Commodore Ravi Malhotra, VSM assumes command as Station Commander (Navy) Delhi

Commodore Ravi Malhotra, VSM took over command of INS India (Base Depot Ship) and Station Commander (Navy) Delhi from Commodore BK Munjal, VSM in a formal ceremony conducted at INS India, New Delhi this morning.
A specialist in Anti Submarine Warfare, Commodore Ravi Malhotra, VSM is a graduate of the prestigious Defence Services Staff College and the Naval War College, Goa. He has held Command at Sea on three occasions and has served in several staff appointments at Naval Headquarters.
A pulling out ceremony was held to bid farewell to the outgoing Commanding Officer Commodore BK Munjal, VSM.


Prakash Javadekar inaugurates National Consultation on revised Accreditation Framework

Suggests more Agencies for Accreditation for Ensuring quality Education
Union Minister of Human Resource Development Shri Prakash Javadekar today inaugurated the one day National Consultation on Revised Accreditation Framework here in New Delhi. Highlighting the importance of quality education the Minster said any accreditation process or any certification or assessment process must also take into account the final product of it. Subject knowledge is one thing, the delivery of subject knowledge, infrastructure and building skill component in a student are another part. But ultimately the aim of education should be to build a good human being and only that kind of education could be termed creative that is capable of doing so and hence it should also be checked whether the parameters of intention, policy and schemes are getting reflected in the very institution, he said.

Shri Javadekar appreciated the observations of MoS Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey in this connection and emphasised to think of education in totality and said it must reflect in the ranking of institutions He said quality of education imparted by any institution will be reflected in its adaptability to change.

The Minister referred to the recent advertisements of institutions citing its NAAC ranking, its certifications and assessment reports and on its basis the trend of students in selecting institutes for further education. He said now the institutes have also added up NIRF ranking as a feather in their caps. The Minister said now the students as well as the society can’t be misguided any more as the pressure of quality is now working. He said there is no substitute for quality and it must be sharpened regularly. Shri Javadekar said our government exists not merely on the majority mandate we have got, rather we are here to reform, transform and perform. He said complete transformation of education is a dire need now. He advised NAAC authorities to expand its team in order to make inroads into reaching out more and more institutions. He also stressed upon the cross checking of data collected and ensure sanctity and authenticity of Data Base created in this area.

The Minister said the system created for this purpose must be transparent with clear cut rules and regulations and there should be no scope for fraudulent means. He hoped that today’s deliberations will pave way for a new transparent accreditation system. Shri Javadekar also pressed for using Aadhar linking and gave examples of stopping of malpractices in LPG distributions, Neem coated urea distributions to farmers thereby savings checking of syphoning of funds. He also cited the example of 4.5 lakh fake registrations in Mid Day Meal schemes in Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh after the scheme was linked with Aadhar. He said so far 112 crore Aadhar cards have been made which is a glaring proof of our nation’s changing and marching ahead.

The Minister also suggested for having more than 4-5 agencies for issuing rankings of higher education  institutes as it will give more credibility. The Minister informed that in the forthcoming meeting of IIT Council on 28th April this month we will see whether IITs can also have a say in granting accreditation to institutions. Shri Javadekar said “If we want to reach institutions in a time bound manner and assess them properly we need more valuators and therefore we want to build at least 3-4 more institutes and we should also give a message to institutions in this regard”.  He further said that the commitment of Modi Government towards quality of education is unmatched and final as only the quality improvement will lead the nation in marching ahead. He said research and innovations are possible only there we respect the talent. He said the new ranking assessment system being chartered today is very important. The Minister urged the participants to complete this process in next three months preferably before next Independence Day. 

Today’s meeting was also addressed by MoS HRD Shri Mahendra Nath Pandey and Secretary Higher Education Shri K.K.Sharma.

The National Consultation is being organized to discuss the revised Accreditation Framework developed recently by the NAAC. The foci of the revised framework are augmented use of technology, greater objectivity, and transparency of the process. Working groups of experts have deliberated and developed the formats for universities, autonomous colleges and affiliated colleges. The outcome of pilot study to validate the framework and feedback by stakeholders will also be considered in National Consultation. Approximately 100 experts comprising of eminent educationists, current and former Vice Chancellors / Directors, Statutory Bodies, Academics, Principals of Colleges will participate in the National Consultation. The inputs of the National Consultation would be used to fine-tune and finalise the revised Accreditation Framework which is slated to be launched from July 2017.


Centre giving priority to agriculture sector by allocating maximum funds for the farmers’ welfare: Agriculture Minister

To achieve target of doubling farmers' income by 2022, Agriculture Ministry written letters to States/Uts to strategise and work on it: Shri Singh
Total food grain production target for 2017-18 to be 273 million tonnes: Shri Singh

Price stabilization Fund now increases from Rs 500 crore to Rs 1500 crore: Shri Radha Mohan Singh

Shri Singh inaugurates two-day National Conference on Agriculture for Kharif Campaign-2017

The Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh said that the central government is giving priority to agriculture sector by allocating maximum funds for the farmers’ welfare. Shri Singh said that the government aims at increasing the agriculture production, determining productivity and boosting dairy/livestock/fisheries while promoting agriculture education, research and extension organisation. It was stated by Shri Singh while inaugurating two-day National Conference on Agriculture for Kharif Campaign-2017, which started today in New Delhi.
The Minister of States for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Shri Parshottam Rupala and Shri Sudarshan Bhagat and senior government officials were present on this occasion. Discussion at the conference was centred on last year’s agricultural production, how to increase the production of next year’s Kharif crop, raising agricultural productivity in consultation with the state governments, ensuring the availability of inputs before the cropping season, implementation of technology and new innovations in the agriculture sector.
Shri Singh said that to achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi's target of doubling farmers' income by 2022, Agriculture Ministry has written letters to the state governments urging them to strategise and work on it. Agriculture Minister said that while strategising, the state governments will have to closely monitor agricultural production and agricultural products processing activities.
Shri Singh said that the government has launched various schemes for the farmers. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Soil Health Management, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, E-Nam, Agroforestry (Medh Par Ped) and Neem coated Urea to name a few. To increase milk production, National Dairy Mission was initiated. Blue Revolution is emphasising on inland fisheries and deep sea fishing. The schemes aim to increase the agricultural productivity and improve farmers’ income.
Union Minister said that for the success of schemes, we will have to work together with dedication and sincerity. Shri Singh further informed that this year’s growth rate for the agriculture and allied sectors was about 4 percent.
For the welfare of agriculture sector, the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Ministry has converted all its schemes into special missions, schemes and programmes. With joint efforts of all stakeholders, the 2nd advance estimates predict about 271.98 MT production of food grain, which is 8.11 percent higher as compared to the year 2015-16. Shri Singh also said that the production of the foodgrains is 5.82 percent more than the last five years’ average production. There was a record foodgrains production in 2013-14, however, this year’s yield was 2.61 percent higher as compared to 2013-14.
Agriculture Minister said that the farmers have started reaping the benefit of the schemes initiated by the department of Agriculture Cooperation & Farmers Welfare. The schemes include National Food Security Mission (NFSM), National Horticulture Mission (NHM), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), and Total Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT).
Shri Singh said that the National Food Security Mission (NFSM), one of the most important schemes of the agriculture ministry covers rice, wheat, pulses, cereals and other main crops. Before the current government came to the power, NFSM was being implemented in 482 districts of 19 states. When the NDA government came to the power, the implementation of NFSM was extended to 638 districts of 29 states. Apart from that, 2.70 lakh hectare area is being used for organic farming. While ensuring the overall growth of agriculture and allied sectors, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana or RKVY’s aims at achieving annual growth and maintaining the same during the 12th Plan.
Agriculture Minister said that the Ministry is focusing on the production and productivity of oilseeds and equal attention is also being given to the fruits, vegetables and horticulture. The government is also focusing on quality and availability of seeds. Apart from that national seed mission has been initiated under the scheme grants will be given for seed processing, seed storage, improving the quality of seeds and storing of seeds for the emergency.
Shri Singh said that the government is trying to safeguard farmers’ interest by announcing a minimum support price for main agricultural commodities. The thrust of the policy is to create a balanced and integrated structure to meet the overall needs of the economy. To support the prices, central nodal agencies such as FCI, CCI, JCI, NAFED, SFAC etc. start procurement process to ensure that the market price doesn't slip below the MSP fixed by the government. In case the market price of the commodity falls below the announced minimum price, govt agencies intervenes under Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) and procures the entire quantity offered by the farmers at the announced minimum price. During the period of 2014-15 to 2016-17, Indian government procured chilli, apple, ginger, potato, oil palm, grapes, onion betelnut, etc from the farmers of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. Any sharp rise or fall in prices not only causes harm to consumers but farmers too. To mitigate volatility in the prices of agricultural produce, a Price Stabilisation Fund of Rs.500 Crore for agricultural commodities was announced, which has been now increased to Rs.1500 crore. To control the rising pulses price, 40,000 metric tonne pulses have been distributed to the states at their behest and meanwhile, the government is creating a buffer stock of 20 lakh metric tonne pulses. Simultaneously government is procuring 20,000 metric tonne onion for buffer stock.
Shri Singh also said that the Kharif season is around the corner, therefore, it is imperative for the state governments to make plans to procure high-quality seeds of several types of crops and fertilisers for the farmers. The state governments should ensure that there is no scarcity of inputs during the cropping season.
To ensure that the farmers avail the benefits of Fasal Bima Yojana, the government launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana from 2016 Kharif season after improvising the earlier insurance scheme. The insurance is vast and covers the pre-sowing to post-harvest losses. For soil health, the government has started Soil Health Card scheme. To promote organic farming, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana has been launched. To increase farmers’ income, the government is also focusing on agroforestry and bee-keeping.
In the end, Shri Radha Mohan Singh urged all the ministers to make efforts for the smooth and timely implementation of all the schemes so that the farmers get the funds on time to start their work. Shri Singh also stressed on transparency in governance.


Centre Takes Ten New Swachh Iconic Places under Swachh Bharat Mission

Reasi declared the first ODF block in Jammu and Kashmir
The second quarterly review meeting on the Swachh Iconic Places (SIP), an initiative of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation under Swachh Bharat Mission, was held today at Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, in Katra, Jammu and Kashmir. Ten Swachh Iconic Places are already implementing action plans in phase 1.

The meeting was attended by the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, Shri N.N. Vohra; Union Minister for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar; Union Minister of State, Dr. Jitendra Singh; Minister of State, J&K, Shri Ajay Nanda; Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri Parameswaran Iyer and senior officials from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, States, partnering PSUs and other local bodies.

On this occasion, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar announced ten new Iconic places to be taken under the Phase II of Swachh Iconic Places initiative. These ten new iconic places which are to be brought to a higher standard of swachhta and visitors’ amenities are : 1. Gangotri, 2. Yamunotri. 3. Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain, 4. Char Minar, Hyderabad, 5. Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assissi, Goa, 6. Adi Shankaracharya’s abode Kaladi in Ernakulam, 7. Gomateshwar in Shravanbelgola, 8. Baijnath Dham, Devghar, 9. Gaya Tirth in Bihar and 10. Somnath temple in Gujarat.

The ten Iconic places already in Phase I are: 1. Ajmer Sharif Dargah 2. CST Mumbai 3. Golden Temple, Amritsar 4. Kamakhya Temple, Assam 5. Maikarnika Ghat, Varanasi 6. Meenakshi Temple, Madurai 7. Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, Katra, J&K 8. Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri 9. The Taj Mahal, Agra 10. Tirupati Temple, Tirumala.

Shri Tomar highlighted the progress made under Swachh Bharat Mission. He told the meeting that the country has made fast and remarkable progress with sanitation coverage increasing to 64% with 1.92 lakh villages becoming ODF.

J&K Governor, Shri NN Vohra, released the compendium of SIP Action Plans and in his address; he highlighted the achievements of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) and pointed out the crucial need of waste management, especially management as the next step. He said that the state needs special technical support from the SIP initiative.

The State government declared Reasi Open Defecation Free (ODF) block of J&K. Union MoS, Dr. Jitendra Singh and MoS, J&K, Shri Ajay Nanda felicitated District and block officials of Reasi. Dr. Jitendra Singh highlighted the importance of mass awareness and behaviour change for achieving the goal of Swachh Bharat.

Two Water ATMs in Katra town were inaugurated by the Union Minister, Shri Tomar on the occasion.

Secretary, MDWS presented the SIP status report of first two quarters and highlighted the key initiatives launched by Phase I sites towards improving the cleanliness, sanitation and accessibility facilities at these sites.

Earlier, Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, Shri NN Vohra reviewed the progress made by SMVDB in the two quarters and the detailed action plan for the ongoing and planned projects under SIP.

The central delegation led by the Secretary, MDWS visited various sanitation infrastructure and facilities on the way and at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Temple Shrine. He also inaugurated a reverse vending machine installed at the shrine. Shri Iyer assured of all the support and resources to the shrine board under SIP. 


Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurates 47th Foundation Day of HUDCO

The Minister of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu inaugurated the 47th Foundation Day of Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd. (HUDCO) today and said that HUDCO is playing an important role in taking financial inclusion forward in the country, as it is taking care of the housing finance needs of the economically deprived sections.

Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu said that in the last 47 years, HUDCO had constructed 16 million residential units across the country and over 92 per cent of these dwelling units have benefited the economically weaker sections and low income groups. He further said that HUDCO has assisted in the construction of about 67 lakh, viable & low cost sanitation units.

Shri Naidu said that HUDCO executed 51 MoUs with various Primary Lending Institutions for Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme- Economically Weaker Section/ Low Income Group (CLSS-EWS/LIG) and 21 MoUs for Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme for Middle Income Groups (CLSS-MIG). He highlighted that HUDCO has achieved the MoU targets in respect of overall sanctions and disbursements and from the past 5 years, HUDCO is continuously getting excellent rating, with Perfect 1 (One) ‘MoU Rating’ in 2015-16. 

The Minister pointed that, HUDCO has refinanced 759 beneficiaries under Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme of PMAY(U) with a subsidy amount of Rs.11.66 Crore, as on March 31, 2017 and was hopeful that HUDCO will target atleast 50,000 beneficiaries under CLSS-EWS/LIG and an equal number of beneficiaries under CLSS-MIG scheme in the coming year. 

He said that HUDCO is going through a process of disinvestment of 10% of its equity share though an IPO process and expressed hopeful that the employees of HUDCO will be more responsible towards its growth and take HUDCO to the newer heights.

During the occasion, the Minister gave away awards and released publications namely, ‘Shelter’, ‘HUDCO Darpan’, ‘HUDCO Design Awards 2016’, ‘Sankalp’ and ‘Urban India’.

Chief Vigilance Commissioner Shri K.V. Chowdary, Secretary (HUPA) Dr. Nandita Chatterjee, Chairman & Managing Director, HUDCO Dr M. Ravi Kanth and other senior officers of HUPA were also present on the occasion. 


Statement of Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for I&B - Why Human Rights activists silent on dastardly killing of CRPF Jawans in Sukma?

The dastardly killing of a large number of CRPF Jawans on April 24, 2017 who were clearing roads for development works in Sukma district of Chattisgarh has shocked the nation. Several others were injured. This kind of cowardly acts of violence by the underground extremist elements is highly deplorable. 

CRPF Jawans killed and injured were serving the cause of the people of the country and they paid with their precious lives while doing so. This is the highest sacrifice for the country. The families of dedicated Jawans who were killed and injured while in uniform would get the highest consideration from Central and State Governments. Both the Governments would work with renewed commitment to bring such mindless acts of violence to an end. 

While the nation was shocked by this killing and violence, the so called sympathizers and proponents of Human Rights have maintained baffling silence since yesterday. These activists raise voice and react violently if an extremist or a terrorist is killed by the Police but take shelter in silence when large number of Jawans and innocent people get killed by those who operate underground, kill and run. 

Are Human Rights only meant for those who chose violence in furtherance of their outdated ideologies and not for security personnel and common people? 

Why are the Human Right activists silent when such inhuman acts are mindlessly committed by outlawed elements? 

I am constrained to infer that such motivated acts of violence are being resorted to with tacit support from the so called Human Rights advocates in desperation to derail the positive narrative emerging from the ongoing efforts by the Central and State Governments to ensure that fruits of development reach the last of the poor there by enabling rapid economic development. 

There is an urgent need to build strong public opinion against such violent acts by outlawed elements and the so called Human Rights activists who have double standards and don’t uphold similar rights of security personnel, their families and the innocent people who fall victim to such anti-national activities. 


Observance of Swachhta Pakhwada of Ministry of Tourism

The ninth day’s Swachhta Pakhwada work in Ministry of Tourism was undertaken at Feroz shah Kotla place, New Delhi. As per schedule, Cleaning of Feroz shah Kotla place, officers and staff from Ministry of Tourism involved in intensive cleaning work in and around the monument area near Asokan pillar etc.  from 03:00 P.M to 05:00 P.M., which resulted in achieving the desired level of cleanliness. A team from Ministry of I&B’s Song & Drama Division, also created cleanliness awareness among general public’s and tourists in the form of “Nukkad Natak”.