor Ramila Umashankar passes away

The newly elected deputy mayor of Bengaluru Ramila Umashankar died of a cardiac arrest on Friday. She was 44.

Ramila from JDS was elected as the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) deputy mayor on September 2.

Umashakar is survived by her husband and two children.

On Thursday, she had participated in the Namma Metro flagging off event with the chief minister.

Chief Minister of Karnataka HD Kumaraswamy expressed heartfelt condolences on the demise of Deputy Mayor.

“Deeply saddened to hear of the demise of Deputy Mayor Rameela Umashankar. She had actively participated with us at the Namma Metro flagging off event just yesterday. She was a dedicated social worker and committed party worker. It’s shocking to learn that she is no more with us,” Kumaraswamy tweeted.

Kumaraswamy further said, “My heartfelt condolences to her family. May her soul rest in peace. Pray the Almighty gives courage and strength to the family to bear this loss. #RameelaUmashankar #RIP.”

Russian President Putin arrives in India, likely to sign S-400 Triumf air defence system deal

Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 4 arrived in India to attend the 19th India-Russia bilateral annual summit. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj received the president at the Palam Airport. Russian President Putin, who is on a two-day visit to India met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his house today.

Key features of visit:

According to reports Putin will be signing a deal for Russia’s S-400 Triumf air defence system.

On October 5, Putin and PM Modi will also hold delegation level talks at 11:30 am to discuss a host of issues, including key bilateral as well as regional issues such as US sanctions on Iranian oil, Russian arms exports, during the meeting.

On October 5, at around 2.30 pm, Putin will interact with a group of talented children at ITC Maurya hotel, where India-Russia Business summit is slated to take place at 3.30 pm.

Russian President Putin will also meet President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

On the same day he will leave for Moscow at 6 pm.

J&K police arrest 2 Hizbul Mujahideen in Kupwara District

The Jammu and Kashmir police on October 4 busted an over ground module of the Hizbul Mujahideen operating in the Lolab area in Kupwara District.

The police acted on a specific input, and detained two over ground workers (OGW) of banned terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen named Shakir Ahmad Wani and Ghulam Mustafa Sheikh, both are the residents of Tekipora in Lolab. They are currently being questioned.

Initially after questioning a pistol was recovered on their disclosure.

OGWs were engaged in providing logistical support to terrorists apart from luring more people into the path of terrorism.

Police has registered an FIR and further investigation is going on.

Earlier in September another Hizbul Mujahideen OGW, tasked to revive militancy in state’s Chinab valley, was arrested from Kishtwar District.

International Court of Justice to hear Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case from February 2019

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will start the final round of hearing to decide India’s appeal against Khulbhushan Jadhav’s execution from February 18 to 21 next year in The Hague.

Jadhav, 47, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on charges of spying and being involved in sabotage activities in Balochistan province in April 2017.

A press statement issued on by the UNs’ principal judicial organ on October 3 said that the hearings will be streamed live on the court’s website and UN Web TV, the UN’s online TV channel.

India moved the ICJ in May 2017 against the verdict. Jadhav’s execution was halted on India’s appeal pending the final judgment in the case.

Both India and Pakistan have already submitted their detailed pleas and responses in the ICJ.

In its submission to the ICJ Pakistan claims that its security forces arrested Jadhav from the Balochistan province in March 2016 after he reportedly entered the country from Iran with the intention of spying and carrying out sabotage activities.

However, India approached ICJ for “egregious” violation of the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, by Pakistan in the case.

FM Arun Jaitley cuts Excise duty on fuel by Rs 1.50; petrol, diesel to get cheaper by Rs 2.50

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday announced a cut of Rs 1.50 in excise duty for petrol and diesel.

Jaitley said that the oil companies would further cut the fuel rates by Re 1, which means that petrol and diesel are set to get cheaper by Rs 2.50.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Jaitley said, “The excise duty will be reduced by Rs 1.50 and Oil marketing companies (OMCs) will absorb Re 1. Thus, a total of Rs 2.50 will be reduced on both diesel and petrol.”

“We are appealing to the state governments that as the central government is cutting Rs 2.50 on both petrol and diesel, they also do the same,” Jaitley added.

The rate cut comes after PM Narendra Modi took up the issue of rising fuel prices with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who then discussed ways to lessen the burden on the common man. 

The new rates will be applicable from midnight.

Pakistan seeks US help in facilitating bilateral talks with India

Pakistan is seeking US role in facilitating talks with India because the two nations are not engaging bilaterally on the same, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said, warning that absence of facilitation could lead to escalation of tension between both the nations.

The latest Pakistani request on the same has again been rejected by the US, the top Pakistani diplomat told a Washington audience on October 3, a day after he had meetings with Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State and National Security Advisor John Bolton, during which he raised the issue of bilateral talks with India only to be pushed back by the Trump administration.

Qureshi further said, “When we asked the US, to play a facilitating role…Why do we ask? Simply because we are not engaging bilaterally. And that bilateral disengagement is…a distraction. We want to focus, we want to move on the western side of the border, which we are not being able to because we have to watch our back from eastern side (towards India). That is not a healthy situation to be in.”

Pak foreign minister further said, “Now can you (United States) facilitate? The answer from them is no. They wanted (it done) bilaterally. But there is no bilateral movement.”

He alleged that India backed off, referring to the cancellation of his meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly session.

Qureshi also added that the stalled dialogue process is not good for the two nations and the region.

Chanda Kochhar resigns as ICICI Bank CEO

Chanda Kochhar on Thursday resigned as CEO of ICICI Bank. Kochhar will be replaced by Sandeep Bakhshi, who currently serves as executive director and chief operating officer at ICICI Bank.

Kochhar, 56, had requested for early retirement and will relinquish office from the board of directors with immediate effect, the bank said.

ICICI Bank also clarified that the ongoing probe into allegations of financial impropriety and conflict of interest against her will remain unaffected.  

“The enquiry instituted by the Board will not be affected by this and certain benefits will be subject to the outcome of the enquiry,” the board said in a statement.

Bakhshi’s appointment as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer was decided by Board of Directors.  His appointment will be for a period of five years until October 3, 2023, subject to various approvals. 

Himachal Pradesh: IAF airdrops food material at Bara Bhangal in Kangra district

An Indian Air Force (IAF) chopper on Thursday airdropped the food material at Bara Bhangal inside the Dhauladhar Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district, an area not accessible by road, an official said.

As per the reports, there has been an acute shortage of ration owing to closure of trekking routes following heavy snowfall in September.

The Himachal government had arranged a helicopter for air dropping ration for the stranded shepherds due to sudden snowfall.

Moreover, the officials conducted an aerial survey, including over the Thamsar Pass, Jalsu and Khalihani Pass, to search for people stranded.

The officials ruled out media reports of starvation, largely among shepherds, with the closure of pathways after the snowfall in the region.

Ahead of winter’s onset, many of Bara Bhangal residents migrate to Bir in Baijnath subdivision, near Palampur town.

The Dhauladhar Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh is spread over 944 sq km at an altitude above 3,000 metres.