PM's remarks on National Panchayati Raj Day

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today urged Panchayat members to work with a five-year vision with concrete development plans to bring about positive changes in their village. 

In his remarks at a function in New Delhi to mark National Panchayati Raj Day, the Prime Minister hailed the contribution of women in the functioning of Panchayats across the country, and called for an end to the practice of "husbands of female Sarpanches" – "Sarpanch Pati" - exercising undue influence. 

The Prime Minister urged Panchayat members to instil pride about the village. He said this required a firm resolve, rather than any budgetary provision. He gave some suggestions in this regard, such as celebrating a birthday of the village. He said issues such as education of children in the village, and vaccination for children, should be paid special attention to, by Panchayat members. 

The Prime Minister urged Panchayat members to motivate all Government officials in their village to spend at least one hour a week with schoolchildren of the village. 

The Prime Minister gave away the Annual Devolution Index (States) Awards, and E-Panchayat Awards, and congratulated the Zila Parishads and Gram Panchayats who were being felicitated on the occasion. 

The Union Minister for Panchayati Raj, Chaudhary Birender Singh, and the MoS Panchayati Raj Shri Nihal Chand were present on the occasion. 


PM: India makes transformation from a country worried about its "brain-drain," to a country that thinks of "brain-gain."

PM's remarks at inauguration of Global Exhibition on Services
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today (23.04.2015) said India had made the transformation from a country worried about its "brain-drain," to a country that thinks of "brain-gain." Inaugurating the first Global Exhibition on Services in New Delhi today, the Prime Minister said India should assess its "service" capabilities in the global perspective. He said India had vast potential to meet the skilled manpower needs of the entire world, and called for a careful mapping of global needs, which India could fulfil over the next decade. 

Stating that Human Resource is India's biggest asset, the Prime Minister said India's development journey should focus on the 65 percent of its population which is below the age of 35. He said that as the world looked for skilled manpower, India had the capability to become a crucial provider of this resource. 

The Prime Minister mentioned sectors such as nursing, high-end financial services, arbitration, tourism, music and vegetarian cooking as examples of what India had to offer to the world, besides the already established IT and other core sectors. 

Union Ministers Shri Kalraj Mishra, Shri JP Nadda, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shri Harsh Vardhan, Smt. Smriti Irani and Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman were present on the occasion. 


Text of PM's statement in Lok Sabha

Following is the text of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's statement in the Lok Sabha today: 
"आदरणीय सभापति जी, 

कई वर्षों से, किसानों की आत्महत्या, समग्र देश के लिए चिंता का विषय रहा है।  समय समय पर, हर सरकार ने, उनसे जो भी संभव हुआ, करती रही है। कल की घटना के कारण पूरे देश में जो पीड़ा है, उसकी अभिव्यक्ति सदन के भी सभी माननीय सदस्यों ने की है।  मैं भी इस पीड़ा में सहभागी होता हूँ। यह हम सब का संकल्प रहे, हम सब मिल कर के, इस समस्या का समाधान कैसे ढूंढें। समस्या बहुत पुरानी है, समस्या बड़ी व्यापक है, और उसे उस रूप में लेना पड़ेगा। जो भी अच्छे सुझाव होंगे उसे ले करके चलने के लिए सरकार तैयार है। किसान की ज़िंदगी से बड़ी कोई चीज़ नहीं होती।  इंसान की ज़िंदगी से बड़ी कोई चीज़ नहीं होती। और इसलिए, राजनाथ जी ने सरकार की तरफ से जो जानकारी देनी थी वह आपको दी है, लेकिन मैं, इस सदन की पीड़ा के साथ अपने आप को जोड़ते हुए..., हम सब, दल कोई भी हो, देश बहुत बड़ा होता है, समस्या पुरानी है, गहरी है, हम सबको सोचना होगा कि हम कहाँ गलत रहे, वो कौनसे गलत रास्ते पर चल पड़े, वो कौनसी कमियां रही, पहले क्या कमियां रही, पिछले दस महीनों में क्या कमियां रही, यह सबका दायित्व है। लेकिन किसानों की इस समस्या के समाधान का रास्ता हमको खोजना है, और मैं इस विषय पर खुले मन से, जो भी सुझाव आये, आप ज़रूर बताइये, हम कोई न कोई रास्ता निकालने का प्रयास करेंगे। किसान को असहाय नहीं छोड़ सकते। हमने उसके साथ, उसके दुःख में सहभागी होना है, उसके भविष्य के लिए भी सहभागी होना है। और उस संकल्प... आज की चर्चा में वो संकल्प उभर कर आये, सामूहिक संकल्प उभर कर आये,  कि हम सब मिलकर, अब हमारे किसानों को हम न मरने दें, मैं इतनी  ही प्रार्थना इस सदन को करता हूँ।"


5,000 registered urban planners in the country; one for every 75,000 urban people

There are about 5,000 registered urban planners in the country which comes to one per every 75,000 urban population. This information was given by the Minister of State for Urban Development Shri Babul Supriyo in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today. He further said that though this ratio may be low compared to that of developed countries, adequacy of urban planners needs to be seen in the context of scale of urbanization in India. ( As per 2011 Census, urbanization in the country is 31% while it is 45% in China, 54% in Indonesia, 87% in Brazil and in the range of over 80% in developed countries). 

Shri Babul Supriyo informed that the Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCPO) of central government has sanctioned posts of 25 urban planneres while 26 states have 1,563such posts. 

The Minister has stated that the Government of India has enacted School of Planning and Architecture Act, 2014 to enable revamping of planning education in the country by revising the course curricula in view of emerging issues of Urban Development and in the context of central government’s initiatives like Building Smart Cities, New Urban Development Mission, Swachh Bharat Mission, Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana etc.


A Polar Research Vehicle to be acquired at a cost of over 1050 Crore Rupees for Research in Antartica, Artic and in Southern Ocean Region

The Government had authorized the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa to acquire a Polar Research Vehicle (PRV). Giving this information in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today the Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri Y.S.Chowdary said that the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had approved acquisition of the Polar Research Vessel (PRV) in October last year at an estimated expenditure of over Rs. 1051crore. 

He said the vessel is expected to contribute to India’s scientific expeditions and to sustain research at two Indian bases in Antarctica (Maitri and Bharti) and also dovetail research initiatives in the Southern Ocean domain in the proximal regions of the Antarctic continent. It could also widen the thrust on Arctic research disciplines, undertaken through Indian Station Himadri, in addition to providing a suitable research platform for other ocean research programmes. 

Ever since the first Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica began way back in 1981, India has been managing the transportation of the expedition personnel and cargo to and back from Antarctica through chartered vessels. However, the very fact that these vessels were basically ice-class cargo vessels rendered them unsuitable for oceanographic research work. Taking into consideration (i) the growing need of the scientific community to initiate studies in the frontier realms of ocean sciences, (ii) the uncertainty in the charter-hire of polar vessels and the ever-escalating chartering costs, and (iii) the expansion of our scientific activities into the Arctic and Southern Ocean, it was decided to explore the feasibility of constructing and commissioning a polar research vessel which can cater to both the scientific and logistics aspects of the polar and Southern Ocean programmes. As the nodal agency responsible for the implementation of the country’s polar and Southern Ocean programmes, NCAOR was entrusted with the task of planning, co-ordinating and procuring the PRV. 


Indo - French Naval Exercise Varuna commences at Goa

Fourteenth (14th) edition of Indo-French naval exercise (VARUNA) started with the arrival of four French naval ships at Goa today. Representing the French Navy is Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle, two destroyers Chevalier Paul and Jean de Vienne, replenishment tanker Meuse and a maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique 2. The Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle is carrying its complement of fighter aircraft Rafale M, Strike Aircraft Super Etendard, E2C Hawkeye AWACS and helicopters Dauphin and Alouette 3. 

Aircraft Carrier INS Viraat, destroyer Mumbai, stealth frigate Tarkash, guided missile frigate Gomati, replenishment tanker Deepak, submarine Shankul and a few Fast Attack Craft are participating from the Indian side. Aviation assets of the Indian Navy participating in VARUNA-15 include carrier-borne fighter aircraft Sea Harriers, maritime reconnaissance aircraft P-8 I and Dorniers along with integral helicopters Seaking 42B and Chetak. 

The scope of Exercise VARUNA includes the entire gamut of maritime operations from Aircraft Carrier Operations, Anti Submarines Warfare Exercises, Maritime Interdiction Operations to multi-ship replenishment exercise. 

Regular IN-FN interaction over the years has allowed both navies to gradually and systematically increase the complexity and professional content of the joint exercises. VARUNA aims at deriving mutual benefit from the experiences of the two navies. The confidence gained through such exercises helps develop Standard Operating Procedures, particularly in the fields of Joint Maritime Air Operations Planning with exchange of Carrier Operational Capabilities. The other joint exercises include Coordinated Anti-Submarine Exercises, Surface Exercises, Cross Deck Flying, Damage Control and Fire Fighting, Air Defence, Firing Drills, Air to Sea Firing, Tactical Exercises and Visit Board Search and Seize Operations, which further hone the fighting efficiency of the two combat forces. 

VARUNA-15 is scheduled from 23 Apr 15 to 02 May 15 off Goa and is aimed at further strengthening bilateral ties between India and France. 


Relations between India and France have traditionally been close and friendly. With the establishment of strategic partnership in 1998, there has been significant progress in all areas of bilateral cooperation and exchanges including naval exercises. The Indian Navy and the French Navy have been conducting naval exercises since 1983 and following the establishment of a strategic partnership, these exercises were christened as ‘VARUNA’ in 2001. Till date, thirteen such exercises have been conducted and the last exercise VARUNA 12 was conducted in the Mediterranean Sea from 19-22 Jul 12 off Toulon.


Toll free number for TB patients soon, Health Ministry launches ‘Call to Action for TB Free India’

The Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Shri J. P. Nadda today announced that a toll-free number will be launched soon to reach out to all suspected TB patients for counseling and treatment. Sh. Nadda made this announcement after launching ‘Call to Action for TB Free India’, here today. 

“In addition to this number, we will use mobile and other telecommunication tools in an innovative manner in this programme,” added Sh. Nadda. 

“We are working on getting the toll free number launched as soon as possible. Currently preparations and training is going on at the state level in this regard,” informed Sh. Nadda. He said the patients would be able to call on this toll free number for any support and information they seek regarding TB. Even a missed call will suffice, the Health Minister informed. Based on the call received, the Ministry team will reach the person who had made the call, check his or her status of TB and ensure the person is covered in the programme to get correct diagnosis, free drugs, treatment and follow-up. 

The Health Minister stated that one of the biggest challenges faced by the TB Control Programme is in reaching out to the TB patients. The toll-free services will help the patients to be incorporated in the TB Control Programme. The Health Minister also informed that a massive mass awareness campaign through multi-media campaign will be taken up as part of the Call to Action for a TB Free India. He appealed to various stakeholders across the private sector, civil society members, experts, doctors, patients and caregivers to be part of the movement to make India TB free. The Call to Action is not merely a slogan, Shri Nadda said. It is a movement to galvanise all stakeholders for a common shared commitment. 

The Health Minister stated that to achieve the vision of TB Free India, the Ministry will ensure 90% coverage of BCG under the Mission Indradhanush; reach out to the unreached; diagnose all TB cases within two weeks of symptoms and refer to the nearest public health center; employ extensive use of rapid diagnostic kits and active screening of high risk population; and ensure treatment completion. The Minister added that efforts will be made to match international cure rates for MDR and XDR TB. It is important to have a rigorous follow up of treatment and ensure free treatment at the doorsteps, he stated. “We will also encourage research in new drugs and new drug regimes in order to achieve better regimens with shorter duration”, Shri Nadda stated, in addition to promoting indigenous development and manufacturing of diagnostic tests under the “Make in India” programme. Emphasis will be laid on provision of comprehensive healthcare to TB patients. The Ministry will also work out schemes to incentivize patients to help complete therapy, coordinate with other ministries to ensure linking of TB patients and their families to various welfare schemes of the Government so that the earning of these families increase to enable them to have nutritional support which will enhance the immunity status of each member of the family. 

Secretary (H&FW) Shri B P Sharma stated that despite the challenges, India has achieved significant success in its TB Control Programme- nearly 2 crore patients have been cured and about 3.2 million lives have been saved. He stated that the “Call to Action” will prove to be catalytic in synergizing efforts of various stakeholders towards a common shared goal. 

Also present at the launch function were representatives of WHO, USAID, The Union, STOP TB Partnership, Global TB Program of WHO, the US Embassy and other stakeholders.