Hike in fellowship amount to Research Scientists announced

The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Space and Atomic Energy, Dr. Jitendra Singh announced over 50% hike in the fellowship amount received by various categories of young Research scientists, here today (21.10.2014). This land mark decision, responding to a long standing demand by around one lakh science Research Scholars and Associates working across the country, is taken by the Department of Science & Technology under his Ministry, the Minister added.

Addressing a press conference, Dr. Jitendra Singh informed that the fellowship amount for Research Associate-III had been hiked from Rs.24000 to Rs.46000, Research Associate-II from Rs.23000 to Rs.42000, Research Associate-I from Rs.22000 to Rs.38000, Senior Research Fellow from Rs.18000 to Rs.30000 and Junior Research Fellow from Rs.16000 to Rs.25000 per month respectively.

In addition, the House Rent Allowance (HRA) as well as the Medical benefits will continue to be available to all the categories of Research Scholars as per the Central Government norms or the norms of host institutions which ever applicable. Entitlement for travel by AC-2 tier or AC-3 tier depending upon the category of Research Fellow / Research Associate will also be available. In addition, maternity leave for women will also be available to all categories of Research Fellows.

Dr. Jitendra Singh recalled that as soon as he took over as Minister for Science & Technology four months back, the Research scholars had approached him with this demand, in response to which he had assured them that it is genuine and, being himself from the scientific fraternity, he could very well understand that a hike was richly deserved by Research Scholars and the Research Associates who devoted their entire time and energy to the growth of science in the country. Soon after, he said, he held a series of meetings with the Secretary (S&T) and other Departments which was followed by inter-ministerial meetings with the Ministry of Finance for budgetary implications.

Dr. Jitendra Singh thanked the Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley for having accepted the demand put up by his Ministry. Each Ministry and agency can now use the guidelines to make requisite changes over their specific fellowship programmes, he added.

Dr. Jitendra Singh further suggested that a hike in the fellowship amount should be undertaken periodically after due assessment and for this purpose he directed his Science & Technology Secretary to put in place a proper mechanism.

In addition, Dr. Jitendra Singh also issued directions to the Science & Technology Ministry to put in place a web-based fellowship assessment and disbursement mechanism so that delays in disbursement of fellowship amount could be avoided.

Courtesy: pib.nic.in

Complete collections of Museum of Ministry of Culture and ASI to be digitized over the next 3-4 years

Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, Shri Shripad Naik launches the National Portal for Museums 

Shri Shripad Naik, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Culture and Tourism today (21.10.2014) launched the National Portal for Museums www.museumsofindia.gov.in in a brief but impressive function held in Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi.
The Ministry of Culture has decided to digitize the collections of all the Museums under its control as well as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)  In the first phase of this project, the following 10 Museums under the Ministry of Culture have been digitized:
1.      Indian Museum, Kolkata
2.      Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata
3.      National Museum, New Delhi
4.      Allahabad Museum
5.      Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad
6.      National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi
7.      National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai
8.      National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru
9.      Archaeological Museum, Nagarjunakonda
10.  Archaeological Museum, Goa.

The web portal (www.museumsofindia.gov.in) displays a part of the digitized collections of these 10 leading museums. More than 11,000 art objects have been incorporated in the Digital Repository. Apart from this a database of more than 2 lakh antiquities has also been prepared by the National Mission on Monuments and Antiquities (NMMA.) It is planned to digitize the complete collections of all the Museums of Ministry of Culture and ASI in a phased manner over a period of next 3-4 years and make the same available over the internet for online viewing. This digitization endeavour of the Ministry of Culture and making available of the collections of all its Museums on a single and uniform platform over the internet is a unique experiment being done on such a large scale worldwide. This will greatly help the scholars, school students as well as general viewers by providing them glimpses of the rich collections of our museums, hitherto hidden from the public eye. This move is also expected to give an impetus to tourism in the country and to encourage more and more people to visit the Museums.

Digitization is being implemented by using the Jatan Collection Management Software. During the year 2014-15, the Jatan software is proposed to be implemented in 7 additional museums of the ASI as given below:
1.      Ratnagiri Museum
2.      Halebidu Museum
3.      Lothal Museum
4.      Mattancherry Palace, Cochin
5.      Fort St. George Museum, Chennai
6.      Bodhgaya Museum
7.      Sarnath Museum

The software and the web portal have been developed for the Ministry of Culture by Centre of Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Pune.

Courtesy: pib.nic.in

PM’s Telephone Conversation with Prime Minister of Malaysia

Prime Minister had a telephone conversation today (21.10.2014) with Prime Minister of Malaysia Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak at the request of Malaysian side. 

Prime Minister congratulated Prime Minister Najib for Malaysia’s victory in the elections for the membership of 2015-16 term of the UN Security Council. He also conveyed the sympathy and solidarity of the Government and people of India in connection with the tragic incidents involving Malaysian Airlines flights MH-17 and MH-370. Prime Minister Najib expressed gratitude for the assistance provided by Government of India in connection with these incidents. 

Prime Minister Najib congratulated the Prime Minister on his emphatic victory in the Parliamentary elections followed by State Assembly elections. These results, he said, were reflective of the trust and confidence that the people of India had in the leadership of Prime Minister Modi to take India forward on the path of growth and prosperity. Prime Minister Najib said that a strong and prosperous India was important for Malaysia and ASEAN. 

Prime Minister Modi reiterated India’s commitment to work for strengthening and expanding relations with Malaysia. He expressed appreciation for Malaysian PMO’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) mechanism for monitoring of flagship projects, the elements of which, he said, he intended to incorporate in our own systems. 

Prime Minister Najib invited the Prime Minister to pay a bilateral visit to Malaysia next year. Prime Minister Modi accepted the invitation and also invited PM Najib to visit India as per his convenience. Both Prime Ministers also agreed to meet on the margins of the forthcoming East Asia Summit in Myanmar. 

Courtesy: pib.nic.in

Project Report on “DRISHTI” Submitted to Finance Minister

The Government constituted a High Powered Committee (HPC) on “DRISHTI” -(Driving Information System for Holistic Tax Initiatives) in February 2014.  The Committee is headed by Shri T.V. Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education and consisting of eminent persons from the private sector having in depth domain knowledge as well as senior officers from the Department of Revenue.
The Committee has finalised the Report after holding extensive discussions with the departmental officers, technical experts, taxpayers and other stake holders to understand the present business practices, IT initiatives and stakeholders expectations.
On 21st October, 2014, the Committee submitted its Report on “DRISHTI” to the Hon’ble Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley. The Report, after examining the existing business processes and the current status of IT Systems in CBEC, has highlighted the areas for improvement. The recommendations of the Committee aim at leveraging IT for improving the quality and extent of taxpayer services, encouraging voluntary tax compliance and detecting tax evasion.
The Strategic Recommendations of the Committee include the following:

o   Creation of National Taxpayer Services Directorate, National Assessment Centre for Customs & National Processing Centre for Central Excise & Service Tax Returns, National Targeting Centre & Directorate of International Customs
o   Setting up of specialised function-based units for Data Analytics & Business Intelligence, Tax Dispute Resolution and Litigation, BPR, etc
o   Leveraging Service Oriented Architecture for IT Applications
o   Merging different Customs IT Applications into a Single System
o   Enabling Mobility solutions in Business Workflows
o   Introduction of Entity-based Risk Management System
o   Introduction of IT Centric HR Policy

The Committee also examined the suitable options for an appropriate IT Governance Model for CBEC. The recommendations have been classified as Short (upto 2 years), Medium (2 to 4 years) and Long Term (4 to 6 years). The Committee has also suggested steps for overseeing the implementation of the above Recommendations.
Courtesy: pib.nic.in

Ministry of Steel to set up “Steel Research & Technology Mission of India”

Ministry of Steel will set up a “Steel Research & Technology Mission of India” (SRTMI) to promote collaborative research programmes in steel sector. The Union Minister of Steel, Mines, Labour & Employment, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar accorded in-principle approval for setting up SRTMI, in a meeting with senior Ministry officials on October 20, 2014. Shri Tomar remarked that SRTMI will be steel industry’s contribution to ‘Make in India, Made in India’ initiative. Investment on Research & Development in the steel sector must increase from present level of 0.2-0.3 % of turnover to international benchmark of 1-2 % of turnover by the leading companies, he added. 

The conceptualization of SRTMI was done by a high level task force set up by the Ministry of Steel. The task force had recommended that SRTMI is to be formed as a registered society in close cooperation amongst the steel companies, Ministry of Steel, academia and relevant institutions in the country. SRTMI will be governed by a Governing Board of CEOs of steel and associated companies, domain experts of national and international repute, and one nominee from Ministry of Steel. There will be an Oversight Committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary (Steel) to periodically assess the functioning & performance of SRTMI. 

SRTMI will carry out R&D in priority areas of national importance covering best usage of available raw materials & conservation of natural resources, optimum energy conservation & minimum emissions leading to innovations and in-house development of design, engineering & manufacturing facilities of key steel plant equipment. The task force further proposed that SAIL, Tata Steel, JSW Steel, JSPL, Essar Steel, RINL, NMDC & MECON will be the initial participating companies who will sign MOU besides Ministry of Steel. 

The Secretary, Ministry of Steel, Shri Rakesh Singh, Additional Secretary & Financial Advisor, Shri Vinod Kumar Thakral and other senior government officials were present on the occasion.

Courtesy: pib.nic.in

Electronic Toll Collection: A Uniform Standard of Service to Commuters

With the inauguration of Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) System by the Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shri Nitin Gadkari on October 27, a uniform and acceptable standard of service to the commuters would become a reality. 

ETC has already been installed at 55 Toll Plazas and their integration with Central Clearing House (CCH) operators has almost been completed. A pilot project for Interoperable ETC system of 10 toll plazas between Mumbai (Charoti) and Ahmadabad has already been tested and seamless ETC on this section is successfully in operation. 

The Central Government has issued orders to incorporate ETC lanes as a mandatory clause in the contracts awarded for all the Highway projects in future. Action will be taken to include ETC system by means of supplementary agreement in those projects which have not yet been started. For implementing ETC across the country, a new Company under Company's Act 1956, with equity participation from NHAI (25%), Concessionaires (50%) and Financial Institutions (25%) has already been constituted. The name of the new company is “Indian Highways Management Company Limited”. 

The objectives of the proposed new company are collection of toll through Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) System and to manage the project strategically, administratively, legally, technically and commercially, providing services of central ETC system which includes toll transaction clearing house operations, helpdesk support and setting up of call centres for incident management, intelligent transport systems among others. Necessary amendments have already been made in the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989 for fitment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag on vehicles for ETC. Apart from Rs. 2.48 crore released in 2012-13, an amount of Rs.17.288 Crore has been released during the Financial Year 2013-14 for implementing ETC on 51 public funded projects operated by NHAI. A Service Provider Agreement for Central Clearing House Services for Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) between Indian Highways Management Company Ltd. (IHMCL) and ICICI Bank along with Axis bank, has been signed. 

The Government of India has embarked on an ambitious plan for building India’s highway network through various phases of the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) which are being financed largely through user fees collected from the users of the improved highways. The existing National Highways need regular maintenance and upgradation for which fund mobilisation is an important factor. This underlines the need for a large scale tolling of the highways. The common method of toll collection is by having a vehicle pass through a toll plaza where it pays the toll. 

The user fee (toll) for the National Highways is levied as per the National Highway Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008 and its amendments. For projects completed and for which agreements/contracts signed before 5th December 2008, the earlier set of National Highways (Rate of Fee) Rules, 1997 apply. The user fee is collected at the toll plazas as per the notifications issued under Section 7 of the National Highways Act, 1956. 

At present there are some problems in collecting tolls. These are by way of not having a uniform rate throughout various sections of National Highways in India. Secondly, BOT (Toll), BOT (Annuity) and Public Funded Projects have different toll collecting agencies, which is an impediment for a uniform acceptable standard of service to the commuters. There are many complaints of overcharging and undercharging. There are many complaints of non-reporting/under-reporting of the toll fee collected by the agents who are entrusted with the job. The problems include congestion and crowding of vehicles at toll booths leading to wastage of time and fuel. 

In order to remove the bottlenecks and ensure seamless movement of traffic and collection of toll as per the notified rates, Government had constituted a committee on Electronic Toll Collection technology for use on National Highways under the chairmanship of Shri Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India. This Committee's mandate was to examine all technologies available for ETC and recommend the most suitable technology for local conditions. Considering user convenience, rate of acceptance and ease of implementation, the passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) based on EPC, Gen-2, ISO 18000-6C Standards for ETC technology was adopted by the Government. 

Courtesy: pib.nic.in

India Won 2 Gold, 1 Silver & 3 Bronze at 2nd Asian Para Games 2014 on 20th October, 2014

On 20 October, 2014 India won 6 medals (2 Gold, 1Silver & 3 Bronze) at 2nd Asian Para Games 2014. The names of the medal winners are as follows:-

Sl. No.
Name of Athlete(s)
Sharad Kumar
Athletics – Men’s High Jump (T42/ T44/ T47)
Amit Kumar
Athletics – Men’s Club Throw (F31 / F32 / F51)
Athletics – Mens Javelin Throw (F46)
Ankur Dhama
Athletics  – 15000 Mts (T11)
Sharath Gayakwad
Aquatics  – 100 M Butterfly (S8)
Girisha Gowda
Athletics – Mens High Jump (T42/ T44/ T47)

Minister for Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Sarbananda Sonowal has congratulated all the medal winners. 

At the end of the day 3 India’s medal tally was 12 medals (2 Gold, 5 Silver and 5 Bronze).

Courtesy: pib.nic.in