28 May 2014

Shri Piyush Goyal Assumes Charge of Ministry of Power

Shri Piyush Goyal today took over as the Union Minister of State(Independent Charge) of Ministries of Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy. Speaking to media persons while assuming the charge of the Union Ministry of Power at Shram Shakti Bhawan this morning, Shri Goyal said that one of his major priorities is to de-bottleneck the system and ensure fast delivery. The Minister said that there are huge expectations to deliver from the Modi Government which make the responsibility of each Minister bigger and broader. Shri Goyal said that the Ministries of Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy have been brought together under one umbrella because people want to see a small government but more delivery. It also recognises the synergy of various Ministries in government functioning, he added. He said that the job ahead is challenging since the Modi government has ambitious plans to serve the nation. 

Later the Minister held a meeting with the senior officers of the Ministry of Power and apprised himself of the functioning of the Ministry. 

3 Apr 2014

Facts at a Glance : Meghalaya

Date of Poll – 9th April, 2014

S. No.
Number of Parliamentary
Constituencies going on poll- 2
Total Electors
Male –    776633 
Female –  789189
Others -      
Service-   1343
NRI Voters:       
 Total  -  1567163
Number Types of Parliamentary Constituencies
General : 0
SC :  0
ST:  2
Total number of Candidates
Parliamentary Constituencies  having more than 16 candidates

Parliamentary Constituencies  having more than 32 candidates

Total Number of Female candidates

No. and Name of the Parliamentary Constituency with maximum No. of  Candidates

1-Shillong Parliamentary Constituency
No. & Name of the Parliamentary Constituency with  minimum number of Candidates 

2-Tura Parliamentary Constituency


Party-wise list of candidates:
Registered Political Parties (other then recognised National and State)



Largest Parliamentary constituency
Electorate wise
Smallest Parliamentary constituency Electorate wise

Number of General, Expenditure, Police & Awareness Observers  deployed
General Observers -   8     
Expenditure Observers  -    2
Police  Observers            -  1

No. of Polling Personnel deployed ( approx)

Not Available 
No. of  Polling Stations
Number of EVMs to be used in the elections
Control Units -   3269
Ballot Units -     4005

8 Mar 2014

Third BIMSTEC Summit Declaration

We, the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan, the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Prime Minister of Nepal, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand met in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on 4 March 2014 for the Third BIMSTEC Summit Meeting;

Reaffirming the aims and purposes of BIMSTEC as contained in the 1997 Bangkok Declaration,
Recalling the First BIMSTEC Summit Declaration (Bangkok, 31 July 2004) and the Second Summit Declaration (New Delhi, 13 November 2008),
Recognizing the close relationship and deepening engagements among the BIMSTEC Member States given the geographical proximity as well as the rich historical linkages and cultural heritage,
Convinced that the BIMSTEC Member States, endowed with abundant natural and human resources, have considerable potential for economic and social development through mutually beneficial cooperation in identified priority areas,

Recognizing that globalization and regional cooperation continue to generate increased linkages and inter-dependence within the economies and societies in the BIMSTEC Member States and provide greater opportunity to further leverage regional cooperation and respond to new and emerging challenges,

Recognizing the threats posed by climate change on the lives and livelihoods of peoples across the Member States,
Reiterating firm commitment to alleviate poverty in the BIMSTEC region to ensure dignity, improve the quality of life and well-being of the peoples,
Recognizing the threat that terrorism poses to peace, stability and economic progress in the region, and emphasizing the need for closer cooperation in combating all forms of terrorism and transnational crimes,
Further recognizing the special challenges faced by the Least-Developed Member States in the region and the need to support them within their development process,
Convinced also that harmony, prosperity and well-being among the BIMSTEC Member States can be enhanced through deeper economic and social cooperation, enhanced connectivity, sustainable development and harnessing of common natural resource base and cultural and people-to-people linkages,

Reiterating commitment to BIMSTEC as a regional cooperation group,
Do hereby:
Resolve to commit increased efforts in accomplishing the founding aims and purposes of BIMSTEC.
Decide to move forward towards finalization of the draft Agreement on Trade in Goods with agreed General Rules of Origin and Product Specific Rules, and also to signing of the Agreement on Dispute Settlement Procedures, and the Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters under the Framework Agreement on the BIMSTEC Free Trade Area.
Direct the BIMSTEC Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) to expedite its work for the conclusion of the Agreement on Trade in Goods by the end of 2014, and to continue its efforts for early finalization of the Agreement on Services and Investments.
Agree to enhance cooperation in expanding skill and technology base of Member States through collaborations and partnerships targeted towards micro, small and medium scale enterprises and decide to accelerate efforts for the early finalization of the Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of BIMSTEC Technology Transfer Facility. 
Underline the need for enhancing regional cooperation in the energy sector, welcome the holding of the Third BIMSTEC Energy Ministerial Meeting in Nepal in 2014 and also the Fourth BIMSTEC Energy Ministerial Meeting in Bhutan in 2015, and recognize the role of the BIMSTEC Energy Centre in Bengaluru, India in this context.
Express satisfaction at the continuing work on developing physical connectivity in BIMSTEC region and the progress made in updating the BTILS supported by the Asian Development Bank for enhancement of intraregional connectivity, transport infrastructure and logistics, and welcome efforts to identify concrete projects for implementation.
Express satisfaction at the progress made in implementing tourism cooperationprogrammes and in following up the Plan of Action on Tourism; and encourage the Member States realize the enormous tourism potential of the region by enhancing cooperation in this field, particularly through facilitating engagements among the private sector in the Member States.
Resolve to continue cooperation in the area of fisheries, including inland fisheries, and conservation and management and sustainable use of marine resources in the Bay of Bengal region.
Reiterate our commitment to continue and enhance cooperation in the field of agriculture, including crops, livestock and horticulture; and decide to intensify cooperative efforts by materializing short and long term joint research programmestowards increased productivity and yields of agricultural produce in the region. 
Resolve to enhance cooperation in environmental protection and sustainable development and promote capacity building in the area of disaster management.
Recognize that deepening of cultural cooperation among the Member States can also contribute towards the promotion of socio-economic development of the region driven by cultural industries.
Agree to enhance cooperation in the health sector, including on traditional medicine, and to intensify our efforts to promote activities of the BIMSTEC Network of National Centres of Coordination in traditional medicine.
Reiterate our commitment to expand efforts to further promote people-to-people exchanges and linkages, at various levels among the BIMSTEC Member States, including facilitating travels through the BIMSTEC Business Visa Scheme and the BIMSTEC Visa Exemption Scheme.
Welcome the setting up of the BIMSTEC Network of Policy Think Tanks and agree to cooperate and coordinate for organizing short-term activities such as workshops, seminars, and exchange programmes, including audio visual programmes, on building public awareness on BIMSTEC.
Agree to implement the BIMSTEC Poverty Plan of Action adopted at the second BIMSTEC Ministerial Meeting on Poverty Alleviation held in January 2012 in Nepal, and welcome the offer by Sri Lanka to host the Third Ministerial Meeting on Poverty Alleviation during the first half of 2014.
Express satisfaction at the close cooperation between law enforcement agencies of Member States in combating terrorism and transnational crimes, call for expediting the ratification for entry into force of the BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking and also for the early signing of the BIMSTEC Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.
Agree to explore collaborative initiatives amongst the Member States towards addressing the adverse impacts of climate change in the BIMSTEC region.

Agree to intensify efforts to deepen cooperation in all areas of activities within the framework of BIMSTEC, including strengthening institutional mechanisms.

Welcome the signing of the following BIMSTEC Instruments:
1.      Memorandum of Association on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Permanent Secretariat.
2.      Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of the BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Commission
(BCIC) and BIMSTEC Cultural Industries Observatory (BCIO).
3.      Memorandum of Association Among BIMSTEC Member Countries Concerning Establishment of a BIMSTEC
Centre for Weather and Climate.
 Convey appreciation to the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for providing the premises for the BIMSTEC Secretariat in Dhaka and also express satisfaction at the progress made towards the operationalization of the Secretariat.
Welcome the appointment of Mr. Sumith Nakandala of Sri Lanka as the first Secretary General of BIMSTEC. Convey deep appreciation to Myanmar for the able stewardship of BIMSTEC from 2009, and welcome Nepal as the new Chair of BIMSTEC,
We, the leaders from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the special envoy of the Prime Minister of Thailand, express our sincere appreciation to the Government of Myanmar for the warm hospitality and for the excellent arrangements made for the Summit.

4 Mar 2014

Protection of Minority Languages

Protection of Minority Languages
Linguistic minorities have not been defined in the Constitution or by any statute. They get defined when their mother tongue differs from regional language of the area.  They are identified by State Government/Union Territory on the basis of Census data.

Study has been done about endangered minority languages in the country. However, the Commissioner for Linguistic Minorities appointed under Article 350-B of the Constitution investigates all matters relating to the safeguards provided for Linguistic Minorities under the Constitution and Nationally Agreed Scheme for the Linguistic Minorities. Safeguards for Linguistic Minorities are -

-      Translation and publication of important rules, regulations, notices, etc., into all languages, which are spoken by at least 15% of the total population at district or sub-district level.
-      Declaration of minority languages as second official language in districts where persons speaking such languages constitute 60% or more of the population.
-      Receipt of, and reply to, representations in minority languages; scheme of safeguards.
-      Instruction through mother tongues/ minority languages at the Primary stage of education.
-      Instruction through minority languages at the Secondary stage of education.
-      Advance registration of linguistic preference of linguistic minority pupils, and inter-school adjustments.
-      Provision for text books and teachers in minority languages; scheme of safeguards.
-      Implementation of Three-language Formula.
-      No insistence upon knowledge of State’s Official Language at the time of recruitment. Test of proficiency in the State’s Official Language to be held before completion of probation.
-      Issue of Pamphlets in minority languages detailing safeguards available to linguistic minorities.
-      Setting up of proper machinery at the State and district levels.
The Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore, a subordinate office of the Ministry of Human Resource Development is implementing a scheme for preservation and protection of languages spoken by less than 10000 people during the current Five Year Plan.  
Under the scheme, grammatical descriptions, monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, language primers, anthologies of folklore, encyclopedias, etc of all the endangered languages / mother tongues, especially those spoken by less than 10000 persons are prepared.
This was stated by Shri Ninong Ering, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs in response to a written question in Lok Sabha yesterday.

1 Mar 2014

Launching of Web Portal on Anti Human Trafficking

Shri R.P.N.Singh, Minister of State for Home Affairs launched a comprehensive web-portal on Anti Human Trafficking Portal here today. The web portal will serve as a vital IT tool for sharing of information across all stakeholders, States/UTs and civil society organizations for effective implementation of Anti Human Trafficking measures.

Shri R.P.N.Singh mentioned that the web portal will help in tracking large number of cases having inter-state ramifications. This portal will also act as one stop information repository on issues relating to trafficking including details of Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs), their locations, contact details of Anti-Human Trafficking Nodal Officers.

Addressing the Nodal Officers of Anti Human Trafficking Units, Shri R.P.N.Singh said that this site will also provide comprehensive information on legislations , statistics important judgements, UN Conventions, details of Trafficked persons and Traffickers, rescue success stories. Moreover, it will provide an important link to National Portal on Missing Children, ‘Trackchild’ which is operational in many States.

Trafficking in persons, particularly in women and children for various purposes such as commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), forced labour, forced marriages, domestic servitude, etc. is an organized crime that gravely violates basic human rights. 

The Government has adopted a multipronged approach to combat the crime of human trafficking. Ministry of Home Affairs is implementing a Comprehensive Scheme in States / UTs to strengthen the law enforcement response to human trafficking. The Scheme involves establishment of Integrated Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) in 335 vulnerable police districts throughout the country and capacity building of responders, which includes Training of Trainers for Police, Prosecutors and Judiciary. So far 225 Integrated Anti Human Trafficking Units have been made operational in different districts of the country and 100 more AHTUs are proposed to be established in the current financial year.

For capacity building of law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders, Training of Trainers workshops at Regional, State and District Level are being held regularly. Training of Trainers workshops for Prosecutors are also being held at Regional, State and District level. Judicial Colloquiums are being held throughout the country for sensitizing Judicial Officers. So far six Judicial Colloquiums have been held. A certificate course has also been launched by Indira Gandhi National Open University on Human Trafficking in collaboration with MHA.

A Regional Task Force was constituted to implement the SAARC Convention on prevention of Trafficking in Women and Children. So far five meetings of the task force have been held. Ministry of Home affairs conducted a workshop for representatives of SAARC Member countries for capacity building in combating Human Trafficking at New Delhi from 19-20th November, 2012 in which representatives of all SAARC Member Countries participated. A study tour for SAARC Member countries regarding functioning of AHTUs was also conducted from 18th to 22nd November, 2013.

The Government of India, had enacted and strengthened legislative measures in the form of Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 which has come into force from 3rd February 2013. 

In the new Act, Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code has been substituted with Section 370 and 370A IPC which comprehensively defines Human Trafficking and provides stringent punishment for human trafficking; trafficking of children for exploitation in any form including physical exploitation; or any form of sexual exploitation, slavery, servitude or the forced removal of organs.

This will also enhance cooperation between law enforcement agencies, and concerned government departments as well.

 The nodal officers of all States and UTs are inter connected with each other and will be given a login ID through which they can access this web portal and upload real time statistics and success stories and other case studies. Details of trafficked persons will be uploaded on the web portal and other relevant contents regarding Anti Human Trafficking has also been uploaded for the convenience of the user. 

26 Feb 2014

Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh Jointly Awarded National Tourism Award for Best State/UT in the Category of Comprehensive Development of Tourism

Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have been jointly given the award for the First Prize in the category of “Best State/UT: Comprehensive Development of Tourism.” The second and third prizes in this category have gone to Kerala and Gujarat respectively. 

The National Tourism Awards were given by Mr. Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development at a glittering Award Ceremony in the national capital today. Jammu & Kashmir was awarded in the category of Best State/UT under the North-East and J&K Region. Kumbh Mela, Allahabad, UP won the prize for the Best Civic Management of a tourist destination in Category ‘A’ city.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Mr.Hugh & Ms. Colleen Gantzer, who are an Indian, writer-photographer, husband-and-wife team. They launched the first travel column in a national daily in India in August, 1977.

The Lifetime Achievement Award in the Hospitality Sector was given to the historians Mr. Aman Nath and Mr. Francis Wacziarg for their pioneering work in creating international consciousness on the heritage of Shekhavati and also restoring some 30 properties across 10 States in India.

The best Tourism Film Award went to M.P.State Tourism Development Corporation TV Commercial “Rang Hai”. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad was awarded for the Best Airport (Class ‘X’ cities). Department of Tourism, Govt. of Kerala was awarded for Most Innovative use of Information Technology/Website/Portal. Bangalore city Railway Station was awarded for Best Tourist Friendly Railway Station. Andhra Pradesh won the prize for best Film Promotion-friendly State.

M/s Yatra Online Pvt. Ltd was awarded as the Best Domestic Tour Operator (Rest of India) category. Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, won the award for the Best Hotel in Five-Star Deluxe Category while the Best Heritage Hotel in Grand category went to Fateh Prakash Palace, Udaipur. ITC Maurya, New Delhi, won the award for Best Eco-friendly hotel. Ms. Arti Thapa, Food Craft Institute, Hoshiarpur, won the award for Best Lady Chef.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Shashi Tharoor said that tourism was a vital segment to leverage our culture and our progress and earn precious foreign exchange. He said that the huge variety of tourism opportunities in India as well as the variety of cuisine and cultural experience that India offered made our country “truly incredible”. 

Mr. Tharoor said that increasing the tourist inflow was a challenge considering the fact that a small country like France with a population just around 5% of India’s population was able to attract 83 million tourists which is almost 12 times of the foreign tourist inflow in India. 

He outlined the number of steps that have been taken to facilitate the entry of tourists to India. He expressed the hope that this would enable the share of India in the global tourism to increase from the present 0.6% to 1% in the year 2016.

The National Tourism Awards are given annually by the Ministry of Tourism to felicitate outstanding work both in the public sector and the private sector under different fields associated with tourism. 

24 Feb 2014

FCI to Increase Inter-Regional Movement of Foodgrains

Prof. K.V. Thomas
In view of increased  foograin movement requirement for the implementation of National Food Security Act, FCI has been making efforts to increase Inter-regional movement of foodgrains. It has been) has been rising over the years as under:-

It is estimated that  for the National Food Security Act (NFSA) implementation, against the allocation of 614.43 lakh tonnes,  the inter-state foodgrain movement requirement will be 364.33 lakh tonnes,  whereas.

 Total inter-regional movement during 2012-13 was 349.19 lakh tonnes. Thus, as per present estimates implementation will require higher inter-state movement.

Increase in inter-state movement is expected to help foodgrain procuring states,  as increased  movement of foodgrains  will lead to better evacuation and there by creation of more storage space in such states for fresh procurement.
An Inter-Ministerial Coordination committee was constituted on 10.01.2013 comprising of representatives of Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Railways and Food Corporation of India( FCI) to monitor movement of foodgrains. The committee meets periodically to discuss and sort out operational constraints faced in movement of foodgrains by rail. 

Discussions at the Coordination committee meetings have resulted in:
·         Increased supply of rakes by the Railways for inter-regional movement of stocks which in turn helped in ensuring availability of sufficient stocks at FCI depots for Targeted Public Distribution Scheme( TPDS)/ Other Welfare Schemes(OWS)
·         Reduction in detention of rakes
·         Reduction in demurrage charges
·         Expeditious renovation at many FCI sidings like – JJP siding, Kolkata and Talkatora siding (Lucknow), Kanpur and Mayapuri siding, Delhi
·         Expeditious settlement of pending Railway claims
Opening of new siding at Dumka and Madhupur for FCI operations

In view of increased   foograin movement requirement, FCI has been exploring alternate modes of foodgrains for some time and  so far FCI has   undertaken following sea/riverine projects:
(i)     Pilot project of movement of foodgrain conducted in Assam at the beginning of year 2013 in which 1377.86 tonnes was transported successfully through Brahmaputra Ex-Dibrugarh(Assam) to Dhemaji(Asssam) & 2999.49 tonnes was transported Ex- Dibrugarh(Assam) to   Passighat(Arunachal Pradesh).

(ii)   On 01.02.2014 FCI has awarded a contract   to  move 20000 MT per month of rice from designated depots of Andhra Pradesh to designated depots of Kerala through sea/road route.

This information was given by the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Prof. K.V. Thomas in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.

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