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Axis Mutual Fund expects Rs 2.85 cr AUM in FY24


Bengaluru: Asset management company Axis Mutual Fund is confident about closing the ongoing financial year with Rs 2.85 lakh crore in total assets under management, company managing director and chief executive B Gopkumar told DH. Presently, the figure stands around Rs 2.70 lakh crore.

“We have around Rs 1.6 lakh crore in equity funds and the rest on fixed income side,” Gopkumar elaborated.

The quantum of unique investor accounts on the platform is expected to grow 10-12%, as Axis Mutual Fund adds another 40 branches before the end of FY24.

“We’re doing two things – strengthening our distribution, and investment teams. We’ll have 9 fund managers, we’ve already announced 6 and we’ll have three more,” he said. Axis Mutual Fund has strengthened its workforce with 200 new employees so far this fiscal.

In FY25, the Axis Bank subsidiary expects 26-27% growth in revenue to capture a 6.5% market share, from 5.5% currently, Gopkumar said.

Currently, the company’s equity portfolio is focused on business-to-consumer companies as the brand remains bullish on further improvement in consumption demand.

Speaking on industry trends, Gopkumar attested to a growing number of investors opting for mutual funds over fixed deposits as their first choice of instrument. Moreover, the average age of a mutual fund investor has declined with this new set of investors joining the fray.

He attributed this feat to increasing formalisation and digitisation in the economy in the past 3-4 years. “Ease of investing has also changed, it is all electronic now,” he added.

Elaborating on the challenges in the industry, he highlighted the need for a higher number of financial advisors. Furthermore, “We have to keep up the regulatory pace,” he added.

As of November 2023, the AMC’s star performer was the Axis Smallcap Fund, which delivered 28.37% in annual returns. It was closely followed by the Value and Multicap Funds, which delivered 25.21% and 24.61%, respectively.

“Look at your risk profile and look at your financial planning very critically,” is Gopkumar’s quick advice for a prospective investor.

(Published 20 December 2023, 22:55 IST)

Lam Research to source components from India for its Malay facility


Bengaluru: Wafer fabrication equipment supplier Lam Research is currently scouting component suppliers from India to feed their Malaysian manufacturing base.

During a walk-in tour of its research and development lab in Bengaluru, Rangesh Raghavan, Corporate Vice President and General Manager, Lam Research India toldDHthat his company has no plans to manufacture in India, anytime soon. “A significant portion of our R&D is driven out of India while we continue to manufacture in Malaysia, “ he said, adding that manufacturing is a low-value activity in the equipment market and also employs very limited specialised people.

The company, in July, received approval from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on the proposed investment of Rs 208 crore and was committed incentives (from the government) to the tune of Rs 32.21 crore under the government’s Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductor (SPECS). This investment has been utilised to build this lab in Bengaluru, Raghavan clarified, and the incentives are coming in tranches.

Of the $100 million wafer fab equipment industry, 80% is captured by the top five players including Tokyo Electron Limited (Japan), Lam Research Corporation (US), ASML (Netherlands), Applied Materials, Inc. (US), KLA Corporation (US). As per market estimates, Lam Research’s market share (by revenue) as of the third quarter of 2023 stood at 22.17%.

(Published 20 December 2023, 23:01 IST)

Explained | Could Trump be president despite his legal troubles?


Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has been charged in four separate criminal cases, and could face his first trial as soon as March.

The former US president has pleaded not guilty in all the cases, and his legal woes are unlikely to prevent him from reclaiming office if elected. Below is an explanation of why.

Is Trump eligible to be President despite the criminal charges?

The US Constitution requires that presidents be at least 35 years old and US citizens who have lived in the country for 14 years.

Congress added a clause in the 14th Amendment following the Civil War that bars officials who engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding federal office.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Dec. 19 that Trump is disqualified from appearing on the state’s primary election ballot because he engaged in insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, when his supporters attacked the US Capitol.

Trump, who has denied wrongdoing on Jan. 6, has said he will appeal to the US Supreme Court, whose 6-3 conservative majority includes three Trump appointees. The Colorado ruling is on hold until at least Jan. 4, 2024.

Courts are divided on whether the insurrection clause applies to the president. The Colorado ruling reversed a lower court judge who agreed Trump had engaged in insurrection but said he was not an “officer of the United States” who could be disqualified under that Amendment.

Judges in several states, including Minnesota, Michigan and New Hampshire have dismissed lawsuits similar to the one brought in Colorado.

Trump has not been formally charged with insurrection.

Could Trump end the criminal cases against him if he’s elected?

Trump faces two federal cases, including one accusing him of unlawfully attempting to reverse his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden and another over his handling of classified documents upon leaving office. Both cases were brought by US special counsel Jack Smith.

Trump could not fire Smith directly but could appoint an attorney general who would, though Smith could only be dismissed for misconduct or “other good cause.”

Trump also has been indicted in New York state court for hush money payments paid to a porn star ahead of his 2016 election win and in Georgia over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Presidents do not have the authority to fire state prosecutors and Trump would have no power to end these investigations.

Have Trump’s legal woes hurt his bid for presidency?

So far, Trump has used the cases to his advantage, claiming they are part of a political conspiracy against him, and his campaign’s financial filings have shown surges in donations following his indictments.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll in early December found that 52 per cent of self-identified Republican voters would vote for Trump even if he were convicted of a felony by a jury, and 46 per cent would vote for him if he were serving time in prison.

Some 31 per cent of Republicans would not vote for him if he were convicted, and 39 per cent would not if he were in prison. The rest said they did not know what they would do.

Could Trump pardon himself if he is convicted?

If he is elected president, Trump could try to pardon himself if he were convicted in either federal case. Presidents have broad pardon powers, though legal scholars disagree about whether a self pardon violates the basic principle that nobody should be the judge in their own case.

The question would almost certainly be decided by the Supreme Court.

Trump has no power to pardon himself in the state cases. He could still be elected and sworn into office even if he is convicted in either the New York or Georgia case.

The New York case is currently set for March 25. The Georgia case is not expected to take place before the election.

(Published 21 December 2023, 02:43 IST)

New non-AC bus services from BMTC


Bengaluru: The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has introducednew non-air-conditioned buses and increased the number of trips on existing services.

328K:Majestic to Madhuranagar viaCorporation, Domlur, HAL Main Gate, Marathahalli, Siddapura, Varthur Kodi and Varthur. One bus plies on this route and makes six trips per day.

346N: Majestic to Dodda Thoguru viaCorporation, Madiwala, Bommanahalli and Hosa Road.One bus plies on this route and makes six trips per day.

145E: Majestic to Neelasandra Rose Garden viaCorporation, Nanjappa Circle and Austin Town. Starting Thursday, this route will see seven trips per day.

168D: Majestic to Tavarekere viaCorporation, Wilson Garden and Suddaguntepalya. Starting Thursday, two buses will make 27 trips per day.

25B: Majestic to Anugraha Layout viaCorporation, Ashoka Pillar, East End Circle and Mahadeshwara Nagar. Starting Thursday, two buses will make 14 trips per day.

(Published 20 December 2023, 21:46 IST)

Nigerian caught with cocaine capsules at Kempegowda International Airport


Bengaluru:An alleged attempt to smuggle cocaine worth Rs 2 crore by a Nigerian passport holder was thwarted by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials at the Kempegowda International Airport.

The suspect, identified as Addis Ababa, swallowed about 99 capsules containing around 2 kg of cocaine and landed in Bengaluru from Ethiopia on December 11. Acting on confirmed leads about contraband smuggling, DRI officials detained Ababa at the airport.

According to sources, the suspect was taken to the hospital after confessing to ingesting the capsules.

Over a period of five days, all the capsules were removed from Ababa’s body, and he was subsequently taken into judicial custody.

Ababa travelled to India on a medical visa. He has been booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

(Published 20 December 2023, 21:48 IST)

Provide audio announcement in buses by April 15: Karnataka HC to BMTC


Bengaluru: The Karnataka High Court has mandated the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) to deploy public address/voice announcement systems in its entire bus fleet by April 15.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit issued the direction over a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Shreyas, an advocate and a visually impaired person, who runs NGO Shreyas Global Trust for Social Cause.

Shreyas, a Bengaluru resident, submitted that though audio announcements were available in some buses earlier, it was abruptly stopped or discontinued.

During the hearing, the counsel representing the BMTC said that 58 per cent of the buses have been fitted with PA systems to inform people of the forthcoming stops, while 2,562 vehicles do not have the facility.

Of these, the corporation plans to junk 1,141 buses in phases in the next six months and replace them with 921 electric vehicles, which will have the audio announcement facility, the counsel added.

“Accordingly, we permit the corporation to complete the further exercise of the procurement of the buses with systems (audio announcement) installed in the buses till April 15, 2024. Let the matter be listed for filing a compliance report on April 18, 2024. We further make it clear that no ground/no excuse would be granted by this court to this timeline,” the bench said.


The state government placed before the court a December 19 notification it had issued, ensuring certain facilities for people with disabilities in both public and private transport services, including providing audio announcements for people with vision challenge.

Additional Advocate General (AAG) Vikram Huilgol cited the notification in informing the court that RTO officers are required to ensure all stage carriers, both public and private, have audio announcement systems and other facilities for people with disability at the time of registration/renewal of permits for the buses by June 30, 2024.

The AAG also said a circular to this effect will be issued immediately to make sure there is no ambiguity in the matter. He said installing audio announcements will be a pre-condition for plying the vehicle, including existing ones.

(Published 20 December 2023, 21:52 IST)

Suburban rail: Kanaka Line set to clear alignment hurdle, get railway land


Bengaluru: After months of delay, the South Western Railway (SWR) is set to approve the alignment of theBengaluru Suburban Railway Project’s Corridor 4 and provide it with the necessary land withinthe next 10 days.

The twin breakthroughs will pave the way for the award of the civil contract and the start of groundwork on Corridor 4, well-placed sources said.

This was made possible by a reduction in railway land requirement from194.07 acres to 115.472 acres. The reduction was necessary because the railways needed landto quadruple the train tracks between Baiyappanahalli and Hosur (41 km). A stretch of Corridor 4 falls within this line.

“We have reduced the railway land requirement as per the revised guidelines after considering the quadrupling project. Our tracks will now be built a little away from the railway line. Consequently, we will need about 5 per cent more private land,” said a well-placed source inthe Rail Infrastructure Development Company (Karnataka), which is constructing the project.

The 149-km Bengaluru Suburban Railway Project is a joint venture of the state government and the railways, which provides the bulk of the land and has the final say in alignment approvals.

According to the official, save for “minor” adjustments,the SWR is “satisfied” with the revised land requirement. Itwill approve the alignment plan of Corridor 4 in about a week and transfer the land immediately thereafter. The whole process will be wrapped up by the end of this month, the official added.

The railways will provide the land at Re 1 per acre.

Another senior official in K-RIDE said the previous land requirement (194.07 acres) was higher because it was measured right up to the railway boundary. “We are now taking only what is necessary,” the official added.

Kusuma Hariprasad, Additional Divisional Railway Manager (Administration), Bengaluru, confirmed that K-RIDE had askedfor115 acresand said the requisition would be processed “on priority”.

“There are no issues. We need until the end ofthis month. The request will be processed at the (Bengaluru) division itself,” she toldDH.

The quadrupling of the Baiyappanahali-Hosur railway line will not affect the land transfer in any way, she added.

Another railway official said a pre-feasibility/Detailed Project Report to quadruple the Baiyappanahalli-Hosur line would be ready in a week.

The Kanaka Line, or Corridor 4, will connect Heealige in southern Bengaluru to Rajanukunte in thenorthern suburbs over 46.88 km. It will have 19 stations, including Carmelaram, Benniganahalli, Channasandra and Yelahanka.

K-RIDE called civil work tenders for Corridor 4 in January. Although L&T Ltd emerged as the lowest bidder in July, K-RIDE officials couldn’t award the contract because of two key uncertainties — the SWR neither approved the alignment nor handed over the required railway land.

K-RIDE has completed geotechnical investigations and other pre-construction works related to Corridor 4. Over 30% of the Signalling and Telecommunications (S&T) lines falling within the alignment have also been shifted, according to K-RIDE.

After receiving the alignment approval and railway land, K-RIDE is expected to award Corridor4’s civil work contract to L&T Ltd in January 2024. It will separately call station tenders.

Of the BSRP’s three other corridors, the groundwork has started on Corridor 2 (Mallige Line), while Corridors 1 and 3 will be tendered early next year.

The project’s new deadline is 2028.

The blueprint

Length:46.88 kmConnections:Heelalige-Rajanukunte via Carmelaram, Benniganahalli and YelahankaNo of stations:19Railway land requirement Earlier: 194.07 acresNow:115 acres(The acquisition of private and state govt land is in process.)

(Published 20 December 2023, 21:54 IST)

Amid JN.1 variant spread, Bengaluru records 2 Covid deaths


Amid rising cases of the JN.1 subvariant of the novel coronavirus in the country, Karnataka’s health department on Wednesday said a 64-year-old man who tested positive for Covid and presented with several comorbidities passed away five days ago in Bengaluru.

However, the department has not been able to identify if he contracted the JN.1 strain.

Addressing the press on Wednesday, Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao said that the man who hailed from Chamarajpet, and whose name was not revealed by the department, was admitted to Mallige Hospital on December 14 and passed away the next day.

“He (the victim) had hypertension, lung disease, bronchial asthma and pulmonary tuberculosis. He had a heart failure and went into a cardiogenic shock. He also had pneumonia and was positive for Covid,” he said. The minister added that the department hadn’t been able to confirm if the victim had tested positive for the JN.1 variant.

Precautionary measures

As a precautionary measure, the health department has ramped up testing. “We have directed all health workers in both government and private hospitals to compulsorily wear masks because they will have greater exposure to the virus,” he said.

He added that the state had tested nearly 1,020 people for Covid over the past 24 hours, the highest across all states.

“We intend to increase testing every day, and by Saturday, we want to test at least 5,000 people every day. All SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Infection) cases across the state, in both government and private hospitals, must compulsorily undergo RT-PCR testing,” he said, adding that the state government will soon release an advisory directing the same. One in 20 Influenza-Like Illnesses (ILIs) will also need to undergo RT-PCR testing, the minister said. Meanwhile, another person who tested positive for Covid died in a private hospital in the city on Wednesday. He, too, suffered from comorbidities and died due to that, said hospital sources.

(Published 20 December 2023, 22:09 IST)

Man is essentially divine 


The Isavasya Upanishad declares, “ Into blinding darkness enter those who worship the unmanifest and into still greater darkness, as it were, enter those who delight in the manifest.” This style of contradiction occurs again and again in the Upanishads.

Now, the ‘manifest’ means ‘ the world’ that is ‘manifested’ – the world that we see in everyday life. They enter into greater darkness who delight in the manifest.

Those who delight only in the physical world, whose relationship with the world is only physical, going nowhere beyond food, drink and sleep – they enter into greater darkness.

This is simple.

It means that at every step there is a problem or the spectre of sorrow or death is haunting us. 

This is a fact.

Everything is indeterminate, unknown. We never know when life is going to end or when the little snatches of happiness that we have, are going to escape from our hands. As one grows older, one begins to see that life is coming to a close. There is nothing to gain and nothing more to enjoy.

Then, there are those who worship the unmanifest. They also enter into darkness but not as great a darkness as those who delight only in the manifest. 

When they speak of the unmanifest they are speaking about the Supreme Reality as a creator, destroyer and so on. It is unmanifest, because it is behind all manifestation and is the operator of all that operates. 

The Upanishad states that you can remain at that level too. The teaching is that one has to transcend both.

One has to transcend even the very differentiation between the individual self and the Supreme Being. The manifest is the individual and the unmanifest is the Supreme. One has to understand that the individual self and the Supreme Being are one and the same.

Otherwise, according to the Upanishad, we are still operating from a level of ignorance.

In the Upanishadic philosophy, we are dealing with death as in the death of the conditioned individual and the manifestation of the immeasurable Supreme Reality.

Therefore we chant the last shlokas of the Upanishad, so that the little ‘I’, the ego is cremated and becomes still and the ‘greater I’, manifests itself. This is the message of the Upanishad.

(Published 20 December 2023, 19:17 IST)

Return of the native


Though born and raised in a city, one’s nativity is generally traced to another place due to hereditary affiliation. I am known among my close ones as a native of a village situated far from Chennai. Beyond visiting it occasionally as a child, I have hardly any association with that place. Yet, its name forms part of my full name in records—typical of my generation.

Some time ago, I was tempted to visit my ancestral place. In my early days, I remember trekking nearly three miles along a narrow path to reach the village from the railway station. Nowadays, buses speed past at regular intervals.

As I alighted at the bus stop, political party flags fluttering atop tall poles and a blaring radio set in a tea stall greeted me. Patrons, about four or five, were squatting outside, enjoying their morning drink, while one of them haltingly read the day’s news from the newspaper. The tea shop stood at the very spot where a retired schoolmaster used to conduct classes on the porch of his house for a few village children. Now, I could see boys and girls in their respective uniforms cheerfully heading to school.

The small but ancient Siva temple was in a state of disrepair, with cowherds playing cricket inside the big compound of the fallen structure. A large stone slab with lines and lines of inscriptions was lying in a corner. Perhaps this lithic record referred to handsome endowments made to the shrine by pious monarchs centuries ago. Villagers whom I met conveyed the good news that, with donations from devotees, they would be renovating the temple soon.

A portion of Sannadhi Street had turned into a little bazaar, complete with provision stores, vegetable stalls, and mini-supermarkets. Most low-roofed houses were terraced. All of them had electricity, water, and drainage connections. I hardly came across any familiar faces. I was disappointed to learn that the ethnic folk art of Therukoothu (street play) was no longer organised as the artists were no more and people preferred watching television at home or films in a theatre. The house of the hereditary Karnam (village accountant), once a landmark, is now a pawn broker’s shop.

A conspicuous change that came to my attention was the disappearance of a separate Dalit colony that existed on the outskirts of the village in those days. Now, people belonging to all communities are living in harmony in the main village itself. As I returned to the city past the lush fields, I was musing over the sea change that my native place had undergone over the past few decades.

(Published 20 December 2023, 19:28 IST)