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Prime Minister to launch Accessible India Campaign for Physically disabled people n important aim of the society is to integrate persons with disabilities in the society so that they can actively participate in society and lead a normal life. Ideally, a disabled person should be able to commute between home, work place and other destinations with independence, convenience and safety. The more persons with disabilities are able to access physical facilities, the more they will be part of the social mainstream. With firm commitment of the government towards socio-economic transformation of the persons with disabilities there is an urgent need to create mass awareness for universal accessibility. DEPwD is also in the process of creating a mobile app, along with a web portal for crowd sourcing the requests regarding inaccessible places. With the app, downloaded on his/her mobile phone, any person would be able to click a photograph or video of an inaccessible public place (like a school, hospital, government office etc.) and upload the same to the Accessible India portal. The portal will process the request for access audit, financial sanction and final retrofitting of the building to make it completely accessible. The mobile app and portal will also seek engagement of big corporates and PSUs to partner in the campaign by offering their help to conduct access audit and for accessibility- conversion of the buildings/transport and websites. India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has formulated the Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan), as a nation-wide campaign for achieving universal accessibility for PwDs. The campaign targets three separate verticals for achieving universal accessibility namely the built up environment, transportation eco-system and information & communication eco-system. The campaign has ambitious targets with defined timelines and will use IT and social media for spreading awareness about the campaign and seeking commitment / engagement of various stakeholders. The Department has asked various State Govts. to identify about 50 to 100 public buildings in big cities and also identify citizen centric public websites, which if made fully accessible would have the highest impact on the lives of PwDs. Once identified, “Access Audit” of these buildings and websites will be conducted by professional agencies. As per the audit findings, retrofitting and conversion of buildings, transport and websites would be undertaken by various government departments. This will be supported by the Scheme of Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA), an umbrella scheme run by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) for implementing various initiatives for social and economic empowerment of PwDs. Article 9 of UNCRPD casts an obligation on all the signatory governments to take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities. Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995 under Section 44, 45 and 46 also categorically provides for non-discrimination in participation, non-discrimination of the roads and built up environment. As per Section 46 of the PwD Act, the States are required to provide for : i) Ramps in public buildings ii) Provision of toilets for wheelchair users iii)Braille symbols and auditory signals in elevators or lifts iv) Ramps in hospitals, primary health centres and other rehabilitation centres. Article 9 – Accessibility of UNCRPD 1. To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia: Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces; Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services. 2. States Parties shall also take appropriate measures to: Develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public; Ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities; Provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities; Provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms; Provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public; Promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information; Promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet; Promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.
The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and the Ministry of Agriculture have been renamed he Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and the Ministry of Agriculture have been renamed as the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare (DAC& FW) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare respectively. With a view to focus on the issues of farmers welfare, the DAC& FW has created a separate Division called ‘Farmers Welfare’ under the charge of a senior officer. Some of the important new initiatives in this context are: 1.Soil Health Card (SHC) scheme: Soil Health Card Scheme is a scheme launched by the Government of India in February 2015. Under the scheme the government plans to issue Soil card to farmers which will carry crop-wise recommendations of nutrients and fertilisers required for the individual farms to help farmers to improve productivity through judicious use of inputs. All soil samples are be tested in various soil testing labs across the country. Thereafter the experts will analyse the strength and weaknesses (micro-nutrients deficiency) of the soil and suggest measures to deal with it. The result and suggestion will be displayed in the cards. The Government plans to issue the cards to 14 crore farmers. 2 .Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (Traditional Farming Improvement Programme) has been launched by Government of India to support and promote organic farming and thereby improving soil health. This will encourage farmers to adopt eco-friendly concept of cultivation and reduce their dependence on fertilizers and agricultural chemicals to improve yields. 3. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY): The NDA government has launched the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana, which heavily borrows from the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme; but tries to replace the fragmented approach with an integrated approach aiming at convergence of investments in irrigation. 4. New National Crop Insurance Scheme: Agricultural Insurance in India is covered by “National Crop Insurance Programme” which was launched by UPA government in 2013 by merging three schemes viz. Modified National Agricultural insurance Scheme (MNAIS), Weather Based Crop insurance Scheme (WBCIS) and Coconut Palm Insurance Scheme (CPIS). These three schemes now serve as components of the NCIP. National Crop Insurance Programme provides financial support to farmers for losses in their crop yield, to help in maintaining flow of agricultural credit, to encourage farmers to adopt progressive farming practices and higher technology in Agriculture and thereby, to help in maintaining production, employment & economic growth. 5. National Food Security Mission (NFSM); NFSM) is a Central Scheme of GOI launched in 2007 for 5 years to increase production and productivity of wheat, rice and pulses on a sustainable basis so as to ensure food security of the country. The aim is to bridge the yield gap in respect of these crops through dissemination of improved technologies and farm management practices. 6.Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH); A Centrally Sponsored Scheme of MIDH has been launched for the holistic development of horticulture in the country during XII plan. The scheme, which has taken take off from 2014-15, integrates the ongoing schemes of National Horticulture Mission, Horticulture Mission for North East & Himalayan States, National Bamboo Mission, National Horticulture Board, Coconut Development Board and Central Institute for Horticulture, Nagaland. 7.National Mission on Oilseeds & Oil Palm (NMOOP); The mission would help in boosting the production of oilseeds by 6.58 million tonnes and will bring additional area of 1.25 lakh hectares under oil palm cultivation. In addition to this, it would also lead to an enhancement in productivity of fresh fruit bunches to 15, 000 kg/ha from 4927 kg/ha and increase in collection of tree borne oilseeds to 14 lakh tonne. It would increase production of vegetable oil sources by 2.48 million tonnes from oilseeds (1.70 MT), oil palm (0.60 MT) and tree borne oilseeds (0.18 MT) by the end of the 12th Plan period. NMOOP is inspired by the accomplishments of the existing schemes of Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Oil Palm and Maize, Tree Borne Oilseeds Scheme and Oil Palm Area Expansion programme implemented during the 11th Plan period. 8. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA); Under the National Action Plan on Climate Change, India has launched a dedicated National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) to define its strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation within the agriculture sector. Emission by Agriculture Sector: Agriculture is responsible for around 14% of global emissions. If the emissions from the agriculture are combined with the emissions caused by deforestation for farming, fertilizer manufacturing and agricultural energy use, this sector becomes the largest contributor to global emissions. In India, the agriculture sector accounts for 17.6% of total emissions. At the same time, it consumes some one fourth of the electricity, so, it is indirectly responsible for another 10% of the GHG emissions. When we combine these figures with the fertilizer industries, catering solely to agriculture, and use of diesel, we find that agriculture is the largest contributor of GHG in India. So there is a need that the farm sector is given priority in India’s climate mitigation strategy. 9. National Mission on Agricultural Extension & Technology (NMAET); National Mission on Agricultural Extension and Technology (NIMAET) is a new 12th Plan programme approved by outgoing UPA Government in February 2014 with an objective to spread farm extension services and mechanization. This mission has four sub-missions as under: Sub Mission on Agricultural Extension (SMAE) Sub-Mission on Seed and Planting Material (SMSP) Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) Sub Mission on Plant Protection and Plant Quarantine (SMPP) The common thread that runs across all four sub-missions is extension and technology; the four sub-missions are proposed for administrative convenience. The entire plan period outlay for this scheme is Rs. 13073.08 crore, with Government of India’s share of Rs. 11390.68 crore and State share of Rs.1682.40 crore. This scheme aims to bring maximum possible farmers within the ambit of cost effective and remunerative mechanized farming for improved productivity and sustainable farm growth in the country. It also covers seed production and plant protection along with strengthening regulatory framework for management of pesticides and plant quarantine. 10. Unified National Agriculture Markets; The National Agriculture Market (NAM) is envisaged as a pan-India electronic trading portal which seeks to network the existing Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and other market yards to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities. NAM is a “virtual” market but it has a physical market (mandi) at the back end. 11. Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY). Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana is a special Additional Central Assistance Scheme which was launched in August 2007 to orient agricultural development strategies, to reaffirm its commitment to achieve 4 per cent annual growth in the agricultural sector during the 11th plan. The scheme was launched to incentivize the States to provide additional resources in their State Plans over and above their baseline expenditure to bridge critical gaps. The RKVY covers all sectors such as Crop Cultivation, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Dairy Development, Agricultural Research and Education, Forestry and Wildlife, Plantation and Agricultural Marketing, Food Storage and Warehousing, Soil and Water Conservation, Agricultural Financial Institutions, other Agricultural Programmes and Cooperation. Incentivize the States RKVY is a State Plan Scheme. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): As per data on sector-wise Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows maintained by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Government of India, during April 2000 to June 2015, FDI inflows in the agriculture services has been US $ 1763.57 Million (i.e. Rs.8747.4 crore) which is higher than the FDI inflows into sectors like textiles, mining and electronics. However, FDI inflows in the agriculture services during the above period has been lower as compared to computer software & hardware, telecommunications, automobiles etc. In agriculture machinery, FDI inflows during the above period has been US $ 418.65 million. To attract more FDI in agriculture sector, 100% FDI has been allowed in coffee, rubber, cardamom, palm oil tree and olive oil tree plantations, besides tea plantation in which FDI has already been allowed.
Iran has said it plans to increase oil production by 5 lakhs barrels per day now as sanctions have been lifted under a nuclear deal with world powers. Deputy Oil Minister Roknoddin Javadi said, Iran is determined to retake its market share, which collapsed after the sanctions were imposed in 2012. Analysts say, the decision is likely to bring down the price of oil further in the world market. Iran used to export 2.3 million barrels per day but its crude exports fell to one million in 2012. Oil prices have recently fallen to about 28 dollars a barrel, a 13-year low. Yesterday, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC gave reassurance the price of oil will rebound later this year. It said, non-OPEC countries will be forced to slow down production, thereby reducing supply and boosting the price globally.
Iran has said it plans to increase oil production by 5 lakhs barrels per day now as sanctions have been lifted under a nuclear deal with world powers. Deputy Oil Minister Roknoddin Javadi said, Iran is determined to retake its market share, which collapsed after the sanctions were imposed in 2012. Analysts say, the decision is likely to bring down the price of oil further in the world market. Iran used to export 2.3 million barrels per day but its crude exports fell to one million in 2012. Oil prices have recently fallen to about 28 dollars a barrel, a 13-year low. Yesterday, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC gave reassurance the price of oil will rebound later this year. It said, non-OPEC countries will be forced to slow down production, thereby reducing supply and boosting the price globally.
Smriti Irani inaugurates GIAN scheme at IIT-Gandhinagar India may not yet have managed to get the Ivy League to set up campus in India through the much-awaited Foreign Universities Bill but is close to drawing in over 200 academics from global varsities to teach in India at $8, 000- $12, 000. The Ivy League is a collegiate athletic conference comprising sports teams from eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group. The eight institutions are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University. The term Ivy League has connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism. The Smriti Irani-led Union Human Resource Development ministry is learnt to have quietly come to an agreement with academics from across countries to teach more than 200 short term academic courses in Indian institutes starting this November through its new scheme — Global Initiative for Academics Network (GIAN). The first GIAN backed course by a foreign faculty is expected to start with NIT Surathkal this November. Prashant V Kamat, John A. Zahm Professor of Science at the University of Notre Dame in USA, it is learnt, is likely to take the first course to be launched under GIAN at the NIT, officials from the HRD ministry said on condition of anonymity. The Union Cabinet has approved a new program titled Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) in Higher Education aimed at tapping the talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs, internationally to encourage their engagement with the institutes of Higher Education in India so as to augment the country’s existing academic resources, accelerate the pace of quality reform, and elevate India’s scientific and technological capacity to global excellence. A number of academics from Germany, USA, Canada, France and Australia have shown considerable interest in GIAN and academics from across top global varsities including MIT, Oxford University, Cambridge, Stanford University, University of Berkeley, Imperial College of London are queuing up, sources from across institutes said. Spain, Brazil, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Russia, Norway, Singapore and Sweden are among other nations sending in academics to India. The Indian gov government had last year also engaged with Manjul Bhargava, R. Brandon Fradd Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, to help pitch the GIAN scheme as a brand ambassador. MHRD Scheme on International Summer/Winter Term (ISWT) under GIAN: Objective: To arrange Guest Lectures by international renowned experts. (1) Long and Short Term Goals: To increase the footfalls of reputed international faculty in the Indian academic institutes. Provide opportunity to our faculty and students to learn and share knowledge and teaching skills in cutting edge areas. To create avenue for possible collaborative research. To increase participation and presence of international students in the academic Institutes. Opportunity for the students of different Institutes/Universities to interact and learn subjects in niche areas through collaborative learning process. Provide opportunity for the technical persons from Indian Industries to improve understandings and update their knowledge in relevant areas. Motivate the best international experts in the world to work on problems related to India. BUDGET OUTLINE Sl No. Description of budgetary head per Course Amount* (Rs) 1. International and National Expert Air Fare – 2, 00, 000/- 2. Honorarium to International, National and Host faculty – 2, 00, 000/- 3. Travel and Stay Support to some Participants – 75, 000/- 4. Local hospitality to International and National expert – 50, 000/- 5. Lecture Notes/video-learning material preparation – 50, 000/- Incidentally, a few IITs and IIMs had raised concerns about paying this huge a remuneration to the visiting faculty citing insufficiency of funds available with them. Some of the IIMs that do not take any financial support from the Centre had also argued heir inability to do so. The Centre is even pitching in with additional funds where institutes may have cited difficulty in paying the decided remuneration for the visiting faculty. IIT Madras is learnt to be leading the tally so far with over 25 courses expected to be taught by visiting foreign faculty.
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