Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, inaugurated the 105th Session of the Indian Science Congress on 16 March 2018 at Imphal, Manipur.
Indian Science Congress is an important annual event for the scientific community of India in which thousands of Scientists, researchers and science students take part in the scientific deliberations.
Major Achievements: Atlas for Visually Impaired (India) · Union Minister for Science & Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan released the Special Edition of “Atlas for Visually Impaired (India)” in English Braille on 10th February 2017. · Braille Atlas has been prepared by National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO) under Department of Science & Technology.
Nakshe Portal: Launched by Dr. Harsh Vardhan on 250th Anniversary of Survey of India on 10th April 2017. Topographic maps or Open Series Maps (OSM) containing natural and man-made geographical features including terrain or topography are prepared by the SoI since its inception in 1767 and is in conformity with the National Map Policy-2005. These OSM maps have been made available for free download from “nakshe”web portal in pdf format on 1:50,000 scale through Aaadhar enabled user authentication process, in line with Digital India program of the Government of India.
Events: Technology Day celebrated on 11th May 2017 to commemorate India’s success in taking Science and Technology to the service of the country. On 11 May 1998 the Pokhran test was conducted. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared India a full-fledged nuclear state after operation ‘Shakti’ and it made India the 6th country to join the Nuclear Club.
Bose Institute’s Unified Campus at Salt Lake, Kolkata on 29th June2017 inaugurated by the then President Pranab Mukherjee in the Centenary year of the Institute. Closing ceremony of centenary celebrations of the Bose Institute in Kolkata on 29th November, 2017 addressed by President Ram Nath Kovind .
Commemorative stamp released to mark the occasion of 250 years of Survey of India by the Minister of State for Communication (I/C) and Railways Shri Manoj Sinha on 22nd June 2017.
Minister of Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Dr. Harshvardhan launched “Pt DeenDayal Upadhayay Vigyan Gram Sankul Pariyojana” on 22nd Sept. 2017. This program will experiment and endeavour to formulate and implement appropriate S&T Interventions for Sustainable Development through cluster approach in Uttarakhand.
India and UK Science & Technology Ministers reviewed the progress made in the India-UK partnership in science, technology and innovation on 1st Nov. 2017 - Science and Technology Ministers of India and UK reviewed the progress made in the India-UK partnership in science, technology and innovation which has been significantly intensified under the Newton-Bhabha program.
India-Canada Technology Summit held on 14th November 2017 in New Delhi. Mission Innovation Smart Grids Workshop - Mission Innovation challenge on Smart Grids is collectively working to enable future smart grids powered by renewables. 20 participating countries with India, Italy and China as Co-lead are working together to realise this aspiration. An international workshop was organised during 16-19th November, 2017 at New Delhi to define research priorities and develop action plan for time bound action for realisation of these objectives.
· A new scheme called SERB Distinguished Investigator Award (SERB-DIA) approved for early identification and empowerment of exceptional scientists. The scheme aims to recognize and reward the young scientists who have performed extraordinarily well in the SERB supported projects under its Extra Mural Research scheme, but are yet to reach the stage of advanced professional recognitions like SS Bhatnagar awards/ JC Bose fellowships etc. The awardees will receive honorarium of Rs 15,000/- per month for a period of 3 years and will be awarded a project to further develop their research.
· TARE (Teacher Associates for Research Excellence) Mobility Scheme: A new scheme has been formulated and approved by SERB, which aims to activate the latent and unused R&D capacity in our colleges and state universities that lack S&T infrastructure and culture. The TARE scheme will allow undertaking of part-time research by the faculty working in a regular capacity in State Universities or Colleges by integrating them in Academic Institutions such as IITs, IISc, IISERs, National labs, etc. located in the same city where the faculty member is working.
· MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge): In the context of Start-up India initiative of the Government, implementation of MANAK has been initiated to foster culture of scientific innovation among school children of class VI to class X. This will significantly broaden the base our innovation pyramid to produce future entrepreneurs in large numbers. The programme has been targeted to encourage children to visualise/analyse needs of the society inspire them to devise innovative ideas to address them.
· Interdisciplinary Centre for Cyber Security and Cyber Defence of Critical Infrastructures: An Interdisciplinary Centre for Cyber Security and Cyber Defence of Critical Infrastructures at IIT Kanpur has been funded with a total cost of around Rs.15 crores to create India’s first such research centre under a dynamic young professor. The mission of this Centre is to promote research, education, training, and spawn start-ups to create technological safe guards to protect country’s critical infrastructure.
· Quantum Information Science & Technology (QuST): This new program initiated by DST aims at developing next generation and futuristic computation, communication and cryptography systems.
· Initiative to Promote Habitat Energy Efficiency (I-PHEE): A new national programme on “Initiative to Promote Habitat Energy Efficiency (I-PHEE)” to improve energy performance of buildings and cities has been launched. It would support enhancement of knowledge and practice to save energy in design, construction and operation of buildings. 105 research proposals were received, out of which 31 have been recommended for funding.
· Materials on Energy Storage (MES): A new programme on the Materials on Energy Storage (MES) to support R&D activities aimed at innovative materials for energy storage, and to build energy storage device with enhanced output for multifunctional applications was launched during the year. Aiming the efficient use and further increase of renewable energy, and demonstrating its value in terms of flexibility in the energy systems are the prime objective of the initiative. 130 proposals were received and 18 were approved for funding.
· SERB Goes Online: Science and Engineering Research Board has become 100% online for processing of all proposals under its various schemes. This has helped thousands of Scientists to submit their proposal and see the decisions online without wasting time through paper correspondence. This has also improved the speed of decision making and transparency on the submitted proposals.
· Complete Online Processing of INSPIRE: Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) program which has 5 components and enrolls nearly 1.5 lakhs students every year. It is completely ONLINE process right from submission of application to release of scholarships/ fellowships etc. to every student under the scheme through web-based system. For the last 3-4 years it is functioning in a complete paperless mode. Students from across the country use this web-based ONLINE system and get the benefits of this scheme.
· An ONLINE web-based system has been introduced for FIST scheme which supports R&D infrastructure. Processing of proposals right from submission of applications to release of funds to the Departments/ Colleges would become easily accessible and transparent with this initiative.
· Greater Access of High-end Equipment/Facilities: A common webportal is being developed which will be populated with the name of high-end equipment and facilities available with the institutions/ universities and their online booking and use in a transparent way. This will facilitate researchers/ students the access of these facilities. The portal will be launched with full functionality by the end of 2017.
· India S&T Portal: Development of an ambitious India S&T Portal has been initiated with the objective to provide one stop information centre to school students, scientists and the society at large on various schemes and programmes/activities and major achievements in S&T. This would be a 360-degree view and connect to all the stakeholders and activities of S&T in India. An internet-TV channel on S&T is also in the advanced stages of planning and execution. Currently, systems are being set up for production of contents.
AAI’s Ahmedabad and Indore Airports awarded as Best Airports under National Tourism Awards 2016-17
Airports Authority of India’s Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Airport, Indore and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad were conferred with the prestigious National Tourism Awards 2016-17 at a glittering award function on World Tourism Day here today.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad received the Best Airport Award in Major Cities category and Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Airport, Indore received the Best Airport Award in ‘Rest of India’ category for promotion of Tourism at these airports. The award was presented by Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Tourism, Shri K.J. Alphons.
Shri Manoj Gangal, Airport Director, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad and Smt. Aryama Sanyal, Airport Director, Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Airport, Indore along with Shri Keshava Sharma, Regional Executive Director (WR) AAI, received the award from the Minister and Smt. Rashmi Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism .
The Ministry of Tourism presents National Tourism Awards to various segments of the travel and tourism industry every year. These awards are presented to State Governments / Union Territories, classified hotels, heritage hotels, approved travel agents, tour operators and tourist transport operators, individuals and other private organizations in recognition of their performance in their respective fields and also to encourage healthy competition with an aim to promoting tourism.
One of the busiest airport of Madhya Pradesh, Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Airport, Indore is predominantly connected to major cities. The state-of -the -art integrated terminal building of Indore airport has world-class facilities and services.
Indore Airport has been awarded the ‘Best Airport by Region’ among the airports handling under 2 million passengers per year in Asia-Pacific region.
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad is the Airport of India’s first World Heritage City. The geographic location of the Airport makes it suitable for connectivity to major important international and domestic destinations.
Ahmedabad Airport has risen to ASQ rating of 4.8 on the scale of 5. The Airport was recently awarded the “Most Improved Airport” in the Asia- Pacific region for the year 2017 by Airports Council International.
The Union Minister for Tourism (IC), Shri. K.J. Alphons, presented the National Tourism Awards 2016-17) on the World Tourism Day, in New Delhi, today. The Minister also launched the ‘Incredible India Mobile App’ and the “Incredible India Tourist Facilitators Certification” programme.
Speaking on the occasion, the Tourism Minister said that India has taken great strides forward in the field of tourism during the last four years of the Government and added that tourism, today, is the cornerstone of the Indian economy, as it is a major source of employment and foreign exchange, and in order to tap the full potential of this sector, industry has to join hands.
Congratulating the awardees, Shri K. J. Alphons also shared the concern that the tourism sector needs to improve its hospitality services since it is the hospitality offered which is the distinguishing feature of India and gives it an edge over other countries. He also added that it is the responsibility of every citizen to build the image of the country as safe for anyone to travel.
The Minister also announced that, India will be the host country for official World Tourism Day celebrations for the UNWTO, in 2019. The theme for the World Tourism Day 2018 being “Tourism & Digital Transformation”, the Minister recounted the various digital initiatives taken by the Ministry in harnessing technology for tourism promotion, which include, launch of a new Incredible India website; 24 X7 Chat bot interface on this website; launch of a new website on Buddhism in India and many more initiatives..
The Minister also said that the Ministry of Tourism has formulated a voluntary scheme for Approval of Operational Motels, with effect from 25th September 2018 with an aim of recognizing the Motel segment as a component of the overall tourism product, and set standards of facilities and services of Motels.
Shri K J Alphons also informed the industry that the flood-stricken Kerala is now ready to receive tourists since the hotels and tourist sites are now operational. He also added that the state is rapidly recovering from the disaster and it is now the time for the tourism industry to support the state’s tourism sector.
Delivering the welcome address, the Union Tourism Secretary, Smt. Rashmi Verma said that in the last four years, India has aggressively implemented its promotion strategies in branding, advertising, and selling of its tourism potentials.
Smt. Rashmi Verma also added that the Ministry in tune with the changing times, has brought in new initiatives like the Adopt a Heritage scheme wherein collaboration with corporate, schools and other stakeholders was initiated to improve facilities at monuments, initiation of 12 iconic sites, MoUs for bilateral tourism with countries, first ever India Tourism Mart and the International Buddhist Conclave 2018.
The Secretary also congratulated the industry stakeholders without whose partnership the achievements in the Tourism sector in the last few years, would not have been possible.
The Ministry of Tourism annually presents National Tourism Awards to various segments of the travel, tourism and hospitality industry. These awards are being given since the early 1990s and are presented to State Governments / Union Territories, classified hotels, heritage hotels, approved travel agents, tour operators and tourist transport operators, individuals and other private organizations, in recognition of their performance in their respective fields, and also to encourage healthy competition with an aim to promote tourism.
The National Tourism Awards have over the years emerged as a prestigious recognition of achievements in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors. This year, a total of 77 awards were presented to the tourism industry stakeholders, State Governments, central agencies and individuals. The list of award winners is at Annexure.
The Certification programme launched today, is the only one-of-its-kind of online learning, aims to brand the country in a positive light, through these facilitators, by building capacity of the key touch points for tourists, desiring that each interaction result in superior experience for the visitors. This online learning platform has been developed by Wipro Limited.
The Incredible India Mobile App, showcases India as a holistic destination, revolving around major experiences, such as spirituality, heritage, adventure, culture, yoga, wellness and more. The mobile app has been designed keeping in mind the preferences of the modern traveler and follows the trends and technologies of international standards. The app has been equipped with features to assist the traveller in each phase of their journey to India. The app has been developed by Tech Mahindra.
Pilot project: As per the court’s order, the project must be implemented in a progressive, structured and phased manner, with certain safeguards to ensure that the purpose of live-streaming of proceedings is achieved holistically and that it does not interfere with the administration of justice or the dignity and majesty of the court hearing the matter and/or impinge upon any rights of the litigants or witnesses.
As a pilot project, only cases of constitutional and national importance being argued for final hearing before the Constitution Bench be live-streamed initially. For this, it said, permission of the court concerned will have to be sought in writing in advance. Consent of parties to the proceedings must be insisted upon, and if there is no unanimity between them, the court concerned can take the appropriate decision in the matter. The court concerned will also have the power to revoke permission at any stage of the proceedings.
There must be a reasonable time-delay (say 10 minutes) between the live court proceedings and the broadcast, in order to ensure that any information which ought not to be shown, as directed by the court, can be edited from being broadcast. Till a full-fledged module and mechanism for live-streaming of the proceedings of the Supreme Court over the internet is evolved, it can be live-streamed in designated areas within the court via intranet.
What necessitated this? Although courts in India are ordinarily open to all members of the public, sometimes they are denied the opportunity to witness the proceedings due to logistical issues and infrastructure restrictions. By providing ‘virtual’ access of live court proceedings to one and all, it will effectuate the right of access to justice or right to open justice and public trial, right to know the developments of law and including the right of justice at the doorstep of the litigants.
It will “reduce the public’s reliance on second-hand narratives to obtain information about important judgments of the court and the course of judicial hearings”. Society will be able to view court proceedings first-hand and form reasoned and educated opinions about the functioning of courts. This will help reduce misinformation and misunderstanding about the judicial process.
Significance of the move: This is a giant step by the Supreme Court to move towards a regime of transparency. Live streaming will deal head on with the problem of distance. Given that the court is located in New Delhi, many people cannot afford to be present physically in Supreme Court to follow the arguments, even if the case directly affects them in some way. In fact, even litigants are often unable to travel to court because of the cost and distance involved, leaving it entirely to their lawyers to run the case.
A live telecast of proceedings also has the potential to reduce unwarranted delays in the cases caused by the occasionally cavalier attitude of lawyers. With the client’s eye firmly on them, lawyers are likely to expedite cases. Further, this will provide an opportunity to young lawyers to showcase their talents to the world and has the potential to break the stranglehold of a select few over the legal profession.
Live streaming could act as a welcome check on the judiciary. With the public watching, there is every chance that there will be a reduction in the sometimes unnecessary oral comments that cause much controversy but have no judicial bearing.
What next? Supreme Court Rules, 2013, will have to suitably amended to provide for the regulatory framework to incorporate the changes.
Besides, live telecast comes with some drawbacks. As seen in the Parliament, there is a tendency to grandstand among lawmakers, who want to show their electorate that they are indeed working hard. The court has to make sure proceedings are unaffected by the introduction of a new technology.
Changes: The rules effectively mean that officers who are not direct IPS recruits could be posted in any of the six UTs and will be at the disposal of the Ministry. There are around 533 posts that will be covered under the new rules; they include assistant commissioners of police and deputy superintendent of police.
The Rules will come into effect upon the promotion or direct recruitment of Inspectors to the post of ACP. Half of the posts at the ACP rank will be filled through direct recruitment and the other half through promotion. Earlier these postings were decided by the respective UT administrators.
The post/grade/service eligible for induction into the Entry Grade for the new service, according to the notification, would include personnel currently employed as inspectors in the Delhi Police, A&N Islands Police, Lakshadweep Police, Daman & Diu Police, Dadra and Nagar Haveli Police and Chandigarh Police.
Significance: This initiative is being viewed as the first step towards the creation of a central police cadre allowing for the posting of police personnel across the country irrespective of the force they are initially inducted into. A central pool allowing inter-transferability would also ensure that local police personnel do not fall prey to serving vested interests in their home services and ensure that they don’t become complacent.
Impact: The NDCP-2018 envisions supporting India’s transition to a digitally empowered economy and society by fulfilling the information and communications needs of citizens and enterprises by establishment of a ubiquitous, resilient and affordable digital communications infrastructure and services.
The ‘Customer focused’ and ‘application driven’ NDCP-2018 shall lead to new ideas and innovations, after the launch of advanced technology such as 5G, IOT, M2M, etc. which shall govern the telecom sector of India.
The key objectives of the policy are: Broadband for all. Creating four million additional jobs in the Digital Communications sector. Enhancing the contribution of the Digital Communications sector to 8% of India’s GDP from ~ 6% in 2017.
Propelling India to the Top 50 Nations in the ICT Development Index of ITU from 134 in 2017. Enhancing India’s contribution to Global Value Chains. Ensuring Digital Sovereignty. These objectives are to be achieved by 2022.
The policy aims to: Provide universal broadband connectivity at 50 Mbps to every citizen. Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022. Ensure connectivity to all uncovered areas. Attract investments of USD 100 billion in the Digital Communications Sector. Train one million manpower for building New Age Skill. Expand IoT ecosystem to 5 billion connected devices.
Establish a comprehensive data protection regime for digital communications that safeguards the privacy, autonomy and choice of individuals. Facilitate India’s effective participation in the global digital economy. Enforce accountability through appropriate institutional mechanisms to assure citizens of safe. Secure digital communications infrastructure and services.
The policy advocates: Establishment of a National Digital Grid by creating a National Fibre Authority. Establishing Common Service Ducts and utility corridors in all new city and highway road projects.
Creating a collaborative institutional mechanism between Centre, States and Local Bodies for Common Rights of Way, standardization of costs and timelines. Removal of barriers to approvals. Facilitating development of Open Access Next Generation Networks.
Background: As the present world has entered the era of modern technological advancements in the Telecom Sector such as 5G, loT, M2M etc., a need was being felt to introduce a ‘customer focused’ and ‘application driven’ policy for the Indian Telecom Sector, which can form the main pillar of Digital India by addressing emerging opportunities for expanding not only the availability of telecom services but also telecom based services.
Accordingly, the new National Digital Communications Policy – 2018 has been formulated, in place of the existing National Telecom Policy-2012, to cater to the modern needs of the digital communications sector of India.
The committee or the ‘Board of Governors’ has now been appointed by the government in “supersession of the MCI”. The Board members include persons of eminence in the medical field.
Background: Pending parliament’s approval to the bill, the government has chosen to go for the ordinance since the term of the existing committee running the MCI ends in November.
A bill to replace the MCI with a National Medical Commission (NMC) has already been presented in parliament. A parliamentary standing committee has also made its recommendations, but due to time factor, the bill “has gone into an area of uncertainty.”
National Medical Commission Bill: The bill provides for the constitution of four autonomous boards entrusted with conducting undergraduate and postgraduate education, assessment and accreditation of medical institutions and registration of practitioners under the National Medical Commission.
According to the draft bill, the commission will have government nominated chairman and members, and the board members will be selected by a search committee under the Cabinet Secretary. There will five elected and 12 ex-officio members in the commission.
As per the Bill, the government, under the National Medical Commission (NMC), can dictate guidelines for fees up to 40% of seats in private medical colleges. This is aimed at giving students relief from the exorbitant fees charged by these colleges and is a standout feature of the bill.
The bill also has a provision for a common entrance exam and licentiate (exit) exam that medical graduates have to pass before practising or pursuing PG courses. For MBBS, students have to clear NEET, and before they step into practice, they must pass the exit exam.
Recognised medical institutions don’t need the regulator’s permission to add more seats or start PG course. This mechanism to reduce the discretionary powers of the regulator.
Earlier, medical colleges required the MCI’s approval for establishment, recognition, renewal of the yearly permission or recognition of degrees, and even increase the number of students they admitted. Under the new bill, the powers of the regulator are reduced to establishment and recognition. This means less red tape, but also less scrutiny of medical colleges.
Background: The Medical Council of India was first established in 1934 under the Indian Medical Council Act, 1933. This Act was repealed and replaced with a new Act in 1956. Under the 1956 Act, the objectives of MCI include:
Maintenance of standards in medical education through curriculum guidelines, inspections and permissions to start colleges, courses or increasing number of seats.
Recognition of medical qualifications. Registration of doctors and maintenance of the All India Medical Register. Regulation of the medical profession by prescribing a code of conduct and taking action against erring doctors.
About IONS: IONS, the 21st century’s first significant international maritime security initiative launched in February 2008, provides a forum for discussion of regional maritime issues and promotes friendly relationships among member nations. It presently has 24 members and eight observer navies.
It is a voluntary initiative that seeks to increase maritime co-operation among navies of the littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region by providing an open and inclusive forum for discussion of regionally relevant maritime issues and, in the process, endeavors to generate a flow of information between naval professionals that would lead to common understanding and possibly agreements on the way ahead.
Under the charter of business adopted in 2014, the grouping has working groups on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Information Security and Interoperability (IS&I) and anti-piracy now renamed as maritime security
Background: Currently, the Centre and states together hold 49% stake in GSTN. The remaining 51% is held by five private financial institutions – HDFC Ltd, HDFC Bank Ltd, ICICI Bank Ltd, NSE Strategic Investment Co and LIC Housing Finance Ltd.
What necessitated this? GST, which subsumed over a dozen local taxes, was rolled out on July 1, 2017. Over 1.1 crore businesses are registered on the GSTN portal. With enhanced role of GSTN from just collecting taxes to data analytics, the government felt that it should now be the majority owner in the IT backbone provider.
What is GSTN? The GSTN was floated to aid the rollout of the new indirect tax regime. The company will provide information technology support to all stakeholders for smooth implementation of the new taxation regime across the country and will be the repository of all information related to taxation and entities registered under GST.
About Jan Dhan Darshak app: As the name suggests, this app will act as a guide for the common people in locating a financial service touch point at a given location in the country.
The app will be in a unique position to provide a citizen centric platform for locating financial service touch points across all providers such as banks, post office, CSC, etc. These services could be availed as per the needs and convenience of the common people.
Some of the salient features of this App are as follows: Find nearby Financial touch points, based on current location (Branches/ATM/Post offices). Search by place name. Search by place name also available with Voice Interface.
Phone number of bank branches available in app, with the facility of call button for integrated dialing. Users’ feedback will go directly to the concerned bank for carrying out the necessary updation in data on financial touch points.
Sirhind and Rajasthan Feeders take off upstream of Harike Head works and flow through Punjab before crossing over to Rajasthan. The twin canals have a common bank and were constructed in the 1960s as lined (brick) channels to convey water to command areas in Punjab and Rajasthan.
Astra BVR Air-to-Air Missile: Context: Astra, the indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), was recently successfully test fired by the Indian Air Force from Su-30 aircraft.
Astra: It is the indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air It is an all-weather, state-of-the-art missile developed by DRDO and can engage and destroy enemy aircraft at supersonic speed (1.2 Mach to 1.4 Mach) in head-on (up to 80 km) and tail-chase (up to 20 km) modes. The 3.8 metre tall Astra is a radar homing missile and the smallest of the DRDO-developed missiles and can be launched from different altitudes. It can reach up to 110 km when fired from an altitude of 15 km, 44 km when launched from an altitude of eight km and 21 km when fired from sea level.
What is G4? Formed in 2005, the G4 nations comprise Brazil, Germany, India and Japan. Unlike many inter-governmental bodies whose primary motives are economic and political, the G4’s aim is to ensure permanent membership on the United Nations Security Council.