India invites nominations for Padma Awards 2017

Aug 2, 2016 0

New Delhi– The government has invited nominations for the Padma Awards for 2017, for which the last date is September 15.

The nominations can only be sent online and not through any other channel, a Union Home Ministry statement said.

Padma-awards“It has been decided that from this year, the nominations/recommendations for the Padma Awards will be received online only on an electronic management system designed by the MHA. No other mode of nomination/recommendation will be accepted,” it said.

Nominations received after September 15 will not be considered.

Here is information about the Padma awards (source: Padma Awards website):

The Government of India instituted two civilian awards-Bharat Ratna & Padma Vibhushan in 1954. The latter had three classes namely Pahela Varg, Dusra Varg and Tisra Varg. These were subsequently renamed as Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri vide Presidential Notification issued on January 8, 1955.

Padma BhushanBharat Ratna
Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country. It is awarded in recognition of the exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. It is treated on a different footing from Padma Award. The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India. No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary. The number of Bharat Ratna Awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year. Government has conferred Bharat Ratna Award on 45 persons till date.

Padma Awards
Padma Awards, which were instituted in the year 1954, is announced every year on the occasion of Republic Day except for brief interruption(s) during the years 1978 and 1979 and 1993 to 1997.
Padma VibhushanThe award is given in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri.
•Padma Vibhushan for exceptional and distinguished service;
• Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of a high order; and
• Padma Shri for distinguished service.
All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards. However, Government servants including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.
The award seeks to recognize works of distinction and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines. An illustrative list of the fields is as under:
1. Art (includes Music, Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Cinema, Theatre etc.)
2. Social work (includes social service, charitable service, contribution in community projects etc.)
3. Public Affairs (includes Law, Public Life, Politics etc.)
4. Science & Engineering (includes Space Engineering, Nuclear Science, Information Technology, Research & Development in Science & its allied subjects etc.)
5. Trade & Industry (includes Banking, Economic Activities, Management, Promotion of Tourism, Business etc.)
6. Medicine (includes medical research, distinction/specialization in Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Sidhha, Allopathy, Naturopathy etc.)
7. Literature & Education (includes Journalism, Teaching, Book composing, Literature, Poetry, Promotion of education, Promotion of literacy, Education Reforms etc.)
8. Civil Service (includes distinction/excellence in administration etc. by Government Servants)
9. Sports (includes popular Sports, Athletics, Adventure, Mountaineering, promotion of sports, Yoga etc.)
10. Others(fields not covered above and may include propagation of Indian Culture, protection of Human Rights, Wild Life protection/conservation etc.)

padma-awards-photoThe award is normally not conferred posthumously. However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously.

A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award. However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.

The awards are presented by the President of India usually in the month of March/April every year where the awardees are presented a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion.

The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire. The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony.

The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.

The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name.

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Coal India gets good response for auction

Aug 2, 2016 0

Kolkata– In the ongoing coal linkage e-auction for captive power plants (CPPs), the Coal India Ltd (CIL) secured a booking of 12.95 million tonnes of coal against the offered 13.43 million tonnes in the first five days of auction that began on July 26, a company official said on Tuesday.

“At the end of Day five on July 30, 12.95 million tonnes has been booked, yielding good premium over the notified price,” he said.

The ongoing linkage auction to CPPs will close on Wednesday and a total quantity of around 18 million tonnes would be put on the block for CPPs.

“Barring Amrapali of CCL (Central Coalfields Limited), where logistic constraints witnessed less booking coupled with the fact that haulage distance is more due to no CPPs in proximity, the response to the auction has been encouraging,” the official said.

Captive power producers are taking interest in the linkage auction because of high demand for power for captive use along with surging prices of imported coal, said coal consumers.

“The power demand for captive purposes has been rising and the price of imported coal started surging. The captive power producers look for long-term assurance. Non-power sector did not have linkage for a long time. Perhaps, for these reasons, CPPs have been taking more interest,” Coal Consumers’ Association of India’s Secretary General Subhasri Chaudhuri told IANS.

The miner had already conducted linkage auctions for coal to be used for sponge iron manufacturing and for the cement sector.

CIL’s production in the first four months of the current fiscal stood at 162.38 million tonne, up 6.20 mt compared with the same period last year.

Coal off-take during April-July period was 174.66 mt, an increase of 4.36 mt on a year-on-year basis.

Coal stocks at pitheads as of July 31 stood at 45.37 mt while the same was 57.64 mt at the beginning of the fiscal.

Coal stocks at coal-fired power utilities of the country continue to be high at around 31 mt as of July 28, with a comfort of 23-day stock with no station at critical or super-critical levels.

The power utilities have been able to reduce their stock by 8.09 mt at their end since the beginning of the fiscal.

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Indian government unveils Twitter Sewa for telecom, postal sector complaints

Aug 2, 2016 0

New Delhi–The government on Tuesday launched a Twitter Sewa service for addressing the complaints and concerns of the common man and other stake-holders in the telecom and postal sectors.

The initiative was launched by Minister of State for Communications (Independent Charge) Manoj Sinha.

Manoj Sinha

Manoj Sinha

The Twitter Sewa handle to lodge complaints and concerns is @manojsinhabjp.

Sinha said the launch of the service is in tune with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of “minimum government, maximum governance” and through this live communications platform government can provide a transparent, clean and responsive and accountable administration.

The minister said the Telecom Ministry and Department of Post will compile a list of complaints from the Twitter Sewa and categorise them into immediate, mid-term and long-term complaints.

Sinha said the challenge is gigantic as India has the biggest postal network in the world and the number of mobile phone subscribers had already crossed 1 billion in January this year.

“Therefore, we are aware that complaints are going to pour in from across the country and in great numbers. But I would like to assure you that the Ministry will rise up to this challenge,” he added.

He also said there are chances that the Twitter Seva may be misused by some rogue elements but he expressed hope that Twitter authorities will take care of the same. (IANS)

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Milk Problem: Over 60 percent of the milk produced in India is adulterated

Aug 2, 2016 0

New Delhi–The government on Tuesday admitted that milk adulteration remained a problem but said steps were being taken to deal with the challenge.

“Milk adulteration is a problem and we are trying to help out,” Minister of State for Consumer Affairs C.R. Chaudhary told the Lok Sabha.

C. R. Chaudhary

C. R. Chaudhary

Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the government had already moved a Bill to amend the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. “The new bill addresses some of these issues,” Paswan said.

The remarks came after Congress MP Shashi Tharoor alleged that the National Survey of 2011 found that “over 60 per cent of the milk produced in India is adulterated, eight per cent by detergents”.

“Then we have urea, starch and formalin, all of which are going into our milk. Milk is drunk by children, pregnant women, by elderly people. It is a matter of national concern,” he said.

Tharoor added that the Standing Committee related to the food ministry had come up with a report “but we have not seen any action by the ministry”.

Answering supplementary questions, Minister Chaudhary said about 2.16 crore bogus ration cards had been detected.

He also said about 60 per cent of the ration cards have been linked with Aadhaar cards.

In a written reply, Paswan said grant was given from the Consumer Welfare Fund (CWF) to the states for setting up a corpus fund of Rs 10 crore towards undertaking consumer awareness activities.

BJP member Prahlad Joshi said: “Though people approach consumer forums and consumer courts, delay in justice is still a cause of concern. Adulteration in food, adulteration in milk, adulteration in tea and coffee, adulteration in petrol and diesel, all these things are still happening. People are being duped as far as prices are concerned.”

Minister Chaudhary said the government has adopted a lot of measures to address the problems of the consumers.

“In the 12th plan, Rs 409.29 crore has been allocated to enlighten the consumers and to push this whole programme forward. Similarly, we have the national consumer helpline,” he said.

The minister said some three lakh complaints were received each year.

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High Speed Talgo completes Delhi-Mumbai trial run but over three hours late

Aug 2, 2016 0

Mumbai–The Spanish-made Talgo high-speed train reached Mumbai from New Delhi on its third and final trial run on Tuesday but over three hours late owing to heavy rains, an official said on Tuesday.

The train, which left New Delhi at 7.55 p.m. on Monday evening, completed the 1,384 km trial run despite delays on account of heavy rains which flooded tracks in the Gujarat-Maharashtra border area. It reached Mumbai Central Terminus at 11.40 a.m. against the expected time of 8.31 a.m.

EMAIL PRINT 28 COMMENTS Heavy Rain Delays Arrival Of High Speed Talgo Train In Mumbai Talgo train, India's fastest train, with 9 lightweight coaches arrives in Mumbai. (Photo courtesy: AFP)

Heavy Rain Delays Arrival Of High Speed Talgo Train In Mumbai
Talgo train, India’s fastest train, with 9 lightweight coaches arrives in Mumbai. (Photo courtesy: AFP)

The Talgo, with nine lightweight coaches, is expected to cut down travel time between New Delhi and Mumbai by around four hours – from the existing 16 to 12 hours – though exact schedules are not yet finalized.

As the gleaming white train with pink double stripes and its logo passed by certain stations en route on the Mumbai suburban sector, many commuters waved at it, screamed in joy and clicked away pictures.

The Indian Railways termed the trial run a “great success”, saying it recorded 50 minutes gain from the scheduled run up to Ratlam.

It said around 10 km of rail tracks between Vapi-Bhilad-Mumbai route washed out due to heavy rainfall, affecting train services.

Further trials of this train are expected to be undertaken on August 5, 8 and 14 with higher speeds on curves and increasing to 140 kmph and 150 kmph with each trial.

After further trials and clearances for various parameters like safety, speed, stability and brake systems from the Commissioner of Railway Safety, the train is expected to be commissioned by Western Railway around March 2017.

Presently, the fastest trains on this sector are the Rajdhani Express and August Kranti Rajdhani Express which take around 16 hours to complete the journey.

The Talgo, often referred to as a ‘semi-bullet train’, comprises nine deluxe coaches, including two executive class, four chair cars, a cafeteria, a power car and a tail-end for the guard, staff and equipment.

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Mumbai Metro crosses 200 million passengers mark

Aug 1, 2016 0

Mumbai– The Mumbai Metro One has crossed the 200 million passengers mark and now averages 340,000 per day with an 18 per cent increase in the number of commuters since July 2015, an official said here on Monday.

The landmark was achieved on Monday, in just 786 days since the launch of its operations on the east-west corridor connecting Ghatkopar-Andheri-Versova.

Mumbai Metro One“We have redefined commuter experience for the city and provided one of the best value added services in transport utilities, including comfort, safety, attractive deals, which helped us gain commuter trust and increase footfalls, a spokesperson for Mumbai Metro One Pvt. Ltd. said.

MMOPL is a special purpose vehicle of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and Veolia Transport SA, France.

Incidentally, Mumbai Metro One crossed the one million mark in the first month of its operations and touched 100 million in less than 400 days.

Its 11.40 km route with 12 stations is the eighth densest Metro corridor in the world and has helped reduce travel time for commuters between Versova-Ghatkopar from 90 to 21 minutes.

Its trains have so far logged 33.60 lakh km travel on the corridor. The performance parameters compare with the best in the world and a punctuality rate of 99.87 percent.

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Sales, profitability seen rising by year-end: Assocham survey

Jul 31, 2016 0

New Delhi– Indian industry expects growth in sales and profitability to pick up by the year-end on the back of a rise in consumer demand buoyed by good monsoons, said Assocham on Sunday, citing its Bizcon survey.

“As many as 65.5 per cent of the companies covered under the June series of Bizcon said they expect the macroeconomic parameters to look up by December 2016,” said a statement issued by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham).

D.S. Rawat (Photo: Financial Express)

D.S. Rawat (Photo: Financial Express)

“The survey tells us how things would look up in the next six months, mainly on the back of uptick in consumer demand helped by good monsoon. If consumer prices ease after the monsoon plays out, we can even hope for the interest rates to moderate,” the statement said, citing Secretary General D.S. Rawat.

However, the survey also noted that the private sector remains hesitant about pumping in fresh investment.

The survey reflects that “in terms of the domestic investments there has been no change in the firm investment plans in the April to June 2016 quarter,” the statement said.

“Industry is not confident about own investment plan as 37.9 per cent of respondents believe that domestic investment may increase or there will be no change in the shorter horizon.”

“Thus there seems to be a continuing lack of appetite for new investment in the private sector,” it said.

The problem of high debt in certain key infrastructure and commodity sectors continues to remain, it added.

“Fortunately, crude oil prices continue to remain muted despite threats of a rebound earlier,” Assocham said.

Though fresh employment generation has remained a challenge, about 41 per cent of the corporate respondents expect pick up in job creation.

Over 65 per cent of the respondents felt that wage costs will increase in future. (IANS)

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Andhra inks MoU with Japan to develop food value chain

Jul 30, 2016 0

Vijayawada–The Andhra Pradesh government on Saturday inked a MoU with Japan to develop a food value chain in the state.

N. Chandrababu Naidu

N. Chandrababu Naidu

Under the MoU, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will encourage direct investments by Japanese companies in the fields of agriculture and food-related industry in Andhra Pradesh.

Along with developing a food value chain, it will also establish food industrial parks and develop cold chains.

Speaking to the representatives from MAFF, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said that Andhra Pradesh occupies a premier position in agri-business with a major contribution in agriculture, horticulture, dairy, poultry, fisheries and marine production.

Naidu requested the senior officials of MAFF to organise road shows in Japan involving industry leaders of Andhra Pradesh and Japanese companies to forge strong collaboration and partnership to enable technology transfer and investments in Andhra Pradesh.

 

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Having missed Kalam’s 2020 target, India must become developed country by 2030

Jul 30, 2016 0

New Delhi–Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said that India needs to see if the target of becoming a developed country can be achieved by 2030, having missed keeping former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s target of 2020.

“We have missed the bus for Kalam’s vision of making India a developed country by 2020. The date needs to be pushed further,” he said during the first Memorial Lecture on Kalam.

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

“Instead of 2020, if we push it to 2030, India has to follow a roadmap. It will need all investments from private sector and on the global sphere as well, larger resources and push from the banking sector,” he said.

The government will always do investment, but investment from private sector will come only if India becomes the best place to invest, he said.

“For that India needs an easy business environment and needs to get rid of corruption.

“We may have opened up foreign direct investment, but in the land and construction requirement, India still ranks 183 out of 190 nations,” Jaitley said, adding: “This change needs to come at the state level else adverse environment is created which leads to loss in revenue.”

On the taxation front, he said the indirect taxes have to be best in comparison to the world.

Hinting towards Goods and Services Tax (GST) coming in soon, he said: “The whole idea of one nation, one tax gives ease and freedom from any form of corruption.”

Noting India has made progress towards infrastructure expenditure and has highways comparable to the best in the world, he also stressed that it should also move towards being a pensioned society.

“All developed countries of the world have pension and insurance. Something India is still finding it hard to accept. Some of the recommendations in my last budget for 7th Pay Commission… I found employees didn’t like the idea of insurances and pension.

“The hallmark of a developed society is that it must become a pensioned society and insurance-secured society. You must be secured in your old age by what you have invested during your earning career, that is extremely important,” Jaitley said.

The government has also launched financial inclusion scheme, where every Indian family has to be get a bank account, and the Mudra scheme, where people who are not able to get jobs can turn entrepreneurs, so that skills can be developed, he added.

The finance minister said that the government will fulfil targets of electrification of every village by 2018 and giving road connectivity to every village by 2019, but said India also needs a network of educational institutes to move towards a developed society.

He said that Kalam had realized that India being an over-populated country needs to convert its human resource into an educated resource to achieve the aim of being a developed country.

“If India has to achieve the target by 2030, we have to avoid policy diversions from the agenda of development. Matters of region, religion, caste, etc. can deflect the development agenda. We need a closure on these diversions,” he added.

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Perfect storm gathering over Smriti Irani’s new ministry

Jul 30, 2016 0

By Abhirup Bhunia

As Textiles Minister Smriti Irani settles in to her new job overseeing an industry that is IndiaÂ’s largest source of formal jobs, the governmentÂ’s hope that it will continue to be an employment engine is under growing threat, as job-growth plateaus and exports wilt against Vietnamese and Bangladeshi competition.

The textile and apparels industry employs 105 million people directly and indirectly and is thought to have the potential to create 50 million more jobs by 2025, holding the key to growing unrest over IndiaÂ’s inability to create the million jobs it needs every month.

Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani

New Textile Minister Smriti Irani

But a rising skills gap, falling exports, low productivity, rising debt and low foreign investment is jeopardising the target set for the textile and apparels sector: additional $30 billion in exports and 10 million additional jobs over the next three years.

Instead, textiles and apparels employment fell 0.11 per cent in April-June 2015, rose 0.18 per ceng in July-September 2015 and 0.23 per cent in October-December 2015, according to Labour Bureau estimates; and exports of cotton commodities, which account for 24 per cent of textile & apparel exports, declined 34 per cent in the last three years, according to data from United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade).

While exports of some commodities, such as knitted/crocheted and non-knitted/crocheted apparel and clothing, grew 12 per cent and seven per cent, textile & apparel exports from India declined more than seven per cent between 2013-14 and 2015-16.

Why the textile industry is key to IndiaÂ’s job aspirations

The textiles sector has been instrumental in creating mass employment, particularly for women, and has lifted millions out of poverty as they moved out of farm jobs in many countries, including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mauritius, Cambodia and Pakistan.

Textiles were the largest creator of Indian formal sector jobs, with 499,000 added over the last three years, IndiaSpend reported in July 2016.

There is strong international evidence that exports help create additional jobs and push up wage and income growth.

With fears that India is experiencing jobless growth and skepticism abounding, the countryÂ’s ability to cash in on its “demographic bonus”, the worldÂ’s largest working-age population — 869 million by 2020 — is in doubt, IndiaSpend reported in May 2016.

But in the 15 years between 1997 and 2012, employment in the organised sector shrank, wrote Mint columnist Manas Chakravarty, who called this “the biggest failure of economic liberalisation”.

Over 22 years of unprecedented economic growth (1991 to 2013), less than half the Indians who sought jobs, 140 million of 300 million, got them, according to a United Nations Development Programme report. India will need to generate 280 million jobs between now and 2050, the year when the working-age population (15 to 64) will peak, the report said.

The rate of employment in the sector, as we said, is dropping. A driving reason is that cotton, which commands the highest share (24 per cent) of textiles and apparels exports, witnessed a 11 per cent decline in production over the last two financial years.

Crop damages in Punjab and Haryana and low rainfall in Gujarat and Maharashtra may be the reason for the lowest annual cotton output in five years, according to a report in the Business Standard.

This will potentially increase prices, making Indian textile products uncompetitive, at a time when IndiaÂ’s exports are facing competition from Bangladesh, Vietnam and China.

While India still exports more than Vietnam and Bangladesh in absolute terms, over the last three VietnamÂ’s exports grew 34.92 per cent and BangladeshÂ’s 13.52 per cent, as IndiaÂ’s exports declined seven per cent.

From a 43 per cent and 87 per cent lead over Bangladesh and Vietnam in textile and apparel exports in 2013-14, IndiaÂ’s lead has now declined to 16 per cent and 28 per cent in 2015-16.

Vietnam is a part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade bloc, and so enjoys preferential access tothe US, the worldÂ’s largest importing country with 19 per cent share of global textile and clothing imports. India is not a member of the TPP, meaning it does not get preferential or duty-free access to important markets.

Lots of schemes, but productivity and skills falter

There is much for Irani to do, such as evaluate, bolster or scrap multiple government schemes that do not appear to have boosted low productivity and skills evident in IndiaÂ’s textile industry. Some of these programmes include the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme and Integrated Skill Development Scheme.

One of the major problems with the sector — as in most sectors in India — is the dominance of informal establishments where worker productivity is about 15 times lower than formal establishments.

The lack of skills in the textiles sector pervades levels like workers (operators, weavers, tailors et al), supervisors, managers, quality control representatives, merchandisers and designers/developers, according to a National Skill Development Corporation report.

Foreign direct investment (FDI), a driver of productivity, modernisation and skill development, in textiles more than doubled in 2013-14 over the preceding year, but investment growth stagnated in 2014-15. That year, no more than 0.64 per cent of FDI into India went to textiles.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Abhirup Bhunia is a development consultant. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend.)

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