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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.
ICFT-UNESCO Fellini award to be declared International Film Festival India (IFFI) 2015 in collaboration with the International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication (ICFT), Paris will present a special ICFT prize consisting of the UNESCO Fellini Medal, awarded to a film, which reflects the ideals promoted by UNESCO. Background: Five films have been shortlisted from the official selection of IFFI following the recommendations of the Film Preview Committee constituted by the Directorate of the Film Festivals. The broad guidelines for the selection of the films are: The film shall exhibit artistic excellence in screenplay, music, and filming technique. The film shall promote the common good, which is defined as a society in which persons and communities care for one another’s well-being. The film shall exhibit sensitivity to the human situation, promoting the dignity of all. The film shall cultivate a realistic hope of creative transformation. The film shall reflect the ideals of peace, love, tolerance, harmony, and friendship. The UNESCO Fellini Medal: When Italian film director Federico Fellini died in 1993, UNESCO’s Member States had just adopted a General Conference resolution calling for the safeguarding of the cinematographic heritage. An appeal was launched to the international community inviting governments, industry, and the public to participate in a campaign to keep the seventh art alive. Activities were also earmarked for UNESCO’s participation in the forthcoming cinema centenary celebrations in 1995. The Fellini medal, first unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival in May 1995, therefore had a double significance: to honour the director’s tremendous contribution to film as an art form and to commemorate the centenary of the birth of cinema (1895-1995). The medal’s design of fragmented, interlocking images is the work of Italian painter Valerio Adami. The obverse side features a profile of Fellini with his signature hat, facing the inscription 8 1/2, the title of one of the most famous films in the history of cinema. The reverse is inscribed Fellini (1920-1993) UNESCO. French sculptor Robert Michel created the model and the Paris Mint strike the medal. The Indian films that made it to the competition are- 1. Cinemawala – Bengali 2. Katyar Kaljat Ghusli – Marathi 3. Ain – Malayalam 4. Valiya Chirakulla Pakshikal – Malayalam
India plans to construct six more fast breeder reactors Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited, the implementing arm of the Department of Atomic Energy, has plans to construct six new Fast Breeder Reactors over the next 15 years. Country’s first 500-MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam, around 70 km from Chennai, being set up by BHAVINI, is expected to become critical in March or April 2016. Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor components has been installed successfully. Reactor assembly internals have been kept in poised condition for pre-heating prior to Sodium filling. Innovative techniques/tools were developed and deployed to ensure complete cleanliness of reactor internals including dummy sub-assemblies and to maintain dust free environment. Various mechanisms viz., fuel handling, under sodium scanning, periscope, eddy current flow meter and core monitoring thermocouples were checked for smooth performance within reactor assembly before filling nitrogen. The main drive motors for the sodium pumps have been commissioned under no load condition after integrating the variable frequency drive systems. The integrated performance of pumps and motors will be demonstrated after filling of sodium in the respective systems. This prototype fast breeder reactor uses MOX fuel, which is a combination of plutonium and uranium oxide. The Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd. (BHAVINI) is a government-owned corporation of India established in 2004 in Chennai. One of the public sector undertakings, it is wholly owned by the Union Government and is responsible for the construction, commissioning and operation of all Stage II fast breeder reactors envisaged as part of the country’s three stage nuclear power programme. BHAVINI is administered by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). Once the first fast breeder reactor, called Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) goes into commercial power production, BHAVINI will be the second power utility in India after Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), to use nuclear fuel sources to generate power. The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is a 500 MWe fast breeder nuclear reactor presently being constructed at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, India. The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) is responsible for the design of this reactor. As of 2007 the reactor was expected to begin functioning in 2010 but now it is expected to achieve first criticality in September 2015. Total costs, originally estimated at 3500 crore (35 billion Rupees, 450 million euros) are now estimated at 5, 677 crore (750 million euros). The Kalpakkam PFBR is using uranium-238 not thorium, to breed new fissile material, in a sodium-cooled fast reactor design. The power island of this project is being engineered by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, largest power equipment utility of India. The surplus plutonium (or uranium-233 for thorium reactors) from each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors and grow the nuclear capacity in tune with India’s needs for power. The PFBR is part of the three-stage nuclear power program. India has the capability to use thorium cycle based processes to extract nuclear fuel. This is of special significance to the Indian nuclear power generation strategy as India has one of the world’s largest reserves of thorium, which could provide power for more than 10, 000 years, and perhaps as long as 60, 000 years.
National award winning film ‘I Cannot Give You My Forest’ inspired by the issues of Niyamgiri Adivasis Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl’s film ‘I Cannot Give You My Forest’ is the story of Struggle for the survival of Adivasis in Niyamgiri. The film has won this year’s National award in the category of Best Environmental Film. The main theme of the film is an intimate poetic window into the lives of the Kondh, the original dwellers (Adivasis) of the forests of Niyamgiri in Odisha State. This film is about those peoples relationship with the forest. It highlights environmental issues and focus on struggle of tribals in day-today life. The Kondha are indigenous tribal groups of India. They live in Odisha, a state in eastern India. Their highest concentration is found in the blocks of Rayagada, Kashipur, Kalyansinghpur, Bissam cuttack and Muniguda. The Kondhas are believed to be from the Proto-Australoid ethnic group. Their native language is Kui, a Dravidian language written with the Oriya script. The Kondha are adept land dwellers exhibiting greater adaptability to the forest environment. However, due to development interventions in education, medical facilities, irrigation, plantation and so on, they are forced into the modern way of life in many ways. Their traditional life style, customary traits of economy political organization, norms, values and world view have been drastically changed over a long period. One sub-group of Kondhas is the Dongria Kondhas. They are called Dongria or dweller of donger and settle in higher altitudes due to their economic demands. They have a subsistence economy based on foraging, hunting & gathering but they now primarily depend on a subsistence agriculture i.e. shifting cultivation. The Dongrias commonly practice polygamy. By custom, marriage must cross clan boundaries (a form of incest taboo). The clan or “Puja” is exogamous, which means marriages are made outside the clan (yet still within the greater Dongoria population). The form of acquiring mate is often by capture or force or elopement. However, marriage by negotiation is also practiced. The Dongrias are great admirer of aesthetic romanticism. Their pantheon has both the common Hindu gods and their own. The gods and goddesses are always attributed to various natural phenomena, objects, trees, animals, etc. Vedanta Resources, a UK based mining company, is threatening the future of this tribe as their home the Niyamgiri Hill is rich in bauxite. The bauxite is also the reason there are so many perennial streams. The tribe’s plight is the subject of a Survival International short film narrated by actress Joanna Lumley. In 2010 India’s environment ministry ordered Vedanta Resources to halt a sixfold expansion of an aluminium refinery in Odisha. As part of its Demand Dignity campaign, in 2011 Amnesty International published a report concerning the rights of the Dongria Kondh. Vedanta has appealed against the ministerial decision, but the tribal leaders have promised to continue their struggle whatever the decision in a key hearing before India’s supreme court (in April 2012). In 2013 A three-member bench of the Supreme Court directed the village councils of Rayagada and Kalahandi to take a decision within three months on whether the project can go ahead after considering any claims of cultural, religious, community and individual rights that the forest dwellers of the region may have. The ruling linked the constitutional provision for the protection of Scheduled Tribes as enshrined in Article 224 with protection of religious rights under Articles 25 and 26 and the Forest Rights Act. After years of controversy and confusion, Vedanta’s project to mine bauxite on a forested hill considered sacred by an ancient tribe has been stopped by the Indian government.
India re-elected as Member of International Maritime Council India has been re-elected unopposed to the Council of the International Maritime Organization [IMO] under Category “B” at the 29th session of the Assembly of the IMO held in London. The 29th Session of the IMO Assembly is being held at IMO Headquarters London . The International Maritime Organization [IMO] is a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping. The IMO was established in Geneva in 1948. Headquartered in London, United Kingdom, the IMO has 171 Member States and three Associate Members. The IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping and its remit today includes safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping. India’s overseas seaborne EXIM trade, which is presently about 600 million tonnes per annum, is expected to be quadrupled to about 2, 200 million tons by the year 2020. In value terms, the commensurate figures thereof are in the region of US$ 900 billion and US$ 2100 billion respectively. India ranks amongst the top twenty ship owning countries of the world in terms of Gross Tonnage as well as Deadweight. Gross tonnage (often abbreviated as GT, G.T. or gt) is a unitless index related to a ship’s overall internal volume. IMO is supported by a permanent secretariat of employees who are representative of the organization’s members. To become a member of the IMO, a state ratifies a multilateral treaty known as the Convention on the International Maritime Organization. As of 2015, there are 171 member states of the IMO, which includes 170 of the UN members and the Cook Islands. The first state to ratify the convention was the United Kingdom in 1949. The Organization consists of an Assembly, a Council and five main Committees: The Maritime Safety Committee; The Marine Environment Protection Committee; The Legal Committee; the Technical Co-operation Committee and the Facilitation Committee. A number of Sub-Committees support the work of the main technical committees. India has been one of the earliest members of the IMO, having ratified its Convention and joined it as a member-state in the year 1959. India has had the privilege of being elected to and serving the Council of the IMO, ever since it started functioning, and till date, except for two years for the period 1983-1984. IMO Council plays a crucial role to play in deciding various important matters within the mandate of the IMO, in relation to the global shipping industry, including its work program strategy and budget. The IMO Council consists of 40 member countries who are elected by the IMO Assembly. India has acceded to/ratified about 32 of the Conventions/Protocols adopted by the IMO and 6 of them are under consideration for the purpose, during the year 2015. India has also been playing a leading role in actively participating in and taking pro-active measures to counter threats from sea-borne piracy. It may also be recalled that vulnerable areas were defined as High Risk Area (HRA), characterized by piracy attacks and / or hijackings and in 2008, the HRA line in the Indian Ocean region was designated at 65 degrees East longitude which was quite far away from India’s West Coast. The issue of the restoration of the said HRA geographical coordinate from its existing position of 78 degrees East longitude to 65 degrees East longitude. This is one of the most significant triumphs for India in the maritime sector on the global stage, in the past several years now, vindicating India’s reasoned stance and persistently persuasive soft skills in the matter. This will result in huge savings for India’s EXIM trade and consumers on account of reduced insurance premium and consequently freight costs. It will improve safety of fishermen and fishing boats, and will also improve the security along India’s coastline.
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