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Karnataka Votes Today, Will Set The Path For 2019

The poll is even more crucial for the Congress party: Karnataka is the last big state left under its control following a series of losses.

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A state of 60 million people, Karnataka is home to the Information Technology hub of Benguluru and was ruled by the BJP once before.
Congress may have to taste defeat in Karnataka, VOA

Millions of voters in India’s southern state of Karnataka cast ballots Saturday to choose a regional government in a poll expected to set the stage for national elections next year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party hopes to wrest the key state from the opposition Congress Party and sustain a streak of impressive wins since it swept to power in 2014.

The poll is even more crucial for the Congress party: Karnataka is the last big state left under its control following a series of losses.

“Psychologically, in the perception battle, that both the Congress and BJP are going to mount, this is going to be very, very critical,” said Neerja Chowdhury, an independent political analyst.

Springboard for BJP

A state of 60 million people, Karnataka is home to the Information Technology hub of Benguluru and was ruled by the BJP once before.

The runup to Saturday’s vote saw both Prime Minister Modi and Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi swing through the state in a high decibel campaign.

Political analysts say a victory for the BJP will not just boost its prospects when it seeks a second term in office in 2019, it would also give it a key foothold in southern India. Although the party has expanded its presence significantly since it came to power in 2014, it remains largely confined to northern and western India.

A state of 60 million people, Karnataka is home to the Information Technology hub of Benguluru and was ruled by the BJP once before.
Counting of Karnataka polls will be done on 15th May, VOA

“It will acquire the reputation of a pan India party if it manages to get power in Karnataka,” Chowdhury said.

The race is expected to be a tight one. The BJP has been somewhat on the back foot in recent months as it comes under pressure for not delivering on key promises of firing up the economy and creating millions of jobs for India’s young people. It is also under criticism for failing to control fringe Hindu groups.

Political analysts say a defeat for the BJP would re-energize the opposition Congress party, which hopes to lead an alliance of regional parties against Modi next year and signal that it is on a revival path.

Do or die for Congress

On the other hand, a loss for the Congress would be a huge setback for the grand old party that has ruled India for much of the 70 years since independence.

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“For Congress it is a do-or-die battle, if they lose Karnataka, they would have lost every state that went to the polls since 2014,” said Sandeep Shastri, vice chancellor of Jain University and coordinator of Lokniti, a political research group. Compared with the 22 states that are now controlled by the BJP and its allies, Congress only rules four.

The polls will also gauge whether the popularity of the Indian leader goes beyond the Hindi heartland where he is credited with helping the party pull off several victories. Modi has won a reputation as a formidable campaigner, but his personal charisma remains untested in the south, where most people do not understand the Hindi language and where his election speeches had to be translated for the crowds.

Opinion polls have forecast that there may be no clear winner. Votes will be counted Tuesday. (VOA)

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ISRO Sets up Regional Academic Centre for Space in Karnataka

Both the academic and research institutions will also collaborate in setting up optical telescope facilities under the Netra project for space object tracking, studying space weather, asteroids and near earth objects

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) set up a regional academic centre for space at the National Institute of Technology (NITK) at Surathkal in Karnataka’s southwest Dakshina Kannada district, an official said on Saturday.

“The centre at NIT-K will conduct joint research and development in space technology applications to meet the needs of our space programmes,” space agency’s director for capacity building P.V. Venkitakrishnan said in a statement here.

The state-run ISRO will provide Rs 2 crore grant annually to NIT for the R&D projects and promotional activities through the year.

The space agency and the engineering institute signed an agreement on the industry-academic collaboration on Friday at Surathkal, about 380km from Bengaluru.

“The centre, fourth in the country, will also facilitate promoting space technology in the southern states, including Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana and be an ambassador for capacity-building, awareness and research and development (R&D), said Venkitakrishnan on the occasion.

A joint policy and management committee will guide the centre in optimal utilisation of the research potential, infrastructure, expertise and experience of the space agency and the autonomous institute.

“The committee will plan activities like research programmes of common interest and reviewing their projects periodically,” said the director.

ISRO’s visiting scientists and experts in space technology and NIT faculty members and researchers will direct the centre’s activities, including projects.

ISRO
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan, left, and Junior Indian Minister for Department of Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh address a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

“Students of under-graduation (B.Tech) and post-graduation (M.Tech) will be involved in one-year short-term research projects and 2-4 year long-term projects in advance space programmes,” said NIT K. Umamashewara Rao.

The intellectual property rights (patent) generated in the projects will be jointly owned by ISRO and NITK.

The other three such centres are Malaviya National Institute of Technology at Jaipur in Rajasthan, Gauhati University in Assam’s state capital and Kurukshetra University at Thanesar in Haryana.

In a related development, the city-based space agency also tied up with the state-run Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for cooperating to develop space situational awareness.

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“The agreement envisages utilisation of IIA’s expertise in astrophysics and astronomy for developing advanced technologies for inter-planetary space explorations,” said the space agency’s scientific secretary R. Umamaheswaran.

Both the academic and research institutions will also collaborate in setting up optical telescope facilities under the Netra project for space object tracking, studying space weather, asteroids and near earth objects.

“Collaboration will help us progress in various fields of astrophysics and astronomy,” said IIA Director Annapurni Subramaniam on the occasion. (IANS)