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‘Labour shut down to hit normal life in Karnataka’

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Bengaluru: Normal life will be affected on Wednesday across Karnataka in view of the day-long shut down called by trade unions in protest against the government’s anti-labour policies and in support of their demands, a union leader said. “About 15 lakh (1.5 million) workers, including employees of public and private sector enterprises, banks, insurance firms and labourers in diverse sectors, are participating in the strike across the state,” Karnataka’s CITU general secretary S. Prasanna Kumar said. As all employees of state-run and private transport corporations, members of taxi and auto unions have agreed to join the strike, buses, taxis and autos will be off roads in cities and towns across Karnataka, especially in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubballi, Hassan, Belagavi and Kalaburgi.

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“Though it is a 24 hour strike for us (trade unions), transport workers have assured us they will not ply vehicles, including buses, cabs and autos from dawn-to-dusk (6 a.m.-6 p.m.) in cities and towns as they are also against the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014, as it is draconian, anti-labour and regressive,” Kumar asserted. The unions, however, exempted movement and supply of essential commodities, including milk, vegetables, groceries, hospitals, nursing homes and ambulances from the strike. “We expect schools and colleges to remain closed in the absence of public and private transport, and hope private firms also extend support to our cause,” Kumar added. About 50,000 bank employees, including about 20,000 in Bengaluru, are also participating in the all-India shut down. “All employees of state-run, regional, rural, cooperative banks working in about 4,000 branches across the state will be on strike,” Bank Employees’ Federation of India (Karnataka) general secretary Ratnakar Shenoy said. Though officers of all banks, including the State Bank group are not participating in the strike, they are extending support to the employees in support of their demands, besides expressing solidarity with labour unions.

“We are participating in the strike to protest against the government’s anti-labour policies through new amendments, increasing privatization, outsourcing and contracts, FDI policy, lowering state holding in public sector banks up to 33 percent from 51 percent in some nationalized banks,” Shenoy said. About a lakh employees and workers from across the state will assemble at Town Hall in the city centre to participate in a massive protest demonstration organised by various central and state trade unions. Members of 10 trade unions and their affiliated labour organisations have called for the day-long strike after many rounds of talks failed on ensuring Rs.15,000 minimum wages and social benefits for millions of workers in the organised sector.

(IANS)

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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)